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Case Number 16389: Small Claims Court

Buy WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 2 (1993-1997) at Amazon

WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 2 (1993-1997)

WWE // 1993 // 825 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // May 16th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Daryl Loomis shares a birthday with Diesel, and thinks he deserves to call himself Judge Daddy Cool.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of WWE: SummerSlam 2008 (published October 10th, 2008), WWE: SummerSlam 2009 (published November 6th, 2009), WWE: SummerSlam 2010 (published November 7th, 2010), WWE: Summerslam 2011 (published October 27th, 2011), WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 1 (1988-1992) (published May 16th, 2009), WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 3 (1998-2002) (published October 5th, 2009), and WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 4 (2003-2007) (published October 15th, 2009) are also available.

The Charge

"There's no place like home, Todd, there's no place like home. For knowledge and discipline, there is no place like home. But as much as I love…[licks the side of a boiler]…every square inch within these hallowed halls, it's time to leave, because destiny awaits on the other side. But as for you, Dead Man, take this simple warning: do not come in here, because outside the walls awaits you a fate worse than death, and a possible course of events that could alter the future of all mankind! Have a nice day!"—Mankind from the boiler room, in comments to the Undertaker.

The Case

As we move into the 1990s, the world has changed and so has wrestling, but not enough to keep the woefully ignorant racial angles out of the mix. The years that span this set were a strange time for the WWE, in which they were being beaten in the ratings, having their stars poached, and nearly going bankrupt. When Volume 3 begins, the company would just start hitting its stride, but these five are some of the most dire for the company. That doesn't mean they didn't have good matches. Quite the opposite; because of the down period, they were more willing to take chances on wrestlers and storylines that they never would during good times. They're at a crossroads during these five years, moving into the years they dubbed "Attitude" while still clinging to some of the old cliches nobody wanted to see anymore. While this set is much more inconsistent than the first volume, they are years of historical importance in wrestling, not to be missed by any fan.

More than any other year in Summerslam history, the 1993 edition features very little talent from previous editions. Names that would be integral in the Monday Night Wars make their first appearances here, including Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), Diesel (Kevin Nash), and 1-2-3 Kid (X-Pac). The match quality is greatly improved, as they're moving away from the Steroid Era and into what would come to be known and the Attitude Era, with the Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect match as a particular highlight. Be warned, however, this is the time of the racist gimmick, so the evil Native American, Tatanka, the Samoan Headshrinkers, and Yokozuna, the Japanese peril, are here in full effect.

This year's event is undoubtedly one of the worst in match quality, featuring one of the most abysmal storylines in the Undertaker's illustrious career. See, the Undertaker was "killed" when his holy urn was stolen by Ted Dibiase (he sure seems to have been involved in a lot of terrible angles). Dibiase, however, claimed that he had raised the wrestler back to life. The man purported as the wrestler, however, looked and acted very little like the undead phenom, though he did dress similarly. Meanwhile, Undertaker's Manager, Paul Bearer, claimed that he found the real Undertaker and that he would fight his doppelganger at Summerslam. Thus, we have the main event of our show, Undertaker vs. Undertaker, in a match that makes a man proud to be a wrestling fan.

By now, the Monday Night Wars against rival promotion WCW was in full swing and had made WWE change the way they did business as their competition was getting the better of them. This even represents a marked change in tone from the old cartoon-y Hulk Hogan days toward the Attitude Era. Though the matches are less marquis than in previous years, the style and quality of them are much closer to today's production than 1985's. Highlights from the 1995 edition include the Summerslam debut of modern legend Hunter Hearst Helmsley, as well as the first-ever ladder mach, which would become a staple for high flying wrestlers in the years to come. Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon don't have the match down to a science like the modern artists do, but the danger factor is ratcheted all the way up and the results are as tense a match as the company had ever presented.

'96 is full-bore Attitude WWE, the programming that would break cable ratings records for years and finally bankrupt the rival WCW. It's easy to see why as, aside from one match, this card is stacked with great matches from top to bottom. The one match that brings it down, way down, is between Jerry "the King" Lawler and Jake "the Snake" Roberts. Roberts had been battling severe substance abuse problems for a long time and the always classy Vince McMahon takes ample opportunity to mock the legend for his failings, including having Lawler pour a bottle of whiskey over the poor man's head. Otherwise, this is truly a spectacular show. The Boiler Room Brawl between Undertaker and Mankind and the championship match between Shawn Michaels and Vader are particular favorites.

The final show of this set doesn't have the same impact as its predecessor, but it still has some quality contests as well as one of the more unfortunate incidents that can happen in wrestling. This year is the Summerslam debut of Brian Pillman, one of my all-time favorite wrestlers, who would be dead within the next few months. It also features the final title win of Bret Hart, notable only because three months from now would come the "Montreal Incident," in which Vince McMahon stripped Hart of his title and his job mid-match, in front of a millions-wide PPV audience. Sadly, we also bear witness to the end of a healthy Steve Austin, who suffers an unintentional broken neck at the hands of the late Owen Hart. While Austin would come back to build himself into the biggest star wrestling had ever seen, his days of highly athletic matches were behind him as of now.

Just like the first set, this anthology is bare-bones, but its fine given the monstrous running time of the set. Video and audio are identical to their original broadcasts, and generally very good, but with little interesting to speak of. There are no extras and, once again, the big downside of the sets is the packaging. Efficient? Yes, but the cardboard scratches the discs. Only two of the five in this collection skipped for me, but you're on your own about how many will work for you.

The Verdict

Thank goodness they cut out a lot of the (overt) racism as the years rolled on. For all its flaws, this set is still not guilty. WWE is admonished to hire an engineer to redesign their DVD cases but, otherwise, case dismissed.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 92

Perp Profile

Studio: WWE
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 825 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Sports
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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