This is one of my favorite SummerSlam events ever, and I regret not making a bigger fuss about guilting my family into taking me. The second SummerSlam took place at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., not too far from where I grew up. Watching the early SummerSlams live was always hit or miss for me, depending on whether I was still away for summer vacation from school. But I remember getting this show, and it’s one that I spent a lot of time watching when I was a kid.
The Hart Foundation vs. The Brain Busters – The Busters won the title from Demolition on a Saturday Night’s Main Event earlier in the summer, but the match wasn’t changed to a title match for the SummerSlam card. As JESSE VENTURA points out to play-by-play man Tony Schiavone – “I believe the match was signed before they had the belts, so how could they sign for a title match?” This is one of my favorite SummerSlam openers, with two of the best teams of the 1980s. Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard weren’t in the WWF long, but they had a lasting impact with some of their matches. They had a great feud with the Rockers, but it would have been amazing if we could have had an extended feud with the Harts. The champs win the non-title match after Bret Hart gets a double axhandle to the back of the head while going for a cover.
The Honky Tonk Man vs. Dusty Rhodes – Say what you will about Dusty’s tenure in the WWF, but he had one of the best entrance themes in the company. “Common Man” was catchy and instantly recognizable. Even today, I can’t help but tap my foot to the beat and bob my head a little bit. The match is nowhere near as good as the entrance theme, with the two men spending most of the match with Honky putting a chinlock on Rhodes. Honky’s manager, Jimmy Hart, tries to hit Rhodes with the guitar and misses, instead hitting Honky. An elbow drop gets the American Dream the win.
“Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig vs. The Red Rooster – Perfect gets the jobber introduction, already in the ring for the introduction. I guess they hadn’t created his awesome entrance theme yet? A throwaway match to give Perfect a win on a big event.
We go to a backstage interview with WWF Intercontinental Champion “Ravishing” Rick Rude, but the WWE Network version cuts out the screw-up where the SummerSlam sign falls down, causing “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND to swear on pay-per-view. It’s disappointing, but that moment lives forever on the internet.
The Rockers and Tito Santana vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers and “The Model” Rick Martel – We could have had two separate matches here involving some major feuds, and I really believe giving 10 minutes to a Rockers-Rougeaus match could have been a show-stealer. But these guys were all tearing it up on the house show circuit, and why blow off two major feuds at a pay-per-view when both feuds can continue on the house shows? The match is kind of all over the place and never really gets going when the Canadian team gets the win.
Intercontinental Championship Match: “Ravishing” Rick Rude vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WWE not having the rights to Rude’s original entrance music makes the audio for part of the hype package and Rude’s introduction in the match really rough. There has to have been a better way to deal with this. After an epic showdown at WrestleMania V that saw Rude and manager BOBBY HEENAN screw the Warrior out of his Intercontinental Championship, the rematch left a lot to be desired. The best part of the match was Ventura saying that Schiavone was “dumber than Monsoon” after Schiavone said it was OK for Warrior to hit Rude with a chair because they were outside the ring. The magic was gone, and the ending did nothing for anyone. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper comes down to the ringside area and moons Rude, which causes him to lose his cool and set up getting beat by the Warrior, giving him his second Intercontinental Championship reign. Afterwards, Rude and Heenan complain about Piper’s actions, while showing a replay that shows Rude deciding to stop focusing on Warrior. He was his own worst enemy here.
Andre the Giant, Akeem and Big Bossman vs. King “Hacksaw” Duggan and Demolition – A second six man tag team match to get some pretty important players on the card. While Duggan and Andre had issues dating back a while at this point, there wasn’t really any feud between Demolition and the Twin Towers. Duggan reveals an American flag painted on his face, and Ventura claims that there should be a Constitutional amendment preventing that from ever happening. It’s a big brawl with a lot of big guys in the ring and it ends the way every match featuring big men should: with Duggan hitting Akeem over the back with a 2×4 and having him covered while the referee is arguing with Andre.
Hercules vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine – Ronnie Garvin, who had been feuding with Valentine, is doing the ring announcing, and the whole match is just a set-up to advance the angle between the two. Valentine wins the match with his feet on the ropes in the corner, Garvin announces that Hercules wins and everyone just goes at it.
Okerlund interviews Randy Savage, Sensational Sherri and Zeus – Hulk Hogan’s fictional opponent in the movie No Holds Barred – in front of a cauldron. There must have been some great drugs in the room while they were planning this pay-per-view.
“Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase vs. “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka – One year before this, DiBiase was in the main event of the inaugural SummerSlam. Given how far DiBiase fell down the card after his program with Randy Savage for the WWF Championship, it’s amazing how he became such a stalwart of the company over the next five years or so. As good as DiBiase is, he didn’t really mesh well with Snuka, and that point was made clear when they mistimed a leap frog and they both just collapsed in a heap in the center of the ring. The back and forth battle ends after bodyguard Virgil distracts Snuka, draws him out of the ring and DiBiase rams him into the post for a random countout win. DiBiase bails as Snuka destroys Virgil to send the fans home happy!
Oh, wait… we still have one more match.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage and Zeus vs. Hulk Hogan and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake – For the second year in a row, the main event of SummerSlam is a tag team match featuring the WWF Champion. Of course, I don’t know that they had anything else they could do here. Hogan dispatched of Savage at WrestleMania V and Zeus wasn’t actually a wrestler. Sure, Tiny Lister looked like a million bucks, but this was his first televised match! Savage had a lot of work to do in here, keeping the crowd invested with faster-paced action while Zeus came in to slow the match down and start a heat segment on Hogan and Beefcake. Savage is, as usual, fantastic in the whole match. Zeus was fine in his limited role, dominating his opponents until the end of the match, when all hell breaks loose and Hogan hits him with Sherri’s “loaded” purse. Bodyslam, leg drop and a pin to give Hogan and Beefcake the win. Then, Hogan and Miss Elizabeth beat up on Sherri, with Hogan hitting her with an atomic drop followed by Elizabeth hitting her with the purse. Sherri is pretty tough. That probably would’ve broken any other woman’s nose! To add insult to injury, Beefcake uses his hedge clippers to chop off her weave. What a hero.
Final Thoughts – Maybe it’s not the best show, but I always enjoy it.