Vintage Vault Reposts are Pay-Per-View recaps with Justin and Scott’s commentary, including star ratings. Please note, these were written in the past and may have dated references. Each repost comes with the audio for the Place to Be Podcast episode where the show is reviewed. Please scroll to the bottom to find your listening and downloading options!
Vintage Vault Repost: SummerSlam 1988
August 29, 1988
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
Attendance: 20, 000
Buy Rate: 4.5
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and “Superstar” Billy Graham
1) The Fabulous Rougeaus and the British Bulldogs wrestle to a time limit draw at 11:19
Fun Fact: According to the Dynamite Kid’s book, there was real heat between him and Jacques Rougeau. In fact, there was a skirmish at a live event backstage, where Jacques sucker punched Dynamite in the face, fucking up his teeth. Dynamite wanted revenge and it was evident if it wasn’t for agents stepping in, it would have been real ugly. This match took place after that incident, and it’s rumored not to piss anyone off, Vince had it end in a draw. Still, many feared that Dynamite would take out revenge during the match, but he was a professional and didn’t take any liberties.
Fun Fact II: The Rougeau Brothers turned heel in May 1988, and kicked off a heated feud with the Killer Bees. Shortly after the turn, the Rougeaus began claiming that they were pro-American and would soon be relocating. This became a long running joke, as the Rougeaus began carrying little American flags to the ring and soon after this PPV, they added Jimmy Hart as their manage, and along with Hart came the classic theme song “All American Boys” and promises of a move from Canada to Memphis, TN. The storyline was really fun, and the Rougeaus drew some strong heat because of it.
Fun Fact III: This the British Bulldogs’ final PPV tag match (they are at Survivor Series, but this is their final two-on-two tag match). Their final PPV record as a team is 1-4-1. Their lone win was at WrestleMania II and the one draw occurs here. The four losses occurred at WrestleMania III, Survivor Series 1987, WrestleMania IV and Survivor Series 1988. After Survivor Series, Dynamite would not be seen on WWF TV ever again (other than vintage footage). After leaving the WWF in December, the Bulldogs returned to Stampede, where they won another tag title, but they eventually split and had a vicious feud. In 1990, they finally went their own ways, with Davey Boy going overseas for a brief run before returning as a solo act to the WWF. Dynamite wrestled for Stampede and in England, even forming a tag team called the British Bruisers with Johnny Smith, but the duo would be short-lived. Dynamite announced his retirement on December 6, 1991 after a tag bout in Japan as the years of steroid and cocaine abuse, along with his high impact style of wrestling, finally caught up to him. He would attempt a failed comeback in 1993, and his final match was for Michinoku Pro on October 10, 1996. He obtained a victory in a six man tag match, but it was clear his best days were behind him (his body had clearly degenerated to the point he was skin and bones). In 1997, Dynamite would be confined to a wheelchair after being told by a specialist that he could no longer walk. Davey Boy will be back shortly in our review world, but sadly we will no longer have the pleasure of watching the Dynamite Kid ply his trade on a major PPV setting.
Scott: Now, if you’re going to have a time limit draw, could you actually have a real time limit? Obviously fans don’t notice that kind of thing, but we do. Actually I was very excited at the debut of a new PPV for the summertime. The match was very good, but the end was pretty weak. The Rougeaus were a pretty hot heel team at this point, and would dictate most of the pace in this match. With every match, Dynamite Kid’s back was disintegrating more and more. You still couldn’t tell, though. He was taking a licking, and still ticking. Sadly neither of these teams would sniff tag team gold. They still gave the fans a very entertaining opener, and got the inaugural SummerSlam off on the right foot. Grade: **1/2
Justin: A really good opener here that probably could have been much better if not for Dynamite’s deteriorating back and the really bad feelings between the two teams. The Rougeaus are very underrated when the great teams of the 80s are listed, as they were great in the ring and, once they turned heel, generated tremendous heat. Sadly, once 1989 rolled around, they weren’t taken very seriously and were stuck in comedy feuds with the Bushwhackers. Damn shame. As we stated above, this is the Bulldogs’ swan song, and their final hurrah is indicative of their entire run: a really good match with a screwjob ending. The crowd is quite hot here and into the Rougeaus shtick big time. Anyway, these two teams kick off the inaugural SummerSlam with a hot opener, but a cheap ending. Grade: **1/2
2) Bad News Brown (Allen Coage) defeats Ken Patera with the Ghettoblaster at 6:35
Scott: Not much here, as the Ken Patera nostalgia experiment ended with a thud. The match itself was OK, but Bad News was definitely the swank new heel. They really could have done more with him than they did. He was over as a big heel, and had a very un-80’s swagger to boot. Patera, with his creamy hairless legs and big poofy afro, did the best he could to tell the story that he actually could win. He didn’t, and Bad News continued his run as the WWF’s new motherfucker. Grade: **
