WWF SummerSlam 1989 Review (Hogan vs. Zeus)

Greetings, everyone. It’s Tomás here as usual with the review of the second ever edition of SummerSlam, featuring Warrior vs. Rude in a rematch from WrestleMania, The Hart Foundation taking on The Brain Busters, Hulk Hogan taking on the monster Zeus in a main-event tag affair and much more.

Before starting, here is the list of champions in the WWF heading into this show:

  • WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan
  • Intercontinental Champion: Rick Rude
    Tag Team Champions: The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard)
  • Women’s Champion: Rockin’ Robin

Enjoy the review!

Your hosts are Jesse Ventura & Tony Schiavone

The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard)(w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart)

This is non-title as the match was signed before the Brain Busters won the tag titles from Demolition in July’s SNME. Bret starts off hot by catching Tully with a number of armdrags and going to work on the arm. Tully tags in Arn and that happens to him as well, as Bret gives him a couple of armdrags and stays on the arm. Bret brings in Anvil who continues to work on Arn’s arm using his power. Tully comes back in but Bret does as well, keeping the babyface team in control with a hammerlock. Really solid wrestling here. Tully turns Bret’s hammerlock into a wristlock and takes him down, but Bret bridges out of that hold and dumps both heels in a great spot that gets the crowd on their feet. The champs finally turn things around with a blind tag to Arn, who catches Bret with a knee to the back while he’s running the ropes. Arn misses a splash, though, and Anvil rams him into the turnbuckle off a bearhug. A Hart Foundation miscommunication puts the Busters back in control as Tully starts working Anvil’s neck. We hit the chinlock. The heels cut the ring in half and proceed to double-team Anvil until Anderson and Anvil collide for a double KO spot. Arn gets up first and goes for the tag to Blanchard, but Bret gets in and knocks Anderson back down. Well, you do what you gotta do. That allows Anvil to get the hot tag to Bret, who enters and just starts running wild on everyone – slam to Arn, slam to Tully, dropkick to Arn and finally the middle rope elbow to Tully. Snap suplex gets two. Anvil and Arn go at it on the floor while the legal men wrestle in the ring before Neidhart slingshots himself into Tully. Anvil powerslams Bret on top of Tully, but Anderson hits Bret with a cheapshot to the back of the head behind the ref’s back, allowing Blanchard to get the win at 16:23.

  • Analysis: Absolutely incredible opener. This was technically terrific and had some spectacular action, despite missing its peak by a while. Also the titles not being on the line hurt it a little bit. Apart from that, tremendous opener. ***1/4

Dusty Rhodes vs. The Honky Tonk Man(w/ Jimmy Hart)

Mucho dancing and taunting to start. Dusty goes for the Bionic Elbow already and Honky is quickly out of there. Mucho stalling follows. Back in, Dusty messes up the Elvis hairstyle. OH NO. That finally gets Honky off his game and allows Rhodes to take over, but Jimmy Hart hits him with the megaphone to turn things around. Honky hits the chinlock and Dusty fights out of it, before eventually running into a knee as Honky goes back to the chinlock. Honky slugs Dusty in the corner, but Dusty fights back and the ref gets bumped. Honky grabs Dusty for a guitar shot from Jimmy, but Dusty moves out of the way and Honky eats the guitar instead. Big elbowdrop follows to give Big Dust the pin at 9:36. In a hilarious bit post-match, Sean Mooney interviews the still knocked-out Honky Tonk Man, who’s doing a tremendous selljob and says “this beautiful audience came here to see me sing. Somebody tell me where’s the stage?” before the humiliated Jimmy Hart just takes poor Honky to the back. Great stuff by Honky while Dusty celebrates with the crowd in the ring.

