WWE | Pro Wrestling

Happy 25th Anniversary WWE SummerSlam

While the WWE has held numerous pay per view events over the last several decades, one has become synonymous with summer. 25-years ago today the WWE began what would be the marquee event of the summer season, SummerSlam.

It is amazing to see how the wrestling business transformed itself since the 1980s. When I first started watching wrestling it was about house shows. Later it was about pay per view and now you could argue it is more about television than anything else. The wrestling world changed forever when Vince McMahon created SummerSlam.

Why is SummerSlam so historical? SummerSlam was the second time Vince McMahon successfully branched out to an annual pay per view event after WrestleMania. It was SummerSlam & Survivor Series that changed everything.

The WWE knew they could count on WrestleMania to deliver annual pay per view business after the third show. Keep in mind that pay per view was still in its infancy and hard to get, yet the WWE were able to get on the train early. Vince wanted to move away from closed circuit broadcasts to PPV exclusively. SummerSlam helped give Vince the confidence to run quarterly pay per view events with the Rumble coming to PPV later.

The first SummerSlam was a big event. It was what some would call chapter two in arguably the greatest feud in WWE history. Chapter one came at WrestleMania IV when Randy Savage shot Hulk Hogan a “look” after the Hulkster put his hands on Elizabeth. The book would eventually lead to WrestleMania V and some of the biggest grudge matches in WWE history.

Hogan and Savage had been feuding with Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase separately for months prior to SummerSlam. We all know about the legendary Main Event broadcast which saw Andre beat Hogan for the WWE championship after the Hebner switch. DiBiase of course tried to buy the WWE title which turned into Jack Tunney declaring the title vacant. A tournament was held and Savage pinned DiBiase in the finals at WM IV to win, while Hogan and Andre were eliminated in a quarterfinal match.

The big angle leading up to the event saw Savage attacked by DiBiase and Andre the Giant during a promo. Savage laid down a challenge but didn’t immediately announce Hogan as a partner. Eventually the two were announced as a duo and the “Mega Powers” were born. Hogan’s odd promos pointing to his hand yelling, “This is where the power lies” are still a vivid memory.

Controversy ensued when Jesse “The Body” Ventura was announced as a special guest referee. If I remember it correctly Jesse had been off of television for a while. The big controversy of course was that Jesse was a heel and nobody expected the Mega Powers to get a fair shake. Jesse promised to call it “down the middle” but left plenty of doubt with the fans.

Hogan and Savage knew they were at a disadvantage. They promised a secret weapon. The secret weapon of course would turn out to be Elizabeth in a short attire. The weapon would be used to even the advantage in the main-event.

The finish of the match saw Hogan and Savage on the floor. Jesse started counting them out (with help from the Mega Bucks). Just when it looked like the Mega Powers would be counted out, Elizabeth jumped up on the apron. Liz removed her skirt to reveal a fairly conservative bathing suit bottom. The heels were all distracted and Jesse stopped counting. The Mega Powers used the extra time to recover. Savage entered the ring nailing Andre with a flying axe handle and attacking Bobby Heenan. Hogan slammed DiBiase, Savage came off the top with the flying elbow, Hogan dropped the leg, and Ventura reluctantly counted to three (hesitating after two). For a more detailed review of the match and the event, check out Justin Henry’s review of the full show.

I’ll add this interesting bit of trivia to close out the blog. The original idea for SummerSlam was a Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage main-event with Flair being signed away from the N.W.A. Flair even alluded it to recently in that 2K14 symposium and Steve Austin’s podcast. Flair got cold feet and stayed with the N.W.A. out of loyalty. Once Flair wasn’t coming, the WWE came up with Plan B which was putting Savage and Hogan together.

This twist of fate allowed fans to get the classic Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat series in 1989 as well as the Hogan vs. Savage feud. I’d say all things considered things turned out pretty good.

Full WWE SummerSlam 1988 results…
The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid) fought The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond) to a time limit draw
Bad News Brown defeated Ken Patera
Rick Rude defeated Junkyard Dog by disqualification
The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord) (with The Baron) defeated The Bolsheviks (Boris Zhukov and Nikolai Volkoff) (with Slick)
The Ultimate Warrior defeated The Honky Tonk Man to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship
Dino Bravo (with Frenchy Martin) defeated Don Muraco
Demolition (Ax and Smash) (c) (with Mr. Fuji and Jimmy Hart) defeated The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship
The Big Boss Man (with Slick) defeated Koko B. Ware
Jake Roberts defeated Hercules
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) with Jesse Ventura as the special guest referee

Happy anniversary SummerSlam!

Note: The WWE referred to last year’s show as the 25th anniversary for the record.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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