wrestling / Video Reviews

Cook’s WWF SummerSlam 1994 Review

July 28, 2022 | Posted by Steve Cook
Bret Hart Owen Hart SummerSlam 1994 Image Credit: WWE/Peacock
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Cook’s WWF SummerSlam 1994 Review  

The reign of Yokozuna came to an end during the first quarter of 1994. Before that happened, he managed to defeat The Undertaker in a casket match at the Royal Rumble. Granted, he had ten people helping him, but one has to do what one has to do when dealing with The Undertaker. Undertaker disappeared after the Rumble. People thought they saw him in different places, but weren’t sure. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase had transitioned from wrestler to manager, and claimed to have Undertaker under his control. Paul Bearer thought different, and said he would have the real Undertaker by his side to face whatever DiBiase had with him at SummerSlam.

After dispatching of Undertaker, Yokozuna moved on to WrestleMania X, where he would have two title defenses against the co-winners of the Royal Rumble match. WWF still didn’t do triple threat matches at this point. Lex Luger got the first shot, and came up a bit short because that was what Lex Luger did during most of his career. Bret Hart got the second shot, and made the most of it.

This infuriated his younger brother Owen, who had defeated Bret earlier in the evening in their first match since Owen turned on Bret at the Royal Rumble. Owen kept moving up the rankings, winning the King of the Ring tournament with a little help from Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. The Anvil had his own issues with Bret, as their careers went in different directions after the Hart Foundation split. A steel cage match between Bret & Owen was set for SummerSlam, with the idea of keeping other Hart family members from getting involved.

The 1994 edition of SummerSlam took place at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. It was the first major event to take place at the new home of the Chicago Bulls & Blackhawks, and would be the last WWF event to take place there until 2018. Speaking of Chicago, one of the city’s favorite athletes would be involved in the Intercontinental Championship Match…

Razor Ramon had defeated Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X in a memorable ladder match. Michaels’ bodyguard, a 7 foot tall fella named Diesel, would be the man to dethrone Razor for the championship. Diesel’s push increased throughout 1994, and Michaels would constantly get involved in his matches. This led to Ramon enlisting some backup for his title shot in Chicago, in the form of legendary Bears running back Walter Payton.

Cook’s WWF SummerSlam 1994 Review

Here comes “Macho Man” Randy Savage! He’s here to welcome everybody to Chicago, the United Center, the SummerSlam, the United Center, the WWF and everything else. He promises it’ll be the most electric fun we’ve had in our entire lives. Vince McMahon & Jerry “The King” Lawler will be our announce team. Lawler tells us that Shawn Michaels & Diesel won the Tag Team Championship last night in Indianapolis from the Headshrinkers. We also learn that Davey Boy Smith will be in attendance tonight, which is newsworthy since he hasn’t been under WWF contract for quite some time.

Bam Bam Bigelow & Irwin R. Schyster (w/Ted DiBiase) vs. The Headshrinkers (w/Afa & Captain Louis Albano): The Headshrinkers might have lost those belts, but they still brought out some nice new entrance attire for SummerSlam. DiBiase’s team just had some neon green lighting. Pretty embarrassing for the Million Dollar Corporation to be outspent on an entrance, I’d think. I’ve never seen Lou look this dapper! Samu & Fatu remove their attire and look ready to go. Fatu & Bam Bam start things off. Bam Bam with a couple of shoulderblocks, misses in the corner and gets shoulderblocked down. Fatu can’t hit the slam though, and Bam Bam goes up top to miss a headbutt. Then Fatu hits a clothesline! Not surprising these two agile big men would be electric together, this is fantastic. Tag to Samu, superkick party gets two. BBB elbows Samu down and tags IRS. IRS gets slammed a couple of times and kicked by Samu for two. Samu misses a crossbody, then IRS misses a crossbody and goes over the top rope. Fatu sends IRS into the steps and back into the ring. Headbutt from Samu gets two. Fatu back in, he goes over the top rope thanks to Bam Bam. Fatu’s face gets introduced to a briefcase, then an IRS elbowdrop for two. Double clothesline for BBB & Fatu. IRS & Samu tag in. IRS & Bam Bam get backdropped & headbutted. IRS gets slammed, Samu drops a headbutt from the second rope for two. Bam Bam gets knocked outside. IRS gets doubleteamed, Samu hits the splash from the top rope but the referee is DISTRACTED. Bam Bam breaks up the non-existent count then knocks Lou off the apron for reasons. Afa comes in and hits some actual offense! The bell rings and I wonder what the decision will be. Bam Bam eats a triple headbutt, IRS gets knocked down to the floor. The wrestlers are fighting up the aisleway and it’s a complete mess.

