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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Presents - Ranking the Summerslam Main Events (#27-#26)
By Dave Fenichel
Jul 1, 2017 - 8:34:09 AM

Hi Kids.

I’m back with Part 2 of my newest column series, “Ranking the Summerslam Main Events”. In this edition, I’ll review #27 and #26 on my list. As a reminder, here are the criteria that I used to determine rank:

Did the Buildup Deliver? (Was it main event worthy, were people excited about it);
Did the Match Deliver? (Technical pieces as well as crowd engagement); and
What Was the Historical Impact? (Did the match lead to bigger and better things, both on an individual and storyline level).


Here’s where the countdown currently stands:

#29. Brock Lesnar v Triple H (Summerslam 2012)
#28: The Ultimate Warrior v Rick Rude – Steel Cage Match (Summerslam 1990)


Question of the Day #1: Do you consider Goldberg’s initial WWE run to be a success?

Question of the Day #2: Is having the World Title Change hands both at a Pay Per View as well as the following night on Raw ever a good idea?


#27. Triple H v Goldberg v Chris Jericho v Shawn Michaels v Randy Orton v Kevin Nash – Elimination Chamber Match (Summerslam 2003)

Did the Buildup Deliver?

The stretch from Wrestlemania 19 through Summerslam 2003 was one of my least favorite time periods in wrestling. Gone was the undisputed championship. Raw and Smackdown each had a world title again. On the Smackdown side, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle’s once promising feud flopped on its face after Wrestlemania 19. They pulled an unnecessary double turn, and swapped the title back and forth for seemingly no reason. The Raw side was even worse. Triple H was in the middle of the worst of his many terrible title reigns. After burying Booker T at Wrestlemania 19, he feuded with Kevin Nash. These were some of my least favorite world title matches.

Alas, not all was lost. If the WWE did one thing right during this time period, it was Goldberg. He showed up on the scene immediately following Wrestlemania 19. He recreated the magic from his WCW days and immediately became the number one face in the company. He beat The Rock clean. He moved onto a feud with Chris Jerihco. This feud should have happened in WCW, and I was ecstatic to see it. He had all the momentum in the world. Fans were clamoring for Goldberg to get his hands on Triple H. When it was announced a couple weeks before the show that Goldberg would square off against Triple H for the world title at Summerslam, people were excited.

It was not to be. Instead, the following week, then-commissioner Steve Austin announced that the main event would be an Elimination Chamber match instead. This made sense to absolutely no one. The WWE, for whatever reason, felt like Goldberg v Triple H needed more time to develop. The first Elimination Chamber was a wild success, and the WWE believed that the gimmick itself would be a tremendous draw. They were wrong. They took a match that people were excited about and turned it into a cluster. There was a pretty decent promo involving all six men the following week on the go-home show, but it wasn’t enough. This main event felt like it was thrown together, and as a result was one of the worst builds in Summerslam main event history.


Did the Match Deliver?

It was ok. I’m a huge sucker for the Elimination Chamber gimmick. I have enjoyed almost all of them over the years. However, this rendition is far from my favorite.

It starts off well enough. It was a wise decision to have HBK and Jericho start the match. You knew that the big payoff was going to be Goldberg and Triple H. It wouldn’t have made sense for either man to be in the match early. Out of the remaining four, these were definitely the two best workers at the time. I appreciated the fact that the first five minutes were a straight wrestling match. Just because a match gimmick is known for its brutality doesn’t mean that you can’t have strong technical wrestling mixed in.

The match starts to be problematic when Orton enters the fray. He was really green at the time and wasn’t over. As a result, you had the feeling that the crowd was waiting around for time to pass until we got to Goldberg and Triple H. It’s not that Orton did anything wrong, he just didn’t add to the match in any meaningful way.

On the other hand, Kevin Nash served his purpose incredibly well. He came in and immediately imposed his presence on everyone. He hit several high impact moves, before eating a super kick and being eliminated. His participation woke the crowd up, especially after he power-bombed everyone in sight post-match. This was an excellent gap bridge to the main focus of the match.

I thought Triple H being super kicked by HBK before he could enter the match was really smart booking. We knew they were going to get to Goldberg v Triple H in the end, so it made sense for him to be out of the picture while Goldberg came in and wrecked shop.

And wreck shop Goldberg did. He was awesome here. He speared Orton for the pin. A jackhammer on HBK and we were down to three. Spearing Jericho through the plexiglass was great. Another jackhammer and goodbye Mr. Y2J. With each elimination, the crowd became more and more frenzied. Finally, they were given what they came to see – a showdown between Goldberg and Triple H.

I have a real gripe with where they went with this match from here on out. Goldberg beat the brakes off of Triple H. This would have been a great moment to coronate Goldberg. Instead, Flair sneaks a sledgehammer into the ring, Triple H drills Goldberg with it, and gains the pin to retain his championship. An evolution beat down follows and the second biggest show of the year ends on an incredibly anti-climactic note. This should have been Goldberg’s moment. It was not to be. I guess this is what happens when your world champion is also your booker.

