SummerSlam is a month away and one of the most highly-anticipated events in recent memory shall take place. Unlike most Pay-Per-View events put on by the WWE, SummerSlam actually does live up to the hype on most occasions. This year, Randy Orton will face Brock Lesnar. That's the one big match that's currently on the card, but it's enough to know that this year's event will be one of the biggest.
Over the years, many Superstars started their legacies at SummerSlam. Remember Randy Orton becoming one of the youngest World Heavyweight Champions ever in 2004? Yeah, that was pretty neat. SummerSlam has provided plenty of great moments, yet it's also provided plenty of awful moments.
Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, we've had no idea what to expect. After all of these recent venues, we know to expect the unexpected. Nothing more. As SummerSlam nears, it's a great time for all of us to take a look back at some of the best and worst moments from the massive Pay-Per-View event.
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16 Best: Edge and Christian Win First TLC Match, 2000
As WCW was winding down its run, Edge and Christian were becoming two of the up-and-coming Superstars in WWE and another example of how Vince McMahon's rival business was going to run out of luck.
In the first ever Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match, Edge and Christian were in a Triple Threat contest for the Tag Team Championships against The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz. Talk about a star-studded matchup. Edge and Christian, the pride of Canada, would win the inaugural TLC match when grabbing the titles which hung high above the ring.
And the two men would never look back, as they kickstarted their monumental careers with this iconic victory.
15 Worst: The Nexus vs. Team WWE, 2010
The main event match of the 2010 edition of SummerSlam had Team WWE (John Cena, Chris Jericho, Edge, Bret Hart, R-Truth, Daniel Bryan, and John Morrison) against the invading Nexus, led by Wade Barrett.
In an angle that we thought would be similar to the nWo-type invasion in WCW (and later WWE), the match was heavily hyped. Such is life when the men in the ring are current stars and guys on the rise of becoming "the guys." But predictably enough, Team WWE won and nothing big really happened after this.
Barrett, Darren Young, and Heath Slater are the only members from The Nexus that you can say enjoyed a decent run in WWE. Most of these guys could have had a major push if they had won, but it was just another match with no implications afterwards. A disappointment, indeed.
14 Best: Triple H Wins Elimination Chamber, 2003
Aside from Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar's bout, most matches on this card were a disappointment before the main event: A six-man Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Every man for himself: Triple H vs. Kevin Nash vs. Randy Orton vs. Goldberg vs. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels. That's six current/future Hall of Famers in one ring at the same time. Hard to complain, right?
Well, luckily for us fans, WWE got this match right. Triple H and Goldberg were the final two guys remaining and they put on a memorable finish, with Hunter being speared through the glass.
That set the stage for Triple H's Evolution stablemate, Ric Flair, to hand him a sledgehammer. He used it to take out Goldberg, keeping his World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H would remain the top heel for almost two years after this win, so the match and aftermath made this one a classic.
13 Worst: The Entire 1995 Event
For fans born in the '70s and '80s, the majority of them will probably tell you that this was the most boring and uneventful SummerSlam to take place.
First off, why was Diesel (Kevin Nash) defending the WWE Championship against King Mabel in the main event? That was not an exciting match at any point, and fans were more invested in The Undertaker vs. Kama and Shawn Michaels fighting Razor Ramon.
You can make a case that the HBK-Ramon Ladder match (a bout with little build up) for the Intercontinental Championship was exciting, but that was about it. The Undertaker's Casket match with Kama wasn't what you would call memorable. Bret Hart's match against Isaac Yankem was also disappointing because of the stupid finish: Where Jerry Lawler interfered to help Yankem, giving Hart the DQ victory.
12 Best: Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker for WWE Championship,
As WWE remained in a bitter Monday Night War with WCW, Bret Hart and The Undertaker were the top two stars Vince McMahon had. So when he had them end SummerSlam for the WWE Championship, expectations were sky-high.
In a match that lasted 28:19, Hart would outlast 'Taker to win. However, this is where the tension between Hart and McMahon was escalating. He threatened to never fight in America again if he had lost. Good thing Vinny Mac booked Hart to win, because it was an incredible finish. The inclusion of Shawn Michaels as a special guest referee made this match all the more memorable.
Of course, we all remember that ugly finish Hart had in WWE with the Montreal Screwjob. Knowing that he had another nice championship match like this shortly before bolting for WCW remains a great SummerSlam moment.
Re-watching this match will simply give you the shivers because nobody could have imagined how much more of a legend The Undertaker would become down the road. WWE's top two guys put on an absolute clinic that won't be forgotten.
11 Worst: Batista vs. The Great Khali, 2007
Batista was one of the top faces in the WWE and say what you want about The Great Khali, but he was absolutely one of the top heels, and his rivalry with The Animal was certainly his best.
