LOP on Facebook LOP on Twitter LOP on Google Plus LOP on Youtube LOP's RSS Feed

Home | Headlines | News | Results | Columns | Radio | Forums | Contact

Posted in: Requesting Flyby
REQUESTING FLYBY: Summerslam Memories (The 1990s)
By Maverick
Aug 6, 2014 - 12:54:49 PM

 photo LOP_Banner_zps692f3fe3.png

Summerslam Memories (The 1990s)

Welcome back dear readers to this four part run through some classic memories of Summerslam. Today we’re taking a look at the 1990s, a complex decade that spanned three eras: the end of Rock ‘N’ Wrestling, the New Generation and the Attitude Era, with the financial position of the company going from boom to bust and back to boom. When we look at the successful Summerslams of the nineties, we see that they had a combination of big drawing main events and fun, workrate oriented undercards. The less effective editions involved desperate gambles and botched storylines, along with a lack of focus below the headline level. Most of all though, this is a tale of redemption told through the main events, so that will be our focus today.

A Series Of Unfortunate Main Events

Through the early to mid-1990s, Summerslam suffered from a series of main events which were ill-advised, cursed with bad luck, or just horribly booked in their execution. This trend arguably began in 1991’s “Match Made In Hell”, when The Ultimate Warrior held Vince McMahon to ransom to the tune of $500,000 before going through the motions in the bout itself and leaving before the in-ring celebrations with Hogan and Sid. Legend has it that the Hulkster and Sergeant Slaughter offered to beat Warrior into withdrawing his threat to no show before the event, but Vince preferred simply to pay the money and then fire Warrior straight afterwards. The next year was the huge success of Davey Boy Smith’s Intercontinental Title win at Wembley Stadium, but in 1993, the bad luck returned as the company’s plans for Lex Luger were compromised by their own mismanagement of the match following a build that tried its best to resurrect American values as a relevant concern in pro wrestling.

Nobody could ever accuse Vince McMahon of a lack of national pride. Over the years he’s found a multitude of ways to book Patriot vs. Evil Foreigner, with Hogan’s vanquishing of various alien threats a key aspect of his reign atop the company. In the early 1980s, when the Cold War was still a valid concern, this sort of angle made tremendous business sense. By the early 1990s, when Sergeant Slaughter was portraying an Iraqi sympathiser, the defence of America storyline had ceased to be a major draw. By the time Yokozuna, a Japanese (actually Samoan) sumo wrestler, came along, the paradigm had become tiresome in the extreme. It failed to get the audience invested when Hogan white knighted for Bret Hart in the “bonus” main event of Wrestlemania IX or in the screwy finish to the Hulkster’s final match with the company at King of the Ring, and yet the WWF creative team went back to the well for the Summerslam main event set to feature the “All American” Lex Luger.

While Hogan had always given pro-USA promos and had often defended his nation’s honour against anti-American heels, he had retained his yellow and red colours throughout his tenure at the top. Luger had the look McMahon craved and always thought the people wanted in a top babyface so I dare say that he thought that dressing Lex in trunks and pads bedecked with Old Glory would result in a new main event player on the Hulkster’s level, resulting in a similar level of success. You have to give WWF props for how hard they tried to get this match over. The Bodyslam Challenge which was a key element of the feud took place on the USS Intrepid on Independence Day, and the sight of Lex hitting a sloppy looking bodyslam on the six hundred pounder was nevertheless impressive and well received by those who were there. However, as a switched on thirteen-year-old Brit, I was more than a little uncomfortable with a “USA vs. Japan” World War II narrative, as I’m sure plenty of switched on Americans must have been. Mr McMahon tends to think that this sort of historical tension equals cash, but the time for a narrative of that nature had well and truly passed by this stage.

The match itself is inevitably designed around the Hogan pattern. If the contest is anything, it’s a kind of homage to the main event of Wrestlemania III, albeit one that falls rather flat due to a combination of a small-ish crowd and an unsatisfying finish. Lex shows genuine charisma in the stare down and in attempting to take the bigger man down to negate his size and strength advantage, later evading Yoko with impressive athleticism. There’s a chant of “USA!” and at this point, the booking seems to be working well. Unfortunately, this is where the match retreats into slightly generic territory: Fuji misses the good old salt in the eyes (Kaientai would parody this trope hilariously a few years later), Luger can’t pick up Yokozuna for the body slam and the match descends into rest holds and beatdowns on the face in peril. Again though, I’m impressed with the All American’s character performance here, as his brief hope spots do get the crowd involved in the manner that they should be. Heenan’s commentary here has a key part to play for the audience at home, as Bobby gives a masterclass in how to portray a heel in the booth but simultaneously put over a babyface challenger.

