Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh: SummerSlam 1989

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SummerSlam 1989: Ultimate Revenge

August 28, 1989
Meadowlands Arena
East Rutherford, New Jersey
Attendance: 20, 000
Buy Rate: 4.8
Announcers: Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura

1) The Brain Busters defeat The Hart Foundation in a non-title match when Arn Anderson pins Bret Hart with a double axe-handle at 15:55

Fun Fact: The Brain Busters defeated Demolition on the July 29 (taped 7/18) edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event in Worcester, Massachusetts in a 2-of-3 falls match to win the tag straps. After years of not having any gold, going into this night Bobby Heenan had both the Intercontinental Title and the Tag Team Titles. This match is non-title, with the reasoning being that the match was signed before the Busters won the tag titles, so Bobby did not have to make it a title match if he didn’t want to.

Scott: Wow what an opening match for the biggest show of the summer. Two of the best tag teams in the company show clearly that in 1989 the tag division was so loaded that you can have four of the best workers in the company and not even need the tag titles on the line. Tully & Arn upset Demolition earlier in the summer and ended their epic tag title reign that lasted over a year. Right from the first minute when Tully Blanchard and Bret Hart chain wrestled you can tell these four were set on setting the tempo and making this show very different from past WWF PPVs. They want to show the world that the promotion is more than just big cartoon characters and very bland matches. Tully & Arn coming to the company was a breath of fresh air for both them and the WWF. The company needed some more athletic workers and the guys deserved a pay bump they weren’t getting down with Crockett. This match is just continuous motion with no wasted moves by anybody; even the Anvil brought his boots in this one. Tony Schiavone is in with Jesse in place of Gorilla Monsoon and you can tell he’s not completely in tune with the WWF product or the pace of the matches. After dominating the early part, a missed charge by the Anvil put him in trouble. This is where we see the expert chemistry and sweet NWA-style bullying by the two former Horsemen. Eventually the chaos reigns all around the ring, and that’s what I like about Arn and Tully. They can control the chaos meter of a match without really looking disorganized. With the referee distracted, the Brain-Horsemen executed some double teaming to steal the win. One of the best opening matches in PPV history. Grade: **** ½

Justin: Our second edition of SummerSlam opens with a brand new voice in the broadcast booth as Tony Schiavone had jumped ship from WCW in early 1989 and hooked on with Titan to basically be the third string announcer and occasional interviewer backstage. However, he gets the call here alongside the ever present Jesse Ventura, who is also making his SummerSlam announce booth debut. Our first bout is a tag team match that looked about as fantastic as it gets on paper and seemed like a lock to deliver in the ring as well. Originally signed prior to the Brain Busters winning the tag titles, the match remained non-title since the Harts hadn’t earned the shot quite yet and the Busters weren’t required to put them up. Ah, the little things. Jesse makes a great point about it being kind of a no-win for the Harts as a win could just net them a future title match and a loss could bury them in the division. We got some very good mat and limb work blended with a bit of stooging early as the Harts traded off controlling both Double A and Tully. The Jersey crowd was really amped up out of the gate, getting into every Foundation move and tag. Jesse has really been on fire in the both over the last eighteen months and I love here how he breaks down the benefits of having a strong neck in both amateur and professional wrestling. The tide finally seemed to turn when Bret got duped into chasing Tully around the ring before getting decked from behind by Arn. The Busters were so damn good at those heel tricks and setups, always seeming to be a step ahead to gain any sort of advantage. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t last as the Harts ran them right back to the floor to regroup. A couple of minutes later, the champs would sneak the advantage again when Arn hid behind Tully and yanked him away as Anvil crashed into the corner on a charge. After a fairly quick heat segment, Hart came back in and took right over, running Arn to the floor, which allowed the challengers to double team Tully a bit. After Anvil slammed Hart onto Tully, Arn came off the buckles and smashed Hart from behind, covered him and, being the illegal man, hid his head from the referee to pick up the win. What a great finish. Everything that was awesome about the Busters was on full display here. They did so many little things throughout the match to make it feel more real and it showed how they were always thinking in the ring. This was a really good opener and the crowd was hooked in the whole way. Jesse stands by his earlier prediction again at the end here as he notes “The Harts are in trouble” for losing a non-title opportunity. The Busters have been a big pickup for the WWF and are now the standard bearers of the tag division. It is also great to see the overall shift in athleticism and style since a year ago, when SummerSlam was peppered with aging retreads plodding through some heatless matches. Grade: ***1/2

2) Dusty Rhodes defeats the Honky Tonk Man with the Bionic Elbow at 9:40

Fun Fact: “The American Dream is funky like a monkey…if you wheel!!!” Dusty Rhodes makes his PPV debut here. Rhodes was in the WWWF in the late-70s, feuding with Superstar Billy Graham. His big time days were in the NWA, where Rhodes was a three-time World Heavyweight Champion, as well as six-man tag champ, and a TV champ. He was the biggest victim of Four Horsemen beat downs, and even had his ankle broken in a steel cage by Ric Flair and the Andersons. After booking NWA for a couple of years, he was fired for seriously blading on TV when WTBS specifically told him not to. So, he left to take bigger money with Vince McMahon. 

