Top 10 SummerSlam Matches Of All Time

July 23, 2018

 

TOP 10 SUMMERSLAM MATCHES OF ALL TIME

 

10 - 1991 - INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: Mr Perfect vs Bret 'Hitman' Hart

 

 

Prior to this match Bret Hart was mostly a tag team guy with his partner Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart. This was his first high profile match as a singles wrestler, and he had a great opponent to work with in Mr Perfect. This changed the perception of Bret Hart and he'd go on from here to become one of the biggest single stars of the 1990's. Mr Perfect was working this match with a major back injury and was in severe pain and was very limited in what he could do, nonetheless the match is a classic. Lots of great counter wrestling and near falls here, the biggest moment in the match for me was Bret kicking out of the perfect-plex, back then you didn't see guys kicking out of finishers and I don't think anyone had ever kicked out of the perfect-plex. It was an awesome near fall. There'd be more good near falls afterward but that was the best one. The finish, however, was completely ridiculous. Bret Hart applied the sharpshooter and the second he turned over Mr Perfect just submitted without any struggle whatsoever. After such a hard fought battle and so many great near falls, it looked like it would take something big to win the match. The Sharpshooter was the right finish, but submitting so fast turned it into a bad finish. (****1/2)

 

 

9 - 1995 - LADDER MATCH FOR THE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon

 

 

This is the second ladder match between these two. It wasn't actually supposed to happen, it was supposed to be Shawn Michaels vs Sid but Vince apparently reviewed the card and realized the show was going to suck and wanted to add a good match, so we got this, and thankfully so. Just before the show Shawn and Razor were told of a new mandate that said they couldn't use the ladder as a weapon, which ruined a lot of what they laid out, instead they'd have to do spots off the ladder. I love these old ladder matches before everything turned into a giant spot fest. This match has lots of good psychology with Ramon working over Shawn's knee and you can't say praise Shawn's selling enough. There's also plenty of great spots off the ladder and cool counters. Yeah, Shawn blew the ending twice, but the rest of this is gold and a more than worthy sequel to their WrestleMania X classic. (****3/4)

 

8 - 2013 - WWE TITLE MATCH: John Cena vs Daniel Bryan

 

 

Daniel Bryan was John Cena's handpicked opponent for SummerSlam 2013. Bryan was just about the most popular guy in company at this point (and he'd get even more popular later), and the crowd were fantastic here. Bryan was pretty much the best worker in the company and Cena was always great in big matches, he worked his ass off here and hit some impressive moves. The match is tremendous action from bell to bell. The highlights of the match for me was watching Bryan lock in his submission moves because he really locks them in and it looks so painful, and Cena's selling of them was on point. Another highlight was the spot where they slapped the shit out of each other (like something you'd see in a Japanese match), it paid off their intense promo from Raw during the build up. It all built to an epic closing sequence where Bryan countered several Attitude Adjustment attempts, got a small package for a two count, and then finished him off a knee to the face. The ending actually felt a bit out of nowhere and I'd say the small package should've ended it instead of the knee, it doesn't take anything away from the match, though. Sure, the title reign would last about 2 minutes because Triple H, who was the referee for the match but had factored in so little it wasn't worth mentioning, pedigreed Bryan and Randy Orton cashed in for his 594th title reign, but make no mistake, at this point in 2013, John Cena was the title and Bryan beat him clean as a sheet. (****3/4)

 

7 - 2001 - WWF TITLE MATCH: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Kurt Angle

 

 

