SummerSlam has been the biggest party of the summer for going on twenty-seven years now. It has been home to classic matches, unforgettable moments and countless HHH returns. Many columns have been written ranking the WrestleManias but few have tackled the far less interesting, but often better, SummerSlams. So I decided to tackle this one with a different slant. WITH SCIENCE!!!
Here’s how it works: I re-watched every SummerSlam, EVERY SINGLE GOD DAMN MINUTE of these things and ranked all the matches (save for the Sherri/Sapphire forfeit). There have been 216 illustrious matches in the history of this… illustrious event. The 1st place match was awarded 216 point, the 2nd 215, the 216th 1 point… you get the idea. I toyed around with the idea of averaging out the scores for each individual SummerSlam but the more I looked at it the more I started to believe that cards deserved to be punished for doing C-Lo Green concerts and weddings instead of matches. Then I looked at the intangibles. I ranked each show in five important categories:
Commentary – We spend the whole show with these guys so they better be good.
Main Event- That which the show was built on should get a few more points if it delivers.
Best Moment – Matches aren’t all that count, sometimes a great segment or angle can greatly enhance a show.
Crowd – A great crowd can make a good show great, while a poor crowd can suck the energy out of everyone.
Opener – The first impression you get for a given show can go a long way towards how you remember it.
So seeing as there have been twenty seven SummerSlams to this point, each show was ranked 1 to 27 in each of the preceding categories. Again 1st place received 27 points, 27th 1 point and so on and so forth. It became clear the deeper we got in the rankings that the points won and lost with these intangibles actually moved some SummerSlams up and down the list.
So the complicated formula for this series is (Cumulative points for all the matches on the show) + (Commentary, Main Event, Best Moment, Crowd &Opener Scores) = Final score which is used to rank the SummerSlams SCIENTIFICALLY!
I totally gave myself up to the project and didn’t check big picture until the final day where I added everything up. I just ranked the matches as they came and in no way tried to taint the process by playing favorites with certain cards. The results were… extremely interesting. It was a different process to look at a whole show instead of focusing on just the best parts. The bad matches should matter as much, we have to sit through those too. In the end, sure everything is just my opinion here but I’m the leader in the field of sitting down and watching SummerSlams back to back wasting my summer. Yes, I’m the only one involved in ranking the matches… but hey, it’s science.
August 3rd 1997, East Rutherford New Jersey
Faces smashed with some steel chairs,
God look at Sunny.
1. Mankind d. Hunter Hearst Helmsley – Steel Cage
RANK: 25/216 POINTS: 192
2. Goldust d. Brian Pillman
Rank: 113/216 POINTS: 104
3. The Legion of Doom d. The Godwinns
RANK: 116/216 POINTS: 101
4. The British Bulldog (c) d. Ken Shamrock by DQ – WWF European Title
RANK: 76/216 POINTS: 141
5. Los Boricuas d. The Disciples Of Apocalypse
RANK: 162/216 POINTS: 55
6. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin d. Owen Hart (c) – Intercontinental Title
RANK: 20/216 POINTS: 197
7. Bret “Hitman” Hart d. The Undertaker (c) – WWF Title
RANK: 9/216 POINTS: 208
Commentary RANK: 12/27 POINTS:16
Vince, JR and The King work this one and do a pretty good job. Lawler is definitely a step down from Perfect the year before but no one says anything particularly enraging. In fact Vince gets a taste of his own medicine when he makes a joke about “cities or hamlets,” and everyone ignores him. It’s also kind of eerie hearing JR talk about “the story of this match is Austin’s neck,” right before the piledriver from Hell. Impressive and sad that Vince was able to call the rest of the night after that injury. Impressive because it’s very clear Austin was hurt bad and that he potentially lost his biggest star ever yet kept going. Sad for the same reasons. He’s clearly a psychopath.
Main Event RANK: 5/27 POINTS: 23
I can’t believe how much I loved this one on re-watch. It started better than almost any Bret Hart or Undertaker match ever does with a quick sneak attack. You can talk about it being a bit slow, but everything both guys did made sense. There’s also seems to be more grunts and screams in this one than any other match north of Venus and Serena Williams. It’s like they were both working extra hard to win. The beauty of the match though is how Taker, Bret and Shawn all work together so seamlessly. Shawn is right there when Taker turns around to frighten him, no one is ever out of place. The match builds to a marvelous crescendo, helped greatly by Shawn’s nuances as ref. The ending with the missed chair shot is sublime. I think this one is a bit of a forgotten classic.
Greatest Moment RANK: 3/27 POINTS: 25
Everything to do with the end of the main event. The spit into the missed chair shot into the reluctant cover is perfect. Michaels’ reaction leaving the ring disgusted with himself is even better. The crowd is cheering, but booing. It’s such a crazy atmosphere that could only be created by such a perfect and creative finish.
