SummerSlam (1988) was the inaugural SummerSlam professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event, produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE). It took place on August 29, 1988, in Madison Square Garden, located in New York City, New York. The pay-per-view was created to help the company compete against rival promotion World Championship Wrestling (formerly Jim Crockett Promotions). It was one of the first four annual pay-per-view events produced by the WWF, along with WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble, and Survivor Series.
|Promotion||World Wrestling Federation|
|Date||August 29, 1988|
|City||New York City, New York|
|Venue||Madison Square Garden|
|Tagline(s)||Where the Mega Powers Meet the Mega Bucks|
The event consisted of ten professional wrestling matches. The preliminary matches included a title defense by Intercontinental Champion The Honky Tonk Man against a surprise challenger, who turned out to be The Ultimate Warrior. The Ultimate Warrior won the match in just 31 seconds to end Honky Tonk's 14 month title reign, the longest Intercontinental Championship reign in history. The main event was a match pitting The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage) against their long-time rivals, The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant). Hogan and Savage won the match after Miss Elizabeth, Savage's manager, distracted André and DiBiase, by removing her skirt to reveal her panties.
In the late 1980s, Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE)'s main competition in the professional wrestling industry was from Jim Crockett Promotions. McMahon countered Jim Crockett's successful Starrcade pay-per-view, which began airing in 1983, by creating the WrestleMania franchise. After WrestleMania III in March 1987, the most successful professional wrestling pay-per-view event in history, McMahon created the Survivor Series franchise, which aired the same day as Starrcade in November 1987. After defeating Crockett in the ratings war, McMahon created the Royal Rumble, an event airing for free on the USA Network in January 1988, on the same night as the Crockett produced PPV Bunkhouse Stampede. The event set a ratings record for the network with eight million households tuning in to watch the event. In retaliation, Crockett created Clash of the Champions I event, which aired simultaneously with WrestleMania IV. WrestleMania IV garnered higher ratings, and not long after, Crockett filed for bankruptcy and sold his company to Ted Turner, who renamed it World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
As the WWF continued to replace its closed circuit programming with pay-per-view programming, McMahon added more pay-per-views to the lineup to capitalize on the success of his previous events. In addition to WrestleMania in March, Royal Rumble in January, and Survivor Series in November, McMahon created an event for August, which he named SummerSlam. To keep the WWF from having a pay-per-view market monopoly, Turner began airing monthly WCW pay-per-views. As a result, both companies brought in hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. SummerSlam became one of WWF's most successful events and one of the original four pay-per-views, along with WrestleMania, Survivor Series, and Royal Rumble, eventually dubbed the "Big Four". Those four events, along with the King of the Ring, are known as the "Classic Five". SummerSlam has also been dubbed "The Biggest Party of the Summer," and eventually became considered WWF's second biggest event of the year behind WrestleMania.
Prior to SummerSlam, The Honky Tonk Man had been the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in WWF history. He was originally supposed to defend his championship against Brutus Beefcake, but Beefcake was unable to compete as a result of a (storyline) injury received from "Outlaw" Ron Bass the week before.
Also prior to the event, Demolition (Ax and Smash) held the WWF World Tag Team Championship, which they had won at WrestleMania IV after only a year in the WWF, and would defend their titles at SummerSlam against former champions The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart), who had become fan favorites a few weeks earlier by turning on their manager Jimmy Hart.
The on-screen feud between Rick Rude and Jake Roberts began weeks before SummerSlam. As part of his gimmick, Rude would—after winning a match—invite a pre-selected woman from the audience to kiss him in the ring. On one occasion, one of the women refused to comply, later identifying herself as Roberts' wife, Cheryl. As the feud intensified, Rude began wearing a pair of tights with a picture of Cheryl stenciled on them, prompting a furious Roberts to charge into the ring and strip the tights off Rude, appearing to television viewers to leave Rude naked, although the live audience saw him stripped to a G-string instead.
For months prior to the pay-per-view, Hulk Hogan and undisputed WWF Heavyweight Champion Randy Savage, two of the WWF's top crowd favorites, had feuded with André the Giant and Ted DiBiase, respectively. The two feuds first came together at WrestleMania IV, when—as the result of the vacating of the WWF Heavyweight Championship—a 14-man single-elimination tournament was set up to crown a new champion. Hogan and André had been disqualified in their quarterfinal match, while Savage and DiBiase reached the championship match; in that final match, Savage defeated DiBiase with help from Hogan. Savage and DiBiase feuded over the title throughout the spring and summer, but André did not become involved until mid-summer when he and DiBiase helped instigate a 2-on-1 attack against Savage as he was delivering a promo. Savage quickly recovered and challenged André and DiBiase to a tag team match against him and a partner to be named. That partner later was revealed to be Hogan; the team became known as "The Mega Powers." The André-DiBiase team—which dubbed itself "The Mega Bucks"—retaliated by announcing the guest referee would be someone they declared to be fair and neutral: Jesse Ventura, a color commentator on the WWF's programs who favored the villains, though according to the main storyline, Ventura was chosen by WWF President Jack Tunney as the only person capable of handling such a match.
