Triple H, October 2011:

“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.

Wrestlemania IV/The First Summer Slam/Survivor Series 1988

Thursday, December 22, 2005

III, the first Survivor Series, and the build for IV are here.
WRESTLEMANIA IV – 1988 (Atlantic City)(Dark – Owen Hart d. Bad News Brown)

Gorilla/Jesse on the announce.

1. Demolition d. Killer Bees
-The Bees won the opener at II, III and Survivor Series – the new heel team comes into the company, making their debut right here at Mania, and absolutely buries them here. It’s an execution and we never see the Bees on PPV again. That Demolition’s a walking disaster, after all.

2. Legend's Match: Andre the Giant d. Hulk Hogan (Superstar Graham - guest referee)
-Recall, Andre’s beaten David, Bruno, and Race. Hogan’s run off Orndorff and Piper in the last two PPVs. Both guys stay faces, here. "Let the fans cheer for whomever they want!" Vince is often heard to exclaim. "And whatever we do, let's make sure to settle this intellectual property issue with the panda people."

Quick match. Andre goes 4-0 at WM. Something for everyone. All the colors in the rainbow. Handshake after the match. Everyone's happy.

3. Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) d. Greg Valentine.
- Money, Money, Money, Money, Money. Virgil stuffs the hundred in the Hammer’s mouth after the Million $ Dream finish.

4. Davey Boy Smith d. Bam Bam Bigelow
- Bigelow had been unbeaten since his debut in ’87 – Davey Boy’s coming off a full year and a half with the tag belts – so it’s big on big here in the middle of the card. DBS sends him on his way.

5. Rick Rude (w/Brain) d. Jake Roberts
- Same angle as actually ran. Jake’s the face, Rick’s got Cheryl Roberts’s face on his tights. We push the psychological nature of the program – and the heel goes over at Mania. The feud will continue as Jake vows revenge.

6. Tags: Rougeaus (w/Anvil) d. Strike Force
- Evil French Canadians keep their straps earned at SSeries by going over the babyface Martel/Santana.

7. IC: Bret Hart d. Randy Savage
- Randy finally loses the IC belt he’s held for 2 full years. This is a pure face/face matchup, no turns teased, they just wrestle each other, Bret fighting from underneath as he's the kid in this program. His winning is a surprise, surprise to the fans, Savage, maybe Bret a little bit, but he's able to stay cool. After a year and a half with the tag belts – here’s Bret’s first singles strap. Appreciative ovation for Randy as his two year run ends. He and Bret hug in a masculine way.

8. WWF Title: Loser Leaves Town: Dynamite Kid d. Ricky Steamboat
- Dynamite evens the PPV scorecard at 2 matches each – retakes the WWF title and Steamboat’s forced to leave the WWF. True, we set up the main event early, back in December after SSeries – but that’s done for two reasons (1) the tone Vince wanted to set by having the main event at 4 straight PPVs be the same is that the best wrestlers hold the belts and are in constant competition for them. The PPV buyer is promised that, should he purchase, he’s guaranteed to see a great, competitive championship match. The corollary to that is that Steamboat and Dynamite are positioned as the titans of the company – clearly a cut above everyone else, and that their matches are something special. What you lose in suspense, you gain in anticipation.

The greatest feud in company history comes down to a Loser Leaves town match at WM IV.

And when the heel goes over – and the people realize that Ricky Steamboat, their hero, is leaving the WWF – oh, how the people will weep.

After a long moment, and Ricky, the announce, the crowd realizes that it's real, that Steamboat is leaving the WWF and that this 2 year was has ended...Steamboat offers Billington a handshake...

...but Dynamite stays all heel, screaming at Steamboat "GET OUT OF MY RING! GET THE HELL OUT OF MY RING!!" The babyfaces in the company come down the aisle; Vince McMahon, who decided to leave his on camera personna behind just prior to WM I, deciding that he needed to devote all of his energy to creative and "not draw focus from the real talent" appears on WWF TV for the first time in 4 years, standing with the boys in the aisle as Ricky gets the standing ovation from workers and fans alike. Dynamite stands defiantly in the ring, holding his title belt aloft, as a highlight package plays in the arena and the company says goodbye to Ricky Steamboat.

5 months later, a new PPV – Summerslam.

