The stage is set on August 29, 1988. The WWE has already proven to take a risk on pay-per-view events, being successful in the process. This PPV marked the fourth out of the "Big Four", with WrestleMania, Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble debuting in 1985, 87 and 88, respectively.
The debuting PPV was called SummerSlam, and it was coined as being the biggest event of the summer. As a result of the hype, WWE promised to deliver an unforgettable show, and that they did.
During this time, the Honky Tonk Man was well over a year into his WWE Intercontinental Championship reign—a record of 64 weeks that has yet to be broken. During an interview, and subsequently in the ring, Honky Tonk Man issued an open challenge to anyone in the back to face him for the title. Who would take him up for the challenge? One of the fastest rising and electrifying WWE superstars in company history.
The Ultimate Warrior.
In 1987, Warrior debuted in the WWE. His colorful paint and wrestling gear, coupled with his feverish level of intensity from running down to the ring to pumping his arms throughout the match, garnered an immediate positive response from the crowd.
After competing against the likes of midcard superstars such as Hercules, Rick Rude and Dino Bravo, he was ready to step to the plate and ascend in the rankings.
At SummerSlam, Honky Tonk Man impatiently waits for his opponent to come to the ring, but showing a level of confidence to mask any signs of fear. Then—the music hits. The crowd goes wild as the Ultimate Warrior zips to the ring with an energy so high that the Honky Tonk Man just could not match.
Seconds later, we have a new Intercontinental Champion.
These were the days when the Intercontinental Championship meant so much more than what it does today. The WWE can revive the prestige of the title, but there has to be a passionate investment to make it how it used to be.
Watching matches such as Ultimate Warrior vs. Honky Man, even being as short as it was, sets a bar to the IC title that deserves to be high. The title was very relevant when Honky Tonk Man had it, and continued to be relevant when the Ultimate Warrior had it, commencing a heated rivalry against Rick Rude shortly after his victory at SummerSlam.
One could only hope that the title becomes important again. Until then, enjoy this moment in SummerSlam history.
What needs to be done to revive the prestige of the Intercontinental Championship? Sound off below.