wrestling / Video Reviews

Cook’s WWF SummerSlam 1988 Review

June 24, 2022 | Posted by Steve Cook
WWE SummerSlam 1988 Image Credit: WWE
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Cook’s WWF SummerSlam 1988 Review  

The World Wrestling Federation rolled into 1988 as hot as it ever was. Hulk Hogan had been WWF Champion for four years, leading the company to new heights while they took over the entire United States and made the territories things of the past. All good things come to an end, and Hogan’s first title reign would end at The Main Event in front of a record television audience at the hands of Andre the Giant, with some assistance from Ted DiBiase & the Hebner Brothers.

As it turned out, Hogan needed some time away from the ring & the road in order to shoot No Holds Barred. The WWF needed a new top guy to hold the fort down for a few months. What better choice than Hogan’s tag team partner? “Macho Man” Randy Savage would win the WWF Championship at WrestleMania IV and spend the summer defending against DiBiase. Andre would be by Ted’s side more often than not, and the time would come where the scores needed to be settled. August 29 in Madison Square Garden ended up being the time & place, as the WWF debuted a new concept for pay-per-view.

Here are some of the other main happenings heading into this event:

-The Honky Tonk Man had been Intercontinental Champion since June 2, 1987. He had come close to losing the title on numerous occasions, but always hung on by the skin of his teeth. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake had been one of Honky’s most persistent challengers and was scheduled to challenge at SummerSlam, but “Outlaw” Ron Bass viciously injured him just days prior to the event. HTM would have to settle for a mystery opponent instead.

-The Hart Foundation became popular with WWF fans during the summer of 1988, which was a source of consternation to their manager, Jimmy Hart. Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart felt they no longer needed Jimmy’s services, but were still under contract with him. The Foundation wanted the WWF Tag Team Championship back, but their manager would work with the current champions, Demolition, against them.

-“Ravishing” Rick Rude had begun a routine where he & manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan would pick a lady from the audience to receive a “Rude Awakening” kiss after his match. One week, Rude & Heenan inadvertently picked a woman that happened to be the wife of Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Upon finding out, Rude just became more determined to kiss Cheryl, which gained the ire of her husband. On a number of occasions Rude would wear tights featuring Cheryl’s image, which Jake would remove from Rick’s person.

-NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair had been in talks with the WWF to jump to their promotion. There are a couple of different stories involving plans for Flair at SummerSlam. In one version, the original idea for the main event was a match between Flair & Randy Savage. Another popular story involves Flair making his debut as a guest of Brother Love. Neither ended up happening, and Flair would remain with the NWA until the summer of 1991.

Cook’s WWF SummerSlam ’88 Review

We start off with the theme music most will remember from 1990s Royal Rumble events.

Live at Madison Square Garden! Gorilla Monsoon is busting out all his classic catchphrases and he’s joined by Superstar Billy Graham.

The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers vs. The British Bulldogs (w/Matilda): Jacques & Raymond offer to follow the Code of Honor with a handshake, but the Bulldogs aren’t biting. Davey Boy Smith starts the action and works Jacques over in the corners by bashing his head into the turnbuckle. Raymond tags in and hugs Jacques, which the fans don’t like. DBS wins the power matchup, but Raymond gains the edge with a cheapsot. Smith twists out of the monkey flip, takes Ray down and tags in the Dynamite Kid. Headbutt & shoulderblock by Dynamite. Arm drag into an armbar by the Kid. Another headbutt breaks up another monkey flip attempt by Raymond. Tag to Davey, who gets a sunset flip for two and then another arm drag on Raymond. Smith & Kid pull the ol’ switch while Jacques has the ref distracted, which is the reverse of what you’d expect from these teams but happened a lot in this era. Jawbreaker clothesline by Dynamite, tag to Davery Boy. Raymond & Davey Boy excahnge rollups, then Dynamite tags back in to work Raymond’s arm. Smith tags back in for a double clothesline that gets two. Jacques trips Davey Boy and that’ll change the momentum. Jacques tags in and works Davey’s left knee. Some classic No Mercy style ground attacks here. Raymond tags in for the double wishbone. Jacques tags in and keeps working the knee. Jacques with the cheaphot to Dynamite, distracting the referee while the Rougeaus do another wishbone and illegally switch men. Backdrop by Raymond, and a tag to Jacques. Spinning toehold! Davey breaks it with an inside cradle, but the Rougeaus maintain the advantage. Raymond twists at the ankle, Davey monkey flips out of it and tags in Dynamite. Snap suplex on Raymond, an elbowdrop and falling headbutt gets two. Back suplex gets two. Raymond gets sent into the barricade on the outside. Dynamite tags Davey in, Smith hits the running powerslam but Jacques breaks up the count. Dynamite tags back in, Jacques breaks up an attempted 10 punch in the corner with a back suplex. Jacques tags in and drops a knee for a two count. Raymond tags in, drops Kid gut first on Jacques’ knee. Jacques back in and he locks in the abdominal stretch. Davey Boy breaks the hold, but Raymond locks in one of his own. Dynamite fights out with a hip toss, but Raymond wins the strike exchange. Jacques back in, hits the splash for two. Reverse chinlock by Jacques. Dynamite stands up while in the hold, but Raymond comes in to force him back to the mat. The Kid gets kicked in the corner by both men, and Raymond locks in that reverse chinlock. Dynamite powers out and drives Raymond into the corner. Jacques stops the tag to Davey Boy, who keeps the referee from seeing Dynamite’s rollup attempt. Back to the abdominal stretch! Once again, the referee misses the tag, and Jacques comes in to continue the punishment. Dynamite finally gets the tag, but Davey immediately misses a dropkick. He gets the gorilla press though, and drops Jacques crotch-first on the top rope. Raymond misses the elbowdrop and hits his own brother, and everybody’s in the ring now. Dynamite gets gorilla pressed into Jacques, but the bell rings before any sort of decision can be rendered.

