This week on Random Reviews, we look ahead to this Sunday’s SummerSlam by taking a peek back at matches from SummerSlam past… and there’s only one place we can start!

WWE Intercontinental Championship: British Bulldog vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart (WWE SummerSlam 1992, August 29, 1992)
The last major PPV to be held outside of North America, SummerSlam was taped on a Saturday night in the UK, but didn’t get broadcast until the Monday. There’s something that can’t be replicated these days, thanks to the internet…

The Bulldog came out first, with Lennox Lewis waving the Union Jack for him, and almost the entirety of Wembley Stadium erupted for him. Bret Hart got a good response too, as opposed to the heel reaction you’d have expected were this family feud to have been done in the modern era.

The two get into a shoving match at the bell, before a headlock leads to Bulldog being shoved off, and eventually shoulder tackling Bret out of the ring, and almost into the crowd. Some headlock takedowns get Bret an early advantage, before an O’Connor roll and a small package see Bret try to end this in the opening moments.

Bulldog escaped a headlock and switches it into a hammerlock, whilst drilling knees into Hart’s lower back, before Bret elbows free and into a wristlock. That gets countered by an armbar, before Bret frees himself and gets caught in a leapfrog, then slingshotted into the turnbuckle.

Bulldog went back to the armbar, before ducking a Hart clothesline and scoring a two-count with a crucifix. Back to the armbar, which Bret can’t escape despite his bodyslam on the Bulldog; however, Hart succeeds after whipping the Bulldog into the ropes and drilling him with a knee to the midsection. From there, Bret dropped a knee over the Bulldog’s head, then went into a rear chinlock, and lands a back elbow after the Bulldog thought he’d worked himself free.

Bret takes down the Bulldog with an inverted atomic drop (or, if you’re Vince McMahon, “a reverse piledriver”?!), before he counters another crucifix pinfall attempt with a Samoan drop for a two-count. From another headlock, Bret’s shot into the ropes, and after a leap frog from the Bulldog, Hart gets monkey flipped into the ropes. It’s now the Bulldog on the ascendency, but only briefly as a charge into the corner is stopped with two boots from the Hitman, who follows with a bulldog out of the corner to the Bulldog.

Bret goes to the top rope and gets caught a la Ric Flair, and takes a press slam to the mat. Bulldog then goes airborne, and misses with what I think was meant to have been a top rope kneedrop. Bulldog tries to shove Bret into the ropes via a waistlock, but Bret ducked and that sent the Bulldog flying out to the floor, getting the Hitman his first heel response of the match.

The Hitman launches himself to the outside with a plancha that turned into a neckbreaker on the way down, before slamming the Bulldog’s back into the ringpost. Back inside, Bret keeps pounding on the Bulldog’s back, before taking Davey Boy down with a dropkick and a big back body drop! Thanks Bret!

We go to a rear chinlock, before a suplex gets Bret another two-count, and it’s back to the rear chinlock. Bulldog surprises Bret with a backslide for a near-fall, before Bret countered with a backbreaker, then an elbow drop off the middle rope. Bret starts to resort to dirty tactics by using the Bulldog’s braided hair to yank him off the mat, then starts with some punches before another snapmare and a rear chinlock.

Bret ducks a clothesline and catches the Bulldog in a sleeperhold, but the Bulldog crawled his way to the bottom rope to force a break. Another sleeper follows, which gets broken when the Bulldog stands up and backs into the corner, but Bret applies it again… and the Bulldog breaks it again.

Bulldog sends Bret into the ropes and goes for a press slam, and loses him almost instantly as Bret gets dumped into the middle rope, and you can see that the Bulldog was running on fumes by this point. A series of clotheslines took Bret down for another two-count for the homeland favourite, and he repeats the press slam spot correctly this time, also for a two-count.

A stalling suplex sees the Bulldog hold up Bret for seven seconds before crashing down for another near-fall, as Bret gets sent chest-first into the turnbuckles. Still a near-fall, though, and the Bulldog signals for his finisher… and he connects with a running powerslam as Bret kicks out just before the count of three.

A tired Bret gets shoved onto the apron by the Bulldog, but his attempt to suplex the Hitman back in is switched in mid-air, and Bret lands a German suplex for another two-count. Bulldog blocks a vertical suplex, then places Bret on the top rope, with a superplex back into the ring getting yet-another near-fall for the challenger.

Both men got floored with a double clothesline, but from the mat Bret worked the Bulldog’s legs into place and worked his way into a Sharpshooter. Bulldog made his way to the ropes for the break, and was quickly met with a forearm by Bret, who ran off the ropes for a sunset flip… but the Bulldog sat down on him and took the win! A surprise ending to an all-time classic match – which just about holds up almost 25 years on! ****¼

The Bulldog/Bret match was one of the first matches I saw as a (the) nine year old wrestling fan. It was a sight to behold then, but through the eyes of 33-year-old me, there were plenty of nuances to pick up throughout the match – and not just the Bulldog working on fumes for most of the match!