Winners: Bam Bam Bigelow & I.R.S. (7:20 via disqualification)
Match Rating: **1/4

Kinda fun, but also a complete mess and made irrelevant by the booking. I would enjoy a Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Fatu singles match.

Leslie Nielsen is hot on the Undertaker Trail. I’d love to put Nielsen over since I’m as big an Airplane! fan as anybody, but they gave him nothing to work with here. Stop calling me Shirley Schmidt.

WWF Women’s Championship Match: Bull Nakano (w/Luna Vachon) vs. Allundra Blayze (c): Luna tries to attack but that doesn’t go too well. Bull hits a clothesline, Allundra evades a powerbomb but misses a dropkick. Bull hits two hair mares to take the advantage. Hits a legdrop for a one count but maintains the advantage with a chinlock. Blayze gets to the ropes but gets smacked down while the fans chant USA. Blayze hits a rana for two, then a spinkick. Misses a kick, Nakano goes to a chokehold and lowers Blayze to the canvas. Bull locks in a Boston Crab. Allunda fights towards the ropes and gets there. Bull locks in a Paige TapOut! Doesn’t last long, but impressive all the same. Luna does some interfering behind the ref’s back, it doesn’t work out as Blayze rolls Nakano up for a two count. Bull goes to a short arm-scissor. Allundra hits three facebusters off the ropes, just gets a two count. Blayze goes for a piledriver, Nakano powers out. Blayze gets slammed down for two, gets clotheslined down. Blayze evades Nakano in the corner, backslides for a two count. Nakano slams Blayze down and goes up top. Legdrop misses, Luna gets knocked off the apron, a German suplex from Blayze gets the three count!

Winner: Allundra Blayze (8:10 via pinfall)
Match Rating: ***

Not gonna lie, I’m much more impressed with Bull Nakano now than I was when I was 10. We probably shouldn’t delve too much into that, but this was good women’s rasslin that sadly wouldn’t last long during this era.

Todd is backstage with the new WWF Tag Team Champions, Shawn Michaels & Diesel. Shawn brags about how it went down. Everything Diesel touches turns to gold. Todd suggests they’re overlooking former Bears running back Walter Payton, Shawn insists they overlook everybody.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match: Diesel (c) (w/Shawn Michaels) vs. Razor Ramon (w/Walter Payton): Payton, of course, was the star running back for the Chicago Bears throughout the 1970s & 80s, leading Da Bears to a championship in the 1985 season. 1985 wasn’t that long ago at this point. I don’t recall if Payton’s involvement here got the WWF that SportsCenter publicity they love so much, but it was a really good get for the Chicago market. Also, Payton is wearing an awesome Razor t-shirt. This definitely has humdinger potential, and Ramon goes to work right away on Diesel, knocking him out of the ring with some punches. Diesel starts using his power & size advantage upon returning to the ring, including the ol’ short-arm clothesline. Ramon fights back briefly before running into an elbow from Diesel. Diesel uses the boot choke in the corner that was perfected by Stacy Keibler years later. Then he goes to the sleeperhold for a second before Ramon back suplexes him out of it. Ramon gets tossed out of the ring in what would be a disqualification in most other wrestling promotions. Then Michaels removes one of the turnbuckles before going over to try & goad Walter Payton into one of those media moments. Michaels runs over and forearms Ramon down while Earl Hebner talks to Walter about where he can get a great deal on WWF t-shirts. Diesel does an early rendition of the framing elbow in the corner. So early he doesn’t do the framing part. Hebner tries to keep Diesel from whipping Razor into the exposed turnbuckle, but a distraction from Michaels lets Diesel do the thing and a sidewalk slam for two. Snake eyes in one of the regular turnbuckles, then a running charge on the ropes. Payton’s not being terribly effective in his role of keeping Michaels from interfering. Ramon fights out of the chinlock in near record time, the runs into a big boot for a two count. ABDOMINAL STRETCH! Diesel utilizes the ropes like a good heel should. Is it just me or do you not see enough abdominal stretches anymore? I’m sure JR did a rant about this on some episode of Dynamite. Razor transitions to one of his own before Diesel hip tosses him out. Diesel gets sent into that exposed turnbuckle for a near-fall, then gets kneelifted & punched by Ramon. Diesel gets crotched on the ringpost, then Razor bulldogs him for a two count. Bodyslam by Razor gets two, then he punches Michaels off the apron. Diesel gets placed on the turnbuckle, but avoids the back suplex. Diesel goes for the Jackknife, but Ramon backdrops his way out of that. Another Michaels distraction leads to a Diesel shoulderblock. Michaels gets the Intercontinental title belt, and Payton finally does something to stop that, a tug of war with Michaels. Payton wins that, but the referee still goes outside to get that t-shirt sale. Michaels goes in the ring and sets up some Sweet Chin Music, but Razor ducks and Diesel eats the superkick. After a brief delay so Payton & Michaels can run around the ring, Razor covers for the three count and the title change.

