What the World Was Watching: WWF Prime Time Wrestling “SummerSlam Fever” – August 19, 1990

Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan are in the booth, and they are taped from Utica, New York.  This show aired on USA Network on August 19 and the matches were taped at Utica’s Memorial Auditorium on August 15, drawing a sellout crowd of 5,000 fans, according to thehistoryofwwe.com.

Opening Contest:  Smash (1-0) defeats Jim Neidhart (1-0) after sitting down on a sunset flip and using the ropes for leverage at 6:08:

This was supposed to be Bret Hart facing Smash, but Neidhart comes out instead because Bret is said to not be at the show.  Neidhart controls much of the bout, which is a decent brawl.  The big man even uses a side Russian leg sweep as part of his arsenal.  However, when he tries to sunset flip into the ring, Smash sits down and uses the ropes to earn a cheap win.  Rating:  **

After the bell, Smash gloats about his win but Neidhart grabs the tag team title belt that Smash is holding and knocks out his SummerSlam opponent.  Neidhart poses with the belt in the aisle but is attacked from behind by Ax and Crush.  A three-on-one beatdown commences until WWF officials intervene.

Okerlund interviews Demolition.  They promise that the Hart Foundation will enjoy a full course beating at SummerSlam and there is nothing they can do to avoid it.

The Texas Tornado (4-0) pins Black Bart after the discus punch at 2:41:

The Tornado continues to be put against the WWF’s A-class jobber crew to build him up for SummerSlam.  Punches and kicks are ninety percent of the match, which ends after the Tornado comes off the ropes with his discus punch.

Okerlund interviews Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect and Bobby Heenan.  Heenan says that the Tornado is overrated, while Perfect screams about how he is the big shot of the WWF.

The Warlord (w/Slick) (10-0) beats Pez Whatley after the running powerslam at 2:53:

Whatley fares the best of all the jobbers the Warlord has faced to this point, enjoying a short rally after a few headbutts, and getting the better of the Warlord in an exchange of rights hands.  A lunge off the second rope goes badly, though, as the Warlord catches Whatley and hits an inverted atomic drop.  The running powerslam finishes after that.

A compilation of Rick Rude’s training vignettes airs.

Okerlund interviews WWF Champion the Ultimate Warrior and does a more coherent build for the match than the champion, noting that flesh can be torn from bone inside of a steel cage.  For his part, the Warrior says he is prepared for the unknown elements inside the steel cage.  The WWF’s decision to try to phase down the Warrior’s face paint was a bad call as the lack of it takes a good deal away from his persona.

A video package recaps Nikolai Volkoff’s babyface turn.

Nikolai Volkoff (6-0) pins Boris Zhukov (4-3) after a clothesline to the back of the head at 2:37:

This serves as the blowoff of the Bolsheviks breakup feud, a failed project that the WWF quickly gave up on, as evidenced by Volkoff transitioning into a tag team with Hacksaw Jim Duggan.  That is reinforced by the booking of this match as Volkoff squashes Zhukov, beating him like a drum in less than three minutes.

Okerlund interviews Randy Savage & Sensational Sherri, with Sherri looking like she is going to join a Broadway production of Cats.  Savage reminds Dusty Rhodes that he is going to face the greatest wrestler in the WWF, while Sherri promises to do an Aztec-like sacrifice of Sapphire at SummerSlam.

Footage of Tugboat getting laid out yesterday on Superstars is shown.

Brother Love hosts a faceoff between Hulk Hogan and Earthquake.  In a nice callback to the segment where Hogan was injured several months ago, Jimmy Hart comes out alone.  Hart tells Hogan that Earthquake fears what he might do to Hogan is he showed up.  He then echoes Earthquake’s words that Hogan will be carted out of SummerSlam on a stretcher.  Hogan responds by saying he only answers to God and he kicks Hart out of the ring.  When Love gets in Hogan’s face about how he lacks backup in the main event, Hogan tears his shirt off and promises to set off an earthquake at SummerSlam when he slams the big man.  One could always count on Hogan to give great “go home” promos for his big matches and this was no exception.

