wrestling / Video Reviews

Dunn’s Countdown To Summerslam: Summerslam ’89

August 15, 2005 | Posted by J.D. Dunn

As with all things wrestling, you can head to Wrestletapes.net and pick this up.

Oh dear. This is the infamous era when Vince decided to capitalize on all the hype (**cough**) from the “film” No Holds Barred by bringing in Tiny Lister as Zeus.

Note: This is the Coliseum Home Video version, not the real PPV, so there is a little bit of clipping.

  • Summerslam 1989
  • August 28, 1989
  • Live from East Rutherford, NJ.
  • Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura.
  • Opening Match, Non-Title: The Brainbusters (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. The Hart Foundation.

    Ah, one of my very favorite matches. The Busters had just won the titles from the seemingly unbeatable Demolition a few weeks earlier. They’re not on the line here because the match had already been made. Bret outwrestles Tully early on, and the Harts isolate his arm. Bobby gives Arn some coaching as Tully reverses a top wristlock. Arn tries to help Tully out, but Bret backflips out of their wristlock and tosses them to the outside. Arn cheapshots Bret, but a brawl erupts and the Busters aren’t able to take over. Finally, Arn pulls Tully out of the way of a Neidhart charge. The Busters pull him to their corner and isolate him with a chinlock. Neidhart and Arn collide, scrambling both men’s brains. Bret takes a cheapshot at Arn, allowing Neidhart to make the hot tag. Bret dominates both of the Brainbusters until the Anvil is sufficiently recovered. Bret slingshots the Anvil into a shoulderblock on Tully. Anvil powerslams Bret into a pin on Tully, but the ref is distracted. Arn sneaks in and drops a double ax-handle on Bret’s exposed head for the win at 15:56. ****1/2

  • Dusty Rhodes has some words for the Honkytonk Man.
  • Dusty Rhodes vs. The Honkytonk Man (w/Jimmy Hart).

    HTM was rapidly falling down the ladder to the point where they finally just put him with Greg Valentine as mid-card tag fodder. Dusty is making his WWF PPV debut here after months of stupid vignettes introducing him as a “common man.” Rhodes ruffles HTM’s hair and gives him an elbow. He works the leg with a wishbone stretch. Jimmy Hart gets in a few cheapshots on Rhodes to build some heat. Dusty runs into a knee to the gut. Rhodes tries to come back but misses an elbow. Honky loses a fistfight and sends Rhodes into the referee. Jimmy tries to hit Rhodes with the guitar, but he takes out Honky instead. Rhodes drops an elbow and finishes at 9:41. 1/2*

  • Jim Duggan and Demolition express unity.
  • Mr. Perfect vs. The Red Rooster.

    The Red Rooster is Terry Taylor with a horrible career-killing gimmick. Perfect was on his way to a big push, which was supposed to see him winning the 1990 Royal Rumble. This could have been really good. Unfortunately, an early injury cuts it quite short. Perfect tosses him around with armdrags and fireman’s carries and then mocks his Rooster Strut. Rooster slaps him in the face, but then lands awkwardly off a leapfrog and injures his knee. They brawl on the floor a bit to make it look legit, and Perfect pins Rooster with a Perfectplex as they get back inside (3:21) 3/4*

  • Rick Rude and Bobby Heenan promise to break rules to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
  • Six-Man Tag: The Rockers & Tito Santana vs. The Rougeaus & Rick Martel (w/Jimmy Hart & Slick).

    Did pairing Martel up with Slick make sense to anyone? Martel and Santana were a pretty good tag team called Strike Force until Martel walked out on Santana at WrestleMania V. The Rockers and Les Rougeax fought nearly every night during 1988, including a few Ironteam matches. The faces do some nifty triple-teaming to start. Jacques tries to fake Janetty out, but Janetty punches him in the gut. The story for the match is that Martel is desperate to stay away from Santana until the Rougeaus give him the advantage. Tito gets kneed in the back, and the Rougeaus and Martel triple team as often as possible as the Rockers get more and more frustrated. The Rougeaus do their AWESOME Boston Crab/Kneedrop combo. Tito keeps getting one move at a time, but there’s always someone there to break up a tag. This is some classic face-in-peril stuff. Finally, he ducks out of the way of a high knee, and Jacques clocks Raymond in the face. Tito makes the hot tag to Shawn Michaels. He cleans house, and the Rockers get their press slam doubleteam. The wild finish sees Janetty roll through a reverse rollup into one of his own, but Martel comes in behind the ref’s back and levels him with a clothesline for the pin at 14:57. This should be shown to every wannabe wrestler as a sample of great tag wrestling, from Tito’s desperate attempts to tag to the crazy donnybrook finish. ***1/2

