-I’m doing this review more or less to keep up with the continuity of my Raw reviews, so this isn’t as random as it might look.
-The Lex Express arrives in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Our hosts are Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan.
Ted Dibiase vs. Razor Ramon
Dibiase sneak attacks from behind, setting the tone of the match. Razor answers with a back body drop and a scoop slam. Dibiase retreats. The match restarts and Dibiase pummels the Bad Guy into the corner. Razor bounces back with a series of clotheslines. A hapless Ted Dibiase begs for mercy, but was playing possum. Dibiase chokes Razor in the ropes. Backbreaker by Dibiase gets 2. Cue the chinlock! Razor eventually escapes, but runs into a knee lift. Dibiase delivers a neckbreaker and suplex. Razor blocks the Million Dollar Dream and hits a desperate clothesline. Dibiase clubs Razor to ringside and unties a turnbuckle pad. This backfires, as Razor drives Dibiase’s skull into the exposed steel and nails the Razor’s Edge for the win at 7:28. Nothing offensive, but you’ve seen this match a thousand times, *½. Winner: Razor Ramon
-Todd Pettingill interviews members of the Steiner family in the audience. The segment is interrupted by Jim Cornette introducing the Heavenly Bodies.
-Mr. Perfect tries to fight off Diesel and Michaels but gets laid out. Michaels is interviewed on his way out and reiterates his self-proclaimed status as the greatest Intercontinental Champion.
-Backstage interview with the 1-2-3 Kid. The Kid is humble about the opportunity he has to face one of the best wrestlers in IRS. He’s going to give 110%!
-IRS is already in the ring and he’s running down Detroit as the “Tax Cheat City.”
The 1-2-3 Kid vs. IRS
The match starts off with some hot back and forth action, with The Kid hitting a spin kick for an early near fall. IRS elevates The Kid high into the air but soon eats a drop-kick to the face. IRS tosses The Kid to the floor. The Kid sneaks in for a quick roll-up for 2. Elbow drop by Shyster gets 2. Cue the rope-assisted abdominal stretch by IRS, followed by a chinlock. The Kid fights out and delivers a series of kicks. Standing moonsault by The Kid only gets 2! IRS escapes a pinning predicament but gets knocked off his feet for another near fall. IRS nails the Write Off out of nowhere for the win at 5:40. The match was by the numbers, but The Kid worked hard, **. Winner: IRS
-Bruce and Owen Hart are interviewed at ringside. Their father, Stu, is in the hospital after twisting his knee due to being angry over how Jerry Lawler treated him on Raw. That’s a bit of a stretch to blame it on Lawler, eh?
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler
Lawler makes his entrance on a pair of crutches. He has a silly looking ice pack taped to his knee and wobbles down to the ring. Lawler claims he hurt his knee when a bad local driver caused an accident. Lawler says he can’t wrestle tonight due to doctor’s orders but states he had no problem finding someone who hated Bret enough to take his place. So with a bait and switch on pay-per-view, we get Bret vs. Doink instead.
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Doink the Clown
Doink tosses water at the Hart brothers at ringside, sparking outrage from Bret, who aggressively pummels away at the evil clown. Doink tries to fly but gets dropped on his head instead. Bret comes out the victor of a slugfest and turns his attention to Lawler at ringside. Doink sneak attacks and drives Bret’s head into the steps. Doink goes to work on Bret’s leg. Rope-assisted stump puller by Doink! Bret blocks a flying senton by Doink and finds his second wind. Bret locks on the sharpshooter, but a suddenly healed Lawler storms the ring and cracks his crutch over Bret’s back! Bruce and Owen are unable to help as Lawler beats down Bret and tries to leave with Doink. The bell doesn’t ring, but I’ll assume the crutch shot at 8:57 sealed the deal. Solid match, by the way, **½. Winner by DQ: Bret Hart
-Jack Tunney confronts Lawler and orders him to wrestle Bret or be banned for life!
King of the WWF:
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler
Bret pummels Jerry back to the ring. The bell hasn’t rung yet, so Bret safely cracks a bucket over Lawler’s head. In the ring, Bret is pissed and bites the forehead. Bret uses the crutch as a weapon, but the referee allows it. To be fair, Lawler is allowed to use the crutch as well. Lawler is ruthless with his attacks to the head. Bret finds his third wind and unloads on the king. Piledriver by Bret and forearm shot off the ropes! Bret applies the sharpshooter! Lawler submits at 6:32, but Bret won’t unlock the hold! A group of referees attempt to pull Bret off, but he won’t let go! Owen and Bruce finally talk sense to Bret and he lets Lawler go. But it’s too late, and the referee reverses the decision in Lawler’s favor. This was a very good hate fueled brawl, very well done, especially given the era, ***. Winner by DQ: Jerry Lawler
-Bret isn’t finished and attacks Lawler again after hearing the official decision. Lawler is placed on a stretcher, but Bruce Hart gets his shots in as well. Lawler is declared undisputed king of the WWF and holds up his finger victoriously as he is wheeled out.
