SummerSlam 1989

WWF SummerSlam 1989: Feel the Heat
August 28, 1989
East Rutherford, NJ
Meadowlands Arena

The current WWF Champs were as follows:
World Champion: Hulk Hogan (4/2/1989)
Intercontinental Champion: Rick Rude (4/2/1989)
World Tag Team Champions: The Brain Busters (7/18/1989)
Women’s Champion: Rockin’ Robin (10/7/1988)

Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura! Who knows where Gorilla Monsoon is at.

  • WWF World Tag Team Champions The Brain Busters (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. The Hart Foundationnon-title

The reason its non-title is because this match was signed prior to the Busters winning the belts, so Bobby Heenan used his brain and got his boys out of a title defense. In case you fail to realize, this is a tag-team DREAM match. Bret starts off working the arm of Tully until he wisely and SLOWLY backs into his corner to tag in Arn. Now if you notice, Tully grabs Bret’s foot to try and cut off the tag. Bret breaks loose, but stays and fights instead of tagging out to Anvil. Bret delivers one of Arn’s specialties, the hammerlock slam, on him and tags in Neidhart. The only way Neidhart can measure up to the Busters is if Arn and Tully sell everything he does like it has ten times more impact than if it were coming from basically anyone else. It makes sense and it works in this match. The Hart Foundation continue to work on Arn’s left arm. Tully tags Arn as he stands on the bottom rope, but the ref doesn’t allow that as a legal tag and Arn gets put back in the Harts corner. Arn counters Bret with a leg scissors, but then Bret kips up and Arn decides its time to tag out. Tully runs into the Harts corner as Anvil gets a tag. They go back to what worked with Tully before, and that’s twisting on the arm. Tully tries to tag Arn with his foot, but that won’t work either. The false tags are going in favor of the FACES here, which is totally against formula. Anvil NO-SELLS Tully’s chops and then Tully does his shoulder-first bump in the corner. Tully comes out of a hammerlock quite nicely into an overhead wristlock for Bret to do the bridge spot. Bret tries to power out of it as Arn comes in to help Tully, but then Bret flips out and gives both champs armdrags. The crowd goes INSANE for this stuff. Bret ends up chasing Tully around and gets clobbered by Arn from behind to turn the tide. Arn heads up for a pump splash, but we all know how that ends. Pier-six brawl erupts, but the Harts get the best of that. Back in, Bret stomps Tully in the “lower abdominal area” and tags in Neidhart. Tully tries to come back by leaping out of the corner, but Neidhart catches him in a bearhug. Anvil fires away in the corner. The Harts attempt the double-team whip into the corner, but Arn saves Tully at the last second. Arn gets a tag as Bret looks on completely disappointed in his corner. Tully tags in and sits on Neidhart with a reverse chinlock. Anvil stands up out of it and tries to piggy-back Tully into the Harts corner, but Arn gets the GENIUS blind tag and pops Neidhart in the face. Arn DRILLS Neidhart with his shoulder as he comes off the ropes for 1-2-NO! Anvil presses Arn off of him out of the cover and sends him to the other side of the ring. Arn & Anvil work in a double-KO spot, but Arn still is able to cut off the tag to Bret. Arn comes off the ropes, but then Bret catches him in the back with a knee! SHADES OF GRAY! HOT TAG TO BRET! Bret goes SLAM CRAZY on the heels! Bret hits the elbow off the middle rope on Tully and then follows up with a suplex for 1-2-NO! He breaks the pin and squares off with Arn as Neidhart pounds on Tully in a corner. Arn reverses a cross-corner whip, but Tully does not and takes a clothesline from Bret. Anvil goes to the floor with Arn while in the ring, Bret delivers an inverted atomic drop. Anvil posts Arn and then delivers the Slingshot Shoulderblock from the apron into Tully. Anvil slams Bret on Tully for the finish, but Heenan is on the apron with the ref. Neidhart tries to get Heenan off the apron while Arn comes off the middle rope and drops a double-sledge on Bret to knock him out! Arn’s not legal, so in order to get the pinfall, Tully rolls out as Arn covers up his head using both his arms AND Bret’s arms so the ref will think it’s Tully making the cover since they both have the same colored tights! That gets the three-count! (15:58) Fantastic non-formula match with two of the greatest teams ever. ****½

