The date, is August 27, 1990 and the place, is The Spectrum in Philadelphia as Vince McMahon and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper welcome the WWF universe to the third annual SummerSlam. The usual rundown of the matches is made and we are sent right down to the ring for the first match.
Match 1: The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty) VS Power and Glory (Hercules and Mike Roma)
This one starts off with Roma and Hercules attacking The Rockers before they can even get into the ring. Jannetty makes it through the attack okay but Shawn is on the outside clutching his knee in pain. The two heels are, momentarily, fought off by Jannetty. He manages to get a two count on Roma but that’s all he can muster.
Shawn tries, several times, to get up on the apron and into his corner. Unfortunately, one of the heels is always there to knock him back down. Jannetty does a good job battling from underneath but it’s, basically, a two on one match. Power and Glory end up giving Jannetty their “superplex and splash” finisher for the win. They then attack both Rockers again after the match, leaving them in a heap in the middle of the ring.
The best thing about this match is watching a motivated Jannetty fight from underneath. Between his efforts and Shawn’s selling of the knee injury, you really want them to, somehow, pull off the victory. It doesn’t happen but does get your attention and emotion focused, solid opening match.
Match Grade: B
They use a strange format with the pre-match promos on this ppv. They’ll show one wrestler’s promo and then his entrance. Then, they show the other wrestler’s promo after the first entrance. It throws off the flow of the entrances and made it hard to take notes in a chronological order. In the interest of making this review make sense, however, I’m going to write the promos as if they happen between matches.
Before the next match we get a promo from both participants. Mr. Perfect and Heenan deliver a wonderful heel promo, which is to be expected, while The Texas Tornado’s is a bit stiff and clunky.
Match 2: Mr. Perfect (Intercontinental Champion) w/Bobby “The Brain” Heenan VS The Texas Tornado (Kerry Von Erich) for The Intercontinental Championship.
Tornado gets up early in this match and sends Perfect to the floor, where he regroups and talks with Heenan. Once he gets back in the ring, he starts working over Tornado pretty well. He manages to put a sleeper hold on the much bigger Texan. This doesn’t last long, though, as Tornado breaks the hold and uses his Claw hold and spinning punch finisher to put Mr. Perfect away and win the title.
This is not a long match but it is entertaining. Plus it’s heartwarming to see Kerry having some success in the WWF, knowing how his story ends.
Match Grade: B
Between matches we get an interview with Dusty and Mean Gene on the subject of Sweet Sapphire (Dusty’s valet) and her whereabouts. This is an ongoing subplot throughout the ppv so it’s important to watch is you want to know what’s going on later. We also get another promo from Perfect and Heenan, who are irate that they lost and want to run the laundry list of excuses.
Match 3: Sensational Queen Sheri VS Sweet Sapphire
This one never gets started because Sapphire never shows up. It drags on a bit too long and Sheri ends up winning by forfeit. It does, however, continue the storyline of Sapphire’s disappearance.
Match Grade: C
After Sapphire fails to appear for her match we are joined, again, by Dusty Rhodes, who is worried about his valet and desperate to find her.
Match 4: Warlord w/Slick VS Tito Santana
This match is awful. Warlord, who looks ridiculous in his new entrance gear, barely sells the entire match, even when he’s suppose to. At one point he goes to ram Tito into the ring post on the outside and barely touches him to it. Tito does what he can to salvage this one but it’s a lost cause. Finally, Warlord hits a running power slam and puts everyone out of their misery.
Match Grade: F
Following that debacle of a match, it’s refreshing to see Ax, Smash, and Crush of Demolition deliver a great promo about their upcoming match, with the Hart Foundation, for the Tag titles. They are competing under “freebird rules”, which means any two members can defend the titles for the group, but only those two are allowed at ringside. The third member must remain in the back.
The Hart Foundation are then interviewed in the locker room. They deliver a pretty classic babyface promo, even if Bret does mess up the names of the two Demolition members who are in the match. We also get an answer from Anvil that goes on to be one of his best interview lines ever.
Match 5: Demolition (Smash and Crush) (WWF Tag Team Champions) VS The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) for the WWF Tag Team Championship in a 2 out of 3 falls match
Early on in this match the momentum swings back and forth rapidly. Each team seems to have it only for the other team to counter, like when Crush catches Bret during a cross body attempt, or the weakened member tags in the fresh man. Neither team seems to have the advantage, until Bret hits a devastating Russian leg sweep for a two count that is almost immediately followed but Demotion hitting their finisher and getting the pin to with the first fall.
After going down by a pinfall, Bret is still getting worked over by Demolition when he gets the hot tag to Anvil. The big man comes in and wreaks havoc on both of his opponents while setting up for the “Hart Attack” finisher. The move is executed perfectly and would have gotten the pin if Crush didn’t dive into the ref. That causes a disqualification and evens the pinfalls up at 1-1.
Following the disqualification, Demolition hold the ref up in the corner arguing with him long enough for Ax to sneak down to the ring and hide under the apron. The match continues on for a while and Anvil does this amazing move where he running power slams Bret onto Smash. However, while the ref is getting Anvil back into his corner, Smash and Ax trade out and the fresh man begins to beat Bret down. Things, eventually, devolve into chaos as Ax and Smash double team Bret on the outside of the ring while the ref is distracted. Soon, though, the Legion of Doom run to the ring, lay out all the members of Demolition, and run back so that the Hart Foundation can get the victory and become the new Tag Team Champions.
I really enjoyed almost this entire match. In fact, it was hard to take notes because I kept getting drawn back in to the action in the ring. The only thing I didn’t like what the finish. Not the idea behind the finish as much as the execution. It was more than a bit sloppy, which is not something I would want to say about a Hart Foundation match, but it was. It’s probably a case of too many moving parts but, whatever it was, it didn’t take too much away from what was, otherwise, a good match.
Match Grade: B+
Immediately following the match we see the Legion of Doom, who are explaining why they interfered. The Hart Foundation comes in and cuts a promo about winning the titles. There’s an interesting visual of the Harts with the titles while Hawk and Animal stand behind them that feels like foreshadowing.
Next, we see Sean Mooney outside the locker room of Demolition looking scared and saying that the former champions want revenge on Legion of Doom. This take us to an interview with Sensational Sheri in which she claims to know more about the Sapphire situation but refuses to say more when pressed.
Then there is some talk about the upcoming match between Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Bad News Brown. Apparently, Bad News is afraid of snakes so he will be bringing a cage of “Harlem Sewer Rats” down to the ring with him. They end his promo with a close up of the “sewer rats” and, I kid you not, it is one Opossum. Big Boss Man then delivers a good promo about being the guest referee for the Jake and Brown match.
Sean Mooney is now in the locker room with Nikolai Volkoff and “Hacksaw” Jim Dugan who deliver an okay promo about facing the Orient Express and Volkoff’s change of heart about the United States. They have a funny moment where Dugan motions for Volkoff to give the final line of the interview. I’m not going to spoil it, but it’s pretty good.
Now we get Mean Gene with Earthquake, Dino Bravo, and Jimmy Hart as they talk about injuring Hulk Hogan and how they are going to win the match later on this evening. Earthquake does this weird thing where he bounces from foot to foot while he’s talking and it really throws me off because it looks like a toddler that has to go to the bathroom but won’t admit it.
Finally, we are treated to the best promo of the whole ppv. Jake Roberts is in the locker room holding Damien (the snake) and cutting a wonderful promo on Bad News Brown. About half way through the promo Damien wraps the end of his body around Jake’s neck and the very tip of his tail rest’s on Jake’s face. It’s just an awesome visual to have such an intense and measured promo delivered by a guy with a snake’s tail curling around his nose and forehead.
Match 6: Jake “The Snake” Roberts VS Bad News Brown *Big Boss Man as Special Guest Referee
This one starts out fast with Bad News getting the early advantage. Jake does try for his DDT early but it’s countered. They, then, end up on the floor where Bad News uses a steel chair on Jake to the admonishment of Boss Man. Bad News and Boss Man have words before he gets back in the ring and continues to beat on Jake. He manages to get Jake down long enough to go for a maneuver off the ropes but misses and Jake jumps on the chance to swing the advantage in his favor. He goes for the DDT a second time and is unable to execute it, as Bad News drops and rolls to the outside. He then grabs another chair, hits Jake with it, and is disqualified by Boss Man.
After his disqualification, Bad News grabs Damien’s bag and tries to leg drop the snake. Boss Man saves the reptile but ends up in a scrum with Bad News. Jake sneaks up and takes Damien out of his bag and places his head on Bad News, who runs at a full sprint to the back.
This is not a particularly great match but it’s kind of fun. Bad News running to the back is a great spot and the work by Jake is good.
Match Grade: C+
Before the next segment begins we get an interview with Demolition in which they complain about losing the titles and Legion of Doom. It’s a pretty good promo.
Next is a Brother Love segment with Sgt. Slaughter. This is during Slaughter’s heel run and must be close to the start of Desert Shield/Storm because he mentions the middle east, war, and Hussein. The purpose of the segment is to award Brother Love with the “Great American Award”. Slaughter does that and cuts a classic style promo, like only he can. He ends by saying that he “declares war” on Volkoff. All things being equal, this is a good promo and a window into a moment in time, as the country was preparing for war after, relative, peace for years.
Sean Mooney is then standing by with Mr. Fuji and The Orient Express so that Fuji, who is a great talker, can deliver a promo on Volkoff and Dugan. We’re then thrown to Gene who has found Sapphire but she’s locked in a dressing room and won’t talk.
Match 7: The Orient Express (Akio Sato and Pat Tanaka) w/Mr. Fuji VS Nikolai Volkoff and “Hacksaw” Jim Dugan
Before the match starts, Volkoff and Dugan sing “God Bless America” and it’s as bad as it sounds, maybe even a little worse. The Orient Express jumps them as soon as the song is over but the two faces clear the ring. This whole match is full of illegal double teaming and very little respect for the rules. The whole thing was a mess and not really worth watching. Dugan gets the win with a tackle style clothesline.
Match Grade: D-
We then see Gene and Dusty outside the dressing room that Sapphire is in, but she won’t come out, so Dusty will have to go to the ring alone. After Dusty gets to the ring, we get a promo from Macho King, who is about to be carried to the ring on a throne. It’s a very good Savage promo so it’s worth watching.
Match 8: Dusty Rhodes VS “Macho King” Randy Savage w/Sensational Queen Sheri
As the match is about to start the Million Dollar Man interrupts from the interview podium. He brings out Sapphire, who is carrying a gym bag full of money, and informs Dusty that he has bought the services of Sapphire. As Dusty runs back down the aisle to confront Dibiase, Savage attacks him and drags him back to the ring. Dusty ends up coming back on Savage but the heel rolls out of the ring and hides behind Sheri to break Dusty’s momentum. He then uses Sheri’s loaded purse to knock out Dusty and get the win.
This is an extremely disappointing match. I was excited to see a straight one on one match between these two but all we got was a storyline and a cheap heel win.
Match Grade: D
As soon as the match is over Dibiase, Virgil, and Sapphire get in the back of a limo and drive off. Dusty tries to chase after them but ends up watching it drive away. Next up is a Promo from Hogan and Boss Man about the match coming up against Earthquake.
First Main Event: Earthquake w/Dino Bravo and Jimmy Hart VS Hulk Hogan w/Big Boss Man
The match starts with a series of lockups where Hogan is matched and then dominated in the strength department. Quake gets the early advantage but a counter from Hogan and several big shoulder blocks and strikes, eventually, take the big man off his feet. Hogan and Boss Man double team Quake but soon lose the advantage.
Quake works over Hogan for a while until he attempts a move off the top rope that, although successful, knocks Hogan out of the ring. While Hogan is on the floor he is attacked by Bravo until the ref comes over and he is rolled back into the ring. He tries for a comeback but is selling hurt ribs and back so he is unable to lift Quake for a slam. Hogan makes a rare flying cross body attempt but is caught in mid air by Quake, who slams him and uses his finisher, only to get a two count.
After the two count, Hogan “Hulks up” and slams Quake. Chaos then ensues. Everyone is in and out of the ring but Quake gets hit with Jimmy Hart’s bullhorn, slammed into a table, and counted out. The heels attack Hogan after the match but Boss Man saves him with a steel step stool. Hogan and Boss Man pose.
This match isn’t bad and the work put in is good but the finish is, once again, clunky. At this point you know what to expect out of Hogan and it’s getting a little old. It’s a Hogan match that’s not as good as it could have been.
Match Grade: C+
While the ring crew is busy setting up the steel cage for the main event we get a good amount of promos and interviews. Sean Mooney interviews Rick Rude and Bobby Heenan, who gives a good promo about the match coming up. Mean Gene talks with Dusty about the betrayal of Sapphire, during which Big Dust quotes the Bob Dylan song “Shelter From The Storm”. I really enjoyed that little nod to one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
We are then taken back down to the ring where Lord Alfred Hayes talks about the various statistics of the steel cage. He also gives a small explanation about how it’s set up as the camera shows various angles of it being assembled. He then throws back to Mean Gene, who is with Hogan.
Hogan gives a rather nonsensical promo about earthquake proof buildings, Jake Tunney, and surfing a “title” wave. His point is that he wants back in the title picture but it’s all very strange in the way he puts it. We then get a small segment of Vince and Piper talking about the steel cage and Piper buries the rule about escaping the cage to win. Vince, obviously, ignores this notion.
Earthquake cuts another promo while doing his “I gotta go to the bathroom” dance, which kind of undercuts his anger at losing to Hogan and desire for a rematch. Mean Gene then talks with Ultimate Warrior and gets one of the most logical promos out of him I’ve ever seen. We’re then thrown back to the arena for the entrances.
Main Event: “Ravishing” Rick Rude w/Bobby “The Brain” Heenan VS Ultimate Warrior (WWF Champion) for the WWF Championship. *Inside a Steel Cage
Rude comes to the ring and does his usual bit where he insults the men in the audience before taking off his robe. Warrior runs down to the ring and proceeds to run around the ring about three times before Rude climbs up on the cage to yell at him to get in the ring. Warrior obliges by climbing the side of the cage to attack Rude, and that’s where the bell rings and the match starts.
Warrior has the advantage early as he throws rude into the cage over and over again. It’s clear, on commentary that Piper is not a fan of Warrior as he buries him several times during the match. Rude, after being driven into the cage, has gotten some color on his head. He manages to throw Warrior into the cage as well so that both men can show some blood in the grueling contest. The difference is that Rude’s color just kind of appears, whereas you can see Warrior blade, while laying face down in the middle of the ring.
Piper’s commentary has been good the whole ppv but he kicks it into another gear during this match. He makes this one more entertaining than I think it would be without his, particular, brand of humor. I really noticed it during a section of quick back and forths, where the advantage seemed to swing like a pendulum.
Rude manages to give Warrior the “Rude Awakening” but instead of going for the pin, he does several dives off the top of the cage. Although he could have won the match several times over, he gets caught being greedy when Warrior counters one of his dives. With Rude down, Warrior tries to escape via the cage door, only to have Heenan slam it in his face. Both men go for a shoulder block at the same time and get knocked down.
Rude is first to recover and attempt to escape through the door but Warrior grabs his legs and then tights. He tugs on them until they come down and Rude is forced to cover up his exposed posterior. Warrior drags Heenan in through the cage and delivers an atomic drop that send him right back out through the door. At this point, Warrior begins his no-selling routine and does his five moves of doom to incapacitate Rude and go over the side of the cage to get the victory. He grabs the title belt, climbs back up to the top of the cage, and swings it in a circle over his head.
Seeing Warrior swing the belt like that made me realize that this is where Seth Rollins got it from. If you watched closely during Seth’s “365” documentary then you’d have seen him playing with battle buddies during one of the home movie vignettes. His buddy was the Ultimate Warrior one, so I am positive that his belt swings after winning a title are a tribute to Warrior. I know this doesn’t have much to do with the match but I thought it was a nice little piece of trivia.
I don’t know what it is about Rick Rude but he always manages to get the best out of Warrior. This match is no exception. From start to finish it’s engaging and paced well enough to not lose any momentum. My one big gripe, however, is Warrior going over the side of the cage for the win. I mean, here’s your top guy, who’s supposed to be an otherworldly powerhouse. He’s got the heel knocked out cold in the middle of the ring. Why not have him pin the guy for the decisive win? It doesn’t sit well with me but, otherwise, it’s a really good match.
Match Grade: B+
This PPV is a tale of the shitty endings. Almost every match has some sort of oddball or overly complicated finish. There’s also way too many promos and interviews. It takes away from the flow of the matches and gets, down right, boring at times. The good matches are fun while the bad matches are, at least, over pretty quickly. I would suggest watching the three title matches on this card and forgetting about the rest.
PPV Grade: C-