Winner: Razor Ramon (15:02 via pinfall)
Match Rating: **3/4

Diesel was still pretty green at this point, but Ramon did the best he could with him. Diesel yelled at Michaels in the aisleway, setting up their eventual split a couple of months after this. Not sure if they worked together much after that. Payton and his son celebrate with Razor in the ring. Jarrett would go on to a sports media career. I’m pretty sure he was on ESPNU’s Sports Nation college football pregame show with my girl Cassidy Hubbarth back in the early 2010s. I didn’t pay much attention to the non-Cassidy people on the show, so I may be wrong on that.

Macho Man congratulates Razor Ramon. Hard to believe congratulating other people for winning titles wasn’t something Savage wanted to do the rest of his life.

Todd is back in the locker room with Lex Luger & Tatanka. 54% of WWF Opinion Poll voters think Lex has sold out to the Million Dollar Man. Tatanka says that 54% of the people have the right opinion. He’s got plenty of facts & proof, and we see clips of those facts and proof. You can tell this is the 90s because selling out was considered a bad thing back then. Lex insists he didn’t sell out and never considered it. I need to point out that Tatanka was having a pretty bad hair day here. He really should have kept the red on top.

Tatanka vs. Lex Luger: One year ago, Luger was trying to be Hulk Hogan. Now he’s got at least 54% of the people booing him. That push sure went well, eh? After some jawjacking, they do a brief tieup that goes nowhere. Another tieup goes into the corner and the referee eventually breaks it. Now I see where Brock Lesnar & Goldberg got ideas for their WrestleMania XX match. Luger hits a shoulderblock, which doesn’t really impress the crowd. They exchange arm-wringers, Tatanka hits a cross-body for two, then Luger utilizes a small package for two. Here’s some punches. Luger with the 80s style hiptoss, which tells me that he can’t possibly be a heel. Missing the elbowdrop though, that’s pretty heelish. Tatanka hits a powerslam for two. Time for the war dance! Seems a bit early for it to me, but it’s working for Tatanka with some chops to the face. Vertical suplex, then Tatanka goes up top…hits the tomahawk chop for two. Are Native American wrestlers allowed to do that in 2022? Just curious. Tatanka misses a crossbody off the top, then Luger hits some clotheslines. Ted DiBiase wanders down to ringside with the patriotic-themed duffel bag while Luger gets ready to rack Tatanka. Luger sees DiBiase, who’s distracting him with money. Tatanka sneaks up from behind and rolls Luger up for the three count!

