Which Was Better: The Summerslam 2003 Main Event or The Summerslam 2010 Main Event?
Posted by Justin Watry on 08.05.2014
411's Justin Watry examines the evidence to see which event was better, the Summerslam 2003 Main Event or the Summerslam 2010 Main Eventů
Last week, 75% of you declared that Backlash 2000 was a better pay-per-view than Invasion 2001. I agree with that choice but am quite proud of the argument I delivered. Keep in mind, if 75% of vote went to Backlash 2000, that meant 25% of you believed Invasion 2001 was better. One out of every four wrestling fans! Pretty amazing, huh? Next week, I want to do another "Which Was Worse?" column (focusing on the negative), so if anybody has an idea, let me know.
As for THIS week, I wanted to go with a WWE Summerslam theme. Obvious, I know. Since the best events were already covered, how about we all focus on two excellent main events instead? Works for me. The only rule was that it could NOT be a one on one match. That limited things right off the bat. However, like all amazing writers do, I found a way to make the concept work. Without any more stalling, bring on the debate!
Just a friendly reminder: I do not use the comments section nor do I up/down vote anything. Sorry!
Which Was Better: Summerslam 2003 main event OR Summerslam 2010 main event?
Build/Hype for Summerslam 2003 main event match - Basically, the entire story behind this was getting the World Title off Triple H. That was the point of this. He had dominated the first half of 2003 and was ready to move on to the next chapter. HHH retained over Scott Steiner. Right move. HHH retained over Booker T. Right move. Yes, it was. HHH retained over Kevin Nash. Definitely the right move. HHH even beat Kane to unmask him in a World Title match in June 2003 on Raw for good measure. Again, the right move. Everything was set up for Bill Goldberg to FINALLY be the man to dethrone The Game. It is why I will defend the Triple H-2003 title reign over and over. Without the lengthy championship run, it would have been pointless if Booker or Nash had won the strap in between. It HAD to be Triple H and Goldberg at the end. Originally, the Summerslam main event was indeed that dream match. Goldberg-Triple H for the World Title! A few weeks before the event though, it was changed to the second ever Elimination Chamber match with Kevin Nash, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and Shawn Michaels added. Nash and Jericho were feuding, as were HBK and Orton. Not a bad consolation prize at all...but Triple H suffered an injury, which made a big one on one match difficult to follow through on. Shame the long awaited first ever Goldberg-HHH match would have to wait.
Build/Hype for Summerslam 2010 main event match - If a major pay-per-view event like Summerslam in this generation, you know it is either special or some kind of spectacle. In 2010, WWE did not have a lot to going for them in terms of star power. Triple H was out of story lines. The Undertaker was at home. Shawn Michaels had just retired. Edge was still finding his footing (no pun intended) after returning from injury earlier i the year bouncing back from face to heel. Chris Jericho was in full "put over" mode and eyeing up an exit in the Fall. Without much going on, it was time for a shakeup. Enter The Nexus! In early June, John Cena (WWE Champion then) was attacked by a group of upstarts from the NXT brand. It was shocking, but that kind of thing was exactly what the company needed. It furthered into Wade Barrett leading the group to 'take over.' The winds of change as he would say. Just like the Invasion story line, I loved the whole thing - despite what anybody says. So much fun. In late July, Cena (no longer champ) had enough and formed a team to take on Nexus at Summerslam. Chris Jericho joined the team. Edge joined the team. The Great Khali joined the team (later replaced by Daniel Bryan, who was actually an original member of The Nexus). John Morrison joined the team. R-Truth joined the team...and finally, Bret FREAKIN' Hart joined the team! The stage was set for a massive elimination tag team match to take place at Summerslam 2010.
Participants in the Summerslam 2003 main event - Here we go...
Kevin Nash - Kevin Nash had returned from injury a few months earlier on Raw (I was there live). While it seemed like his main goal was to feud with Triple H over the World Title, he had transitioned into a short program with Chris Jericho which led to a hair vs. hair match on Raw. That was because Nash needed a haircut for his movie role in The Punisher. Because of all that, he was pretty much guaranteed to NOT win the Elimination Chamber match.
Chris Jericho - Believe it or not, Chris Jericho was strongly rumored to leave Summerslam as the new World Champ. With HHH injured, it felt like a foregone conclusion there would be a big title change. Y2J had just feuded with Shawn Michaels at WWE WrestleMania XIX, Bill Goldberg at Bad Blood, and his little issue with Kevin Nash. With his momentum even came a fairly clean win over HBK on a recent episode of Raw. His heel act was in rare form in summer 2003 leading to Summerslam. Sadly, it was not meant to be.
