April 18, 2009
Summerslam 1988, August 29, 1988, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Superstar Billy Graham
Here we are with the first ever Summerslam, from back in 1988. With Wrestlemania season done, I can now get back to doing other shows. I don’t know why exactly I’m picking this one, but why not? One thing to note before I get started here is that I’m watching the Coliseum Video version here and many of the matches are pretty drastically clipped, as are any interviews and segments that took place between the matches.
Opening match: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers vs. The British Bulldogs
The Rougeaus were freshly turned heel with the gimmick that they sing the praises of America, but we’re all supposed to know that they’re lying. Jimmy Hart has not yet become their manager if anyone cares. The Bulldogs stock had fallen about as low as it would go at this point and they were just kind of floating aimlessly until they would ultimately leave by the end of the year. The Rougeaus offer a handshake, but The Bulldogs don’t go for it as Davey attacks Jacques and we’re underway. Davey controls a bit but tosses Jacques to his own corner and the tag is made to Raymond. Raymond cheapshots him on a break, but his monkey flip is foiled when Davey lands on his feet. Tag to Kid who controls with armdrags and an armbar, and then tags back to Davey who comes in off the top. Davey gets a sunset flip for 2, and then gets nailed by Jacques. There’s a pretty obvious edit here and we cut to Jacques in the ring illegally and suplexing Kid off the ropes. Jacques then gets the tag, slams Kid and drops a knee for 2. The Rougeaus remain in control for awhile with Kid as the face in peril and we get a few switches and double teams. At one point, Davey gets drawn in the ring as Kid gets a small package, but the ref puts Davey out instead of counting and it ends up only getting 2. We get the false tag, which leads to a Rougeau switch as the ref again has to put Davey out, but Kid the just nails a headbutt and makes the tag anyways. Jacques avoids a dropkick, but takes a press slam, getting dropped on the ropes on the way down. All four guys come in which leads to Davey pressing Kid on to Jacques, but the bell rings at 11:20 for the time limit draw. Post match sees the Bulldogs chase the Rougeaus out after the Rougeaus try a cheapshot. Decent match to open things up. **
Bad News Brown vs. Ken Patera
No real issue here, it’s just a buildup match for Bad News. News jumps him on the way in and works him over, but Patera comes out of the corner with a clothesline. Slam by Patera, but he misses an elbow and gets headbutted to the apron. News chokes him, but puts his head down on an Irish whip and gets kicked. Suplex gets 1 for Patera, and then he nails a clothesline and elbow for 2. Backbreaker gets another 2, and then so does a small package. To a bearhug, but News rakes the eyes to break. Patera then gets the full nelson, but News is in the ropes. Patera drops a forearm from the 2nd rope and hooks the full nelson again, but once more News quickly makes the ropes. He sends News off the ropes, but puts his head down and gets nailed. Corner whip is reversed, but News gets the elbow up in a spot they were clearly not on the same page for. Another corner whip sees Patera charge, but News moves and Patera hits the post. Ghettoblaster then finishes at 6:37. Weak match with neither guy really looking that good. DUD
Ravishing Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Junkyard Dog
JYD was another guy who was slipping in popularity after being at one point a major crowd favourite, and he would also be gone by the end of the year. Rude had a pretty good feud going with Jake Roberts over the issue of Rude attempting to hit on Jake’s wife. I’ve heard rumours that they actually were having an affair, which would be pretty ironic if true. Rude attacks, but his whip is reversed and he gets backdropped. JYD then headbutts him to the floor. Back in, JYD misses a headbutt and gets hit with a clothesline. Rude then gets a double ax from the top and drops some elbows. JYD comes back, but makes the mistake of going after Heenan which lets Rude get a Russian legsweep from behind. Rude goes up top and pulls down his tights to reveal another pair with an image of Jake’s wife on them, and then drops a fist. Jake, having been watching from the back I guess, runs in and attacks, clotheslining Rude to the floor. As a result, JYD is disqualified at 3:56. Another crap match, but at least it served a purpose of adding heat to another feud. ½*
The Bolsheviks (w/Slick) vs. The Powers of Pain (w/Baron Von Rashke)
The POP were pretty new to the WWF here, having been brought in as babyfaces for a feud with Demolition. Of course Demolition was pretty much already more popular, so they ended up reversing roles, but that’s a story for another time. The Russians jump them as they come in, but quickly get cleared out. From there the POP pretty much dominate the match and are never really close to being in danger at any point, even during the part where the Bolsheviks are in control. Warlord makes the hot tag with Barbarian coming in and dominating. Slams and boots for both guys and then he tags back out. They hit a double shoulderblock on Zhukov and then finish him with a Warlord powerslam and Barbarian diving headbutt at 4:45. Not very good, but they kept up a good pace and the POP showed some good babyface fire. ½*
Next up is the Brother Love Show with guest Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Love works in some insults, and then Duggan sends him running. This added nothing to the show although Brother Love was generally pretty entertaining.
