Greetings fellow wrestling fanatics...
Every year, as the scorched days of August slowly approach us, a few things enter my mind. The Major league baseball season is in full swing and playoff races are heating up, NFL teams are beginning training camps as we are only a month away from football, and the WWE is about to hold it's second biggest event of the year, SummerSlam.
You may argue that The Royal Rumble or Survivor Series are just as big or bigger, and no one could tell you that you're wrong. The Rumble is very important as it decides one half of the main event at Wrestlemania, as well as usually catapulting the winner of the Rumble match into super-stardom.
Survivor Series is the longest running pay per view the WWE has besides Wrestlemania, and it has produced some of the business' biggest moments. The debut's of the likes of The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, and The Rock. We saw the first Elimination Chamber match at the Survivor Series in 2002. In addition, we saw maybe the most infamous moment in the company's history, "The Montreal Screwjob" between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in 1997.
Every WWE pay per view event has had its share of history and big moments, but when I sit down and think about some of the greatest as well as my favorite matches, next to Wrestlemania I think most of them have come from SummerSlam.
With the event coming up in a couple of weeks, I decided to reflect upon and list my favorite matches to stem from the biggest party of the summer. These are my ten favorites, which means there are sure to be some missing that you may think belong. I would love to hear your thoughts. If you're not a fan of lists, turn away now...
The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar, 2002
This is the match that made Lesnar a superstar. He was a newcomer and this was his first time main eventing a pay-per-view. He was facing The Rock, who was the current WWE champion, and already had one foot out the door for Hollywood.
Brock was the perfect guy to take over the throne. He was a collegiate wrestling All American, young, athletic, intense, and had the perfect look. He was billed as the "Next Big Thing" and he was. The two had a very exciting, fast paced match. Besides some slight interference from Lesnar's agent at the time Paul Heyman, this was a clean match with a clean finish, as Lesnar hit The Rock with a massive F-5 to become the youngest heavyweight champion in the company's history.
#10. The Undertaker vs. Edge, Hell in a Cell, 2008
This was the culmination of a long a vicious feud between the two, that started at the previous year's Survivor Series, and ended up only where long and vicious feuds can end, the Hell in a Cell.
After Edge made his return at the '07 Survivor Series and interfered in another Hell in the Cell match between Undertaker and Batista, attacking Taker with a video camera and costing him the World Heavyweight Championship, the two engaged in an almost year long epic battle.
They had matches at Wrestlemania 24, Backlash, Judgement Day, and even a TLC match at One Night Stand. But this bout was to end everything, in the Undertakers match in the cell.
The match had a very big feeling to it as the two men made their ways to the ring. They did not disappoint. Two of the company's all time great performers gave us a brutal encounter which saw part of the cell be destroyed, Edge get chokeslammed from the top of a ladder down through the ring, and the hole in the ring where Edge lay unconscious burst into flames by The Undertakers command. It's safe to say, the feud had ended.
#9. Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker, 1997
It has come to my attention upon completing this list, that if Shawn Michaels is Mr. Wrestlemania, then Bret Hart has to be Mr. SummerSlam. The further up the list I go, the more I realize no one has had bigger or better matches at this event than the Hitman, but it all starts here.
The course of events this match would eventually set off would forever change the wrestling business. This match saw Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee, and it was for the WWE championship.
The stipulation of this match was the loser would no longer be allowed to wrestle in the United States, and the same went for Michaels if he didn't call the match down the middle. Michaels and Hart already had a bitter feud and hated each other, but this was between the Hitman and the Undertaker, or so we thought.
The two were having a great back and forth match, until Hart brought a steel chair into the ring. After creaming The Undertaker while Michaels wasn't looking, Bret tossed the chair off to the side.
When HBK saw it lying by the ring apron, he picked up it and began to question Bret about whether he had used it on Taker. While Bret emphatically denied it, Michaels continued to interrogate him, causing Hitman to get fed up and spit at Michaels.
Michaels then wound up and swung the chair at Hart, but Hart ducked and Michaels drilled Undertaker square in the head with it, knocking him out cold. Bret covered Taker, and HBK reluctantly counted the one-two-three, and Bret Hart won his final WWE championship.
The ramifications of this match led to the first ever "Hell in a Cell" match between the Undertaker and Michaels, where Taker exacted his revenge in maybe the most brutal beating HBK has ever taken.
It also lead to the match between Michaels and Hart at the 1997 Survivor Series in Montreal, and, umm, I think we all know what happened at that one. This was a great SummerSlam match.
#8. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon, Ladder match, 1995
This match probably would have made the top three of this list had it not been the sequel to an even better contest. The ladder match between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X was one of the greatest and most innovative wrestling matches of all time. It changed the business forever, and at the time nobody had ever seen anything like it.
This was the rematch a little over a year later at SummerSlam 95, and even though in my opinion it did not live up to the original, it was still an amazing contest.
