March 10, 2006
WWF Summerslam 1988
Madison Square Garden, New York, August 28th 1988
During the summer of 1988, the WWF was on a roll. Their merchandise was flying off store shelves and they were doing two to three live shows a night. Wrestlemania IV had ended with the ultimate alliance forming between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage as they ignited a feud with Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant. As the feud built over the summer (with Savage fighting Dibiase and Hogan fighting Andre), the big blow off was a tag match intended for the first Summerslam PPV. It should also be noted around this time that Jake 'The Snake' Roberts was in a heated feud with Rick Rude over Jake's wife Cheryl Roberts. The reigning WWF Tag Team Champions Demolition were dominating the ranks but the Powers Of Pain were on their way into the WWF from the NWA.
Over the years Summerslam has proven to be one of the most memorable WWF PPVs with much of WWF history being made at this event. Now lets take a look at the first one...
The show opens up with a pan of New York City. It’s somewhat strange to see the World Trade Center still there, but there is a nice shot of MSG as well.
A Summerslam ‘88 video package is shown with the theme music that would later be used for the Royal Rumble.
It should also be noted that Jesse Ventura is the guest referee for tonight’s main event and therefore will not be doing commentary. Therefore, we have Superstar Billy Graham filling in for the Body. Graham's commentating gets really annoying and I'm wishing they had put Ventura or Heenan on instead of him. Monsoon has nothing really to play off of here so the commentating is marginal.
The British Bulldogs vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
There's nothing like a good tag team opener between two great teams to start a wrestling event. The Rougeaus had recently turned heel becoming "Fabulous" as they mocked USA by praising it saying, "We're all American boys." This was a fantastic gimmick and the Rougeaus were super over as heels because of it. The British Bulldogs are sadly nearing the end of their run here and by this point they were really only putting other teams over, however it's amazing how over they still are with the fans in MSG. Strange little thing here as it seems Dynamite appears to be wearing his tights backwards. Anyways there's not much of a feud behind this match. About a month before at the July 25th MSG house show the Fabulous Rougeaus defeated The Rockers and the Bulldogs came to the ring and protested on the Rocker's behalf. That's about the extent of this feud. At the time the Rougeaus had just finished a program with the disbanded Killer Bees and were moving onto a feud with the Hart Foundation while The Bulldogs had been working with Demolition. In reality there was a real backstage feud developing between these two teams but it's obvious they can put their differences aside for a good match.
Anyways ranting aside, The Bulldogs waste no time in getting the match started as Davey Boy jumps Jacques right at the bell. Jacques gets some rough turnbuckle treatment from both Bulldogs until he finally tags Raymond. Man! Jacques’ selling is really good. Raymond comes in and locks up with Davey Boy moving him into the corner. The referee tries to break it up, giving Raymond the perfect opportunity to sucker punch Davey. Raymond whips Davey into the other corner and goes for a monkey flip, the momentum sends Davey back onto his feet and he catches Raymond with a nice arm drag takedown. Both Bulldogs work over Raymond with Dynamite delivering some vicious head-butts. Jacques is hamming it up in the corner trying to get fans to chant “USA” and “Go Raymond” fans don't buy it though. Hilarious! The Bulldogs continue to work on Raymond’s left arm with some nice arm drags. Dynamite clocks Raymond with a vicious clothesline that nearly takes his head off. Good tag team continuity by Dynamite and Davey Boy here. Davey Boy and Raymond exchange some pin fall attempts. Both Bulldogs bulldoze Raymond with a forearm double team.
Jacques trips Davey Boy coming off the ropes though and then he tags in going immediately to work on the hamstring. The Fabulous Rougeaus now cut the ring in half, working on Davey’s left leg. Jacques slaps Dynamite on the apron, which produces a distraction that allows the Rougeaus to deliver a make a wish leg splitter on Davey. A backdrop by Raymond sends Davey in orbit. Jacques is nearly pinned with a small package out of nowhere but the Rougeaus easily regain control. Davey Boy does a nice standing monkey flip reversal on Raymond and makes the hot tag to Dynamite.