Scott: Now this match probably won’t come close to the grade of our previous match. However we do get a hot PPV debut as NWA stalwart Dusty Rhodes has made his WWF return. Now for you younger fans you’re wondering when he was there previously. Well, he actually had a hot run back in the late-70s. He had a great blood feud with Superstar Billy Graham in 1977-78, culminating with a bloody bullrope match at the Garden. Spending most of the 1980s in the Carolinas, he was booted for blading on TBS without permission in 1988. So he comes here for one last in-ring run and to make some scratch. A lot of old school fans hated the whole polka dots goofy gimmick and wanted the old school Florida/NWA Dusty. That wasn’t going to happen and Vince was going to have some fun here. As for his opponent, let the jobbing continue. He’s still a good heel, but instead of feeding him established faces to steal wins from when he was IC Champ, it’s the new babyface and Honky is now putting him over. This is a standard mid-card back and forth affair where Honky wore Big Dust down with holds while Rhodes makes herculean comebacks. Eventually Dusty makes the final comeback and hits the Bionic Elbow for the victory. Incidentally, say what you want with the polka dots but Dusty’s entrance theme is classic. Grade: **

Justin: The freshening up of the promotion continues here as another long time NWA mainstay popped up over the summer in the form of black and yellow polka dots. The legendary Dusty Rhodes had dominated Florida and the Carolinas both in and out of the ring but eventually he wore out his welcome and after a gory blade job on TV, he was turfed. He checked his pride at the Titan Tower door and happily took on whatever the WWF booking team heaped on him, doing it all with a smile. Here, he is wearing the Big Boss Man’s hat and carrying his nightstick, as they had begun a feud shortly before this show. It has now been a year since Honky Tonk Man jobbed his beloved Intercontinental Title and he has become quite the afterthought since, eating pin after pin and making up for his lengthy run with the gold. Dusty would use his patented elbow to rattle Honky early on, sending him to the floor to chat with Jimmy Hart at one point. Jimmy would hop in the ring to run some interference and allow HTM to jam the megaphone into Dusty’s ample gut. Honky slowed things way down, going to a chinlock as his submission hold of choice. Dusty would have a couple of comeback attempts, but Honky dodged each of them and both times he went right back to the chinlock. Just when it looked like Honky may take this one, Jimmy again got involved but this time it backfired as he smashed Honky with the guitar, allowing Dusty to hit the bionic elbow for the win. That is a tough loss for HTM, who really controlled the match and worked to wear Dusty down while slowing the pace up. But, in one swing of some balsa wood, it all came crashing down. He did get to give a funny interview to Sean Mooney in the aisle, rambling incoherently as he stumbled to the back. Dusty picks up a win in his first PPV appearance and refocuses himself on the Boss Man. Grade: *1/2

3) Mr. Perfect defeats the Red Rooster with the PerfectPlex at 3:21

Scott: I’m not sure if these guys ever wrestled in other promotions, but honestly this would be a great wrestling match with two talented guys. Sadly who can take somebody with a red Mohawk clucking around the ring seriously? This of course is the match between the rumored finalists for the Mr. Perfect gimmick. It’s sad what happened to Terry Taylor because in the mid-80s he was a stalwart in both Mid-South and the NWA and here he’s fodder for the mid-card. No disrespect to Curt Hennig at all, but it’s a shame that Taylor will never be really respected like that again. Even when he leaves for WCW he still will have that stigma for the rest of his career. It’s a quick, harmless match that puts Perfect over as a great worker and one of the company’s best heels. Grade: **

Justin: We discussed the paths these two men took upon arriving in WWF in our 1988 reviews, but it really is on display for all to see just how jarringly divergent those roads were when you see them stand across each other in the ring. In one corner you have the cocky, smarmy undefeated heel in some sharp looking amateur style tights. In the other you have a dope clucking like a chicken with a red mohawk atop his blonde mullet. Perfect dominates right away with some strikes and slams but Rooster actually slapped his way back into it for just a moment before Perfect buried a knee to the gut and then cracked him in the face with a great standing dropkick. Jesse was salty during this one, calling out Rooster for instigating the brawling and shortcuts while Perfect was trying to wrestle. At some point in here it looks like Rooster tweaked his knee as he starts to limp a bit. After a quick tussle on the floor, Perfect hooks the PerfectPlex and picks up the easy win to stay undefeated. I have really enjoyed watching Perfect ascend up the ladder, picking up win after win while clearly being prepared for bigger things. It has been a nice organic build for him. The match was nothing but watching Perfect smack Rooster around before effectively squashing him was fun to see. Grade: *

4) The Rougeau Brothers & Rick Martel defeat the Rockers & Tito Santana when Rick Martel pins Marty Jannetty after a punch in the face at 14:57

Fun Fact: Rick Martel was managed by Slick here, and has not yet morphed into the “Model.” On the 9/23 Superstars, Martel had an interview where he claimed he should become a model due to his enormous sex appeal. The transformation would be complete by Survivor Series, and Slick would no longer manage him.

