WWF SummerSlam 1989

summerslam vol 1

Meadowlands Arena – East Rutherford, New Jersey – Monday, August 28, 1989

Tony Schiavone and Jesse “the Body” Ventura are in the broadcast location tonight. “Mean” Gene Okerlund will be handling the backstage interviews.

MATCH #1: Hart Foundation vs. Brain Busters

The Busters are the World Tag Team Champions at this point but the titles are not on the line here since the match was signed before they won the belts. The champions don’t even have entrance music, but they do have Bobby Heenan in their corner. Tully Blanchard and Bret Hart start the match and the Hitman goes right after Blanchard’s arm. Blanchard slithers over and makes a tag and Hart is able to subdue Arn Anderson with arm holds as well. Jim Neidhart tags in and he continues what his partner started. The Foundation is dismantling Anderson. Even when Blanchard comes in, Hart and Neidhart dominate. In fact, the Busters kind of look like ineffective jobbers as the longest shine of all time continues. Blanchard rolls to the floor and runs away from Hart, and he’s able to slide in the ring and finally make the tag. Anderson tries a Vader Bomb but Hart puts the knees up and it turns into a brawl and the Busters get tossed to the floor. The champions have gotten no offense and we’re almost 10 minutes in. Finally the Busters use some dirty tricks to take control on Neidhart. They work him over for several minutes until Anderson and Neidhart crack heads and both men are down. Anderson stops Neidhart from making the tag, and Hart interferes from the apron, driving a knee into Anderson’s back! Blanchard gets tagged in and Neidhart makes the tag as well! Hart is on fire, throwing both Busters around. All four men are in the ring briefly, until Neidhart and Anderson spill to the floor. In the ring Hart hits Blanchard with an inverted atomic drop. The Foundation executes the Anvil slingshot. Heenan distracts the referee as Neidhart powerslams Hart onto Blanchard. Anderson sneaks in the ring and nails Hart with a double axe handle off the second rope and Blanchard makes the pin at 15:57. Really, a double axe handle? Even in 1989 that seems weak. I’ve seen this match get tons of praise, and yeah it’s fun but the shine goes on FOREVER and the Hart Foundation really make the Brain Busters look like jobbers for most of the match.
Rating: ***

MATCH #2: Dusty Rhodes vs. Honky Tonk Man

Man is accompanied by Jimmy Hart. Rhodes was feuding with Big Boss Man at this time, while Honky Tonk Man was putting everybody and their mother over. The American Dram starts the match with some dancing, much to Man’s chagrin. They lock up and Rhodes overpowers the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all-time. Rhodes motions for a big elbow, so Man rolls to the floor to regroup. It doesn’t do much good, as Rhodes goes right on offense and unloads with mounted punches in the corner. Hart interferes from the floor and Rhodes chases him into the ring. In the confusion Hart was able to slip Man the megaphone and he clobbers Rhodes with it but it only gets two! Now Man goes to work with his boring offense. Rhodes escapes a chinlock and bounces off the ropes but Man buries a knee into his midsection. Man goes back to the chinlock. Once again Rhodes fights out and he tries an elbow drop but misses and Man gets a two-count, and then locks on the chinlock again. For the third time, Rhodes powers up and drives Man into the corner. They trade shots in the corner and Rhodes has the upper hand in this battle. Rhodes is Flip Flop and Flyin’ all over the place. Man cleverly uses Rhodes to take out the referee and he asks Hart for his guitar. Hart goes to hit Rhodes but be ducks and the guitar gets smashed over Man’s head instead. Rhodes drops an elbow and gets the pin at 9:41. That was pretty dull and plodding. It seemed even longer than it was.
Rating: ¾*

