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Random Network Reviews: WWF SummerSlam 1998

June 11, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Random Network Reviews: WWF SummerSlam 1998  

WWF SummerSlam 1998
August 30th, 1998 | Madison Square Garden in New York, New York | Attendance: 21,588

It was the “Highway to Hell.” With the WWF in the midst of a boom period during the Attitude Era, SummerSlam was set for Madison Square Garden. After months of buildup, Steve Austin and the Undertaker were set to collide over the WWF Title, while two future megastars in Triple H and the Rock were semi-main event. It was the eleventh annual SummerSlam and has the highest buyrate in the history of the event.

I wish the WWE Network kept the “Highway to Hell” intact. The opening video package focuses on Steve Austin trying to overcome the Undertaker and Kane.

WWF European Championship: Val Venis def. D-Lo Brown (c) via disqualification in 15:24
Val is way over with his “I came, I saw and then I came again” line. It takes less than a minute for JR to drop his first “this guy used to play football” of the night. Who gives a shit JR? The story of the match is Browns’ chest protector. He uses it to his advantage to do damage on Val. Future Hall of Famer Edge is shown watching from the crowd. D-Lo controls and the crowd kind of dies. He misses a senton and Val rallies. Val comes off the top but leaps right into a big Sky High for two. D-Lo nearly Drozes Val on a powerbomb. He hits it on the second attempt but misses the Lo Down. Val removes the chest protector and I grew so used to it that D-Lo looks odd without it. Val puts it on and goes up top. The referee doesn’t want him to and grabs Val’s ankle, causing him to slip and crotch himself. The referee continues to try to get Val to take off the chest protector, so Val tosses him and gets DQed. Lame ending to a match that was moving along nicely. They did well with the time and told a good story but that finish killed it. ***¼

Val Venis gives the official a Money Shot for his troubles.

The Oddities w/ ICP and Luna Vachon def. Kaientai w/ Mr. Yamaguchi-San in 10:10
This is meant to be the comedic relief on the card. The Oddities entrance, which is performed by the Insane Clown Posse, is cut from the WWE Network. None of the Oddities are any good but they’re big enough to cause Kaientai to talk strategy outside. Honestly, the big guys kick ass and Kaientai only gets offense on Golga. Once the tag comes to Kurrgan, the Oddities take over again. Luna slams Yamaguchi-San and the big men squash Kaientai. I get the idea of a comedy match but it was far too long. -**

Hair vs. Hair Match: X-Pac w/ Howard Finkel def. Jeff Jarrett w/ Southern Justice in 11:11
During Heat earlier in the night, Jarrett and Southern Justice (The Godwins) shaved the Fink’s head so he joins X-Pac. He’s in a DX shirt and looks so awkward doing the crotch chop. Jarrett attacks quickly and is desperate to win. I love that he goes for a countout win and flash pins. X-Pac takes the heat, which includes a vicious “nuts to the ring post” spot. The pace is quick and there isn’t a hold until about halfway through. X-Pac’s bursts of offense get the crowd going. He gets two on a sweet sitout powerbomb, but it was strange to see Jarrett try a rana. Fink distracts Jarrett and takes a right hand for it. X-Factor connects but the cover isn’t made in time so it only gets two. One half of SJ misses a guitar shot. X-Pac takes it and uses it on Jeff for the win. Good work. Crisp pace, hot crowd and the right finish. Both guys would have a good few months following this. ***

The New Age Outlaws chase off Southern Justice while the Headbangers and Droz hold Jarett down. X-Pac shaves his head while Commissioner Slaughter oversees. Method Man is shown in the crowd during all this.

The Rock gets interviewed about attacking Triple H during Heat. Rock had a smart plan because hurting HHH’s leg means that HHH can’t climb the ladder later.

Edge and Sable def. Marc Mero and Jacqueline in 8:26
Sable announces that her mystery partner is WWF’s newest Superstar, Edge. Man vs. man and woman vs. woman in this one. Edge arm drags Mero all over the place. Their interactions don’t do much but show off Edge’s quickness. Sable and Jackie bring the actual intensity. Sable chases Jackie around the ring and goes for the Sable Bomb on Mero but Jackie breaks it up. She hits Jackie with the TKO but this time Mero breaks up the pin. The teams trade offense at this point until Sable busts out an impressive top rope rana on Mero. Jackie again breaks things up but then gets dropped into Mero’s crotch. He takes a Downward Spiral and then Edge slams Sable onto him to get the win. Decent enough for what it was. I didn’t expect much with a green Edge and two women who weren’t very good.

Mankind is interviewed and without Kane being there to team with him, he knows he’s gonna get his ass kicked. He suggests going out alone or with Michael Cole because the bloodthirsty fans just want to see it. Vince McMahon shows up and convinces him to make history by defending the Tag Titles alone in the greatest arena in the world. “If the Outlaws don’t like it, I’ve got 13 words for them: HOW MUCH WOOD COULD A WOODCHUCK CHUCK IF A WOODCHUCK COULD CHUCK WOOD?”