Down south..Sting, Luger, Steiners all still babyfaces running against the Horsemen. Mike Rotundo comes in for revenge against Windham, Rotundo, jealous and angry, is the heel in this feud.

Great American Bash 1988 – Baltimore
NWA Title: Steve Williams d. Ric Flair
US Title: Barry Windham d. Mike Rotundo
Tags: Road Warriors d. Midnight Express
Sting d. Dick Murdoch

Lex Luger d. Arn Anderson
Rick Steiner d. Tully Blanchard
Kevin Sullivan d. Al Perez
Fantastics d. Koloffs

5 months after WM IV, we go back to a New York PPV for the first time since WM I. All the critics love me in New York. We're adding the 3rd of our 4 annual PPVs, so we're close to getting to full speed. If, for some unknowable reason, you are following along in chronological order - first, thanks, and second, once we get to the full complement of PPVs, the storylines will get more extensive and soon it will take a whole post just to cover one PPV, as opposed to a whole year.

-They team up Andre and Hogan for the first ever Summer Slam, they'll work the opening tag. The Warrior makes his PPV debut here at SSlam. It's the same Warrior gimmick - at least to start. But Vince, whose political sensibilities have recently been enlarged by reading about the Williams thesis on American imperialism, is intrigued by Jim Hellwig's own retrograde political beliefs. "If I could expose the silly...nearly facist nature of this way of looking at the world, it might create a new consciousness in this country. Or - at least begin the process of our moving away from the solipsistic Reagan 80s."

They continue with Rude/Jake. Heel Demolition, really doing the Road Warrior, “we’re heels but you can still cheer us” gimmick, gets their title shot. Dynamite gets back into the lives of the Harts – he constantly torments Davey Boy about Bret winning the IC, belittling him, saying that Davey Boy was supposed to be this big powerhouse, but it's Bret who is carrying the gold, until the easily manipulated Bulldog challenges Bret. They both remain faces, but the tension between the former tag partners increases every time they come into contact.

And babyface Savage guns right after Dynamite. His schtick is way, way over at this point, he’s the top face in the company, and wants to stake his claim as the top guy.

Summerslam 1988 MSG
(Dark – Owen Hart d. Shawn Michaels)


1. Andre/Hogan d. Hercules/Dino Bravo
- Good atmosphere at MSG.

2. Ultimate Warrior d. Honky Tonk Man
-Squash, Warrior does his rope shaking, getting over with the children, puts Honky away quickly before, you know, we have to watch either of them wrestle.

3. Bad News Brown d. Koko B. Ware
-Bird. Bird. Bird. Bird. Bird. Bird.

4. Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) d. Don Muraco
-Ted wins again, staying unbeaten. A hundred stuffed in Muraco’s mouth.

5. Rick Rude (w/Brain) d. Jake Roberts (w/Cheryl)
- They give every indication that Jake's gonna get even here - Rick goes as far he can in antagonizing Jake - finally, Cheryl convinces Jake that she can't watch from the crowd anymore, she needs to be at ringside...and, of course, Cheryl turns on Jake, allowing Rude to get the fall – be fun to see she and Rude making out in the ring after the match - say, Jake gets handcuffed to the ropes postmatch - and Cheryl and Rude basically dry hump right in front of him.

Good heat. The announce would express concern for Jake’s mental health, given that Jake is hardly the most stable guy under normal circumstances - but having to watch this scene play out right in front of him will drive Roberts to a maniacal level rarely seen in a WWF ring.

6. Tags: Rougeaus (w/Anvil) d. Demolition
- Surprising result – Dems were unbeaten, getting the powerhouse push, both teams were heels, Rougeaus are better workers – but the Dems were way over and one would think the Rougeaus might be at the end of their run here. But Vince knows how this works – he uses the Bees to feed the Dems, then use the Dems to feed the champs – food chain, daddy. Selling tickets to the people.) No face turn for anyone here, Canadians cheat to win.

7. IC: Bret Hart d. Davey Boy Smith
- Most popular tag team in WWF history, 18 month champs – DBS was unbeaten as a single and challenges his brother in law Bret for his newly won IC strap. They do a face/face match, the MSG crowd split. Bret wins clean in a great match – as he did against Savage, and the announce should note, as they prepare for another postmatch handshake, that it is a credit to Bret and Davey Boy that they can maintain their brotherly relationship, can still be the Hart Foundation, after such a tough fight...

