Summerslam

August 29, 1988

Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

 

In 1988, Vince McMahon already had 3 big shows in his yearly line up – namely Wrestlemania, Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble (whilst the latter was a free to air TV special in 1988, it would become a PPV starting the following year). With this show, a new tradition was started, closing out the so called Big Four. The biggest party of the summer as it would later be known was billed as the second biggest card of the year in the early years. Whilst that position was arguably taken by the Royal Rumble as time went on, there’s no questioning that Summerslam is still one of the premiere events of the PPV year, and this is the show that started it all. Like the first Wrestlemania, it was born in the WWF’s home arena of MSG, which always provides a good crowd. The Mega-Power relationship is still going in full force and would be the drawing point of this card. Let’s see if it lived up to the hype.

 

After the opening video package, we kick things off with our commentary team. Gorilla Monsoon is there to call the play by play as usual, but due to Jesse’s involvement in the main event (more on that later) he is joined by Superstar Billy Graham. Graham is a legend and all, but I will say now I absolutely cannot stand his commentary. The fact that he is a face announcer also means that the great dynamic that Gorilla and Jesse have provided through the past few events is lacking. Anyway, down to ringside for our opening contest.

 

British Bulldogs vs Fabulous Rougeaus

Since the last time we saw them, the Rougeaus have turned heel, insincerely claiming to love America and even going so far to carry mini-USA flags to the ring down the line. I enjoyed this version of the Rougeaus over their face work as we finally got to see some character from them. Their opponents are the always popular Bulldogs, but unfortunately this is about the end for their run as a unit. Dynamite’s body was broken down by this point as he would later find himself in a wheelchair, whilst Davey Boy would eventually return to the company in the early 90s as a single competitor. As far as the match itself is concerned, it’s full of solid tag team action as you would expect from the division in this era. The Bulldogs dominate early on but Dynamite is eventually worked over by the Rougeaus. After a long heat segment, Davey Boy gets the hot tag, but before he can put his opponents away, the bell rings and we are informed the match has gone to a time limit draw at 19:04 real time. Its a shame we didn’t get a decisive outcome, because until the ending we had a solid match to get this show started on a high note. Personally I would have had the Rougeaus go over to establish their heel turn, but they would soon be overtaken due to the plethora of other teams in the division.

Grade: ***

 

Gorilla and Superstar now take us to a recap of the recent attack of the Outlaw Ron Bass on Brutus Beefcake. As a result of the injuries he sustained on Superstars, we are informed that Beefcake will not be able to challenge the Honky Tonk Man for the IC title tonight, but a substitute will be named. More on that later.

 

Ken Patera vs Bad News Brown

Quick match here to continue the push of Bad News up the heel ladder. Patera has outlived any usefulness he once had by this point and will be gone from the company soon enough. He’s definitely fallen down the card since being part of Hogan’s team back at Survivor Series and then missing out on Mania completely. He misses a charge at Bad News, allowing him to nail Patera with the ghetto blaster for the win at 6:33. Short and sweet

Grade: *

 

Gene is now standing by with the Mega Powers who are teaming up in tonight’s main event. They promise a ‘secret weapon’ that will take them to victory over the Mega Bucks.

 

Junkyard Dog vs Rick Rude w/Bobby Heenan

I’m not quite sure why this match was booked for this show, as Rude was currently in the midst of a very personal feud with Jake Roberts at this point in which he would make suggestive comments about Roberts’ wife Cheryl. He’s even wearing tights underneath his regular gear with her face on them. Instead of having them face off however, the two are booked in separate singles matches tonight. JYD is on his way out here much like Patera, who is a mess in the ring now. He would head to WCW for a run before sadly passing away in 1998. Anyway Rude is the new star on the rise here, and he picks up the win, albeit by DQ at 3:55 when Roberts runs in beats him up after Rude provoked him with his choice of ring attire. Terrible match, but at least we got some progression for Roberts/Rude. I definitely would have had them face off instead though.

Grade: ½*

 

Gene is now with the Honky Tonk Man. He says he doesn’t care who challenges him tonight, he will still retain the title that he has now held for 14 months.

 

Powers of Pain w/The Baron vs The Bolsheviks

A rare face PPV match for the Powers of Pain, the team comprised of Warlord and Barbarian. They were brought into the company to feud with Demolition, but the roles would be reversed soon enough. Here they are up against the evil Russians in a total squash match. Barbarian pins Zhukov after a flying headbutt at 4:43, and this show, despite starting off on a high note is quickly going downhill.

Grade: *

 

And now we take a break from in-ring action. The ring is covered by a red carpet which can mean only one thing – the Brother Love show. For those who don’t know, Brother Love was an incredibly annoying loudmouth character played by Bruce Prichard. His guest tonight is Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and things have just gone from bad to worse. The two trade insults until Duggan decides he has had enough and chases Love off. Pure time killer.

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship:

Honky Tonk Man (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Ultimate Warrior

Honky’s open challenge is answered by the Warrior and the crowd absolutely erupts. This is the moment that Honky’s entire reign has been building to, as the Warrior just goes out and destroys the longest reigning IC champ of all time. Its Warrior offence the whole way as he splashes Honky for the three count at 0:31. Just like that, the Warrior is the new IC champion, and the place is going crazy.

