May 29, 2010
Matt D & Vic
Legion of the Damned
Demolition © vs. The Hart Foundation
Summer Slam 88 - August 29, 1988, Madison Square Garden
Matt D: This is a match right here. I don't even see how people can compare the Summerslam 90 match to this. This is just so much more. It's still got the big match feel. In fact, it's got as big a "big match feel" as any of the initial heel run Demolition matches, and unlike the 90 match, it's both a Demolition match AND a Harts match. It's this awesome uber-hybrid.
Backstory is simple. Demolition has run over every team since crushing Patera/Boone/BJH in late 87. They took Strike Force's belts and put Martel out of action. They are the irresistible object. The Harts turned face after WM IV and for this match Jimmy Hart (who still owns the Foundation's contracts) is in Demolition's corner. The fans are hugely behind them and they are unlike any team Demolition has faced up to this point. They are the unstoppable force.
Demos come in confident. It's Ax pushing around Bret to start. The clubbering looks nasty in this match as does Ax's slam. He misses a big elbow drop and it's shine time for the Harts (though it doesn't feel that like formula here at all). Bret takes Smash's head off with a punch on the apron. Two punches to the gut off the ropes and a roll-up. Bret goes flying as Ax kicks out and Ax draws back, slowing things down and making the tag, no longer underestimating anyone. It's a good opening segment. Lots of energy and character. Neidhart tags in and tries to control Smash with the arm. Smash keeps finding a way to reverse it and go for an impact move, but Neidhart turns it back around. Smart, logical back and forth stuff here that ends when Ax kicks Neidhart's back from the apron. Demos take over, clubbering and using quick tags, cutting off the ring, and you think Neidhart is going to be the FIP but he nails Ax off a back body drop attempt and makes a tag. So far, Harts are matching Demolition. Just like the Demos make their opponents work for everything, the Harts are doing the same thing. It's very different stylistically than the Brainbusters matches where the Busters were doing everything under the sun or the Towers matches where it was about superior size. This is Tag Team Toughness vs Tag Team Toughness right here.
And the Demolition react to it. When Bret comes in, Ax, in 1988, at the height of Demos heel power, BEGS OFF, to BRET, not even Neidhart. That is AMAZING to me. Demolition don't beg off to anyone. And it's so smart, and it's part of this awesome story being told here. Such a different reaction than the push and taunting that started the match. Smash comes in and Bret punches a few times and dropkicks him before trying a whip in the corner. Smash reverses it and Bret goes shoulder first into the pole. At the same time Neidhart is temporarily drawn away by Jimmy Hart. Thus starts something you don't see in almost any other Demolition match, opportunistic attacking of a bodypart after an injury spot. But it's warranted here. Demolition realize that their normal tactics just might not be enough against the Harts. They sense blood and they'll go outside of their normal strategy to capitalize on it. And for the next few minutes the are going to just destroy Bret's shoulder. Stomps. Double-team clubbering. Twisting it over the rope. Punches. Illegal attacks from the apron. A great bum's rush into the corner. Ax slamming it into Smash's boot. A killer shoulder-breaker. A freaking Pat O'Connor spinning armhold. An armbar where Ax just grinds his boot into the shoulder. Clotheslining it over the top rope. And a bum's rush into the ringpost on the outside. It's all quick and effective offense and none of it even resembles a resthold. Quick shifts. Quick changes. The pure unbridled offensive power of Demolition.
Finally, Ax goes to clothesline Bret's head off and Bret ducks it and hits the Hart Attack clothesline (sans bearhug of course) and the crowd goes crazy. But this is a Demolition match and that's not enough in itself. Smash distracts the ref and he misses the tag and then when Neidhart complains Smash switches with Ax (and the crowd gets hostile). Smash slams Bret's shoulder into two turnbuckles, but then runs into a Bret boot and Smash Flops. Bret makes the hot tag and the crowd goes nuts. Neidhart comes in with killer forearms, a dropkick, spinning slams, and the best collision I've seen out of the Demos. A big clothesline takes Smash outside, and then the Harts do the Neidhart-slingshot spot, but all the way to the Outside and the crowd goes NUTS. Great spot. Neidhart rolls him back in and hits a powerslam for 2, then tags Bret and hits the assisted cannonball shoulder thrust into the corner for two. Bret hits a good backbreaker but Ax is there to pull him off. This draws Neidhart in and we go towards the finish. Fuji draws neidhart back to his corner. The ref comes along. Anvil smashes Fuji, but Jimmy Hart's out there too and he throws Ax the megaphone. Bret puts up Smash for the piledriver. Ax clobbers him with the megaphone. Smash gets the pin.
