We’re only a few short days away from WWE’s third biggest show of the year, and SummerSlam looks to be shaping up as a pretty big deal this year. You have John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan, a match that has been built up great and almost surely promises to be one of the top matches of the year in North America. You also have CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar, and anytime Lesnar is in the ring is sure to pique interest from even the most jaded wrestling fan. But today, let’s look back at SummerSlams of yore. Some of the greatest matches in WWE history has taken place at this event so I’ll list five of my favorite SummerSlam moments. And hey, it never hurts to look back and take a glance at some great moments anyway. Besides, I don’t remember one SummerSlam match since 2005 so this’ll be a great time to do some research and rejog my memory. Hitting two birds with one stone here!
1. British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart- SummerSlam 1992
I didn’t watch this show live (in fact I think unless you live in the United Kingdom, no one did) but this is one of my favorite Intercontinental title matches ever. It main evented this particular year of SummerSlam and to say the crowd was behind the British Bulldog was putting it lightly. It wasn’t just the ring work that made this match great (Bret carried a blown out Bulldog, but that’s besides the point) but the crowd, the setting, everything made this one of the most memorable matches of all time. Everything about the match clicked, even the storyline between Bulldog and Bret concerning Diana Smith and whose corner she’ll be in made it an intriguing match. And when the dust cleared and Bulldog won the championship, she entered the ring and raised both men’s hands. It was like something out of a feel good movie- it was great, memorable, and one of the best main events to a SummerSlam of all time.
2. HBK vs. Hulk Hogan- SummerSlam 2005
This is memorable only because it was the clash between the biggest egos ever to encompass a wrestling ring. The match itself was alright, nothing special since at this point Hogan’s body was giving out, but what made this match memorable was the “behind the scenes” goings on so to speak. Reportedly, Shawn wanted to do a series of three matches, one with him winning, Hogan winning another, then they would come to a decision as to who would win the third match. Problem was, Hogan did not want to job to Shawn even once. Plus, Hogan wanted him to be the heel in their match, something Shawn didn’t want to do, but eventually had to. Hogan’s politicking pissed Shawn off, and proceeded to very vocally call Hogan out on it, including a skit on Raw where he dressed up for Hogan and basically insinuated Hogan was a bad guy behind the scenes, didn’t work in the small towns and basically was a politician behind the scenes. The match itself was fascinating as well. Hogan had offense for most of the match, and Shawn responded to all of his offense by bouncing around and overreacting to every bump he took. You can take it as Shawn acting childish or just simply not taking any of Hogan’s BS, but one way or another this was a fascinating storyline and match that made that year’s SummerSlam quite memorable.
3. HBK vs. Triple H- SummerSlam 2002
Continuing on the HBK thing, remember when he returned to the ring after a four year absence and had like one of the best street fight matches of all time? Yeah, I do too. I didn’t start to watch wrestling until 1999, so before then I had never seen a Shawn Micheals match live before. I’d always hear things about Shawn, like he was incredibly awesome, or how he was a train wreck, or how he was returning but did this thing and now he’s not, and I always wondered if he was ever going to return to the ring. Well, he did, and it was friggin’ awesome. Triple H probably always wanted to work with Shawn, and they went all out in having an incredible match with some insane stuff that I thought Shawn would never recover from. But he did, went back working regularly and finally retired in 2010. I think his latter run validated him as one of the best of all time because without it, it would of been a case of “could’ve been” rather than a “is”- which he most definitely is.
4. Team WWE vs Team Nexus- SummerSlam 2010
Ok, I remember this one now. Not fondly, but I did like the storyline throughout the show. See, Miz thought he was the ace in the hole- team WWE NEEDED HIM to beat out the Nexus once and for all and kill their momentum. But when the time came, Miz came out to ringside and was all smiles, ready for John Cena to admit he needed him. Nope- instead he brought out Daniel Bryan who, months earlier, had been legit fired from WWE for going too far in the initial Nexus beatdown and choking the announcer with his tie. It was incredibly dumb, but that’s another story for another time. Besides, this one was dumber. So they have a match with plenty of heat, and when you take away the finish it was a perfectly good SummerSlam main event. Hell, you even had Bret Hart doing some of his spots that no one’s seen in over a decade. But eventually, it came down to a two on one situation where John Cena took a DDT to the cement floor. Surely, you think, this would put a man out, right? But then again, John Cena is no ordinary man. He rolled away from Gabriel’s 450 splash, cradled him, and when Barrett came to make it one on one, got caught in the STF and and had no choice but to tap. So yes, despite being DDT’d on cement, Cena basically no sold the move and did his usual comeback and victory. This killed off any momentum the Nexus angle had and never recovered, leading to a bunch of nonsensical angles including John Cena being forced out of the WWE in a stipulation match against Barrett but never really actually leaving. This match is memorable for having one of the dumbest finishes in SummerSlam history, something that’s so easy to book, but never being done right (save for the nWo…I forgot how that angle did but I believe it worked for a while, right?)
5. Undertaker vs. Undertaker- SummerSlam 1994
Ok yes, everyone remembers the awesome cage match between Bret Hart and Owen Hart, but c’mon, this was the MAIN EVENT. Like I mentioned, I didn’t see this live, so this is probably why I kind of enjoy this more in a hokey, dopey way than being mad about it. You see, the Undertaker was written off at the Royal Rumble when like the entire heel roster attacked him and put him in a casket that was previously reserved for Yokozuna. The Undertaker then cut a long, rambling promo on the video screen, then emerged from the top of the screen even though he was supposed to be the casket or something. I have no idea what this was all supposed to mean, but the Undertaker was gone, and was gone for several months until one day Ted DiBiase said he was going to be a part of his million dollar corporation- that he’d “bought out” the Undertaker. This led, for some reason, for Leslie Nielsen to come aboard and do a bunch of segments looking for the Undertaker, basically doing his Airplane/Naked Gun shtick, to no avail. This all led to Paul Bearer bringing out his Undertaker, who had purple gloves, and Ted DiBiase to bring out his Undertaker who had grey gloves, which Undertaker normally wore before he left. They had their match, which pretty much sucked, but as it turns out, Paul Bearer’s Undertaker proved to be successful, thus debunking DiBiase’s claim and validating Bearer’s, and the shoot Undertaker and Bearer lived happily ever after, until Bearer screwed him two years later. But that’s another story for another day. Regardless, this was a fun, corny sort of match that I’m glad I didn’t see live, otherwise I probably would have been pissed.
And that’ll do it! SummerSlam has its up and down moments, but it’s still one of the biggest shows of the year, and this years show should be a good one. You can follow me @br26 and get my thoughts on this year’s event there, and I’ll see you all sometime next week!