‘Sup, Lords of Pain? So everyone looking forward to SummerSlam on Sunday? Yes? Great. But it’s not the first time we’ve had the event. In fact we had one back in the summer of 1999 too...
ATTITUDE! SummerSlam 1999 (CPR Productions)
By Maz & Mav
Aug 15, 2014 - 4:45:23 PM
Mazza: Well here we are ladies and gents, two days before SummerSlam 2014 and what better way to prepare than to have a look back at the hottest party of the summer from fifteen years ago. We’d leave Fully Loaded with the promise that Vince McMahon would no longer be allowed on TV. With the number one heel in the WWF not about, it would certainly raise some interesting questions over the leadership of the company. We’d also have a big title match between new number one contender Triple H and Stone Cold to build towards. But four weeks is a long time in wrestling and a lot could, and would happen on the road to SummerSlam.
Maverick: This was the height of 1999 and anyone who was around at the time knows exactly what that means...a very unpredictable product with endless swerves and booking changes, as well as an upper echelon of wrestlers who constantly got in each others’ business to riotous adulation from the crowd. The Corporate Ministry was all over, but new alliances would come together. In addition, we were about to see a very, very significant debut...
The Event: SummerSlam
The Date: 22 August 1999
The Place: Target Centre, Minneapolis, Minnesota
BACKGROUND AND BOOKING
There was a lot of business left over from Fully Loaded, which the opening Raw had to deal with before progressing to the main rivalries for Summerslam. As was often the case through the Attitude Era, the big players in the WWF constantly rubbed shoulders with each other, creating mass cross pollination of feuds, which was very exciting to watch, and kept the product much fresher than today’s where that rarely happens in the same way, but also led to a somewhat confusing picture at times. At any rate, the previous 18 months of history, defined by Austin vs. McMahon was put to bed, as Vince arrived in a limo to the 07/26 show to say an onscreen goodbye to the audience. He assured the live crowd that he had not come to break the contract or his promise, but to honour them. In a daring reference to Montreal, he announced that only once in his career had he not made good on a guarantee. He went on to say that he was now experiencing failure for the first time. He asked the crowd to remember him as a handsome entrepreneur who made an indelible mark on the fans. Stone Cold inevitably came out to confront his former boss and Vince explained that he was glad that he had come out because deep down they were very similar people. The chairman said that to show he was the bigger man, he would offer his hand to the Rattlesnake; obviously, the Texan refused and instead got Jim Ross in the ring to conduct a rendition of “na na na na oh hell yeah goodbye” to the departing executive. In a final act of defiance, Vince gave Austin the finger from the ramp. The evil boss duties would be taken over by his son Shane, who lauded his father’s achievements the next week before getting on with his feud with Test. More on that later.
Austin’s challenger was due to be Triple H after his victory over The Rock in their strap match, but this seemingly simple picture became vastly complicated as the month wore on. When the Rattlesnake came out on the 08/02 show to make a riposte to the words of Shane McMahon, he was interrupted by the new combination of The Undertaker and The Big Show, who had come together over their mutual antipathy for Kane (the previous week’s Raw had opened up with X Pac getting ambushed by The Deadman backstage and beaten all the way to the ring. When Kane tried to make the save, Big Nasty smashed Kane from behind. The two heels shook hands over their new alliance. Afterwards , Kane roared in emotional pain as X Pac was loaded into an ambulance). ‘Taker demanded a rematch from Fully Loaded for the title, then he and Show beat Austin down before he could answer. In a curious logic hole, the Rattlesnake then booked the title match backstage with Cole, leaving the legitimate number one contender, Triple H, absolutely furious. The week before, Triple H had confidently stated in a landmark speech that he knew exactly how to can beat Austin one on one, having studied him closely. He stated that he would show Stone Cold that he was The Game! This first mention of the nickname was incredibly significant as it was the basis of Hunter taking his character in the direction that would make him the undisputed top heel in the company. Allegedly, this gimmick was originally intended for the late Owen Hart, and Trips took it on to honour his friend’s memory. That Helmsley nailed it so well made it a great and fitting tribute. So when Hunter found out that The Phenom had been given a free shot, he destroyed the backstage area and vowed to a frightened Michael Cole that the match would not take place, because it was his time. In the event, Helmsley came out to tell ‘Taker that he would have to go through him, as he was the number one contender; someone would have to kick Austin’s ass and take his belt, but it’ll be him. Stone Cold came out after Trips, and a mass brawl followed. The Acolytes came to get some of ‘Taker (after a violent match on Heat the Sunday before between them and Show/’Taker), followed by Kane and Road Dogg (seeking revenge for X Pac), Hardcore Holly (who was running a bizarre “fearless” gimmick that had led to him getting a beating from The Acolytes earlier that evening) and Mr Ass and The Rock. The only way to describe it is as an ultra schmazz!
