Throwback Thursday: WWF SummerSlam ’95: Face the Heat on the WWE Network (WATCH)
As August draws to a close Throwback Thursday is taking one final trip through the SummerSlam vault. Twenty years ago today, Aug. 27, 1995, the 8th annual SummerSlam took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To honor the occasion TBT revisits SummerSlam ’95 on the WWE Network.
SummerSlam ’95 feaured three main events: Bret Hart against Isaac Yankem, D.D.S., Razor versus HBK in a WrestleMania X rematch for HBK’s Intercontinental Championship, and King Mable versus Diesel for “Big Daddy Cool’s” WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Outside of the HBK/Razor “Ladder Match” SummerSlam ’95 had zero buzz and was one of the least anticipated WWF PPVs ever as evidenced by the worst PPV buyrate to date for a SummerSlam. For once context is not an issue. All previous RAWs and PPVs are available on the Network. It should also be noted that the Network version is in fact the Coliseum Home Video release not the Live broadcast.
This event is notable for being the first WWF PPV to be covered online officially by the WWF and for being the last major WWF televised event prior to the launch of WCW Monday NITRO.
WWF SummerSlam ’95: Face the Heat
Aug. 27, 1995 – Pittsburgh Civic Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 18,062 – PPV Buys: <215,000
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry “The King” Lawler, & Dok Hendrix
Interviews: Dok Hendrix, Jim Ross, & Todd Pettengill
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Diesel
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels
WWF Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart & Yokozuna
WWF Women’s Champion: Alundra Blayze
— Singles Match (WATCH)
1-2-3 Kid vs. “The White Angel” Hakushi
This match is one of only two matches that SummerSlam ’95 is remembered for. At the time Kid was one of the hottest young WWF stars while Hakushi, after a short run with Bret Hart, was struggling to find a spot. On this night both men tore the house down in one of the best SummerSlam openers to date. In the end Hakushi blocks Kid’s spinning heel kick and turns into a powerbomb for the 1-2-3 at 9:29.
WINNER is Hakushi (Pin, 9:29)
Next we get a promo from King Mable about the “Royal Plan” and the big surprise that awaits Diesel.
— Singles Match (WATCH)
Bob “Spark Plug” Holly vs. Hunter Hearst-Helmsley
This match feels oddly out of place. Helmsley was still undefeated while Holly was on his second racing themed gimmick (Thurman “Sparky” Plugg, anyone?). Helmsley blocks a back body drop into a pedigree to score the pinfall at 7:12. It’s odd to watch this match and think that 20 years later Hunter would be the number 3 in WWE.
WINNER is Hunter Hearst-Helmsley (Pin, 7:12)
Next we see a video highlighting the Stridex “War on the Water” charity event in Pittsburgh.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH)
The Smokin’ Gunns (Billy & Bart) vs. The Blu Brothers (Jacob & Eli) w/Uncle Zebakiah
These two teams had worked house shows together for much of June and July and the familiarity shows. Billy takes the brunt of the punishment until Bart gets the hot tag and takes out the Blu’s. After the Blu’s collide, Eli gets wiped out with the Gunn’s sidewinder finish for the pin at 6:12.
WINNERS are The Smokin’ Gunns (Billy & Bart) (Pin, 6:12)
Next we get a video package detailing the events surrounding the Horowitz/Skip match.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH)
“Body Donna” Skip w/Sunny vs. Barry Horowitz
The story here was long-time jobber Barry Horowitz finally winning a match. Trouble was it came at the expense of Skip. And yes, that is a dance rendition of “Hava Nagila” as Horowitz theme music. The finish comes after Hakushi, who himself lost to Horowitz thanks to Skip, distracts Skip long enough for Horowitz to wrap Skip up in a small package to get the pinfall victory at 11:21.
WINNER is Barry Horowitz (Pin, 11:21)
After a Dean Douglas lecture on the meaning of the word “Vivify” we get a confident promo from HBK regarding his upcoming match.
— WWF Women’s Championship (WATCH)
Bertha Faye w/Harvey Wippleman vs. Alundra Blayze(c)
After Blayze won the Women’s title back from Bull Nakano on the April 3rd RAW Bertha Faye, making her TV debut, attacked Blayze and “broke” her nose, setting up this match. Despite the gimmick, the late Rhonda “Bertha Faye” Sing was an accomplished, respected ladies wrestler all over the world. The finish here comes after Blayze misses a missile dropkick and Faye delivers a sit-out powerbomb for the 1-2-3 at 4:39 to become the NEW WWF Women’s Champion.
