Since 1988, SummerSlam has been WWE’s second biggest show of the year. As we count down the days to the 2016 edition, the Top Ten will rank the annual event’s matches year-by-year to determine the best SummerSlam matches of all time.
In this edition, it’s WWF vs. ECWCWF!
SummerSlam 2001 – August 19, 2001, Compaq Center at San Jose, San Jose, California
It’s time for that ever-popular feature: Let’s Rebook the Invasion!
I’m kidding. The Invasion pay-per-view was the previous month, setting up months of WWF vs. “WCW and ECW” stars (who by this point were basically made of a majority deflected WWF guys) until the angle was put out of its misery at the 2001 Survivor Series. The Invasion was mostly disappointing because it was in name only, as most of the big names save “Diamond” Dallas Page (who was treated like a joke) and Booker T stayed home until well after this story had played out.
So, instead of seeing guys like Sting, Scott Stener, Goldberg and the nWo, the ECWCWF roster consisted mostly of people who had long ago become or who always were WWF guys like Steve Austin, the Dudleys and Test.
But while the Invasion was a bit of a bust, SummerSlam 2001 was a really great card with a number of great matches. All the matches on the card really stay in the top half of the overall list because they delivered a fun experience. This will easily go down as one of the better SummerSlams.
Best Match: Kurt Angle beat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (c) by DQ – WWF Title Match. Austin had so many great matches during his run at the top of the WWF, and getting in the ring with a worker the quality of Kurt Angle was always going to be amazing. Angle and Austin delivered a top notch main event style title match that was only marred by an ending meant to protect both guys for later. But the ending fit perfectly with the story of the match, so it gets more of a pass from me than it probably would normally.
Worst Match: Undertaker and Kane (c) defeated Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon (c) – Steel Cage Match for the WWF and WCW Tag Team Titles. I absolutely hate tag team Steel Cage matches that merge pinfall/submission and escape rules, because there are severe logic flaws in how you end the match. Here, Kanyon escapes the cage, but Page gets caught. So Kane and the Undertaker destroy him before winning the match. Sure, Kanyon seemed to wash his hands with helping Page be a punching bag, walking to the back after escaping, but if you didn’t want to get beat up on any more, why not just lay down? You’re going to lose either way!
I’m probably overthinking all of this, but the problem with the rules just screamed out and were hard to ignore. The match, overall, still wasn’t that bad. The other matches on the card were just better.
Canadian Violence and Shenanigans: The great opening match between Lance Storm and Edge for the WWF Intercontinental Title was made more fun by the promos before and after the match itself. Storm kicked the show off with a mic telling the crowd there is “no room for off-beat shenanigans in this business” before getting cut off, basically proving that Lance Storm is my spirit animal. And then, after the match, we see the beginnings of the issues between Edge and his partner Christian, when Christian gets a call from Grandma Edna, who only wants to talk to Edge. Poor Christian.
Off The Charts Energy: Another match that probably had no right being as good as it came off was the six-man tag between the Dudley Boyz and Test and Farooq, Bradshaw and Spike Dudley. These guys beat the hell out of each other for about 7 minutes and had one of my favorite sequences of the night. Test tosses Spike outside the ring and through a table, turns around only to be nailed by Bradshaw with a Clothesline from hell, who then gets ht by a flying chair held by WCW owner Shane McMahon. High energy and a body count. You can’t ask for much more.
Lousy Ladders: The Hardcore Title Ladder Match between champion Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam was one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen. I’ve never really been a fan of Jeff Hardy and matches like this are the biggest reason. He nails a high spot, looks like he was dying for a minute or so and then goes right into the next thing. The match felt really sloppy, punctuated by a spot where Jeff was hanging from the title hook, RVD starts swinging him back and forth, goes to the top and COMPLETELY MISSES Hardy, who then falls to the floor ugly. Absolutely laughable.
The Main Event: Ever since Monday Nitro went off the air, I’ve theorized that Vince McMahon (or maybe Triple H) wanted to turn the WWF/E into WCW. My first example? The main event of SummerSlam 2001 was between The Rock and Booker T for the WCW Championship! Rock and Booker had a tough act to follow, going on after Austin-Angle. They were doing what they could to match or surpass those guys, but they weren’t really up to the task.
Shocking Moment: After certain big WWF wins, the camera would cut to the WWF locker room for reactions. One of the guys in the shots? R-Truth! Ron Killings, a two-time WWF Hardcore champion, was toward the end of his first run with the company, where he had gone from tagging with the Road Dogg to the hardcore division to just being in the background.
The SummerSlam Top Ten!
The Austin-Angle match is one of the classics for the ages. It would have been higher on the list with an actual ending, though.
*DISCLAIMER* The Top Ten is for discussion purposes only and is in no way an official or authoritative list. It is simply my opinion.
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) defeated Owen Hart – WWF Title Steel Cage Match (1994)
2 – Shawn Michaels (c) defeated Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (1995)
3 – Kurt Angle beat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (c) by DQ – WWF Title Match (2001)
4 – Bret “Hitman” Hart defeated Mr. Perfect (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1991)
5 – Davey Boy Smith defeated Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1992)
6 – Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard defeated the Hart Foundation (1989)
7 – Edge and Christian (c) defeated the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz – TLC Tag Team Title Match (2000)
8 – The Hart Foundation defeated Demolition (c) – 2-out-of-3 Falls Tag Team Title Match (1990)
9 – Ultimate Warrior defeated “Ravishing” Rick Rude (c) – Intercontinental Title Match(1989)
10 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan defeated Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant (1988)