Triple H, October 2011:

“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.

A Counterfactual History of Summer Slam - 2

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

1988-90 is here.

Summer Slam returned home to MSG in 1991.

For the first time, the champ the year before was the champ coming into MSG. Curt Hennig, WWF Champion since Survivor Series ’89, was starting to show the physical wear and tear at this point. After the series with Savage came to a seeming end at Summer Slam ’90 with the cage match, Hennig kept over Von Erich at Survivor Series, kept over DiBiase at the Rumble, and then vanquished Savage one last time at VII.

His challenger at Summer Slam ’91 – the British Bulldog.

Recall, at the very first Summer Slam, Davey turned on his longtime partner Bret after losing an IC shot to the champion Hit Man. Bret subsequently ran the Bulldog out of the company – but Davey made his return at Survivor Series ’90 – coming to the aid of his brother in law by fending off an attacking Hennig. Bret didn’t trust Davey, whom he blamed for injuring his younger brother Owen – along with Hennig, prior to the Bulldog’s leaving the company.

Davey returned to the PPV ring at the Rumble, beating Dustin Rhodes – and then beating Martel at VII. The title shot here came from the last NBC Saturday Night’s Main Event (until 2006, that is) when he won the Inaugural Number One Contender’s Battle Royale, our every-other-year 30 man, one entrant at a time, competition where the Summer Slam main event gets made.

Davey and Bret, after combining to eliminate Sid, were the final two entrants – and it was the Bulldog who came out on top. Now, his quest to redeem himself in the eyes of his family and the fans, comes to a head at the place where, 3 years before, he turned on them. Perfect/Davey for the WWF Title.

Not only is the WWF Champ the same as the previous year – so is the IC Champ.

The Hit Man’s long second IC reign continued – after his Summer Slam win over Jake, he again successfully defended the title over young Michaels, then beat Martel at the Rumble, and began to fulfill his promise to make the IC belt the most prestigious in the world by defeating Tenryu at VII.

And at Summer Slam ’91 – he met the legendary Ricky Steamboat.

Steamboat returned after 3 years at the aforementioned SNME and returned to challenge the Hit Man. As the man who started WWF PPV, the two time WWF Champ, he just wanted to see if Bret was as good as he said he was.

The tag champs were the monster face Road Warriors. After their surprise entrance at last year’s Slam, burying the newly crowned Orients – they took the Orients’ straps at Survivor Series, kept over the Nasty Boys at the Rumble, kept over Demolition at VII, and now headed into Summer Slam to defend against Power and Glory (that’s Herc and Roma, for those of you who have forgotten)

What else was there to hold your interest – not much, truthfully. DiBiase against the remnants of Valentine (good name for an indie band – Remnants of Valentine – feel free to take it, just give me credit whenever prompted and direct people to Jacques met Koko, Rotundo returned to WWF PPV for the first time since I against the ‘Quake, the Undertaker, whose run began at Survivor Series, was looking to add Von Erich to his collection of souls that thusfar included Snuka, Dusty, and Jake. All stuffed into bodybags following the matches. And the fascist gimmick begun by the Warrior now moved onto the tag team of Slaughter and Boss Man, who worked the opener.

The results:

Well, it ended for Perfect at MSG. The British Bulldog, in a stunner, took the WWF Title. Hennig and Bobby gingerly left the arena – while Bret (who kept his IC belt) offered his hand to his brother in law, the two men, the two Harts, lifting their belts in the air at MSG in a way that would be replicated 13 years later by Benoit and Eddy.

Bret, as mentioned, kept in a classic over Steamboat, it was the end of Ricky’s WWF career – until he returned as Director of Operations at Rumble ’05 (a position he shares with Flair as Summer Slam 05 approaches). And the Warriors continued their seemingly endless reign. Wins for Ted, Jacques, Rotundo, Sarge/Boss Man – and the Undertaker, who, as was he after his Rumble win over Dusty, and his Mania win over Jake, was confronted in the ring post match by Hulk Hogan – their nose to nose at Summer Slam ’91 would have been shown multiple times in clip form as part of the run up to Hulk Hogan’s Retirement Match – Hogan v. Undertaker, Summer Slam ’05.