Scott: Wow do we have another gem on our hands. Once again we dip into the very deep tag team pool for two more expert technical teams with high-flying abilities. Add in a blood feud that started at WrestleMania and we have maybe one of the greatest six-man tag team matches in history. Martel is a tremendous worker dating back to the late 70s and now that he is an arrogant heel he can expand his personality even more. I like that Jesse stated that all three workers are French-Canadian so they can talk in French and the other team would be clueless. Little statements like that make Jesse great. The bob and weave show that Martel is playing on Santana is great and once again Jesse is pointing these things out. The lost art of announcing today, particularly color commentating. Martel finally gets in the ring with Tito when he has the advantage and then gets frustrated when the crowd is booing him vociferously. The heel work in this match is tremendous as Tito (like at Mania V) is playing face-in-peril perfectly while the French-Canadian trio works him over. Finally Tito gets the hot tag to Shawn Michaels, in his first SummerSlam match, and goes off on everybody in the ring. Eventually all six men start brawling and the Jersey crowd is going crazy. What a perfect arena for this show as the old school WWF northeast crowd is going bonkers all night long. The heels use the chaos to their advantage and maybe the wrong guys were in the ring allowing Martel to steal the pin and get the victory. The workrate in this match cannot be matched in many combinations but we have yet another high rated gem. Watch it and you’ll understand. Grade: ****

Justin: Up next is a very interesting looking six-man tag featuring six tremendous athletes. The Rockers and Rougeaus had been battling on the house show circuit and they are set to lock horns while each teaming with a former Strike Force member. After walking out on Tito Santana at WrestleMania, Rick Martel officially cemented his heel turn by picking up Slick as a manger. He also switched up his tights from the classic white to a powder blue. Tito and Jacques opened things up but the match immediately broke down into a big brawl that ended with the French Canadians on the floor regrouping with their managers. Shawn’s hair was extra permafluffed for this one, must be his summer look. Jannetty and Jacques would tussle after the reset and despite some sharps strikes from the Rocker, a quick distraction by Ray turned the tide to the heel side. Martel really took the heel role almost immediately, ratcheting up the smarmy arrogance, facial expressions and showboating whenever he had any control. He also was sure to play mind games with Santana, diving out of the ring whenever he crossed paths with his former partner. Some more chicanery led to Santana now getting caught up and trapped in the heel corner. Martel and the Rougeaus worked really together when on offense, quick tagging constantly while really laying it into Tito. One of the best parts of the assault was a crisp Jacques dropkick to Santana’s mush. The crowd was really hooked into the heat segment, getting rowdy anytime the heel corner got involved and cheering loudly when Tito made his comeback attempts. The attack was focused as Martel snapped Santana down with a backbreaker that transitioned right into a Ray Boston Crab. They continued to double and triple team behind the referee’s back, working brilliantly as a heel team, sneaking in and out of the ring to target the back and stop Tito from tagging out. Man, Tito is awesome at building heat on himself with his selling and timing. Jesse kept his foot on the gas too, claiming that “Chico nearly pulled one out of his Mexican hat there” when he snuck in a pin attempt. The window finally opened after some Rougeau miscommunication, allowing Tito to tag in Michaels to a huge pop. Shawn cleaned house, mainly tossing Martel all around the ring before cracking him with a dropkick and a textbook suplex. Things would quickly break down again with all six men battling. In the chaos, Tito drilled Martel with his flying forearm, sending his former partner crashing to the floor. Back inside, Jacques was able to use interference from Jimmy Hart to gain an advantage and roll up Marty, but Marty used the momentum to roll through and end up on top. Before the referee could arrive to count, Martel snuck in and punished Jannetty with a really stiff clothesline and stole the win. Man, what a sprint that was! I really dug that match a lot and was not ready for it to end but it was perfectly worked across the board. The crowd loved it and stayed hot for it, everyone worked hard and we even got a little dose of revenge by Santana before Martel got to look strong in grabbed victory for his team. This is a great hidden gem that should be sought out if you haven’t seen it before. Grade: ****

5) The Ultimate Warrior defeats Rick Rude  to win WWF Intercontinental Title with a splash at 16:00

Fun Fact: This feud raged over the summer after Rude won the title from Warrior at WrestleMania. They have been fighting back and forth from show to show. On the July 24 Superstars, Rude was ready to give the Rude Awakening (a kiss, not the finisher) to a lovely lady in the audience, Warrior came into the ring while Rude’s eyes were closed and pounded on him. Another Superstars episode had Warrior defeat fellow Heenan family member Haku, then get jumped by Rude after the match. Finally on an episode of Wrestling Challenge the Saturday before the match, Heenan gets Andre the Giant to jump Warrior after a match and choke him out.

