Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What the World Was Watching: SummerSlam 1998

by Logan Scisco

-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.

Attendance:  21,588

Buyrate:  1.48 (+0.68 from previous year)


Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

80 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review. This is one of my favourite shows ever. The WWF just seemed to be firing on all cylinders and any show being run in the Garden has that extra aura.

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  3. Such a fun show. The whole build up to the 'Highway To Hell' was great, and this show didn't disappoint. One of the best Summerslams ever, for me.

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  4. I've always been a sucker for that Jarrett-X-Pac match. For some reason I always really enjoyed it.

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  5. If WrestleMania XIV was the show that put the WWF back on the map, this was the show that made it clear they were here to stay.

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  6. still one of my favorite PPVs ever. Some great booking with really good buildup in most of the feuds, decisive and mostly clean finishes in big matches, a gimmick that worked really well in the Lion's Den, and HHH/Rock putting on a MOTYC.

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  7. This might be my favorite show of all time. I still remember watching this card live and being totally entranced in it. I remember the moments, the matches, and everyone's reaction watching it. I always get goosebumps when the glass shatters for the main event because not only did MSG explode, everyone I was watching with exploded too.

    I would also go out on a limb and say that the Ladder Match was probably the swan song for the Intercontinental Championship as it is fondly remembered from the 80's and 90's. There have been bright spots since but this match and build for an intercontinental title match has not been matched.

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  8. The Mankind-Vince stuff was awesome. He morphs into Mr. McMahon after this and the character just gets more and more dumber.

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  9. Austin/Taker should have been a 5 star brawl. Stupid concussions. Also, Rock/HHH is so overrated.

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  10. Austin/Undertaker is a match that I just cannot look at objectively. Too much nostalgia and just a complete love of the build, the characters, the atmosphere, and watching it live. I can't separate all that and just look at the match itself. It's one of my favorite matches.

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  11. The Mr. McMahon character lost it's luster to me after WrestleMania XV specifically when he turned face to "feud" with the Ministry.

    Before then the character was great. The Mankind stuff, the continuing Austin feud, Rock as the head of the Corporation was all great stuff. The Mr. McMahon character ended to me at the end of WMXV with Austin raising his championship over his head with his foot on the chest of a beer soaked McMahon.

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  12. WM XV was the logical conclusion, but they did such a terrible job of building up heels that they had no choice but to turn him again.
    Mr. McMahon just became way too cartoony for me after Summerslam. Don't get me wrong I loved all the hits like everyone else but it was too much sometimes.

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  13. He definitely became much more cartoony. To me, the character(and the WWF itself) became much more hit-or-miss following Survivor Series 98.

    I think his cage match against Austin at St. Valentine's Day Massacre could also stand as a logical conclusion to their feud with WMXV acting as an epilogue.

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  14. Did Austin and Taker ever have a great 1 on 1 match?

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  15. Their match at "A Cold Day in Hell" is pretty good. I wouldn't call it great. I think this match from SummerSlam is great but like I said, I'm biased as shit.

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  16. It's why the company needs real competition. Fans need alternatives to what vince thinks isn't worth it anymore. It also gives life to old acts

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  17. I could be wrong but I feel like they had a really good Raw match somewhere in 1998.

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  18. Maybe he just meant that the checks bounced and the angle was never concluded?

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  19. Speaking of that match, was the "oh by the way, it's non-title" just gross incompetence or them thinking they'd get a few more buys that way? I don't think anyone thought old man Piper was walking out champ (Yeah, their age isn't that far apart but pretty sure this was after he had his hip done so perception becomes reality).

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  20. I would agree that Piper was worth it at first but man WCW needed to pull the plug on him way before they actually did. The end of his WCW run just was painful to watch. The Piper/Buff Bagwell feud might have been the final straw in getting me to turn off WCW.

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  21. At least make a storyline out it, like Bischoff switched contracts at the last minute or something.

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  22. It seems more likely to me that the original plan was Bryan/Wyatt at Wrestlemania, but then again there had already been talk of Cena/Wyatt for a while already so who knows.

