Aaron Rift's Summerslam reviews (1998-2002)
Submitted by Aaron Rift on 08/18/2018 at 11:11 AM

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Event: SummerSlam 1998: "Highway to Hell"
Date: August 30, 1998
Location: New York City, New York
Arena: Madison Square Garden
Attendence: 19,066

Sunday Night Heat Match: Too Much (Scott Taylor and Brian Christopher) defeated LOD 2000 (Hawk and Animal) (2:15) when Taylor pinned Animal....Sunday Night Heat Match: Gangrel pinned Dustin Runnels (2:30)....Sunday Night Heat Match: Skull and 8-Ball defeated Justin Bradshaw and Vader (2:54) when Skull pinned Vader....European Heavyweight Title Match: D-Lo Brown defeated Val Venis (15:24) by Disqualification. D-Lo retains the title...Handicap Six-Man Tag Team Match: Kurrgan, Golga, and Giant Silva defeated Taka Michinoku, Mens Teioh, Shoichi Funaki, and Dick Togo (10:10) in a "handicap" match when Golga pinned all of Kaientai...."Hair Versus Hair" Match: X-Pac pinned Jeff Jarrett (11:11) in a "hair vs. hair" match....Mixed Tag Team Match: Sable and Edge defeated Marc Mero and Jacquelyn (8:26) when Sable pinned Mero...."Lion's Den" Match: Ken Shamrock defeated Owen Hart (9:16) via submission ....World Tag Team Title Match (Falls Count Anywhere): New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Jesse James defeated Mankind (5:16) to win the titles when Mankind was pinned...Intercontinental Heavyweight Title Match (Ladder Match): Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeated Rocky Maivia (26:01) to win the Intercontinental title....World Heavyweight Title Match: Steve Austin pinned The Undertaker (20:52) to retain the title.

Thoughts: By this time, the Attitude Era was in full swing. The quality of wrestling still wasn't that good but the characters were red hot with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin being at the peak of his popularity.

The highlight of the show was the IC Title ladder match between The Rock and Triple H. Neither of them were full-fledged main eventers yet, but it was clear that both of them had long careers ahead of them. This wasn't the best ladder match in history, but you could tell these guys were busting their asses and it was easy to appreciate their effort.

Sadly, this would be Owen Hart's final Summerslam appearance. The Lion's Den match with Ken Shamrock wasn't a classic, but it was something different.

The booking of the New Age Outlaws vs. Mankind by himself was strange since Mankind was supposed to be a heel and he was in a handicapped situation.

Jeff Jarrett getting his hair cut was a memorable moment.

Austin vs. The Undertaker was a fun main event.

Rating: ***

Event: SummerSlam 1999: "An Out of Body Experience"
Date: August 30, 1998
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Arena: Target Center
Attendence: 17,370

Intercontinental and European Heavyweight Title Match: Jeff Jarrett pinned D-Lo Brown (7:27) to win the titles..."King of the Hill" Match: The Acolytes (Farooq and Bradshaw) won a "King of the Hill" match. Edge and Christian defeated Matt and Jeff Hardy (5:02) when Christian pinned Matt. Edge and Christian defeated Mideon and Viscera (1:59) when Edge pinned Mideon. Edge and Christian defeated Droz and Prince Albert (1:49) when Edge pinned Albert....The Acolytes (Farooq and Bradshaw) defeated Cristian and Edge (4:45) when Bradshaw pinned Christian. The Acolytes (Farooq and Bradshaw) defeated Bob and Crash Holly (2:48) when Farooq pinned Bob....World HardcoreTitle Match: Al Snow pinned Big Bossman (7:27) to win the title....World Womens' Title Match: Ivory pinned Tori (4:08) to retain the title...."Lion's Den" Match: Ken Shamrock Knocks Out Steve Blackman (9:06) in a "lion's den" match....Test pinned Shane McMahon (12:04)....World Tag Team Title Match: The Undertaker and Big Show defeated Kane and X-Pac (12:01) to win the titles when Undertaker pinned X-Pac...."Kiss My Ass" Match: The Rock pinned Billy Gunn (10:12) in a "kiss my ass" match....World Heavyweight Title Match: Mankind defeated Steve Austin and Hunter Hearst Helmsley (16:23) in a "triangle" match to win the WWF World Title when he pinned Austin. Jesse Ventura was the special referee.