Justin: Ken Patera is a god damned mess, and perhaps if he didn’t have some serious roid rage outside a McDonald’s in 1984, his legacy would be greater. Instead, he is nothing more than cannon fodder for the new up and coming heel, Bad News Brown. Brown was a mean dude who was sporting Stone Cold’s look and attitude 10 years early. He was a legit tough bastard from Stampede wrestling who would eventually get into shoot fighting as well. Here he basically murders Patera en route to continuing his climb up the heel ladder. Grade: *1/2
3) Rick Rude (Richard Rood) defeats the Junkyard Dog (Sylvester Ritter) by disqualification at 3:55
Fun Fact: This is Junkyard Dog’s final WWF PPV appearance. His final record is 1-5. His lone win was by count out at WrestleMania I. His losses came at WrestleMania II, WrestleMania III, Royal Rumble 1988, WrestleMania IV and SummerSlam 1988.JYD would bounce around WCW and various independents before his tragic death in 1998.
Scott: This was strange. There had been a big time feud building between Rude and Jake Roberts involving the Snake’s wife Cheryl. During this match Rude dropped his tights and had tights underneath with Cheryl’s face on it. That drove Jake into the ring and the DQ. Poor JYD. The guy can’t catch a break. His last big moment on PPV was his tournament win at the Wrestling Classic in 1985. He hasn’t won a PPV match since. Jake and JYD have a bonding babyface moment afterward. If this was 1999, the Dog would have pasted Roberts with a chair for screwing him out of a win. Not in 1988. The Jake/Rude feud would never have the big blow-off it really deserved. Grade: *1/2
Justin: Over the summer, Rick Rude started a gimmick where he would choose a lady out of the crowd to come to the ring and kiss him. Many women jumped at the chance, but on one episode, he chose the wrong lady, and she let him know it by slapping him in the face. The lady turned out to be Cheryl Roberts, Jake Roberts’ wife. Now, things got ugly fast, and a great feud broke out between the two, a feud that is escalated in this match, when Jake attacks Rude to cause the DQ. Unfortunately, the feud never went anywhere, as both men move on to bigger ones after this show. Rude was starting to improve, and would make great strides in 1989. JYD, on the other hand, is all but finished, as he is terribly out of shape and is being past by on the wrestling food chain by fresher, younger stars. Grade: *
4) The Powers of Pain defeat the Bolsheviks when the Barbarian (Sione Vailahi) pins Boris Zhukov (Jim Barrell) with a head butt off the top rope at 4:43
Fun Fact: The Powers of Pain were big time heels in the NWA throughout 1987, where they mainly feuded with the Road Warriors. They jumped ship in mid-1988 and were given a manager in Baron Von Raschke and a good face push as foils for Demolition. The face run would end abruptly, however, as we will see in our next review.
Scott: This was a fascinating match for me. We all know that Demolition was slowly gaining popularity, even though they were big time heels. However, the pop that Barbarian and Warlord get during their entrance and when they finish the Russian duo off is deafening. Their manager was The Baron, also known as AWA legend Baron Von Raschke. They didn’t have that promo-cutting charisma that Ax and Smash had, which is probably why the switch occurs at Survivor Series. More on that in our next review. The Bolsheviks are just a comedy act at this point. It’s funny because when Zhukov was in the AWA, he was in a brutal feud with Sergeant Slaughter. Now, he’s hooked to Nikolai Volkoff, and they’ve become Jobbers to the Stars. The match was for the most part a squash. Grade: *1/2
Justin: A quick squash here just to get the Powers of Pain a win on the big stage. They basically no sell everything and polish off the Russians in short order. In an already stacked tag division, the Bolsheviks are easily lost in the shuffle, but that is OK, because with such a deep division, jobber tag teams were needed, so their role was a good one. The POP gets a great POP from the MSG crowd and was on their way to pretty good 1989. Grade: *1/2
5) The Ultimate Warrior (Warrior) defeats the Honky Tonk Man (Wayne Ferris) to win WWF Intercontinental Title with a splash at :30
Fun Fact: This was originally supposed to be Brutus Beefcake’s second shot at Honky’s title, and he was supposed to win it. There are two reasons for the change: The first, and most plausible, reason is Vince decided to go in another direction, and instead had Beefcake suffer a storyline injury at the hands of Ron Bass on an episode of Superstars. The injury was quite gruesome, as Bass ripped his spurs across Beefcake’s face, bloodying him up pretty badly. The second reason came from an interview with Beefcake in 2005. Beefcake claimed that the Warrior threatened to leave the WWF if he didn’t get the shot and so Beefcake stepped aside and made the best of it, which resulted in the storyline injury. In any event, Honky came into the ring awaiting an opponent and issuing an open challenge. The Warrior, who was slowly growing a fan base of his own, answers the call and makes history.
