August 28, 1989
East Rutherford, New Jersey
Brendan Byrne Arena
Announcers: Tony Schiavone & Jesse "The Body" Ventura
Many have criticized this Summerslam for being lackluster, but I always thought it was the first of several above average, if not spectaular Summerslams, a string which didn't end until 1995, or 1996 depending on who you're talking to. In the main event, WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and friend Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake are set to oppose old Hogan foe Randy "Macho Man" Randy Savage and new Hogan foe, the unstoppable Zeus. I could explain the whole angle that brought Zeus to the WWF, but honestly it's painful, and you're better off not knowing anyway. Just know that Zeus was billed as Hogan's "toughest challenge yet" (wasn't everyone?), he was 300 pounds of muscle, and he no-sold everything in order to be established as unbeatable. Oh, and he was evil. Other matches included The Ultimate Warrior getting a rematch with Intercontinental Champion, Rick Rude, and a pair of six man tags to settle ongoing feuds.
As the show opens, I'm left wishing for Gorilla in place of Schiavone on commentary, but thankfully Tony actually doesn't do a bad job. And anything with Jesse will be entertaining, so I can't really argue.
There's a really odd-shaped aisle way set up for the wrestlers to get to the ring. It weaves in and out a bunch of times in nienty degree angles before finally ending at the corner of ringside. It's little things like that I sometimes miss about wrestling today. I know the sets for RAW and Smackdown! give the shows their own identity, but to me it sometimes gets bland. Back in the day each arena had its own unique aisle and sometimes little things like that helped define each show. It's hard to explain, but I know there are others that know what I'm talking about and feel the same way.
Hart Foundation vs. Brainbusters
The Busters are the reigning Tag Team Champions, but it's not a Title match because they won the belts from Demolition (with the help of Andre the Giant) after this match was signed, so they saw no reason to go ahead and make this a Title Match. Quite a difference from today when we don't even know half the card until two days before the PPV. Jesse points out that if the Harts lose they'll get booted down the ladder, and might not see another Title shot for a year. Very strange thing to hear, because the next year at Summerslam, they happened to get a shot and win them. Anyway, to the match, Bret Hart and both Busters do a couple of great sequences, and Niedhart tags in to do his part. The match varies from the usual formula, as the face Harts spend the first ten minutes in near total control, outsmarting and outmatching the Busters at every opportunity. They do a little role reversal, as the ref misses a tag by the heel Busters, and the Harts switch in illegally without a tag. The Harts destroy Tully, so Arn comes in to help out and gets taken out by Bret for his trouble. Tully makes a great move, luring Bret to the floor, running to his corner, climbing in the ring quickly and tagging Arn before Bret can see it. Anderson, of course, nails Bret as he's getting back in the ring, but the advantage doesn't last long, as an Arn pumpsplash lands smack on the Hitman's knees. All four men come in the ring again, and Arn pulls Tully out of the way of a Niedhart avalanche, finally allowing the heels to get in some offense. The Busters control and prevent the hot tag, but when Arn goes off the ropes, Bret fights fire with fire and catches him with a right hand from the apron. Anvil makes the hot tag, and Bret goes nuts on both Busters. Arn bails while the Harts double team Tully, and hit their reverse slam where Bret goes to the second rope, and Anvil slams him on top of Tully right into a cover. There's no count however, as Bobby Heenan distracts the ref for his team while Arn sneaks back in and hits a second rope axehandle on Bret, then covers for a quick three count to steal the win at 15:56. The Busters win despite being given a run for their money, and stumble away, exhausted. ****1/4 Great, non-formulaic tag match that was a lot of fun to watch and has always been a particular favorite of mine. But then again most everything involving Bret Hart at any Summerslam is a favorite of mine.
Mean Gene Okerlund is with the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes. This is Dusty's first WWF PPV after being a multiple World Champion in the NWA throughout the 80's. Speaking of which, with Schiavone, Tully, Arn, Gene, and Dust, this is looking a lot like WCW. Except Gene, I think all of them would end up (back) there within a year and a half.
