It was the year Indiana Jones went on his Last Crusade, it was also the year that brought us the sequel to Ghostbusters, and the first Batman movie since 1966. In the news we saw the Exxon Valdez Oil spill, Ted Bundy was executed in an electric chair, and the WWF was brave enough to stage their first pay per view event in the swamps of East Rutherford, New Jersey.
In my world, it wasn’t too soon after Summerslam ’89 that the ’80s wrestling blitz would begin to take a nosedive. I’ve been a loyal WWF/WWE fan since ’83, and never got caught up in the terrible mess that was WCW. Once the WWE proudly slid into 1990, it was obvious to true fans that the stories and ideas were beginning to run out of steam. Not to worry, because today we’re taking you back to ’89 when I was still a fan revelling in the drama and action created by these larger than life characters.
20 years ago, the 2nd SummerSlam marked the first time a live Pay Per View event would emanate from The Meadowlands Arena, then known as Brendan Byrne Arena. The Pay Per View intro was spectacular and made you want to jump into your TV set and inhale the exciting atmosphere. The SummerSlam music and logo graphics were the ones you got used to seeing, not some crazy trendy looking logo that bears no resemblance to the original and has no history tied to it like this years.
The Coliseum Video VHS copy of SummerSlam ’89 contains an intro that shows fans filing into the Meadowlands Arena, buying t-shirts, and a kickass little kid doing his best Ravishing Rick Rude impression. I was pissed when I bought the WWE SummerSlam Anthology DVD and this intro was completely cut out. Those minute details of the VHS release helped me remember the era. When the SummerSlam events were edited for the new Anthology, those scenes probably seemed unimportant and easily discarded. Seriously WWE, is saving 1 minute of time really that precious? The fans want the versions that they watched over and over again at home or rented from the video store, not some chopped up version. Thanks to YouTube member neilsmith207, we’re able to see the original introduction filmed in East Rutherford NJ.
For the first time since Rocky III, Hogan was on the big screen in No Holds Barred, which happened to be “the greatest movie of all time” if you asked me after I saw it. I remember my Dad taking me to the theater to see it, and it was such an event. My dad was quite a trooper when I was a kid, always taking me to WWE live events, fan festivals, and even shlocky movies starring Hulk Hogan and Kurt Fuller. WWE had a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the film’s feud between Tiny Lister and Rip (Hogan). WWE passed it off that Hogan and Zeus had real conflict on the set and it fell out into the WWE ring, making a perfect main event for SummerSlam. Hogan teamed up with his best bud Brutus The Barber Beefcake, to take on the fierce combo of The Macho King and Zeus with Sensational Sherri in their corner. To vote on the petition to get No Holds Barred onto an official DVD release, check out the bottom right of this page.
Jesse the Body Ventura and Tony Schiavone handled the commentary. Schiavone’s voice had energy and enthusiasm, but I still missed Heenan’s sarcasm and one liners, and Monsoon’s familiar voice and sayings like “it is deafening in here,” and “…the anticipation, you can cut it with a knife.”
Summerlsam 89 was a solid event that kicked off with The Hart Foundation vs. The Brain Busters, and followed up with Dusty Rhodes vs. The Honky Tonk Man. I had no interest in Dusty Rhodes when I was kid, I just didn’t get his shtick. He didn’t have that special sheen that Vince helped create in his wrestlers. Dusty was a guy from “that other company” that I only read about in the black and white pages of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. He sure got the crowd pumped up though. I just scratched my head when I saw an older, overweight bleach blonde guy wearing yellow polka dots dancing around in the ring. It didn’t make much sense to me. I think if I grew up in the ’70s I might understand his appeal. Thrown for a loop after losing the match and getting hit in the head with his own guitar, Honky Tonk cut one of his funniest promos ever, acting completely like Elvis trying to get to his concert. “Somebody help me find the stage!”
Undefeated Mr. Perfect takes on…yes…wait for it…”The Red Rooster” Terry Taylor! Remember what I was saying about the WWF’s nosedive? Even as a kid, I wasn’t thinking about math tests, or little league, I was thinking “what the cluck was wrong Vince McMahon letting this gimmick get on TV?” I knew something was amiss when I saw Terry Taylor poking his head forward and back like a rooster with his red spiked hair. What a debacle. I don’t know what was more unnerving to me even at that age, an overweight middle aged guy wearing yellow polka dots and a police hat, or the fact that they tried to put a guy over as a rooster. The late great Mr. Perfect won the match, and as Jesse the Body said, “Mr. Perfect stays Perfect.”
In six-man tag action, The Rougeau Brothers and Rick Martel with Slick and Jimmy Hart took on the action packed team of The Rockers and Tito Santana. Santana is one of the most underrated Superstars in WWE history, and now he owns a hair salon in NJ! The Rougeaus and Martel got the W.
Ultimate Warrior was interviewed about his heated feud with Ravishing Rick Rude and he had this to say: “…Ravishing Rick Rude as i promised you will surrender to the gods above as i beat you ONE, TWO, THREEE!!!” Rude entered the ring and grabbed the mic: “What I’d like to have right now is for all you fat, out of shape, SummerSlam sweathogs to keep the noise down while I take my robe off and show the ladies what a reeeaal sexy man looks like, hit the music…” Rude’s robe dropped to reveal The Warrior’s face on his airbrushed tights. During the bout, Rowdy Roddy Piper appeared at ringside and lifted his kilt to moon Rude. Warrior took advantage of a distracted Rude and won the Intercontinental belt back only to swing it over his head like a complete maniac. Careful, those things are like $300 bro.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Demolition? What a ragtag group that is. Demolition was so much more effective as heels. It doesn’t seem possible that these guys could subdue 3 behemoths such as Andre the Giant, Akeem, and Big Boss Man but they were going to try. Jesse The Body ranted about Duggan’s face paint: “how disrespectful to the flag of America to have it on that ugly face.” Duggan’s 2×4 sealed the deal and scored the win for Demolition and Hacksaw.
The match between Hercules and Greg Valentine was an excuse to beef up the heat between Ronnie Garvin (who was curiously serving as ring announcer) and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. Unbeknownst to the ref, Valentine put his feet on the ropes to secure the pin and got the 3 count. Regardless, Garvin announced Herc as the winner. BTW- who greenlit the “Garvin Stomp?”
Superfly Jimmy Snuka took on The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. Snuka was counted out during a scuffle with Virgil on the outside of the ring.
According to Hogan in an interview with Mean Gene, he was on his way to the Meadowlands on his Harley, and his 24-inch pythons parted the Hudson River on his way to get onto I-95. Hogan and Brutus discussed their secret weapon and doing some struttin’ and cuttin’.
Miss Elizabeth was introduced to even the playing field. As soon as she entered the ring, Jesse Ventura buries Elizabeth and proves why he was the best color guy WWE ever had: “She’s a little gold digger, Randy Savage made her what she is today. She was a hashslinger down the street in Jersey.” The main event had a predictable, yet satisfyingly fun result. Hogan hit Zeus in the face with Sherri’s purse, then a body slam, and ended it with the leg drop for the win. Then Hogan hit Scary Sherri with an atomic drop, and as she stumbled, Elizabeth hit her in the face with Sherri’s own purse. Next, The Barber took his hedge clippers and snipped off the end of Sherri’s pre-cut hair extensions.