Ranking SummerSlam #22: 1989 - Hulk Hogan and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. Randy Savage and Zeus



(The one based on a really bad movie)

When I first put these rankings together in March, this one was lower, just ahead of the 1994 and 1995 main events. Then, as I was watching each match again, I moved this one ahead a few spots. Don't get me wrong, it is still bad, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was at first.

I guess that's a compliment?

The roots of this match are twofold. On one side, you have the reverberations of Hulk Hogan beating Randy Savage in the main event of Wrestlemania V. (For more on that match, see BIGPALE's writeup here: On the other hand, you have a really bad Hulk Hogan movie called "No Holds Barred."

In the movie, Tom Lister Jr. (the future President from "The Fifth Element," among other roles) plays Zeus, a diabolic wrecking machine of a wrestler who loses to Hogan in the climax of the film. I would have put a Spoiler Alert, but if you don't know how a WWF-produced Hulk Hogan movie from the late 1980s ends then I can't help you.

Anyway, Zeus appeared in the WWF and wanted to destroy Hogan in "real life" for what Hogan did in to Zeus in the movie. Because nothing is more "real life" than the late 1980s World Wrestling Federation.

Let’s sit back for a second and marvel at a wrestling storyline about a man wanting to destroy another man in "real life" because the man had lost to the other man in a movie. So the movie is fake and all, but wrestling is "real life." I’m not 100% sure when Vince McMahon came out and admitted that wrestling was scripted (maybe during the steroid trial in the early 1990s?)

Two kill two birds with one stone, Savage, still vowing to beat Hogan and get his WWF Championship back, teamed up with Zeus in a tag match against Hogan and his best friend Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake.

One more thing before we get to the match itself: When Savage turned heel, his manager Miss Elizabeth stayed a babyface and aligned with Hogan during the spring and summer of 1989. Savage brought in the tremendous Sensational Sherri, a "wild woman" who painted her face, wore matching outfits with Savage and did heelish stuff to help the Macho Man win. Young Curtain Jerker loathed Sherri. Older Curtain Jerker loved her because she was awesome.

We have Zeus, Savage and Sherri against Hogan, Brutus and Elizabeth. Before the match, Hogan cut a promo with Brutus about how they were riding their motorcycles to the Meadowlands in New Jersey when they got stuck in a bad traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge. Who knew Chris Christie was the governor of New Jersey back in 1989?

We get Savage, Zeus and Sherri all introduced at once. Out comes Brutus, then Hogan. Everyone stands in the ring, Savage and Zeus posture, Hogan runs around, the crowd goes crazy. After a few moments, Howard Finkle introduces Hogan's manager, the lovely Miss Elizabeth. Despite being on Team Hogan, she comes out to the Macho Man's theme song, with no comment about this by Tony Schiavone (one of his few non-JCP/WCW appearances) and Jesse Ventura.

Whoever put these matches in the late 80s/early 90s together was good at their job. The WWF match planners made sure when you had a multi-man match, you hid the guy who couldn't work. Zeus was no different. Tom Lister was in great shape but was hardly a wrestler. That's ok! All he did was no-sell and bearhug people.

Lots of bearhugs.

This match had no less than three of the "guy is unconscious, so let's do the three arm test to see if he's out, and he wakes up as the third arm is falling" tricks. Three!

That reminds me…I watched a lot of old WWF to write this column. A few things stuck out. 1. Hulk Hogan was really over. We chide the guy now for his endless politics and keeping other guys down, but during his heyday he got super pops. 2. The crowds themselves were into everything. A hot tag was a HUGE deal. A face powering out of a rest hold was a HUGE deal. It is amazing how much the crowd reacts to what we would charitably grade an average match. I think this was because crowds didn't know any better, so they thought Hogan and company putting on mediocre matches was as good as it got. It wasn't until the rise of tape trading and the Internet Wrestling Community ™ did the average American wrestling fan realize there was more to a wrestling match than rest holds and no-selling. Back to our regularly scheduled review…

So neither Hogan nor Brutus can hurt Zeus for most of the match. Hogan and Brutus take turns playing the face-in-peril until Sherri smacks Brutus with a loaded purse. Brutus sells like he's just been shot. There are multiple covers and multiple break-ups by Hogan, until the match devolves into a brawl. The spots are clunky (to be expected with a non-wrestler in there) but the guys are trying at least and the crowd seems to like what they are seeing. Savage is his usal awesome self, and even Brutus does a halfway decent job selling.

During the brawl Hogan and Zeus face off, just the two of them, circling each other in the ring. Hogan stars punching Zeus, and he starts to stagger. A few more punches and Zeus is still standing, but clearly woozy. Finally, Hogan takes the loaded purse from Sherri and wallops the "human wrecking machine" with it. The monster falls to one knee! The crowd absolutely loses its collective mind. People are standing and cheering for the Hulkster. Zeus gets up, runs toward Hogan and eats a body slam, leg drop and three-count.

After the match, Hogan atomic-drops Sherri, who staggers into a loaded purse-shot from Elizabeth. Brutus and Hogan then cut off Sherri's hair. You guess what happens next: everyone poses and the crowd goes home happy.

Hogan and Brutus beat Savage and Zeus in a cage match later that year, and Team Hogan beat Team Zeus at the 1989 Survivor Series later that year.

Curtain Jerker's Star Ranking – 1.75-2 stars. This was ok for what it was. We are starting to leave the main events that were borderline offensive and getting to the part of the countdown where the matches were just average.

Up Next – This one is the culmination to a long feud that started over something ridiculous, yet totally typical for the era.

Also in this series:

#23 - Luger vs. Yokozuna

#24 - Hogan/Warrior vs. Slaughter/Mustafa/Adnan

#25 - Diesel vs. Mabel

#26 - Undertaker vs. Undertaker

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.