Dusty Rhodes vs. Honky Tonk Man
Dusty has the Big Boss Man's hat and billy club with him. Isn't it illegal to steal part of an officer's uniform? The obvious feud is between Rhodes and Boss Man, but Boss Man is involved in another match, and Dusty gets Honky here to establish himself. The start is all Dusty, as he messes up Honky's hair just to get him all bent out of shape. Jesse works in a classic quote here: "I heard that Dusty Rhodes was in a Mr. America contest and won Most Abs." Most abs; that's classic. Standard hijinx ensues, as Dusty chases Jimmy Hart, but the distraction allows Honky to score with a megaphone shot. Honky runs through his entire offense, which consists only of a chinlock. Dusty makes the big comeback, and the ref is bumped. Honky holds Dusty so Jimmy can hit him with the guitar, but Rhodes moves, and knocks his own man out- and in those days, them things didn't give. Rhodes drops an elbow on the unconscious Honky, and covers for the win at 9:38. * After the match, Sean Mooney gets a word with a still whacked-out Honky, and he's absolutely gone.
Gene is with "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, and former Tag Team Champions, Demolition.
The Red Rooster vs. Mr. Perfect
They start with some tieups and armdrags. The crowd pops big for the heel Perfect when he mocks the Rooster. See, no one liked that cheesy gimmick. They do a hot sequence, as the match starts to get good, but Taylor blows his knee out on a leapfrog. He still continues, and lets Perfect know his knee is gone by collapsing on a bodyslam attempt. Perfect dropkicks him to the floor to buy time. Back in, the Rooster fights back, clearly limping, but since it wasn't supposed to happen, the announcers don't acknowledge it. Rooster tosses Perfect to the floor where they brawl, but Perfect must sense it's really bad because as soon as they get back in, he hits the Perfect-Plex for the win at the obviously abbreviated 3:22. The match could've been good, but as it is it's only about *1/4. Perfect was going over anyway.
Survivor Series promo.
My tape must have been taped live off PPV because Tony tosses it backstage to Gene, who is with Rick Rude and Bobby Heenan, and before Gene can get two words out, the big Summerslam logo collapses, and a livid Gene yells, "Fuck it". We quickly cut back to a crowd shot, and Tony, caught off guard, tries to cover for it while Jess, probably stifling laughter, cracks on Gene. The whole thing was very abrupt and as you can imagine, very hilarious. A minute later they send it back to Gene, and this time all three are composed and able to complete the interview in a professional manner. And the sign stays put. This was edited out of the Coliseum Video version for obvious reasons.
Rockers & Tito Santana vs. Rougeau Brothers & "The Model" Rick Martel
We start with chaos as the Rockers cause trouble and clear the ring of the heels. Martel plays the cowardly heel, running from his former partner, Tito, at every opportunity, but when the Rougeaus slow him down, he comes in to get his licks in. The heels cheat like crazy to keep Tito down, but he eventually gets the hot tag. The Rockers go nuts and all six men come in. Admist the confusion, Jannetty rolls up a Rougeau, but Martel clocks him and covers for the three at 14:58. Good match. ***
We're shown an Ultimate Warrior/Rick Rude video package.
Gene is with the Warrior. He yells a lot. The Warrior, not Gene.
Intercontinental Title: Ultimate Warrior vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (Champion)
As mentioned, these two had been feuding all year, and Rude upset Warrior for the Title at Wrestlemania V. This is the blowoff, and the Warrior's first major opportunity to win back the belt. The match is all Warrior to start, as he presses Rude to the floor where he nails him with the Belt. Jesse, always a Rude supporter, demands a DQ, but Tony objects that it was on the floor. Ventura just goes off on him for that idiotic comment. "SO WHAT?!" He gives a classic rant culminating with, "Are you telling me that you can take a gun and shoot a guy, but as long as it's outside of the ring, it's legal?! You're even stupider than Monsoon!" Unbelivable. Warrior throws Rude back in, then tosses him right back to the floor for a bodyslam. Macho Warrior hits an axehandle off the top, and a slam and a suplex get a few near falls. Heenan looks nervous. Rude crotches Warrior on top, but Warrior powers out of a Rude Awakening attempt, only to be met with a sleeper. A big collission follows with the Warrior, Rude, and the ref all going down. Warrior hulks up and hits a powerslam, but there's no ref. Warrior gets a piledriver and covers, as the ref slowly crawls over. Rude just barely gets his foot on the rope for a dramatic two, and he did it perfectly unlike so many today. Ah, the art of the little things. Warrior pulls out a running powerslam, but eats knees on a splash attempt. Rude gets two with a strange, uglier version of the piledriver. The crowd is having a collective heart attack. Rude hits a fistdrop from the top, as Rowdy Roddy Piper makes his way down the aisle. Another Rude piledriver gets two. Rude sees Piper and taunts him, so Piper does what any reasonable man would do: lift his kilt and moon him. This outrages Rude, rightly so, and he hops on the second rope to yell at Piper. Warrior gets up and back suplexes him, then hits a flying shoulder tackle, gorilla press slam, and the big splash to get three and regain the Intercontinental Title at 16:01. The crowd goes crazy as Warrior celebrates with the belt. *** Intense match.
