- While I generally tend to skip over the more popular PPV's, for the sake of oversaturation around the Internet, I've been wanting to revisit some of these shows from my childhood, more as a "one last viewing" type deal for myself, rather than a critique of each matches technical quality. As I advance in age, find myself more concerned with work that pays the bills, and a personal life that will become increasingly more demanding, I don't have too much time to sit through DVD after DVD of old PPV's, so I figured now is the best time to give the ones I've neglected one last hurrah. Think of the recap style as when I did the WrestleMania's (1-20), except a little less mean, with better grammar and spelling, and no, I'm not doing EVERYTHING. I'm mainly going to recap the PPV's I haven't covered from my youth, up through probably 1995.
- We're coming to you "live", from Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, August 29th, 1988. That would mark the first time a PPV would be broadcasted on the birthday of yours truely, by the way. Gorilla Monsoon and Superstar Billy Graham are calling all the action. You know, as a kid, whenever I heard Graham talk without seeing him, I swore it was Dusty Rhodes. There's your first Scrooge Tidbit of the recap! I should note this is less of a PPV and more like the traditional card that would come to MSG on a monthly basis. When you see the matches and how the card is laid out, you'll understand why. The opening SummerSlam theme would be recycled as the Royal Rumble theme a few years later.
The British Bulldogs (w/ Matilda) vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers:
(Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid vs. Jacques & Raymond Rougeau)
I don't think this is stemming from a full blown program, but at the previous card at Madison Square Garden the Bulldogs had a run in with the Rougeaus, who went over the Rockers in less than clean fashion. The Bulldogs were pretty much on their way out, having done nothing of interest since the awful feud with the Islanders over Matilda being kidnapped. The Rougeaus, on the other hand, just turned heel, and have been mockingly giving praise to how awesome America is. For whatever reason, Dynamite Kid has the trunks of his tights on reverse... don't know why I feel like I have to comment on that, I just do it. Dynamite should probably check Jacques' hand for a roll of quarters... the Coliseum Video version clips this match practically in half, so watching the Anthology DVD set is my first time watching the full version. Davey controls early, sending Jacques into the buckles. Raymond and Dynamite tag in, with the same level of success for the Rougeaus: None. The Bulldogs take turns working Raymond's arm, wrapped around some near falls. Jacques trips Davey Boy from the apron, then goes to work on the leg. Jacque countering a monkey flip with a well placed boot to the thigh is the first time I've ever seen that particular counter. Dynamite gets the mid-match hot tag, and kills Raymond with a snap suplex and headbutt for a two count. Davey Boy with the running powerslam for two. Dynamite gets taken down, illegally, courtesy of a Jacques back suplex and it's his turn to play face-in-peril. To answer the obvious question, yes, Jacques DOES apply the abdominal stretch, but he does not use the ropes for leverage. For fans of the era (more for WWF, than anything), matches generally don't go this long, unless it's for a time limit draw... Davey Boy eventually gets the real hot tag of the match, after some false hope, and misses a dropkick? Davey quickly comes back with a press slam, dropping Jacques crotch-first across the top rope. Everyone gets in the act, and Davey slams Dynamite across Jacques with a headbutt, but the bell rings at 19:00, meaning we got a Time Limit Draw... I guess they went home a little early, since the bell is meant to ring once the spot was done. Despite the lame finish (the Rougeaus could've used the win), a very solid tag formula match, and it hardly felt like a match that went 20-minutes. The Rougeaus did little, if any, of their stalling heel tactics, which is always a good thing, and the Bulldogs still had something in the tank.
- Brutus Beefcake will NOT challenge for the Intercontinental Title. This past weekend on Superstars of Wrestling, the Outlaw Ron Bass attacked Beefcake and cut him open with the spurs on his boots. How this keeps someone from wrestling is beyond me. Beefcake's blade job is pretty bad, too. It makes Lex Luger's sucky blade job from the '88 Great American Bash look like a crimson mask in comparison. How does this effect SummerSlam? Who will challenge Honkytonk Man for the gold? Only time will tell... as a kid, I thought it was a pretty lame cop-out, too.
