Retro Wrestling Recall
This Sunday is the 25th Anniversary of WWEs annual end of summer spectacular: “SummerSlam!” So much like I did with the look back at the first episode of Monday Night Raw I wanted to go back and remember some classic wrestling of old.
So come hop in my DeLorean make sure the Flux Capacitor is working and set your time circuits to August 29, 1988 as we watch and enjoy the very first SUMMERSLAM!
We open with the familiar voice of Gorilla Monson as shots of New York City are shown then zeroing in on Madison Square Garden. He introduces us to SummerSlam 1988 and we go to the opening video montage!
The main event here is the “Mega Bucks” The Million Dollar Man and Andre the Giant vs. “The Mega Powers” Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage with Jesse the Body Ventura as the special guest referee.
Our announcers are Gorilla Monson and “Superstar” Billy Grahm. Grahm is wearing a shirt that has to be seen to be believed… This gives you a small idea of what it looks like.
Our first matchup is the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers vs. The British Bull Dogs. The Rougeau brothers have the greatest theme song in the history of wrestling. Don’t believe me? Take a listen…
The match starts off of the Bulldogs taking control early and the crowd is loving it having a good time. Meanwhile the Rougeau brothers are getting classic heel responses from the crowd by doing things like hiding in the corner and giving each other hugs.
The crowd is shouting “USA USA” which is ironic considering the Bull Dogs are from England and the Rougeau’s are from Montreal.
Gorilla Monson mentions how important this match up is as the winners will be near the top of the list for a shot at the tag titles against the current champions Demolition. If you don’t remember Demolition they were an odd S&M looking tag team, although that wasn’t their intention.. See for yourself…
Regardless, it was a good job by the announcers putting over how important the tag titles are and setting up some future feuds. The match itself is your standard tag team match. The heels beat up on the babyfaces for a good portion of the match using illegal double teams which eventually leads to a “Hot Tag” where the babyface comes in like a house of fire and beats up on the heels.
This match even has my favorite classic tag team match move where the Bulldog who’s not in the ring is trying to get at the Rougeau brothers for double teaming his partner. Meanwhile while the ref is holding him back the Rougeau brothers continue to beat up on the Bulldog in the ring. I can remember as a kid screaming at the TV for the Ref to “LOOK AT THE BAD GUYS!”
The match ends surprisingly in a draw here due to a time limit.. I don’t know if I can remember the last time that happened in the WWE.. Weird ending that comes out of nowhere in a decent opening match.
Our next match was supposed to be Brutus the Barber Beefcake against Bad News Brown but apparently weeks prior Brutus was brutally attacked by “Outlaw” Ron Bass on WWE Superstars. We even get a look back at the beat down which involves Brutus getting busted open. The replacement for Brutus was Ken Patera. Yeah.. a generic “All American” wrestler guy. This is a pretty bad match and was hard to watch. Sloppy and no one cared what happened. Bad News gets the win after Patera hits his shoulder on the ring post hard.
Our first interview segment of the show as we go to Mean Gene interviewing the Mega Powers: Hulk Hogan, Macho Man along with their manager Ms. Elizabeth. Now, I could try to explain this interview, and try to explain what in the hell was said.. but thanks to the internet. You can just watch it. It’s fan freaking tastic.
Were ready for our next matchup as we have one of my favorite heels of all time “Ravishing” Rick Rude vs. the Junk Yard Dog. Rick Rude gives a great promo in the ring before the match where he delivers an amazing line “What I’d like to have right now..is for all you fat ugly, innercity sweat hogs, keep the noise down while I take my robe off…” He takes his robe off… and he has a picture of the Junk Yard Dog Air brushed on his pants. THAT. IS. AMAZING! You get a small idea of what they look like here.
Pretty standard match and… what the hell? Rick Rude is on the top rope and he starts to pull his tights down.. and he has more tights.. and it’s a picture of a woman. One I don’t recognize. Gorilla Monson says it’s Cheryl Roberts…apparently Jake the Snake Roberts wife? Out of nowhere Jake the Snake hits the Ring and starts pounding the crap out of Rick Rude! I guess Rude and Jake the Snake were in a feud…? Either way it was a cool moment in an otherwise boring match. Due to Jakes interference Rude gets the win Via DQ. Here’s a picture of the tights.
Oh, remember how I said earlier Brutus the Barber Beefcake was supposed to be facing Bad News Brown? Well apparently I was wrong. He was supposed to be taking on the Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Title… So yeah I was confused there. Mean Gene interviews the Honky Tonk Man backstage and we find out a mystery opponent will be reveled later tonight to replace Brutus for the Intercontinental title.
Another tag team match is up next as it’s The Blosheviks vs. the Powers of Pain. Our 2nd tag team match of the night and it’s not for the tag titles either. Man the tag division was deep back then. I really hope we can get back to that someday.
This is your stereotypical Big Men vs. Big Men match. Nothing to write home about or memorable. Powers of Pain get the win.
Next we have an interview segment in the ring with the Brother Love Show. If you don’t remember Brother Love he was an annoying heel character who was a parody of a con artist preacher. Fun fact about Brother Love he was the original manager of The Undertaker.
