September 5, 2009
Steve Riddle

Summerslam 1988
August 29th, 1988
Madison Square Garden
New York City

Actual Show:

Gorilla Monsoon welcomes us to the Garden and Summerslam. We see an opening montage highlighting the main event. Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and “Superstar” Billy Graham.

Fun Fact: Graham was replacing Jesse “The Body” Ventura, who had a significant role in the main event as we will see.

Farewell: This is also Graham’s last PPV. He would stick around as a commentator before being let go in 1990. He appeared on talk shows during the steroid investigations, admitting to using them and going on a tirade about Vince. This caused a rift that lasted until 2002 when Graham received a liver transplant, saving his life. “Superstar” Billy Graham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 by Triple H.

1. The Fabulous Rougeaus and The British Bulldogs wrestle to a 20-minute draw.

Fun Fact: There was legit heat between Jacques Rougeau and Dynamite Kid, where the two got into a fight backstage. The draw was designed as not to anger either party.

Analysis: A good match to kick off the inaugural Summerslam. The Rougeaus were off a fresh heel turn and had gained solid heat, although they claimed to be pro-American. They start strong here, but would fall by the wayside as far as the heel ladder of tag teams go. This is the swan song for the Bulldogs. Although you could not tell, Dynamite was getting worse and worse every time he got in the ring. They would appear at Survivor Series, but then that would be it for them. Nice match, but a weak ending with the draw, but they only did it so both parties would be happy. Grade: 2.5

We see footage of Ron Bass assulting Brutus Beefcake with his spurs, which results in Beefcake not being in the Intercontinental Championship match tonight.

2. Bad News Brown pins Ken Patera with a Ghettoblaster at 6:33.

Analysis: A simple match to establish the new heel. Off his battle royal win at Wrestlemania, Brown had steadily climbed the ladder as a tough badass loner. Patera has seen better days when he was I-C champ feuding with Pedro Morales. Since being arrested, he has gone downhill and his legacy has been tarnished forever. He tries, but falls to the fresh heel. Brown continues on his own path. Grade: 2

Mean Gene Okerlund interviews the Mega Powers.

3. “Ravishing” Rick Rude (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) defeats the Junkyard Dog by disqualification when Jake Roberts interferes at 6:18.

Farewell: This is JYD’s last PPV appearance with WWF. He would jump to WCW. His last appearance on PPV came at ECW’s Wrestlepalloza in May of 1998. One month later, JYD tragically passed away after a car accident at the age of 45. The Junkyard Dog was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 by Ernie Ladd.

Analysis: What the hell is up with this? Rude was going into this event in a vicious feud with Roberts when Rude tried to hit on Roberts’ wife, Cheryl. In fact, Rude reveals a pair of tights with Cheryl’s face on them, prompting Roberts to come out and cause the DQ. My question is, why is Rude facing JYD and not the Snake? Just seems strange they would do that. JYD had a good run, but it ends on a sputter, much like his whole career in WWF. He is out the door, and Rude continues his feud with Roberts. Grade: 1.5

Mean Gene Okerlund interviews the Honkytonk Man.

4. The Powers of Pain (w/ The Baron) defeat the Bolsheviks (w/ “The Doctor of Style” Slick) when Barbarian pins Boris Zhukov with a flying headbutt at 5:27.

Debuts #1 and 2: The Powers of Pain are the Barbarian and the Warlord. They first teamed in 1987 in the NWA with Ivan Koloff and feuded with Dusty Rhodes and the Road Warriors. They jumped to the WWF earlier in the year.

Debut #3: Baron von Raschke has wrestled since the late 60s, with his greatest success in the AWA and NWA. He makes his only WWF PPV appearance here. He would bounce around the independents before retiring in 1994.

Analysis: A quick squash to establish the next big challengers for Demolition. The Powers of Pain were heels in the NWA, but actually get a big pop here. Warlord and Barbarian were solid power wrestlers, with Barbarian showing aerial tactics not seen in big men at that time. The Bolsheviks were a decent team, but were never taken seriously as they usually jobbed to the new teams. The POP get the win and are seemingly on a collision course with Demolition, which would take an interesting turn in November. Grade: 2

We get a special Brother Love show with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan.

Debut: Bruce Prichard began his career as an announcer in the UWF for Bill Watts. He jumped to the WWF as an announcer before becoming Brother Love in June.

5. The Ultimate Warrior pins the Honkytonk Man (w/ “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart) with a splash at :27 to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

Replacement: As mentioned, Brutus Beefcake was to win the IC title here from Honky, but Vince went a different direction and pushed Warrior. Beefcake was taken out in story line by Ron Bass.

Analysis: The legacy of the Warrior begins here. HTM had a nice run, but his luck has finally run out. After sneaking and cheating his way to the belt, he gets destroyed in less than 30 seconds. You do feel bad for Beefcake, but I guess Vince felt he was over enough that he didn’t need the belt. Warrior is clearly on the rise, while Honky would never come close again to any belt. Grade: 3 (1 for the match, 5 for the heat and pops after the pin).

