SummerSlam (1988) was the first annual SummerSlam professional wrestling pay-per-view event. It was produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and took place on August 29, 1988 in Madison Square Garden, located in New York City, New York. The pay-per-view was created to help the company compete against rival promotion World Championship Wrestling (formally Jim Crockett Promotions). It was one of the first four annual pay-per-view events produced by the WWF, along with WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble, and Survivor Series. Reviews for the event were mixed.
Ten professional wrestling matches, performances with pre-determined outcomes between wrestlers with fictional personalities that are portrayed as real, were featured. The main match of the preliminary bouts was the Intercontinental Championship match between The Ultimate Warrior (Brian Hellwig) and the reigning champion The Honky Tonk Man (Roy Farris). The Ultimate Warrior won the match in approximately thirty seconds to end the longest Intercontinental Championship reign up to that point. The main event was a match pitting The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan [Terry Bollea] and Randy Savage [Randall Poffo]) against their long-time rivals, The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant [André Roussimoff]). Hogan and Savage won the match after Miss Elizabeth (Elizabeth Hulette), Savage's wife and manager, distracted the referee by removing her skirt to reveal her underwear. After SummerSlam, Hogan and Savage were scripted to begin an on-screen feud, culminating at WrestleMania V, where Hogan won the WWF Championship from Savage.
As the WWF continued to replace its closed circuit programming with pay-per-view programming, McMahon added more pay-per-views to the lineup to capitalize on the success of his previous events. In addition to WrestleMania in March, the Royal Rumble in January, and Survivor Series in November, McMahon created an event for August, which he named SummerSlam. To keep the WWF from having a pay-per-view market monopoly, Turner began airing monthly WCW pay-per-views. As a result, both companies brought in hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. SummerSlam became one of World Wrestling Federation (and later World Wrestling Entertainment)'s most successful events and one of the "Big Four" pay-per-views, along with WrestleMania, Survivor Series, and the Royal Rumble. Those four events, along with King of the Ring, are known as the "Classic Five".
The on-screen feud between Rick Rude and Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith, Jr.) began weeks before SummerSlam. Rude's character often picked women out of the audience to kiss after winning a match and chose Roberts' wife Cheryl on one occasion. As a result, Roberts' character was depicted as being infuriated with Rude, and there was a series of confrontations leading up to SummerSlam.
For months prior to the pay-per-view, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, two of the WWF's top crowd favorites, had feuded with André the Giant and Ted DiBiase, respectively. After Hogan defeated André the Giant at WrestleMania III, André, as part of the storyline surrounding the four characters, was absent for approximately a year before reappearing, claiming to return only for the money. The first televised match between André the Giant and Hogan after WrestleMania III was on The Main Event on February 5, 1988 and drew thirty-three million viewers, making it the most-watched match in professional wrestling history. The storyline surrounding the match was that André had ended Hogan's four-year reign as champion with the help of a controversial finish involving twin referees Earl and Dave Hebner. Their feud as singles wrestlers culminated in a rematch at WrestleMania IV in March 1988 as part of a tournament to crown a new champion, but they were both disqualified after hitting each other with steel folding chairs. Savage, on the other hand, won the WWF Championship at WrestleMania IV by defeating DiBiase in the finals of the tournament, with help from Hogan. The team of Hogan and Savage was formed on Saturday Night's Main Event on November 11, 1987 (although it did not air for several weeks) when, after a match between Savage and Bret Hart, Savage was depicted as being the victim of a scripted triple-team attack by Hart, The Honky Tonk Man, and Jim Neidhart. As a result, Miss Elizabeth, Savage's wife and manager, was scripted to run backstage and bring Hogan down to the ring to rescue Savage from the attack. After saving Savage, Hogan and Savage were paired together as The Mega Powers on August 29, 1988 at SummerSlam.