Scott: In my opinion, it’s the match that this show will always be remembered for. What could be 1989’s Feud of the Year culminates with an epic rematch from the upset at WrestleMania when Bobby Heenan held the leg and Rude became the IC Champion out of nowhere. Next to the main event, this feud received the most TV time on the syndicated shows as Rude and Heenan dangled the carrot that was the Intercontinental Championship and Warrior kept chasing it. The crowd here is salivating for this one, booing Rude and blowing the roof off when Warrior comes running down to the ring. Warrior absolutely dominates the action early on, including throwing Rude outside the ring and actually hitting him with the title belt and not getting disqualified by Joey Marella and Jesse absolutely going out of his skin. That is followed by Jesse tearing Schiavone to shreds when Tony says anything outside the ring is allowed. “So you can shoot somebody outside the ring!” Classic Jesse. Rude battles through and survives the early attack from the challenger until Rude crotches Warrior on the top rope. However Warrior cranks out of the Rude Awakening and battles out of the sleeper. Then the first big moment of the match is when a double shoulderblock knocks both men and the referee out to the floor. I love when Jesse cackles that this is when Bobby Heenan is most valuable. He tries to rustle Rude awake and then Warrior almost gets a three count but Rude put his foot on the rope. Rude takes the match over and hits some big moves but Warrior won’t be pinned. Then the climax occurs when the crowd is going crazy over something off camera, which we see when the camera switches to see Roddy Piper sauntering up the ramp. Rude and Piper had some words earlier in the summer, and Piper comes out here. Rude gives Piper a little shimmy, and Piper responds by mooning him. Rude flips out, which gives the Warrior a chance to take control, hit his finishers and become a two-time IC Champion. The crowd goes bonkers and it concludes one of my favorite matches of all time. Is the workrate top notch? Well not exactly, but when you take the entire package with the backstory, the crowd and the charisma of the workers in the ring, it is one of the more memorable matches of the decade and definitely on the list of greatest Intercontinental Title matches of all time. Grade: *****

Justin: One of 1989’s hottest feuds rages to a climax here in the Meadowlands as the Ultimate Warrior gets his crack at revenge and regaining the title stolen from him by Rick Rude back in Atlantic City. They have spent the summer attacking each other and stirring the pot all over WWF TV. Just before this show, Bobby Heenan had Andre the Giant choke Warrior out to soften him up a bit before this big match. The crowd was apeshit for Warrior as he sprinted down the aisle and shook the ring ropes vigorously in his infamous lime green tights. As the match started up, Jesse bragged about how he was the only person to give Rude a chance at Mania and he thinks the champ and the Brain could outsmart the Warrior yet again. The challenger started off red hot, press slamming Rude to the floor from the ring, which sent Jesse off on an epic rant about how he hates Warrior because he makes his own rules. Things get amped up even more when Warrior smashes Rude with the belt on the floor and doesn’t get DQ’d. Jesse gloriously loses his mind as Schiavone tries to defend it, calling Tony “dumber than Monsoon” and calling for the head of Joey Marella. Warrior dumps Rude to the floor again, driving Jesse further off the deep end. This is some high level stuff across the board as Jesse is watching the wrestler he hates most destroy his favorite competitor. He even advocates that Rude just eat a count out loss due to the way Warrior was brawling and bending the rules. Back inside, things calmed down a bit but Warrior just kept manhandling Rude, using slams, strikes and suplexes to wear the champ down. It was very reminiscent of the early parts of their WrestleMania match. At one point, Warrior just lifted Rude up from behind and dropped him on his ass with abandon. However, the challenger gave Rude an opening by heading to the top rope, allowing the champ to trip him up and slam him down. Rude would work the back, taking his time in wearing Warrior down, but the challenger kept kicking out of pin attempts with authority. He also had enough strength left to break up the Rude Awakening before Rude could snap it off. Warrior would fight out of a sleeperhold but both men would collide on a charge attempt, wiping out the referee in the process. Warrior was next level fired up and the crowd was right with him as he brought the heavy artillery out in hammering on Rude. He had the champ beat, but Marella was still out cold and couldn’t count. Warrior took the opportunity to crunch Rude with a piledriver, but by the time Marella crawled over to count, Rude got his foot on the rope. Rude would get his knees up on a Warrior splash and went back to work, but before he could finish the job, the crowd burst into excitement as Roddy Piper sauntered down the aisle to ringside. After Warrior survived a piledriver, Rude took a break to taunt Piper. Piper retaliated by lifting his kilt and mooning Rude. As Rude flipped out, Warrior caught him with a back suplex, a shoulderblock, press slam and big splash to regain his title and end the feud. This whole thing was pretty fucking amazing, from the action, to the crowd heat to the tremendous commentary. The feud has been a great one throughout 1989 and it received a worthy blowoff. Jesse was fantastic throughout this whole match as well, really adding to the importance of the whole thing. Warrior takes back his gold and Rude now has a new issue to deal with. Grade: ****1/2

6) Demolition & Jim Duggan defeat the Twin Towers & Andre the Giant when Smash pins Akeem after Duggan whacks him with the 2×4 at 7:24

Fun Fact: Jim Duggan defeated King Haku at a Superstars taping in Davenport, Iowa in May to win the title of “King.”