  • Dusty Rhodes vs. Honky Tonk Man (w/Jimmy Hart)

Dusty is actually getting ready for a feud to lead into the Survivor Series with Bossman, which explains the policeman’s hat and the nightstick. In case you’re unaware, this is Dusty’s WWF PPV debut. It’s so weird listening to Schiavone talking about Dusty Rhodes on a WWF show. It’s like bizarro world or something. According to the pre-match interviews, this is a match to determine who’s the better dancer. We get some major stalling to start from two of the best stallers around. Michael Hayes, without a doubt, the #1 staller of all time. Honky avoids the Bionic Elbow to start and rolls out to stall. Back in, Rhodes grabs a wristlock and then messes up Honky’s hair. Atomic drop by Dusty and we get the HTM oversell. Ten-count corner punch leads to some leg-twisting. Honky eyerakes to escape, but then Dusty NO-SELLS a trip up from Jimmy on the floor. Jimmy gets chased into the ring and manages to slip Honky the megaphone on his way out, as Dusty takes the megaphone in the gut. Really Honky? You have a chance to KO this guy and you hit him in the place where he has the most cushion? Honky grabs a chinlock for what feels like FOREVER. Dusty finally comes back with the Flip, Flop and Fly, but then misses a corner charge and gets tossed into the ref. Meanwhile, Jimmy Hart wants to KABONG Dusty. He rears back, but Dusty ducks and Jimmy hits Honky Tonk with his own guitar for the first time ever. Dusty hits the ELBOW DROP as the ref crawls over for the 1-2-3. (9:42) Way too long and way too much chinlocking for me. Sean Mooney gets a word with the Honky Tonk Man, but he’s acting all delirious! He’s looking for the stage because he’s got a show to do. I’m sure Elvis acted the exact same way by ’74. CRAP

  • Mr. Perfect vs. Red Rooster

Every time I see Terry Taylor in 1989, the more I die a little bit inside. As for Perfect, he’s doing just fine with his undefeated streak. Shoving contest to start. Perfect delivers a pair of hiptosses and then mocks poor Terry Taylor with the chicken strut. Perfect runs the ropes for a bit. Taylor slips out of a slam attempt and tries one of his own, but then his knee buckles and Perfect falls on top for two. They go to the floor to brawl, but Perfect beats Taylor back in the ring and surprises him with the PERFECTPLEX for the win. (3:22) If not for Taylor injuring his knee, who knows how good this one could’ve been. ½*

  • The Rougeau Brothers & Rick Martel (w/Jimmy Hart & Slick) vs. The Rockers & Tito Santana

To set this feud up, the Rougeaus couldn’t get along with the Rockers, so they jabbed Marty Jannetty in the throat with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone. That’s just not a nice thing to do. As for Martel and Santana, they’re former tag team champions who got sick and tired of each other. Well, it was more Martel than Santana. Martel walked out on Santana at WrestleMania V, sold his soul to Slick, and now it’s come to this match at SummerSlam, as the Canadians take on the Meximericans. I like that word. Martel is back in his old AWA gear, as he’s yet to turn into a model. That would start up in about a month or so. The Rougeaus try and play mind games with Tito, so the good guys clear the ring of them with some pretty cool double-team moves. Jannetty gets cornered and beat up by the Rougeaus for a bit. Oh snap, Martel comes in and does the FRENCH TICKLER dance! I forgot all about that. He pays for it with a right hand. Jannetty makes a quick tag to Santana, but Martel being the cowardly heel, scurries off into his corner and tags in Raymond. Tito gets the best of Raymond until Jacques grabs his foot as he comes off the ropes and Raymond knees him from behind. Once the Rougeaus have Tito beat down pretty good, Martel wants in to stomp on him. They tease a false tag spot, but Jacques backs Santana into the French-Canadian corner before that happens. Martel tags in again once Santana is weakened, but then he misses a corner charge and Tito delivers a rather slow Jack Brisco rollup for 1-2-NO! Martel gets right on top of Tito and chokes away. Oddly enough, Raymond tags in and applies a Boston crab instead of Martel. I mean, that’s his MOVE! The Rockers try and save, but that doesn’t help Tito AT ALL as Jacques runs in and drops a knee across Santana’s back! Raymond covers for 1-2-NO! Jacques and Martel cheat on an ab stretch, but Tito will not die! As Santana hiptosses out, Martel gets a blind tag and cuts off Santana’s tag to the Rockers. Tito connects with a desperation crossbody block on Jacques for 1-2-NO! Jacques stomps on Santana and tags in Raymond, who takes a sunset flip from Tito for 1-2-NO! Raymond grabs a chinlock, but as Tito stands up, Jacques tags in and delivers a diving back elbow for 1-2-NO! Heel miscommunication from the Rougeaus finally gets him a HOT TAG TO MICHAELS! He nails everybody and then delivers a suplex on Martel to set up a top-rope fist drop. He tags Jannetty and press-slams him on top of Martel for 1-2-NO! Jacques tries to save with an elbow drop, but he nails Martel instead. ITS BREAKIN’ DOWN IN JERSEY! The heels all get ran together. Santana nails a dazed Martel with the FLYING JALAPENO! Crowd erupts! Jimmy Hart gets pulled up onto the apron by Jannetty, but then Jacques dropkicks him from behind and rolls him up! NO WAIT! Jannetty reverses it into a rollup of his own, but the ref is too busy with Tito to count! Martel jumps in and gets an open shot on Jannetty (both men are legal!) and covers him for 1-2-3! (14:59) Wow, great match from these six. I loved that good old-fashioned “face in peril” segment with Tito. ***¾

