As we reach SummerSlam 2021, we look back on many of the fans’ fondest memories of the event. Whether it’s Bret Hart defeating Mr Perfect, the first-ever TLC match or Daniel Bryan’s first WWE title win – these moments have defined the PPV and made it come what it is today as the 2nd biggest event of the WWE calendar. However, none of these would have transpired had it not been for the success of the SummerSlam 1988 event.
First taking place in 1988 and announced by retired wrestlers Gorilla Monsoon and Billy Graham, it served as the event between WrestleMania and Survivor Series. This was chockful of WWE champions, Hall of Famers and icons of the industry. Let’s take a look at where all talents involved in-ring at the inaugural event are today.
The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid) vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques & Raymond Rougeau) ends in a Draw via Time Limit
Bad News Brown defeats Ken Patera
Rick Rude defeats The Junkyard Dog via DQ
The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian & The Warlord) defeat The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov)
WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
The Ultimate Warrior defeats The Honky Tonk Man (c) to win the title
Dino Bravo defeats Don Muraco
WWF WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Demolition (Ax & Smash) (c) defeat The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) to retain the titles
Big Boss Man defeats Koko B. Ware
Jake Roberts defeats Hercules
The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage) defeat The Mega Bucks (André the Giant & Ted DiBiase)
(Special Referee: Jesse Ventura)
Davey Boy Smith
Opening the first-ever SummerSlam was a tag team bout pitting the British Bulldogs vs The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers.
Shortly after SummerSlam, Davey Boy Smith left the WWF to pursue work in All Japan Pro Wrestling and Stampede Wrestling. Smith returned to the WWF in 1992 under the name The British Bulldog, where he famously won the Intercontinental title at SummerSlam 1992 at Wembley Stadium. After a run-in WCW, he returned from 1994 to 1997 where he won the European and World Tag Team titles. He further had a cup of coffee with the company in the Attitude Era before leaving in May 2000.
Tragically, Davey Boy Smith died in May 2002 of a heart attack. It was announced in 2020 that he would be inducted into that year’s Hall of Fame however this was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bulldog was instead inducted earlier this year on March 30th (2021).
Described by Bret Hart as “the best wrestler I ever worked with”, Dynamite Kid is one of the industry’s greatest workers, with his encounters against Tiger Mask being regarded as a turning point in Japanese wrestling history.
Having recently been in a heated, real-life backstage feud with Jacques Rougeau, Tom Billington left the WWF a short time later.
Despite his in-ring acumen, Billington’s personal life shows him to be a callous and horrific man; often bullying other wrestling, setting Harley Race’s bed on fire when he was still in it and often threatening his wife with a gun. In 1997, he lost the use of his left leg due to career back and leg injuries which left him paralysed. On top of this, he had heart problems as well as a stroke in 2013.
In 2015, he came part of a class-action lawsuit, suing for concussion-based injuries sustained during his affiliation with WWE along with a host of other ex-WWE stars. It was dismissed in September 2018, just before his death on his 60th birthday in December that same year.
It may have been a disappointing start for fans as the first SummerSlam bout ended in a 20-minute time limit draw but the match itself was one of the very best on the card.
Jacques would be a company main-stay for many years afterwards as The Mountie and as a Quebecer. Winning the IC title off of Bret Hart and becoming a 3-time WWE World Tag Team titleholder. With Jacques being one of a rare few to have a clean pinfall victory over Hulk Hogan, the Rougeau surname is one of the most prestigious and regarded in Montreal.
Jacques opened a wrestling school in 1998 that produced current star, Kevin Owens. In 2018, the French-Canadian star wrestled his last match amongst his children, as his children have not expressed an interest in the sport, it puts the end to the Rougeau wrestling lineage that stretches over 6 decades. Today, Jacques is a motivational speaker who travels around schools and advises children against smoking, bullying and drugs.
Raymond may have endured a shorter wrestling career but has managed to seek success in other pastures.
After feuding with the Killer Bees and The Rockers in their heel run, Raymond semi-retired after losing a 2-out-of-3-falls 6-man-tag at SummerSlam 1989 before officially hanging up the boots after the Royal Rumble 1990.