Crowd RANK: 23/27 POINTS: 5
They’re alive all night but somewhat non-descript. They were good but didn’t add anything to the show per say.
Opener RANK: 3/27 POINTS: 25
Mankind versus Hunter is a wonderful opener. I always mark out a little when I see the blue cage, and these guys use it to stiff the living shit out of each other to rile the crowd into a frenzy. Chyna finds all kinds of cool ways to interfere, sure she almost botches the end by coming in and taking Mick’s big dive away, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a great way to start any show. A shame it doesn’t get much play when talking about great openers for any show. I find it very interesting that Hunter is the perfect foil for Mick as he transitions to babyface just as three years down the road Mick will be the perfect foil for Hunter as he ascends to the top of the promotion.
Best Match: The Main Event, for all the reasons I listed above.
Worst Match: The DOA versus the barbershop quartet. To be honest it’s really not even that bad a match, it’s just surrounded by quality stuff. It moves well enough and the action is pretty fun, I just can’t care about anyone in the match. Oh except Nation Ahmed Johnson. That’s one scary motherfucker. He’ll powerbomb you on his own legs dammit!
Sneaky Underrated Match: We remember Owen versus Austin for all the wrong reasons. Sure the breaking of his neck is historically important, but up till that point they’re having an awesome match. They break out powerbombs and German suplexes on top of cutting a fantastic pace from start to finish. I always loved Owen as a worker but he always lacked the poise and star power of his brother. It’s a shame because, you throw those qualities on him and his list off all-time matches instantly grows.
Biggest Pop: Mankind winning the cage match. People were understandably too upset by the Intercontinental finish.
Most Heat: Governor Christy Todd Whitman
Best Interview/Skit: It’s quick but Austin telling Michael Cole and his little goatee to get out of his face warms my heart. Honorable mention to Shawn Michaels who says of Bret Hart, “I have no problem with Bret, we solved our issue at WrestleMania last year when I beat him.” Nice subtle dig.
Worst Interview/Skit: It’s got to be the entire time they tried to get a living human being on the phone. Even when they did the person wasn’t even watching the show. That skit must have felt like an eternity in the arena.
Best Booking: The end of the main event. It’s perfect.
Worst Booking: Booking Steve Austin to break his neck in the center of the ring.
Best Attire: Sunny’s one piece. Jesus Christ.
Worst Attire: Miguel Perez’s sweater is pretty atrocious but I have to go with the Godwinns’ “country rapist” look.
Best Little Moment: There’s something great about the LOD going out of their way to purposefully break Henry Godwinn’s neck. I’m also a big fan of Bret’s little shiver as the lights come back up for the Undertaker.
Funniest Moment: It’s not in the building but Undertaker standing stoically next to Christy Todd Whitman in those newspaper clippings killed me.
This Is Wrestling Clap Clap Clap: Ken Shamrock does a lot of little things well. I love the way he preps someone for a belly-to-belly suplex and there’s another great little moment where he has to actively reach his feet back to flip Davey over for a sunset flip.
Please sir, no more: Things where you call people at home. They’re not watching. They don’t like you. I don’t like you either. You be careful. I have the death penalty on nine systems… I’ll be careful… You’ll be dead!
Biggest Botch: Let’s see there’s Chyna smashing Mick Foley’s brains with the cage door, Chyna almost blowing the end of the match by missing her cue then looking lost, Brian Pillman and Goldust mess up a sunset flip… that’s everything right?
3 Random Thoughts:
The “In a perfect world,” opening is tremendous.
I’m unclear as to why Jimmy Korderas doesn’t ban Chyna from ringside.
Ken Shamrock has a perpetual look of murder in his eyes
Why it’s number 6: It’s memorable, fun and doesn’t have anything bad on the show. As much as I hated their feud as it went on forever, even The Godwinns and LOD match wasn’t horrible. Chyna botching the shit out of match couldn’t even ruin a great opener. The summer of 1997 was a super hot time for the company and they delivered a PPV to match it. Boy they sure hated their governor in New Jersey.
August 18th 2013, Los Angeles California
Miz upsets us dressed in suit,
Night of concussions.
Total Points: 1112
1. Bray Wyatt d. Kane – Ring Of Fire Match
RANK: 136/216 POINTS: 81
2. Cody Rhodes d. Damien Sandow
Rank: 75/216 POINTS: 142
3. Alberto Del Rio © d. Christian – World Heavyweight Title
RANK: 14/216 POINTS: 203
4. Natalya d. Brie Bella
RANK: 170/216 POINTS: 47
5. Brock Lesnar d. CM Punk
RANK: 2/216 POINTS: 215
6. Dolph Ziggler/ Kaitlyn d. Big E Langston/AJ Lee
RANK: 123/216 POINTS: 94
7. Daniel Bryan d. John Cena © – WWE Title
RANK: 1/216 POINTS: 216
8. Randy Orton d. Daniel Bryan © – WWE Title
RANK: 189/216 POINTS: 28
Commentary RANK: 16/27 POINTS:12
I’m truly trying to block out Cole, Lawler and JBL by this point. Their insincere smiles immediately put me in a rage. Please stop staring into the camera!!! Also something isn’t EXCLUSIVE to the pre-show if you replay it here. I don’t give a shit why Cody doesn’t have a mustache and I’m not going to your site to find out why. When did it stop being a beautiful disaster kick? Cole does show some good emotion during Punk/Lesnar but it’s erased when they’re all laughing and joking after the “brutal” match. Bryan deserved a much better call for his title win than bored Michael Cole. Maybe he still thought he was a nerd.