  • WWF Intercontinental Champion Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. The Ultimate Warrior

Rude defeated Warrior at WrestleMania V for the IC title and has tried, along with Andre the Giant of the Heenan family, to eliminate the painted-up crazy man from wrestling throughout the year. Warrior received a rematch and promised victory, so can he deliver? Let’s find out! Rude tries to stick and run to start, but Warrior NO-SELLS and clotheslines Rude out to the apron. Rude attempts a sunset flip back in, but Warrior blocks it and press Rude up and throws him out to the floor for our CRAZY ’80s bump of the night! Warrior follows him out and hits him in the back with the IC title. The ref Joey Marella doesn’t call for the bell because according to Tony, you can do whatever you want when it’s not in the ring. Jesse delivers a classic comeback by saying, “What, you’re going to tell me you can SHOOT somebody as long as its outside the ring? You’re even dumber than Monsoon! Here I thought Gorilla was the STUPIDEST MAN ALIVE!” Great stuff. Warrior slams Rude down on the floor and then brings him back in for a flying double-sledge for 1-2-NO! Warrior whips Rude from corner to corner and then slams him for two. Warrior suplex gets two. Warrior delivers a bunch of atomic drops, but then gets crotched up on the top-rope. Rude begins work on Warrior’s back for a while with a suplex and then sits on his back while applying a rear chinlock. That gets an eventual two. Rude tries for the RUDE AWAKENING, but Warrior powers out. Rude ducks a clothesline and hooks on a sleeper instead! Warrior escapes with a jawbreaker, but then we get a triple-KO spot where meaning even Marella goes down. Heenan wakes up Rude, but really doesn’t do anything that’s downright cheating. Rude starts pounding away, but Warrior starts to WARRIOR UP and hits a bunch of clotheslines! Warrior even connects with a powerslam, but the ref is still not able to make a count. Warrior tries to wake up Marella, but then decides to give Rude a piledriver instead! Wow, Warrior isn’t SUCKING here. Marella crawls over and counts 1-2-NO! Rude got his foot on the bottom rope. Running powerslam by Warrior! Holy crap. He goes for the WARRIOR SPLASH, but Rude brings up his knees. Ugh. Warrior finally screws up and its while he’s up in a piledriver position too. A place you absolutely don’t want to screw up in. Rude covers for 1-2-NO! Rude heads up top and connects with the fist-drop for 1-2-NO! Wait a minute, here comes Roddy Piper! Meanwhile, Rude delivers another piledriver and arrogantly covers for 1-2-NO! Now Rude sees Piper and decides to mock him instead of finishing off Warrior. Piper moons him by lifting up his kilt, which pisses Rude off entirely. Rude climbs up on the turnbuckle, but then Warrior comes up from behind with a back suplex. Warrior connects with the Running Shoulderblock, the WARRIOR PRESS SLAM, and the WARRIOR SPLASH for the 1-2-3! Warrior regains the belt as the crowd blows the roof off the arena. (16:02) IMO, Warrior has only three standout matches throughout his career. This is one of them. When I say “only”, that’s not necessarily derogatory considering those three matches are great matches that people still talk about fifteen years later. The others are obvious, which are his match against Hogan at WrestleMania 6, and against Savage at WrestleMania 7. ***½