The picture was no clearer the week after as Austin was found unconscious after an apparent assault with a cinder block. He was taken to hospital in the kayfabe with Triple H as the prime suspect. In actual fact, Stone Cold had tweaked a knee ligament and needed to stay out of in ring competition until Summerslam. This would have even greater consequences later in the month as we will see in a bit. Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura had been booked as guest referee for the title match on the grounds of his mainstream celebrity as Governor of Minnesota. The Body arrived at the arena and cut an interview with Jerry Lawler referencing his guest ref gig at Summerslam ‘88 and his Navy SEAL background. he said that the best man would win. Triple H came out to say that he didn’t want to listen to former this and former that as this was his world and his ring. Jesse responded by saying that America will always be bigger than the ring, and that he was with the president earlier that day. Trips said he would kick Ventura’s ass if he felt like it. Then Commissioner Michaels’ music hit and came out to book a triple threat for that evening between Austin, Triple H and Undertaker. Shortly afterwards, the prone form of Austin was found. Michaels reminded Hunter later that night that he taught him everything, heavily implying that the assailant must have been him. He said that the triple threat would still happen, would now be a falls count anywhere match and would confer number one contendership on the winner. Even more shockingly, the third person in the match would be Chyna! Chyna upset her beau by accepting the opportunity. In the event, an irate Austin returned from hospital with a steel chair and struck Helmsley silly on the ramp, covering him with the Ninth Wonder of the World, who became number one contender.
At the beginning of the go home, Triple H called out Chyna to the ring, ostensibly to congratulate her, but in fact, he cut a manipulative promo in which he reminisced about their time together, saying that he had never asked her for anything but he was asking now, for a match between them so he would have a shot at getting back what he busted his ass for the past last five years- the number one contendership. Chyna refused, so Trips got up in her face and said that he made her and could break her. A riled Ninth Wonder said he didn’t have the balls to beat her and so it was that yet another number one contenders match was booked. During that bout, Mankind, who had been absent for three months while recovering from a legitimate knee surgery, suddenly appeared with steel steps and knocked Hunter senseless for Chyna to retain her number one contendership. Mankind chased the man who had put him out with a sledgehammer shot in kayfabe away and then cut a trademark promo asking for a shot at the number one contender’s gig himself. The amazon refused with a sick low blow, but HBK once again rained on his former stablemates’ parade by booking the match as he had always had “a soft spot” for Mick.
During the Ninth Wonder and the Deranged One’s match, an irate Hunter tried to make his way to ringside, but was held back. However, this distracted Chyna long enough for her to turn around into the mandible claw, making Mankind the new number one contender. Still with me? Shane McMahon, who had extracted a guarantee from Triple H at the start of the build that he would take the belt from Austin, then booked Mankind against The Game for…you’ve guessed it, the number one contendership, except that Michaels then stuck his oar in by making the contest falls count anywhere under hardcore rules in order to favour Foley. HBK and Shane O Mac were co-referees for the match, which ended in a draw when Triple H back suplexed Mankind onto a chair while he had the mandible claw in and both their shoulders were down. Therefore, at the end of all that, we had a triple threat match for Summerslam: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Triple H vs Mankind. Wow. What a cluster ****! Can you imagine if WWE tried to pull that in the modern day? The internet would literally implode. All this car crash booking was allegedly to cover for Austin’s knee by adding a third man to the match to take some of the workload off him. However, the other rumour was that the Rattlesnake had refused to drop the belt to Helmsley. More on that whole issue later on.
As well as causing all manner of problems in the main event scene through their badass partnership, Undertaker and Big Show set their sights on the tag team gold after their targets, X Pac and Kane, won the belts from The Acolytes on the 08/09 show. The buddy movie synchronicity of the Big Red Monster and Waltman was rather touching to observe, as Kane was encouraged to stop using his voice box and complete the “we got two words for ya” catchphrase with him and Road Dogg. The next week they beat The Acolytes again but Farooq and Bradshaw took them down afterwards. Meanwhile, ‘Taker cut a bizarre promo where he anticipated the ultimate creation of Biker Taker by almost a year by talking about a Harley Davidson ride into the desert where he saw that Big Show had the right stuff. I don’t really know how to explain how bizarre it truly was, but to give you a taste, the Deadman suggests within it that he would have been happy for the World’s Largest Athlete to kill him, eat him and wear his skin to protect him from the sun. So, um, yeah. The point, apparently, was that the Unholy Alliance, as they had become known, would be turning Summerslam into Armageddon.
The rest of the tag division would be involved in a tag team turmoil match at the pay-per-view. The Acolytes, dispossessed champs, were on a tear taking down all and sundry. Edge and Christian lost a title match against Farooq and Bradshaw at the start of the month but managed to conclusively rid themselves of Gangrel when Edge won a Blood Bath match with Christian’s help after the “younger brother” had pretended to be back with Gangrel. The vampire lord found a New Brood though, when the Hardy Boyz attacked Edge and Christian after the “younger brother” had defeated Gangrel with Edge’s help. When PS Hayes came to remonstrate, he got two Twists of Fate and a Swanton Bomb for his troubles, putting an exclamation mark on the change of allegiance. Supply and Demand had a month of strong booking, defeating Prince Albert and Droz in a tag team street fight. Both teams would be in the match, along with the Holly Cousins (Crash had debuted on the go home and the cousins had brawled all over the arena) and the team of Mideon and Viscera, who were left at a loose end following the dissolution of the Corporate Ministry. The winning team would be number one contenders to the tag belts X Pac and Kane were defending against The Unholy Alliance.
