- Originally broadcasted on August 28th, 1989, from the Meadowlands Arena in East Ruthorford, NJ, with Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura calling all the action. SummerSlam '89 was the first SummerSlam I remember watching... on Coliseum Video. Teased you on that one... I'm pretty sure I was 7 or 8 the first time I can remember watching this one, and it really is a little cool to remember not knowing details of a match, let alone the winner, and just enjoying the show, no matter how old you are. Other than a particular blunder, I don't think there's much difference between the Coliseum Video version and the Pay-Per-View version. I guess by this time, our pals at Coliseum Video figured out how to fit a full PPV on tape withou butchering the hell out of it.
Before we get to the show, there's one thing I never understood... From 1986-1991, WrestleMania featured between 12 and 14 matches (and at IV, 16, but that's because of a Tournament). SummerSlam topped out with 10 at its first show, then sustained an average of 8 or 9 the rest of the way. When you only have two PPV's that weren't gimmicked (Rumble Match, Survivor Series elimination tags), why not use both to showcase all the talent you have? Just seems a little odd at times, especially since on this show, there's a lot of talent cramming to keep the match total in single digits.
I lied: One more thing. I commented in the 1988 SummerSlam recap that the card at SummerSlam would consist more of actual programs and feud payoffs than that edition did. While 1989 does improve on that, with a handful of matches with some actual meaning to them, there's still a lot of filler, but not nearly as much.
The Hart Foundation vs. The Brain Busters (Tag Champs) (w/ Bobby Heenan):
(Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart vs. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard)
For whatever reason, this is Non-Title. Cover-up reasoning is that the match was signed before the Brain Busters defeated Demolition for the Titles, so the Foundation have to deal with it. Whatever. I'm pretty sure that Bret and Neidhart were working mostly in singles roles at this point, but you have to get them on the show somehow. Blanchard with a headlock on Hart, but Hart quickly counters with an arm drag, then goes to work on the left arm. Anderson tags in, and the Foundation work him over, too. This match reminds me of the Rougeaus and Bulldogs from 1988. Just solid tag formula wrestling. Again, I'm trying to limit my detailed PBP for matches when I can, while still commenting on the match. Blanchard tags in, and repeat the same formula. Arn and Tully were masters at taking a beating for 10-minutes straight, looking like total scrubs, before killing the opponents for the next 5-10 before a big finish, but that's in the NWA when 25-30 minute tag matches were the norm. It's not until around the 10-minute mark that Neidhart starts to play face-pin-peril, so the Brain Busters are following their typical formula. Surprising, since usually Bret played the face-in-peril for the team. Honestly, I'm enjoying just watching the match more than just recapping it, move for move. They tease a hot tag spot, then do it again, thanks to a cheap shot from the Hitman. I LOVED when the Hart Foundation did heel-ish things as faces. Bret gets the tag in, and he dominates everyone. Dropkick to Anderson, snap suplex on Blanchard for a two count. Neidhart sling shots in with a shoulder tackle, but he's the illegal man. Neidhart reverse slams Bret on top of Blanchard, but Anderson comes off the ropes with an axehandle, then makes the cover for the three count at 15:56. Anderson covered his head up to avoid being fingered as the illegal man, in a nice touch you didn't see too much. Solid opener, but I'm a little disappointed that the Brain Busters only controled the action for roughly 3-minutes of a 16-minute match.
- Please forgive me not giving little footnotes on every interview and promo on this show, or any of the next couple of SummerSlam's, period. There's just way too many, especially in 1990 and 1991, when half the show is backstage promos. I'll make comments if anything is REALLY interesting, and again, this is NOT the live PPV, so I don't give enough of a shit to watch a blooper. Sorry for the bad news, but I've heard and said the F-word enough that it's just a word to me.