Thoughts: This big story of this PPV was Jesse Ventura (who had just become governor of Minnesota) making his WWE return as a special guest referee for the main event. The match itself was good although the crowd fell a bit flat when Austin lost the WWE Title to Mankind. For whatever reason (probably for TV ratings), WWE held off Triple H winning the title until the next night on RAW.

The best match on the show was actually one that didn't seem like it would be very good on paper - Test vs. Shane McMahon. The match was so good that, by the end, Test had come off like a bonafide superstar. As is turns out, WWE would kill Test's push a few months later.

The Rock vs. Billy Gunn was a waste since nobody bought Gunn as a main eventer.

An interesting thing about this show is seeing guys like Edge/Christian and The Hardys at the early stages of their careers.

Rating: **1/2

Event: WWF SummerSlam 2000
Date: August 27, 2000
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Arena: Raleigh Sports and Entertainment Center
Attendence: 18,810

Right to Censorship (The Goodfather, Bull Buchanan, and Steven Richards) defeated Too Cool (Brian Christopher and Scott Taylor) and Rikishi Phatu (4:57) when Richards pinned Taylor...X-Pac pinned Road Dogg (4:31)...Intercontinental Heavyweight Title Match (Mixed Tag Team Match): Chyna and Eddie Guerrero defeated Val Venis and Trish Stratus (7:04) when Chyna pinned Stratus. Chyna wins the Intercontinental Title...Jerry Lawler pinned Tazz (4:21)...World Hardcore Title Match: Steve Blackman pinned Shane McMahon (10:17) to win the title...Best Two out of Three Falls: Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho in a "best two out of three falls" match. Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho (3:01) in the first fall. Chris Jericho defeated Chris Benoit (8:25) in the second fall. Chris Benoit pinned Chris Jericho (13:01) in the third fall...World Tag Team Title Match (Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match, Three Way Match): Edge and Christian defeated The Dudley Boyz (D-Von and Buh-Buh Ray) and The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff) (18:38) in a "Tables, Ladders, and Chairs" match to retain the tag team titles...Stinkface Thong Match: The Kat defeated Terri in a "Stinkface Thong" match...The Undertaker and Kane fought to a No Contest (7:33)...World Heavyweight Title Match (Three Way Match): The Rock defeated Triple H and Kurt Angle (20:11) when The Rock pinned Angle in a "three way" match to retain the title.

Thoughts: Many would say that WWE hit their peak of popularity in 2000. Not only were the storylines and characters hot, but the wrestling quality was arguably the best it ever was up to that point with the signings of guys like Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero.

The TLC match was one of the most insane and memorable matches in WWE history. Nothing else can really be said about it that hasn't already been said.

Kurt Angle suffered a concussion in the main event when the Spanish announce table broke prematurely. The fact that Angle came back to finish the match really impressed a lot of people, and it's no surprise that he would end up winning the WWE Title two months later.

This show already featured Shane McMahon and Steve Blackman's insane bumps off the top of the titantron. Once again, WWE failed to do anything with Blackman after his memorable performance.

Rating: ***1/2

Event: SummerSlam 2001
Date: August 19, 2001
Location: San Jose, California
Arena: Compaq Arena
Attendance: 15,293