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  23. Was he the one with a horseshoe haircut? My neverwas memory isn't what it used to be

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  24. What is this from?

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  25. No, I remember that well. Im talking about something from 1999 during the Flair gets comitted to a mental institution story.

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  26. Agreed about the ladder match being way overrated.

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  27. Extant1979 - Ghetto SuperstarSeptember 2, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    I never understood why they stretched out the Hogan-Sting blowoff so long when it would have killed as the main event to Starrcade 1996. Sting wouldn't have had 15 months of ring rust, which would have helped the match quality immensely. And with no Bret Hart to play off Montreal, the ending might have made more sense.


    Blow off Sting-Hogan in December 1996, with Piper playing the role of Sting motivator, and then lead into the Hogan-Piper feud for SuperBrawl without the title.

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  28. Has WWE ever nailed the big 4 PPVs like they did in 1998?

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  29. Seriously, WWE should just make every new writer they hire watch the years 1997 and 1998 and say "learn how we did shit and made it awesome."

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  30. That's what everyone was thinking. The story was over. I thought the next progression would be Vince feuding with the Rock since he failed him.

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  31. They leave that on the Network, but edit Jericho vs Johnny Grunge out of the same show.

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  32. I had checked out by that point, so I don't remember it. Checked out of Nitro, not the mental institution.

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  33. One thing WWE always did really well was always making the main events of Summerslam be almost as epic as their Wrestlemania main events, if not better (with some obvious exceptions like Diesel/Mabel):


    Bret/Bulldog and Warrior/Savage, Bret/Owen, Shawn/Vader, Bret/Taker, Austin/Taker, Austin/Triple H/Mankind (well, it felt like a big deal when it was Austin/HHH before they did all the changes), Rock/Angle/Triple H, Angle/Austin and Rock/Booker, Rock/Brock, Benoit/Orton, Team WWE/Nexus, Punk/Cena, Brock/ Triple H, Bryan/Cena, Brock/Cena,

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  34. Virgil's Gimmick TableSeptember 2, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    Bing bang boom, WCW wins the Monday night war via total squash.

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  35. Yup, and his ring name was Horshu.

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  36. Mr. Perfect pinned him at a house show in Syracuse, NY in late 1990.

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  37. Someone posted it on 411.

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  38. A big reason why Sting/Hogan worked was the length. You needed that year plus of desperation and build up.

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  39. I think Starrcade 96 is a little too soon for Sting-Hogan, especially with Piper there.

    I think sometime in mid-97 would have worked at the earliest. Maybe BATB to coincide with Hogan's WCW debut in 94, and the birth of the NWO in 96.

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  40. Extant1979 - Ghetto SuperstarSeptember 2, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    It just draaaaaaaagged, though. And even with suspension of disbelief that's inherent in pro wrestling, the conceit that NONE of Sting's WCW allies even talked to him before Fall Brawl, which led to Crow Sting, was ridiculous.


    I know I'm in the minority, but I hated the whole storyline and never understood why they didn't wrap it up quicker.

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  41. It may not have aged well but part of it's charm was that, at the time, neither HHH and particularly Rock, had what you would call memorable matches. But this was a hot feud and with a hot NY crowd, they delivered a good match that boosted the two onto the path to becoming major players.

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  42. I know everyone loves that Ladder Match, but the slow climbing KILLED it for me.

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  43. It didn't drag at all, you're in a very extreme minority.

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  44. I'm the opposite of surprised that you responded, reinforcing my opinion.

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  45. Agreed. I find it rather plodding.

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  46. There was definitely something unique about this PPV. It was the first major one since the Austin era began at Mania 14 (major PPV, not the smaller monthly ones) and it had a new cast of characters that would help lead the company into prominence. Add in the always awesome Madison Square Garden crowd with that unique sideways set-up and boom...you have a kick-ass Summerslam.

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  47. You its probably not a good sign when part of getting heat on the babyface was attacking his replacement hip.

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  48. You'd think people would stop believing this when Daniel Bryan himself stated that Punk leaving is why he was in the main event. But something tells me you don't do well with facts.

