The SmarK Rant for WWF Summerslam 1990
By Scott Keith on 2nd November 2023
Live from Philly.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Roddy Piper.
The Rockers v. Power & Glory
Nothing like Paul Roma to kick off a show! P&G don’t even get an entrance, which is funny given they were on the fast track at this point. Shawn is injured but they still wanted to advertise him, so Hercules attacks the knee before the bell, leaving Marty to fight alone. He fights off the heels with hiptosses and manages to dropkick both guys at once, because Roma is so useless that he can’t even beat up MARTY JANNETTY when he’s at a 2-on-1 advantage. Finally the heels use Slick’s distraction to take over, until Marty gets a small package for two. Vince is calling for the DQ, but Piper is all about the competition in between his bizarre stream-of-consciousness commentary. The new Mick Jagger and David Bowie?! Roma pounds on Marty while Shawn fights to get into the ring, because if there’s one thing you know about Shawn Michaels it’s that a knee injury isn’t going to keep him out of the ring! Herc powerslams Marty and gets rolled up off that, but Roma breaks it up and hits the backbreaker for two. Marty makes his own comeback with a powerslam and superkick, and he goes up with the flying fistdrop on Roma for two. Finally he runs into a cheapshot from Hercules on the apron, while Shawn sells outside. Piper: “Get up!” He’s kinda crazy. The POWERPLEX finishes Marty at 5:52 as the Rockers get destroyed but good. As Marty lays on Shawn to protect him, Piper notes that NOW they look like Jagger and Bowie. Oh, Roddy, you insane bastard. This was a fun destruction by the heels, but sadly they never went anywhere with it, mostly because Roma was so terrible.
Rating: **1/4 Death count: 1 (Hercules).
Meanwhile, Mr. Perfect notes that he’s perfect and thus won’t have any trouble coping with the Texas Tornado on short notice. Can’t fault the logic there.
Intercontinental title: Mr. Perfect v. Texas Tornado
This was of course to be Brutus Beefcake’s title win, before the infamous boating accident ended his career for 3 years. What’s the over-under on how much blow Kerry was doing just before his pre-match promo, I wonder? Especially given how short they kept this one. I still think they should have kept the challenger a surprise, because Kerry had some name value even if he was already on the downslide, and everyone was buying this show for Hogan anyway. They fight for the lockup and Hennig goes flying into the corner from that. What a Ziggler ripoff. Perfect with a pair of hiptosses, but Tornado clotheslines him to the floor and then starts working on the arm. Hennig finally clocks him with a forearm as the match breaks into FISTICUFFS in the words of Vince. I love that word. Perfect with the sleeper, but Kerry is too wired on coke and breaks free. Perfect gets arrogant and slaps him around in the corner, but Kerry catapults him into the corner for the trademark bump, and the claw and discus punch finish at 5:13 to give Von Erich the title. That was kind of a weird match, actually, with no real heat segment before they suddenly went home.
Rating: *1/2 It proved to be a short reign. Death count: 2 (both guys)
Meanwhile, Mean Gene is supposed to be interviewing Sapphire, but she no-shows, so Bobby and Perfect storm in and yell about losing the title instead. Tornado cheated and Perfect had his shoulder up at two!
Queen Sherri v. Sapphire
I have no idea how Sherri was supposed to be wrestling in a full dress and Halloween mask, but it’s a moot point anyway. Sapphire fails to show, so Sherri wins by forfeit. This took quite a while to get to that point, but it was a different time. Death count: 2 (Both women).
Meanwhile, Dusty Rhodes is mystified by what happened to Sapphire, even after asking every security guard in the building, AND Hacksaw Duggan. That was quite the walk-on cameo. Not much has changed in 22 years, I guess.
