Part Thirty Two
The first match of 1990’s SummerSlam double main event was about to begin as Hulk Hogan squared off against Earthquake, the mammoth wrestler who had put him out of action for two months. Neither man had come alone. Earthquake had his manager Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart as well as Canadian strongman Dino Bravo. Earthquake and Bravo had injured Hogan’s friend Tugboat who was supposed to be in Hogan’s corner for the match. After the injury, Hogan revealed that the Big Bossman would be in his corner instead.
Hogan pointed at Earthquake, making sure he understood that he was ready. Not since King Kong Bundy laid out The Hulkster in 1986 had anyone kept Hulk Hogan out of action for long. Just as he’d done with Bundy at WrestleMania II, Hogan was going to send a message to Earthquake, care of his 24” pythons. Hogan taunted Earthquake as the big man stood outside the ring, daring Earthquake to get in the ring. Hogan went so far as to spit in Earthquake’s face, showing his disdain for the man.
Once Earthquake got in the ring, Hogan took his time before locking up with the former sumo wrestler. Was Hogan playing mind games with Earthquake? Collar and elbow tie-up saw Hogan try to use his power against Earthquake only to fail. The two locked up again, this time Earthquake powering Hogan down to the mat. Hogan tried again only to get knocked down a second time. Hogan tried a headlock but Earthquake lifted him up, almost toying with him. After Earthquake knocked Hogan down with a shoulder block, the Hulkster rolled out of the ring to regroup. The Hulkster conferred with the Big Bossman. As he did, Jimmy Hart gloated to the fans that Hogan was finished. Hogan returned to the ring, kicking Earthquake in the gut followed by a rake of the eyes.
Hogan followed up with some punches but inexplicably went for a slam early on in the match. Earthquake resisted the Hulk’s efforts, dropping him with repeated double axe handles to theback. Earthquake launched Hogan into the corner and Hogan bounced out, crumbling to the mat apron. Commentator Vince McMahon noticed Hogan seemed to be off of his game.
Earthquake whipped Hogan into the corner and ran in, only to be met by a raised boot. Hogan wasted no time, delivering two clotheslines to Earthquake followed by a reverse knife-edge chop. Series of punches by the Hulk. Hogan bounced off the ropes and slugged the Earthquake but the big man was still on his feet. Earthquake’s manager Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart got on the mat apron only for Hogan to slug him. Earthquake’s cornerman Dino Bravo climbed up and got punched too (meanwhile, Hogan’s cornerman the Big Bossman was standing by doing nothing - there’s never a cop around when you need one). Hogan bounced off the ropes again and punched Earthquake. This time Earthquake fell down. Hart and Bravo tried to interfere but Hogan knocked each of them off of the mat apron. Meanwhile, Earthquake decided to take a time and rolled out of the ring. While he did, Hogan rallied the fans, soaking in the cheers of his Hulkamaniacs.
Color commentator Roddy Piper wondered why Hogan wasn’t taking the battle to Earthquake. Almost on cue, Hogan exited the ring, going after Earthquake who was busy
conferring with Dino Bravo and Jimmy Hart. Hogan was joined by the Big Bossman who threw Dino Bravo into the ring. Bossman and Hogan threw Earthquake into the ring next. The Big Bossman and The Hulkster whipped Bravo into the ropes, hitting a double big boot on him. Earthquake got the same double-team treatment. Fortunately for Hogan, the referee was showing a lot of latitude.
The Hulkster chomped down on Earthquake as the referee was trying to get the Bossman out of the ring. Dino Bravo capitalized, attacking Hogan from behind. He and Earthquake gave Hogan a double bodyslam. Earthquake bounced off the ropes and dropped an elbow on Hogan, covering him for a two-count. Earthquake questioned the referee, arguing he got a slow count.
Earthquake climbed to the top rope and came off with a big forearm that laid out the Hulk. Earthquake stomped on Hogan’s hand next. When your opponent is nearly 500 pounds, that can result in a hurting on your phalanges and metacarpals. Earthquake stomped Hogan’s other hand, drawing a warning from the referee. Next, he put Hogan in the Boston Crab. Vince McMahon noted that this would be a test of Hogan’s back and it was. The Hulkster was in a lot of pain. He tries to power out but gets nowhere. Fortunately, Hogan is near the ropes and grabs the ropes, forcing a break.