Winners: None (20:00 via draw)
Match Rating: ***1/4

The Rougeaus hit a couple of punches before the Bulldogs chase them out of the Garden. Some good action here, but a little repetitive at times and really could have used a finish.

This past weekend on WWF Superstars of Wrestling, Ron Bass attacked Brutus Beefcake with his bullwhip & spur, turning the screen into a red x. Beefcake will not be challenging Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Championship tonight, but somebody else will. Interesting…

Bad News Brown vs. Ken Patera: Brown attacks right away, not even giving Kenny enough time to remove his jacket. Bodyslam and a fistdrop to Patera. Patera with a clothesline out of the corner and some stomps to Brown. Spinning elbow sends Brown down. Bodyslam, but Patera misses the elbowdrop. Brown with some shots to Patera on the ropes. A chop sends Patera down. Patera kicks Bad News down, tries to cradle him for a one count. Clothesline gets two. Backbreaker gets two. Small package gets one. Bear hug by Patera. Brown breaks that up with a finger to the eye, then Patera goes for the full nelson. The ropes break that attempt, but Patera’s still going for it. Bad News goes back to the ropes. Patera with some punches in the corner, then he whips Brown to the corner, who eventually ends up there after a couple of twists and turns. Another whip into the opposite corner, but this time Patera misses a shoulderblock. Brown hits the Ghetto Blaster, and that’s all she wrote.

Winner: Bad News Brown (6:33 via pinfall)
Match Rating: 1/2*

Patera wasn’t exactly in his prime at this point, and Bad News wasn’t a guy that could get anything out of him. They did take some funny looking bumps, so there was that for entertainment value.

Mean Gene Okerlund is with the Mega-Powers! Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage are ready for the Mega-Bucks, and have a Secret Weapon. Something to do with Miss Elizabeth apparently, though I’m pretty sure people knew she was their manager at this point.

“Ravishing” Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. The Junkyard Dog: Rude would like to have all the fat, ugly, inner-city sweathogs keep the noise down while he removes his robe. JYD is featured on Rude’s tights, he should feel honored. Rude attacks upon JYD’s entrance and immediately gets backdropped and headbutted out of the ring. Rude goes to the Brain for some advice before Dog brings him back into the ring. Punch to the washboard abs, then to the face. JYD misses the headbutt and Rude clotheslines him down. Double axehandle sends Dog to the mat. Fans getting behind the JYD, but Rude remains on the offense. Rude with a snapmare into a chinlock. Works that chinlock while the fans chant for the Weasel. JYD fights out, but runs into a boot in the corner. Elbowdrop gets two for Rude, then back to the chinlock. Rude switches to the wristlock and the grind. Rude crotches himself and begs off. Dog with some punches, then the big headbutt. Heenan distracts JYD and referee Tim White, Rude with a knee to Dog’s back and a Minnesotan leg sweep. Rude goes up top and hits a fistdrop. He reveals the Cheryl Roberts tights he opted to wear under the JYD tights, bringing Jake Roberts out for the disqualification.