  • Recap of the shenanigans between the Ultimate Warrior and the Heenan Family (specifically Rick Rude). Rude attacked Warrior during a posedown, then defeated the seemingly invincible Warrior at WrestleMania V with a little help from Heenan. Warrior spent the summer chasing Rude down. Finally, Heenan brought in Andre the Giant to injure Warrior before the match. Was he successful? We shall see…
  • Intercontinental Title: Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. The Ultimate Warrior.

    Warrior slaughters Rude and presses him all the way from the ring to the floor. He hits Rude with the title belt, prompting Jesse to go off on a rant against the referee. Back in the ring, Warrior drops a double ax-handle on him for two. A bodyslam gets two. A suplex gets two more. Rude takes his patented Atomic Drop bump. Actually, it was an inverted atomic drop, which is different for him. Finally, after about six minutes of getting his ass kicked, Rude desperately crotches the Warrior on the turnbuckle to take over. He squats on him with a chinlock to get his wind back. Warrior powers out of the Rude Awakening, but Rude grabs a sleeper. Warrior fights his way out of it, but they collide, taking out the referee as they go down. Rude recovers first, but Warrior fires himself up and gets a backdrop. Warrior powerslams him, but the ref is still out. Warrior drops Rude with a piledriver as the ref slowly recovers. ONE…TWO…THRE…no! Rude got his foot on the rope. Warrior goes for the splash, but Rude gets his knees up to block. Rude gets a Terry Gordy-ish piledriver for two. Rude drops a fist off the top rope for two. Heenan rival Roddy Piper walks down to ringside as Rude gets two off another piledriver. Rude gets distracted by Piper, crawling up on the turnbuckle to argue with him. Warrior German Suplexes him off and finishes with the press slam and splash at 16:01. Unlike most Intercontinental Title matches since, this had a the feeling of an epic match. Both guys were on here. ***1/4

  • Gene Okerlund ushers in a number of interviewees to kill some time. You know, CHV really could have clipped this instead of the opening match.
  • Recap of the Hulk Hogan/Zeus feud. See, Hulk Hogan shot this crappy movie that starred actor “Tiny” Lister as the lead villain Zeus. Well, the character Zeus (played by Lister) showed up one night on Saturday Night’s Main Event and beat Hogan down. How very “Purple Rose of Cairo” of them. Randy Savage, still smarting from his loss at WrestleMania, recruited Zeus as his ally. When F.O.H. Brutus Beefcake got involved on Hogan’s side, things evened out and we got our main event. Oh, by the way, Zeus is apparently impervious to pain.
  • Six-Man Tag: The Big Bossman, Akeem & Andre the Giant (w/Slick & Bobby Heenan) vs. King Hacksaw Jim Duggan & Demolition.

    Mid-South Wrestling EXPLODES! Hacksaw has an American Flag painted on his face prompting Jesse to say, “They should pass a Constitutional Amendment to keep things like that from not happening.” Duggan should be required by Constitutional Amendment to paint an American Flag on his face? The Demos demolish Akeem. Duggan actually comes up with the strategy of working Akeem’s arm. The Demos just want to punch people, though. Smash gets caught in the wrong corner, though. Akeem gets the 747, but Hacksaw sneaks in and hits him with the 2×4 behind the ref’s back. Smash crawls into a pin at 7:26. 1/4*

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

    Valentine-foil Ronnie Garvin is the special guest ring announcer. Of course, Garvin taunts Valentine throughout his intro. Hercules jumps Valentine while he’s distracted. He gets two off a bodyslam. Valentine keeps rolling out of the ring to argue with Garvin, so Hercules chases him down from behind. Valentine goes up, but Hercules catches him coming off the top. Hercules fires away until Valentine scoops up his legs and pins him with his feet on the ropes (3:05). Garvin announces that Hercules has won by DQ, over the referee’s objections. Valentine tries to get some revenge, but Garvin gives him the Hands of Stone punch. 1/4*

  • Randy Savage, Zeus and Sensational Sherri read tea leaves in a bubbling cauldron to find out Hogan and Beefcake’s future.
  • Ted Dibiase (w/Virgil) vs. Jimmy Snuka.

