SummerSlam has become a major success for WWE, widely recognized as the company's second-biggest event of the calendar year.
When WWE invades Staples Center in Los Angeles in just two days, fans will be treated to the 27th edition of the annual event. But like anything else, it had to start somewhere.
For SummerSlam, the start was in August of 1988 inside Madison Square Garden.
Full Event Card
The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers vs. The British Bulldogs
Bad News Brown vs. Ken Patera
Junkyard Dog vs. Rick Rude
The Powers of Pain vs. The Bolsheviks
Don Muraco vs. Dino Bravo
The Ultimate Warrior vs. The Honky Tonk Man (WWE Intercontinental Title Match)
The Hart Foundation vs. Demolition (WWE Tag Team Title Match)
Big Boss Man vs. Koko B. Ware
Jake Roberts vs. Hercules
The Mega Powers vs. The Mega Bucks
The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers fought The British Bulldogs to a time-limit draw in the first match in SummerSlam history. Much of the rest of the card was fairly mediocre, too.
However, SummerSlam 1988 should be remembered for two very significant moments in WWE history.
Ultimate Warrior Breaks Out
The Ultimate Warrior made his debut on WWE television in October of 1987, and while he had several impressive victories, including one over Hercules at WrestleMania 4, SummerSlam 1988 was clearly his breakout moment.
The Honky Tonk Man was in the midst of the longest intercontinental title reign in WWE history. He was scheduled to defend the title against Brutus Beefcake, but shortly before the event, Beefcake was injured at the hands of Ron Bass.
This left Honky Tonk Man without an opponent.
However, at SummerSlam, an overly confident Honky Tonk Man came to the ring and issued an open challenge. He claimed he didn't care who came out to accept it.
That never goes well, does it?
Ultimate Warrior was the man who accepted the challenge, and not only did he defeat Honky Tonk Man, he did so in decisive fashion, wiping out Honky's long title reign in just 31 seconds.
In less than one year, Ultimate Warrior had his first major title in WWE.
The match held its place in the record books as the shortest match in SummerSlam history for 17 years until Chris Benoit defeated Orlando Jordan in just 25 seconds to win the United States title.
Ultimate Warrior would go on to become one of the top Superstars in WWE history, eventually winning the WWE title. This match was the start of his meteoric rise to the top.
His quick win over Honky Tonk Man is something current WWE fans still see in replays on WWE programming, and it is still treated as one of the top moments in SummerSlam history.
Mega Powers Team Together For the First Time
In the main event of the very first SummerSlam, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage teamed together for the first time.
Collectively known as The Mega Powers, Hogan and Savage would face Andre the Giant and Ted Dibiase—who called themselves The Mega Bucks—in tag team action.
The match was so big that Jesse "The Body" Ventura stepped in as the guest referee.
Hogan and Savage had formed an alliance earlier that year at WrestleMania 4, where Hogan had helped Savage win a single-elimination tournament to become WWE champion.
Savage defeated Dibiase in the finals of that tournament, and Hogan still had issues with Andre the Giant dating all the way back to WrestleMania 3.
This tag team match fell into the middle of a long storyline between Hogan and Savage that should be remembered as one of the best in WWE history.
Hogan and Savage made a very impressive team, but the 520-pound Andre the Giant was still on the other side of the ring.
The match lasted nearly 14 minutes and saw several instances with all four men brawling. In the end, Hogan and Savage had one thing their opponents didn't—Miss Elizabeth.
Miss Elizabeth got up on the apron in the waning moments of the match and promptly created one of the most unforgettable moments in SummerSlam history.
Elizabeth ripped off her skirt, providing enough of a distraction to allow Hogan and Savage to pull off the victory. This was a moment that would make even the Divas of today proud.
This was a moment that showed Elizabeth in a different light, and if the male portion of the fanbase didn't adore her already, they certainly did after this match.
The performance by The Mega Powers showed WWE that it may have found the best tag team of all time. Soon after this event, Hogan and Savage would become an even stronger team, getting wins over the massive tandem of Big Boss Man and Akeem.
Of course, Hogan and Savage wouldn't survive as a tag team for long, but their match together at SummerSlam was a key piece of their storyline that would run all the way to WrestleMania 5.
The match was also the top moment for The Mega Powers as a tag team, and it showed how good Hogan and Savage could be when working together.
What Hogan, Savage and even Elizabeth did at the first SummerSlam set the stage for the event to transform into a huge yearly success.