Winner: “Ravishing” Rick Rude (6:18 via disqualification)
Match Rating: *

Not a lot going on during the match, as it was just there to continue the Roberts/Rude issue. A bit odd that Roberts vs. Rude wasn’t booked for this event, but it was a heavily featured match on the house show loop at this time. Remember when house shows were a thing? Ah, memories.

Mean Gene is with the Honky Tonk Man & Jimmy Hart. Jimmy talks about how he & Honky Tonk are always happy. Honky says he’ll wrestle anybody tonight. Gene wants to talk about who it is, but HTM wants it to be a surprise for everybody.

The Bolsheviks (w/Slick) vs. The Powers of Pain (w/The Baron): Slick talks about how the fans are illiterate, and wants the fans to stand for Nikolai Volkoff’s rendition of the Russian National Anthem. Boris Zhukov sings along as well. Barbarian & Warlord run down and it’s a Pier 4 Brawl right away. Volkoff gets knocked out of the ring and Zhukov follows him out after a double clothesline. Volkoff back in, he’s held by Warlord for a karate thrust from Barbarian. Boris with a headlock on Barbarian, a shoulderblock goes nowhere. Barbrarian knocks Boris down. Warlord tags in and continues the abuse for Zhukov. Belly to belly suplex by Warlord, Nikolai eventually breaks up the count. A distraction from Slick puts Warlord on the defensive. Zhukov uses the tag rope to choke Warlord while the referee is distracted. Boris tags in and chokes Warlord on the ropes. This referee is very easily distracted, and the Bolsheviks take advantage of that. Baron & Slick face off on the outside while Boris has Warlord in a chinlock. Warlord fights out, Nikolai tags in and gets punched on by Warlord. An attempted double backdrop backfires on the Bolsheviks, Barbarian gets the tag. Big slam on Volkoff, kick to Zhukov. Big boot for Boris. Volkoff sent over the top. Warlord tags in, the double flying tackle takes Zhukov down. Running powerslam and a headbutt finish it.

Winners: The Powers of Pain (7:09 via pinfall)
Match Rating: *

This was a bit of a mess, but the type of rambling brawl one had to expect when they saw this match listed on the card.

The Brother Love Show: Brother Love loves us and has a very special guest. It’s somebody that needs to learn the lesson of Love. It’s Brother “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan! Duggan came out for two reasons: 1. To say “HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”. 2. To tell Brother Love to his face what a phony he is. Love thinks Duggan has no love in his heart. He claims that Brother Dino Bravo loves his country. Duggan says that the people of Canada are not proud of Bravo, and not to question his patriotism. Love talks about the weapon Duggan carries around, and Duggan says this is the WWF, not Sunday school. Love eventually gets the message and skedaddles at the count of 4.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match: The Honky Tonk Man (c) (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The Ultimate Warrior: HTM grabs the microphone from Howard Finkel and asks for somebody to wrestle. He doesn’t care who it is! That familiar music eventually hits, and here comes the Warrior! Punches to Honky, bodyslam, shoulderblock, clothesline, a splash, and a new champion! Honky couldn’t even remove his jumpsuit!

Winner: The Ultimate Warrior (:31 via pinfall)

You really couldn’t ask for a better way to end Honky Tonk’s improbable 454 day reign as Intercontinental Champion. It was a title reign that wrestling promotions would try to replicate countless times since, but have never really been able to. Warrior got boosted up to the next level, Honky made the biggest payday of his life, everybody won here.

Bobby Heenan joins Monsoon & Graham at the announce position to give them the heads up on what the Mega-Powers & Mega-Bucks are up to while preparing for the match. The Bucks are apparently calm, cool & collected while the Powers are nervous. I’m sure Heenan wouldn’t lie to us about such a thing!

“The Rock” Don Muraco vs. Dino Bravo (w/Frenchy Martin): Frenchy says something I can’t hear over the overdubbed music, but his sign saying “USA Is Not OK” probably sums up whatever it was. A test of strength goes nowhere. Shoulderblock by Muraco, then a stomp. Hip toss & a body slam. Arm drag, and Bravo bails outside. Back inside, Muraco works the arm before Bravo backs him into the corner and delivers some shots. Another hip toss by Muraco, then a monkey flip. Arm drag by Muraco. Muraco works Bravo over in two corners before Bravo takes the advantage. Inverted atomic drop sends Muraco down. Big elbow drop by Bravo. Muraco fights back with a Hawaiian leg sweep. Bravo misses an elbowdrop. They exchange shots. Frenchy climbs on the apron and gets knocked down by Muraco. Bravo takes advantage, hitting Muraco with a side suplex for a three count.

