Ken Kidney revisits the year that WWE Summerslam crossed the pond.
With this year’s edition of Summerslam being this Sunday, I decided to take a look at one of the most memorable cards in the event’s history, Summerslam 1992.
Summerslam 1992 was originally slated to take place in Washington, D.C. The then WWF made the groundbreaking decision to move the summer spectacular to Wembley Stadium in London due to the company’s growing popularity in England, hoping to increase the revenue for the event. This marked the first time that a major WWF pay per view was staged outside North America.
The Supershow had a double main event with Ultimate Warrior challenging Macho Man Randy Savage for the WWF Championship and Bret Hart defending his Intercontinental Title against England native Davey Boy Smith, otherwise known as the British Bulldog. Shawn Michaels had been originally lined up to take on Hart but due to the change of location, Smith was chosen for the match. In an unusual move, the match would act as the main event of the show, with the WWF Championship match acting as the semi main event.
The card featured six other matches:
The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) (with Paul Ellering) defeated Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster) (with Jimmy Hart) in an exciting opener.
Nailz defeated Virgil.
Shawn Michaels (with Sensational Sherry) fought to a double count out with Rick Martel. Both men spent most of the match vying for the attention of Michaels’ manager, Sherry, who had previously been Martel’s manager.
The behemoth team of The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon) defeated The Beverly Brothers (Blake and Beau) to retain their WWF Tag Team Titles.
Crush defeated Repo Man.
The Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) defeated Kamala (with Harvey Wippleman and Kim Chee) by disqualification in a quick match.
The WWF championship match between Macho Man Randy Savage (c) and the Ultimate Warrior was a close affair with both men trading the advantage back and forth throughout the match. Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect eventually made their way ringside and the fans knew they were there for a reason. The match continued as normal until Perfect reached into the ring and tripped Savage. Warrior accidentally threw Savage into referee Earl Hebner. As a result of the collision, Hebner was not able to make the three-count when Savage pinned the Warrior after performing his patented diving elbow drop. Perfect and Flair revived the Ultimate Warrior, only to attack him when he stood up. The Warrior recovered and attempted to execute his running splash, but Flair hit him with a steel chair. Savage saw the Warrior injured and realized that Flair and Perfect were causing trouble rather than trying to help either man. In retaliation, Savage jumped off the top rope to attack Flair, but Flair hit him in the leg with the same chair he used to attack Warrior. Savage was unable to get back into the ring, so the Ultimate Warrior won the match via countout. Flair and Perfect continued to attack Savage until the Warrior chased them away. Savage and the Ultimate Warrior embraced and walked to the locker room together.
The event concluded with the second main event, a contest for the Intercontinental Championship between champion Bret Hart and challenger “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, who was accompanied by a young Lennox Lewis. The match divided the loyalty of the Hart Family due to Smith being married to Hart’s sister Diana. Bruce Hart publicly supported Smith, while Owen Hart sided with his brother Bret. Diana stated that she did not know who she wanted to win the match, as she had close ties to both men but hoped neither of them would get hurt. Her concerns turned out to be valid because both men took each other to the limit in a hard fought match.
In the opening minutes, Hart used his superior technical wrestling skills and Smith relied on his strength and power. Hart eventually took control of the match with a reverse atomic drop and a Samoan drop. Smith came back with a monkey flip, but Hart regained the advantage with a bulldog and a plancha. After recovering from a succession of sleeper holds, Smith gained the advantage, used power moves keep Hart down, hitting his signature Power Slam for a near fall. Hart managed to place Smith in the Sharpshooter, Hart’s favoured submission hold. Smith managed to escape and threw Hart against the ropes. While running back at Smith, Hart attempted a sunset flip. Smith countered the move and pinned Hart to win the Intercontinental Championship. Immediately after the match, Hart refused to shake Smith’s hand. He soon changed his mind, however, and hugged Smith as well as Diana Hart, who was celebrating with her husband. The 5 star encounter is considered one of the best in Summerslam, if not WWE history. This accomplishment is made more astounding due to the fact that Smith was hospitalised shortly before the match with a serious staph infection. Despite concerns for his health, he decided to go ahead with the match anyway.
To add to this, in his autobiography, Bret claims that Smith came to him in the days before the match and admitted that he had been smoking crack for weeks and was terrified that he wouldn’t make it through the match. Bret also claims that Smith got so amped up that he forgot the entire match shortly after the bell rang. Bret also says was struggling physically in the early going. If this is true, Bret carried Smith the whole way to one of the highest regarded matches in the history of the WWE single-handed.
This claim has never been substantiated by anyone else and Bret is prone to having an inflated opinion of his own abilities but then again Bulldogs drug issues have been well documented at this point and they would eventually lead to his death. Having seen the match for myself, I couldn’t believe it when I read Hart’s claims because I saw no visible indication of it during the match. Bret is either a master the likes of which wrestling had never seen and will never see again or he is revising history a bit. Either way it makes for an interesting story and adds a dimension of intrigue when viewing the bout. I suggest you check it out and decide for yourself . I’d love to know what you think.
According to the WWE, the 80,355 people in attendance make SummerSlam 1992 the third largest in the company’s history, behind only WrestleMania 29 and WrestleMania III, which is said to have attracted 93,173 fans. It is widely believed the attendance for WrestleMania III closer to 78,000, however, which makes the crowd for SummerSlam 1992 arguably the biggest in WWE history. It is to this day, the largest verified crowd in the history of the company. The WWF collected $2,200,000 in revenue from admissions, The company also sold $1,456,203 in merchandise at SummerSlam, which is still the largest amount of the merchandise revenue for any WWE event.
The event has received positive reviews from a variety of sources. In particular, the Intercontinental Championship match has been called “one of the greatest matches of all time”. Pro Wrestling Illustrated named it the Match of the Year in the magazine’s year-end issue, and WWE has called the match the greatest moment in SummerSlam history. Bret Hart has also named it as the favorite match of his career.
Despite the commercial and critical success of the event, nothing of its scale has been attempted outside North America since. This is down to a number of factors. The buy rate for the pay per view was 1.5, down from 2.7 the previous year. This can be attributed to the fact that the event aired on the 31st of August 1992, two days after it was staged. It is said that the results of the event leaked early to the U.S. audience. It could also be attributed by the decision to have the main event feature two lesser stars. Despite the quality of the match neither man was seen as a main eventer at the time. The buy rate also suffered from the absence of Hulk Hogan was on hiatus from the company at the time. The logistics and significant extra cost of transporting the event across the Atlantic also likely influenced the decision to not attempt it a second time. WWE has staged minor pay per views and special U.K. pay per views in England since but nothing on the scale of SummerSlam ’92. Rumours have persisted in recent years that WWE are considering holding a future Wrestlemania in the U.K. The issues remain the same in that the cost would be larger and the WWE’s primary audience is in the U.S. so they remain a priority. On the other hand, WWE presents themselves as more of a global company these days and there would be no issue in airing the event live. The question would be if U.S. based fans would accept an earlier start time. I would love to see WWE attempt something on the scale of Summerslam 1992 on this side of the pond again in the near future. The memories are sure to last a lifetime.
If you would like to see the event for yourself, it is available to purchase online and is bound to be floating around the internet but you didn’t hear that from me! Trust me, it is well worth the purchase if you can track down a copy.
I will be back at the weekend with another edition of Wrestling Weekly where I will preview this years Summerslam Event. Until then, let me know what you think of Wrestling Rewind in the comments section below or send me a tweet @KenKidney.
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