Test’s issues with the Mean Street Posse and Shane McMahon from the previous month meant he decided to be proactive in protecting himself and his relationship with Stephanie as he ambushed and destroyed Pete Gas before the other members of the Posse could stop it from going down. He then expressed a desire to take out the others too so that it came down to just himself and Shane at Summerslam. The Canadian stud tapped out Rodney on the 08/02 show and then broke his arm in kayfabe with a chair and a week later, he repeated the trick on Joey Abs’ ankle after a tag match that pitted him and Shamrock against Abs and Blackman. With Shane’s shield stolen from him, he decided to use Blackman as his hitter, handing him a kendo stick, but this was foiled at first by Shamrock, before the heels finally used the weapons to wear out the babyfaces.. Ken had been run over by the Lethal Weapon at the start of the build and a week later he had pursued the hit and run silent assassin through the arena toting a chain. After the tag match that mixed the Shane/Test and Blackman/Shamrock feuds, the Lethal Weapon challenged the World’s Most Dangerous Man to a Lion’s Den Match but with a twist; weapons would be inside the cage. It was a mix of both their worlds and promised to be a fun, stiff brawl between two genuinely bad dudes. Meanwhile, Shane vs. Test was billed as a “Love Her or Leave Her” match which basically meant that the authority figure would have to let her sister choose her own boyfriend if he lost. In addition, it would be wrestled under Greenwich Street Fight rules...so, a street fight then…
Coming out of the strap match from Fully Loaded, The Rock had serious beef with Billy Gunn and Chyna. On the post-PPV show, he cut a promo backstage, one of many from this time where he abused Michael Cole by making him wear t shirts over his head, where he called Triple H a one trick pony in a cheap trick circus, ripped Chyna for having a fetish for him and told Billy that he would take the lips off his trunks and shove them right up his candy ass. Chyna went to the ring later in the show and called The Great One out, but it was a trap and Billy and Trips took him out from behind. Mr Ass held the People’s Champ prone while he took a massive low blow from the Ninth Wonder. Following that, Rocky challenged Chyna and Billy to a handicap match, which ended in a no contest. A week later, the Ass Man cut a promo on the subject of asses, appropriately enough. He parodied some of Rock’s schtick and then showed a cellulite covered ass on the ‘tron. The Great One then appeared on the screen himself and said it wasn’t his ass, it was Billy’s fat ass momma’s! He finished off by telling Billy and Chyna he was going to stick a diet coke up both their candy asses.
On the 08/09, a GTV hidden camera segment showed Mr Ass is getting a herbal massage on his “money maker” (not just The Miz that has one of those!). Of course, Billy’s money maker is his ass. Later, he was seen running to tell medical that he had an ass irritation and it turned out it had been washed in poison ivy! Meanwhile, The Rock had decided to challenge The Big Show to a match as the giant had attacked him on Heat. However, The Great One never got to finish his thought, as one of the most iconic entrances in Raw history began. Over the past few weeks a clock had been “counting down to the millennium” and as The Rock cut his promo the last few second ticked by and the titantron began playing a song that’s now familiar to millions the world over. The tron showed the word JERICHO and the crowd went absolutely ape shit. Now, I wasn’t that smarky at the time, and besides which, I didn’t watch WCW, so I’m not really sure how widely known Chris Jericho’s defection was to the wider wrestling audience, but the Chicago crowd certainly knew who he was, and their reaction made the segment spine tingling even before the man with his arms outstretched in a crucifix pose spun around to bellow, for the first time, “Welcome to Raw...Is...Jericho!” The amazing positive reaction soon turned to mega heat as Y2J cut an arrogant promo announcing himself as the saviour of the WWF. An underrated aspect of the segment was The Rock’s facial expressions as Jericho spoke; hilarious stuff. The Brahma Bull’s speaking game was on fire that summer, and his response was typically brilliant “after three boring minutes, The Rock says KNOW YOUR ROLE AND SHUT YOUR MOUTH!” He proceeded to tell Jericho that he could talk about his Y2J Plan, but he had a “KY Jelly Plan” for Y2J. I’m sure you can all guess where things went after that. It really was a brilliantly pitched debut segment for Jericho, and both men got to show their considerable mic presence. It wasn’t just the People’s Champ who got interrupted by Jericho though as he told The Unholy Alliance that the audience are oblivious to what they were saying and to them in general. He called them the personification of boredom and said that the only thing scary about them was the amount of TV time they got. This took place the week after and was much more of a tweener promo. It was very funny.
Going back to the Mr Ass/Brahma Bull programme, Rock got his match with Big Show, but Jericho distracted him as he was about to hit the People’s Elbow, and when the third generation star chased the new arrival around the ring, Billy Gunn appeared from nowhere to hit the Fameasser on the outside and get in some cheap shots. Billy tossed him in the ring and hit a jackhammer to once again get the better of the physical exchanges. The go home featured an angry, “ass scarred” Gunn promising the People’s Champ that his face would look a lot worse than Mr Ass’s affected body part, but Rocky came out to respond, mapping out Billy’s day for Summerslam: diarrhea, then the contempt of the crowd, then being checked into the Smackdown hotel. It was revealed that it was Rock who had set up the poison ivy ass massage in the first place as he brought the masseuse in question out to parade to the crowd. He then abused his accomplice verbally, sent her to the back, and proceeded to go right to the ring to lay the smacketh down on Mr Ass there and then. However, the heel got the better of things and wore Rocky out with a kendo stick left lying around from Shane’s assault on Test. The programme went into the pay-per-view with Gunn standing over the prone form of the People’s Champ and mocking him by intoning “if you smell what Mr Ass is cooking” before shoving his face into his ass. Backstage, the Brahma Bull swore that Billy would be kissing “the People’s Ass” at Summerslam. So it was that the contest became a “Kiss My Ass” match.