Main Event RANK: 1/27 POINTS: 27
It’s a great simple build based on who is the better wrestler. I’m completely caught up watching it as it’s a beautiful match with amazing wrestling, counter wrestling and brawling. All the counters are unique and make perfect sense within the context of the match. The finish out of nowhere was a perfect capper to an excellently worked match. Even after months of bombarding myself with matches it’s an all time classic and in my opinion the best SummerSlam match of all time.
Greatest Moment RANK: 10/27 POINTS: 18
Daniel Bryan beats John Cena clean as a sheet.
Crowd RANK: 6/27 POINTS: 22
Fifth time is a charm for LA. They are hot for everything, and even appropriately shit on the Divas match. They help elevate the atmospheres of the two greatest matches in SummerSlam history and never let their energy fall. They had a great show to work with but they did their part.
Opener RANK: 21/27 POINTS: 7
Bray’s entrance is very long and the strange lighting is interesting if nothing else. They’re trying way too hard to sell the fire. You mean to tell me Luke Harper can’t hold a kendo stick that’s barely on fire? You don’t have to put over fire. It’s over. FIRE’S BEEN OVER SINCE THE DAY IT WAS DISCOVERED! Not the worst match to open a SummerSlam but one of the worst debut matches of all time. Bray should have totally started indoctrinating guys. They do kill Kane by smashing his head on the steps. That’s a plus.
Best Match: The main event is perfect. The semi main is just a little less perfect..
Worst Match: Natalya fights Brie Bella in a match that`s not completely horrible but completely uninspiring in every way. Jesus those Bellas aren`t going away are they?
Sneaky Underrated Match: We all know how great Punk and Brock are so let’s talk Alberto Del Rio and Christian. I LOVE this Del Rio. His kicks are awesome and I could watch him on offense for hours. Del Rio does a great job working the arm and Christian is more than up to the task with his selling. All the counters are great especially the kick in the face coming out of the spear. Both guys look pissed when they don’t win which only adds to the legitimacy of the match. Like those kicks needed legitimacy. Perfect ending with the cross arm breaker. Christian was in it just the right amount of time. A true forgotten gem here.
Biggest Pop: Bryan winning the title was a surprise off the knockout so I think the loudest pop was Punk hitting the GTS on Lesnar.
Most Heat: John Cena: Face of The Company.
Best Interview/Skit: Damien Sandow’s rant about leaders and lackeys. He points out that Cody’s family are carnival clowns.
Worst Interview/Skit: Miz. All night. Specifically repeating “Really” over Fandango’s dancing. I’m not sure SummerSlam needed a faux host in a faux looking tuxedo. I’m positive no one needed a Miz face turn. Also why aren’t they pushing Fandango? The people are still singing that damn song.
Best Booking: Bryan wins clean.
Worst Booking: Orton cashes in. Sure it started The Authority angle, but think about it: it started the Authority angle.
Best Attire: Del Rio comes to the ring with a black eye looking like he had to fight his way to the arena.
Worst Attire: Shawn Michaels’ vest, beard and cap combo. The rest of the panel are wearing suits.
Best Little Moment: Del Rio slowly pries Christian’s fingers apart and rakes his face to get him cinched in the arm breaker.
Funniest Moment: SILENCE!!!
This Is Wrestling Clap Clap Clap: Del Rio wrenching Christian’s head. JUST FUCKING WRENCH IT!!!
Please sir, no more: Bellas. PLEASE.
Biggest Botch: John Cena almost murders Bryan jumping from the top rope with him in the “Styles Clash” position. It’s scary but actually adds to the match.
3 Random Thoughts:
The 70s feel for the intro is great.
As much as I hate that they ruined Ryback he does make a fantastic bully.
It must burn HHH up that the crowd gives Punk all the respect they denied him the year before.
Why it’s number 5: It has the two best matches in The SummerSlam history and the World Heavyweight Title match is possibly one of the most underrated matches in the last decade. The fire match, the Divas and the inconsequential mixed tag keep it from reaching the top. I don’t hear this one getting very much play as it comes to top SummerSlams. It’s a shame as the high end stuff is all time great. Perhaps people just hate The Miz… and Randy Orton… and the commentary team. Maybe people have just hated the WWE by this point.
August 19th 2001, San Jose California
Everyone hates DDP,
Why is Lance Storm sad?