We see the opening montage for the main event. Gorilla and Superstar are joined by Bobby Heenan who gives a report on the Mega Bucks and a phony report on the Mega Powers.

6. Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin) pins “The Rock” Don Muraco with a side suplex at 5:28.

Farewell: This is Don Muraco’s last WWF PPV. He would be fired later in the year and bounce between Stampede and the AWA. He was also one of the first ECW Champions (when the promotion was still Eastern Championship Wrestling) before retiring. The Magnificant Don Muraco was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 by Mick Foley.

Analysis: A rematch from Wrestlemania IV. Then, Muraco got the win because he had to face a heel in the quarterfinals. Here, Bravo returns the favor and gets the win back. Bravo was on the rise as being anti-American with Frenchy Martin, although neither had the best promo skills. Muraco is on his last legs, loses here and is out the door. A decent match and the right man goes over. Grade: 1

Sean Mooney interviews Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

7. Demolition (w/ Mr. Fuji and “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart) defeat the Hart Foundation when Smash pins Bret Hart after a megaphone shot at 9:49 to retain the WWF Tag Team Championships.

Fun Fact: The Foundation finally turned face when they assulted their manager. However, Jimmy still owned their contracts, so he could be out there in their matches, including this one. He would eventually sell the contracts and manage the Rougeaus.

Analysis: A really solid tag title match. The Harts could work well with any team and have a nice affair with Demolition. Demolition are still the heels, but the cheers are getting louder and louder. Nice touch having Jimmy Hart at Demo’s side to let them in on the secrets of the Foundation. Demolition gets the win using the megaphone and getting the pin. This was the first of two times these two team would meet at Summerslam, but for now Demolition are ready to turn face and the Harts would slide down the ladder, but still put on good matches. Grade: 3

Mean Gene Okerlund is in the heels locker room and interviews the Honkytonk Man.

8. The Big Bossman (w/ “The Doctor of Style” Slick) pins “The Birdman” Koko B. Ware with a sidewalk slam at 5:57.

Debut: Ray Traylor is a former prison guard who started in the NWA as Big Bubba Rogers, acting as Jim Cornette’s bodyguard. He also wrestled in the UWF before coming to the WWF in 1987 as the Big Bossman, a play on his days as a prison guard.

Analysis: Another squash to establish a new monster heel. Koko was one of the guys who always got a spot on the big shows, and was always willing to put over the new and upcoming stars. He certainly earned his spot into the Hall of Fame. Bossman is pretty big at this point, but he would slim down and become a great worker over the years. For now, he gets a big win and over the year would gain a new partner and get a major push. Grade: 2

Sean Mooney interviews the Ultimate Warrior who is celebrating with the faces.

9. Jake “The Snake” Roberts pins Hercules with a DDT at 10:06.

Analysis: Considering this was a throwaway match for Jake as he should have faced Rude at this event, this was actually a good match. Herc has gotten better and better since his debut, but his run as a heel was on fumes. A change of attitude was in store for him. Jake takes a beating, but quickly unleashes the DDT for the win, which is very rare for Jake, a clean win not seen since his debut at WM 2. He would unleash the snake on Herc as he moves on with unfinished business with the Ravishing One. Grade: 2.5

We see the history of the main event.

10. The Mega Powers (w/ Elizabeth) defeat the Mega Bucks (w/ Virgil and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) when Hulk Hogan pins Ted Dibiase with a legdrop at 13:57.

Special Referee: Jesse “The Body” Ventura

The Buildup: While Hulk was off filming “No Holds Barred”, Savage continued his feud with Dibiase and Andre, leading to some great matches. Savage then issued a challenge for the Mega Bucks for Summerslam. The Mega Bucks accepted, which led to the announcement that Jesse Ventura would be the guest referee. A week later, Savage announced his partner would be Hulk Hogan.

Analysis: To cap off the first Summerslam, we have our highly anticipated main event. The crowd was hot and were hoping for the Bucks to get theirs. Jesse does a good job as the ref, calling it down the middle until the last 3 count. A match that saw the Bucks dominate, with Dibiase doing most of the work, until in the end Elizabeth, the Powers “secret weapon”, rips off her skirt to distract the Bucks and every single male that was watching in the arena and on TV. The Powers get the advantage and take the win. Dibiase and Andre would split and go separate ways, and the new story was the Powers. Everything is fine now, but the you-know-what would hit the fan over the next few months. For now, the Mega Powers rule at Summerslam. Grade: 4

Final Analysis: The inaugural Summerslam is a good one. I think Vince did the right thing having the event in Madison Square Garden, as the crowd was hot throughout the night, although it is typical for a crowd at MSG. There were a few duds here and there, but the main event and the introduction of new faces makes up for it. Over the next few years, Summerslam would evolve into the “Biggest Party of the Summer”. For now, it is a new event that gets off to a good start. Final Grade: B+

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