Since 1988, SummerSlam has been WWE’s second biggest show of the year. As we count down the days to the 2016 edition, the Top Ten will rank the annual event’s matches year-by-year to determine the best SummerSlam matches of all time.
This year, we get our first double main event!
SummerSlam 1990 – August 27, 1990, The Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
After two years of tag team main events and no WWF Title defenses, we have a more traditional card structure in 1990 and a secondary main event featuring the real star of the promotion and his most recent rival.
After the Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan for the title at WrestleMania VI, the focus of the main event was supposed to move away from the yellow and the red. In order to keep fans cheers’ away from Hogan, an injury angle was devised. The 400-plus pound Earthquake put the former champion on the shelf with a couple of Earthquake splashes. SummerSlam 1990 was to be his triumphant return.
Going into the match, Hogan was supposed to have Tugboat as his second to counter Earthquake’s cornerman, Dino Bravo. But when the future Shockmaster was injured by ‘Quake, Hogan turned to former nemesis the Big Bossman to be in his corner, giving Bossman his second appearance of the night.
Hogan was triumphant, of course, but only somewhat, beating Earthquake by countout, making ‘Quake one of the few people to avoid a pinfall loss to Hogan.
Also of note in Hogan’s match, the Three Demandments became the Four Demandments tonight, as Hogan added “Believe in Yourself” to “Train, Say Your Prayers and Eat Your Vitamins.” A truly historic occasion.
Best Match: The Hart Foundation defeated Demolition (c) – 2-out-of-3 Falls Tag Team Title Match. For the second year in a row, the Hart Foundation get the duke for best match of the night, facing the tag team champs at SummerSlam for the third time, the second against Demolition for the tag team belts. Demolition was on its way down the card and off the roster, with the Legion of Doom now on board, so giving the titles back to the Foundation made sense to transition to the next generation of tag teams. The 2-out-of-3 Falls stip added some more intrigue to the match and made it significantly better than the 1988 version.
Worst Match: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and Nikolai Volkoff defeated the Orient Express. While the Orient Express is capable of some good matches, no one is getting a good (or even decent) match out of the team of Duggan and Volkoff, who insulted the memory of Kate Smith by singing “God Bless America” before the match. In a year where there were several disappointing matches, this was the worst.
Another Title Rematch: The tag team title match was a SummerSlam rematch from 1988. The WWF Title match was, of course, a rematch from 1989, when Ultimate Warrior regained the Intercontinental Title from “Ravishing” Rick Rude. With the biggest monster on the roster facing off against the real star of the promotion, the WWF needed a title challenger, so they went with the only guy to get a win over the champ. Of course, that neglects the fact that Rude only ever got a win with an assist from manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and lost the title back quite handily. Rude never seemed like he had a chance, and the steel cage title match never felt like it established a flow and wasn’t as good as the previous year’s match.
Three In A Row: When Kerry Von Erich beat Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental Title, it marked the third time in three years that the championship changed hands at SummerSlam, with Warrior winning it the previous two years. The Texas Tornado was, of course, a substitution for Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, whose career was put on hold the month before in a parasailing accident, making it the second time Beefcake lost out on an Intercontinental Title match at SummerSlam.
The Sad Saga of Sweet Sapphire: After the mixed tag team match at WrestleMania, the WWF planned to split up the genders and offered “Macho King” Randy Savage against Dusty Rhodes and Sensational Queen Sherri against Rhodes’ valet, Sapphire. But then the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase intervened, buying off Sapphire, costing Rhodes his match and setting up the end of Rhodes’ WWF career. I don’t really have anything to add about the end of Sapphire’s WWF career. I just really liked the consonance.
The Summer Slam Top Ten!
These cards have not been good so far, which means we’ll have some steady changes year-to-year for a while.
*DISCLAIMER* The Top Ten is for discussion purposes only and is in no way an official or authoritative list. It is simply my opinion.
1 – Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard defeated the Hart Foundation (1989)
2 – The Hart Foundation defeated Demolition (c) – 2-out-of-3 Falls Tag Team Title Match (1990)
3 – Ultimate Warrior defeated “Ravishing” Rick Rude (c) – Intercontinental Title Match(1989)
4 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan defeated Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant (1988)
5 – Ultimate Warrior defeated Honky Tonk Man (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1988)
6 – Hulk Hogan and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake defeated “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Zeus (1989)
7 – Rick “The Model” Martel and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers defeated Tito Santana and The Rockers (1989)
8 – British Bulldogs vs. Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (Time Limit Draw) (1988)
9 – Demolition (c) defeated the Hart Foundation – Tag Team Title Match (1988)
10 – Hulk Hogan beat Earthquake by countout (1990)