Between 1992-2002, Raymond was a common presence behind the French commentary table. A voice for French-language fans for a decade, Raymond would return to this role in 2017 where he resides today.
Bad News Brown
In the 2nd match on the card, Bad News Brown got a momentum-building win over former IC champion Ken Patera. The newly-arrived Bad News was a former Olympic judo bronze medalist, similar to his opponent’s Olympic credentials. Brown would continue his run of dominance until his departure after SummerSlam 1990. In his run, Brown was scarcely ever pinned and had feuds with top stars such as Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper and Jake Roberts.
In the years after his work in-ring, Allen Coage became a prolific face in the shoot interview scene. Telling stories about how he was promised he would be the first black WWF champion, André The Giant and Roddy Piper’s WrestleMania VI blackface.
On the morning of March 6th 2007, Coage was rushed to the hospital due to chest pain. He died later that day with the official cause of death being a heart attack.
Used to put Brown over, Patera in his own right was an accomplished weightlifter managing to clean and press over 500lbs. He further competed in the inaugural 1977 World’s Strongest Man contest, ending ranked third.
Having had success in the WWF and AWA in the early 80s, he was sentenced to two years in prison alongside Masa Saito for throwing a rock through a McDonald’s window and assaulting officers on the scene. He returned to the Federation in the latter half of the decade, mostly jobbing to newer talent. In his last weeks, commentary even made comments that Ken might want to think about retiring. He was subsequently the first man eliminated at the 1988 Survivor Series.
Now nearing 80, Patera was one of many involved in the large class-action lawsuit dismissed in 2018 with an appeal dismissed by a federal court in September 2020. The ex-Olympian has opened up several businesses after wrestling such as a limousine service and a tanning salon. An avid animal lover, he enjoys spending time with his animals as well as with his children.
All-round one of the greatest in-ring performers of the 80s, Rude has since become one of those regarded as one of the greatest to never hold a world title.
On this night, Rude took on the Junkyard Dog. There was a little story with the match only being made to further the feud between Jake Roberts and ‘The Ravishing One. After a few minutes of action, Rude pulled down his tights to reveal a new pair with Cheryl Roberts’s, Jake’s wife’s, face on. This brought out Jake who attacked Rick – prompting a disqualification.
Unfortunately, a back injury sustained in a match with Sting in 1995 ended Rude’s career. Despite his in-ring career-ending, he still got work with the WWF, WCW and ECW. He seemed as if he was set for a return to action before his death in April 1999 due to heart failure. An apparent overdose of mixed medicines took his life prematurely.
Managing Rude in this bout was legendary manager Bobby Heenan.
Heenan would long dabble in managing, commentary and even occasional in-ring action in the WWF and later in WCW. Already having managed the Heenan Family by 1988, he managed member Rude here and would aid ‘Ravishing’ Rick to an IC title reign as well as the main event run. Additionally, he would manage The Mega Bucks in their main event loss later in the night.
Unfortunately, Heenan spent the last 15 years of his life facing health issues. In 2002, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. He had unsuccessful jaw surgery but a second was successful – however, the jaw had to be removed due to an infection. He additionally had several falls before his passing. Having lost the ability to speak – Heenan unfairly had his wit and amazing talent robbed from him before his death in 2017 due to organ failure from his throat cancer.
The biggest star of Mid-South Wrestling a few years earlier, at this point JYD had largely fizzled out to fans. The dog was mostly used as just a body to further the Rude and Roberts rivalry. ‘The Juker’ left the WWF a few months later in October, where he would find later success in WCW.
A popular attraction, JYD appeared at ECW’s Wrestlepalooza 1998 event a month before his passing. On June 2nd 1998, Terry ‘Junkyard Dog’ Ritter was killed in a single-car accident in North Carolina when returning from his daughter’s graduation. Having fallen asleep at the wheel causing the crash, his death was largely shocking – ending the life of one of the biggest names of the rock and wrestling era in the mid-80s.
JYD had trained stars such as Jazz and Rodney Mack, being inducted into the 2004 Hall of Fame class.
