History of Summerslam Count-Up – 1989: Gather Round The…..Cauldron?

Summerslam 1989
Date: August 28, 1989
Location: Meadowlands Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Attendance: 20,000
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Jesse Ventura

So we’re a year removed from the first Summerslam and quite a bit has changed in the WWF. Savage is now a full heel and no longer the champion, having dropped the title to Hogan at Mania 5. Their feud continues though as Hogan is now teaming with Beefcake to face Savage and Zeus in the main event. Now the Zeus storyline was, ahem, interesting I guess you would say.

Here’s the idea: Hogan made a movie called No Holds Barred. To wrestling fans, this was and still is proof that there’s a god and that he has a sense of humor, as this may indeed be the worst movie ever filmed. It’s corny, it’s stupid, and it’s nothing but a way to push Hogan down our throats. Seriously, this makes Cena look like Clark Gable.

Anyway, Zeus the character, real life name Tom Lister, wanted revenge on Hogan the wrestler, not Hogan’s character Rip from the film. If that made no sense, it would be like villain from 12 Rounds, whoever that was, coming to Raw to try to kill John Cena. See why this feud was bad from the beginning? Wouldn’t Zeus be angry at the screenwriters and not Hogan? Shouldn’t he be heading for a board room or something like that?

Dang this guy needs a new agent. Anyway, there’s one major flaw with this storyline: Lister wasn’t a wrestler, but an actor. This leads to one big issue: he doesn’t know how to do anything in the ring other than choke Hogan. This proves to be a storyline that’s looked back on fondly as it was something I grew up watching, but in modern times this is pretty retarded.

Anyway, this is a big tag match, even though there’s another one in a cage a few months later that’s the real blow off to this, and likely a better match. Your other big match, which oddly enough was the first time those words could be used to describe this series, is Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior for the IC Title in a rematch from Mania 5 where Rude stole the belt in a stunning upset.

Other than that, it’s mainly filler matches that no one really wanted to watch. It looks like a far better card on paper than last year’s show, which isn’t saying much to be fair, but let’s see how it is.

First thing we see: big freaking sign saying that the show is tonight at 745. Well thanks for letting me know that since I’M WATCHING THE SHOW. How stupid were the 1980s? That music is sick though and I love it. Pure retro WWF music is something that will never be topped. Why in the world did I not have a Hulk Rules shirt? Oh and we have a tag line: Feel The Heat.

Well ok then I’ll make sure to do that. Tony and Jesse do your run of the mill intro talking about the two big matches until Tony says away we go. Apparently we’re going away to another intro. This one is of wrestlers squashing jobbers with cuts of non wrestling people doing various summer things: softball, ice cream, swimming, etc.

This is like a weird intro to Wrestling Challenge or something like that. It ends with Hogan hitting Zeus with a chair and Zeus slowly turning to face him before we hear some familiar music.

Hart Foundation vs. Brain Busters

Busters just recently won the tag belts from Demolition, ending their epic reign that will simply never be topped. However, this is non title because the Busters won the titles after this match was signed, which I guess is trying to protect the belts while keeping the Harts strong, but it still doesn’t make it sound all that great. The champions still have no music for no apparent reason while the Harts music sends the crowds into the official land of the insane.

This was around the time that everyone knew the Harts were the best tag team in a LONG time and perhaps the best team ever, and that the belts were rightfully theirs. I’ve always like the jog that the Busters did on the way to the ring for some reason. Makes them seem more serious or something I suppose. I also like the no music. It makes them seem like two guys that do nothing but just go out there and wrestle. That’s a gimmick in and amongst itself.

Lance Storm made it work very well, as did Arn Anderson. According to Jesse, if the Harts lose they might not get a title shot again for another year. In this era, there’s an excellent chance that he’s correct. That’s how competitive the tag division was at the time. In two months you’d see a tag team survivor series match with some TEN TAG TEAMS. I don’t mean two random guys put together and called a team.

TEN sets of guys that were legitimate teams. To say that the Harts dominate the first half of this match is an understatement. I don’t think the champions have control in that time frame at all, but they somehow never look like they’re completely out of it either. That’s a nice touch and something that’s rather difficult to do if you think about it. But wait, what’s this? The champions….are starting to win? What a concept!

The champions are winning a match in the style they’re champions of! That’s a great idea indeed and makes the match better as it extends it, making it back and forth. Arn hits the ropes and Bret uses a knee to his back to break his momentum. That’s a pure heel move but it gets a massive face pop here. I love how in wrestling the fans are so preconditioned to cheer and boo for certain people. That’s something you only get here.