While Earthquake argues with the referee, Hogan crawls out of the ring. Unfortunately, Dino Bravo is waiting and he bodyslams the Hulk. Bravo tosses Hogan back into the ring where further punishment awaits. The Big Bossman (or Big Bosom-man as Piper calls him) continues to be of questionable help to Hogan, arguing with the referee. The referee gets Bossman out of the ring. Earthquake continues the beatdown, slamming Hogan to the mat. Earthquake bounces off of the ropes and drops an elbow towards Hogan but Hogan rolls out of the way.
The Hulkster tries to rally, slugging away at Earthquake then raking his face. In a questionable move, Hogan goes to slam Earthquake. While he almost succeeds, Earthquake is able to resist, sending Hogan down to the mat with him on top for the cover. Hogan manages to kick out, but you have to wonder why he even tried the move after being pummeled for much of the match. Earthquake locks Hogan in a bear hug, ready to take advantage of Hogan’s weakened back and ribs. Hogan tries to break free by blasting Earthquake in the back with forearm smashes. However, Earthquake has Hogan positioned where he can’t get his full force into a forearm smash. Roddy Piper points out that Hogan has to get an arm under one of Earthquake's to try and get free.
Earthquake lifts Hogan up higher, possibly trying to apply more pressure. This allows Hogan to swing away at Earthquake’s head. Hogan breaks free then delivers two shoulder blocks to Earthquake, nearly knocking him off of his feet. Hogan charges Earthquake, going for a cross body block, a move you don’t really see from him, and one that fails miserably as Earthquake catches him, powerslamming him to the mat. Earthquake stands on Hogan’s chest, cupping his ear to the fans as he presses down on Hogan for the pin. Somehow, Hogan kicks out but it’s close, close enough that Roddy Piper wonders if Earthquake got a slow count.
Earthquake goes for the finish, signaling that he’s about to deliver an Earthquake Splash.
Earthquake stomps on the mat before bouncing off of the ropes and hitting Hogan with a
splash. Dino Bravo talks Earthquake into delivering a second one. Vince McMahon begins to eulogize Hulk Hogan, noting what a remarkable career he had. Earthquake goes for the Earthquake Splash again and hits it, covering Hogan for what’s sure to be a three-count.
But it’s not.
Hulk Hogan kicks out, and rises up, signaling that once again he’s called upon the power
of Hulkamania to rally from certain defeat. The man who Japanese sumo fans nicknamed “The Canadian Comet” fires punch after punch to Hogan with no apparent effect. Hogan blocks a punch from Earthquake and fires off a punch of his own. The Hulkster whips Earthquake into the ropes and stuns him with a big boot. With Earthquake on rubber leg street (as the late, great Gorilla Monsoon used to call it), Hogan signals for the bodyslam. Roddy Piper says Hogan shouldn’t do it but the Hulkster is determined.
Hogan picks up Earthquake, this time slamming him to the mat. Hogan bounces off the ropes and hits the legdrop, covering Earthquake for the pin. However, Dino Bravo is distracting the referee. Jimmy Hart runs in and attacks Hogan, accomplishing nothing but getting Hogan angry. Hogan picks Hart up and launches him at Earthquake. Dino Bravo and Big Bossman are in the ring now too. Bossman throws Bravo out of the ring. Earthquake pulls Hogan out of the ring and the two men begin brawling. Earthquake grabs Hogan’s arms and Jimmy Hart charges in with his mega phone. Hogan gets out of the way and Hart hits his own man. This brief moment allows Hogan to pick Earthquake up again, slamming him into a table at ringside (since this is 1990 WWF, the table doesn’t break). Hogan rolls into the ring and joins the referee in counting Earthquake out.
As Hogan celebrated his victory, Roddy Piper told Vince McMahon Hogan’s win was a hollow victory as nothing had been settled. While Vince McMahon disagreed, the reality was that the Hogan/Earthquake war still had months to go before a conclusive finish. Earthquake and Dino Bravo were determined to end the Hulkster’s career and anyone who tried to help him. Join me next time as we look at a tag match where that very scenario almost happened.
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Wikipedia contributors, "SummerSlam (1990)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Web. 29 June 2016.