*** Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***
SummerSlam 1988: A Mega Event!
August 29, 1988
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
Attendance: 20, 000
Buy Rate: 4.5
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and “Superstar” Billy Graham
Match #1: The Fabulous Rougeaus and the British Bulldogs wrestle to a time limit draw at 11:19
Fun Fact I: According to the Dynamite Kid’s book, there was real heat between him and Jacques Rougeau. In fact, there was a skirmish at a live event backstage, where Jacques sucker punched Dynamite in the face, fucking up his teeth. Dynamite wanted revenge and it was evident if it wasn’t for agents stepping in, it would have been real ugly. This match took place after that incident, and it’s rumored not to piss anyone off, Vince had it end in a draw. Still, many feared that Dynamite would take out revenge during the match, but he was a professional and didn’t take any liberties.
Fun Fact II: The Rougeau Brothers turned heel in May 1988, and kicked off a heated feud with the Killer Bees. Shortly after the turn, the Rougeaus began claiming that they were pro-American and would soon be relocating. This became a long running joke, as the Rougeaus began carrying little American flags to the ring and soon after this PPV, they added Jimmy Hart as their manage, and along with Hart came the classic theme song “All American Boys” and promises of a move from Canada to Memphis, TN. The storyline was really fun, and the Rougeaus drew some strong heat because of it.
Fun Fact III: This the British Bulldogs’ final PPV tag match (they are at Survivor Series, but this is their final two-on-two tag match). Their final PPV record as a team is 1-4-1. Their lone win was at WrestleMania II and the one draw occurs here. The four losses occurred at WrestleMania III, Survivor Series 1987, WrestleMania IV and Survivor Series 1988.
Scott: We open the show with a strong battle between two expert technical teams. Sadly you can tell that the Bulldogs are slowly starting to get pushed out by the newer and fresher imports. Boy was it awesome to have a big summer show to bridge that long gap between April and November. That may have been why the Hogan/Andre feud got a bit stagnant in 1987 when there wasn’t a huge show in between and instead we relied on Prime Time Wrestling and the weekend shows. We will get to that battle later on. Here we see freshly turned heels against the stalwart babyfaces of the division. Jacques and Raymond came into the company as top flight technical guys and fan favorites. However when the Hart Foundation turned babyface since WrestleMania, there had to be a balance so the French Canadians flipped and became arrogant geeks who are moving to America. Memphis, Tennessee to be exact. Jimmy Hart actually precipitated this double turn of the teams. More on that in our Tag Title match later on. The Bulldogs dominated the early action and worked the heels over but then Jacques gained the advantage and worked Davey Boy’s legs over for a good portion of the match. We finally get the hot tag to Dynamite Kid and the action really picks up. This is our first visit to “The World’s Most Famous Arena” since our inaugural WrestleMania and the crowd is jacked as usual. Then there is surprisingly a second long heat segment where Jacques is again in control. I never expected a draw here, but then again after WrestleMania’s bevy of draws and disqualifications, I shouldn’t be surprised. The Bulldogs’ swan song in a straight up tag team match is a good opener. Clearly with the backstage issues these two teams had, a draw is probably a safe bet. Grade:**
Justin: As the company’s success continued to grow, it was time to add another PPV into the mix, a show to fill the very long gap between WrestleMania and Survivor Series. Since there were already two gimmick shows on the calendar, SummerSlam would be booked like the WrestleMania of the summer. Our first ever summer spectacular match is a tag team affair between two teams that had some legitimate backstage issues with each other. The British Bulldogs were once of the premier teams in the WWF but by this point that were sadly pretty low down the totem pole and not really in any sort of contention for the titles. Their opponents had been sputtering along as faces but over the summer they got a jolt of awesome heel adrenaline. They would add Jimmy Hart as a manager and revealed they would be moving from Canada to America; Memphis, TN to be exact. It led to some great promos and an enjoyable shtick as the weeks went on. Davey Boy was huge here, bigger than he was at Mania when he looked big but was a bit slimmer. The Bulldogs dominated the action early, tossing the Rougeaus around the ring until starting to work over Ray’s arm. With Jesse Ventura involved in the main event, we have Billy Graham in the booth alongside Gorilla Monsoon and there is already a noticeable drop off in quality. Graham was a great talker in his day but it didn’t quite carry over into the booth. The cocky brothers took over and began to punish Davey’s knee while playing to the crowd and building some heat. It didn’t take long for the Rougeaus to develop a great heel presence and as great as they were in the face-in-peril role for the last couple of years, this gimmick was definitely their calling. The MSG crowd was a bit quiet during the heat