Winner: Tatanka (6:02 via pinfall)
Match Rating: *

Lex is mad at Tatanka, but Tatanka’s all like “hey this was a wrestling match”. DiBiase enters the ring, Luger kicks the duffel bag full of money out of his hands. Then Tatanka attacks Luger from behind! After some kicks & punches, Tatanka hits the End of the Trail a couple of times. DiBiase approves, and it turns out Luger wasn’t the one that sold out. Tatanka temporarily leaves with DiBiase before continuing the onslaught. Tatanka locks in the Million Dollar Dream on Luger and puts him to sleep. Put the dollar bill in his mouth! The match itself wasn’t much, and the Tatanka heel run didn’t lead to much of value, but the turn angle was pretty good. I remember being into it pretty good as a young’in.

Gorilla Monsoon is on the Superstar Line and he calls Tatanka a disgrace to all Native Americans.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Mabel (w/Oscar): It’s country vs. rap, a few years before the West Texas Rednecks & the No Limit Soldiers made it cool. As usual, Jarrett was ahead of his time. Mabel wins the test of strength, but Jarrett evades Mabel and struts around. Jarrett with some arm wringers, then Mabel throws him down. More strutting. Jarrett leapfrogs over Mabel, but then gets elbowdropped, slammed and clotheslined over the top rope. Jarrett shoves Oscar into the steps, then trips Mabel. Jarrett hits a fistdrop of sorts, it looked like he got on the second rope, then had no idea what he was going to do with Mabel in the position he was in. So he did whatever that was. These things happen. Double axehandles in the other corners to a standing Mabel go better, until Mabel catches him on the last one. Some Jarrett punches are met with indifference, then Jarrett goes for a sleeper. He gets crushed in the corner instead, but still goes back to the sleeper. Mabel crushes him in the corner again, then hits a spinning heel kick for two. Then we see a mysterious man wearing a baseball uniform and facepaint walking in the crowd with a “I’m On Strike!” sign! Ah yes, the original MVP, also known as Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz. He was a baseball player that started wrestling since he was on strike from baseball. Pretty sure the Cincinnati Reds are looking to bring him in after the trade deadline. Meanwhile, Mabel squashes Jarrett on the mat. Jarrett gets a foot on the ropes though, then rakes the eyes of Mabel. Jarrett goes after Oscar again, but Mabel holds him for a slap from Oscar, then squishes him into the ringpost. Back in the ring, Mabel misses a splash off the second rope. Cover gets two, Mabel kind of kicks out and Jarrett goes flying across the ring. Jarrett then goes for the sunset flip, Mabel tries to counter and misses the butt splash. Jarrett covers for three.

Winner: Jeff Jarrett (5:55 via pinfall)
Match Rating: 1/2*

I wonder if Jarrett will use that finish on Ric Flair.

Vince McMahon introduces the Super Sleuths consumed with finding the Undertaker. Leslie Nielsen & George Kennedy don’t see his shadow behind them though.

There’s a steel cage that needs to be constructed, so we get a recap of the issues between Bret & Owen Hart dating back to the 1993 Survivor Series. I was not an Owen Hart fan at this point in my life. I was the older brother in my family, so it was easier for me to relate to Bret. Now that I’m older and more accustomed to being held back by the man, Owen’s distaste towards his family & jealousy towards his brother is more relatable.

Vince & Jerry talk to Stu & Helen Hart about the upcoming match. Stu says the best wrestler will win. Jerry talks to the British Bulldog, who says Bret is in the best condition of his life. Vince gets some thoughts from Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, who says we’ll see that Owen is the best Hart tonight. Vince points out that Bruce might be the most volatile Hart of all, and Bruce says that Jim isn’t going to pull anything tonight. Pretty good segment here, nobody came off too embarrassing.

Todd is with Bret, who is recovering from strep throat. Bret no-sells the idea that will have an effect on him, and plans on keeping the WWF Championship. He was always better than Owen! He doesn’t hate Owen, he blames Neidhart for planting the seeds of jealousy. You can tell that they told Bret to fill as much time as he possibly could, as he goes on for awhile.