It’s a tribute to the strength of WWF’s midcard during the Attitude Era that a talent of the calibre of Jeff Jarrett was a lynchpin of the Intercontinental Title division. He feuded with new European Champion D’Lo Brown throughout the month, a rivalry which started when he saved actor Ben Stiller from Jarrett’s figure four after Double J had shown jealousy over Stiller’s admiration for Debra. Later that evening, D’Lo beat Jarrett after Debra botched her hand over of the title belt so that it fell into Brown’s hands, and the European Champion decked Jarrett with it for the three to capture the IC strap to add to his Euro one. Meanwhile, D’Lo had been helping his partner Mark Henry keep his weight down by making him eat plates of boiled vegetables and taking him on training runs. On one of these runs, Debra drove Double J to the scene so he could leap out of the car to quickly assault D’Lo at the roadside. However, the tension between Debra and Jeff was growing in the storyline and McMichael cost her client a match against Val Venis on the go home which made Jeff walk away in disgust, leaving Debra behind.
The Women’s Title didn’t get much air time- thankfully, given who was in that division at the time- but essentially, Ivory’s partnership with Nicole Bass was quietly dropped, she issued an open challenge to the audience, squashed a plant and then got attacked by Tori, setting up their match for the gold at Summerslam. Pretty rough stuff in all honesty. The Hardcore division, meanwhile, was typically chaotic, with Bossman defeating his former stablemate Viscera with a knight stick shot on the 08/02 show and then losing a non-title match to the Road Dogg the next week after interference from Al Snow. The champ got revenge the next week by bashing Al over the head with the knight stick to cause his loss to Road Dogg. The Al Snow vs. Bossman match was booked for Summerslam with Road Dogg due to do colour commentary as a kind of de facto number one contender.
So, quite a crazy month in the world of the WWF. Would the pay-per-view be equally manic? Let’s find out as Maz brings you...
We start things out with Jesse Ventura laying down the law with Triple H, who says he will do exactly what he wants. We then see Howard Finkel continue a rather odd kiss arse gimmick as he gets a dressing down from Y2J for being late carrying his bags (Lord knows what was in them seeing as Jericho wasn’t even wrestling).
Jeff Jarrett (With Debra) defeated D’Lo Brown in 7:28 to win the European and Intercontinental Championships
The issues between Jarrett and Debra continue as he sends his manager to the back before D’Lo makes his entrance. It draws an immediate and loud “asshole” chant from the crowd. She then comes out with the Eurocontinental Champ in a move that really helped cement the heel-face dynamic before we even get underway. An angry Double J attacks but Brown soon gets on top with some strong high paced offense. The veteran’s experience soon pays off though when he avoids a high risk move to take charge. Jarrett sends D’Lo into the rings steps and ringpost on the outside. In the ring the pace slows a tad and Double J gets some nice heat by berating Debra. The tide soon turns again in Brown’s favour and in turn, the pace picks up again. He goes for a top rope moonsault but Double J moves. Debra hits the apron and Jarrett shapes up to hit her with the guitar. As the ref tries to keep them apart, Mark Henry hits the ring and grabs the guitar. Instead of helping his buddy though, he nails him square over the head. Jarrett gets the pin and hugs Debra before celebrating with his manager, his titles and his new running buddy. Perfect opener here. High paced back and forth action, a clever (albeit slightly predictable) ruse and a stab-in-the-back heel turn which had the crowd all over it. Well played, gents.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***¼
The Acolytes won a Tag Team Turmoil Number One Contenders Match in 17:27
We get a backstage interview with Edge & Christian, who will start things off with the New Brood, the Hardys. Whilst still pretty green on the mic, they are more than competent at this early stage of their careers. The match starts at a quick pace but it’s the faces who hit an early version of the vintage Hardys’ Poetry in Motion. Gangrel interferes and the New Brood take control, cutting off Christian. He plays face in peril for a while but soon the hot tag comes and the action breaks down. We get those game changing spots as Edge and Jeff run along opposite guardrails resulting in a spear whereas Christian and Matt both come off the top to the floor. It’s E&C who pick up the win however with an electric chair drop to Matt followed by a top rope elbow from Christian. The next team out is Mideon & Viscera. They make their size count as they run things for a while but a flurry of offense from E&C see them knock big Vis out the ring and a spear to Mideon sees them advance again. This time their opponents are Droz and Prince Albert and once again they find themselves on the backfoot. Albert’s power has the “brothers” in trouble but a bit of double team action sees Edge hit a downward spiral for their third pinfall of the match. Next up it’s the Acolytes who waste no time in attacking their tiring opponents. We settle with Edge playing the face in peril role this time and we get some very near falls for E&C after the hot tag but a Clothesline From Hell brings an end to their impressive run. The final team are the Holly Cousins who arrive at ringside slightly prematurely. Hardcore and Crash can’t stay on the same page however as they keep trying to one up each other. They finally get into it with each other which allows Faarooq to hit a big spinebuster for the win. Really fun stuff here. Edge and Christian stole the show but the Acolytes proved how good an anchor they’d be for the division. Random question though, if E&C were brothers, what was their last name?