  • Analysis: This match wasn’t anything special when it comes to the technical department, but it sure as hell was a great watch. These two were two of the most charismatic wrestlers in the entire history of the sport, and they sure gave that “beautiful audience”, as Honky used to say, a damn good time. They were hot the whole time and it was fun. *1/2

Mr. Perfect vs. The Red Rooster

Perfect totally outwrestles Rooster to start and mocks Rooster’s chicken shtick! Rooster starts making a brief comeback before his leg gives out during a slam attempt, putting Perfect back in the driver’s seat. Perfect dumps him with a… ahem.. perfect standing dropkick. Perfect pounds Rooster down before putting him away with the Perfectplex back inside at 3:21.

  • Analysis: Just a glorified squash for Perfect here. His stuff looked good as usual and he showed some awesome charisma mocking Rooster’s stupid chicken gimmick. Terry Taylor looked legitimately hurt out there. *

Meanwhile, the infamous backstage interview featuring Mean Gene, Rick Rude & Bobby Heenan. This is obviously the edited version so the SummerSlam logo doesn’t fall down on the Network! They are ready for Warrior, he’ll get a rude awakening, etc.

Tito Santana & The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty) vs. Rick Martel & The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques & Raymond)(w/ Jimmy Hart & Slick)

Jacques offers Tito a handshake to start because the Rougeaus are not only all American boys, but they’re nice too. The Rockers join Tito to triple-team Jacques, including an insane double leapfrog sequence by both Rockers, before Jacques runs away and bails. The crowd go crazy for that action while Jimmy Hart asks for the referee to open his eyes! Back in, Jacques catches Jannetty with a cheapshot and he brings in Raymond for a savate kick. Martel gets in but is quickly out of there once Marty tags Tito in. Martel turned on Santana at WrestleMania V. So Tito proceeds to make an example out of Raymond while Martel watches in the corner. The Rougeaus manage to turn things around with the help of some cheating, though, and now Martel is more than happy to get some of Santana. The heels keep Tito down in their corner by using quick tags but Santana eventually catches Martel with a sunset flip for two. Martel chokes away. Off to Jacques Rougeau for an abdominal stretch with assistance from Martel while Raymond distracts the referee. People really sleep on the Rougeaus, they have been great heat magnets since their heel turn in early ’88. You can hear the crowd moaning and ready to see them get their asses kicked. Santana fights out of that abdominal stretch but Martel quickly catches him with an elbow to prevent him from making the hot tag. Santana surprises Jacques with a high crossbody for two, so Jacques bitchslaps The Rockers and gets them inside the ring so that his partners can do damage while the ref is distracted with them! Tito rolls up Raymond for two but he keeps him from his corner with a chinlock. Santana finally fights out and tags in Michaels as the crowd goes insane. Michaels slugs away on Martel before backdropping him out of the corner. A vertical suplex sets up a flying fistdrop before he launches Jannetty onto Martel. That gets everyone in as IT’S BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA, and that allows Rick Martel to knock out Jannetty while he’s rolling up Jacques, stealing the win for the heels at 14:58.

  • Analysis: This was a very nice surprise. I would’ve liked to see Martel and Santana going at it in a singles match, but I have no problem in them saving that encounter for later. Plus the Rockers are always great hot tag guys and the Rougeaus are great heat magnets, and they sure as hell deserved to be on this card. There were a few issues here and there (Martel wasn’t the legal guy for his team when he won the match for example), but the action was fast and furious and the crowd liked it a lot. ***

Meanwhile, The Ultimate Warrior says Rude will surrender the title 1-2-3 to the gods above. Something… like that!

WWF Intercontinental Championship: Rick Rude(c)(w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. The Ultimate Warrior