|Commentator||Superstar Billy Graham|
|Ring announcer||Howard Finkel|
|Jesse "The Body" Ventura (Main Event)|
The event began with a match between The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid) and The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond Rougeau). As soon as the bell rang to signify that the match had begun, Smith attacked Jacques. The two teams traded blows until The Rougeaus flipped Dynamite Kid over their heads so that he fell on his back to the mat. Dynamite Kid escaped another offensive maneuver before tagging in his partner, Smith, and The British Bulldogs performed a double-team maneuver on Jacques. Despite having the upper hand, The Bulldogs failed to pin Jacques in time, and the match ended in a twenty-minute time draw.
The next match was between Bad News Brown and Ken Patera. Before the bell rang, however, Brown attacked Patera, who retaliated by performing a clothesline from the corner. Patera then slipped both of his arms underneath Brown's armpits and locked his hands behind his neck, using a submission move known as a full nelson. At the end of the match, Brown defeated Patera by striking him in the back of the head with his finishing move, the Ghetto Blaster.
After the second match ended, Rick Rude and the Junkyard Dog made their way to the ring. Their match began as Rude attacked Junkyard Dog from behind, who retaliated by headbutting Rude several times. Subsequently, Rude climbed to the wrestling ring's top rope and pulled down his tights to reveal another pair of tights with a picture of Cheryl Roberts on them. As a result, Jake Roberts, Cheryl Roberts' husband, ran to the ring and attacked Rude, forcing the referee to disqualify the Junkyard Dog.
The next match was a tag team match between The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord), who were accompanied by their manager The Baron, and The Bolsheviks (Boris Zhukov and Nikolai Volkoff), who were accompanied by Slick. Immediately, The Powers of Pain chased The Bolsheviks from the ring. Slick, however, distracted The Powers of Pain long enough to give The Bolsheviks an advantage. Zhukov was then slammed to the mat back-first and headbutted from the top rope, which allowed The Barbarian to pin him.
The fifth match of the event was an Intercontinental Championship match between The Ultimate Warrior and the reigning champion The Honky Tonk Man, who was accompanied by Jimmy Hart. Before the match it had been announced that Honky's original challenger, Brutus Beefcake, was unable to wrestle due to being attacked the previous week by Outlaw Ron Bass who had raked his cowboy spurs repeatedly across Beefcake's forehead (television and even the PPV only showed the censored version of the attack). Prior to the match, the Honky Tonk Man refused to be informed about Beefcake's replacement and immediately before the match, even grabbed ring announcer Howard Finkel's microphone and said "Give me someone out here to wrestle, I don't care who it is". His challenge was answered by The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior, who accidentally knocked Finkel to the floor when he rushed into the ring and hit the ropes, had the advantage from the beginning, attacking The Honky Tonk Man, who was still in his entrance attire. After body-slamming him to the mat and following it up with a clothesline, The Warrior bounded to the ropes and landed stomach-first on The Honky Tonk Man using his signature move, the Warrior Splash. The Ultimate Warrior then pinned The Honky Tonk Man after only thirty-one seconds to win the title. The longest Intercontinental title reign in WWF history had ended with one of the shortest IC title matches in history. This match was probably the one where the audience cheered the loudest; the moment the Warrior defeated the hapless Honky Tonk Man, the fans erupted with cheers, with many even voting it the match of the year.
The following contest was a re-match from WrestleMania IV between Dino Bravo and "The Rock" Don Muraco. Muraco, the crowd favorite, was in control for most of the match until Bravo's manager Frenchy Martin distracted Muraco, allowing Bravo to use his side suplex and pin him for the win. The Rock had gone into the match without his manager Superstar Billy Graham who could only look on helplessly from his position in the commentary booth alongside Gorilla Monsoon at the illegal antics of Bravo and Martin.
The seventh match of the night was for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Reigning champions Demolition (Ax and Smash), accompanied by both Mr. Fuji and Jimmy Hart, were challenged by The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart). As soon as the bell sounded, The Hart Foundation attacked both members of Demolition. Their control was brief, as Demolition then gained the advantage over Neidhart. As Bret Hart was tagged into the match, Demolition got the advantage over him when he was whipped shoulder first into the turnbuckle, breaking Mr. Fuji's cane that he had placed there when the referee wasn't looking. After a few minutes of Demolition working over Hart's shoulder, a frustrated Neidhart chased Jimmy Hart from ringside and returned to tag back into the match. When all four men began fighting inside the ring, Neidhart attacked Mr. Fuji, who was on the ring apron. At the end of the match, Bret Hart attempted a piledriver but Ax hit him a megaphone given by Jimmy Hart sneaking back to the ring. Smash then pinned Bret Hart for the win.
