Classic Era Network w/ Kace: WWF SummerSlam (1988)

Madison Square Garden hosts its first major broadcast since WrestleMania 1 and makes its PPV debut in the WWF with the first SummerSlam in a bit of history repeating itself as MSG hosts the first WM and now the first S-Slam. Commentary is handled by Gorilla Monsoon and “Superstar” Billy Graham. Monsoon’s usual PPV commentary partner, Jesse Ventura has another commitment for this card.

The Rougeau Brothers and British Bulldogs continue their respective runs of futility on the big stage, fighting to a time limit draw. The Bulldogs have been lackluster on PPV since replacing Lou Albano with a pet dog while the Rougeaus, even with a new, more aggressive style have yet to taste victory on PPV up to this point.

Bad News Brown, with what would normally be a hometown advantage defeats Ken Patera.

Junkyard Dog meanwhile has trouble with his opponent, Rick Rude whose theme is once again overdubbed. Rude had on two pairs of tights for this match. The initial one had JYD spraypainted on it, but during the match, he lowers those tights down to his knees and reveals the second pair which has Jake Roberts’ wife at the time, Cheryl’s face on them. Incensed by this, Roberts runs down and attacks Rude, giving Rude the DQ win. Post match as Rude has retreated, Roberts appears to try to explain to JYD why he ran down.

The Bolsheviks get to serve as the PPV welcoming committee to newcomers, the Powers of Pain. The POP are the Barbarian and the Warlord and they were fresh from a heated rivalry with the Road Warriors in Jim Crockett Promotions. While the POP were booed during their time in JCP, being managed by Paul Jones, the WWF audience greets them with cheers as they’re led to the ring by another former member of the Paul Jones Army, Baron Von Raschke, referred to here simply as “the Baron.” Baron’s stay is short as he soon departs for the AWA to continue an in-ring career. The POP get the win and it seems like only a matter of time before they cross paths with another face painted tag team, Demolition.

The Honky Tonk Man puts up his WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship against a surprise opponent. Originally the opponent was to be Brutus Beefcake in a rematch from WrestleMania IV. However Beefcake wound up in an altercation with Ron Bass who put “the Barber” out of action. Earlier in the broadcast, Gene Okerlund, apparently aware of who HTM’s opponent for tonight is, is willing to tell HTM, but HTM doesn’t care and states liking surprises. His take on surprises ends with this match as it turns out to be another face painted competitor, the Ultimate Warrior. HTM’s record setting longevity of being IC Champ ends in a matter of seconds as Warrior squashes him right out the gate to become the new Champion.

Dino Bravo defeats Don Muraco whose Jesus Christ Superstar theme is overdubbed as usual.

Demolition are able to successfully defend their WWF World Tag Team Championship against the Hart Foundation. The team that would eventually end this reign, the Brain Busters were in the process of leaving JCP for the WWF at this time.

Koko Ware’s futility on the big stage continues as he once against tastes defeat, this time by a newer face in the WWF, the Big Bossman. A year earlier, Bossman, under the name Big Bubba Rogers had lost the UWF World Heavyweight title to Steve Williams who would be the final Champion of that league. The man Bossman beat for that title, One Man Gang, soon to be known by Akeem would become his tag team partner in the WWF, both managed by Slick.

In what turns out to be the best and most entertaining match on the card, Jake Roberts defeats Hercules Hernandez who is sans manager Bobby Heenan. Heenan is in the locker room with the Megabucks, going over last minute game planning. Hernandez is game here and puts forth a great effort in defeat. Roberts wins with the DDT and this would be the beginning of the end for Herc’s professional relationship with the Heenan Family.

With this match, Hernandez joins George Wells and Danny Davis as part of the DDT’d on PPV by Jake Roberts Club.

The main event is a special tag team grudge match between the Megabucks of Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant, along with Bobby Heenan and Virgil and the team known as the Megapowers, WWF Heavyweight Champion, Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan along with their manager, Miss Elizabeth. Ventura, normally on commentary for these types of events instead is special guest referee for this contest.

Involved in this match either in-ring or ringside are 5 future members of WCW’s New World Order. They are DiBiase, Virgil (as Vincent), Savage, Hogan, and Elizabeth. When Hogan and Savage find themselves tossed out of the ring late in the match, that becomes the cue to wewease the secwet weapon which is Elizabeth walking up to the apron and distracting the Megabucks, Virgil, Heenan, and even Ventura by removing her skirt, revealing a red bikini bottom over her hosiery. It’s a momentary distraction that would inspire Sunny years later and allows the Megapowers to assume control for the remainder of the match, getting the win with Savage helping Ventura with the third count of the pinfall.