A member of the Powers of Pain, The Barbarian was initially brought into the WWF as a babyface mercenary to fight against the villainous Demolition. Having recently made their debut, these hired guns by Strike Force’s Tito Santana went on to decisively squash Soviet squad The Bolsheviks. The Future Face of Fear member pinned Boris Zhukov after a top rope headbutt.
A few months later at Survivor Series, he turned heel in a double-turn with Demolition in which The Barbarian gained the management of Mr Fuji. The Barbarian stayed a constant presence in the WWF (mostly as a heel) until departure in 1992.
In the years since he was one of many superstars who filed the class-action lawsuit against the WWE for injuries sustained during their run there. As well as occasionally getting back in the ring, he owns and runs his own construction business in North Carolina.
Tagging alongside Seone ‘The Barbarian’ Vailahi was The Warlord. Terry ‘Warlord’ Szopinski was noted for being one of the physically largest stars in the company, Warlord had his fair share of success until his leave in 1992 – ‘ironically’ around the same time as the WWF’s steroid trial.
In 1996, the 1990 main-eventer would suffer life-altering injuries in a crash with a delivery van. Szopinski suffered serious neck injuries on top of nerve damage that left one side of his body permanently disfigured.
The Warlord, like his tag partner, was involved in the concussion-related suing that brought the WWE to court. Additionally, he helped a young Chris Jericho in the early days of his career and has been cited by Batista as his favorite all-time wrestler. Terry has also worked as a bodyguard for celebrities such as 50 Cent, Kimbo Slice and Thomas Jones.
Baron Von Raschke
Making his debut at the event was wrestling legend, Baron Von Raschke. A wrestler whose run in the WWF you likely forgot (or didn’t know he even wrestled for the company at all), he appeared as The Baron under a hood.
The Baron’s run managing the Powers of Pain soon stopped with Raschke’s run ending before it even really started. Now in his 80s, the master of the Brainclaw, Raschke is likely best remembered for runs in the AWA and NWA/JCP as well as his controversial goose-stepping Nazi character.
Raschke was one of the first to speak out about the predetermined nature of wrestling. Denouncing the concept of kayfabe, he revealed the truth about his faux German Nazi gimmick. Today in his 80s, Baron is on video shout-out service Cameo, likely where he gets most of his income in his retirement.
An 80s wrestler filling out the old Evil Russian cliché, Zhukov was a memorable lower card villain, often losing to bigger stars such as Tito Santana, Dusty Rhodes and Jake Roberts.
Competing in the first-ever Royal Rumble, Zhukov also commonly tagged with Nikolai Volkoff in The Bolsheviks. The duo were the first eliminated in the Survivor Series tag match in 1987 (pinned in 1:30) and also lost to the Hart Foundation in 18 seconds at WrestleMania 6.
Actually born in Virginia, James Harrell was also involved in the WWE lawsuit that was dismissed in September 2018.
A long-tenured grappler, Volkoff was a presence in the WWF off and on from 1974-1995. A former WWF World Tag Team champion and WWWF International Tag Team champion, he additionally challenged for the WWF world heavyweight title against Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan.
However, by this point, Volkoff was far from his best days – being seen as an outdated and lower-card athlete. He and Zhukov lost quickly to the new powerhouses in 5 minutes. In 1990, Volkoff turned face (being billed from Lithuania) and with the Cold War ending soon after, the WWF had little use for him. After a short and forgettable run in Eastern Championship Wrestling (the precursor to ECW), he returned for a short spell in the Million Dollar Corporation.
Born in Croatia, which was then Yugoslavia, this Canadian immigrant who played an evil Russian was a clear candidate for the Maryland Republican Primary for State Delegate of Maryland. Running for this position in 2006, he was unsuccessful, only getting 6% of the vote. He supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election, before his death aged 70 in 2018.
Managing The Bolsheviks was Slick. Having recently taken over the contracts owned by Freddie Blassie, Volkoff and Zhukov now had Slick’s management on top of other talents such as Power and Glory (Jim Powers and Hercules), Twin Towers (Akeem and Big Boss Man) and Rick ‘The Model’ Martel. Although the reviled Russian duo was dispatched relatively easily by the Powers of Pain, he would manage the Big Boss Man to a win later on.
Afterwards, he a memorable run as Reverend Slick – a crowd-beloved preacher who managed Kamala, directing the ‘Ugandan Giant’ away from his previous treachery with Kim Chee and Harvey Wippleman. Following this, the son of Rufus R. Jones left the WWF left the company.
He graduated from Campbellsville University in the years after, getting a master’s and bachelor’s degree. In a showing of his gimmick reflecting real life, Kenneth ‘Slick’ Johnson is now an ordained minister in Louisville, Kentucky. He has made sporadic WWE appearances in the last few years. Additionally, he was one of many names involved in the class-action lawsuit against ill-handled injuries, having expressed no regret for taking part in the case.
Having debuted about a year prior, the bombastic and energetic Warrior had become one of the top rising stars in the company. Shortly before, the planned Beefcake vs Honky Tonk Man match was forcibly scrapped when, in an in-ring segment, ‘Outlaw’ Ron Bass brutally mutilated ‘The Barber’s face with his boot’s spurs. Warrior was the shock replacement to a collective chorus of cheers. A hyped-up Hellwig easily dispatched the Intercontinental champion in 31 seconds.
The former WWF champion famously had a very rocky relationship with WWE as well as being a real-life figure of resentment for his views on homosexuals, the Hurricane Katrina incident and comments on Martin Luther King. He passed away in 2016 of a heart attack, a matter of days after his last WWE appearance in which he spoke about: “Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat” before stating the “spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever!”.
Honky Tonk Man
Holding onto his belt by the skin of his teeth, Honky kept a hang on his Intercontinental title – successfully doing so for 454 days, still the longest reign to this day.
An impromptu replacement, fans were delighted to see the culmination of Honky’s heel treachery with the strap. Dispatched in less than a minute, the Elvis impersonator was used as a launchpad to spring Warrior to the top of the card. His career was not as memorable afterwards, before leaving in 1991 but making sporadic appearances in the years since.
Ferris was a high-profile name in the early days of the shoot interviews, often talking about the shortcomings of his opponents. He made a surprising cameo in Lucha Underground before being inducted into the 2019 WWE Hall of Fame class by Jimmy Hart. He currently resides in Gilbert, Arizona where he is a keen golfer.
Managing Honky and provoking the open challenge was renowned manager Jimmy Hart. He made a successful transition into wrestling having been a former member of popular boyband The Gentrys. One of the WWF’s greatest in the role, he managed the likes of Ric Flair, Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan, he certainly left his mark on the industry alongside trademark sunglasses, fancy suits and megaphone usage.
Recently, Hart appeared as a regular on WWE’s Legend’s House show, where ex-wrestlers shared an abode. Additionally, he opened Jimmy Hart’s Bar and Tiki Deck – having purchased it in 2017. Still living the wrestler life, he is still in the WWE’s good books, even appearing on Raw in January 2021.
The late 80s to early 90s regular, Bravo was a popular face in the company in the mid-card scene, often fighting the likes of Ronnie Garvin and Jim Duggan when not in tag bouts such as Survivor Series. A Canadian muscleman, he had even competed in the WWF in the 70s, winning the world tag titles and the sole holder of the Canadian heavyweight belt in 1986. After managing to get wins over Jimmy Snuka, Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior in the company, he left in 1992.
The next year, he was found dead in his home in Quebec. Allegedly involved with the mafia, it is believed his trade in illegal cigarette imports was the reason for the homicide. This controversial and unsolved death has caused many theories and struck many a-conversation over the decades but drawing no official conclusions. His death was documented in Vice’s Dark Side of the Ring (series 2, episode 6).
Managing Bravo to a victory over Don ‘The Rock’ Muraco, Martin made the necessary distraction which was enough for Dino to take advantage, hitting the side suplex to get the win.
In addition to his role as an Anti-American manager, he was also a part-time wrestler – mostly away from the TV. Losing the majority of matches, even to enhancement talents such as Lanny Poffo, Jim Powers and Outback Jack.
His son and nephew have gone into the wrestling business to continue his legacy. In September 2016, Smith Hart revealed Martin was in hospice care for bladder cancer. After a year of fighting bladder and bone cancer, the real-life Jean Gagné passed away on October 21st at the age of 69.