segment but got really rowdy when Dynamite tagged in and started cracking Ray with headbutts and suplexes. Davey hit a nice running powerslam on Ray, getting some air and really spiking him down. Momentum flowed back when Dynamite was up on the buckles and got slammed back to the mat with a back suplex, rattling his back and neck. After that, the match twisted back into a second, and long, heat segment, this time on Dynamite. As the Bulldogs came back and had Jacques cold-cocked in the middle of the ring, the bell rang to signify a time limit draw. This was really a solid, classic formula tag team match and a nice choice to open the show. Both teams worked hard and showed no signs of letting their personal issues seep into the ring. I wasn’t crazy about the finish as you hate to open a major show like this with a tepid time limit draw. The Rougeaus probably should have stolen a sneaky win but maybe the bookers were afraid to ask the Bulldogs to job. Either way, it was a fine outing and they played the crowd well throughout the bout. Grade: **1/2
*** We see footage from Superstars of Ron Bass massacring Brutus Beefcake with his boot spur, slicing his face up and knocking him out of his SummerSlam match. ***
Match #2: Bad News Brown defeats Ken Patera with the Ghettoblaster at 6:35
Scott: After his big debut at WrestleMania where he won the battle royal, stabbing former heel Bret Hart in the back in the process, we get the singles PPV debut of Bad News Brown. Bad News was a character unlike any in the 80s at that time in any promotion. Sure he was a nasty mean character, but usually heels always worked together. Yet we will see on the free TV shows and at our next PPV outing that Brown doesn’t even like his fellow villains. His opponent is the quickly phased out former Intercontinental Champion. Ken Patera came back in with a big organic storyline detailing his time in prison and how Bobby Heenan hung him out to dry and that he was coming back for revenge. Sadly that storyline fizzled and Heenan’s family pretty much got the upper hand. Patera now is this misshapen goof with a swank USA track jacket, a women’s bouffant hair and those odd creamy hairless legs. Brown was clearly the stronger character, and Patera was drafted here to put him over. Gorilla is doing the yeoman’s work here alongside a clearly inexperienced Billy Graham at commentary. Admittedly Superstar is not nearly as bad watching again as he was during those dreadful house shows in 1988 with Dick Graham or Lord Alfred Hayes. After some decent back and forth action where Patera eventually cranks the full nelson, Brown recovers and hits the awesome Ghettoblaster for the victory. Grade:**
Justin: Fresh off his big double cross battle royal win at WrestleMania, Bad News Brown is looking to stay on a PPV roll in a singles match with Ken Patera. Patera was once pretty great, when he was a nasty heel managed by Bobby Heenan. Then came jail and a change of attitude and it all went downhill. He returned over the summer of 1987 and sucked the life out of what could have been a good feud with Heenan thanks to his shaky promo skills and bland face persona. By this point, he was nothing more than a JTTS whose most redeeming quality was his swank USA track jacket and his oddly colored afroperm. Oh, and those odd hairless legs of his. Perhaps he was moonlighting on the US National Swim Team? Bad News jumped Patera off the bell but Ken made an inspired comeback that ended with the thud of a missed elbow drop. Bad News really started to batter Patera to the point that Graham began to wonder if he was going to suffer a concussion. I think his brain is well protected with that perm, so shouldn’t be much concern of that. Patera came back with a quick flurry and went to a bear hug which is kind of a weird mid-match spot for a face to do. Either way I am enjoying this match way more than I ever should. Patera kept slugging away, trying to soften BNB up for his full nelson but Bad News stopped him short any time he got close. Just when it looked like he may pull it out, Patera slammed his shoulder into the post when Bad News dodged a charge and after that it was academic as BNB hit the Ghetto Blaster for the win. OK, I give up, I enjoyed that. There was an odd flow to it and felt like an actual fight with each man grappling for control throughout and then slugging away when they had it. I liked the closing parts too when Patera was working towards the full nelson before making the one critical mistake that cost him. Good win for Bad News. Grade: **
Match #3: Rick Rude defeats the Junkyard Dog by disqualification at 3:55
Fun Fact I: This is Junkyard Dog’s final WWF PPV appearance. His final record is 1-5. His lone win was by count out at WrestleMania I. His losses came at WrestleMania II, WrestleMania III, Royal Rumble 1988, WrestleMania IV and SummerSlam 1988. JYD would bounce around WCW and various independents before his tragic death in 1998.
Fun Fact II: The feud between Jake Roberts and Rick Rude began shortly after WrestleMania IV. After a match on the April 23, 1988 edition of Superstars of Wrestling, Rude picked a woman out of the crowd to kiss. He chose Cheryl Roberts, the real-life wife of Jake Roberts. After she refused the kiss, Rude began insulting her, leading to her slapping Rude. Jake ran out after the slap to save his wife from the angered Rude.