    My how the mighty have fallen. Dibiase was a main-eventer just a year earlier and now they’re giving him busywork. Snuka was a big star in the early eighties, but he’s a JTTS here. Dibiase tries to attack at the bell, but Snuka steps aside and lays into him with chops. An atomic drop sends Dibiase over the top to regroup. Back in, Superfly botches the reverse leapfrog, but stays on top. Dibiase hot shots Snuka’s throat on the top rope and takes over. Dibiase picks Snuka apart but misses an elbowdrop. Snuka hits a flying headbutt and goes up for the Superfly Splash. Virgil hops up and tricks Snuka into chasing him. Dibiase posts Snuka and rolls back in, allowing Snuka to get counted out at 6:26. Snuka jumps them from behind and delivers the Superfly Splash on Virgil. 3/4*

  • The Genius reads us a pro-Macho Man poem. Nepotism!
  • Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake vs. Macho Man Randy Savage & Zeus (w/Sensational Sherri).

    Hogan’s entrance nearly blows the roof off the place, much to Jesse’s disgust. Elizabeth comes out to manage Hogan and Beefcake. Zeus no-sells Hogan’s punches, so Hulk rakes his eyes. Beefcake tries to come off the second-rope, but Zeus catches him in his one hold — the bearhug. Hogan just bounces off him, so Zeus puts him in a bearhug too. Macho Man comes in to provide some actual offense before grabbing a sleeper. Little early for that, unless I missed some clipping. Zeus comes back in for more bearhuggery. Savage gets two off a backdrop suplex. Finally, Hogan ducks out of the way of a Savage charge and makes the hot tag to Beefer. Beefcake gives him a high knee and puts Savage in the sleeper. Savage desperately rams Beefcake’s head into the turnbuckle to counter. Savage brings Zeus in. Beefcake actually has a decent strategy — rake him in the eyes and try to put him out with the sleeper. Savage blasts Beefcake with Sherri’s loaded purse to end that. Hogan keeps Savage from going after Liz. Savage and Beefcake clothesline one another (with Savage doing about Mach 3 across the ring). Hogan gets the hot tag and destroys the Macho Man. Sherri trips up Hogan on a suplex, enabling Savage to tag Zeus and hit the Elbow Drop. Hogan, of course, no-sells and knocks Savage to the floor. Zeus comes in and we get an epic toe-to-toe. Hogan hits him over and over until Zeus goes down to one knee. Sherri tries to interfere, but Elizabeth trips her up into the ring. Savage is measuring an unsuspecting Hogan, but Beefcake trips him up and tosses the loaded purse to Hogan. Hogan clocks Zeus with the purse, slams him, and finishes with the legdrop at 15:08. After the match, Elizabeth knocks Sherri out with the purse, and they cut her hair. Okay, setting aside the breach of kayfabed that comes with hiring the guy from “1st & 10” to be your lead heel, Zeus really was a good idea. No, I haven’t lost my mind. He only has one move. So what? He’s a great character. What does every wrestler or manager tell you in every shoot interview that you’ve ever seen? Work on your character. Work on telling a story with your body. Moveset may win you *’s, but stories are what people pay to see. The story here is simple: Hogan pissed of some guy and now that guy is here to kill him. Oh, and he just shrugged off Hogan’s best shot. What will our hero do? It’s right out of 1940’s serial storytelling. Anyway, the match works just fine with the formula of Zeus shrugging off all the blows and Savage coming in for the offense. **3/4

    Final Thoughts: The presence of Zeus tends to sour people on this show, but there are three good matches here, including an awesome tag opener. None of the matches are really must-see, though. The main event is good. You just have to strain to suspend your disbelief, especially if you’ve ever seen the John Candy/Eugene Levy comedy “Armed & Dangerous.”

    Mild recommendation for Summerslam ’89.

    J.D. Dunn

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