Wrestling Rewind: 1998 WWF SummerSlam

1998-WWF-SummerSlam-Stone Cold-UndertakerOur ‘Wrestling Rewind’ series will be a trip down memory lane for lifelong wrestling fans. We will watch old WWF, WWE and WCW pay-per-views and comment on the matches. We poke fun at the matches and compare them to today’s wrestling product. Think “Mystery Science Theater” with professional wrestling history.

In 1998, the WWF ‘Attitude Era’ was in its infancy and old characters were still being used. You can tell Vince McMahon was starting to understand what he needed to do to beat WCW, but his delivery was often flawed.

The Rock and Triple H have yet to become main event guys, but after the 1998 WWF SummerSlam event, both wrestlers were pushed to another level.

Here’s our Wrestling Rewind of 1998 WWF SummerSlam…feel free to watch along.

European Championship
Val Venis vs. D-Lo Brown (c)

Val Venis-WWF-WWE-TowelVal Venis was new to the WWF and uttered the now infamous phrase before the match, “I came, I saw, and I came again”. D-Lo comes out with a chest protector that was reenforced with steel. The fact that he’s allowed to use that in a match, screams ‘The Attitude Era’. Since Val Venis’ finisher is ‘The Money Shot’ which is a splash from the top rope. Since D-Lo has a chest protector, it was critical in the match.

During this match, the camera pans to Edge just standing in the crowd watching the match. I doubt this was an accident, since he was in line for a European Championship shot, but it was a spoiler as to who the ‘mystery opponent’ could be in the Sable vs. Marc Mero & Jacqueline match later in the pay-per-view.

This match lasts nearly twenty minutes, which would never happen in a lower-tier championship match in today’s WWE. There were some nice spots, but one that didn’t make any sense was when D-Lo had Venis in a Texas Cloverleaf in middle of the ring, but then just let it go without Venis getting to the ropes. My bet is he realized he was too far away for Venis to conceivably reach the ropes.

The match ends with Venis ripping D-Lo’s chest protector off and puts it on. The referee Jimmy Korderas tries to stop Venis from getting on the top rope and gets thrown across the ring. D-Lo retains European Championship via disqualification.

After the match, Venis slams the referee and hits ‘The Money Shot’ finisher on him.

Winner: D-Lo Brown via disqualification

4 on 3 Handicap Match
The Oddities (with Insane Clown Posse) vs. Kaientai in 4 on 3 handicap match

I really didn’t want to break this match down, because it was just a clusterfuck. Please excuse my language, but that’s the best word to describe this mess.

The-Oddities-WWF-Earthquake-SummerslamThe Oddities are a hodgepodge of randomness. You have Giant Silva (who was a star in Japan), Kurrgan (a good wrestler later turned actor) and Golga (wrestler formerly known as ‘Earthquake’ in a brown ‘gimp’ mask). Earthquake lost so much weight in-between his stint in WCW and re-signing with WWF, they decided against putting the gimmick back on him.

Kaientai is a group of small Japanese wrestlers with an equally-annoying manager. At one point, Golga steals his shoes, smells them and then pours water in them.

I can’t believe this match went over 15 minutes. The crowd beyond silent during its entirety. Golga had to spend most of the time in the ring since the other members of The Oddities aren’t good in the ring.

The Oddities win via quadruple chokeslam and splash by Golga. The crowd cheers sarcastically because the match is finally over.

Winner: The Oddities via making the crowd fall asleep

Hair vs. Hair Match
Jeff Jarrett (with Southern Justice) vs. X-Pac (with Howard Finkel)

During this fued, Jarrett had shaven the head of Droz, Finkel and a few other wrestlers, hence Finkel accompanying X-Pac to the ring.

Fink has been the biggest target of pranks in the history of the WWF/WWE. The idea of him yelling “Suck it” on the mic before the match feels like someone in the back suggested that as a rib.