Summer Slam '92 – that’s Wembley Stadium. And that must mean Bret v. Bulldog, and it does, just as it did in ’88 at our first Summer Slam. ‘Cept this time it’s for the big strap. Has Davey kept all year? No.

At Survivor Series ’91, Davey transitioned the belt over to the debuting Flair; meanwhile, Bret lost the IC that same night in what seemed to be a babyface matchup against Piper – but Roddy, his conscience torn, used the ringbell to level the Hit Man, getting the fall and then burying Bret until stopped by Owen, making his return to the WWF after 2 ½ years away.

On tv, Bret and Davey aligned against Flair and Piper – with Owen and Michaels brought into the angle as well, going into the Rumble. At the Rumble, Flair kept in the rematch against the Bulldog – an injured Hit Man couldn’t make his title rematch, so they rushed in as a replacement – Randy Savage – who had been gone since VII. Savage took Piper’s IC while Shawn took the better of Owen in the middle of the card.

At VIII – Bret finally won his WWF Title, making him the first modern day triple crown winner (joining Pedro) the triple crown, referring to holding all 3 straps, is positioned in the counterfactual as a holy accomplishment, far above even the WWF Title. Also in that main event, tensions between Hennig and Flair reached a head, Curt finally turning face, leaving Ric and the Brain. Davey didn’t work VIII – but Owen did, going over Michaels in the middle.

So, that gets us to Summer Slam ’92 – 4 years after turning heel in their IC match in the first Summer Slam, Davey got another shot at Bret – but this time for the big strap in front of his countrymen.

Savage kept that IC in the rematch with Piper at VIII – and went into Summer Slam defending against Jacques Rougeau, doing a lot of anti-British, pro-French stuff to rile up the home crowd.

The tag champs – no longer the Road Warriors – they kept over Sarge and the Boss Man at Survivor Series ’91, but lost in a stunner to DiBiase and Rotundo at the Rumble. Money Inc kept over a reunited Strike Force at VIII – and now are set for the big rematch, defending against the former champs Animal and Hawk.

The rest of the card – not great. Michaels/Martel, Tito against Smash, the Warrior was on the card, as was Crush, and the Beverly Brothers met the Nastys in the opening tag.


The big main event had a helluva closing match angle. Bret won, keeping with the sharpshooter – but as he had Davey locked in – he witnessed the first big table spot in WWF history. Owen was special color commentator for the match, and was attacked by Shawn, continuing their feud (Michaels beat Martel earlier), Shawn laid Owen out with the kick, went to the top buckle, and elbowdropped him through the table as Bret, noted by the announce, kept Davey in the sharpshooter while the Bulldog struggled less to win the belt – and more to save Owen.

All hell broke loose then, Davey submitted just after Michaels crashed through the table. Shawn was attacked by an entering Savage. Flair attacked Bret – who was saved by Hennig. Owen remaining in the wreckage. Good times.

Savage was still your IC Champ, keeping over Jacques. Money Inc still had the tag belts, surprising many by retaining over the Road Warriors. Unimportant wins for the obvious suspects in the undercard filled out Summer Slam ’92, a one match show, by and large.

A year later – Summer Slam '93 came from Detroit. The first Slam for the new PPV team of Jim Ross and Jim Cornette.

No change at the top though – a year later it was still the Hit Man. Bret kept in the VIII rematch against Flair at Survivor Series ’91, then renewed his IC rivalry with Tenryu, who aligned himself with the newcomer Yokozuna, at the Rumble. Bret kept – then, and also kept at IX against the hot newcomer Razor Ramon. It would be Razor, aligned not only with longtime Hart nemesis Michaels, but also with Shawn’s new bodyguard Diesel, who would win that number one contender’s battle royal (which Davey Boy took all the way to the title in ’91, we do it every other year, recall) and get the Summer Slam rematch. Razor tossing Michaels to win the thing.