A rematch from WrestleMania IV from a few months before, a decisive result was needed due to the DQ finish to the previous bout so was settled at SummerSlam. After Muraco advanced in the WWF title tournament at ‘Mania by disqualification, Bravo got the win here.
This was “The Rock’s” last significant match for the promotion. ‘Magnificent Muraco had served the WWF as a top heel in the early 80s, capturing the IC title as well as challenging for the WWF title on many occasions when managed by Mr Fuji. Even after the WWF, the inaugural King of The Ring in 1985 found success – most prominently as a 2-time ECW champion when the company was still Eastern Championship Wrestling.
A 2007 Hall of Fame inductee, he now resides alongside his wife and children in Honolulu, Hawaii. He has a weekly FaceBook podcast called ‘Making Waves’ that takes place every Thursday.
As Demolition’s Ax, the heel face-painted warriors managed to retain their tag team title belts against The Hart Foundation. Having won the belts from Strike Force at WrestleMania IV, Demolition would continue this reign until July 1989 when they dropped the straps to The Brainbusters. This 478-day reign was the longest in WWF history for many years.
‘Coincidentally’, Demolition’s title reign record was broken about the same time the duo was suing the WWE for the mistreatment of multiple injuries. Even in his old age, he still occasionally gets in the ring – wrestling through his 60s. In early January 2021, Eadie was reported to have severe symptoms of Covid-19 but has thankfully made a recovery from the illness.
Teaming alongside Ax and managed by Jimmy Hart and Mr Fuji was Barry ‘Smash’ Darsow. Depicting gimmicks such as Krusher Khrushchev, The Blacktop Bully and Repo Man, Darsow was brought in to replace original member Randy Colley (Moondog Rex) who played the role of Smash.
Still occasionally donning his wrestling boots, Darsow – alongside partner Eadie – was involved in the mass class-action lawsuit against the WWE. Still getting into the ring, he also owns and runs Added Value Printing as well as working in real estate. He enjoys golfing and fishing.
One of the greatest wrestlers of all time, at this point ‘The Excellence of Execution’, was in the exemplary Hart Foundation alongside ‘The Anvil’. It was an enjoyable match with ‘The Hitman’ eventually getting pinned by Smash after a well-placed megaphone shot.
Going on to become a top-calibre star through his technical mastery, he is thought of by many to be one of the best. More importantly, though, he is my 2nd favourite wrestler ever – which means a greater honour than any several WWE title wins, Hall of Fame induction or multiple King of The Ring wins ever could(!). Appearing on everything from The Simpsons to Lonesome Dove in his heyday, he was the top and most reliable stars for many years before leaving for WCW post-Montreal Screwjob.
Having recently overcoming cancer, his legacy is further spread through family relatives who are in the industry. At the 2019 Hall of Fame ceremony, he was tackled by an invading fan during The Hart Foundation’s induction. In addition to cropping up in WWE, with whom he has since reconciled, he has appeared more recently in AEW and Impact! Wrestling. He made waves earlier in 2021 as well for dubbing the current WWE championship as a “piece of crap”.
The powerhouse of the Hart Foundation, ‘The Anvil’ was the more explosive and charismatic half of the duo with his shrieking laughter and a distinctive pointy ginger beard.
A former NHL star, he was always a popular attraction, likely having his glory days alongside Bret in the 80s. Working for other promotions such as ECW, WCW and TNA, Neidhart was always an energetic hoss, never quite capturing ‘The Hitman’s success – especially not as forgettable persona Who (mostly an excuse for commentary to make Abbot and Costello puns 50 years after the original skit). It might surprise you to note that this Who gimmick didn’t make WCW quake in their boots(!). Making a career bouncing between promotions, he left the WWF in 1992 and again in 1997 after a return.
Unfortunately, on August 18th 2018, Neidhart sustained a head injury caused by a seizure resulting in a fall. This would ultimately take his life, aged just 63. Natalya Neidhart is today keeping the family name strong as a trusted veteran of the current women’s WWE roster.
Big Boss Man
Managed by Slick, the cop from Cobb County, Georgia got a building blocks victory over Koko B. Ware.