WWE Hardcore Championship: Shane McMahon (c) vs. Steve Blackman (WWE SummerSlam 2000; August 27, 2000)
Backstage, Steve Blackman chased Shane away from an interview… and that led to Shane running to the ring – and this was pre-”Here Comes The Money” days. We’re shown clips of Steve Blackman losing the Hardcore title to Shane on Raw a week earlier, thanks to help from Edge, Christian, Test and Albert…

Howard Finkel hurriedly makes his announcement of Blackman’s entrance and leaves stage left as Blackman waited for Shane in the ring. Shane’s tossed a Singapore cane from Blackman, but he keeps tossing it back, before Blackman offers him a free shot.

Blackman turns around and Shane misses, and then runs away as Blackman tried to reach him. Shane went into the crowd, and was met by Blackman who went the long way around, and we get a bleep on the Network as Blackman and Shane fought in the seating area. Shane gets sent head-first into a trash can, and is tossed back over the barriers, before taking a kick off the barriers from Blackman.

Shane’s rolled into the ring where Blackman has some more goodies waiting, including a trash can lid which was sent to the kneecaps of McMahon, and then another shot to the back of the head in a spinning backfist fashion. Blackman gets more toys from under the ring, including a garbage can which Shane wears… and he’s battered around the head with Blackman’s two sticks.

Blackman screams “we’re not done yet”, and he drops Shane with a groin-led back suplex – similar to Joey Ryan’s rebranded Ballsplex. A leather strap gets tied around Shane’s neck, and it’s used to yank him down to the mat after Blackman had placed him on the top rope, before Blackman leans back to choke Shane with the strap.

At this point, Test and Albert – the T&A that WWE will refer to these days – run down to make the save, and since this is a Hardcore match, there’s no DQs. A Baldo bomb drops Blackman, whilst Test sets up a garbage can between the turnbuckles, and Blackman’s thrown into there, before a trash can shot to the head sends Blackman to the mat.

Test goes airborne with an elbow drop off the top through a trash can lid, and then T&A hold up Blackman for some jabs from Shane. The briefest of brief comebacks from Blackman got cut-off as Shane knocked him down with a stop sign, and Shane grabs Blackman with the same leather strap from earlier and he drags him towards the stage area.

Blackman rolls away just in time as Test tried to shove a speaker onto him, before Albert accidentally whacked Test with a Singapore cane as they tried to double team him. Shane attacks Blackman from behind, then runs away… to climb the stage, and it’s now contrived Shane Spot Time!

Blackman follows Shane as he climbed up the outside of the SummerSlam stage, and Shane actually makes it to the top of the structure that supported the TitanTron. A couple of Singapore cane shots later, and that structure didn’t support Shane anymore, as he took an iconic Nestea plunge off the stage.

Blackman didn’t climb all the way down, and instead dropped an elbow onto Shane – in a spot that wasn’t quite as replayed as the original fall – and rolled over for the win. In it’s own way, this was fun, but it sure was a product of the time, and if you take out the weapon shots, this was barely a match. **

Dusty Rhodes vs. “Macho King” Randy Savage (WWE SummerSlam 1990; August 27, 1990)
We jump back ten years to the day now, and for a match between two future WWE Hall of Famers towards the end of a feud that took up the majority of the year for them in the WWE.

Dusty Rhodes comes out solo since his valet, Sapphire, had locked herself in her dressing room to avoid a match earlier in the evening against Sensational Sherri. We’re then taken backstage to Sean Mooney on a rickety stepladder as he’s interviewing Randy Savage as he’s already on his throne for his entrance. As soon as Savage enters the ring, the Million Dollar Man cackles from the interview platform… boy, this is really screaming late 80s WWF, isn’t it?

Ted DiBiase runs through his usual schtick, and taunts Rhodes by saying that he’d paid off Sapphire… and he unveils her as his “latest purchase”. Sapphire’s heel turn is complete as she comes out in a fur coat and a WWF-branded duffle bag full of dollar bills.

Rhodes leaves the ring to make a beeline for DiBiase, but Savage follows him and brings him back to the ring. A double axehandle off the top rope is followed up with Savage choking Rhodes, before Sherri gets in a cheapshot too. More choking for Rhodes follows, and this crowd seems to have been stunned by the Sapphire heel turn.

Rhodes fires back with a Bionic elbow and his combination of jabs and a forearm. Another Bionic elbow follows as Savage gets sent to the outside, and Rhodes tries to follow, only for Sherri to be used as a human shield. Sherri gives Savage something, and creates a distraction which allowed Savage to hit Rhodes with a loaded purse… and that’s the win. Purely a storyline-driven match, and a bit of a letdown given that their only pay-per-view singles match ended in barely two minutes. **

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