WWF SummerSlam 8/30/1998
August 30, 1998
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
Buy Rate: 1.63
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Sunday Night Heat
1) Too Much defeats Legion of Doom (2:15)
2) Gangrel (David Heath) defeats Dustin Runnels (2:30)
3) Disciples of Apocalypse defeats Justin Bradshaw & Vader (2:54)
Fun Fact: This is the first PPV since going monthly in 1995 to start at 8 PM. Previously shows started at 7pm. They continue to start at 8pm to this day. In the pre-1995 era start times for shows varied from 4pm, 5pm and 7pm. This is also the first PPV after the debut of WWF’s new show: Sunday Night Heat, which aired from 7 PM to 8PM on Sunday nights on USA. The show would go through many incarnations over the last 9 years, but when it first started it often aired live from arenas around the country, and would always air live on PPV nights through 2006.
Pay Per View
1) D-Lo Brown (AC Connor) defeats Val Venis (Sean Morley) by disqualification at 15:23 to retain WWF European Title
Fun Fact: As we said in earlier reviews, D-Lo’s Euro Title reign was pretty much the one time the belt was treated as important and coveted. D-Lo added a funny touch to the situation by claiming he now represented all of Europe, and each match he would have the ring announcer claim he was from a different city. The Raw before this show he was from Lisbon, Portugal. Tonight, he hailed from Helsinki, Finland.
Scott: A fairly good opener to the first PPV at the mecca of the business since Survivor Series 1996 starts with a solid opener for the European title. D-Lo was slowly getting into a regular routine in the ring, and it was working out quite nicely. Venis is still the very fresh porno face, and both men were new to the mid-card, and it was quite refreshing. The match is entertaining, with some good continuity between moves, and actually the 15 minute length was really fitting for both these guys. On the surface you wondered why these two would go 15 minutes but the crowd really enjoyed it. In fact this awesome Garden crowd loved pretty much everything on this night. We also see another crowd sighting of Edge, who was slowly gaining a following simply by standing around. Doesn’t affect the match at all, but its worth mentioning. The ending was pretty weak, with Venis pitching the ref out for screwing up his Money Shot as Val wanted to drop it with D-Lo’s chest protector on. The chest protector is still in the equation, although that would fade soon. D-Lo survives the long match and makes all from Helsinki proud in a great opener to a memorable show. Grade: 3
Justin: A really fun, but very choppy match. The match was entertaining because it featured two fresh faces in important roles and being pushed as legit contenders, which is something that becomes a constant over the next 2 years. It was also choppy, as these two were fairly new to the big stage, and are still working the kinks out. The ending is really cheap, but I guess they wanted Val to get his heat back at the end without D-Lo dropping the strap. All in all, this was a good opener that got the crowd up and running, so you can’t ask for too much more. Grade: 2.5
2) The Oddities defeated Kai En Tai in a “handicap” match when Golga (John Tenta) pins all of Kai En Tai at 10:11
Fun Fact: The Parade of Human Oddities debuted on Raw in June, when former Truth Commission leader Jackyl decided to unleash them on the world. That night, he brought out Golga (a big fat masked man with weird bumps on his head), Giant Silva (a freaky weird big man), Luna Vachon and two gentlemen from the Howard Stern show: Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf and Crackhead Bob. The Stern guys were a one time shot, and after a few weeks, Jackyl was dumped from the group and Kurgan was added to bring the workrate. Sable, who said the freaks were cool, befriended the group, and they began dressing in funny outfits and dancing around the ring to their new song, penned just for them by the Insane Clown Posse. ICP would lead the Oddities out here, performing their song live.
Fun Fact II: This is John Tenta’s first appearance at a WWF PPV since he dispatched Adam Bomb in less than a minute at Wrestlemania X.