Intercontinental Championship Match: The Honky Tonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Mystery Opponent
Brutus Beefcake was originally scheduled to be the challenger here, but due to an attack by Outlaw Ron Bass this weekend on Superstars, Beefcake is out of action. As the story goes, Beefcake was penciled in to take the Title here, but Vince felt that another guy had grown so drastically in popularity that he made the call to put the belt on that guy instead. Honky demands that they find him someone to wrestle, so out comes The Ultimate Warrior. He attacks Honky immediately, hitting a slam and shoulderblock, followed by a clothesline. Big splash then gets the 3 count and brings Honky’s fifteen month Title reign to an end at 0:32. Match is a DUD, but that doesn’t matter because it got a huge reaction and it stands out as one of the defining moments for anyone who was a fan during this time period. Great stuff.
“The Rock” Don Muraco vs. Dino Bravo (w/Frenchy Martin)
After two breaks on lockups, Muraco goes and takes a shot at Frenchy. He goes for a bodyslam on Bravo, who slips out and nails the side slam for the 3 count at 1:17. Obviously this was edited down to practically nothing, but somehow I don’t think we missed out on a classic or anything. DUD
WWF Tag Team Championship Match: Demolition (w/Mr. Fuji & Jimmy Hart) vs. The Hart Foundation
The Harts have recently turned face and ditched Jimmy Hart as their manager, but the story here is that Jimmy still technically owns their contracts and is thus legally entitled to be at ringside, even if it means he’ll be in the opponents’ corner. Ax and Bret start off with Ax shoving him down on a lockup and hammering away. He slams Bret, but misses an elbow and now Bret fires away. Rollup gets 2, but the Ax makes the tag. Bret armdrags Smash and makes his own tag, so Anvil comes in with a shot from the 2nd rope. Anvil controls for a bit and nails a shoulderblock. He comes off the ropes, but gets kicked by Ax from the apron. The Champs control now, working Anvil over in their corner and making a few tags, but soon enough Ax puts his head down on a whip and gets kicked. Anvil tags Bret, who knocks Ax out and dropkicks Smash. Corner whip is reversed though and Bret goes shoulder first to the post. Now the Demos have Bret trapped in the ring and go to work on that shoulder. Bret eventually gets the boot up on a corner whip and tags Anvil. He’s the house afire on Ax and Smash with a dropkick and bodyslams. He whips them into each other and then clears the ring. But he’s not done yet, as next he has Bret sling him over the top onto Smash which is something possibly not seen in the WWF before. Back in, a powerslam gets 2 and Anvil tags Bret. They do the whip Anvil in to the opponent in the corner thing and Bret gets 2 from that. Back breaker gets another 2 with Ax making the save. All four guys end up in the ring and in the melee Ax gets the megaphone and nails Bret. Smash covers and gets the 3 count to retain the Titles at 8:13. Good match, best of the show actually, but they would put on a much better one two years later. **3/4
The Big Boss Man (w/Slick) vs. Koko B. Ware
Boss Man is another newcomer who gets a semi-competitive squash on this show to build him up. Slick provides the distraction so Boss Man can jump Koko and toss him out. Koko comes back with a dropkick to tie Boss Man in the ropes and then leaps at him. Boss Man gets out though and takes the advantage back. Splash in the corner followed by a clothesline gets only 2 after he pulls Koko up. He then hits the rope straddle and a slam. Boss Man goes up, and misses a splash, but doesn’t actually sell it. He whips Koko to the corner, but misses a boot. Koko connects with a dropkick off the top and a splash for 2. He then charges at Boss Man, but gets dumped. Back in, the Boss Man Slam finishes Koko off at 5:57. ½* Boss Man works Koko over with the nightstick after the match, and Gorilla claims that it weighs 25 pounds.