Ken Patera vs. Bad News Brown:
Here we go with the first filler match on the card... Bad News' brief singles program with Bret Hart was done with at this point, and he had yet to move on to challenging Randy Savage for the WWF Title. Patera has been at JTTS status for most of 1988. The guy came back in '87, was inserted into a hot program with Bobby Heenan, then tears a muscle in his arm, misses months of action, then comes back dead in the water. As an older, smarter fan, rewatching shows from the end of the year, it came as a surprise that babyface broadcasters like Monsoon were putting Patera down, suggesting he give up and retire. Bad News attacks Patera before introductions are finished, but goes down to a weak clothesline. Patera with a slam, but he misses an elbow drop. Brown controls with punching and chokes. Patera gets a mild comeback, with an assortment of slams and clotheslines for a pair of near falls. Patera slaps on a bearhug, a move you don't see often from babyfaces. the crowd is actively not into this one, by the way. Patera goes for the Full Nelson, but Brown hooks the ropes. Whip to the corner, AND THEY BLOW THE SPOT. The crowd is audibly boo'ing now. They repeat the spot, and Bad News ends this turkey with the Ghetto Blaster at 6:47. Heatless, sloppy, and just bad. How do you blow the finish that you did every night for half of 1988? As a youngster, it was matches like this that recieved fast forward treatment.
- "Mean" Gene Okerlund is standing by with the Mega Powers, WWF Champion Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, and the lovely Elizabeth. They're going to take on the Mega Bucks, the Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant, and they will have Virgil and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan in their corner. On top of all that, Jesse "The Body" Ventura will be the SPECIAL REFEREE. Savage says that tonight, Elizabeth will be the secret weapon. I know I say this a lot, but... I HATE THE DAMN HANDSHAKE!
The Junkyard Dog vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Another filler match, and a good example of "Not PPV Quality". Rick Rude was in the middle of a very high profile program with Jake Roberts that started over Rude offering to give Jake's wife his traditional post-match kiss. In more modern days (heck, a few years later, actually), that match would be the top promoted, non-title match on the card. Instead, they have to keep that program going a few more months on the house show circuit, so Rude gets a filler match with the clearly-past his prime JYD. Young or old, I never liked JYD. He didn't bring anything to matches that would entertain me. Rude's trunks have images of the JYD on them... talk about going out of your way for nothing. Rude attacks before the bell, but JYD quickly overcomes things and sends Rude out of the ring with his signature headbutts. Rude avoids another big headbutt, lays JYD out with a clothesline, and comes off the top with an axehandle. Rude with a series of rights, snapmare, and a chinlock. You can tell the fans are thinking "why aren't we getting Rude vs. Roberts" while this resthold takes place. JYD with a mild comeback, but Rude regains control, then it's back to the chinlock. JYD with another half-hearted comeback, but it's broken with Heenan shenanigans. Rude to the top rope, and he removes his trunks to reveal the ones with Cheryl Roberts' face on them. Jake Roberts hits the ring to draw the Disqualification at 5:31, and quickly clears Rude from the ring. Roberts should DDT JYD, just for the sake of doing it. So, if Roberts was there to wrestle, WHY DIDN'T WE GET RUDE v. ROBERTS? Match was ass, by the way.
"Mean" Gene Okerlund is with the Intercontinental Champion, the Honkytonk Man, and his manager, Colonel Jimmy Hart. Honky says he'll defend the title against anyone that the WWF wants to throw at him. Mean Gene tries to reveal to Honkytonk Man who will challenge him for the title, but Honky cuts him off and prefers to keep it a surprise. You see, he's the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time, and it doesn't matter who he has to wrestle.
The Powers of Pain (w/ The Baron) vs. The Bolsheviks (w/ Slick):
(The Warlord & The Barbarian vs. Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov)
Ugh... I just want this to be short. The Powers of Pain are fairly fresh off a stint in WCW, jumping ship to avoid potential injuries on a series of scaffold matches against the Road Warriors. The Baron is Baron von Rashke, wearing a hoodie and face-paint to cover up the fact that any older wrestling fans would be able to recognize him. The Bolsheviks were never much more than a JTTS team, but they had victories here and there over established teams, and I never understood why Slick was managing them. I guess you could ask why a Pimp would be managing any male wrestlers that weren't prostitutes, but then we could be here all day. The Powers bum-rush the ring, and quickly clear the ring of those evil Commies. Twice. If at first you don't suceed, and all that jazz. Barbarian levels Zhukov with an axehandle across the chest for a two count. they blow a spot that I honestly couldn't imagine what they were going for, and now it's Warlord's turn to put the hurt on, including a fairly impressive belly-to-belly suplex. Warlord gets the honor of playing face-in-peril, but it's hard to buy into it when these guys are so freakin' huge. This heat segment is so boring, I'm more concerned with what new playlist to add on my cell phone. Volkoff busts out his spinning kick, cause you know he means business, but Warlord barely sells for it. Barbarian gets the mild tag, and dominates everyone. This 30-seconds proves Barbarian > Warlord. They hit a double diving shoulder on Zhukov, Warlord wirh a running powerslam, and Barbarian with a top rope headbutt for the three count at 7:20. I know I'm being a jerk, but that was way too long for the purpose. It should've been a 2-minute obliteration, at most.