We get a brawl once Hart gets the tag and eventually it’s Blanchard and both Harts in the ring. He gets the slingshot shoulder block which I’ve always marked out like crazy for, followed by the powerslam/splash move where Jim picks up Bret and reverse powerslams him onto Tully for the cover. Arn with a double axe handle, which normally is just a basic move, apparently knocks Bret out here for the pin.

Rating: B+. This was some classic 80s tag team wrestling which is what the 80s were best at. All kinds of double team work and back and forth style which is just a treat to watch all over the place. Harts dominate but the champs come back in the end to steal the pin, which is a very nice touch as both teams look strong. Very good match and the perfect opener.

Dusty Rhodes, wearing Big Boss Man’s hat and holding his nightstick, is going to face Honky Tonk Man, which was a weird feud to say the least. He’s not worried and it takes him about a minute and a half to say that which includes 28 complimentary lisps.

Dusty Rhodes vs. Honky Tonk Man

Yep, it’s a comedy match. This was just an odd feud to say the least and I’m not quite sure who thought this would work well on camera. Neither guy could carry a match so I guess it falls on Dusty here. Dusty has a reputation for being one of the most lazy as well as one of the most inept guys in the ring and this is no exception. We’re 2 minutes into it and what do we get from Dusty? A rest hold of course!

And not just any rest hold mind you, but the lethal slight ankle twist…….OF DOOM. Hart on the megaphone is always great stuff as you could tell he loved every second of being out there. This cameraman has way too much of a tendency to focus the camera on Dusty or Honky’s pants. That’s not something I want to see a lot of. Dusty of course no sells the offense which makes Honky look even more ridiculous as we get even more rest holds since neither really has a big offensive range to speak of.

Think about it: what do you remember Honky doing other than a swinging neckbreaker? What stands out for you from Dusty other than a bunch of elbows? Dusty fights back, leading to a Honky rest hold. Literally, we’ve probably had 40-50% rest holds so far. What the heck are they resting from? Oh here’s Dusty’s next comeback and it’s the more interesting variety of elbows and punches rather than punches and elbows this time.

Ref goes down and Jimmy accidentally hits Honky with the guitar, leading to a BIG elbow drop from Dusty for the pin. Sean Mooney picks 18 seconds after Honky gets hit by a real, not the Jeff Jarrett breakaway kind, of guitar to interview him. Honky thinks he’s Elvis, that Jimmy is Priscilla and that he needs to kiss Lisa Marie before he gets on stage tonight. That’s an image that I don’t want coupled with one I do want actually.

Rating: F. This was atrocious. Both men had issues wrestling anything close to a passable match and were asked to put on a good match out there. That’s a bad combination and Dusty apparently was sleepy as he was in about 18 rest holds in a 10 minute match. That was the biggest issue of the whole thing for the most part. Honky was a great comedy heel, but even he couldn’t escape from the gravitational force of the suckage that comes from Dusty’s stomach.

Duggan, in Demolition mask, along with his partners for later tonight Demolition, talk…about something. I think it’s about training for their match later.

Mr. Perfect vs. Red Rooster

Perfect is a guy that can do anything and everything perfectly. Rooster is a man that walks around making chicken noises. My goodness what a gimmick can do for someone. There’s a bit of a joke here as Rooster was offered the Perfect gimmick buy turned it down and was given this I believe as a punishment. Hennig took it just so he could have a job in the WWF.

I think we know who made the right choice. It might be this gimmick but I’ve never been able to stand anything about Terry Taylor. He’s the most worthless wrestler I have ever seen. Dude, did Taylor botch a slam? Hennig is what, 250? How do you botch a move like that? Tony says that a dropkick was totally awesome! DANG that didn’t sound right coming from him.

They fight on the floor for a bit as I think Rooster is injured. He’s limping around a lot and I don’t remember Hennig doing anything to his leg. I think so even more as they go back in and NOW, you’re going to see a Perfect Plex! I mean they’re inside and within a second he’s got the headlock on him. That has to be a fast ending. Taylor can’t even sell the Plex right, as he sells it like he’s out cold. It’s a suplex with a bridge, not a power bomb. You don’t sell it like you’re dead.

Rating: C+. This was WAY too short to really be anything as it was less than 3 and a half minutes I’d say. However, if Taylor actually was hurt that’s not their fault at all. For the time they were out there it was good though. I think it was the slam where he got hurt though. He was on a big offensive run at the time and a quick slam would have fit in there perfectly. After that it fell apart which I think was due to the injury. I’ll go with the decent ranking when both were healthy instead though.

