SmarK SummerSlam Countdown: 1989

Live from Jersey. – Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura

The Brainbusters v. The Hart Foundation.

Tully & Arn were fresh off winning the tag titles. This is non-title for reasons that have always eluded me, and eluded Bret Hart as well according to his book. (In kayfabe terms it was non-title because the match was signed before the Busters won the belts, but then why not just make it a title match? Especially since the champs were going over anyway.)  Bret gets a pair of armdrags on Tully to start and goes to work on the arm, then does the same with Arn when he switches in. The Harts stay on Arn’s arm and work him over in the corner, as Arn is unable to tag Tully due to double-teaming and legal reasons. Finally Tully comes in and immediately runs into trouble with Anvil, who rams him into the mat and goes back to the arm. Tully tries to beat on Neidhart in the corner to break, but Anvil no-sells and brings Bret back in for another hammerlock to keep Blanchard grounded. Tully reverses to a top wristlock, but Bret bridges to block it and powers into a reversal that sends the champs to the floor. Tully and Bret slug it out, but the champs smartly position Bret so that he doesn’t notice Arn sneaking up from behind to clobber him. AA misses a pump splash and the Harts clean house again. Bret hauls Tully back in and the Harts keep working on him in the corner, and Anvil drives him into the turnbuckles off a bearhug. It’s a pier-six brawl, but Arn pulls Tully out of the way of a charging Anvil and the tide is thus turned. The Busters go to work on the neck with double-teaming, and Tully goes to a rear chinlock. Over to Arn, who hits Neidhart in the gut for two, but gets tossed across the ring on the kick out. Nice touch. Anvil collides with Anderson, but Arn recovers first, so Bret gives him the cheapshot from the apron to mess him up. I loved that the Harts always cheated, even as babyfaces. It really gave them that edge that other teams like the Rockers were lacking. Bret gets the hot tag and slams everyone, then dropkicks Arn and hits Tully with the second rope elbow. Snap suplex gets two. Everyone is in and Bret collides with Tully while AA brawls with Anvil on the floor, and everyone seems a bit lost. Bret slingshots Anvil onto Tully once they get organized, and then Anvil slams Bret onto Tully, but Arn hits Bret behind the ref’s back and Tully is on top for the pin at 15:55. This was one of those 80s dream matches that more than lived up to the pedigree, although there was nothing particularly distinguishing about the action or the finish. ***1/2

Dusty Rhodes v. The Honky Tonk Man

We get the ass-shaking contest to start and Honky runs away from the Bionic Elbow. Back in, Dusty MESSES UP THE HAIR. What a cad. And now Dusty gets the elbow, and pounds away in the corner. Sadly, Jimmy Hart gets involved and breaks up the technical clinic, allowing Honky to nail Dusty with the megaphone and take over. We hit the chinlock and Dusty fights out quickly, but runs into a knee. Back to the chinlock and Honky slugs away in the corner, but falls victim to the Flip Flop and Fly. Ref is bumped (in THIS match?!) and Honky gets the guitar from Jimmy, but ends up taking it himself. Big fat elbow finishes at 9:38. Boring as hell, but Dusty is over like crazy here so it was watchable. *1/2

Mr. Perfect v. The Red Rooster

Shoving match to start and Perfect hiptosses Rooster and mocks him in between takedowns. Rooster gets all riled up and they criss-cross, but his knee gives way on a slam attempt and Perfect gets two. Standing dropkick puts Rooster on the floor, and back in Perfect pounds away as Taylor’s ankle is obviously wonky. They fight onto the floor and Perfect finishes quick with the Perfectplex at 3:20 with no offense evident from the Rooster. Pretty clear case of an early “go home” signal. Never had a chance to go anywhere thanks to the injury. *1/4