Scott: So this is the glaring example of how the bookers didn’t totally factor current feuds into this show. The Rick Rude/Jake Roberts feud was one of the hottest in the company at the time, so why not just have the match here instead of trying to extend the feud by having them face other guys? Rude was catching some serious heel heat here calling everybody “inner city sweathogs”. What a great line. Sadly the Junkyard Dog is in the same slot on the card as Ken Patera. He’s not a jobber by any stretch, but nothing more than a guide post for two other guys to have a bigger feud. Upper midcard filler, for a guy who five-six years earlier was selling out the Superdome in New Orleans for Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling. Rude continued the tradition of swank air-brushed tights with having JYD on the front and back. The match is a decent back and forth affair as Rude takes a pretty good beating from babyfaces but one dastardly maneuver gives him the advantage. Of course we won’t see an true ending as Rude pulls down his tights to show tights with Cheryl Roberts’ face on them. That enrages the Snake and brings him to the ring forcing the disqualification. This was better suited as a Saturday Night’s Main Event match to set up Rude/Roberts tonight. No matter, it was an entertaining enough affair and continues the Rude/Roberts feud, and the next chapter is later in the show. Grade:**
Justin: Embroiled in a feud with Jake Roberts that indirectly started at WrestleMania, Rick Rude takes a bit of a detour here to take on the rapidly declining Junkyard Dog. JYD is still quite beloved by the crowd here, but he is pretty bloated and in his final days in the promotion by the time this show came around. Rude tries to jump him off the bell but JYD turns it around quickly via headbutts to send Rude to the floor to regroup. When Rude took over he tried to make things interesting but JYD’s bumping is about non existent so he could only rely on stomps and eye rakes before going to a rear chinlock. Throughout the whole match, Graham really harped on how hard JYD’s head was and how Rude could do zero damage when targeting it. You have to love 80s racism. And JYD even seemed to embrace it as he used his noggin to rattle Rude until Bobby Heenan interference swung the tide back to his charge. Rude upped the ante when he ascended the top rope by yanking down his tights to reveal a second pair underneath that was air brushed with the image of Cheryl Roberts, Jake’s wife. In less than a minute, Jake hit the ring and chased Rude off, leading to a DQ win for the Ravishing One. The storyline advancement at the end was fine but woof, this match was not very good at all. JYD is toast. Rude looked fine but he only had so much to work with. I wonder why we didn’t get Roberts/Rude here? I guess they really wanted to keep it alive on the house circuit. Either way, we roll on. Grade: 1/2*
Match #4: The Powers of Pain defeat the Bolsheviks when the Barbarian pins Boris Zhukov with a head butt off the top rope at 4:43
Fun Fact: The Powers of Pain were big time heels in the NWA throughout 1987, where they mainly feuded with the Road Warriors. They jumped ship in mid-1988 and were given a manager in Baron Von Raschke and a good face push as foils for Demolition. The face run would end abruptly, however, as we will see in our next review.
Scott: We debut another new team that jumped from JCP in the Carolinas to greener pastures up north. Now everybody wants to rip Demolition as the “Road Warriors rip-offs”, but in my opinion these guys are pretty much it right here. So Vince now has two tag teams that are very similar in look. As for their opponents, well with the Iron Sheik gone, Nikolai needed a new partner so in comes Boris Zhukov fresh from the sinking ship that is the AWA. They were clearly fodder here to give the POP a dominating performance to introduce the fans to this powerful combo. The face pops weren’t quite what the bookers probably expected from them, so something needed to happen, as a heel tag team was getting more love than expected. I wasn’t expecting this match to be as long and as back and forth as it was. Maybe that’s why they were getting lukewarm responses from the crowd. Everyone was expecting a hot squash and didn’t get it. So that ups the grade a bit more than I expected. A solid power affair that debuts a new team but the response causes a creative audible later in the year. Grade: ** 1/2
Justin: Up next is another tag team affair featuring a new team that had jumped ship from Crockett Promotions, the Powers of Pain. Warlord and Barbarian were jacked up and had been locked in a feud with the Road Warriors for much of the year but based on their look and size, they were clearly a WWF team. Here they battle the stalwart Bolsheviks, led by the dapper Slick. As always, Nikolai’s Russian National Anthem performance was sliced short, but he squeezed in more than usual. Baron Von Raschke is managing the POP here and he fits the look and the team fine enough. The POP really dominated as soon as the match started, basically just pounding the Russians before easily dumping them to the floor. This was a showcase for the hosses and nothing more. Gorilla & Graham had a decent little sidebar on manager psychology as Barbarian beat on Nikolai, talking about how they have to fully prepare for all types of attacks, including ambushes. The Bolsheviks got a little offense in, working some double teams and choking Warlord before hooking in a chinlock, but the big man just powered his way out without breaking much of a sweat. The Baron stared down Slick on the floor, preventing any interference, as his boys made a quick comeback and picked up their first WWF PPV win. This was perfectly fine for what it was intended to be and the POP get a nice reaction from the crowd for the victory. Grade: *1/2
Fun Fact: “I LOOOOVVE YOOOUU!” From mid 1988 until 1991, these words along with hymn-like organ music would echo through WWF arenas, signifying the start of The Brother Love Show. Brother Love was created and performed by Bruce Prichard, who had mainly been a referee and ring announcer in wrestling up to that point. Brother Love was a preacher-like character, well known for his bright red face, slicked back hair, white suit with red shirt and his boisterous nature. Love’s show was largely like Piper’s Pit, where wrestlers would be interviewed and storylines would progress.