The story here is really simple. Warrior won the IC title at this same event one year earlier from The Honky Tonk Man before suffering his first – and so far only – loss in his career to Rude at WrestleMania, dropping the gold to him thanks to Bobby Heenan. Meanwhile, Rude recently started a feud with Roddy Piper after Bobby Heenan quit Prime Time Wrestling and Piper replaced him as Gorilla Monsoon’s co-host, creating some fantastic interactions on TV. Warrior had also teased a feud with Andre on a recent edition of the ‘Brother Love Show’. Rude goes after Warrior to start but Warrior quickly cuts him off and dumps him with a clothesline over the top rope and onto the floor. Back in, Rude sunset flips Warrior but he blocks that with a punch before sending Rude back to the outside with a gorilla slam. Awful strategy as a challenger to throw the champion to the outside over and over again where you CAN’T win the title, but eh it’s Warrior! Speaking of stupid strategy, Warrior attacks Rude with the title belt before putting him back in, with the ref totally ignoring him. Meanwhile, Jesse Ventura on commentary after Schiavone tells him it happened on the outside: “SO WHAT SCHIAVONE? CAN YOU SHOOT SOMEONE OUT THERE JUST BECAUSE IT’S ON THE OUTSIDE? YOU’RE EVEN DUMBER THAN MONSOON”!!! Warrior dumps Rude again for some reason before hitting a flying double axehandle off the top back inside for two. Suplex gets two more. Warrior proceeds to atomic drop Rude, who does his signature selljob as usual, before Warrior takes him down for good. Warrior goes up but Rude slams him off to turn things around. Rude starts working the back to set up the Rude Awakening, suplexing him before stomping him in the back. Rude goes for the Rude Awakening but Warrior breaks the move by literally powering Rude’s hands away, so Rude changes his mind and puts him in a sleeper instead. Warrior fights out and the ref gets bumped off a criss cross. Heenan helps Rude to his feet first but Warrior gets up and starts making his big comeback with a series of clotheslines followed by a powerslam. Piledriver gets two. Warrior hits a running powerslam and goes for the Warrior Splash, but Rude gets his knees up to block. Rude proceeds to hit a FANTASTIC piledriver for a very close two. It looked like it just KILLED Warrior right there, but if you look closely you can see Warrior’s head and neck sliding down Rude’s legs totally safely. Again, Rick Rude was such a great wrestler. Rude comes off the top with a flying fistdrop for two more and suddenly the crowd starts going wild. What is going on? IT’S RODDY PIPER! He slowly walks down to ringside while the crowd is almost having a collective orgasm. Rude starts doing his “real sexy man pose” to Piper, who simply turns his back and shows off his ass! When you review wrestling matches you really do write some things that you never thought you would!! Rude gets all pissed and gets on the top rope screaming at Piper, allowing Warrior to hit him with a german suplex off the top. And from there it’s shoulderblock, gorilla press into the Warrior splash and Warrior is the new champion at 16:02.

  • Analysis: WrestleMania and now SummerSlam – might as well call Rick Rude a magician. These were easily the best two matches in Warrior’s career up until this point, as Rude just manages to bring out the best in the Warrior every single time. I hadn’t seen this match in a few years and I was starting to get a bit worried in the first few minutes, with Warrior constantly getting Rude to the outside and hitting him with the belt like a complete idiot. However, after all that nonsense the action got much, much better. Warrior literally powering out of the Rude Awakening was a spectacular move that helped Warrior’s push even more. Warrior kept it safe and managed to get through the whole match without any kind of botches, unlike at WrestleMania, while Rude was even better here as well in my opinion. These two just clicked. Plus Roddy Piper’s run-in was a great moment. The crowd were into it like crazy. Great stuff. Easily one the best matches in Warrior’s career. ***1/2

Demolition (Ax & Smash) & ‘King’ Jim Duggan vs. Andre the Giant & Twin Towers (Akeem & The Big Bossman)(w/ Bobby Heenan & Slick)

Duggan still has the king gimmick at this point. He would ‘drop’ that to Randy Savage shortly after this event to give Savage some of his heat back after four months of jobbing to Hogan. Demolition dominate both members of the Twin Towers to start, slugging down both of them. Ax gets too close to the heel corner, however, and that allows them to bring in Andre who quickly turns things around with his massive buttdrop. Andre can barely walk at this point in his career. He has to hold the ropes for support in every “move” he does. It’s quite sad. Usual Andre choking follows before he gets out. Bossman headbutts Ax but Akeem misses a charge, allowing the hot tag to Smash. He runs wild with slams on both Twin Towers but he runs into Andre and goes down. Bossman comes in with an elbowdrop while Andre headbutts Duggan. Akeem takes Smash down and goes for the pin, but the ref is distracted with Andre which allows Duggan to turn Akeem’s lights out with the 2×4 and give Smash the pin at 7:23.