Grade: * (but more for the moment)

 

We come back from intermission with Bobby Heenan in the booth with Gorilla and Superstar. Thank god, he might liven up this show. He stirs dissention in the camp of the Mega Powers and sticks around for our next match.

 

 

 

Don Muraco vs Dino Bravo w/Frenchy Martin

We have a Wrestlemania rematch here. Last time Muraco went over, but he’s on his way out of the company here, so that should tell you where this one is going. Graham remains in the booth here despite still being associated with Muraco. Should have just let Gorilla and Heenan handle the announcing here. After a short, basic encounter, Bravo puts Muraco away with a side suplex at 4:29. See you later Don.

Grade: *

 

Sean Mooney is now standing by with Jesse Ventura, the guest referee in tonight’s main event. Mooney insinuates that Jesse has been paid off by the Million Dollar Man, but Jesse denies such accusations, simply saying if somebody places money in his pocket he’s going to accept it.

 

WWF Tag Team Championship:

Demolition (c) w/Mr Fuji & Jimmy Hart vs Hart Foundation

Demolition are the heel champs here, having held onto the titles since Wrestlemania. The Hart Foundation’s face turn began with Bret’s actions in the battle royal at the same event, but went into full force when they dumped Jimmy as their manager earlier in the year. Jimmy technically still manages the Hart Foundation here, but he stands with Fuji in the champs corner, looking to get revenge on his former clients by telling the opposition all he knows about them. It was actually an interesting little storyline they had going. After a decent affair, it would be Jimmy’s presence that would cost the Hart Foundation the match, as Ax nailed Bret with the megaphone behind the referee’s back, allowing Smash to get the cover at 10:49. Demolition’s mega title reign rages along, but they are getting cheered more and more as time goes on.

Grade: **½

 

Gene is now with the Honky Tonk Man to get his reaction to his loss earlier tonight. Honky vows he will get his title back, but his days as a serious title contender are over.

 

Koko B. Ware vs Big Bossman w/Slick

This is the PPV debut of the Bossman, and at this point he is truly huge. He’s surprisingly agile though and will be a decent big man over the next few years with the company. He’s brought in as a heel obviously and is fed Koko to destroy. Koko gets in very little offence, as this is all Bossman, ending with the big man hitting a sidewalk slam for the win at 5:58. Fun squash followed by the Bossman beating on Koko with his nightstick after the match.

Grade: *½

 

Sean Mooney is standing by with the new IC champion, the Ultimate Warrior. Yeah, I’m not going to even try to comprehend what he’s rambling about.

 

Jake Roberts vs Hercules

And here we get the other half of singles matches involved in the Roberts/Rude feud. Hercules is really starting to flounder as a heel, and would get a change over the next year. The match is decent enough, but its really just an afterthought to get the crowd ready for the main event. Jake nails Hercules with the DDT for the win at 10:10 and follows up by introducing his fallen opponent to his python Damien.

Grade: *

 

 

Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan w/Miss Elizabeth vs Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant w/Virgil & Bobby Heenan

Special Guest Referee: Jesse ‘the Body’ Ventura

After Savage won the title at Wrestlemania, Hulk Hogan took some time off. In that time, Savage’s issues with Ted DiBiase and Andre (to become known as the Mega Bucks) would continue, with Bobby Heenan injecting himself into the feud as the manager of Andre once more as well. Things really got personal when Andre beat up Savage, whilst Virgil and DiBiase held Elizabeth forcing her to watch. From there, Savage laid down the challenge, and a week later announced his partner would be the returning Hulk Hogan. In the weeks leading to the show, Ventura was named the special guest referee, and DiBiase would often be seen trying to pay him off by showering the Body with cash. That brings us to the main event tonight – the Mega Powers against the Mega Bucks. The faces enter to a huge response as expected, decked out in Hogan’s colours but coming out to Savage’s music. Jesse plays his role well, never really blatantly favouring the heels despite what Gorilla and Superstar would have you believe on commentary which really starts to get annoying. The match itself is decent enough and is a solid end to what has been an up and down night. The secret weapon mentioned earlier turns out to be Elizabeth providing a huge distraction as the heels are in control when she rips off her skirts and stands on the apron in her underwear – wowsers, that was definitely not expected in this time. This gives the Mega Powers the chance to regroup (after the famous handshake), and they mount a comeback which culminates with Hogan hitting DiBiase with the legdrop for the win at 14:50. Just like at Wrestlemania, the Mega Powers are standing tall and united, continuing their dominance over the WWF as the months go on.

Grade: ***½

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Outside of the solid main event, and the opening contest hampered by the lack of an ending, this really is a very average show. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but more could have been done to make this show special. The Warrior win was a great moment, but I really question why the blow-off to Roberts/Rude did not take place, as they would move on to different things by the time our next PPV rolled around. The rest of the matches were all short or just there to establish somebody. Summerslam would definitely see brighter days, but the show is okay for what it is.

 

Three Stars of the Night:

  1. Randy Savage – another solid PPV showing for the reigning champion, even if he is still playing number two to the Hulkster
  2. Ultimate Warrior – god that pop was huge when he finally dethroned Honky, capturing his first piece of gold
  3. Ted DiBiase – the last PPV main event of the Million Dollar Man, and he goes all out to give us a solid tag team encounter before being taken down to the midcard

Final Grade: 5.5 out of 10.

 ______________________________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for reading. The next review will be Survivor Series 1988 within the next few days. Stay tuned and follow me on twitter: @mpmcc91