It was for the Intercontinental title, and these two competitors stole the show performing acrobatic aerial maneuvers and demolishing each other with a steel ladder.
Razor won the first battle at Wrestlemania, but Shawn was victorious in this bout, solidifying himself as the undisputed Intercontinental champion as well as a true superstar in the business.
#7. Kurt Angle vs. Triple H vs. The Rock, Triple Threat Match, 2000
This was a great triple threat match for the WWE title, between arguably the top three competitors in the business at this time. Angle was still somewhat of a newcomer, rising fast through the ranks, and Triple H and The Rock had just began to peak as the companies two biggest stars.
This is the match where, if you remember, Angle and The Game went at it for a few minutes even before the bell rang and the champion The Rock was introduced to the match.
Triple H went for a pedigree on Angle on the Spanish announcers table, but the table gave in and collapsed before he could fully execute the move, smashing Angle's face violently to the ground. He was then taken out on a stretcher, and as The Game was trying to pull him off the stretcher The Rock entered the match, where he and HHH then proceeded to destroy each other for twenty minutes.
The animosity between Angle and "The Game" stemmed from a relationship between Kurt and Triple H's wife Stephanie in which Triple H felt was inappropriate. On the other side, The Rock and HHH were in the midst of a heated rivalry, coming off intense battles at Wrestlemania and Backlash.
This match had been brewing for quite some time and scores needed to be settled. Angle re-entered the match after Stephanie begged him to go and help her husband take on the Rock. Kurt obliged, and the triple threat match continued with the three superstars executing a fast paced exciting match which saw The Rock pull out the win and retain his WWE championship.
#6. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio, ladder match, 2005
This match was the battle for custody of Dominick, Eddie's biological son, but who was raised all of his life by Rey. A briefcase with legal documents inside was suspended above the ring, and whoever retrieved the briefcase would gain full custody of the boy.
In what I feel is maybe the most underrated SummerSlam match of all time, these two men gave us a ladder match for the ages, performing high wire maneuvers from atop the ladder, and beating each other with it.
This match is also the first time we really saw Vickie Guerrero heavily involved in a storyline, as she believed Eddie didn't truly care about Dominick, but that he just wanted to take him away from Rey to cause him pain.
At one emotional point in the match, Eddie was climbing the ladder and was just about to grab the briefcase, when the young boy ran into the ring to try to stop him. Eddie got off the ladder and cornered the boy, and was screaming at him that he better learn to love him because he was going to be living with him from now on and he wouldn't see his dad anymore.
Then it seemed that Eddie was just about to strike the boy when Rey re-entered the match and saved him. The two continued to go at it giving us a thrilling match. Towards the end, Eddie was in shape to win it again after performing the three amigos on Rey on to the ladder.
This is when Vickie came running out to the ring, she pushed the ladder over and held on to Eddie long enough to allow Rey to climb the ladder and retrieve the briefcase and win the match. Rey and his son were reunited in one of the most dramatic matches I can recall.
#5. The Hardyz vs. The Dudleyz vs. Edge & Christian, TLC 1, 2000
Innovation. That's really the best word I can use to describe this match. Also amazing, violent, and maybe insane.
This match catapulted its six participants into stardom. The Dudleyz were already somewhat established having been a popular tag team in ECW, but between the Hardy boys and Edge & Christian, you are talking about four young kids trying to make it in this business.
Now fast forward 9 years later and each one of them is either a current or former WWE champion, World Heavyweight champion or ECW champion.
The first triangle ladder tag match between these three teams took place at Wrestlemania 16, but this was the first official Tables, Ladders, and Chairs or "TLC" match.
For twenty minutes these three amazing teams matched each other spot for spot, taking some of the biggest bumps the business had ever seen in the process. Jeff Hardy did a Swanton Bomb off the top step of a twenty foot ladder, missing Bubba Ray Dudley and crashing hard through a table to the floor. Matt Hardy was pushed while on top of a huge ladder and went sailing through tables ringside, as did Bubba Ray.
Another memorable moment was when Jeff Hardy and D-Von Dudley were both dangling from the belts high above the ring, and Edge & Christian swung ladders at them knocking them down to the hard canvas. Even Lita took a huge shot as Edge speared her outside the ring, slamming her head into a steel ladder lying on the floor.
Ultimately Edge & Christian won the contest and the Tag Team gold, but all six men were winners as they created a moment in time that forever changed their lives and the business, and a SummerSlam match that will never be forgotten.
#4. Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog, 1992
Many people consider this the greatest match in SummerSlam history. I was one of those people at one point, but over some time it has fallen off just a bit for me.
This match was special for a few reasons. First, it was held at London's Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000 fans. Second, it was for the Intercontinental championship, and it was the main event of the card even though the WWE championship was also defended on this night. Third, it was brother-in-laws doing battle, with Bret Hart's sister Diana in the middle.
The crowd was in a frenzy on this night, as the place went absolutely crazy for their hometown boy, Davey Boy Smith. This was a very exciting, fast paced, and technically sound match that went back and forth.