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***¼
Al Snow defeated Big Bossman in 7:25 to win the Hardcore Championship
Before the match can get underway, Road Dogg comes out and says he will get a shot at the winner on Raw. He is interrupted by Chris Jericho who appears on some kind of structure above the stage in a forerunner to his NXT season 1 rookie’s podium. I guess it’s true that Chris did invent everything. Anyway, he shits on SummerSlam, the WWF roster, Roadie and DX. James fires back by calling him a bitch and insinuating Jericho is gay before heading to the announce desk. Snow leaves Pepper (his dog) backstage before coming out. He stays on the stage and attacks Bossman has he comes through the curtain. They head to the back and Roadie follows with a mic to do some announcing on the go. Pepper rather predictably gets pushed aside and we are soon heading outside. They fight on the street for a bit and make it into a bar/restaurant. They even visit the bogs where a urinal cake comes into play. Snow manages to get hold of a chain from somewhere and tries to choke the champ out. He half hits a moonsault before Bossman nails the challenger with a bottle. He makes the mistake of getting into Roadie’s face and the D-O-Double G interferes. This allows Snow to hit a low blow with a couple of pool balls to pick up the win. He then makes his way back to the arena where he beats on Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie, who are doing God knows what to Pepper. More of the same total lack of psychology for the division but even I have to admit the fight in the restaurant was kind of fun.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **
The Body is backstage with Foley. He tells him that the pinfall has to be in the ring and that he won’t count a fall if he uses a weapon. Mick changes the subject to politics.
Ivory defeated Tori in 4:11 to retain the Women’s Championship
Tori comes in like a house on fire and gets an early two count with a powerslam. The champ soon takes charge however and is relatively viscous, using a hair assisted snapmare. The challenger gets back into things and hits a couple of decent moves before Ivory sits down on a sunset flip attempt to get the three. The champ tries to strip her opponent before Luna comes down to chase her off. A couple of decent moves in there but not very well put together.
ATTITUDE! Rating: *
Backstage The Rock interviews Michael Cole and asks him if he is a little “comme ci comme ca”. Standard Rocky stuff after that and we next see Mr Ass guiding someone along the corridors with a sheet over them.
Ken Shamrock defeated Steve Blackman in 9:05 in a Lion’s Den Weapons Match
I rather enjoyed the last lion’s den match but before watching this I did worry about not having a guy with Owen’s level of versatility to help things along. Blackman kicks things off by using nunchucks but Shamrock soon gets hold of them. They change hands once more but neither man can get much damage done early doors. It’s without the weapons though that Shamrock takes control but he soon starts climbing the den for a kendo stick. The tide turns once again and it seems to be the story of the match that neither man can stay on top for too long. Eventually it seems that the Lethal Weapon has things in hand as he goes to town with the kendo stick but he gets cocky and doesn’t seem to want to end it. This gives the World’s Most Dangerous Man time to recover. He gets hold of the kendo stick and knocks Blackman out for the win. We saw some really good stiff shots here but there wasn’t a great deal of glue holding them together.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **¾
Test defeated Shane McMahon in 12:14 in a Lover Her or Leave Her Greenwich Street Fight
The deal here is that if Shane wins, Test and Steph split up but if Test wins, Shane keeps his nose out of the relationship. Steph’s beau comes to the ring with his ribs all taped up. The ribs aren’t the only thing being nursed as the Mean Street Posse come to ringside, all in Hawaiian shirts and various casts for their injuries. Test starts the match in aggressive fashion with a takedown on the outside and they are soon fighting in the crowd. They are soon fighting in amongst the Posse and Steph is amused watching on a backstage monitor as her BF throws Shane into his cronies. The numbers game catches up on Motley Crue’s former roadie however and Shane goes to town with a bunch of weapons, including a framed portrait of him and the MSP. Test gets back into things and the Posse come into play once more by distracting the referee on pin attempts. We soon get a ref bump as McMahon ducks a big boot attempt and Chioda eats it. The Posse go to town and lay Test on the Spanish announce table. Shane goes to the top rope and hits a big elbow through the table as Stephanie looks on in shock. Both men are out and the Posse bring them both back in the ring and put Shane in the cover. Test kicks out however and as the Posse try to interfere once more, McMahon gets inadvertently leveled with a sign. There is interference once more however but Test will not stay down for the three. We get a huge pop as the Stooges hit ringside to take out the Posse. This gives Test the chance to hit the pumphandle slam . He follows it up with a top rope elbow to win the match. Steph comes running to the ring after the match and hugs Patterson, Briscoe and Test. Really fun stuff here. Ridiculous story, ridiculously over booked but sometimes that is what wrestling is all about. It was backed up with some strong wrestling. Just immensely enjoyable.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***½
The Undertaker & The Big Show (With Paul Bearer) defeated X-Pac & Kane in 12:00 to win the Tag Team Championship
A couple of unlikely partnerships here managed to find themselves in a bitter feud in the build up. This shows from the get go as they can’t wait to get their hands on each other. The early stages see Kane carry the brunt of the work for his team against the men who will go onto be his two biggest rivals historically. He finds himself on the backfoot which gives Pac the change to come in like a house on fire. The size difference soon comes into play and he reverts to the face in peril routine. This finally leads to a very cool hot tag which sees both Taker and Show take low blows. The action breaks down and Pac tags himself back in to hit Show with a Broncobuster. It doesn’t have much impact on the Giant though who gets up and lands a chokeslam. He goes for the cover with a foot on the chest but Waltman sneaks a shoulder up. The Deadman, upset at the lackadaisical cover by his partner tags himself in and lands a Tombstone for the win. The new champs are both upset at the finish but walk away together. Decent tag action here with the story that Waltman was the weak link in the land of the giants. Nothing groundbreaking in the ring but a nice little story told.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **¾
Jesse tries to lay down the law with Austin, just as he tried with Mick and Hunter. Stone Cold simply walks away.
