The real main event of SummerSlam ’89: Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior

One of my favorite wrestling sites to check out these days is the Ring the Damn Bell blog (what a great historical name), and the folks there recently looked back at the SummerSlam 1989 PPV. Out of all the PPVs I watched at my parents’ house or a friend’s house, SummerSlam ’89 might be the one I remember most because of the atmosphere.

Eight to 10 friends of mine packed into the family room at my house to watch the show, which meant people were sitting on the couch, in chairs, and on the floor around the TV.

Back in ’89, even though it was not the main event for the night, all of us wanted to badly see Rick Rude defend the Intercontinental Championship against the Ultimate Warrior. It’s really hard to explain how important this belt was in the WWF back in the day. Generally, with Hulk Hogan holding the WWF Heavyweight Title for much of the mid-to-late ’80s, the Intercontinental Title was reserved for the top heels so that they could hold a belt. Look at the list of champs in that decade and you’ll see what I mean.

Rude had beaten Warrior for the belt at WrestleMania IV, and in 1989, the next PPV after Mania was SummerSlam. These guys fought across the country at house shows before their final showdown here.

Warrior won after Rowdy Roddy Piper came out and mooned Rude by lifting his kilt up, which immediately caused an uproar from the guy’s watching at my parents’ house. When Warrior pinned Rude, we erupted, and I distinctly remember a friend of mine jumping on the couch and striking a Hulk Hogan pose to celebrate Warrior’s victory.

I’m glad my parents never saw that.

However, my mother later told me that a neighbor down the street had asked her what was going on at our house that night, because she heard all the yelling. Gulp.

The listed main event for SummerSlam ’89 was Hogan and Brutus Beefcake vs. Randy Savage and Zeus (a.k.a., Hollywood actor Tom “Tiny” Lister). Lister played opposite Hogan in the No Holds Barred movie that was released a couple of months before SummerSlam, so it was a given Zeus would fight Hogan in the ring for real.

SummerSlam ’89 also holds the honor of having what I consider one of the greatest bloopers in WWE history: When Mean Gene Okerlund yelled “Fuck it!” during an interview with Rude.

Needless to say, my friends also roared at that slip-up. What a memorable night for me.


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  3. cowboyography

    Love that match! The Rick Rude/Warrior feud was epic, I saw the two wrestle in Person at the World Arena in Colorado Springs back in 1990, Warrior won and the house erupted! Warrior was not the most skilled ring guy but Rude could bring out the best is any opponent, two of the best ever!

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