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.

A Counterfactual History of Summer Slam - 1

Friday, July 07, 2006

Still 3 weeks ‘till August, and that means 3 weeks until Summer Slam ’05!

But I miss the Counterfactual. It’s my bestest friend. You’ll never leave me, will you Counterfactual? Awwww. Pretty Counterfactual. Pretty.

So, given that many of you, I assume, have not been with me since the beginning and may need a glimpse into our neverending saga, this seems like an excellent time to do a History of Summer Slam.

Maybe I’ll do it in one part…maybe a dozen. I don’t know. I’m makin’ it up as I go along. I just feel like tending to my Counterfactual. Sometimes, late at night, I’ll hear it calling, “Feed me, Jimbo. Feed me.”

So, what the hell.

Counterfactual Summer Slam began in 1988 at a critical time in WWF history – that spring, Wrestlemania IV saw the end of the feud that carried the Federation on its back during the nascent days of PPV – Dynamite Kid v. Ricky Steamboat. That matchup was the main event in every show since WM II and culminated in Dynamite’s recapturing the WWF Title in a Loser Leaves Town.

It would safe to say there was concern in Titan Tower; would we be able to replace the babyface Steamboat, beloved by wrestling fans everywhere, as he had spent 4 years as the standard bearer for the company?

Dynamite would be challenged at Summer Slam by the white hot Randy Savage.

For two years, from WM II to WM IV, Savage was IC champ – he started as the monster heel, the guy in the pink trunks tossing Elizabeth around. Savage took from Piper at II, but by his victory over Jake at III, his act was so over that there was no stopping the face turn. Savage kept over the debuting Rick Rude at the first Survivor Series, in the fall of ’87, but then lost the babyface/babyface matchup against a man nipping at his heels for months, his friend Bret Hart.

Dynamite’s constant taunting and brutal attacks on men to whom he was considered family, Bret and Davey Boy, led to a response from Savage, effectively serving as Bret’s protector. And they met for the big strap at the first Summer Slam.

The IC saw those two aforementioned allies, Bret and Davey Boy, the Hart Foundation (managed, originally, by Neidhart) meet up. The Hart Foundation held the tag belts a year and a half, first as heels, taking from babyface team Santana and Beefcake at WM II, then like Randy, turning over the course of the year, and holding until a loss against the Rougeaus at that inaugural Survivor Series, when the Anvil turned on them.

They went singles at that point; Bret, as mentioned, taking the IC from Savage, and Davey Boy holding an unbeaten streak going into Summer Slam, notably having beaten the also undefeated Bigelow at III.

Bret’s having worked a babyface program against Savage made it easy for Davey Boy to ask him to do a similar favor; additionally, the somewhat fragile Bulldog was preyed upon by the nefarious Dynamite – Billington constantly questioning Davey’s manhood, his ability, if he would fade into obscurity while his superior tag partner started winning belts. Eventually, Davey challenged Bret for the strap, and they hooked it up at Summer Slam ’88.

The tag title was a fairly low wattage affair workrate wise. Demoliton had racked up multiple undercard wins as a heel team, perhaps getting some badass cheers, enough to get the shot against fellow heels, the Rougeaus.

More interesting was the continuation of the big feud between Rude and Jake – the same feud they actually had, as Rude had Cheryl Roberts’s face painted on his tights – enough to drive the tightly wound, now babyface Roberts over the edge. Rude got the win at WM IV – this was the rematch.

The rest of the card was pedestrian. Dibiase v. Muraco, Koko v. Bad News, the debut of the Ultimate Warrior, and two babyface giants teaming up – Hogan and Andre in the opening tag.

The dark match at Summer Slam ’88 was historic – those of you with me since the beginning recall that Bret met Dynamite in the dark match at I – well, at Summer Slam ’88, the dark match pitted two future holders of the triple crown, Owen Hart and Shawn Michaels. Nearly two decades later, as we approach Summer Slam ’05 – Shawn’s still here, meeting Kurt Angle.

