- Michael Rickard II
"The First 'SummerSlam':The Mega Powers vs. the Mega-Bucks."
Originally presented at Canadian Bulldog's World
By 1988, the World Wrestling Federation was steamrolling over its competition. WrestleMania III's success led to 1987's pay-per-view (PPV). Survivor Series and with rival Jim Crockett Promotions nearly down for the count, the WWF decided to run a summertime PPV. Of course, if the WWF wanted to make it a success, they would need a strong main event, just as they had with Survivor Series where they capitalized on the well-planned Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan feud by pitting Andre and Hogan against each other in a ten-man tag team match.
Following WrestleMania IV, Hulk Hogan took time off from wrestling in order to film his movie No Holds Barred. However, by the summer of 1988, he returned to the WWF to help his Mega Powers teammate “Macho Man” Randy Savage against the combined forces of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant. Naturally, the only place for such an epic battle was at the WWF's new show, SummerSlam. To no one's surprise, the show was held at "The Mecca of Professional Wrestling," Madison Square Garden.
The main event began with special referee Jesse Ventura making a flashy entrance. Eschewing traditional referee attire for his regular Hollywood fashion (including a doo rag), Jesse soaked in the cheers of the fans. While Jesse favored the heels during his time as a color commentator, many fans admired his iconoclasm. However how would they feel if Jesse sold out to “The Million Dollar Man”?
Next came “the Mega Bucks” accompanied by DiBiase’s bodyguard Virgil and Andre’s manager, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
The Mega-Powers made their way to the ring with Elizabeth by their side. After the referee ordered the non-participants out of the ring, things got underway with Andre squaring off against Savage. Savage had difficulty coping with the Giant’s tremendous size and strength advantage. DiBiase tagged in and demanded to face Hogan. Savage gave the fans what they wanted and tagged in the Hulkster.
The Mega Powers and the Mega-Bucks seemed evenly matched with neither team being able to gain a sustained offense. Things took a turn for the worst when the Mega Powers finally seemed to have things going their way. Hulk Hogan had a sleeper applied to DiBiase and Randy Savage was poised to deliver his finishing move, the flying elbowsmash, to Andre. However a prone Andre raised his boot up at the last minute stunning Savage. Andre then headbutted Hogan from behind and the Mega Powers were both knocked out of the ring.
Referee Jesse Ventura began counting both men out.Up until now, “The Body” had called things down the middle and he seemed like he wasn’t going to change now. Hogan and Savage were in bad shape and it looked like they were going to lose by count-out. While the Mega Bucks would have preferred a pinfall victory, a count-out would still be a victory. Jesse continued counting until the Mega Powers unleashed their secret weapon.
Miss Elizabeth stepped onto the ring apron and began walking down it. All eyes turned to her when she took off her skirt, revealing her underwear beneath. The now even lovelier Elizabeth proved to be too much of a distraction for Ventura and the Mega-Bucks and this distraction allowed the Mega Powers to regain their senses. When Hogan and Savage saw that Elizabeth’s distraction was working, they shook hands. Then the Mega Powers jumped back into the ring, knocking Andre over the top rope. The Mega Powers then delivered the coup de grace to DiBiase with Hogan legdropping DiBiase and covering him. Jesse Ventura began counting but when it came time for the third count, he seemed to hesitate. However Randy Savage made sure that Ventura did the right thing and he slammed Ventura’s hand down for the third count, sealing his team’s victory.
Following their victory, the Mega Powers celebrated in the ring with Hogan delivering his usual post-match pose-down. Elizabeth hugged Hogan then Savage.Miss Elizabeth had proven to be a valuable member of the Mega Powers team. Unfortunately, as often happens in professional wrestling, the greatest of partnerships are often the ones most likely to end in tragedy. Thus would be the case with the Mega Powers.
Following his tag team win at the main event of SummerSlam with fellow Mega Powers' member Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Hulk Hogan worked house shows in singles competition against “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. While Hogan no longer held the WWF championship, he was still a main event star and headlined shows across the country. With Savage main eventing other shows and the Ultimate Warrior’s star on the rise, the WWF’s top tier of babyfaces never seemed stronger.
The inaugural SummerSlam was a smash hit and the beginning of an annual tradition. The card also became known for "The Ultimate Surprise," the Ultimate Warrior's surprise match with the Honky Tonk Man for Honky's Intercontinental Championship. Many more memories would be made at SummerSlam over the next 29 years.