Hello and welcome to this Summerslam 88 review. This is the first ever Summerslam and I have high hopes for it. Coming off the back of Wrestlemania IV we’re starting to see higher production values, more captivating storylines and a higher tempo of action. Randy Savage is the reigning World Heavyweight champion and the biggest storyline heading into this pay per view is his partnership with Hulk Hogan to take on Andre the Giant and the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. This match centres around the World Heavyweight title and features the top candidates for the championship.
The next big feud is between Jake Roberts and Rick Rude but they’re not squaring off tonight, they take on Junkyard Dog and Hercules respectively. The tag champions Demolition take on former Tag Team champions and recently face turned Hart Foundation. The Intercontinental champion Honky Tonk Man is the longest reigning IC champion of all time and should have been taking on Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake in a Wrestlemania rematch but “The Outlaw” on Bass has seen to that not happening. So who will Honky Tonk take on tonight? We’ll have to wait and see. There are also a couple of big PPV debuts tonight in the form of The Powers of Pain and The Big Boss Man. So let’s get started.
We start the show with aerials of Madison Square Garden and the familiar tones of Gorilla Monsoon. And then to a cheesy title sequence involving those in the main event tonight, Andre the Giant, Ted Dibiase, Savage and Hogan. The music used will be used for many years to come. We go to the commentary booth now where Gorilla Monsoon and “Superstar” Billy Graham introduce us to the show. Graham is there because Ventura is a special guest referee later on. Now to the opening contest.
The Fabulous Rougeaus (Raymond & Jacques) vs. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid)
The WWE at this time has a thriving tag team division. The Bulldogs have new ring gear, ring gear we are more familiar with. Davey is growing his hair too. The Rougeaus are no longer nice guys and are playing the heel card. Davey starts the match well, throwing Jacques from pillar to post. Jacques tags in Raymond who gets the advantage after a cheap shot. Davey and Dynamite up the pace when they take control of the match. The crowd seem into this one. Not so much when Dynamite keeps locking in arm bars. The Rougeaus keep trying to start “USA” chants which is humorous.
Davey shows some awesome athleticism in this match, jumping and flipping around like a cruiserweight. It’s the Bulldogs that keep Raymond away from his partner in this one. Some cheating allows Raymond to finally tag Jacques. I can’t actually remember the last time either of these teams were successful on PPV but I think it’d be back in 1986. The Rougeaus have the advantage for a while now, double teaming and making quick tags. It’s a monkey flip that gives control back to the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs do a bit of cheating too, coming in behind the referees back. Jacques is clearly the more charismatic of his team.
Gorilla making a fuss about the Rougeaus not making a tag is ironic considering how many times the Bulldogs have done it. Plenty of submission holds, abdominal stretches and camel clutches from Jacques and Raymond. Dynamite has been in there for some time and finally makes the hot tag but the referee doesn’t see it. Eventually he does make the hot tag and the crowd go crazy. All four men are in the ring and Davey gorilla presses Dynamite onto Jacques with a diving headbutt. It looks to be over but the bell rings. And why? Because the time limit has expired. It’s a draw. The crowd boo as The Rougeaus hug each other. They sucker punch the Bulldogs and get chased back to the locker room. What a stinker of an ending.
We’re shown some footage of Ron Bass attacking Brutus Beefcake which has kept him out of action tonight. You can’t see half of the action because of a big “censored” cross in the middle of the screen. Will Honky Tonk Man have to defend his title tonight?
Bad News Brown vs. Ken Patera
Ken Patera has horrendous entrance music and as a result, Brown attacks him before the bell. Brown seems to be riding a push having won the Battle Royal at Wrestlemania. Kenny doesn’t seem to be up to much but he does have horrendous ring gear to go with his music. It’s a back and forth start to the match with Bad News using some brawling moves and Patera tries to wrestle. Ken locks in a bear hug which is apparently bad news for Brown. He then goes for a full nelson but Bad News escapes. Patera bodges a couple of things and Brown hits an enziguri (The Ghetto Blaster) for the win. Definitely the right call, Bad News is a bad ass heel whereas Patera seems to be at the end of his career.
Backstage to the Mega Powers where Hogan starts us off with an intense promo. Savage with the World Heavyweight title belt gives us an equally intense promo describing Miss Elizabeth as the secret weapon. Not much of a secret.
“Ravishing” Rick Rude vs. The Junkyard Dog
Junkyard Dog matches seem few and far between at the moment but he’s on this card against Rude, starting the match off well with his trademark headbutts. It doesn’t take long for Rick to take the advantage. Rude is looking for his first win on pay per view whilst JYD is looking for his first win in two years. Rude locks in sleeper after sleeper which is a bit dull. I’m always a bit disappointed with Ricks matches. Heenan gets involved, distracting JYD and allowing Rude to take control. Rude by the way has JYDs face imprinted on his tights. And as he goes up top, he pulls them down to reveal Jake Roberts wife on his tights underneath. Just as the match seems to be going somewhere Jake “The Snake” Roberts comes out and attacks Rude. Unbelievable. The Dog doesn’t seem happy.