Winner: Dino Bravo (5:28 via pinfall)
Match Rating: *

Seeing Muraco as a babyface is so strange to me, as I’m far more familiar with the Magnificent One of the early & mid 1980s. Not much to this.

Sean Mooney is with Jesse “The Body” Ventura, who will be the special guest referee for tonight’s main event. Ventura says he’s the only man that could referee a match of this magnitude. He admits to accepting money from Ted DiBiase.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match: The Hart Foundation vs. Demolition (c) (w/Mr. Fuji & Jimmy Hart): Jimmy used to manage Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart, so Demolition is happy to benefit from his expertise here. Ax & Bret start things off. Ax definitely has the power advantage. He slams Hart down, but misses the elbowdrop. Bret punches away on Ax, gets an O’Connor roll for two. Smash tags in and gets arm dragged a couple of times. Tag to the Anvil, who punches Smash down. Ax knees Neidhart from behind, giving Demolition the advantage. Smash with some double axehandles to Anvil’s back. Ax tags in, but Anvil blocks the backdrop attempt and tags in the Hitman. Bret with some punches to Ax & Smash. Dropkick to Smash, but Bret ends up shoulderblocking the ring post. Anvil chases Jimmy Hart to the back while Ax works Bret over. Demolition targets the right shoulder of Hart. Smash hits a shoulderbreaker, then works on the other arm. Ax & Smash continue working the shoulder and take Hart outside so Smash can ram him into the ring post. Back into the ring, Bret evades Ax on a whip and clotheslines him down. Bret goes for the tag and gets it, but the referee didn’t see it! Curses! Smash whips Bret into the corner, but runs into a boot. Hart gets the tag this time. Neidhard dropkicks Ax, slams both his opponents down and rams them into each other. Ax gets knocked outside. Anvil slingshots over the top rope onto Smash! Back in the ring, a powerslam on Smash gets a two count. Hard shoulderblock in the corner by Anvil, Hart covers Smash for two. Hart with the backbreaker, but Ax breaks up the count. Anvil punches away on Ax. Fuji climbs the apron and Anvil punches away on him, distracting the referee so Jimmy Hart can toss in the megaphone and Ax can hit Bret with it. Smash covers for three.

Winners: Demolition (10:49 via pinfall)
Match Rating: ***1/2

The helpful replay shows us Jimmy running back down to toss that megaphone in, and Ax hiding it afterward. Darn good piece of business there.

Mean Gene is back in Honky Tonk Man’s locker room, and Honky is quite disgusted. He didn’t say anything about wrestling a Warrior! The belt still belongs to HTM, and he’ll get it back. Good luck with that, they didn’t start selling replica belts until at least a decade after this.

Big Bossman (w/Slick) vs. Koko B. Ware (w/Frankie): Koko gets hit from behind and tossed outside early on. Back in the ring, Koko rocks Bossman with a dropkick, sending him into the ropes and tying him up. Koko delivers some shots. Bossman gets back on the advantage though, hitting a big headbutt. Big splash in the corner sends Koko down. Clothesline gets two. Bossman hits the running charge. Ware is pretty well out of it at this point, and gets slammed down. Bossman goes up top and misses the big splash. Well, mostly. Ware does avoid a splash in the corner, and Bossman ends up crotched on the top rope. Dropkick off the top rope by Ware, then a splash gets two. Bossman hits the Bossman Slam for the three count.

Winner: Big Bossman (5:55 via pinfall)
Match Rating: *

Ware receives a shot with the nightstick afterward. Koko got a little offense here, but the point was establishing Bossman.

Sean Mooney is in the Ultimate Warrior’s dressing room, where the mood is a bit better. He wouldn’t mind wrestling ol’ Honky Tonk again.

Hercules vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts (w/Damien): Manager Bobby Heenan is somewhat conspicuous by his absence in Hercules’ corner, he must be helping the Mega-Bucks get ready for that big main event. Hercules misses a charge in the corner, but Jake runs into a knee. Hercules goes on the offensive with some punches. Jake with a kneelift, he signals for the DDT but Hercules ducks outside. Roberts blocks some punches, then slams Hercules. Roberts gets a headlock, Hercules hits a back suplex but Roberts holds onto that headlock. Hercules gets to the ropes, then headbutts Roberts downstairs. Elbowdrops by Hercules, a snapmare into a rear chinlock. Clothesline from Hercules. Lazy cover gets two. Back to the rear chinlock. I don’t remember Hercules always looking this pale, perhaps he was going for the statue look. Roberts finally fights out of the chinlock, but then gets knocked to the floor. Hercules with a shot to Jake on the apron. Roberts sends Hercules tumbling to the floor over the top rope. Hercules jams Jake’s neck on the ropes, goes back inside and goes back to the chinlock, but Roberts hits a jaw jacker to break that up. Jake hits some jabs, then punches Hercules down. Short-arm clothesline, then Jake signals for the DDT. Hercules lifts Jake out of it. Jake misses the kneelift in the corner. Hercules with a slam, then an elbowdrop for two. Jake slips out of a slam attempt and hits the DDT! That’s enough for the three count.