Scott: We begin the post-intermission half of SummerSlam with our second six-man tag match of the night. However this one is VERY different than our first encounter earlier on. Instead of six high flying technicians this time we have six massive power guys. I agree with Jesse that it’s disrespectful that the American flag is on Jim Duggan’s hideous mug. He is now “King Duggan” after beating Haku earlier in the year. This match is obviously going to be much slower and probably shorter than the other match. Sure enough we get lots of double teaming by both sides and the pace is very slow but the crowd is indeed just as hot as earlier. Tony Schiavone clearly never worked with a color guy like Jesse. In the NWA he usually worked with babyfaces like David Crockett. Jesse is calling Tony out on every stupid thing he says, and it seems to rattle Tony at times because he stops talking for a few seconds. During this match Jesse yells at Tony when he says you can’t use the ropes to break a hold. How do you not know that? So dumb. Smash was the face-in-peril for most of the match until Duggan does what he always does, which is cheat to win. He uses his 2×4 to knock Akeem out and get the pin. Jesse is absolutely irate and I don’t blame him. How did the babyface announcers justify Duggan being allowed to use that? I never knew the goody-goody announcers discarded the whole “two wrongs don’t make a right”. Damn it makes me so angry. Grade: **

Justin: After a smartly timed intermission we have more six man tag action, but this time instead of featuring fast paced workers, we are treated to the hossiets of all hoss battles. Slick leading out Big Boss Man, Akeem and Andre the Giant with Jive Soul Bro blasting may be my favorite ring entrance of all time. Akeem and Slick dancing just never gets old. Andre has also switched over to his alternate navy blue singlet here. On the face side, we have the former tag team champions teaming with Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who also has his face painted and adorned with a Demolition style mask during his entrance. Duggan is now the King of the WWF, having defeated Haku for the crown shortly after WrestleMania. It was an interesting decision that I thought was pretty funny, having this dope walking around as royalty. The King would open things up with Akeem, rocking the big man with heavy right hands before tagging in Ax, who took a very similar approach. Demolition are really at the peak of their powers here, working with tons of confidence and crowd support and just owning their characters. They also had a lot of energy in this one, feeding off that crowd support and just taking the fight right to the Towers. The only way the momentum could be stopped was by the Giant, who tagged in and immediately slowed down Ax, pretty much just by sitting on him and then choking him out. Ax would tag his partner in and that led to the best part of the match as Smash bodyslammed both Boss Man and Akeem to a big pop. That was some impressive power and a really cool moment. Akeem and Andre would manage to bust Smash down and Akeem smushed him with a splash from the middle rope, but as the referee was tied up with Andre, Duggan grabbed his 2×4 and smacked the Dream to give his team the win. Oh, Duggan, always cheating your way into the hearts of your fans. Akeem was screwed…hard. He had it won! Anyway, this was a fun big man brawl with some good power spots and it was great that they never slowed things down despite their size. They also did a really nice job keeping Andre looking strong as he was the only one that could ever maintain any offense for his team. Duggan and Demolition pick up the big win and roll right on. Now, Demolition look towards regaining their gold. Grade: **1/2

7) Greg Valentine defeats Hercules with a roll-up with his feet on the ropes at 2:53

Fun Fact: The feud between Ron Garvin and Greg Valentine started on the 4/22 Superstars when after Garvin won a match between the two, Valentine challenged Garvin to a career vs. career match. The next week, Valentine won that match, so Garvin was forced to “retire”. He still wrestled house show matches, but was retired on camera. Garvin started refereeing matches, including a non-title match in June between Demolition and Valentine & Honky Tonk Man where Garvin came into the match late and called for a disqualification. After altercations with various heels as ref, most notably Dino Bravo, President Jack Tunney suspended Garvin as a referee on the August 5 Superstars. Garvin was reinstated as a wrestler on August 27.