Bret’s running buddy during this stretch was Mr. Perfect. And it would be Hennig challenging for the IC at Summer Slam ’93 – against the champ, Shawn Michaels.

Savage’s IC run ended at Survivor Series ’92, where he lost to Michaels – but then, in a significant twist, and our first format break ever – Michaels lost in an impromptu match to Owen. Shawn regained from Owen in an Iron Man, the ’93 MOTY at the Rumble. Shawn kept over Perfect at IX – Hennig, obviously out of the ring since losing the WWF title in ’91, returned as a face over the Boss Man (paid by the Brain to take him out, after Perfect turned at last year’s Slam) at Survivor Series, then beat Flair in the Loser Leaves Town at Rumble ’93. Flair did leave for a decade – but is now obviously back as we approach Summer Slam ’05, as one half of the creative team.

Hennig to the shot against Shawn at IX, lost, and Summer Slam is their rematch. As we approached Survivor Series, Hennig and Bret stood on the babyface side, the traditional side, while the Clique – Michaels, Razor, Diesel – were the upstarts.

The tag titles were in the midst of a monster run by the Steiners – they took at Survivor Series ’92 from Money Inc, kept over the Beverly Brothers at the Rumble, survived the rematch against DiBiase/Rotundo at IX – and now, with DiBiase retired, purchasing the tag ranks in an effort to get the belts off the Steiners – he enlisted the Headshrinkers for Summer Slam ’93 – in Detroit, you recall, where the hometown Steiners would be kinda big, big babyface favorites. Big.

What else…well, there was an IC tournament over the summer that to culminate in crowning a number 1 contender at Summer Slam. Backlund, Terry Taylor, Waltman, Razor, Yoko, Tito, Owen, and Randy were your participants. Owen and Waltman won their brackets and met, both as babyfaces, at Summer Slam. Both men were in opposition to the Clique – Owen, was, of course, a Hart – and Waltman had been the target of constant Clique abuse since entering the company.

Also working: Lex, Bam Bam, the Undertaker, and the Smoking Gunns. All of them won, so I’ll ignore them in the results section.


Bret keeps. He fights off the whole Clique and maintained hold on his strap. Michaels kept, in what signaled the end of this run for Hennig. The Steiners kept. The big angle of the night was in the IC Contender’s Final – Waltman upset Owen, and after beating Razor twice over the summer, now was positioned as a player. But postmatch, Savage, who had been training with Owen since both men were taken out by Yoko prior to IX , wiped Waltman out postmatch. When Owen looked to protect Waltman – Savage then leveled Owen for interfering and went back to attacking Waltman.

Waltman was saved by Razor --- who was still a heel, but his respect had been earned by the Kid’s taking the constant Clique beating and continuing to get up. So, while longtime babyface Savage was acting like a heel – the heel in the main event program was acting like a face. And when Razor attacked Savage – Randy was saved by his training buddy Owen – which led to Shawn and Diesel entering to attack Owen…but also attack Waltman, cause that’s what they did – and then Bret and Hennig to hit the ring to try to figure out what the hell was going on.

A cool scene in the middle of the card. One that would set up the next year of programs.

That’s part II. Part III of a Counterfactual History of Summer Slam will come soon – and then, in August – Summer Slam ’05! Matt Hardy makes his return to the WWF in the Unsanctioned “Who Screwed Lita?” match, Eddy defends in the 2 out of 3 falls against Rey, Orton and Cena try to keep the title one more night as they take on Bradshaw and Dinsmore, and like Summer Slam ’93 – we have an IC related tournament, although this time the belt is vacant – and Angle will meet Michaels, Benoit will meet Jericho – with the winners hooking up at Survivor Series. Leviathan, with Arn, meets Spreekiller Helms – Hulk Hogan’s retirement match is against the Undertaker – and those IC participants tag up in the opener! Summer Slam ’05! Call your thing!

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