Backstage now to the Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart. They let us know that Honky is the greatest Intercontinental champion of all time. Honky says he wants to defend his title tonight. Mene Gene wants to tell us who will be accepting the challenge but Honky doesn’t want to know.
The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov) vs. The Powers Of Pain (Barbarian & The Warlord)
Nikolai gives us his rendition of the Soviet National Anthem but it’s interrupted by the Powers Of Pain. Barbarian and Warlord comes out and clean house and the fans seem to be into these newcomers. Their manager The Baron is some bloke in a hood. Slick still manages The Bolsheviks. The Powers of Pain are almost a spitting image of The RoadWarriors. Nikolai, the most experienced man in the match takes it to Warlord now and Boris gives him a hand. Classic heel work there. And it continues for a while as Barbarian paces up and down hoping to get a tag.
Nikolai just hit a roundhouse kick. And Warlord tags in The Barbarian. No faces have won yet at Summerslam. Both Powers of Pain hit a flying tackle on Zhukov, Warlord hits a running powerslam and Barbarian hits a top rope headbutt (very similar to the Bulldogs) for the win! It’s their PPV debut and a big win to mark it. They look to be on a collision course to meet Demolition.
Some red carpet is down in the ring and The Fink then announces Brother Love. He comes out in his white suit spouting some crap. He has a very special guest tonight, somebody that needs to be taught a lesson. It’s “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. Duggan has an awesome beard on the go. He gets a great reaction from the crowd and lots of Hoooooooooooo chants. There’s a back and forth between the two and Brother Love mentions Dino Bravo who apparently has a lot of love. Jim eventually chases him out of the ring much to the crowds enjoyment.
Honky Tonk Man (c) vs. Ultimate Warrior – Intercontinental Title Match
Because of Brutus Beefcake being injured for this one, Warrior was a suprise opponent and when his music hit, the crowd went nuts. The match lasted less than a minute. Warrior ran down, beat up Honky, gorilla press slam, big splash, winner. At this point Warrior was really starting to get over. To beat the longest reigning Intercontinental champion in that manor just shows how much the WWF is behind him.
For some reason, they are really pushing the boxing on this show. Sugar Ray Leonard and somebody else that I don’t care about. In fact I don’t care about the boxing at all. Why are there so many boxing VTs?! Fast forward……
“The Rock” Don Muraco vs. Dino Bravo
This one is a rematch from Wrestlemania. In the first round of the World title tournament at Wrestlemania IV it was Muraco that beat Bravo. Bobby Heenan has now joined Graham and Monsoon on commentary. Muraco starts the match well and has the crowd behind him. Billy Graham is fully behind Muraco too being his manager. Don hits a monkey flip and a hiptoss and Bravo sells it terribly. The momentum switches back and forth in what has been a sloppy match so far. Frenchy Martin is in Dinos corner. I’m a fan of Frenchy, he’s quite entertaining. Bravo wins this one with a sideslam. It was a clean victory in what was an uninspiring match.
Sean Mooney is backstage with Jesse Ventura. Mooney asks whether Ted Dibiase has paid Ventura off and the special guest referee for the main event denies it.
The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) vs. Demolition (c) (Ax & Smash) – Tag Team Title Match
The Hart Foundation are already in the ring and when Demolition come out they are accompanied by their manager Mr Fuji and the Hart Foundations ex manager Jimmy Hart. The Hart Foundation are fresh off a face turn, one that began at Wrestlemania. Demolition really are big. I always forget how big they are but they are huge. Smash is awesome but it’s Ax that starts off the match against The Hitman. The former champions have the advantage in the early going. They’re looking for their first win on PPV since Wrestlemania III. This is the third tag team match of the night which shows how strong the division is at this point in 1988.
Demolition get the advantage using big power moves and double teams to keep Bret Hart cornered. They keep the match at a slow pace making quick tags. Neidhart has chased off Jimmy Hart who still has the contract to the tag team. Neidhart should really be helping his partner but he’s not. Bret makes the hot tag to Neidhart but it’s behind the referees back. Unlucky. And then the hot tag is made. He takes it to both of Demolition, clearing the ring of Ax and Smash. Bret slingshots him over the ropes in an impressive move. The crowd think it’s over as Neidhart hits Smash with a big powerslam. All four men are in the ring now and as Neidhart goes after Mr Fuji, Jimmy Hart throws Ax the megaphone and he clobbers Bret Hart with it behind the referees back. It’s enough to get the three count. Demolition are officially the first ever team to successfully defend their tag team titles on pay per view.
Mene Gene is backstage with an enraged Honky Tonk Man. He wasn’t ready for The Ultimate Warrior and he wants his title back.
The Big Boss Man vs. Koko B. Ware
A PPV debut for the Boss Man who is managed by Slick. And the Boss Man really is big at this point in time. He looks huge. Koko got pinned by Bobby Heenan at the last pay per view so lets see how this one goes. Koko starts off well, tying the big man in the ropes and hitting a headbutt. Boss Man soon takes the advantage taunting Koko and hitting a big avalanche in the corner. The birdman is still looking for his first PPV win. I don’t think it’ll be tonight. The Boss Man throws Koko from one end of the ring to the other, playing with him like a toy. The big man goes up top and misses a big splash.
