Date: August 30, 1998
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry LawlerIf there has ever been a Summerslam that could be put on par with Wrestlemania as far as build up and importance goes, this is it. The Attitude Era of 1998 was going full speed ahead with nothing in sight stop it as Austin vs. McMahon was dominating the wrestling world. The idea is that there was a conspiracy led by Vince to get the title off of Austin. The reason you had to see every show was no one knew who else was in on it. That’s just downright creepy if you can ignore the fact that it’s professional wrestling. The main enemy of Austin was Undertaker, so guess what tonight’s main event is? This show was the crescendo of the summer and is exactly what a Summerslam is supposed to be like in my eyes. Every storyline was heavily built up, the showdowns were worth drooling over, and it’s in Madison freaking Square Garden.
We have some solid chemistry here actually. Val really was good in the ring, at least better than he’s given credit for. He keeps going up top but it’s never in the right position for the splash. He finally gets one off but Brown gets the knees up. Crowd is marking hard for Brown actually. Correction they think he sucks. Could we possibly have dueling chants? We have more sex jokes from Lawler that are really under the radar if you don’t know what to listen for.
SWEET looking Low Down from Brown but it misses. Eventually Val steals the chest protector and goes for the splash but the referee tries to stop him and he gets crotched. Brown gets it back but Venis beats him up before putting it on again. Referee tries to stop him but he gets fired across the ring for the stupid DQ finish. Post match, the referee gets beaten on.
Rating: B. Very good match here, but the ending is just weak to me. I get that they didn’t want to do the title change but wanted Val to look strong, but they couldn’t do a count out or something? The referee thing was just stupid and it didn’t work for me. Either way, this was a great opener and it worked very well. Sometimes you find guys like these two that just work well together. When you find something like that, it’s a bonus.
Cole is in the back with the hearse as we find out that Kane and Taker weren’t in the hearse, but Mankind isn’t happy. He brought it apparently, and now it’s only good for giving the Brisco Brothers Body Shop some work. He also has a sledgehammer, which I guess HHH stole from him.
Oddities vs. Kai En Tai
This is a handicap match, because I guess three giants against four tiny men isn’t fair? Anyway, ICP plays the Oddities to the ring which actually gets a very nice reaction. They get all the fans waving their hands, including one scantily clad woman that needs to be dancing more. Apparently the Japanese team doesn’t like the Oddities for no apparent reason.
The Oddities are the Giant Silva who is taller than Khali and less talented, Kurrgan who was an interesting character until they turned him face, and Golga who is Earthquake in a mask and obsessed with Cartman from South Park. Ross says he likes ICP which stuns Lawler. This is mostly a comedy match, as no one on the planet thought the Oddities would lose. They were actually an interesting concept, but you need more odd characters than just three big guys.
In a funny spot, Kurrgan gets on his knees to fight Funaki, which sadly makes them about the same size. We get a tug of war between Kurrgan and the other team over Kai En Tai’s manager, Yamaguchi San. He may be the most annoying manager ever, even surpassing Slick, who had a cool song to make up for his annoyance. As the crowd somehow gets even quieter, all four small guys run in and attack Silva, which also doesn’t work.
Ross tries to compare him to Andre as I glare at my screen. Anyway, eventually Tenta, or Golga I guess, the most talented guy in this match is tagged in and gets beaten down surprisingly. The four man team actually is fun to watch as they work really well together. He comes back with a quadruple clothesline as this is going on WAY too long.
A double, double chokeslam followed by a huge splash finally ends this as ICP tries to bring the crowd back to life. I will give the Oddities this: the dancing was pretty funny.
Rating: C-. This was fairly funny, but it just went on way too long. It’s almost a ten minute comedy match, which is about twice as long as it needs to be. The gimmick was fine, but we get it: Kai En Tai couldn’t do crap here. You don’t need to make us see that over and over again.