Power & Glory (w/Slick) (5-0) beat Mark Thomas & Mike Williams when Paul Roma pins Thomas after the Powerplex at 2:36:

This bout is a great way to get Power & Glory over as Roma nearly takes Thomas’ head off with a dropkick and Hercules gorilla press slams Williams to the arena floor.  After those moves, the Powerplex is academic and Roma pins Thomas with one foot as he and Hercules pose for the camera.

Okerlund interviews Sapphire and footage shows that she showed up to the arena in a limousine and wearing a fur coat.  She promises to cover Sensational Sherri with polka dots in their match.  Okerlund asks who her benefactor is, but Sapphire says she has no idea.  She says that her biggest gift will be revealed at SummerSlam.  Afterward, Sapphire and Okerlund dance to Dusty Rhodes’ theme music.

Jake Roberts (18-1) pins Mike Sharpe after the DDT at 2:39:

Sharpe corners Roberts and pound and choke away.  He cannot keep Roberts down forever, though, and a blind charge triggers Roberts’ trademark punches, short-arm clothesline, and DDT.  After the match, Roberts tosses Damien onto Sharpe, who panics and flees the ring.

Bad News Brown does a taped promo about how he is finding the best sewer rats in Harlem to eat Damien at SummerSlam.  Once again, he uses a possum as a prop before tossing it into a trash can by saying it is not big enough for him to take to Philadelphia.

Non-Title Match:  Mr. Perfect (Intercontinental Champion w/Bobby Heenan) (24-2) pins Ronnie Garvin (6-6-1) after the Perfectplex at 5:56:

The crowd loves Garvin chopping Perfect with reckless abandon and following up later with powerful right hands.  After a few roll ups net near-falls, Garvin goes for a suplex but Perfect quickly counters with the Perfectplex, lucky to escape with a win.  Perfect’s bumping made Garvin look like a million bucks even though the former NWA World Champion ended up on the losing side of the contest.  Garvin has not won a televised match since June 4.  Rating:  ***

Okerlund interviews Dino Bravo and Jimmy Hart.  They gloat about laying out Tugboat and say that they look forward to seeing Earthquake lay out Hulk Hogan for good at SummerSlam.

The Orient Express (w/Mr. Fuji) (16-0) defeat Shane Douglas & Sonny Blaze when Sato pins Blaze after a sitout powerbomb at 2:08:

Douglas is assigned to glorified job duty here as part of the WWF’s effort to make him pay some dues around this time.  For the first time, the Express showcase a double team move as Blaze is held out over the ropes by Sato and jumped upon by Tanaka.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan (22-1-1) beats Earthquake (w/Jimmy Hart) (20-0) via disqualification when Dino Bravo interferes at 6:22:

These two were engaged in a spring feud while Hulk Hogan was on the shelf, so this is the blowoff.  Dino Bravo tries to second Earthquake in this match, but referee Earl Hebner throws him out before the match when Bravo tries to attack Duggan.  Duggan’s mission throughout the match is to try to knock Earthquake off his feet, but he fails to do so as the three-point stance clothesline only leads to the Earthquake bouncing into the ropes.  As Duggan preps another three-point stance, Bravo runs in and causes the disqualification, a curious finish as one would have expected Bravo’s interference to give Earthquake another victory to keep him undefeated going into SummerSlamRating:  *½

After the bell, Earthquake and Bravo do a two-on-one beatdown until Hulk Hogan makes the save with a 2×4.

Okerlund interviews Earthquake, Bravo, and Hart in the locker room.  Bravo shows off some welts on his back and Earthquake screams about how Earthquake had no businesses running into the ring after the match.

Okerlund and Brother Love give their predictions for SummerSlam.  The show fades to black before Love can give a sermon to the audience.