Other fun stuff.

This is the first PPV event in which Ventura does not contribute to commentary and only the second in which Monsoon and Ventura don’t work together on commentary, the first being WrestleMania 2 in 1986 where Monsoon was in Chicago and Ventura in Los Angeles.

The following year’s SummerSlam will see Ventura back on commentary, but minus Monsoon. The man replacing Monsoon for that event, Tony Schiavone is still part of JCP at this point.

This broadcast also features the transition from Craig DeGeorge to Sean Mooney. DeGeorge is shown in highlight form as the Megabucks Vs. Megapowers match background is explained to the audience. Mooney is part of the this broadcast at MSG.

This is the start of a two year SummerSlam frustration for Rude as he deals with interference either direct (Roberts) this year or indirect (Roddy Piper) the following year.

Face painted competitors begin an unbeaten streak at SummerSlam, going 3-0 thanks to the Powers of Pain, Ultimate Warrior, and Demolition.

While the Royal Rumble event isn’t particularly kind to the Ultimate Warrior, SummerSlam is another story. Here and in 1989, he wins the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight title. Here against HTM and the following year against Rude. In 1990, he defeats Rude again, this time defending the WWF Heavyweight title in an iron steel cage match. In 1991 he’ll team up with Hulk Hogan to win “the Match Made in Hell” against Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa, and Gen. Adnan. In 1992, he defeats WWF Heavyweight Champion Randy Savage by count out, allowing Warrior to go undefeated at SummerSlam with a 5-0 record.

On the flipside, there’s the Honky Tonk Man. In 1988, his WWF Intercontinental title reign is snapped by the Warrior in emphatic fashion. In 1989 he’ll lose to Dusty Rhodes. In 1990, HTM was absent from the card and by 1991 he was gone, competing in the entity that would become IWCCW.

This card holds a combined 6 former, current, or future World Heavyweight level Champions, 7 if counting Graham (WWWF) on commentary.

Rick Rude (World Class, future WCW International)
Ultimate Warrior (future WWF)
Bret Hart (future WWF, future WCW)
Big Bossman (UWF)
Randy Savage (current WWF)
Hulk Hogan (WWF)

Savage was also Kentucky’s ICW Heavyweight Champion, so there’s that. Otherwise, this broadcast boasts 9 former, current, and future World Heavyweight level Champions, 10 if you feel like counting the ICW one. Also if you feel like counting the ICW one, the number bumps up to 11, with 8 different people as Savage’s brother, Lanny Poffo aka the Genius read a poem prior to the main event.

Speaking of ICW, not to be confused with the Northeastern ICW that would become IWCCW after a merger with a reformed World Class, there were a total of 4 different Heavyweight Champions in that league. Poffo, Savage, Ron Garvin, and Paul Christy. All 4 would go on to have WWF runs with Savage being most successful, Poffo and Garvin being here and there, and Christy, its final Champion having no luck at all.

For Hernandez and Ware, the next PPV will see both finally able to somewhat celebrate a win as they’ll be on the winning team of Team Megapowers, though both will be eliminated during the course of the bout, meaning that even with a victory, both continue to taste defeat on the big stage.

Jacques & Raymond Rougeau will finally get a PPV win at next year’s SummerSlam in a 6-Man tag match.

Face Painted competitors will improve to 5-0 at next year’s S-Slam with victories by Warrior and the trio of King Duggan and Demolition. 1990 will mark the first loss by face painted competitors by way of the Smash & Crush combination of Demolition losing to the Hart Foundation, but Warrior will even things out with his win over Rude.

8 future members of WCW’s NWO are represented. I’ve mentioned Savage, Hogan, Elizabeth, DiBiase, and Virgil. Also representing are Rude, Bossman (as Big Bubba Rogers), and Bret Hart.

With the departure of the Powers of Pain from JCP, the Barbarian and Warlord trade in a war with the Road Warriors for an eventual one with Demolition. Back in JCP, which is in the process of transitioning to becoming WCW, Jones on TBS will claim that he still holds the rights to the team name, naming Ivan Koloff and Russian Assassin as the new, “real” Powers of Pain. This version of the POP will be short lived as Jones brings in a second Russian Assassin and Koloff finding himself with a feud with the manager he finds himself on the outs with. This will lead to a tag match at Starrcade where the Russian Assassins face off against Koloff and one of the competitors from this card, JYD.

Madison Square Garden’s return to PPV will be 1991’s SummerSlam.

Next up, WWF Survivor Series 1988, as we go back to suburban Cleveland.

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