Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh: SummerSlam 1990

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*** 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. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***

SummerSlam 1990: Where Do We Go Now?

August 27, 1990
Spectrum
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendence: 19,304
Buy Rate: 3.8
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper

1) Power & Glory defeat the Rockers when Paul Roma pins Marty Jannetty after the Power-Plex at 5:59

Fun Fact: Power and Glory was formed in April of 1990 when Paul Roma had just lost a match to Dino Bravo and was being helped up by his “friends” the Rockers. Roma wanted no help and began arguing with Michaels & Jannetty. Hercules came out to apparently calm things down, but instead sided with Roma and the duo went after the Rockers. A week later they were heels named Power & Glory and debuted Slick as their manager.

Fun Fact II: Shawn Michaels was suffering from a knee injury that had kept out of action for multiple weeks and continue into the fall. Shane Douglas would fill in and team with Marty Jannetty on occasion during that time.

Scott: Wow we dive right into the biggest show of the summer with a crazy start as Hercules & Pretty Paul Roma attack Shawn & Marty on the outside. Shawn is pretty much down and out on the outside with an apparent knee injury. It was clear that Shawn Michaels was legitimately injured because Marty pretty much did all the work in this match while this fresh heel team is dominating. Hercules was getting stale as a babyface and Paul Roma was just…well stale in general. I have to really get accustomed to this broadcast team. Vince did Superstars sure, but this is a legit PPV with big time matches and not throwaway squashes where Vince gushes about Hogan the whole time. As for Piper, well with Jesse gone they needed to start grooming new commentators. Piper is a babyface but he’s trying to be down the middle and credit the heels, more than “supporting” them like Jesse would do. This match is kind of a glorified squash as Marty can do all he can but P&G show they are a force in the tag team division. This wasn’t the best of openers, much worse than last year’s SummerSlam gem with the Harts against the Brainbusters. Grade: *1/2

Justin: It has been a weird summer here in the WWF. Since we left you at WrestleMania, the Ultimate Warrior has become the top dog in the promotion and under him, the roster has undergone an interesting amount of churn, with familiar faces fading, others switching roles and some new talent being blended into the card. Another major change is in the broadcast booth, as the great Jesse Ventura abruptly left the company in August after a dispute over video game licensing and he is replaced here by Roddy Piper, who is tapering back into a true part-time in ring role. Also, Gorilla Monsoon takes the summer off as usual, so Vince McMahon is in the play-by-play seat, calling his first PPV since WrestleMania II. Our opener pits a brand new heel team battling an entrenched face tandem. Power & Glory hooked up just after WrestleMania and is comprised of Hercules and Paul Roma. Both men had gotten fed up with spinning their wheels in the lower card so they decided to get angry about and team up instead. They brought Slick in as their manager and instantly kicked off a feud with the Rockers when they jumped Michaels and Jannetty at the same time they formed as a unit. P&G looked to make an immediate statement out of the gate, bashing Michaels in the knee with the chain as the Rockers were getting in the ring. As Michaels recuperated on the floor, Jannetty did his best to ward off both Herc and Roma. Putting P&G together was a good move as Hercules had really lost his way as a face and done pretty much anything he could do besides become a jobber to the stars. And that is the exact role Roma had been in since the Young Stallions had split up. Why not give them a shot to make something happen and refresh the tag division? P&G were ruthless here, stomping Jannetty around the ring and intermittently hopping down and kicking Michaels around to keep him on he floor as well. Any time Jannetty got an opening or reversed a hold, either Herc or Roma made a quick tag or interfered to maintain control. Very smart heel tag work here. Michaels continuously tried to climb on the apron, but Roddy kept wondering what good he would even be if he did make it in. Jannetty found daylight and hit a top rope fistdrop on Roma but Herc busted up the pin and that was followed by a stiff Herc clothesline from the apron to end all momentum. That would be Marty’s last stand as P&G finished him off right after with their gorgeous Powerplex finisher. The crowd even had to pop for that one. After the bell, they chucked Michaels back in the ring and stomped the shit out of both Rockers. Man, what a statement. That was flawless booking of a new dominant heel team. Just an outright dissection and squash. I loved it. Good heat too. Grade: **

2) The Texas Tornado defeats Mr. Perfect to win the WWF Intercontinental Title with the Tornado Punch at 5:13

Fun Fact I: When the Ultimate Warrior won the WWF World Title at Wrestlemania, he had to forfeit the Intercontinental Title. A tournament was held to crown a new champion. The final was on May 19, and Mr. Perfect defeated Tito Santana to win the title. Here are the full results: 1st Round: Mr. Perfect over Jimmy Snuka; Roddy Piper & Rick Martel fought to a Double DQ; Dino Bravo & Brutus Beefcake were both counted out; Tito Santana defeated Akeem; Santana and Perfect received byes to the Final Round.

Fun Fact II: This was originally supposed to be a rematch of Mr. Perfect and Brutus Beefcake from WrestleMania. Beefcake was locked in for the second time in three years to win the IC title. However this time the reason was much more serious than in 1988. On the Fourth of July, Beefcake was on a beach in Florida with former WWF superstar B. Brian Blair when an accident occurred. A female parasailer careened out of control and flew out of the water and towards the beach. She made contact with Beefcake, slamming her knees right into his face, causing severe fractures to his face, particularly around both orbital bones. He would be off camera for almost a year, and wouldn’t compete in the ring again until 1993.