WWF Championship Steel Cage Match: “The King of Harts” Owen Hart vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart (c): This was contested under WWF steel cage match rules of the period, meaning that one could only win by escaping the cage. No pinfalls or submissions. This didn’t really bother me at the time, as there weren’t a ton of steel cage matches on television and I just assumed that’s how things went. Bruce makes sure to get a big hug from Bret so he can get some of that heat. Owen attacks Bret right away, wasting no time. Bret fights back after about a minute or so of punches and kicks, but Owen goes to the eyes. Owen chokes Bret with his singlet, Bret blocks a blow to the cage and hits a DDT on Owen. Bret tries to climb up the cage but Owen puts a stop to that and hits an enziguri. Time for Owen to climb. Bret breaks that up and back suplexes his little brother before asking for the door to be opened. Owen pulls Bret away, Bret takes a hard whip into the turnbuckle before hitting a bulldog. Back to that door, Owen & Bret take turns diving for the door and getting pulled away. After they get tired of that, Bret tries climbing again. Owen tosses him off the top rope. Owen goes up on the other side, Bret yanks his hair to keep him from falling to the floor. They fight on the top turnbuckle, Bret falls off first and Owen comes off with a dropkick. Kipup by Owen and he runs over to the cage to climb. Bret catches up with him up top and yanks him back in by the hair again. After a fight on the top rope they both fall to the mat. Owen goes for a piledriver, Bret backdrops his way out of it. Double shoulderblock sends both men down. Owen crawls towards the door, but Bret pulls him back by the hair. Owen crotches Bret on the top rope in pretty brutal fashion. The Anvil loves it! Owen tries to crawl out, but Bret pulls him back by the legs and headbutts him in the lower abdominal region. Bret misses an elbowdrop off the middle rope, giving Owen another chance to climb up. Owen gets over the top, but Bret’s got him by the hair. Bret pulls Owen back in the ring, tosses him off the top rope and climbs up himself. Owen stops that, and hits an early version of the Angle Slam. Owen tries to climb up again, but gets knocked down as Bruce tries to instigate things with the Anvil in the crowd. It merely takes Neidhart making a “bring it” hand motion for Bruce to settle down. Bret nearly gets out, but this time it’s Owen pulling hair. Back suplex off the top rope and both men are down again. Owen hits a piledriver. Finally Owen starts climbing, but Bret plays possum and catches Owen at the right time. Owen knocks Bret off the top rope, but crotches himself on said rope. Bret crawls over, but Owen is just there enough to keep Bret from getting out. Bret’s kicking for all he’s worth but it’s not enough to get out.

Bret drags Owen to the middle of the ring and catapults him into the cage. First real shot into the cage so far into this match, impressive they could wait that long. Bret tries to crawl out again, Owen dives over and stops him. Another hard Irish whip by Owen, Bret sure loved taking those turnbuckle bumps. Owen takes another hard shot into the cage, but it’s his own fault since he was trying to do an O’Connor roll for some reason. Bret’s knee hit the cage though, and he’s come up a bit gimpy. This means it takes longer for Bret to climb, and Owen has more than enough time to yank him back down to the ring. Spinning heel kick from Owen and both men are down. Owen eventually climbs up, but Bret’s right behind him and pulling hair again. They exchange shots while standing on the top rope. Bret kicks Owen off the top rope, but he doesn’t have enough time to get out. Both men are down after a double shoulderblock. Owen eventually gets up and starts climbing, but Bret catches him and superplexes him off the top rope. Bret tries to crawl out of the cage, but Owen catches him and puts him in the Sharpshooter. Bret’s grabbing Owen’s ankle, trips him up and reverses the Sharpshooter! Bret climbs up the cage, Owen dives up ad gets Bret’s hair. They both tumble off the top rope. Owen’s first to stir and climbs up, Bret joins him up there though, and they fight on the outside part of the cage. Owen falls, but his leg is caught in the cage! Bret drops down and retains the title.