The Rock defeated Mr. Ass in 10:11 in a Kiss My Ass Match
Billy brings the person under the sheet to the ring with him and soon reveals them to be a fat bird. He says that the Rock will kiss her ass when he loses, not his. Mr Ass attacks as the Great One enters and we are underway. Rocky soon takes charge and drags Gunn up the aisle. They fight around the stage area and the lion’s den where Billy makes a brief and unsuccessful comeback. He makes it stick when they head back to ringside by throwing the Brahma Bull into the steel steps. A shot with the ring bell prompts Badass to enter the ring but he can only get a two count. The pace slows down drastically as Billy tries to get the victory to no avail. Rocky soon turns the tide and goes through his signatures for his own host of two counts. Mr Ass makes a counter however and nails the Fameasser. He then gets the fat woman in the ring who lifts up her skirt. He goes to push the People’s Champ’s face into it but Rock stops him and it is Billy who takes the plunge, prompting JR to shout the immortal line “The Rock just put Billy Gunn’s face in that large woman’s ass”. A Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow later and we have a winner. A strange one this. The outside brawl to start things off was great fun. The rest of the match was a tad slow. The finish was ridiculous but one of those things that definitely kept a late-90s live crowd happy.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***
THE MAIN EVENT
Mankind defeated Steve Austin & Triple H (With Chyna) in 16:24 to win the WWF Championship
The main event gets underway with a Ventura promo putting over the wrestling industry, which gets a big pop from his hometown crowd. When the performers enter the fray, we find Triple H making his first foray into the Conan The Barbarian dress up box, as he appears in a chainmail vest (Chyna has a matching one on too) which just seems strange, but hey, I guess it was Summerslam and he wanted to do something special to mark his big night. Mankind is in his usual gear, and Stone Cold makes his customary sprint to the ring to get the action underway. It’s a hot start, with the two babyfaces double teaming Hunter, until an unappreciated Mankind hug causes the Rattlesnake to turn on Mankind. Foley escapes a Stunner by pushing Austin into Trips, who falls off the apron. The other two spill outside and this next section of the match is the ascendency of the Texan, as the three gladiators brawl down the ramp.
However, the fire of Austin is extinguished by the cunning of Triple H, who has Chyna to take out Mick so that he can concentrate on the champ by smashing his injured knee with a steel chair. All three performers’ character traits are very visible despite the frenetic action, particularly Triple H’s “Game” characteristics of forward planning and match awareness. He moves from Austin to Mankind, but gets caught in the Mandible Claw, perhaps implying cockiness and complacency. Chyna distracts him to save her beau, so Ventura ejects Chyna from ringside, as he’d promised in the pre-match hype; Helmsley is incredulous, and argues over the top rope, forgetting about Austin who nails him from behind; it’s the standard triple threat psychology, where each man always has to remember to watch his back. The sheer intensity of Stone Cold had always been something that marked him as a class apart, and in his first big main event, Trips shows that he too can bring that kind of intense quality to a match as he cynically teams up with hated enemy Mankind to take down Austin and work over his injuries. The co-operation doesn’t last long though and they are soon battling into the crowd. Mankind goes for a piledriver on Austin but gets backdropped onto the concrete. This allows Hunter and the Rattlesnake to fight back into the ringside area and then into the ring.
Austin’s escape from the Pedigree leads an enraged Hunter to get a chair, but this proves a tactical error, as the man he wants to strike with the chair hits his finisher on Mankind. In the nick of time, The Game breaks the pin with a chair shot and then smashes Mankind with that same steel. However, in an excellent plot twist, Jesse refuses to count the pin, as it would have been obtained under foul means. Hunter remonstrates with the guest referee and the two square up. Shane O Mac comes running into the ring to remonstrate with his company’s celebrity guest. However, he reckons without the scourge of his father, who gives him the finger and a Stunner. Jesse throws him over the top with encouragement from Austin and says “that’s for your old man you little bastard”, which is effective in getting the crowd to pop. Trips and Austin then go down with a double clothesline. Mankind is up from his previous brutalisation with the chair and has socko on his fist. He gets the mandible claw on both his opponents, but gut shots stop him. In the final minutes, we get that wonderfully frenetic triple threat feel, with finishers and signatures all over the place;n Hunter goes for the Pedigree but gets clotheslined by Austin. Austin hits a Stunner on Trips but Mankind breaks the pin. Helmsley his a Pedigree on Stone Cold but Mick breaks the count. Finally, a conclusive finish is achieved when Mankind gets a double arm DDT on a still dazed Austin. The crowd, it has to be said, is confused, since the whole build seemed to have been setting up Triple H’s ascension to the championship level. The confusing finish is exacerbated by Mankind leaving very swiftly with his belt while the last thing we see is The Game wearing Austin’s knee out with a chair, with Chyna keeps officials at bay while Trips goes to work on Austin.
Despite the questionable match result (more of which in One To Watch), this was a very exciting triple threat that used the brawling ability of all three men to keep the crowd red hot for its duration. There was nothing too complicated about it, but it was intense and well performed, especially given Austin’s knee and neck injuries for which he would soon need surgery. The finishers were kept to a minimum to the end and Jesse Ventura played his role to perfection. A very creditable main event that stands up well to a rewatch.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ****¼
I honestly had not been expecting a great deal when heading towards this event. There are certain stereotypes of 1999 which had certainly been warranted during parts of the spring but Fully Loaded really delivered and a lot of the storylines were absolutely gripping in the build to SummerSlam (although that Go Home Raw was the cluster**** of all cluster****s). The PPV certainly delivered. I believe it gets a bad reputation because of the shenanigans surrounding the Kiss My Ass match but even that wasn’t bad before the fat woman got involved! We had some very strong undercard bouts and a main event that definitely delivered, regardless of whether or not Foley should have been involved.