Scott: This was expected to be a comedy match, and it turned out to be. You had a group of guys in Silva, Golga and Kurrgan who would never be confused with other factions like the Hart Foundation or the Four Horsemen in the workrate department. This is a glorified squash, as Kai En Tai pretty much gets no moves in. I was a big Golga fan, mostly because he had a doll of my favorite all time South Park characters: Eric Cartman. The Oddities did have a short shelf life in that they added a nice bit of comedy to the product for a while. Not much more to say here, except thank god the ICP left, because I really couldn’t take much more of them. Grade: 1
Justin: Just a comedic time killer to spell the crowd a bit, ala Doink/Dink vs. Bigelow/Luna at WM X. It was nice to see Tenta get another shot with the company, and he looked to be in the best shape of his career, which was good too. The Oddities were pretty over, but they never got a fair shake because none of them were very good in the ring. Silva and Kurgan were fun, but never really got “it” in the ring, so it never worked out. I was sad they didn’t give Tenta a shot as Earthquake after the group broke up, but what are you gonna do. ICP were brought out to add some credibility here, as they were gaining a lot of popularity on the music scene, and were the type of edgy guys Vince and Vince loved to showcase, especially at that point, when they had their finger squarely on America’s pulse, as opposed to now, where their finger is up their own asses, metaphorically speaking. Kai En Tai had settled into the mid card jobbers that they were destined to be, by this point, which is fine, because with the influx of talent, mid-card room was needed. Grade: 1.5
3) X-Pac (Sean Waltman) defeated Jeff Jarrett in a Haircut match after a guitar shot at 11:10
Fun Fact: After the stipulation for this match was set, Jarrett was hell bent on cutting some hair, and he did just that. He attacked the Headbangers and shaved what hair they had and he also attacked the Fink on Heat and shaved his head (a look he keeps to this very day) which is very ironic, as one of the previous PPV events in this building, Wrestlemania X, he received a toupee from Sy Sperling. Anyway, the heat was there, and Jarrett was about to take his first of two steps into legitimacy. The second would come at the next big event in November.
Scott: Believe it or not, this was a blessing in disguise. Jeff Jarrett had been a heel joke throughout his entire career. Sure, he was a former Intercontinental champion, but really, who ever took him seriously? Now after shaving Howard Finkel’s head on Heat, he loses to X-Pac in a well-wrestled match and has his hair cut. Now, he looks like a legitimate heel. From here on out, his heel run is more respectable and more meaningful. X-Pac was also getting into a nice groove in the ring after being out of action before arriving in the WWF in March. Jarrett also looked good in this match and as mentioned losing this match actually helped him change his look and attitude for the better. Fink coming out in the DX shirt and crotch chopping is a hysterical sight. This show has had a little bit of everything so far, and it just gets better. Grade: 3
Justin: A really good and underrated match. The heat is insane, as Jarrett was finally drawing some sort of reaction, and X-Pac is slowly reaching the pinnacle of his popularity. Jarrett’s haircut would finally give him a legit look and erase all memories of the goofy country music star era out of everyone’s mind. Once he dumps Southern Justice and hires a new valet, he really starts cooking with some serous heat. The crowd is nuts for the ending, especially when DX, the Headbangers and Finkel come out to shave Jarrett bald. This is the time that the DX mentality was riding high, and the shirts and merchandise were all over. I bought my first S*CK IT shirt two nights after this show at the Raw taping. This was just a really fun match that keeps this show rolling along. Grade: 3
4) Sable (Rena Mero) & Edge (Adam Copeland) defeat Jacqueline & Marc Mero when Sable pins Mero after an Edge Downward Spiral at 8:25
Fun Fact: After Mero defeated Sable at Over the Edge, he decided he needed a new valet. So, a week or so later on Raw he debuted Jacqueline, his new love interest. Thought to be gone forever, Sable returned weeks later at the side of Vince McMahon, who decided ratings were better with her on the show than off it, and offered her a position as his assistant. Of course, the assistant thing lasted a couple of weeks, and then Sable was out on her own again. After losing the bikini challenge to Jackie at Fully Loaded, Sable decided she wanted revenge on her ex and his new lover, so she challenged them to a mixed tag match, where she would provide a mystery partner. Well, Mero of course jumped at the chance as the last time Sable was supposed to have a mystery partner, he humiliated her at Over the Edge. Now, speaking of Edge, he was a new character who was pumped up with tons of vignettes over the previous months, and had also begun camping out in the rafters, studying the actions in the ring. He made his official Raw debut on June 22nd when he defeated Jose Estrada. He was inactive in the ring since that day though, in order to build up the suspense on his re-debut here on PPV.