BLAST IT! At least that’s the clean version of what Gene Okerlund has to say when the Summerslam logo falls behind him as he’s trying to interview Rude. The funny part is it falls, he hears it, he looks down at it, and THEN he says the word. They cut away immediately and Tony tries to imply nothing happen as Jesse is completely losing it on commentary. This was hilarious.

Tito Santana/Rockers vs. Rougeaus/Martel

Random six man tag. This should be good I suppose given the guys out there. Oh and Jannetty will be ok too. It’s a classic tag feud mixed with singles feud so…ROUGEAU MUSIC!!! Holy goodness I love this song as it just awesome all around. As I check, yes indeed Jimmy Hart wrote it. With lyrics like “we don’t like heavy metal and we don’t like rock and roll. All we listen to is Barry Manilow.”, seriously, how can you go wrong?

Eighties wrestling music was so mind blowingly great it’s hard to stop. Slick managed Martel? I don’t remember that. As expected given the names in this match, everything goes insane in just a few seconds. The Rockers are in and it’s dropkicks a go-go all over the place, followed by the tag team throwing Santana into Martel. As they would today, the heels take over when we’re back in the ring. After that, it’s standard material that works pretty well I’d say.

Everyone in there is at least a decent if not good worker. After about 5 minutes of heel dominance, we get to the inevitable brawl with the faces taking over. Hart gets on the apron but is cut off by Jannetty, who is rolled up but reverses the rollup into one of his own. Martel runs in and lands a devastating…punch, which knocks him out for the pin. Tony screams that neither was the legal man, but who cares about that?

Rating: B+. This can be summed up in one word: fun match. You had six….that was two words wasn’t it? Oh screw it. I’m a political science major because there’s no math so who in the world cares? Anyway, these guys just went out there and had fun. They had almost 15 minutes and made the most of it. Great little match that was fast paced for about 90% of it which helps it a lot. Makes the heels look strong while holding off on the Martel vs. Santana match, which is a plus.

Recap of Warrior vs. Rude, which was actually an epic rivalry. These were two guys that for no reason at all had amazing chemistry together. I don’t ever remember them having an actual bad match, which is odd for Warrior. It started at the Rumble where they had a pose down and Warrior had the IC belt.

At the end, Rude hit Warrior with a steel exercise bar and choked him out with it. Warrior chased him down and didn’t catch him until Mania, where Rude had Bobby Heenan hold Warrior’s foot to steal the title. Since then, they’ve been randomly feuding on and off as Warrior fights the whole Heenan family and a week before Andre beat him up. This is your rematch.

Wait, we need more rambling. Warrior talks about…Andre of course. Oh he throws in Rude too.

Intercontinental Title: Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude

Rude does his standard intro that seems fresh despite being used about a million times. As he says hit the music, my tape jumps and I get a split second of the Gobbledygooker egg at Survivor Series 1991 which I’ll be getting to later on. That was really quite odd. Warrior is of course completely insane as he comes to the ring as Jesse wonders what asylum he was let out of.

In this series, Warrior would almost always dominate early on and this is no exception. I like that, as it fits Warrior’s character very well. Also, as they did at Mania, Rude’s back is hurt. Rude’s selling of the atomic drops are nothing short of classic, rivaled only by that of the Genius. Warrior goes to the top twice, which is just odd to see. However only one works as the Ultimate balls are crotched on the top rope.

He also throws on one of the best reverse chinlocks I’ve seen in a long time. It’s closer to a camel clutch but who cares? Rude goes for the Rude Awakening and just has it ripped off. As this is going on, images of Warrior in full character start coming to me. This is absolutely classic stuff as him freaking out on his trainers is nothing but funny stuff. They go back and forth as the ref gets bumped.

Powerslam by Warrior but a slow count allows Rude to get his foot on the bottom rope. This match has some drama to it. Rude hits kind of a weird jumping punch off the top rope which isn’t something you see every day. Rude gets a piledriver as Roddy comes out, whom Rude had been feuding with lately. As he’s there, Rude gyrates at him for no apparent reason, resulting in Roddy mooning him. This gives Warrior the time to heal, leading to the slam and the splash and the IC belt.

Rating: A-. This was a very fun match. Like I said, these two just have freaky chemistry together for no reason at all and every time they’re in the ring it works well. Warrior is slowed down in these matches and it works quite well for him. Rude was a completely opposite style than his but for some reason they just meshed so well. Great match that made sense and furthered Piper vs. Rude like it was supposed to do. Warrior would hold the title until he vacated it after winning at Mania.

