WWE Summerslam Memories: Trivial Facts And History
With less than one month before The Biggest Blockbuster Of The Summer, let's go back in time and let's take a look at one of the WWE Big Four's highlights.
With 22 editions in the book, the WWE has written a big part of its history at the "Summer Classic", and I invite you to a trivial and historic trip.
After digging in the Summerslam history books, I have found many interesting facts.
When you are finished, I invite you to share your Summerslam memories in the comment section and to discuss the upcoming pay-per-view.
The first Summerslam pay-per-view was presented live from the Madison Square Garden in New York, on August 29, 1988, and ten matches featured on the card.
In the first main event, The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage) defeated The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase & Andre The Giant).
The first title that ever changed hands was the Intercontinental Championship, and it was at the first installment of the Biggest "Event Of The Summer".
The first time the WWE Championship changed hand was at Summerslam 1997.
The first gimmick match was a Two Out Of Three Falls bout in 1990. The Hart Foundation became the new WWF Tag Team Champions after they've got the best over Demolition.
In the summer of 1993, Bret Hart was the first and only wrestler to have battled twice in the same evening at the annual event. He defeated Doink The Clown and he has lost against Jerry Lawler.
At the 2005 August mega show, Hulk Hogan faced Shawn Michaels for the first time ever. In that icon vs. icon match, Hogan emerged victorious.
The first battle for the Women's Championship happened at Sumerslam 1994; Alundra Blayze retained the belt after she defeated Bull Nakano.
A total of 466,582 spectators attended the 22 summer classics for an average of 21,208.
In comparison, Wrestlemania welcomed 1,012,167 persons in 27 years, but always in bigger venues, for an average 37,487.
The biggest crowd to have attended a Summerslam event was in 1992, in UK. 80,355 fans came to cheer for their favorite, The British Bulldog, who defeated Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Title.
The smallest crowd was in 2002, when only 14,797 spectators were in the arena to watch Brock Lesnar winning the WWE Undisputed Championship against The Rock; it was the first and only time Summerslam held a match for that Championship.
* Two arenas have been the host of Summerslam more than once:
- The Continental Airlines Arena, at East Rutherford in New Jersey, held the event in 1997 and 2007.
- The Madison Square Garden, in New York City, has been the host in 1988, 1991, and 1998.
- The Staples Center presented the Summer Annual in 2009 and will join the select group this year, hosting it again.
The Biggest Ever
Without a doubt, the 1992 edition is the biggest Summerslam ever and one of the greatest pay-per-views in history.
With 80,355 spectators, it was the second biggest crowd in WWE history, behind Wrestlemania III, with 93,173 fans.
For the first and only time, one of the Big Four WWE pay-per-view events has been held in Europe and not presented live on TV in North America.
The Intercontinental Title's prestige reached its peak then. For a very rare time (if not for the first time), a match for the secondary WWE Championship has been the main event, due to the presence of The British Bulldog. That classic encounter now appears on many best matches ever lists and received the Match of the Year Award by "Pro Wrestling Illustrated".
For the first time at Summerslam, a match lasted longer than 20 minutes. In fact, two matches went over 25 minutes. The Intercontinental Title match lasted 25:40 and the WWF Title match ended after 28 minutes when The Ultimate Warrior defeated Randy Savage by countout.
The Best Ever
The 2002 edition of Summerslam is probably the best ever.
It has been named the best major show of the year by the "Wrestling Observer Newsletter". The WWE only received this award four times, the others being Wrestlemania 24 and 17 as well as In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede.
Only the card says it all:
Spike Dudley vs. Steven Richards;
Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio;
Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair;
Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero;
The Un-Americans (Lance Storm and Christian) (c) vs. Booker T and Goldust (Tag Team Championship);
Chris Benoit (c) vs. Rob Van Dam (Intercontinental Championship);
Test vs. The Undertaker;
Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels (Street Fight);
The Rock (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE Undisputed Championship).
Most of these matches became instant classics.
Spike Dudley, Kurt Angle, Ric Flair, Edge, The Undertaker, and Shawn Michaels have won their match.
In the championship matches, The Un-Americans retained the Tag Team gold, Rob Van Dam became the new Intercontinental Champion, and Brock Lesnar defeated The Rock for the WWE Undisputed Title.
At that event, Brock Lesnar became the last Undisputed Championship's holder.
