A bit about me: Hi guys, my name is Matt and Iím the newest writer here on Rajah.com. Iím from Australia and Iíve been a wrestling fan ever since falling in love with this crazy business in 1998, and not long ago decided to review all the WWE PPVs starting at Wrestlemania 1 to the modern day. Part of the inspiration for that idea was this old flashback section, so I decided to send Rajah an email about bringing this section back on. And with that, here I am. Feel free to follow me on twitter at @mpmcc91

Summerslam
August 18, 1996
Gund Arena, Cleveland, OH

Oh its time...its time...its Summerslam time. Tonight at the biggest PPV of the summer, the Mastodon Vader finally gets his shot at WWF Champion Shawn Michaels with the belt on the line. Who will emerge as the popular champion battles the unstoppable monster? Also tonight, we get part two of the long Undertaker/Mankind feud, as the two men battle in the first ever boiler room brawl, an encounter that promises to be full of chaos, and perhaps even a shocking ending.

We kick off the show with a pretty neat video package focusing on Vader and Mankind as masked monsters looking to take out the heroes of the WWF (Shawn and Taker). I liked the way it put across just how monstrous the top two heels were at this point. After that we head to the arena with our announce team of Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Mr Perfect talking about the show. Yep this means Lawler is in action tonight. He's had a busy few months since Wrestlemania. Anyway more on that later, for now lets get our first match underway.

Savio Vega vs Owen Hart
Not a huge amount in the way of storyline here as this match was basically thrown together at the last minute. Owen was originally scheduled to challenge Ahmed Johnson for the I.C title at this stage, but I'll get into why that's not happening later on in the show. I should point out that there is no Cornette with Owen tonight, as the leader of Camp Cornette is preoccupied with getting Vader ready for his big match later on. Cornette's lawyer, Clarence Mason does make his way down midway through the match though, seemingly taking an interest in his client's superstar. We'll see that unfold down the track. For now, this is just a fast paced match to set the tempo for the crowd tonight between two guys who know how to work given the chance. Owen is still wearing the cast from his arm injury back in May by the way. I liked this match more than I remembered, as Savio is no slouch in this one either, putting on a fine showing before being put away with a sharpshooter, giving Owen the submission win at 13:25. Post-match, Clarence Mason joins in celebrating Owen's victory.
Grade: **1/2

Whilst Savio is recovering in the ring following his defeat, Justin Hawk Bradshaw (the man we know as JBL today) makes his way down to the ring with his manager Zebekiah (Zeb Colter). Bradshaw beats on Savio continuing a feud that has been brewing between the two on TV for a while.

Todd Pettengill is now with Mankind in the arena's boiler room. He warns Undertaker that this is his domain and that he is ready to destroy the Phenom when he gets here.

WWF Tag Team Championship - Elimination Match:
Smoking Gunns (c) w/Sunny vs The Godwinns w/Hillbilly Jim vs Body Donnas vs New Rockers

The Gunns are still heels here and continue to reign as WWF Tag Team Champions with Sunny by their side. Tonight they put the belts up against the three top (or only) teams in the division in an elimination match. We haven't seen the New Rockers on PPV before, but they are the team of the recently turned heel Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy (a man who would go on to become better known for another character a few years down the line). The Godwinns and Body Donnas are your face teams, and theres really not much to say about them at this point. Skip is wearing a neck brace here though which is due to a legitimate neck injury suffered on the house show circuit heading into this one. You can tell its legit as he doesn't get into the match at all, and the Donnas are the first team eliminated when Billy pins Zip a few minutes into the contest. The New Rockers are out of it a few minutes later as Henry Godwinn pins Leif Cassidy following the slop drop. This brings us down to the champions and the team they beat to win the titles, but really the crowd just couldn't care less about the division as a whole, as they are completely dead. In the end the Godwinns take control, with Phineas nailing the slop drop on Billy, but the referee is busy trying to stop Hillbilly slopping Sunny on the outside to make the count. The distraction allows Bart to come in and hit a double axe handle on Phineas, allowing Billy to cover and retain the titles at 12:18. Sunny is once again responsible for the champions retaining their titles, and she celebrates by dropping a gigantic sized poster of herself from the arena ceiling. That wakes up the crowd a bit and I don't blame them. The match itself was pretty bland though.
Grade: *1/2

Sycho Sid vs British Bulldog
No matter how many times I see the guy, I just cannot understand why Sid was so popular. He's one of those guys that simply never appealed to me in any way. This match is basically just happening as an extension of the faces vs Camp Cornette feud, with Sid making his return in last month's main event and going after Cornette's team after the match. Much as was the case with Owen earlier, Cornette is nowhere to be seen in this one as Bulldog heads down to the ring alone. Also in the same manner we saw earlier, Clarence Mason makes his way down to ringside to observe midway through this match. What is that man up to? Sid is incredibly over and again I just can't understand why. The match is incredibly basic and nothing to get excited about at all. Cornette eventually makes his way to ringside and confronts Mason, wanting to know why he is out there. Sid counters a running powerslam from Bulldog in the closing moments of the match and follows up with a chokeslam before levelling him with the powerbomb for the win at 6:25.
Grade: *

Before going to our next match we get a little look at our WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels through means of a video package.

