WWF SummerSlam ’92 is Still a Slam Dunk 30 Years On

Mr Perfect (the Sixth Doctor with a ponytail) and Rik Flair (Peter Stringfellow’s little brother) had been whispering in Macho Man’s and Warrior’s ears, hinting at fealty and support from Mr Perfect, but really just sowing the seeds of confusion and conflict to mess with the men’s heads. Ringside, Perfect and Flair showed fealty only to their inner sense of dastardliness, teaming up to distract and attack the contenders in a seemingly arbitrary fashion (the original plan had been for Warrior to turn heel and join forces with Mr Perfect, but Warrior refused the storyline). 

After the referee was knocked out cold when Warrior accidentally hurled Savage in his direction, the two meddling heels upped their game. One of the strange things about wrestling is that you can cheat with abandon as long as the referee doesn’t catch you doing it, even though millions of people are watching your every move. That would be like the British Prime Minister throwing a brick at the Leader of the Opposition when the Speaker’s back was turned, and everyone in the country just smiling and chalking it up to good timing. 

Macho Man soon witnessed the gruesome twosome assaulting Warrior, quickly sussing out what was happening. Macho Man leapt from the top rope to attack Flair, but caught a chair to his knee, which left him rolling on the ground in agony long enough to be counted out by the now-conscious referee. Warrior then intervened to rescue Macho Man from Perfect and Flair, and the two heroes returned to the ring, bathing in the deafening cheers of almost 80,000 souls as they embraced. Warrior won the match, but Macho Man retained his title. This bout, with all of its honour and betrayal and twists and turns and catfights, was an almost perfect melding of Shakespearian Tragedy and The Real Housewives of Wrestlemania.  

A Grim Undertaking 

The Undertaker won his match against Kamala due to disqualification, because one of Kamala’s entourage ran into the ring and assaulted the Undertaker with a safari helmet. That’s not a sentence you get to type every day. The match itself was nothing special, but if The Undertaker knows anything it’s how to make an entrance, and it doesn’t get any weirder or funnier than being chauffeur-driven to the ring in a hearse led by the immensely creepy Paul Bearer. His exits are pretty good, too. This time, having suffered repeated beatings by Kamala after the bell, he suddenly sat up and fixed his opponents with a malevolent stare that had them scurrying backstage as if the devil himself had just arisen. Tatanka vs The Berzerker followed, a lacklustre match the exclusion of which from the main broadcast was no great loss. 

Brothers-in-Law Battle for the Belt

We all know that WWF/E matches are rigorously planned and co-ordinated in advance. Some might be tempted to write off wrestling as mere pantomime for that very reason, but that would be to deny the Herculean levels of skill, training, and dedication that goes into the craft, not to mention the ever-present threat of death that accompanies every wrong move or slip of concentration – rehearsed or not. Wrestling can be deadly. And that’s not even factoring in the sheer number of competitors who have been lost to drugs, or died in their 40s and 50s from heart disease (the two aren’t always mutually exclusive). 

When real-life brothers-in-law Brett “The Hitman” Hart and “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith went head to head for the Intercontinental Title, the concern on the face of Diana Hart-Smith – sister to Brett, wife to Davey Boy – may well have been real. Davey Boy’s real-life struggle with drugs meant that Brett and Davey reportedly hadn’t fully rehearsed their match, and what little Davy had practised he’d forgotten. It’s no surprise, then, that their fight is considered one of the greatest in WWF/E history, perhaps because the stakes were very, very real. Brett Hart had to lead the whole match himself and hope that Davey Boy would be able to follow, while still crafting a thrilling contest, and somehow keeping them both alive. The fight, infused with family rivalry and almost drowned out by the hoots, roars and cheers of the capacity-bursting crowd, was full of thrills, shocks and surprises. Future champion Brett exhibited great technical skill and ingenuity, but both men gave it their all despite the daunting nature of their task. When Davey Boy moved in for the final three-count, the cheers could probably be heard as far away as his native Lancashire. SummerSlam then ended with the two men, exhausted and sweating, hugging each other, then being hugged in turn by Diana. The crowd, again, went wild.

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