It was an odd segment that was basically used to set up a feud between Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Dino Bravo. Not sure why it was on the PPV other than to maybe fill some time in between matches?
Next up we have The Honkey Tonk Man vs. his mystery opponent. At the time The Honky Tonk Man was the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in WWE history. A record that still holds today. The crowd is buzzing and standing as everyone is waiting to see who his opponent will be.. and when he comes out. Let’s just say the reaction was what you would call.. crazy.. Gorilla says “This place has gone bananas!” I can’t describe a better reaction than that. Watch for yourself and enjoy.
Were back from intermission as the original “Rock” Don Moracco takes on Dino Bravo. Horrible match. Dino Bravo gets the win.
Sean Mooney is in the back interviewing the special referee for tonight’s main event Jesse the Body Ventura. Mooney accused Ventura of taking a bribe from the Million Dollar Man. Ventura says he’s no fool. If someone gives you money you take it. I guess you can’t argue with that?
We have our 3rd tag team match of the night as the Hart Foundation takes on the champions Demolition for the WWE Tag team titles. I’m pretty sure Demolition is wearing body glitter.. I’m not making that up…
Good matchup and the crowd is into this match from the start. Both teams use a lot of “Team moves” and both tag teams have great chemistry. The crowd is really pulling for the Hart Foundation to win the titles. The foundation has recently turned babyface by losing their heel manager Jimmy Hart.
Speaking of Jimmy Hart he comes running out and tosses Smash of Demolition his mega phone. While the ref is distracted he nails Bret Hart with the megaphone in the back of the head. He tosses the megaphone out of the ring and Demolition gets the pin. The crowd seems pretty bummed. I won’t lie I am too.
So next we have the Big Boss Man vs KoKo B Ware in a filler match. Before the match starts we cut to a crowd sign… I can’t describe the sign or the person holding it so I have to take a picture of my TV screen with my phone. Take a look..
Like I said, this is a filler match that a lot of the early WWE PPVs had so nothing memorable about this match besides the awesome sign shown at the beginning. Big Boss Man gets the win. The lady from the sign earlier is not pleased.
I’ve often said that Pro Wrestling at times comes dangerously close to gay porn. Nothing illustrates this more than the interview given by the Ultimate Warrior here:
Why are so many guys hanging out in towels?
Jake the Snake Roberts vs. Hercules is our final match before the main event. This match is another one that feels like a filler. I can’t understand why they didn’t have a Jake the Snake vs. Rick Rude match. It’s pretty clear they had a feud going at the time based on the incident earlier. Instead we get 2 matches that were pretty meh. But hey, maybe Vince and the WWE knew what they were doing. By making the fans wait for Jake and Rude to have a match it made the anticipation grow and thus the payoff match that much better.
It’s main event time and we get a re cap of how we got here tonight. Macho Man who is the WWF champion is feuding with the Million Dollar Man. Andre the Giant is the Million Dollar Man’s hired goon and they show Andre and the Million Dollar Man beating up on the Macho Man. This leads to our tag team match between “The Mega Powers” and “The Mega Bucks”
This is a nice little re cap. It shows how the feud started, what lead to it and how we got to the main event.
Match gets underway with your standard good guys taking control early to get the crowd into it. Hogan and Savage have control early until Andre the Giant enters the match and dominates Hogan. Hulk is getting beatdown pretty bad by Andre and the crowd is trying to will Hogan back into the match.
Meanwhile the guest referee Jesse Ventura is pretty animated trying to restore order in the ring as Macho Man and the Million Dollar man keep trying to interfere.
Hogan eventually is able to fight off The Giant and the Million Dollar Man enough to make the tag to the Macho Man. He comes in like a house of fire and the crowd is going wild.
Things settle back into place after a minute or two. After a few more minutes of action things start getting crazy again. Andre knocks out both Savage and Hogan to the outside of the ring. Jesse Ventura starts to count to 10 and there is fear in the crowd that they’ll both be counted out.
Then Ms. Elizabeth hops up on the ring apron to distract Jesse, Andre and The Million Dollar Man. She can’t seem to distract them enough so she does something that at the time is considered quite risqué and an unforgettable moment in SummerSlam history. She removes her dress and the crowd loses it!
Her goal works though as everyone in the ring is distracted. Meanwhile Hulk and Macho Man climb back in the ring, Macho Man hits the big elbow drop after a body slam by Hogan and Jesse Ventura is forced to count 1-2-3 and the Mega Powers win sending the crowd home happy.
Hogan, Savage and Ms. Elizabeth pose for the crowd while “Real American” blasts through the PA system. As they’re posing Hogan tosses Ms. Elizabeths skirt out into the crowd… I wonder if whoever caught it still has it?
The Megapowers leave the ring and that’s how the first SummerSlam ends.
All in all it wasn’t a bad show but not a particularly memorable one. If this wasn’t the first SummerSlam I highly doubt anyone would ever talk about it. The crowd was into it most of the night though and it was fun looking back at some of the great old characters of wrestling’s past.
I had fun doing this look back and would like to do more. If there are any events you want me to recall let me know and I’d be happy to write about it. There’s a good chance I have the event on DVD and if I don’t I can access it.
Until next time….
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