Column: The Gravest Match in Summer Slam History
Wrestling Soap Box: The Gravest Match in Summer Slam History
I thought that Undertaker vs. Undertaker was going to be the greatest match of all time. To say I was wrong is a huge understatement. The forgettable encounter at Summer Slam 1994 is remembered as one of the most horrendous main events in wrestling history. As a kid, I ate up anything and everything that wrestling had to offer, but this was a match that can’t be defended.
The angle began with the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase stating he was bringing back the Undertaker, who had been out of action for eight months. DiBiase originally brought the Undertaker into the WWF at the 1990 Survivor Series as the mystery partner of his Million Dollar Team. His claim had credibility, but Paul Bearer called shenanigans.
Several weeks later, on Shawn Michaels’ Heartbreak Hotel segment, DiBiase brought out the Undertaker. Unbeknownst to the audience at the time, it wasn’t Mark Calaway, but Smokey Mountain Wrestling star Brian Lee who donned the black trench coat. According to The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Lee’s voice during his promo was a dead give-away to the live crowd that he wasn’t the genuine article. The problem was fixed in post-production with Calaway’s voice dubbed over in time for the show to air.
The angle went completely dead from there. Not even the celebrity infusion of Leslie Neilson and George Kennedy as their characters from The Naked Gun films could salvage this story line. During a special call in show, Vince McMahon took a deep breath and profoundly said this will likely be the only time we see this match up when a fan asked about future bouts between the dead men.
August 29th arrived and fans were treated to a spectacular light show to usher the return of Paul Bearer’s Undertaker. The bell rang as the two Undertakers went face to face and que the record scratch as Lee was four inches shorter than Calaway. When the bell rang, it was Frankenstein vs. Frankenstein. Two guys, moving in slow motion and doing the same moves and mannerisms completely killed the match. Calaway hit Lee with three Tombstones to claim victory and shipped him off in a casket, never to be seen again. Thank goodness Calaway debuted his purple boots and gloves that evening because it would have been hard to tell them apart.
Brian Lee went back to Smokey Mountain Wrestling until he landed on his feet in ECW as the enforcer of Raven’s Nest and Shane Douglas’ Triple Threat. Lee came back to the WWF in 1997, under the moniker Chainz as a member of the biker stable Disciples of Apocalypse.
I attended an independent show in 1999 where Lee worked as The Undertaker. I was upset at first because my main reason for going to the show was to see the Undertaker and instead, I got the Underfaker. After I recovered from the bait and switch, it was actually pretty cool to see it all unfold because it’s a character that was long forgotten.
Prior to Summer Slam 1994, WCW had just come off their most successful pay-per-view event at the time which featured Ric Flair against the company’s newest signee, Hulk Hogan. It was important for the WWF to produce a stellar card in response but they blew the pooch. The amazing cage match between Bret Hart and Owen Hart kind of gets lost in the shuffle since the main event left fans in a stunned silence.
The build towards this year’s Summer Slam is off to a great start with two completely fresh matches on the docket featuring John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan and CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar.