Venue: Madison Square Garden
Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry "The King" Lawler
Number three on the countdown moves forward a few years from the previous two entries but still took place during the 1990’s, more specifically during the Attitude Era. SummerSlam 1998 took place during the heat of the Monday Night Wars which I think helped not only motivate, but actually elevate every WWF Superstars performance. There are quite a few stipulation matches on the card which really help enhance the overall show. Not to mention that some of the feuds which were just starting really took shape at SummerSlam 1998 and would last for years, even existing still to this day. I would go as far to say that SummerSlam 1998 is not only in the Top Five SummerSlams of all time, but it is one of the best WWF PPV’s during the Attitude Era.
Match #1. European Championship: D’Lo Brown (c) Vs Val Venis
Val Venis and D’Lo Brown are both good performers that just got stuck with gimmicks that either did not work or got stale quickly. However in 1998 Val was really over as his character had just debuted early in May of 1998. D’Lo of course is wearing his chest protector that Jim Ross mentions was reinforced or so he heard. It may have not looked the best but it definitely made D’Lo stand out. I will never forget the chest protector much like Cowboy Bob Orton and his cast for his “Broken Hand”. This is a really good opening match. The fans were really involved in the back and fourths between the two men and they set a good pace for the show. For those of you who may not remember the Attitude Era you are going to see Superstars get away with and do a lot of things a PG Era Superstar would do. You will see what I mean at the end of the match.
Match #2. The Oddities (w/ Luna Vachon and ICP) Vs Kaientai (w/ Yamaguchi-san)
What can I say about the Oddities, they may not be the best athletes and you wont see a lot of “Wrestling Holds” but they always bring a lot of energy and fun to the ring. Watching these three giants; Kurrgan, Giant Silva, and Golga (AKA Earthquake) take on the four much smaller Japanese wrestlers was just simply put fun. Even Jim Ross says during the match “We never promised this one would be a classic”.
It may not be a classic, but it still is a really enjoyable match that has a lot of big power strikes and quick high flying spots.
Match #3. Hair Vs Hair Match: X-Pac (w/ Howard Finkel) Vs Jeff Jarrett (w/ Southern Justice)
X-Pac and Jarrett really bring it in this match. They start out at a really quick pace and never really let up. The “Hair Stipulation” is only an added bonus as this match would of still been just as good without it. Earlier in the night on Sunday Night Heat (WWF’s TV show which was aired live 1 hour prior to the PPV) Finkel’s head was shaved by JJ so Finkel decides to accompany X-Pac to the ring. He doesn’t really add anything to the match but it is funny to see the camera occasionally pan to Fink and have King say some comment about him. X-Pac vs. JJ is one of the best matches on the card and the fans really let you hear it. By the way if you are wondering why Southern Justice looks familiar they also wrestled under the name “The Godwinns” in WWF in 1996.
Match #4. Mixed Tag Team Match: Edge and Sable Vs Marc Mero and Jacqueline
Let me start by saying, yes, this match really did happen. Why you ask? Your guess is as good as mine. I will say that Sable was way more over than she should of been for this match but to each his own. Edge always brings his A game and Jackie was a damn good wrestler so the match was not a complete disaster. Hell, I won’t lie and say I wasn’t a fan of Johnny B Badd because I was. However, I never was a Marc Mero fan and the jealousy storyline and the feud between Mero and Sable was just Awful. I don’t like spoilers but I will spoil one move in the match only because it has a cool story to go with it. Sable actually Power bombs Mero in the match. I only bring it up because in an interview James E. Cornette who was working with WWF in 1998 said he saw Mero take the power bomb and that was when he knew his Mero’s Career was over. The match isn’t the worse but in my opinion you may want to skip over this one.
Match #5. Lion’s Den Match: Ken Shamrock Vs Owen Hart (w/ Dan Severn)
The Lion’s Den match was different to say the least. It took place at Madison Square Garden but was not in the main arena but in a separate theater. The “Den” was like nothing I had seen before. It was kind of similar to the UFC “Octagon” but was much smaller and a giant circle. It had a canvas like a WWF Ring but did not appear to have a spring underneath so it didn’t look like it had much give at all.
The match itself was very unique. Both guys were very stiff and really used the cage well. Ken Shamrock really brought a lot to this match and made a “Pro Wrestling” bout look more like an MMA match than some UFC fights. This is one of Ken’s better matches but he had an amazing opponent in the den. What can you say about Owen Hart, other than he was one of the greatest ever! And if he was still here today he would definitely be a multi-time WWE Champion. If you enjoy this match check out the match one month before SummerSlam at Fully Loaded when Owen Hart took on Shamrock in a Dungeon Match.
The Lion’s Den Match brought something to wrestling that had never been done before and even though the MMA/Pro Wrestling match has been tried quite a few times after this one none of them ever compared to the Lion’s Den Match.
Match #6. Tag Team Championship – Falls Count Anywhere Handicap Match: The New Age Outlaws Vs Mankind (c)
The feud between Mankind and the Outlaws had been going since late 1997. Mankind and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk) won the Tag Titles from the Outlaws at WrestleMania 14. Although Charlie and Mankind split before SummerSlam, the Outlaws and Mankind continued their feud throughout the year and traded the tag titles back and fourth. Mankind and Kane had won the titles the previous month and were set to have a Falls Count Anywhere match here at SummerSlam. Instead Kane did not show up to fight beside Mankind so after quite a pep talk from Vince (you will see the promo before the Lion’s Den Match) He decides to go it alone. The match is nothing but a beat down from bell to bell but it shows a hell of a lot of intestinal fortitude on Mick Foley’s and if you are a Hardcore Wrestling Fan (like me) this match is for you. I love how the fans are really torn between who to cheer for in this match.
Match #7. Intercontinental Championship – Ladder Match: Triple H (w/ Chyna) Vs The Rock (c) (w/ Mark Henry)
DX vs. The Nation of Domination was an amazing feud during the Attitude Era that gave us a lot of memorable moments. However The Rock and Triple H were really the two superstars that shined brightest in both groups. Their feud is nothing short of legendary and is still running strong today. Both guys are in their prime here at SummerSlam and although they could of easily main evented the show neither man had won the WWF Championship at this point in their careers. Instead at SummerSlam they were fighting over the Intercontinental Championship the “workhorse title” or so it was once called. The match itself is one of my favorite Ladder Matches and knowing the future of both of these men is really just amazing to go back and see the early stages of this amazing feud.
The match is all over the place and the fans energy is never-ending. Neither man ever lets up for a second and the match will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
Match #8. WWF Championship: Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs The Undertaker
The Highway to Hell match. Austin and Undertaker were no strangers to each other when they went into SummerSlam but they had never had a one on one match of such high caliber before. I still remember this feud building for months finally to be set for SummerSlam 1998. Every week on Raw these two were going at it like cats and dogs. The fans were begging for the match and it indeed lived up to the hype. I knew we were going to get an all out brawl. But then Austin challenged Undertaker to a one on one match and said no outside interference on Heat earlier in the night. After Undertaker agreed to it, I knew we were going to have a true classic and finally find out who was the better man.
The whole ppv was built around this match dubbing the PPV “The Highway to Hell” and even having the entrance way look like a giant gate to the entrance of Hell. Both men were at the top of their games and The Undertaker at least to me was the first real challenger to Austin’s Championship since he won it at WrestleMania (or back from Kane on Raw).
The match was amazing and even though there is a winner and a loser both men came out looking like champions afterward. Many times when a match has been hyped and built for a long time it is hard to deliver on what was promised this match not only delivers it goes above and beyond. This was not the beginning nor the end of the Undertaker/Austin feud, but it definitely was a highlight of both of their careers and a true classic that represents the best that the Attitude Era had to offer.
SummerSlam 1998 was the best SummerSlam during the Attitude Era. It brought a lot of different types of matches and styles which were desperately needed to eventually win the war with WCW. Everyone match on the card (yes, even the Mixed Tag Match) brought something unique to the table and was highly entertaining. SummerSlam 1998 helped develop and propel certain feuds Triple H/Rock and Undertaker/Austin which would take center stage in the WWF for years to come. The fans were electric from start to finish and every Superstar was on top of their game that night.
I have always been partial to SummerSlam it has been my favorite event of the year ever since I saw SummerSlam 1991. Each year I would be more and more excited for SummerSlam but I can’t remember a SummerSlam main event that I ever wanted to see more in my life than I did for Undertaker and Austin. That match alone represents everything that a SummerSlam should be and more.
Until Next Week.