Marc Mero w/Sable vs Goldust w/Marlena
This match is part of a weird storyline featuring the strange allegiance between Mankind and Goldust. In recent weeks Mankind had begun stalking Sable at ringside, and as a result Mero battles his ally in the bizarre one here. Goldust has also been stalking Sable a little, so there are some personal issues here. The match is decent enough, as these two are quite stiff with one another as they go at it. I would have thought Mero would go over here as he's taken a few PPV losses lately, but then again so has Goldust, so I suppose it was just one of those cases where one guy had to go over at the expense of another. The match does further the creepy obsession with Sable shown by Goldust and Mankind's bizarro family though as Mankind makes his way out to ringside and begins to creep Sable out by calling her his "mummy". Mero is unable to do anything at the time as Goldust has him in a chinlock, but officials eventually get the psychotic Mankind out of there, much to Sable's relief. Mero launches into a comeback and even debuts his shooting star press known as the Wild Thing, but Goldust kicks out after the referee is distracted by Marlena on the outside. Not the best way to introduce the move. Goldust follows up by putting the Wildman away with the curtain call to pick up the victory at 11:02. After the match, the victorious Goldust goes after Sable and tries to kiss her, only for Mero to make the save and run him off. Decent enough match.
Grade: **1/4

Before we go any further, Sunny makes her way back out to ringside, this time joined by her newest client, the Gladiator type character Faarooq Asad. He made his debut on a recent episode of Raw, assaulting Ahmed Johnson during an ongoing tag match, but ended up rupturing Ahmed's kidney in the process. Ahmed would return to action a few weeks later in a battle royal to determine who would get a shot at Shawn Michaels' WWF title the following week, but ended up aggravating his kidney injury in the process, resulting in the title match being scrapped and Ahmed having to go for surgery. Of course this meant he also had to forfeit the I.C title. This would sadly be the end of Ahmed as a key player, as whilst he will return, he would never quite be the same after this incident. Anyway, back to the show, Faarooq brags about putting Ahmed on the shelf and claims that he should he the I.C champion as a result. We'll see what happens with the title situation as time goes on.

We now get a recap of the Lawler/Jake feud. Before the match gets under way however, we are introduced the World's Strongest Man - Mark Henry! Yes the Mark Henry we still know today, officially making him the first wrestler in these reviews to still be on the full time roster today (yes okay we've seen Isaac Yankem but he'd go through a character change before becoming the character we know today). Anyway, Henry makes his way out to pyro and fanfare, as he joins us on commentary for the next match. He's a face by the way, and is pretty much an Olympic weightlifter type character.

Jake Roberts vs Jerry Lawler
We saw Lawler takes digs at Jake's alcohol demons on commentary last month, and that's pretty much the basis for this feud, as Lawler has continued to torment Jake as the weeks went by heading into their encounter here. I'm not sure where Jake was personally at this point, but knowing thise demons would get back at him eventually its quite sad to watch Lawler going on about it here. He makes his way out with a Baltimore Ravens jersey to gain some extra heel heat as well as what looks to be Jake's snake bag. Lawler talks some more trash about Jake who eventually makes his way to ringside. Lawler wants to give Jake a present, and it turns out to be a giant bottle of wine. Jake doesn't see any humour in this and immediately goes after the King with his python. Jake goes ballistic on the King until Lawler turns the tide by throwing some drink into his face. He then brings out a bottle of Jim Bean and attempts to go after Jake with it. Jake attempts to go for the DDT, but Lawler ends up hitting Jake in the throat with the bottle out of the ref's sight. This takes Jake down for the three at 4:10. Strange decision to have Lawler go over here. Post match Lawler starts to pour the liquor into Jake's mouth only for Henry to make the save setting up a match at our next PPV.
Grade: 1/2*

Bob Backlund is STILL campaigning to be President. I was sure this stopped at like the end of 95. Anyway, we now get a recap of the Taker/Mankind feud as the boiler room brawl is coming up next.

Boiler Room Brawl:
Undertaker vs Mankind

In terms of the build to this, there's not much to say that I haven't already covered in previous reviews, but if you recall our last PPV, Taker and Mankind ended up brawling into a boiler room, which essentially led to this match. Paul Bearer makes his way out to the ring carrying the urn before we get under way here. The rules are simple - the two men will start fighting in the boiler room (the segment of the match was actually recorded the day prior to the show) and battle all the way through the arena until one man is able to make it to the ring and retrieve the urn. As we saw earlier, Mankind is waiting in the boiler room, so we cut to the back with Taker about to enter. He enters the dimly lit boiler room, and what follows is a segment I quite enjoy as he makes his way carefully through the area in search of Mankin. Eventually Mankind jumps Taker and we are truly off and going. Its a little weird that the commentary stops the moment the two make contact, but I suppose it gives the match a unique feel in a way as the two men just beat the shit out of each other with anything and everything they can get their hands on. Mankind pretty much decimates Taker in the early going, although Taker gets some shots in. There's a neat spot in this early part of the match that sees Mankind climb up a wooden ladder only for Taker to pull him down into a bunch of cardboard. They continue to go at it, with Mankind making his way out of the boiler room first. Taker is in hot pursuit though, and the two brawl through the backstage area until they finally get out in the arena. They fight at ringside some more, with Taker finally taking Mankind down. The Phenom climbs into the ring and gets down on one knee before Paul Bearer. Just as we think Taker has won, Bearer turns away from the man he has spent the past 5 and a half years with, whilst Mankind comes in and locks on the mandible claw upon the Undertaker. Paul Bearer is laughing and ends up smacking Taker over the head with the urn before handing it to Mankind. Mankind is officially the winner of a great brawl at 26:20 whilst Paul Bearer as turned to the dark side...or rather the side of Mankind. Mankind and Paul Bearer leave together, whilst the Undertaker lays alone in the ring. The druids eventually come on out and carry Taker away.
Grade: ****

