Saturday, March 16, 2013

Old School Wrestling: SummerSlam 1989

SummerSlam 1989!

We watched the original taping of this pay per view, so it started out with a lot of the promo work they did. The main event, between Hulk Hogan and Brutus the Barber Beefcake vs. Randy Savage and Zeus, started based on a movie that Zeus and Hogan stared in. The feud in the movie extended into the wrestling ring. This is really the start to the WWF movie studios, I think.

Now days it's common for wrestlers to be movie stars, but I can imagine it was a really big deal for Hogan to star in a movie, and then for the bad guy of a movie to continue to movie feud in the ring.

I do wonder, though, if they had chosen a better actor to play in their first big wrestling movie, how much better wrestlers-turned-actors would have turned out years from then. I’m not going to lie, I am not a Hogan fan. I think out of all the in-ring talent, he’s about the worst of them when it comes to acting. Now, I can hear some of you saying “but wrestlers aren’t actors!” But they are! They are some of the best improv actors of all time. They get one take to do their entire matches live in front of millions of people on TV weekly, whether it’s ‘faking’ injuries, or not showing injuries that happen, or just cutting a kick ass promo. They are actors.

Out of all of them of the 80’s and 90’s, Hogan was one of the worst. How many matches have I seen up to this point where he gets an ‘injury’ then five seconds later is no-selling it like it never happened? It’s terrible! Looking back, would Hollywood have a much better view of wrestlers if their first real introduction to a main star wrestling actor have been someone who can act? Someone like Dibiase, Rick Rude, or Mr. Perfect?

But I digress. To SummerSlam!

The first match was the Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard) (with Bobby Heenan) vs. the Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart). The camera work is much better than at the Trump Plaza. Frankly, the Trump Plaza at WreslteMania was pretty terrible in comparison. This is a terrific match, the second pay-per-view in a row with a great opening match. The bad guys are truly bad, even Bobby Heenan gets a chant going against him as the Weasel. He’s one of the few managers to get his own chants and it goes to show what a great influence he is as a heel.

Next up is the first appearance of Dusty Rhodes vs. the Honky Tonk Man (with Jimmy Hart). This is a theatrical match. The wrestlers really show how they are entertainers here. The theatrics between Dusty and Honky really get the crowd into the match at the beginning before they actually get to the business of wrestling, so when they get to the actual wrestling moves, the crowd is still reacting strongly. The ending when Jimmy Hart hits Honky out with his guitar by accident is perfect because the crowd goes wild. The match is a great example of using entertainment to draw the audience in.

Mr. Perfect vs. The Red Rooster. Oh boy. Ooof. This poor match. Now, the Red Rooster was supposed to be Mr. Perfect but he showed up late to the meeting with Vince McMahon, so the next guy in line got the gimmick, which happened to be Mr. Perfect. So Red Rooster got stuck with the Rooster gimmick and I feel so bad for him. He’s a decent enough wrestler, but there’s no way to redeem a rooster gimmick. The crowd even half cheers the heel, Mr. Perfect. Ugh.

Next Rick Martel and The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond) (with Jimmy Hart) vs. Tito Santana and The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty). This is a hectic match, but the Tito vs. Martel portion of the match was well done. They drew out a lot of tension between the two of them. The Rougeau brothers finally look better than at Wrestlemania. Martel was spot on. The Rockers gathered a lot of energy whenever the match started to drag on. If if was any other tag team match it might have dragged on with all the rest holds, but the Rockers came out to throw a few punches on the other team, making the match a lot more exciting.