Dynamite is on fire as he whips Raymond into the buckle and delivers his patented snap-suplex. A diving head-butt gets two. Back-suplex also only gets two. Dynamite throws Raymond out onto the concrete and Davey smashes him into the barricade. Jacques comes to Raymond’s aid but Dynamite stops that in a hurry with a mean fist. Bulldogs destroy Raymond some more in their corner and Davey Boy Smith polishes him off with a running power slam then goes for the pin. Jacques makes the save however and the Bulldogs exchange without making the tag.
Dynamite works over Raymond some more but Jacques saves Raymond illegally by back-suplexing Dynamite off the second rope. With Dynamite really selling the back-suplex, the Fabulous Rougeaus dominate for a good five minutes. Jacques catches Dynamite in an abdominal stretch and illegally exchanges with Raymond. Dynamite powers out of the hold with a hip toss. He and Raymond exchange some vicious chops. The Rougeaus continue to relentlessly double team. Dynamite is put into the camel clutch but still powers out. The referee misses a hot tag to Davey and the Rougeaus work on Dynamite some more. Finally Dynamite toughs his way out and hot tags Davey. Davey is now on fire as he press slams Jacques, who crotches himself on the top rope. Pier six brawl erupts and MSG is hot! Bulldogs go for their trademark as Davey press slams Dynamite onto Jacques. The bell rings though before the pin and we have a 20-minute time limit draw. Exciting opening match. ****
Match Analysis: After the match the Rougeaus sucker punch the Bulldogs and are chased backstage. This was pretty awesome match. A lot of people think the Rougeaus could've used the win but I myself like the draw idea. Good booking and an awesome tag team match. It’s a shame these two teams didn’t work together more (as far as I know this was their only match).
We are treated to a video package of the past weekend's Superstars where Outlaw Ron Bass attacks Brutus Beefcake with his spurs and whip. An attack that WWF censors deemed “too violent” so there isn’t much to see. The attack has forced Beefcake to withdraw from his IC title match tonight with the Honky Tonk Man but we will have another challenger. All I can say is thank god we don't have to put up with another Honky vs. Beefcake comedy match! I was happy to hear this and hoped Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat would be the mystery opponent unfortunately we got something much much worse...
Bad News Brown vs. Ken Patera
Bad News jumps Patera in before the bell. He kicks Patera’s ass for the first minute but is met with a clothesline when he charges the corner. Patera comes back and gets some near pinfalls. He puts Bad News into a bear-hug, which makes things slow and dull. They also do a bit where Bad News tries to avoid the full nelson. It all ends when Patera misses a corner charge and Bad News finishes him with the ghetto blaster. Dull match especially when one considers it compared to the opener. 1/2*
Match Analysis: Long and dull. Patera looked pretty awful here and I'm glad Bad News squashed him. Nothing match that went way longer than it should have.
A Promo for the Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Donny Lalonde boxing match that Vince is promoting on November 7th in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Mean Gene is with The Mega Powers. Hogan claims Miss Elizabeth is their “secret weapon.” Hmmm…
'Ravishing' Rick Rude vs. The Junkyard Dog
Rude gets in the ring and runs his mouth as usual. He also has JYD airbrushed on his tights. I dunno what that’s supposed to mean. JYD enters to a huge pop and Rude tries to jump him. JYD easily ousts the Ravishing one with some head-butts. Back in Rude gains control easily and goes through some slow offense including a double axe-handle off the top and a chin lock. Wow! I can't help but realize how mediocre a wrestler Rude was at the time. Whatever. Funny bit here where Rude sacks himself on JYD's arm. Anyways Rude gains further control and goes to the top for a fist drop. He pulls down his tights to reveal another pair with Cheryl Roberts on them. An irate Jake' The Snake' Roberts hits the ring and beats the crap out of Rude but it gives him the victory by DQ. 1/2* After the match Roberts consoles a pissed JYD.
Match Analysis: Not a good match by any stretch but it added further heat to Rude's feud with Jake. JYD had nothing really to do with this match and considering that this is his last WWF PPV appearance, I can see why. He'd been gone within the next month or so to NWA.