Fun Fact III: This is the WWF PPV debut of Kerry Von Erich. His name is royalty in professional wrestling. The Von Erich family ruled wrestling in the Dallas area for over 40 years. His father Fritz Von Erich was the head of World Class Championship Wrestling. Kerry was the golden boy of the family. He may not have had the talent of his late brother David, but he had the best physique. He even defeated the great Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Title on May 6, 1984 at Texas Stadium at a memorial show for his late brother. His last big match was a WCCW/AWA title unification match that he lost to Jerry Lawler on December 13, 1988 in Chicago. Von Erich made his TV debut on the 7/28 Saturday Night’s Main Event where he defeated “Playboy” Buddy Rose. On the 8/11 Superstars, Von Erich came to the ring after Mr. Perfect defeated Randy Fox and challenged him to an IC Title match at SummerSlam. Perfect accepted the match on the 8/18 Superstars, just nine days before the PPV aired.

Scott: This was supposed to be Brutus Beefcake’s title challenge after beating Perfect at WrestleMania, but he had that historically sad parasailing accident and his face was pretty much destroyed. So needing a quick replacement, in comes Kerry Von Erich. The face of World Class Championship Wrestling arrives in the WWF as his dad’s promotion was sold to the Jarretts and started to crumble. Just ten days before this show, Perfect’s opponent was named to replace Beefcake. Sad for the Bruti, as for the second time in three years he’s hosed (by fate) out of the Intercontinental Championship. This Philly crowd is off the charts, as expected. Piper rips Bobby Heenan to shreds, creating the infamous “Boobsie” nickname. This match is shorter than I anticipated it to be, and I wonder if this was Beefcake’s match whether it would have been longer. Tornado slaps the claw on and then drills Perfect with the Discus Punch, and three seconds later we have a new Intercontinental Champion. I was absolutely stunned. I wonder if they just wanted to give the crowd a cheap pop for Beefcake not being there. The match is average, but the surprise and the crowd pop pushes the grade up a bit. Grade: ** 1/2

Justin: Unbreak my heart. Say you’ll love me again. Undo this hurt that you caused, when you walked out the door and walked out of my life! That is what I was saying at age nine when Brutus Beefcake was knocked out of action with a serious injury and screwed out of his big SummerSlam title win. Sure, the song wouldn’t come out for another six years, but I know I felt it. My favorite wrestler, wrecked out of carelessness and taken away from me right before his crowning moment. Very harsh stuff. And I used to resent the shit out of the Texas Tornado because of it. Mr. Perfect captured the IC title shortly after WrestleMania. The Ultimate Warrior was forced to vacate it and Perfect outlast a field of eight to grab the gold that seemed to sit so…perfectly around his waist. He also added Bobby Heenan as a manager, moving on from the Genius. It was a good trade and was more fitting for a guy that was working his way up the card. Genius was fine, but Heenan was managerial royalty and he had a giant sized opening in his stable. Tornado gets a nice ovation from the Philly crowd, even though he is relatively new to WWF crowds, having only showed up just weeks before. Tornado would overpower the champion early as Piper wondered if Perfect prepped or took things for granted with a newcomer. Perfect tried to wrestle a bit but when he paused and used strikes, it backfired as Tornado chucked him around the ring and to the floor. Perfect would land a stiff forearm shot and immediately go right to work, rattling Tornado with his neck snap and then locking in a sleeper. But then it all came crashing down, as Perfect’s Achilles heel, the steel post, was again his worst enemy Tornado would sling him into it, hook on a brief claw hold and then pelt Perfect with his discus punch for the upset win. And just like that, the perfect IC title run had ended. Perfect’s selling of the discus punch was absurdly beautiful. It sucked to see Perfect’s reign end so quickly but he was probably going to lose to Beefcake anyway, so putting the new guy over strong in his debut made sense. The match was quick and didn’t have much to it, but the crowd loved it and popped big for the finish. Grade: *1/2

3) Sensational Queen Sherri defeats Sapphire by Forfeit

Scott: This was supposed to be the ending of this feud, with the women wrestling and the men (Savage and Rhodes) going at it later in the show. Instead Sapphire doesn’t come out and Sherri wins by forfeit. A few minutes earlier Mean Gene was supposed to have an interview, but she no-showed. In the ring Rhodes’ music plays twice but Sapphire never comes out. Sherri is wearing heels, so that may have given somebody a hint that a match actually wasn’t happening. Now over the past few weeks Sapphire was getting lavish gifts from a mysterious suitor. So eventually Sherri wins the match by forfeit. Very strange, but the story continues as the night progresses. Grade: N/A

Justin: One of 1990’s biggest feuds was set to culminate here as the participants in the WrestleMania mixed tag team match were going to clash in singles bouts. Right before the match, Gene Okerlund notes that Sweet Sapphire hadn’t been seen all day. We then head to the ring where Sherri makes her way out and awaits the match in the ring. However, the match never comes as Sapphire no shows and Sherri screams her way through a countout forfeit win. Just storyline advancement and nothing more. And it was probably for the best. Grade: N/A

*** Backstage, Gene Okerlund chats with Dusty Rhodes, who doesn’t know the whereabouts of Sapphire. She vanished when they got to the building and hasn’t seen her since. Not even Jim Duggan was able to solve the crime, but he was on the case. Dusty references concern about the recent expensive and lavish gifts Sapphire had been receiving in recent weeks. ***

4) The Warlord defeats Tito Santana with a Running Powerslam at 5:28

Fun Fact: This was originally booked to be Tito Santana battling Rick Martel in what would finally be their big PPV blow-off match, but Martel was pulled a few weeks before the show due to injury. The storyline reason was that he had a modeling obligation in France.

Fun Fact II: After the Powers of Pain were split up by Mr. Fuji, Slick purchased the contract of the Warlord.