Scott: THANK GOD!!!! I was jumping off my couch for this one. Ding fucking dong the witch is dead!!!! One of the most embarrassing title reigns in wrestling history is finally over. Honky enjoyed having the WWF by the balls for the past 15 months. Now that he had a new deal inked, FUCK YOU WAYNE FERRIS!!!! Not only does he lose to the new superstar on the horizon, but he gets the crap kicked out of him in 30 seconds. The greatest 30 seconds of my early life as a wrestling fan. From here The Ultimate Warrior just gets hotter and hotter. Honky Tonk Man now hears the faint sound of the devil. Honky sold his soul for the Intercontinental Title, and now it’s time to pay the bill. Grade: ½* (Scott’s marking out moment: *****)
Justin: I guess Scott summed it all up pretty damn well. Honky is jobbed out and the sweet smell of justice was reigning supreme in MSG, as the era of the Ultimate Warrior is kick started in a big way. Warrior would have a really big 1989 and an even bigger 1990, and as he was rising up the ranks, Honky was quickly plummeting down them, returning each and every job he owed for the rest of his WWF career. Grade: ½*
*** We now get a special Brother Love Show with Jim Duggan, who says nothing important. ***
6) Dino Bravo (Adolfo Bresciano) defeated Don Muraco with a side suplex at 1:16
Fun Fact: Like many others on this show, this is Don Muraco’s final PPV appearance. His final record is 1-5-1. His only PPV win came in the first round of the Title Tournament at WrestleMania IV. His one draw was at WrestleMania II. His 5 losses came at WrestleMania III, Survivor Series 1987, Royal Rumble 1988, WrestleMania IV and SummerSlam 1988. Muraco would leave shortly after this show and would not be seen again in the WWF until he is inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.
Scott: In the rematch from WrestleMania’s tournament, the much more relevant Bravo defeats the fading “Rock”. Muraco has been won 2 Intercontinental Titles in his career, but even with Billy Graham at his side, the writing was on the wall that his days were done. Bravo wins easy, and moves on. Grade: *
Justin: A useless match here in Don Muraco’s swan song. Bravo was receiving a decent push, so he gets the quick win over the departing Muraco. Bravo still has the useless Frenchy Martin in his corner and the two had become very anti-American over the summer. It doesn’t help things too much, as Martin is a useless piece of garbage, and Bravo doesn’t have the best promo skills in the WWF either. Grade: ½*
7) Demolition defeats the Hart Foundation to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Smash (Barry Darsow) pins Bret Hart after Ax (Bill Eadie) hits him with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone at 8:11
Fun Fact: Over the summer, the Hart Foundation got fed up with Jimmy Hart and turned face by beating the shit out of him. However, Hart still technically owned the Harts contracts, so he was able to be at ringside with them during this match, against their wishes. During the weeks leading up, Jimmy Hart began allegedly giving all his secrets to Mr. Fuji on how to beat the Harts, and even stands with Fuji at ringside during the match. A few weeks after the show, Hart sold the contracts to the Rougeaus, and officially became their manager.