Shawn Michaels - Even in 2003, it was obvious that HBK no longer was worried about winning titles. Thus, even though he had won the first Elimination Chamber match, he was not likely to win here. His on/off battles with Evolution with "on" again, as his main feud was with Randy Orton. Not Triple H. Not the World Title.
Randy Orton - Randy Orton got a taste of the main event scene at Summerslam 2003, but it was nothing more than filler. Still the young gun in Evolution working his way up the ladder. It was hinted at multiple times that he maaaaaaay turn on Triple H. However, that was just a tease. His sole purpose was to make sure HHH left with the gold. To confirm that, he was eliminated with just a spear by Goldberg. Not even a Jackhammer...just a spear. Ouch!
Triple H - As noted, The Game was in the midst of a lengthy World Championship reign and running the Red Brand with Evolution every Monday night. An injury would prevent him from doing much (hence the difference gear for awhile). Like every other fan, I suspected he would drop the strap at Summerslam before healing up. Only logical, right?
Bill Goldberg - The odds on favorite. The huge favorite. The massive favorite. No doubt, THE favorite. This was all about Goldberg running through the roster and taking the title off HHH at Summerslam. Fairly predictable from the moment he debuted in WWE the night after WrestleMania XIX in late March. That WAS the end game with all of this. The fans knew it and were more than okay with the end result. Unfortunately, you know what happens when you assume.
Participants in the Summerslam 2010 main event - Oh, boy. Take a deep breath...
John Cena - Won the WWE Championship from Batista at WrestleMania 26 and had sent him packing from the company a few PPV events later. After that, he lost the gold to Sheamus and was 'all in' with The Nexus program. His other six tag partners?
Edge - Returned from injury to win the Royal Rumble in January 2010 as a face character. After coming up short in his quest, he turned back heel in a very strange move. I guess the fans were not reacted well enough? Either way, he was kind of floating around RAW without much to do, so he was lumped into this. Later, he moved to Smackdown, won the World Title, was over HUGE as a face character and sadly retired in April 2011.
Chris Jericho - Chris Jericho was just coming off a World Title run on Smackdown before (like Edge) jumping to Raw in the WWE Draft...and not doing a whole lot. Y2J was his usual great self, but word had already leaked he was leaving WWE in Fall 2011, so it was more of the same from Jericho during matches - losing and losing often.
John Morrison - Yawn.
R-Truth - He was with Morrison at the time. Nothing wrong with that. Truth was and still is a valuable mid-card guy who can move up/down the card and deliver. We saw that a year later with his main event heel run that actually produced a very good PPV number with him headlining. Just a 'filler' team member here though.
The Great Khali - Just a big dude that scared Heath Slater half to death when he was announced for Team Cena. Funny moment there. Khali did not make it to bell time, as he was replaced by...
Daniel Bryan - The Miz offered to take the open slot, but nobody was having any of that. John Cena announced to the live crowd that his final team member was DANIEL BRYAN! The Miz's enemy. A former Nexus member. A recently fired WWE Superstar for going too far during the initial beatdown. Great surprise, even though it was long expected Bryan would come back to WWE after everything blew over. See Matt Hardy in 2005. See Finlay recently. Bryan understood that, and as history shows us, everything was just fine.
Bret Hart - He was named the RAW General Manager following WM26, but after facing the wrath of The Nexus one night, his return to the ring was set. While Hart would not do much in the ring (understandable), he did show some fire and passion during this feud/match. Kudos to him for returning to the Summerslam main event. Who would have ever thought that in 2010?
Wade Barrett - Moving to Team Nexus, it was basically The Wade Barrett Show! He was a star in the making dating back to his days on NXT (for those who watched). With Jericho as his mentor, he was bound to become a main eventer pretty quickly. Wade was the perfect man to lead The Nexus in 2010 and still does have plenty of potential to be a top heel.
David Otunga - When people mention somebody with a good "look" in wrestling, David Otunga is that guy, playing the Hollywood heel role thanks to his significant other's fame. To his credit, he DID improve and became a fun character years later. In 2010 though, Otunga was simply a body in The Nexus standing next to Wade Barrett during promos. Also, I am pretty positive Otunga and John Cena won the tag titles for a bit.