Jeff Jarrett vs. X-Pac
This is hair vs. hair. Jarrett has Southern Justice with him as we continue to try to validate the Godwinns being employed. On Heat, the trio shaved Fink’s hair. I don’t remember him having much to begin with but ok. Debra desperately needs to get here. Fink is apparently an honorary DX member for tonight only. Sarge sends Southern Justice to the back. Fink doing the crotch chop is one of the greatest things of all time.
He also says suck it as part of my soul dies. Jarrett is the perfect size for someone like X Pac to fight. Like I’ve said, when Pac is fighting someone closer to his size he’s far less annoying and can be enjoyable. They’re working a fast paced match here and it’s working better. They keep going for awhile as this is turning into a good match. Fink gets up on the apron and Jarrett condemns himself to eternal torment by hitting him. This leads to an X Factor but Southern Justice comes out again.
They miss with the guitar and Pac drills Jarrett with it for the pin. The army of people that Jarrett has given haircuts to plus the Outlaws run out to help with the haircut. He’s not shaved, but he gets his short haircut that he had for years.
Rating: B. This was a solid match. Both guys can work a faster pace and in this case it was the right way to go. Both are far better when they don’t try to move up and fight like heavyweights. It was hard hitting and fast paced, which made this a very good little match.
Doc is looking at the Lion’s Den, which was a pretty cool concept. That’s up later on.
Cole is with the Rock, who attacked HHH earlier and hurt his knee. He rips into Cole as only he can do, which is always funny. He also says he’ll win.
Marc Mero/Jackie vs. Sable/Mystery Partner
Mero is doing the boxer thing at this time. There’s no clue who Sable’s partner is here. This is mainly over Sable vs. Mero, which was an interesting concept but it just didn’t work in the end. They tried so hard to make Sable a big deal as a wrestler and it just never worked that well. The partner is…..EDGE! Edge was still a rookie at this point so it’s really get how big he was going to become.
Anyway, this is more or less all about Sable, so it’s naturally not going to be that interesting. I swear that woman had a bigger ego than Hogan at times. She comes in and beats on Jackie for a bit because heaven forbid that Edge, the young guy who has a lot to prove still gets significant ring time. Eventually Edge does and immediately throws a great suicide dive over the top rope onto Mero before spanking Jackie to a big pop.
See what happens when you let someone with that little thing called real talent into the match? It gets a lot better and the crowd is more into it. The problem with Sable was simple: only horny men cared about her. Other than that, she was pretty much worthless. This is really just getting bad at this point. Not the in ring stuff, but how this is all about Sable.
Edge beats Mero up, then Sable comes in and gets a hurricanrana out of it, despite the rules earlier being men vs. men and women vs. women. Jackie helps out with the worst looking spot I’ve ever seen. Somehow Mero is too far from the corner for the falling headbutt spot, so Jackie steps forward and THEN collapses onto Mero’s crotch. Edge knocks him out even more, just so Sable can have Edge lift her up for a splash to get the win.
Ross of course screams SHE did it, after which Lawler (thank goodness) says THEY did it. I knew I always liked Jerry better. The referee raises Sable’s hand first, then goes back and raises their hands together. Ok now I’m just being picky. Post match, it’s all about what Sable did as this is just stupid now. Edge just kind of leaves as Sable celebrates. Commentary: Oh yeah Edge was good too.
Rating: F. Not for the match, which was ok, but for Sable. This match was a love letter from Sable to Sable and it was just bad to say the least. It was all about her and Edge, Jackie and Mero were just along for the ride. Edge did 90% of the work and was an afterthought.
Sable did two moves on her own, one of which was sloppy at best, yet the whole thing was about her. Even at the end of the match when JR said she did it, you knew this was all about her. That’s just flat out stupid no matter who it is. This really was stupid to me and it left a bad taste in my mouth.