Dusty Rhodes vs. The Honkytonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart):
I'll admit, I loved WWF Dusty Rhodes when I was a kid, but even I knew this match was going to be uninteresting back then, too. Rhodes is making his first major in-ring appearance, but has already stolen Boss Man's billyclub and hat in a moment of Insta-Feud. Honkytonk Man is, believe it or not, a filler opponent at this point of his WWF run, with his only purpose being to play job boy to the next wave of superstars (shut up, Rhodes was new, I don't care how old he is). I think these two had a Dance-Off on a recent episode of Primetime Wrestling, but that's it as far as interaction between the two. Two matches in, and Schiavone seems a perfect fit, calling matches with Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and now Dusty Rhodes involved. Lots of stalling and non-action to start. Rhodes gets under Honky's skin by messing with the hair. Maybe Narcis Prince from Super Punch-Out!! on SNES modeled himself after Honkytonk Man. Rhodes pounds away in the corner, then works a standing toe hold. Jesse Ventura on Dusty Rhodes: He entered a Mr. America contest and won Most Abs. That's a one-liner that would stick in my mind for years. Honky nails Dusty in the splotch with the megaphone, but it only gets a two count. Watching Honky do nothing makes me long for a good ol' encounter between Dusty and Ric Flair. Those were the days. Honky works a chinlock that feels like an overnight shift. You're just bored out of your mind, waiting for it to end. I probably shouldn't rest my head on a pillow watching this snoozer. Rhodes takes control, and we get a ref bump... a fine staple of Dusty Rhodes matches. The guitar gets involved, and Jimmy Hart accidentally bashes Honky with it, and Rhodes drops the bionic elbow for the three count at 9:40. That felt much longer... After the match, Sean Mooney tries to get a word with the Honkytonk Man, but he's doing an entertaining job of playing "out of it". Match was a complete turd, though.
The Red Rooster vs. Mr. Perfect:
No backstory for this one, just a time filler. Mr. Perfect spent a good portion of the spring tearing up the house show scene with Bret Hart, but damn it if I can remember an actual storyline he was linked too. The Rooster is just clucking around, collecting a paycheck after his program with Bobby Heenan came to an end and someone said "you know, this gimmick sucks, why bother trying to get gim over." Bless Schiavone for trying, but NOTHING can get THE RED ROOSTER over. Might as well call him the Green Goblin, or something. It's not like it matters. Rooster pecks around, and we get a feeling out process. Perfect with a pair of hip tosses, then what looks like some mock pecking. Rooster slaps the taste out of his mouth, and we get moe trash talk. Criss-cross, and Rooster's knee gives out under him on a slam attempt, and Perfect lands on top for a two counr. Perfect knocks Rooster out of the ring with a dropkick, no doubt to buy time for the Rooster, but something must be up, because the Perfect-Plex ends things soon after at 3:18. Maybe there was a legit injury, maybe there wasn't, but it seems odd for them to go home so fast.
The Rockers & Tito Santana vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers & Rick Martel (w/ Jimmy Hart & Slick):
Example #1 of packing them in to keep the match total down. I honestly don't know if the Rockers and Rougeaus had issues or not (Editor's Note: they had a feud begun on Wrestling Challenge. Over THEME MUSIC), but we all know that at WrestleMania V, Strike Force EXPLODED, and the outcome of the explosion left Martel scarred as a Model, while Tito Santana kept wearing the Strike Force trunks for another two years. Santana and Martel never had a proper blowoff, but were constantly paired up, with very little more than "they broke up as a team" being a backstory to their matches. This would go on for FOUR YEARS, by the way. They repeated this, at least in Royal Rumble matches, with Michaels and Jannetty post-Rocker break-up, even when both were babyfaces. Time does NOT heal all wounds, apparently. Jesse Ventura shamelessly recycles the reasoning behind the heel team's advantage: They're all French-Canadian, thus all speak French on top of English, and can communicate without the other team knowing what they're saying. Santana starts with Jacques, and you know Martel won't get in the ring until Santana is in a compromising position. Things get out of hand fast, but Tito and the Rockers clean house (insert Mexican housekeeping joke here). Jannetty takes a beating fairly early in the match, a contrast to the opener where the babyface team dominated almost the entire thing. Santana tags in, but Martel runs... they're building to something. Santana takes a beating, and now Martel tags in, to get a few shots in. Martel misses a charge, but kicks out of a sunset flip and chokes away. Santana continues to play face-in-peril, which means Michaels will likely get the hot tag. Santana FINALLY gets a few shots in on Martel, then comes off the ropes with a body press on Jacques for two. Santana continues to take a pounding, until heel miscommuncation buys him a chance to tag out. Michaels with the hot tag, and he cleans Martel's clock. Michaels with a top rope fist drop, then slams Jannetty on top for a two count. Things get out of hand quickly, and Santana with the flying forearm on Martel! Jannetty counters a roll up from Jacques, but Martel wipes him out with a clothesline, and that gets the three count at 14:57. Non-stop action the whole time, and another outstanding tag match from the SummerSlam vault. The Rougeaus were quietly being sent down the card, so it came as a surprise to see them win, but the Rockers were never held too highly, either, I guess.