The Warlord v. Tito Santana
This is quite the quickly-paced show thus far, with four matches by the half-hour mark. Tito was apparently during the Powers of Pain Solo Jobbing Tour in 1990, getting to lose to both former members. Tito grabs a headlock and gets tossed off, but he throws some dropkicks and Warlord bails. Here’s your random Tito story for the day: A local wrestling promotion (led by WAVELL STARR!) brought Tito to Saskatoon for a show here a couple of weeks ago, which I was sadly unable to attend due to not giving a shit. Nothing to do with Tito, he’s still awesome and I would have loved to meet him. Anyway, the best part of the poster is that tickets were available at the door, or at TACO TIME. Now that’s class. Tito manages to take Warlord down for two, but gets thrown out of the ring on the kickout while Piper makes vaguely racist remarks about Slick. Oh, Piper, how did you ever survive for more than a few months in this job? Back in, Warlord slowly pounds away, but Tito makes the fired up comeback and hits the flying forearm for two, but Warlord gets his foot on the ropes. Not exactly making Warlord out to be a world-beater here. Warlord shrugs Tito off in the corner and finishes with a running powerslam at 5:23. I love that Tito makes sure to kick out a bit after the three-count, showing that he’s always fighting. Man, Warlord on offense just ground this thing to a halt.
Rating: * Death count: None!
WWF World tag titles, 2/3 falls: Demolition v. The Hart Foundation
Man, even 1990 high-school aged Scott knew the writing was on the wall for Demolition at this point. Vince does an exaggerated bit where he can’t tell the difference between Ax and Smash even after three years of them being near the top of the tag division together. In this case, it’s Smash and Crush defending the belts. This actually ended up being a major career resurgence for the Harts, as they had some great matches from here all the way to breaking up after Wrestlemania VII. Bret gets a quick rollup on Smash for two, and Vince still can’t tell the difference between Ax and Smash. Hey wait, you don’t think the Demos would use that confusion to their ADVANTAGE, do you? Bret works on Smash’s arm, but he gets caught in the heel corner briefly before dodging Crush’s clumsy offense. Crush finally slams him as Piper notes “we ain’t looking for dairy products, we fighting!” Yeah, you tell him, senile middle aged person! Bret comes back with a rollup and brings in the Anvil, but a cheapshot turns the tide and Smash hammers him in the corner. Back to Bret and he cleans house on the heels and slugs away on both of them, then sends Crush to the floor and hits Smash with the legsweep for two. Backbreaker and middle rope elbow get two. Crush breaks it up with a cheap elbow, and the Demolition Decapitation wins the first fall at 6:18. Piper is so adamant about the referee’s five count that you’d think Daniel Bryan was in the match.
Second fall and Smash gets a backdrop suplex for two on Bret, and Crush goes to a neck vice for a bit. Bret crawls for a tag, but Crush grabs Smash’s leg to keep Bret on that side in a cute spot. Bret perseveres and it’s hot tag Anvil, however. Clothesline on Smash gets two. Powerslam gets two. Hart Attack gets two, as Crush attacks the ref for the DQ at 10:34. Not sure why they did that for a fall.
Final fall and Demolition tosses Bret, which allows Ax to sneak out and hide under the ring. Piper argues that this does not violate the ban from ringside, since he’s not actually at ringside, per se. Maybe Ax should have hired Piper as his lawyer for his lawsuit. The Harts regroup and double-team Smash, and Anvil slams Bret onto him for two. Bret and Hebner get into a tiff (perish the thought) and Ax switches off with Smash, with Vince being the only person in the building who can’t immediately tell. Ax of course beats on Bret as the fresh man and gets a slam for two, and a legsweep for two. Bret takes his corner bump and Ax gets two off that. Crush with a backbreaker for two. It’s BONZO GONZO as all three Demos get involved and Smash switches back in, but the LOD comes out because they’ve had ENOUGH of these shenanigans. The Demos get their ass kicked, and Anvil slingshots in with a shoulderblock on Crush to give Bret the pin and the tag titles at 15:50 and one of the biggest pops you’ll ever hear in your life. It was kind of a disjointed match with no real long heat segment or anything (kind of a recurring problem for the night thus far) but it was fun good guy v. bad guy stuff with the Demos finally getting what they deserved after a few months of chicanery with Crush. It should have set up a big money program with the LOD, but by that point Ax was on the outs with Vince and the WWF had no real interest in giving fans the longtime dream match they wanted. Oh well, it’s still a favorite match of mine from the time period, flaws aside. You could just tell that Bret was a huge star in the making.
