Thursday, 1 November 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF Summerslam 1998

August 30, 1998
Madison Square Garden

It had been ten years since Madison Square Garden had hosted it's first Summerslam back in the halcyon days of 1998. 

Back then, valiant heroes The Mega Powers had joined forces to wage war with the dastardly Mega Bucks and larger-than-life superstar The Ultimate Warrior had run roughshod over the cowardly Honky Tonk Man en route to his first Intercontinental championship.

In the decade that passed a lot -nay, everything- had changed about the World Wrestling Federation.

Gone were the cartoon-like super heroes and family friendly storylines. Gone were the familiar voices of the likes of Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund as they guided us through the stories.

Gone too was the entire roster, with not one man who performed on the 1988 show competing in 1998.





In their place were a new crop of younger, talented wrestlers, who drank, swore, and brawled like they were in a bar fight rather than a pro wrestling ring. 

These rude and crude wrestlers brought with them edgier stories that pushed the boundries. They brought with them violence and mayhem. 

And yes, they brought with them plenty of attitude. 

Here's what happened when Madison Square Garden played host to the first Summerslam of the Attitude Era. 

A Hot Summer's Night in New York

WWE / WWF Summerslam 1998 - Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler called the actionOur show tonight began with an opening video package recounting the recent drama between WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin and his number one contender, The Undertaker.

It had become apparent that after months of feuding, including two memorable matches at Wrestlemania 14 and Unforgiven: In Your House, The Undertaker and Kane were now on the same page.

How would this deadly alliance affect tonight's main event?

How would Stone Cold Steve Austin survive a two-on-one attack by the Brothers of Destruction?

What other obstacles could Evil Overlord Vince McMahon throw in arch-nemesis Austin's path?

All these questions, and more, would hopefully be answered tonight.

The video over, Jim Ross told us it was a hot, sweaty summer's night before welcoming us to Madison Square Garden and introducing his broadcast colleague, Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

With that, it was on to our opening contest.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion D'Lo Brown vs. Val Venis

WWE / WWF Summerslam 1998 - Val Venis - "Helllooooo Ladies!"
With the better part of twenty minutes to play with, reigning champion D'Lo Brown and challenger Val Venis put on as solid an opening match as you could expect from the two at this stage of their careers.

Whilst I won't lie to you and tell you it was a five-star classic, it was hugely enjoyable and very compelling from start to finish.

Speaking of the finish, that saw Val steal D'Lo's chest protector and attempt to leap off the top rope with it. Instead, referee Jimmy Korderas tried to stop Val and accidentally ended up pushing him so that Val crotched the ropes.

Seeking revenge, Val recovered and shoved the referee, causing the DQ.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Val Venis

Compensating for the disappointing result, Val made the MSG crowd happy by bodyslamming Korderas and hitting him with The Money Shot.

Mankind is Upset

WWE / WWF Summerslam 1998 - Michael Cole interviews Mankind
Out in the back, Michael Cole tried to get a word with Mankind, who was inspecting a battered hearse which had been destroyed by Stone Cold on the episode of Sunday Night Heat which took place just before the show.

Mankind was upset because that was apparently his ride home, but he still held onto hope that he could shove Kane in the back of it as revenge for Kane abandoning him.

It was at that point that Foley produced a sledgehammer, announcing that he hoped to use it later. Somewhere in the locker room, Triple H suddenly had an idea...

Four-Versus-Three Handicap Match
The Oddities (Golga, Giant Silva and Kurgan w/ Luna Vachon and The Insane Clown Posse) vs. Kai En Tai (Taka Michinoku, Mens Teoh, Dick Togo and Sho Funaki w/ Yamaguchi-San)

"Well, folks, this was never advertised as a classic," said Jr halfway through this one.

It's just as well, because a classic it certainly wasn't.

That's not to say it was total garbage.

WWE / WWF Summerslam 1998 - Golga & Kurgan of The Oddities faced Kai En Tai
Right from the outset, it became obvious that this was intended to be a comedy match; the diminutive Kai En Tai trying to outsmart and outwrestle the gargantuan Oddities.

On that level (and that level alone) it worked. This was dumb fun from bell to bell and this writer for one found it very amusing.

After several stupid but funny spots, Kurgan and Giant Silva delivered double chokeslams to all four Kai En Tai members, then Golga splashed them all and pinned all four simultaneously.
Your Winners: The Oddities.

Seguing into the next segment, Ross showed us some WWF busses parked outside the arena.

Admittedly, they did look pretty cool.

Hair vs. Hair Match
Jeff Jarrett (w/ Southern Justice) vs. X-Pac (w/ Howard Finkle)

Earlier, on Heat, Jeff Jarrett had beaten up Howard Finkle and shaved his head, so Fink came out with X-Pac, did three very clumsy crotch-chops, and told Jeff to suck it before serving as 'Pac's second for the match.

WWE / WWF Summerslam 1998 - X-Pac, Howard Finkle and The Headbangers cut off Jeff Jarrett's hair
Poor Howard, bless him. He really did give his new role as X-Pac's temporary manager all he had, but he looked so awkward and uncomfortable the whole time that you couldn't help but feel for him.