Scott: This match is highlighted by the memorably bad ring announcing by Rugged Ronnie Garvin. Garvin massacres his ring announcing of Valentine, which may be better than if he did it right. The match isn’t much as Valentine cheats to win with some feet on the ropes, but Garvin says Valentine lost by disqualification. Valentine and Garvin have been battling all year and Garvin was banned as a wrestler and referee but was allowed to be a ring announcer. The post-match is better than the match itself as Valentine cheap shots Garvin then battles Hercules. Garvin gets back in the ring and lays out Valentine with one punch. The match is trash but the horrendous ring announcing and post-match is what’s remembered. Grade: *

Justin: Over the summer, Greg Valentine and Ronnie Garvin became embroiled in a feud that saw Garvin lose a match that forced him to retire. Garvin would pull some trickery and converted himself into a referee. After he made sure to screw Valentine as an official, he was fired from that gig. Here, he is given duties as a ring announcer and it leads to some…interesting results. He gives Hercules a straight forward introduction but just buries Valentine with a series of jokes about him and Jimmy Hart. The problem is he stumbled through most of it. Still, it was creative and a cool way to keep the feud simmering here. Herc took advantage of Valentine’s anger at Garvin by hammering him from behind and slugging his way to a quick advantage. The Hammer could barely get any offense in until he was able to catch Herc coming back into the ring. Herc would kick out of a figure four and then catch Valentine coming off the top rope. The Hammer came back and rolled Herc up, tossed his feet on the ropes for leverage and snuck out a win. Garvin would hop in the ring and proceed to announce Hercules as the winner, multiple times, pissing off his nemesis in the process. An angry Hammer would deck Garvin and tussle with Herc until Ronnie snuck back in and pelted Valentine with a right hand to end the skirmish. Well, Hercules was just background fodder here, filling a slot to ensure the Garvin/Valentine feud could continue to run hot. I was going to ague that they could have found somebody besides Herc to sacrifice here, but it seems like he has already shrunk down to a fairly basic mid card role by this point. Grade: *

8) Ted DiBiase defeats Jimmy Snuka by countout at 6:24

Fun Fact I: Since this is his first PPV match, here is some background on the Superfly. Born on the Fiji Islands, he moved up the wrestling ranks though the Pacific Northwest and eventually into the NWA Mid-Atlantic region. He actually defeated Ric Flair in a US Heavyweight Title match in 1979, as well as holding the NWA Tag straps with Ray Stevens. He arrived in the WWF in 1981 as a heel managed by Captain Lou Albano. He had a brutal, bloody feud with then-WWF Champ Bob Backlund which included a great steel cage match at MSG. He turned face in late-1982 and feuded with Albano. He then moved on to Intercontinental Champ Magnificent Muraco, which culminated in the legendary October 17, 1983 IC Title match in the steel cage at MSG. Even though Muraco won the match, Snuka forever left a mark on many wrestling fans (including Mick Foley and Bubba Ray Dudley) by jumping off the cage and hitting the Superfly Splash on Muraco after the match. Although he was one of the most popular superstars on the roster, he was never given gold in the promotion (mainly due to a clouded social life, as rumors abound that he killed his girlfriend while he was high on coke). He left the WWF in 1985 and went to the AWA, where he had brutal feuds with Bruiser Brody and Col. DeBeers. The WWF started playing vignettes in early 1989 hinting his return, and he came back at WrestleMania V before the Dino Bravo/Ron Garvin match.

Fun Fact II: On the 5/6/89 Superstars (taped 4/4), Jake Roberts faced and beat Virgil in just over a minute. After the match, Jake pulled a wad of cash out of Virgil’s tights and passed it out to the crowd. This action prompted DiBiase to jump Jake from behind and put him out with the Million Dollar Dream. The incident seemed harmless, but would actually be used as a major plot point later in the summer. On 5/8, after a house show match in Orlando, FL, Jake was arrested on assault charges, stemming from an incident with a fan in December of 1988. So, on the 6/24 Superstars, DiBiase went on the Brother Love Show and announced that he put Jake in the hospital with the Million Dollar Dream (referencing the attack from the 5/6 show), claiming that Jake needed to have discs removed from his neck. On the 7/16 Challenge, DiBiase showed off a special golden neck brace he had crafted as a present for Jake. Jake remained out of action while handling the legal matters, but returned on the 9/24 Superstars where he went on the Brother Love Show and claimed that if he could unleash one final DDT, it would be on DiBiase. Jake had his first TV match since his return in October, and the DiBiase/Roberts feud was launched into overdrive.

Scott: This is nothing more than a filler match for the future Hall of Famer Superfly and to forward the DiBiase/Jake Roberts storyline that started shortly after WrestleMania. Snuka was one of the biggest stars in the WWF earlier in the decade, but it’s sad that Jesse has to talk about him like a dopey jobber. The match itself isn’t bad with some decent back and forth as Snuka, even at this age, can still work pretty well around the ring. DiBiase is still an in-ring presence even though some of the off-camera demons were slowly sneaking into his life. Speaking of Jake, we don’t see him on this show as he’s selling a DiBiase beatdown from earlier in the summer. Snuka loses by countout, which I find kind of strange. DiBiase is then blindsided and Snuka splashes Virgil to end the segment. A weird situation here as I’m surprised he didn’t win clean but in any event DiBiase wins and Snuka gets the last word. Grade: **