Lion’s Den Match: Ken Shamrock def. Owen Hart in 9:16
The Lion’s Den is a UFC octagon type structure. This match takes place in the theater at Madison Square Garden. Shamrock comes out firing, busting Owen’s lip quickly. Shamrock wisely uses the cage for offense. He hits a spinebuster onto it and springboards off it. Owen starts getting his offense in and slaps on the Sharpshooter. Shamrock crawls to the cage, but that obviously doesn’t break it. He climbs the cage to break it in an awesome moment. Owen hits a tornado DDT but they’re quickly back up and brawling. Dragon sleeper by Owen but Shamrock walks the cage to slip free and counters into an armbar, right into the ankle lock. Dan Severn, who trained Owen for this but grew tired of Owen’s shit, walks off and leaves Owen to submit. Different from everything on the show and anything we had at the time. Non-stop action and hella fun. ***½

Steve Austin is interviewed and isn’t going to give Vince McMahon the satisfaction of losing the WWF Title.

WWF Tag Team Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match: The New Age Outlaws def. Mankind (c) in 5:16
Kane is the other half of the Tag Team Champions with Mankind. The Outlaws take turns beating Mankind up with weapons. They set a table up in the corner but Mankind counters a hip toss and sends Billy Gunn through it. The Outlaws powerbomb Mankind onto two chairs but he continues to kick out. Their theme even plays for a second. A spike piledriver is finally enough to keep Mankind down. Disappointing since I think the actual tag could have been entertaining. This did a good job of continuing Mankind’s story, which ultimately led to these Outlaws helping him win the WWF Title at the start of the following year.

The Outlaws take Mankind outside and throw him in the ringside dumpster. Kane is revealed to be in the dumpster and has a sledgehammer. He slams it down in the dumpster where we are to believe he hurt Mankind. Kane rolls the dumpster to the back.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Triple H w/ Chyna def. The Rock (c) w/ Mark Henry in 26:01
Triple H gets a live performance of the DX theme for his entrance. This starts with a fist fight and they slug it out for the first few minutes. You can tell that it isn’t going to be a spot fest style ladder match. The Rock takes a shot with the ladder, so he goes after HHH’s beat up knee. Rock wraps it up in the ladder and beats on it with a chair. HHH stops him from getting the title, so Rock takes him outside and catapults him into the ladder. Mark Henry gets involved when HHH rallies, so Chyna lays him out with her shitty punch. HHH shoves Rock off the ladder and baseball slides it into his face, busting him open. They fight atop the ladder shortly after and HHH gets knocked off but rebounds into the ladder to knock Rock off. Now it’s HHH turn to use a chair into the ladder to hurt the Rock. Rock hits the People’s Elbow with HHH lying on the ladder. The crowd is loudly chanting “Rocky.” Rock also hits Rock Bottom but HHH pulls him away from the title and nails the Pedigree. Again, they fight atop the ladder. Rock seems to be winning out, so Chyna sneaks in with a low blow. HHH pulls the title down to win. Excellent grudge match style ladder match. A classic match to end a great title reign by the Rock. Awesome action, smart storytelling and a molten crowd. Star making performances from both men and each would be WWF Champion within a year. ****¼

WWF Championship: Steve Austin (c) def. The Undertaker in 20:52
The hype for this is nuts and the crowd erupts for both guys. Austin’s pop is unbelievable. They come out with big blows and Austin flips off Undertaker after kicking out. It is surprisingly Austin who slows things down with some mat work. Austin gets knocked loopy and seems out of it for a bit. He started taking control and then Kane walks out. CONTROVERSY! Undertaker tells Kane to go back so he can do it alone. Undertaker chokeslams Austin from the apron to the inside. They take the fight into the crowd for a bit. Back to the ring where Undertaker blocks the Stunner and then back outside. He puts Austin on the table and comes off the top rope with an insane diving leg drop. Austin manages to kick out once back in though. Austin fires up and hits an ugly Stunner but also gets chokeslammed. Undertaker goes for Old School but Austin catches him with a low blow to counter it. A Stunner later and Austin retains. A smart finish but one that came off quite anti-climactic. This was up there with A Cold Day in Hell as the best match between these two. It had such a big fight atmosphere and had Austin not gotten knocked silly early on, it might have been even better. ***½

Undertaker takes the WWF Title and hands it to Steve Austin as a sign of respect. Kane comes back out and they watch Austin celebrate.

7
The final score: review Good
The 411
I’d call this one of the better SummerSlam events in history. The only thing that I found truly bad was the overly long Oddities tag. The other two tag matches were both lackluster but not terrible. The rest of the show rules though. You have arguably the best Taker/Austin match, a surprisingly good opener, the cool Lion’s Den match, a good Hair vs. Hair match and of course, the standout Ladder match that helped make two of the biggest stars in company history.
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Kevin Pantoja