THREE GUYS AND… WWE
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“THE BEST OF SUMMERSLAM, PART 1”
written by Dominick Cappello
The Biggest Party of the Summer! Except that year it was The Biggest Blockbuster of the Summer! Either way, it’s one of the WWE’s “Big Four” pay-per-views. Thanks to the WWE Network, we were able to binge watch 29 years worth of the summer classic.
What better place to make history than New York City? Madison Square Garden was where Hulk Hogan defeated The Iron Sheik for his first WWF Championship, the site of the inaugural WrestleMania, and the inaugural SummerSlam. Everyone talks about WrestleMania moments, but SummerSlam has had its fair share of classic moments. Heading into the pay-per-view, The Honky Tonk Man had been Intercontinental Champion for 14 months. His challenger, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, was written off the show with a kayfabe injury and replaced by The Ultimate Warrior, who needed only 30 seconds to win the title. I think this is the moment SummerSlam 1988 is best remembered for. In the main event, it was The Mega Powers vs. The Mega Bucks. “Macho Man” Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan vs. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant with Jesse “The Body” Ventura as the guest referee. It was teased that Jesse Ventura would screw over The Mega Powers, but the finish saw Miss Elizabeth removing her skirt so to distract the heels. This was the kid friendly Hulkamania era, so portraying the usually demure Miss Elizabeth as a sex symbol was pushing the envelope. During their post-match celebration, The Macho Man caught The Hulkster admiring Miss Elizabeth’s legs. It was subtle, but the first step in the eventual explosion of The Mega Powers.
Feel the Heat! It was the summer of Tim Burton’s “Batman”, “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade”, “Ghostbuster II”, and “No Holds Barred” starring Hulk Hogan. Life imitates art as Zeus, Hulk Hogan’s opponent in the movie, arrived in the WWF. Hulk Hogan didn’t play himself in the movie, so it was somewhat confusing, especially when I was four years old. Before I talk about the main event, I want to praise the Intercontinental Championship match between “Ravishing” Rick Rude and The Ultimate Warrior. Some say The Warrior’s two best matches were his WrestleMania VI match against Hulk Hogan and his WrestleMania VII match against Randy Savage, but let’s not overlook this IC Title match. It wasn’t a squash like with The Honky Tonk Man the year before. It was hard-hitting and competitive. The finish was “Rowdy” Roddy Piper mooning Rick Rude so to provide a distraction, helping The Warrior regain the title. The main event was a bit more theatrical. Hulk Hogan & Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage & Zeus. Sensational Sherri was now The Macho Man’s manager, so Miss Elizabeth was in Hulk Hogan’s corner. Hulk Hogan clocked Zeus with Sherri’s loaded purse and hit the atomic leg drop for the win. Afterwards, Brutus Beefcake gave Sherri a haircut.
The Heat Returns! The Intercontinental Championship changed hands for the third year in a row at SummerSlam as “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich defeated “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. The Texas Tornado was replacing Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake who was legit sidelined for over two years after a parasailing accident. The match of the night was The Hart Foundation defeating Demolition in a 2/3 Falls Match for the WWF Tag Team Titles thanks to outside interference from The Legion of Doom. Throughout the 1990s, Bret “Hit Man” Hart would almost always be in the best match at SummerSlam. Hulk Hogan returned from a kayfabe injury (he was gone filming “Suburban Commando”) and faced Earthquake. The Hulkster was victorious via count out, so Earthquake was kept strong. The WWF Championship was defended for the first time at SummerSlam as The Ultimate Warrior put the gold on the line against “Ravishing” Rick Rude in a Steel Cage Match. Rick Rude had defeated The Warrior for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania V, so he was a credible challenger. I like how in the 1990s, rivalries for the Intercontinental Championship would be rekindled for the WWF Championship. Back when the IC Title was a stepping stone and not a consolation prize as it has been for the past decade. The Warrior was triumphant, but it wasn’t as good as their match the year before.
A Match Made in Heaven! A Match Made in Hell! Three titles changed hands at this pay-per-view. Bret “Hit Man” Hart defeated Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental Championship, Virgil defeated “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase for the Million Dollar Championship, and The Legion of Doom defeated The Nasty Boys for the WWF Tag Team Titles. Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect was the match of the night. One of the all-time great IC Title matches. The Legion of Doom winning the WWF Tag Team Titles made them triple crown winners since they had already been NWA and AWA Tag Team Champions. What’s disappointing about SummerSlam 1991 is that Jake “The Snake” Roberts had recently turned heel and formed an alliance with The Undertaker, but neither appeared on the show. The main event was the match made in hell. Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior defeated The Triangle of Terror in a handicap match with Sid Justice as the guest referee. A lackluster main event, but is memorable because as soon as the match was over, Vince McMahon fired The Ultimate Warrior over a financial dispute. The pay-per-view closed with the match made in heaven. The wedding of “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth even though they were already married in real life and would divorce about a year later. Jake Roberts and The Undertaker crashed the wedding reception, but that was a Coliseum Home Video exclusive. It’s on the WWE’s YouTube channel, but not the WWE Network, so SummerSlam 1991 is unsatisfactory in that it feels incomplete.
The SummerSlam You Thought You’d Never See! The WWF travelled across the pond to London, England. Wembley Stadium was the venue with over 80,000 fans in attendance. The WWF’s first pay-per-view without Hulk Hogan. The event featured a double main event. “Macho Man” Randy Savage defending the WWF Championship against The Ultimate Warrior and Bret “Hit Man” Hart defending the Intercontinental Championship against “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith. The Macho Man vs. The Warrior was somewhat convoluted. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect interfered, at first trying to make it seem like The Warrior had turned heel, then trying to make it seem like The Macho Man had turned heel. In the end, neither turned heel and The Macho Man was counted out. The Warrior won the match, but the WWF Championship cannot change hands on a count out. The IC Title match was brother-in-law vs. brother-in-law. Being an Englishman, The British Bulldog was the fan favorite, so Bret Hart wrestled a bit heelish. It has been said that Bret Hart carrying the match and putting over The British Bulldog as well as he did, proved that he was WWF Champion material. After the match, the brothers-in-law shook hands. For the fifth year in a row, the IC Title changed hands at SummerSlam, and Bret Hart was in the match of the night for the third SummerSlam in a row.
– Dr. Jelly