I’m taking a small break from my SummerSlam reviews this week to play a fun game. And hopefully you can play along as well!
We always talk about dream cards and matches to make an ultimate show. Well that is what I am going to do this week. With SummerSlam around the corner, I’ve decided to put together what I would consider the best SummerSlam card possible from all of the shows from years past.
But you just can’t go and pick whatever match you want. I have rules that you must follow. Here they are:
- You can only use a wrestler once. You can’t have five John Cena matches.
- You can only pick one match from a show. If you want to use the Rock vs HHH from SummerSlam 98 you can’t use Austin vs Undertaker.
- A title can only be used once. When it comes to the Universal/World title, I would say you can only use one of those in addition to the WWE/F title if you so choose.
- A stipulation can only be used once. Can’t have multiple steel cage matches.
- When it comes to how many matches, I am going with 8. That is the average number of matches from each show when you take our dark, Heat and pre show matches.
Now that the rules are in place, lets get down to it!
1989: Brain Busters vs The Hart Foundation
On the most recent episode of the Hot Tag Wrestling Podcast, we discussed the best opening match in SummerSlam history. This was my choice. Three of the best technical wrestlers in the history of pro wrestling are involved in this match in Bret Hart, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. And Jim Neidhart is no slouch in the ring either.
The Busters had just won the WWF Tag Team titles but they were not on the line in this match because the contract was signed prior to the Busters winning the titles. That added a unique dynamic to the match. The Busters had nothing to lose.
But that didn’t affect the match at all as both of these teams went out there and had a fantastic match. The Hart Foundation recently turned face and were on the rise at the time. This was also a time where the tag team division in the WWE might have been the strongest it ever was. The amount of good to great tag teams were endless.
1991: Big Boss Man vs The Mountie, Jailhouse Match
This match is a personal favorite of mine. It isn’t a technical masterpiece or memorable match at all. But it is just fun pro wrestling.
The Big Boss Man and The Mountie were fighting over who was the real law and order in the WWF at the time. Of course because the Mountie was from Canada, he was the evil one. Little did people know that the Boss Man was truly the evil one though because he wrongly locked up Nailz.
I took this match because the Mountie is great in the post match skits as he is taken to spend the night in a New York City jail cell. His kicking and screaming, and what I believe is the first middle finger on WWE programming all take place here.
If you ask me this match is the definition of good fun and proper use of gimmicks when it comes to the world of 1990s pro wrestling.
2002: Shawn Michaels vs Triple H, Unsanctioned Street Fight
There was absolutely no way this match was not making my list.
For those of you that do not know, Shawn Michaels is my favorite wrestler of all time. When he came back to the ring in 2002 I was so incredibly pumped for it. And what some thought would be a one off match turned into a great second half of the Heartbreak Kid’s career that some would argue was better than the first.
Michaels plays the ultimate underdog in this match and his selling throughout the match is great. Everyone knew he retired because of a back injury and every time he takes a bump on it he gives a bit of an extra sell.
You can tell halfway through the match Michaels trusts himself and goes full throttle. The post-match angle is great as well, topped off by a great performance by Jim Ross on commentary.
I will say though, Triple H has some great matches at SummerSlam that are hard to leave off. His ladder match with The Rock from 98 is great as well as the triple threat in 2000.
2013: CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar
When it comes to the 2013 card, you are picking one of two matches. It is either this one or Daniel Bryan vs John Cena. I went with Punk vs Lesnar. And yes I know this was a No DQ match and that is a different gimmick than an unsanctioned street fight.
This match might be Brock Lesnar’s best singles match during his second WWE run. Punk went out there and bumped around for Lesnar like the pro that he is. Not only that but Punk also got some good offense in as well and the crowd was fully behind Punk here.
Punk had a couple opportunities to win but was thwarted by Paul Heyman a couple times. Punk looked strong in defeat against Lesnar. Little did we know he would be gone in six months. I wish they could have revisited this match somewhere down the line with Punk getting his win back.
2016: AJ Styles vs John Cena
This was the second in a series of three matches between Styles and Cena that would take place over the span of just under a year.
John Cena has had a handful of very good matches at SummerSlam so he had to get on the list at some point. By 2016 if you hated John Cena you really didn’t get pro wrestling. Cena had turned a corner at this point and was going out there and putting on great performances in every big match he was in.
And by this point it was clear that Vince McMahon had a ton of faith in AJ Styles as a performer. Styles was delivering great matches and he and Cena had some great chemistry together. It was easily the best match on the card and delivered again after a great match between the two earlier in the year.
1988: The Mega Powers vs The Mega Bucks
I went on a bit of a nostalgic kick with this list. I don’t care.
Again, is this match technically great? No. But it is the classic good guys vs bad guys match that is missing dearly in today’s world of pro wrestling. Noways everyone wants to cheer the heel. That was not the case here.
Macho Man Randy Savage is the WWF Champion and he and Hulk Hogan were at the top of the WWF. But you can see at the end of the match the first sign of Savage getting a bit jealous of Hogan and Miss Elizabeth’s friendship when he kind of puts his hands in the air when they hug in celebration after the match.
This match also makes me miss the days when big tag matches like this could main event a PPV.
2001: Stone Cold Steve Austin (c) vs Kurt Angle, WWF Championship
When we did our Hot Tag Wrestling Podcast getting down to the best WWE/World/Universal title matches in the history of SummerSlam I was mad when this match got eliminated. I understood the logic but it was still a great match.
Yes, this match ended in a DQ. But my god was this crowd rabid for Kurt Angle. After Austin had just turned and joined the Alliance, Angle stepped up and the crowd got behind him as a top good guy in the company. The problem was that it was still too soon to take the title off Austin. So they were kind of booked into a corner.
They gave Angle the title the next month but he lost it the month after. And it is a little tough for me to have a title match that ends in a DQ. But the story telling in this match is just top notch. The multiple ref bumps play into the WWF vs Alliance storyline and the match shows that Angle can be the guy in the company.
2008: Edge vs The Undertaker, Hell In A Cell
So with my title match ending in a DQ, I need another match to finish and main event this show. I’m giving the nod to this match.
This was the culmination of a feud that lasted all year and was the main story on the Smackdown brand. I really feel like this was the feud that solidified Edge as a top tier player in the company. Yes, he was already a former Champion at this point. But feuding with the Undertaker for the whole year and delivering night after night made him.
For those of you that don’t remember, this is the type of feud that deserved a Hell In A Cell match. It isn’t like it has been when they just have a PPV involving the gimmick every year. The Hell In A Cell match used to mean something. Now it doesn’t. But these two beat the crap out of each other for over 25 minutes and brought the intensity the entire match.
- Once I used Bret Hart in the tag team match, that really eliminated any chance of the Intercontinental title being used. Shawn Michaels vs HHH from 2002 eliminated the two ladder matches from 95 and 98 so I didn’t bother using any IC title matches.
- There have not been any really great women’s matches at SummerSlam. The post match angle with Becky and Charlotte from the triple threat in 2018 was great but that doesn’t mean it gets added to the list.
- No Rock. Like I said I really like the HHH/Rock ladder match from 1998 but I had to put HBK/HHH on my list. And that eliminated the 2000 triple threat. Using Brock/Punk also eliminated Brock/Rock. And Booker/Rock and especially Rock/Billy Gunn aren’t worthy of this list.