One story that is told about this match is apparently Davey Boy forgot most of what he was supposed to do during the match and Bret had to carry him the entire time. A phenomenal feat on Bret's behalf, being the match turned out so great.
At one point Davey was outside the ring, and Bret was to leap over the top rope only for Davey to catch him. The Bulldog completely forgot the spot, and Bret wound up clotheslining Smith violently to the ground almost injuring the two badly.
Davey Boy did have some nice moments but it was Bret's brilliant technical ability that made this bout as great as it was.
Bret Hart lost his Intercontinental title on this night, as the vision of Bulldog countering Hart's sunset flip into a pin is something I will never forget. Bret Hart was the true winner here, as his work in this match skyrocketed him to main event status and a multiple time WWE champion over the next five years.
#3. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, Steel Cage match, 1994
The first match these two brothers had was the opening match at Wrestlemania X, and it was a classic. The greatest opening match at a Wrestlemania some say. Owen beat Bret that night in the first of two bouts Bret would have. The second was a championship match against Yokozuna.
Bret became champion, and Owen only became more bitter and jealous. He felt he was overlooked and his career was held back due to living in the shadow of "The Hitman."
Their greatest encounter was for the title in a steel cage at SummerSlam 1994. The entire Hart family was ringside, while Owen had Jim Neidhart in his corner, Bret had Davey Boy Smith in his.
They put on an awesome aerial display as well as a great technical bout. A long, grueling, back and forth match between family made for great emotion at this time, as the brotherly feud was really the first this business had seen.
Everything else aside, they had amazing chemistry together in the ring, and put on one hell of a show, with Bret ultimately winning the match and defending his title.
We saw a great climax at the end as both men were racing out of the cage, Owen's leg became hooked in the cage and Bret made it down first. One of only four WWE matches to receive a 5 star rating from Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer, and one of my favorite SummerSlam matches ever.
#2. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels, Unsanctioned Street Fight, 2002
This is one of my favorite matches of all time and could easily be number one on this list. It marked the return of The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels after a four year absence from the business. He retired in 1998 (his last match was when he lost the belt to Austin at Wrestlemania 14) due to a severe back injury and his career was basically over.
After four years, a new found faith, and a desire to wrestle just one more match so his young son could watch him in action, he returned to face his friend and former DX companion Triple H at SummerSlam. One more match eventually turned into a second hall of fame worthy career which is still going today, but let's keep the focus on this match.
After Triple H brutally attacked HBK on Monday Night Raw, Shawn was able to heal in time for SummerSlam, and without the consent of GM Eric Bischoff or the WWE, and unsanctioned street fight was to take place.
Many thought there would be some ring rust for Shawn, or that the match wouldn't live up to the hype. Well not only was there no ring rust whatsoever, but what Shawn and Hunter gave us was a long, violent, back and forth match which included tables, ladders, chairs, sledgehammers, and a lot of blood.
This epic encounter ended with Shawn getting the win with a beautiful jackknife pin, but was then brutally beaten by The Game with his trusty sledgehammer. This started one of the all time great feuds which saw the two go on to meet in a series of incredible matches including "Three Stages of Hell", a "Last Man Standing" match and a "Hell in the Cell" match, but it all started here, and none of them beat the original. Epic!
#1. Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, 1991
Now I know this may not be a popular decision, but I usually go against the grain. This bout doesn't get all the hoopla that a lot of great matches do, but for me, it doesn't get any better than this.
This match saw the business' two greatest technical wrestlers of the era going at it for the Intercontinental title. Curt Hennig was in tremendous pain on this night due to a serious back injury which would cause him to miss almost a year of action after this match, but he wanted to be there for Bret Hart because he knew how important this match would be for "The Hitman's" future.
It was 1991, and Bret had recently split from Jim Neidhart and The Hart Foundation to test his skills as a singles competitor. He was doing very well and he was very popular, so WWE saw it fit to give him the proper push.
Hennig was champion for the previous ten months, the longest reign since the Honky Tonk Man in 1987. He is considered as one of, if not thee greatest Intercontinental champion of all time. Bret was an hugely popular and talented up and comer, so this had all the makings of a classic. It sure didn't disappoint.
Bret Hart won his first title, beating Curt Hennig for the Intercontinental championship on this night. But what took place for him to get there, to me, was a technically brilliant, fast paced, back and forth, emotional encounter that is unmatched at this particular event.
With Bret's parents sitting in the crowd, and Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper painting the picture of a legendary match unfolding before their eyes, the two second generation superstars gave each other all they had, and what resulted was a beautiful give and take match between men who truly understood ring chemistry and storytelling.
When Bret was finally able to apply his patented sharpshooter on Hennig, he almost immediately submitted, and a star was instantly born.
As always, I appreciate you reading my words. Any comments you may have regarding why you agree with me or why you think my list sucks are always welcome.