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WWE SummerSlam Backstage Stories and Urban Legends

The WWE positions SummerSlam the second biggest event of the wrestling year and this year’s match-up of Undertaker and Brock Lesnar promises to be an event for the ages. With 28 SummerSlams you can believe there are a lot of rumors and urban legends surrounding the number two event. Thanks to Google and plenty of shoot interviews, we are able to look back at some of the best and most controversial since the inaugural show in 1988.

The Undertaker was penciled in to wrestle at SummerSlam 2013

According to several reports in June 2013, the Undertaker was booked to wrestle at SummerSlam. Reports indicated that the WWE was planning to go with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins vs. Kane and Undertaker. The match hinged on Undertaker’s health which one would have to assume wasn’t good since the match was scrapped. If you remember, Taker went right into a feud with the Shield the night after WrestleMania 29 on RAW. Taker wrestled the Shield twice after Mania ending the angle with the Shield laying Taker out with a powerbomb through a table. The match was set up for Taker to get his revenge…which he never did.

Powers of Pain worked as babyfaces at SummerSlam 1988

The Powers of Pain were an important tag team in the WWF back in the 1980s. They never won WWF tag team gold but the Warlord and the Barbarian were imposing enough to always be considered a threat to the reigning champions and a victory over the two mountains shaped like men meant instant credible to any tag team that took down the hulking heavyweights.

The Powers of Pain wrestled at the inaugural SummerSlam in 1998. That’s no surprise. The shocking part is the duo worked as the faces in the match and were accompanied to the ring by long time AWA villain Baron Von Raschke (working as The Baron). Many WWE fans forget Raschke was a part of the company at the tail end of his career and that the Warlord and Barbarian were the babyfaces in a match against the The Bolsheviks lead by “The Doctor of Style” Slick.

John Cena was not originally booked to win the WWE vs. Team Nexus match at SummerSlam 2010

The original booking of the match had it coming down to Edge and Jericho vs. Nexus with no John Cena. Even better, Edge and Jericho wanted to put Barrett over. According to Edge and Jericho, Cena vetoed that and pushed to be the last man standing. According to Edge and Jericho, Cena eventually saw the light, however it was a little too late.

Chris Jericho: “It was Team WWE vs. Team Nexus, and the finish boiled down to [Edge] and [Jericho] in there, but it was Cena against a couple of them. John wanted to do things a certain way and we told him ‘you’re wrong’. He did it anyways, and it sucked. And then after he came over to us and said ‘I should have listened to you, but I wasn’t seeing it that way.'”

Edge: “I remember. I was like, fine I’m out of the match by that point.”

Chris Jericho: “He wanted to get DDT’d on the floor by Barrett, then kick out and beat them both. And you and I were like, that’s the dumbest thing. That’s just throwing it away for no reason.”

Edge: “They should have gone over because they were so hot.”

Chris Jericho: “We were fighting for Barrett to go over. And where’s Wade Barrett now?”

The infamous Vince McMahon-Nailz fight was over SummerSlam 1992

The infamous fight between Nailz (Kevin Wachloz) and Vince McMahon which allegedly had Walchoz choking Vince was over Walchoz’s payoff for his SummerSlam 1992 match against Virgil. Wacholz allegedly choked Vince to the point where the CEO turned blue.

Ric Flair’s largest bar tab came at SummerSlam 1992

Flair has mentioned this several times, including his WWE Hall of Fame speech. Flair claims that the biggest bar tab he ever ran up occurred at SummerSlam 1992. The irony of that is Flair didn’t even wrestle on the card so I’d can’t imagine his payoff was all that much for appearing at ringside during the Warrior vs. Savage match. Hopefully he made enough to cover his $3600 tab.

Muhammad Hassan was booked to win the WWE world heavyweight title at SummerSlam 2005

This one may be more rumor than fact but plenty of people report that Hassan was originally scheduled to win the WHC title at SummerSlam that year. The plan had Hassan beating the Undertaker at the Great American Bash and then beating Batista for the title at SummerSlam. Unfortunately for Hassan, the fallout from the infamous angle with Undertaker resulted in a change of plans

Sting was scheduled to wrestle at SummerSlam 2015

Sting was originally booked to wrestle at SummerSlam 2015. Sting was scheduled to team with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose against Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan. Unfortunately for the Stinger, Rowan got hurt and the Undertaker and Brock angle got over so big that Sting was asked to remain on the sidelines.

The Nature Boy was supposed to be at SummerSlam 1988

The main even of SummerSlam 1988 saw the combining of two bitter feuds — Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant battled the entire summer, Hogan still angry over Andre turning on him and costing him the world heavyweight championship. WWF Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage was in a feud of his own against “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. DiBiase was champion for only a few days before being stripped of the title that Savage eventually won in a tournament earlier in the year.

In the main event of the first SummerSlam, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage joined forces as the Mega-Powers to take on Andre and Dibiase, dubbed the Mega-Bucks. It was a tag team match that made sense but it wasn’t the main event Vince McMahon envisioned when planning the card.

The original plan for SummerSlam was to steal Ric Flair from the Jim Crockett and the NWA. McMahon wanted Flair to challenge Savage in the main event for the WWF Championship. Another story had Flair simply being interviewed at the event by Brother Love. At the last minute, Flair had a change of heart and felt obligated to the NWA. Flair would eventually jumped ship to the WWF but not until 1991.

A comedian and a NFL Hall of Famer had huge roles in SummerSlam 1994

It’s no shock to any long time WWE fan that the federation loves hosting famous guests. Especially when those guests get involved in story lines. SummerSlam 1994 involved two major names — one from the world of movies and the other from the NFL.

A major storyline going into the summer was the disappearance of the Undertaker. After losing a casket match to Yokozuna at the 1994 Royal Rumble, ‘Taker was taken off WWF TV and house shows for several months. He was given time off to heal up a nagging back injury. During his absence, people would speculate about just where the Undertaker went. In an effort to find ’Taker, Leslie Nielsen (playing a variation of his Frank Drebin character from The Naked Gun series) went looking for The Undertaker and trying to solve the case of how two Undertakers could exist.

The Real Undertaker finally showed up, at SummerSlam, to face off against The Fake Undertaker (Primetime Brian Lee) managed by Ted Dibiase.

The other celeb of the night acted as a bodyguard to a guy actually wrestling another body guard. Sometimes we miss the old WWF! Razor Ramon was facing off against Diesel — former bodyguard of Shawn Michaels — for the Intercontinental Championship. In an effort to keep Michaels from interfering in the match, and since the event was taking place at the United Center in Chicago, Ramon enlisted the help of hometown favorite and future NFL Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton.

Road Warrior Drama at SummerSlam 1992 – The Road Warriors had a night at SummerSlam 1990 they probably wish to forget. For starters, Hawk was allegedly inebriated and missed a parking spot. Animal had to dismount his motorcycle on the wrong side due to Hawk’s snafu and wound up scalding his leg. Animal actually wrestled the match with his tights burnt into his calf.

The night also represents the end of one of the greatest runs in tag team history. Hawk wound up disappearing after the match, leaving Animal to fend for himself in the WWE. Hawk and Animal would not team together again for almost five years. Unfortunately the business had changed, they got older, and their glory days were far behind them.

Jesse Ventura was taken to court over his SummerSlam 1999 appearance – Not everyone was as excited for the return of the Body to the WWE as most pro wrestling fans. Several of Ventura’s political foes were upset about the special referee gig and wound up taking the Body to court over it.

David Schultz (not that one) President of Common Cause of Minnesota Schultz filed a conflict-of-interest complaint with the state Wednesday, claiming that Ventura has traded on his office to earn outside income and created future conflicts on issues such as regulation, taxation or subsidy for entertainment within the state.

Fortunately for WWE fans, the statute did not apply to elected officials and Ventura made his triumphant return.

Alberto Del Rio got the SummerSlam shaft in 2011

Remember when Del Rio won Money in the Bank in 2011 and the company had no idea what to do with him? The original plans were for Del Rio and Cena to wrestle for the WWE title at SummerSlam 2011. Unfortunately for ADR, CM Punk got red hot around this time and the company had no choice but to ride the hot hand. Not only was Del Rio bumped from the match for Punk, the change didn’t happen until right before RAW.

The Greatest match in SummerSlam history wasn’t the original plan

It is hard to imagine WWE and SummerSlam history without the legendary Davey Boy Smith vs. Bret Hart Wembley match. That was almost the case if the WWE writers had their way. According to reports, the original plans going into SummerSlam 1992 were for Shawn Michaels to wrestle Bret and beat him for the intercontinental title. Keep in mind that creative was done back in those days months or even over a year in advance. Once Wembley was booked for the event plans changed and I think it worked out best for everybody.