Heath Slater - According to nearly every single reputable source on the internet, WWE loves Heath Slater. He has a bunch of supporters backstage and is well respected for his work ethic. That is fine. You NEED guys like him on the roster. Shows up on time. Works hard. Does not cause headaches. Wants to improve and learn. Outside of facial reaction when Khali was named a participant in this match, he was like Otunga. Solid addition to the group but did nowhere near Barrett.
Michael Tarver - Wearing bandanas over his face before The Shield! I remember three things about Michael Tarver besides the bandana. First was he made a really awesome metaphor about limos on NXT once. Look it up. Nice promo there. Second is he yelled "You Failed!" at John Cena for losing to Wade Barrett at Heck on a Deck the night before. Then was Tarver just randomly hanging out backstage before his WWE release.
Darren Young - The night after Summerslam, he was kicked out of Nexus for losing his match against John Cena. Big spotlight for him. He looked good in the initial Nexus build up and still does show flashes of brilliance from time to time.
Justin Gabriel - One of the under rated aspects of The Nexus was Justin Gabriel standing on the top rope just staring at his prey before delivering his trademark 450 splash. Such a cool visual that added a ton to their attacks. While everyone gushes over his potential as a face, I always thought he had the perfect stare for a heel. Small thing I know, but in wrestling, those tiny touches can go a long way.
Skip Sheffield Yep, yep yep. What it do! Oh, Ryback...I mean Skip Sheffield. Even though his catch phrase was garbage, he was the one who stood out the most on NXT, not counting Wade Barrett. He had been in the WWE system (Tough Enough) for awhile and was due for a call up to the main roster. The Nexus story line was that ticket. While it was short lived due to an injury he suffered shortly after Summerslam, he obviously showed enough to warrant a monster solo run upon his return in 2012.
Summerslam 2003 Match - We started off with Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho battling. Fitting. Good wrestling as usual from these two rivals. First out of his pod was Randy Orton who immediately went after HBK. Remember, they were feuding. Next out of his pod was Kevin Nash who took out his anger on anybody in his path. Crowd popped huge for the big man during this match even if he was showing heel tendencies. HBK gave Nash some Sweet Chin Music, and Jericho pinned him for our first elimination. Afterwards, Nash left everybody in the match laying as he made his WWE exit. The next pod to open belonged to HHH, but he got nowhere as HBK was right there ready to kick him in the face. Again, The Game was injured. With all the tired and groggy guys laying there, the count down was on for Bill Goldberg to enter! Oh, and he did in grand fashion. Just a massive crowd pop and awesome power moves. Spear to Orton, gone. Jackhammer to HBK, gone. Jackhammer to Jericho, gone. Absolutely crushed the roster...except HHH who was hiding in his pod, not wanting to fight Goldberg. It was only inevitable a new World Champion would be crowned. Except it would have to wait a month. As Goldberg was lining up HHH for a spear, Ric Flair slid a sledgehammer into the ring for Triple H, and he nailed Goldberg with it. One, two, three. Done. Perfect set up with good wrestling to start, big spots in the middle, Goldberg demolishing guys towards the end...and then the questionable result. Goldberg had taken his first WWE loss, and somehow, someway HHH was STILL the World Heavyweight Champion. Ric Flair and Randy Orton joined Triple H for a great beatdown of Goldberg after the bell for good measure to close the PPV. Revenge (and a new champ) came the following month, as Goldberg beat HHH clean in the middle of the ring. Yet, the WWE Summerslam 2003 outcome is the one still debated over a decade later...
Summerslam 2010 Match - I will not break down every elimination and all that fun stuff. I WILL say that this was a very under rated main event. A lot of fans harp on the ending (like Summerslam 2003), which is understandable. Just watching it from bell to bell more than makes up for the final few seconds. You had Bret Hart, Jericho, Edge, Bryan, Cena, Barrett, Skip (Ryback) and others in there working their magic in a high profile main event. Since I tend love elimination rules, that only added to the drama of how everything would end. Yeah, Cena ended up making a big comeback to win. Yeah, fans whined and cried (big surprise). Yeah, stories have come out that Cena regretted that result. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. Still a very worth while match and a great way to close Summerslam in 2010. If you have not seen the bout or have forgotten its quality, I strongly advise watching it. Be on the lookout for a future Top 5 column where I write more in depth on this match...
Overall: Both high profile Summerslam matches. Both with massive star power. Both with controversial finishes. Both more than entertaining as a WWE main event. Which was better though? Leave a vote and comment below!