With SummerSlam coming around the corner, it always gets me to feel a bit nostalgic. I remember the hype for SummerSlam ’88 when it was The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan & Macho Man Randy Savage) taking on The Mega Bucks (The duo of Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant), and a 5 year old me was pretty hype about it because for me no one was a bigger star than Hulk Hogan and Macho Man. In hindsight, it was actually the beginning of the slow build to WrestleMania V. Mad props on the slow burn story-line there, but I digress. Now I am not here to talk about all of the fallout and shit that happened from that show forward. What I do want to talk about is something that would take place 7 years later. I went to my first WWF show, and that show happened to be SummerSlam ’95. While the show is irrelevant now in the grand scheme of things, at the time it was huge for me. Finally seeing WWF guys in person! I had been watching wrestling for years and had never been to a show before that warm August evening in 1995.
I remember walking into the Civic Arena in Downtown Pittsburgh, getting to my seat, and seeing everything the ring, the crowd, right there before my eyes for the very first time. At age 12, I was still a mark with a suspended imagination. There was no internet, so I wasn’t exactly smartened up yet. What I remember is that show starting off with a match between Hakushi (an underrated worker who was ahead of his time) taking on the 123 Kid (years before he would become a bigger star than even he would imagine being part of both the nWo in WCW and later on Degeneration X in WWF). It was a great match with the Hakushi coming out on top. Then there was a “Pre-Game” Hunter Hearst Helmsley taking on Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly, and I remember hoping that Bob Holly would actually win because I couldn’t stand Triple H back then, but it wasn’t to be! One pedigree later, and it was over for a race car driver who had yet to become “hardcore”.
Remember the Blu Twins? Of course you don’t! Jacob and Eli Blu were managed by Uncle Zeb who would leave the WWF and come back YEARS later talking about real Americans and shouting WE THE PEOPLE! I watched as they were defeated by The Smoking Guns in a tag team match. Then came the match that I looked forward to most as Barry Horowitz took on Skip (Chris Candido) of the Body Donnas. Skip was sure that Barry Horowitz upsetting him on an episode of WWF Superstars was just a fluke, but Barry would pull off the win once again. In hindsight, I was pretty disappointed that they didn’t push Horowitz further as the crowd truly seemed to love the underdog star. Not only would I see my first live WWF this night, but I would also see a title change hands when Bertha Faye defeated Alundra Blaze for the Women’s title in a match that would blow any “Divas” match that we currently see out of the water.
Next I would witness a casket match between The Undertaker and Kama Mustafa in a feud that started over someone taking the Undertaker’s urn which would become a common thing for years to come while Kama would ditch the MMA stuff and eventually become a pimp known as The Godfather! Of course the Undertaker won the match, and the 12 year old mark in me continued to believe in his aura of invincibility. Then I got to see Shawn Michaels successfully defend the Intercontinental title against Razor Ramon in a ladder match that was a rematch of their WrestleMania X encounter earlier that year. While it was a good match, even then I knew that it wasn’t as good as the previous. And did you ever notice that Bret Hart would always feud with some of the silliest people? During this time the former champion was feuding with a pirate, a King, and then we had his opponent for the night a freaking dentist in Dr. Issac Yankem DDS. Bret would win this match by DQ to prolong the feud that Bret would eventually win while the dentist, turn into Fake Diesel, and then into Kane...all’s well that ends well for Glen Jacobs.
For all of you wrestling purist out there who take the time out to read my columns, you know that the SummerSlam ‘95 main event was one of the worst main events of all time. Diesel vs King Mabel! It was Mabel’s one time in the spotlight at an event that wasn’t a WWE-ECW show. At age 12, once again, I didn’t care as much because I felt that it was an even match up. Mabel had just won King of the Ring and Diesel was riding high using his “Kliq” magic. Diesel won, and he sent the Pittsburgh faithful home happy. And why wouldn’t you be happy? Would you have really wanted Mabel to be the WWF Champion? The dude from Men on a Mission...
As someone who would go on to attend multiple house shows, a bunch of Monday Night RAWs, and even witness the Undertaker vs Mankind Hell in a Cell match at King of the Ring ’98, I always look back on SummerSlam ’95 fondly regardless of how bad it was in hindsight. You always remember your first, right? Well I remember my first time seeing pro wrestling live and even getting a Diesel foam #1 finger! And right now, as you read this, there is some anxious 12 year old kid out there on the west coast who will get up on that Sunday, put on his Daniel Bryan “Yes” shirt (because he is reaching puberty and realizes Cena is a lame ass clown), and head out to HIS first WWE show to see SummerSlam live. I feel ya kid!
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