That being said, it's still head-scratching to this day that WWE scripted it to end the worst way possible. As one of the main event matches, you always want a good, clean finish. But Vince McMahon and co. weren't having it on this day.
As the match became more climatic, Khali hit Batista with a steel chair, giving The Animal a DQ victory. Of course, the title couldn't switch hands via disqualification, so that just made the ending to a solid match horrible. It doesn't make any sense that WWE ended it like this.
Khali wouldn't hang around as a main card wrestler much longer, so the WWE really ruined any momentum he had going for him with this loss.
10 Best: Jake Roberts Crashes Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth's Wedding, 1991
Even though it's all scripted, of course, fans really couldn't help but feel emotional in a moving storyline at SummerSlam 1991. That event included 'Macho Man' Randy Savage tying the knot with Miss Elizabeth, his real-life wife (but on-screen fiance).
Savage had recently lost a match to The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII and, per the match stipulation, was permanently barred from fighting in the WWE again. But at least he and Elizabeth got to marry on-screen. Except, one of the most evil yet entertaining wedding crashes ever took place.
The Macho Man's arch-rival, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, presented the couple The Cobra as a gift which scared Elizabeth, and The Undertaker also came out to attack Savage.
It was legitimately one of the most epic heel promos ever and it was the highlight of SummerSlam 1991. We can only hope that one of us future to-be-weds will have a snake attack us at our weddings.
9 Worst: Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna, 1993
For those of you fans born after 1993, try to remember the main event at this year's WrestleMania. Vince McMahon wanted Roman Reigns to be THE GUY, but the fans weren't buying it and booed him heavily. Even after he beat Triple H to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Similarly, Lex Luger faced WWE Champion Yokozuna with the championship on the line at SummerSlam 1993. WWE was hoping this would be the push that could make Luger the next guy, as aging talents like Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan were on their respective ways out of town.
Luger won via countout, so Yokuzuna kept the title. Once again, very questionable and puzzling call by WWE to end it like that. To make matters worse, Luger wasn't appealing to the fans the way WWE tried selling him as their main face. This match was a complete disaster and a horrible end to an otherwise good show.
The more confusing part would be Luger's post-match patriotic celebration, where it seemed as though Luger actually won the title.
8 Best: Randy Orton Wins World Heavyweight Championship, 2004
Expecting Randy Orton to defeat Chris Benoit for the World Heavyweight Championship seemed to be a bit of a stretch. Orton was part of Evolution, led by Triple H. Surely, if someone were to take the title away from Benoit, it'd be The Game, right?
Orton became the youngest World Champion ever (according to WWE records) at age 24, finishing Benoit off with the RKO. That gave Orton the push he needed to be a mega star, as he was kicked out of Evolution and had a memorable feud with Triple H.
The match between Orton and Benoit was great. The right guy won the match. Orton used this victory to rise to the top of the card, becoming its top face while John Cena slowly built up his own empire. Over a decade later, Orton's name is one of the biggest money draws for the WWE. So his win from 2004 still impacts the company to this day.
Good show, Mr. McMahon.
7 Worst: Shane McMcahon vs. Eric Bischoff, 2003
There are some things in life where you just wonder why something had to happen in the first place.
I'm not talking about Donald Trump running for President or having Malcolm in the Middle end while it was still great. I'm talking about having Shane McMahon and Eric Bischoff in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
Shane O'Mac obviously was one of the top fighters at the time and it didn't matter who his opponent was. He was always going to put on a great show. That is, of course, as long as Bischoff wasn't the opponent.
Jonathan Coachman (remember him?) helped Bischoff out and the latter changed the match type so he wouldn't lose via DQ. Stone Cold Steve Austin then came out to help McMahon win, but this wasn't necessary at any point. Obviously Shane O'Mac was going to win, but we can't emphasize enough how ridiculous his opponent choice was.
6 Best: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy, 2009
If you wanted to watch a match full of epic stunts where the Superstars legitimately put their lives on the line, this was it.
CM Punk fought Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight Championship in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. Hardy had already cemented himself as a top star, but Punk needed just one championship victory to become one of the company's top stars.
Hardy performed a Swanton Bomb off the top of the ladder and a stretcher came to take him out. Punk seized the opportunity to climb the ladder for the title, but Hardy jumped back onto his feet and got to the top of the ladder. Punk would knock him off and secure the title. The following SmackDown, Punk beat Hardy in a rematch and, per the stipulation, Hardy was kicked out of the WWE.
Punk became the WWE's biggest star by far not named John Cena following his win, as this title run gave him the giant push he needed. This match absolutely had it all, and Hardy once again sacrificed his body for fan entertainment.
