Wednesday, August 15, 2018

WWF Summerslam 1998

Well... we'd have to hit a Summerslam at some point. Might as well get it out of the way... on my birthday no less.

Fun fact; two Summerslams took place on my birthday. The 2004 edition, which featured Randy Orton defeating Chris Benoit for his first World title, and the 2010 edition, which featured John Cena single-handedly burying the Nexus and thus killing off any chance of making them seem like a credible threat. Since neither option was worth revisiting, I opted to go back to 1998, which would've been my first live Summerslam... on Pay-Per-View. This took place from the old MSG; somewhat appropriate considering the big news involving the current MSG just last week.

Anyway, on with the show... which used AC/DC's Highway To Hell song as the theme for this show and they even teased the build to the main event as the highway to hell. Unfortunately, you're not getting that song on the WWE Network, as it's been scrubbed due to licensing issues. This isn't a Network thing, as I had this on VHS once upon a time and they scrubbed it from there too. So, I guess we're sticking with this truncated show that's missing bits here and there or using shitty redubbed music.

European Champion D'Lo Brown defeated Val Venis via DQ when Venis bullied the referee out of frustration for failing to dethrone D'Lo and his fiercesome chest protecting vest gimmick thing, which came about due to a very real injury thanks to a match with Dan Severn. Much like a good dickish heel would, he kept the chest protector for a long period of time and often used it as a weapon to steal wins and shit. The match was a thing that happened... and probably something I might've enjoyed more back in the day than I do now.

There's a multi-man match between the Oddities (a bunch of weirdos coming out to a ICP tune... complete with ICP to sing them out to the ring) and Kaientai (featuring Taka, Funaki, and a couple other guys.) It was a complete and utter waste of time twenty years ago and time certainly hasn't been kind to this match twenty years later. So while this match was taking place, I was fixing myself a peanut butter sandwich. It turned out fine.

X-Pac defeated Jeff Jarrett in a Hair-Vs.-Hair match. In the pre-show, Jarrett cut off Howard Finkle's hair and moustache... and so he comes out with a DX shirt and he, along with the headbangers, help X-Pac chop off Jarrett's long locks of hair to give him the hairstyle he'd keep for the rest of his days. So after two matches of questionable quality, we finally have a good match. This was fun stuff.

Sable (a.k.a. Brock Lesnar's wife) and mystery partner Edge (long before the days where he had live sex shows and feuded with a computer) defeated Marvelous Marc Mero and Jacqueline in a Mixed Tag Match.

We get a Mankind promo for his upcoming match with the New Age Outlaws. Only noteworthy for the closing line; How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Ken Shamrock defeated Owen Hart in a Lion's Den match, which is basically a little octagon ring similar to what you get in the UFC, back when the UFC was this mythical, underground sensation that was more vicious and much more intriguing than the heavily-regulated sports-entertainment spectacle that it is today. Anyway, this was actually pretty fun stuff with a lot of submission stuff here and there. I actually remember liking this match back in the day and it was a follow-up to the match they had the previous month, which took place in the Hart Dungeon. I need to go watch that again somewhere down the line. Extra fodder for the site, sure, but I'm genuinely curious if that match holds up as well as this did.

The New Age Outlaws defeated WWF World Tag-Team Champions Mankind and Kane to regain the titles... actually, Kane no-showed and Mankind had to defend the titles by himself... and he didn't quite get the job done. The Outlaws then dump poor Mick into a dumpster they dragged along for the ride... and then Kane showed up to bury a sledgehammer in there. Oops.

Triple H defeated Intercontinental Champion The Rock in a ladder match (with a timely ball shot from Chyna) to win the title. Hunter would be forced to forfeit the title due to injury, but regardless, this was a damn fine match. At the time, I thought it was a pretty brutal ladder match between two rivals and that it had all the makings of a final confrontation... and then they would go on to battle again on multiple occasions over greater prizes. But you look back at this match and you see two guys claw their way to the top, making their mark and taking the first step to climb from the highly competitive midcard level on their way to the illustrious main event scene. A phenomenal ladder match for its day and it still holds up. Great match.

WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated the Undertaker to retain the title. There was a point where Kane would show up to tease an intervention of sorts (since Undertaker and Kane were in cahoots at the time... long story), but 'Taker sent him off because he wants to win the right way... and then Stone Cold beats him despite being knocked a bit dizzy early on. This might not be a great wrestling match, but as a whole, it was a great main event because you had two big stars and these two big stars were treated like big deals. They had their aura that gave off the impression that they were really big deals. And seeing these two titans clash should feel like a big deal and when you have that feeling nailed, the quality is secondary. As a match, this was fine. But as a main event, it more than delivered its share. I thought so back in 98 and I equally believe this today.

I actually liked this show. Some of the undercard stuff is forgettable wastes of time, but I dug the Lion's Den match, the Ladder match was the making of two big time stars, and the main event was also pretty fun stuff. All of that more than made up for whatever deficiencies this show had and it was a very easy, very quick-paced Summerslam event. One worth checking out on the Network if you're feeling up to it.

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