The finish to the bout is ultimately what makes it feel like a damp squib; a missed banzai drop, an ugly slam that Yoko fairly obviously rotates into to help Lex get him up properly and a count out that does nothing for either man. Perhaps it’s writing from a modern perspective that makes the count out ending seem so heinous; they were certainly more common back then, and they do keep feuds alive, but it appears to me that if you’re going to build a story around a patriotic babyface taking on a foreign champion for the honour of his nation, that hero had better win the title, or everything you’ve put into that build is more or less negated. Could Lex Luger have been a viable reigning and defending WWF champion? Sadly, we’ll never know, for this was probably the optimum time for him to have taken the belt and run with it. I’ve said that the patriotism angle was not the route to successful television in the way it had been, but there’s little denying that Luger committed himself to the gimmick and was getting it over. The result of the match was a real killer for Lex’s career in the WWF.

Vince and his company were having real trouble moving with the times, and the next year, a similarly 80s tinged story infected the top of the card, but on this occasion it was of the “supernatural” kind. When the New Generation comes under attack from wrestling fans, the usual complaint is that hokey, excessively cartoonish gimmicks and storylines adversely affected the product. Mostly, I tend to think that this is unfair, but when you look at the “Fake Undertaker” angle of the summer of 1994, you begin to understand why people feel that way.

Has any performer in WWF/E history had more bad angles thrown at him over the years than ‘Taker? His gimmick seemed to endlessly dictate the writing of a slew of hokey stories until he was effectively “saved” by Attitude. On this occasion, the Deadman’s return from injury (he’d been written off television by losing a casket match to Yokozuna at the Rumble in 1994) was presaged by the usual spooky vignettes where various people claimed to have seen him. Meanwhile, Ted DiBiase claimed to have found The Undertaker and brought him back to television. Paul Bearer claimed to have the “real” ‘Taker and so a match was set up to determine the real Deadman.

Let’s deal with the positives first, few though they may be. Seeing Paul Bearer and the Druids is immediate mark out moment for any fan, and hearing the “ohhhh yesssss!” cements to the audience who ‘Taker’s real mentor is. The shenanigans with the urn are silly, but quite fun for what they are, and I do believe that most people are prepared to allow kayfabe more for The Undertaker than any other performer. There’s an interesting visual at play where Mark Callaway is wearing new purple gloves and boot covers, while Brian Lee is sporting the traditional grey. I suppose this is probably supposed to create some doubt for the audience as to who is who. When I was a child, my favourite cartoon was He Man and the Masters of the Universe. In the He Man mythos, Skeletor attempted to create a clone of He Man, but the experiment was not a complete success and the result was Faker, identical to He Man but for his blue skin and red hair. This is the kind of “bizarro” story that the WWF were going with here, and it works to a degree, even though Brian Lee is an inch or two shorter and considerably less broad shouldered than Callaway. Another interesting little curio is that this is the first time Undertaker appeared with his hair dyed black as opposed to his natural red.

There really isn’t a great deal to the match, since it’s essentially a one dimensional story of two men using the same signature moves, one more smoothly than the other. The “real” Undertaker gets the initial face shine, which the crowd pop for in a fairly reasonable way, but the “fake” version uses the ropes to gain the advantage back. It’s a very slow moving contest with a lot of methodical strikes and no real spots of great note other than Callaway blocking Lee’s attempt at old school. The audience lose interest quickly, and McMahon and Lawler have trouble selling it on commentary; “very strange!” Vince intones, which rather makes one want to yell “you booked this crap!” The finish, mercifully, comes relatively swiftly and works well for what it is. The “real” Undertaker is able to use his “powers” to sit up after a chokeslam and a Tombstone, but the “fake” one is unable to when he takes three consecutive Tombstones. The angle, and the match, was a dreadful idea in every conceivable way. The Undertaker has always been heavily used as a special attraction wrestler, and he has of course excelled in that role for more than twenty years, but at certain points in his tenure, the WWF mistook “special attraction” for “fairground sideshow” and this is probably the prime example. It’s certainly right up there with the most horrible Summerslam main events and had no business going on after Owen and Bret’s sublime cage match.