- It's time for a very special edition of the Brother Love Show with special guest, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. For those wondering why this is on a PPV, I don't know. I'm sure we all know the rumor that Ric Flair was being offered a butt-load of cash to jump, but that obviously never came to be.
I don't think this match needs much of an introduction. Although the Warrior had been in the WWF for the better part of a year at this point, it was at this show when someone decided to hit the refresh button, deleting Warrior's past of midcard snoozers with the likes of Hercules, and launched him to the next level. Honky gets on the house mic', daring anyone to come and beat him... Warrior's music hits, and Warrior hits the ring at 200 mph. Warrior with a slam, shoulder block, clothesline, and big splash to win the Intercontinental Championship at the 32-second mark, ending the still-record 14-month reign of the Honkytonk Man. after so long avoiding defeat through lame count-out's and purposely getting disqualified, the Warrior crushes him in half a minute, and you can see the entire crowd going fucking nuts for it. I don't think there was ever more a satisfying end to a championship reign than this one. To his credit, Honky would immediately be sent down the card, and pretty much did clean jobs for everyone on the roster.
"The Rock" Don Muraco vs. Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin):
No idea what this one is doing on the show. I'm pretty sure Muraco was doing a program with Greg Valentine regarding attacks to Superstar Billy Graham, but Valentine was left off the card entirely, and we get this, instead. On the other side of the spectrum, Bravo wasn't doing much either, before settling into a program with Jim Duggan towards the end of 1988. Anyone else think calling a some french/french-Canadian guy "Frenchy" is a bit politically incorrect? Gotta love his "USA is Not OK" sign. Bobby Heenan has joined the broadcast booth, for whatever reason. The crowd is clearly not into this after the previous match and the intermission that followed, and I just noticed it's a WrestleMania IV ReMatch! Babyface Muraco stank, by the way. Muraco controls, and Bravo quickly takes a walk. Back in the ring, and Bravo momentarily gains control. UGLY hip toss spot from Muraco... you can see Bravo doing all the work for it. Bravo sends Muraco to the corner, and puts him down with an inverted atomic drop. These two have absolutely no chemistry in the ring. Muraco comes back with a Russian leg sweep, then comes out on top of a slugfest. Muraco calls for the end, but Frenchy gets involved. Bravo counters the Spike Piledriver, and connects with the side suplex for the three count at 5:30. The Coliseum Video version cut this one down to roughly two-minutes, and from a quality stand-point, you can see why.
- Sean Mooney is backstage with the special referee for the Main Event, Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Mooney claims Ventura has accepted a bribe from the Million Dollar Man... Ventura doesn't deny taking the money, but will it effect the outcome of the match? Only time will tell.
(Ax & Smash vs. Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart)
Here we go with another filler match, even if it's for a Championship. The Hart Foundation were transitioning into being a babyface team, having dumped their manager, which would lead to a program with the Rougeau Brothers, which explains why Jimmy Hart is at ringside for the match. You see, he still owns their contracts, and is thus allowed to be at ringside. Demolition just killed Strike Force, and were a few weeks away from kicking off a program with the Powers of Pain, that was extended thanks to a double-turn at the Survivor Series, and kept things going through WrestleMania V... I'm rambling, sorry. Ax throws Bret across the ring to start, and pounds him to the canvas. Bret avoids an elbow drop, unloads on Ax, and a roll up gets a quick two count. Smash tags in, and walks into a pair of arm drags. Neidhart tags in, and has his way with Smash, as well. Ax kicks the Anvil across the back of the head, and it's Demolition's turn to control the action. Bret tags in, and after a brief flurry of offense, gets whipped into the ring post, which also included Fuji's cane, and now the real heat segment is underway. Why does Graham constantly refer to Fuji as "The Man from Japan?" Listening to him for nearly 2-hours at this point is becoming a chore. Smash with the oddball submission move of the night: a step over arm hold... think the toe hold, but on the arm, instead. Demolition continues to target the left arm, ramming it into the ring post once again. Back in the ring, and Bret lays Ax out with a diving clothesline. Neidhart gets the tag, but the referee didn't see it. Sucks for him. Bret gets sent shoulder first to the buckle, but manages to boot a charging Smash, and now we get the real hot tag. Neidhart throws a dropkick on Ax, then plants both opponents with slams. Smash gets knocked out of the ring, and Bret sling-shot's Neidhart to the floor, on top of him. Back in the ring, and Neidhart with the powerslam for a two count. Smash continues taking a beating, but won't stay down for more than a two count. Things get out of control, the megaphone comes into play, and Ax KO's Bret with it. Smash has just enough in him to throw an arm across the chest, and its over at 10:50. Started off pretty sluggish, but the last few minutes were pretty hot. The replay shows Jimmy Hart actually went back to the locker room, before returning at the end of the match for the big finish.
