WWE PPV Flashbacks: Summerslam 1998 - August 30, 1998

August 30, 1998
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

The summer of 1998 was about two names in the WWF - Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker. For months there had been great tension between these two popular stars and it was only appropriate that the collision between these mega-stars take place at the biggest event of the summer, Summerslam from the world's most famous arena, for the richest prize in the business. There was definitely a big match feel in the air as we got the culmination of the highway to hell on this night. Also taking place, long reigning I.C the Rock would put his belt on the line with adversary Triple H in a ladder match. Lets get going on what will be a night to remember, but first, follow me on Twitter at @Mpmcc91.

Our opening video package is of the typically awesome standard that we have come to expect by this point. Its of course centred around the Austin/Taker confrontation. The idea is that whilst Taker is still a face, there have been actions making it appear as though he may be working with Kane to take the title from the champion. But more on that later. We now head into the Garden, where our announce team of Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler welcomes us to the show.

WWF European Championship:
D'Lo Brown (c) vs Val Venis

Val Venis comes out first here and cuts his pre-match promo in the ring of course filled with countless sexual innuendos - 'I came, I saw, and I came again". He is coming off his feud with Kai En Tai which culminated in the infamous choppy choppy pee wee segment on Raw is War that I mentioned at our last PPV, and has now set his sights on the European Championship. Speaking of which, D'Lo comes out to a decent reception as he is introduced as now residing from Helsinki, Finland. One of the greatest things about D'Lo's reign here as European Champion was that he would be announced from a different European city each night. He is also still wearing the chest protector from when he was injured two months ago, which has become one of those Cowboy Bob Orton cast type things by this point. Anyway, this is a pretty good match to open up the show with as both of these guys know how to go in the ring and have been performing at a pretty high level lately. Things start out fairly even until D'Lo starts utilising his chest protector to take the advantage. D'Lo gets some solid heat from the crowd but he is also getting a few cheers that I notice. He ends up going for the Lo Down on the challenger, but he misses when Val moves out of the way. This leads to Val taking off D'Lo's chest protector in attempt to get some payback on the champion. After a brief struggle with the champion, Val ends up putting the protector on and climbing to the top as the referee warns him not to do it as only D'Lo has been cleared to compete with it on. Val shoves the ref down which gets him disqualified at 15:31. D'Lo retains his title in a solid match despite the inconclusive ending. They wanted to keep the belt on D'Lo but wanted to keep Val strong as well I suppose. After the match Val hits the Money Shot on the referee whilst still wearing the protector to a pop from the crowd.
Grade: ***1/4

We now go to the back where Michael Cole is standing near a hearse that Austin destroyed on Sunday Night Heat before the PPV, thinking that either Kane or the Undertaker was inside. It turns out neither man was. He then gets a word with Mankind, who is one half of the WWF Tag Team Champions along with Kane. He doesn't seem happy and he is wielding a sledgehammer.

The Oddities w/Insane Clown Posse & Luna vs Kai En Tai w/Yamaguchi-San
Up next we have a bonus three on four handicap match. The Oddities are nothing more than a dancing comedy group comprised of Kurrgan, Giant Silva and Golga (the former Earthquake after losing a LOT of weight) who made their debut as a unit earlier in the summer. They were quickly befriended by Sable and thus became instant fan favourites, and in the weeks that followed began to be joined by Luna, who had turned face in this time. As I mentioned a few reviews ago, Taka Michinoku is now the fourth member of Kai En Tai along with Funaki, Togo and Teioh after turning on Bradshaw in a tag team match on Raw is War. He's also still the reigning Light Heavyweight Champion, but that has all but been forgotten about for the most part by this point. The Oddities come out with the Insane Clown Posse performing live as they dance in the ring here before Kai En Tai rush to get this one under way. As I said before, this is basically just comedy filler, but the crowd are behind the Oddities here. Who doesn't like giant dancing guys after all? Yamaguchi-San tries to get involved towards the end of the match but Luna stops him with a slam, and in the aftermath Golga chokeslams all four members of Kai En Tai and gets on top of them all for the three, giving the Oddities the win at 10:08. This was was it was. Nothing offensive here as its just filler on an otherwise loaded show. It probably could have been a little shorter, but the crowd enjoyed it.
Grade: 1/2*

