August 14, 2011, the 24th annual SummerSlam will air live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, headlined by CM Punk vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship. The match was sanctioned by the WWE's new COO Triple H, who was appointed to the position as Mr. McMahon's replacement three weeks ago.
What better way to prepare for SummerSlam than to look back at Triple H's SummerSlam career. 'The Game' has been involved in 12 SummerSlams, ranging from his debut year in 1995 as Hunter Hearst Helmsley to his last SummerSlam match in 2009.
I have looked over all of his matches and attempted to whittle them down to a list of The Game's five greatest SummerSlam matches. Keep in mind not all the matches were be chosen specifically for match quality.
Triple H vs. King Booker: SummerSlam 2007
'The Game' made his return from his second quadricep injury at SummerSlam 2007. He returned to face King Booker to prove that he was the one true king of the WWE. The match itself was decent, nothing spectacular, however, it didn't stink the place out.
D-Generation X vs. Legacy: SummerSlam 2009
Triple H's latest match at SummerSlam. The second reunion of DX occurred during Triple H's fantastic feud with Randy Orton. After failing to receive a match at SummerSlam against Orton, Triple H enlisted the help of Shawn Michaels to battle Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes. DX made a memorable entrance at SummerSlam on the back of a tank.
Triple H vs Mankind vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin: SummerSlam 1999
Triple H's first SummerSlam main event, during the initial stages of his run as 'The Game.' The match was good, with Mankind winning the WWE championship. This was one of the matches at the beginning of Triple H's ascension to the top. The next night on RAW, he won his first WWE championship.
In 2006, Triple H and Shawn Michaels were both embroiled in feuds against the McMahons and the Spirit Squad. This resulted in the first official reunion of D-Generation X.
In my opinion, the reunion was great. It wasn't the crude, MA-15 antics of the original DX, however, their new brand of comedy was just as effective.
At SummerSlam, DX finally got a chance to face the McMahons. The match wasn't a wrestling classic, however, it was eventful and had its share of funny moments.
From the get-go, the McMahons refused to enter the ring, opting instead to have other wrestlers run in. DX had to go through a gauntlet style brawl before the match ever officially started. The McMahons sent the Spirit Squad, William Regal, Big Show, Mr. Kennedy and Finlay with Umaga interfering mid-match.
The excitement of this match stemmed from the reunion of DX, a match any fan would happily watch.
The second ever Elimination Chamber at SummerSlam 2003 featured Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and Kevin Nash.
While the first Elimination Chamber was arguably better, the second was undeniably entertaining. Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton carried the bulk of the match before the introduction of Goldberg.
Back when the EC hadn't been watered down, these six competitors worked a great match. It's arguable that the overall match served two purposes: One, to further Goldberg's reputation as a human wrecking-ball and two, to further Triple H's fantastic heel character.
A Goldberg fan at the time, I had no problem with Goldberg destroying everyone on introduction. It was impressive.
Triple H's involvement in the match was limited due to a groin injury, however, he still performed well. On a side note, it was hilarious when Ric Flair was holding Triple H's pod door shut, only for Goldberg to kick down the plexiglass.
Triple H was embroiled in two feuds when SummerSlam 2000 rolled around. He feuded against The Rock for the WWE championship and was building a heated rivalry against Kurt Angle in a love triangle with Stephanie McMahon.
The match itself was fantastic, however, the match is probably more famous for the infamous incident at the beginning. It occurred before The Rock had entered, when Triple H and Kurt Angle had already started brawling.
Triple H was about to pedigree Angle through the table, when it collapsed, sending Kurt's head straight into the ground. Angle suffered a concussion and was taken to the back. The incident was shown on "Don't Try This At Home" videos for the next few years.
While Kurt was assisted to the back, it was up to Rock and Triple H to improvise the start of the match. This match is often brought up when faces within the industry discuss Triple H's reputation as a 'ring general.'
Credit to Rock and Triple H for working a great match for 10 minutes while waiting for Angle to return. Also, credit to Kurt Angle for returning from a concussion and still working a great match. In the end, The Rock was victorious, and while Triple H didn't win, this match further established him as a ring general.
A definitive match in both the careers of The Rock and Triple H, in 1998, when both future stars were up and coming mid-carders.
The summer of 1998 saw a heated rivalry between the Nation of Domination, led by The Rock and D-Generation X, led by Triple H. For 26 minutes they fought in an incredible ladder match. Triple H would be the winner, however, it would be The Rock who would be the first to reach the main event.
Triple H was able to elicit an extreme side of The Rock not often seen. It was a great performance from both men, who proved they were going to be future stars of the company.
One of my favorite matches of all time.
Triple H has stated in multiple interviews that he was elated when creative approached him about a possible feud with Shawn Michaels, due to the main event talent shortage caused by the brand extension.
The story told between Shawn and Hunter leading to the match was fantastic and laid the foundation for a feud (my favorite) that would continue for two more years.
Shawn returned after four years and proved he was still able to wrestle, whereas Triple H began a heel run that would lead to his domination of RAW for the next one-and-a-half years.
The match itself was an unsanctioned match, basically a street fight. It was an excellent match that lived up to all the hype. It was an awesome sight to see Shawn Michaels, who was effectively retired, reignite his career with one great match.
The match stole the show at SummerSlam 2002, with a fantastic ending, setting Shawn up for a return at the inaugural Elimination Chamber at Survivor Series.
The unsanctioned match ended with Triple H violently hitting Shawn in the back with a sledgehammer, playing on the back injury that kept HBK away from the ring for four years.
Both Triple H and Shawn Michaels were brilliant in this match. Maybe I'm showing bias, as this was the first pay-per-view I ever saw. Regardless, I truly believe this is the greatest match Triple H has ever had at SummerSlam.
Will there be more in the future? Most likely, as Triple H's return to the ring is inevitable. But everything is speculation at this point. In the mean time, let's hope we get a classic match out of this year's SummerSlam.