5 Worst: JBL Defeats Undertaker, 2004
John 'Bradshaw' Layfield unexpectedly won the WWE Championship from Eddie Guerrero at the Great American Bash. Many signs pointed to him losing his championship against The Undertaker at SummerSlam.
Okay, even if JBL won (which would really infuriate the fans) at least we could imagine a good ending, right?
Well, here's how it went down. JBL's friend, Orlando Jordan, handed JBL the championship belt and The Cowboy got away with striking The Undertaker. In retaliation, Undertaker hit him back with the title, but, of course, the referee saw this and disqualified The Phenom...because why not?
Two of the top stars facing off for a premier championship should not result in a stupid disqualification ending like that. JBL was the ultimate heel and the fans absolutely despised him. We were forced to endure nine months with him as champion and it was always a controversial finish like this that helped him retain the title.
4 Best: DX Defeats The Legacy, 2009
Some groups reunite too often and it's never that exciting any more. The nWo seemed to reunite every second week during the final years of WCW. But for D-Generation X, it was something else anytime they fought together.
In 2009, Triple H recruited Shawn Michaels to reform DX in order to take down The Legacy, aka Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, who were Randy Orton's right-hand men. So DX was formed again at SummerSlam 2009. The group made one of the most epic and iconic entrances in wrestling history, electrifying the crowd as they entered the arena while riding a tank.
DX would take down The Legacy via Shawn Michaels delivering Sweet Chin Music to Cody Rhodes. This would help DX embark on one more epic run together for nine months, as they became the Tag Team Champions. Michaels would retire after losing to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Having the greatest faction of all-time go on one more run like this was sure a treat for the fans.
And one we're forever thankful for.
3 Worst: Undertaker Defeats Brock Lesnar, 2015
We understand WWE's direction with this match. But the way they ended, and the fact it came nearly 17 months after Lesnar broke The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak, ruined any mojo it could have possibly hoped for.
So here's how it went down: The Undertaker tapped out to Lesnar's Kimura Lock, but the referee didn't notice it although the ringkeeper hit the bell. Undertaker then put Lesnar in the Hell's Gate hold and Lesnar passed out, giving 'Taker the victory.
Even worse, The Undertaker was portrayed as the face and Lesnar the villain, but the fans had turned on 'Taker and booed quite heavily when he defeated Lesnar. Here's another reminder of why this was a colossal letdown:
1. Their WrestleMania rematch should not have come over a year later. It should have been at the SummerSlam to follow after Lesnar broke The Streak.
2. A great match with two of WWE's biggest money-drawing men should end in clean fashion.
3. The fans turned their backs on The Undertaker in this one.
Their feud would end at Hell in a Cell where Lesnar defeated 'Taker. That was a good finish for a rivalry that should have ended long before.
2 Best: Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog, 1992
Ah yes, the mother of all SummerSlam moments.
Taking place at Wembley Stadium in London, The British Bulldog and Bret Hart fought for the Intercontinental Championship in front of over 80,000 screaming fans. This match had epic proportions written all over it and thankfully it delivered to the absolute maximum. To make things better, boxing champion Lennox Lewis accompanied British Bulldog to the ring.
Their match went on for 25:40 and Bulldog picked up the win in front of thousands of screaming British fans. The match wouldn't go without an epic sendoff either, as Hart and Bulldog embraced in the ring after the match.
So you have two of the biggest icons in WWE going all out in front of a huge stadium. Hart and Bulldog put on one heck of a clinic and many will tell you it's the greatest SummerSlam match of all time.
The emotional element of this match was intensified when Diana Hart (sister of Bret, wife of Bulldog) was shown in the crowd seemingly torn between the two sides.
1 Worst: Shawn Michaels Embarrasses Everyone, 2005
Everybody loves Shawn Michaels. But it was hard to love him on the particular night of SummerSlam, 2005.
Michaels faced off against the returning Hulk Hogan in a super hyped-up match. However, the ugly drama that unfolded backstage set the, well, stage for a very disappointing match between two men full of huge egos. The plans were in place for a three-match series with an epic rubber match showdown. However, Hogan's ego got in the way and plans were altered.
For Michaels, he knew he had no choice but to lose this one-off encounter. So instead of going out there and putting on a match, he oversold every move Hogan made on him, flopping around like a fish out of water and moving around non-stop.
Maybe some people found his overselling hilarious, but it was an embarrassment to Hogan, the fans, and professional wrestling as a whole. Michaels had no problem putting on a pair of epic matches against The Undertaker at WrestleMania, but he lacked maturity and put on an awful clinic against Hogan.
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