WWE: Ranking Every Main Event in SummerSlam History
We are only a few short weeks from the 2011 edition of SummerSlam. SummerSlam debuted all the way back in 1988. Since then there have been 23 main-events.
The 24th main-event will most likely be the champion vs. champion match between CM Punk and John Cena. I'm sure that match will immediately join the top of this list.
In the meanwhile, what I will do is rank each one and tell you what is the greatest main-event in SummerSlam history.
23. WWF Championship Match-Diesel vs. King Mabel (1995)
Mabel was declared King Mabel after winning the 1995 King of the Ring (which was the worst KOTR in company history).
The win made King Mabel the number one contender for Diesel’s WWF Title and the match would take place at SummerSlam. Who thought that was a good idea?
Needless to say, it was a bad match that was overshadowed by everything else on the card that night.
22. WWF Championship Match-Yokozuna vs. Lex Luger (1993)
This feud started on the 4th of July of that year when Yokozuna took place in a body slam challenge. After several wrestlers failed in body-slamming the ‘Japanese’ Champion, Lex Luger arrived via helicopter and accomplished the feat.
The body slam of Yokozuna led to the SummerSlam title match under the condition that Luger would get no re-match. Luger nailed Yoko with the loaded elbow and knocked the champion out of the ring.
Yokozuna would get counted out and even though Luger was declared the winner, Yokozuna would remain the champion.
21.The Match Made in Hell (1991)
It was billed as the match made in hell as opposed to the the match made in heaven, which was the Savage/Elizabeth wedding. The participants were Hulk Hogan teaming with The Ultimate Warrior and they took on Sgt. Slaughter, General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa.
The only thing memorable thing about this match is that we actually got to see the team of Hogan and the Warrior.
Warrior threatened to walk out on McMahon behind the scenes unless he was heavily compensated. Of course, McMahon would give in. Once the match was over however, Vince would immediately fire the Warrior and he would not re-appear until about six months later.
20. The Undertaker vs. the Undertaker (1994)
Most fans know that the true main event was the Hart vs. Hart cage match, which more than delivered. This match however went on last so it is technically the main event.
The Undertaker took a sabbatical at that year’s Royal Rumble after being taken out by Yokozuna and several other men. That led to a memorable search for the Undertaker which even included Leslie Nielson.
During this time a fake Undertaker emerged. The two would collide at the summer fest to determine which Undertaker was the real one. After a lackluster match, there was no doubt that the real Undertaker was back.
19. Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake vs. Randy Savage and Zeus (1989)
This match was first set-up in the No Holds Barred movie that starred Hogan and Zeus. Again, who thought it’d be a good idea to turn that into an actual wrestling angle and match.
Hogan and Savage, while the biggest stars at the time, couldn’t even carry Beefcake and Zeus to a good match and instead we received a mess of a match.
Then again, the fact that it did have Hogan and Savage squaring off would be good enough reason to raise interests in any match.
18. The Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude-WWF Championship Cage Match (1990)
This was the beginning of the Warrior experiment. Warrior and Hogan had just competed in one of the biggest matches of all-time several months earlier with Warrior coming out on top.
For the first time in a while, Hogan took a back seat and competed on the undercard while Warrior went on last.
While the match probably should have been worse, it was brought up to a decent level by the underrated Rick Rude. The under-appreciated Rude would be gone from the company after the event.
17. The Mega Powers vs. the Mega Bucks (1988)
Here we have the first main event in SummerSlam history. The WWF was still trying to milk Hogan and Andre for all it was worth.
However, the more interesting angle developing was the friendship/soon-to-be-rivalry between WWF Champion Randy Savage and the Immortal Hulk Hogan.
The moment that still sticks out to me to this day however, is the image of Savage’s valet Miss Elizabeth removing her skirt. Sure, the diva’s of today wear less, but none of them come even close to the gorgeous Elizabeth on that night (or any other night).
16. WWF Championship Match-Shawn Michaels vs. Vader (1996)
This took place during Shawn’s first WWF Title reign. At the time there was a lack of legitimate contenders for the title so the big man was slotted for the main-event of the second biggest show of the year.
Shawn had successful defenses against Diesel and the British Bulldog under his belt and while Vader posed a physical threat, the title never really seemed at jeopardy.
At one time it was believed that Vader would be booked to win the title, however, that did not happen and instead Shawn’s long reign would continue a few more months.
15. Elimination Chamber World Title Match-(2003)
Initially it was believed that a singles match between Triple H and Goldberg would take place at SummerSlam. Booking changes and an injured leg on Triple H’s behalf turned the singles match into a 6-man Elimination Chamber match.