Scott: So for the second time this year, Tito Santana takes on half of the former Powers of Pain. He went head to head with the Barbarian at WrestleMania and now takes on the former power guy for the POP. Piper does throw a dig at the departing Jesse Ventura by saying he won’t make fun of Santana or call him strange names, referencing when Jesse called him “Chico”. Both men go back and forth, and even Slick tries to get into it by hitting Tito outside with his shoe. Tito is settling right into his role as the veteran who puts on a great match but eventually puts over the up and coming heel. Tito does get off his flying forearm finisher, but Warlord’s foot on the ropes breaks the count. So they didn’t totally kill Tito’s finisher, but Warlord does recover and hits the big powerslam for the victory. Tito may be 0-2 against the Powers of Pain, but he is 2-2 in putting on two good matches and putting over the bigger guys. Grade: **1/2

Justin: I was really excited for a potential Strike Force explosion when it was originally announced and I think that match really could have given this show a bump when it came to in ring action. Alas, it was not meant to be. Instead, Santana gets paired off with another former Power of Pain. He lost to Barbarian back in April but is looking to back on track against Warlord here. The big man had overhauled and streamlined his look, dumping the paint and long tights and wearing simple black trunks. Things would get a little weirder for him in the coming weeks though. Tito gets off to a hot start, peppering Warlord with strikes and a big dropkick that sent him crashing to the floor. Tito kept sticking and moving and even was able to leap onto Warlord’s shoulders and drive him to the mat with right hands. That was about it for Tito, as Warlord shoved him to the floor and then scooped him up and rammed him into the post. Slick teased using his shoe as a weapon as Piper burst into a super racist impression of what he believes Slick would be saying. Back inside, Warlord continued to methodically hammer on Tito. Tito was surprisingly able to slug his way back and then even cracked Warlord with his flying forearm but for the second straight PPV, his opponent got his foot on the rope to bail himself out. Nice symmetry. Tito got a little too confident and tried a monkey flip but Warlord hooked the rope and Santana slammed back to the mat. Warlord pounced with a powerslam and finished things off. Simple squash with a couple of fun flashes sprinkled in the basic power strikes. Plus, Slick. Grade: *

5) The Hart Foundation defeats Demolition in a Two of Three Falls match to win WWF Tag Team Titles

Eliminations
Smash pins Bret Hart with the Decapitation Device at 6:20
Demolition is disqualified at 10:35
Bret Hart pins Crush with a roll-up at 15:47

Fun Fact I: After winning their third WWF Tag Team Title at WrestleMania, Demolition went through a change, adding a third member to the group. Crush is Brian Adams, a rookie from the Pacific Northwest. Bill Eadie (Ax) was having heart troubles and needed to tone back his activity. Crush debuted on 6/5 at a TV Taping, but first appeared on TV in an interview on the 7/8 Challenge. Knowing that adding a third member would disrupt the dynamic of the team and lose some popularity, Vince decided to turn them heel. The other reason was the arrival of a new face team. Since the Hart Foundation defeated the Bolsheviks in record time at WrestleMania, they have been re-pushed to the top of the division after a stagnant 1989.

Fun Fact II: The Road Warriors came into the WWF already with an impressive resume. Hawk (Mike Hegstrand) and Animal (Joe Laurinatis) are both from the Chicago suburbs, and both trained in Minneapolis. They steamrolled through Georgia, AWA, and then Mid-Atlantic and their tough, no-nonsense style in the ring built them a very loyal fan base, even if they were heels for part of their run. Along with manager Precious Paul Ellering, they won Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Tag Team of the Year four times (1983-85, 1988). They won the AWA Tag Team titles in 1984 and the NWA Tag Team Titles in 1988. This was their first jaunt into the WWF and they debuted on the 7/15 Challenge. Coincidentally, Barry Darsow (Demolition’s Smash), worked out in the same gym as Hawk and Animal growing up.

Scott: So Jesse Ventura was correct one year earlier. When the Hart Foundation lost to the Brain Busters last year at SummerSlam, The Body said it would be one year before the Pink and Black would get another Tag Team Title shot, and indeed he was correct. After Demolition’s huge win at WrestleMania VI over the Colossal Connection, Ax was having health problems so they decided a third member was needed to do the work in the ring. However it’s tough to have the “Freebird Rule” when you’re babyfaces. Then the signing of, at the time, the best tag team in the business changed things up. The Road Warriors finally made their WWF debut and now the two leather-studded teams were in the same company at the same time. So obviously Demolition was the more logical team to turn heel. With 2 of 3 falls matches, the heels usually get the first fall and of course Bret Hart is hit with the Decapitation Device and takes a 1-0 lead. Piper is a little off in his debut as commentator, but he is curtailing Vince’s babyface whining about heels by being logical. He also steps over Vince while the action is being called. It happens often during this match, mostly because Piper is getting caught up in all the emotion and just verbally vomits sometimes.

The Harts tie the match when Crush breaks up a Foundation pin attempt by jumping on the referee. That was a strange way to do it but either way it ties the match up. As the third fall starts, Ax comes down the aisle and hides under the ring, which means chicanery is being planned here. The third fall continues with both teams going back and forth, and the Harts are so close to being new champions. Then the switcheroo happens as Smash, who was in the match, slides under the ring and Ax replaces him. So the fresh guy is in and no one seems the wiser. Well except everybody watching. Even Anvil isn’t saying anything. In the climax, out comes the Legion of Doom and I’m marking out like crazy. Hawk and Animal destroy Ax and Smash on the outside, while Crush eats the Hart Attack and the Hart Foundation are now two-time Tag Team Champions. I was so stoked that my favorite tag team was in the WWF and cost Demolition the straps. This was a fun match with a lot of action and a great run-in. Grade: ***

