Throwback Thursday: Looking back at WWE Summerslam 1999

Steve Austin gears up to strike Triple H. (Photo courtesy of the WWE Network)

Each and every Thursday, I will look back at a different event pay-per-view event wrestling history via the WWE Network. Want to see a certain event covered here? Send your suggestions to @VaughnMJohnson on Twitter.

Last week, I looked back at Starrcade 1987.

WWE Summerslam 1999

Date: August 21, 1999

Venue: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Match results:

- Intercontinental & European Championship – Jeff Jarrett def. D’Lo Brown

- The Acolytes (Farooq & Bradshaw) won tag team turmoil to determine No. 1 contender for WWE Tag Team Championships

- WWE Hardcore Championship – Al Snow def. Big Boss Man

- WWE Women’s Championship – Ivory def. Tori

- Lion’s Den Match – Ken Shamrock def. Steve Blackman

- Greenwich Street Fight “Love Her or Leave Her” Match – Test def. Shane McMahon

- WWE Tag Team Championships - The Unholy Alliance (The Undertaker & Big Show) def. X-Pac & Kane

- Kiss My Ass Match – The Rock def. Billy Gunn

- WWE Championship – Mankind def. Steve Austin & Triple H


- Before diving into the meat of the show, there needs to be some background. One of the big draws for the show was that Jesse “The Body” Ventura, who was the governor of Minnesota at the time, was going to be the special guest referee for the main event. He was elected to the position in late 1998 and is more than likely the only elected official to ever take part in a wrestling event as a referee while he was in office.

- Ventura was only part of the draw for this event. As with everything else during this time period, a major part of the draw was Steve Austin, who was WWE Champion. But another part of the allure of this event was the ascent of Triple H, who was coming into his own as a singles competitor. So, why in the world was Mankind inserted into the main event where you had the obvious storyline of Austin taking on the fast-rising Triple H? I personally don’t know if any of this has been confirmed, but the story around the campfire is that Austin didn’t necessarily want to lose to Triple H. Apparently, Austin had questions on whether Triple H was ready to be in the position of champion at that point. On top of that, beat him, the company’s top star, to be champion. As the story goes, Mankind was inserted into the match for whatever reason.

- Instead of seeing the arrival of Triple H as a top-level star, what we received instead was a very anti-climactic main event that saw Mick Foley win his final WWE Championship. The match itself was good. It played out like most matches during the “Attitude Era” did, they fought all over the arena, there were a lot of moving parts and there was rarely a dull moment. But the finish with Mankind winning just felt odd. Even Mankind’s reaction to winning didn’t feel genuine. It didn’t feel like a title change just took place. In hindsight, there was probably a good reason for that. That’s because Mankind lost the title to Triple H the very next night on Raw for his first world championship. Perhaps Mankind knew that was going to happen and it put a bit of a damper on his celebration.

- Along with the ascent of Triple H, we were also witnessing the rise of The Rock. Although The Rock had already been WWE Champion and headlined WrestleMania, he was slowly becoming a mainstream draw when he turned babyface in 1999. His match against Billy Gunn at this event isn’t necessarily the most memorable match of his career, but it does mark a time where he was becoming fully entrenched as a fan favorite, a position he would stay in for the next four years. During that time, The Rock went from just a big name in wrestling to a household name in movies and television.

- Inspired by Ventura’s success in the political realm, Jerry “The King” Lawler began his campaign to become mayor of Memphis in 1999 and mentioned it numerous times during this show. Apparently, being the self-proclaimed king of Memphis didn’t impress voters enough as he finished fourth with less than 12 percent of the vote. Lawler wasn’t done with politics, however, as he ran for the position again in 2009. This time, he only ended up with 4 percent of the vote.

- Kane teamed up with X-Pac to defend the WWE Tag Team Championships essentially as an honorary member of D-Generation X. He altered his attire and even came out to the music. Why? This was all part of the humanization of Kane. Since Kane debuted in 1997, he didn’t speak. But with the encouragement of X-Pac and the help of an electrolarynx, Kane began speaking. He even said, “Suck it,” on an episode of Raw. In the long run, Kane being humanized helped give him depth as a character, but at the time it kind of made him look silly. He was nothing but a monster leading up to this point and all of a sudden he’s D-X’s catch phrase through a machine and helping his little buddy X-Pac.

- The Acolytes may have won the tag team turmoil match, but the highlight of the contest was the opening portion between Edge and Christian, and the Hardy Boyz. The two teams dazzled the Minnesota fans with some high-octane and unique offensive moves, including Edge spearing Jeff Hardy after both men ran on top of the barricade at ringside. What people didn’t know at the time was that this was the pre-cursor to the epic feud between the two teams that would later include the Dudley Boyz. The very next month at No Mercy, the two teams had the famous ladder match that put them on the map and really got the ball rolling for them in the tag team division.

- Another match that turned heads was the fight between Shane McMahon and Test. Although the angle leading into the match had Jerry Springer written all over it, the match itself was pretty cool. Shane McMahon showed just crazy he is when he dropped an elbow onto Test through a table. Test won the match and kept his relationship with Stephanie McMahon, but that all came crashing down a couple of months later when Triple H kidnapped and drugged Stephanie McMahon and married her, unbeknownst to anyone.

- Another crazy brawl was the one between Al Snow and Big Boss Man for the Hardcore Championship. Although this led to a horrible angle where Big Boss Man cooked Al Snow’s dog Pepper and an awful Kennel From Hell match at Unforgiven, this match was pretty fun for what it was. For reasons that weren’t explained on this broadcast, Snow beat the crap out of Stevie Richards and The Blue Meanie after the match. It looked like they were trying dognap Pepper, but it wasn’t really explained.

- For whatever reason, Road Dogg did commentary during the Hardcore Championship match and followed the combatants everywhere they went. Even worse was Road Dogg’s skinny little legs and calves. Now I see why he always wore those baggy pajama bottoms in the ring. It’s because he had terrible-looking legs with almost no definition.

- Before Road Dogg did silly commentary, he had a silly verbal exchange with Chris Jericho, who was making his first pay-per-view appearance with the WWE on this show. Just a few weeks prior, Jericho made his epic debut with the company after years of toiling in the mid-card with World Championship Wrestling. He toiled some more with the WWE before finally breaking out as a star in 2000.

- Boy, did Jeff Jarrett, Debra and Mark Henry make D’Lo Brown look stupid during the opening match. What’s more interesting was that this was one of the last WWE pay-per-view appearance for Jarrett. Jarrett left the WWE on some unscrupulous terms the very next month and headed for WCW. After WCW was purchased by the WWE, Jarrett went off and started Total Nonstop Action Wrestling with his father Jerry Jarrett.