Since its debut in 1988, WWE SummerSlam has been the biggest wrestling event of the summer. This Sunday night, the 26th annual summer classic will emanate live from Los Angeles and will stream live on WWE Network. In honor of this event, The Great American Sports Network thought we would take a look back through the years and list our favorite moments from WWE’s annual summer party.
9. Undertaker vs. Undertaker (SummerSlam ’94). The Undertaker disappeared from wrestling for several months following a brutal beat down by Yokozuna and nearly the entire heel roster at the Royal Rumble. However, in the summer of ’93 Ted Dibiasi claimed he knew the whereabouts of the dead man and that he would be returning to join Dibiasi. This led to many comical vignettes involving Leslie Neilsen trying to crack the case and find the missing ‘Taker. At SummerSlam, a match was booked between the imposter Undertaker and the real one. It was unmistakable which Undertaker was legit and he etched his name in stone with a triumphant victory over the fake.
8. Tables, Ladders and Chairs (SummerSlam 2000). The matches featuring The Hardy Boys, The Dudley Boys and Edge and Christian were already legendary before the TLC match at SummerSlam 2000. The three teams managed to create carnage any time they wound up in a ring together and SummerSlam 2000 was the apex of these battles. Insane bumps, death-defying leaps and utter devastation ensued as the three tag teams managed to steal the entire show.
7. Honky Tonk Man vs ? (SummerSlam ’88). The Honky Tonk Man had managed to hold on to the Intercontinental belt for over a year which is still a record that stands today. At the inaugural SummerSlam in New York City, The Honky Tonk Man had a match but no opponent. As Honky stood in the ring waiting for a wrestler to enter the ring, the unmistakable music of the Ultimate Warrior hit and Madison Square Garden went bonkers. Approximately 30 seconds later, we had a new IC champion and the Ultimate Warrior’s stardom was clearly beginning to skyrocket.
6. A Match Made in Heaven (SummerSlam ’91). Following an emotional reunion between Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth at WrestleMania VII, the couple decided to tie the knot at SummerSlam. It had to be a little awkward considering that the wedding was staged (of course) and that Elizabeth and Randy had been married in real life prior to this and were divorced at the time. The wedding still resonated with fans and it was a very original concept for wrestling at the time.
5. HBK Returns (SummerSlam 2002). After spending four years away from the ring to heal an injured back, Shawn Michaels returned in the summer of 2002 to battle his former DX mate (and real life best friend HHH). Many fans and pundits thought Shawn would be rusty after spending so much time away from wrestling but it was clear from the get go that HBK was back. One of the greatest in-ring performers of all time, Shawn performed as if he had never left and left the Nassau Coliseum crowd dumbfounded as he pinned Hunter and pulled the upset.
4. A Double Main Event (SummerSlam ’90). SummerSlam ’90 featured a double main event including The Ultimate Warrior defending his heavyweight championship against Rick Rude in a steel cage and Hulk Hogan clashing with the enormous Earthquake, who had put Hogan out of action briefly with a brutal attack. The build-up was great for that match, as you actually believed Hogan was in danger of losing. Thankfully, Hulkamania prevailed and Hogan slammed the big man outside the ring which led to a count-out victory. In the main event, The Warrior’s title reign continued as he dispatched of the ravishing one in impressive fashion.
3. Mega Powers vs. Mega Bucks (SummerSlam ’88). As the pay-per-view business started taking off, the WWE decided it was time to unveil a summer-time extravaganza. The result of course, was SummerSlam which was set to take place at New York’s Madison Square Garden. In recent months, Hulk Hogan and the “Macho Man” Randy Savage had teamed up forming the indestructible force “The Mega Powers” and they would be put to the test at SummerSlam as they faced Andre the Giant and “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiasi. “The Mega Powers” prevailed although their partnership was short-lived and the two would face off at WrestleMania the next year.
2. Hart and Soul (SummerSlam ’91). Known as one of the greatest matches in SummerSlam history, Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect created an absolute masterpiece in the ring in front of 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden. Hart emerged victorious after making Perfect quit in the sharpshooter and a new Intercontinental Champion was crowned. The victory was huge for Bret, who had been known as a tag-team specialist early in his career and it was clear that he was a rising star in the company.
1. The British Invasion (SummerSlam ’92). For the 1992 edition of SummerSlam, the WWE packed up and ventured across the pond for its first international pay-per-view since WrestleMania VI. The main event featured England’s own British Bulldog challenging for the Intercontinental Title against Bret Hart. The brothers-in-law delivered an absolute classic in front of over 80,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium. The British Bulldog won the match and became the new champion much to the delight of his countrymen.