Mean Gene is with the reigning Intercontinental Champion The Honky Tonk Man and The Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart. Gene tries to tell Honky who his challenger is for tonight, but Honky refuses to be told and insists on being surprised. Boy, he sure would be!
The Powers Of Pain vs. The Bolsheviks
This is the Powers Of Pain's WWF PPV debut. They had recently come over from the NWA and were now a rising face team in the WWF. At the time the Powers Of Pain were doing a program with the Bolsheviks but it's clear here from Monsoon and Graham’s discussion that a feud with Demolition is in the near future. Warlord and Barbarian are accompanied by Baron Von Rascke. They rush down the aisle and clear the ring of Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov. POP totally dominate the Russians throughout the match. Barbarian destroys Boris Zhukov while Slick hams it up with the crowd. Warlord tags in and does an impressive sequence but gets caught by a Slick distraction and plays 'face in peril'. The Bolsheviks run through some sloppy offense, which consists of mainly strangling Warlord on the ropes. Warlord doesn’t sell all too much though as he doesn’t go off his feet. The Baron and Slick have a confrontation on the outside in order to entertain the crowd when things get slow. Hot tag to Barbarian changes everything as he cleans house. Double flying tackle and they finish with a Warlord running power slam, followed by a Barbarian top rope head butt on Boris Zhukov, for the pin. Not bad. **
Match Analysis: This pretty much the same as their Wrestlefest '88 match. Did you really think the Bolsheviks would go over? Actually a month before the Bolsheviks had gone over the British Bulldogs in a match at a house show in the Philly Spectrum. No joke (see Best of The WWF Volume 17).
A Promo for The 2nd Annual Survivor Series.
There is now a red carpet in the ring. You know what that means…The Brother Love show makes its debut on PPV! Tonight's guest is Hacksaw Jim Duggan (who is not on the card). Apparently the whole gist of this interview is that Hacksaw doesn't like Blubber Love but it takes him 10 minutes to point it out and chase him off. Wow! That was a waste! I mean honestly I’ll sit through a Brother Love segment like any other WWF wrestling fan, but did they really need to bring this guy to PPV when he was already annoying people on Wrestling Challenge enough? This is time that could’ve been used towards a match.
The same Boxing Promo we saw before.
Intercontinental Title Match: (Champion) The Honky Tonk Man vs. (Challenger) ????
Honky Tonk Man gets on the mic and says "get me somebody out here to wrestle I don't care". As we all know, Beefcake was put out by Bass on Superstars and therefore Honky has no challenger. Honky claimed he would defend his belt one way or the other tonight and so a mystery opponent has been signed. Honky confidently struts around the ring demanding for the challenger to come on out. Suddenly music hits, the announcers play it up as if they don't know but the MSG crowd pops big for they know who it is. The Ultimate Warrior races down the aisle and destroys Honky with a series of clotheslines and tackles. He then finishes off with a splash for the pin at around 33 seconds! And thus the longest Intercontinental reign ends very quickly, as the Warrior squashes Honky like a bug. Honky didn't even get the chance to take his gear off. Ultimate Warrior celebrates with the IC Title as Honky sulks back to the locker room in defeat. The match was a definite DUD but special for historic reasons.
Match Analysis: Definitely not a great match. Total DUD in fact, but still Warriors’ title win was important. It ended the longest IC title reign ever and also was the beginning of the Warrior's rise to the top. Historic moment.
The crowd is panned and we see Regis Philbin who seems to be having a good time.
An extended promo for Survivor Series narrated by Gorilla Monsoon. Includes highlights from the first Annual Survivor Series PPV.
Mean Gene Okerlund is in the crowd with Sugar Ray Leonard. This interview is to further hype the November fight. Sugar Ray thanks Titan Sports, Vince McMahon, and Jim Troy and then claims he’s happy to be here at “Superslam.” Ouch! Clearly, Leonard isn’t an avid WWF fan. Further video packages to promote the fight including a boring interview with Donny Lalonde. If you haven’t figured it out yet this is supposed to be killing time towards the five-minute intermission. I don’t know about you but as a wrestling fan this is definite fast forward material.