1.Edge d. Lance Storm (c) – Intercontinental Title
RANK: 90/216 POINTS: 127
2. The Dudley Boyz/Test d. The APA/Spike Dudley
Rank: 112/216 POINTS: 105
3. X-Pac (c) d. Tajiri (c) – WWF Light Heavyweight/WCW Cruiserweight Unification
RANK: 72/216 POINTS: 145
4. Chris Jericho d. Rhyno
RANK: 100/216 POINTS: 117
5. Rob Van Dam d. Jeff Hardy (c) – WWF Hardcore Title Ladder Match
RANK: 40/216 POINTS: 177
6. The Brothers of Destruction (c) d. DDP/Kanyon (c) – WWF Tag/WCW Tag Steel Cage Match
RANK: 190/216 POINTS: 27
7. Kurt Angle d. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (c) by DQ – WWF Title
RANK: 3/216 POINTS: 214
8. The Rock d. Booker T (c) – WCW Title
RANK: 64/216 POINTS: 153
Commentary RANK: 7/27 POINTS: 21
I usually love the pairing of JR and Paul Heyman but I feel they had a bit of an off night tonight. Heyman was at his sniveling best when he was sucking up to Austin and hating on JR and that didn’t quite come through here. He had a couple of funny lines here and there and JR’s complete denial of Rocky’s blatant low blow to Booker was great but it just fell a little short of my lofty expectations. Still good though, not great.
Main Event RANK: 17/27 POINTS: 11
This one cut a way faster pace than I had remembered and it’s a pretty solid match for two guys who had probably just met a few weeks before. Shane’s involvement is fun as he takes some good punishment, including a sick Rock Bottom to the floor. All in all a fun, main event overshadowed by what had preceded it.
Greatest Moment RANK: 14/27 POINTS: 14
Bloody Kurt Angle ruthlessly anklelocking Steve Austin. Just a great picture.
Crowd RANK: 14/27 POINTS: 14
Hot all night but didn’t really add or take away from the show. To be honest though it’s hard to be super excited all the time when you’re really cheering on both guys.
Opener RANK: 14/27 POINTS: 14
When Lance Storm and Edge get away from just stomping each other and actually start wresting the result is quite good. Storm feels slower than usual, almost like they asked him to slow down. The match builds well though and by the time Christian is interfering we’re popping for all the near falls just as we’re supposed to.
Best Match: Even the video package got me excited to watch it again. The best booked matches are the ones in which you can’t see either guy losing. You may call it booking yourself into a corner, but if you just pull the trigger you can easily have a classic on your hands. There’s a moment, late in the match, after Austin hits Angle with a stunner and Angle kicks out then Angle crawls up Austin; when he gets to his feet Stone Cold slaps him a bunch of times then goes for the kick, which Angle catches and turns into an Angle slam. It’s a perfect moment and if the match had ended there we’d be talking about this one as one of the greatest matches of all time. As it stands it’s still a classic in my mind. It’s just a fight betwen the two best in the world which has every viewer on the edge of their seats popping for the false finishes. Kurt’s color only adds to the drama, and that story of the crazed champion unable to beat his surging challenger is one for the ages. I had it at the top of my list forever and was formulating a strategy for justifying loving it despite the DQ ending. 2013 came around and made my life a little easier, but this is a rare occasion where I think the DQ made sense, perhaps it’d be number one with a pinfall ending, without it it stands at number three. Still pretty…pretty…pretty good.
Worst Match: Undertaker and Kane did not need to murder DDP and Knyon. They just kill them for what feels like an eternity where both tams just stumble around while they punch and kick each other. Was this really the best they could do for DDP, a man who took a pay cut to come and work here. Good thing he’s so positive.
Sneaky Underrated Match: RVD vs. Jeff Hardy is damn good. They do tons of ladder spots you’ve never seen before all the while stiffing the shit out of each other. Sure they have the big botch at the end where RVD tries to kick Hardy while he swings on the wires, but look at the difficulty they’re trying to pull off there. Fantastic action melded with RVD’s star quality makes this a great watch to this day.
Biggest Pop: The People’s Elbow. It’s always going to be the people’s elbow isn’t it?
Most Heat: Man the people just hate that X-Pac. Is it the straggly hair? Is it the drug addled eyes? It’s the bronco buster isn’t it? They just can’t get behind a guy who hits guys with his dick.
Best Interview/Skit: The Rock and William Regal is a match made in promo Heaven. They play off each other so well and the capper of bozo Stasiak killing himself always brings a smile to my cynical face.
Worst Interview/Skit: Stephanie’s acting job as she tries to pump up Rhyno. All the bad actor tropes are there: walking nervously back and forth, gestures that don’t match the dialogue and just plain awful forced line readings. She’s utterly terrible.
Best Booking: How strong they booked Kurt in his match with Austin. He was unbeatable and made for life.
