Retro Wrestling Summerslam 1989

Summerslam 89 – How to do a PPV right

With Summerslam being stretched to four hours this weekend, I thought it was time to look back at my favourite of the summer Pay Per View events. Back then there was no need to stretch an event out. This was how you did it old school. No non-finishes and the whole roster at their peak. Value for money at its finest with all these matches squeezed into the three hours

The announce team – Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura

As good a duo as there could be. Schiavone plays it straight calling it play by play while Ventura is the colour commentator. The heat between the two of them carries the event of brilliantly for the watching audience. The difference in size between the two is referred to constantly and Ventura legitimately has beef with some of the superstars in the ring. All leads to an enjoyable double act.

Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard versus the Hart Foundation

Non-title match between one of the best tag teams in history and another of the best. The Brain Busters as Anderson and Blanchard were known, emerged victorious after a spirited display by the Hitman and Anvil. The match ending with a classic heel tag move, using the wrong legal man for the pin. The Brain Busters of course were part of the legendary four horsemen and unfortunately never got the run in the WWF that they deserved, leaving the company early. Politics and contracts behind the scenes stopped them having the same impact that Ric Flair did when he made the move years later.

Dusty Rhodes vs The Honkey Tonk Man

Another good match, the immensely popular Rhodes triumphing over the Tonk Man. In the ring Honkey was never the greatest technical wrestler, but he was more than competent in playing the heel and putting over the other guy. In this match he looked to be getting the cheap win with interference from Jimmy Hart, but Rhodes dodged the shot and hit his own finisher.

Mr Perfect vs The Red Rooster

Terry Taylor was no slouch in the ring, but up against Curt Henning in his prime there really is no contest. In as close to a squash match you could get. Perfect puts on a short technical masterclass topped off by perhaps the best standing dropkick ever seen. Perfect was a template for the heels who were actually fearsome competitiors. HHH is the best modern day example.

The Rougeaus and Rick Martel vs The Rockers and Tito Santana

Six man tag matches outside Survivor Series were a rarity. This one is a rare chance to see a pre egotistical Shawn Michaels not being the centre of attention. The legendary performer shares the spotlight with Jannetty and Santana before Jannetty gets trapped in the ring and carries the rest of the match. Michaels gets the tide turning tag but in the resulting brawl, Martel pins Jannetty despite not being the legal man. Recycling of the legal man trick but a good way to get these six stars on the card. The only real heat was between former partners Martel and Santana. Unfortunately, they never seemed to get the feud that their break up deserved.

Rick Rude vs The Ultimate Warrior

One of my top ten matches of all time. Rude with Heenan is on top form. The feud had been going since that years Royal Rumble, when Rude beat the Warrior in a pose down with a weightlifting bar. Then at Wrestlemania V, Heenan trapped Warrior’s ankle costing him the IC belt. This was the re-match. Warrior overpowered Rude and press slammed him to the concrete floor. After a great back and forward Rude had the upper hand only to be distracted by Roddy Piper. Warrior takes the win and belt putting in motion the long game for Wrestlemania VI versus Hulk Hogan.

Hacksaw and Demolition vs Andre and The Twin Towers

Getting Andre to the ring at this stage was enough to draw a crowd. The legend was taking a less active role in the ring by this stage and matches like this were best. Demolition were another great tag team in this golden era of tag wrestling and thy got the win with the help of Hacksaw’s 2×4. All six were unfortunate to follow the epic Warrior match.

Greg Valentine vs Hercules

A quick match where Valentine uses the ropes to pin the mighty Hercules. The real reason for this was to grow the feud between Valentine and Ronnie Garvin, who was guest announcer. Sadly it showed how underused Hercules was in this era. He had the talent and did all that was asked, just never made it with the fans.

Ted Dibiase vs Jimmy Snuka

The last of the matches that could be called filler. But just look at the two stars chosen to fill. Dibiase wins via a countout to keep his perennial heat with the crowd as a heel. A consummate in ring performer Dibiase didn’t need the physique, he never had less than a 7/10 match.

The Main Event – Macho and Zeus vs Hogan and Brutus Beefcake

Say what you want about Hogan and his influence over the roster. Somehow this horrible mess of a match works. For the second Summerslam in succession Savage and Hogan are in a headlining Tag match. This time on opposite sides. Having Zeus in the match is like having a celebrity. His wrestling skills are zero and he is simply a musclebound lump to act as a villain against Hogan. Beefcake is not much better. Hogan was accused of promoting him on a personal level at the expense of talented others. As I said, despite this it works. Zeus is the monster against the hero Hogan, with Savage the evil genius in the background. Sherri and Elizabeth provide the outside interference. Beefcake gets beat up before tagging in Hogan, hogan clears house, before hitting Zeus with Sherri’s loaded purse for the win.

So there you have it. A Summerslam that delivered on all levels. Modern WWE – over to you for this weekend.

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