By 1995, Vince was scrambling around trying to create magic by setting two behemoths against each other in the reigning WWF Champion Diesel and his newest opponent, the recently crowned King Mabel. The nine minutes the two men wrestled for illustrate two of Vince McMahon’s biggest weaknesses: first of all, his obsession with pushing massive hoss wrestlers to title contention at the expense of their more skilled counterparts, and secondly, the way that certain pushes come out of nowhere and achieve absolutely nothing. Mabel began 1995 as a tag team wrestler, but suddenly received a monster push to win the King of the Ring tournament, and his scripted rivalry with Big Daddy Cool commenced that very evening when he got particularly physical with the champ during the main event Lumberjack Match. Summerslam is supposed to be the second biggest event of the year and probably not the place to be conducting experiments with new main eventers. Vince had workers of the calibre of Bret Hart, Scott Hall and Shawn Michaels wrestling in the midcard that evening, as well as his headliner of two years earlier, Lex Luger, doing nothing whatsoever bar a run in during this very match. If he wanted a special attraction wrestler, he could’ve used The Undertaker, or even gone back to Yoko, but instead he chose Mabel. Ah, how history can mock you from afar.

Given the limited nature of his opponent, I think you have to give Big Kev some props for at least trying to get something watchable out of the contest. There’s an eye catching flying shoulder block, a plancha over the top rope to the floor and some typical toe-to-toe brawling, but then there’s the usual WWF/E Hogan vs. Andre retread. Yes, you’ve guessed it, Diesel goes for a bodyslam on the near-600 pound man and can’t get that bag of flesh up. Cue an unbearable beat down passage, followed by some screwy booking which is near inscrutable. After a ref bump, Sir Mo comes in to double team Big Daddy Cool, at which point Lex Luger makes a run in. Diesel had been assaulted by Davey Boy prior to Summerslam, so, in kayfabe, the champion thinks that Bulldog’s tag partner is also out to get him, so clotheslines him right over the top. Except then, the All American chases Sir Mo away, proving his babyface credentials. After the run in and one of the longest ref bump scenarios I can recall seeing, Mabel hits a belly to belly that would make Kurt Angle want to puke for a week in disgust, but Diesel kicks out and soon after gets the three count with…a clothesline. Not a JBL Clothesline From Hell. Not even a Jay Bradley Boomstick. Just a regular clothesline and that’s all she wrote. Can you imagine if John Cena won against Lesnar with a clothesline? I think Vince would end up getting blown up in his car for real. Terrible match, terrible finish. Sort of appropriate, I guess.

From an incredibly bad bout, we move onto an excellent one, but one that ruined a whole autumn’s worth of booking for Vince McMahon due to the behaviour of his top babyface, Shawn Michaels. Historically, this match lives in infamy as exhibit A in the case against HBK’s petulant histrionics of his first run with the company and the way in which he did his company a huge disservice in the fight against WCW. With just one word, “MOVE!”, HBK killed a hot angle with The Man They Call Vader stone dead and arguably allowed the already hot NWO to run roughshod over their former employers even more than might have been expected. To refresh your memory, The Mastodon was meant to splash Jose Lothario in the aftermath of Summerslam, causing a vengeful, distraught Shawn to lose at Survivor Series and make the company a heap of money by being the chaser of the belt rather than its holder. With the man from the Rocky Mountains’ slight positional error in this bout, all of that changed; Michaels complained to Vince, the storylines were switched up, and a massive own goal was scored.

And yet this contest, if viewed in isolation, remains an excellent watch. It’s half an hour that shows what these two could have gone onto achieve had there not been a political dimension to its aftermath. We might consider the match to be a little overbooked, but anyone who ended up cutting their teeth with Attitude would have no issue at all with Vader winning twice in ways that meant he would not win the title so that Jim Cornette dared Shawn to continue the match, with the Boy Toy ultimately coming out on top, emphasising the hubris of the heel faction. Sadly, with the feud ending as an awkward damp squib, and with the champion seeming to duck the challenge of the hoss who had beaten him twice in the same match, Michaels would never seem as credible a champion again, despite the fact that he had more good encounters to come with other opponents. The roll the champ goes on in the early going is magnificent to watch. A sweep of the leg actually leads to kicks that aren’t a million miles away from the Daniel Bryan “YES” kicks, and these are followed by some typically crisp high flying from the champion. There’s then some excellent match psychology when one huracanrana too many leads to Shawn being caught in a powerbomb outside the ring on the concrete floor. Going to the well once too often; it’s a classic piece of storytelling. Vader taking the advantage allows for his smaller opponent to once again showcase his incredible bumping abilities, building sympathy from the audience, until it’s time for the comeback and the infamous elbow drop that never was…In fairness, if you were watching in the moment, I doubt you would notice anything. The Texan covers the spot well by landing on his feet, and it’s only due to the infamous nature of the moment that we listen out to him barking “move!” It feels less obvious than Randy Orton’s infamous “Stupid! Stupid” tantrum at Kofi Kingston, anyway.