You know, that Kiss My Ass Match was really good. Even the ending was kind of perfect for Billy’s character at that time. As we discussed last time, the error was in not continuing to push Gunn in the role he had been in at Summerslam through the autumn and winter months. The match itself delivered. When you look at the card as a whole, it looks good, with lots of high profile wrestlers of the era involved, and everything delivered, bar the women’s match, which was kind of inevitable. A really good Summerslam. Not as good as ‘98, but on a par with ‘97.
SummerSlam 1999 Overall ATTITUDE! Rating: ***¼
MVP - EDGE & CHRISTIAN
This was the most competitive fight for the MVP award we have had in a while. All three main eventers delivered big time in their match. We had a three and a half star encounter between a rookie and a non-wrestler which definitely proved that Test and Shane O’Mac had a great night. We have given the award however to a tag team this time who really grabbed an opportunity to shine with both hands. The company clearly saw big things in E&C from the get go. Christian won gold in his first match with the company whilst Edge was already at a point where they felt he was big enough to give him a hometown title win (even if he only held it for a day). They were now ready to prove their talent in the tag division and they certainly did on this night. They had a great mini-match once again with the Hardys, showed some versatility against a couple of jabroni pairings and then got to sell like hell with the Acolytes.
It was a big time performance from E and C that showed how much value they were already adding to the tag team and anticipated the amazing battles they would have with the Hardys through the end of ‘99 and all the way through 2000 and 2001. Edge was developing that uncanny ability to hit an unexpected impact spot out of nowhere, while Christian was wrestling the kind of technically sound and innovative match he would become reknowned for in his later career. While the awesome surfer dude characters they perfected in 2000 had yet to make an appearance, the in ring side of things was going swimmingly for the Canadians, and they anchored the tag team turmoil match superbly, which is pretty difficult to do given how scattershot they can be. Great stuff from the former vampiric brothers!
THE ONE TO WATCH
The Attitude Era seems to have more backstage urban legends attached to it than any other time in wrestling history, and we have a doozy here today. If you watch the build from Wrestlemania XV to Summerslam, there can be only one conclusion: Triple H was being groomed as the next big star in the company as top heel. The Rock had turned face, The Undertaker was always hard to keep as a heel for very long because of his inherent popularity with fans, and despite his versatility in previous years, Mick Foley was now a babyface for life. The former Degeneration X leader had travelled a long road to this point. He had come into the company in 1995 as The Connecticut Blueblood, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, an evolution of his WCW character Jean-Paul Lévesque who wore an eighteenth century hunting outfit to the ring and used snobbish, elitist mannerisms to elicit heat. It was a fun midcard act, and it was just gaining traction when the infamous Curtain Call happened in May 1996. As Michaels was the champion and could not be “buried”, it was Hunter who received the depush. His planned King of the Ring win went instead to Stone Cold and he had to, in his own words “learn to eat shit and like the taste of it” in the year afterwards. By mid-1997, as covered in this series, he was back in favour and using his bodyguard Chyna to help him win King of the Ring ‘97. A feud with Mankind was followed by joining Shawn Michaels, Chyna and Rick Rude in the stable that became known as D-Generation X. When HBK retired from active competition, he got the chance to lead a reboot of the group, but he saw fellow top midcarder The Rock make the leap to the main event ahead of him.
All of this obviously gave him huge amounts of shoot material to use in the heel turn that manifested itself at Wrestlemania XV. First dealing with Sean ‘X Pac’ Waltman and then his old enemy The Rock, Triple H was developing a heel character that could be money. He took on the “Game” gimmick apparently intended for Owen Hart and ran with it, taking on his awesome new ‘My Time’ entrance music, which fit him perfectly, and developing more of a main event, serious look, with an enhanced upper body, short trunks and shorter hair. His worked shoot interview with JR before Fully Loaded reflected back on his punishment for the Curtain Call, being “kept at the bottom of the barrel” as he termed it, and the whole narrative of the Austin feud was meant to be that it was finally Triple H’s time. Surely he needed to win the main event at Summerslam?
Instead, of course, after numerous screwy booking changes on the go-home Raw, Trips ended up not facing Austin one on one, but Mankind as well in a triple threat that seemed random at best. Mick had been out for months, and returning on the go home and him becoming co-number one contender in the space of one episode really took some of the wind out of Helmsley’s sails. However, rumour has always held that Mankind was added to the match because of concerns over Austin’s knee standing up to a one on one battle. He needed someone to share the workload and Foley was the only other main eventer not already booked for something on the show already. Still, as we’ve seen, Mick did much more than share babyface workload...he won his third WWF Title. So why, when all the signs were pointing towards a first Triple H title win, did he not get that moment of glory at the second biggest show of the year? Well, that’s where things get interesting. You see, the wrestling grapevine has always held that Steve Austin refused point blank to drop the title to Triple H.
