#10. Summerslam 1989: Brain Busters vs. Hart Foundation.
This was a dream match for any smart mark. Tully and Arn left NWA because of creative differences and joined WWF.
Vince McMahon, smartly, put them with the best of the best work-rate tag team teams, like Hart Dynasty. This match was all and more of what you’d expect.
It was very non-formulaic from the usual tag match, because the faces were actually on offense for most of the match. They used this formula, which could hurt you in the long run, and made it into one of the best innovative tag matches ever.
#9. Summerslam 2006, WWE Championship: Edge © vs. John Cena.
Edge was finding everyway to retain his belt without beating Cena, but in this match, if Edge were to get dqed, he’d lose the belt without any questions asked. People prefer their TLC match over this, but I actually think this was better booked and executed.
Before this match, John Cena was the master at overcoming the odds stacked against him, so the main question was whether or not John Cena could win with the odds stacked with him. The other question was how could Edge be able to beat John Cena without cheating.
In the match, Edge went through his usual tactics, like a checklist, in order to retain the title, but due to the stipulations, his unfair game plan wasn’t working. Edge and Cena both teased the cliché finishes where the match is supposed to end but doesn’t.
In the end, Edge was finally able to find a way to cheat and win even though everyone thought Cena would win in his hometown for sure. Great storytelling.
#8. Summerslam 2001, WWF Championship Title Match: Stone Cold © vs. Kurt Angle
Despite the incoherent booking towards the Stone Cold character since WM 17, Stone Cold was able to overcome the irrational booking and slow accidental burial of his character. I’ll explain what I mean; Austin’s WWF character was about a no nonsense, merciless, beer-swilling, finger gesturing anti-hero babyface, who was the toughest sob in the WWF until Rikishi hit him with a car, making him not the same in the ring; hence the reasoning behind why he lost to HHH.
Thus at WM-17, Austin realized he wasn’t the same and realized this when he couldn’t pin the Rock after hitting him with everything he had in his tank, but he still wanted to be the man he use to be—the WWF Champion. So he used Vince McMahon, his archrival, to help him win the Championship, which was him “selling himself to the devil”.
Yet when the Invasion started, Austin turned on WWF, joining the WCW/ECW, so as a result everything they built towards twisted the scheme 180, making it muddled and incoherent. Things were messy for the company because Rock left, HHH was injured, and obviously, Austin, their biggest figurehead since Hulk Hogan, was heel, and because of everything hitting the wall all at once, the ratings were fallen dramatically.
WWF then had no choice but to make Kurt Angle, who broke in the business a year and a half ago, the babyface of the company. Later on, Austin turned face again, but he wasn’t the same and wasn’t that believable as he one was, making him realize with his neck injuries and everything else going on (jobbing to Brock Lesnar would be one major factor of him leaving the company), he didn’t have anything more to prove in wrestling, which was fine for him because he had other projects and jobs to fall back on, but it never was the same for WWF, as they struggled until Cena came along in making a figurehead for the company.
With that said, this match was very good. It took a good story with Austin getting desperate, and Angle never wanting to surrender. The finish might like a cop-out, but it all made sense in elevating the story to its next stage.
A forgotten gem in WWF.
#7. Summerslam 1998, Ladder Match; IC Title: HHH © vs. Rock
HHH and Rock were both rising to the top here, and they were becoming smarter and more experienced workers. They used each other to escalate each other to bigger levels.
Their chemistry together was almost unparallel to anyone they ever faced, and this was no expectation, as it was another great ladder match to WWF’s history.
Unlike most ladder matches that consist of dangerous spots, this was different. Instead of putting their bodies on the line, they wrestled a more smart match—basing it upon psychology, hatred, and storytelling, making this less passé and more memorable than the average spot-heavy ladder match.
#6. Summerslam 2002, Street Fight: Shawn Michaels vs. HHH
Shawn came back from being off the shelf as an active wrestler since 1998. The night he came back DX was formed for about five seconds until HHH turned on Shawn.
This all led to this match. In the match, HBK played a great face-in-peril babyface, cause of his conceivable body and facial mannerisms.
HHH played a great-unadulterated ruthless, undiplomatic heel that wanted to impair his at one time best friend for his ego. The dynamics and structure of the match worked to a key here, making this one of the most tensed, heated, hatred matches in WWE history.
#5. WWF Tag Team Titles, Tables, Ladders & Chairs: Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz.
This was first TLC ever and was history in the making. Innovative, bell-to-bell crazy action, and every spot fit the puzzle of building towards the climax.
Also, better put together and way appropriately structured than the WM-17 match.
#4. Summerslam 1995: IC Title: HBK © vs. Razor
This was the rematch from their following ladder match at WM 10, but this time, the roles are reversed; HBK’s the babyface, and Razor’s the heel. Some fans call this better than the WM 10 match, although I am not one of them.
I think the WM 10 match was more innovative and the work was tighter, but this match was different from the WM 10 match, with the spots and story. The ending affects the match, but everything leading up to the finish was greatness, and if anything, this match proves lighting can strike twice and you can never doubt Shawn in a big match situation. Period.
#3. Summerslam 1992: IC Title: Bulldog © vs. Bret Hart
In 1992, this was considered the greatest match ever by many fans, but now some fans have mixed feelings about the match. Some fans, or I should say critics, feel as if this match has no story, its all about exchanging moves without a coherent direction. I
agree, but I don't see the need in every match having a start-to-finish story in it. I agree every match should have psychology, but I disagree fully that a match needs storytelling to be successful.
I am not saying storytelling doesn’t make matches better, but it isn’t always needed necessarily in order to have a compelling match, and to be honest, there is some storytelling surrounding the match with the drive of both men in order to win.
The match also has great timing and moves at a prompt pace. There’s isn’t any malingering or dull moments, all the work is fast and deliberate. On top of that, it has one of the largest pops in wrestling history. Great stuff.
#2.Summerslam 1991; IC: Mr. Perfect © vs. Bret Hart
This match finally set the direction of Bret Hart’s single push, which Vince waited three years late to pull the trigger on. The match itself was as scientifically sound as you’re going to get.
Bret Hart played a great underdog, and Perfect played the great bully heel. In the end, Bret Hart was able to counter a leg drop to the groin to a sharpshooter, which made Perfect tap in no time.
Great match all around; work-rate, good booking, storytelling, it’s all here.
#1. Summerslam 1994: WWF Title, Steel Cage Match: Bret Hart © vs. Owen Hart.
Owen Hart was sick of his brother being in the spotlight without himself being in the spotlight, so Owen did something about it. He turned on his brother, and then beat him at Wrestlemania.
Now the feud is more personal, and it’s for the WWF title. People complain about this match as being not hateful enough, but the dynamic of the match wasn’t about violence, it was about winning.
Owen wanted to prove once and for all, he’s better than his brother, and Bret wanted to prove that he’s the champion and he can beat any challenger.
That’s the story, not they wanted to make each other bleed buckets. With that said, this match is awesome. They used the cage to build the drama with, as if they were near-falls, which had me guessing time after time. What also separates this from the average climb-the-cage-and-get-pulled-down-and-elevate-the-match-by-doing-so is the intensity and the hard work. On par with their WM-10 match, and the best Summerslam match thus far.
*If you think I left a match out, bring it up in the comments, and I will tell you why it's not on the list, thanks.*