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Throwback Thursday – 1990 Summerslam: Mr. Perfect vs “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich

When I was initially asked to contribute to allwrestling.com, I wasn’t exactly sure what I could possibly write about. Like a lot of fans at the ripe old age of 36, I find myself detached from the current product, but still regularly fire up the WWE Network machine to relive some of my favourite storylines and matches from back in the day. And that’s what I’d like this column to be about. Having said that, I’d like to take a different approach and focus on the moments that either don’t get the recognition they deserve, or which may have been forgotten over time. So I’d like my fellow old-timers to tie their best onion to their belt and join me in a trip down memory lane.

With Summerslam quickly approaching, I’ll spend the coming weeks discussing some great yet lesser-discussed matches that have taken place at this event over the years. Recently I pulled up the 1990 edition of Summerslam – a card loaded from top to bottom with future Hall of Famers. While this event is remembered for bouts like the Ultimate Warrior defending the WWF Title against “Ravishing” Rick Rude inside a steel cage (shoutout to the classic blue bars), or the Hart Foundation stripping Demolition of the Tag Team Championships with the help of the Legion of Doom, I’m going to talk about Mr. Perfect vs. “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich. Now I know this match isn’t exactly “obscure” or “forgotten”, but it’s my first post and I’ll do what I want.

The backstory of how this match even came to be is interesting in its own right, as Perfect was originally slated to defend his Intercontinental Championship against Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. As you may recall, Brutus had been in a devastating accident involving a parasailor about 6 weeks prior, which crushed his face and kept him away from the ring for almost 3 years. Kerry Von Erich, who only debuted in the WWF one month prior, was chosen as his replacement.

As you watch this match, it’s obvious that Kerry’s star power carried over pretty well from his WCCW days. Back in a time where there was no internet and when WWF television was nowhere near as available or frequent as it is today, the audience’s immediate acceptance of Von Erich’s involvement in the IC title scene is impressive, especially considering this particular match had less than a month of buildup, which by 1990 standards was fairly short.

We begin with Bobby Heenan and Mr. Perfect kicking things off with a fantastic interview segment, where Heenan masterfully quips how a Texas tornado “never really does any damage” and that “all they’re really good for is kicking up some dust and maybe turning over a few mobile homes in some hick trailer park.” Incredible.

The match itself is only slightly over 5 minutes in length; however, both of these Superstars really tell a great story in such a short amount of time. Perfect plays the classic overconfident and arrogant heel to, well, perfection, controlling most of the match and getting in quite a few cheap shots which cause the fans to really stay behind Von Erich. Eventually, Perfect corners Von Erich, punching and yelling at him until, when out of nowhere, Von Erich catches Perfect with a slingshot into the ring post, followed by his signature Iron Claw and finally a Tornado Punch to win the match and be crowned the new Intercontinental Champion. “This place has erupted!” screams Rowdy Roddy Piper on commentary, which accurately describes the MASSIVE pop Von Erich receives for his victory. Keep your eye on the crowd during the 3 count. It’s actually incredible to see how insane it is for the finish of this match.

Now, one of the more noteworthy moments from this match is how Mr. Perfect took the Tornado Punch, which has earned its own place in internet folklore due to the direction he spins when hit with Von Erich’s finishing maneuver. Most will say Perfect spun in the wrong direction, however, I have reviewed this in so much detail you’d think it was the Zapruder Film (I’ve got spare time) and have concluded that Von Erich hit Perfect on the back on the head; therefore, the direction he spins is correct. I’m kidding of course, but the clip of this punch is now a legendary .gif – and rightfully so, I might add.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this match or the rest of the event for that matter. Please feel free to comment below or fire me a tweet at @IAmByks about this post or other matches/moments from the good old days which you fondly remember.