Scott: An entertaining tag team match that would see the tag champs win cheap via the Foundation’s former manager’s calling card. It was evident that the writing was on wall for Demolition to switch to the side of good. The crowd was just so into them. It was a strange match because the pops for Hitman and Anvil weren’t getting smaller. In fact, at times the crowd was cheering at everything. Demolition winning cheap led to some minor heel heat. This would be the last match Demolition would enter and leave a match as heels until exactly 2 years from this moment. The Hart Foundation would have an uneventful next two years starting now. Grade: **1/2
Justin: A pretty good tag match, but the Harts were just learning how to work face, something they would get down pat over the next year. The face turn had just happened, so the crowd isn’t into them as much as they are Demolition, a problem that would finally be fixed at the next PPV. The whole Jimmy Hart-contract stuff was pretty high level booking for the time, so I don’t think it really got over like it could have 10 years later. I like how he is at ringside, selling the story, and actually caused the Harts to lose. Nice booking there and it helps elevate this match. All in all, this was a solid affair, but their future encounters would be much better. Grade: **1/2
8) Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor) defeats Koko B. Ware (James Ware) with a sidewalk slam at 5:55
Fun Fact: The man that would be law and order made his big wrestling mark as Big Bubba Rogers, former bodyguard in the UWF. Bubba made the jump to the NWA, where he was Jim Cornette’s bodyguard for a bit, but in mid-1988, Vince came calling and scooped him up. He played off Traylor’s past as a prison guard and dubbed him the Big Boss Man.
Scott: A typical debut for a new heel. Boss Man’s weight would fluctuate over the years, but here he’d have a slight gut. Within a year he’d really grow a big gut. Then he’d turn face and be quite svelte. Anyway, I digress. Koko was the foil for the Georgia prison guard, but both put on a decent match with a good flow. Boss Man would move fast up the heel ladder, and would team with a re-packaged giant to become one of the most popular cult tag teams of the 80’s. Koko just kept dancing along, another loss on his resume. Grade: **
Justin: I think Scott is being nice when he says Boss Man has a “slight gut.” He is pretty fuckin’ fat at this point, but would slim down more and more as the years pass on, and would become a really good worker by the early 90s. He makes a solid debut here, squashing the number one jobber to the stars, Koko B. Ware. Koko was one of those guys who knew his role, and did it well. His job was to put on a good match and make the stars being pushed look like a million bucks, and he did just that. And because of it, he usually received a nice PPV pay day. Boss Man looks impressive here, and by our next PPV, he is already inserted into some pretty major storylines. Grade: **
9) Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith, Jr.) defeats Hercules (Ray Fernandez) with a DDT at 10:08
Scott: On the other side of the coin with the Rude/JYD match, the Snake fights Hercules in a match with no real meaning. I don’t understand why they didn’t just have a big blow off match with Rude and Jake, and have JYD/Hercules as an afterthought before the main event. Fortunately this was a pretty good match. Hercules was gaining confidence in his ability with each show. His offense kept Roberts off balance for most of the match. Jake got a few shots in, but hit the DDT out of nowhere for the win. Maybe they avoided the match to avoid Rude having to job. Well, then why have the feud at all? Regardless, this was a good match that had the crowd all ready for the main event. Grade: **1/2
Justin: A solid pre-Main Event matchup between two veterans. We actually see a rarity here: a clean Jake Roberts PPV win. Jake is part of the Fantastic Four of PPV Non Finishes, alongside Roddy Piper, Bad News Brown and Jim Duggan. Those four men always had some sort of bizarre ending to their PPV matches, but this is a rare exception, as Jake pulls out the DDT for the quick win. This show also brings an end to Hercules’ heel run, as over the next month, he would turn face in a weird little storyline involving Ted DiBiase and Bobby Heenan that we will expound upon next month. Jake picks up the win and moves on to his next GIANT storyline. Grade: **
10) The Mega Powers (Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan) defeat the Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant) when Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) pinned Ted DiBiase with the leg drop at 14:48
Fun Fact: After WrestleMania IV, Hulk Hogan left the stage for a few months to film No Holds Barred. This gave Randy Savage a chance to run alone as WWF Champion, which he did a fabulous job at. During this time, he continued to feud with Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase. During an episode of Superstars, Savage was being interviewed on the platform when Andre and Bobby Heenan came out to jaw with him. As Savage had his back turned, DiBiase and Virgil came from behind and attacked him. The visual of Elizabeth shaking as she’s being held by Virgil while DiBiase and Andre beat the snot out of Savage is priceless. The next week, Craig DeGeorge reported that Savage had challenged DiBiase and Andre to a tag team match. When the match was set for SummerSlam, Savage hadn’t revealed his partner yet. On an episode of Superstars, DeGeorge announced that Jesse Ventura was the guest referee. All the heels just laughed (an awesome HEEL moment, and a reason I love DiBiase). The following week, Savage announced his partner, none other than Hulk Hogan. In the weeks preceding the match, DiBiase was trying to pay Ventura off by putting money in his pocket at any chance. During this time, Ted DiBiase re-sold Andre the Giant’s contract back to Bobby Heenan (at a $900,000 profit when you do the math).
