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WWF SummerSlam 1988 Review

Welcome everyone to my review of the very first edition of SummerSlam, where The Mega Powers met The Mega Bucks.

Enjoy the review!

Before starting, here is the list of champions at the time:

  • WWF Champion: Randy Savage
  • Intercontinental Champion: Honky Tonk Man
  • Tag Team Champions: Demolition (Ax & Smash)

The hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham

Match 1: The British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith) vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond Rougeau)

At this point, The Bulldogs were getting less and less featured, having even lost to Bobby Heenan at WrestleMania. Meanwhile, the Rougeaus were slowly turning heel, pretending to be huge American heros but ultimately being dicks and thus getting quite the heat for it. They’ve honestly been one of the most improved acts since WrestleMania, as they were just sort of there as babyfaces.

Fast wrestling sequence and quick hot tags from both teams get things started, before Dynamite gets caught with a suplex from behind that allows the Rougeaus to take over. The heels slap on sleeper holds on Dynamite and use them to mock the crowd and get even more heat, which works.

Finally Smith gets the hot tag and runs wild, crotching Jacques on the top rope and getting everyone involved for a slugfest. The babyfaces connect with their press-slam/diving headbutt finisher, but the time expires and it’s a draw.

This was a hard one to get into, as these two teams were not feuding at all with each other (to be fair, nobody on this card was apart from the main-event) and thus the match dragged a little bit due to its time-limit finish. It was technically good, though, and The Rougeaus had massive heat. Not a bad opener that could’ve been great with a proper story, no doubt. **1/2

Meanwhile, we’re shown footage of Brutus Beefcake getting absolutely destroyed by Ron Bass on TV a few days earlier. Therefore, he’s out of the IC Title match later that night, but Honky will still put the belt on the line against a new opponent. I wonder who that might be!

Match #2: Bad News Brown vs. Ken Patera

Much like in the opening match, here Bad News has been feuding with Bret Hart ever since WrestleMania… but he’s taking on Patera, who’s been doing a whole bunch of nothing for months.

Patera tries to get the upper hand to start, only for Brown to casually beat him like it’s nothing. Patera tries a number of comebacks that go nowhere, including trying to lock in a full nelson, before he misses a charge in the corner and Brown puts him away with the Ghetto Blaster.

Eh, this was a thing that existed, apparently. Brown has been awesome since making his debut, though. 1/2*

Match #3: The Junkyard Dog vs. ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude(w/ Bobby Heenan)

In this one, Rude has been in a really hot personal feud with Jake Roberts, one of the best going at this point in time, but he’s up against Junkyard Dog for some reason.

This was unquestionably the worst match of the night when it comes to the in-ring wrestling ability, as it was literally just them kicking and punching each other a lot before Rude removed his tights to reveal another pair with Cheryl Roberts’ (Jake’s wife) face on it, which brings Jake in for the DQ finish.

Can’t say it was pointless, as it helped further the Rude/Roberts storyline. However, I strongly recommend you avoid the rest of this match and jump straight to that moment. Nothing was botched or particularly bad, it just didn’t click. 1/4*

Match #4: The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov)(w/ Slick) vs. The Powers of Pain (The Warlord & The Barbarian)(w/ Baron Von something)

The Powers of Pain just recently made their debuts after WrestleMania, and are quite clearly being pushed for a future feud with Demolition over the tag straps.

The Russians catch the newcomers to start, working them over for the standard basic tag team formula. Only difference being that the Powers sell less than usual, if anything at all. Finally Barbarian gets the hot tag and they clean house, putting Zhukov away with a powerslam into a flying headbutt.

Another match that was just sort of there, with no real background story or any particular reason for it to be on a major PPV. 1/2*

And now, to bring love to your hearts…


His guest is ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan, who says some stuff (basically OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH) before chasing Brother Love away with the 2×4.

Match #5: The Honky Tonk Man(c)(w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. ??? ???????? ??????? – WWF Intercontinental Championship

With Beefcake out injured and unable to compete, Honky calls out anyone for him to wrestle. That brings out, as Vince McMahon used to say…


… who absolutely runs over The Honky era, splashing him in seconds for the pin to win the Intercontinental Championship. N/R (no rating) as a far as the match itself goes, as you could’ve missed it if you went to the kitchen just to grab a drink. As a moment, though, this gets a million of a billion stars plus one of the biggest pops in history. In case you’ve never seen this, it’s only one of the biggest moments in wrestling (as well as MSG) history, so watch it… I do NOT recommend you to blink, though!