We now get what to me was one of the funniest interviews I’ve seen in a long time. Mankind is panicking because he can’t find his sledgehammer (which he had like 30 minutes ago and we haven’t seen him do anything since then but whatever) and he doesn’t have a partner against the Outlaws. He and Kane are the tag champions at this point and it’s a hardcore match (billed as falls count anywhere and no holds barred but you get the idea).
He says that Cole should be his partner in getting their heads kicked in and he hands him a belt. This is something that should never be done again. Anyway, Vince comes up and we see the brilliance of these two characters. Foley is putty in Vince’s hands and you can see him just manipulating Mankind with a few short and simple words. It really is well done here. He promises Mick that if he wins, he’ll get him in the MSG hall of fame.
He brings Foley some weapons, which inspire Foley. Foley says that he thinks he has 13 words for the Outlaws: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? This is as bizarre as it sounds and maybe it’s the Foley mark in me, but I loved it.
Recap of the Owen/Shamrock feud, which was an ok idea, but it didn’t need Severn involved. Short version: Owen hates Shamrock for no apparent reason, so he got Dan Severn to train him and they’re having a match in a small octagon called the Lion’s Den, which is named after Shamrock’s training facility.
Lion’s Den Match: Owen Hart vs. Ken Shamrock
This match is taking place in a theater adjacent to MSG. I know that because Ross said that this match is taking place in a theater adjacent to MSG. So this is the WWF version of the UFC cage but they’re wrestling a WWF style match in there, which is about what you’d expect I guess, as it’s pretty clear Shamrock wouldn’t have much trouble in a real MMA fight with Owen.
Hart would hang on for awhile, but it’s not likely he would have much of a chance in the long run. The cage offers some different effects, but it’s nothing earth shattering. It’s better than a normal match would have been though, as it suits Shamrock very well. Speaking of that, he hits a sweet move as he gets a running start and plants his foot on the cage to jump backwards and catch Owen with I think either a back elbow or a dropkick.
Either way it looks very good and he nailed him with it. The cage isn’t really offering a lot of differences, but the main one is on whips. With no ropes, you’re just hitting cage, which has to hurt pretty badly. Hart gets the sharpshooter, which Ross says no one does better. Remind me never to leave WWF.
This is likely the coolest spot of the match as Shamrock crawls to the cage and climbs it while in the Sharpshooter, forcing the hold to be broken. The problem is they just brush over it, despite it being brilliant. Owen gets a choke on him but Shamrock runs up the cage to backflip out of it and gets the real ankle lock, not the Angle lock, to get the win.
Rating: B-. This was a weird concept and I guess it worked. It didn’t really fail, but it just wasn’t the best thing in the world. Overall the in cage stuff was fine, but it just wasn’t to my liking and I’m glad it only happened like three times.
Austin says he’ll do whatever it takes to keep the title.
Tag Titles: Mankind vs. New Age Outlaws
Like I said, there’s no Kane so this is virtually a hardcore handicap match. The announcer calls it a no holds barred pinfalls match count anywhere, so I wonder what he did during that long break they had for the Lion’s Den match. Both of the Outlaws are rocking South Park shirts, and remember this is back when that was a brand new show. There’s a dumpster at ringside. The Outlaws do a conchairto with cookie sheets.
I’ve always wondered why there were cookie sheets at ringside. Apparently the Outlaws should tag. Why? What are they going to do, get disqualified? This is really short and you can probably guess how it ends. Dang it I just realized I didn’t put up any matches from this show. You’ll live I suppose for this one.
Anyway, WZ is down right now so it’s not like I have anything else to do with my time. Anyway, the Outlaws win after a spike pile driver in the general area of the title belt. Now they’re going to put him in the dumpster. Post match, Kane is in the dumpster and drills Foley’s unseen body with the sledgehammer.
Rating: D+. This was really short and wasn’t that good. For a match like this, it can work but it needs a lot more than 6 minutes. Granted, I don’t think they were looking for a classic in this. It was just too short to get going and it felt like it was over just after it started.