|Commentator||"Superstar" Billy Graham|
|Ring announcer||Howard Finkel|
After the second match ended, Rick Rude and Junkyard Dog (Sylvester Ritter) made their way to the ring. Their match began as Rude attacked Junkyard Dog from behind, who retaliated by headbutting Rude several times. Subsequently, Rude climbed to the wrestling ring's top rope and pulled down his tights to reveal another pair of tights with a picture of Cheryl Roberts on them. As a result, Jake Roberts, Cheryl Roberts' husband, ran to the ring and attacked Rude, forcing the referee to disqualify Junkyard Dog. The next match was a tag team match between The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian [Sione Vailahi] and The Warlord [Terry Szopinski]), who were accompanied by The Baron (James Raschke), and The Bolsheviks (Boris Zhukov [Jim Barrell] and Nikolai Volkoff [Josip Peruzović]), who were accompanied by Slick (Ken Johnson). Immediately, The Powers of Pain chased The Bolsheviks from the ring. Slick, however, distracted The Powers of Pain long enough to give The Bolsheviks an advantage. Zhukov was then slammed to the mat back-first and headbutted from the top rope, which allowed The Barbarian to pin him.
The fifth match of the event was an Intercontinental Championship match between The Ultimate Warrior and the reigning champion The Honky Tonk Man, who was accompanied by Jimmy Hart. The Ultimate Warrior had the advantage from the beginning, attacking The Honky Tonk Man, who was still in his entrance attire. After slamming him to the mat, The Ultimate Warrior climbed to the top rope and landed stomach-first on The Honky Tonk Man using his signature move, the Warrior Splash. The Ultimate Warrior then pinned The Honky Tonk Man after only thirty seconds to win the title.
The following contest was a re-match from WrestleMania IV between Dino Bravo (Adolfo Bresciano) and Don Muraco. Muraco, the crowd favorite, was in control for most of the match. Frenchy Martin (Jean Gagné), who accompanied Bravo to the ring, distracted Muraco, allowing Bravo to slam him to the mat from an elevated position and pin him for the win.
The seventh match of the night was for the WWF World Tag Team Championship. Reigning champions Demolition (Ax and Smash), accompanied by both Mr. Fuji (Harry Fujiwara) and Jimmy Hart, were challenged by The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart). As soon as the bell sounded, The Hart Foundation attacked both members of Demolition. Their control was brief, as Demolition then gained the advantage over Neidhart. As Bret Hart was tagged into the match, Neidhart chased Jimmy Hart from ringside and returned to tag back into the match. When all four men began fighting inside the ring, Neidhart attacked Mr. Fuji, who was on the ring apron. At the end of the match, Bret Hart attempted a piledriver, a move where the offensive wrestler turns his opponent upside down and drives his head into the mat, but Ax hit him with Jimmy Hart's trademark megaphone. Smash then pinned Bret Hart for the win.
The next match-up was between The Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor), accompanied by Slick, and Koko B. Ware (James Ware). With Slick as a distraction, The Big Boss Man took the early advantage in the match. After crushing Ware in between himself and the turnbuckle, Boss Man refused to pin him and finish the match. Instead, he attempted to climb to the top rope and land on Ware stomach-first, but missed. Ware then retaliated by performing several dropkicks and attempted a pin. Boss Man got his shoulder up to save himself from being pinned, and he slammed his opponent into the mat, allowing him to pin Ware for the win. The second to last match of the night was between Jake Roberts and Hercules (Ray Fernandez). When Roberts attempted to slam his opponent's head on to the mat with a DDT, Hercules was able to escape the maneuver and take control of the match. As Hercules attempted to slam Roberts to the mat, Roberts reversed the move into a DDT, enabling him to pin Hercules for the win.