Fun Fact II: Adam Copeland bounced around Ontario as well in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. under the name Sexton Hardcastle and would go on to become a part of the successful tag team Sex and Violence with Joe Legend. During 1997, Sex and Violence became part of a larger stable known as Thug Life, made up of Legend, Hardcastle, childhood friend Christian Cage, Bloody Bill Skullion, and Rhino Richards. In his indy career, Copeland won the SSW Tag Title and the ICW Street Fight Tag Title twice with Cage, in addition to his reign as ICW/MWCW Midwest Unified Tag Title holder alongside Joe. The duo of Copeland and Reso was known as Hard Impact before changing their name to The Suicide Blondes. In 1996, the duo worked in Japan under the name the Canadian Rockers . Copeland also once wrestled under the name Damon Striker (although Edge writes it as Damien Stryker in his book) on an edition of WCW Pro against Meng and Kevin Sullivan. In his autobiography, Copeland claims that he wrestled for WCW only once and solely for the money, and that it was his worst gimmick to date. According to Copeland, he and Terry Richards are the only people that remember that he wrestled for WCW at all. He was signed to WWF in early 1998 and made his official Raw debut on June 22nd when he defeated Jose Estrada.
Scott: The PPV debut of Edge is unexpected, as Sable had no opponent going into this show. Edge comes out of the crowd and amps up the workrate in this otherwise dog of a match. Edge actually doesn’t do much for the first 4 and a half minutes or so. This is mostly to see Sable and Jackie slap each other around. Sable does some pretty nice moves to Mero, making it a little more credible than it originally seemed. Edge hits his finisher, and then slams Sable on Mero for the win. Mero’s WWF run is slowly coming to an end. Edge runs back into the crowd. You only think you know him. He’ll get more and more involved in the product as the year winds into the fall and winter. Sable’s popularity is peaking right about now. Soon she’ll add some hardware to her WWF resume. So far on this night we’ve had 4 different matches with 4 different purposes, and the crowd as been into each and every move. Grade: 2
Justin: Another fun match in a series of them here tonight. The crowd was hot to see Edge and also to see Mero and Jackie get their due. This was a good period to be a fan, as the product was getting so exciting and the influx of new talent was astounding. One great thing about Vince Russo is that every character had an interesting story and gimmick going on. Sure, the feuds could end on a whim and matches were brief, but the great characters are what hooked the new viewers. The men in this match are really polar opposites of each other. Edge was a fresh character with a new look and was headed for superstardom. Mero, on the other hand, was in his final months of a very up and down WWF career. He would putt around until December and then disappear for good. Grade: 2.5
5) Ken Shamrock defeats Owen Hart in a Lion’s Den match with the Ankle Lock at 9:08
Fun Fact: This is the culmination of the feud that began in May when Owen Hart broke Ken Shamrock’s ankle.
Scott: This was fascinating for a few reasons. First, the WWF combined with UFC to make a “gimmick” match with some teeth. Second, the match was actually at the Paramount Theater, on the other side of the Garden. The quaintness of the setting made for pretty good psychology. Plus, both these men have good chemistry together. The match was very entertaining, with good grappling and chain wrestling. The strikes in this match were quick and precise. The theater crowd chanting “Shamrock” was adding to the drama as well. Dan Severn was the special referee, and they continued to tease a Severn/Shamrock feud that never really happened. The match was great to watch, but unfortunately this would be the swan song of Owen’s singles career. Fortunately it was a very good match, and Shamrock defended his octagon. Grade: 3
Justin: A really fresh and interesting concept here that, due to Shamrock, seemed extremely legitimate. Owen also deserves a lot of credit, as he is always able to adapt to any sort of match he is involved in. These two had a great, yet forgotten, feud during the summer of 1998. It started with the Owen heel turn, continued with a solid Dungeon Match in July and a great blow off here inside the Octagon. As Scott said, the Severn/Shamrock feud is teased again, but it never really happens, because Shamrock ends up turning changing direction and getting involved in a new, major storyline. Severn ends up changing his attitude as well and getting involved in a weird little angle.. Anyway, a great blow-off to a fun match and feud as both men being it as always. Grade: 3
6) The New Age Outlaws defeat Mankind (Mick Foley) & Kane (Glen Jacobs) to win WWF Tag Team Titles when Billy Gunn (Monte Sop) pins Mankind after a spike piledriver at 5:17
Fun Fact: This was a weird period, as a lot of top tier guys were starting to switch allegiances. In the weeks leading up to this show, an Undertaker/Kane alliance was being teased, much to Mankind’s chagrin. Kane and Mankind ended up brawling in the Raws leading up to the show, and rumors were swirling on whether or not Kane would even show up.