*** We now get a special Brother Love Show with Jim Duggan. Love tries to goat Duggan into a fight, talking about how much Dino Bravo loves his country and is more patriotic than Duggan. This was just a chance to set up Duggan’s issue with Bravo and put over his character. ***
Match #5: The Ultimate Warrior defeats the Honky Tonk Man to win WWF Intercontinental Title with a splash at :30
Fun Fact: This was originally supposed to be Brutus Beefcake’s second shot at Honky’s title, and he was supposed to win it. There are two reasons for the change: The first, and most plausible, reason is Vince decided to go in another direction, and instead had Beefcake suffer a storyline injury at the hands of Ron Bass on an episode of Superstars. The injury was quite gruesome, as Bass ripped his spurs across Beefcake’s face, bloodying him up pretty badly. The second reason came from an interview with Beefcake in 2005. Beefcake claimed that the Warrior threatened to leave the WWF if he didn’t get the shot, and so Beefcake stepped aside and made the best of it, which resulted in the storyline injury. In any event, Honky came into the ring awaiting an opponent and issuing an open challenge. The Warrior, who was slowly growing a fan base of his own, answers the call and makes history.
Scott: The minute the heart-racing entrance theme started, you knew the longest Intercontinental Title reign in history was about to end. After bobbing and weaving through opponent after opponent. Now on this night at the Garden, to replace the injured Brutus Beefcake out comes really the fastest growing character in the entire company. I think a lot of people (me included) were tired of Honky’s antics and wanted a fresh face as IC Champion. This guy was certainly it. Honky held the belt hostage for so long that the day would come when the devil would get his due. The place went absolutely crazy and the Ultimate Warrior immediately moved up the ladder. Honky? Well from the garbage man to the caterer, it was time for some dues to be paid. Grade: 1/2 *
Justin: Well, with Brutus Beefcake knocked out of action thanks to Ron Bass, our WrestleMania rematch is out the window and the champion now has an open challenge on his hands. Honky was still pretty confident out there, both in his prematch backstage promo and in the ring, not seeming to worry who his opponent may be and even welcoming the mystery. After a few beats of anticipation, a familiar guitar riff fired up and the crowd exploded as the Ultimate Warrior charged to the ring to officially kickstart his hyper-push. Warrior destroyed Honky, paying off fourteen months worth of heat that had been building throughout Honky’s reign. Honky got zero offense in as Warrior wrecked him and took his title. And with that, one of wrestling’s most unlikely champions was dethroned and one of wrestling’s most memorable careers officially began. The match is nothing but the moment…it was everything. And it put SummerSlam on the map as a memorable show. Grade: 1/2*
Match #6: Dino Bravo defeated Don Muraco with a side suplex at 1:16
Fun Fact: Like many others on this show, this is Don Muraco’s final PPV appearance. His final record is 1-5-1. His only PPV win came in the first round of the Title Tournament at WrestleMania IV. His one draw was at WrestleMania II. His five losses came at WrestleMania III, Survivor Series 1987, Royal Rumble 1988, WrestleMania IV and SummerSlam 1988. Muraco would leave shortly after this show and would not be seen again in the WWF until he is inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.