The Intercontinental Championship with Rick Rude vs. The Ultimate Warrior is up next and my god, Rick Rude’s tights. Rude’s really put on some muscle for this match. The last PPV, it felt like Rude was a cruiser-weight and Warrior was a heavy-weight, but this match feels more like they’re both heavy-weights. That’s how much Rude worked out, and it doesn’t look like steroid weight, either. Anyway, it’s a good match with a good story being told. It really sucks for Rude, though, because he should have held the title longer. I know they’re building for Warrior vs. Hogan and WrestleMania, so Warrior had to get the title, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

As far as current talent is concerned, the big guys of this generation, the Rybacks and the like, could watch these Warrior matches and learn something. Warrior does a great job being a really powerful character yet still keeps the match interesting. He can get beat up, and beat up well, but he still gets to use his power moves like a beast. For as much as people like to hate on the Warrior now days for being a crap wrestler, I think he’s pretty good. Better than Hogan was by a thousand percent. At least Warrior can sell his moves.

Only a few more matches to go! Jim Duggan and Demolition (Smash and Ax) vs. AndrĂ© the Giant and The Twin Towers (The Big Boss Man and Akeem) (with Bobby Heenan and Slick) was next. I love King Duggan, but I think this is the only time I see him. Even his 2x4 has a little crown! It’s so adorable! Like most Duggan matches this is a brawler match. I really like Duggan matches, though. They can be incredibly silly, but you can tell how much Duggan loves being a goof and getting the crowd going with his “hooooooo” chants. At the end I’m so surprised the ring didn’t collapse.

Hercules vs. Greg Valentine (with Jimmy Hart) is the next match, which was a typical match, but they used Rugged Ronnie Garven as the ring announcer to build up the heel-ness of Valentine. That was funny to listen to, even if the match itself was short. It was one of Hercules’ better PPV matches.

The second to last match is Ted DiBiase (with Virgil) vs. Jimmy Snuka. This is another straightforward match. Snucka and DiBiase meld well together in the ring. DiBiase gains so much heat just by being him. It’s such a great gimmick and DiBiase is so great at acting it. You just believe his character. Snuka lands a perfect Super Fly at the end, though the match ends on a count out.

Before the last match is the first appearance of the Genius and his poem is really awesome.

And now for the Main Event!

Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake (with Miss Elizabeth) vs. Randy Savage and Zeus (with Sensational Sherri)

Ok, this is a pretty long match, just topping fifteen minutes. Most of the work for the match was done by Savage. Hogan did a lot of no-selling with Zeus, which makes sense because they’re both supposed to be powerful guys and all, but after the fourth or fifth time I got really bored with it. I also got really annoyed with Beefcake even sniffing the main event at a PPV, much less being in it. I don’t like Beefcake in the slightest and he did so little work during the match that looked good. He does a whole lot of flopping around with his moves.

Zeus gets a little bit of a pass because he’s not a professional wrestler, so it’s expected that he doesn’t know how to do a lot of the moves, but he does a better job with them than Hogan does. He sells better and he actually manages to stick his moves better than I expected. I’ve seen a lot of matches where the actors come in and do a god awful job as wrestlers, but Zeus manages to do a decent job.

I knew the match was over, though, the moment Hogan no-sold Savage’s Elbow Drop off the top rope. What a way to no-sell another wrestler’s finishing move, brother. I’ve seen enough Hogan matches to know the moment Hogan pops up with those big eyes of his and acts like the Savage Elbow Drop did nothing to his steroid filled, leathery tanned chest the match was going in Hogan’s favor. At least Hogan didn’t win by doing his three moves of doom and actually had to use Sheri’s purse to defeat Zeus. Hogan came off looking like the bad guy, though. I think it’s pretty funny how often I see him as the bad guy, but I might be really, really biased.

Anyway. It was a pretty good PPV. I’m starting to like Warrior, and I still love the Hart Foundation. Rick Rude’s tights are awesome, but Beefcake’s tights are awful. I’m very excited to see the next few shows because I’ve heard a lot about Dusty Rhodes and never seen him, and I want to see more of the Rockers.

(Hope you liked my review! As always, I’d like to point out here at the end that I watch these without my husband spoiling the ending of the PPV’s and I didn’t watch them when they came out because I was a pretty sheltered kid. So these are a new wrestling fan’s perspective on the old school wrestling shows.)

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