WINNER and NEW WWF Women’s Champion, Bertha Faye w/Harvey Wippleman (Pin, 4:39)
Next is a video package on Taker/Kama and a Coliseum Home Video exclusive promo by Taker.
— “Casket Match” (WATCH)
Kama w/Ted DiBiase vs. The Undertaker w/Paul Bearer
Kama stole Taker’s urn at WrestleMania XI and melted it down into a necklace. That’s all there is to this one. Shoddy story aside this is one of the better “Casket Matches” in Taker’s career. It’s physical, tells a great story, is well paced, and has plenty of innovative spots. In the end Taker hits the tombstone piledriver and stuffs Kama in the casket at 16:27 to end the “Million Dollar Corporation” saga. As good a “Casket Match” as can be found on the Network and a must-see match for any Taker fan.
WINNER is The Undertaker w/Paul Bearer (16:27)
Next we get a video package on the Hart/Yankem match and a promo from Bret Hart.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH)
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Isaac Yankem, D.D.S. w/Jerry Lawler
After Bret won the “Kiss My Foot Match” at the 1995 King of the Ring over Lawler, “The King” enlisted the help of his “personal dentist” Isaac Yankem, D.D.S., a.k.a. Glenn “Kane” Jacobs to “extract” revenge. Like the hokey angle this match is just not very good; not even Bret Hart can save “Yankem”. In the end Yankem and Lawler double-team Hart and hang him by the neck in the ropes until the referee calls for the bell at 16:18, after which the beat down continues.
WINNER is Bret “The Hitman” Hart (DQ, 16:18)
After Bret is helped from the ring we get a promo from Razor Ramon about the upcoming “Ladder Match”.
— WWF Intercontinental Championship – “Ladder Match” (WATCH)
Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels(c)
Guest Commentator: Dok Hendrix
Originally this match was to be HBK/Sid but weeks before the PPV to help bolster a lackluster card, or so the story goes, the match was changed. While their first match at WrestleMania X involved a great story the return match had nothing. HBK and Razor had only one face-to-face meeting on RAW and aside from promos and highlights of WrestleMania X there was zero build-up. The finish had to be redone three times before HBK could get the belt down at 25:50 to retain the Intercontinental title. A great match years ahead of its time is diminished by the lack of any story going in, rendering the match pointless to a degree. Add to that a series of HBK tantrums and you get a match whose potential, unfortunately, was never quite reached.
WINNER and STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion, Shawn Michaels (25:50)
Dean Douglas and Razor get into it backstage before Diesel talks about the main event.
— WWF World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH)
King Mable w/Sir Mo vs. Diesel(c)
Guest Commentator: Dok Hendrix
King Mable earned this title match after winning the 1995 KOTR Tournament. The angle got personal at the In Your House 2 event in July when King Mable tried to cost Diesel the WWF title. After two years of sub-par main events the WWF was in desperate need of a quality show-closer for SummerSlam. This was not it. Lex Luger makes his last WWF TV appearance here when he takes out Sir Mo and brings a dead “Igloo” crowd to life. The end comes when Diesel hits a flying forearm for the pinfall at 9:16 to retain the WWF Championship. As the pyro goes off and Diesel celebrates the PPV goes black.
WINNER and STILL WWF World Heavyweight Champion, Diesel (Pin, 9:16)
SummerSlam ’95 was certainly an historic event for the WWF. With only one big match on the card (HBK/Razor) and a WWF title match virtually no one cared about, SummerSlam ’95 is largely viewed as the worst one ever. While the rest of the wrestling business in 1995 was expanding the WWF was never more stagnant. ECW was building a young, diehard fan base while WCW was still reshaping its. The WWF, with a product geared towards small children, had nearly lost contact with its fan base entirely. The taint of past scandals and the federal trial still loomed over the WWF and Vince McMahon opted for safety over innovation. While many complain about the “TV-PG Era”, “WWF ’95” was a living nightmare for wrestling fans of the day. With garbage men, clowns, Native Americans, personal trainers, pirates, roadies, demented dentists, and country music wannabes “WWF ’95” was a joke so bad it had forgot its own punchline.
A bad PPV in August was the least of Vince McMahon’s worries, however, as Eric Bischoff and WCW were about to launch an all-out assault for the very future of the wrestling industry with the debut of WCW Monday NITRO on TNT on Sept. 4th, at which time the WWF would “face the heat” like never before.
That wraps up this week’s edition of TBT. As always, thanks for reading. If you are a WWE Network subscriber check out the event, see it for yourself, and let me know what you think.
Until next week, see ya at ringside.