Worst Booking: It’s really unforgivable how they treated DDP.
Best Attire: Angle looks especially bad ass tonight, especially while wearing the crimson mask.
Worst Attire: The way he wears the WCW tag title makes The Undertaker look like a fat trucker wearing a tank top.
Best Little Moment: All of Tajiri’s facial expressions are gold, and really get him over with ANY crowd.
Funniest Moment: Heyman: “D-Von! Get the ambulance!”
This Is Wrestling Clap Clap Clap: Tajiri counters the pin attempt following the x-factor with his legs and rolls Pac up using only his lower body.
Please sir, no more: Undertaker and Kane squashing WCW.
Biggest Botch: The ladder match miss. But again…come on!
3 Random Thoughts:
Can you imagine anyone getting to kiss Stephanie (i.e. Jericho) in a storyline today?
Why did Taker and Kane need to squash Jindrak and O’Haire to win the titles when they already had a personal feud going into their match?
Tajiri’s kicks are magic.
Why it’s number 4: Austin/Angle carries this one pretty far. The bad stuff on the show is more maddening and counter-productive than poorly worked, and the main event and the hardcore match exceeded my expectations. It’s a very solid card top to bottom and a fun watch. My biggest disappointment is actually the opener. I mean it’s good, but with the guys involved you’d think it’d be much higher on the list.
August 28th 1989 East Rutherford New Jersey
I need a place to sit down.
Ax is pooping blood.
Total Points: 1223
1. The Brain Busters d. The Hart Foundation
RANK: 18/216 POINTS:199
2. Dusty Rhodes d. The Honky Tonk Man
Rank: 42/216 POINTS: 175
3. Mr. Perfect d. The Red Rooster
RANK: 95/216 POINTS: 122
4. Rick Martel & The Rougeaus d. Tito Santana & The Rockers
RANK: 22/216 POINTS: 195
5. The Ultimate Warrior d. Ravishing Rick Rude (c) – Intercontinental Title
RANK: 7/216 POINTS: 210
6. Jim Duggan & Demolition d. Andre The Giant & The Twin Towers
RANK: 156/216 POINTS: 61
7. Greg Valentine d. Hercules
RANK: 185/216 POINTS: 32
8. Ted Dibiase d. Jimmy Snuka
RANK: 184/216 POINTS: 33
0. Hulk Hogan & Brutus Befcake d. Randy Savage & Zeus
RANK: 91/216 POINTS: 126
Commentary RANK: 2/27 POINTS: 26
Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura are the true Match Made in Heaven. When they’re not arguing about the ruling on shooting someone outside the ring they’re making great points about how if The Hart Foundation loses to the champs they may not see another title shot for an entire year (which happens). They cover Dibiase and Snuka when they botch a leapfrog and are entertaining while never losing track that men are fighting in the ring. I love that Jesse is so appalled at Duggan that he wants an amendment to the constitution so he can’t wear the flag. Just an awesome performance from these two which elevates the whole card.
Main Event RANK: 21/27 POINTS: 7
It was a redux from the year before with a non-wrestler in place of a legend. It wasn’t bad or anything but it certainly fell a little short of the previous year. Beefcake was a shitty partner for Hogan when compared to Savage, whose white trunks were quite the odd choice on this fateful night. Not much else to say about this one, it didn’t completely expose the business and I guess that’s a positive.
Greatest Moment RANK: 20/27 POINTS: 8
The Ultimate Warrior regains the title which was stolen from him. The booking, the match it was all awesome.
Crowd RANK: 25/27 POINTS: 3
A little less lively than a crowd at MSG but still managed to pop big when they were supposed to. They lost a bit of steam in the second half, but were forgiving when Hogan came out.
Opener RANK: 2/27 POINTS: 26
I guess they should have called them the Hartbusters… Right? RIGHT??? Oh man these two teams had a great match.
Best Match: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude. For all the heat he takes, The Ultimate Warrior always knew how to put on a great match on a big stage. For those of you who still cling to the belief that he needed to be carried go out and watch his effort in this one. He throws out a bunch of moves you’ve never seen him pull off before (powerslams, German suplexes etc.) and his kick outs after Rude’s piledriver can only be done by someone who truly “gets it.” He more than holds up his end with the excellent Rude. If you take away Rude’s outrage at seeing Roddy Piper’s ass the selling from both guys is exemplary. Just a fantastic match with a great story and a better pay off.
Worst Match: Hercules vs. Greg Valentine. Oh how the mighty (Hercules) have fallen. Herc is out of shape (comparatively) and Valentine is living in 1989 so this one kind of had no hope from the get go. We’ll get to Ronnie Garvin later, but this one dragged quite a bit as both guys looked tired and unmotivated. On a lesser card it wouldn’t be the worst, on this one it’s an easy choice.
Sneaky Underrated Match: The Rockers, Santana, Rogeaus and Martel six man truly is tremendous. Buried beneath the excellent opener it’s easy to forget that six of the best workers in the company went out there and busted ass for fifteen minutes.