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  49. Starrcade '96 should have been in Greensboro. The old JCP faithful would have packed the Coliseum to cheer on Piper. They would have easily doubled the attendance Nashville had.

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  50. Proof or it didn't happen. Also, get him to post and clarify that he wasn't joking around or speaking in kayfabe.

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  51. Nope, and it's not even close.

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  52. Greensboro Coliseum: The House That Flair Built

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  53. there were plenty of good people for Hogan to feud with until they were ready for Sting. They made bad decisions (Hogan vs Giant at Souled Out, the endless Piper rematches), but with Flair, Luger, Savage, and DDP all present--and Hall/Nash being over enough to carry some ppvs so that Hogan didn't have to work all of them; it wasn't an unreasonable plan at all.

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  54. Extant1979 - Ghetto SuperstarSeptember 2, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    I never said it was an unreasonable plan. I said that I, personally, thought it dragged on too long. Like Cult said, I'm the extreme minority opinion on this. I don't deny it.

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  55. Jericho's podcast.

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  56. why would that be edited out?

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  57. Why wasn't he in the Rumble then? Did they predict that Batista's comeback would bomb and that somehow that would make Bryan more over if they didn't enter him?

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  58. I don't know, but it's not there. According to historyofthewwe it happened after the Jarrett/Eaton match.

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  59. The D'Lo-Val match from this show gets forgotten because of the bigger matches here, but it was really good and a hot opener.

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  60. Why did Mark Henry just stand there while Chyna cost Rock the title??

    Regardless, I remember this match fondly but I think it was a match that was helped by a really hot crowd.

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  61. Goldberg was one of them?

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  62. Am I the only fan of the Piper in Alcatraz promos?

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  63. Even if they had sting appear for a minute to end nitro I would be dying to see what would happen the following nitro. I think they did a great job of building up Sting/hulk but the match is what leaves a bad taste in most peoples mouth. Rightfully so.

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  64. No, that was an urban legend.

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  65. "Do I have a straight driveway or curvy driveway??"

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  66. But that's Orton. Not SuperCena. Orton actually loses when he should most times, and even in certain circumstances (Hogan) when he shouldn't. I wouldn't say the same for Cena. Time and time and time again, in instances where he SHOULD have lost a match, he wins. Even when it doesn't benefit the company, the fans, or Cena himself to do so.

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  67. How many proper one on one programs did Hogan do before Sting? It seemed every match was either vs Piper or some multi-man filler.

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  68. There was Savage, but that was sorta pre-Crow Sting

    Ditto for Flair...they kinda dropped the ball not doing a heel Hogan vs face Flair ppv match in NWA Country

    So I guess just Piper, Giant, and Luger

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  69. This is my favorite one-on-one ladder match ever.

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  70. This. Matches don't happen in a vacuum. Context matters, and this match was a perfect storm of two massively over wrestlers on the doorstep of the main event, an insanely hot crowd and a hot storyline. The slow climbing is a bit much, but otherwise the Rock/HHH ladder match is one of my 10 or so favorit matches ever.

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  71. LOOOOOOOVE this show. Everything about it is perfect. In MSG, Great setup and stage, debut of the current black barriers which enhanced the look of the show, Highway to Hell as the theme, and a bunch of great matches. I concur with the Lions Den match it is horribly underrated and probably Ken's best match.

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  72. I still maintain they should have kept Austin vs Chyna as the SS99 main event.

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  73. One of my favorite moments: after months and months of Jeff Jarrett winning matches due to the guitar shot, JJ whining to the ref that X-PAC used the guitar was such a chicken-bleep heel thing to do and I loved it....

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  74. The only sad part is that the Highway to Hell theme is totally gone from the Network version.....I wonder how the Raws will hold up on the Network when we get around to summer 1998....

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  75. I remember the one after the King of the Ring in 1999 when Stone Cold won the title back......but I don't think it was a great match.....

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  76. With Summerslam 2003 being the Elimination Chamber match where HHH derailed the epic Goldberg comeback in the match

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  77. It was cut out of the commercial tape as well. I definitely agree that the show doesn't feel the same without it.

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