The three “falls” in the bout occur fairly close together. The first one, by count out, is well worked; Shawn is dumped throat first on the barricade and can’t make it back to the ring in time. The importance of the Louisville Lip is then paramount as his mic work riles the champ, in kayfabe, into agreeing on the match continuing. The second fall comes not long afterwards, when a fired up Michaels batters his challenger and Cornette with the tennis racquet. The final fall feels rather anti-climactic; the big Sweet Chin Music set up leads to The Mastodon kicking out, and the champ, in turn, escapes a pin attempt after a brutal powerbomb. The ultimate victory is achieved via a missed moonsault by Vader and a successful one by Michaels. The inconclusive feel to the end of the bout no doubt reflects badly back on HBK’s strength as champion, as future booking meant he never had the chance to show in kayfabe that he was a better man than Vader.

Summerslam during the New Generation period saw a variety of factors- bad booking, out of date storylines, poor deployment of talent, indulging a champion’s whims- cause problems with the main event scene, problems which seem to reflect a lot of the wider issues of the time. Thankfully for the company, a creative recovery was just around the corner.

A Renaissance At The Top

Appropriately enough, it was actually two New Generation stalwarts wrestling each other near the beginning of the Attitude Era that really put Summerslam back on the map. Back at Royal Rumble 1996 Bret Hart and The Undertaker had faced off for the title. In that match, the Deadman was still carrying traces of wrestling his gimmick, that is, slow and methodical. Hart adopted a technical, cerebral approach, grinding down his taller opponent’s vertical base. It was sinfully dull, in all honesty, half an hour when it should have been fifteen minutes, with the interference of Diesel the undoubted highlight. Think about that for a minute.

Twenty months later though, it was a very different story; ‘Taker developed a more mobile style during his feud with Mankind and was suddenly able to put on excellent bouts with a variety of opponents, particularly the better workers; check out a forgotten title classic with Vader from Canadian Stampede and another with Austin from Cold Day In Hell (1997 might be the mist underrated in-ring year of all). The Hitman’s heel turn allowed him to work a more furious pace and inject more brawling into his ring game. It made him an even better performer. The vicious nature of the villainous version of Calgary’s favourite son lent his matches a must see quality through this window of time. As Hart marches to the ring for the main event of Summerslam ‘97, defiantly carrying the Canadian flag, it’s easy to see exactly what a heat magnet he really was. American audiences legitimately hated him. There aren’t many times I can think of when the heat was so genuine, as opposed to our modern trend of admiring heels for doing their job well. Vince in ‘98, Trips in ‘00, Punk in ‘09...but there aren’t many others. Here, Bret manages to out do himself, shooting on Americans, praising the Canadian and International fanbases, and then demanding that fans in attendance listen to ‘Oh Canada!’ in its entirety as he stands proudly in the middle of the ring. Great stuff.

Michaels, who in his injured state had been booked as guest referee, is next to come down to the ring, and he’s still pretty popular at this point, even though he’d started to show tweener tendencies in-keeping with his real life attitude (no capital!) and the fans pop for his dancing and thrusting. He even gets some primitive pyro, a funny thing to watch when you consider its modern day sophistication and ubiquity. In a neat touch, once ‘Taker’s entrance is over (am I the only wrestling fan that finds it way too long? Probably) Shawn checks the boots and tights of both men, asserting the rules of the bout, showing that he intends to call the match down the middle, just as he had assured us in his backstage promo earlier in the evening. Bret is unimpressed and grabs the championship from the guest referee to set about ‘Taker in a sneak attack that ramps up the heat to boiling point as the bout proper begins. Bret manages to get in a whole raft of cheap shots by entangling the Phenom in his trenchcoat, as Shawn attempts to separate them. The pace is already frenetic and only grows more so as The Undertaker reverses the advantage by flinging Bret into a corner and hitting him with rapid rights and lefts in a convincing bit of simulated boxing he would make into trademark in future years (Jim Ross had yet to begin calling ‘Taker the “best pure striker” and such). As Bret is given a hard Irish whip to the turnbuckle and a clothesline that looks as if it could decapitate him, the crowd pop huge.