-Ludvig Borga is standing by a crumbling building outside the arena, trying to expose how crappy this country really is.
Marty Jannetty vs. Ludvig Borga
Ludvig becomes the third or fourth heel of the night to attack his opponent from behind during the opening bell. Borga proceeds to methodically beat down Jannetty. Borga elevates Jannetty into the air and punches him on the way down. Jannetty tries to mount some offense but just runs into a clothesline. Cue the bear hug. Jannetty escapes, but just eats another clothesline. Borga misses a punch and Jannetty connects with a pair of super kicks. Borga catches Jannetty in a cross body and plants him. The torture rack finishes it at 5:09. Just an extended squash, ½*. Winner: Ludvig Borga
-Be sure to order WWF Unforgiven in just three weeks, live on… just kidding. They run an early advertisement for Survivor Series, which is three months away. Those were the days.
Rest in Peace match:
Giant Gonzales (with Harvey Wippleman) vs. The Undertaker
This feud has been based on Mr. Hughes stealing Undertaker’s urn, but apparently Vince had more faith in Gonzales for this bout than Hughes. That’s got to hurt. Taker wastes no time attacking the throat of Gonzales. Wippleman distracts, allowing Gonzales to hit a big boot and club away on the Dead Man. They lumber into some back and forth brawling. Gonzales takes advantage of the no DQ rules with some chair shots. Undertaker tries to get to his urn (you know, for power) but Gonzales cuts him off. Paul Bearer comes out to a big pop, wielding a black wreath. Wippleman attacks, but Bearer clotheslines him! That was by far the most entertaining aspect of this match. Bearer fetches the urn and uses it to transfer power to the Undertaker. Suddenly, Taker is back on his feet and cleaning house. A flying clothesline finishes Gonzales at 8:02. Tedious and stupid, DUD. Winner: The Undertaker
-Gonzales is upset over the loss and attacks Wippleman with the saddest looking chokeslam this side of Taker/Hogan at Judgment Day 2002.
-Backstage interview with WWF Champion Yokozuna and his entourage of Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji. Cornette is all worked up over the defeat of the Heavenly Bodies and works himself into a frenzy ranting about it. The camera zooms in on Yokozuna as Cornette screams about what a monster he is. I love these segments.
Tatanka and the Smoking Gunns vs. Bam Bam Bigelow and the Headshrinkers (with Luna Vachon and Afa)
Apparently Bigelow and the Samoans are a force of evil great enough to bring together peace between cowboys and Indians. The Smoking Gunns get knocked out, leaving Tatanka to take a beating from Bigelow. Tatanka battles back with a big drop-kick and a back body drop. They wipe each other out with simultaneous cross bodies. Billy Gunn and Fatu get tags and exchange shots. Billy nails a flying clothesline off the top but Samu tags in. Billy gets super kicked into his corner and tags Bart, who goes to work on Samu. Bart finds himself isolated as Bigelow and the Headshrinkers speed up the tags. Tatanka eventually makes a hot tag and cleans house on an overwhelmed Bigelow. Tatanka splashes Bigelow, but is bewildered when it doesn’t get the pin. Bigelow pummels back, but it only sends Tatanka on the warpath. Samu cuts off Tatanka’s momentum and nails a diving head butt for a near fall. All six men battle it out in the ring, but it boils down to Tatanka alone against the heels. Tatanka takes a triple head butt and the Headshrinkers and Bigelow all go for diving head butts… and they all miss! The Smoking Gunns return for the save and Tatanka rolls up Samu for the win at 11:13. Where the hell did this match come from and how the hell did these guys manage to pull off the match of the night thus far? ***½. Winners: Tatanka and the Smoking Gunns
-Joe “New Guy” Fowler interviews Hank Cater, the driver of the Lex Express. He gushes over what a great guy Luger is.
-Todd Pettingill interviews a grown man in the crowd who brags about the red, white, and blue toga his mom made him. I’m not making this up.
-A Japanese guy sings the Japanese national anthem to massive crowd booing. Stay classy, Detroit. Naturally, the American national anthem is played afterwards (complete with cheerleading by Randy Savage) and the crowd just loves it. I really hate this xenophobic crowd pandering.
Final Thoughts: The matches that didn’t have to deliver, did deliver. The matches that sold the show were a bit on the iffy side. I was caught off guard by just how good the entire segment with Lawler and the Harts was. It was satisfying for the live crowd and was an effective way to prolong what was actually developing into a great feud. Sure, there was a lot of filler, a stupid Undertaker match, and xenophobia up the wazoo, but there are enough “better than you would expect” moments to recommend a viewing. This show is available for rental on Netflix or for sale as part of the SummerSlam Anthology. Check it out.
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