– And the Bulldog turns on him Press slams Bret to the canvas.

8. WWF Title: Dynamite Kid d. Randy Savage
- The evil Dynamite retains the belt as he and Savage tear the house down. Clean fall, hopefully a good enough match that it elevates Savage a little bit -- Vince has positioned Dynamite and Steamboat as a cut above - now, they need to elevate Savage to Dynamite's level. He's not quite there as of Summer Slam..but he's so, so close.

So, we now have a face push for Hellwig, a heel push for DiBiase, a half crazed, crack addicted Jake Roberts, a heel tag team that can’t lose, a shocking turn by Davey Boy, and the most evil man in wrestling history – the Dynamite Kid – continues his second title run.

3 months later we’ll go back to Cleveland for Survivor Series.

We’ve got the Rockers in the opening tag. The Warrior and Ted stay hot underneath, Warrior as a babyface, all gimmick, hopefully attracting the same kids he actually attracted, while Ted also has a great gimmick, but can back it up with really solid work.

It's a big show, as both Hennig and Owen are making their PPV debuts. Both guys are coming in with similar huge pushes. Both guys get vignettes, the announce discusses them as revolutionary workers.

Hennig gets the Mr. Perfect vignettes, no different than they actually did - save that they also tie him directly to Rude, revealing their nearly lifelong friendship. So, we see the Perfect vignettes - and from the ring, Rude will promo about how his best friend is headed for the WWF, and the two of them - with the guidance of the Brain - will take over wrestling.

Then Jake will enter and Rude and Brain will scamper. Prior to Survivor Series, Jake will catch up to Bobby alone, DDT'ing him multiple times until Brain has to be stretchered out. From now on when we see Bobby, he'll be in the neckbrace. Jake and Rude will meet at Survivor Series - in a steel cage.

Owen gets the same big push as does Hennig - and here is when we really begin to tell the story of the Dungeon, of Stampede, of the Hart Foundation that makes the backbone of the company forever. If the WWF is a soap opera like Dallas – the Harts are the Ewings. And Owen is Bobby, white hat all the way. They'll show clips from Stampede - of Owen, Bret, Dynamite, Davey Boy - have Owen clips from Japan - and begin to express the opinion that there are those that say Owen. although the baby, may one day be the best of the Hart Family.

Owen will meet Hennig at Survivor Series.

And finally, we have a tag team debuting at Survivor Series - Arn and Tully. Vignettes for them - and they're sold as the Horsemen. Suits, limos - Tully's long run as US champ (see earlier chapters in the Counterfactual for the new NWA history) is spotlighted. Arn and Tully cut a video promo on all the tags in the WWF - faces, heels, they don't care - they aren't part of any groups, they don't care who is aligned with whom - they are their own men and coming to WWF to show who the best wrestlers in the world truly are.

They're gonna meet the Rougeaus for the straps.

The IC is a rematch. The goading from Dynamite got to DBoy, and he cuts promos on Bret, I'm not in your shadow, I carried the Hart Foundation, I'm the British Bulldog and I'm bizarre...

They do tags and reverse singles all fall with Savage/Bret against Dynamite/DBS.

And yeah, it's Savage and Dynamite again - you can feel it - you can feel the momentum behind Randy Savage - and you can feel the momentum behind the WWF - Vince is excited, thrilled, as the level of wrestling continues to increase across the card - and to cap off what looks like a terrific 2nd annual Thanksgiving tradition - it's Dynamite/Savage one more time.

Call your local cable company!!!!

1988 Survivor Series Cleveland
(Dark – Terry Taylor d. Bad News Brown)

1. Rockers d. Demolition
- Aw, fun quick tags, double teams, perfect to start a PPV - people love the babyface Rockers.

2. Ultimate Warrior d. Greg Valentine
-Quick and painless. Warrior cuts an odd post match promo, "You Hammer, have fallen to the power of my Warriors! Fallen to the power of the Master Race - Warrior Nation!"

3. Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) d. Tito Santana
-Also staying unbeaten, Ted. Tito tastes the money.

