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Just blame it on Lex Luger. Blame it on the fact that he was such an uncharismatic person that he was on the yellow brick road to the WWF championship and still didn’t win it. When Hulk Hogan left the WWF after losing the belt to Yokozuna, Vince McMahon had his replacement. He was tall like Hogan. He was blond like Hogan (well maybe a young Hogan with more hair). And he was more muscular than Hogan. Vinnie Mac’s kind of guy right? He was going to be the one to take the torch that Hogan left and he was going to run with it. There were some problems though. He couldn’t connect with the fans. He couldn’t wrestle an entertaining match. And after McMahon pushed him as hard as he could, he pulled the plug. It was the SummerSlam of 1993 where the Lex Express was going to ride into town and snatch that championship belt from the dreaded Yokozuna. When Lex didn’t win the belt that night, I knew McMahon didn’t think he was going to be the guy. They put all that marketing effort into a guy who WCW wouldn’t even put their money behind. It was a mistake for McMahon, but hey, he gave it his best to try to replace Hogan.
If not for Lex being terrible, history could’ve changed, and not for the better.
The guy who was supposed to be passed the torch from Hogan before Hogan decided he would only lose to someone bigger than him (Yokozuna) was Bret Hart. He was already given a small reign as champion when it was time to take the title off Ric Flair. But he lost it in that horrible match on a horrible PPV (Wrestlemania IX unless you’re Alan) with a horrible ending in which Yoko won the title, only to lose it to Hogan in an impromptu match. Let’s just say that Bret was the back-up plan. It didn’t need to be like this had Hogan only lost the belt to Bret at SummerSlam in 1993 before he balked at doing a job to someone as small as Hart. It probably didn’t even cross his mind that Bret would’ve probably carried him to the best match of his career, thus making him look strong in losing.
The WWF was struggling at the time to try and connect again with the fans. They started Monday Night Raw the year before and were drawing nice ratings even if house shows were struggling. But this was Wrestlemania, and for one night, all was forgotten. And where better to have it than Madison Square Garden in New York where the original Wrestlemania was held.
Tomorrow night, WWE celebrates 21 years of SummerSlam, the “biggest party of the summer” as they’ve been calling recently. There have been 20 SummerSlam Events since 1988. But were all of them really worthy of being called the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th best PPV of the year? Absolutely not. So today I’ve decided to take a look and list what I consider the Top 10 Greatest SummerSlam Pay-Per-Views of All Time! So sit back, relax, and enjoy.
10. SummerSlam 1988
So we begin with the very first SummerSlam in 1988, live on PPV from Madison Square Garden in New York. The whole purpose of the creation of this PPV was for the WWE to compete with NWA’s Great American Bash, hoping to convert wrestling fans to save their hard-earned cash and purchase their show at the end of the summer as opposed to the Bash. This soon became the last of the “Big Four” PPVs, alongside Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and of course, Wrestlemania. The main event was a highly-anticipated tag team match between Hulk Hogan and WWF Champion Randy Savage, collectively known as “The Mega Powers” against Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant, collectively known as “The Mega Bucks”. Savage won a 16-Man Tournament at Wrestlemania IV, last defeating Dibiase to become champion. Hogan had teased prior to the show that Miss Elizabeth would showcase her “eenie, weenie bikini”, which is creepy in retrospect considering she is no longer with us.
Besides that huge match, the most memorable part of this Pay-Per-View was the Ultimate Warrior defeating the longest reigning WWF Intercontinental Champion in history – The Honky Tonk Man. Honky was scheduled to face Brutus Beefcake, but prior to the match, Beefcake was hospitalized by “The Outlaw” Ron Bass. Honky came out on the show and challenged anybody in the building to take the title and the undefeated Warrior came out and pinned him in thirty seconds to take the title, beginning the monster four year run that he would have in the WWF. Tag Team wrestling was definitely one of WWF’s high-points during this era, as Hart Foundation vs. Demolition was easily the best match on the show, followed slightly by the Rougeaus vs. The Bulldogs.