MATCH #3: Mr. Perfect vs. Red Rooster

Perfect tries to intimidate the Rooster, but how could a guy with that haircut be intimidated? They tie up and Perfect gets the early advantage and (rightfully) mocks his opponent. Rooster comes back with a slap to the face. The pace quickens and Rooster goes for a slam, only to have Perfect fall on top of him for a two-count. Perfect hits a standing dropkick and Rooster rolls to the floor. Unfortunately he legitimately injured himself and back in the ring Perfect slugs away. Rooster throws Perfect outside for a brawl and Perfect beats him down. Back in the ring Perfect lands the Perfect-Plex to get the pin at 3:22. It’s too bad they had to cut that short due to injury, as that could have gotten good.
Rating: *

MATCH #4: Six-Man Tag Match – The Rockers & Tito Santana vs. The Rougeau Brothers & Rick Martel

Slick and Jimmy Hart accompany Martel and the Rougeaus to the ring. Santana and Jacques start the match. It doesn’t take long for Santana and the Rockers to use some high flying triple team moves to send their opponents powdering to the floor. When the dust settles Jacques is in the ring with Marty Jannetty. The French-Canadian Trio takes advantage of Jannetty and goes to work on him. Jannetty comes back with a move I didn’t see because the camera was on Slick, and he makes the tag to Santana. Martel quickly bails to avoid fighting his former partner. Santana goes to work on Raymond, but Jacques interferes from the floor to reclaim the advantage. They work Santana over and keep him isolated. Santana is a master of selling and hope spots, to be honest. After several minutes of abuse Santana finally makes the hot tag to Shawn Michaels. I believe this is the first time Michaels has been tagged into the match. He’s on fire, taking Martel down with a vertical suplex and landing a fist drop off the top rope. He then tags Jannetty and picks him up and drops him down on Martel for a two-count. The match turns into a pier-six brawl and Santana sends Martel to the floor with a flying forearm. The referee gets distracted and Hart interferes briefly. Jannetty traps Jacques in an O’Connor Roll but Martel sneaks in and delivers a shot to the throat and he pins Jannetty for the win at 14:58. That was a terrific six-man tag team match with Santana playing face-in-peril to perfection.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #5: Intercontinental Championship Match – Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior

Rude starts off cautiously, and with good reason because Warrior quickly unloads on him and clotheslines him to the apron. The champ tries to come back in with a sunset flip but Warrior blocks it with a punch. Warrior then picks Rude up in a Gorilla Slam and dumps him to the floor! He follows him out and slams Rude into the apron and then the timekeeper’s table. Warrior hits Rude with the title belt, which should be a disqualification. In one of Jesse Ventura’s finest moments, he calls this out and Schiavone defends it by saying it’s okay because they’re outside the ring. Ventura retorts: “What are you gonna tell me Schiavone, you can shoot somebody outside the ring as long as it’s outside the ring? You know, you’re even dumber than Monsoon!” He continues the outrage as Warrior throws Rude back in the ring and then hurls him right back outside. Back in the ring Warrior goes up top and hits a double axe handle for two. Warrior continues to work on Rude, whipping him into the buckles and slamming him down to the mat. He hits a vertical suplex for another two-count. He follows up with an inverted atomic drop and then mocks Rude’s hip gyration. He then picks Rude up and simply drops him on his ass, like a Bubba Bomb but without the Full Nelson. The challenger goes up top again and this time Rude crotches him. Now Rude takes control of the Warrior, landing a vertical suplex for two. Rude goes to work on Warrior’s back, which is a smart move. He goes for the Rude Awakening but Warrior powers out! Unfortunately for Warrior, he misses a clothesline and Rude hops on his back with a sleeper. Warrior powers up and hits a chinbreaker to break the hold, and then runs the ropes and both men collide, taking the referee down with them. Rude is first to his feet and unloads with roundhouse right hands but Warrior shrugs them off and hits him with a back drop. Warrior hits a series of clotheslines and a powerslam but there’s no referee to count. He picks Rude up and drills him with a piledriver. Referee Joey Marella recovers and crawls over to make the count but Rude gets his foot on the bottom rope! Warrior hits a running powerslam and goes for the big splash but Rude gets his knees up. Now Rude hits a modified piledriver that honestly looked pretty dangerous but it only gets two. Rude goes up top and hits a fist drop as the fans go nuts. Warrior kicks out at two, as we learn that the fans’ reaction is for “Rowdy” Roddy Piper making his way to ringside. Rude hits a traditional piledriver but it only gets two! He then argues with Piper and gets mooned for his trouble. He climbs up to the second rope and Warrior pulls him down with a belly-to-back suplex. Warrior then hits a running shoulderblock. He follows up with the Gorilla Press Slam and Splash to the Back for the pin and his second Intercontinental Championship at 16:02. That was easily Warrior’s best match to that point, and the only thing I would have changed about it was Piper coming out; Warrior didn’t need any help. But as far as the match, Warrior was on top of his game and Rude was the perfect opponent for him.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #6: Six-Man Tag Match – Andre the Giant & The Twin Towers vs. Jim Duggan & Demolition

