The 411 Wrestling Top 5: The Top 5 WWE Summerslam Main Events
Posted by Larry Csonka on 08.13.2014
From Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena in 2013 and Shawn Michaels vs. Hulk Hogan in 2005 to The British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart in 1992 and more, the 411 staff counts down down their top 5 WWE Summerslam main event matches!
The 411 Wrestling Top 5: Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Wrestling's Top 5 List. We take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to participate and give us their Top 5 on said topic. So, onto this week's topic…
Week 276 - The Top 5 WWE Summerslam Main Events
5. Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock (c) for the WWE Undisputed Title (Summerslam 2002) - While this match may not have been anything close to a technical classic by any stretch of the imagination, the crowd is completely into Brock Lesnar throughout the entire match. This match mostly makes my list for the star making performance that both guys did finally crown Brock Lesnar as "The Man" for the WWE.
4. Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker w/ Shawn Michaels as the Special Guest Referee for the WWF Title (Summerslam 1997) - While this match might be more famous for setting up what would become the Montreal Screwjob, this match was excellent and something that I really dug when I was younger, and still enjoy to this day. The dynamic of the Michaels/Hart feud was starting to heat up, and The Undertaker was having a decent, if uneventful reign as champion. While this match is much more about Michaels/Hart, the actual match we get between Bret & The Undertaker is something that is highly underrated.
3. CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy in a TLC Match for the World Heavyweight Title (Summerslam 2009) - In a match that involved one of the better feuds the WWE has done in the last 10 years, Jeff Hardy & CM Punk go at in an absolutely stellar Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match that flows effortlessly from one spot to the next. The fact that it ends with The Undertaker's return to beat down Punk after he wins the championship is even better (we can just forget about the actual feud that comes after though).
2. Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog for the Intercontinental Title (Summerslam 1992) - One of the few times the WWF/E has ever had a PPV outside of the states and one of the even fewer times where the Intercontinental Title was credible enough to main event a top tier PPV, these two go out and put on a technical classic that just oozed a lot of what makes British wrestling so cool with the WWF's style put to it. These two go and forth for dang near twenty minutes before the Bulldog pulls out the big victory in front of his hometown fans.
1. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena w/ HHH as the Special Guest Referee for the WWE Championship (Summerslam 2013) - Am I jumping the gun by putting this at the #1 spot? Maybe. However, when you look at all the main events of all the Summerslams, this is simply the best match out of them all. A simple start to the rise of a wrestler that we all wanted to see make it to the top shapes up in this wonderful worked match. The fact that it would spawn a fall full of questionable decisions aside, this match was just downright fantastic and worthy of the top spot in my opinion.
5. Edge vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship (Summerslam 2006) - No honorable mentions from me. Also, I want to note (again) that I am terrible at lists and have likely done this exact countdown before but will have a different order because well, I am terrible at doing lists. For argument's sake, I will stick to the past 10 years only and keep things to this generation. Got it? Past 10 years only! To begin, Summerslam 2006 had a stacked lineup. I think nearly single guy (but Shane McMahon) on the card was either a former ECW, WCW, or WWE World Champion. Pretty amazing. To end the night was Edge defending his title against John Cena. Because the pay-per-view was in Boston, everyone assumed Cena would win the belt. For some reason, that 'theory' still pops up to this day despite it meaning nothing. The Cena championship victory would come but not until the next month in Toronto - Edge's home field advantage. Ironic, huh? Either way, Cena/Edge was money in 2006. Summerslam was no exception.
4. Edge vs. The Undertaker (Summerslam 2008) - Heck on a Deck headlined a very under rated show in 2008. What made this stand out was the fact this entire thing was built up by Edge. Edge, Edge, and more Edge. Just by him and his promos, he sold The Undertaker returning. He sold the Heck on a Deck stipulation. He sent Mick Foley packing. He helped a great deal in getting the big PPV number. All from Edge. All on Smackdown! To no surprise, the actual bout delivered as one would expect.
3. Nexus vs. Team WWE (Summerslam 2010) - This was just so much fun. Nexus were just getting started in their WWE takeover. Daniel Bryan was on his way back. Wade Barrett was on the rise. Bret FREAKIN' Hart was in a Summerslam main event. Even if the Nexus story line was not your cup of tea, it was a lengthy elimination tag team match with lots of star power and a truly unpredictable contest. Would Nexus win? Would Team WWE win? Would anybody turn? Would anybody return? Now, as we saw, John Cena won in the end and brought on (predictable) whining and crying. If you ask the folks online, the Nexus were BURIED(!!!!) here. I disagree big time. Here are a few facts:
- Summerslam 2010 had 349,000 PPV buys
- WWE Raw held the near exact same rematch weeks later in the main event which had nearly 5 million viewers
- During THAT match, Nexus won clean, including pin falls over Randy Orton and John Cena.
