With a history spanning over 20 years, there have been many matches held at SummerSlam
. This list will take a look at the best matches in the history of the event. When looking at what makes a match worthy of being on this list, I not only look at what happened that night, I also take into account the long-term significance of the match.
1. 1992: Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog
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The setting for this Intercontinental Championship match was electric as over 80,000 fans were assembled in the outdoor Wembley Stadium to cheer on their hometown hero, the British Bulldog
in this match between brother-in-laws. To add further intrigue to the match, both men were fan favorites at the time. In an amazing footnote to this match, Bret Hart
mentioned in his autobiography that the Bulldog forgot everything he was supposed to do and that he had to literally carry him during this match. Bret went on to then call this match the greatest match of his career. While the Bulldog won the Intercontinental Championship match this night, Bret's incredible performance elevated him to his first WWE Championship a few months later.
2. 2002: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels in an Unsanctioned Street Fight
Five years earlier, Shawn's career was ended when he fell awkwardly on a casket. This match saw him return to the ring in a match against his former D-Generation X
partner. No one knew what to expect from Shawn in this match but they probably didn't expect what they got. Shawn showed no signs of ring rust and had one of the greatest and most brutal matches of his career. This victory for Shawn marked the beginning of the second part of Shawn's career which was already hall-of-fame worthy. Wrestling fans will be debating for years whether the current era of Shawn's career or the first part of it were better. As far as I'm concerned, they are both incredible and we have been very lucky to have witnessed both eras.
3. 1994: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart in a Steel Cage Match
Two years after fighting his brother-in-law, Bret fought his brother in what was then the most barbaric type of match that the WWE had. Unlike his match with the Bulldog, there was no love lost between the brothers. Even though he was the champion, the last time fans saw Bret fight his brother, Owen
shocked the world by pinning him at WrestleMania X
. This match lived up to the legendary greatness of that match and is one of the greatest steel cage matches in the history of wrestling. Bret retained the title by escaping the cage.
4. 1995: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon in a Ladder Match
Speaking of rematches from WrestleMania X
, these two men had the first nationally broadcast ladder match in WWE history at that show. This rematch saw them up the intensity and add some new twists to the match. Shawn won this match but the real winners of these two ladder matches were the fans. Because of the performances of Shawn and Razor Ramon
, the ladder match is now one of the most anticipated gimmick matches.
5. 2000: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs 1
The three-way feud between Edge
, the Dudley Boyz
, and the Hardy Boyz
was in my opinion the greatest tag team feud in WWE history. The battles between these men resulted in some all-time classic matches and this could be the most infamous of them. They had a triangle ladder match at WrestleMania 2000
and for this match they added the tables and chairs. The teams took the template that Shawn and Razor created and innovated the ladder match to a level that fans never thought would be possible. Edge and Christian won this match and the TLC 2 rematch at WrestleMania X-Seven
6. 1997: Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker w/Shawn Michaels as Referee
This match saw the Undertaker
defend the WWE Championship against Bret in a match where Bret's ability to wrestle in America was on the line. The Undertaker lost the match when Shawn accidentally hit him in the head with a steel chair and was forced to make the three-count or his American wrestling career would have ended. This was a great match that set up a chain of events that forever altered the landscape of the WWE. Undertaker and Shawn had the first Hell in a Cell match that saw the debut of Kane
. That led to Shawn and Bret fighting in the most controversial match ever
at the Survivor Series
. Shawn's victory there led to his casket match with the Undertaker at the Royal Rumble
where he suffered his career threatening injury.
7. 1991: Bret Hart vs. Curt Hennig
At the time, Bret was mostly known as a tag team wrestler. This was Bret's first major singles title match on PPV. He took advantage of his opportunity to shine in the singles spotlight. The amazing part of this match wasn't Bret stepping up to the plate and showing that he was worthy of the Intercontinental Championship. What fans didn't know at the time was that Mr. Perfect
was suffering from a back injury and that this was going to be his last match for close to a year-and-a-half. Curt showed why he was Perfect in this match as he was able to elevate a wrestler while he was on the way out.
8. 1988: The Honky Tonk Man vs. The Ultimate Warrior
For over a year, the hated Honky Tonk Man
was able to worm his way out of trouble every time his Intercontinental Championship was in jeopardy. It appeared that he dodged another bullet when his opponent, Brutus Beefcake
, was injured by Ron Bass and was unable to participate. Honky threw out an open challenge and in the time it took me to write this sentence, the Ultimate Warrior
won the title. In less than 30 seconds, the fans saw the decisive end of the longest Intercontinental title reign and saw the birth of a new star. In this case, a short match accomplished what a long match would never have been able to do and is still remembered by all that saw it to this day.
9. 1999: Shane McMahon vs. Test
On paper, this "Love Her or Leave Her" Greenwich Street Fight for Test's right to marry Stephanie McMahon
looked like a train wreck waiting to happen. However, this match wound up stealing the show. The action inside of the ring was nonstop and saw a lot of interference while outside of the ring a drama was unfolding as Stephanie was shown watching the match and cheering on her boyfriend. Because Test won the match, the two made it to the alter but never got married
. It is matches like this that always make me look forward to a PPV event. Even when things look bad on paper, you really have no idea when a moment of magic will happen in the ring.
10. 2008: Hell in a Cell The Undertaker vs. Edge
This match was the culmination of my 2008 Feud of the Year
. After being banished from the WWE, the Undertaker made his return in the match he helped make famous. After winning an incredible match, the Undertaker literally brought hell into the cell as the post-match scrum ended with Edge being thrown through the mat and the hole then being engulfed in flames.