Justin: It was a really sad summer for me. Between Beefcake getting wiped out and Demolition turning heel and being bastardized with a third member, all my early wrestling loves were breaking my heart. Even though the music was the same and the S&M outfits were the same and the pain was the same…it just wasn’t the same. I remember being aghast that they would risk running Crush out there in such a big time match. He is a rookie! Stupid strategy! Bret Hart even agreed, per the prematch promo. And speaking of the Harts, Jesse Ventura was pretty spot on a year ago when he proclaimed that if the Harts lost to the Brain Busters it would be a year before they sniffed another title match. It was good to see them pushed back into a prominent position on the card after really doing a whole bunch of nothing for a while now. Bret would kick things off and control the action early as Vince tried to convince the audience about how hard it was to tell Demolition apart. After all these years? Crush would see his first action and would immediately piss away the offense for the champs, missing a knee drop. Both sides would tag in and out and get their licks in until the champs cheated to gain control. That was again short lived, though, and soon enough Bret was dissecting Smash with his usual offense. The fans have really been into this one and I loved the matchup because it felt like to veteran teams tussling that one last time on the big stage. Demolition would seize the first fall by polishing Bret off with the Decapitation Device. I liked that the champs won the first fall clean to help keep them looking strong.

Coming into the second fall, Bret continued to be a punching bag, including eating a nice chokeslam by Crush. Bret found an opening with a clothesline and was able to drag himself to the corner to tag out. Anvil came in to a raucous crowd and cleaned house. This match is so much fun. The Harts would land the Hart Attack but before the referee could count three, Crush jumped in the ring and smacked him to draw a DQ. That was an odd decision. Not sure why the Harts couldn’t just get the pin to give each side a victory with the finisher. It also made Crush look real stupid that he dove over Bret and smacked the referee instead. Anyway, as the Harts regrouped on the floor, Ax snuck to down to ringside and hid under the ring. Vince calls him “The Ax”. Has this man never seen a Demolition match? He and Piper discuss the violation of rules by the champs as it was supposed to be that only two members were allowed at ringside. With the referee distracted, the champs pulled the old switcharoo with Smash diving under the ring and Ax slipping inside to work over Bret. The champs continued their subterfuge and maintained control over the Hitman until a brand new tag team showed up to even the odds a bit. The crowd exploded as the Legion of Doom marched to ringside and dragged Ax out from under the apron. The distraction caused Crush to fall off the middle rope and then get smacked by an Anvil shoulderblock that led to a Hitman rollup for the win. And the crowd went apeshit. That match never slowed down and was really well booked for the most part. The Harts deserved another run with the gold and the Philly fans definitely agreed. I get why they did the heel turn and parlor tricks but it just felt like such a blemish on the legacy of Demolition. Watching them play games like the fucking Killer Bees just felt so beneath them. Crush also was pretty green and it just wasn’t the same anymore. I hate that it happened so soon after their pinnacle moment at WrestleMania. Regardless, we have new champion and the Era of Demolition is effectively over. It is a new day in the WWF tag division with fresh blood seeping in and familiar faces back on top. Grade: ***1/2

6) Jake Roberts defeats Bad News Brown by Disqualification at 4:45

Fun Fact I: This is Bad News Brown’s final PPV match (and final match altogether). His final record was 2-5-2. He was 0-2 at the Royal Rumble, 1-0-2 at WrestleMania, 1-1 at SummerSlam and 0-2 at Survivor Series. After leaving the WWF due to issues with broken promises, Brown would hit the independent circuit for the remainder of the decade, including spending time in the Japanese shoot promotion UWFi. Brown retired in 1999 due to a knee injury and would pass away from a heart attack in 2007.

Fun Fact II: These two men battled each other on House Shows from May right up until this show. Bad News claimed he wasn’t afraid of snakes, and that he would produce his very own Harlem Sewer Rats to combat Damien. To ensure that these two wouldn’t get out of control, Jack Tunney named the Big Boss Man the special guest referee for the match. Sadly, we would never get to see the Sewer Rats.

Scott: Our first match after the intermission pits snakes versus sewer rats. A guy like Bad News just went around from babyface to babyface. Piper talks trash about Bad News, but doesn’t reference their feud from earlier in the year. Maybe because their WrestleMania match is pretty bad. Big Boss Man is all over this show, first off as special referee for this match. You’d think this match would be pretty solid because both guys can mix technical wrestling and brawling, but it is barely five minutes and neither guy really gets a chance to get going before the match ends in a disqualification. We actually don’t see any Harlem Sewer Rats either, as the cage they’re supposedly in is covered by a blanket. Bad News leaves the WWF shortly after this match, supposedly because Vince went back on the promise of making Bad News the first black WWF Champion. Bad News Brown had such untapped potential as a great heel and a great champion. All the feuds he was in had good buildup but the matches never delivered. Jake wins, Piper actually calls the victory “cheap” but Bad News is out the door. Grade: *1/2

Justin: In one 1990’s most bizarre feuds, Bad News Brown had vowed to prove he was not afraid of snakes by procuring some mutant sewer rats from Harlem to destroy Damien. Big Boss Man is the guest referee here, still getting his feet wet in his face role. I always thought it was a little weird that we didn’t get Boss Man facing Ted DiBiase at this show since they been waring since DiBiase’s sneak attack at WrestleMania. Brown tried to jump Jake early but was unable to connect and had to regroup outside. It is kind of funny seeing Boss Man referee while wearing his full wrestling gear. Bad News caught Jake as he came back in and started to work him over with some kicks and a legdrop. It also didn’t take long for Bad News to start jawing with Boss Man, which almost led him to eating a DDT. Boss Man lost control as both men tumbled to the floor and Bad News based Jake in the ribs with a chair. One of the highlights here was Jake flipping Bad News off as he rebound out of the corner after a hard whip. Bad News started to really lay in some clotheslines and punches but he made a mistake by going to the middle rope as he whiffed on a fist drop. As Bad News kept slipping out of the DDT, Piper claimed that he thought Brown had oiled his head…and of course that was just to set up an Arab joke. Bad News continued to bend the rules until Boss Man simply disqualified him. Well, that was anticlimactic. Bad News tried to legdrop Damien, but Boss Man made the save. This whole thing really made Jake look like a pussy. He got dominated the whole time and then only lost when Bad News kept dumping him outside and bending the rules. Bad News would jump Boss Man as well, but Jake and Damien finally made the save and ran him off. Some really weird booking with only Brown looking strong, which is too bad since he left a couple of months later. Jake moves on to his next feud while Boss Man still has business to take care of tonight. Grade: 1/2*