We all know the drill here: Rick Rude beat the shit out of Warrior at the Royal Rumble, Bobby Heenan helped Rude cheat the Warrior out of the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania V, and Warrior has been on a path of destruction ever since, and in the mean time, not-so-subtely set up an upcoming program with Andre The Giant. The less said about THAT, the better. Rick Rude's perm is way out of hand here. Warrior's color scheme reminds me of his first Hasbro wrestling figure. Warrior wipes the floor with the Rude to start (the norm between the two). The action spills out of the ring, and Jesse Ventura goes on on the greatest rants in history. Schiavone defends Warrior's use of the title belt as a weapon because it happend outside of the ring, to which Ventura basically calls him a moron, then suggesting that he might as well use a gun, if you're going to use the logic that it's legal because it happend outside of the ring. Schiavone tries to comment, and Ventura cuts him off AGAIN... now THAT is called being a dickhead. Warrior with a pair of near falls, using actual wrestling moves like a suplex and reverse atomic drop. Warrior with THE WORST HIP GYRATIONS EVER, and God makes sure he gets crotched on the top rope for it. Destrucity can suck on that. Rude pounds the back and brings Warrior over with a suplex for a two count. Rude continues to target the back, and applies a seated chinlock. Warrior powers out of a Rude Awakening attempt, but Rude changes plans by applying a sleeper hold. We get a collision spot, and the referee gets wiped out, too! You never see that spot. Warrior with a series of clotheslines and a powerslam, but the referee is still out. Warrior with a jumping piledriver, and the referee slowly crawls over to make a two count. Heenan's reaction to Rude getting a foot on the ropes is PRICELESS. Warrior with a running powerslam, but a splash meets the knees! Rude connects with a reverse tombstone piledriver, and that only gets two. Warrior is Superhuman. Suddenly, Roddy Piper makes an appearance at ringside. As a young viewer, this made no sense to me, but I guess Rude and Piper had an incident involving mouth wash on the Brother Love Show. Piper distracts Rude, flashes what's under the kilt, and Warrior finishes Rude off with a back suplex, shoulder tackle, and splash for the three count and the Intercontinental Championship at 16:02. Probably (OK, EASILY) the best Warrior match at this point of his career, but I have one huge gripe: Did the Ultimate Warrior need Roddy Piper's interference to go over? It seems like something completely unnecessary. Rude and Piper settled into a program of course, and Warrior did terrible stuff with Andre.
- Must be intermission, because we get a lot of interviews, all done in the same take. Someone pops in, pops out, next person does the same.
Demolition & "King" Jim Duggan vs. The Twin Towers & Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan & Slick):
This match would represent some sort of wet dream fantasy from my Hasbro Collection. I don't know how the mind of a child worked, but I loved Demolition, I loved the Boss Man (heel version) and Akeem, and I loved Andre The Giant, and all 5 of them were featured in the 1st series of Hasbro figures. I didn't care too much for Jim Duggan, but here he totally gets in on the fun, painting his face like the American Flag, and wearing a Demolition mask that looks more like a hockey mask painted black. Speaking of the Rolling Stones, Jesse Ventura references Duggan to Jason Voorhees, but sadly doesn't make a joke about either lacking intelligence. I'm guessing Big John Studd was meant to be in this, but his sudden departure in June left his program with Andre without a conclussion. The Towers were chasing Demolition all Spring for the Tag Titles, but that went out the window once the Brain Busters won them. Mostly punchy-kicky stuff, but everyone is so full of energy, it's an enjoyable match. One of the true highlights of the match is Smash coming in and easily slamming both Akeem and the Boss Man, before getting knocked on his ass by Andre. I'm sure Andre would've rather let Smash slam him than Warrior... Ax takes a beating from Andre, which would be deja vu a few months later, when Andre and Haku squashes the poor bastard for the Tag Titles. Everything gets out of control, Duggan whacks Akeem with the American flag painted 2x4, and Smash makes the cover for the three count at 7:26. Not good from a wrestling point of view, but a good example of a crowd pleaser, and one of my guilty favorites.
Hercules vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart):
FILLER! FILLER! FILLER! Hercules was a total non-factor at this point, but as a kid, I always had a soft spot for babyface Hercules. The real issue here is between Greg Valentine and Ronnie Garvin, the special ring announcer for this match. Remember, it was Valentine who defeated Garvin in a retirement match, and it was during a match featuring the Hammer where newly-trained referee Ron Garvin was banned from being a referee for interfering in matches... and yet, this program was somehow stretched out until the Royal Rumble, FOUR MONTHS AFTER THIS. That's almost 9-months of one program for a midcard act. Garvin's introductions for Valentine are pretty unflattering, making fun of his weight (blowing his lines in the process), intelligence, and wardrobe, and making fun of Jimmy Hart, too. Nothing of a match, consisting almost entirely of Hercules punching and Valentine being pissed off at Garvin. Valentine sweeps the legs in the corner and uses the ropes for leverage to get a three count at 3:06. Despite Valentine being awarded the victory, Garvin announces Hercules the winner by Disqualification... okay. Nice cheap heat, I guess, but poor Hercules: went from being the third Mega Power to a footnote in a program between Valentine and Garvin.
