After being routed by World Championship Wrestling for nearly two years the World Wrestling Federation was back. And though the momentum had shifted to the WWF, WCW fought on. While the WWF took the early summer WCW was taking the latter, winning the three weeks leading into SummerSlam ’98, including beating the August 24th go-home edition of RAW.
SummerSlam ’98 represented a turning point in the war with WCW. The event marked the true coming out party for both Triple H & The Rock and cemented Stone Cold Steve Austin’s place at the top of the WWF. It also set in motion the events that would lead the WWF through the rest of 1998.
SummerSlam ’98 is best remembered for the epic Triple H/Rock showdown, but what about the rest of the card? How well does SummerSlam ’98 hold up 20 years later? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
This is the WWF Home Video version of the event shown on the Network. Unlike the Home Video version, however, Insane Clown Posse’s performance has been snipped entirely. Context, meanwhile, is complete with all prior editions of RAW and Sunday Night Heat, as well as all prior PPVs, available for you to enjoy today!
WWF SummerSlam ’98: Highway to Hell (WATCH)
Date: August 30, 1998 – Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Attendance: 21,588 (19,066 in the Garden, 2,522 in Theater at Madison Square Garden) – PPV Buyrate: 1.63 (>600,000 homes)
Commentators: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler – Interviews: Michael Cole & Dok Hendrix
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin
WWF Intercontinental Champion: The Rock
WWF World Tag Team Champions: Kane & Mankind
WWF European Champion: D’Lo Brown
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Taka Michinoku
The show opens with a great vignette highlighting the Undertaker/Kane/Stone Cold Steve Austin/Mr. McMahon saga.
In the arena the pyro goes off as Jim Ross welcomes us to the show. J.R. and Lawler chat about Austin facing Undertaker as Val Venis makes his way to the ring.
— WWF European Championship (WATCH – 2:07)
Val Venis vs. D’Lo Brown(c)
Early on we see Edge in the crowd, so we know Edge is here. Between the psychology and the story this is a very good opening match with very little down time that deserved a better finish. Though D’Lo controls the opening portion the match is, by and large, a back and forth battle that gets the fans going. D’Lo blocks the Money Shot with his knees and nearly breaks Val’s neck in a powerbomb gone wrong! Eventually Val removes Brown’s chest protector and puts it on. When Val tries to use it for a Money Shot, though, the referee steps in and ends up crotching Val. Before Val goes up a second time he tosses the referee across the ring for the disqualification at 15:24, which the MSG fans are not happy with.
WINNER and STILL WWF European Champion, D’Lo Brown (Disqualification, 15:24)
After the match an irate Venis slams the referee before squashing him with a Money Shot.
Next we go back to Michael Cole who is standing next to the hearse that Stone Cold Steve Austin smashed up on Sunday Night Heat with a sledgehammer. As a wrecker prepares to tow the hearse away Mankind tells Cole it was Mankind, not Undertaker or Kane, that was in the hearse and that Mankind wanted to put Kane into the hearse. Mankind says he might be able to use the sledgehammer after all. “Wouldn’t that be nice!”
As mentioned earlier Insane Clown Posse’s live performance, and The Oddities entrance, has been completely removed.
— “3-on-4 Tag Team Handicap Match” (WATCH – 22:10)
The Oddities (Giant Silva, Golga, & Kurrgan) w/Luna, Shaggy 2 Dope, & Violent J vs. Kai En Tai (Dick Togo, Men’s Teioh, Sho Funaki, & WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku) w/Yamaguchi-san
This one is nothing more than a freak show comedy match that goes on for way to long. Though they’re able to take the fight to Golga (John Tenta) Kai En Tai are no match for the Oddities. In the end, after Luna prevents a Yamaguchi run-in, Kurrgan and Giant Silva each hit double chokeslams before Golga hits a big quadruple splash for the four-way pin at 10:12.
WINNERS are The Oddities (Giant Silva, Golga, & Kurrgan) w/Luna, Shaggy 2 Dope, & Violent J (Pin, 10:12)
The short post-match celebration is edited out, thanks to the ICP music, and we quickly jump to the WWF SummerSlam double buses outside MSG.
As Jeff Jarrett (with Southern Justice) makes his way to the ring we see footage from Sunday Night Heat of Jarrett cutting Howard Finkel’s hair as WWF Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter tries to get Southern Justice to the back.