Match #6: ‘The Rock’ Don Muraco vs. Dino Bravo(w/ Frenchy Martin)

This is apparently to determine who’s the strongest wrestler in the world or whatever. Which I guess is Vince McMahon’s code for ‘to let the people go to the toilet and have something to eat and/or drink after the last match’.

A few things happen for two minutes, before Bravo blocks a bodyslam by “accidentally” hitting the ref, and steals the win with a side slam to become the undisputed strongest man in wrestling. Something along those lines.

I personally find my description of this match way more accurate, but you’re free to have it your way, folks! DUD

Match #7: Demolition (Ax & Smash)(c)(w/ Mr. Fuji & Jimmy Hart) vs. The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) – WWF Tag Team Championship

The Harts turned babyface recently and dumped Jimmy Hart, who still owns their contract and is thus allowed to be at ringside. So that is exactly what he does, supporting their opponents, Demolition!

The challengers start in control, with Neidhart connecting with a massive shoulder block on Smash. Ax catches Neidhart with a boot to the face, who strikes back with an uppercut before getting Bret in. Jimmy Hart distracts the ref, allowing Smash to hit a shoulderbreaker on Bret followed by an armbar to take over.

They work over Bret’s arm, pounding on it and even smashing the arm into the post to get the heat. After a few minutes, Bret finally connects with a clothesline and gets the hot tag to Neidhart, but Ax distracts the ref and he misses the tag, getting the crowd even more on the Foundation’s side.

The Demos continue to work over Bret, who finally gets separation with a boot to the face and brings in Neidhart for real, getting a standing ovation from the crowd! Neidhart cleans house, dropkicking and bodyslamming everything that moves before hitting an assisted slingshot to the outside on Smash, with the crowd losing it at this point. Back in, Neidhart hits a running powerslam for a very close and hot nearfall.

Neidhart brings Bret back in, and a double-team shoulder tackle gets two. Ax gets in to save another pinfall attempt, which brings Neidhart in too. Fuji gets on the apron to distract Neidhart as well as the referee, allowing Jimmy to give Ax the megaphone for a shot to Bret, and Smash gets the pin to retain.

While not as classic as their… well… classic match at the same event two years later, this is still a fantastic encounter. Meltzer gave this *1/2, which I just can’t possibly understand. The psychology over Bret’s arm and the eventual heat spot that followed were fantastic, to the point where the babyface hot tag got a standing ovation!! To the modern wrestling fan, this is your go-to match from this show. ***1/2

Match #8: The Big Boss Man(w/ Slick) vs. Koko B. Ware

This is Boss Man’s first PPV match, as he made his debut shortly after WrestleMania. Boss Man immediately dumps Koko to the outside like a sack of potatoes, but quickly eats a dropkick and a splash.

Boss Man turns things around with a headbutt, only to miss a splash off the top. He doesn’t really sell it and misses a charge instead, as Koko follows with quite the beautiful missile dropkick followed by a splash. Boss Man kicks out with authority, however, and a few seconds later Koko is done via Boss Man Slam.

At nearly six minutes, this was at least two minutes too long – considering Koko got pinned by Bobby Heenan at WrestleMania – but it was totally watchable while it lasted, despite not being memorable or anything. *1/2

Meanwhile, new IC Champ Ultimate Warrior cuts a promo in the dressing room. He said.. something.. way too fast and in his typical ranting style, which I’m sure was fantastic but I just could not understand!

Match #9: Jake Roberts vs. Hercules

As I mentioned previously, Roberts was in a heated feud with Rick Rude. Hercules doesn’t have Bobby Heenan with him, because he’s getting ready for the upcoming main-event.

Jake tries the DDT early on, but Hercules bails. Roberts bodyslams him instead, and follows with a chinlock. Hercules turns that into a headlock, and a clothesline gets two. Herc goes into another chinlock, which goes on forever. When Roberts finally fights his way out, Herc puts him back in it again…

Roberts escapes for good with a jawbreaker, and follows with a short-arm clothesline. Herc backdrops out of a DDT attempt, and drops an elbow for two after avoiding a knee lift as well. Herc tries a slam, but Roberts escapes and connects with the DDT for the dramatic pin.