The last match of the night was the main event between The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage), accompanied by Miss Elizabeth, and The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant), accompanied by Bobby Heenan (Raymond Heenan) and Virgil (Mike Jones). Jesse Ventura was the special guest referee. The Mega Powers took the early advantage over DiBiase. After Hogan attacked André the Giant, who was on the ring apron, The Mega Bucks were able to regain control. After a while, all four men began brawling, and André knocked The Mega Powers out of the ring. Subsequently, as part of the scripted ending to the match, Miss Elizabeth began arguing with Ventura, the referee, and ripped off her skirt to reveal her underwear. While Ventura was distracted, Savage climbed to the top rope and jumped at DiBiase, hitting him with his elbow. Hogan followed the maneuver by jumping next to DiBiase and landing with his leg across DiBiase's body. As Hogan pinned DiBiase, Ventura, a villainous character aligned with The Mega Bucks, began an obviously slow three-count. As a result, Savage slammed Ventura's arm down for the third time, indicating that Hogan and Savage had won the match.
Hogan held the title for approximately one year until storylines called for him to lose it to The Ultimate Warrior, who was receiving more air-time and more prominent matches as the reigning Intercontinental Champion, at WrestleMania VI in April 1990. After winning the WWF Championship, Warrior vacated the Intercontinental Championship, as the WWF did not allow a wrestler to hold both championships simultaneously. Warrior, however, lost the title to Sgt. Slaughter (Robert Remus) in January 1991, and he was never again scripted to hold the championship.
After retaining their title against The Hart Foundation, Demolition held the WWF World Tag Team Championship for a record-breaking sixteen months. They were eventually scripted to lose the title to The Brain Busters on July 18, 1989 during an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event. The Brain Busters held the title for three months before Demolition once again became champions by winning the title in a rematch.
The original plan for SummerSlam was to bring Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) over from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) to the WWF. Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWF, wanted Flair to challenge Savage in the main event for the WWF Championship. Flair, however, felt obligated to the NWA and did not leave the promotion for the WWF. Therefore, Hogan and Savage were paired together to end their feuds with their respective on-screen rivals.
In WWE.com's 2007 list of the top ten SummerSlam moments in history, The Ultimate Warrior's Intercontinental Championship title win was listed as number ten, while Miss Elizabeth's distraction during the main event was listed at number nine.
Calum Waddell, in Fighting Spirit Magazine, called The Ultimate Warrior's win over the Honky Tonk Man "genuinely captivating," and he said the match between The British Bulldogs and The Fabulous Rougeaus was an "exciting battle." In contrast, he had a negative reaction to the main event match, citing it as "predictably one-dimensional" and "abysmal. Similarly, Adam Nedeff of 411mania.com called the tag team match between The British Bulldogs and The Rougeaus "a solid match" but stated that the "lack of a finish was a disappointment". Although he reviewed most of the matches negatively, he called the WWF World Tag Team Championship match a "good match". Overall, he rated the event a 4.5 out of 10 and stated, "Without Warrior's big win and Elizabeth's surprise finish, this is a totally forgettable show.
|1||The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid) and The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond) wrestled to a time limit draw.||Tag team match||20:00|
|2||Bad News Brown defeated Ken Patera.||Singles match||06:33|
|3||Rick Rude defeated Junkyard Dog by disqualification.||Singles match||06:18|
|4||The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord) (with The Baron) defeated The Bolsheviks (Boris Zhukov and Nikolai Volkoff) (with Slick).||Tag team match||05:27|
|5||The Ultimate Warrior defeated The Honky Tonk Man (c) (with Jimmy Hart).||Singles match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship||00:31|
|6||Dino Bravo (with Frenchy Martin) defeated Don Muraco.||Singles match||05:28|
|7||Demolition (Ax and Smash) (c) (with Mr. Fuji and Jimmy Hart) defeated The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart).||Tag team match for the WWF Tag Team Championship||09:49|
|8||The Big Boss Man (with Slick) defeated Koko B. Ware.||Singles match||05:57|
|9||Jake Roberts defeated Hercules.||Singles match||10:06|
|10||The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage) (with Miss Elizabeth) defeated The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant) (with Bobby Heenan and Virgil).||Tag team match with Jesse Ventura as the special guest referee||13:57|