- In other words, less than 350,000 saw Nexus lose. Nearly 5 million saw Nexus win. You tell me which meant more?
- Of course, this assumes imaginary 'wins' and 'losses' actually matter. Not something I buy into.
- Wade Barrett went on to main event Night of Champions in the WWE Championship match, BEAT John Cena at Heck on a Deck, main event Bragging Rights and even Survivor Series after that.
- Yeah, TLC spelled the end, but this continued nonsense that Nexus were "done" at Summerslam is just that: nonsense.
2. CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy in a TLC match for the World Championship (Summerslam 2009) - Oh, Jeff Hardy. What could have been following this event if you stayed in WWE. *sighs* Never will get past that. Instead, this was the final WWE PPV match for Jeff Hardy as he lost the World Title to CM Punk. Great action, great build, great spots, great follow-up with Undertaker afterwards. Great way to close Summerslam 2009 here.
1. Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels (Summerslam 2005) - Sorry, but last year's main event will have to wait. In due time, that will climb the ranks. No doubt a classic match and a few moments. Not now. Summerslam 2005 produced one of the largest non-WrestleMania PPV buy rates of all-time. You can thank Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels for that. Since I JUST wrote a column on this (it is late July currently), I will not repeat myself. Long story short, I loved just about everything on WWE in summer 2005.
5. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk (SummerSlam 2009) Say what you will about Jeff Hardy, the man knows that people want to see him at his wildest in a TLC bout and he brought that here. Defending the World title against Punk, Hardy pulled out the stops with his usual high-flying moves mixed with shots with the ladder and other weapons. A high dive by Hardy missed, landing him through a table and a suplex sent both crashing on a ladder hard. Punk went for a GTS on the ladder but was sent crashing through a table. Then we got the now famous spot of Hardy doing a swanton off the ladder onto Punk through the announcer's table, which led to Hardy being stretchered off. He returned to fight with Punk, one last climb ending with Hardy down and Punk grabbing the belt to win. A great spectacle by both men and even the ending of the Undertaker making a surprise return to chokeslam Punk couldn't take away from two guys risking bodies for a good show.
4. Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels (SummerSlam 2005) It's not so much the match itself that makes this stand out but who's involved. What happens when two of the most infamously huge egos in the history of the business go at it one on one? The answer came in a match that stands out as a beautiful mix of work and shoot. Shawn came out with various attacks, which Hogan, of course, shrugged off so Shawn resorted to cheating like a thumb to the eye. They fought outside with Shawn getting the edge at last sending Hogan into the ring post. It's not often Hogan bleeds but he did a good job here, his blood gushing over Shawn's arms as he put on moves like a sleeper. A brief Hogan comeback was knocked down for a Sharpshooter, both guys doing a good job selling it as a long and painful bit. Of course, we got the big Hulk Up after Sweet Chin Music and Shawn has been criticized as over-selling the Big Boot and leg drop but it worked still as Hogan got the win. Maybe Shawn had to slow himself down a bit to let Hogan keep up and maybe Hogan should have done the job. But still notable as one of the few "dream matches" left at the time and the psychology of these two clashing was enough to elevate a good match into a very fun battle.
3. The Rock vs. HHH vs. Kurt Angle (SummerSlam 2000) Triple threat matches are tricky but this one proved itself as terrific. Both HHH and Angle had been going after Rock's WWF title for a while but the two men were clashing over Angle's apparent lust for Stephanie. It kicked off with Angle doing a promo of not being sorry at all for kissing Stephanie on an earlier show and being the better man. HHH charged in so they fought it out hard before the Rock even arrived. The clashes of the three were great, no real alliances, each man hating the other and willing to do what it took to take them out for the belt. Angle was sent through a table so Rock and HHH could go at it but urged on by Stephanie to return. It was great watching the three brawl it out in various pairings and finishers with the crowd hot for it. It built up to HHH aiming for Angle but accidentally punching out Stephanie. Angle hit HHH with a sledgehammer only to be dumped out by Rock who then hit a People's Elbow to retain. A highlight of a great year for WWF and how a proper battle of three rivals can lead to a fun show.
2. Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith (SummerSlam '92) It's true that in his book, Bret notes Davey Boy was blown up early on and he had to carry most of the match. But that just makes the results even more amazing as these two put on a show for the London crowd that stands as legendary today. After so many years working together, it's no surprise the two were able to click in front of the crowd, each trying their best to keep the match clean but the dynamics of being brothers-in-law gave it a fun edge with Bret's sister/Davey Boy's wife Diana watching in the front row. Counters shifted about with Davey Boy using power moves, Bret fighting back with his technical skills and the crowd loved every minute of it, especially as tempers flared for some slaps. In the end, Davey Boy managed to trap Bret after a sunset flip for the title and one of the biggest pops you can possibly imagine. They celebrated with Diana as the crowd cheered the spectacle, still one of the best Intercontinental title matches ever and a capper to one of the best shows of this era.