Ultimate Warrior demands a raise the day of Summerslam 1991

The Ultimate Warrior and Vince McMahon had a tumultuous relationship to say the least. It seems the two egos ironed things out before the Warrior’s unfortunate passing this year but it’s probably still hard for Vince to forget the time the Warrior almost put a stop to a pay-pay-view. In the original documentary about The Ultimate Warrior, Sergeant Slaughter explains that Vince McMahon had told him on the day of the 1991 SummerSlam show in Madison Square Garden that the Warrior “had just held him up for $500,000 in cash” on the day of the show. McMahon told Slaughter of his plan to agree to the Warrior’s request so that the match would go on, but how he would fire Warrior the second the ended. At that time, everyone in wrestling was under the impression that Warrior made the demands moments before the match.

Shawn Michaels wrestled at SummerSlam 1990 with an injured knee

This story comes straight from our esteemed leader, Mr. Eric Gargiulo — “Back in 1990, for reasons I can’t comprehend now, I used to go hang out down at the Philadelphia Airport Marriot whenever the WWE or WCW stars came to town to get pictures and autographs. I guess I could have been doing worst things in my teenage years? Anyway, this story comes from firsthand experience as a result of an encounter I had one early August afternoon with Mr. WrestleMania Shawn Michaels.
Michaels and Marty Jannetty were outside waiting for their ride to the Philadelphia Spectrum which was hosting SummerSlam. Shawn was on crutches with a brace on his leg, carrying around an injury that had not been reported anywhere at the time. Nobody was around so I approached them to ask about his injury. Shawn couldn’t have been cooler and we actually talked for a few minutes about the injury which he said was to his knee.

The Rockers had a forgettable match that night with Power and Glory, Hercules and Paul Roma. Hercules attacked Shawn with a chain before the match even started to take him out, because he couldn’t wrestle. Jannetty wrestled the entire match himself and the WWE was able to not only deliver Michaels as advertised, but take advantage of what could have been a bad situation.”

Paul Heyman had to fight to get Michael Cole and Tazz to call the SummerSlam 2002 main event

Paul Heyman retold this story on a recent edition of the Chris Jericho Podcast. Heyman recalled his days as the head writer on SmackDown and brought up an interesting story about an argument with Vince McMahon leading up to SummerSlam 2002.
Michael Cole and Tazz were the announce team for SmackDown at the time and SummerSlam was headlined by a SmackDown brand match between The Rock and Brock Lesnar. It would only make sense for Tazz and Cole to call it as the brand announcers right. Not according to the Chairman of the Board. According to Paul Heyman, Vince insisted that Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross call the match because they were his “A team.” Paul fought for Cole and Tazz and eventually won. Heyman also knew that Tazz and Cole had to be on their game and used the argument to motivate the pair to call the match of their careers.

This story is significant because it marked the first WWE pay-per-view main-event that was called by the “B team” of announcers. Up until that point, it was strictly J.R. and the King or whomever the A team announcers were on Raw. From that point forward, announcers would call matches based on brand.

Vader was originally supposed to go over Shawn Michaels at SS 1996 for the title

This video and story, told by Vader’s manager Jim Cornette, tells fans just about everything they need to know about Vader’s WWE run.

The US didn’t see SummerSlam 1992 until it was two days old

SummerSlam 1992 was the first WWF pay-per-view done outside, in the open air of Wembley Stadium in London, England.

The 1992 incarnation of SummerSlam was originally booked to take place in Washington, D.C. but the WWF moved the event to Wembley Stadium because of the WWF’s growing popularity in the UK and the possibility of selling out a much larger arena.

Another odd fact about the event was that it took place on August 29, 1992 in London, but US fans didn’t see the PPV until August 31, a feat that would be impossible now with the internet.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric’s work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

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Welcome to the Camel Clutch Blog. The CCB was born in 2007 and features blogs from over 50 different writers. Articles from the Camel Clutch Blog have been featured by some of the world's most respected websites including; CNNSI.com, Foxsports.com, Yahoo News, Business Insider, MSNBC, NBCsports.com, and more.

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