THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
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With WWE’s Summerslam just a few days away, I’m once again going to revive my tradition of reviewing a past Summerslam. Having reviewed the first show in 1988 last year, I’m now going to take a look back at the 1989 show, headlined by Hulk Hogan & Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake against “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Zeus. Commentary for this one was handled by Tony Schiavone and Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
The show began with The Hart Foundation, Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart facing WWF Tag Team Champions The Brain Busters, Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Anderson & Blanchard had defeated Demolition for the titles after this match had been announced, and they subsequently refused to put the titles on the line against the Harts. This for me remains one of my favourite tag team matches of all time, and it’s also one of the most underrated tag team matches ever. You’ve got two teams in their prime putting on a great exhibition of wrestling. The exchanges between Hart and Blanchard early on were great, and they set out the stall for the rest of this great match, with the champions cheating to win. After Neidhart had power slammed Hart onto a fallen Blanchard, Heenan jumped onto the ring apron to argue with the referee. Neidhart tried to chase Heenan away, only to be ushered back to his corner by the referee. While all of this was going on Anderson climbed to the middle rope, came down and clobbered Hart has he covered Blanchard. He then pulled Blanchard out of the way, and covered the Hitman himself, disguising himself so the referee didn’t realise that he was the illegal man. Sadly, both Anderson and Blanchard would be gone from the WWF just three months later.
Then it’s on to singles action, with Dusty Rhodes, making his WWF pay-per-view debut, going up against the Honky Tonk Man, accompanied by his manager, Colonel Jimmy Hart. I wasn’t really a fan of these two when I first saw this match, but as time goes on this one has kind of grown on me. It’s well executed, the action is solid, and the interference from Hart is well timed. In short, it’s a very good match. Rhodes, who took a hit from the megaphone early on, came out on top here. While the referee was taking a snooze, Hart grabbed Honky’s guitar, jumped onto the apron, and swung, only to hit his man instead. A bionic elbow later, and with the referee making a recovery, Rhodes got the three count.
The singles action continued with Mr. Perfect facing the Red Rooster. Hardly one of Terry Taylor’s best gimmicks this, and I’m sure that many of you will agree with me. A relatively short match, which saw Perfect maintain his unbeaten record, dominating the match after the Rooster’s leg buckled while attempting a body slam. A few minutes later his hand was raised in victory after pinning the Rooster with the perfect-plex. A shame that these two weren’t given much longer.
The first of two six man tag team matches followed, with the Rockers & Tito Santana facing Rick Martel and the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, accompanied by their respective managers, “The Doctor of Style” Slick and “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart. Both sides were embroiled in various feuds with each other at the time, Santana with Martel following the break-up of their Strike Force team, and the Rockers and the Rougeaus for….well, they were just feuding. This is a classic. I loved this match when I first saw, and I still love it now, it holds up that well. Six great performances here, with Santana playing the role of the punching bag here, with the three Canadians proving to be quite the unit. It was also a great reminder of just how good a team Shawn Michaels and Marty Janetty were. Yet more underhanded tactics saw Martel and the Rougeaus come out on top. As Janetty had Jacques rolled up, Martel came in and clothes lined Janetty, getting the pin for his team as all about his continued to brawl. Great stuff.
Grudge match time next, and the first title match of the evening, with the Ultimate Warrior challenging “Ravishing” Rick Rude for the Intercontinental Championship. This was the culmination of their feud, which dated back to the Royal Rumble the previous January when Rude attacked the Warrior during a pose down. This was a hell of a lot better than their Wrestlemania encounter, and this was the match where I really became a fan of the Warrior. It’s a tremendous encounter, a hard hitting, back and forth affair between two guys who were made for each other, with plenty of false finishes, a referee hit, and a guest appearance by none other than “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. With the Warrior down and out in the middle of the ring, Piper came down to ringside, and after Rude posed in front of him, Piper once again proved that there is only one thing a Scotsman wears under his shoes. This gave the Warrior time to recover, and it wasn’t long before the Warrior had taken rude down with the gorilla press/big splash combination, getting the title retaining pin immediately afterwards. You know, this may even be better than Warrior’s match against Randy Savage at Wrestlemania VII
The second six man tag team match followed, with Demolition and King Duggan against the Twin Towers and Andre the Giant, accompanied by Slick and Bobby Heenan. There was a nice touch at the beginning of this one, with Duggan coming down to the ring with a mask on, taking it off revealing the American flag painted onto his face. This was more of a brawl than a wrestling match, but it was still damn entertaining. The thing that amazed me about this one were the bumps that Akeem was taken, amazing for a man of his size. Duggan and Demolition came out on top here. After Akeem had come off the second rope with a big splash of Smash, Duggan clobbered him with his trusty two by four while the referee was trying to usher Andre out of the ring. The referee turned around to see Smash covering Akeem, and made the three count. Nice stuff.