Sunday Night Heat Match: Jacqueline, Molly Holly, and Lita defeated Ivory, Torrie Wilson, and Stacy Keibler (2:47) when Jacquline pinned Ivory...Intercontinental Heavyweight Title Match: Edge pinned Lance Storm (10:21) to win the title...Six-Man Tag Team Match: The Dudley Boyz (Buh-Buh Ray and D-Von Dudley) and Test defeated The Acolytes (Faarooq and Bradshaw) and Spike Dudley (7:21) when Test pinned Bradshaw...WWF World Light-Heavyweight Title Vs. WCW World Cruiserweight Title Unification Match: WCW World Cruiserweight Champion, X-Pac, pinned WWF World Light-Heavyweight Champion, Yoshihiro Tajiri, (7:38) to win the WWF title...Chris Jericho defeated Rhyno (12:34)...WWF World Hardcore Title Match (Ladder Match): Rob Van Dam defeated Jeff Hardy (16:33) to win the title in a "ladder" match...WWF World Tag Team Titles Vs. WCW World Tag Team Titles Unification Match (Steel Cage Match): WCW World Tag Team Champions, Kane and The Undertaker, defeated WWF World Tag Team Champions, Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon, (10:15) to win the WWF World Tag Team Titles in a "Steel Cage" match...WWF World Heavyweight Title Match: Kurt Angle defeated Steve Austin (21:00) by Disqualification. Steve Austin retains the title...WCW World Heavyweight Title Match: The Rock pinned Booker T. (15:22 ) to win the title.

Thoughts: The wrestling landscape had changed drastically since the previous Summerslam. WCW and ECW were out of business and some of the respective rosters were absorbed by WWE. From this point forward WWE would never have to worry about lack talent roster depth again. We got to see lots of fresh faces at Summerslam for the first time.

The WWE Title match between Steve Austin and Kurt Angle was really good but brought down a little bit by a DQ finish. Austin was a heel at this point in the Alliance vs. WWF feud and it was hard to get into the storyline when Austin's character had to be changed so drastically in order for people to boo him.

The Rock vs. Booker T was good with Booker doing a Rock-imitation gimmick.

DDP and Kanyon, like most the WCW stars, were completely buried by the WWF stars Undertaker and Kane. This match was a perfect example of why the Invasion storyline flopped so bad.

RVD vs. Jeff Hardy was an enjoyable ladder with some innovative spots, although the finish was botched and you could see Hardy's frustration.

The rest of the card was solid. The problem, however, was that WWE was started to shift in a different direction. The roster was now stronger, but the storylines were getting weaker. This trend would continue at future Summerslam events.

Rating: **1/2

Event: WWE SummerSlam 2002
Date: August 25, 2002
Location: Uniondale, New York
Arena: Nassau War Memorial Colisseum
Attendance: 14,797

Sunday Night Heat Match: Spike Dudley pinned Steven Richards...SmackDown! Match: Kurt Angle defeated Rey Misterio (9:25) via submission...RAW Match: Ric Flair defeated Chris Jericho (10:25) via submission...SmackDown! Match: Edge pinned Eddie Guerrero (11:44)...World Tag Team Title Match (RAW Match): The Un-Americans (Lance Storm and Christan) defeated Booker T. and Goldust (9:40) when Christian pinned Booker T. to retain the tag team titles...Intercontinental Heavyweight Title Match: Rob Van Dam (RAW) pinned Chris Benoit (SmackDown!) (16:30) to win the title...RAW Match: The Undertaker pinned Test (8:10)...Street Fight Match (RAW Match): Shawn Michaels pinned Triple H (27:50) in a "street fight" match...Undisputed World Heavyweight Title Match (SmackDown! Match): Brock Lesnar pinned The Rock (15:58) to win the title.

Thoughts: The WWE landscape changed greatly once again from the previous year with the end of the Invasion storyline and the start of the WWE brand extension.

The most memorable match of the night was Shawn Michaels making his return after four years against Triple H in a street fight. The match was built around HBK's back injury and the psychology was tremendous. In my opinion, every wrestling student should watch this match and see how great work is done. This is arguably the best match in Summerslam history.

The final match of the show, The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar, was a passing of the torch from Rock to Lesnar and it was another great match. The crowd heat was just incredible and Lesnar couldn't have looked any better as the new champion.

The opening match between Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio was very fast paced and I would rank it as the best opening match in Summerslam history.

The rest of the undercard ranged from good to great matches - nothing was bad. A lot of people believe this is the best Summerslam, and I tend to agree with them. It doesn't get much better than this.

Rating: ****

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