The Rockers & Tito Santana v. The Rougeaus & Rick Martel

Jacques starts with Tito and offers a handshake, but Tito wisely declines. The Rockers quickly come in and help Tito triple-team him and the faces clean house off that. Jacques tries again with Marty and catches a cheapshot, then Ray comes in for the crescent kick to take over. Martel slugs away in the corner, but Marty manages to tag Tito in and Martel runs away. Tito grabs a headlock on Raymond and slugs him down for two. The heels double-team him, however, and Martel finally comes in and stomps his former partner down. Jacques gets the dropkick and they cut off the ring, holding Tito in the heel corner. Tito fights out with a sunset flip on Martel for two, but Rick chokes him down again. The Rougeaus switch in for some more double-teaming, into the abdominal stretch from Jacques (with an assist from Martel) as the crowd gets hotter and hotter. Tito fights out, but Martel drops an elbow on him to stop the tag. Martel slugs away and tries a rollup, but Tito blocks it and fights back. Jacques comes in and Tito gets a cross body for two on him, but Jacques suckers the Rockers in and the heels do more damage behind the ref’s back. Raymond gets two, but Tito gets another sunset flip for two. Ray stomps him down again and goes to the chinlock as they’re just putting heat on Tito like crazy. Finally, hot tag Shawn and the place EXPLODES. He slugs on Martel in the corner and backdrops him, and a vertical suplex allows him to go up with the fistdrop. He presses Marty onto Martel and it’s BONZO GONZO as the place is just going nuts. Tito gets the forearm on Martel and knocks him out of the ring while the Rockers brawl with the Rougeaus. Marty reverses a rollup on Jacques, but Martel clobbers him and gets the pin at 15:14. Tremendous unsung classic six-man! Literally non-stop action here and hard work all around, back before Martel became a lazy bore in the ring. ****

Intercontinental title: Ravishing Rick Rude v. Ultimate Warrior

So of course Rude screwed Warrior out of the belt at WrestleMania V, in what was Warrior’s first good match, well, ever, so they had a lot to live up to here. Warrior was already starting to feud with Andre and Rude was programmed with Roddy Piper, so it was obvious that this feud was over one way or another after tonight. This matchup was kind of like the Batista-Undertaker of its time, as they just had freakish chemistry against each other for whatever reason. Rude tries slugging away to start, and gets nowhere. Warrior clotheslines him to the floor, but Rude comes back in with a sunset flip, which Warrior blocks by punching him. Gorilla press follows, and Warrior opts to dump Rude on the floor for a nice bump. They brawl outside and Warrior hits him with the belt, triggering a classic rant by Jesse Ventura about whether it’s legal to shoot someone outside the ring and how Tony is even stupider than Gorilla Monsoon. But tell us what how you really feel, Jesse. Warrior brings him in, then changes his mind and tosses him again. Back in, Warrior goes up with a double axehandle for two. He whips Rude into opposite turnbuckles and slams him for two. Suplex gets two. Warrior gets an inverted atomic drop, giving Rude a chance to do his tailbone sell, and Warrior drops him on his ass for good measure. Back to the top for LUCHA WARRIOR~!, but Rude brings him down the hard way to take over. Rude starts working on the back and a suplex gets two, then he goes to the rear chinlock. He stomps the back and goes for the Rude Awakening, but Warrior powers out of it, so Rude goes with a rare sleeper instead. Criss-cross and the ref is bumped, but Heenan manages to shake Rude out of it first. Warrior hulks up and powerslams Rude after the three clotheslines, and of course there’s no ref. Piledriver, and that gets two. Running powerslam sets up the big splash, but Rude gets the knees up to block. Rude gets his own piledriver, almost a powerbomb, for two. To the top for the fistdrop, and that gets two, but now Roddy Piper joins us. Another piledriver gets two and Rude gets all distracted by Piper, who moons him in response. And that was six years before Braveheart! Warrior suplexes the distracted Rude, and it’s shoulderblock, gorilla press, big splash and we have a new champion at 16:03. The reaction for this was GIGANTIC and anyone who wouldn’t have taken a shot with Warrior as World champion after seeing this is nuts. Even more than Warrior! And this one of the few times, I might add, where Rude got what was coming to him and did a clean job. Definitely one of the best matches of Warrior’s career. ***1/2