The Last Word:  The big feature matches were fun to watch, the crowd was molten for most of them, and the WWF did about everything it could to persuade people to buy SummerSlam next week.  Even though the card has a double main event it is obvious that Hulk Hogan-Earthquake is going to be responsible for the buyrate because that feud got four segments on this telecast whereas the WWF Championship match got one interview segment.

The week before SummerSlam featured the following action on the WWF’s house show circuit, with results coming from thehistoryofwwe.com:

Minneapolis, Minnesota – The Met Center – August 16, 1990 (4,400):  Haku pinned Barry O…The Barbarian beat Ronnie Garvin…Koko B. Ware defeated the Genius…Marty Jannetty & Shane Douglas (substituting for Shawn Michaels) beat the Orient Express…Dustin Rhodes pinned Bob Bradley…Ted DiBiase defeated the Big Bossman via disqualification…The Ultimate Warrior & the Texas Tornado beat Rick Rude & Mr. Perfect when the Warrior pinned Rude.

Tacoma, Washington – The Tacoma Dome – August 17, 1990 (5,800):  Jim Brunzell pinned Black Bart…Paul Roma beat Jim Powers…The Warlord pinned Tito Santana…Rhythm & Blues defeated the Bushwhackers…Jake Roberts beat Bad News Brown via disqualification…Hulk Hogan pinned Dino Bravo (w/Earthquake).  After the match, Hogan fought off Earthquake.

Boston, Massachusetts – The Boston Garden – August 18, 1990 (4,500):  The Brooklyn Brawler pinned Jose Luis Rivera (substituting for Shane Douglas)…Buddy Rose beat Pez Whatley…Hercules defeated Pete Doherty (substituting for Hillbilly Jim) via submission to a torture rack…Jimmy Snuka pinned Mike Sharpe (substituting for Rick Martel)…Nikolai Volkoff pinned Boris Zhukov in a flag match with a clothesline to the back of the head…Dusty Rhodes & Sapphire (w/Miss Elizabeth) beat Randy Savage & Sensational Sherri (w/Brother Love) when Sapphire pinned Sherri after Elizabeth hit Sherri with a purse…Demolition defeated Hacksaw Jim Duggan & the Hart Foundation when Ax pinned Bret Hart.

Backstage News*:        The decision to switch Tugboat out of the SummerSlam main event for the Big Bossman was a last second decision as Vince McMahon did not tell the company’s publicity department.  Tugboat was removed from the bout because his push was giving him a big ego, so this is McMahon’s way of humbling him.

*At the SummerSlam Fever taping, Power & Glory were treated like babyfaces by the crowd, so the WWF had to insert boos in post-production.

*Although ABC had initially given its approval for the “Tag Team” show featuring Jesse Ventura and Roddy Piper, the network decided to eliminate the show because of a clash with its producers.  ABC will air the pilot episode as a TV movie instead.  This is bad news for Ventura, who thought the show would make him a television star and the news of the show’s cancellation came out a day before he left the WWF.  And the death of the show will probably result in Piper returning to the ring for a match at WrestleMania.

*Plans for WrestleMania VII are starting to take shape, with whispers that the feud between the Texas Tornado and Mr. Perfect will stretch out until then.  However, those plans could change because the Tornado is not getting good reactions at house shows, drawing fewer cheers than the Ultimate Warrior, even in Texas markets.  The lack of reactions for the Tornado is bad news for the company because they thought he could be a future main event star for them.

*In other house shows news, A-level events headlined by Hulk Hogan against Dino Bravo this week drew poorly.

*Brutus Beefcake was backstage at house shows this week with Hogan and people said he looked good considering the severity of his injuries.

*In talent relations news, the WWF reached out to Vader and is willing to allow him to go to Japan in between when they use him.  According to Dave Meltzer, this shows how desperate the WWF is for high level talent.

*Backstage news is provided courtesy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for August 27.

Up Next:  WWF Superstars for August 25!