Southern Justice-WWF-The GodwinnsAlso, Southern Justice are best known as The Godwinns, the pig farmers. They changed their name and started wearing suits…this gimmick did not last long.

It was an average match with predictable spots. Jarrett tries a figure-four leglock, X-Pac did a Bronco Buster and Southern Justice tried to use JJ guitar, but X-Pac steals it and hits JJ for the win.

Immediately after the match, The New Age Outlaws, The Headbangers and Droz all came out to fend Southern Justice from coming in and to hold JJ down. It was barely a haircut since the hair clippers they had weren’t working. This match didn’t appear bad at the time, since it followed The Oddities atrocity.

Winner: X-Pac via pin

After the match, Michael Cole interviews The Rock. I didn’t notice at the time, but The Rock was really trying too hard to ‘talk like The Rock’, if that makes any sense. He just sounded like a bad impersonator of The Rock.

Mixed-Tag Match
Marvelous Marc Mero & Jacqueline vs. Sable & Mystery Opponent

During the introductions, You can barely hear Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler due to audio problems. You can’t even hear Sable announcing her mystery opponent, which was Edge.

Jacqueline avoided Sable for most of the match. Mero and Edge went back and forth until finally Sable attacked Jacqueline. Sable had a few spots of offense, but she’s horrible, so they didn’t go well.

Edge was very new as a singles wrestler having yet to lose a match. He jumped over the top rope on Mero and then proceeded to spank Jacqueline, which wouldn’t be allowed today.

At the end of the match, Mero is sitting on the top rope and Sable comes in and does a hurricanrana on Mero. Some comedy spots were used with Jacqueline accidentally hitting Mero in the junk. Edge hit his finisher and then throws Sable on Mero for the pin.

Winner: Sable & Edge

After the match, Michael Cole interviews Mankind. He is the tag team champion with Kane, who is missing. Vince McMahon comes into the picture and talks Mankind into defending the tag team championship alone against The New Age Outlaws.

Lion’s Den Match
Ken Shamrock vs. Owen Hart

In what could be the most ridiculous concept of the night, Hart and Shamrock will fight in a UFC-like cage. An even more ridiculous angle is Dan Servern, former rival of Shamrock in UFC, is Hart’s trainer.

For the wrestling fans who make fun of TNA for having Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz wrestle, WWF ruined that idea first.

The UFC-like ring is constructed in the theater section of Madison Square Garden, which almost looks like an area of the old WWE restaurant in Times Square.

It’s ridiculous to me that Ken Shamrock was a washed-up mixed-martial arts fighter in 1998 and you still hear his name fighting for small MMA promotions today.

The match is filled with non-stop Irish whips into the steel cage sides. There really wasn’t much to this match. Ken Shamrock gets out of the Sharpshooter and wins with the ankle lock submission manuever.

Winner: Ken Shamrock via Ankle Lock

Tag Team Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match
Mankind (c) vs. The New Age Outlaws

Road Dogg-WWF-WWE-Degeneration XBefore I start, Road Dogg’s horrible dreadlocks are unintentionally hilarious. Also, The New Age Outlaws are wearing South Park t-shirts. When you add in Golga’s wardrobe and his Cartman stuffed doll, you wonder how much the South Park guys regret their obvious business deal with the WWF in 1998.

The match begins with a lot of offense using ‘hardcore’ items like cake pans and chairs. There’s a dumpster in the entrance way for some reason, so of course that is used right away.

After getting his ass beat for the first five minutes, Mankind throws Billy Gunn through a table, but then gets destroyed by some chairs. He gets hit with every weapon and is pinned in a surprisingly quick match.

Winner: The New Age Outlaws via pinfall

After winning the belts, The New Age Outlaws throw Mankind in the dumpster and close the lid.

KANE COMES OUT OF THE DUMPSTER! He has a sledgehammer and hit Mankind in the head. He rolls the dumpster to the back.

Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
The Rock (c) (with Mark Henry) vs. Triple H (with Chyna)

To set the table, The Rock was in a stable called “The Nation of Domination” which were feuding with Degeneration X. It’s quite funny that The Rock and Triple H were fighting for the Intercontinental Championship. It proves how much that belt used to matter.

Triple H comes out to a live band playing the DX theme song. It’s ridiculously dated, but way better than In Living Colour playing CM Punk’s theme song at Wrestlemania 29.

Chyna-Degeneration X-WWF-WWEThis match occurred in the middle of Chyna’s transformation from a man-like beast to a man-like porn star. It’s laughable that she was even asked to appear in Playboy, let alone be in the iconic magazine.

The Rock and Triple H both have their wrestling critics, but after the garbage that proceeded match, they could be average and appear great.

Triple H is selling a knee injury throughout the match. The Rock wastes a bunch of time by routinely hitting his knee.

Unlike other ladder matches, there is only one ladder. The Rock slightly bent it over Triple H’s knee and then had to pick it up and try to climb it. Today’s ladder matches should do the same thing, but they use them for so many spots that the six or more wrestlers they use in those matches now would be a waste.

Uh oh, Mark Henry pulls out a secret second ladder from under the ring. JR and Lawler are shocked. A second ladder must be a new concept in 1998.

*cue the ‘we’re on the top of the ladder, but can’t quite reach the belt’ spots*

The Rock has a run of great offense that pops the crowd. He hits a ‘People’s Elbow’ while Triple H was laying on the ladder. A few minutes later, he hits a ‘Rock Bottom’ as Triple H jumped from the top of the ladder onto him. The Rock almost had the title, but Triple H pulled his tights and hits a ‘Pedigree’.

After the ‘Pedigree’, Mark Henry throws sand in his eyes. He climbs the ladder, but doesn’t know where the belt is. The Rock climbs up and nearly has it, but Chyna gives him a low blow. Triple H finds the belt and wins the title.

Winner: Triple H

I have to say, this is probably the match that really put The Rock on the map. He went on to breakaway from the Nation and feud with Stone Cold.

WWE Championship Match
‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker

WWF00145 WWF55775I’m not a fan of this version of The Undertaker. It’s the years in-between his first run with Paul Bearer and the horrible ‘American Badass’ years. He looks more like an old goth guy who’s still holding onto his youth.

Kane is aligned with The Undertaker and JR and Lawler are hinting that Kane could interfere in this match. They know he’s there, since he squashed Mankind’s head in the dumpster earlier.

Kane comes out of the back, but The Undertaker screams for him to go back. He listens to his brother for now.

This fight predictably goes into the crowd. Do fans not near the fight hate when a fight goes into the crowd? This is pre-Titantron WWF, so it’s not being shown on any screen in the arena. I would be pissed if this happened while I was in attendance.

If you want to watch a match with every iconic move by Austin & The Undertaker, this is the match. Lots of near falls, which is common in a WWE Championship match. It happens so much today that fans often mock the ref when he announces a two-count.

At the end of the match, The Undertaker went for his ‘Old School’ move and Austin hit him with a low blow. He then picked him up and hit a ‘Stone Cold Stunner’ on him.

Winner: ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin via pinfall.

After the match, The Undertaker grabbed the belt and in a show of respect, handed it to Austin.

Synopsis

Re-watching the 1998 WWF Summerslam pay-per-view in 2013 was definitely an eye opener. As much as ‘The Attitude Era’ is romanticized by WWE fans today, the gimmicks were poor and finishes were predictable. I’d rather have the current version of the WWE than the 1998 version of the WWF.

The overall card was poor. The highlights were The Rock vs. Triple H and parts of The Undertaker vs. Stone Cold. Hell, I’d say the third best match was D-Lo Brown vs. Val Venis…something I would not have predicted at the beginning.

We have just started doing these ‘Wrestling Rewind’ posts. I will be re-watching old PPVs and commenting and comparing them to today’s professional wrestling product. I hope you enjoyed this one, it was a lot of fun. Until next time…

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