SummerSlam Matches to Revisit
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Friday, August 21, 2020
It is that time of year again for WWE; SummerSlam, the biggest party of the summer and one of the company’s biggest PPV events of the year takes place this Sunday on the WWE Network. WWE will be offering fans a unique virtual experience as the company looks to freshen up their production after producing events at their Performance Center during the pandemic.
As we get closer to this year’s SummerSlam, here are some matchups fans should revisit on the WWE Network. Just an FYI before you take a look at this and wonder about some of the matches missing, if there ever were a title of ‘Mr.SummerSlam’, WWE Hall of Famer Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart would have that secured. Almost every SummerSlam match featuring Hart was a classic, so not all of them were on included on this list..
Here are some SummerSlam matches that fans should either revisit or watch for the first time:
Shawn Michaels vs Triple H – SummerSlam 2002
SummerSlam 2002 had arguably the greatest overall match card in the event’s history and one of the headliners was an unsanctioned match between the leaders of D-Generation X, Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
The buildup had been that Michaels had found out it was Triple H who attacked him and vowed to get revenge after doctors told him he would be cleared to compete by SummerSlam. The announcement got fans excited as one of the company’s most popular stars was about to return to the ring after it seemed like he would never be able to wrestle anymore.
This match was significant because it was Shawn Michaels’ first WWE match since WrestleMania four years prior. HBK had recovered from past injuries and was in a much better place in his personal life.
The two WWE Hall of Famers ended up delivering a SummerSlam classic and the match would lead to Michaels becoming an active member of the roster again. Michaels, 37 at the time, would go on to have the some of the greatest matches of his career during this second act, before retiring in 2010.
Chris Benoit vs Randy Orton – SummerSlam 2004
The main event of SummerSlam 2004 between then-World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit and Randy Orton has kind of gone under the radar in terms of how good the match was.
Orton had only been on the main roster for a little over two years and was on a quest to achieve his destiny of becoming the youngest World Champion in WWE history. Standing in his way was Benoit, who had won the title at WrestleMania XX, and was one of the biggest stars on RAW for the better part of 2004.
Watching this match in 2020, you get a real appreciation to how great of a performer Orton is and the potential he had in 2004 at age 24.
Bret Hart vs The Undertaker w/ Shawn Michaels as Special Guest Referee – SummerSlam 1997
1997 was an important year for WWE as it was a transition period from the previous ‘New Generation’ era to the ‘Attitude Era’.
Bret Hart was doing some of his best promo work in the leadup to this SummerSlam main event title
Then-WWE Champion The Undertaker and Bret Hart brought the best out of each other in this main event and Shawn Michaels did a great job in playing the role of special guest referee in that he added to the storytelling in the match and put the wheels in motion for future PPV feuds with both stars following this event.
Hart was a full fledged heel at this point and was at the peak of his career in his anti-American/pro-Canadian persona, which played a pivotal role in his feuds with Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, and Shawn Michaels being successful. When WWE events were on American soil, Hart was the heel, however when events were in Canada, Hart was a huge babyface and would get the biggest pop.
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels’ backstage animosity reached its boiling point and this match would end up setting the stage for their rivalry leading up to the infamous ‘Montreal Screwjob’ at that year’s Survivor Series.
Brock Lesnar vs CM Punk – SummerSlam 2013
Much like Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Brock Lesnar has had his fair share of SummerSlam classics and his No Disqualification match with CM Punk at SummerSlam 2013 is among them.
Although it was not the main event, the match billed as: “The Best vs The Beast” had an excellent buildup that started when Punk wanted to separate himself from then-manager Paul Heyman and as a result, Heyman brought back his client, Lesnar, to attack Punk for cutting ties with him.
The match was a hard-hitting affair with the second longest runtime; 25:17 and Lesnar proved that he was still capable of putting on a match with the quality of his first run with the company a decade earlier.
Edge and Christian vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Hardy Boyz in TLC Match – SummerSlam 2000
Edge and Christian, The Dudley Boyz, and The Hardy Boyz have been synonyms with the TLC matchups for their entire pro wrestling careers. This trio of teams began gaining more popularity with the WWE audience in 1999 with their respective series of matchups however, it was WrestleMania 16 where these teams reached the next level of popularity and became over with the fanbase.
The tag team ladder match at WrestleMania left fans wanting more and that is exactly what happened. Heading into the TLC match at SummerSlam 2000, fans wondered how these three incredible teams could possibly raise the bar from their classic WrestleMania match just a few months before.
Not only did they raise the bar, but these three teams put their careers on the line with all their high-risk maneuvers and table spots. This was an action-packed match that not only raised the bar when it comes to TLC matches, but also set the standard. The match delivered and to this day, is still talked about as being in the discussion of greatest TLC matches of all-time.
This would not be the last time these three would compete against one another in a TLC match as they would have a rematch at WrestleMania the following year as well as on an episode of SmackDown with the team of Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit also involved.
Bret Hart vs The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith – SummerSlam 1992
SummerSlam 1992 was the first and only to take place in the UK and was a success for the company as it set a SummerSlam attendance record of 80, 355 fans. The headliner was an Intercontinental Championship match between champion Bret Hart and England’s own The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith.
The atmosphere for this matchup was electric and saw The British Bulldog capture the championship in his home country. There was a massive pop from the crowd when Bulldog pinned Hart, which provided an unforgettable moment for the WWE Universe.
Bret Hart has had so many classic matches at SummerSlam that if there were ever a Mr. SummerSlam title, he would have to be considered for it.
Almost every other SummerSlam match featuring Bret Hart
Daniel Bryan vs John Cena – SummerSlam 2013
Edge vs Undertaker in Hell in a Cell match – SummerSlam 2008
AJ Styles vs John Cena – SummerSlam 2016
Photo Credit: WWE (wwe.com)