Biggest Pop: Warrior winning, with a close second being Honky Tonk Man getting hit with his own guitar. Man they hated him…
Most Heat: The people are terrified of Andre the Giant. Every time he steps in there a slight gasp from the crowd. Gasps are much more rare than boos. They don’t want him to hurt anyone.
Best Interview/Skit: Sure it may be just a big pasta pot but Sherri, Savage and Zeus standing around the Cauldron of Madness each seeing different things, each screaming in their own time is magical.
Worst Interview/Skit: The whole Ronnie Garvin introduction bit. His jokes were old, his delivery was worse and he acted like the biggest douche on the planet. He didn’t know whether he was coming or going…
Best Booking: Everything in the Warrior/Rude feud. The match, the interference from Piper, Bobby ranting about Roddy not having a manager’s license. It’s what professional wrestling is all about.
Worst Booking: Whoever decided to put all the good workers in the first half of the show. It’s like an hour of excellence followed by everyone who can bring a match down a notch.
Best Attire: It’s probably always going to be Rick Rude if he’s on the show. Those Warrior tights were fantastic.
Worst Attire: Dusty Rhodes: polka dot cop.
Best Little Moment: I LOVE Arn Anderson covering his head while pinning Bret to conceal the fact that he’s not the legal man. Awesome stuff.
Funniest Moment: I want to go with all the french happiness in the six man or Tony awkwardly admitting he’s an idiot backing out of the gun argument, or even Honky, clearly concussed trying to find the stage, but it has to be Garvin getting sucker punched by Valentine. I could watch that a million times and never tire of that old man getting stiffed.
This Is Wrestling Clap Clap Clap: The tag team wrestling clinic that is given in the opener. We were totally spoiled by teams in the 80s.
Please sir, no more: Gene Okerlund may have been simply giddy to see you but go away Ron Garvin.
Biggest Botch: Fuck it!
3 Random Thoughts:
By the end of Heenan’s rant after Rude loses the title, Rick Rude is eye fucking the camera to the point where I’m feeling the threat of rape in my home.
Things I love: Jesse looking like an army bear cruising through the park and Andre coming down to “Jive Soul Bro.”
I’d also like to give a personal shout out to Sean Mooney, who looks like he’s about to be trampled by the audience at any second.
Why it’s number 3: The first half is absolutely stellar and while the second half dips in quality it’s still a really enjoyable watch. Sure the main event suffers a bit for the Zeuses and Barbers of the world but the greatness that is Randy Savage easily evens it out. Look past Ronnie Garvin and yet another shitty Ted DiBiase PPV match and try and enjoy the glory the greatness that is Warrior/Rude, Busters/Harts, the six man and even the damn Dusty Rhodes match. The difference between the top three cards is really only fifty points so if there just had been one less stinker you may be looking at the top SummerSlam of all time.
August 25th 2002, Long Island New York
I actually like Cole here,
Brock Lesnar eats people.
1. Kurt Angle d. Rey Mysterio
RANK: 12/216 POINTS: 205
2. Ric Flair d. Chris Jericho
Rank: 81/216 POINTS: 136
3, Edge d. Eddie Guerrero
RANK: 54/216 POINTS: 163
4. The UnAmericans (c) d. Booker T/Goldust – WWE Tag Team Titles
RANK: 150/216 POINTS: 67
5. Rob Van Dam d. Chris Benoit (c) – Intercontinental Title
RANK: 99/216 POINTS: 118
6. The Undertaker d. Test
RANK: 169/216 POINTS: 48
7. Shawn Michaels d. Triple H – Unsanctioned Street Fight
RANK: 17/216 POINTS: 200
8. Brock Lesnar d. The Rock (c) – WWE Title
RANK: 8/216 POINTS: 209
Commentary RANK: 11/27 POINTS: 17
So for the first time we get JR and the King for Raw and Michael Cole and Tazz for Smackdown. Everybody’s fine here. JR is particularly great calling the Shawn/HHH match while the Smackdown crew do a decent job with the main event. JR and King haven’t deteriorated yet and Cole hasn’t becomes his usual obnoxious self.
Main Event RANK: 4/27 POINTS: 24
It’s awesome from start to finish. You can almost see Brock Lesnar morphing before our eyes into the dominant, confidant champion he would become. They cut a great pace from the start and The Rock is smart enough to just go with the boos and play the heel for the match. Lots of drama, near falls and a genuine attempt to build a new star in the 2000s. Classic stuff here.
Greatest Moment RANK: 9/27 POINTS: 19
The crowning of Brock. It’s nearly perfect.
Crowd RANK: 18/27 POINTS: 10
For the show that they were given this crowd sucked. Sure they popped for some stuff and booed Rock but they were pretty quiet throughout. That’s inexcusable considering how great the show was.