Scott: We continue the cleansing of the roster with this matchup. Sadly those who only know Muraco from his PPV run starting in 1985 really never got the full arsenal of heel greatness this guy had. From when he won the IC Title in 1981 until his loss with Bob Orton to the Can-Am Connection at WrestleMania III, Muraco was one of the best heels in the company. He was a solid worker in the ring and cut a pretty solid promo. His run from 1981-83 is pretty much the best you’ll ever see from a great mid-card champion. Now he’s here to cap off a feud that started at WrestleMania during the World Title tournament. Bobby Heenan joins the commentary table here which of course upgrades things immensely. We are looking at a typical slow man power battle here as we get tests of strength and lots of kicks and punches. Bravo stalls a lot and his manager Frenchy Martin keeps advising him. Lord knows why, he really knows nothing. Since Superstar was Muraco’s advisor/manager he was hyping him to the moon. The match is a slow plodding mess as Bravo wins it and the Magnificent One is showed the door. Grade: 1/2*
Justin: Our next match actually is a rematch delivered from WrestleMania. In the tournament on that night in March, Dino Bravo cost himself a chance to advance when he he yanked the referee in front of a charging Don Muraco, drawing a DQ. Here, he has a chance for revenge against the juiced up Rock. Bobby Heenan thankfully hopped in the booth for this one, jabbing Graham for having to miss being in Muraco’s corner. I wish Bobby could have done the whole show. Frenchy cuts a prematch promo in French and Gorilla tells him to go back to France. I don’t care where he goes, as long as he is off my TV. Bobby was on point here, defending freedom of speech as Graham was rambling on about Bravo. Muraco was all over the Canadian Strongman, but unfortunately both seemed to be moving in slow motion. Graham basically just served as Muraco’s hype man, going on about his strength and how he saved Graham from an attack nine months ago. Bravo turned the tide but the fight in the booth was much better than anything going on in the ring. Frenchy would find his way to the apron and tied Muraco up long enough for Bravo to assault him and hit the side suplex for the win. I am fine not watching any more rematches between these two guys. Grade: 1/2*
Match #7: Demolition defeats the Hart Foundation to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Smash pins Bret Hart after Ax hits him with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone at 8:11
Fun Fact: Over the summer, the Hart Foundation got fed up with Jimmy Hart and turned face by beating the shit out of him. However, Hart still technically owned the Harts contracts, so he was able to be at ringside with them during this match, against their wishes. During the weeks leading up, Jimmy Hart began allegedly giving all his secrets to Mr. Fuji on how to beat the Harts, and even stands with Fuji at ringside during the match. A few weeks after the show, Hart sold the contracts to the Rougeaus, and officially became their manager.
Scott: Our first title match of the evening involves the new champions against the freshly minted babyfaces who get a huge pop from the crowd. The Pink and Black Attack have been great heels for the past couple of years but the crowd has gotten behind Bret Hart during his few singles matches on the TV shows and Anvil rides that popularity wave. Demolition is still solid heels here but of course with the jaded, open-minded NY crowd there are smatterings of babyface cheers for the leather-studded champions. This is a fun dynamic because unlike Strike Force at WrestleMania the Demos have to deal with a guy who is right about at their level in terms of power and they can’t throw Anvil around with ease. Bret is the face-in-peril being the smallest in the ring and Ax & Smash use numerous double-team tactics to work the Hitman over for a good chunk of this match. I loved the dynamic of Jimmy Hart being the Harts’ manager even though he’s ditched them for the Rougeaus and are opening rooting against them. The big guys work Bret’s shoulder over for most of the heat portion of this match. We get the phantom tag sequence where Anvil is tagged in when the referee wasn’t looking. Incidentally the Harts have new tights combos, which usually means a change in face/heel alignment. Anvil finally gets tagged and the match really starts to pick up. Then Jimmy Hart give the champs the megaphone and the Harts are screwed. Boos for Demolition here but that will change shortly. This was a typical tag team formula match and the champions retain. Grade: **
Justin: The tag team titles are up for grabs next and we have quite the radical shift in the division as heel stalwarts the Hart Foundation have swung over to the face side after issues with manager Jimmy Hart over the summer. Hart actually accompanies the champions and Mr. Fuji to the ring as he was doing all he could to leverage his inside knowledge of the challengers against them in this big time bout. Demolition were still rolling through the competition as champions but this is likely their stiffest challenge since taking the gold in Atlantic City. I thought it was a good move to shake the division up a bit and move the Harts across the party line as they were only going to be second bananas to Demolition for the foreseeable future. After a quick flurry by Ax, the Harts took over and started to double team Smash. I should also note that the Harts have black pants on with their pink tops, something I am not sure had been seen on them as heels. In an interesting choice, Neidhart played face-in-peril but it was very short lived as he crunched Smash with a right hand and made the quick hot tag. However, after a hot start from Hart, the Hitman got rammed into the ring post, allowing the champs to target the shoulder. As part of that attack, Smash hit a really nice shoulderbreaker. It happened to coincide with one of Superstar’s more coherent stretches, discussing how you look for the wobble in a man’s legs to know if he is starting to wear down at all. By the time the Anvil got the hot tag, the crowd was really heated up and went bananas as the big guy cleaned house. In one of the best spots of the night, Hitman used the ropes to slingshot Anvil over the top and into Smash on the floor! Wow, that was a really cool spot and not one you would expect from the Anvil. Back in the ring, he got a really close near fall on Smash with a powerslam. The Harts kept the pressure on fending off Ax as well but the numbers game swiftly became too much. With Fuji on the apron tying up Neidhart, Jimmy Hart tossed the megaphone to Ax, who bashed Bret in the head, allowing Smash to cover for the victory and title retention. That was a really solid tag formula match with just enough storyline blended in things along as well. The crowd got really amped and finishing sequence with Anvil going ballistic was great. Fun stuff and it will be cool tracking the development of both teams as we move along. Grade: **1/2
Match #8: Big Boss Man defeats Koko B. Ware with a sidewalk slam at 5:55
Fun Fact: The man that would be law and order made his big wrestling mark as Big Bubba Rogers, former bodyguard in the UWF. Bubba made the jump to the NWA, where he was Jim Cornette’s bodyguard for a bit, but in mid-1988, Vince came calling and scooped him up. He played off Traylor’s past as a prison guard and dubbed him the Big Boss Man.
