Remembering Summerslam 1998 - Twenty Years On
Ten years after the first Summerslam event, the WWF returned to Madison Square Garden on the 30th August 1998 for one of its biggest shows of the year.
The 1998 edition of Summerslam saw the WWF in the midst of its most successful period in company history. The Federation was on a roll, riding a wave of incredible popularity built around WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, becoming a financial juggernaut in the process.
Some of the undercard was pure filler; D’lo Brown vs Val Venis and The Oddities vs Kaientai didn’t exactly set pulses racing, but the third match on the show saw the card move up a gear.
It pitted X-Pac vs Jeff Jarrett in a Hair vs Hair match. An entertaining match with boatloads of outside interference eventually saw X-Pac use Jarrett’s guitar behind the referee’s back to score the match-winning pinfall. Jarrett lost his hair, but managed to escape the ring before he was completely shaved bald.
The next match saw the team of Marc Mero and Jacqueline face Sable and a mystery partner in an inter-gender tag team match. Sable’s mystery partner was the debuting, Edge. At the time this was a let-down, as Edge was an unknown commodity and fans were expecting an established star to be Sable’s partner. Nevertheless, the match was decent and acted as a showcase for the future Hall of Famer, Edge who assisted Sable in pinning Mero for the win.
Ken Shamrock’s former UFC career led to the story of his match with Owen Hart. The pair competed in an Octagon-like structure playing off of Shamrock’s martial arts background. Predictably, Shamrock defeated Hart by submission.
The Tag Team Championship match up was a peculiar affair. Mankind’s tag team partner, Kane was nowhere to be found which meant he had to defend the titles alone against challengers, The New Age Outlaws. A heel fighting alone against two baby-faces broke every rule of wrestling psychology, however, the WWF wisely kept the match short mitigating any damage that could be caused by the muddled booking. Mankind couldn’t overcome the odds and the Outlaws became three-time Tag Team Champions.
In the second most hyped match on the card, long-time Intercontinental Champion, The Rock defended his Intercontinental Championship against Triple H in a Ladder Match. This match is still widely revered to this day and remains one of the best Ladder Match offerings in company history. Action packed and full of drama, Triple H took advantage of his D-Generation X colleague, Chyna low-blowing The Rock enabling him to climb the ladder and retrieve the title. Triple H was the new champion.
However, the real winner of the match was The Rock. Convinced his performance demonstrated that he was ready for main events, he was pushed up the card and won win his first WWF Championship just three months later at Survivor Series.
The final match on the card was the most hyped and anticipated. Dubbed “The Highway to Hell”, Stone Cold Steve Austin defended the WWF Championship against The Undertaker. As a match, it did not live up to expectations. Austin suffered a legitimate concussion early on which hampered his timing and led to a few awkward exchanges with his challenger. Undertaker was not up to the task of carrying Stone Cold through the rest of the match. Despite these setbacks, the main event was still an entertaining encounter. In a memorable finish, Stone Cold countered Undertaker jumping off the top rope into a Stone Cold Stunner to retain the title.
The Undertaker handed Austin the belt, seemingly in a show of respect and walked down the entrance where he was met by Kane, who had finally shown up at the arena.
The implication was that Kane had abandoned his partner Mankind and reunited with his brother, The Undertaker. Stone Cold’s title was in jeopardy like never before.
It was fantastic storytelling and overall an enjoyable show. Far from the best Summerslam event but due to its star power and storyline progression one of the most well remembered.
A reported 22,000 watched the event in Madison Square Garden, while an enormous 700,000 people bought the event on pay-per-view.
Follow Sportskeeda for the latest WWE news, rumors and all other wrestling news.