We now see some footage from Sunday Night Heat earlier in the evening as Jeff Jarrett and Southern Justice shaved Howard Finkel's remaining hair, giving him the totally bald look that he retains to this day. I should mention that the Fink hasn't been doing ring announcing thus far tonight due to the incident, with Tony Chimel instead handling the duties. This was all to set up our upcoming hair vs hair match.

Hair vs Hair Match:
X-Pac w/Howard Finkel vs Jeff Jarrett w/Southern Justice

Heading into this match, Jeff Jarrett had started showing a more vicious side to him as he began cutting superstars hair after beating them down each week such as the Headbangers and Droz on Raw is War, and of course Howard Finkel on Heat as just mentioned. That led to this match being made a hair vs hair match. Jarrett moving away from his country music star roots by this point and has his 'Don't Piss Me Off' guitar with him as he makes his way to the ring with his old theme music. He is joined by Southern Justice, although Tennessee Lee is no longer around. For the second PPV in a row, Commissioner Slaughter comes out and sends Jarrett's bodyguards to the back. He's in a weird role here as he is still making fair decisions but is a McMahon stooge at the same time. Anyway X-Pac gets a big pop as expected at this point, but he comes out with the Fink himself, who has been made an honorary DX member for one night only. Its actually quite hilarious to see him doing the crotch chops and saying Suck It. Anyway this is a really solid match that is often overlooked due to other matches on this show. The action spills to the outside in the early going but returns to the ring. X-Pac builds momentum, but Jarrett turns things around with a low blow. This gets Fink up on he apron to complain, but Jarrett nails him to get some heat. Everyone loves the Fink! Jarrett turns right into an X-Factor from his opponent, but Southern Justice rushes back to the ring to break it up. One of them goes to hit X-Pac with the guitar, but he ducks and the guitar ends up smashing over Jarrett's head. The ref gets rid of Southern Justice as X-Pac scores the pinfall victory at 11:09. Solid match here which was a lot of fun. After the match, the New Age Outlaws, the Headbangers and Droz make their way out to the ring to join X-Pac and the Fink in shaving Jarrett's blonde locks, getting some revenge for the former country music star's actions.
Grade: ***

We now cut across to the adjacent theatre where tonight's Lion's Den match will be taking place. Dok Hendrix is inside the structure hyping the UFC style encounter later on. Returning backstage, Michael Cole gets a word with reigning I.C Champ, the Rock. The Rock talks about injuring Triple H's knee earlier on Sunday Night Heat and says that he will beyond a shadow of a doubt retain his title tonight.

Sable & Edge vs Jacqueline & Marc Mero
The Sable/Mero issues continue another month with mixed tag team action. Following the bikini contest against Mero's new partner Jacqueline last month at Fully Loaded, Sable challenged the duo to a mixed tag match at Summerslam against herself and a partner of her choosing. Mero accepted the challenge, always up for a chance to embarrass his ex-girlfriend, so Sable promised that her partner would be revealed at Summerslam. That brings us to this match. Mero and Jacqueline gets some decent heat on their way to the ring, whilst Sable gets an incredible pop as usual. Her mystery partner is revealed as the recently debuted Edge. Remember that mysterious man we saw in the crowd at Fully Loaded? He would continue to make similar appearances on TV heading into this show and he makes his PPV match debut here coming through the crowd to the ring. The match itself is really nothing special, as its really just more furthering of the Mero/Sable feud. Edge looks decent enough in there however and he will only get better as the years go by. He does an impressive dive over the top rope onto Mero on the outside at one point. Meanwhile Sable and Jacqueline beat on each other continuing their issues with one another. In the end, Edge hits a downward spiral on Mero and then assists Sable with a splash onto her ex-lover. This allows Sable to pick up the win to the delight of the crowd at 8:24. Nothing spectacular, but it was a fun match to have Sable get some revenge on Mero and debut Edge on the major stage.
Grade: *1/2

