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Friday, September 22nd 2017.
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WWF SummerSlam 1990: The Heat Returns!
by Scrooge McSuck

- Scrooge Tidbit: This is the first SummerSlam I got to watch on Pay-Per-View, as ordering the show was part of my 5th birthday and outside of 1992 (the inconvenience of being homeless interupts things), remained a birthday tradition until 2005, when I stopped ordering PPV's. No matter how much I bad-mouth some of the stuff, criticize matches for their poor quality, and just the overall lack of entertainment at times, this show still holds a special place in my nostalgia files, and would gladly pop this show in the DVD player over anything from the last decade.

- Originally broadcasted on August 27th, 1990, from the Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA, with Vince McMahon and his new broadcast partner "Rowdy" Roddy Piper calling all the action. Yes, Jesse Ventura was shown the door just weeks before this PPV, over some stupid licensing rights that didn't put money in McMahon's pocket. It's a stupid story, so let's not bother getting into it too much more. For someone who should be a naturally awesome broadcaster, Piper more often than not, sucked ass at it, showing too much emotion for stuff that wasn't worthy of it, and not treating the main events with enough respect when it would be acceptable.

The Rockers vs. Power & Glory (w/ Slick):

(Marty Jannetty & Shawn Michaels vs. Hercules & Paul Roma)
Minor backstory to this one, although a little bit puzzling: Following a loss to Dino Bravo, Roma was laid out further for being a loser. The Rockers came out for their match, and tried to help him out, but Roma suddenly had an attitude problem. Hercules came out to side with Roma, they all brawled, Roma and Hercules adopted Slick as their manager, and thus we have a new heel tag team. Hercules desperately needed a heel turn too. He was just awful as a face, and floundered around for 18-months after his lukewarm program with Ted Dibiase ended. Michaels is coming into the match with a badly injured knee, requiring surgery, so before the match, Hercules whacks him with the chain, unofficially making this a handicap match, as Michaels spends the entire match crawling around in pain. To say the crowd is incredibly pro-heel would be an understatement. This might be the most over of a reaction Roma has ever gotten, and it's all because of Philly's hatred for pretty boys like the Rockers. Jannetty does his best to fend off both opponents, but eventually the odds become too much for a bottom-card tag team wrestler. Roma and Hercules systematically take Jannetty apart, and finish him off with their combo-finisher: The Power-Plex, a super-plex from Hercules followed by a top rope splash. Time of the fall is 6:01. The streak of opening SummerSlam with a hot tag team match continues at three, although the formula here was drastically different from years past. Post-match, Michaels take a further pounding, because Hercules and Roma are dicks now.

- In case I didn't mention this before, I'm going to skip over a lot of the interviews, because there's a ton of them on this show. I will take time to at least make a bullet point once, to comment on a particular storyline, but I'm not going to do one for every new segment. I'll just make one detailed remark, instead of a bunch of short ones.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Mr. Perfect © (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. "Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich:

Original plans had this one as Mr. Perfect vs. Brutus Beefcake, but an unfortunate accident nearly ended Beefcake's career, so recently signed Von Erich is shuttled into this program with only weeks to go before the PPV (back when everything was planned WAY in advance, rather than from week to week), basically offering a challenge to Perfect, and Perfect being not-so-perfect enough to say no, and here we go. Considering all of Von Erich's personal issues, it still surprises me that he not only got a title reign of any kind, but was kept on the payroll for two years, considering the rumors of his mental stability. No disrespect to Von Erich, but he might've been the worst opponent of Curt Hennig's original WWF run. These two wrestled countless time, and plenty of them making it to video or on television, and not one would I consider anything resembling good. Just a bunch of punchy-kicky matches, with very little flow. Perfect gets too cocky too soon, and gets dumped over the top rope for his efforts. Perfect levels Von Erich with that hooked clothesline, takes him over with a snapmare, and floats over with a neck snap. Perfect with a sleeper hold, but Perfect willingly lets go. Perfect gets cocky again and starts talking trash. Von Erich retaliates by sweeping the legs, and sending Perfect into the ring post. The Von Erich claw is applied, and the discuss punch connects for the three count at 5:13. Three years of SummerSlam, three years with new Intercontinental Champions. Inoffensive match, and the crowd seemed to really dig it. One of Von Erich's few WWF higlights.

- The scheduled match between Sweet Sapphire and the Sensational Queen Sherri never happens, because Sapphire never comes to the ring. Well, technically, Sherri won by forfeit, but you know what I mean. Probably because she looks like a cross between an extra from the play Cats, and Psicosis (before the unmasking). Anyway, this is the storyline that would eat up a lot of backstage time. You see, leading up to SummerSlam, Sapphire was recieving gifts from a mysterious admirer, ranging from fur coats to cars and a whole lot of other stuff. Dusty Rhodes spends the entire show "looking" for Sapphire, but when finds out her location, she won't open the door to him. What could be going on? Maybe we'll find out when it's time for the clash between Dusty Rhodes and the Macho King, later on in the broadcast.

