-Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from New York, New York.
-Opening Contest for the European Championship: D-Lo Brown (Champion) beats Val Venis via disqualification when Venis throws down the referee at 15:26:
D-Lo was really having fun with the European champion concept as he had himself billed from different parts of Europe. For this bout, he is announced as being a resident of Helsinki, Finland. Edge is shown watching the match in the crowd, which becomes important later in the show. This is a very well-paced, back-and-forth match, and the crowd eventually comes around to appreciating it at the ten-minute mark. D-Lo blocks the Money Shot with his knees and botches a powerbomb spot, which foreshadowed the unfortunate botch the ended Darren Drozdov’s career. Venis eventually takes off D-Lo’s chest protector and puts it on, but the referee does not care for that and his attempt to get Venis to take it off leads to the disqualification. D-Lo carried a good chunk of this match and the Madison Square Garden crowd was actually cheering for him by the end. A few botches at the end and the finish bring this down a notch, but kudos to the WWF for giving these two guys a lot of time and exposure. Rating: ***½
-After the bout, a frustrated Venis gives the referee a Money Shot.
-Michael Cole is backstage with a hearse that Steve Austin destroyed on Sunday Night Heat. Mankind rants about his “SummerSlam ride” not being in good condition and how he will not be able to toss Kane in there later. He hopes to use a sledgehammer against Kane later in the show.
-The Insane Clown Posse, one of the most controversial musical acts of the late 1990s, perform the Oddities theme song. The Oddities dance around. Only about 50% of the crowd – and that is being generous – bother to wave their hands for the ICP.
-Handicap Match: The Oddities (w/Luna Vachon) defeat Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) when Golga pins all the members of Kaientai at 10:13:
So, we get this handicap tag match between the three giants of the Oddities and the four men of Kaientai simply because the Insane Clown Posse were booked for the show. Jim Ross makes us aware that he likes the ICP, which I find hard to believe. The match hides the shortcomings of Kurrgan and Giant Silva by having them do a few token spots and Kaientai works in some nice quadruple team maneuvers. Still, this match was given way too much time and the result did not matter in the end scheme of things as most of the participants were gone from the company by the end of the year. Rating: ½*
-Hair vs. Hair Match: X-Pac (w/Howard Finkel) pins “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Southern Justice) after hitting him with a guitar at 11:12:
On Sunday Night Heat, Jarrett and Southern Justice shaved Howard Finkel’s head, so he accompanies X-Pac to the ring in a DX shirt. Sadly, he is not very well coordinated when doing the crotch chops with X-Pac. The announce team today would never let him live that down. Based on the capabilities of both men, this match is a disappointment and never seems to click. There are lots of double knockout spots and Jarrett pulls out a spot that I hate where he applies the figure-four without working the legs at all. Southern Justice appear to miss their cue, requiring Jarrett to kick out of the X-Factor and X-Pac proceeds to take a guitar from Dennis Knight and cracks it over Jarrett’s head for the win. After the bout, all of the people who have had their hair cut by Jarrett over the last few weeks hit the ring and cut his hair, thereby significantly transforming his look for the first time in his WWF career. Rating: **¼
-Dok Hendrix discusses the Lion’s Den structure.
-Cole interviews The Rock, who took out Triple H’s knee on Sunday Night Heat. He cuts a generic promo and makes fun of Triple H’s injured knee.
-Edge & Sable beat “Marvelous” Marc Mero & Jacqueline when Sable pins Mero after Edge slams her into the cover position at 8:26:
Sable’s mystery partner for the match is revealed as Edge, which sort of fits existing storylines since Edge attacked Mero a few weeks prior on RAW. It is also a nice way to elevate a new star and is much better than putting someone like Kurrgan into the match. This is a glorified squash as they book Sable as Superwoman and she manhandles her opponents. That takes away from any real drama the match might have. Edge almost becomes an afterthought until he works in a plancha spot late. WrestleMania XIV this was not. Rating: **¼
-Cole tells Mankind that Kane is not going to be here to help him defend the tag team titles and asks if he is going to forfeit. Mankind says he is going to get killed against the New Age Outlaws, but Vince McMahon gives him a pep talk about how he belongs in Madison Square Garden. McMahon says that if Mankind overcomes the odds that he will get into the MSG Hall of Fame by next week. Mankind says he needs a weapon and McMahon hilariously grabs some random stuff and hands it to Mankind to use. Now THIS is what a backstage segment is all about.
-A video package hypes the Ken Shamrock-Owen Hart Lion’s Den match.