That aside, this was a terrific match, and up there among 'Pac's biggest moments in his WWF/E career.

Both he and Jeff Jarrett brought their A-Game and it paid off, resulting in a super hot finish from start to end.

The end came when Southern Justice ran in with Jeff's guitar.

Dennis Knight took a swing at X-Pac, who ducked, grabbed the guitar and waylaid Jarrett with it. A three count later, and we'd soon be saying goodbye to Jarrett's famous long, blonde hair for the rest of his career.
Your Winner: X-Pac

Afterwards, the New Age Outlaws ran in to see off Southern Justice whilst The Headbangers and Droz came to hold Jarrett down.

Whilst Double J quite loudly called everybody a 'piece of shit, ' Pac tried to shave Jarrett's head and failed due to some faulty clippers.

Not to be denied, he procured some scissors from somewhere and he and Fink took turns cutting shaving Jarrett's heair, all whilst Jarrett himself protested to Mike Chioda about getting hit over the head with a guitar.

The Rock Lays the Smack Down

WWE / WWF Summerslam 1998 - Intercontinental Champion The Rock talks to Michael Cole
After Doc Hendrix briefly revealed the Octagon-like cage structure for tonight's Lion's Den match between Ken Shamrock and Owen Hart, Michael Cole reminded us, and The Rock, about The Great One laying the smack down to Triple H's famously dodgy leg earlier on Heat.

As entertaining as ever, Rock threatened "slap the yellow off [Cole's] teeth" before promising to destroy the DX leader in their upcoming ladder match. I can't even tell you how excited I am to get to that match, but first, this:

Marc Mero & Jacqueline vs. Sable & Edge

Making his PPV debut, Edge was revealed as Sable's mystery partner for this mixed tag team match against her estranged husband Marc Mero and his new lady, Jacqueline.

The result was a fun contest that delivered more entertainment than you might expect.

No, it wasn't a classic, but few matches are and that's why the ones that are a classic actually stand out.

Instead, this was a very enjoyable match that served its purpose well, and ended when Edge hit the Downward Spiral on Mero before helping Sable to splash the Marvelous one for the win.
Your Winners: Sable & Edge

WWE / WWF Summerslam 1998 - Vince McMahon talks to Mankind backstage
Out in the back, Michael Cole once again spent time with Mankind, informing him that his tag team partner Kane, with whom he held the tag team titles, was definitely a no-show.

A panic-stricken Foley was convinced that there was no way he could defend the titles on his own and would have to call off the match.

"But Mankind, the people expect to get their money's worth," said Cole, prompting Mick, getting more and more agitated by the second, to suggest Cole should be his partner.

It's a shame Nicholas hadn't even been born yet.

As Foley bolted, Vince McMahon turned up to give him a fatherly pep talk, even promising that he'd somehow get Mick into the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame if he went out into the ring.

"But Vince," protested the petrified wrestler, "I don't have a weapon, I don't have my sledgehammer or anything."

Always one to focus on solutions rather than problems, Vince walked off and returned brandishing a random candle holder and a silver tray, joking about handing Mankind history on a silver platter.

"ON A SILVER PLATTER!" he yelled a second time, as if we didn't get the joke.

Strangely enough, that seemed to light a fire in Mankind, who insisted that he would go out there, and if his opponents The New Age Outlaws didn't like it, he had 13 -yes, 13- words for them:

"How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck would?"

Admit it, you just counted if that was 13 words didn't you? Don't worry, so did I.

As silly as this might have sounded, it was a very entertaining segment that really helped move the story along.

Lion's Den Match
Ken Shamrock vs. Owen Hart (w/ Dan Severn)

WWE / WWF Summerslam 1998 - Dan Severn gives Owen Hart some encouragement before Hart's Lion's Den match with Ken Shamrock
Last month, at Fully Loaded: In Your House, Ken Shamrock stepped into Owen Hart's world by facing him in a Dungeon Match, a unique, enjoyable outing in which the two faced off in the famous Dungeon at the Hart house in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

This month, it was Owen's turn to step into unfamiliar territory by facing Shamrock in a Lion's Den match - basically a worked version of an MMA fight held in a round cage that looked like a scaled-down prototype model of the UFC's Octagon.

Whilst the Fully Loaded Dungeon match was good, this was even better.

Completely unique -at least for the time- Shamrock and Owen went at it in a no-holds-barred, no-nonsense scrap that combined the best bits of MMA with the kind of exciting spots that made pro wrestling entertaining.

The whole thing was held in the theatre adjacent to Madison Square Garden, with its own crowd and set-up, making for a different kind of atmosphere that really worked.

In the end, Shamrock slapped on the ankle lock and Owen's second, Dan 'The Beast' Severn merely walked off in disgust, leaving the two-time Slammy Award-winner with no choice but to tap out.
Your Winner: Ken Shamrock

WWE / WWF Summerslam 1998 - WWF Champion Steve Austin talks to Michael Cole
Out in the back, Michael Cole stood by for an interview with WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin.

