Most wrestling fans look back at WrestleMania when they think of great WWE matches, yet SummerSlam has produced almost, if not more WWE classic matches. Today I look back at the top 10 SummerSlam matches.
10 – The Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude Steel Cage Match SummerSlam 1990 – If there is ever a match that showcases how great Rick Rude could be it was this one. Rick Rude did the unthinkable and had a great match with The Ultimate Warrior. The match had a fantastic crowd atmosphere which is largely due to the hardcore Philadelphia crowd that loved Rick Rude and wanted to see him win the WWE title. For a moment after Rude hit the Rude Awakening it appeared that he was going to climb over the top and appease the Philadelphia crowd. Unfortunately he climbed to the top and dropped an axe handle instead which of course was countered by the Ultimate Warrior. Warrior doesn’t make the same mistake as he later climbs the cage, hits the floor, and wins the match. As an added note: Roddy Piper was fantastic on commentary and really helped build the drama of this SummerSlam classic.
9 – The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian TLC SummerSlam 2000 – I never appreciated this match like some people do so I went back and watched it again. The funny thing about watching this one in 2010 is that the TLC has been done to death so it isn’t nearly as impressive. However if you take that out of the equation, this was one hell of a match. This TLC match took these three tag teams and launched them all into another level on the WWE talent ladder. All of the moves and sequences were innovative for the time and all six guys took some huge risks. It is a really exciting match that needs to be included in any SummerSlam top 10 whether it is in the top or bottom five.
8 – Shawn Michaels vs. Hulk Hogan SummerSlam 2005 – Okay while I may have gotten a pass for Test vs. Shane McMahon, this one may anger some people. Let me defend myself here. One, this was a legendary clash between the top WWE legends from the past two generations. Two, the promos by Michaels were his best of the entire second HBK WWE run (2002-2010) and maybe the best of his career. Three, the drama behind the scenes of Hogan not wanting to do a job, Michaels wanting a series of matches, and the political posturing of both just added to the drama. In the ring while this match is seen as a joke by some, I think it was fantastic. Michaels over selling didn’t hurt the match at all and actually made it seem a bit more legitimate at times. It was the only and last time we got to see vintage Shawn Michaels as a heel and he was every bit as obnoxious and arrogant as he was in 1997. I loved the match and can’t think of anything else more deserving of this spot.
6 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon Ladder Match SummerSlam 1995 – Some have argued that this match was better than their WrestleMania X classic it is not nearly as appreciated. If it wasn’t for a last minute booking change that switched a Sid Vicious vs. Shawn Michaels match to the WrestleMania X rematch, I would probably be talking about something else. While it didn’t have the same kind of impact that their first match had, it was every bit as exciting. They added new spots and had a different kind of intensity with Shawn as a babyface. It was no accident that the two ladder matches launched Shawn Michaels into legendary status and kicked off a run to the world title at the next WrestleMania.
5 – Shane McMahon vs. Test Greenwich Street Fight SummerSlam 1999 – I may get a lot of negative feedback for this one but I’m sorry, it needs to be appreciated. Something special happened at SummerSlam 1999 between a guy who wasn’t a full time wrestler and a guy that had never had the opportunity to reach his full potential. These two guys just clicked and made some incredible magic that night. Over a decade later this match still holds up. This match never stopped and there were a ton of extracurricular activities that made this one stand up to some of the best of all time. I loved this one and I am not ashamed to say it.
4 – Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect SummerSlam 1990 – It is no accident that Bret Hart shows up three times in the top four SummerSlam matches. While Shawn Michaels may have been Mr. WrestleMania, Bret Hart was certainly Mr. SummerSlam in his prime. Not many would argue that Bret Hart and Curt Hennig were the best workers in the WWE at this time and it was just that they rarely got opponents to bring this out. That all changed with this match. I also believe that this match changed the WWE and helped usher in a more athletic era of WWE matches that led to Bret Hart getting his first WWE title run a few years later. To think that Curt Hennig came into his match less than 100% with a bad back makes this match even that much more special.
2 – Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart Steel Cage Match SummerSlam 1994 – Surprisingly this classic has been one of the most forgotten WWE classics over the years. Once again the Harts keep it in the family as these two brothers had one of the greatest Steel Cage matches of all time. Unlike most Steel Cage matches where the action is slow and methodical, this one was fast and exciting. Bret won the match by escaping the cage, but this is the match in my opinion that solidified Owen Hart as a top WWE superstar.
1 – Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith SummerSlam 1992 – Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog has turned into a legend in itself. There are only about a dozen WWE classics that I can recall that have gone down in history and grew in legend since the moment the bell rang. This is one of them. This match had it all from non-stop action, high drama, and one of the best crowd atmospheres of any WWE match. For all of these reasons it should come as no surprise that battle of brother in laws Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog from Wembley tops the list.
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