Scott: We have another match with a new heel debut. Slick brings in the former corrections officer from Cobb County to face the Birdman. Boss Man was the former Big Bubba Rogers in the NWA, the bodyguard of Jim Cornette. Boss Man was grossly overweight in his debut but over time that would change. Koko is a big time fan favorite even if he doesn’t really win any big time matches. Gorilla and Graham are bent out of shape that Boss Man is allowed to bring his nightstick and handcuffs to the ring. Gorilla says everyone wants the job of WWF President. Well anyone was probably better than Jack Tunney. Graham calls Ware “Little Koko Man.” I laughed out loud when I heard that. Boss Man was dominating the action, but not without some terrible miscommunication in the ring. Boss Man goes for a second turnbuckle splash, and Koko moves but Boss Man “kind of” falls on him so he sells it like he hit it when he really didn’t. Koko hits his finishing missile drop kick but Boss Man kicks out with force. Boss Man hits the sidewalk slam and gets his PPV debut victory in a glorified squash. Koko was game, but the Boss Man waved his flab everywhere and got the victory. We get the obligatory handcuffs and nightstick beatdown after the match. It’s a decent match that’s putting over another new heel and a guy who’s a memorable face in this era. Grade: **
Justin: Slick has returned and here he is managing a brand new talent making his PPV debut: Big Boss Man. Boss Man had hopped over from JCP, where he was known as Big Bubba Rogers, bodyguard to Jim Cornette. He is a big dude, both height and weight wise and putting him in here against Koko was a good call to show off just how huge he was. Plus Koko could be trusted to really put the new guy over. Slick lent some distraction right off the bell, meaning Koko had zero opening for offense before Boss Man started hammering away. It didn’t take long for Boss Man to show he had some deceiving speed and bumping ability for a guy of his size. In a nice spot, Boss Man ended up tied in the ropes and Koko just charged and splashed him with all his weight. Boss Man would battle back and use his girth to lean on Koko, even beating him to where he had him pinned but picked him up to keep the beating going. Koko had zero daylight until Boss Man gave him a gift by going to the top rope and wildly diving off, allowing Koko to roll out of the way and only take a glancing blow. Koko peppered Boss Man and careened into him with a fantastic missile dropkick but Boss Man was able shrug off a pin attempt and send Koko flying. Boss Man would eventually overpower Koko again and finish him off with a sidewalk slam. That is how you put over a big monster heel. It was an entertaining little squash with just the right amount of hope spots from Koko and a good pace to keep things humming along. Grade: **
Match #9: Jake Roberts defeats Hercules with a DDT at 10:08
Scott: The other half of the Jake Roberts/Rick Rude feud comes here. We’ve already seen Jake tonight, interfering and costing his buddy the Junkyard Dog a match against Rude. I just don’t understand why creative didn’t just do Jake vs. Rude here. I don’t get it. Junkyard Dog vs. Hercules would have been a fine filler match on this card, regardless who wins. Gorilla and Graham says multiple times that Jake wishes it was Rude in the ring right now. Jake works a headlock over and even with Hercules hitting a couple of back suplexes he won’t unlock it. Getting back to the Rude/Roberts feud, this particular issue involving Jake’s wife Cheryl definitely doesn’t seem like a WWF-type feud. It feels like a NWA-style feud with very real life elements. The WWF never really thought that way and kept the elements of a feud to the kayfabe pieces on camera and (other than when Ricky Steamboat brought his kid to the ring) you never saw real life elements of the worker and their families. That’s why this Rude/Roberts feud was so great and the bookers kind of dropped the ball on that one. Eventually Hercules works out of the headlock and delivered his own front face lock. Hercules was a pretty solid power guy and he probably could have stayed a heel for his entire run in the WWF. He doesn’t but we will get there. Hercules keeps working the neck over and Jake keeps trying to fight out of it. Jake hits his short clothesline but Hercules reverses the DDT attempt to avoid the loss. Jake does duck out of a punch and hits the DDT for the victory. This was a better match than I remember and shows Jake is one of the better psychologists in the ring on top of the mike. Jake unleashes Damien to the fallen Hercules, but we don’t see Rick Rude come out, which makes me scratch my head again. Grade: ** 1/2
Justin: One more match to go before our main event and it is a battle of veterans as Hercules battles Jake Roberts, who we are seeing for the second time tonight. Graham points out that Jake has to focus here and not look ahead to Rude, which was a good point based on what we saw earlier. Gorilla also noted that Bobby Heenan wasn’t at ringside, wondering why he would miss a match of this magnitude. Herc seemed to be doing fine initially, jabbing Jake with some stiff right hands. Jake curbed those and went for an early DDT but Herc quickly slithered out and bailed to the floor to reset. When he did take control of the match, Herc went right to his power offense, busting Jake down with a chinlock, grinding him on the mat. He also hit a stiff clothesline, a move I always enjoy seeing Herc deliver. Herc would go back the chinlock, really milking the move quite a bit in this one. Jake finally worked out of the hold and then quickly tried to put the match to bed but Herc slipped out of a DDT and then dodged a kneelift to rattle Jake and regain momentum. However, the Snake would finally gain an opening, slipped behind Herc and caught him with the DDT for the win. Jake’s facial expressions and selling were top notch as always here and the way he won the match was perfect, as he spent the whole time looking for that one opening, as it was likely his only chance, and he delivered. The middle of the match dragged quite a bit but the last two minutes was well done and crested into a good finish. Roberts can now refocus on the Ravishing One. Grade: **