Rating: ***1/4 Death count: 1 (Crush).
Meanwhile, the Harts celebrate and the Demos aren’t giving interviews. Sherri has heard rumors about Sapphire’s fate! And with that, we hit the intermission after Mean Gene recaps the matches still to come.
Meanwhile, we get shots of Jake’s snake in the shower (not that one) and Bad News Brown’s sewer rat. Now there’s a mascot merchandising opportunity they totally missed out on. Then we get comments from Big Bossman (doing double duty tonight as guest ref and then in Hulk’s corner), plus Duggan & Volkoff, Earthquake & Bravo, and Jake Roberts with a snake that’s threatening to go into business for itself.
Bad News Brown v. Jake Roberts
You see, Billy, black people are afraid of snakes, because SCIENCE. Big Bossman is the guest ref here, although I don’t recall how he got slotted in here since he moved onto the Heenan family after this and he wasn’t feuding with Bad News. Bad News attacks to start, as you’d expect, but he can’t quite hit the Ghetto Blaster. Legdrop gets two instead. Jake tries the DDT and Bad News bails to escape and then beats on Jake with a chair, but Bossman is all about law and order and CHASTISES him. Really, a prison guard isn’t actually part of the police force, so he’s kind of overstepping his authority in general. Brown pounds away on Jake, but misses a fistdrop off the middle. Jake comes back with the kneelift and short clothesline, but Bad News backdrops out of the DDT. Piper credits the oiled head of Brown. They fight to the floor again and this time Bossman calls for the DQ on Brown at 4:40 when he cheats. Basically just a Saturday Night’s Main Event match on PPV. And that was pretty much it for Bad News in the WWF. Death count: 1 (Bad News, 2 if you count the snake.)
And now, the Brother Love Show, as Sgt. Slaughter cements his return and heel turn by presenting Love with a special award for being a great patriot or something. Slaughter was GIGANTIC here. His weight less by the time he got to Wrestlemania was pretty impressive, actually. Slaughter wasn’t actually doing the Iraqi sympathizer bit yet, he was just expressing general disgust with America at that point, and with Nikolai Volkoff specifically.
Hacksaw Duggan & Nikolai Volkoff v. The Orient Express
Oh man, the Volkoff babyface turn. To this day I have no idea why they pushed and re-pushed the guy as much as they did. This whole thing was basically the Superpowers angle redone 4 years too late with the wrong people for it. Volkoff goes after Tanaka to start, but gets caught in the heel corner, only to make the hot tag seconds later. Duggan cleans house and destroys them single-handledly, pinning Tanaka with the clothesline at 2:55. Duggan as the guy who gets the hot tag as a regular gig was a good idea, but not with 43 year old Volkoff. Death count: None!
Randy Savage v. Dusty Rhodes
To get Sapphire off TV, Ted Dibiase interrupts before the match starts and introduces her as his newest acquisition. This was built up by a few weeks of Sapphire getting mysterious gifts from a benefactor. As usual for this time period, Sapphire just kind of disappeared after another few weeks of this plot twist and was never seen on WWF TV again after that. I find it hilarious that Dibiase would buy her off with a giant bag of money, but would use an official WWF sports tote. Wasn’t there a briefcase they could have used? So as you’d expect, Dusty is pretty distracted, which allows Savage to attack him and slug away in the corner. Dusty quickly makes the comeback with the DUSTY DROPKICK OF DOOM and Savage bails, then grabs Sherri’s loaded purse and nails Rhodes with it for the pin at 2:08. Man, who is booking these shitty finishes tonight? Another nothing TV-level match to pad out PPV time.
Rating: * Death count: 1 (Randy Savage).