1. John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan, WWE Championship (SummerSlam 2013) Put aside its ending and this match stands as a true classic. Cena always brings his A game for major bouts and Bryan was ready to take it to the next level with his push. The result was amazing, the two going at it hard with Bryan pulling out great technical moves, Cena matching well with his power and drive, each hitting the other with one great move after another. Their brawl on the outside was matched by great counters and roll-ups, Cena playing off the crowd reactions well as they were behind Bryan. Both men worked wonderfully well together as they fought it out, the match growing in heat more and more until finally Bryan hit a running knee to win the title. Yes, it would be ruined by Orton cashing in MITB to get the belt but at least the two went at it in a fantastic bout that reminds you how good Cena really is and how Bryan's own greatness can't be held back no matter what for a true SummerSlam classic.
5. WWF World Championship Vader with Jim Cornette vs. Shawn Michaels(c) with Jose Lothario (Summerslam 1996) - Summerslam despite being one of WWE's better events has had some awful or mediocre main events (generally the middle main events are better). However, there are a few gems in there. Immediately, I must say that my 5th choice could be even better if it wasn't so overbooked. The fact is this match is still great even though it was horribly overbooked. Vader and Shawn have the awesome match you'd expect between these two. Vader plays his usual self with the badass big man that he is. Shawn matches the effort with the usual goodness. It also happens to be one of the only times we see Vader in the same ring with the showstopper. In a way, this clash is early 90's WCW vs. late 90's WWF. Great match from these two that would be better if the booking allowed it.
4. WWF World Championship: Special Referee Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker(c) (Summerslam 1997) - Both Bret Hart and Undertaker can be called Mr. Summerslam. The two of them have countless good matches at Summerslam. I could probably fill the list with just their matches if I wanted to. Nevertheless, the match between the two of them was a great main event. Bret Hart and Undertaker had great chemistry for the most part. Shawn Michaels as special referee adds intrigue to an important match. This match has a combination of great action and story telling. The match heated up the Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart feud, while also continuing the Undertaker's feuds with both men. This is how a special referee match is done, and it's awesome to see.
3. WWE World Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena(c) (Summerslam 2013) - I think I could probably switch this with my number 2, but for now I kept it number 3. Daniel Bryan finally conquering the WWE mountain in John Cena showed the world that they had faith in him. If anything the after match shenanigans with Triple H and Orton bring the rating down a bit, because they ruin the moment. I understood why they did it, but it really does diminish future views of the match for me. I'll even admit at the time I barely paid attention to WWE, yet I made sure to check this one out. I'm glad I did. This match was the usual goodness from Daniel Bryan and Cena, as he does on occasion stepped things up to hang with Bryan. They both played their part perfectly and Bryan won clean. This is an amazing match that is worth future re watches.
2. WWF World Championship: The Undertaker vs. Stone Cold(c) (Summerslam 1998) - If you've ever watched the old Austin 3:16 Uncensored VHS, you'll know that Austin was actually knocked out near the beginning of the match when their heads collide. This makes it that much more impressive that Taker carried Austin to a great match. At the time, Taker was not exactly setting the world on fire while Austin was having good to great matches with about everyone. Undertaker really brought on this night and made this match something special. Austin remained out of it for most of the match (according to his own account), but he still kept up as well as he could and the match turned out great. Austin said on the Austin 3:16 VHS that he was pissed off with how the match turned out. Regardless, this match feels like one of the first true main event superstar clashes I can remember seeing. I got into WWE in 1998 and I'll never forget how huge this match felt at the time. The build-up is spectacular too. I mean this match has a bit of everything and is one of my favorites. This is an underrated classic between two men who generally have mediocre matches.
1. WWF Intercontinental Championship: British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart (c) (Summerslam 1992) - In a nice twist my first choice is also a carry job. Bret says this is the match that helped make him who he became, and I don't disagree. Bret Hart showed just how capable he was of having a good match with about anyone and gave British Bulldog the moment of his career. How many times do two wrestlers both have a defining moment even when one loses the match. On top of all that, this match was in front of 80,000 people in a foreign country. The atmosphere is huge and the match is equally amazing. This match might even be the highlight of the Intercontinental Championship and even main evented over Warrior and Randy Savage. That's a huge honor and a testament to how great this match was. I doubt we'll ever see an IC title match this big again. I would say it is the best Summerslam main event without equal. The ending sequence is perfect too.
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