The Smark Rant For WWF Summerslam 1988

sksummerslam

– Live from New York City, NY.

– Jesse Ventura is a guest ref tonight, so your hosts are Gorilla and Superstar Graham.

– This was the first Summerslam, and this year is the tenth anniversary, something which I’m surprised no one has brought up.

– Opening match: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The British Bulldogs. Given their self-destruction prior to the modern era beginning, many newer fans don’t realize how awesomely talented both teams were. The Rougeaus were longtime babyfaces and were recently turning heel (and drawing huge heat because of it), but Jimmy Hart was not yet the manager. The joke here is that the Rougeaus are constantly cheering the USA, but everyone knows they’re lying and boo them. Good double-teams from both sides to start, but Dynamite is quickly caught with a suplex from behind and becomes Face in Peril. Jacques’ arrogant heel act is almost unmatched. This is basically just a hot opener to get the crowd into it, as both teams were involved in other feuds. In fact, just about everyone on this card was involved in other feuds, which is what made it such an odd show at times. To show the awesome heel tactics of the Rougeaus, observe as they turn an abdominal stretch and reverse chinlock — two restholds — into intense mindgames with the fans. Either that or it’s just a really hot MSG crowd. Hot tag to Davey Boy, who dumps Jacques crotch-first on the top rope and a pier-six erupts. Bulldogs with the press-slam headbutt, but the bell rings at the 11 minute mark, which means it’s either a too-long 10 minute draw or a clipped 15 minute one. A good opener. ***

– Footage of Brutus getting Ron Bass’ spurs raked across his head, thus explaining why he won’t be wrestling Honky Tonk Man for the title tonight.

– Ken Patera v. Bad News Brown. Man, prison didn’t agree with Patera. He looks horrible here. He gets some token offense in, but Brown basically beats the crap out of him. *This* is the guy that the Nation needs to get over as bad-asses. He might as well have “BMF” tattooed on his head. He puts his head down and Patera gets some weak offense in (I mean some really loose shots) and the crowd goes apathetic. You know who Bad News reminds me of? Steve Austin. The look is the same, the attitude is the same. Except he was a heel back in 1988. Anyway, Patera gets the full nelson on a couple of times, but misses the shoulder to the post charge and gets nailed with the Ghetto Blaster (enzuigiri). The WWF did the same finish about a million times with Patera and guys like Dino Bravo and Rick Rude on syndies before and after this. 1/2*

– Rick Rude v. Junkfood Dog. This was during the “Rude stole Cheryl Roberts” phase of his career, so you know Jake is lurking somewhere. He uses the classic “Fat, ugly, inner city sweathogs” intro. Rude was an even worse wrestler than JYD at this point — it’s a miracle he got as a good as he did for a bit. They don’t do anything more complex than punching and kicking (and headbutting, of course) until Rude does a russian legsweep and goes for the flying fistdrop — but first he pulls down his tights to reveal another pair with Cheryl Roberts’ face airbrushed on them. Jake runs in for the DQ. Bleh. DUD It should be noted that if this finish happened today, JYD would turn heel and beat the crap out of Roberts, and Rude would be the babyface. Astounding how wrestling changes in 10 years.

– The Bolsheviks v. The Powers of Pain (w/ Baron Von Rashke). There was some sort of token feud going on here, but it’s mainly a POP squash. The Powers were Warlord and Barbarian, the arch-foes of the Road Warriors for most of 1987 in the NWA. They were supposed to be monster babyfaces as foes for Demolition, but two problems presented themselves: 1) The Powers weren’t that over. 2) Demolition was rapidly getting bigger and bigger babyface pops. The elegant solution was a double-turn at Survivor Series 88. Powers no-sell EVERYTHING here, even during the face in peril period. Hot tag to Barbarian who demolishes the Russians. Boris Zukhov is the poor victim, as they finish him with the powerslam and flying headbutt after about 5 minutes of less-than-enthralling action. Still, everyone was energetic at least. 1/2*

– And now, Brother Love. Interviewing Hacksaw Duggan. Welcome to hell. Seriously though, Bruce Pritchard’s faux preacher was a much more brilliant character than a lot of people give him credit for. For instance, Chris Jericho took about 35% of his act (mispronouncing names, false sincerity, voice mannerisms) from him, and Eric of course takes the “I love you all” catchphrase.

– Intercontinental title match: The Honky Tonk Man v. ???. Brutus Beefcake was the original opponent, but Ron Bass put him out the week before this so he was out. No challenger is introduced, so Honky gets bored and just asks for *any* challenger. And that was his last mistake, because, after 18 months of countouts and DQs and cheating and running and whining and irritating the hell out of every fan who ever paid to watch him lose and didn’t get their wish, someone *does* come running out…

– Honky Tonk Man v. The Ultimate Warrior. Faster than I can type this recap, Warrior squashes Honky like a bug and wins his first I-C title, Goldberg-style. The ovation for the death of the Honky Tonk era is louder than almost any other I’ve heard. Great match? No, of course not. But this was Warrior’s contribution to wrestling history and the fact that it’s still burned into many people’s minds 10 years later gives it a spot as one of those Special Moments that defined an era.