Winner: Bret “Hitman” Hart (32:22 via escape)
Match Rating: *****

People have been telling us for years that it’s impossible for WWE to have good cage matches due to the lack of blood. This match tells me that theory is complete nonsense. Bret & Owen had a classic steel cage match here without blood, pinfalls or submissions. Basically, all the things that most of my writing peers grew up on due to non-WWF cage matches. The fans were totally into the climbing and door spots throughout the match, and even if there wasn’t any blood, Bret & Owen still had a physical match that lived up to what one would expect from a bitter rivalry. Now that things are swinging back in the other direction and we’re back to seeing blood on television every couple of weeks or so, it seems to me that it’d behoove today’s younger wrestlers to watch matches like this one and learn how to tell a story without bleeding all over the place.

Anvil exits the crowd and clotheslines the Bulldog & Diana over the railing! I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Diana wasn’t supposed to be involved in that and Bulldog took her with him over the railing as a joke. Neidhart then attacks Bret, and he & Owen get Bret back into the cage. Anvil tries to chain the door shut, it takes a minute but eventually the door’s chained shut so Bret can get a beating. Other Hart brothers try to climb into the cage without success. Bulldog eventually gets in once he removes his shirt, giving him extra power. Owen & Jim get outta there once the rest of the Harts manage to make their way in. Todd tries to get a few words backstage, but his microphone doesn’t work. Fortunately Owen is loud enough to express his displeasure with Bret & the Bulldog. Anvil yells some, and they go to celebrate Owen’s victory.

Vince & Jerry talk about how Bret took the beating of his life. Then we get a lengthy recap of Undertaker’s 1994 while the cage is taken down. He disappeared after the Royal Rumble, and apparently people thought they saw him all over the place. Ted DiBiase even produced an Undertaker of his own, which people were supposed to believe was the real Undertaker. I mean, they tried.

Underfaker (w/Ted DiBiase) vs. Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer): Underfaker makes a traditional Undertaker entrance while Paul Bearer brings out a casket. Turns out the casket has a gigantic urn in it. Bearer enters the ring with the urn, which produces a light. Apparently the spirit of the Undertaker, according to Vince. Undertaker appears in the aisleway after the light show. This entrance takes forever and a year, but if I remember correctly, it was better than the match.

Taker & Faker face off, with Taker’s height advantage on display. They exchange shots, Taker hits a big boot and punches Faker down to the floor. Faker walks towards Paul Bearer, who claims it’s all over for him. Taker suplexes Faker back into the ring, who does the zombie situp. Choke from Taker, he chucks Faker to the outside. Faker fights back, then teases walking the ropes. Taker breaks that up. Another zombie situp, at least Faker perfected that part of the character. Taker dows the actual rope walk. Faker does a modified hotshot on Taker as Vince tells us that the crowd is in “awe” of the two Undertakers. That’s one way to describe the silence, yes. Taker misses a move and falls to the floor. Faker rams Taker’s head into the ringpost and beats him around ringside. Back in the ring, Faker hits a chokeslam and pauses. Taker eventually does the zombie situp. Faker hits a Tombstone and pauses again. Another zombie situp. Faker goes for another Tombstone, Taker reverses and hits one of his own. Taker hits one more Tombstone, waits for the situp, it doesn’t happen and Taker hits a third Tombstone to end the match with Earl Hebner’s ten second three count.

Winner: Undertaker (9:10 via pinfall)
Match Rating: 0 stars

I’d give the entrance a couple of stars, the match itself warranted nothing. Faker gets loaded into the casket and we never see him again.

Macho Man tells us that this was the most amazing night ever, and tosses it to the Super Sleuths. They open the casket backstage and there’s nothing inside. They find a closed briefcase nearby, and George Kennedy declares the case to be closed. And that’s how this ends.

The final score: review Good
The 411
It's tempting to downgrade this event as a whole due to the Taker vs. Faker "main event" that sent the fans home silently. That would be somewhat disrespectful to the rest of the card, which included the best SummerSlam match up to this point. Bret & Owen had a classic match. The Diesel push continued, going much better than the Luger push from the year before. Speaking of Luger, the angle with Tatanka was fun. There was also Blayze vs. Nakano, which was probably the best WWF women's match of the 20th century. (They also had a great match on an episode of Raw I haven't seen in ages. Yes, the main event sucked, but the rest was mostly entertaining.

article topics :

Summerslam, WWE, Steve Cook