The results:

Dynamite kept the title, going over Savage clean, Randy not yet able to climb that ultimate hurdle. Bret kept the IC – but Davey turned following the match, press slamming his longtime partner to the floor. The Rougeaus kept the tags, making it a sweep for champions. Rude got another win, when Cheryl shockingly turned on her husband, and she and Rick groped each other over the fallen Snake. The babyface Warrior won, as did the heel DiBiase. Bad News got a win, and so did the Hogan/Andre team.

A year later, we stayed in the New York metropolitan area, going to the Meadowlands in Jersey.

At Summer Slam '89, it was Randy Savage wearing the (metaphorical) crown. Randy did go over Dynamite, at Survivor Series ’88, then kept over DiBiase at the Rumble. At that point, Bret came calling once again. The Hit Man had run both his brother in law, and the man Davey re-aligned with to challenge Bret, the Anvil, out of the company by staving off their challenge at Survivor Series; but at the Rumble, he fell victim to the dominant force in the WWF – the Heenan Family – in particular Curt Hennig, who took the IC at the Rumble.

Bret said once Randy gave him a chance at the IC – Randy accepted, and Bret showed he was the Best there is, etc…now that Randy had the big belt – with the biggest show of the year coming up, Bret wanted to do it again.

Savage accepted – and beat him at V.

The rematch topped the card at Summer Slam ’89.

In fact, in a rarity, all 3 title matches from Mania were recontested at Summer Slam.

The IC saw the implosion of the Heenan Family, as Rude defended against Hennig

The Heenan Family, fronted, obviously, by Bobby, was four men: Rude, Hennig, Arn, and Tully, doing the Horsemen schtick. They all wore suits, ripping off every element of the gimmick in as shameless a fashion as possible without drawing a lawsuit. The Brainbusters were tag champs, taking at Survivor Series from the Rougeaus, losing at the Rumble in their veteran/upstart kid feud with the Rockers, and then retaking at IV.

Hennig, as mentioned, with Rude in his corner, took from Bret at the Rumble – and then, against the Brain’s wishes, gave his boyhood friend and stablemate Rude a shot at Mania.

Rude took and with tensions within the Family at an all time high – the two rematched at Summer Slam.

We just discussed the tags – Arn and Tully winning their second belts at V – they met the Rockers one more time at Summer Slam – the Busters also showed the fraying over the summer, picking sides in what grew to be a heated Rude/Perfect schism. The Brain did all he could to keep it together – but there were significant concerns as Summer Slam approached.

Rounding out the card…DiBiase met Terry Taylor, the longtime feud between former tag partners Martel and Santana continued, Jimmy Snuka made his PPV debut, meeting the now fascist Ultimate Warrior, Jacques Rougeau, now as a single, met the Hammer, and a year later, Hogan has another legendary tag partner, this time it’s Dusty Rhodes.

The results:

Randy kept the belt, beating Bret clean as did he at V – Bret playing the role of youngster not yet ready for the title. Rude kept the IC, with Heenan, for the first time, taking sides in the feud, taking Curt’s foot away from what would have been a rope break, allowing Rick to get the fall. It would turn out to be a ruse, actually, it was Rude and not Hennig who was getting swerved out of the Family by the Brain – but at the moment, it looked like a Perfect face turn, as he cleaned house.

The Brainbusters also came apart at Summer Slam ’89, losing to Shawn and Marty, then breaking up in the big angle that would soon find both of them leaving the company. Tully never to return – but Arn did come back, as a member of the Titan Trust – and now as the manager for Leviathan, taking on Shane Helms at Summer Slam ’05.

The rest of the show saw wins for Ted, Snuka, Jacques, Martel, and Hogan/Dusty.

The dawn of the 90s meant Summer Slam originated from Philadelphia for Summer Slam '90.

On top of the World Wrestling Federation – Mr. Perfect.

But not a babyface Mr. Perfect – after he left the Heenan Family, he formed what appeared to be a friendship with Randy Savage – enough so that Savage, who had withstood the babyface challenge from Bret – accepted another babyface challenge, this time from Hennig. But Hennig wasn’t a babyface, it was a dastardly swerve – Bobby rejoined him, knocked out Liz, and Hennig took the strap.

Perfect kept at the Rumble over Rude, who now was a babyface, after being sold out by the Brain at Survivor Series, then kept at VI in the big rematch with Savage.

