After the huge main event at Wrestlemania VI where The Ultimate Warrior beat Hulk Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship, it was pretty much etched in stone that they would have a rematch at Wrestlemania VII. And after selling a ton of tickets at the Skydome in Toronto for Wrestlemania VI, Vince was going to try to do it one better. Actually he was going to try and do better than Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit where they claim to have put 93,000 butts in the seats. Wrestlemania VII with the Hogan vs. Warrior rematch was going to take place at the LA Coliseum, which can hold over 100,000 people. If you’ve ever seen Wrestlemania VII, you’ll know that Hogan vs. Warrior part two never happened, and it wasn’t held in the outdoor stadium in Los Angeles. Wrestlemania VII was held in the LA Sports Arena which barely holds 15% percent of what the LA Coliseum did, and it was main evented by Sgt. Slaughter as the champ and Hulk Hogan as the All American belt chaser.
How did we get there? Well, after Hogan was beaten by Warrior, the WWF struggled without Hogan. House show business was down and people weren’t really paying to see Warrior like they were Hogan. Let’s face it. Warrior was fun to watch jump up and down while shaking the ropes, but he wasn’t going to be the man. He was horrendous on interviews, couldn’t wrestle for long periods of time despite his awesome physique, which tells you a little bit of how he got that physique, and simply didn’t draw as well as Hogan did as a champion. Also, the Persian Gulf War was going on at the time, and Vince McMahon decided it would be topical if the main WWF storyline carried the same timeliness. Enter Sgt. Slaughter. But not as you’d think. This time the Sarge was as an Iraqi supporter with General Adnan and later, Col. Mustaffa, who is most well known as the Iron Sheik, in his corner. It’s a horrible storyline if you think about it. It was a fake sentiment created by a storyline that took advantage of a war situation. Typical classy wrestling.
Since there was no way the WWF was going to sell anywhere near the number of tickets needed for the LA Coliseum, they opted for the smaller LA Arena, but used the excuse that because the Iraqi supporting Slaughter was so hated, they were worried things could get out of control in an outdoor stadium and thus had to move indoors. But they never answered the question as to how they would fit all those fans who bought tickets into the smaller arena. It’s because they never sold enough tickets.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was watching Saturday Night’s Main Event where the big angle for this Wrestlemania started. The main event was scheduled for Hulk Hogan vs. The Magnificent Muraco and instead of Muraco’s regular manager Mr. Fuji by his side, Bobby Heenan was in his corner. They said that Fuji had the flu, which was an angle alert. However, I was only nine so I didn’t know about angle alerts. During the match, Hogan went after Heenan and King Kong Bundy came in to attack Hogan and “pearl harbor” him as Vince McMahon would say. It was a sneak attack that left Hogan laying in the ring, taking big splash after big splash. As a young Hulkamaniac, I was devastated. I had just been turned on to wrestling the year before by my best friend at the time, and I bit hook, line, and sinker. There I was, up at midnight, watching my hero take the beating of his life. Bundy was played up huge. He was a mountain of a man. He actually resembled the letter “O” with his short but fat torso and lack of neck. He used to be called a condominium with legs. As Hogan lay lifeless in the ring, I was upset at this guy with the bald head and wrinkled forehead. But I was smart enough to know my guy was going to get revenge. The storyline was that Hogan was in the hospital suffering from rib injuries and you could write the Hulkster to wish him well. I wasn’t that gullible, but I know other young kids were. They even had Mean Gene Okerlund talk to the doctor and they showed x-rays of Hogan to sell the angle. They would meet again in the main event of Wrestlemania 2 and in a steel cage.
Tomorrow night, WWE celebrates 21 years of SummerSlam, the “biggest party of the summer” as they’ve been calling recently. There have been 20 SummerSlam Events since 1988. But were all of them really worthy of being called the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th best PPV of the year? Absolutely not. So today I’ve decided to take a look and list what I consider the Top 10 Greatest SummerSlam Pay-Per-Views of All Time! So sit back, relax, and enjoy.
10. SummerSlam 1988
So we begin with the very first SummerSlam in 1988, live on PPV from Madison Square Garden in New York. The whole purpose of the creation of this PPV was for the WWE to compete with NWA’s Great American Bash, hoping to convert wrestling fans to save their hard-earned cash and purchase their show at the end of the summer as opposed to the Bash. This soon became the last of the “Big Four” PPVs, alongside Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and of course, Wrestlemania. The main event was a highly-anticipated tag team match between Hulk Hogan and WWF Champion Randy Savage, collectively known as “The Mega Powers” against Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant, collectively known as “The Mega Bucks”. Savage won a 16-Man Tournament at Wrestlemania IV, last defeating Dibiase to become champion. Hogan had teased prior to the show that Miss Elizabeth would showcase her “eenie, weenie bikini”, which is creepy in retrospect considering she is no longer with us.
Besides that huge match, the most memorable part of this Pay-Per-View was the Ultimate Warrior defeating the longest reigning WWF Intercontinental Champion in history – The Honky Tonk Man. Honky was scheduled to face Brutus Beefcake, but prior to the match, Beefcake was hospitalized by “The Outlaw” Ron Bass. Honky came out on the show and challenged anybody in the building to take the title and the undefeated Warrior came out and pinned him in thirty seconds to take the title, beginning the monster four year run that he would have in the WWF. Tag Team wrestling was definitely one of WWF’s high-points during this era, as Hart Foundation vs. Demolition was easily the best match on the show, followed slightly by the Rougeaus vs. The Bulldogs.