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Case Number 17413: Small Claims Court

Buy WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 3 (1998-2002) at Amazon

WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 3 (1998-2002)

WWE // 2009 // 900 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // October 5th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Daryl Loomis's game is checkers. Bring it.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of WWE: SummerSlam 2008 (published October 10th, 2008), WWE: SummerSlam 2009 (published November 6th, 2009), WWE: SummerSlam 2010 (published November 7th, 2010), WWE: Summerslam 2011 (published October 27th, 2011), WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 1 (1988-1992) (published May 16th, 2009), WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 2 (1993-1997) (published May 16th, 2009), and WWE: Summerslam: The Complete Anthology, Volume 4 (2003-2007) (published October 15th, 2009) are also available.

The Charge

It's all about the game.

The Case

When this third installment of WWE's Summerslam Anthology begins, a decade has passed since Vince McMahon debuted his August wrestling extravaganza and very little was the same from those early years. Gone were those heady days of Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior, with their awful matches that still sold tons of tickets. Gone were the dark days after Vince's steroid trial when they nearly went bankrupt, but also ushered in a new era of smaller wrestlers and more athletic matches. Wrestling now had "Attitude," and marketing to that elusive 18 to 34 demographic meant ramping up the sex, while adding big falls and weaponry to their wrestlers' repertoires. It also meant huge ratings, a victory in the Monday Night Wars, and a whole lot of cash in Vince's pocket. They didn't skimp on the wrestling, either, so let's get to the action in the ring.

1998
The Attitude Era has already reached its apex and, by now, has already started to falter, but we're still in the heyday of Stone Cold Steve Austin, the biggest star of the era by a wide margin. He defends his championship against the Undertaker in the main event and, while these two Texans never had the best chemistry together in the ring, the crowd totally eats the match up. Also on the card are "edgier" characters such as a porn star named Val Venis ('cause, see, it rhymes with penis); the Oddities, a stable comprised of two giants and a fat man (who was actually former Hogan rival Earthquake under a mask) who love to dance; and the oddly successful New Age Outlaws, featuring Mr. Ass Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg Jesse James, long veterans of failed gimmicks, who liked to tell people to "suck it." Really, the change in wrestling the Attitude Era brought about was going from a kiddie mentality to a juvenile one, which they never did grow up from. As edgy as all this may have seemed, in '09 it's pretty lame. Of note on the card is the Lion's Den match, named for the training gym of Ken Shamrock, who had just finished his first run in UFC and, with MMA in its infancy, Vince wanted a piece of the action. Overall, the results of that experiment were mixed, but this match between Shamrock and Owen Hart in a tiny cage is fantastic.

1999
The worst event on this set and one of the lowest moments in Summerslam history. The company had ridden years of constant success into laziness and "Attitude" had nearly run its course, though the company hadn't realized it yet. The show is poor from top to bottom. It ranges from the boring D'Lo Brown versus Jeff Jarrett opener, to the convoluted and overproduced Tag Team Turmoil match (six teams wrestling at the same time), to the outright awful Test versus Shane McMahon match. This waste of three hours is only save by a good triple threat main event pitting Austin against Mankind and Triple H, who was beginning to emerge as a major player in the wrestling world. This year's even takes place in Minneapolis, as well, which naturally means that newly-elected governor Jesse Ventura officiates the match…classic Body.

2000
The dawn of the millennium was not the dawn of a new age of wrestling. If you listened closely in those days, you could hear the death rattle of Attitude, but Vince still carted that broken horse out there to whip on. In concept, this year's show is much worse than the '99 debacle, but the wrestling happens to be a lot better, and there are some early signals that change is coming. On the side of good, we have the infamous "Tables, Ladders, and Chairs" match, featuring the Dudley Boyz, Edge and Christian, and the Hardy Boyz (you knew something was extreme if it gets pluralized with a "z"), which may be the most injury-defying invention in wrestling history. Also, the best two-of-three falls match between Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit is stellar, an absolute classic. On the side of bad, however, we have some true wrestling atrocities. The match between Right to Censor (in the lamest ever jab at the perpetually pesky lobby group, Parents Television Council) and the dancing Too Cool with Rikishi is just simply a god awful display of skill. Rikishi, who gave new meaning to the words "Gluteus Maximus," additionally was the inventor of the move that spawned the match that may be the lowest moment in the history of women's wrestling. This match pits the Kat and Terri, ex-wives of Jerry Lawler and Golddust, in a "Thong Stink Face" match. Dressed in bikinis and ridiculous heels, these poor women can only win the match when one puts her butt in the other's face, specifically, in the corner of the ring.

2001
What a difference a year makes. Everything about the 2001 card is so much better than the previous year's, the storylines are much better thought out, and much of the juvenile humor is toned down. Why? Invasion. The Monday Night Wars had been won. Vince now owned WCW and extended contracts to some of their better wrestlers, though not in all cases (Buff Bagwell, I'm looking at you). Many of these people had never worked with those in WWE and it allowed for a lot of fresh matchups and positive changes with the in-ring work. This show is very good top to bottom and is one of the strongest Summerslams in the history of the show. Particular favorites include Rhyno vs. Chris Jericho and the WWE Championship match between Steve Austin and rising phenom and former Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle. The only real down moment is the tag team cage, title unification match. Kane and the Undertaker (accompanied by his wife, Sara) takes on Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon, one of the most underrated wrestlers in a long time. On paper, this isn't so bad. It is, however, one of the dumbest stories they ever tried to force onto their viewers. They tried to make blue collar hero Page a bad guy so, for no good reason, made him a crazy stalker trying to get at the Undertaker's wife. Sara Taker, mercifully, wasn't around too long, but her stretch marked the worst time in the legendary Dead Man's career since the Corporate Ministry stupidity.

2002
This collection closes out with a very good show, as good as the previous year's, and maybe better inside the ring. In the months preceding this Summerslam, the unthinkable had happened. It came on a Monday Night Raw that Vince emerged to announce the new General Manager of the Raw brand. That man: Eric Bischoff, former head of WCW and the man that did almost anything to ruin McMahon. Nearly a decade later, it still seems weird that they were able to work together, but wrestling's a strange world where no bridges, no matter what, are ever really burned. The show opens with a phenomenal contest between Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio that is fast, hard-hitting, and really well put together. It closes with the destruction of the Rock at the hands of the Next Big Thing, Brock Lesnar, now ruining his competition as UFC heavyweight champion. In between, we have a series of fine contests, including the returning Shawn Michaels taking on his old friend Triple H in a violent and, at the time, emotional contest with a great ending that really put Triple H over as a humongous jerk. The only down match is the Test vs. Undertaker contest but how much can one expect in a match with Test. I didn't expect it to be good and it didn't disappoint.

WWE's Summerslam: Complete Anthology, Volume 3 is right on par with the previous two installments of the series and is fine. There are no extras, but there never are. Audio and video are identical to their original broadcasts. This is a good slice of the summers of the past twenty years of Summerslam, but the more that I see again, the more I start to suspect the overall quality of the pay-per-view over the years.

The Verdict

As always, in spite of its many faults, Summerslam is not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: WWE
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 900 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Sports
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None








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