Steve Austin was on fire in 2001, he finally got his neck fixed and was back to his best. This match was an intense war. Austin was a desperate madman and Angle was an unstoppable machine who wasn't going to beaten on this night. The intensity of the match never dropped, the brawling segments were great, they suplexed the shit out of each other, Austin even did a Million Dollar Dream. Lots of close near falls throughout this match, and honestly, Austin probably gave him too many stunners, but the stunner was such an over move that you couldn't kill it and it made Angle look like a complete badass kicking out of so many of them. There's lots of highlights in this match, the sick suplexes on the floor, Angle's awesome moonsault, the closing sequence before the screwjob finish. My favorite moment has to be Austin brutalizing Angle, just smashing his head into the ringpost and making him bleed, it looks incredibly brutal. Unfortunately they booked themselves into a corner, they couldn't have Angle lose and they didn't want to take the belt off Austin. So, the finish was Steve Austin beating up a bunch of referees and evil WCW referee Nick Patrick running down and DQ'ing Austin to save the title, but give Angle the win. (****3/4)

 

6 - 1998 - LADDER MATCH FOR INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: The Rock vs Triple H

 

 

These guys were mid-carders at the time and this match practically turned them both into main event players, Rock would get there first, Triple H would be out for a few months with a knee injury but he'd make his way into the main event scene in 1999. I covered this one in my SummerSlam 1998 review, available here https://www.goingoverwrestling.com/single-post/2018/07/21/Wrestling-Rewind-WWF-SummerSlam-1998-Review. Here's my comments on the match; The super slow climbing bugged me but it's a minor complaint. This was the coming out party for both of these guys as they beat the shit out of each other to get each other over, and boy did they get over. This is a great match and something really special, it's not the crazy spotfest we're accustomed to with ladder matches post-TLC, it's a great psychology heavy war where they used the ladder to beat the shit out of each other (it's actually refreshing to see and makes a lot more sense). The Rock was on here and Triple H was bumping like crazy, it's too bad his knee injury was actually a shoot and he never had the chance to defend the belt. Rock lost the belt but he'd be moving onto to bigger things. (****3/4)

 

5 - 2000 - TLC MATCH FOR TAG TEAM TITLES: Edge & Christian vs The Hardy Boyz vs The Dudley Boyz

 

 

Speaking of TLC, this is the first one. Well, it's really the second, WrestleMania 2000 would feature the same three teams in the same type of match, but it was called a Triangle Ladder Match so this was billed as the first ever TLC match. This one would take the ladder match to another level and would change the style forever. That wasn't necessarily a good thing, personally I prefer the slower, psychology heavy ladder matches of the 90s, and most ladder matches after TLC tend to bleed together for me and aren't particularly memorable. The TLCs however, are the original insane spotfests and are something truly special. All 6 guys were insane and this one is 15 minutes of non-stop crazy action. I can't single out any spots because there's so many of them and they're all great. The best thing about this match is that is escalated to the finish. They took big bumps all the way through, but the bumps that knocked out the Dudleys and the Hardys were noticeably bigger than any before it, allowing Edge and Christian to retain the titles. The rating is a tough one for me, I want to go the full 5 on it, but I feel like if you have second thoughts over a rating, it's probably not 5 stars. It's definitely as close as possible to it though. (****3/4)

 

4 - 1992 - INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: Bret 'Hitman' Hart vs The British Bulldog

 

 

SummerSlam from Wembley, this was the defining moment of The British Bulldogs career, he was super over as the baby face, Bret played the heel role and dominated most of the match. This match had tremendous heat. Bret Hart gave the most impressive performance of his career carrying the Bulldog here, he'd have a couple of better matches, but to have a match this great with the Bulldog getting blown up in minutes in and forgetting everything he was supposed to do is nothing short of a miracle. The story told was excellent with Bret dominating the Bulldog and full of his usual great psychology, when he eventually applied the Sharpshooter it really felt like he was going to ruin the Bulldogs homecoming and the crowd was freaking out, going absolutely nuts. Bulldog did make the ropes, however, and picked up the win by hooking Bret's legs when he went for a sunset flip, which received one of the loudest ovations you'll here. This match made big stars out of both of these guys. For the Bulldog it would be short lived, he dropped the title soon after and was fired before the years end for drug related reasons (it'd be 2 years before he returned to the company). Bret Hart, on the other hand, would go on to win the WWF Title from Ric Flair a couple of months later. (*****)