Having only been in the company a matter of weeks, this stepping-stone win pushed Boss Man into the main event scene where he managed to share the ring with Hulk Hogan and WWF Champion Randy Savage. He stayed with the WWF until 1993 – with a return in the Attitude Era – where he left a huge legacy as both a face and a heel. A hugely agile athlete for his size, he was a big star also in the UWF, JCP and WCW.
Tragically, his last years were not happy ones. Being involved in a serious motorcycle accident in 2002, his life was worsened bypassing of close friend Curt ‘Mr. Perfect’ Hennig the next year. After running for Commission chairman of Pauldington County, he passed away in his Dallas home of a heart attack at age 41. He was survived by 2 daughters and his wife who, alongside Slick, inducted Ray Traylor into the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame.
Koko B. Ware
Described by Jim Cornette as one of Memphis’s most exciting workers, the then-Koko Ware followed up with a run in the UWF before joining the WWF where he was granted a ‘B’ middle name.
Always an underrated, underneath babyface, Ware was noted for his colourful attire (often donned with the WWF logo) and finishing moves in the ghostbuster and a missile dropkick. Ware memorably took the pin to Bobby Heenan during the WrestleMania IV 6-man tag as well as submitting to Rick Martel in the ‘Mania VI opener. He did the same here, putting over new prospect Boss Man (formerly Big Bubba Rogers) in a little over 5 minutes. As well as competing at the first SummerSlam, he also lost the first-ever bout on Monday Night Raw to future WWF champion Yokozuna.
Ware left the WWF but has made a few appearances since, including a WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2009. Unfortunately, his wife died later that year after a battle with cancer. He was a part of the class-action lawsuit, whilst commonly wrestling. These days, he has a Cameo account to do personalized video shout-outs to fans.
Having already appeared earlier in the night when attacking rival Rick Rude, Roberts got a momentum-gaining victory over Hercules. In likely the greatest singles bout of the night, Roberts dispatched of the bruising strongman after 10 minutes of action.
Roberts would have a successful WWF run as a face and heel – feuding with Ted DiBiase, Ricky Steamboat, André The Giant and many more before exiting in 1992 after losing to The Undertaker at WrestleMania VIII. Afterwards, his substance abuse issues heavily impacted his life, with many fans writing off ‘The Snake’, believing this would end his life. After saddening runs in WCW, WWF and ECW and most infamously Legends of Wrestling, his alcohol and drug issues became the centre of attention, before aid from Diamond Dallas Page thankfully turned his life around.
With DDP Yoga nursing Roberts back to a healthier lifestyle, Jake was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014. He is currently signed to AEW, where he has been managing the ‘Murderhawk Monster’ Lance Archer for about a year and a half. Here, the gravelly-voiced snake cuts many promos for Archer.
Hercules had a long-standing WWE run from 1985-1992. Though he had some success in the Heenan Family and Power & Glory alongside Paul Roma, the chain-wielding muscleman was often used as a stepping stone on the bigger events. Losing to the likes of Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania 2, Greg Valentine at SummerSlam 1989 and Earthquake at WrestleMania 6 – his role was similar here, falling victim to Jake Roberts’s DDT.
The former Hercules Hernandez was fired from the WWF in 1992. Annoyed at constantly being on the losing side, he no-sold a Sid Justice Powerbomb, getting up immediately after the 3-count in a match that lasted seconds. After a run-in of NJPW and also the AWF, Hercules retired in 1999.
Unfortunately, Herc passed away in his sleep on March 6th, 2004. His wife attributes the death to his issues with heart disease.
Main eventing the event was the team of The Mega Powers (Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan) taking on The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André The Giant).
Although not the WWF champion, Hogan was still clearly the most beloved star and seemingly the biggest attraction. On the winning side in this match, Hogan would go on to enjoy a career afterwards in WWF, WCW and TNA.
The biggest name in wrestling is not hard to find today, with his signature red and yellow attire, handlebar moustache and bandana cropping up for WWE returns. With his merchandise instantly recognisable, Hogan still appears at his beach shop as well as on WWE Network specials and WWE TV. He has appeared on screens in 2021 on Legend’s Raw and as the swash-buckling co-host of WrestleMania 37.