  • Analysis: This was nothing but a “get me up match”, which is Vince McMahon’s code for filler after a big match. However, it wasn’t bad. It was a simple and fine bout with an important win for Demolition on PPV after losing the tag titles the prior month. Watchable. *1/4

Hercules vs. Greg Valentine(w/ Jimmy Hart)

Ronnie Garvin is your special ring announcer here. He makes fun of Valentine and throws him off his game on his way to the ring. Valentine goes after Garvin and Garvin fakes a punch, allowing Hercules to strike him. Herc gets a couple of nearfalls with a clothesline and a slam as Valentine bails. Herc gets a roll-up for two but Valentine catches him and starts working the leg. Hercules catches him with a suplex, though. They get into a slugfest near the corner before Valentine takes him down and steals the win with assistance from the ropes at 3:08. Garvin awards the match to Hercules as a result of DQ anyway and the babyfaces clean house. Valentine still won, in case you care. The referee’s decision is ultimately what counts, obviously.

  • Analysis: There’s really no much to say here. This was more filler and the Valentine/Garvin feud has been strange. Next. 1/2*

Jimmy Snuka vs. Ted DiBiase(w/ Virgil)

DiBiase goes after Snuka but it quickly backfires. Snuka beats up Virgil before sending DiBiase to the floor as well with an atomic drop. DiBiase takes his time and stalls a little bit. Back in, Snuka totally misses his timing on a leapfrog, landing on top of DiBiase’s head and neck. He improvises well by slugging away on DiBiase but still.. ugh. That looked very bad and could’ve hurt someone. DiBiase turns things around with a stungun followed by a suplex for two. DiBiase goes up for the flying million dollar elbow, which misses like 99% of the times he tries it. Snuka connects with a flying headbutt and goes up again for the Superfly Splash, only for Virgil to distract him and bring him to the outside for a chase. That allows DiBiase to come in with a cheapshot from behind. Finally, DiBiase whips Snuka into the post and simply gets back in for the easy count-out win at 6:27. Snuka stands tall and gives the fans the chance to see the Splash, with Virgil being the victim.

  • Analysis: Well, more filler. Apart from that horrible looking botch this was okay. The Superfly Splash is over like crazy and the crowd was hot for it. I’d like to add that it’s great to see DiBiase get some kind of a win over a big name on a big show for the first time in what seems like forever. *

Main-event: Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake(w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Randy Savage & Zeus(w/ Sensational Sherri)

But first, The Genius cuts a short promo. Before the match Hogan introduces Elizabeth to get the heels, particularly Savage and Sherri, off their game. Hogan starts with Zeus and goes after him, but he no-sells everything and immediately chokes down Hogan. Beefcake gets in to break up but Zeus no-sells some more and puts Beefcake in the bearhug. Hogan tries it and the same happens to him as well. Savage tags in and adds the double axehandle off the top while Hogan is in the bearhug. Savage clothesline knocks Hogan down as we hit the chinlock. There will certainly be a lot of restholds in this one. Hogan fights out of that and starts showing some life against Savage only to walk into a cheapshot from Zeus near the ropes. And then Zeus comes in for MORE bearhug action. Savage gets back in with a backdrop suplex for two. Savage misses a blind charge though as Hogan finally gets Beefcake in so he himself can eventually play Hulkamaniac-in-peril. Beefcake connects with a high knee and actually puts Savage in the sleeper, but Savage manages to ram his back into the turnbuckle to break. And it’s back to Zeus, meaning it’s bearhug o’clock. Beefcake actually finds Zeus’ Achilles tendon, his eyes, actually getting some offense on Zeus before Hogan. Put that title on Brutus Beefcake, brother! Sherri immediately knocks out Beefcake with her purse to save Zeus, though. Savage literally tags in just so he can pin the dead Beefcake, as apparently Zeus can’t even do a cover, but Hogan comes in and pushes Savage off the cover numerous times. That’s cheating Hulkster, I thought you were supposed to be my hero! Savage and Beefcake clothesline each other for a double KO spot and here’s Hogan for the hot tag. He runs wild on Savage and goes for a vertical suplex off the apron to the ring, but Sherri grabs his leg and Savage falls on top for two in the exact same spot that gave Rick Rude the IC Title at that year’s WrestleMania. Savage clotheslines Hogan and follows up with the Macho Elbow…. but Hogan completely no-sells it and gets immediately back up to confront Zeus. Oh fuck off, might as well piss in Savage’s mouth while you’re at it. Sherri and Elizabeth get into a catfight and leave Sherri’s purse inside the ring, so Hogan hits Zeus in the head with it and finally takes him off his feet with a clothesline. The big slam sets up the big leg and that’s all she wrote at 15:04. After the match, Hogan atomic drops Sherri (!!) right into a shot with the purse from Liz. The babyfaces all cut Sherri’s hair with Beefcake’s clippers to close the show.