Next up, Hercules facing Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, accompanied by Jimmy Hart. This one had a special ring announcer, “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin, who had been retired by Valentine, although he had just been reinstated. The way he introduced Valentine was classic. If you can find it on Youtube, then do so, you won’t be disappointed. Another short match, with Valentine constantly occupied by Garvin’s presence at ringside, but it wasn’t long before the Hammer was able to gain the upper hand, getting the pin with his feet on the ropes. Garvin then came into the ring, and announced, in his opinion, that Hercules was the winner. After a brief conversation with the referee, Garvin then announced Hercules was the winner, by disqualification. Needless to say that this didn’t sit too well with Valentine, who clobbered Garvin, sending him out of the ring. He then began to brawl with Herc, until Garvin took off his dinner jacket, got back into the ring, and got his own back for what Valentine did to him. Nice stuff, and if you want to see a great blow off match, watch their match at the 1990 Royal Rumble. It’s a classic.
Then it’s on to the Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase, accompanied by his loyal bodyguard Virgil, taking on “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. Before the match, Dibiase continued his boast about ending Jake Roberts’ career. It’s another of those short and sweet matches, apart from the slight mishap halfway through when Snuka botched a leapfrog and landed on top of Dibiase as he came off the ropes. Apart from that, some nice exchanges here, with Dibiase getting the win via count out. Just as Snuka was about to finish Dibiase off with the superfly splash, Virgil jumped onto the ring apron. Snuka went after the bodyguard, only to be attacked from behind by Dibiase, who finished off his attack by ramming Snuka into the ring post. The Million Dollar Man then made it back into the ring as the referee counted Snuka out. Enraged by the decision, Snuka returned to the ring, attacked Dibiase, and then took down Virgil with the aforementioned superfly splash.
After a poem from The Genius, it’s main event time, with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, accompanied by Miss Elizabeth, squaring off against “Macho Man” Randy Savage and “The Human Wrecking Machine” Zeus, accompanied by Sensational Sherri. This one had a long history behind it. You should all know about the Hogan/Savage rivalry. Savage brought Beefcake into the equation by cutting his hair, and Vince McMahon came up with the bright idea of bringing Hogan’s movie rivalry with Zeus into the ring. Given the limitations of Tiny Lister as a wrestler, it made sense to put him in a tag team match. There was also some speculation about the possibility of Miss Elizabeth doing a no show. As a spectacle, it’s great. The atmosphere surrounding this match was electric. But when you get down to the brass tacks, you realise just how limited Zeus was, with only a bear hug and a big choke the only moves in his arsenal. Thankfully the other three men in this match made up for his short comings, and that’s what made this match work. Of course, we had the usual Hogan act, with the Hulkster springing to his feet after taking the Macho Man’s elbow, before getting the pin on Zeus after hitting him with Sherri’s loaded purse, finishing him off with the leg drop of doom. It didn’t end there though, as the Barber concluded the evening’s proceedings by cutting off Sherri’s hair extensions.
In conclusion – this was only my second WWF pay-per-view, and my first Summerslam. I thought the show was great then, and my opinion hasn’t changed one bit in the last twenty years. This was back when you’d get PPV matches that didn’t have extensive back stories, and back then we didn’t care. You certainly couldn’t get away with that sort of thing today.
But I digress. Every match here was good in it’s own way, with the opening match between the Harts and the Brain Busters still my favourite. If you’re a keen student of the game, of if, like me, you just want to relive some happy memories, then why not sit back, open a couple of cold ones and watch this classic again.