The actual five-minute intermission has been clipped.
The same Summerslam ‘88 video package we saw at the beginning of the show is aired again.
Bobby Heenan barges into the announcers' booth. Heenan gives us his “update” on the Mega Powers and the Mega Bucks then commentates for our next match.
'The Rock' Don Muraco vs. Dino Bravo
Superstar is Muraco's manager but since he's commentating he can't be a ringside with his guy. Muraco is basically done at this point and is here to put over Bravo fair and square. Superstar and Heenan argue over the legitimacy of Dino Bravo’s world bench press record, as Muraco and Bravo go through some decent wrestling. There isn’t much behind this match, which probably explains why the focus is on The Brain and The Superstar going at each other’s throats in the commentary booth rather than the match. Frenchy Martin gets on the apron and distracts Muraco long enough for Dino Bravo to execute his side-suplex finisher and get the pin fall victory. * After the match, Graham bitches about the referee’s decision while The Brain high tails it back to the locker room.
Match Analysis: The match itself was ok, but no one was interested. This would explain why it was booked immediately following the intermission (when fans are still getting back form the concession stands). It seemed like Muraco and Bravo were just going through the motions here. Whatever, Muraco’s WWF tenure was done at this point and he would be gone within the next two months.
Sean Mooney is backstage with Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Mooney tries to stir up trouble by pointing out that Jesse was seen accepting money from Ted Dibiase this past weekend on Superstars. Ventura tears into Mooney and claims no amount of money in the world will affect the way he officiates tonight's main event match.
Tag Team Title Match: (Champions) Demolition vs. (Challengers) The Hart Foundation
Demolition enters with Mr. Fuji and Jimmy Hart! At the time the Harts had recently dumped Jimmy and turned face. However Hart was still their manager due to contract obligations. Therefore, The Mouth Of The South still has the right to be ringside for the Hart Foundation's matches. A few weeks later he'd sell the Hart's contracts to the Fabulous Rougeaus. Anyway, the Colonel is with Demolition tonight just to get under the Hart's skin. Bret Hart dominates both Demos early on with some near falls. Tag to the Anvil puts him in trouble as Demolition begins to dominate. Anvil plays face in peril and hot tags Bret. Hitman cleans house but is sent shoulder first into the post. Anvil chases Jimmy back to the locker room. Bret Hart is hurt and a hot tag is teased. Demolition destroys the Hitman's shoulder.
Finally a hot tag is accomplished and Neidhart goes crazy slamming both Demolition members. Ax takes a mean spill onto the floor and is out. Bret slingshots Neidhart into Smash on the arena floor. Nice spot. Back in, an Anvil power slam gets two on Smash. All four men brawl in the ring. Fuji attempts to get involved causing Neidhart to nail him off the apron. The distraction however allows Jimmy Hart to return to the ring and pass Ax the Megaphone. He drills Bret Hart (who is attempting to finish Smash off with a piledriver) allowing Smash to get the pinfall for Demolition to retain. Solid tag team match, albeit a little short. ***1/2
Match Analysis: Very energetic and exciting tag team match but it could’ve been a little longer (I blame the Brother Love segment and the stupid Boxing hype for this). Demolition was awesome at this point and the Harts were great as baby faces. Great title defense.
The same damn promo hyping the Leonard vs. Lalonde fight in November. It’s getting a little old now.
Mean Gene is backstage with an irate Honky Tonk Man who is being consoled by the heel wrestlers. Honky tells everyone to leave him alone and then bitches and moans about losing the IC title and claims that he will get it back (of course he never would).