Scott: This was a mess. Kane was not there, so Mankind had to go at it alone. You knew right there we were in trouble. Sure enough, the NAO double-teamed Mankind and beat the hell out of him. They dropped the spike piledriver, and pitched him in a dumpster that they brought to the ring. Then, Kane comes out of the dumpster, and drops a sledgehammer on Mankind in the dumpster. It was fairly boring, although I did smile to see DX members look very Horsemen-esque as the double-team someone mercilessly. The Outlaws were insanely over at this point, but I also think Mick Foley was starting to get stale. It was evident after the HIAC that the fans were tired of the same 1996-ish Mankind promos. So he took a different, lighter route and it was a complete breath of fresh air. As for the NAO, Road Dogg’s dreads were getting ridiculously long. Foley did what he could, but the Outlaws are once again champions. This also led to Foley turning completely babyface again, and he stays that way for the next 8 years. As for Kane, he had other things on his mind later in the evening. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Mick goes it alone and ends up getting murdered, bringing back memories of Tito Santana and the Brain Busters at WM V. I disagree with Scott on Mick getting stale here, as I believe he had already surpassed that “stale” period and redefined his whole character. Two weeks after being tossed of the Cell at KOTR, Foley came out and cut a killer, serious promo on Undertaker and the fans, but, for some reason, it didn’t get over with the crowd, who seemed wholly disinterested. According to his book, Foley thought he had completely lost touch with the wrestling fans and was at a loss for what to do. It was then that he decided to stop taking such insane risks and following them up with serious, dark, demented promos. Instead, he decided to turn Mankind into a loveable goofball that was seriously messed up from years of abuse. The results were immediate, and allowed Foley to reach the highest plateau of his career just months later. That character shift started here, when he cuts a great promo with Vince and Michael Cole about playing in traffic to get over with the crowd. He finished it with the classic “13 words for the Outlaws: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.” The new Mankind was starting to grow on the crowd, and a face turn was on the way. Kane would play a small role here, but would show his face again before the night was over. Grade: 1.5
7) Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeats the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) in a Ladder match to win WWF Intercontinental Title when Triple H climbs the ladder and grabs the belt at 26:04
Fun Fact: The weeks leading up to this feud showed some interesting character development for members of both groups. D-X lit the wrestling world up with one of the funniest moments in Raw history when they performed their infamous parody of the Nation on July 6. That moment launched this feud into the stratosphere and ended up adding some personality and extra heat to the Nation. Owen Hart was seen as more of a killer when he attacked the diminutive actor, Jason Sensation (actually, he was an undersized Canadian wrestler) that D-X hired to play him in the skit, and nearly broke his legs with the Sharpshooter. Kama was solidified in the greatest role of his career: the Godfather of the Nation. Within weeks, he started pushing that he was a pimp, sporting a bowler hat and nice vests, smoking cigars and being escorted to the ring by lovely ladies. Finally, Mark Henry began developing himself into his most effective character: Sexual Chocolate. He started coming out and professing his love for Chyna. He would read her poems and make claims of their sexual tension. He even convinced her to go out on a date over the upcoming months. At this point however, the character was just burgeoning, and Henry had tried to put the moves on Chyna during Sunday Night Heat, but the recently returned Shawn Michaels made the save. Michaels came back a few weeks before Summerslam, and became a guest color commentator for Raw and Heat. There were rumors that he was getting ready to resume wrestling, but would instead be thrust into a different position.