  • The Twin Towers & Andre the Giant (w/Slick & Bobby Heenan) vs. Demolition & King Jim Duggan

So not only does Duggan wear a Jason mask down to the ring to show “team unity”, but he also has the American flag painted on his face like a dang hippie. Well, this sure beats a Duggan/Andre match. Why they didn’t use Haku instead of Andre in his condition, I don’t know. Back and forth punch-kick “action” until it breaks down in a pier-six brawl. During all the chaos, Duggan grabs his 2×4 and wallops Akeem in the back for the win. (8:27) Some of it wasn’t too bad, and the crowd was actually hot the whole way through. *½

  • Hercules vs. Greg Valentine (w/Jimmy Hart)

“Rugged” Ronnie Garvin has been banned from both wrestling AND refereeing, so now he attempts ring announcing. This guy has never been known to be good on the mic, and here’s a perfect example of it. He introduces Hercules as Finkel would, but then he berates Valentine with some really bad “insults” which he happens to stumble through. Bad, as in not clever and completely unfunny. Valentine goes to nail Garvin, but Hercules blindsides him with some power moves. Valentine gets all distracted by Garvin again and gets rolled up for 1-2-NO! Valentine goes out after Garvin, so Hercules nails him as he comes off the apron and smashes his face into the ring bell. Back in, Valentine catches Herc with a knee and then drops a bunch of elbows. He goes for the FIGURE-FOUR, but Herc kicks him off into the corner. He tries for a flying-double ax, but Hercules catches him on the way down. Herc ducks low off a whip, but then blocks a suplex into one of his own. Valentine begs off into the corner to set up the Ric Flair cradle pin for 1-2-3. (3:06) Garvin announces Hercules as the winner “as far as he’s concerned.” He then corrects himself and awards the match to Hercules by DQ instead. Right. *

  • Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) vs. Jimmy Snuka

I fell asleep watching this one the first time. Literally. Snuka clears DiBiase out of the ring before he even takes his robe off. Virgil tries to be a distraction, but Snuka avoids DiBiase coming up from behind to knock Virgil off the apron. An atomic drop puts DiBiase back out onto the floor. Back in, Snuka blows a leapfrog and lands on DiBiase’s head. DiBiase pounds away on Snuka, but then takes a backdrop out of the corner. He begs away and then gives Snuka a hotshot to take back control. DiBiase suplex gets two. DiBiase backbreaker gets two. DiBiase sets up for a middle-rope elbow drop, but he takes too long mocking the crowd and misses it. Snuka chops away and delivers a Flying Headbutt. He calls for the SUPERFLY SPLASH, but Virgil causes the distraction and brings Snuka down to ringside. DiBiase nails him from behind and then sends him shoulder-first into the ringpost and slides back in the ring for the easy countout victory. (6:26) After the bout, Snuka chops DiBiase out to ringside and gives Virgil the SUPERFLY SPLASH. ½*

  • Randy Savage & Zeus (w/Sensational Sherri) vs. Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake (w/Elizabeth)