This was technically fine and Roberts’ DDT got a huge pop as usual, but it was just boring as hell and didn’t need ten minutes at all. Especially considering this was in the death slot just before the main-event, which is exactly what everyone was waiting for while these two just kept putting each others in chinlocks. *

Main-event: Mega Powers (Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan)(w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant)(w/ Bobby Heenan & Virgil) – special referee: Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura

Ventura is the special ref, obviously paid off by DiBiase in the build-up despite pretending to be fair. Ventura even changes the tag ropes just because he wants them in another corner and he can do whatever he wants, while the babyfaces have matching attire… matched to Hogan’s red and yellow colors, because of course brother.

The Mega Powers take control to start, double-teaming DiBiase. Hogan has the brilliant idea of taunting Andre, who then headbutts him in the corner. Can’t say he didn’t ask for it. Andre now comes in legally, putting Hogan in the nerve hold. For quite some time.

DiBiase comes in next, clearly choking Hogan on a chinlock, which Ventura ignores. Hogan eventually fights out of that and brings in Savage for the hot tag, who runs wild on DiBiase before running right into a million dollar clothesline. And he brings in Andre, who can barely do anything at this point.

Andre works Hogan over but Ted misses the elbow, with Andre coming back in to headbutt Hogan while he’s putting DiBiase in a sleeper. That looks like it’s it for the babyfaces, but Liz gets up on the apron and removes her skirt. The heels all freeze for about two minutes, including Heenan and Virgil on the apron – apparently having never seen a woman’s legs – which allows Savage to hit the Macho Elbow on DiBiase, followed by the Leg Drop. Ventura refuses to count three, but Savage drops his hand the third time for the win.

This was a fun tag team match elevated by a super hot crowd, with awesome larger-than-life characters and/or personalities involved. In terms of technical execution, though, this is nothing more than a very basic Saturday Night’s Main Event-ish standard tag match, with an André who could barely walk at this point. **3/4

Overall, I’d strongly recommend Warrior’s historic win and the main-event as far as moments go, and the tag title match as the wrestling match of the night. Absolutely avoid everything else on this show and you will miss nothing. The inaugural SummerSlam gets a five out of ten from me.

Finally, the points:

  • Demolition Smash: 6 points (3.5 for star rating + 1 for retaining a title + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for earning the fall);
  • Demolition Ax: 5.5 points (3.5 for star rating + 1 for retaining a title + 1 for pinfall win);
  • Hulk Hogan: 5.25 points (2.75 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for earning the fall);
  • Randy Savage: 4.75 points (2.75 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 1 for pinfall win);
  • The Ultimate Warrior: 3 points (1 for pinfall win + 2 for winning a title);
  • Andre the Giant: 2.75 points (2.75 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • Jim Neidhart: 2.5 points (3.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • The Big Boss Man: 2.5 points (1.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall loss);
  • Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy, Jacques & Raymond Rougeau: 2.5 points (for star rating);
  • Ted DiBiase: 2.25 points (2.75 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing – 1 for pinfall loss – 1 for giving up the fall);
  • The Barbarian: 2 points (0.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for earning the fall);
  • Bret Hart: 2 points (3.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for giving up the fall);
  • Jake Roberts: 2 points (1 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win);
  • Bad News Brown: 1.5 points (0.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win);
  • The Warlord: 1.5 points (0.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win);
  • Dino Bravo: 1 point (for pinfall win);
  • Rick Rude: 0.75 points (0.25 for star rating + 0.5 for DQ win);
  • Koko B. Ware: 0.5 points (1.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • Hercules: 0 points (1 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • The Junkyard Dog: -0.25 points (0.25 for star rating – 0.5 for DQ loss);
  • Ken Patera: -0.5 points (0.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • Nikolai Volkoff: -0.5 points (0.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • Boris Zhukov: -1 point (0.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for giving up the fall);
  • The Honky Tonk Man: -3 points (-1 for pinfall loss – 2 for dropping a title)

Thank you so much for your time, I hope you had a fun read. Join me next time for the return of SNME, featuring the culmination of the Jake Roberts/Rick Rude feud, Hulk Hogan vs. King Haku and more. Once again thank you all, see you there!