It was late August 1992, John Major was occupying 10 Downing Street, the entire country was donning the gaudiest shell suits imaginable, while we were listening to “Rhythm is a Dancer” by Snap! on an endless loop. The cinemas were packed showing the likes of Beethoven, Alien 3 and Lethal Weapon 3. WWE Superstar Paige was literally just a few days old! The British Royal Family were having what was described as an “annus horribilis” (a “horrible year”)… and frankly, Vince McMahon’s 1992 wasn’t much better as stories of scandals and steroids were all hot in the press stateside resulting in a bit of a downturn in their domestic business.
In the UK and Europe on the other hand, WWE was a hot property and following the success of a series of European tours WWE decided to partner with legendary UK-based promoter Harvey Goldsmith to bring the biggest show of the summer – SummerSlam to the home of English football and one of the world’s most iconic venues – Wembley Stadium. A move which would give generations of UK fans a major talking point for the next thirty years.
Fast forward to 2022 and “Afraid to Feel” is the number one song, rumour has it that movies are still released in movie theatres, Paige has recently turned 30 (and retired from in-ring WWE competition – all the while sparking a revolution for women’s wrestling) and Vince McMahon, well, his 2022 has also been an annus horribilis (but you know that story I’m sure). In the just over 15.7 million minutes since SummerSlam 1992, the event has been fondly remembered by fans (in the UK as well as in the states) – so much so that to celebrate its 30th anniversary, WWE and Fremantle have remastered the iconic event and bring it to Blu-ray and DVD for the first time as a solo release.
Now, whether you want to or not, we’re going to crack open the cellophane on this bad boy and fire up the Blu-ray, so slip on that shell suit once again, grab the air horn and Macho Man foam finger from the cupboard, and let’s take a trip down memory lane as we all get a first look at SummerSlam 1992 – 30th Anniversary Edition.
When we first get into this one, you’ll see the “Saved by the Bell” inspired menus with a hard rock version of “God Save The Queen” playing in the background. Uniquely, the set offers two viewing experiences: broadcast version and live version. What this all about, you ask? Well, if you don’t know; the show wasn’t ever presented live on TV either for fans in the UK or stateside. The show was taped on Saturday and shown on PPV on Monday (SummerSlam 1992 became one of only a couple of the traditional PPVs to ever be fully in the can prior to airing on PPV; not until WrestleMania 36 (2020) did it happen again). As part of the live version, WWE taped three matches which were cut out of the PPV: The Mountie & Nasty Boys vs. Bushwhackers & Jim Duggan, and Papa Shango vs. El Matador (sub. for the recently released Texas Tornado, who was originally advertised for the match) – those two bouts took place before the opening match on the card, then just prior to the final match of the evening a Tatanka vs. Berserker bout took place (all three matches did air on Prime Time Wrestling in the weeks following).
Here, you have the option to play the event with those matches slotted back in at the right times, so if you were one of the eighty thousand in attendance, you can relive the show as you did that very afternoon. If you don’t fancy that, then you can go the route of the PPV broadcast version instead.
The show itself is presented pretty much exactly as you remember it. I’m not going to go through match by match – there are probably a million reviews of SummerSlam 1992 out here on the internet. In my research I checked out this Anniversary Edition and the WWE Network (Peacock) version (I didn’t end up digging through the loft for my VHS I recorded live from Sky in ’92). There is actually one segment which is included on the Network (Peacock) which isn’t included on the new version: a promo backstage with Mean Gene and the Bushwhackers. It airs during the show and they briefly speculate on Mr. Perfect’s corner status and also discuss their impending Buckingham Palace visit *wink wink*. Now, this isn’t something you’d miss, but it is also somewhat curious as to why it was cut. Other than this, the only other difference between this and the Network is a introduction stating the show is brought to you by IcoPro.
The remastering of the event must be on a level above my eyesight, as frankly I can’t see too much of a difference between this version and the WWE Network. The show is presented in the original (4:3) aspect ratio with black sidebars for everything other than the main disc menus. If you were expecting a full-HD widescreen remastering then you’re going to be disappointed – this is due to the methods used to tape the event originally. It means this is the best we’re ever going to get, but it looks absolutely fine.
In addition to the event and dark matches the bonus features also include the SummerSlam 1992 “Countdown” show (the “Countdowns” like this aired on the PPV channel to hype the shows). This 15-minute special was filmed in the studio with Sean Mooney in front of a ‘green screen’ where he shows clips of the story leading into the top three matches. Somewhat noteworthy is the show hypes the WWE Championship match as the main event, and the Intercontinental title one very much as a secondary match – I presume the Bret/Bulldog match wasn’t as big a selling point for US fans?? The show also briefly looks at the Michaels/Martel match as well as Undertaker/Kamala and a mention of both tag team matches: Legion of Doom/Money Inc. and the Natural Disasters/Beverley Brothers tag title match, and that’s it. It’s cool to see this as an extra – many of the “Countdown” shows were released on the VHS or on Tagged Classics and others have popped up online, but to my knowledge the SummerSlam 1992 one hadn’t ever been out there before this set!
Finally, as a cool little bonus on the Blu-ray we have the three episodes of WWE Superstars which lead into SummerSlam. These are great as you can relive the WWE’s goings-on heading right into the show. I mean, if I’m being fussy I would have preferred to see Challenge (as Superstars is already on the Network) but I guess Superstars has already been digitised and prepared for the Network, so here we are.
A minor critique of the set for me was that we’re a tad short on chapter points – a couple of times I felt we lacked some additional chapters. For example, the chapter for Bret vs. Bulldog includes the Roddy Piper bagpipe session plus the Diana interview, so it means you’re about 5+ minutes from the entrances of Bret and the Bulldog. Another one was in the Virgil/Nailz match which also included the pre-match promo. Again, it’s a very minor point, but if you like to jump around it’s a little annoying – however if you’re a watch-from-start-to-end kind of person, you won’t even notice this at all.
All in all, the SummerSlam 1992 – 30th Anniversary Edition is an enjoyable one and was a breath of fresh air on the release schedule when announced. If you’ve seen this SummerSlam before, you’ll know it’s a fun little show. I always really enjoy the Shawn Michaels vs. Rick Martel match as well as the Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog classic. To UK fans, it will always be special – probably because it’s been a once in a lifetime big PPV; it wasn’t “Backlash” or “Fully Loaded” or even “Clash at the Castle”, it was SUMMERSLAM — when there were 4 big shows in a year, we got one of them in the UK, and that’s huge. If it’s one of your faves, if you were there or if you just want to get hyped for the upcoming UK stadium show, head on over to Amazon.co.uk and get this one pre-ordered right now. Then sit back and relive “the grandeur, the spectacle, the pageantry of SummerSlam” 1992.
SummerSlam 1992 – 30th Anniversary Edition will officially release to fans in the UK this coming Monday, August 29th, available on Blu-ray and DVD formats. It’s also scheduled for a release to the German market later that same week.
At this time, Amazon has both the Blu-ray and the DVD priced only £9.99 each!