Well, it sure beats Hogan vs. Zeus. I mean, have you SEEN No Holds Barred? The Genius, Randy Savage’s real-life brother, makes an appearance before the match and recites a little heel-supported poem for us all. Beefcake and Savage brawl down on the floor while in the ring, Zeus NO-SELLS everything Hogan has to offer. Beefcake tries to save, but Zeus catches him in a bearhug. Hogan attempts to save Beefcake, but he gets grabbed in a bearhug as Savage leaps off the top for the double-ax to the back. Savage connects with another top-rope double-ax handle. Savage delivers a running knee sending Hogan into the corner for two. Hogan elbows out of a chinlock and follows up with shoulderblocks. Zeus nails Hogan coming off the ropes and gets a tag. Zeus does the only thing he seems to know how to do, and that’s a bearhug. Zeus takes Hogan to the mat for several near-falls. As Hogan starts to stand up, Zeus backs Hulk into the heel corner and tags in Savage. Savage connects with the running neck snap and then spits on Beefcake to bring him in for the distraction. Belly-to-back suplex from Savage gets two. Savage argues with the ref over the count and then misses a Bossman straddle. HOT TAG TO BEEFCAKE! He connects with the High Knee for 1-2-NO! It’s SLEEPER HOLD TIME! Savage drops to his knees, but then rises up and drives Beefcake face-first into the corner. Zeus tags in and appears to be VERY angry, so Beefcake thumbs him in the eyes. SLEEPER! Savage NAILS Beefcake in the back of the head with Sherri’s purse to break the hold. Savage gets a tag, calms down the human wrecking machine, and covers Beefcake for 1-2-NO! Hogan saves. Savage covers again, but Hogan comes in and chases Savage out of the ring. Savage grabs Liz and pays for it. Back in, Zeus tags in a whole lot of choking. Savage tags in, which leads to a double-KO spot. Savage tries to cut off the tag to Hogan, but Beefcake kicks him away and we’ve got a HOT TAG TO HOGAN! Hogan connects with the running corner clothesline and then nails Zeus. Big Boot to Savage sends Savage out to the floor. Hogan attempts a suplex from the apron, but Sherri trips him up as Savage falls on top for 1-2-NO! Savage puts Hogan down with a clothesline to set up the MACHO ELBOW! Can he connect? Yes he can! But Hogan NO-SELLS! Wow, that’s terrible. Hogan fires back and sends Savage to the floor with an atomic drop, as it comes down to Hogan vs. Zeus. Hogan gets Zeus all wobbly with rights and clotheslines. Zeus falls to one knee, Elizabeth trips Sherri up into the ring, and Beefcake tosses Savage to the mat below. Hogan grabs the loaded purse and nails Zeus in the face with it. That allows Hulk to deliver the slam to set up the LEGDROP to end all of Zeus’s credibility with a 1-2-3 count. (15:12) And Tony Schiavone SQUEALS like a girl! Post-match, Sherri gets nailed with the purse by Elizabeth and THEN gets a haircut. Sure Savage, you won’t get your title back, but I’m sure there’s a crown waiting for you around here somewhere. Fun stuff, if not completely ridiculous and counter-productive. **

Final Thoughts: This is one of the most consistently good shows as far as workrate and delivery goes in any of the first five years of WWF PPVs. Most shows you would have maybe one MOTYC if that, but with three matches ***1/2 or better on the same card, you’re just not going to find that on WWF PPVs in the ’80s. Maybe the success of the Great American Bash caused the WWF to do something, I don’t know. Whatever the case is, this is a great show that gets a huge thumbs up from me.

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6 comments

  1. I gotta say this was a very good PPV. You’ve got two of the best tag teams ever opening up the night, a great 6 man with 6 hard working guys in the ring, one hell of a story told in the IC Match, and a decent main event considering the crap that led into it. On top of that you have one hot crowd the whole night and you just can’t go wrong with SummerSlam 1989

  2. I just watched this again today, and it was an all-around good show. The main event left a lot to be desired, but overall the quality was very good.

    1. Good question. I’m guessing Vince hired Jim Hellwig so he could turn him into a ‘larger than life’ character much like Hogan and Savage – the biggest WWF draws of the day. Also, he knew Hogan’s days were numbered, so Vince would need a new “Hogan” to keep the cash coming in. Of course it didn’t exactly turn out that way.

  3. This is one of the best Summerslams (and also one of the best WWF PPVs in the 80s, as you mentioned Matt). The opening tag team match, with the Hart Foundation (ok, yes, they ARE my favorite tag team of all time, I just got it out!) against the Brainbusters in a absolute FINE showcase of tag team wrestling, a complete ****1/2 match. Perfect vs. Red Rooster (or Terry Taylor) could’ve been more if not for Taylor’s injury. Also, Warrior and Rude have the very good match, world’s better than their Wrestlemania V match. Add in a very good 6 man tag w/ the Rockers & Santana against the Rougeaus & Martel, an ok main event, a hot crowd, and you got yourself a great Summerslam.

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