With the Smoking Skull belt draped over his shoulder, The Rattle Snake was his typically abrasive self, warning The Undertaker that even though he respected him more than anyone else in the company, he wasn't above taking a cheap shot to hang on to his title.

This was, as you'd expect, good stuff from Austin.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match
WWF Tag Team Champion Mankind vs. The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James & Bad Ass Billy Gunn)

As far as I can tell, tonight marked the first PPV appearance of ring announcer Tony Chimmel, who told us that this was a "No holds barred pinfalls match count anywhere."

Honestly.

WWE / WWF Summerslam 1998 - Bad Ass Billy Gunn gives Michael Cole a talking to
Anyway, as we all know by now, Kane had (in kayfabe) no-showed, making this a handicap match. I'd question the logic in making two of your most popular babyfaces (The New Age Outlaws) the team that had the advantage here, but instead, I'd prefer to just sit back and enjoy the match.

In a throwback to their Wrestlemania 14 match against Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie, Road Dogg and Bad Ass Billy Gunn brought out a dumpster loaded full of weapons.

Billy Gunn and Foley started things off, jousting with chairs, and from there, we got another fun match in which Foley, as resilient as ever, put up a good fight but was outnumbered at every turn.

The match was kept quite short, which worked in its favour, and ended with a spike piledriver to Mankind onto the tag titles.
Your Winners and New WWF Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws

Afterwards, babyfaces Road Dogg and Bad Ass picked up Mankind -who by this point had the full sympathy of the audience- and dropped him in the dumpster "where he belonged."

Kane then emerged from the dumpster and rammed Mick's sledgehammer downwards, presumedly into Foley himself, though, from the way the angle was shot, it was obvious that no contact was actually made.

The Rock and Triple H: Ready for War

Prior to our upcoming ladder match, we were shown a compelling video package recounting the heated rivalry between The Rock and Triple H, complete with their dramatic two-out-of-three-falls match at Fully Loaded 1998.

From there, Chris Warren casually walked out to sing the DX theme with his band. I like to believe that it's just the audio mix that's bad - there's no way one band could sound so terrible.

Still, watching Triple H headbang along with Warren and get right into the spirit of things was pretty awesome.

Thankfully, the match itself would be much better.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock (w/ Mark Henry) vs. Triple H (w/ Chyna)

Remember how I said I was looking forward to this one? Growing up, this was one of my all-time favourite matches.

In fact, I'd even go to say that, during the 90s, I ranked this above the classic Michaels/Razor match from Wrestlemania 10.

Whilst that might have been because I was too young to appreciate good wrestling in 1994, I still consider Triple H/Rock for the Intercontinental Championship at Summerslam 1998 to be one of the best matches I ever watched in my original run as a fan.

You know what though?

I haven't seen it in 20 years, so I'm more than looking forward to this one.

The match began with The Rock quite visibly saying "you motherf**ker, f**k you!" before laying the smack down on Triple H.

From there, both men put on a career-defining performance that saw them transition, via a violent and dramatic contest, from solid upper-midcard acts into bona fide main eventers.

This match was every bit as good as I remember it, if not better, and I'm still willing to go on record as saying it was even better than Michaels/Razor at Wrestlemania 10.

After an outstanding effort, Triple H retrieved the belt to win his second Intercontinental Championship.
Your Winner and New WWF Intercontinental Champion: Triple H

If you watch the WWE Network version of this event, you'll get the EXCLUSIVE HOME VIDEO footage, which shows The Rock making his way to the back into his dressing room whilst Vince McMahon and a bunch of officials don't realise their on camera and begin calling out for The Undertaker ready for his main event match with Austin.

Rock then heads into his dressing room and cuts an intense promo, promising revenge on Triple H.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker

Finally, it came down to this: A solid match for the World Wrestling Federation Championship which saw reigning champion Austin mixing his usual brawling with shades of the technical brilliance that was the hallmark of his earlier career.

Whilst the previous ladder match may have been more entertaining, that's not to take anything away from what was a terrific main event in its own right.

After a lengthy see-saw battle, Austin hit the stunner to retain the gold.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Afterwards, 'Taker handed Austin the title belt as a mark of respect, then stood in the aisle way with brother Kane, watching on as the leader of the Attitude Era celebrated in the WWF's spiritual home, Madison Square Garden.






By far one of the better Summerslams in the event's history up to that point, there wasn't a single bad match on the card tonight.

OK, so the Oddities/Kai En Tai comedy spot wasn't to everyone's liking, but it was harmless fun and this fan enjoyed it just fine.

Elsewhere, we got good matches from D'Lo/Val, X-Pac/Jarrett and Austin/Taker, whilst Triple H and The Rock stole the show long before stealing the show became the prerogative of modern performers.

Overall, an outstanding show that is definitely worth watching.



1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
  3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
  8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
  9. WCW Slamboree 1998
  10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
  11. WCW Great American Bash 1998 
  12. WWF - King of the Ring 1998
  13. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1998 
  14. WWF - In Your House 23: Fully Loaded 
  15. WCW - Road Wild 1998
Other WWF Summerslam Reviews
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    Retro Pro Wrestling

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