Boss Man gets up first which is a bit green of him but after making a mistake it’s Koko who takes it to him with some quick jabs and a flying dropkick off the top. The crowd are certainly behind Koko B Ware. The Big Boss Man hits a big side slam for the win on his PPV debut.
Sean Mooney backstage now with The Ultimate Warrior. The Bulldogs, Muraco, Patera and JYD are backstage with him, looking happy despite not winning their own matches. Warrior talks some tosh saying he’ll be on the spaceship to parts unknown if you want some Honky.
Hercules vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
No Bobby Heenan at ringside for Hercules in this one. He takes it to Roberts in the early going but not for long. Jake quickly goes for the DDT but Herc is straight out of there. The bigger picture is that Roberts wants Rude but for now he has Hercules to deal with. It’s back and forth in this one as they exchange sleepers. The commentators discuss the Jake/Rude rivalry more than what’s going on in the ring. I can’t actually remember when Hercules last won a match on PPV. That would be because he has never won. Hercules locks in a never ending chinlock. Roberts eventually gets the advantage, hitting his jabs and then a short arm clothesline.
That’s usually the setup for the DDT but Hercules once again gets out of it. After a few moves from Herc, Jake hits the DDT out of nowhere. He covers the big man and gets the three count. A good win for Roberts who looks forward to Rick Rude. And out comes Damian.
We go to a video package of how the main event came about. It started with Andre and Ted Dibiase attacking Randy Savage. The World champion then challenges them to a tag team match at Summerslam. Ventura is announced as the special guest referee much to the heels happiness. Randy then announces Hogan as his tag team partner. And the crowd love that.
The Megabucks (Andre The Giant and “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase) vs. The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan & “Macho Man” Randy Savage)
The fourth tag team match of the evening is the main event. Savage and Hogan come out to Macho Mans music which is good. He is the champ. Although I have a feeling we’ll be hearing Real American later on. Ventura is dressed in his best white shirt and bandana, looking like a pirate. Savage has yellow and ring ring gear much like his tag partner. Oddly the first thing The Body does is swap the corner where the tag ropes are. Savage and Andre start the match. Dibiase is quickly tagged in though and so is the Hulkster. Dibiase gets thrwon around a bit and the crowd are loving it. The faces tag quickly between themselves, taking it to Dibiase. Andre is way too big and slow to make the save.
With a little help from Andre, Dibiase takes control of the match. Andre is now in and stomping all over Hogan. Andre and Dibiase take it in turns to lock a sleeper on Hogan. The hot tag is made to the World Heavyweight champion who comes in and takes it to Ted. Nobody does a double axe handle like the Macho Man. Savage is so quick running off the ropes. Andre in and sitting on Randys head. Hogan hasn’t won a match on pay per view since beatings Andre at Wrestlemania III. The other three men in this match have all won PPV matches since then. Randy hasn’t lost a match on PPV since Wrestlemania III. And he hot tags Hogan into the match. He takes down Dibiase and Andre and the crowd go wild.
Andre saves Dibiase from a sleeper courtesy of Hogan and the Megabucks clear the ring. Elizabeth, Heenan and Virgil are all up on the apron and Ventura has stopped the count. Miss Elizabeth now rips off her skirt! She distracts everybody, giving the Megapowers time to get in the ring. Hogan takes down Dibiase and Savage hits the big elbow followed by Hogan hitting the big legdrop! Savage gives Ventura a hand counting three and the Mega Powers pick up the win! Real American blasts out as the Mega Powers celebrate with Elizabeth.
Rating: 7/10* Match Of The Night
And that was the first ever Summerslam! There were some big and unsuprising wins for the likes of The MegaPowers, Jake Roberts, Bad News Brown and Rick Rude. They are all hot at the moment and riding the push they are given. Also The Big Boss Man and The Powers of Pain got big wins on their respective debuts. Demolition hung on to their tag team titles becoming the first ever team to retain the titles on PPV. The Warrior suprised everyone by turning up and winning the Intercontinental title in 30 seconds. Dino Bravo also won his rematch against Don Muraco.
There were a few guys missing, it seems as though the Killer Bees could be lost in the tag team shuffle, Harley Race is presumably gone. Greg Valentine wasn’t missed whilst One Man Gang and Butch Reed could’ve been used in some capacity. Bam Bam Bigelow and The Islanders were also missing and Strike Force didn’t make it to the card either. It seems as though the WWE are going in a different direction now.
Overall I expected a better quality of matches. There were a few disappointing matches like Rude & JYD, Muraco and Bravo who didn’t live up to their Wrestlemania match and Roberts and Hercules. The tag title match was good though as was the main event, whilst Big Boss Man and Koko B Ware suprised in their match, putting on a decent enough show.
Overall Rating: 46/100 (Ranked #3 out of 9)