Recap of DX vs. Nation, including the DX imitation of the Nation, which I’m sure you’ve all seen a million times. We also see D’Lo Brown pinning HHH for the European Title. It’s amusing that this is supposed to be DX vs. the Nation, yet all we see is HHH and Rock for about 95% of this. Oh yeah and that REALLY dumb time limit draw in a 2/3 falls match. All of that leads us to this. HHH’s promo before Summerslam from Raw: At Summerslam, you’re gonna bow to me! That’s all he said and that was perfect.
Ladder Match: IC Title: HHH vs. Rock
This is going to be good. The DX Band plays HHH to the ring, which is really cool actually. I think HHH is being followed by a nuclear power plant. Oh never mind. That’s just Chyna’s neon green outfit, not nuclear fallout. HHH picks Chris Warren, the singer, up and carries him around the ring while he’s still singing, which looks a bit stupid. I’ve never gotten the point in destroying the band’s equipment after a performance.
Oh yeah and at the time there was a bad storyline with Chyna and Mark Henry that ended with Henry almost sleeping with a transvestite. Yeah it was worse than it sounds. They start out with just standard stuff, but are out by the ladder inside of three minutes. In a bit of a surprising move, they don’t touch it yet. I like that. Save it for a solid buildup and then go for it. That being said, it’s in the ring less than 2 minutes later.
In a painful looking spot, Rock goes up the ladder but HHH comes off the top rope to stop him. He gets that done, but the ladder falls on him. He didn’t know it was coming, or he’s the greatest seller I’ve ever seen, and I’m leaning towards the former. Here we have a great example of why theatrical moves like the People’s Elbow are stupid. Rock has the ladder set up and drops an elbow off the apron down onto HHH who is laying on it.
How is that different than the People’s Elbow? In short, it isn’t, yet the People’s Elbow can win world titles. Explain to me how that makes any sense at all. Anyway, HHH’s knee gives out soon after this, as he has to put all his weight on it to stay up. Now that’s the focus of the match, which is something I really like. Now, instead of just big spot followed by big spot, we have a reason to pay attention to what’s not involved with the ladder.
That’s putting psychology in as well, as JR puts it: one legged men don’t win kicking contests, and they don’t climb ladders either. We get a Home Improvement reference to really date the show a bit. It’s rare to see two heavyweight guys in a match like this, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be bad. Here you have two guys where it’s more about the feud rather than the prop and the gimmick, which is more or less a guaranteed way to make the match better.
Oh yeah the ladder is big and yellow for no apparent reason. We get an extra ladder to make things a bit more interesting. Henry and Chyna get into it on the floor as HHH stops Rock from winning. Soon thereafter Rock is busted open but HHH can’t climb the ladder because of his knee. Rock makes the save as HHH has to climb like a turtle. See, that’s nice for a change.
Instead of having the guy climb all slow for no reason other than to fill time and give the other guy a chance to catch him, we have a real reason. See how much better and more intelligent that seems? HHH’s knee is hurt, so he can’t climb. Behold the wonders of psychology, even in gimmick matches. Rock is down, so HHH gets a chair and just wears him out with it.
Since it’s a gimmick match though, Rock is back up inside of 20 seconds and land a People’s Elbow on the ladder. They fight over the ladder but HHH gets up it a bit. However, he jumps off onto Rock and lands right in the Rock Bottom. HHH catches him though because the ladder is almost broken. He pulls him down with one hand since he’s the Game and lands the Pedigree as both guys are pretty much dead, with good reasoning.
They’ve beaten the living tar out of each other and it’s a tossup at this point. Ross is losing his mind at this point. With both guys down, Henry throws powder into his eyes and since the ref didn’t see it, it’s ok. It’s a ladder match. What could he do anyway? Even blinded, HHH climbs the ladder perfectly. Rock goes after him but Chyna low blows him. HHH gets up the rest of the ladder and grabs the belt to blow the roof off the place as DX runs out to celebrate.
