1. Hulk Hogan has never defended the WWF Championship at SummerSlam. The two occasions he was champion during the event (1989 & 1991), he wrestled in tag team matches. He’s also undefeated. He’s won all six of his encounters. Also unbeaten is Ric Flair (he’s 2-0) and the short-lived Finnish villain Ludvig Borga who defeated Marty Jannetty in his only appearance at the annual supercard in 1993. Borga committed suicide in 2010.
2. Brutus Beefcake was supposed to win the InterContinental title from The Honky Tonk Man at the inaugural show in 1988. Despite having chased the champion for nearly a year, it was decided just weeks before that The Ultimate Warrior would take his place instead. To write him out of the match, Beefcake started a feud with Outlaw Ron Bass. After The Barber saved a jobber from being harmed by him post-squash during one of the weekly TV shows, he cut Miss Betsy (Bass’ bullwhip) in half and part of his cowboy hat, as well.
Subsequently, an infuriated Bass interfered in Beefcake’s own squash with a different jobber and proceeded to cut him on the forehead with Bret & Bart Maverick (his spurs). Yes, a slightly bloody forehead was the reason Beefcake didn’t appear at SummerSlam 88. (Curiously, Bass didn’t wrestle, either.) Because no official opponent was announced before the event, The Honky Tonk Man demanded anybody come down & fight him for the title. The Warrior’s music hit and in less than a minute, he ended the longest IC reign in history. Beefcake would never get another chance to become champion.
3. Speaking of the Warrior, he was supposed to turn heel at the 1992 show. In the build-up, Ric Flair & Mr. Perfect tantalized fans by claiming that either the man from Parts Unknown or his opponent, WWF Champion Randy “Macho Man” Savage, both popular babyfaces, had secretly aligned with them, two nefarious villains. Unfortunately, Warrior was against this plan. So, instead, during their WWF Championship match, Flair & Perfect attacked both men. (Warrior won the match by countout but not the title.) Warrior & Savage would later briefly team up themselves to become The Ultimate Maniacs.
4. SummerSlam 1992 was the only event in the show’s history to not air live on pay-per-view. (It was also the only time it was held outside of North America and in an outdoor stadium.) Because it took place at Wembley Stadium in London, England, it was decided to tape everything in advance rather than deal with the cumbersome time difference. The show took place on August 29th but was broadcast stateside on the 31st. Because of the wide reach of the Internet, this could never happen today without pre-taped spoilers being leaked by attendees to online dirt sheets. (Back then, the World Wide Web was only in its infancy.)
Furthermore, 3 matches that took place during the taping never aired during the initial North American broadcast due to time constraints. They’re also not on the DVD of the show. For the record, Papa Shango beat Tito Santana; Hacksaw Jim Duggan & The Bushwhackers defeated The Nasty Boys & The Mountie; and Tatanka pinned The Berzerker.
5. Mr. Perfect was not at 100% when he unsuccessfully defended his IC title against Bret “The Hitman” Hart at the 1991 show. Despite suffering from a back injury, he wanted to put over his real-life friend during Hart’s second attempt at becoming a singles star. Hart’s proud parents, Stu & Helen, were in attendance. During the post-match interview with his father, Lord Alfred Hayes cut him off while he was still talking.
6. The Undertaker nearly died at SummerSlam 1996. During his infamous Boiler Room Match with Mankind, he suffered a severe staph infection. Had he not gone to the hospital in time, he wouldn’t have survived. Thank goodness that portion of the match was pre-taped the day before the live show. This was the encounter where his longtime mentor, Paul Bearer, turned on him & joined forces with Mankind who handed The Dead Man his first SummerSlam defeat after four consecutive victories at the event.
7. During the preparation for their match at SummerSlam 1997, Owen Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin argued over one of the spots they were planning. Hart wanted to do a reverse piledriver like a traditional piledriver where the man delivering it lands on his ass. Knowing firsthand how dangerous that is (years earlier, Austin executed that exact move to a Japanese wrestler named Masahiro Chono with disastrous results), Stone Cold was adamant it be performed like the Undertaker’s Tombstone where the man delivering it lands on his knees. In the end, Hart did it on his ass and Austin suffered a neck injury so severe for a few moments he couldn’t feel anything in his extremities. There was a deep concern that he was paralyzed.