Earthquake v. Hulk Hogan
A poster on the blog noted recently that this feud was like a lesson in TV time economy, as Quake attacked Hogan in a 5-minute Brother Love segment and they launched an 8 month feud off of it. No 20 minute interviews needed, just Quake putting Hogan out, Hogan making the big comeback, and then a whole bunch of house show main events for months afterwards. Hogan of course compares himself to George Washington in the pre-match promo, because he cannot tell a lie. I don’t even know where to START with that one. Quake wins a test of strength and shrugs off a headlock attempt, as Piper notes that Hogan might have been “training lean for endurance.” For a match with EARTHQUAKE? Back in the ring, he goes for the slam and that goes badly for him, as Quake whips him into the corner and tries the avalanche, only to have Hulk slug back. The whole heel team gets to bump for Hulk multiple times and everyone brawls outside, then we get a team match in the ring. This is some absolutely horrible refereeing. Finally Hebner restores some order, as Quake drops the elbow on Hulk for two in the chaos. Quake goes up with a TOP ROPE CLUBBING FOREARM, the most devastating of all clubbing forearms, and things are looking bleak for Hulkamania. Vince writes him off, but he makes the ropes to escape, only to have Dino Bravo slam him outside. Back in, Quake wears him down with the bearhug and gets the slam for two, and the BUTT SPLASH OF DEATH has Hogan in spasms. Perhaps he farted on the way down. Another one gets two, and it’s time for the comeback. Big boot and this time he gets the slam, but Bravo distracts the ref and everyone brawls outside again. Hulk slams Quake onto a table and beats the count back in at 13:07. The crowd goes batshit for this terrible finish. However, it set up another few months of matches that did boffo business, so you can’t fault it too much. Standard Hogan house show main event, but the heat was off the charts for it all. Quake attacks again after the decision, but Bossman makes the save with a metal stepladder of all things, and puts some NASTY welts in Quake’s back with it. Holy SHIT that would hurt! I should note that the countout finish would have been much more acceptable if the show didn’t feature screwjob finishes up and down the card.
Rating: **1/2Death count: 3 (Quake, Bravo, Bossman).
WWF World title, cage match: Ultimate Warrior v. Rick Rude
This is the current lame pin/submit/escape rule variation. Like seriously, just pick one or the other. I bet they could have cut 15 minutes out of the show easily by omitting all the cage setup time that’s in here. Their innovation of hanging a cage above the ring was a GODSEND for fans in the arena. We’ve got 10 minutes of airtime left so this will be brisk. Warrior comes in via the top rope with a double axehandle and runs him into the cage, but Rude puts him down and tries to escape. Warrior grabs an ankle to stop him and Rude is already bleeding. Even wussy 1990 cartoonland WWF was more awesome than the current era when it comes to that. Rude puts Warrior down with a SPINNING BACKFIST and then runs him into the cage a few times, but Rude can’t get the Rude Awakening. Warrior powers out and then misses a splash, and this time Rude gets his finisher. They’re really pressed for time here. Rude to the top of the cage with a forearm, and Piper notes that he’s pretty stupid to have not just gone out of the cage there. Rude tries the same thing again, but Warrior slugs him down and goes for the door, which allows Bobby to slam it in his face. That gives Rude two. Collision and both guys are out, but Rude recovers first and goes for the door. Warrior stops him with a full moon and beats up poor Bobby yet again, and he makes the superman comeback. Gorilla press and he climbs out to retain at 10:00. Well at least he didn’t get John Cena’d by Hogan’s comeback match.
Rating: **1/2 Death count: 1 (Rick Rude)
The Bottom Line:
This is definitely a show that’s helpful to have lived through in order to enjoy it on a nostalgic level. Because the actual wrestling is the drizzling shits most of the time, and the finishes are AWFUL. But it had a hot crowd and a double main event that gave the people what they wanted to see, so it remains an entertaining spectacle if nothing else and at least still worth a watch these days.
Final death count: 12 people out of 10 matches on the show. What more can you say about that?