Tito Santana vs. The Warlord (w/ Slick):

In the weeks leading up to this show, Santana was advertised to wrestle Rick Martel in the bout that would have to give us a conclusion to the Strike Force Wars, but for whatever reason, they switched things out the last week before the PPV aired. Storyline excuse: Martel had a modeling commitment in France, which might be the winner for LAMEST excuse ever. Piper promises not to call Santana a bean eater or anything else that Jesse Ventura might've called him in the past. Santana put over one half of the team formerly known as the Powers of Pain at WrestleMania VI, and gets to put over the other half, here. Santana gets in some token offense, but Warlord no-sells it for the most part, and dominates with his incredible strength. Juice = It gives the impression of doing a body good, until your heart explodes and you're dead by the time you're 40. This is filler that definitely feels like it should be on an episode of Superstars, or something. Not even Tito Santana can make a Warlord match not-boring. Santana hits the flying forearm, but Warlord gets a foot on the ropes, and unlike the Barbarian, he did it without the aid of his manager. Santana fails miserably at a monkey flip attempt, and Warlord squashes him like a bug with a running powerslam for the three count at 5:27. Got to give Santana credit, for the latter part of his WWF run: He was willing to lose to anyone and everyone.

WWF Tag Team Championship; 2 out of 3 Falls Match:
Demolition © vs. The Hart Foundation:

(Smash & Crush vs. Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart)
Time for some childhood perception, mixed in with current "smart" fan attitude. I really liked Demolition, and when they introduced Crush, I liked them even more. Call me a sucker for the gimmick, but I was a young child, and thought "hey, two are awesome, so why not three?", and I liked the idea of any two could be competing at any time, without prior warning. Of course, the addition of Crush really meant the end for Demolition, since he was still green as grass in the ring, and lacked the attitude Ax brought to the ring. Throw in the recently debuted Legion of Doom/Road Warriors, and it just seemed like after they put LOD over Demolition, the days of Demolition were numbered. Only two members of Demolition are allowed at ringside, so you know the third member (in this case, Ax) will make an appearance at some point. Not to be a dick, but anyone that couldn't tell the difference between the three members of Demolition has to be legally retarded. Ax is short with a crewcut, Smash has long hair, wears the arm band and has a tattoo, and Crush is really tall and a bit more flabby in the middle. Sorry, but this was my reasoning as a 5-year old, not a mostly educated adult. Did Bret Hart just quote a Phil Collins song? Yikes...

Fall #1: Bret starts with Smash, and it doesn't take long for the others to get involved. Bret surprises Smash with a roll up for a two count, then goes to work on the left arm. Neidhart... wait... HOW IS AX THE HARDEST TO IDENTIFY?! My God, Vince McMahon sure did suck calling the matches. Sorry, I'm distracted. Bret and Neidhart take turns working Smash over, as I went on that little rant. Crush tags in, and casually slams Bret, but misses a jumping knee drop. Whip to the ropes, Crush catches a body press, and slams Bret once again. Neidhart gets the tag in, and takes a boot to the back of the head during his little offensive flurry. Bret tags back in, and pounds away on Smash. Bret with a clothesline to Smash and a dropkick to Crush. Bret with a Russian leg sweep for a two count. Bret with a back breaker and elbow drop. Crush with a leg drop to break the pin attempt, and the Decapitation finishes Bret off for the first fall at 6:21.

Fall #2: Crush sends Bret to the ropes, and gives him a choke slam. Smash tags in, and takes Bret down with a back suplex for a two count. Crush with a snapmare, and he applies a crappy chinlock. Smash comes in, and Bret quickly puts him down with a diving clothesline. Neidhart gets the hot tag (and that was a big pop), and hammers away on both members of Demolition. Neidhart with a double forearm smash and powerslam on Smash for a two count. Bret tags back in, and he whips Anvil into the midsection of Smash. Bret comes off the ropes with the Hart Attack, but Crush breaks the count by tackling the referee, drawing a Disqualification at 3:48. In previous years, that meant no title changes, but here, that rule is waived... curious (Editor's Note: let's not forget the July 1989 SNME Demolition/Brain Busters title switch. But, yes, before that it the rule was usually enforced ).