Gene is with Perfect, then Piper, who cuts one of his classic promos. Garvin is next, but he sucks, so an irate Bobby Heenan comes in instead to give a great ranting and raving interview about how Rude lost his Title.
The five minute intermission is edited out here.
We're shown a Hogan & Beefcake/Savage & Zeus package to hype the main event.
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan & Demolition vs. Andre The Giant & Twin Towers
Whoa, there's some major beef on the heel side. In fact, Team Slick is announced as weighing in at a slim, trim, 1,334 pounds. Wow. I always say how much I love Slick's music, but the lyrics really make you think: "... Why just last night I was out there dancin' with a woman that was seven feet tall... now that was a biiiiig woman." "King" Duggan has a USA flag painted on his face. As if he didn't look stupid enough already. This match is a big cluster, as the heel team isn't blessed with a ton of mobility, and the faces, though smaller, don't exactly have the speed of a team like the Rockers. Ax gets smashed for awhile, a melee breaks loose, and Duggan nails Akeem with the 2x4, enabling his team to score the pin at 7:26. *
Survivor Series promo.
Gene is with Ted Dibiase and Virgil.
Hercules vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine
Howard Finkel introduces "Rugged" Ronnie Garvin as the special guest ring announcer. Garvin goes into a long winded, unkind, unfunny intro of his rival, Valentine. During the course of the match, Tony uses the word "stroke", and that's about the only highlight for me. Valentine gets the Flair pin for the win at 3:05, so Garvin announces Hercules as the victor. The ref has a word with him, so Ronnie corrects himself and declares the "real" decision as Hercules the winner by DQ. Whatever, Ronnie, Valentine got his hand raised and you know it. A slugfust erupts between Valentine and Garvin. 1/2*
Gene is with Savage, Sherri, and Zeus.
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka vs. "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
Snuka starts off well despite botching a leapfrog. A hotshot by Teddy turns the tide. He misses the reverse elbow off the second rope; even Tony knew that would miss. Snuka hits a headbutt and goes up top for the splash, but he's distracted by Virgil. DiBiase posts him on the floor and rolls in for the countout victory at 6:25. 3/4* I don't see why he couldn't have gone over him clean there, but oh well. Snuka gets revenge on Virgil with a Superfly Splash after the match. Tons of flashbulbs for that one.
Sean Mooney is in the nosebleeds with some fans.
Gene is with Beefcake and Hogan. Hulk equates himself with Moses. Beefcake boasts about his shears being made of titanium steel. Hey, isn't that what his facemask was made of during his comeback in 1993? Hulk brags about having Elizabeth. I think.
The Genius runs down Hogan in a poem before the Main Event.
Hulk Hogan & Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. Randy "Macho Man" Savage & Zeus
Elizabeth gets her own entrance to be in the face corner, and has the nerve to still use Savage's music despite being with Hulk. Jesse's rantings against Hulk and Liz are great. He's so pissed off. The match start and the heels dominate Hogan. Zeus tags in for a long bearhug. Hogan hot tags Beefcake, but the heels kill him too. Finally, Hogan tags back in to no sell Savage's Flying Elbow. He nails Zeus with Sherri's loaded purse, slams him, and drops the leg for three at 15:09. Very unspectacular match. *1/2. Afterwards, he beats up Sherri, just because he's a role model. The crowd and Tony are going nuts the whole time, but Jesse and I just don't care that much.
This show didn't have a huge long term effect on anything, but it was fun to watch, with good matches left and right, the Warrior regaining the IC Title, and the spectacular Harts/Busters match. Soon afterwards, Demolition would regain the Tag Titles. Hogan would go on to feud with Zeus, while the Warrior's popularity continued to rise to new heights.
Summerslam 1989 Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 92:00
Average Match: 10:13
Average Match Rating: *3/4
Top Moments: Warrior regaining the IC Title, The great opening tag match, Hogan's debautchery, Garvin's attempt at being funny, Honky's confusion, and of course, Mean Gene saying the F-word live on PPV
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