The Hitman is forced to take refuge outside the ring, but of course this is Attitude and that means outside brawling, with ‘Taker flinging his opponent into the barricade, only for the hardy Canadian to come back and fling the champ into the steel steps. It’s fantastically violent and entirely in keeping with the volcanic nature of the angle that led to the bout. As Bret is caught by the Phenom and rammed back-first into the post, Michaels begins to threaten a disqualification and he really does play the role of referee beautifully...better than many actual officials, in fact! Inevitably, the bout takes something of a breather after the hectic opening, but even this portion, where Undertaker works over the back with backbreakers, forearms and bear hugs, is fascinating. However, with the Demon of Death Valley emulating Bret’s technical style, he is playing his opponent’s game, and a chop block and a series of elbows to the knee cut the WWF champion down to size. All the while, the crowd are still hot, even during this more cerebral section of the contest.

Further intrigue is provided in the middle portion of the match by Paul Bearer approaching ringside, the distraction costing The Undertaker when Bret ambushes him from behind with chop blocks, elbows and the ringpost figure four. As the action moves back into the ring, Owen and Pillman also make their presence felt; Maz and I spoke in our prelude about how much outside interference and distraction there was during Attitude and this match proves the point, with Hart’s comrades luring Michaels away from his job so that Bret can continue to work over the leg, which ‘Taker sells well, showing how far he’s come as an in-ring competitor at this point. But this is still a man booked as superhuman, to a degree, and he breaks away from Hart eventually to take the initiative and drive away Bret’s cohorts outside the ring, with Shawn’s help in his capacity as referee. In a fantastic twist though, Undertaker’s chokeslam on Hart does not get him the three as the guest official is too busy ensuring Pillman and Owen return to the backstage area. The fury of the Deadman almost gets him disqualified twice and also almost leads to Bret winning with a sneaky roll up. It’s just so compelling, and playing up tension between both men and the official creates real suspense, as any good drama should.

As the bout speeds towards its conclusion, Hart is unsuccessful in applying the Sharpshooter several times, with The Undertaker’s striking ability preventing the submission hold from being locked in. A flurry of offense from the Phenom- a sick flying clothesline is particularly eye catching- amps up the pace and heat once again, only for The Hitman to foil an attempt at Old School by crotching him on the top rope, after which the Pink and Black Attack hits a picture perfect top rope superplex on his larger opponent. This allows Bret to finally slap in the Sharpshooter, but like Austin at ‘Mania, ‘Taker has no intention of submitting, and he breaks the hold with sheer leg strength, which sends JR wild on commentary. After that frustration, Hart ups the ante, going for his signature manoeuvre around the ring post, but Shawn breaks the hold up, being hurt in the process. This allows Bret to careen a chair off the Deadman’s skull, but it takes Michaels some time to slither into the ring to make the count, and the champ’s shoulder comes up at two, yet another exciting moment in a bout full of them. What happens next is, of course, legendary. After seeing the blue chair in the corner, HBK remonstrates with The Hitman, who responds by spitting full in the referee’s face. Michaels swings the chair in a vicious arc but accidentally strikes ‘Taker as Hart ducks. True to his word about calling the match fairly, Shawn reluctantly counts the three and walks away in disgust.

Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart’s win here was his fifth WWF title, tying up Hogan’s record. It was clearly a special night for him, and he wrestled as such, in a main event that really does stand the test of time. Fantastic storytelling, and plenty of plot points to take into the autumn which would lead to The Heartbreak Kid turning heel, the incredible inaugural Hell in a Cell match and the Montreal Screwjob that unleashed Mr McMahon, the heel boss, on the world. More importantly for our purposes, the sensational title bout involving the biggest three workers of their generation re-ignited the Summerslam spark.