Sean Mooney is in the audience and says it’s awesome in a completely pointless scene.

In the back Gene is with Mr. Perfect, who says that Rooster was just a stepping stone, while using for what may be the first time, his signature line: Nobody beats Mr. Perfect, NOBODY. That’s actually a very good line.

Without cutting at all, Roddy shows up to be interviewed by Gene, who makes jokes about showing his back to Rude. Piper is either so coked up he can’t see straight, or he’s the best promo man that’s ever existed.

Again, with no change in the camera shot at all, Ronnie Garvin is here as my level of appreciation for this show falls. In case I haven’t made it clear, I hate this guy. He says he has a special assignment but Heenan runs in to complain and absolutely lose his mind over what Piper just did. This is great as Heenan is completely insane at this point. We have to be on an intermission here as this is the 4th interview in a row. Rude comes in and freaks out with less comedy.

Jesse agrees with Bobby.

Following that 5 minute barrage of interviews, we get a recap of the main event feud. Apparently Hogan and Zeus were feuding on the set of the movie, and Z appeared on SNME. Macho and Zeus hooked up in July to continue Savage’s feud with Hogan. Yeah this recap is really boring. We get the famous scene of Zeus attacking Beefcake and Hogan smashing him with a chair and Zeus just turning around.

This was SO much better when Dusty and Boss Man did it in the NWA. That’s the really famous one where Rhodes took the wooden chair and smashed it over Boss Man’s (then called Big Bubba) head, shattering it into a bunch of pieces. Bubba no sold it and just adjusted his tie. That’s awesome stuff right there. This goes on for five minutes and it’s just not needing that much time.

Big Boss Man/Akeem/Andre the Giant vs. Jim Duggan/Demolition

This is just a straight old grudge match which should be fun. We get Jive Soul Bro so everything is right in my world. Andre just looks bad here. The heel team is 1,300 pounds. That’s freaking scary. When the 400lb+ Boss Man is the smallest guy on the team, that’s saying a lot. Duggan is in the Demolition mask here and Jesse makes a Jason Vorhees joke for no apparent reason.

He’s also King at this point which didn’t last that long. Ah ok the mask does look like a black Jason mask so that works fine. He has an American Flag painted on his face so Jesse has to go on a big rant. The 2×4 has a crown on it which is kind of cute. Duggan and Akeem start us off and Duggan defies the laws of PG with some harsh language.

The faces work over the African Dream a bit here which is smart as he’s definitely the easiest target of the three. And so much for that as Boss Man is in now. Now they work over him too as I’m noticing a theme of some sort. Some double team shenanigans allow Andre to come in and Axe is in trouble. Andre sits on him and it’s amazing that he’s still alive.

For once the USA chant makes sense as Andre is a Frenchman. Akeem, the wrestling master that he is, allows Axe to get the tag and bring in Smash. He gets a slam on both guys to put the heels in trouble. And then Andre smacks him in the head to take care of that. Akeem gets a second rope splash on Smash but Duggan pops him with the board to take care of that and get the pin. Big pop for that also which is kind of surprising.
Rating: C+. This was just a good old fashioned fight and there’s nothing wrong with that. Given the 6 guys in there, what were you expecting out of this match? These guys were just beating on each other for the sake of beating on each other and it was fun. Fun little match that worked quite well for what it was.

Survivor Series ad.

DiBiase says he’s going to beat Snuka.

Hercules vs. Greg Valentine

Ronnie Garvin is the surprise ring announcer. What did the fans do, burn something huge? How in the world he got a pop and earlier in his career actually BEAT RIC FLAIR FOR THE NWA WORLD TITLE is beyond me. He’s fighting with Valentine over something and he insults Valentine and Hart in his introduction. These are the worst insults of all time.

He says Valentine claims to weigh 249 but looks to be overweight by 30 pounds. Is that actually an insult? He’s saying Valentine weighs less than he looks? “When he goes to his manager for advice, Little Jimmy can’t give him any.” What kind of a mean thing to say is that? Dear god this guy is awful. He says Valentine has two left feet. Garvin is insulting his ability to dance now??? In case you can’t tell, I really hate Garvin.

This match goes on for about 3 minutes and I think Hercules uses 18 punches and a suplex. Valentine uses his feet on the ropes and gets a pin. Garvin, the guy this match is focused on is, says that he feels Hercules is the winner. Based on this, the referee disqualifies Valentine. Herc and Garvin beat up Valentine.