*** For the second time this year, we get a special edition of the Brother Love Show on PPV. This time his guest is a recently returned Sgt. Slaughter. Slaughter is appearing on his first WWF PPV as he had left the company back in 1984. Slaughter returned to the company as a heel and Vince pushed that hard here, talking about how he was kicked out of the service for being too mean and brutal. He would rant about how America had become weak and soft before looking at the WWF and finding Brother Love, the man he believes is the only choice to wear the Sgt. Slaghter Great American Award. Love was over the moon as Piper told Slaughter to check out Iraq if he had issues with America. Love compares his medal to the one Nikolai Volkoff had recently received. Sarge then declares war on Volkoff because America was too chicken to go to battle and rips the country for welcoming Volkoff into its arms. He also proclaims that Sadaam Hussein’s troops would kick America’s butt if war broke out in the Middle East due to how soft and weak the US had become. ***

*** Elsewhere, Gene Okerlund has located Sapphire, but she blows him off and ducks into a locker room. ***

7) Jim Duggan and Nikolai Volkoff defeat the Orient Express when Duggan pinned Tanaka after the Three Point Stance Clothesline at 3:21

Fun Fact: After their dismantling by the Hart Foundation at WrestleMania and the subsequent end of Communism in the East, the Bolsheviks were broken up and Nikolai Volkoff turned into a US sympathizer, teaming with the ultra-patriotic Duggan. Nikolai and Boris split up on the 5/19 Superstars after a loss to the Rockers.

Scott: First off, Piper agrees with me 100% when he talks about the combined IQ of this new babyface team. With the Cold War pretty much over, having heel Russians is pretty out of date. So Nikolai has apparently “seen the light” through Hacksaw Jim Duggan. They butcher “God Bless America” at the beginning, trying to honor Philadelphia icon Kate Smith. Of course the beginning of the long struggle with Iraq began earlier in the month when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. So patriotism was starting to pique again. Piper doesn’t trust Volkoff, claiming that he’s a still a devious Communist. Piper is getting more heelish as this show has progressed. He’s probably getting some hints from Vince to be slightly more antagonistic. The match isn’t much as the heels try to work with the bigger guys but with the match only three minutes or so again not much to work with. The babyfaces win to juice up the ol’ USA, but the match is nothing. Grade: *1/2

Justin: I will never quite understand the decision to attempt a patriotic face run by Nikolai Volkoff. I mean, I love my big, nasty Russians but he seemed so past expiration that this felt like a real waste of time. I guess they were trying to be topical? Who knows. Anyway, Volkoff teams with Jim Duggan to battle the evil foreigner Orient Express to help establish big Nik’s loyalty. They even enter to Stars & Stripes Forever and sing God Bless America. Very poorly. Roddy goes heel here, talking about how he doesn’t trust Volkoff at all and makes fun of the team’s combined IQ. Duggan must have really been hitting the beach over the summer as he is super tan and his hair is quite blond. Duggan puts over the troops in the Middle East and then we finally get rolling. The Orients try to attack but Duggan and Nikolai team up to fend them off and rattle them, sending them out to Fuji as the crowd roared “USA”. The Orients try to match power but that fails as Nikolai is just to big. So, when that failed they started to double team and cheat like a good heel team would. Nikolai fought through it and tagged in Duggan, who quickly mowed through the Express and polished off Tanaka with the three point stance clothesline. Well, that was effective. It sucks to see the Express already relegated to job duty, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected much more. Nikolai gets his first big PPV win since WrestleMania I and the crowd was super into it thanks to Duggan and jingoism. Through the night with a light from above, indeed. Grade: 1/2*

*** Dusty Rhodes joins Gene Okerlund and tries to convicen Sapphire to come join him for his match but he is met with silence. Despite being very concerned and befuddled, he took off for the ring while vowing to return immediately after. ***

8) Randy Savage defeats Dusty Rhodes after using a loaded purse at 2:14

Fun Fact: After a big win over Savage and Sensational Sherri at WrestleMania, Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire were on top of the world. Then Sapphire started receiving lavish gifts, from cash to furs to jewelry. Rhodes didn’t know what was going on. Then throughout this show Sapphire was nowhere to be found, and Rhodes was upset. Sapphire would turn up when Dusty least expected it, in the midst of his big match with the Macho Man.

Fun Fact II: This is Sapphire’s final WWF PPV appearance. She would show up on TV a few more times alongside DiBiase before leaving the company. In an issue of WWF Magazine, Virgil revealed that DiBiase had taken away all of Sapphire’s gifts to drive her from the WWF. In reality, the bookers had decided it was time to split her and Rhodes up, a decision that reportedly devastated Sapphire, who was legitimately a big time Dusty Rhodes admirer. Juanita Wright would pass away from a heart attack in 1996 at age 61.