 

3 - 2002 - UNSANCTIONED MATCH: Shawn Michaels vs Triple H

 

 

After four years, Shawn Michaels was back in the ring after his career ending back injury. He'd wrestle his best friend (turned into worst enemy) Triple H in a street fight, they billed it as an unsanctioned match, but for all intents and purposes it's a street fight. Outstanding storytelling in this match, everyone knew about Shawns back injury so it was easy to play it up, anything done to his back is amplified x100 in the mind of the fans, and that's exactly what they did. The biggest spot early to emphasize it was a simple backbreaker, it looked great and it meant everything, it was so effective that it made the crowd gasp in horror and totally changed the feeling of the match. Shawn's selling was amazing and every babyface comeback he made was perfectly timed, you wouldn't know the guy hadn't wrestled in four years. He did some great spots as well, the superkick into a chair and the splash from the ladder through a table probably being my favorites. Triple H, not to be outdone had the crowd gasping with some sick moves to Shawns back, the first backbreaker which I mentioned earlier, but later on he did a backbreaker through a chair that looked amazing. The ending was good, Triple H went for a pedigree and it freaked out the crowd but Shawn rolled him up and took the pin. I would've loved to see Shawn win with a superkick for old times sake but that's just personal preference. Post match, Triple H landed a sick sledge hammer shot to his back, because he's a sore loser and a sick bastard. This was done to send Shawn back into retirement, but Shawn would, thankfully change his mind and wrestle for another 8 years. He couldn't have asked for a better match to come back with than this. (*****)

 

2 - 2013 - NO DQ MATCH: CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar

 

 

Back to SummerSlam 2013 for the second time on this list. Paul Heyman had turned on CM Punk, and sent his monster after him. This match is the classic David vs Goliath story, and it's pro wrestling at its best. The storytelling, psychology and near falls were perfectly executed. I have to mention Brocks trash talk, it's quality in this match "you're my Punk bitch now" probably being the best line. They built it up perfectly and the last 10 minutes are 10 of the best minutes you'll ever see, near fall after near fall, with incredibly intense near tap outs. The ending itself followed all of that perfectly too, with Punk going after Heyman and Brock just destroying him with a brutal chair shot, it was emphatic, and then he hit the F5 on the chair and there was no coming back from that. This was everything I love about pro wrestling and the only thing that could've made it better would've been a gory blade job from Punk, but we're in 2013 here and blood was a thing of the past. Brock looked like the biggest monster coming out of this and Punk looked like the biggest babyface ever. (*****)

 

1 - 1994 - STEEL CAGE FOR THE WWF TITLE: Bret 'Hitman' Hart vs Owen Hart

 

 

The WWF didn't typically do great cage matches because of the limiting escape rules, this was the exception, it's easily the greatest cage match in the history of the company and one of the greatest matches, period. These two had an absolute classic at WrestleMania X with Owen getting the surprise pin on his brother, setting him up as a logical contender. Everything about this match is impressive. They used the rules of the match to their advantage and built the entire match off of it, with the guys frequently trying to escape, and being cut off. The match had everything, great high spots, the best of which was Owens suplex off the top of the cage. The technical wrestling and brawling was well done. What really made the match, more than anything else, was the selling, they both sold how exhausted they were during the second half of the match, which had the crowd really buying into everything they did. There were many times where one guy could've won the match, but he collapsed because he was too exhausted and couldn't capitalize. The ending of the match was super close and intense. Both guys climbed out and got halfway down, Bret rammed Owens head into the cage and he slipped but got his foot hooked in the cage allowing Bret to drop down and pick up the win. It was fitting for such an even match to have such an even ending. In the post match Jim Neidhart jumped the rail and attacked Bret. He locked the cage door and he and Owen destroyed Bret, while the other brothers tried to make the save. Eventually The British Bulldog fought his way in and saved Bret, it was an effective way to bring him back after 2 years. (*****)

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