Rating: A+. This right here is what WWE needs so desperately to do today: give two young guns nearly half an hour and let them go steal the show. This match worked for many reasons, but the biggest was it wasn’t about the ladder and big spots. It was about the two guys trying to get the win, with the spots being something that helped them accomplish that goal.
The knee injury was great as well, with HHH barely being able to walk for a large part of the match. The crowd was WAY into this as the pop for HHH winning the title and ending the feud was great. This is an absolute classic and to me could rival Shawn and Razor.
We go to “exclusive home video footage” of Rock heading to his locker room. Hearing the people say they need to get Taker ready isn’t something that should air. More or less, Rock says he’s still the people’s champ, no matter what.
This is the culmination of the entire summer, which was the theme being the ending of the road being here at Summerslam. That’s actually really smart. Apparently Taker says no Kane. Ross says this should be a classic. That’s just funny. No video package or recap or anything. That’s VERY rare.
WWF Title: Undertaker vs. Steve Austin
I’m sure you know the story, but just in case: basically, Taker is accused of being the main guy in a giant conspiracy against Steve Austin, which Vince denies every time. All the signs are there though, so Austin believes that it’s Taker who is the mastermind. Now, this would result in one of my all time favorite angles, and the ONLY time when a Vince Russo angle got to where it was supposed to go and got him labeled a genius.
Eventually, Taker and Kane took the title from Austin in a “triple threat”, which was really a handicap. However, Taker started turning crazy as Rock won the title. Eventually, Taker formed the Ministry to fight Vince and struck out on his own to take over the company. Vince and Shane, who was new as a big time character, formed the Corporation to fight Taker, but Shane kicked Vince out.
This is where the angle got intense, as Taker started being very satanic in nature, burning crosses, sacrificing people, and more or less bringing in religion to the shows. This leads to the big one, which is Taker kidnapping Stephanie at the end of Backlash. In perhaps my all time favorite segment, he was attempting to marry Stephanie, but Austin comes out and single handedly takes out the Ministry.
A few weeks later, Taker has the belt and says that the Higher Power is coming soon. It turns out that the higher power is Vince. Vince destroyed his family, tortured his daughter, and nearly ended his whole company, all to get the WWF Title off of Steve Austin. Holy goodness was this cool at the time. It all culminated in Austin being named CEO, which after a few other things, led to Austin beating Taker for the title on Raw, which if my memory is right is still the highest rated single match in wrestling history.
WOW I went off on a tangent there. Sorry about that but I love this stuff. As Taker is coming out, you can hear someone that sounds like Lawler shout GET OUT EARL. You can see Earl slide out, just as pyro goes off in the ring. That was insanely close. They do the real glass for the shatter here which is always cool looking. Austin is rocking the Smoking Skull belt here.
There’s a moment in this match that changes the whole thing. It’s said that these two simply couldn’t have a good match together. I disagree. At In Your House 15, they had a very good one. However, like I said, there’s a moment in here where things change drastically, which I’ll mention when we get to it. This starts off very weird, with them battling over control of each other’s arm.
Austin even uses a drop toe hold into a fujiwara armbar. Now, a lot of you may be thinking, how is this different than Hogan and Sting sucking the life out of Starrcade 1997? Well, the answer is kind of unclear. I think the main thing is that they keep the pace going fast. While it’s mat based at first, they never stay in the same place twice. They keep the energy high, which is smart.
Not everything has to be punching and kicking to make it work, so they threw in something different. Now I’m not saying that it worked as the crowd is clearly a lot more silent now, but they’re far from dead. I think what they’re going for is a slow build to a big finish, and there’s not a thing wrong with that. What there is a thing wrong with is what happens next.
Taker whips him in and ducks. Austin, naturally, kicks him in the face. That’s a very standard move and it makes good sense. However, due to Taker’s height, his head slams into Austin’s chin, breaking his jaw. For the rest of the match, Austin is clearly off balance, and it makes them look bad. While Austin is clearly the bigger face, Taker isn’t really a full heel here, but he’s leaning more towards that way.