Big Bossman vs. Koko B. Ware
Koko enters to that weird Piledriver song he sung. Bossman was relatively new to the WWF at this point. In fact this was his PPV debut. He had spent about a month and a half squashing jobbers prior to this. Big Bossman weighs about 400lbs here and is managed by Slick. It's amazing how much he changed over the years. Slick distracts Koko giving the Bossman a chance to jump him. Bossman dominates the Bird Man with an avalanche but refuses to pin Koko but rather inflict more damage. Bossman misses a top rope splash but seems fine. He misses another avalanche and Koko makes a brief comeback with a few drop kicks as well as a missile drop kick off the top. He attempts to pin him but Bossman powers out and finishes him off with the Bossman slam. Neat little match. ** After the match Bossman nails Koko with the nightstick. Wow! Police brutality!
Match Analysis: This match sole purpose was to put over Bossman and it did just that. Koko got in some nice offence and Bossman toughed it out and crushed him. For a mid-card bout this is pretty decent.
Another promo for Survivor Series 1988.
Sean Mooney (who I believe is making his debut here) is with the new Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior, who is being congratulated by the baby faces. Warrior cuts another one of his weird promos, making allusions to being an alien. That would explain a lot.
Jake 'The Snake' Roberts vs. Hercules
For whatever reason this match was given a lot more time then it ever should have had. I guess since Jake 'The Snake' was a big draw he gets more ring time. However he's facing Hercules here who he doesn't really have an issue with (Roberts was actually feuding with Rude at the time) so this match has nothing really to it. This one is therefore slow and dull. Herc thwarts several DDT attempts and slowly wears Jake down. Out of nowhere Jake slides out of a slam attempt and hits the DDT to finish Hercules at about 10 minutes.* Well at least there was some good ring psychology to it.
Match Analysis: Slow and dull but some good ring psychology. It should be noted that Heenan did not accompany Herc to the ring. This was nearing the end of Hercules heel run, as he would turn face in the fall.
A recap of the Mega Powers/Mega Bucks feud is shown.
The Mega Powers vs. The Mega Bucks
This was the ultimate blow off to the Hogan/Andre and Savage/Dibiase feuds respectively. The Mega Powers enter to Macho's music. It's weird not seeing Hogan enter to "Real American" but whatever. Mega Powers totally destroy Dibiase in the early goings. Hogan tags in a make a dumb mistake by attacking Andre. The Mega Bucks dominate Hogan and wear him down. Ventura is actually an impartial referee in this bout. Hot tag to Savage who runs through his usual offence on Dibiase. He misses a corner charge though and the Bucks gain control again. Andre does a short heat segment on Savage. Then Dibiase misses a reverse elbow drop off the second rope (that move never works Ted!). Hot tag to Hogan this time, who cleans house taking on both Mega Bucks. Savage comes in to even up the odds but is stopped by an Andre boot on a flying elbow smash attempt. Andre tosses Hogan to the floor and both Mega Powers lie outside the ring getting counted out. Elizabeth hops on the apron as do Heenan and Virgil to dispute over the pier six brawl. Then Liz rips off her skirt which causes EVERYBODYS’ jaws to drop. Including the Mega Bucks, the referee, the commentators, the time keeper and everyone else in MSG. Dibiase and Andre freeze in their tracks and just stare. This gives the Mega Powers the chance to come back into the ring and send Andre to the floor. Dibiase gets slammed, Macho hits the Flying Elbow, and Hogan drops the leg. He covers, and Ventura counts two, but hesitates at three, so Savage slams his hand down to the mat for the final time, giving the Mega Powers the win. Heated Main Event. *** Hogan's theme finally plays as the Mega Powers and the lovely Elizabeth (without her skirt on) celebrate the victory.
Match Analysis: Well this wasn't really an awesome match. However the crowd was way into it and there was a TON of heat to it. Therefore this turned out fairly decent. Far better than the Summerslam '89 Tag Main Event.
Jinsell's Bottom Line: Well for some fans Summerslam '88 holds a nostalgic value to it. There are some very memorable moments to the first one. However most of the wrestling is topped easily elsewhere. The only matches that truly stood out were the opener and the Tag title match, the rest were a lot of squashes. Also, much of the roster at the time is strangely missing in action here. Take my recommendation at face value. If you plan to get this event track down the PPV version as the North American CHV version is like watching a really good episode of RAW not a PPV. Despite this, Summerslam ’88 is still a recommended show.