I’m Brian Andrews. Welcome to The Universe.
As we all know, SummerSlam is just three short weeks away, and I am hyped. I mean, really hyped.
It’s Cena vs. Lesnar, LIVE on the WWE Network! Join the WWE Universe for the biggest
party fight of the summer! Sunday, August 17, witness the beast incarnate, Brock LESNAR (who, in case you wonderful people weren’t absolutely sure, is the man who conquered The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania) dismantle and destroy the character known as John Cena.
That is of course, another article altogether. This bad boy, and a few more like it, will be detailing my journey through Augusts of past, searching for that greater understanding of the term “hot August night”.
Let’s dive right in to a time that a lot of smarkies seem to covet: The Attitude Era. It was a time of great change. Not just for the WWE, but for myself as well. Puberty was just getting into full swing, and needless to say, the programming was certainly catered to promote hormonal responses.
Ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado, the masterpiece that was SummerSlam 1999.
6. SummerSlam Series, Subsection One: 20/20 Foresight
There it is folks, straight from the wiki. Some big names and a ton of stipulations all mixed in with an insane amount of publicity thanks to then-governor of Minnesota, The Body himself, Jesse Ventura. A lot of eyes on this broadcast, if you know what I’m saying. Let’s dive right in, and get to our opening match:
Jeff Jarrett (with Debra) vs. D’Lo Brown (also with Debra) for the WWF Intercontinental and European Championships
Yes, that’s right. Due to Jeff’s affinity for misogyny, Debra is forbade from the ringside area. She decides to in-turn accompany D’Lo, a decision in which the live audience was most grateful for. The audience’s decision to prefer breasts over a double-championship match eats at me to this day; however I can still smile sometimes, knowing I get to watch this again:
That aside, the match was not good. It was hard to get into the action, as the partisan crowd was solidly behind puppymania. Everybody got their stuff in, which is good I suppose. Look, I’m all about the boobies, to be sure, but Debra? Even back in the day I didn’t get her appeal. She looked like she was 40, her body was disproportionate, her only asset (pun definitely not intended) was her breasts. Otherwise, she looked a mess as far as I’m concerned. I wish I could write more about the actual wrestling here, but an unnecessary swerve-finish, a separation angle that didn’t go anywhere, and a crowd that wasn’t interested in wrestling were enough for me. Two stars out of five because I know Jeff and D’Lo wanted better.
Tag Team Turmoil match to determine the number one contenders for the WWF Tag Team Championships
This match has goodness written all over it, as the tag team division was heating up like crazy around this time. We start with The New Brood (Matt and Jeff) facing off against Brood originals Edge and Christian. A lot of great back and forth, with these four young guns bringing it all to the table.
Needless to say, after something like that, Edge and Christian advance through. After what just transpired I’m not convinced Edge and Christian are going to be able to hold on much… oh, it’s Mideon and Viscera, nevermind. E&C make short work of the Ministry members as Droz and Prince Albert are already on their way to the ring. The future tag team champions are on their heels for a moment before utilizing some great tag team strategies to derail the A-Train (pun DEFINITELY intended) and advance even further into Tag Team Turmoil.
The Ministry and the Pierced Partners aside, Edge and Christian have been through quite a bit by this time. They are tired, weary, and disoriented. Hopefully for the masters of the five second pose, the next team will be another helping of easy pickins.
What you got here is a former world champion and a future world champion getting together and deciding to beat the tar out of everybody they feel like. If you know these guys individually, you know of their propensities for posterial pommeling (kicking ass). The heat gets turned up extra hot for this segment as Edge and Christian struggle to stay alive in the midst of an APA onslaught. Unfortunately, a direction error sends the final team out before the conclusion of this sub-match. The Acolytes dominate, and we’re down to the last two teams.
It’s all wonky from here, sad to say. If Edge and Christian we’re the distance runners in this match, they should have went to the end. The Holly Cousins, who were out last, should have been in the APA’s spot. Everything is disjointed and poorly performed from here, with Faarooq and Bradshaw winning the match and the top seeds for the championships. Would have been alright if it wasn’t absolutely required of Hardcore and Crash to come to fisticuffs in the middle of the match. It was real good until those damn Holly’s showed up. Two and a half stars out of five for the effort put in by all teams, demerits for bad booking and a botched entrance.
Al Snow vs. Big Boss Man for the WWF Hardcore Championship
This match represents one of my favorite styles of programming from the Attitude Era, hardcore. Now, I’m no kool-aid drinker, and I definitely do not support hardcore wrestling as it pertains to ultraviolence and performers legitimately hurting themselves as a replacement for healthy competition. This though, this right here, is just plain fun.
I’m hesitant to dig into the storyline surrounding this as it leads to something truly hideous, but I will say this: these two competitors are admirable in their efforts to entertain. One of the things I enjoyed the most from the WWF’s hardcore division was its tendency to encourage diversity in the patchwork of its matches.
SummerSlam does not fail to deliver in this, to be sure. Al Snow decides to ambush the Boss Man before either of them leave the entryway, and this leads us to an all out brawl in the backstage area. Neither of these Superstars hold back on the other as the action is close and crisp.
We have the added bonus of having that D-O-Double G Jesse James following the action in the back with a live mic. I would imagine this would be more distracting if I were watching it live, but in the context of historical programming it fits just fine.
This is SummerSlam after all, and a simple romp backstage just doesn’t cut it when it comes to a story as personal as the one surrounding Al and Boss Man. These two decide it best to take the action out of the arena, and across the street to a local pub. It is here that Al Snow finally capitalizes on his environmental combat techniques and bests the Big Boss Man with a devastating blow to the the testicles, becoming the new WWF Hardcore Champion! Three stars out of five for a solid effort by both men.