Scott: This is a damn shame. Two expert workers in the ring could have had a great match if it was given some time and psychology. Before the match even starts, out comes Ted DiBiase who says truly “everybody has a price.” Out comes Sapphire in a new dress, a mink coat, jewelry and a bag full of money. This makes no sense whatsoever. Why would DiBiase want to buy Sapphire? It’s kind of sad that Dusty had her in the first place. This would eventually lead to a deeper feud for the rest of the year, but sadly it comes at the expense of what could have been a great match. Instead Savage takes advantage of a distracted and downtrodden Rhodes, hits him with the infamous “loaded purse”, and gets the victory. Even Piper says Sapphire did the right thing. Most of the backstage stuff on this show involved Sapphire and where she was and the payoff is a downer. Grade: *

Justin: There have been some pretty fun interviews and promos before every match on this card, but I think my favorite is Sean Mooney interviewing Randy Savage while the King was sitting on his sedan and about to depart for the ring. Fun stuff. Poor Dusty is super distracted here, worried about the mysterious actions and disappearance of his beloved valet. This feud has really dominated much of the year, having kicked off way back in January, and I was looking forward to them finally having a big singles match. Savage riding to the ring on the sedan just always seemed so right. Just before the bell can ring, Ted DiBiase and Virgil showed up on the podium in the aisle. DiBiase called Dusty out and mocked him for being a common man and a peon. To prove that everybody has a price and that anyone can be bought, he purchased Dust’s humiliation by buying off Sapphire. The Sweet One comes waddling out, decked out in all her gifts, and DiBiase talks about how he was the one that had been sending her everything over the past few weeks. You had to feel bad for Dusty here as he seemed heartbroken watching it unfold. You also have to laugh that DiBiase would waste money and time on someone as goofy as Sapphire. Rhodes would start to chase after them, but Savage jumped him in the aisle and brought him back to the ring. Savage would quickly bounce around the ring, working over the Dream but Dusty was able to chuck the King into the corner and go to work with elbows. Sherri would get involved and run some interference, which allowed Savage to bop Dusty with her loaded purse to pick up the win. What a humiliating night for Big Dust. He has had a pretty good run in the WWF so far, but things are not looking good for the Dream as we reach the fall. Sapphire is gone and he suffers a tough loss to his heated rival. I do like the idea that Savage and DiBiase were in cahoots on this subterfuge. This was pretty disappointing to see such a hot feud sputter out as fodder for another feud. Farewell Sweet Sapphire. May you dance forever. Grade: DUD

*** After the match, Dusty bounds to the back but just as he arrives, DiBiase, Sapphire and Virgil speed off in a limousine. ***

9) Hulk Hogan defeats Earthquake by countout at 13:09

Fun Fact: On the 5/26 edition of Superstars, Hulk Hogan was a guest on the Brother Love Show. During the interview, he was confronted by the current monster heel on the block, Earthquake. After a brief altercation, Quake attacked Hogan and laid numerous Earthquake Splashes down onto Hogan’s chest. For the first time in a long time, and possibly ever, Hulk Hogan looked mortal. He was wheeled off on a stretcher and it was later reported that he now had a broken sternum and would be on the shelf for a few months. In reality, Hogan needed time off to film his next blockbuster film, Suburban Commando, but the kayfabe reason worked like a million bucks, as Earthquake looked like a sadistic killer and Hogan gained some much needed sympathy heat while on the shelf. After weeks and weeks of video packages highlighting the attack (many of which were tear-inducing to us 10-year olds), Hogan’s return was announced as imminent. On the 7/14 Superstars, his return was set officially; it would be Hogan vs. Earthquake at SummerSlam. Along with that announcement came another one: Hogan would have newcomer, and avid Hulkamaniac, Tugboat in his corner while Earthquake would have Dino Bravo in his. Those plans changed, however, on the 8/18 Superstars, where Quake attacked Tugboat 45 seconds into a match with Bravo, and laid him out with two vicious Earthquake Splashes. More damage could have been done, but the Big Boss Man ran out to ringside and broke things up. Tugboat was stretchered out, and it was soon revealed that he wouldn’t be healthy in time for SummerSlam. Finally, on the 8/25 Superstars, Hogan returned to the Brother Love Show and announced that the Big Boss Man would be in his corner, replacing Tugboat.

Scott: It’s time for the culmination of a very emotional storyline, one where young Hulkamaniacs cried and wept while their beloved hero was beaten down by the evil Earthquake. He was taken off TV for an extended period and there were fans sending cards and letters. Then there was that awesome vignette where we had Hogan in all his greatest moments, intertwined with the sad, evil music showing the Hulkster getting crushed on the Brother Love show by Earthquake. Piper is saying at the beginning that Hogan may be hesitant, that maybe he’s afraid of the punishment that awaits him. The psychology here is unique, as instead of Hogan being all geeked up and starting fast, Earthquake starts the match off fast and hits with some big strikes to put doubt in Hogan’s mind that he could win this match. In fact Hogan gets beat down pretty much the first 12 minutes of the bout. Hogan eats not one but two Earthquake splashes, but then it happens. The inevitable Hogan kick out, hulking up and coming back. He slams Quake and hits the legdrop but in straying from the usual formula, there’s all this interference from Boss Man, Bravo and Jimmy Hart. More chicanery outside as Hart hits Quake by accident with the megaphone and Hogan wins by countout. Odd ending but maybe this feud would be continuing. After the match Hogan is getting choked out by Quake when Boss Man hits him with a steel stepladder, leaving memorable welts on Quake’s back. Piper pretty much went full heel here as he says Hogan got a hollow victory. Piper’s old 1985 hatred of Hogan is coming out there. Well maybe not. Hogan poses for everyone afterwards. I’m surprised this match was so close to the end instead of in the middle to spell the crowd between this and the title match. Kind of strange there. In any event, Hogan gets the win (not by pinfall) but this feud definitely isn’t over. Grade: **1/2