The WWE attempted to insert some drama into the match by inserting a young Randy Orton into the match. At the time, Orton and Triple H were stable-mates. The threat was a minor one however, and Orton was eliminated early.
In the end, it did end up being Triple H and Goldberg as the last two men and with some help from his Evolution buddies, Triple H would emerge victorious and delay the title change until the following month.
14. WCW Title Match-Booker T vs. the Rock (2001)
This match took place during the WCW/ECW invasion angle. Kurt Angle had just failed to take the title from the Alliance’s leader Steve Austin.
It was now left up to The Rock to take the WCW Title from then 5-Time WCW Champion Booker T.
The Rock would not disappoint and while it wasn’t as great as the Angle and Austin match, Rock and Booker still delivered a good match as Rock brought the WCW title over to Team WWF.
13. Edge vs. John Cena-WWE Championship Match (2006)
This was Edge’s first solo main event on PPV and it couldn’t have taken place at a better PPV than Summerslam (except for WrestleMania of course). A couple weeks earlier, Edge took the title from Rob Van Dam in a triple threat match.
Van Dam had gotten busted for possession of marijuana and threw a monkey wrench in all of the short term plans WWE had.
Edge came to the rescue and the SummerSlam main event became Edge vs. Cena, one-on-one. The match heavily favored Cena, however, in the end and in Cena’s hometown, the Rated R Superstar successfully defended his WWE Championship.
12. Steve Austin vs. Triple H vs. Mankind-WWF Championship Match (1999)
Jesse Ventura was the special guest referee for this match and in the end, proved to be not too big of a distraction.
This match should have probably been between Austin and Triple H but for whatever reason Austin would not drop the title to Triple H so Mankind was brought in the mix and it was made a triple-threat match.
At the end the least likely man to win, did win as Mankind defeated Austin to win his 3rd WWF title.
As many expected, Mankind was a transitional champion and the very next night passed on the title as the Cerebral Assassin celebrated his first WWF Title win.
11. Team WWE vs. Nexus (2010)
Here we have the most recent entry as this match occurred just last year.
Anyone remember when Nexus debuted with Barrett as their leader and were actually considered a threat? Seems so long ago right? Looking at the rosters for both teams now, it kind of seems ridiculous.
At the time however, Nexus provided a serious threat for Team WWE. Say what you will, but it was a hot angle that even managed to bring back a recently fired Daniel Bryan back into the mix as he joined John Cena and the rest of Team WWE.
Bryan looked strong and was only eliminated once the jealous Miz interjected himself into the match. At the end, Barrett fell to the both loved and hated Superman.
10. John Cena vs. Randy Orton-WWE Championship Match (2007)
During this period, Orton was receiving a huge career revival. For so long it seemed that Cena and Orton were positioned to be the WWE’s golden boys for years to come.
Somewhere along 2004 and 2007 however, Orton hit a few highs but many more lows and at times it seemed he would not be able to return to the main-event scene. An injury to the Undertaker as well as one to Shawn Michaels changed all that.
Orton rode the momentum all the way to the SummerSlam main-event as for the first time, he faced John Cena on PPV. At the time, Cena held the title for an unprecedented 11 months and many felt it was Orton’s time.
In a very hot match that the crowd was heavily into, Orton fell as many fans left disappointed. The two would have a re-match the next month but it would be nowhere near as good as the match the two had on this night.
9. The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle-WWF Title Match (2000)
Kurt Angle’s relationship with Triple H’s wife Stephanie McMahon took this feud and match into a very personal level. Meanwhile, The Rock was just interested in defending his WWF Championship.
Angle would be knocked out of the match early after suffering a legit concussion so The Rock and Triple H were asked to carry the match while Angle was attended to backstage.
Eventually, Angle came to with encouragement from Stephanie. Angle and Triple H would be too busy with each other as well as Stephanie and eventually Triple H would fall to The Rock as Rock accomplished the only thing he wanted to do: leave with the title.
8. The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar-Undisputed Title Match (2002)
We did not know that The Rock had no intention of staying after this match. We know now that Rock never really had a chance.
Brock has being established as a monster. Already having won the King of the Ring as well as destroying the immortal Hulk Hogan, Rock was just another stepping stone for Brock Lesnar. Just four months after debuting, Lesnar was crowned the WWE Undisputed Champion.