The match wasn’t bad. It dragged in spots but they did a good job building up to the climax. Unfortunately, the ending to the match was terribly booked and it ultimately paints the match in a negative light for me.


What was the Historical Impact?

Nothing to see here.

If you couldn’t already tell, I’m not a fan of major PPV matches being used to continue a storyline. That’s exactly what happened at Summerslam 2003. They gave us an unsatisfying finish just to prolong the feud between Goldberg and Triple H. There’s a reason that I absolutely hated this time period. Not much that the WWE did made any logical sense.


The Last Word.

Summerslam 2003 is without a doubt one of the worst Summerslam main events in history. Much like they did for the six months prior, the WWE missed the mark on every level here. The build was bad, the match was unsatisfying, and the historical impact was non-existent. It’s no wonder that this match ranks near the bottom on our countdown.

#26. Mankind v Steve Austin v Triple H (Summerslam 1999)

Did the Build Up Deliver?

This entire storyline was a clusterf*ck. Austin needed an opponent for Summerslam. HBK, the commissioner at the time, announced a triple threat match between Triple H, The Undertaker and…..Chyna? What sense did it make to have Chyna involved? Not only was she involved, but she won the match.

They were building Triple H as a massive heel at the time, so they had him run down and belittle his bodyguard. A match was announced between the two. Mankind gets involved out of nowhere and costs Triple H the match. It continues to spiral downhill from here, as Mankind challenges Chyna for her spot at Summerslam. He beats her, and now faces Austin at Summerslam.

For no reason at all, a heel Shane McMahon shows up and gives Triple H another shot at the Summerslam main event. He books Triple H v Mankind in a #1 contender’s match with both he and HBK as referees. The match ends in a weird and awkward double pin where face HBK thinks Mankind won, and heel Shane thinks Triple H won. Linda McMahon, also showing up out of nowhere, mandates that without a clear winner, both men would face Austin in a Triple Threat Match at Summerslam.

If the build sounds completely confusing, it’s because it was. Did I mention that this all took place over the course of two weeks? They gave out #1 contender’s matches like they were candy. There wasn’t any rhyme or reason to it. It didn’t feel like either Mankind or Triple H had any kind of beef with Austin. This was a match that was thrown together by a haphazard booking committee. Jessie Ventura, now a famous politician, was inserted into the mix as a special guest referee. They played him up to be a tough guy who would take no crap from anyone, but no one cared. This build was all over the place, and didn’t give anyone a reason to be invested.


Did the Match Deliver?

I’ve always been a big fan of triple threat matches. It allows for two of the men to wrestle at a high pace while the third takes a breather. As a result, there are rarely lulls in the match. This was no exception. There was a lot of back and forth sequences filled with quick hits that I enjoyed.

While I’m often critical of special guest referees, Jesse Ventura was quite good here. The spot where he kicked Chyna out of the arena after she interfered popped the crowd in a big way. The spot where Shane interfered, caught a Stunner and got tossed over the top rope by Ventura elicited a massive reaction from the crowd. I have to give props to Jesse for enhancing the match as a result of his special guest referee role. Most in his position detract from the match they are involved in.

16 minutes was the right amount of time for this match. The action was solid from beginning to end. Unfortunately, the entire match was ruined by a bad finish that seemingly came out of nowhere. After Austin stuns Triple H, Foley hits him with a double arm DDT and gets the win. No offense to Foley at the time, but he was clearly the C player in the match. The money was in a heel Triple H v a face Steve Austin. Foley winning was out of the blue and didn’t make sense. This was further amplified by the show closing with Triple H attacking Austin with a chair after Foley has already left the arena. This made Foley and his win seem like a complete afterthought. It was bad booking, and really put a damper on an otherwise excellent match.


What was the historical impact?

The WWE hit the reset button the next night on Raw when they had Triple H go over Mankind to win his first WWE championship. This rendered the Summerslam 1999 main event completely meaningless.

It makes you wonder why they even bothered. There were rumors that Austin didn’t want to do the job to Triple H. That doesn’t hold much weight with me, as Austin laid down for him on several other occasions. There were also rumors that Jesse Ventura didn’t want to close the show by raising the hand of a heel, so a Triple H title win was nixed. This is a little more plausible, but come on. Jesse was a pro’s pro and understood wrestling. Neither he nor the WWE were going to do anything that didn’t make sense, and having the wrong guy go over because the special guest referee didn’t want to be viewed in a negative light sure would have qualified as non-sensible. I bet the WWE wishes they could have a mulligan on this one.


The Last Word.

A complete mess of a buildup, a reasonably solid match ruined by the outcome and a complete reset the following night makes this match an easy choice for a low ranking on our countdown.

That’s a wrap kids. Thanks for reading. Sound off below!

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