Justin: And it is finally time for the first half of our big double main event. Back in April, the monster Earthquake crushed my heart and brought me to tears when he destroyed Hulk Hogan on the Brother Love Show. It was a fantastic way to push a new heel and immediately got fans revved up for a big time revenge match. After months of get well cards and prayers, Hogan returned late in the summer and the match was announced for Philly. Each man was supposed to have a cornerman as Dino Bravo would naturally be in Quake’s corner while Tugboat would support his good buddy Hogan. However, Tugboat was beaten down and taken out of the equation, so in steps the Big Boss Man. It was clearly an attempt to solidify Boss Man as major face player, associated with the Hulkster, so I thought it was a shrewd move. This was really the first blood feud I saw from start to end as a wrestling fan so I was all in. Earthquake seemed unbeatable to me and they booked him super strong since his debut. With Hogan battling serious rib and back injuries, it seemed questionable if he could take the big man down. The crowd was amped for the Hulkster and this felt like the perfect role for him now, working right under the main event in big time feuds, away from the title. Bravo’s slicked back dyed hair on top of his very boated head always makes laugh and cry at the same time. Quake overpowered Hogan out of the gate, but Hogan didn’t get rattled and conferred with Boss Man as he regained his composure. And it worked, because moments later, Quake left his feet for the first time in the match courtesy a series of Hogan right hands. Al four men would end up in the ring with Boss Man and Hogan cracking both with double big boots. Piper is doing his best, but this is where we miss Jesse because he would have been blowing his lid after that. After working as a heel for parts of the show, Piper was rooting for Hogan here, which was odd. As the referee drove Boss Man to the floor, Quake and Bravo doubled up on Hogan to regain control.

In a pretty cool spot, Quake really tested Hulk’s back with a giant Boston crab. It looked impressive with that much weight wrenched back, only to be broken when Hogan grabbed the rope. As Quake kept pounding the back, Vince started to wonder if Hogan came back a bit too soon for a match like this. Hogan rallied for a moment but went for a slam and collapsed under Quake’s weight. Quake would lock in a bear hug and for some reason as Hogan was fighting out of it, he tore up poor Earl Hebner’s shirt. Seems kind of mean. Hogan would break the hold and land a couple of shots, but Quake caught a flying body press (!) attempt and powerslammed Hulk to the mat. Man, such great comeback attempts and teases in this one. Piper lamented Hogan’s decision to train for endurance instead of size, which was a good take. Quake would follow with his Earthquake Splash, but instead of covering he popped back up and hit a second one. And this time…Hogan kicked out and Hulked Up as the crowd went bananas. Hogan finally slammed the big man and dropped the leg, but Bravo and Jimmy Hart got involved to case things to break down. Boss Man would come in as well before everything spilled to the floor. Out there, Jimmy Hart accidentally pelted Quake with his megaphone, which allowed Hogan to slam Quake on a table! Quake would be counted out and Hogan got the victory. Quake hopped back in after the match and choked Hogan, but Boss Man grabbed a stool and smashed him repeatedly in the back with it, leaving some really nasty welts. As Boss Man stood tall over Hogan, Quake and his crew bailed and called it a day.

I used to really have issue with Hogan busting out of two Quake splashes, but in retrospect I think Hulk did more than enough to make up for it. He put Quake over big in April and then doesn’t get a pinfall victory, with Quake only losing thanks to Hart’s megaphone and the table. Hogan had to get some shine in his comeback match, so it worked well. It also made sense to not have Quake get pinned because they had yet to hit the house show circuit thanks to the structure of the feud. This way, the feud can stay simmering for the next tour. Also, Boss Man looked really good here and has been strongly elevated during the course of this show. I have always loved this match as the pace was good, the crowd was hot and it was smartly worked from bell to bell. Plus, those welts. Ouch. Grade: ***

10) The Ultimate Warrior defeats Rick Rude in a Steel Cage match to retain the WWF World Title when he escapes the cage at 10:02

Fun Fact I: Since the Federation was low on top level heels after WrestleMania, Vince decided to create one from the inside. So, he took perennial upper mid-carder Rick Rude and gave him a makeover. Rude cut off his trademark curly hair and sported a brand new, short, hair style. He also started being more aggressive in the ring and established a mean streak in his personality. The new attitude and look were meant to make Rude a more serious threat in the eyes of the fans. After that was established, the next step was to kick start the feud. Each week, Rick Rude training videos began airing. The various vignettes show Rude running on the beach and pumping iron, all the while making threats towards the Warrior and his World title. Finally, on the 7/28 Saturday Night’s Main Event, Rude and Warrior faced off for the World Title, but the match ended in a DQ after Bobby Heenan interfered in the match. That same night, a rematch was announced for SummerSlam, but this time it would occur inside a steel cage to prevent Heenan from interfering.

Fun Fact II: This is Rick Rude’s final WWF PPV match. His final record was 6-4-1. He was 0-2 at the Royal Rumble, 2-0-1 at WrestleMania, 1-2 at SummerSlam and 3-0 at Survivor Series. He will return to the company in late 1997 after a successful run in WCW and brief stint in ECW. During that WCW run, Rude would injure his back and be forced to retire from active competition.