Rating: F-. I hate Ronnie Garvin. He’s involved in this match, so it sucks.

We then get what has to be the weirdest promo of all time. Gene is with Sherri, Macho and Zeus, around a freaking cauldron of all things. They say….something about bad things coming to the faces tonight but I really was too confounded to listen. This was far stranger than it sounds.

Ted DiBiase vs. Jimmy Snuka

DiBiase, still with no music, mentions he ended Jake Roberts. Snuka comes out to NO reaction at all, but Tony tries to tell us otherwise. Jimmy is rocking the zebra tights instead of the tiger ones he usually has. They’re really not working for him. Standard stuff here that’s really not interesting to say the least.

Punches, kicks, occasional suplex, DiBiase misses a big move, Superfly goes for the splash but Virgil makes the save, Thanks to Virgil we get a count out. Post match he beats up Virgil and splashes him which gets a ton of flashbulbs.

Rating: D. This was boring beyond belief and really didn’t need to happen. It is the definition of filler which this show was full of. They seriously need to get to the end of the show NOW.

Mooney is in the audience…..again.

Beefcake and Hogan say they’ll win. Apparently they drove their Harleys across the river. Hogan uses some very un-Hulk like language, even saying sexy, to describe Liz and her “headlights.” Kind of makes me wonder what he was riding.

Hulk Hogan/Brutus Beefcake vs. Zeus/Randy Savage

Genius has a poem about Liz and Hogan which was a way to start paving the way for Hogan vs. Perfect very soon. As annoying as Beefcake was, he had a SWEET theme song. How in the world did I never get one of those Hulk Hogan teddy bears? What kind of a gimmick is a barber? That’s the best they could come up with for him? Hogan’s music hits and the fans go crazy. That’s saying a lot.

Hogan was so loved that the people would sit through three and a half hours of crap save for one or two matches for Hogan and Hogan alone. As Ventura puts it: THIS IS MASS HYSTERIA! No Jesse, THIS IS HULKAMANIA!!! My goodness that looks sweet in all caps. Screw all the people that say Hogan sucks and plays politics. He is the greatest thing in the history of professional wrestling. Hogan tells Fink he has something to say. The pop for this is absurd.

She gets a pop on the level of the Warrior from earlier on. Macho is going nuts over this, as was expected. Macho is in gray/white tights, which just don’t work for him. My tape has a glitch in it as one minute Savage has Hogan in an Orton special, and the next Zeus is beating on Hogan. It’s a standard main event tag like last year but with more time given to it and it’s likely a better match because of it, but we’ve seen the formula before.

Face gets beaten down, mini brawl, other face takes over, gets beaten down, and then it’s hot tag to Hogan. Oh before I forget, Zeus is invincible unless you poke him in the eye first, and THEN punches hurt him. Why do I feel like I’m watching a mix of Zelda, the Three Stooges and Summerslam?

Sherri’s purse is loaded, which was later revealed to have a brick in it I believe, but THAT doesn’t drop Zeus. However, the slam and the leg drop do for the pin. Liz takes out Sherri and they cut her hair. Posing and recaps follow.

Rating: B-. This was fine for what it was, but it wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before, namely LAST FREAKING YEAR. It’s an ok tag match that no one would remember after the cage rematch 3 months later so this wasn’t anything too bad. Hogan of course looks dominant and another of his buddies gets a rub.

This would continue with Zeus for a few more months until the cage rematch where Hogan pins him with three leg drops as he apparently wanted to crush his immortal soul. Three leg drops are the equivalent of a nuclear explosion, so it’s no wonder Zeus didn’t wrestle for 7 years.

Overall Rating: B-. What an upgrade from last year! This was a million times better but that’s not really saying a lot. There were two featured matches this year so therefore the show looks a lot bigger. However, MY GOD THERE’S A LOT OF FILLER. This show never seems like it’s going to end as there’s probably 2-3 matches that could be completely cut. DiBiase’s could have been accomplished in a promo to say the least.

Hercules/Valentine could have been a short promo with Garvin running down Valentine (or being trampled under the hooves of stampeding camels), and the 6 man was just to get Andre and Demolition on the show. It’s light years ahead of 88, but next year the show really starts to get it right. Watch it if you’re a fan of 80s stuff and are quite bored.

3 comments

  1. Mando>Eddie says:

    The biased Garvin hate is lame. Have you seen his two cage matches with Flair? His stuff v. Valentine and/or Tully, his tags w/ Windham, etc.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Yep. Still hate him.

    chris Reply:

    Meh everyone has that one wrestler they hate.