– Don Muraco v. Dino Bravo. Bobby Heenan joins us for commentary for this match. Bravo was being managed by Rick Martel’s brother Frenchy Martin, during the “USA is not okay” period. 9 years later, Bret Hart does the same schtick and becomes a Canadian national hero. Another quick and ugly match, as Muraco goes for a bodyslam about 2 minutes in and Bravo escapes and nails the side salto for the pin. DUD

– WWF tag team title match: Demolition (w/ Jimmy Hart & Mr. Fuji) v. The Hart Foundation. The Harts are fresh off a face turn and firing Jimmy Hart here, but the storyline says that Hart still owns the contract and is still technically their manager, and thus has the right to be at ringside. This was high-concept stuff that went a step beyond when Hart *sold* the contracts to the Rougeaus a few weeks later. Anyway, the Demos are heels here but you just know the crowd wants to cheer them. Harts dominate Smash to start but Anvil gets caught with the Harts’ own “guy on the apron kicks the face in the head” trick to gain the advantage. Hot tag to Hitman and Hart cleans house on Smash but does the chest-first bump to become Ricky Morton. He sells a shoulder injury and Ax happily beats the crap out of it to do his part. Anvil gets the hot tag and slams everything that moves. Pretty wicked move as Hitman slingshots Anvil out of the ring, onto Smash, which I think might be the first appearance of the pescado on PPV. Anvil with a powerslam for two. Crowd is getting rabid. Pier-six erupts and Jimmy Hart tosses Ax the megaphone, and he whacks Bret in the head to allow Smash to get the winning pin. The 1990 match was better. **1/2

– Koko B. Ware v. Big Bossman. You may know the Bossman as “That big fat f*ck Ray Traylor”. Koko, bless his heart, was one of the least selfish wrestlers of his era and would make anyone look good. This was of course squash city for Big Bossman, and this was well before he lost his huge beer gut. Bossman misses a flying splash (but doesn’t sell it) and then crotches himself on the top rope after missing an avalanche. Koko with some token offense, including a missile dropkick, but Bossman basically shrugs it off and hits the Bossman slam. Not that bad. Bossman was one of the more agile big men at the time, and it was basically just his total lack of selling skills that was handicapping him. **

– Hercules v. Jake Roberts. For some reason this guys got a *lot* of time relative to what everyone else was getting on this show. The announcers do the Tony Schiavone thing by talking about Rick Rude the whole match. Slow paced match, to say the least. Herc goes heavy on the chinlocks. I guess nacho sales were down or something and they needed to give the fans a chance to buy more. Jake counters a chinlock with a jawbreaker and nails the series of jabs and short clothesline and signals for the DDT. Herc counters with a backdrop, and then Jake misses a kneelift and falls on his head. Now Herc picks up the pace a bit, but Jake reverses a bodyslam attempt about 10 seconds later and nails the DDT. About 10 minutes, but it felt like 30. 1/4*

– Review of Megapowers v. Megabucks feud. Interesting note: I could hear Finkel in the background introducing a series of wrestlers during this…was there some sort of time-filling battle royale going on? Wonder why they didn’t just put that on PPV?

– Main event: Ted Dibiase & Andre the Giant v. Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan. Jesse Ventura is special guest referee and gets a big pop. Hogan and Savage have matching outfits. Matched to Hogan, of course. Ventura switches the tag ropes to different corners for whatever reason. Megapowers actually show tag team continuity as they beat the shit out of Dibiase to start. It remains a good match as long as Dibiase is in. Hogan makes the mistake of taunting Andre in the corner, and the Giant headbutts him into the Ricky Morton role. Andre is gleefully evil here. Andre puts Hogan in the dreaded nerve pinch to kill the crowd. Dibiase has Hogan in a chinlock that is clearly a chokehold but Ventura ignores it. Hogan fights free, but it’s a double knockout. Hot tag to Savage and he cleans house on Dibiase. Double axehandle, but Dibiase catches him with a clothesline shortly after and tags in Andre. It’s a Reese-Juvy kind of situation and Andre humiliates Savage. Dibiase beats him up some more but misses the back elbow off the second rope that never hits. Hot tag to Hogan, who destroys Dibiase with the usual. Hogan puts him in a sleeper, but Andre catches him from behind with the HEADBUTTS OF DOOM and all seems hopeless as the Megapowers are down on the floor. And then, in another one of those famous moments, Liz hops up on the ring apron…and rips off her skirt. Don’t panic, she’s wearing bikini bottoms underneath. The Megabucks stand agog and the Megapowers attack. Hogan slams Dibiase, Savage nails the big elbow, and Hogan legdrops him, and Ventura makes a VERY reluctant count for the Megapowers win. Certainly better than most Hogan-related ego-fests. **3/4 Liz had *great* legs back then, but she’s much better overall these days.

The Bottom Line: This was like an episode of Nitro. A couple of squashes to introduce us to the new characters (Bad News, Bossman), a couple of semi-competitive matches to keep other feuds simmering (Herc-Roberts, Rude-JYD), a couple of title matches, and a tag team main event. Watching it today and actually rating the matches showed just how painfully mediocre the wrestling was, and I can’t in good conscience recommend the show given the tastes of wrestling fans today. You can get the good stuff (Warrior’s win and the skirt) on specialty tapes anyway. Good for nostalgia, but not recommended as a wrestling show.

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