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SummerSlam – 1996

With the 30th installment of The Biggest Party of the Summer just around the corner, join us as we take a look back at the history of SummerSlam. The ups, the downs, the moments, the stars, and SummerSlam’s return to relevance (again, sorry about the 1995 post)!

SummerSlam 1996

Gund Arena

Cleveland, Ohio

MAIN EVENT

Shawn Michaels vs Vader for the WWF Championship

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Shawn Michaels was good at wrestling professionally! Ol’ HBK will forever have his named stamped as one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. In the early to mid 90s it seemed inevitable that Michaels would hold the WWF Championship and continue the WWF of the road of dominance it had spent the last few decades on.

Unfortunately this title reign came during the genesis of the New World Order in WCW. The faction, coincidently led by Shawn’s Kliq colleagues Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, was the fresh feel that wrestling fans had been clamoring for. WWF never stood a chance as they were transitioning from the New Generation to the Attitude.

You wouldn’t know that from the performances that Michaels would give as champion, and this match was no different. Vader is probably one of the most underrated big men in history – how he is not in the Hall of Fame I don’t know. The two put together a great match with an interesting ending…or endings. When the match ended in a countout, Vader’s manager Jim Cornette got on the mic and claimed that Michaels just wanted to save his title leading to Shawn demanding the match to start again. Soon after, Shawn would be DQ’d for using Cornette’s trademark tennis racket on The Mastodon. Cornette again claimed that Michaels deliberately got himself DQ’d to save his title. The match would restart and Michaels would finally hit Vader with Sweet Chin Music to get the 1-2-3.

TME TO GRAB SOME SNACKS

There really weren’t too many down spots on the show – probably the way WWF apologized for SummerSlam the previous year…and really 1995 as a whole. I will say though, feel free to fast-forward through Jerry Lawler vs Jake Roberts. I know it’s odd to say to skip a match between two Hall of Famers, but the match was based around Roberts’ alcohol addiction. It just felt a little uncomfortable, it could have been an interesting match on its own merit.

GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE

The Lawler/Roberts match did provide us something that would hold our attention for the next few decades though. Prior to the match, we were introduced to the man that had just competed for the US in the Olympics and the newest member of the WWF – Mark Henry. The World’s Strongest Man would end up aiding Roberts during the match and would go on to have what should be considered a Hall of Fame career that ended just a few weeks ago.

MATCH OF THE NIGHT

Along with Michaels’ championship run, the main part of 1996 that kept WWF afloat during the rise of WCW was the rivalry between The Undertaker and Mankind. The two would have their share of crazy matches – including the Boiler Room Brawl. The match started in a Boiler Room in the bowels of Gund Arena and gave the two tons of toys to use against their opponent. The match would end when someone would grab the urn from Paul Bearer, who was waiting in the ring. Taker would reach the urn first, but the unthinkable would happen as Bearer ended the near six-year relationship between him and The Dead Man hitting him in the head with the urn and handing the urn, and the match, to Mankind. DUN DUN DUUUNNNNNN!

OTHER TOP MATCHES

Savio Vega vs Owen Hart

Psycho Sid vs The British Bulldog

Goldust vs Marc Mero

OVERALL

This was a much needed show after the 1995 SummerSlam. With a few top matches, this show would be remembered as solid – not one of the best, but solid nonetheless. Worth a watch but just like last year, it’s easy to say that things got better the next year … a LOT better!

OVERALL SCORE – 7/10

 

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