The Towers and Andre are probably the biggest three-man tag team of all-time. They’re accompanied by their managers Slick and Bobby Heenan. King Hacksaw has his face painted (like an American flag) to match his partners. He starts the match with Akeem and takes the first advantage, immediately knocking Akeem off his feet and then tagging in Ax, who quickly tags in Smash. They’re wisely exploiting their speed and quickness advantage early on, keeping the fresh man in the ring. Akeem comes back with a shot to Ax’s throat and then makes the tag to his partner. Boss Man comes in but Ax recovers and takes him over to their corner. Smash tags in and Boss Man backs him into a corner. That doesn’t last long, as Smash comes back and makes the tag to the King. The Towers have gotten almost no offense so far, and the Giant hasn’t even tagged in. Ax comes in and Boss Man drives him over to his team’s corner, and then the Giant tags in. Andre squashes Ax with his massive girth. Boss Man tags back in and Ax is in trouble here. Akeem comes in and tries to squash Ax in the corner but he moves and Smash gets the tag. Smash slams both Towers to a thunderous pop, but then Andre cuts him down. Boss Man and Ax tumble to the floor, while the other four fight in the ring. Akeem hits Smash with a splash off the second rope, but the referee is distracted by Andre, allowing Duggan to hit Akeem with the 2×4 and roll Smash on top to get the pin at 7:26. That was wisely kept short and it was actually quite fun while it lasted.
Rating: **½

MATCH #7: Hercules vs. Greg Valentine

For some reason Rugged Ronnie Garvin is the special guest ring announcer. He insults Valentine a lot on his way down to the ring and the crowd seems to agree. Valentine goes after Garvin, allowing Hercules to take the early advantage. Hercules gets a close near-fall so Valentine takes a quick powder. Back in the ring Valentine again goes after Garvin, so Hercules rolls him up for two. Valentine goes outside to argue with Garvin some more, so Hercules goes on the attack. This time when they get back in the ring Valentine takes Hercules off guard and starts going to work on the leg, and throwing some elbows in as well. Valentine goes up top and goes for a double axe handle but Hercules gets a fist into the midsection. Hercules unloads with punches but drops his head and Valentine forearms him. Valentine tries a suplex but Hercules reverses it to one of his own. Hercules backs Valentine into the corner and Valentine scoops the legs and uses the ropes for leverage to get the pin at 3:05. Garvin announces Hercules as the winner, and then after conferring with the referee announces that Hercules won by disqualification. Valentine attacks Garvin and then continues to brawl with Hercules. Garvin gets back in the ring and takes Valentine out with a right hand. So who’s the real winner? It looks like the referee took Garvin’s word for it and Hercules won the match. As for the match itself, it was just fodder for the Valentine versus Garvin feud, which would lead to a pretty good match between the two at the 1990 Royal Rumble in Orlando.
Rating: ¼*