- The Honkytonk Man is backstage, pissed off. This must be the heel locker room, as we see The Rougeaus, Nikolai Volkoff, and Dino Bravo trying to calm Honky down. Honky claims he's going to get the belt back, if it's the last thing he does... good luck with that one.
Koko B. Ware vs. Big Boss Man (w/ Slick):
The filler train rolls on... the Boss Man is only about two months into his tenure (or about two weeks worth of appearances by todays standard), so he gets to crush an undercard babyface... since this is a PPV, we get Koko B. Ware, instead of some bum like Sam Houston or Scott Casey (not the baseball player). Boss Man is quite beefy still, and a hell of a lot meaner looking, too. I would've much more prefered Boss Man squashing Ken Patera, for the obvious reasons, but only if Heenan was calling the match. I wonder... did Frankie ever go nuts and fly away during a match? Boss Man attacks before the bell and tosses Koko, while Graham questions allowing Boss Man to wear his BADGE in the ring. Koko comes back with a dropkick, and that ties Boss Man in the ropes. For the first time EVER, KOKO HITS THE DIVING SPLASH INTO THE ROPES. There's always once... even Glass Joe won a fight (allegedly). Boss Man is barely phased, and proceeds to squash the Birdman. Irish whip, and Boss Man creams Koko with a clothesline. Boss Man heads to the top rope, and he misses the splash, but he still gets up first. Koko avoids an avalanche, and starts to Bird Upô. Koko heads to the top, and connects with a missile dropkick to a huge pop. Koko with a splash, but that only gets two. Boss Man quickly comes back, and plants Koko with a sidewalk slam for the three count at 6:08. Served it's purpose of putting Boss Man over a popular babyface. After the match, Boss Man lays into Koko with the nightstick. HATE CRIME!
- Sean Mooney is with the NEW Intercontinental Champion. He rambles nonsense about spaceships and lightning bolts. He was surrounded by the Bulldogs, Junkyard Dog, Ken Patera, and Jim Duggan, but they all run away, no doubt laughing as he claims he's going to board the spaceship back to parts unknown... seriously... this guy was insane.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Hercules:
One last filler match before the main event... you could think that Hercules not having Heenan at ringside with him was a sign of things to come, but Heenan is involved in the next match, so it's probably smart not to keep him out there for too long right before it. Hercules has been dead in the water since the Warrior program ended, but I still don't believe a babyface turn was the right move with him. We've already touched on Roberts' situation at the time, so let's get this over with (another match I typically would fast forward, because I would be way more interesting in the main event than waiting to get through this). Hercules quickly over-powers Roberts, and hammers away. Roberts surprises Herc' with a knee lift, but DDT attempt #1 fails. Roberts hangs on to a headlock for a while, and I'm tempted to grab the remote, but I won't. Hercules finally escapes, and clamps on his own chinlock. Ugh... Hercules with a clothesline for a two count, then another long chinlock. Roberts crawls out of the ring, and manages to snapmare Hercules over the top rope. Hercules returns the favor, hanging Roberts up across the rope, then GOES BACK TO THE CHINLOCK! Roberts ecapes with a jaw buster (thank you...), then pounds away with left jabs and roundhouse rights. Roberts with the short-arm clothesline, and DDT attempt #2 fails. Roberts goes for a running knee lift, but Herc' sidesteps it. Hercules with a slam and elbow drop for a two count. Roberts counters a slam, and hits the DDT on the third attempt, and that's enough for the three count at 10:09. Long and dull, but the last couple of minutes picked up steam. I would've prefered keeping Hercules off the card in favor of Roberts vs Rude, but I can complain all I want about a 24 year old show, it's not going to change things.