Justin: After a really hot 1988, Ted DiBiase has meandered through 1989 without a whole lot of direction. Coming out of WrestleMania, he tangled with Jake Roberts, eventually putting the Snake on the sidelines with a neck injury. He gets this match here just to keep him in the minds of fans. He even focuses on Roberts in a prematch promo, ignoring Jimmy Snuka, who is making his official in ring PPV debut. I dig Snuka’s black and white jungle tights here as he rarely showed up in those. Snuka was a good mid-card add by the WWF, bringing his name value back into the fold as someone they could use to put over other stars and have it mean something. Sunk would frustrate DiBiase early, driving him to the floor to regroup on multiple occasions. Superfly’s timing seemed a bit off as he tried a double leapfrog, but on the second one, he jumped too early and landed right on DiBiase’s back. Jesse would debate strategy vs. instinct in the case of Snuka, arguing that he has zero thought behind what he does. DiBiase would get a flash or two of offense but this was mainly the Snuka show until DiBiase was able to catch him on a charge and drop him across the top rope with a stun gun. DiBiase would make a big mistake when he tried a blind back elbow drop off the middle rope. Snuka dodged it and took right back over, ascending the top rope for the Superfly Splash but Virgil was there to trip him up. Snuka assaulted Virgil out of retaliation, but that allowed DiBiase to sneak outside and club him from behind. Snuka couldn’t pick himself up and ended up with a countout loss. After the match, Snuka beat down Virgil, smashing him with the Superfly Splash. DiBiase picks up a win, but the match really was nothing special. Grade: *

9) Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake defeat Randy Savage & Zeus when Hogan pins Zeus after the Leg Drop at 15:09

Fun Fact: Zeus was actor Tom “Tiny” Lister, who played Zeus in the movie “No Holds Barred.” Vince McMahon decided to take his big screen confrontation to the small screen. Everything kicked off on the 4/22 Superstars, as Brutus Beefcake was on the Brother Love show, but was interrupted by Savage and Sherri, whom Savage had named his manager on Superstars the week before. Brutus kept calling her “Scary Sherri,” causing Savage to attack him and cut his hair. The involvement of Zeus started on the May 27 edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event in Des Moines, Iowa. Hogan was slated to face Big Boss Man in a steel cage match but as Hogan was coming to the ring, Zeus was blocking the entrance. Hogan attempted to move him and was beaten down. On a side note, the Boss Man/Hogan cage match was awesome. On the July 8 Superstars, Savage and Zeus laid down the challenge to Beefcake and Hogan for SummerSlam and on the July 18 SNME, Savage faced Beefcake in a singles match. As Beefcake had the sleeper on the Macho Man, Zeus came in and started pounding on him. Hogan came in, but his blows did nothing. Hogan even wailed Zeus with a chair and Zeus only turned around and smiled at him in a great visual that really kicked the feud into high gear.

Scott: This is the real life epilogue to “No Holds Barred”. In 1988 Hogan (as “Rip”) took on the mighty Zeus and defeated him. Fast forward to May 1989 and Zeus wants a little real life retribution. This continues the Hogan/Savage feud that has been running since February but we’ve added some pieces to the mix. This was a great way to keep the feud fresh by adding the invincible Zeus to counter Hulkamania, which is back at its peak after Hogan won his second World Title at WrestleMania. The crowd really goes nuts when the lovely Elizabeth is introduced. This is one of the hottest main events in WWF history to this point, as the crowd is totally invested in what’s happening and what a job by the bookers to showcase Zeus as completely invincible. The match for the first few minutes is red hot as Zeus (other than eye pokes) is completely impervious to anything, while Savage, Hogan and Beefcake really do 90% of the legwork. You can tell Tiny Lister has never been in a ring, as Savage always tells him what to do and where to go. Mid-match, Beefcake has Zeus in a sleeper but Savage decks Beefer with Sensational Sherri’s purse, which appears to be loaded. Remember that, it’s a big deal later on. The action continues to go back and forth at a furious pace, faster than you might think. Finally Hogan had gotten Zeus vulnerable and when Sherri tried to interfere Liz threw her in the ring and the purse goes flying. Hogan picks the loaded purse up, cracks Zeus in the face with it and after a slam and a legdrop our heroes come away victorious. This is one of my favorite main events of all time from start to finish, simply because it once again did what the Rude/Warrior match did. It took a match that in terms of workrate is OK but not stellar, and added an intense storyline, an invincible heel and a very hot crowd and you have one of the WWF’s stellar main events. Grade: ****

