The inaugural SummerSlam took place on the 29th August 1988 and aired from Madison Square Garden, New York with 20,000 fans in attendance to see ten matches on the card. The WWF in 1988 was in direct competition with Jim Crockett Promotions (the original name for WCW). Both companies were trying to outdo one another in the ratings and with pay per views such as Starrcade, Bunkhouse Stampede and Clash of the Champions receiving a high number of views. McMahon needed to pull another showstopper out of the bag to make sure that he continued his reign over Jim Crockett and so, SummerSlam was born.
- The British Bulldogs versus The Fabulous Rougeaus went to a time-limit draw
- Bad News Brown defeated Ken Patera
- ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude defeated Junkyard Dog via disqualification
- The Powers of Pain defeated The Bolsheviks
- Dino Bravo defeated Don Muraco
- Demolition defeated The Hart Foundation to retain the tag team titles
- Big Bossman defeated Koko B. Ware
- Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts defeated Hercules Hernandez.
History was made in one match when the Honky Tonk Man’s fourteen-month and twenty-seven-day reign as Intercontinental champion was ended by The Ultimate Warrior, who won the match in a measly thirty-one seconds. The original opponent for Honky Tonk was Brutus Beefcake but due to a storyline injury at the hands of ‘Outlaw’ Ron Bass, Beefcake was unable to compete. This led to the relative newcomer in Warrior storming the ring and – one gorilla press slam and splash later – being crowned champion. Honky Tonk’s reign to date is still the longest continual Intercontinental champion reign in WWF/WWE history.
The main event of SummerSlam was between The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage) accompanied by Miss Elizabeth versus The Mega Bucks (Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant) accompanied by Andre’s manager Bobby Heenan and DiBiase’s bodyguard Virgil. There was also a special guest referee in place in Jesse Ventura.
For months prior to this pay-per-view, the two teams began their feud as a result of the vacant WWF Heavyweight championship. Savage with the help of Hogan had defeated DiBiase to capture the title after a fourteen-man elimination tournament. Mid-summer is when Andre became involved when he and DiBiase instigated a 2-on-1 attack against Savage mid promo. Jesse Ventura, a heel colour commentator on the WWF’s programming, was chosen by WWF President Jack Tunney as being ‘the only person capable of handling such a match’ and was therefore chosen as the special guest referee.
During the closing moments of the match, Miss Elizabeth distracted the referee by ripping off her skirt. This led to The Mega Bucks being distracted, Savage climbing on to the top rope and dropping the Macho Elbow on DiBiase followed by Hogan dropping a leg drop on DiBiase. As Hogan went for the pin, Ventura (living up to his heel persona) began a very obvious slow three count. Savage slammed Ventura’s arm down for the finish of the match.
SummerSlam is still seen as one of the ‘big four’ pillar pay per views that we, as fans, look forward too even after 32 years. For me, it signals the end of the summer over here in England and a downward slope towards Survivor Series.
Of course, this year’s SummerSlam will go down in history for reasons that nobody, not even Vince McMahon, could have prepared for in COVID-19. At the minute though, it is nice to be able to escape from the doom and gloom of reality and become consumed by wrestling storylines