We now go backstage where Mankind is upset about Kane not showing up and is contemplating forfeiting the tag titles to the New Age Outlaws. This was around the time when Mankind was slowly turning face and as a result was working more comedy into his promos. He asks Michael Cole to be his partner in getting his ass kicked tonight before Mr McMahon shows up. Vince manipulates Mankind into thinking he has what it takes, handing him an assortment of weapons, whilst in reality he just wants to see him get destroyed as he has no time for him. This boosts Mankind's confidence and he has thirteen words for the Outlaws - how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck would? I love this segment.

Up next we get a video package about the upcoming Lion's Den Match between Ken Shamrock and Owen Hart.

Lion's Den Match:
Ken Shamrock vs Owen Hart w/Dan Severn

Following Owen's victory over Shamrock last month in the Hart Family Dungeon, Shamrock looks for revenge on his own turf, inside the chained octagon, playing off his background as a UFC fighter. This is of course culminating the rivalry that started all the way back in May when Owen turned heel and broke Shamrock's ankle. I guess Owen is still technically a part of the Nation here, but the faction is slowly fading, despite some individuals still being involved with one another, something we would continue to see throughout the remainder of the year. Severn had taken on the role of Owen's trainer heading into this event, continuing to tease a feud with his fellow UFC star down the line, although from memory this was pretty much the end for him. This was a unique concept for a match, much like the Dungeon last month, but as a guy who isn't really into UFC I don't particularly get into matches like this. Its decent, and the crowd are heavily supporting Shamrock though, so I can see why some would enjoy it. There is a cool spot in the match where Owen locks in the Sharpshooter on his opponent, only for Shamrock to climb the cage whilst in the hold to break it. Not long after, Shamrock fights back by locking in the ankle lock which causes Owen to tap out at 9:16. Severn walks away in disgust as Owen calls for him.
Grade: **

Michael Cole is now with WWF Champion, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin says that he respects the Undertaker, but he will still do anything it takes to keep the title tonight as he's not going to give Vince McMahon the satisfaction of seeing him lose the belt.

WWF Tag Team Championship - Falls Count Anywhere Match:
Mankind (c) vs New Age Outlaws

Alright lets see how we got to this one. When we last went off the air at Fully Loaded, Steve Austin & Undertaker had defeated Kane & Mankind to win the tag titles. Their allegiance would not last long however as the two would continue to get into altercations, culminating in the champs losing the titles back to Kane & Mankind a few weeks later on Raw is War, in a fatal four way match that also involved the New Age Outlaws and The Rock & D'Lo Brown. However things also began to deteriorate for the new tag champs when Kane showed signs of a newfound allegiance with his brother. In fact, Kane and Mankind faced off on the Raw is War before this show in the forgotten fourth ever Hell in a Cell match. Kane has abandoned Mankind here, and has a result Foley has to go at this one alone. He gets a pop from the crowd here as he was being portrayed in a sympathetic light due to the Kane situation, despite the Outlaws also being incredibly over. The challengers bring a dumpster full of weapons with them on the way to the ring as its no disqualifications here. Anyway, this isn't much of a match, more just an extended beat down by the Outlaws to garner more sympathy for Mankind and to get the straps back on a proper team. The Outlaws have South Park shirts on here as it was the new thing at the time. Mankind does his best to fight back, but overall the Outlaws overwhelm him with numerous stiff shots with chairs and other weapons. The amount of punishment Foley endured for the fans throughout the course of his career really is crazy when you look back at it and its surprising he has still got it together after all the abuse he has taken to his body. After kicking out from an Outlaw powerbomb onto a set of chairs, a spike piledriver is too much for Mankind to come back from as Billy Gunn pins him, ending this two on one beatdown at 7:30. The New Age Outlaws, once again WWF Tag Team Champions, put Mankind into the dumpster after the match before celebrating their win. As this is going on Kane suddenly emerges from the dumpster and delivers a sledgehammer shot to Mankind, putting a clear end to their allegiance. As I said, this wasn't much of a match but more of a storyline device which did what it set out to do. It is kind of weird to see the popular Outlaws destroying Mankind here, but there was a lack of legitimate heel teams that could have been used in this spot.
Grade: *