Complicating matters was that this was an IC title match and Hart, the champion, was supposed to put over Austin to make him the new titleholder. Having to wait around a bit before Austin could continue, the ending was as awkward as it gets. Hart pretended to lose his balance as a seriously hurt Austin struggled to perform a reverse roll-up to get the pin. Hart never apologized for the mistake and Austin never forgave him. The King of Harts tragically died two years later during his botched entrance at the 1999 Over The Edge event.
8. What was the first heel turn in SummerSlam history? Believe it or not, it was Sapphire in 1990. At the time, she was Dusty Rhodes’ cornerperson. But after she failed to show up for her match with Sensational Sherri (who won by forfeit), she later turned up in a fur coat with The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. (He had been sending her expensive anonymous gifts for weeks.) Dumbfounded and heartbroken, Rhodes lost a quick match that night to the Macho King Randy Savage. Sapphire died in 1996.
9. The Model Rick Martel and Shawn Michaels squared off in the first villain vs. villain match at SummerSlam at the Wembley extravaganza in 1992. It had an unusual stipulation: no hitting in the face. (Both characters were self-absorbed pretty boys.) Sensational Sherri, then in the corner of Michaels and instrumental in getting him over as a singles star, was booked to be torn between both men. It ended in a double countout. She stuck with Michaels.
10. The WWF Championship was successfully defended at SummerSlam until 1997 when Bret Hart defeated The Undertaker to win his final world title, thanks to an ill-timed chair shot by guest referee Shawn Michaels, the man who would beat him for it at that year’s infamous Survivor Series. 11 more World Champions have been pushed at the event since then.
11. The ECW Championship is the only title that has never changed hands at SummerSlam.
12. If you’re the InterContinental Champion preparing to defend your title at the biggest event of the summer, you should be worried. New IC Champions have been crowned 14 times, more than any other title.
13. No villain has ever won a traditional steel cage match at SummerSlam.
14. What was the shortest match in the history of this show? There’s a tie for that honour. In 2009, Christian defeated William Regal to retain his ECW Championship. And in 2013, Randy Orton cashed in his Money In The Bank contract on just-crowned WWE Champion Daniel Bryan to steal the title. Both matches, according to Wikipedia, lasted 8 seconds. What’s the longest one? The 7-on-7 elimination tag team match that pitted John Cena, Bret Hart, R-Truth, John Morrison, Chris Jericho, Edge & the returning Daniel Byran against The Nexus in 2010. It lasted more than 35 minutes. John Cena was the sole survivor.
15. Ryback & Kane both made their pay-per-view debuts in the WWE at SummerSlam under different characters. In 1995, Kane was originally Isaac Yankem, Jerry Lawler’s sadomasochistic dentist. He lost to Bret Hart by DQ. And in 2010, Ryback first emerged as Skip Sheffield as part of The Nexus in the above-mentioned elimination tag match.
16. Ted DiBiase wrestled his final match against Razor Ramon in the opening bout of the event in 1993. Something went wrong at the end when Ramon used his Razor’s Edge finisher to get the 3-count. (It wasn’t performed safely enough.) DiBiase was too hurt to ever compete again but thanks to his magnificent promo skills he was retooled as a manager both in the WWF and later, the WCW.
17. The Legion Of Doom made history in 1991 when they defeated The Nasty Boys for the WWF Tag Team titles. They became the only tag team to have won the AWA, NWA & WWF tag belts, a feat that can never be repeated.
18. SummerSlam is the only one of the original four, ongoing WWE pay-per-views (WrestleMania, The Royal Rumble and The Survivor Series being the others) to be the setting for two successful Money In The Bank cash-ins. Alberto Del Rio took advantage of a power bombed CM Punk to win the WWE title in 2011 and all Randy Orton had to do was cover a pedigreed Daniel Bryan to snag it in 2013.
19. The only time Jesse “The Body” Ventura wasn’t a colour commentator during a WWF pay-per-view event in the 80s was at the first SummerSlam in 1988. The reason? He was the guest referee for the Megapowers/Megabucks tag team main event. He reluctantly made the 3-count for the babyfaces. 11 years later, while governor of Minnesota, he controversially returned to guest referee the Triple Threat match between Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind & Triple H for the WWF Championship. Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy won the title.
20. There has been at least one new champion crowned at every SummerSlam with the notable exceptions of 1993, 1996, 2003, 2006 & 2007 where there were none.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, August 17, 2014
UPDATE: Because Dolph Ziggler won the IC title from The Miz and Brock Lesnar destroyed John Cena to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion at SummerSlam 2014, the figures originally mentioned in numbers 10 & 12 have now been updated to reflect these changes.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, August 17, 2014