Hercules vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
The announcers make an issue of the fact that Heenan is not here, saying that he’s basically thrown Hercules to the wolves so he can concentrate on the main event. They also spend a lot of time talking about the Jake/Rude feud. Jake sends him to the corner, but Herc gets the boot up. Herc sends him off, but puts the head down and Jake gets a kneelift. DDT is tried, but Herc avoids it, so Jake gets a slam instead. To a side headlock, but Herc escapes and drops a couple of elbows. Jake gets out of a rear chinlock, but then gets clotheslined twice for 2. Another chinlock lasts awhile before Jake elbows out, but then gets knocked to the floor. Back in, another rear chinlock sees Jake break it with a jawjacker, and then he gets the short clothesline. He tries the DDT again, but Herc backdrops out. Jake misses a kneelift and gets slammed. Herc drops an elbow for 2. He then tries a slam, but Jake gets out of it and hits the DDT for 3 at 10:10. Once again we have a pretty dull and unexciting match. ½*
Main Event: Ted Dibiase & Andre The Giant (w/Virgil & Bobby Heenan) vs. Macho Man Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan (w/Elizabeth)
Hogan had been on an extended leave of absence filming No Holds Barred over the spring while Savage continued his issue with Dibiase and Andre stemming from Wrestlemania IV. After an attack on Superstars, Savage challenged them to a tag match, which they accepted, and it was then announced that Hulk Hogan would return to be Savage’s partner. Jesse Ventura is the special guest referee, and what role, if any, he would play in the match was made in to a major issue in the buildup. He was seen being bribed by Dibiase on Brother Love over the weekend, I guess to make us think the Mega Bucks had a chance. Jesse gives extended instructions before we start, and then decides to switch the tag ropes to the other corners as a display of who’s in charge here. Andre and Savage start out with Andre getting him with some headbutts. He then tags Dibiase, who wants Hogan, so Savage obliges and tags. Dibiase rakes the eyes, but Hogan avoids the subsequent shots and hits an atomic drop. Savage adds some shots from the apron. Hogan hits a clothesline, tags Savage, and they hit a double elbow. The Mega Powers control Dibiase in their corner with Savage getting 2 from a kneedrop and Hogan getting 2 off a bit boot. Andre headbutts Hogan from the apron, and this leads to all four going at it, but Jesse’s main concern is getting Liz off the apron. The Mega Bucks take control of Hogan when order is restored. Andre gets some buttdrops and then chokes Hogan out with his strap. Tag to Dibiase who gets a clothesline for 2 and drops the fist for another 2. Hogan’s arm drops twice in a rear chinlock and he gets out, but they clothesline each other. Hot tag to Savage who hits an elbow in the corner and a backdrop. Double ax off the top connects, but then Savage misses a charge. Savage then blocks a shot to the buckle and comes off with a cross body for 2. Clothesline by Dibiase allows him to tag Andre, who pretty much just squashes Savage in the corner and tags back out. Dibiase gets a suplex for 2, followed by a backbreaker. The reverse elbow from the 2nd rope misses and lets Savage tag Hogan. He gets Dibiase with a clothesline and a suplex. Sleeper is hooked, but Andre nails Hogan from behind and both Mega Powers end up tossed to the floor. Just when it looks like they’re done for, Liz gets on the apron again and pulls her skirt off. This has everyone distracted and lets Hogan and Savage recover. Andre gets taken out, and then Hogan slams Dibiase. Savage connects with the tope rope elbow and Hogan hits the legdrop and covers. Jesse counts 2, and then Savage helps him finish the 3 count at 14:50. This was a reasonably decent match as Dibiase carried the workload for his side, and of course the involvement of Hogan and Savage meant that it was really heated. **1/2
The thing about PPV in those days was that they wanted to put on a show that seemed huge, but really minimized what they actually gave away. Warrior/Honky is the most lasting memory of this show, and it’s still a great moment to see. We also have the first high profile teaming of the Mega Powers on their way to the big breakup that would result in the huge Wrestlemania V show, so that’s important too. But the rest of the show was pretty much flat and had nothing in the way of hidden gems or interesting developments. All in all, I have to call it thumbs down for Summerslam 1988.