It's a really great match and a perfect combination of the Harts presence and energy and Demolition's structure and logic and force. The fact that it only has 10:00 or so of actual match time actually helps keep it controlled and focused and it's really great. Yeah, I could have used Bret selling the shoulder towards the end a bit more but I'm not sure that would have added too much to the match and I know the fans sure didn't care. They were molten throughout. It's a great match and very different than the Busters and Connection and Towers matches. And it's different than the Rockers and Rogueaus and Bulldogs and BJH matches. The one thing that's constant in all of them? The overwhelming logic and realism of Demolition. With this match, though, the Harts have the presence, instinct, and momentum to believably meet that head-on in meaningful ways, and the end result is something that's not just sound, smart, and even great, but that is downright spectacular.
Vic: Now this is the great Demolition/Hart Foundation match. This a Evelventy Gajillion times better than the 90 match.
This is a really significant match for me. Hart Foundation is one of my favorite teams. Maybe tied with Demolition. Anyway Demolition has run roughshod over the WWF for nearly two years. They have ran thru the Rougeaus, The Killer Bees, the British Bulldogs and Strike Force for the titles. But to me the Hart Foundation are like Hulk Hogan and the WWF championship. Until you beat Hulk you are just renting the title.
Angle wise my favorite thing is Jimmy Hart joining Demolition and Fuji for one night. He still has the Hart Foundation under contract and gets a percentage of their earnings. So he is so mad at Bret and Anvil he is willing to sacrifice tag team title money. Of course not thirty minutes before Honky Tonk Man got crushed by the Ultimate Warrior. That has no bearing on this match just fun to think about.
Match starts with Ax and Bret and Ax waste no time in beating Hart down. Ax misses the elbow and Bret lights him up. He then pops Smash one for good measure. Bret tries to rollup Ax but he quickly kicks out. Smash comes in and Bret hits him with two armdrags. Neidhart is tagged in and he comes off the second with an ax handle on Smash.
He hits Smash with a forearm and starts pummeling him. Anvil runs off the ropes and Ax kicks him in the back of his head. AX is tagged in and he beats down Neidhart. Smash comes back in and he starts clubbering. But now AX is quickly tagged back in. Anvil catches him with a forearm and tags out.
Ax begs off from Bret which is super rare from Ax. He has only done that for the Ultimate Warrior. Bret knocks Ax out of the ring and catches Smash with a great looking dropkick. Nobody does a dropkick like Bret. It looks really unique. Starts from a running position but then does a kind of flipping dropkick.
He goes to irish whip Smash but Smash reverses and Bret runs into the post. Now the real heat section of the match starts. Smash starts stomping Bret's shoulder. Meanwhile Jim Neidhart has had enough of being berated by Jimmy Hart and runs him to the back.
Ax is working over Bret's shouldber by wrapping it in the rops and pulling. Really nice painful looking armwork. Great section with Bret's arm stuck in the ropes. Ax hits him the ref starts counting and at five Ax stops. But while the ref is admonishing him. Smash starts punching Bret in the shoulder. This continues for another minute or two.
Ax removes Bret and drives his shoulder into the turnbuckle. Followed by Ax stomping him down. Bret is fantastic as he looks like he is dying. Smash is back in and he hits the rare shoulderbreaker. Smash then puts him in a arm submission.
Ax comes back in and he puts his foot on Bret's shoulder and pulls. Bret gets thrown to the outside and Smash throws him into the steel post. Followed by Ax kicking him from the apron.
Ax whips Bret into the ropes but Bret ducks the clotheslne and hits his own Hart attack clothesline. This where you would expect the tag but Demos cut him off. Smash charges Bret in the corner and Bret boots him in the face.
Now the Anvil is tagged in. He hits Smash with two forearms hits Ax with a dropkick. Hits these nice looking body slams on both Demos. Then clotheslines Smash out of the ring. Neidhart is in the ring alone and the fans all stand up, cheering and applauding and it's a great visual.
Now the highlight of the match. Bret slingshots JJim Neidhart over the top rope on to Smash!!!!! How is this not talked about more. This is a near 300 pound man doing a dive to the floor in 1988!!!!!!
According to the Harts they had to talk to Demolition for a week to get them to agree to this.
Neidhart tosses him back in and hits the powerslam for 2. I love how happy Neidhart looks as he is pinning Smash as he just knows they are champs again. Then his look of shock then disappointment.
Bret is tagged and they do the reverse Irish Whip shoulderblock in the corner. Love how Anvil just springs backward to his stomach. Goes for the pin and fans are counting along. When Smash kicks out fans just yell. Bret hits the backbreaker but Ax is on the apron now and breaks it up. This brings back in Anvil who starts forearming Ax in the corner.
Fuji climbs up on the apron and Neidhart starts hitting him. Bret is hitting Smash and gets ready to hit the piledriver. Jimmy Hart comes back tosses Ax the megaphone who clocks Bret giving Demolition the win.
Whew that was something. Love the match as much now as I did the first time. That finishing sequence from Neidhart coming out to the end was great.