Not long after, the Title has been separated because Lesnar preferred to defend the belt on Smackdown only. Then, on September 2, the Raw general manager brought back the World Heavyweight Championship formerly known as the WCW Title. Following that, the Smackdown Title became known as the WWE Championship. These are the current two major Titles in WWE.
Various Facts About Matches
* The five shortest matches are:
5- 01:52 (1996, Steve Austin defeated Yokozuna in a Free for all (dark) match);
4- 00:33 (2008, Matt Hardy defeated Mark Henry by disqualification so the ECW Championship didn't change hand);
3- 00:31 (1988, The Ultimate Warrior destroyed The Honky Tonk Man to end the longest Intercontinental Title reign in WWE history);
2- 00:25 (2005, Chris Benoit became the new U.S. Champion by defeating Orlando Jordan);
1- 00:08 (2009, Christian over William Regal to retain the ECW Title).
* The five longest matches are:
5- 26:43 (2008, The Undertaker defeated Edge in a Hell in A Cell match);
4- 27:19 (2002, Shawn Michaels won an unsanctioned street fight against Triple H);
3- 28:00 (1992, The Ultimate Warrior won via countout and retained the WWF Championship against Randy Savage);
2- 28:59 (1996, Shawn Michaels defeated Vader to keep the WWF Title);
1- 32:17 (1994, Bret Hart retained the WWF Title against Owen Hart in a steel cage match).
* Including the 21 dark matches, The Biggest Show of the Summer has been the stage for 203 matches.
* The only wrestler with a perfect record (five matches or more) is Hulk Hogan with 6-0-0.
* The five wrestlers who appeared in the most matches:
5- Bret Hart (nine times, 5-4-0);
5- Shawn Michaels (nine times, 6-2-1);
5- Edge (nine times, 7-2-0);
2- Triple H (12 times, 8-4);
1- The Undertaker (14 times, 8-5-1).
The Gimmick Matches
A total of 55 Summerslam matches had special stipulations. From the usual steel cage to triple threat and from mixed tag team to ladder matches, The Biggest Blockbuster of the Summer held many other unique gimmick bouts.
The only non wrestling competition has been in 2004; a lame Divas Dodgeball confrontation has been presented as a toilet break.
Two Battle Royal matches have been held in 2007 and 2009; Beth Phoenix won both of those Divas contests.
The Attitude Era left its mark on the Summerslam history; on two occasions (1997 and 1998), five gimmick matches have been disputed; the 1999 and 2000 installments each had six matches with stipulations on the card.
Only the first two annuals presented no gimmick matches.
The Hardcore-based matches have been the most popular stipulations at the big summer show, with ten occurrences (1991, 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006). Those bouts have various names, such as No Holds Barred matches, Street Fights, Extreme Rules or simply Boiler Room Brawl.
* To finish with the gimmick matches, here are some of the weirdest and unique matches stipulations:
- After The Mountie lost the Jailhouse Match in 1991, he had to spend 24 hours in prison;
- In 1992, Shawn Michaels and Rick Martel could not hit each other in the face;
- Because he lost his match against Goldust in 1997, Brian Pillman was forced to wear a dress until his next win;
- There have been two "Kiss My Ass" stipulations. Steve Austin defeated Owen Hart to win the Intercontinental Title in 1997 but if he had lost, he would have to kiss his opponent's butt; at Summerslam 1999, Mr. Ass didn't get the same chance against The Rock.
- The 2005 Summerslam stage has been used to rule a family affair, a child custody; in a ladder match, Rey Mysterio defeated Eddie Guerrero for the custody of Dominick.
A total 77* championship matches have been disputed on a Summerslam stage and 31* new champions have been crowned.
The WWE Championship is the one that has be on the line the most, with 19 times. The Title, also named WWF Championship, WWF Unified Championship, and WWE Unified Championship, only changed hand three times.
There have been seven World Heavyweight Title (also known as WCW Championship) matches on the Summerslam cards. It changed hand four times.
The Intercontinental Title has been put up to grab 18 times and is the one that changed hand the most times (11).
The Tag Team Championship changed hand five times in 13 matches.
There have been four battles over the Women's Championship, and it has been defended successfully twice.
One new European Champion has been crowned in three championship bouts.
The United States Championship has been put on the line twice and changed owner once.
The belt changed hand in all of the the three Hardcore Championship matches.
The ECW Champions always retained the Title at Summerslam (three times).
Except for the 2001 Titles Unification* only one Cruiserweight Title match took place at Summerslam. It was in 2003 in the dark match, and Rey Mysterio retained against Shannon Moore.