Justin: For the second straight year, we close out SummerSlam with a big main event tag team match. A year ago, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were victorious teammates, but here they are on opposite sides, their feud still raging hotly. Hogan’s buddy Brutus Beefcake has quickly ascended up the card over the summer, establishing himself as a junior main eventer thanks to his association with the champ as well as his burgeoning feud with Savage. Savage had dumped Elizabeth as a valet and hired on former women’s champion Sensational Sherri as a manager. The two were pretty whacked out and made a pretty good pair of psychos. Zeus was imported from Hogan’s movie No Holds Barred and transitioned into the ring to feud during the back half of 1989. It was an interesting idea that carried quite a few plot holes, but he had a good look, so there is that. Hogan and Beefcake give a great, classic promo before the match, teasing a special surprise and ranting about…headlights. We also get a Genius poem before the match starts. The Genius is former job boy Lanny Poffo, given the gimmick of a know-it-all douchebag, a persona Poffo took to right away. As usual, the crowd was bonkers for Hogan, and Beefcake by proxy. It was cool seeing these four lined up in the ring before the bell, both because of look and color scheme, specially Savage’s awesome silver-white tights. Before the match got underway, Hogan and Beefcake revealed their surprise by bringing Elizabeth out to be in their corner. It was cool to keep her involved and also to see the dichotomy with the whacked out Sherri, who had really gone off the deep end when she stepped out of the ring as an active wrestler. Jesse would waste no time bagging on Liz, calling her a golddigger and a “hat swinger from down the Shore”. After thwarting an early attack, Hogan went to work on Zeus but things swung right away when he failed to slam the big man. That allowed Savage to start punishing his former pal with gusto, picking up where he left off at Mania, where he dominated the entire match before eating the pin. Zeus would eventually get the tag and go right to a bear hug to wear the champ down. The Jersey fans were molten hot here, cheering on Hogan nonstop. Zeus would have the hold clamped on for a while, but it never deterred their energy. Hogan would finally duck a Savage charge and find his way to Beefcake for the hot tag. The Barber would go right to his sleeper, locking it on Savage, who started to fade until he ran Beefcake into the corner to bust it up. Jesse kept claiming Beefcake was the weak link of the team, acting surprise when he got any offense in. He would try the sleeper on Zeus as well, but Savage made the save by smacking Beefcake in the back of the head with Sherri’s purse. That led to our second heat segment of the match, with Savage and Zeus both working over Beefer, the latter mainly using chokes to do his damage. A second hot tag brought us to the climax of the match as Hogan started to clean house, playing a bit dirty out of necessity. We also got to see Hogan wreck Savage’s finisher once again, as he pops right up after a big elbow. That seemed unnecessary. After that we finally got the Hogan/Zeus straight up showdown. Hogan rocked the big man with right hands and finally got him to fall to a knee. Sherri tried to get involved, but Liz tripped her up and Beefcake followed suit by blocking Savage from using the purse. Hogan was able to grab the bag and bash Zeus with it before slamming him and finishing him off with the legrdrop, much to Schiavone’s excitement. I am surprised they had Zeus take the pin here considering he was sticking around for more from here. I guess they could use the purse excuse to keep him strong. The crowd was nuts as Hogan and Liz smacked Sherri around, setting her up for a Beefcake haircut. This was a really fun main event, mindless popcorn flick type stuff. You knew the ending coming in, but the ride was quick and fun and the red hot crowd added to the atmosphere. Zeus was decent enough and anytime you have Savage doing the heavy lifting, you will be OK. It also helped elevate Beefcake to a true main event player if needed. Hogan picks up another PPV win and his storyline with Savage is just about over. Grade: ***

Final Analysis:

Scott: For many years this was my favorite SummerSlam of all time. The crowd was great, Jesse’s constant berating of Schiavone is great, and the card is really good. Since then another SummerSlam has replaced it at the top of the list but it is a solid #2. The WWF was cooking with serious gas in 1989. The main event situation was great, the mid-card had solid characters and the tag division was never better. As great as NWA 1989 was with Flair, Steamboat, Muta, Funk and others you can definitely argue that the WWF roster was just as good at this point. Clearly the showcase piece of the show is Ultimate Warrior, as he gets the big mid-show main event win and is destined for bigger things. Hogan/Savage chugs along but you wonder since it took a foreign object to take him out if we’ve seen the last of Zeus. Overall one of the best PPVs in history and one I can watch anytime, anywhere. Grade: A+

Justin: What a great PPV outing this was. It was a breezy watch, just cruising right along with very little bullshit slowing it down. The characters are great, there was some really good in ring action for a 1980s WWF show and fans were so hot throughout that it gave everything a bump. I really enjoyed Schiavone and Ventura as well, as they had pretty good chemistry and it was a nice change of pace in the booth. Tony carried himself well in his first WWF PPV outing. As I mentioned before, there was some high quality wrestling, something you didn’t always get from the WWF at this point. There were four matches that were at least three stars and anything that wasn’t was kept short and had pretty good pacing. This year’s installment easily laps the inaugural edition as the roster has improved both character and in ring ability wise. It is easily a top three PPV to this point in company history. Final Grade: A-

Author: JT Rozzero

JT Rozzero is a cohost of the Place to Be podcast and original member of the legendary Moliseum Video. He enjoys all sports. The only thing he hates more than traffic and customer service is people. He is a proud Svenjolly and has had a sinus infection since October 2013. Send Justin an email