Fall #3: As the third fall begins, Crush and Smash distract the referee while Ax makes his way to ringside and crawls under the ring, no doubt for a lame switch-a-roo later. Bret surprises Smash with a sunset flip for a two count. Bret with an inverted atomic drop, followed by a stomp to the midsection. Neidhart with a diving shoulder tackle, and he reverse slams Bret on top of Smash for a two count. Smash gets knocked out of the ring, and here comes Ax, looking NOTHING LIKE SMASH, and he easily over-powers the tired Hitman. Whip to the corner, and Ax nails Bret with a clothesline. Ax with a slam and Russian leg sweep for a two count. Hey, that's Bret's move! Whip to the corner, and Bret does his trademark bump for another two count. Crush with his tilt-a-whirl back breaker for a two count. Smash comes back out and helps Ax double team Bret behind the referee's back. suddenly, The Legion of Doom, Hawk and Animal make an appearance. Things get WAY out of hand, until Bret rolls up Smash for the three count and the deciding fall at 4:06, giving the Foundation their second and last Tag Team Titles. This is one hot crowd... Pretty good, with very little dead spots, and each fall was a reasonable length, to mask any weakness or shortcomings (Crush). Probably the best match, by a long way, featuring the Smash and Crush version of Demolition.

Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Bad News Brown:

(Special Referee: The Big Boss Man)
When I was trying to recall the entire card in my head, this was the only match that seemed to be blank in my memory. That's not a good sign in determining if this is going to be good. In one of the dumbest, pointless angles of 1990, Bad News is responding to Jake's Snake with a cage full of Harlem Sewer Rats. The only time I ever saw them, they looked like stuff left in the dumpster behind Jim Henson's Muppet Workshop warehouse. Why is Boss Man the referee here? If you want him on the show, he did have a pretty decent program going with Ted Dibiase that could've benefited from a blowoff. I like that the bell rings, BEFORE the referee even gets to the ring to signal for the bell. Logic in Wrestling. This match is a total turd, and wound up being Bad News Brown's last televised appearance in the WWF. No idea what happened, but I think I read somewhere Bad news roughed up a fan or something, but who cares. What a way to go... in a shitty match, with shitty stipulations, and with a shitty finish. Jake Roberts desperately needed a heel turn at this point, too, while we're on the subject of randomly jumping from topic to topic. Roberts wins by Disqualification at 4:44. That felt a hell of a lot longer. Bad News goes after Damian, but Boss Man makes the save. Next.

- Brother Love somehow gets another Pay-Per-View appearance under his belt, interviewing the freshly returned Sgt. Slaughter, who has issues with Nikolai Volkoff, for being a pussy I think. You see, Slaughter came back, originally pissed off at how "soft" the world was getting and was in love with the idea of war... it wasn't until a month or so later that they gave him "General Adnan" and made him an Iraqi Sympathizer. This is a horrible waste of time, though...

Jim Duggan & Nikolai Volkoff vs. The Orient Express (w/ Mr. Fuji):

Speaking of Nikolai Volkoff, this was during the time where the USSR and communism was falling apart, and Volkoff started claiming he was from Lithuania (or some shit, honestly, who cares? It's Nikolai friggin' Volkoff). Volkoff not only started to embrace the United States, but was honored by the Boy Scouts of America with a medal of achievement (or some shit. Honestly, who cares? It's Nikolai friggin' Volkoff... and yes, this was intentionally done). This is the less interestinf version of the O.Ex... Sato and Tanaka. Before the match, Volkoff and Duggan go all New York Yankees on us, signing God Bless America in honor of Kate Smith. It's so bad, she would roll over in her grave had she ever been buried. This is basically a squash match for Duggan or Volkoff, giving the Express a minimal amount of offense. Duggan lines up and kills Tanaka with his charging clothesline for the three count at 3:23. I don't understand the idea behind crushing one of your tag teams in favor of two guys who rarely made appearances together as a team afterwards... logic in wrestling.

Dusty Rhodes vs. "Macho King" Randy Savage (w/ Queen Sherri):

The match itself is nothing to speak of, as Ted Dibiase makes his presence felt before it gets under way, and informs Dusty that it was him that was sending all those presents to Sapphire, practically "buying" her from under Dusty's nose, just to prove that everyone has a price. As a kid, this really bummed me out, cause I actually like Rhodes and Sapphire together, and was just confused as to why they dropped the whole thing a few weeks later in favor of introducing Dustin Rhodes to the WWF audience (rumors were Sapphire was upset about it too, and they just cut her loose). Rhodes is too occupied with trying to get his hands on Dibiase, allowing Savage to completely dominate the action. Savage ends up knocking Rhodes out with the loaded purse, and the three count is made at 2:16. Jesus Christ, is this the show that inspired Vince Russo? A bunch of short matches and an ass load of promos. Rhodes wakes up from his mid-ring nap and chases Dibiase's limo, but it's all for naught. Match is really not worth rating, but the Dibiase/Rhodes angle had promise, if they ever let Rhodes get the upperhand during that feud at any given point.