* At Summerslam 2001, the WCW Cruiserweight Title has been unified to the WWE Light Heavyweight Championship and X-Pac won the match against Taijiri so a new Champion has been crowned.
My Most Memorable Matches
These are not necessarily the best Summerslam matches ever, but my most memorable, for various reasons.
* * Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake vs. Randy Savage & Zeus (1989):
The match itself had nothing special because everyone knew Hogan and Beefcake would defeat Savage and Zeus.
However, the angle behind the match was very imaginative. Zeus, the evil character defeated by Hogan in the movie No Holds barred, came in the real world to seek revenge.
In other words, the showdown was a huge commercial strategy to sell the film produced by WWE and released in June the same year.
I was 13, and I really got in the whole storyline.
* * Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog (1992):
Considered by many as the best Summerslam match ever, it was special for me because of the amazing atmosphere at the London's Wembley Stadium.
Beyond the quality of the match, I remember I had the chills despite it was in my living room, miles away, not even live (it aired three days later on pay-per-view).
The hype was uncommon and the crowd was incredible.
I also think it was the first time ever the Intercontinental Title was on the line for the main event at a major pay-per-view and it fully deserved such spotlight.
* * Undertaker vs. Undertaker (1994):
That not-so-great match was a peak of my favorite storyline ever.
To make a long story short, The Undertaker battled Yokozuna in a casket match at the 1994 Royal Rumble after unmatched promos from Paul Bearer and his protégé.
The Deadman had the upper hand until nine wrestlers, hired by Mr. Fuji to help Yokozuna since it was a no disqualification match, came to the rescue. The Undertaker battled them all but they were too many and they have put him in the casket, left as dead.
Then, a few weeks later, there has been promos in which many persons stated they have witnessed various paranormal signs from The Phenom.
In April, The Million Dollar Man claimed he brought back The Undertaker to WWE, but Paul Bearer warned everyone he was not the real Undertaker. At the beginning of the summer, Bearer declared he has found the real Undertaker and challenged DiBiase's one.
* * Shawn Michaels vs. Vader (1996):
A good match overall, with HBK at the top of his game.
A weird outcome with the WWE Championship on the line; Vader won the match twice, but once by countout and once by disqualification.
Jim Cornette, Vader's manager, asked to re-start the match both times and Michaeals accepted. In the third down, the Heartbreak Kid pinned Vader to retain.
* * Edge vs. The Undertaker (2008):
To end their grueling feud, Edge and The Undertaker battled in a Hell in a Cell match. The Ultimate Opportunist lost the match.
After the battle, there has been a truly memorable moment when The Phenom chokeslammed Edge throughout the ring from the top of a ladder, then a flame blown from the hole with no Edge in sight.
What a way to end a rivalry! But Edge returned back few months later, just like that, at Survivor Series.
My Most Memorable Moments & Conclusion
At the first Summerslam, Miss Elizabeth removed her skirt to distract the referee.
After the 1996 Summerslam Boiler Room Brawl, Paul Bearer turned his coat and joined Mankind, The Undertaker's nemesis. On that evening, The Deadman lost the match and his long time manager.
At the 1997 Summerslam, Owen Hart botched a piledriver on Stone Cole Steve Austin who broke his neck; that injury contributed to The Rattlesnake's retirement some years later.
In the Summerslam 1997 WWE Championship match, Shawn Michaels, the special guest referee, hit The Undertaker with a steel chair costing him the Title against Bret Hart.
The steel chair shot was intended for Hart who avoided it, leading to the first ever Hell In The Cell contest between HBK and an anger Undertaker.
Kane made his first appearance in WWE during that famous bout, presented at In Your House: Badd Blood; he ripped off the cell's door to deliver a tombstone on The Deadman leaving him to the mercy of Michaels who didn't hesitate to get the pin for the win. The rest is an other story.
On August 15, 2004 Randy Orton became, at the age of 24, the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history. On the next episode of Raw, he has been beaten by his Evolution allies and ejected from the stable then becoming a babyface.
The TLC match against CM Punk at Summerslam 2009 was Jeff Hardy's last appearance at a WWE pay-per-view.
On the next episode of Smackdown, he left the company due to his loss against Punk as the consequence of the match stipulation. And by the way, the TLC match was one of the best bout of the year.
* * * * * *
Hopefully, this year's August Classic will provide great moments we will remember in years.
Which Summerslam was your favorite?
What are your favorite moments and matches?
Sources where I picked up the information and from which I based my various statistic compilations: