WWE SummerSlam: History of the World Heavyweight Championship
The World Heavyweight Championship is one of the top two titles in WWE. Just one look at the big gold belt and one can easily tell that whoever is in possession of it is indeed "the man." Over the years, WWE fans have been treated to many classic battles over this championship, and that doesn't look to change anytime soon.
The World Heavyweight Championship was introduced on September 2, 2002. Therefore, with the 10th anniversary of the title approaching and with all of the controversy that currently surrounds the title going into this Sunday's SummerSlam pay-per-view, I thought we'd take a look at the big gold belt's history at WWE's summer spectacular.
2003: Triple H (C) vs. Goldberg vs. HBK vs. Jericho vs. Nash vs. Orton
Going into SummerSlam 2003, Triple H had been the World Heavyweight Champion for eight months. Originally, Eric Bischoff had Triple H slated to defend his championship in a one-on-one match against Goldberg.
However, Stone Cold Steve Austin had a different idea.
Austin decided to overrule Bischoff's announcement and set up something that was much more violent and hellacious for the World Heavyweight Championship match: Elimination Chamber. Now, instead of defending his title against just Goldberg, Triple H would also be defending against Chris Jericho, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton.
In the end, it came down to Triple H and Goldberg, who was on a roll after eliminating Orton, Jericho and Michaels. It looked as if Goldberg could be on his way to winning his first World Heavyweight Championship in WWE.
It was not to be, though, as Ric Flair slid a sledgehammer into the chamber for Triple H. As Goldberg went for his finishing Spear, Triple H struck him in the head with the sledgehammer and got the pinfall to escape SummerSlam 2003, still the World Heavyweight Champion.
This was only the second Elimination Chamber match in WWE history, with the first being held just nine months earlier at Survivor Series 2002.
2004: Chris Benoit (C) vs. Randy Orton
Randy Orton, then a young up-and-comer in WWE, earned a shot at Chris Benoit's World Heavyweight Championship by winning a 20-man Battle Royal on an episode of RAW. Now, Orton would set out to do what his Evolution leader, Triple H, couldn't do: defeat Benoit for the title.
And that is exactly what he did.
At SummerSlam, after only two years in WWE, Orton defeated Benoit with an RKO out of nowhere to become the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history. Afterwards, Benoit and Orton shook hands.
Orton's reign as champion would not last very long, but his victory at SummerSlam 2004 gave WWE fans just a taste of things to come from the young star.
2005: Batista (C) vs. JBL
Photo: Rings of Pain
Heading into SummerSlam 2005, Batista was having a great year.
After winning the Royal Rumble, Batista defeated his former Evolution leader, Triple H, for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21 and turned him back in rematches. Shortly after that, Batista was drafted to SmackDown, making WWE's blue brand the new home of the World Heavyweight Championship.
Upon coming to SmackDown, Batista locked horns with JBL, who felt that he deserved to be the World Heavyweight Champion. JBL defeated Batista by disqualification at The Great American Bash, but did not win the title. As a result, JBL was granted a rematch at SummerSlam, and Batista allowed JBL to choose the match type.
His choice? No Holds Barred.
This would be a decision that JBL would come to regret. After a vicious battle that saw the use of all sorts of weapons, including a leather belt, Batista performed two Batista Bombs on JBL. The second Batista Bomb was delivered onto the steel steps. Ouch.
Batista got the pinfall and continued his first reign as World Heavyweight Champion.
2006: King Booker (C) vs. Batista
King Booker was riding high. After winning the King of the Ring tournament in May, he defeated Rey Mysterio at The Great American Bash to win his first World Heavyweight Championship in WWE.
However, King Booker's title reign was soon threatened when Batista, who had relinquished the title earlier that year due to injury, came back and was ready for his second reign as champion.
The two clashed at SummerSlam. Just when it looked as if Batista was going to deliver the Batista Bomb and regain his World Heavyweight Championship, Queen Sharmell kicked Batista. The referee disqualified King Booker, giving Batista the win. However, as a result of the disqualification, King Booker retained the title.
Batista would eventually capture the title from Booker later that year, but at SummerSlam 2006, it was King Booker who walked away with the gold.
2007: The Great Khali (C) vs. Batista
After capturing the vacant World Heavyweight Championship in a 20-man battle royal on SmackDown, The Great Khali defeated Kane and Batista to retain his title at The Great American Bash.
Batista wasn't going to give up, though.
Interrupting Khali's "Indian Celebration" on SmackDown, Batista challenged Khali to a match for the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam. The following week, SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long made the match official.
At SummerSlam, Khali controlled much of the match. However, before Batista could even have a chance to make a comeback, Khali struck him with a chair. This action got Khali disqualified, giving Batista the win but allowing Khali to walk away with the World Heavyweight Championship.
For the second SummerSlam in a row, Batista was screwed out of the World Heavyweight Championship via a disqualification.