Match #10: The Mega Powers defeat the Mega Bucks when Hulk Hogan pinned Ted DiBiase with the leg drop at 14:48
Fun Fact I: After WrestleMania IV, Hulk Hogan left the stage for a few months to film No Holds Barred. This gave Randy Savage a chance to run alone as WWF Champion, which he did a fabulous job at. During this time, he continued to feud with Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase. During an episode of Superstars, Savage was being interviewed on the platform when Andre and Bobby Heenan came out to jaw with him. As Savage had his back turned, DiBiase and Virgil came from behind and attacked him. The visual of Elizabeth shaking as she’s being held by Virgil while DiBiase and Andre beat the snot out of Savage is priceless. The next week, Craig DeGeorge reported that Savage had challenged DiBiase and Andre to a tag team match. When the match was set for SummerSlam, Savage hadn’t revealed his partner yet. On an episode of Superstars, DeGeorge announced that Jesse Ventura was the guest referee. All the heels just laughed. The following week, Savage announced his partner, none other than Hulk Hogan. In the weeks preceding the match, DiBiase was trying to pay Ventura off by putting money in his pocket at any chance. During this time, Ted DiBiase resold Andre the Giant’s contract back to Bobby Heenan (at a $900,000 profit when you do the math).
Fun Fact II: According to Ric Flair’s book, Flair and McMahon were in heavy negotiations over the summer of 1988. Flair was very unhappy with NWA, and Vince was pulling the right strings. McMahon even promised the Main Event slot at SummerSlam, which would have been a World Title match with Randy Savage. In the end, however, Flair decided to stay with the NWA out of loyalty to the company.
Scott: We get to our epic main event of this inaugural SummerSlam as the two biggest fan favorites in the promotion take on the top heels, the Mega Bucks. Adding Jesse Ventura to the storyline was pure genius because being the best color commentator in the business makes things much more legitimate. Now even as, for the most part, a heel, he legitimately played the role somewhat down the middle. Thus the annoying commentary that commences from here. Incidentally Ted DiBiase has the swank alternate green tuxedo outfit on for this match. I remember watching this show and thinking that it was pretty cool that not only did the Mega Powers come out together, but they came out to the WWF Champion’s theme and not “Real American”. That kind of shocked me, but my brother was thrilled that for once Hogan was riding someone else’s coattail. Jesse is trying to do the right thing early on by adjusting the tag ropes and already Gorilla and Graham are giving him the business. That becomes an annoying theme throughout this match. Andre starting the match surprised me as he’s usually in second to do the working over after the smaller DiBiase would get them started. Bobby and Virgil are on the apron and Jesse is reprimanding them to get to the floor. That is the right thing to do but Gorilla and Graham are breaking his stones over it. Here is the problem in the world of kayfabe. Commentators were supposed to stay face/heel so even though Jesse was doing a top flight job as a neutral referee, they can’t complement him because it’s not “in the kayfabe rules.” For instance Elizabeth gets on the apron, and Jesse reprimands her while Virgil and Bobby confront her. So Gorilla and Graham are yelling at Jesse to “ignore” Elizabeth and focus on the other guys. Well in reality she’s not supposed to be on the apron either, but because it’s Elizabeth she should be left alone. They sound like complete morons throughout this entire match, and I very rarely criticize Gorilla during his peak as PBP announcer. Graham is bitching that DiBiase is choking Hogan on a headlock but clearly his arm is on Hogan’s chin. Graham is obviously being told by Vince backstage to really give Jesse the business even if it’s not warranted. This flim-flam commentary is kind of ruining the match for me. However the climax of the match threw everybody off. With the Mega Powers on the floor and in big trouble, out comes Elizabeth to the apron moving around back and forth. Then out of nowhere she rips her skirt off to reveal a bikini bottom. Everybody is stunned (well the heels anyway). We get the awesome Mega Powers handshake and then the big comeback and a Hogan legdrop wins it. Awful commentating aside, this was a fun main event to wrap up the first SummerSlam. Grade: ***
Justin: Our main event is extremely logical if you followed the path from WrestleMania to this very point. These were the four major players in the mix at Mania and in the months since, Hogan and Andre have continued to war while Savage has been keeping DiBiase at bay and away from his gold at every turn. Jesse Ventura would be named special guest referee and it was heavily implied that he was on the take thanks to DiBiase’s cash flow. As far as star power goes, this is arguably the second biggest main event match in company PPV history to this point. It was awesome seeing Jesse involved in big time storylines, bringing his legitimacy to the proceedings and making the match feel even bigger. Bobby Heenan is back with Andre here, having repurchased his contract back from DiBiase at a wonderful profit. That was great too, because tossing Bobby in the ringside mix adds to the chaotic feeling that something big was going down. There has always been debate whether they should have run these as separate matches on top of this show, but we had seen that at Mania and a titanic tag team match was different and felt just as important. Seing Hogan enter to Macho’s theme was neat and their matching tights gave that strong feeling of continuity that was needed at this point in the story.