We all know that Stone Cold Steve Austin was incredibly protective of his character over his years on top of the company. Partially, we can impute this to the royal screwing he got down in WCW, and partially to Austin’s old school pro wrestling values that dictated that the moneymaker of a federation should not lose too often or in circumstances which were not a big deal. This is, of course, the reason why he walked out when asked to lose to Brock Lesnar in a TV match. No-one should be giving that match away for free. In this instance though, it was not that kind of scenario. Hunter had been groomed for the win, it was a huge pay-per-view night, and there was potential money in the pairing feuding. So if Austin didn’t refuse to lose because of it being bad for business, why did he refuse? And what does that say about Stone Cold? A contemporary report from SLAM! Wrestling from 1999 has this to say “Prior to the event, the inside word was that Austin would not drop the belt to Helmsley so Mankind was brought in to do the job setting up Triple H's title reign.” This suggests a personal dislike as the reason for Austin’s refusal to do the job to Hunter at the pay-per-view. It seems that he even refused to lose the title to Helmsley through Mankind getting pinned by Trips. It had to be Mick, who Steve was on good terms with, walking out with the gold. On the other hand, other sources have suggested that the Rattlesnake refused to do business with The Game because he did not think he was over enough. Listening to the crowd react to his heelish ways, I think we can say that if that was the reason, Steve was being an asshole. Yet another school of thought suggests that Jesse Ventura had received much bad publicity from stepping back into his old stomping ground and so talked to Vince about the fact that he couldn’t be seen to be raising the hand of a despicable heel at the end of his guest appearance.
On his recent DVD documentary, Trips himself diplomatically dismissed it as “one of those things” and asserted that winning the title the next night on Raw was in fact better in a way, as more people were able to see it than on a pay-per-view. Raw at the time was doing viewer ratings in the 5s and 6s on a weekly basis, so the claim may not be so far from the truth, but still, the Summerslam ‘99 main event result remains a controversy even fifteen years later. But did it really make that much difference to Trips to win the belt the next night? And what did the quick title switch tell us about WWF booking in the height of Attitude?
Watching the end to the triple threat match at SummerSlam, my immediate reaction was that it was a mistake. We were having hot crowd after hot crowd during 1999 and it was no different on this night. When Foley got the 1-2-3 however the crowd was pretty much silent. We’re not talking Lesnar ending the streak levels of shock but there was a feeling of “huh?” through the arena. It’s funny that it was just a few weeks ago we were praising the brilliance of popping that same title on the same man in January ‘99 but the product was evolving at a very high pace during the Attitude Era. This wasn’t Mick’s time. He had had zero build towards this victory and only had one Raw appearance in the previous couple of months. It wasn’t that the fans no longer cared about Foley, it was that he was just a supporting act in this particular scenario. I have no doubt whatsoever that an Austin win would have raised the roof and a Hunter win would have seen the Target Center explode in anger. After a strong main event, it just seemed like a flat end to the match. Then Trips proceeded to beat the **** out of Stone Cold with a steel chair.
It was a moment that saw The Game have the last word on the night in emphatic fashion. Whilst I don’t dispute the possibility of Austin not wanting to drop the strap to Hunter, the fact is that he did lay down in one way if not another. It was that moment that made you want to tune into Raw the next night, a tactic that was vital during the Monday Night Wars and before tackling this section, that is exactly what I did. Hunter would open the show the next night and cut a promo that was out of this world. As a huge Triple H fan, I would say he has a whole host of “worldies” on his CV, but this one was hard to top. The passion of his career trajectory was coming out and then some. I can only guess that that extra pep stemmed from his snub the previous night. It saw him fuming and continuing to be held down and he unleashed that fury on a man who had been chipping away at his patience in recent weeks, Jim Ross. He grabbed the announcer and threatened to break his arm if Mick didn’t give him a title match. Foley obliged but The Game broke it anyway. With The Rock on guest commentary and a whole bunch of shenanigans surrounding the match, Hunter eventually emerged victorious and justice was done. Triple H was finally WWF champion and you could tell what it meant to the man behind the character, even though he was keeping up his cool heel persona.
As Mav and Trips said, winning the title on Raw meant that more people saw it. It certainly worked for Foley in his first title win on that infamous night of 4th January 1999. But this first title win passes under the radar somewhat. In fact you’d be forgiven for thinking that Hunter didn’t get his first taste of big boy gold until the turn of the millenium. He’d get his PPV title win the next month. He’d get his PPV championship match victory over Austin soon after. Yet still you’d think his time as a bona fide top guy didn’t start until the Royal Rumble in 2000. Would that have changed if he had won the title at SummerSlam? I have absolutely no doubt in mind that it would. He’d have had a higher profile historically as the guy that was at the very top in 1999. But if you want to look a little deeper, you will find an excellent night for Triple H on the 23rd of August, a date that may not be a famous one in wrestling history, but it is damn sure an important one.
1999 is often seen as WWF’s most successful year ever, and the buyrate was certainly a very strong 1.61. Even though 1998’s edition had slightly bettered that with 1.63, once we’re talking about the second decimal point, it really is very small margins indeed. Summerslam’s controversial (in a real life rather than kayfabe sense) finish would keep fans coming back the next night yet again, and there seemed no way that the WWF juggernaut could be stopped now.
Whilst SummerSlam did have the advantage of being one of the big four, it still managed to triple the buyrate of WCW’s Road Wild. A 0.54 was the type of rate that was haunting Vince during the tough times at the start of this series and it really seemed that the writing was on the wall for Turner’s pet project. Sure, they were trying to turn things around but Hogan vs Nash in the main event over the title didn’t seem to cause much of a stir. Neither did the return of Dennis Rodman to wrestle Randy Savage. WWF were in firmly in charge of the Wars and would soon be able to send their prize asset to get fixed up. But he had a little bit more work to do before he left.
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Tonight, at the later time of 11 UK/4 EST the team are joined by Smarks Court’s Uncle Joe as they preview SummerSlam.
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