Fun Fact II: According to Ric Flair’s book, Flair and McMahon were in heavy negotiations over the summer of 1988. Flair was very unhappy with NWA, and Vince was pulling the right strings. McMahon even promised the Main Event slot at SummerSlam, which would have been a World Title match with Randy Savage. In the end, however, Flair decided to stay with the NWA out of loyalty to the company.
Scott: The main event to the inaugural August get-together is a hot, tension-filled main event that had the perfect main event tag team formula. The Mega Powers were crazy over, and the hot MSG crowd was salivating for the Mega Bucks to get theirs. Both Savage and Hogan took their share of abuse in the match, and at times you really thought DiBiase & Andre were going to win. The turning point comes when both Hogan and Savage are tossed outside the ring to the far side of the camera. Elizabeth, decked out in her red and yellow dress, jumps onto the apron. Jesse and the Megabucks are trying to get her back on the floor. She then does the most risqué thing ever on WWF TV. She rips her skirt off, and trounces around in her underwear. The heels are stunned. While this is happening, the infamous Macho/Hogan handshake occurs (YEEEAAAHHHH), and the tide is turned. The Megapowers clean house, and win the match. Jesse does a great job as referee, actually calling it down the middle until the end, when he hesitates on the three-count. I actually got annoyed at how Gorilla and Superstar were busting Jesse’s stones about calling it down the middle, when he really wasn’t doing any worse of a job than any other referee. Trying to get the faces over too much is real overkill, and this was a prime example of it. This was an above average match, and a great way to end the show. Grade: ***1/2
Justin: A great blow-off to a red hot storyline, and even better is the fact that ANOTHER super hot story starts up right on the heels of this one: the story of the Mega Powers. Following the match, Andre was shunted down the card a bit and used to help get some guys over during his waning days. DiBiase also took a few steps back into the mid-card, a place he would now reside for the rest of his career. Hogan and Savage were on top, and were about to start the long climb to WrestleMania. Here, they are as tight as can be, but the cracks begin to form at the next PPV, and as 1989 rolls around, the shit is ready to hit the fan. It was really cool seeing Jesse involved in storylines, as he makes everything seem so legit and important. I wish they would have used him in this role more often. Although, as great as it is to see him in the ring, the commentary suffers greatly without him there, as Billy Graham sounds like a retarded Dusty Rhodes. All in all, a great match to cap off the first ever SummerSlam. Grade: ***1/2
Scott: The inaugural SummerSlam is one of those special shows that take you back to days long gone. Even though WrestleMania is the granddaddy of them all, SummerSlam is without question my favorite PPV brand of all time. I’ve watched all of them on PPV live except for the three during 1994-96. I’ve always had friends over my house when I was a kid, and I was in charge of SummerSlam. My other friends would rotate the other shows. A typically awesome MSG crowd livens up an otherwise lackluster undercard. The main event carries this show, although there are still some memorable moments: the continuing growth of Demolition, the debut of Big Boss Man, and Elizabeth ripping her skirt off. All in all, it’s ranked pretty low in the pantheon of MSG PPV’s, just because the undercard is shaky. Still, the main event is awesome, and the show is special, because it’s the first. We gave the first WrestleMania a pass, and that show is worse than this one. I’m giving this one a pass. Final Grade: A-
Justin: A pretty good show, excitement wise, but as far as the actual wrestling goes, only the opener and Main Event are above average. The rest of the show is quite middling. Although, I will say the crowd stays hot all the way through, and every match had a purpose, which is always good as well. This is also a major transition shows, as many of the old guard are phased out, such as Don Muraco, Ken Patera and the British Bulldogs, and many new faces are pushed hard, like Bad News Brown, Big Boss Man and Powers of Pain. All in all, this is a solid enough show and does deserve a pass, but that big of one, because it wasn’t anything high concept like the Rumble or Survivor Series. The WWF had run cards like this for ages, and had been on PPV for 3 years now, so this doesn’t get the pass those shows get from me. Final Grade: B