It was a case of too much, too soon. It was also something that Brock took for granted as he also left the first chance he got. It could not match the intensity or overall greatness of the Triple H-HBK match that had just taken place or even the countless other great matches on that year’s loaded card. It was however, a very physical and entertaining Undisputed Title Match
7. Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels (2005)
There were no stipulations or titles on the line but it's easy to see why this was the main-event. This match was your typical Hogan match. Hogan would get beat down for the majority of the match, only to Hulk up and emerge victorious in the end.
However, for whatever reason, this one had a different feeling to it. The epic confrontation between Hogan and HBK as well as the HBK promo’s leading up to this match, added something special to this match.
We saw a real feud developing as HBK said a lot of things about Hogan that really hit Hogan where it hurt. The match had HBK overselling a lot of moves, but for whatever reason, it worked and the first and only one-on-one match between the two icons was a classic encounter.
6. The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart-WWF Championship Match (1997)
Bret Hart who had recently turned heel, was attempting to bring the WWF Title to his Hart Foundation stable. The only thing that stood in his way was The Undertaker. Oh yeah, and bitter rival Shawn Michaels was the special referee.
Bret Hart however, would use that to his advantage as he used Shawn’s anger and hatred against him. In one of the greatest ending’s ever, Bret would spit in Shawn’s face, daring Shawn to hit him with a steel chair. HBK obliged.
Bret however, would duck and Shawn would instead nail the Undertaker with it. Bret covered a fallen Undertaker and Shawn had no choice but to make the three count and declare Bret the WWF Champion.
5. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk-TLC World Title Match (2009)
This was one of the hottest and more personal feuds in recent memory. Punk called Hardy on his drug abuse and let him know that he was better than him.
Punk had recently turned heel as he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase against a wounded Jeff Hardy. Punk called out the fans for their hypocrisy as he had done the exact same thing a year earlier but instead he was cheered for it.
The two young men proved that they deserved the spotlight and sacrificed their bodies to put on a great match. At the end, Jeff took one too many high risks and Punk would capitalize and emerge the World Champion for the third time.
Punk would lay over a fallen Hardy, however the lights would suddenly go out. As they went back on, Punk now stood over a returning Undertaker. The Undertaker would lay out Punk and send him back down to the mid-card shortly after.
4. The Undertaker vs. Edge-Hell in a Cell (2008)
There were no titles at stake here, this rivalry was more personal than that. The two men were in the midst of a very bitter feud.
A few months earlier, Edge had defeated the Undertaker in a TLC Match and booted him from the WWE. Well, Undertaker was brought back by Vickie Guerrero to inflict pain on Edge.
Edge would be in the receiving end of plenty of pain, however, he also delivered his fair share. The men delivered one of the best Hell in a Cell Matches of all-time (even if there was no blood).
Following the match, Edge would be gone for about three months as we were told that the Undertaker had sent Edge to hell.
3. Steve Austin vs. the Undertaker-WWF Championship Match (1998)
Look at the picture. Yes, this one was epic. These were the two biggest names at the time (The Rock was still on the way up) and this match had an epic feel to it.
Austin was at the height of his popularity and Taker’s popularity was up there as well. The two men fought a brutal, hard-hitting match. While Undertaker had plenty of fans in Madison Square Garden that night, it was clear that the majority wanted Austin to retain his title.
When it was all said and done and a few tables were broken, we saw just that as Austin left the Garden that night, battered and bruised, but also with the WWF Championship.
2. Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton-World Title Match (2004)
Yes, it was that good. If you haven’t seen it or think I’m overrating it, go and watch it as soon as you get the chance. This was a straight up, one-on-one wrestling masterpiece.
Orton has had many great matches, but he will never duplicate or exceed what he accomplished on this night. Benoit could carry even the most mediocre wrestler to a great match, but on this night there would be no carrying.
Orton held his own with the Crippler and the two men were in a zone. There was no interference whatsoever and at the end, Orton would counter an attempt at a crossface into an RKO and win his first World Title. Only 24 at the time of the win, he’d become the youngest World Champion in WWE history.
1. Bret Hart vs. the British Bulldog-I-C Title Match (1992)
How rare is it for the Intercontinental Championship to main-event a PPV. It hadn’t happened before, it hasn't happened since and will never happen again.
Well the special circumstances that night led to this being the final match on the card. SummerSlam 1992 took place in Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000 fans. The fans rooted for their countryman, The British Bulldog.
The star on this night, however, was the hitman. Bret carried an out-of-it Bulldog to a 5-star match. While on this night, Bret lost the I-C title and gave the Bulldog his moment, this match really made a star out of Bret.
Just two months later, Bret would defeat Ric Flair to become WWF Champion. Who says you can’t look good in defeat?