The announcers point out that Austin is hurt and just doesn’t look right. Dang something about Summerslam just doesn’t agree with him for some reason. We get some standard Taker beatdown stuff, but Old School is countered with an….no that had to be an error. I couldn’t have seen that. Austin couldn’t have used….an arm drag, could he? I…I think he might have. Ok this joke is stupid he used an arm drag.
As this happens, Kane comes out but Taker sends him back, which is odd indeed. Not sure if that was really needed actually. Austin works the knee, which makes a lot of sense. Psychology isn’t something you see that often from Austin, but he’s certainly an intelligent wrestler. He gets a bad reputation as nothing but a brawler, and that’s just not fair. They go to the crowd which is always fun.
The crowd is coming to life and dying again and again, but I think it’s more alive than dead. Austin goes for a stunner and the people go nuts, just for him grabbing at Taker’s head. That’s saying a lot. Austin is taking a freaking beating here. I’m not sure if I like this match or not. It’s certainly not terrible, but it’s nothing great. I think it’s another case of a match having insane hype and there’s just no way they can live up to that.
Taker keeps choking him to buy him more and more time to clear his head, so you at least have to give him points for that. Austin is on the Spanish announce table, as Taker goes up to the top. In a SICK looking spot, Taker hits Austin with a diving leg drop. Now for the problem: the table doesn’t give. The momentum just sends them sliding off of it, but the table is still standing.
That just can’t be a good idea and must hurt horribly. Think about that: Taker is billed at 325 so we’ll say 290, and that slams onto Austin who is on a table. DANG. He kicks out of this in the ring, which stuns JR. Ha, that wasn’t even meant to be a pun, but I laughed. Laugh people. We get the double clothesline, which even gets a pop. You have to love New York crowds. They’ll get excited about ANYTHING.
Alright, now we get to the end. We start (laugh again) with Austin’s comeback, which is standard stuff: punches and the double bird elbow. You can REALLY tell that Austin just isn’t all there. It’s showing really badly. Taker reverses to send Austin chest first into the corner, but he hits something that looks like a bad stunner. Even the announcers say that wasn’t a stunner.
Taker kicks out and hits a pretty bad chokeslam, then goes for the tombstone. Instead though, for some reason he can’t get Austin up so he crotches him on the top rope. They look like rookies out there. The rest of the match I thought was pretty good up until now. Lawler keeps trying to convince us that they went through the table, which is a lie. The ending is very weird and comes out of nowhere.
Taker is dominating, and goes for Old School again. He jumps, but Austin gets his arm up to low blow Taker. Kick, stunner, pinfall…really? Even the referee looks a bit confused for this one. Taker remains a semi-face by handing the belt to Austin after the match. Austin can barely get to the corner ropes right so he’s way out of it. Kane comes out to watch Austin right next to Taker. They leave together as Austin celebrates.
Rating: B-. This is a hard one to grade. Given the injuries to both, this was good. Factoring those out, this was bad. However, I’ll certainly make exceptions as both were hurt while trying to make something happen in the course of a match. It certainly wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t that far from it.
I see why people criticize it, but like I said earlier I think this suffers a lot from its hype. This match was built up as huge, and there was no way it could match that. Overall, I liked it though. Austin won clean, which needed to happen. It built him into an even bigger star, and Taker didn’t exactly lose everything because of it. I liked it, but I could see people hating it.
Overall Rating: B. I thought this was a very solid show, with the only bad match being the Oddities, but what do you expect from a comedy match with only a small bit of talent to go around? I still hate the Sable thing. It was just flat out overkill and wasn’t needed, since it only happened to build up her massive ego even more.
You have a flat out classic in the ladder match and what I thought was a good main event. It’s a solid show and definitely the biggest and best built Summerslam I’ve seen so far and maybe the best ever. This was a Wrestlemania like atmosphere and it definitely paid off. A very solid recommendation here, but not the highest.