In a bit of a head game, Andre surprisingly started the match, smacking Savage and then quickly tagging out. Savage would then tag Hogan and after a lot of theatrics, things finally got underway. DiBiase stood no chance early as the Mega Powers worked some double teams and punished him from corner to corner. Once DiBiase was able to tag in the Giant, momentum shifted and the biggest feud of the last two years was reignited as Andre punished the Hulkster. Jesse called things pretty fairly to this point and in looking at his referee attire, I do wonder if Jerry Seinfeld watched this event before his show launched. DiBiase clamped on a tight chinlock but the crowd never wavered, rallying Hogan and riding Heenan alternately. Hogan would get the tag and Savage came in red hot, running through DiBiase but Andre again regained control for his team. The way they used Andre here was perfect as he was the one true X factor that could swing the match in the blink of an eye. It would again be DiBiase that fed the momentum right back, missing his back elbow off the middle rope that never, ever hit. Hogan would be the first in the match to finally knock Andre down but that backfired when he got his huge boot up and crushed Savage in the face as he came off the top rope. Andre would chuck Hogan to floor after him and that is when boys became men. Elizabeth hopped on the apron, circled around…and tore off her skirt to reveal bikini bottoms. Liz as a sex symbol was mind-blowing at the time and as she pranced down the apron, Andre, DiBiase, Virgil, Heenan and Jesse all stood there gawking, mouths wide open. On the floor, we get the legendary Mega Powers handshake before both men crash the ring and clean house. Savage would drop the elbow on DiBiase, with Hogan following the leg. However, Jesse would hesitate in his three count before Savage forced his hand to the mat to count three. This was a wonderfully booked match and perfect end to the DiBiase/Andre assault on Savage’s title. The Liz payoff was a cherry on the sundae. SummerSlam wraps with a great, memorable and classic main event. Grade: ***1/2
Scott: This wasn’t the perfect first SummerSlam, just like the first WrestleMania was far from perfect. We had some great moments, like the beginning of Ultimate Warrior’s megapush and Elizabeth actually using her feminine wiles to help win a match. Even though WrestleMania is the granddaddy of them all, SummerSlam is without question my favorite PPV brand of all time. A typically awesome MSG crowd livens up an otherwise lackluster undercard. The Mega Powers are on top of the world as the face of the WWF, and I was happy to see that Randy Savage was still proudly carrying the WWF Title. Urban legend is that Vince was trying to bring Ric Flair in to face Savage in the main event and let Hogan have an extended vacation. Wow what a main event that would have been. I’m not upset that didn’t happen, as this main event was perfectly fine. All in all, it’s ranked pretty low in the pantheon of MSG PPVs, because of the undercard. Still, the main event is awesome, and the show is special, because it’s the first. We gave the first WrestleMania a pass, and that show is worse than this one. I’m giving this one a pass. Thankfully the WWF created something that could fill the large gap between WrestleMania and the Survivor Series. Final Grade: A-
Justin: A pretty good show, excitement wise, but as far as the actual wrestling goes, only the opener and Main Event are above average. The rest of the show is quite middling with very little standing out as bad but it really felt like a jacked up house show due to the company wanting to keep some key feuds hot for the house show tours. Although, I will say the crowd stays hot all the way through, and every match had a purpose, which is always good as well. This is also a major transition shows, as many of the old guard are phased out, such as Don Muraco, Ken Patera and the British Bulldogs, and many new faces are pushed hard, like Bad News Brown, Big Boss Man and Powers of Pain. The main event was a whole lot of fun and was tremendously booked, both in story and match structure, and was a key component in the story of the Mega Powers. It is certainly a show worth checking out just to see the transition of the company and a classic main event, but check your snowflakes at the door. Final Grade: B