A year later, with the Attitude Era in full swing, The Undertaker once again took his place in the main event of the summer classic, but this time, he was the challenger. Stone Cold Steve Austin, having survived the challenge of Dude Love and then a reign as a tag champion alongside his Summerslam opponent, Stone Cold seemingly faced a conspiracy where Kane and ‘Taker, previously deadly rivals, seemed to be teaming up in front of his eyes and perhaps even aligning with Mr McMahon. Having lost the straps of course, The Deadman and The Rattlesnake no longer had to co-exist, and the feud kicked into high gear as Austin drove a hearse into the arena and declared that he would put his foot up ‘Taker’s dead ass and shove him in that hearse. The man he was confronting at the end of the show turned out to be Kane in The Undertaker’s gear- they pulled that twin magic stuff pretty much for the entire programme- and at the end of the show, Kane and Undertaker left together in the hearse with Austin left cursing after them. This seemed to indicate a definite alliance between the two brothers, and this was confirmed on the go home show when the opening segment involved a smug Vincent K. McMahon saying that he was glad they had finally “come out of the hearse” as allies. He warned the brothers that they might not need his help at Summerslam, as the two of them would overmatch Stone Cold, but at some point they would need his “strategy, wisdom and friendship”. An emotional Paul Bearer begged Kane to say it wasn’t so, but the brothers savagely beat down their former manager (and storyline father in Kane’s case) and then dished out the same to Mankind when he appeared. When Austin finally appeared, he let them know that they should grow eyes in the back of their head because he’d be taking one of them out that evening to even his odds for Sunday. Later on, Austin suddenly appeared from under the ring and attacked Kane during his match with Mankind, making good his promise as ‘Taker vainly attempted to get into a locked cage. The episode ended with Undertaker promising that Stone Cold would have nothing to fear from Kane on the evening of Summerslam as he had his own agenda. A stare down sent the main event programme into the company’s second biggest night of the year.

The beginning of Austin vs. Taker is strangely tentative as both men compete in technical wrestling; not what you’d expect from these two master brawlers, but an interesting psychological touch nonetheless. However, the punches and kicks soon come out to play, followed by the much-loved Lou Thesz Press routine of the Rattlesnake which always got a big pop, except here, The Deadman intercepts him and deposits him injured neck first on the top rope. However, the champ’s disadvantage doesn’t last long and the two manfully bash each other and attempt to injure each other for the next few minutes of the match. The story is that the two are very even and hard to separate, with the two gaining respect for each other as the contest wears on.

Kane’s entrance adds some high drama and fits in with the overriding theme of conspiracy running into the pay-per-view, but The Phenom unexpectedly sends his brother to the back, emphasising his determination to win fairly. Austin goes back to the knee, taking advantage of the distraction to ‘Taker, ramming the leg into the apron, but the challenger manages to grab the Rattlesnake by the neck and chokeslam from the outside in, which is one hell of an impressive spot. Following that high spot, the fight inevitably spills out of the ring with a battle down the ramp and through the crowd, ending with Stone Cold going over the crash barrier. It is unusual for the Rattlesnake to get the worst of an exchange outside the squared circle, so the commitment to booking the challenger strongly must be applauded.

Back in the ring, a Stunner is countered in impressive fashion with a backdrop over the top, and Austin takes more punishment outside the ring, with a slam onto the Spanish announce table and a legdrop off the apron that somehow doesn’t break the table. Brutal moment. This almost leads to a double count out, but that would have been a dumb way to end a heated title match, and thankfully both men are booked to make it back into the ring. Austin gets a second wind here and takes control, going through the typical Austin five (three?) moves of doom, until ‘Taker kicks out of a Stunner that the champ didn’t get all of. However, minutes later Austin’s victory comes when Old School is countered into a much more resounding Stunner for the three count. Sportingly, The Deadman hands the Rattlesnake his title match in a show of respect that JR puts over huge on commentary.

Of course, such a blockbuster led to an excellent buyrate of 1.6, showing that booking established main event talents in a well put together storyline will always be a much better idea than trying to thrash around for a one shot “special” match as had happened earlier in the decade. Following their contest at Summerslam, The Undertaker viciously turned heel and ended up being in Austin’s business all the way until Christmas. The Rattlesnake would be hit with a shovel, kidnapped from hospital and almost embalmed alive in the storylines, and he only rid himself of the Deadman when he bested him in a heated buried alive match at Rock Bottom: In Your House. All in all it was a money feud and one that saw the company through what are often thought of as doldrum months in fine fashion, and by the time it was over, Austin was free to turn his attention to the Royal Rumble, Vince McMahon and ultimately, The Rock’s WWF Title.

The 1990s showed the value of booking the main event of the summer spectacular with care and thought, as well as ensuring that the product moved with the times. What did you think of the main event scene of the 1990s? And what do you predict will be the defining traits of the 2000s I pick out on Saturday? Let me know in the comments section below or you can always send me a tweet here:

This is Maverick, requesting flyby!