Winner: Jake “The Snake” Roberts (10:09 via pinfall)
Match Rating: **

Hercules gets the snake draped on him afterward.

We get a recap of the issues between Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, Ted DiBiase & Hulk Hogan.

“Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant (w/Bobby Heenan & Virgil) vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan (w/Elizabeth): Jesse Ventura lets all the competitors know who’s in charge here. Then he moves the tag ropes to different corners and has everybody go to the new corners. Andre & Savage eventually start the match. Andre smacks Savage in the Mega-Bucks corner, and DiBiase tags in. DiBiase wants a piece of Hogan, and Savage makes the tag. DiBiase goes to Hogan’s eyes, then eats an atomic drop and punches from both Mega-Powers. Clothesline from Hogan, then the tag to Savage. Double elbow block, then double elbowdrop from Hogan & Savage. Hogan tags in and introduces Ted’s face to the turnbuckles & Randy’s boot. Double axehandle from Savage, then a kneedrop. Cover gets one. Double boot from Hogan & Savage gets two. Bodyslam, then some elbowdrops from Hogan. Andre headbutts Hogan in the corner, Savage comes in and gets some from Andre too. Andre officially tags in and sits on Hogan a few times. Andre works Hogan over with a neck vice. He chokes Hogan with his strap. DiBiase comes in for a cheap shot while Savage has Ventura detained. DiBiase tags in and punches away on Hogan. DiBiase hits his fistdrops, cover gets two. He locks in a chinlock that Monsoon & Graham call a choke. He’s got it locked in for awhile, but Hogan keeps his arm up on two. Hogan breaks the hold and both men clothesline each other. Savage tags in and goes to town on DiBiase. Backdrop, then the ol’ neck snap on the top rope. Savage goes up top, hits the double axehandle. DiBiase evades Savage in the corner, but Savage remains on the offensive. Cross-body gets two, but then Andre tags in. Andre shoulderblocks Savage and smashes him in the corner. He sits on Savage’s head since there’s nowhere else to sit. Tag to DiBiase, who hits a vertical suplex for two. Backbreaker from DiBiase, he goes to the middle rope and misses the albatross elbow. Savage tags Hogan in. DiBiase eats some offense and gets clotheslined in the corner. Vertical suplex from Hogan, and Andre comes in to eat a shot. Savage goes up to drop an elbow on Andre while Hogan has DiBiase in a sleeper, but Andre boots Savage instead. Andre breaks up the sleeper and headbutts Hogan a couple of times before tossing him outside. Ventura starts counting the Mega-Powers out, but then Elizabeth gets up on the apron. Ventura tells her to go down to the floor, but she stays there. Heenan & Virgil get on the apron on the other side, and Elizabeth drops her skirt. All five men are distracted now, nobody knows what the hell’s going on and the crowd loves it. Hogan & Savage power up. Savage double axehandles Andre, sending the Giant outside. Heenan gets knocked off the apron. Hogan slams DiBiase, Savage goes up and hits the elbowdrop! Hogan hits the legdrop! Ventura counts three, with a little assistance from Savage on the three.

Winners: “Macho Man” Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan (14:43 via pinfall)
Match Rating: ***1/4

Hogan immediately starts celebrating with Elizabeth, which definitely won’t lead to anything later.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
The very first SummerSlam featured a couple of big time moments that are still fondly remembered today. Honky Tonk Man dropping the Intercontinental Championship to the Ultimate Warrior would be considered the first "SummerSlam Moment" if WWE did that sort of thing. Hogan & Savage's win in the main event led to some important things down the road, and got over huge with the live crowd. It's easy to see why it was decided to bring "SummerSlam" back after 1988. That being said, when we rate these shows we have to take the full thing into account. Unfortunately for SummerSlam '88, most of the matches were dull filler that didn't really lead to anything. The tag team matches were pretty solid and the title matches delivered what they needed to deliver, but the rest of the card drags this down to a fairly mediocre rating.

article topics :

WWE Summerslam, Steve Cook