Opener RANK: 1/27 POINTS: 27
Angle vs. Rey is just so fast and all of Angle’s moves look absolutely killer on Rey. The story of the match is great as Angle dominates until he makes a mistake and Rey capitalizes for a while before being beaten by the better wrestler. It really is a perfect opener in a lot of ways and a wonderful way to start the show.
Best Match: The main event for all the reasons I stated above. Just a wonderful match.
Worst Match: It’s far from the worst Undertaker match at SummerSlam, but on a show where everyone is paired up so perfectly he and Test just feel like the two guys who got left out and thrown together. It’s slow punching and kicking for way too long with an anti-climactic finish.
Sneaky Underrated Match: My personal disdain for Chris Jericho aside, his match with Ric Flair is quite fun. Flair looks legit happy to get the win and his post match dance is glorious.
Biggest Pop: Shawn Michaels winning.
Most Heat: HHH obliterating Michaels with the sledgehammer.
Best Interview/Skit: Paul Heyman pumps up Brock Lesnar backstage.
Worst Interview/Skit: All of Stephanie’s “acting” with Bischoff. Her painfully obviously written dialogue is filled with horrible cliches and worse delivery. “A woman’s place is on top. COME ON Benoit!” It’s all bad. That awful final laugh as she exits is a perfect exclamation point on the whole sad thing.
Best Booking: The sports build of the main event.
Worst Booking: The UnAmericans retaining. Sure you could say that Booker and Goldust’s win would have been overshadowed, but that’s hoo-hockey. Nothing is overshadowed on SummerSlam 91 and EVERYTHING changes. A guy even gets raped in jail and we remember that.
Best Attire: Kurt Angle: Candy Cane Superman.
Worst Attire: Edge’s long white trench coat and shades. Just looks like a tool.
Best Little Moment: The way Eddie Guerrero wrenches the arm on the hammer lock. Which makes Edge’s no sell at the end of the match all the more frustrating.
Funniest Moment: Howard Finkel saying “Long Island skanks.”
This Is Wrestling Clap Clap Clap: Ric Flair screaming for God as he’s in the figure four.
Please sir, no more: UnAmericans. Please. What a dumb faction.
Biggest Botch: Nick Patrick can’t hear or see chairs in the tag title match?
3 Random Thoughts:
I don’t like THIS heel Jericho. Pretty lame. Ric Flair always makes me smile though.
Why did they never do a mashup of Booker and Goldust’s music?
RVD and Benoit was a match I always thought would be great. Really weird to see RVD with his hair down.
Why it’s number 2: Because it’s awesome from top to bottom. I’m sure it will anger a lot of people that it didn’t finish first, but hey, this list is nothing if not completely enraging to people who insist they are right. If the Taker match and the tag tile match had been a bit better you’re looking at the best SummerSlam of all time. As it stands please feel free to blast me for upsetting your status quo. Also: I really do love this show.
August 21st 2005, Washington DC
An old man bleeds everywhere,
Hardy bleeds a bit.
Total Points: 1288
1.Chris Benoit d. Orlando Jordan (c) – WWE US Title
RANK: 118/216 POINTS:99
2. Edge d. Matt Hardy
Rank: 82/216 POINTS: 135
3. Rey Mysterio d. Eddie Guerrero – Ladder Match
RANK: 63/216 POINTS: 154
4. Kurt Angle d. Eugene
RANK: 65/216 POINTS: 152
5. Randy Orton d. The Undertaker
RANK: 60/216 POINTS: 157
6. John Cena (c) d. Chris Jericho – WWE Title
RANK: 29/216 POINTS: 188
7. Batista (c) d. JBL – World Heavyweight Title No Holds Barred
RANK: 111/216 POINTS: 106
8. Hulk Hogan d. Shawn Michaels
RANK: 13/216 POINTS: 204
Commentary RANK: 10/27 POINTS: 18
This is a stark contrast. The Raw team of JR, Coach and King are quite excellent and Michael Cole is a fucking abomination. He says in the “Owen Hart” voice that the ladder match is “The first time in WWE history that the custody of a child will be decided in a match.” Fuck you. He also has no understanding of what poetic justice is. JR on the other hand is in fine form, getting angry at Coach for being a “sycophant”, actually listing off SummerSlam records like wining and losing matters and losing his shit when, “For the love of God Hogan kicked out!!!” The Raw team was exceptional in the main event with Coach getting the best line, “Hulkamania dies tonight and it’s going to die in a bloody mess.”