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil):
The filler here is forgivable here, since Dibiase's feud partner, Jake Roberts, was on the shelf for whatever personal reasons, so Dibiase is out here to remind everyone he killed Roberts' career... and that he's going to wrestle Jimmy Snuka. Speaking of Snuka, can anyone think of another random return/appearance like his at WrestleMania V, that came during the introductions of another match, and had nothing to do with said match? I'm pretty sure Snuka was doing something with the Honkytonk Man around this time, but it couldn't have been that good, since I tend to know everything (it's a curse). This feels like it belongs as a feature on Superstars... it's mostly punchy-kicky until Dibiase takes control and works in his signature moves (suplex, fist drop...). Snuka comes back with headbutts, but the action spills to the floor. Dibiase rams Snuka into the ring post, rolls back in, and wins via cheap count-out at 6:26. People like to complain about Dibiase's drop off from WrestleMania IV to V, but he went from a Title Tournament to a match with uppercarder Brutus Beefcake. His drop-off from SummerSlam '88 to '89 is MUCH Worse: Main event to pre-main event time filler with past-his-prime Jimmy Snuka.
Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Randy Savage & Zeus (w/ Sensational Sherri):
Horrible, horrible, horrible fact from my childhood... I liked Zeus. With that embarassing tidbit out there, I have earned the right to copy and paste this from my recent Hulk Still Rules recap: The whole No Holds Barred movie turning into a storyline was pretty dumb, and we'll leave it at that. Pre-match interviews and introductions eat up 10-minutes... what is this, the Attitude Era? We even get a poem from The Genius, which was totally necessary... Everyone starts brawling, with Zeus no-selling Hogan's offense. Hogan goes for a slam, but Zeus blocks, and chokes away. Beefcake makes the save and gets trapped in a bearhug for it. Zeus with more choking, then slaps a bearhug on Hogan. Savage with a scoop slam, followed by a double axehandle from the top rope. Savage with a running high knee and clothesline for a two count. Zeus tags in, and guess what... bearhug! Why do I torture myself?! They should've just done the big cage match here, that match was at least watchable. Savage tags in to do all the work, and hangs Hogan up across the top rope. Savage with a back suplex for a two count. Beefcake somehow gets a fake hot tag, and wipes out Savage with a clothesline and running high knee for a two count. Beefcake applies his signature sleeper hold, but Savage uses momentum to ram Beefer into the turnbuckle to break the hold. Now it's Beefcake's turn to play face-in-peril. Beefcake hops on Zeus for another sleeper hold, but Savage breaks it with a shot with the loaded purse. Savage attempts to cover, but Hogan keeps pulling him off. For no good reason, Savage goes after Elizabeth, then goes for another pin, but Hogan still won't allow it. Zeus tags in and chokes, practically skull fucking the poor bastard. Zeus with more choking, followed by choking. I sound like an EWR match recap when the worker is incredibly poor... and yes, I made an EWR reference in 2012. Savage tags back in and immediately a double clothesline puts both men down. Hogan gets the hot tag and walks in waggin' the finger. Hogan with an elbow on Savage and a sucker punch to Zeus. Irish whip, and a big boot sends Savage out of the ring. Hogan attempts a suplex, but Sherri sweeps the leg. Savage puts Hogan down with a clothesline, then comes off the top with his elbow drop, but Hogan pops up like nothing happened... and then people had the nerve to complain he only did it to Vader in '95? HE DID IT TO EVERYONE. Back to the match... it still stinks. Zeus comes in, to make it even worse. Sherri and Elizabeth get involved, and Hogan KO's Zeus with the loaded purse. Hogan with a slam and leg drop, and it's thankfully over at 15:10. After the match, Hogan, Beefcake, and Elizabeth work over SHERRI, and Beefcake clips off her obvious hair extensions to add insult to injury. Outside of a few decent spots, this one was a total dog and a horrible match to end the PPV with.
Final Thoughts: Even though the main event was a quick cure for insomnia for me, the undercard is pretty stacked. The filler is kept incredibly short, with all of the lesser quality matches clocking in at roughly 5-6 minutes, and there's no 10-minute wastes of time like Brother Love in 1988. The opening tag match, six-man tag between the Rougeaus/Martel and Santana/Rockers, and Intercontinental Title match all range from very good to outstanding, and again, I have a personal bias towards the mammoth sized six-man tag. Throw in a hot crowd, and you have an entertaining two and a half hours.
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