MATCH #8: Ted DiBiase vs. Jimmy Snuka

DiBiase tries to attack before the bell but Snuka was ready for it and he headbutts the Million Dollar Man to the floor. Virgil distracts Snuka, but once again Snuka is able to thwart it and hits DiBiase with an atomic drop to once again send him to the floor. Back in the ring DiBiase locks on a headlock, but Snuka escapes and tries the dual leap frog, but he doesn’t jump high enough and lands on DiBiase’s head. Ventura smartly explains how that works to Snuka’s advantage. DiBiase comes back with a boot to the gut and works Snuka over in the corner. Snuka comes back by reversing a whip and hitting a back body drop. He locks on a headlock and then takes DiBiase down with a shoulderblock. He charges again but DiBiase catches him and hits a Stun Gun. He hits a vertical suplex for two. He follows up with a couple of bodyslams and then goes for the backwards elbow off the second rope but Snuka moves out of the way and is a hut afire now. Snuka hits a bodyslam and then a headbutt off the second rope. He then goes up to the top rope for the Superfly but Virgil distracts him and Snuka gives chase on the floor. DiBiase joins him out there and hits an axe handle off the apron. He then throws Snuka into the ring post and slides back into the ring for a countout victory at 6:26. Snuka attacks both DiBiase and Virgil after the bell, and hits the Superfly on Virgil. There was no heat to this match and they never really got anything going. I’m also not sure why DiBiase had to win by countout.
Rating: ½*

MATCH #9: Randy Savage & Zeus vs. Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake

Savage and Zeus are accompanied by Sensational Sherri, while Hogan and Beefcake are graced by Ms. Elizabeth’s presence in their corner. All four men start in the ring and Beefcake and Savage quickly take it to the floor, leaving Hogan and Zeus in the ring. Hogan can’t take Zeus down so he goes to the eyes, but when he tries a bodyslam Zeus hammers him down and chokes him. Beefcake comes to the rescue but he gets trapped in a bearhug. Whatever Hogan and Beefcake try it doesn’t hurt Zeus at all. With Hogan worn down, Savage comes in and takes his shots as well. Hogan powers up out of a sleeper and takes Savage down with a couple of shoulderblocks. He bounces into the ropes and Zeus kicks him in the back to reclaim the advantage. Zeus locks on a bearhug. Eventually he forces Hogan down to the mat in a very gay looking pinning situation. Finally after over five minutes of abuse Hogan makes the hot tag. Beefcake traps Savage in the Sleeper, but the Macho Man escapes. Savage makes a tag and Beefcake immediately rakes the eyes and locks Zeus in the Sleeper! The referee gets distracted with Hogan and Savage sneaks in the ring to blast Beefcake with Sherri’s purse. Savage comes in and covers for two. Hogan illegally interferes to break up several pin covers. Savage and Zeus weather Hogan’s interference and work Beefcake over in their half of the ring. After several minutes Beefcake makes the hot tag and Hogan is throwing Savage around the ring. Hogan hits Savage with the big boot, sending him to the floor. He pulls Savage back in the ring with a suplex but Sherri pulls his leg and Savage falls on top for a two-count. Savage comes back with a clothesline and tags the Human Wrecking Machine. Before leaving the ring he goes up top and hits the Elbow Drop but Hogan just Hulks up and Atomic Drops Savage to the floor. Now Zeus comes in to face his arch rival. Hogan staggers him with a series of right hands and Zeus is down on one knee. Sherri tries to interfere and Elizabeth dumps her into the ring! The referee is distracted and Savage goes up top with the purse, but Beefcake knocks him down. Hogan gets control of the purse and levels Zeus with it. He’s then able to bodyslam the big man. Hogan finishes Zeus off with the Leg Drop for the pin at 15:10. Sure, Zeus was a terrible wrestler but as a kid he scared the crap out of me and that’s what they were going for. The match was a fun main event that sent the crowd home happy. Savage did the bulk of the work for his team so it worked out. This is very reminiscent of the first SummerSlam main event, or WrestleMania.
Rating: ***

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About Jake Ziegler

I've been in love with the movies for almost 20 years. I follow the Oscars obsessively, and try to see as many movies a year as I can. I'll watch anything good bad or otherwise, and my life long dream job has always been to be a bona fide film critic. View all posts by Jake Ziegler

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