4. Curt Hennig (w/Rude) d. Owen Hart
- Loving this. Hennig entered the way Hennig entered, with the sports promos. Difference is we play up hard his lifelong friendship with Rude, as Vince likes to sell the real. So, it’s not just that they’re heels – it’s that they’re top, cocky heels who have known each other since they were children. Owen is pure babyface, and we introduce him as the baby brother of the greatest wrestling dynasty in the world. The problem with Owen’s career is he kept coming and going because they couldn’t figure out how to use him. So, he did the Blazer gimmick and then High Energy. But Counterfactual Vince isn't doing any of that crap – Owen gets the same buildup that Hennig gets – but his vignettes are pieces with the family, in the Dungeon – and we have everyone put him over as the most talented Hart. Even Dynamite, in a taped piece, who wouldn’t shake Steamboat’s hand, recall, even Dynamite, just before this show, does a taped piece saying that Owen’s the most talented of all the Stampeders.

Rude attempts to interfere - Jake runs in and chases him to the back.

Hennig goes over clean - then stomps Owen out postmatch.

Bret saves. He and Owen teaming up on Hennig.

Davey Boy runs in. The DBS/Bret rematch is scheduled for later tonight. Okay, on an SNME, Owen, after getting the big buildup, made a run in to save Bret from a Davey Boy/Dynamite double team -- Dynamite had the chance to plant Owen with the title belt - but hesitated just a little bit. A very subtle, very subtle story point is that Owen's the baby of the family – and out of respect to Stu and Helen, even a pure heel like Dynamite won't go that far. They're all Hart Foundation after all. They don’t want the fans to think Owen’s soft – but Owen’s not Bret, who will just grow harder and harder over the years, and they use his somewhat more delicate nature as best they can.

Here, however, while Hennig PerfectPlexes Bret to take him out, DBS press slams Owen clean out of the ring - Owen's busted up and has to be helped to the back - which provides a reason why he doesn't get used much over the next couple of years.

5. Tags: Anderson/Blanchard d. Rougeaus
- Breaking format here for a reason, tags coming before the big Rude/Jake rematch. Anvil doesn’t come out with the Rougeaus, who put Arn and Tully over in a real good match. Recall, Tully was NWA US champ for 3 years, and they sell that. Vince embraces, as opposed to ignores, the totality of the wrestling context. Announce sells hard, as Arn and Tully take the straps, their independence, that they aren't aligned with anyone in the WWF, and they have come here from the NWA and taken the tag straps.

6. Cage Match: Jake Roberts d. Rick Rude (w/Cheryl)
-Announce notes that it's the first time in PPV history that a non title match has occurred at this place on the card. Emphasizes the importance of this match. Also the first cage match in PPV history - it's not a WWF style cage match, sometimes Vince will still do the escape matches - but this is a pinfall/submission.

It's violent, double juice, Jake getting all the revenge he might need, especially as Cheryl makes her way into the cage to try to save Rude - and the fans get their big misogynistic pop as she gets DDT'd back to the Stone Age.

Jake gets his win - and doesn't relent, DDT'ing Rude twice after the fall - and pulling out his own pair of handcuffs, calling back to the handcuffs that Rude used at Summer Slam. Jake prepares to set the snake loose on the prone Rude - when Hennig runs in. Hennig attacks, gets an advantage, but Jake is able to fight him off as well - the bloody Roberts pounds away at Hennig, hitting the DDT and then gets the snake ready to attack Hennig...

When the new tag champs enter.

Arn and Tully blast away at Jake - announce doesn't understand, Arn and Tully, then a revived Hennig, and a bloody, uncuffed Rude, take Roberts apart -- everyone hitting their finisher - Hennig takes the mic, "Take a picture, take a picture Cleveland - you are watching the birth of the greatest unit in the history of this sport - you are watching the takeover of the World Wrestling Federation by Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Tully are watching the birth...of the Heenan Family."

Bobby then enters - the five men celebrate - much laughter as they put the boots both to Jake and to the fallen Cheryl - 'cause why not?

And there's your big heel stable.

7. IC Title: Bret d. Davey Boy (w/Anvil)
- Bret sells the injury from being attacked by Hennig during the Owen save– and the Hit Man, despite the surprise presence of the Anvil – still comes through to keep his strap. Bret has to fight both men off, Bret has to overcome his earlier injury, Bret scraps from underneath to get the clean fall, and tap DBS out to the sharpshooter.