Tori vs. Ivory for the WWF Women’s Championship
Like I said, I have no problem with a little T&A, or HLA, or anything of the sort. When it’s done with no context whatsoever besides “sex sells”, then I have a issue. When it crosses over and impedes the actual wrestling portion of a show, this is when my issues turn into problems. This is a championship match. Why in the hell is Tori even in this? I can’t say anything about the wrestling because there really wasn’t any. Ivory retains her championship and unhooks Tori’s top. That got a bigger reaction then the end of the main event. I wish I was joking. Minus two stars out of five. What a mess.
Steve Blackman vs. Ken Shamrock, Lion’s Den Match
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Lion’s Den match, you’re lucky. After former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ken Shamrock started to gain some traction in the WWF, someone had the bright idea to bring the octagon in as a gimmick match. Although the WWF’s version was more of a dodecagon, the additional sides to the cage did not mean additional entertainment value.
Wikipedia has this match clocked at just over nine minutes. That may seem short, but it just drags on forever. Blackman will hit a move, then wait. Shamrock will counter, hit his own move, then wait. Blackman will counter… This goes on for the entire duration of this “match” until Shamrock hits a pretty sloppy shot with a kendo stick to the head and wins by knockout. It’s getting difficult to watch at this point. This was the fifth Lion’s Den match. None of them were any good. Zero stars out of five.
Test vs. Shane McMahon, Love Her or Leave Her
Okay, let’s turn it up a bit and get into something worth sinking our teeth into. Test versus Shane, with Stephanie McMahon’s heart on the line.
This one certainly has it where the previous two matches did not. Lots of action, intensity, run-ins, weapons, tables, silly props… All the things that made the Attitude Era great. All that carnage and chaos that we ate up so long ago. But what makes it where others have failed? Context. All of the crazy and silly things that happen are justified because it actually makes sense with the in-ring action. I personally think this match should’ve gone an extra ten minutes. It had that special flow that so many in this industry strive to find. That, and:
All-around, a great match advancing an engaging storyline. I hesitate to comment on the actual action because it would be best served watching in it’s entirety. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler remind us here why they were the best commentary duo in history. Luckily, there’s the WWE Network, which is only $9.99 a month! Four stars out of five.
The Unholy Alliance vs. X-Pac and Kane for the WWE Tag Team Championships
The less said about this match and the surrounding programming the better. Twelve minutes was eleven too long as far as I’m concerned. It’s no wonder The Undertaker had to go away to learn how to ride motorcycles shortly after this. For the record, X-Pac and Kane we’re a solid tag team at the time. I could have seen them carrying on as a team for a good bit longer. There was no need for The Unholy Alliance to exist, and both men suffered for it. I know Big Show went on to win his first WWF Championship after this mess finished up, but you can not look me in the eye and tell me his reign was justifiable. One star out of five for X-Pac and Kane’s kick ass entrance.
Mr. Ass vs. The Rock, Kiss My Ass Match
That is not a typo. The loser of this contest will be forced to kiss his opponent’s ass. This makes sense. Billy Gunn is obviously all about the ass. He loves to love them. He’s loves to kick them. He loves to shove them. He loves to stick them. What you may not know, however, is that he also loves to flaunt them, watch them and pick them as well.
The Rock? He may not care for doing those other things with asses, but he does like to whip them… and apparently stick things up them.
All joking aside, this match is solid. A great in-ring product saves this segment from aging terribly, and the bad guy gets it in the end. A nice little angle with a set conclusion at a big show. I understand there hasn’t been much in the way of play-by-play this far into the article and I apologize for that. We are getting into the real meat of the show now and I really can’t stress enough that the second half of SummerSlam 1999 is head and shoulders above the earlier muck. If you can, watch it. It’s worth the time and/or money invested. Three and a half stars out of five. Bonus half star for the lovely lady under the sheet.
Mankind vs. Triple H vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Championship
That’s right folks, it’s our main event! A triple threat match for the WWF Championship with the Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura as the special guest referee! This has a distinct big match feel as the reaction for Mr. Ventura confirms the legitimacy of what is about to transpire. Three future god-tier professional wrestlers each making the case for their supremacy.
I think watching this match independently of the story preceding it helps in the enjoyment of the product. If you dig into it, you’ll find that the WWF Championship division was not doing so well during this time. The title picture was diluted and convoluted. The WWF Championship had already changed hands six times that year; title reigns would last weeks, even days. Needless to say, the final battle to determine this era’s S Class player was heated. Luckily, through all this confusion, we get just top-notch ring work.
The bottom line is this: Most of the storylines and angles that came from the Attitude Era were awful. The Attitude Era is not defined by its ability to present coherent programming. It is defined by the characters that inhabited this environment. It was a willingness to do what nobody had done before them. It was taking the bar and breaking it in half. No limits, and no fear.
It was this lack of cowardice that brought these three men to the biggest fight of the summer. No one held back, and no one gave up. The finish was clean and in the middle of the ring. There was no question who won this match. That aforementioned legitimacy? It holds to the final bell. Four stars out of five.
Ladies and gentlemen, you have survived a great ordeal. I would like to personally thank you all for reading this. I hope it has been as fun for you to read as it has been for me to write. Neither of these are as good, of course, as actually watching it. Once again, if you have access, check it out. Aside from having too much cheap attention to breasts, and some flat-out harebrained ideas, this is a fun show to watch. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are magic on commentary and is almost enough for my jaded self to overlook some of the more questionable content.
Three stars out of five.