You should be used to this – Summer Slam meant another rematch, Hennig/Savage III. Randy by this point was on the warpath, he had taken to attacking Hennig with a fork, he had been led from arenas in handcuffs, Liz was long gone, Bobby had to hire a special security detail – and the announce had reason, after bloody Savage attacks, to wonder if Randy had totally lost his mind. Because Randy was not just a danger to Hennig – but to the fans – the only way to do this rematch was to put it in a steel cage. Our first cage match for the WWF Title on PPV.

The IC was once again the Hit Man’s belt. He regrouped after failing to overcome Savage, took the IC from DiBiase (who had stolen it from Rude, with Bobby's help) at the Rumble, then kept it at VI in Toronto from a freshly turned Shawn Michaels. “There’s just something about you I don’t like” Shawn said.

His opponent was the once again evil Jake – who had re-turned heel with the influence of the returning Piper, the two men forming a nasty tag team that took the straps from the Rockers at the Rumble – but then lost to an odd tag combination that will be mentioned momentarily, at VI.

Jake went singles then – going after Bret’s title at Summer Slam '90.

The tag team champions – Rick Rude and, for the third time, Marty Jannetty.

You recall the scene – after the Rockers lost to Jake and Piper at the Rumble, a disgruntled Shawn tossed Marty through a plate glass window. But Jannetty had a rematch clause form Mania – and who doesn’t want to fight for the tag belts at Mania? He said he needed a partner – and who better to partner with than the man who previously had feuded with Jake for a year – now babyface Rick Rude.

They took the straps at VI – and at Summer Slam met the undercard heels, the Orient Express.

Elsewhere on the card, the heel Michaels took on Tito, the unbeaten Kerry Von Erich met a young man who would later be acquainted with Philadelphia, Shane Douglas, Dusty turned heel over the course of the year, and he met Hogan, and the Warrior and Demolition also appeared on the card.

The results:

In the bloodiest WWF Title match to date – Savage attacked everyone in sight with the fork – forking Hennig half to death until the champ was able to escape the cage, collapse into unconsciousness, and keep his belt. Savage attacked Bobby, the referee – WWF officials who tried to stop him – Savage forked people until his fans became horrified. The children cried and the women covered their eyes as the Macho Man totally lost his shit at Summer Slam ’90 – blood virtually everywhere from the forking Madness. "Ridin' the madness like a rocketship, to infiniti and beyond, yeah."

Bret kept the IC – and then ate a superkick from Michaels, who earlier defeated Tito with the same move – the kick dropped Bret cold, hopefully working to get the move over – and Shawn and Jake, bloody rivals when the year began, devoured the Hit Man together.

Your new tag champs – Pat Tanaka and the masked Paul Diamond, oddly enough. Rude did the clean job and left the company, never to return. Glory was fleeting for the Orients as, immediately after their victory, the Road Warriors, coming off a 2 year NWA title run, surprised everyone by walking down the aisle and taking them apart with Doomsday Devices.

Von Erich remained unbeaten – and Dusty went over Hogan as their feud continued.

That's The first 3 years of Summer Slam. Note that this is the weakest of the 4 PPVs, the reasons should be clear if you recognize the rules by which I'm playing - I'm limited to the wrestlers who actually worked the show (or who worked dark)meaning that historically the pool of talent working the other 3 shows is much deeper (30 men in the Rumble, the elimination matches in Survivor Series - and while its a more recent phenomenon, the desire to get every worker a Mania payday) but Summer Slam is sometimes a skeleton crew, which is the primary reason why, at Summer Slam '05, you will see Benoit/Jericho v. Michaels/Angle as the opening tag. It's a bit of a cheat, having guys work twice, but faithful Counterfactual readers note that I try to keep a good lid on the format in order to maintain fidelity to my premise.

Anyway - Part Two of a Counterfactual History of Summer Slam will be coming sooner rather than later - Summer Slam '05, a big - big card - Edge and Matt in the Unsanctioned match, Eddy defending against Rey, the mini tournament for the vacant IC: Benoit v. Jericho and Angle v. Michaels -- that's coming in the first week of August.

And until then - hop on over to to check out my controversial production blog.

Blogger Template created by Just Blog It