Demolition & King Duggan v. Big Bossman, Akeem & Andre the Giant

Again I ask: How can Duggan purport to be a true American and yet support a monarchy? Akeem gets worked over in the Demo corner to start and they work on the arm, and Ax elbows him out of the corner. Bossman comes in to try and gets pounded by Ax, then gets into a slugfest with Smash and loses. Ax comes in and gets caught in the heel corner, and that brings Andre in for a buttdrop to take over. Andre is looking positively svelte here, actually. He must have been on a two-bottle-a-day diet or something. Andre chokes Ax down and Bossman adds a headbutt, but Akeem misses a charge and hits the turnbuckles. Smash gets a hot tag and slams both Towers, which is pretty cool, but runs into Andre and goes down fast. Bossman drops an elbow for two. Everyone brawls and Andre headbutts Duggan down, but he recovers and hits Akeem with the board to give Smash the pin at 7:26. Short and inoffensive with no resting, so that’s all you can ask. **

Hercules v. Greg Valentine

Ronnie Garvin is your biased ring announcer. You know, given how much I’m digging his NWA run from 1985 on 24/7 right now, it’s a real letdown watching him sleepwalk through his WWF stuff. Herc clotheslines Valentine for two and gets a slam for two. Valentine hits the floor to escape that awesome offensive onslaught, but Hercules gets a rollup for two. Valentine goes for the leg and heads up, but Herc catches him with a punch coming down and slugs away. Suplex and Hercules pounds away in the corner, but he gets taken down and pinned at 3:02. This went nowhere. 1/2* Ron Garvin decides to award the match to Hercules anyway. That’s an abuse of his authority as ring announcer, and I hope he was stripped of his license.

Ted Dibiase v. Jimmy Snuka

Yay, more time-filler. Dibiase tries attacking but gets chased off. Snuka goes after Virgil and then chops Dibiase and atomic drops him to the floor, and Dibiase regroups out there. Back in, they mistime a criss-cross and Snuka pounds him in the corner, but Dibiase slugs him down in turn. Snuka comes back with a backdrop out of the corner, but walks into a stungun as Dibiase takes over. Suplex gets two. Dibiase slams him and goes up for the elbow, which misses as usual. Snuka fights back with a flying headbutt from the middle rope, and he goes up to finish. Superfly splash is interrupted by Virgil, and Dibiase hits him from behind and sends him into the post for the countout win at 6:24. Ugh, two shitty finishes in a row. *1/2

Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake v. Randy Savage & Zeus

Y’all know what a trainwreck the Zeus thing was, like if say WCW made a movie with David Arquette as the star and then brought him in as a wrestler and even put the World title on him. Hogan slugs on Zeus to no effect, and immediately gets choked down. Beefcake breaks it up but gets caught in the bearhug, and then Hogan gets more of the same. Macho Man, in badass white tights, comes in with the double axehandle and knees Hogan into the corner to set up the hooking clothesline for two. We hit the chinlock already, wasting no time in sucking, but Hogan fights free, only to walk into a cheapshot from Zeus on the apron. Zeus comes back in with his one move, the bearhug, and it’s looking bleak for Hulkamania. That lasts FOREVER before Savage interrupts the monotony and comes in with a backdrop suplex for two. Savage misses a charge and Hogan brings Beefcake in, and a high knee gets two on Savage. Sleeper follows and Savage is fading fast, but he manages to ram Beefcake into the top turnbuckle to break. And yay, it’s back to Zeus, but Beefcake goes to his one weak spot: The crazy eye. Savage, however, uses Sherri’s loaded purse to knock Beefcake out, and gets two. Beefcake is face-in-peril and Zeus adds another move to his repertoire by choking Brutus out in several different ways, looking about as menacing as Wayne Brady in the process. Savage comes in and collides with Beefcake for the double knockout. So it’s hot tag to Hogan again and he suplexes Savage in from the apron, but Sherri hooks the leg and Macho gets two. Savage clotheslines him down again and goes up for the big elbow, but who’s kidding who at this point? Hulk doesn’t even take a count, hulking up right away to set up the big showdown with Zeus. Hulk finally knocks him down, and then gets the HANDBAG OF DEATH and slams Z to set up the legdrop and pin at 15:08. Crowd was hot for all of it, but it was all chinlocks and choking and bearhugs. **

The Pulse: This show doesn’t get much love, but although the main event sucked ass there was some really good stuff here, including the six-man match and the opening non-title tag match. A hot crowd helps a lot as well. Recommended.