There have been some fantastic WWE SummerSlam matches over the years.
From The Hart Foundation vs Demolition in 1990 through to AJ Styles vs John Cena and plenty more in between.
But what about those matches that have been ever so slightly forgotten? Those that might not have had the spotlight shone on them for a while? Because if you delve just a little deeper, there are some wonderful SummerSlam matches waiting to be rediscovered.
We pick our favourite 10 here. All can be watched on the WWE Network.
1) Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, The Texas Tornado & The British Bulldog vs Power & Glory & The Warlord (1991)
While SummerSlam 1991 will go down as one of the WWE’s most fun events, the opening six man is often overshadowed by the Bret Hart/Mr Perfect masterpiece and the star studded main event tag team of Hogan/Warrior.
This is unfair. Whilst not troubling the MOTY lists of any purists, this was an incredibly fun showcase of three hard working, charismatic and beloved babyfaces against three typical early 90s midcard heels.
It works a treat too. The Madison Square Garden crowd lap it up and the excitement levels are kept up throughout.
As an opener of an early 90s PPV, there are not many better examples.
2) Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs. Doink The Clown (1993)
While the advertised match was Hart vs. Jerry Lawler at SummerSlam 1993, before we got there, we were treated to this match with Lawler’s ‘court jester’ standing in for him as part of a fake injury angle to ambush The Hitman.
A corker of a match it was too. Those that know Doink as an old gimmick only wont appreciate just how good he was before his babyface turn. Portrayed by one of the best technicians of his era, Matt Bourne, Doink’s sadistic clown gimmick was wonderful.
As was this match. Because Doink could go, and Hart made him look great. Scratch that, they made each other look great.
Seek this out. It might look like an odd match on paper but it’s superb.
3) The British Bulldogs vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus (1988)
The first ever SummerSlam match between two magical teams of the late 1980s.
These two teams famously had a vicious off-screen rivalry but in this night, they created magic on-screen with a wonderful 20-minute time limit draw.
The Bulldogs’ earnest endeavour and power contrasted wonderfully with the French Canadians’ sneering insincerity and cunning. They always seemed to mesh well but this match was their pinnacle.
4) Dolph Ziggler vs. Rey Mysterio (2009)
This match is what truly made Dolph Ziggler a player in WWE. The match that opened the show at that year’s event was a corking 12 minute bout that really let Ziggler show the skills he became famous for, for the first time. The Intercontinental Title was on the line that night with champion Mysterio retaining to elongate one of the low-key best IC title reigns of the modern era. This bout (And another they had previously at Night Of Champions) came hot on the heels of Mysterio’s wonderful series with Chris Jericho. 2009 really was a superb year for Rey and this match was a definite tent-pole in that.
5) Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (1995)
Possibly the most debatable match on our list as it is hard to call the second ever televised WWE ladder match ‘hidden’ in the true sense of the word. The reason for its inclusion is because it lives squarely in the shadow of the first ladder match these two had, at WrestleMania X the year prior.
Many people though, will tell you that this was the better bout. And this author wouldn’t argue too hard with that opinion. The face vs. face dynamic gave this match a totally different dynamic to the original but it was every bit as exciting. With the stipulation still being so fresh to most wrestling fans, they were able to include a heap of original spots rather than ape their first match. A masterpiece that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough.
6) John Cena vs. Batista (2008)
Despite both men becoming the top faces in WWE over three years prior to this match, it was the first time they had met on one one in WWE. With no title involved, the match arguably took 4th bill on the card behind two world title matches (CM Punk vs. JBL and Triple H vs. The Great Khali) and the Undertaker vs. Edge Hell In A Cell match.
When the dust settled, this match was as good as anything else on the card and these two men made mincemeat of their (undeserved) reputation for being sub-par workers. Kept relatively short, it was about 14 minutes of almost constant action and hardly a moment spent out of the ring.
The finish came with a ring-shaking Batista Bomb that gave The Animal the win and left Cena with a herniated disc in his neck that put him on the injured list for a number of weeks.
There WrestleMania rematch in 2010 had a wonderful build (Heel Batista!) but the match itself wasn’t a patch on this one.
7) Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins (2016)
This match feels almost completely forgotten just four years after it took place. The match was set to decide who would be the first ever Universal Champion and pitted the wily former champion Rollins against Finn Balor, fresh from his call up from NXT and off the back of a clean win over Roman Reigns to qualify for the match.
The excitement built before the match even began as we saw Balor as The Demon for the first time on the main roster and the crowd just ate it up. These two put on an incredible match that ended with Balor taking out Rollins with the Coup De Grace and going down in history as the first man to ever lay his hands on the big, red belt.
Sadly, the excitement was short lived. A serious injury from this match put Balor on the shelf for months and led to him vacating the title just one day later. His main roster push never truly recovered and this match was consigned to the dusty top shelf of the wrestling archives.
8) Edge vs Eddie Guerrero (2002)
When you talk about the SmackDown Six of 2002-2003, the combination of phenomenal matches between the six men is incredible. Alongside Edge and Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit and Chavo Guerrero put on sensational match after sensational match, whether in tags or singles.
This was no exception. Pure chemistry made this match stand out even on a card that is comfortably the best SummerSlam and arguably, the best WWE PPV of all time. If on any other event, this match would surely be remembered on a more regular basis.
Seek it out, watch it, enjoy it, and then go and watch their match from SmackDown the following month and marvel that it is somehow even better than this one.
9) Ladder Match: Jeff Hardy vs. Rob Van Dam (2001)
This match took place right in the middle of the Invasion angle, on a PPV that featured mostly WWE vs WCW/ECW matches. This one had an interesting dynamic in that Hardy was a face as part of the (As it was then) WWF team but RVD also played something of a face/tweener despite being on the heel Alliance squad. Fans just loved the guy from his first day in the company.
This was a rematch from the InVasion PPV where Van Dam won the Hardcore Title. A few weeks later, Hardy won it back and this match served as the deciding match in the trilogy.
RVD took the win here, and the title in a cracking scrap. Hardy really is the king of the ladder match and RVD’s unique offence is similarly suited to the format so this was utter magic. How it doesn’t get talked about alongside the best ladder matches must only be due to the prestige of the belt hanging above the ring that night. An incredible match.
10) Test vs. Shane McMahon (1999)
SummerSlam 1999 was the absolute epicentre of Attitude Era WWE. And frankly, it really wasn’t very good. One match stood out though. That match was the ‘Love Her Or Leave Her’ match between Test and Shane McMahon with the oh-so-Attitude stipulation that Test could not marry Shane’s sister Stephanie if he lost.
While fans would have had zero expectations going in, both men brought their working boots and crafted an exciting match. Shane flew around like a pinball (As would soon become his trademark) and Test managed to work a fast-paced, babyface style while mixing in his big-man spots. The match had plenty of interference from Shane’s buddies, The Mean Street Posse but rather than take away from the match, it added a believable slant to it. How else could spoilt rich kid Shane expect to credibly hang with the monster of a man across the ring for him? The shenanigans felt right for his character and right for the match.
Truly a diamond in the rough of a deeply unsatisfying card. If you haven’t seen this match before, it is well worth your time.