The SmarK Rant for WWF SummerSlam 1988
By Scott Keith on 22nd October 2023
Live from New York.
Your hosts are Gorilla & Superstar Graham. As a commentator, Graham made a great former World champion.
The British Bulldogs v. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
Early in the heel turn for the Rougeaus here. Davey attacks Jacques to start and rams him into the corner a few times, so it’s over to Raymond. He gets in a cheapshot off the lockup and fires away in the corner, but Davey no-sells a monkey flip and it’s back to the Bulldog corner for more ass-whooping. Davey goes to an armbar on Raymond and Dynamite comes in with a clothesline (“Literally almost took his head off!” according to Gorilla. Man, he really needs a good color man to rein him in). Davey and Raymond do a spiffy pinfall reversal sequence and Kid goes back to the arm again, and the Bulldogs put Raymond down with a double clothesline. And it’s chinlock time. The inevitable trip from the heel side turns the tide, and the Rougeaus go to work on Davey’s leg, but he sneaks in with a small package on Jacques for two. Hot tag Dynamite and he hits Jacques with a snap suplex into a headbutt for two. Backdrop suplex gets two. To the floor and Davey sends Raymond into the railing. Back in, Dynamite pounds away on Raymond in the corner, but Jacques comes in and brings him down with a backdrop suplex in a nice little double-team. Jacques drops the knee for two and now Kid plays face-in-peril. More double-teaming in the corner sets up the abdominal stretch from Jacques, and right on cue Gorilla is bitching about the placement of the foot. Raymond tries his luck, but he avoids the Wrath of Gorilla as Kid breaks free before any moaning about the move can happen. Raymond puts Kid down with an atomic drop into a Jacques splash for two, and Jacques goes to a camel clutch. Kid powers up and the Rougeaus switch off on him. Davey gets suckered in, which means the ref misses Kid’s cradle on Jacques and it only gets two as a result. Back to the abdominal stretch in the heel corner, as Raymond adds the superkick for two. And they throw in the false tag for good measure, but it’s hot tag Davey Boy soon after. He quickly whiffs on a dropkick, but recovers and presses Jacques onto the top rope. That gets two. He presses Dynamite onto Jacques with the diving headbutt, but the bell rings at 19:00. That’s a strangely arbitrary time limit, but I guess they were going for 20:00. Anyway, the 7-minute hacked up version is pretty bleh, but the full extended tag team formula on display here is a great opener.
Meanwhile, Ron Bass beats up Brutus Beefcake until a big red X appears over his face, so you KNOW it’s serious. Sadly, Brutus is unable to compete tonight as a result. As a kid, I totally bought this angle, but now it looks pretty lame and contrived. And really, does Beefcake’s Lex Luger-level blade job warrant censorship like that?
Bad News Brown v. Ken Patera
Bad News apparently HATES Olympians (or ex-cons, either way), because he attacks Patera and beats the shit out of him right off the bat. Patera makes the comeback and elbows him down, but misses an elbow and allows Bad News to take over again. He pounds away and chops Patera down, then chokes away as I wonder if Patera forgot how to sell while in prison. Patera comes back with a cradle for two and drops an elbow for two. Backbreaker gets two as even Gorilla is subtly burying Patera and how bad he’s become. Small package gets two. He goes to the BEARHUG OF DEATH and the crowd doesn’t give a crap about what is supposed to be a devastating hold. Superstar actually goes into detail about potential counters to this predicament until Brown simply pokes him in the eye to escape. Patera goes up with a clubbing forearm and sets up for his lame full-nelson, but Brown quickly makes the ropes. They slug it out in the corner, but say it with me: Patera misses a blind charge and it’s GHETTO BLASTER, MOTHERFUCKER to finish at 6:34. Gorilla calls it a little bit of an upset, I call it a fucking abortion. Patera looked totally out of shape at this point and was missing simple stuff left and right.
Meanwhile, the Megapowers are UNITED and have a secret weapon tonight.
