|Tagline(s)||Where the Mega-Powers Meet the Mega-Bucks|
|Promotion||World Wrestling Federation|
|Date||August 29, 1988|
|Venue||Madison Square Garden|
|City||New York, New York|
SummerSlam (1988) was the first annual SummerSlam professional wrestling pay-per-view event. It was produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and took place on August 29, 1988 in Madison Square Garden, located in New York, 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.
Ten professional wrestling matches, performances with pre-determined outcomes between wrestlers with fictional personalities that are portrayed as real, were featured. The main match of the preliminary bouts was the WWF Intercontinental Championship match between The Ultimate Warrior and the reigning champion The Honky Tonk Man. The Ultimate Warrior won the match in approximately thirty seconds to end the longest Intercontinental Championship reign. 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 wife and manager, distracted the special guest referee, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, by removing her skirt to reveal a bikini bottom.
In the late 1980s, Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (WWF)'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 '87 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. The event set a ratings record for the network with eight million households tuning in to watch the event. In retaliation, Crockett created the Clash of the Champions 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 World Wrestling Federation's most successful events and one of the "Big Four" pay-per-views, along with WrestleMania, Survivor Series, and Royal Rumble. Those four events, along with King of the Ring, are known as the "Classic Five".
Prior to SummerSlam, The Honky Tonk Man, a villainous character, had been the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in WWF history. He was originally supposed to defend his championship against Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, but Beefcake was unable to compete as a result of a (storyline) injury received from "Outlaw" Ron Bass the week before. The Honky Tonk Man, left without a challenger, announced not to care whom he opposed. The Ultimate Warrior, the recognized number one contender to the Intercontinental Championship, accepted his challenge for SummerSlam. 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 Robert's 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 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 16-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 "the Body" Ventura, a color commentator on the WWF's programs who favored the villains.
|Commentator||"Superstar" Billy Graham|
|Interviewer||"Mean" Gene Okerlund|
|Ring announcer||Howard Finkel|
The event began with a match between The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid) and The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond). 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 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 Honkey's original challenger, Brutus Beefcake, was unable to wrestle. Honkey then 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 an overly excited Ultimate Warrior (who accidentally knocked Finkel to the floor when he rushed into the ring and hit the ropes where Finkel was beating a hasty retreat). The Warrior 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 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.
The following contest was a re-match from WrestleMania IV between Dino Bravo and 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 slam him to the mat from an elevated position and pin him for the win.
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, 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, a move where the offensive wrestler turns his opponent upside down and drives his head into the mat, but Ax hit him with Jimmy Hart's trademark megaphone. Smash then pinned Bret Hart for the win.
The next match was between The Big Boss Man, accompanied by Slick, and Koko B. Ware. With Slick as a distraction, The Big Boss Man took the early advantage in the match. After crushing Ware in between himself and the turnbuckle, Boss Man refused to pin him and finish the match. Instead, he attempted to climb to the top rope and land on Ware stomach-first, but missed. Ware 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 Ware 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 "The Brain" 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 underwear. While Ventura was 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, 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.
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 WWF 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. On an episode of The Main Event, Savage gained revenge by attacking Hogan while Elizabeth was backstage receiving medical attention due to an on-screen injury. This rivalry culminated in a match for Savage's WWF Championship at WrestleMania V, where Hogan won the title by pinning Savage.
As 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 "Ravishing" 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 the July 18, 1989 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event. 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 (into good guys) at the 1988 Survivor Series.
Production and reception
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 obligated 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.
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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