Main Event RANK: 7/27 POINTS: 21
Oh man the video package still gets me going today. It always works when they play off history like that. This truly is Legend vs. Icon and I always loved the idea of Shawn Michaels, now playing the heel, ending Hulkamania. Something about it just worked for me. Like Hogan beat all these big guys but had never really fought the best in-ring guy, and THAT would be the guy to do it. The anticipation the crowd has for Hogan before his entrance is out of this world and the match is already great on all the prematch stuff alone. So let’s deal with the criticisms: Is Michaels overselling? Yes. Buuuuuut he’s theoretically in there with the guy who throws the biggest bombs in wrestling. Are there a lot of ref bumps? Yes. Buuuuuut. They all only act as teases as opposed to ruining the match. Its strength versus speed in the best way and heel Michaels is always gold right down to slapping Hogan across the face. Hogan’s blade job is pretty gory too only adding to the dram of the match. All this to say I believe this is the best “Hogan” formula match I have ever seen and it still easily holds up to this day.
Greatest Moment RANK: 4/27 POINTS: 24
Everything and anything to do with Michaels versus Hogan
Crowd RANK: 9/27 POINTS: 19
Consistently hot throughout the night and maybe the first crowd I actively remember turning on John Cena. They were positively wild for the main event.
OPENER RANK: 17/27 POINTS: 11
Jordan defends against Benoit and gets destroyed in twenty or so seconds. Perfect for what it was but nowhere near as epic as the destruction of the Honky Tonk Man. Goes to show what strong characters can do for a show.
Best Match: The main event is one of the best SummerSlam main events of all time.
Worst Match: It’s the opener and really only be default, this was quite a strong in-ring show.
Sneaky Underrated Match: Cena battling Jericho is waaaaaaaay better than I remember it. Both guys bust ass and the crowd turning on Cena was a great dynamic for the time. Now it’s just the norm. The story of the wrestler going up against the fighter was well played by both guys. Really, really solid effort that my blind hatred of Cena didn’t let me appreciate the first time.
Biggest Pop: Hogan. By a million miles.
Most Heat: As an act: Shawn Michaels. As for the crowd being generally upset, the end of the Edge/Hardy brawl really pissed them (and me) off.
Best Interview/Skit: Eddie Guerrero denying the whole custody thing is because he can’t beat Rey.
Worst Interview/Skit: Vickie in the exact same promo, on the other end just being terrible. How did she land an on-screen job???
Best Booking: Everything leading up to the main event.
Worst Booking: They end Edge and Matt Hardy on a blood stoppage about an hour before Hogan donates all the blood in his body to the mat. At least if they were going to stop the match have it go on a little longer than seven minutes. This was legit one of the hottest angles of the year going into this thing and the finish of this big match was the first step in killing it dead.
Best Attire: Good God Lita. Good God.
Worst Attire: Coach’s Hawaian shirt getup. Vince McMahon you are not.
Best Little Moment: In the main event Michaels does a bunch of little things including looking non-plussed/disgusted at Hogan’s entrance. His best moment though is as he’s climbing the ropes for an elbow drop the crowd chants “We want Bret.” Shawn hears this, mouths “You want Bret?” then steps down off the top rope and puts Hogan in the Sharpshooter. Fantastic heel work.
Funniest Moment: Kurt Angle forces the referee to place his medals around his neck after destroying Eugene.
This Is Wrestling Clap Clap Clap: Kurt Angle picking apart the inferior wrestler.
Please sir, no more: Two of the best wrestlers in the world feuding over a child’s custody instead of titles.
Biggest Botch: WHERE THE FUCK IS VICKIE???
3 Random Thoughts:
The video package off the top gets you pumped and proves how well all the matches were put together. Then the music stops with the superkick and you know you’re in for a special night. WHATCHA GONNA DO WHEN HBK WON’T LAY DOWN FOR YOU?
The Hardy and Edge match looks like a fight. These two guys get it, the style matches the storyline.
Of course it’s a great show, HHH isn’t on it.
Why it’s the best SummerSlam: Because nothing on it is bad. Not even close. The worst match is the opener and that’s only because it’s twenty seconds. The main event is legendary, the ladder match is criminally underrated, the Edge/Hardy match is intense despite the dumb ending and John Cena has perhaps his first great match in a WWE ring. At the top of the project I suggest possibly ranking the cards on average match value rather than cumulative points and you know what, had I done that, 2005 still wins. I loved rewatching this one and it winning came as a complete shock to me. When I though about it though, it shouldn’t be that surprising. The entire project has been about overall quality and there isn’t a show on the list that is as strong OVERALL as 2005. Is it my personal favorite show? No, although I do enjoy the main event, but I’m happy this one rendered a result I wasn’t expecting.
Thank you so much for going on this journey with me. I know my list is different than most, but it was a blast to do and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Going in I was expecting 2002 and 2013 to top the list and 1992 to be in the bottom ten. I wasn’t ready for 2005 to take it or 1992 to be rated last. I certainly wasn’t ready for the amount of hurt feelings over rating 1992 the worst SummerSlam. It`s like it was inconceivable that I could find 2/3 of the show to be total shit. I’m glad it was a different list. I like reading things that are different and present an opinion not assigned by the Internet. In the end it was just supposed to be fun. If you disagree with the list you’re clearly anti-science.
As usual if you want to chat hit me up @aarondgeorge.