Ravishing Rick Rude v. Junkyard Dog
Rude attacks to start and gets backdropped as a result, which results in him landing on the floor. Back in, Dog slugs him down, but misses a headbutt and gets leveled with a clothesline. Rude goes up with a double axehandle and he hits the chinlock. Dog fights up and gets caught with his head down, but Rude goes to work on the arm and accidentally crotches himself. Dog fires away in the corner, but gets caught from behind with a legsweep and Rude goes up to finish. However, he makes the fatal error of taking off his JYD tights to reveal Cheryl Roberts tights, and that brings in Jake for the DQ at 5:14. Dumb nothing match. Jake and Dog tease some dissention, but I’m sure they went backstage and made up over a big crack pipe afterwards.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene wants to inform Honky Tonk Man who he’s wrestling, but Honky would rather be surprised.
The Bolsheviks v. The Powers of Pain
Slick and the Bolsheviks was always a bad pairing, because Slick is obviously a capitalist pimp and the Russians would naturally oppose that sort of behavior. Powers attack to start and clear the ring, then put Boris down with a double elbow. They double-team Nikolai, and the Bolsheviks bail and
regroup again. This allows me to stop and wonder what the fuck was with trying to pass off Baron Von Raschke as a babyface manager. And why use him if you’re just going to disguise his face and not let him talk? Barbarian throws Boris around and Warlord sends him into the corner and drops a fist for two. Bad belly to belly suplex gets nothing, as Nikolai breaks it up and Warlord is face-in-peril. Although who would buy him as being in peril from these goofs, I don’t know. The heels work him over in the corner with their array of choking and punching before Boris goes to the chinlock. Warlord fights out and it’s hot tag Barbarian, who boots Nikolai over the top. Flying headbutt from Barbie finishes at 7:09. Total shit but the Powers were shockingly over as babyfaces.
Brother Love joins us with a special PPV show, back when he was a hot enough heel to pull that off, and his guest is Hacksaw Duggan. And Duggan’s got nothing in particular to say, aside from establishing that he still loves the USA.
Intercontinental title: Honky Tonk Man v. The Ultimate Warrior
Of course we all know what happened here, as Honky learns that “Gimme somebody to wrestle” are the dumbest words a man can say after 18 months as champion. After nearly two years of Honky outsmarting better wrestlers and backing into successful title defenses, Warrior cuts the Gordian knot and destroys Honky in 30 seconds, giving him no chance to get himself counted out or disqualified. And the pop is unholy, making this one of the greatest payoffs in the history of wrestling. As a match, whatever, but it delivered what the fans had been waiting to see forever.
Don Muraco v. Dino Bravo
Sadly, “Jesus Christ Superstar” is our first victim of the Music License Guillotine tonight, as we get the overdubbed Finkel introduction and ear-rapingly bad generic music. This is a rematch of their Wrestlemania IV 3 minute epic, as Muraco was nearing the end despite still looking like a superstar. Muraco grabs a headlock and stomps Bravo on a criss-cross, then slams him a couple of times and sends him running to the floor. Muraco with a monkey flip out of the corner, but Bravo reverses him into the turnbuckle and pounds away. Inverted atomic drop follows, into an elbowdrop for two. Muraco catches him with a Russian legsweep and makes the comeback. Bravo catches him with the sideslam to finish at 5:30, however. Bleh.
WWF World tag titles: Demolition v. The Hart Foundation
“Demolition” is INTACT, full Derringer version and all. I give up trying to understand this stuff. The Harts don’t even get an ENTRANCE, poor guys. Bret dodges an Ax elbow to start and rolls him up for two, so it’s over to Smash. Bret takes him down with armdrags, and Anvil comes in and pounds Smash down before going to the arm himself. Ax gets the cheapshot from the apron and pounds Neidhart down in the corner, and Smash adds his own abuse. Anvil catches Ax with his head down and brings Bret back in, but Smash whips him into the corner to take over. Demolition takes turns on the arm, and Smash gets a shoulderbreaker and cranks on a wristlock. Bret gets tossed and Ax rams his arm into the railing, and back in for more punishment. Bret comes back with a clothesline on Ax, but it’s a false tag and Bret gets hauled back to the heel corner again. Smash misses a blind charge, however, and it’s hot tag Anvil. Dropkick for Ax! Slams for everyone! Anvil clears the ring and then Bret slingshots him onto Smash on the floor, which is a pretty awesome highspot for 1988. Back in, powerslam gets two. Bret whips Anvil into Smash for two. Backbreaker gets two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Bret sets up for a piledriver on Smash, but Ax nails him with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone and Smash gets the pin to retain at 10:48. Crowd was totally buying the Harts babyface act, which is kind of weird considering they were the #1 tag team heels all the way up until Wrestlemania IV. Looked kind of sloppy to start, but once they got into beating the shit out of Bret Hart it got really good, really fast.