We now get a video package highlighting the DX/Nation feud before our upcoming I.C title match.

WWF Intercontinental Championship – Ladder Match:
The Rock (c) w/Mark Henry vs Triple H w/Chyna

These guys have been going at it for quite some time now ever since DX and the Nation started feuding. Of course last month at Fully Loaded, Triple H basically had the I.C title won in a 2 out of 3 falls match, only for the time limit to expire, resulting in Rock retaining the title. Now Triple H looks to finish what he started last month by claiming the Nation leader's championship in a ladder match, in the very arena that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon battled in the first mainstream ladder match at Wrestlemania X. Triple H comes out first here to a big pop. He's got Chyna with him, and the DX band plays his theme live just like at Wrestlemania. Rock follows to a mixed reaction as the face pops were slowly but surely growing. He's joined by fellow Nation member Mark Henry, who around this time had begun to show a romantic interest in Chyna which would eventually lead to his Sexual Chocolate persona down the line. Its a one sided attraction as Henry has made claims of sexual tension existing whilst Chyna has wanted nothing to do with the guy. Anyway, back to Rock and Triple H themselves - this match is very good. They start out going at it in the ring, but a few minutes later they bring the ladder into play and the real fun starts. There's some good psychology in this match as well as Rock targets the injured knee of the DX leader which becomes a focal part of the match. Of course there are plenty of moves involving the ladder as well, as Rock hits an elbow drop off it onto Triple H. They end up getting a second ladder and Rock is eventually busted open. Meanwhile Chyna and Henry get into an altercation on the floor which sees Chyna deck the big man. Chyna follows up by giving Triple H a chair and he whacks Rock around with it, only for the champion to come back and hit a People's Elbow on his opponent on top of the ladder. Triple H gets to his feet and stops Rock from getting the title, pulling him down, but Henry throws a handful of powder into Hunter's eyes. Despite being blinded, Triple H manages to climb the ladder, whilst Chyna hits Rock with a low blow, preventing him from giving chase. That gives the DX leader the window of opportunity he needs as he climbs to the top of the ladder and retrieves the belt at 24:32. Triple H is the new I.C champion and this feud is put to bed. The rest of DX makes their way out to celebrate with the new champ to a big pop from the crowd. This was a really good match and one worth checking out.
Grade: ****

Backstage, Dok Hendrix attempts to get a word with the Rock after losing his title. He throws Dok out after saying that despite losing the title he was still the People's Champion. He would turn face shortly after this and begin to move further up the card. We then go to a video chronicling the build to our main event - the so called Highway to Hell.