X-Pac arrives with Howard Finkel, who is dressed in a D-X T-shirt and bow tie, and joins in with X-Pac’s crotch-chopping. X-Pac gets on the mic and says that Jarrett “likes to talk a lot of trash” before Howard Finkel shouts the obligatory “suck it!”
— “Hair vs. Hair Match” (WATCH – 33:22)
X-Pac w/Howard Finkel vs. Jeff Jarrett w/Southern Justice (Dennis Knight & Mark Canterbury)
This is a really good match. Though it’s slow at times these two tell a decent story that keeps the fans interested. Jarrett nearly pins X-Pac with the figure-four before X-Pac makes a comeback. Jarrett blocks a Bronco Buster with a boot to X-Pac’s junk and wipes out Finkel, who jumped on the apron to protest the low blow. X-Pac ends up landing an X-Factor for a near fall which brings Southern Justice back to ringside. Dennis Knight attempts to glom X-Pac with a guitar but X-Pac gets the guitar instead and waffles Jarrett with it to score the pinfall at 11:11.
WINNER is X-Pac w/Howard Finkel (Pin, 11:11)
After the match the New Age Outlaws, Droz, and the Headbangers come to the ring to help hold Jarrett down. When the clippers fail X-Pac grabs a pair of scissors and the hair starts to fly. With Jarrett’s hair a mess “Double J” flees with Southern Justice.
Next we go to Dok Hendrix in the Theater at Madison Square Garden where Dok hypes the upcoming “Lion’s Den” match.
Backstage Michael Cole is with the Intercontinental Champion The Rock. We see footage of Rock attacking Triple H’s knee with the Intercontinental title on Sunday Night Heat and Rock wonders how Triple H, on one leg, is going to climb the ladder. The Rock says he’s going to prove why he’s the “People’s Champion, The Rock is the people’s choice, and The Rock is the best damn Intercontinental champ there ever was, if ya smell what The Rock is cookin’!”
As Marc Mero and Jacqueline enter the ring we see footage from the last two editions of RAW of Jacqueline attacking Sable.
— “Mixed Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 53:20)
Marc Mero & Jacqueline vs. Edge & Sable
Edge, who was still undefeated at this point, was making his MSG debut here. There is some old school heel psychology to start that smartly builds heat. While Sable looks great the star of the match is Edge, who has a fantastic showing. In the end, after Jacqueline lands on Mero’s pills, Edge lands the Downward Spiral to Mero before lifting Sable for a sort of wheelbarrow splash on Mero for the pin at 8:26. After replays Edge leaves through the crowd as Sable celebrates in the ring.
WINNERS are Edge & Sable (Pin, 8:26)
Next we go backstage to Michael Cole and World Tag Team Champion Mankind for a classic segment. After listing all the things he lost thus far Mankind says he might as well forfeit the gold. Eventually Mankind runs into Mr. McMahon who talks Mankind into facing the Outlaws alone. (“Immortality is something I’m very interested in,” Mankind says.) Mr. McMahon hands a candelabrum and buffet tray for Mankind, saying “I can hand you history in a silver platter!” Mankind says that “if the Outlaws don’t like it I’ve got thirteen words for ’em: how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?!”
Next we see a great vignette highlighting the Ken Shamrock/Owen Hart feud and the events leading to the forthcoming “Lion’s Den” match.
— “Lion’s Den Match” (WATCH – 1:09:22)
Owen Hart w/Dan Severn vs. “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock
Shamrock is o-v-e-r with the Theater crowd. As odd as this match appears to be these to do a tremendous job making this look like a shoot. It may not be as memorable as the “dungeon match” but it’s full of some great, stiff action and some creative offense by Shamrock. In the end Shamrock reverses Owen’s Dragon Sleeper before cinching in the ankle lock on Owen. A disgusted Dan Severn teases he’s going to throw in the towel before walking out and leaving Owen, who taps out at 9:16 to give Shamrock the win.
WINNER is “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock (Submission, 9:16)
Backstage Michael Cole interviews WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin about Austin’s title defense against The Undertaker. Austin says it doesn’t matter if Undertaker is alone or not, that he doesn’t trust anyone, and that if Austin has to “cheap shot ya to death” to retain the WWF title that’s exactly what Austin will do.
Mankind comes out alone followed by The Outlaws, who come out with a dumpster full of weapons before jumping into the ring to start the fight.
— WWF World Tag Team Championship – “2-on-1 Handicap No Holds Barred Falls Count Anywhere Match” (WATCH – 1:25:19)
The New Age Outlaws (“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn & Road Dogg) vs. Mankind(c)
While Mankind has his moments this match is all Outlaws. After powerbombing Mankind through two steel chairs (which causes the Outlaws music to play early, earning a “you f**ked up” chant) The Outlaws crush Mankind with a spike piledriver onto Mankind’s Tag Team title belt for the pin at 5:17 for the Outlaws third (of an eventual five) World Tag Team title win and end Mankind and Kane’s second and final Tag Team title reign at 20-days.
WINNERS and NEW WWF World Tag Team Champions, The New Age Outlaws (“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn & Road Dogg) (Pin, 5:17)
After the match Road Dogg announces the Outlaws as new Tag Team Champions while Billy Gunn tells Mankind they’re going to put him in the garbage “where you belong!”
The Outlaws dump Mankind in the dumpster and close the lids before returning to the ring to celebrate. Out of nowhere Kane pops up out of the dumpster, produces the missing sledgehammer, and supposedly crushes Mankind’s skull as the Outlaws flee to the back. Kane climbs out, closes the lids, and pushes the dumpster to the back.
Up next is an excellent vignette detailing the Triple H/Rock rivalry and the events leading to the forthcoming ladder match for Rock’s Intercontinental title.
In the arena the late Chris Warren and rest of the D-X Band make their way to the ring for a live rendition of “Break it Down” to play Triple H and Chyna to the ring.
— WWF Intercontinental Championship – “Ladder Match” (WATCH – 1:36:31)
Triple H w/Chyna vs. The Rock(c) w/Mark Henry
This marked only the third televised ladder match in the WWF and first since SummerSlam ’95. Despite the World title being on top this ladder match was without question the most anticipated match of the night. This match easily lived up to the hype and exceeded any and all expectations to become an instant classic that had the Garden rocking, launching both Triple H and The Rock to main event status overnight. In the end Chyna belts Rock in the ol’ Brahma berries as Triple H climbs the ladder and to grab the strap for the win at 26:05 to win the second (of an eventual five) Intercontinental title of his career and end The Rock’s second and final Intercontinental title reign at 265-days (the longest reign since Shawn Michaels first reign as Champion in 1992).
WINNER and NEW WWF Intercontinental Champion, Triple H w/Chyna (26:05)
After the match the remainder of D-X, having swept their matches, come to the ring to celebrate with Triple H.
After replays we see WWF Home Video exclusive footage of The Rock limping to the back, being met by a doctor, and going to Vince’s office. (We also hear Bruce Prichard and Pat Patterson calling Undertaker to the Gorilla position for the main event. “I need The Undertaker, please!”) We cut to Rock sitting on a couch, shooing the doctor as he unlaces his boots, who says that Triple H may have beaten Rock but Triple H is no People’s Champion. “Triple H, it’s alright,” Rock says, “in due time, payback is a bitch.”
— WWF World Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:14:06)
The Undertaker vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin(c)
There were high expectations for this match and, despite Austin nearly being knocked out at the 2:38 mark, the match lived up to them. A wrestling match to start this one becomes a war before long that has the MSG faithful on their feet. At one point Kane comes to the ring before Undertaker tells his brother to leave. From the brawl through the crowd to Undertaker’s breathtaking dive through the Spanish announce table this match ranks as a defining moment in the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin. In the end Austin catches Undertaker with a low blow as Undertaker attempts his Old School maneuver and then hits Undertaker with a Stone Cold Stunner to score the pin and retain the World title at 20:51.
WINNER and STILL WWF World Heavyweight Champion, Stone Cold Steve Austin (Pin, 20:51)
After the match Undertaker grabs the WWF title belt and, after staring Austin down, hands the belt to Austin. Undertaker pauses in aisle as Kane joins him and the two brothers watch Austin celebrate in the ring before walking off.
As Austin leaves the ring J.R. thanks us for watching and the show fades to black.
This may not be the greatest SummerSlam in history but it’s a helluva lotta fun!
With only two real duds, the Oddities/Kai En Tai fiasco and the Tag Team title match, the card is filled with great wrestling, great stories, and some damn entertaining action that (largely) holds up 20 years later. If you haven’t seen this event in a while, or never for that matter, it’s well worth your time.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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