Scott: The match that made both these men’s careers. As we said last month, by 2000 they would be picture perfect in the ring together, but the genesis of that is here at MSG. This was an uncharacteristic match for these men, and many thought it could be a flop. They were on the top of their game, and throw in the psychology from months of feuding. The other fascinating spin from this match was the face pops coming from the crowd for the Rock. He was slowly building a fan base over the past few months. Now, he’s getting just as many pops for his moves as Triple H was getting. Eventually Trips would climb the ladder, after Chyna gave Rock a nice nut shot on the ladder, and grab the IC Title. Unfortunately, Triple H’s knee would suffer damage, and he would have to forfeit the title anyway. But it was a landmark win for the future Game. It would also be a watershed match for the Rock, as this sudden fan response would serve him well later in the year. This is a fantastic match that, just like Savage vs. Steamboat at Wrestlemania III, almost stole the entire show from out of nowhere. Grade: 4.5
Justin: A really great match that solidified these two as top tier players in the WWF landscape. Vince was doing something here that is missing today: seriously elevating new stars and using them in prominent roles, something Triple H and Rock would do over the coming months. This match established them as legitimate threats in the fans eyes, just like the WM X ladder match did for Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon 4 years earlier. A great moment for both men, but the lasting image of Triple H atop the ladder, victorious, is what will always be remembered. Grade: 4
8) Steve Austin (Williams) defeats the Undertaker (Mark Callaway) to retain WWF World Title with a Stunner at 20:50
Fun Fact: Undertaker earned this tile shot on the July 6 edition of Raw, when he defeated Kane and Mankind in a 3-way dance. Well, sort of. See, Undertaker no-showed the match, and Mankind refused to face his tag team partner, so he just sat on the ring steps. Well, Kane wasn’t as nice, as he grabbed Foley and pounded the shit out of him, and the polished him off with a Tombstone. After the match, Kane unmasked…revealing that it was Undertaker all along. It was a great moment, and Taker was great playing his “brother” in the match. The big match was set, and the Rattlesnake began being very wary of the Dead Man. Rumors began flying on Raw that Taker was considering a return to the Dark Side to join forces with his brother and ex-manager. Mr. McMahon kept egging Austin on, claiming that he knew the two were in cahoots. The two began rescuing each other, beating up everyone in the ring except each other, which continued the rumors. The final Raw before the PPV went off the air with Kane and Taker beating down Austin, so Taker had some heelish tendencies heading into this monster matchup.
Fun Fact II: As was mentioned in previous reviews, the same night Taker earned this title shot, something big was happening on WCW Monday Nitro. The Steve Austin of the south, Bill Goldberg, defeated Hollywood Hulk Hogan to win the WCW World Title. It would be one of the last times WCW would win a Monday night battle, but of course the hindsight was that they should have saved this match for a big PPV blowoff. However since Ted Turner was just throwing money all over the place they didn’t care about actually making money, and worried about TV ratings instead. Wonder why they’re out of business?
Scott: Was the match worth the hype? Hearing my favorite AC/DC song for 7 straight weeks was getting me pumped for one of Summerslam’s biggest main events ever. These two have met in the ring before. This was the main event of Cold Day in Hell in May 1997. There, Taker was the champ and Austin was the up-and-comer. Now, both are at the top of the stratosphere. They would wrestle countless times from here, and none of them would come close to this one in terms of quality, workrate and psychology. Many feel my grade is a little generous for this, but I don’t think so. The build for this match was awesome; it was like old school hype from the 80s. The difference here is that they’re both faces. Just like Warrior/Hogan at Wrestlemania VI, the Garden crowd was torn, but it seemed more for Austin. Austin wins with a Stunner, one of the few times Taker has been pinned clean in his career. The last time he was pinned clean on PPV was…never. Every loss has had some kind of schmozz attached to it. I’m not sure if I would compare this to Hogan passing the torch to Warrior like I used to, since Austin has already established himself as a money-making superstar, and Undertaker wasn’t exactly riding off in the sunset either. This is a watershed match for Austin’s career however, as he does pin Taker fairly clean (Austin nut shots him before dropping the Stunner), and Taker does the Hogan moment by handing the belt to Austin after the match. Overall this is a great blowoff to a huge build, but unfortunately the main events get a little cluttered after this. Grade: 4.5