WWF Championship:
Steve Austin (c) vs Undertaker

It doesn't get much bigger than this in 1998. This match has had a slow burning build with these two popular superstars being linked to one another for the past many months, really starting at Over the Edge in May when Taker acted as the guest enforcer for Austin's title defence, much to the chagrin of Mr McMahon. Then of course Taker seemingly cost Austin the title by accident at the King of the Ring to Kane in the first blood match, only for Austin to win it back the very next night on Raw is War. The unlikely allies were then forced to team up at Fully Loaded where they defeated Kane & Mankind to win the tag titles, but they imploded soon after, losing the belts a few weeks later as I mentioned earlier. Also after being unsure whether Taker was indeed already the number one contender last month, it was indeed the case, as he would defeat Mankind in a number one contender match on Raw is War in July, whilst dressed up as Kane, revealing himself after the match, giving the first signs of a possible conspiracy between the brothers of destruction, rumours which were further fuelled by Mr McMahon himself. Things really escalated the week after Austin and Taker lost the tag titles when Austin arrived in a hearse and challenged Undertaker to a fight. Later that night, Kane dressed up as Taker (using his long hair to conceal his mask). Austin got the better of Kane in the brawl and shoved him into the hearse, however Undertaker was revealed to be in the driver's seat and drove off with his brother. The next week, this allegiance was cemented when Taker and Kane united to beat up Paul Bearer, taking him off camera for the next few months. After all that build, needless to say there was a big match feel in the Garden for this one. Both men get a good pop from the crowd, and Taker comes out alone despite there being speculation about Kane being at his side. The match here lives up to all the expectations as it is simply excellent, which is impressive as apparently Austin was knocked loopy by a shot in the early moments. Also I believe both men had injuries going into this one. These two men really take it to one another and deliver a quality match. Around ten minutes or so in, Kane makes his way out into the arena, but Undertaker sends him away, as JR mentions that Undertaker needs to do this on his own for himself. From there the action picks up, spilling from the ring and into the crowd for a bit before returning to ringside. The Spanish announce table cops it as Taker connects with a top rope legdrop onto Austin sending him crashing through it in an impressive spot. Austin recovers and the two men get into a slugfest as they return to the ring. They both counter out of each other's finishers which is a spot I always enjoy and after a little more back and forth, Austin hits a low blow on Taker, following up with a stunner which gets the three count at 20:50. After a very good match which may well be my match of the year, Austin has retained the WWF Championship. Post-match Taker grabs the title belt and hands it to Austin, giving him a nod of respect before leaving the ring. Austin celebrates his victory with a few beers whilst Kane emerges once more from the entrance and stands united with his brother looking on at the champion. With that we go off the air.
Grade: *****

Summerslam 1998 was a very good show. The main event was excellent, as was the ladder match, and there were a number of solid matches on the undercard as well. I really enjoyed this show and it had the feel of a Wrestlemania. Wrestlemania XIV was a pretty good show, but this was even better in my eyes, and thats always a good thing. The company was hot storyline wise throughout the entire summer, and this was the show where those storylines culminated. Austin is still the WWF Champion, but his issues with the Brothers of Destruction are far from over as we shall see over the next few months. None of the matches on this show were really disappointing, as even those that weren't so great were either filler or storyline devices. Is this the best Summerslam ever? At that point in history I think so. Off the top of my head I can think of one in a few years that may give this one a run for its money, but this show is definitely up there on the list. A very good PPV outing.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Steve Austin/Undertaker (tie) - an excellent main event between two of the best in the business with a great storyline headed in. A really good showing from both men.
2. The Rock - despite his long I.C title reign coming to an end, the People's Champion put on a solid showing here that proved he was ready to move on to bigger things. He would become a major part of the main event scene soon enough and was quickly becoming one of the most popular men in the company.
3. Triple H - the DX leader reaches the next rung on the proverbial ladder by climbing the ladder tonight to win the I.C championship. Great showing that proved this guy had what it took to play a key role in the future of the company.

FINAL GRADE: 8 out of 10

What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1. The list is put together from all the shows I have reviewed thus far.

Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 67
Steve Austin = 56
Randy Savage = 28
Undertaker = 25
Hulk Hogan = 18
Mick Foley = 18
Owen Hart = 17
Triple H = 16
Diesel = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 11
Razor Ramon = 10
Ted DiBiase = 10
The Rock = 9
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
X-Pac = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Bob Backlund = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
Savio Vega = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Hakushi = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Tanaka = 3
Kato = 3
Vince McMahon = 3
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Crush = 2
Ken Shamrock = 2
D’Lo Brown = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Hawk = 1
Animal = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1

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