With all the buzz around the WWE brand extension, the draft, Roman Reigns’ suspension and then the Shield Triple Threat, SummerSlam has crept up on us – and we shouldn’t sleep on it because SummerSlam has long been the #2 show of the year for WWE, and often better than WrestleMania. So just like we did with Mania, we are going to run down the 10 best matches in SummerSlam history!
If you missed Part One, check it out here!
7. Triple H vs Shawn Michaels – Unsanctioned Street Fight – 2002
We’re only four matches in and already we have our 3rd from 2002 – if you can’t figure out that was one hell of a show and you should go watch it!
This was Shawn Michaels first match since WrestleMania XIV all the way back in 1998 – he had gone through a back injury, a pill addiction, and alcoholism. Back in the late 90’s Triple H and HBK were the founding members of D-X and best friends, but there was one definite fact – HBK was the guy. He was the champion and the superstar, Triple H was the sidekick. During Michaels four-year absence though Triple H had become a multiple time WWE Champion, a WrestleMania main eventer and one of the best heels in the business.
The angle of best friends and the power shift between them was excellent, the anticipation of HBK’s first match in over 1,600 days was huge and somehow the match managed to deliver. It was helped by the excellent commentary of Jim Ross. Every classic Michaels moment, from skinning the cat to a double axe-handle off the top rope, got a pop from the crowd.
Triple H’s methodical work of Michaels’ back started off harshly and then got more and more brutal but it only served to make the comebacks and moments of fire from Michaels all the more exciting. Referee Earl Hebner tried to protect Michaels as well, only serving to increase the hatred of Triple H. The first nip up of the night blew the roof off the Nassau Coliseum and as the blood flowed and the chairs swung the match teetered on the brink of being too much. A cross body from the top rope through a table on the outside, an elbow off the top of a ladder, HBK pulled out the big moves but the end came with a roll-up and an continuation of the angle.
The return of Michaels was so unlikely after everything he went through and the demons he battled. The emotion of seeing him take to the ring once more and perform like he had never been away was incredible.
6. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (c) vs Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship – 2001
There was a lot wrong with the “Invasion” angle, but this match was one of the things that worked incredibly well.
The heel Stone Cold Steve Austin, with all his paranoia and craziness, went into SummerSlam with the championship he had sold his soul for and had then turned his back on “Team WWF” because of his jealousy of Vince McMahon & Kurt Angle’s relationship. So yea, the story in the lead up wasn’t great, but the build did include the wonderful moment of Kurt Angle soaking The Alliance with milk in a wonderful flip of Austin’s famous beer truck moment.
The two starred each other down on the walkway and then slowly, calculatingly walked together before starting to fight before the champ even got to the ring. Stone Cold began to work over Angle’s leg and hit a few suplexes, much to the delight of the heelish Paul Heyman on commentary. Angle’s comebacks, with german suplex after german suplex, was cut off with a poke to the eye and some sly shots from Austin. The crowd were really behind Angle, with Austin’s heel turn having finally taken hold.
Austin hit a sloppy stunner mid-match which Angle kicked out off, but after yelling at the ref he crushed Angle with a second one to really damage the Olympic champion, only Angle rolled out of the ring – allowing Austin to do what he did best, brawl on the outside. The beating Angle takes starts to get brutal. Austin smashed him into the ring post several times, busting him open only for a bloody Angle to counter with the ankle lock on the outside. Somehow they started to pick the pace up back in the ring.
When Angle once again kicked out of the stunner and started to pull up himself up using Austin it was incredible. An Angle slam gave Angle some time but Austin kicked out. Austin clocked Earl Hebner, then replacement referee Mike Chioda ate a stunner and Tim White got clocked with the belt by a desperate Austin.
The screwy finish does detract from the match a little but for 95% of it these two were excellent.
5. Bret “Hit Man” Hart (c) vs The British Bulldog for the Intercontinental Championship – 1992
29th August 1992 is still the biggest day in British wrestling history. 80,000 people packed out Wembley Stadium to see one match alone, the main event between The British Bulldog & Bret Hart. Bulldog was lead out by a flag-waving and very young Lennox Lewis and while he was the home favourite Bret Hart was also much loved by the Wembley crowd.
Bret’s technical prowess gave him the early advantage but Bulldog’s power kept him in the match. The crowd was electric every time Bulldog was on top, but soon Bret took control and began to work Bulldog over even hitting a beautiful plancha to the outside which rolled Bulldog up. A backslide attempt from Bulldog lifted the crowd but it was only a two count.
A lot of the mystique behind this match stems from the story Bret tells in his book – “Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling” – that Davey Boy Smith was a total mess in the match having spent his summer doing drugs rather than training. Bret said that Davey Boy forgot everything they were meant to do in the match and was blown up after just a few minutes, and it’s not hard to believe with some of the sloppiness and laboured movement from Bulldog. Bret is as crisp and smooth as ever.
When the end comes the crowd explodes and then again at the reunion of the two brothers-in-law afterwards. The match, slow by today’s standards, was terrific but you can’t help it could have been amazing if British Bulldog was in better shape.