-Lion’s Den Match: Ken Shamrock defeats Owen Hart (w/Dan Severn) via submission to the anklelock at 9:16:
This was an ingenious idea because it added a unique match to card and allowed the WWF to sell more tickets to the show in the MSG theater. Imagine a wrestling match in a UFC-type structure and that is what this match is like. It features some nice spots, such as Shamrock using the angled walls of the structure to rebound off of and then using them to escape a Sharpshooter and a dragon sleeper. Since Owen never tries that, it fits well within the story they are trying to tell of this being Shamrock’s environment. Dan Severn angrily walks out when Owen is placed in the anklelock, thereby ending that relationship. A great action packed match that lived up to the hype. It also holds up really well today and is one of Owen’s better matches. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this, check it out. Rating: ****
-Cole interviews WWF Champion Steve Austin, who says he will use any means necessary to walk out of Madison Square Garden as the champion.
-No Holds Barred, Falls Count Anywhere Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: The New Age Outlaws defeat Kane & Mankind (Champions) when The Outlaws pin Mankind with a spike piledriver on a tag team title belt at 5:18:
Poor Mankind is left to defend the titles on his own after he is the odd man out of the Undertaker-Kane alliance. The Outlaws bring a large dumpster filled with weapons to the ring and Mankind suffers a nasty two-on-one onslaught. Jim Ross must have watched too much SummerSlam 1991 before this one, as he criticizes the referee for not making the Outlaws tag in and out. Mankind survives an Outlaws side suplex-neckbreaker combination and a spike powerbomb through chairs, but a spike piledriver gives the Outlaws the tag team titles for the second time. Typical RAW match, but it served its purpose of getting the titles back on the Outlaws and making Mankind look resilient. Rating: **
-After the match, the Outlaws toss Mankind in the dumpster and after closing it, Kane emerges out of the dumpster and smashes Mankind in the face with a sledgehammer. The Outlaws wisely flee to the locker room. Jim Ross’s outrage meter reaches 0.8 for this.
-A video package hypes the Rock-Triple H ladder match for the Intercontinental title.
-Connecticut Yankee comes out to give Triple H some live entrance music.
-Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Triple H (w/Chyna) beats The Rock (Champion w/Mark Henry) to win the title at 26:14:
This was the first ladder match that the WWF had featured on television since SummerSlam 1995. I miss the old visual for ladder matches with the champion surrendering the title to the referee and then having it slowly raised above the ring. The small aisle of the MSG venue gives us a great visual early in the match of the Rock beating Triple H down and having the fans on top of him shouting that he sucks. The story of the match is the Rock working on Triple H’s injured knee to prevent him from climbing the ladder and Triple H evening some of the odds by busting the Rock open with a baseball slide into the ladder. The Rock also manages a split reaction, working a 50/50 “Let’s go Rocky! Rocky sucks!” chant. One thing to really criticize this match for are the slow climb spots. They work for Triple H, since he has one leg, but the Rock doing them after pulverizing Triple H’s knee for five minutes is ridiculous. Whatever your thoughts are about Triple H, you have to admire him taking some the brunt of the sick bumps in this match. This brutal war comes to an end when Triple H hits a Pedigree, but gets powder tossed in his eyes by Mark Henry. That produces a double climb of the ladder with Chyna coming in and giving the Rock a low blow so Triple H can win to a HUGE pop. This match ended the first phase of the Triple H-Rock feud, as well as the Rock’s nine month reign as Intercontinental champion, but unfortunately for Triple H he lost some of the momentum gained from this match when a knee injury put him on the shelf. The Rock now moves out of the Intercontinental title level and into contention for the WWF title, with this match showing he had the skills needed to make that jump. Rating: ****½
-WWF Championship Match: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) pins The Undertaker after a Stone Cold Stunner
Austin suffers a concussion about two minutes into the bout when his head collides with the Undertaker and that just ruins the match’s flow. McMahon had to freaking out backstage because when that collision took place Austin went down in a heap and appeared to be knocked out. Kane does walk out around the seven minute mark, but the Undertaker waves him off, thereby squandering his primary advantage. I understand the idea of the Undertaker wanting to win on his own, but does that not negate the story on the previous RAW of Kane and the Undertaker being an unstoppable combination? The highlight of the contest is the Undertaker giving Austin a guillotine leg drop on the Spanish announce table (I can’t say through because the table doesn’t break). Austin rallies from that to win after giving the Undertaker a low blow during his ropewalk spot, but after all the buildup, this match was a disappointment to say the least. And again, we get a slow Earl Hebner three count for no reason at all, since he wasn’t bumped. Some people give this match over ***, but I just don’t get that rating in light of its disjointed nature and botches. Rating: **¼
-After the match, the Undertaker takes the WWF title from Hebner and, after a tense few moments, hands it to Austin. Kane walks out to stare down Austin with his brother in the aisle as the show goes off the air.
The Final Report Card: Disappointing main event aside, this was a fantastic SummerSlam. The ladder match is the highlight of the show, but the Lion’s Den match is deserving of credit as well. I always wonder how good Austin-Undertaker could have been if not for the concussion Austin suffered minutes into the match. If the WWE wants to remember how to adequately build to a big show, they should rewatch what they did for this pay-per-view, which attracted the highest buyrate for a SummerSlam since 1992.
Buyrate: 1.48 (+0.68 from previous year)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up