The next match was between the Big Boss Man, accompanied by Slick, and "The Bird Man" Koko B. Ware. With Slick as a distraction, the Big Boss Man took the early advantage in the match. After crushing Koko in between himself and the turnbuckle with a jumping Avalanche, Boss Man refused to pin him and finish the match. Instead, he attempted to climb to the top rope and land on Koko stomach-first, but missed. The Bird Man then retaliated by performing several dropkicks and attempted a pin. Boss Man got his shoulder up to save himself from being pinned, and he slammed his opponent into the mat, allowing him to pin Koko for the win.
The second to last match of the night was between Jake Roberts and Hercules. When Roberts attempted to slam his opponent's head on to the mat with a DDT, Hercules was able to escape the maneuver and take control of the match. As Hercules attempted to slam Roberts to the mat, Roberts reversed the move into a DDT, enabling him to pin Hercules for the win.
The last match of the night was the main event between The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage), accompanied by Miss Elizabeth, and The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant), accompanied by André's manager Bobby Heenan and DiBiase's bodyguard Virgil. Jesse Ventura was the special guest referee. The Mega Powers took the early advantage over DiBiase. After Hogan attacked André the Giant, who was on the ring apron, The Mega Bucks were able to regain control. After a while, all four men began brawling, and André knocked The Mega Powers out of the ring. Subsequently, as part of the scripted ending to the match, Miss Elizabeth began arguing with Ventura, the referee, and ripped off her skirt to reveal her panties. While the Mega Bucks were distracted, Savage climbed to the top rope and dropped the Macho Elbow on DiBiase, followed by Hogan hitting the leg drop on DiBiase. As Hogan pinned DiBiase, Ventura, a villainous character aligned with The Mega Bucks (despite being a long time on-air Savage fan and his former tag-team partner), began an obviously slow three-count. As a result, Savage slammed Ventura's arm down for the third time, indicating that Hogan and Savage had won the match.
On October 16th, 1988 Ted Dibiase defeated Randy Savage in the finals of the King of The Ring Tournament. The Mega Powers continued to team together after the event, until a new storyline was developed where Randy Savage became jealous over Hulk Hogan paying attention to Miss Elizabeth, and as the WWF World Heavyweight Champion felt slighted over his perceived lower billing in the Mega Powers' pecking order. Several key events were developed to foreshadow their burgeoning feud; these included Hogan asking Elizabeth to accompany him to televised matches, where he would act overly friendly with her and accidentally eliminating Savage from the Royal Rumble in January 1989 by knocking him over the top rope and to the floor. The final falling out happened on The Main Event II, when Elizabeth received an on-screen injury during a tag team match. Savage, left alone in the ring while Hogan tended to Elizabeth, attacked Hogan backstage. This rivalry culminated in a match for Savage's WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania V, where Hogan won the title by pinning Savage.
As WWF Intercontinental Champion, the Ultimate Warrior began receiving more on-air time and more prominent matches. His feud with the Honky Tonk Man continued for several months, until Warrior was placed in a new feud with Rick Rude in early 1989.
After retaining their title against The Hart Foundation, Demolition held the WWF Tag Team Championship for another 11 months, as part of a record-breaking 16-month reign as champions, before eventually losing the title to The Brain Busters (Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson) on Saturday Night's Main Event XXII. During the midst of their title reign, despite being billed as villains, Demolition's popularity with fans continued to grow, and the tag team eventually was turned face 3 months after SummerSlam at the 1988 Survivor Series.
The event was produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and took place on August 29, 1988 in New York City's Madison Square Garden. The pay-per-view had a 4.5 buyrate, which means that 4.5% of pay-per-view subscribers ordered the event.
The original plan for SummerSlam was to bring Ric Flair over from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) to the WWF. Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWF, wanted Flair to challenge Savage in the main event for the WWF Championship. Flair, however, felt obliged to the NWA and did not leave the promotion for the WWF. Therefore, Hogan and Savage were paired together to end their feuds with their respective on-screen rivals. Flair would not join the WWF until 1991.
In WWE.com's 2007 list of the top ten SummerSlam moments in history, The Ultimate Warrior's Intercontinental Championship title win was listed as number ten, while Miss Elizabeth's distraction during the main event was listed at number nine.
Calum Waddell, in Fighting Spirit Magazine, called The Ultimate Warrior's win over the Honky Tonk Man "genuinely captivating," and he said the match between The British Bulldogs and The Fabulous Rougeaus was an "exciting battle". In contrast, he had a negative reaction to the main event match, citing it as "predictably one-dimensional" and "abysmal". Similarly, Adam Nedeff of 411mania.com called the tag team match between The British Bulldogs and The Rougeaus "a solid match" but stated that the "lack of a finish was a disappointment". Although he reviewed most of the matches negatively, he called the WWF World Tag Team Championship match a "good match". Overall, he rated the event a 4.5 out of 10 and stated, "Without Warrior's big win and Elizabeth's surprise finish, this is a totally forgettable show."
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