  • Analysis: While this did suck technically, it was a simple match that worked. It was smart to go home immediately after Zeus took his first “bump” since the poor guy couldn’t wrestle and nothing would be accomplished had it only been used as a false finish. Like I said in the review, they might as well have pissed in Randy Savage’s mouth in this match, as the guy carried Zeus on his back throughout the whole match and then saw his finisher get absolutely killed before being simply ignored by Hogan. That wasn’t needed at all and only took Savage off the main-event scene going forward. Still, the finish was hot and this match worked. **1/4


Final thoughts: Not a bad show. I can’t even compare this to anything NWA has been doing in ’89, but compared to WrestleMania V for example this was an absolute masterpiece. That’s a very low bar, don’t get too excited. The opener was very good and so was the Rockers/Santana vs. Rougeaus/Martel six man tag match, Honky/Rhodes was a very fun match, the main-event was effective and Warrior/Rude was fantastic. The rest was mostly filler but nothing was offensive or too boring. In the end, I’d say Warrior vs. Rude is the highlight of this show. Slightly recommended pay-per-view. Low 6/10

Finally, here are the points for the wrestlers on this show:

  • The Ultimate Warrior: 6.5 points (3.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 2 for winning a title)
  • Hulk Hogan: 4.75 points (2.25 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall)
  • Tully Blanchard: 4.75 points (3.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall)
  • Rick Martel: 4.5 points (3 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall)
  • Brutus Beefcake: 4.25 points (2.25 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Arn Anderson: 4.25 points (3.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • The Fabulous Rougeaus: 4 points (3 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Demolition Smash: 2.75 points (1.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall)
  • Dusty Rhodes: 2.5 points (1.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Randy Savage: 2.25 points (2.25 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Demolition Ax: 2.25 points (1.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • King Jim Duggan: 2.25 points (1.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Jim Neidhart: 2.25 points (3.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Tito Santana: 2 points (3 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Shawn Michaels: 2 points (3 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Mr. Perfect: 2 points (1 for star rating + 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Zeus: 1.75 points (2.25 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
  • Bret Hart: 1.75 points (3.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
  • Marty Jannetty: 1.5 points (3 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
  • Ted DiBiase: 1.5 points (1 for star rating + 0.5 for CO win)
  • Greg Valentine: 1.5 points (0.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Jimmy Snuka: 0.5 points (1 for star rating – 0.5 for CO loss)
  • Rick Rude: 0.5 points (3.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 2 for losing a title)
  • The Honky Tonk Man: 0.5 points (1.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Andre the Giant: 0.25 points (1.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • The Big Bossman: 0.25 points (1.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • The Red Rooster: 0 points (1 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Akeem: -0.25 points (1.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
  • Hercules: -0.5 points (0.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)

As always, thank you very much for your time. I’ll see you next time. Stay safe everyone and, in case I don’t see you until then, have a Merry Christmas!