Justin: Even though these two had met before, due to the great buildup by the writers, this became a mega dream match between the two biggest faces on the show. This match would effectively end one of the best in-ring runs of Undertaker’s career, as due to injuries and weird storylines, his in-ring work would suffer for the next few years. Taker made claims that he wanted to wrestle this match on his own, and wanted no interference from Kane or Bearer. Kane appeared in the aisle mid-match, but Taker instructed him to leave, and he quickly disappeared. The Garden crowd was off the hook, and despite the slight heel turn of Taker, was pretty much split down the middle. These two went balls out and left everything in the ring, exactly where Austin pinned Taker cleanly 1-2-3. The Main Event waters would get muddied over the coming weeks, but for right now, Steve Austin stood atop the mountain as the top dog in the sport. Grade: 4.5
Scott: I have a very soft spot for this show. First, it’s the first PPV I ever bought in my own apartment. Second, I love any show at Madison Square Garden. Finally, I love the card. Every match had something special in it, whether it be workrate, psychology, comedy, or a little of all of it. The last two matches could both be candidates for matches of the year, and both matches elevated the careers of at least 3 of the men. Taker didn’t really need elevating, but putting Austin over in the main event was the mark of a true professional. Everything about this show was perfect in my eyes, and will always be my second favorite Summerslam, next to 1989, and one of my 10 favorite PPVs of all time. This show also was another nail in WCW’s coffin. I bet Vince didn’t pay nearly as much for rights to “Highway to Hell” than Eric Bischoff paid for KISS to be on Nitro for that tool Venom. There’s the difference between creativity and stupidity. Final Grade: A+
Justin: A great show, top to bottom, with no real dead spots to drag it down. The word I kept using throughout the review was fun, and that is how I view this show: fun to watch. It had everything: great action, superb story telling, and lots of interesting characters, many old like Taker, Mankind, Kane and Austin and many new such as Edge, Venis, Brown and the Oddities. Just a picture perfect example of a perfect PPV, for the time period, anyway, with great blow-offs and all the right people winning where necessary. It featured 2 great gimmick matches and an awesome World Title bout, which is about all you can ask for. Go see this bad boy as soon as possible, and you will not be disappointed. Final Grade: A+
MVP: Undertaker & Steve Austin
Runner Up: Triple H & the Rock
Non MVP: Kane
Runner Up: Legion of Doom & Vader (For not even making it on camera)
All Time PPV Active-Wrestler Roster
“Special Delivery” Jones
King Kong Bundy
Andre the Giant
Big John Studd
Davey Boy Smith
King Tonga (Haku)
Dory Funk, Jr.
Billy Jack Haynes
Koko B. Ware
Honky Tonk Man
One Man Gang
Bam Bam Bigelow
Big Boss Man
Kerry Von Erich
Irwin R. Schyster
Jimmy Del Ray
Ted DiBiase’s Undertaker
Roadie Jesse Jammes
Squat Team #1
Squat Team #2
Leif Cassidy (Al Snow)
PPV Rest in Peace List
“Playboy” Buddy Rose (Wrestlemania I)
“Special Delivery” Jones (Wrestlemania I)
Uncle Elmer (Wrestlemania II)
Adrian Adonis (Wrestlemania III)
Haiti Kid (Wrestlemania III)
Little Beaver (Wrestlemania III)
Junkyard Dog (Summerslam 1988)
Big John Studd (Wrestlemania V)
Sapphire (Summerslam 1990)
Bad News Brown (Summerslam 1990)
Dino Bravo (Wrestlemania VII)
Andre the Giant (Summerslam 1991)
Texas Tornado (Royal Rumble 1992)
Hercules (Royal Rumble 1992)
Elizabeth (Wrestlemania VIII)
Sensational Sherri (Wrestlemania IX)
Ludvig Borga (Survivor Series 1993)
Captain Lou Albano (Royal Rumble 1995)
Dick Murdoch (Royal Rumble 1995)
Rad Radford (Survivor Series 1995)
Bertha Faye (Survivor Series 1995)
Bam Bam Bigelow (Survivor Series 1995)
Chris “Skip” Candido (Summerslam 1996)
Yokozuna (Survivor Series 1996)
Terry “Executioner” Gordy (IYH: It’s Time)
Brian Pillman (IYH: Ground Zero)
Rick Rude (IYH: Bad Blood)
Next Review: Break Down 1998