The WWF champion at the time of the event, Savage won the belt by defeating the ‘Million Dollar Man’ in the finals of the WWF title tournament at WrestleMania 4. These two once again closed the show here, with ‘Macho Man’ getting the pinfall for his team, dropping the Atomic Elbow onto Ted DiBiase for the victory.
Savage has turned heel not too long afterwards before taking up a commentary role in 1993. Unhappy at his little ring time, he moved to WCW and joined the NWO before leaving in 2000 for a single match in TNA. His personal life was tumultuous, divorcing Miss Elizabeth and famously taking several shots at Hulk Hogan including a rap album called ‘Be A Man’.
A colourful personality and icon of the squared-circle, on May 20th 2011, Savage suffered a heart attack whilst driving, causing a crash into a tree, which killed him. 58 at the time, it was a massive loss for the wrestling industry.
The valet of The Mega Powers, Elizabeth actually played quite the role in the match, being involved in the finish.
Although clearly a classy, sophisticated idol, she hardly showed any rebellion or immodesty. This made her surprise reveal even more shocking when she removed her skirt to show a red bathing suit underneath. Not at all out of the left field for today’s viewing, this action was nonetheless a startling one at the time. This distraction helped the Hogan/Savage team to prevail.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth passed away on May 1st 2003 at Lex Luger’s house. At only 42, she had acute toxicity having been brought on by painkillers and vodka concoction.
André The Giant
Perhaps the most iconic wrestler in the history of wrestling, his large size is just as fascinating as his real-life backstage stories. André had served as one of the company’s biggest draws since the early 70s. Billed as undefeated for 15 years, he turned heel in 1987 before challenging Hulk Hogan in one of the most landmark matches in WWE history, but the feud continued including a short-lived WWF title reign for the Frenchman.
By SummerSlam 1988, André was noticeably less mobile in-ring having long been serving due to his gigantism. He was heavily protected in this match, looking dominant but doing little as the others carried the weight of the bout.
After years of suffering, André Roussimoff passed away from congestive heart failure in January 1993 in his Paris hotel room. The pop-culture phenomenon, this news took the world by storm. His ashes were scattered on his ranch. In tribute to his immense contributions to the sport of pro wrestling, André was the first-ever WWE Hall of Fame inductee, now with an annual battle royal named in his honour.
Revered as one of the greatest to never hold the WWF championship, DiBiase was a top-calibre mid-card heel during the late 80s, allegedly pencilled in to win the WWF Championship at WrestleMania 4.
At this event, it was Ted who was the recipient of the pinfall, falling victim to an Atomic Legdrop and Flying Elbow.
DiBiase won the 24/7 title in 2019, having the longest drought in wrestling history with 26 years between that year and his last title reign. Recently, he has been a presence on NXT to help promote the return of the Million Dollar title belt on the show. He also runs the Heart of David Ministry and has done so since 1999 although he has been questioned more recently for his son’s involvement in Mississippi’s largest embezzlement case.
Managing his master DiBiase and André, Virgil was sort of a non-factor in this match, just another odd stacked against Savage and Hogan. Virgil’s managing had little impact compared to Elizabeth.
Virgil is these days somewhat of an internet sensation in the wrestling community. The former Million Dollar champion is controlled by money, being known for his love of breadsticks, overcharging of those wanting photos or autographs of him and generally being a sketchy character.
Finally, the referee for the huge main event was heel commentator Jesse Ventura. ‘The Body’ was endlessly mocked by commentator Billy Graham as Ventura had stolen the gimmick from him – thus meaning we had a match featuring Hulk Hogan with Jesse Ventura as referee and called by Graham – sometimes gimmick infringement works I guess.
Ventura showed clear favouritism to the heels in this bout but would eventually be forced to count the 3 for Randy and Hogan.
Jesse left the WWF famously wanting a wrestler’s union. Jesse famously went into politics where he became the Governor of Minnesota for 4 years from 1999-2003. Still a politician, he has become an outspoken figure criticising the US government on issues from waterboarding to 9/11. Ventura even recently spoke about entering the 2020 presidential election as a Green Party candidate but eventually would not.