The Mega Powers (w/ Elizabeth) vs. The Mega Bucks (w/ Virgil & Bobby Heenan)
(Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan vs. Ted Dibiase & Andre The Giant)
(Special Referee: Jesse "The Body" Ventura)
This is what you call a main event tag team match.... during the video package highlighting the history between these teams, you can hear the Fink introducing next month's card at Madison Square Garden. Introductions take forever, as expected, but even that's more entertaining than a handful of the matches on this card. In what comes as a surprise to me, the Mega Powers come out together... to SAVAGE'S theme music. The pre-match shenanigans and instructions eat up a lot of time. Ventura even goes so far as to move the tag ropes to different corners. Savage and Andre start, and Andre easily over-powers the Champion. Dibiase tags in, but Savage slips out of the corner. Dibiase wants some of the Hulkster, so he's going to get some of the Hulkster. Lockup, and Dibiase rakes the eyes. Hogan blocks a boot and sends Dibiase to the corner with an atomic drop, and he gets to bounce back and forth between the Mega Powers. Irish whip, and Hogan with the running elbow. Savage tags in, and they nail a pair of double elbows. I only now noticed that Hogan and Savage have matching red and yellow trunks, and both have "Mega Powers" on them. Savage with a double axehandle and a knee drop for a one count. Irish whip, and a double boot gets a two count. Hogan with a slam, followed by his trio of elbows. Hogan goes after Andre but gets nailed with a headbutt. Savage comes in, and takes a headbutt as well. Andre tags in, and drops ass on Hogan a few times, then uses the bottom rope to choke him. Andre rams Hogan into his boot, then starts choking him down.
Dibiase tags in, and nails Hogan with a clothesline for a two count. Dibiase with a knee across the chest, followed by several fist drops for another two count. Dibiase slaps on a chinlock, but Monsoon insists it's a choke... did Graham just say 30,000 people are in the crowd? I'm pretty sure he meant 20, because MSG can't hold much more than that. Hogan finally escapes with elbows, and a double clothesline puts both men down. Savage gets the hot tag, and unloads a series of rights on Dibiase. Whip to the ropes, and a back drop, followed by the hangman move across the top rope. Savage heads up, and comes down with a double axehandle. Savage misses a blind charge to the corner, but has enough to come off the ropes with a cross body. Dibiase with a quick clothesline, and it's Andre's turn to work over his much smaller opponent. Andre crushes Savage in the corner, first with his shoulder, then with his ass. Andre with the Pre-Attitude era version of a Stink Face, to add insult to injury. Dibiase tags in, and takes Savage over with a suplex for a two count. Dibiase with a back breaker, and he comes off the ropes, missing the elbow that always misses. Hogan gets the hot tag, and he lays into Dibiase like he just robbed him. Whip to the corner, and Hogan follows in with a clothesline, then takes Dibiase over with a suplex of his own. Andre comes in, and Hogan puts him on the canvas with a clothesline! Savage to the top rope, and he eats boot going for whatever on Andre. In the meantime, Hogan has a sleeper applied to Dibiase. Andre awakens to break the hold, and headbutts Hogan from behind. Suddenly, Elizabeth hops on the apron, and removes her skirt to distract the Mega Bucks (and pretty much everyone else). This buys Hogan and Savage the time to attack... but not without doing that stupid handshake first. Andre gets knocked out with a double axehandle. Hogan with a slam on Dibiase, Savage with the top rope elbow, and Hogan adds a leg drop. Ventura counts two, but Savage forces the hand a third time for the victory at 14:53. Other than a very dull middle with the Andre choking and Dibiase chinlock spots on Hogan, a fairly entertaining match, and a great way to send the crowd home happy. Nothing can come between the Mega Powers alliance... right?
Final Thoughts: An interesting show... not much in terms of settling feuds, and a lot of filler matches to keep other programs going for later shows. The show opens and ends with two solid tag matches, but both are worked entirely different from each other. The Warrior winning the Title from Honkytonk Man is a classic moment, and that's pretty much it. Most of the card is either forgetable or boring, and other than this being the first SummerSlam, it's hard to recommend it. SummerSlam's would get better starting in '89, and had more of a point to contain matches based on established feuds. This was just a glorified house show held at Madison Square Garden.
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