Big Bossman v. Koko B. Ware
Bossman tosses him to start, but Koko comes back in with a dropkick and Bossman is tied up in the ropes. Koko walks into a facelock, however, and Bossman pounds him down and hits a corner splash. Clothesline gets two and he goes to a surfboard, then the running choke. To the top (!?), but a flying splash misses badly, then he misses a blind charge for good measure. Koko makes the comeback with a missile dropkick for two, but Bossman no-sells it and dumps him. Bossman slam finishes at 5:55. Too long for this early in Bossman’s career, as it should have been a dominant squash, but he’d get better.
Meanwhile, Ultimate Warrior celebrates and notes that he’s not a hard guy to find, he’ll be on a spaceship to Parts Unknown if you want him. That sounds pretty hard to find, actually.
Hercules v. Jake Roberts
Hercules tries the sneak attack, but Jake slugs away until he runs into a boot in the corner. Herc puts his head down and Jake goes to finish, but Hercules wisely slips out and takes a breather. Back in, Jake cranks on the headlock, but Herc gets the cheapshot and drops elbows to take over. Clothesline and another elbow get two. Herc goes to the endless chinlock and dumps Jake. Back in, another chinlock, but Jake escapes with a jawbreaker and makes the comeback. Short clothesline, but Herc backdrops out of the DDT. Jake misses the kneelift and Hercules drops an elbow for two. Herc arrogantly pounds away, but the DDT finishes out of nowhere at 10:09. Overly long but totally watchable.
Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage v. Ted Dibiase & Andre the Giant
Special ref Jesse Ventura changes the corners around for reasons that are never adequately explained. Savage starts and immediately gets jumped in the heel corner, so he backs off and lets Hogan come in. Macho’s yellow-and-red Megapower variant tights are pretty badass, actually. Hogan counters all of Dibiase’s offense and atomic drops him into the corner for some bumping, then puts him down with a clothesline. The Megapowers team up with elbows on Dibiase, and Hulk runs him into each turnbuckle. Savage in with the double axehandle and he drops the knee for two. Double big boot gets two for Hogan. He drops the elbows on Dibiase, but Andre is not feeling charitable today and just comes in to destroy the faces. He tags in legally and uses the power of his ass on Hogan, then chokes him out and runs him into his boot. Andre with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch to put Hogan down and we get some extended choking. Over to Dibiase, who slugs Hogan down and follows with a clothesline for two.
Fistdrop gets two. He hits the chinlock, which gets Superstar inordinately worked up about the injustice of it all. Holy shit, mix some valium in with the other pills. Hulk fights up and elbows out, and it’s a double clothesline as a result. Hot tag Savage, but you know this isn’t gonna take. Backdrop for Dibiase and he necksnaps him on the top rope, then pops up to the top with the double axehandle, but a blind charge misses. He still manages a crossbody for two, but Dibiase tags the Giant in and Savage is fucked with a capital FUCK. Andre pounds at will and crushes him in the corner. Back to Dibiase, who gets a suplex for two. Elbow off the middle rope misses, and Hogan gets the tag again. Hulk slugs away on Dibiase and gets the corner clothesline, then follows with a suplex and slugs Andre down for the heck of it. He puts Dibiase in a sleeper while Savage tries the flying elbow on Andre, but the Giant gets his boot up and catches Savage coming down. See, that spot makes SENSE there and looks like it should. The heels clean house and things are looking bad for the Megapowers, but Liz pops onto the apron and does the famous striptease (just revealing a pair of bikini bottoms), leaving everyone so distracted that the Megapowers can stage the comeback. Using the power of the MEGAPOWER HANDSHAKE, they activate the Megapower Powers and finish Dibiase with the flying elbow and legdrop at 14:46. Pretty good tag match, actually, with a lot of different people getting offense instead of the usual formula.
The Bottom Line:
Well, the 80s had some damn good tag team wrestling, you have to give it that. Boy this is a crappy show otherwise, though, interesting as it is to finally see the full version. Recommendation to avoid.