2008: CM Punk (C) vs. JBL
CM Punk won the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania XXIV, earning the right to challenge for a world championship anytime he desired. On an episode of RAW in June, Punk made the most of this opportunity, cashing in on Edge and winning his first World Heavyweight Championship.
JBL did not take to this at all.
After pinning Punk in a Handicap Match, JBL became the No. 1 contender for Punk's World Heavyweight Championship, and a match was made for SummerSlam.
Leading into the event, JBL did whatever he could to get ahead, even going so far as to try to get the Straightedge Superstar to drink alcohol. He had the alcohol tossed back in his face.
When the two met at SummerSlam, JBL controlled much of the match with his brute offense. Mid-match, Punk and JBL's heads collided, causing Punk to bleed. Despite that, Punk was able to lift JBL up for his patented GTS and retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
His reign would end shortly after that due to a vicious attack at the hands of Randy Orton, but at SummerSlam 2008, Punk showed the world that he had earned the right to be called World Heavyweight Champion.
2009: Jeff Hardy (C) vs. CM Punk
CM Punk cashed in Money in the Bank for the second year in a row, this time on Jeff Hardy, after Hardy had won the World Heavyweight Championship in a Ladder Match against Edge.
What followed was an intense rivalry through the summer of 2009. Things really heated up when Punk, believing strongly in the "Straightedge" lifestyle, began to openly criticize Hardy for his past problems with drugs.
The two clashed at The Bash and at Night of Champions, the latter match ending with Hardy regaining the World Heavyweight Championship.
As the rivalry continued, SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long announced that the two would meet at SummerSlam in a match that favored Hardy: Tables, Ladders and Chairs.
The match at SummerSlam was a back-and-forth encounter, with both men getting close to retrieving the title hanging above the ring. In the end, it was Punk who would eventually win the match after punching Hardy off the ladder. This earned Punk his third World Heavyweight Championship.
The new champion was in for a shock, however, as The Undertaker appeared and delivered a chokeslam to the Straightedge Superstar, signaling his intent to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship.
2010: Kane (C) vs. Rey Mysterio
Earlier in 2010, The Undertaker had to exit the World Heavyweight Championship match at Fatal 4-Way due to an injury. His brother, Kane, claimed that The Undertaker had been found in a "vegetative" state.
In Undertaker's absence, it was Rey Mysterio who nabbed a spot in the match and became the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Mysterio's reign would not last long as Kane would win Money in the Bank and immediately cash in, defeating Mysterio and winning his first world championship in 12 years.
Mysterio earned the right to face Kane at SummerSlam, and the rematch was set.
Before the event, Kane revealed that The Undertaker had told him that it was Rey Mysterio who attacked him, seeing the chance to take his spot in the Fatal 4-Way match. Mysterio denied the accusation, but Kane didn't believe him and vowed revenge.
Kane was able to defeat Mysterio at SummerSlam and retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
However, everyone was in for a surprise after the match. The Undertaker returned, and it was revealed that it was Kane, not Mysterio, who attacked him and put him out of action.
2011: Christian (C) vs. Randy Orton
Christian began his first run as World Heavyweight Champion in May 2011. Just five days after his reign began, it came to a crushing end at the hands of Randy Orton.
What followed was a bitter feud between the two that lasted through the summer.
Christian, who turned his back on the WWE fans, slithered his way into a second reign as World Heavyweight Champion due to a clause that allowed him to win the title from Orton via DQ at Money in the Bank.
Finally, the rivalry was set to come to a head at SummerSlam when the rivals would meet in a No Holds Barred match.
Christian was relying on his best friend, Edge, to help him retain the championship, but Edge refused and told Christian that he was on his own.
Christian fought as hard as he could to keep the title, but in the end, the heated rivalry ended the same way it began: with a crushing RKO. This time, onto the steel steps.
As a result, Orton regained the World Heavyweight Championship.
2012: Sheamus (C) vs. Alberto Del Rio?
After winning the Royal Rumble, Sheamus won the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVIII. Since then, Sheamus has turned back challenger after challenger.
One of those men Sheamus has defeated is Alberto Del Rio. However, Del Rio was still set to get yet another shot at Sheamus at SummerSlam this Sunday.
That's right. WAS.
After Del Rio's actions on SmackDown this past Friday, new SmackDown General Manager Booker T declared that the match is off. With no World Heavyweight Championship match scheduled for the big summer event, you'll have to watch SmackDown this Friday to see if there are any new developments.
If the match does end up happening, either man could walk out with the title. Sheamus has been on fire since winning the title, but Del Rio became WWE Champion at last year's SummerSlam, so he shouldn't be counted out.
Also, there is the fact that the "Show Off" Dolph Ziggler looms in the background with a Money in the Bank briefcase that guarantees him a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship anytime. Could Ziggler use his opportunity this Sunday?
Thanks for reading the article. Please feel free to comment and share what your favorite World Heavyweight Championship match at SummerSlam is.
I hope everyone enjoys the pay-per-view!