The bank holiday weekend just past and having the WWE Network inspired me to delve back into the WWE’s archive yet I ended up watching an event I own on DVD: SummerSlam 1991. The main inspiration for that was the excellent IC title match which saw Mr. Perfect defend against Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart which is the latest match to feature in ‘Matches from History.’
Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby ‘the Brain’ Heenan and Rowdy Roddy Piper are on commentary for this one.
Bret Hart, the challenger for Perfect’s Intercontinental Championship, is out first to a great pop from the crowd at Madison Square Garden. Mr. Perfect is managed by The Coach, better known as John Tolos, at this point – who replaced Bobby Heenan as Perfect’s manager but didn’t last that long. Before this one starts, The Hitman gives his glasses to the son of Steve ‘Brooklyn Brawler’ Lombardi.
They lock up to start and Hart gets an early advantage with a shoulder block before hip tossing Perfect to ringside. Hart dodges a clothesline and gets a two count with a crucifix. He then keeps Perfect down with a headlock, gaining leverage by holding onto on to the champion’s hair.
Curt Hennig eventually breaks it up with a knee to, as Monsoon calls it, “the bread basket” but a crossbody gets another two for Hart. He follows that up with a sunset flip from the outside before going back to the headlock. It’s broken and Hennig hits a big chop. A boot attempt is countered and Bret knocks Hennig down and stomps on his chest.
Hennig reverses Hart into the turnbuckle and they exchange a series of quick reversals before Hart clotheslines him out of the ring. Mr Perfect makes an attempt to get to the back but Hart chases him around the ring before throwing him back into the ring.
The referee tries to break them up in the corner and Perfect cheap shots Hart and now it is the champ that is in control. A kick to the ribs then knocks Hart to ringside and Perfect follows him. A chop takes Hart down and that allows Hennig to get back in the ring. Hart attempts to get back in but Perfect charges and sends Bret into a camera man at ringside.
Hart is now back in and pounds on Perfect but Hennig is soon back in control and rams him head first into the turnbuckle before thundering Hart into the other corner which gets him a two count. A trademark snap neckbreaker and a roll-up pin gets a two.
The Hitman reverses Hennig into ropes but puts his head down and gets a kick to the face. A dropkick then sends Hart tumbling to the outside. Perfect goes after him to the outside and they trade shots. They continue to trade blows as they climb to the top rope and Hart falls off and Perfect onto the top for a two.
Mr Perfect tosses Hart hair first from the corner and slaps on a sleeper hold. Hart reverses and attempts another crucifix but Perfect is able to samoan drop him for a two count. Hart then is sent sternum first into the turnbuckle and Perfect gets a near fall. Perfect-plex time but Hart kicks to the surprise of Perfect, The Coach and the commentators.
It’s comeback time and Hart nails some shots to the gut and then an inverted atomic drop. Hart dodges a punch and hits an atomic drop before Perfect is sent groin first into the corner. A suplex gets The Hitman a two count only, to the jeers of the crowd. Small package gets another near fall.
Excellently executed backbreaker and driving elbow drop gets yet another near fall for The Hitman. Hart remonstrates with the referee and Perfect rolls him up for a two count. The two take the fight to the outside and Hennig is hurled into the turnbuckle before Hart rolls him back in.
Perfect barely has time to get to his feet before Hart kicks his leg from under him and attempts to put on the sharpshooter but The Coach distracts him. Hart is caught in the ropes and Perfect cheap shots him before kicking him to the groin. A leg drop to the groin follows but a second attempt is countered by Hart into a Sharpshooter and Perfect quickly taps out and we have a new champion.
Overall: This was a fantastic match, especially considering the condition that Hennig’s back was in at the time. In fact, he’d all but retired from the ring at this point but still put Hart over, despite his obvious discomfort. Mr. Perfect would spend the next year or so recuperating and would act as an “Executive Consultant” to Ric Flair before returning, this time as a face, ahead of the 1992 Survivor Series.
Whilst Perfect’s health was obviously far from, ahem, perfect here, he and Bret put on a great wrestling match containing a number of near falls and some great storytelling. The two would go on to have a great match at King of the Ring 1993 but as good as that one was, this match at SummerSlam eclipsed it by quite a distance.