Hulk Hogan (w/ Big Bossman) vs. Earthquake (w/ Dino Bravo & Jimmy Hart):

This is Hogan's in-ring return from "injury" (or filming another stinker of a movie, probably Suburban Commando), but it's not like he's been absent from television or anything. Bossman is filling in for Tugboat, selling a beatdown on Superstars the previous week. I liked him better beating the crap out of Hogan with the nightstick, but that's an argument for another day. Hogan, class act, spits a huge loogie at 'Quake, waiting outside of the ring. Lockup, and Hogan's shove-off barely does anything. Lockup, and 'Quake is much more successful. Quake with a shoulder block, sending Hoan out of the ring. Back inside, Hogan rakes the eyes, but fails at a slam attempt, allowing Quake to pound him across the back. Quake eats boot on a charge to the corner, and Hogan follows up with a pair of clotheslines and roundhouse rights, sending Quake out of the ring. Everyone gets into the act, and it spills back in the ring. Where's the DQ?! Hogan goes down, courtesy of a double slam, and Quake comes off the ropes with an elbow for a two count. Quake goes to the top rope, and he comes crrashing down with a sledge across the back. Quake stomps the hands, then slaps on a Boston crab. Hogan gets dumped for some cheap shots from Bravo, and things continue to slow down. Earthquake with a slam, but he misses another elbow drop. Hogan goes for a slam, but we all know what happens... incomplete. Quake slaps on a bearhug, and Hogan, in the attempt of escaping, practically rips the shirt off of poor Dave/Earl Hebner's body. THAT'S desperate. Hogan escapes, and comes off the ropes with shoulder blocks, but a cross body is countered with a powerslam. Earthquake pins with one foot, but Hogan rolls the shoulder at two. The Vertical splash connects... and we don't get a pinfall count? Quake hits it a second time, and now it's Hulk Up Time™! Three rights, whip to the ropes, big boot, and slam. Hogan with the leg drop, and Jimmy Hart runs in, but the referee doesn't see it. Bravo comes in, and Bossman disposes of him. The action spills outside, and Hogan slams Quake on a conveniently placed table, then rolls back in to win by Count-Out at 13:08. Match was watchable, but why use a cop-out finish where the heel is completely done to begin with? Post-match, Bossman rips the shit out of Earthquake's back with an unusual folding chair. That looks painful.

WWF Championship; Steel Cage Match:
The Ultimate Warrior © vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan):

Scrooge Tidbit: When it came down to one or the other, I was a Hogan fan, but I still liked Warrior enough to look forward to his matches, and as a kid, I didn't see much of a problem believing in Rick Rude as his challenger. Did I think Warrior had a chance of losing? Not at all, but that was because of his aura of invincibility rather than Rude's credibility. The storyline build was pretty weak, with Rude basically riding the coat-tails of his WrestleMania V match against Warrior as his motivation. Rude spent months training intesnively, and even cut off his mullet to show how serious he was. Why do people claim the cage is 15-feet high, when referee Earl Hebner is only a few feet from the top, and he's not even 6-feet tall? From arena floor to the top, 10-feet, definitely, but 15? My ass. How much of an epic fail would it be had Warrior pulled the cage apart onto himself during his maniacal entrance? Warrior's opening double axehandle proves he does not cat-like balance. Piper offers a bit of advice how to beat Warrior: Tie his arm bands to the ropes. Not to short change on the play-by-play on this one, but it's a pretty stanard style cage match with very little big moments. Warrior controls early, before diving face-first into the cage. Rude works in a blade job, but it's not the juciest you will ever see. Warrior powers out of a Rude Awakening, but misses the splash, and Rude hits it after all. Apparently pinfalls count in this one, but Rude chooses to come off the top of the cage with fist to the top of the head. Rude tries it again, but Warrior nails him coming down. Rude works in his gratuitous butt-exposing at around the 8-minute mark, but thankfully has the decency to pull his tights back up, unlike that cage match with Roddy Piper from MSG the year before. Warrior goes through his routine (while Piper continues to annoy), climbs up and over and retains the Championship at 10:07. Their SummerSlam '89 match was fantastic, but this one just felt flat. Warrior is hard enough to work around to get a meaningful match out of, but throwing in a gimmick like the Cage and you're adding something to a recipe that wasn't required.

Final Thoughts: I guess from a "smart" fan point of view, I reacted to this one more harshly than I originally thought. The two main events were pretty flat, the undercard was filled with a lot of uninteresting filler (Duggan/Volkoff tag, Warlord squashing Tito) and some crappy "blowoffs" (Rhodes/Savage, Roberts/Brown), and it felt like an hour of the two and half hour runtime was filled with the 40+ interviews that ate up this show. The only real highlight was the Tag Team Championship, and to more cynical fans, the opening tag match is pretty fun, but that's about it. Despite all the negative I can point out, I still pop this in the DVD all the time out of Nostalgia.

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