Huge face reaction for Bret, who is way over. DBS and Anvil leave the company.

8. WWF Title: Randy Savage (w/ Liz) d. Dynamite Kid
- Another classic, the evil Dynamite loses his title in the rematch with Savage (who wins his second belt, recall he held the IC for 2 years). Savage puts him away with two elbow drops, and the place comes unglued as, for the first time in the 4 year history of WWF PPV, there is a champion other than Dynamite or Steamboat.

At the next TV, Dynamite wrestles Bret for the IC - putting Bret over clean - and Dynamite then leaves the company as the WWF turns the page.

Survivor Series 88. Best PPV to that point.

’88 ends with Starrcade, Flair retakes from Williams, Sting wins his first strap, the US title over Windham, and the Warriors keep their titles. Luger goes over Bigelow, who has moved south. Mike Rotundo’s gets a win – and the JYD has gone NWA too, but he loses. They're gonna turn Windham by this point.

Starrcade 1988 – Norfolk
NWA Title: Ric Flair d. Steve Williams
US Title: Sting d. Barry Windham
Tags: Road Warriors d. Fantastics
Lex Luger d. Bam Bam Bigelow

Rick Steiner d. Ivan Koloff
Mike Rotundo d. Dusty Rhodes
Kevin Sullivan d. JYD
Eaton/Lane d. Condrey/Rose

And now, in January, from Houston, we’re Rumblin’.

If you're new to the Counterfactual - Hello! Consider going back and reading the previous chapters. Particularly "It begins" which sets out the rules. Once the Royal Rumble is added, then we'll be at full strength, all of the big 4 PPVs accounted for. Note that despite the Rumble gimmick being a great gimmick - it doesn't add to workrate - but changing the name is just confusing - so the format for that PPV will be the format for all the rest of them.

So, what's on tap for the inaugural Rumble?

- The Hogan/Andre tag has broken up, with Andre announcing his retirement. Hogan tells Andre that he can't retire until he gives him a rematch from WM IV - that Hogan's gotta have the opportunity to show that he's a legend too. At the top, there's got the hot young babyface Rockers challenging for the straps against the veteran heel Brainbusters. The Heenan Family also is going after the singles, with Hennig challenging Bret, playing off their Survivor Series brawl. There's six man stuff on TV over the winter with Bret and the Rockers against the Busters and Hennig. Vince sells Hennig and Bret as identical in their wrestling skill, selling the technical aspects of the matchup. And Ted’s schtick reaches its height as he gets a shot against Savage.

It's Royal Rumble '89! Call your local thing!


Anonymous said...

What an unbelievably brilliant blog! Genius!! Thank you!!

Jim said...

I don't know why I didn't use Bad News better.

I was stuck in the mindset of seeing him used as Bad News Brown - I should have called him Bad News Allen and used his backstory with the Harts. I'm not sure there's a spot where he goes over - I could have, actually, put him over the Bees in a handicap match - and then I could have made him Dynamite's enforcer, helping him win the strap in some way.

But I should have used him better. No question.

Jim said...

Yeah, I could have followed up at Summer Slam with Bad News having turned on Dynamite over the ummer, they battle over which one was more dastardly, maybe Allen thinks Dynamite's gone pussy - since his body's all broken down and shot, and he takes downtown to Chinatown over the summer. They get all crazy vicious and ugly all summer and then I give him the title shot at Summer Slam...hey, this could have been the first ladder match.

I could have ladder matched Dynamite and Bad News for the strap - dropping Savage to the bottom of the card just here, to feed him the Barbarian, let's say, just this once. And done a Stampede ladder match for the title, Billington keeping, obviously.

A Counterfactual to the Counterfactual!

Yup. I should have done it like that. Monster push for Bad News at Mania with the handicap win and also being DK's enforcer - play up that people are legit terrified of him - a heel/heel ladder match - fucking blood everywhere. Yup. That's what I should have done.

Jim said...

Okay, at Survivor Series, if I'm stuck with that jokey Ultimate Warrior's a racist thing I'm gonna do in the undercard - I'm gonna feed Bad News to him.

Actually...I'm gonna put Bad News over a squash, actually - but the Warrior doesn't understand it and does his master race promo afterward anyway.

Bad News has to be held back by security postmatch.

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