After a promo for next month's In Your House PPV, we send it to Todd, who is with Vader and Jim Cornette. Our main event is up next, as Vader is ready to destroy Shawn Michaels and take the WWF Championship.

WWF Championship:
Shawn Michaels (c) w/Jose Lothario vs Vader w/Jim Cornette

Vader has been a roll since picking up a pinfall victory over Shawn Michaels in last months six man tag main event and is really looking like a legitimate threat to Michaels' title reign here. Their most recent altercation took place on an episode of Raw that saw Michaels in action against Owen Hart. Whilst Michaels was victorious, he was assaulted by the Mastadon immediately afterwards and laid out following a series of Vaderbombs, putting the champion at the disadvantage headed into this one. Michaels starts out this one on fire out of the back but Vader takes control after a powerbomb on the outside. Both men follow up by putting on an excellent match, one of my personal favourites of the year. At one point the action spills outside the ring and Vader throws Michaels onto the crowd railing barrier. Whilst Vader returns to the ring, Michaels is unable to beat the count, and is counted out. Of course this means Vader does not win the title however, so Cornette gets on the mic and wants the match restarted. Cornette calls Michaels a coward so the champion agrees to continue the match and we are back under way. We continue to go at it as Cornette attempts to pretty much interfere by throwing in his racket. Michaels, in a battle for survival with his monstrous opponent, ends up catching it and whacks Vader with it, getting disqualified. Again Cornette is not happy with the meaningless victory, wanting the title, so he wants the match to continue. That's exactly what happens as the bout goes on. Shawn manages to hit the sweet chin music on Vader at one point, but the Mastadon manages to kick out! The referee gets bumped now as Vader hits a powerbomb on Michaels, only for a new official to run down - but this time its the champion who kicks out! An angry Vader connects with a Vaderbomb on Michaels, and then looks to follow up with his moonsault. Michaels manages to move out of the way though and Shawn hits his own moonsault and out of nowhere scores the pinfall at 22:19. Very good match between two of my favourites from this era. Michaels took everything Vader had, but at the last moment managed to pick up the victory in a hard fought war. Michaels celebrates his win as we go off the air.
Grade: ****1/4

FINAL THOUGHTS:
This is a very good show thanks to the two main events. The undercard has a few decent matches, but for the most part this show is all Vader/Michaels and Mankind/Taker. I absolutely love the main event here, although it saddens me that this would pretty much be the highest point of Vader's WWF career. A lot of people hate the false finishes, but I think they add to the story of Michaels' putting it all out there to score a decisive victory over the monster. I have no problem with Michaels going over with the chance moonsault, but I think this feud really should have continued, with Vader in the spot that another individual would take later in the year (but let's not get ahead of ourselves). As far as the Taker/Mankind match goes, it was an excellent brawl which garnered even more sympathy for the Phenom with his long time manager betraying him just when he had Mankind beaten. My one complaint with this show is the lack of Stone Cold after winning the King of the Ring two months prior. Sure he was on the Free for All in a match with Yokozuna, but he really should have been on the main show. I would have been happy to see the heatless tag title match relegated to the pre-show in exchange for that match getting Austin on the actual card, but you can't win them all. Things would work out just fine for our favourite rattlesnake in the long run anyway. Very enjoyable show overall.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Shawn Michaels
2. Vader
3. Undertaker/Mankind (tie)

FINAL GRADE: 7.5 out of 10

ALL TIME PERFORMANCE TALLY: What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1. The list is put together from all the shows I have reviewed thus far.

Bret Hart = 60
Shawn Michaels = 41
Randy Savage = 28
Hulk Hogan = 18
Owen Hart = 15
Diesel = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
British Bulldog = 11
Razor Ramon = 10
Ted DiBiase = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Vader = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Steve Austin = 6
Jerry Lawler = 6
Undertaker = 6
Bob Backlund = 5
1-2-3 Kid = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
Mankind = 2
Savio Vega = 3
Hunter Hearst Helmsley = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Hakushi = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Tanaka = 3
Kato = 3
Vince McMahon = 3
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Crush = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Billy Gunn = 1
Bart Gunn = 1
Marc Mero = 1

Feel free to follow me on twitter at @mpmcc91