Scott: So what will bear out to be Ultimate Warrior’s biggest title defense comes against the man with whom he feuded with throughout all of 1989. Warrior and Rude had three great segments on PPV last year: The posedown at the Royal Rumble, Rude’s upset win at WrestleMania, and the classic SummerSlam rematch where Warrior regained the Intercontinental Title. After WrestleMania, Warrior needed someone to feud with. So why not go back to the well and face a man who gave you a couple of great matches? The problem was that as 1990 dawned, Rude was somewhat shunted down the card. After the feud with Roddy Piper at the end of 1989 ended, he floated around aimlessly. He defeated Jimmy Snuka in a forgettable match at WrestleMania, and then left TV for a few months. He came back in early summer and suddenly was #1 contender for the WWF Title. That really made no sense. The only other heels that were over enough for a World Title shot were Earthquake and Mr. Perfect, but they were both in other feuds. You weren’t going to have a rematch with Hogan (that was slated for WM VII at the time), and Perfect already had the other singles title. So sadly, Rude came back and instantly was moved up the ladder to the top based on history. Then to make things even stranger, these two fought on Saturday Night’s Main Event for the title. See back then the WWF wasn’t really into having matches stand alone on PPV. Since the two already had history, the bloom sort of fell off that rose. So to counter the Hogan/Quake match, Warrior defends the title here in a cage. The match is similarly booked to their match one year earlier in New Jersey. Warrior dominates early, then makes a mistake and shoulderblocks the cage wall. For the first time in the PPV era, a cage match also has the option of pinning your opponent to win the match too. It adds to the psychology, for at one point Rude had Warrior set for the pin and instead tries to hit moves at the top of the cage and then tries to get out through the door. In the climax Bobby Heenan and Warrior play tug of war with Rude at the door and the champ pulls them both in. Warrior hits his series of clotheslines and splash, while Piper annoyingly keeps asking what Warrior’s doing when he raises his hands. Piper was at the end of the line here, as he’s really bad in this match. Warrior climbs over the top and gets the victory. The match is short for a main event and it’s not nearly as good as their 1989 matches, but it served its purpose to put Warrior over as a strong champion and Rude was game. Sadly this would be Warrior’s peak as champion. By November it’s pretty lukewarm. Grade: **1/2

Justin: After a delay while the cage was erected, it was finally time for the main event. For the first time, Ultimate Warrior is set to close a PPV as defending WWF Champion. He and Rick Rude had a great feud in 1989 so in many way it was logical to utilize Rude here again. The problem is that after Warrior overcame Hulk Hogan in the SkyDome, Rude just didn’t feel like much of a challenge, even with Bobby Heenan and a cage in the mix. Cutting Rude’s hair and having him become more aggressive in the ring was a good start, but there just was still something missing. Plus, having Warrior dominate him on SNME a month before the show didn’t help things either. Problem is, outside Earthquake, I am not sure who else would have been a credible contender at this point. As great as things seemed for the company coming off of Mania, the company was definitely in a weird spot now as the card is just so top heavy on the face ledger. Rude tried to keep his aggressive streak going as he meets Warrior at the top oft he cage, but the champ swats him off and starts battering him immediately. I have always loved Warrior’s tights here. It is a color scheme he didn’t utilize nearly enough. Piper is back to his heel slant here, discussing how Rude should tie Warrior’s tassels to the cage. Warrior tried a cross body but Rude ducked and he careened into the cage wall, giving Rude a chance to breathe. We would get some juice here as both men are busted open just minutes into the match, putting over the severity of the cage. Rude would use the steel to keep Warrior off balance, but the champ powered out of a Rude Awakening to break the momentum. Unfortunately, he couldn’t take advantage as the challenger was able to snap off his finisher on the second attempt. However, Rude didn’t go for the door or a pin and instead ascended to the top of the cage and came crashing off with a big blow to Warrior’s head. He got lucky that time. The second time? He didn’t and it cost him. Warrior caught Rude with a fist to the gut, seemingly costing the challenger his chance at victory. As Warrior crawled to the door, Heenan leapt into action and slammed the steel door on the champion’s skull. Rude would get one last close call as he almost got out through the door with an assist from Heenan, but Warrior caught him time. The Brain ended up inside the cage but Warrior quickly dispatched of him. That gave Rude an opening to hit a stiff clothesline but Warrior came right back and finished Rude off for good with the Gorilla Press before escaping over the top. That match was certainly better than I remembered it being, with much more heat than I expected. I mean, it was obvious Rude never had much of a chance, but the fans seemed to buy in more than I thought. Both guys got some hard shots in and they used the cage enough to make it count. Warrior gets one last laugh in on Rude and Heenan and now looks to move on. The question is…what lies ahead now? Grade: **1/2

Final Analysis

Scott: This show was very back and forth, with some fun matches combined with some real lackluster efforts. As much as the Sapphire heel turn was supposed to be something big, it wasn’t and ate up a whole lot of the show. The Tornado and Hart Foundation wins were big pops for the crowd but there were some real stinkers as well. The opener is pretty bad as well as the Jake/Bad News match with mysterious animals and such. The Hogan/Earthquake match was fun but with a strange finish. The image of stepladder welts on Earthquake’s back is indelible. The main event was fun, but seemed very stale considering this was 1989’s feud of the year. It’s not a terrible show but definitely a step down from last year’s SummerSlam as well as April’s WrestleMania. Final Grade: C+

Justin: This is certainly a unique show, as it breezes by thanks to easy to digest feuds and a series of ten short matches. The longest bout on the evening clocked in at 15 minutes, with most coming in under 10. We got two big title changes, one of which entailed a major changing of the guard in the tag division. There was also some strong out-of-the-ring goings down, specifically surrounding Dusty Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. The card also didn’t feature any truly standout matches, with just the tag title and Hogan/Quake matches cracking ***. The color commentary takes a step back too. Rowdy Piper was entertaining and has his own style, but man not hearing Jesse during some of these matches was glaring. On the flip side, the crowd was super into everything and all of the characters and feuds were well fleshed out. Motivations were clear and finishes made sense, so the booking was simply spot on. This is certainly a nostalgia fueled watch and its legacy is an interesting one. I think the fact that it never drags and that it is a memorable show does count towards something. Based on match quality, you may feel the show would be a thumbs down, but nothing is actively bad and everything made sense. Objectively speaking, with maybe a hint of nostalgia to help, it rates pretty much right down the middle. Final Grade: C

 

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