The John Report: The 25 Greatest WWE Summerslam Matches of All-Time (#10-1)

The John Report: The 25 Greatest WWE Summerslam Matches of All-Time (#10-1)
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport

This is the second and final part of my Top 25 Greatest Summerslam WWE Match of all time where I’ll be looking at what I feel are my top ten matches in Summerslam history. If you missed part one of this column on Monday click RIGHT HERE because it explains the rules. It will also tell you what matches were previously written about and also shows you what ones nearly made the top 25, but just came up short. It’s top ten time.

Before we start, though, here’s a listing of numbers 25-11 in case you’ve forgotten or need a reminder.

25. Steve Austin vs. Owen Hart ***1/2 97
24. Hart Foundation vs. Demolition (2/3 Falls) ***1/2 90
23. Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero ***3/4 04
22. Warrior vs. Savage ***3/4 92
21. Batista vs. John Cena ***3/4 08
20. Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero (Ladder) ***3/4 05
19. HHH/Michaels vs. Dibiase/Orton ***3/4 09
18. Mankind vs. Steve Austin vs. Triple H ***3/4 99
17. Steve Austin vs. Undertaker **** 98
16. Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio **** 02
15. Shawn Michaels vs. Vader **** 96
14. Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy (Ladder) **** 01
13. Rock vs. HHH vs. Kurt Angle **** 00
12. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho (2/3 Falls) ****1/4 00
11. Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect ****1/4 91

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the top ten.

10. World Title: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy (TLC) – 2009 (****1/4)
It’s funny how I’m writing this column a few days before Summerslam 2011 where the idea is that CM Punk needs to beat John Cena to solidify his spot as a top guys. Are they forgetting Summerslam 2009 when the last match on the card wasn’t Cena/Orton, but Punk/Hardy? It was the culmination of a story that involved Punk cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Hardy after he had just won the World Title, turning heel on Hardy by going on about his Straight Edge life and then they had a number of great matches & promos building up to this final encounter. This was a very physical match as we expected it to be.

I remember things like Hardy going straight through the table and the powerbomb off the ladder spot always worked as a big pop moment for me. There was that superplex onto the ladder that was brutal too. Hardy’s offense with the use of the chair was great because he took so much shit from Punk that as a fan you feel that Punk deserves that. What a way to go out of WWE by Hardy too. He did a Swanton off the ladder onto Punk while he was lying on the table. That ladder was HUGE! (That’s what she said.) It was as good as any crazy Hardy jump that there’s ever been. They laid there dead for a bit until the refs helped them. Then they went up the ladder, Punk hit him in the ribs, Hardy fell and Punk won the match after 22 grueling minutes. It’s a shame that Hardy left WWE soon after, got busted for drugs a month after this (a trial that is still ongoing two years later BTW) and never got a chance to repeat this amazing feud. If drunken youtube videos are any indication, the Hardy brothers are not fans of CM Punk. If you can toss the personal beef aside, though, you should appreciate not only the feud that was the best of 2009, but also this epic final encounter where these two had a memorable Tables, Ladders & Chairs match.

9. WWE Title: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar – 2003 (****1/2)
The best feud in WWE in 2003 was between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar. They had a classic match to main event WrestleMania 19 that saw Lesnar beat Kurt clean. Angle was out of action for a few months following neck surgery, so Lesnar had a good title reign until Angle returned as a babyface to win the title in a triple threat (with Big Show) at Vengeance a month prior to this. Angle was booked in a match against heel Vince McMahon on Smackdown with Lesnar as the referee. It was inside a steel cage and Lesnar turned heel. That set up this match. This was a really fun match that I enjoyed in its original airing and also when I watched it again recently. I think I liked it more watching it again because the psychology of the match was so good.

The story of the match was Lesnar being a heel beast while Angle kept fighting back from everything Brock did. There was also a focus on Brock’s ankle. Kurt did an amazing job of working on it and Brock, who didn’t show weakness a lot, was fantastic at selling the pain. Kurt kept going after the ankle and the crowd loved him for it, but Lesnar’s a tough bastard that kept hanging on. Angle put Lesnar in the ankle lock again, Brock was tapping, but there wasn’t a ref to see it. Cue Vince McMahon, who hit Angle in the back with a chair. I thought Lesnar was going over here especially after that one legged F5, which was spectacular. That’s what I want to see! Sell the pain of a move while you do a move. That’s what everybody needs to do more often. When Angle kicked out of that it was shocking. I thought that was it. McMahon tells Brock to do it again, but this time Kurt gets out of it and slaps on the Ankle Lock. Brock gets the ropes three times although not for long, so Kurt keeps pulling him back. Then Lesnar tapped out at the 21 minute mart. It was surprising because the idea of Lesnar tapping clean was a crazy thought at this point. That’s why I liked the match, though. It was unpredictable and gave us a strong finish. The heels cheated, but they still lost. This is also the match that led to the fun “YOU TAPPED OUT” chants that greet heels whenever they tap out in major matches. I love that chant. A month later they had a five star 60 minute Ironman Match on Smackdown. These two had amazing matches together every time. This one is no exception. Back in 2003 I wrote a full column on the Angle/Lesnar series of matches that you can read about here (excuse the question marks).

8. WWF Intercontinental Title: Triple H vs. Rock – 1998 (****1/2)
If there ever was a match that was a coming out party for two guys this one would be it. Embroiled in a feud for much of the summer, the IC title hung in the balance as the leader of DX Triple H challenged the leader of the Nation of the Domination, The Rock, who was the Intercontinental Champion. At this point neither guy was a World Champion, which is hard to believe because between the two of them they went on to win 20 World Titles combined (22 if you count Rock’s two as WCW Champion during the Invasion angle). You have to start somewhere right? While neither guy had the athleticism of a Shawn Michaels, they made the match work without too many crazy spots. Early on, The Rock worked over Triple H’s knee and that set up the first half of the match. Hunter kept coming back, showing the kind of toughness and heart that a babyface should. They fight on the ladder, Hunter falls off, Rock’s ready to get the title and then Hunter bounces into the ladder, which knocks Rock off. Then a cool spot as Rock did a People’s Elbow while using the Ladder. It looked ridiculous, but the NYC crowd was cheering for Rock because he was so cool at this point. Hunter comes back, he goes for the title again, but Rock hits a Rock Bottom. Hunter follows that up with a Pedigree. Then Rock’s ally Mark Henry, Mr. Kool-Aid, threw powder in Hunter’s eyes to blind him and keep him from climbing. Mr. Fuji would have been proud.

They fight on top again except this time Chyna, who was with Triple H, punched Rock in the nuts to send him crashing down. Huge positive reaction to that. The crowd was really loud for the entire match. At the 25 minute mark, Triple H climbed up to grab the IC Title to a massive pop from the NYC crowd even though they had been chanting for Rocky too. It was a respect thing. Both guys earned their love. A few months after this classic, with the Rock teasing a babyface turn, he went on to win the WWF Title for the first time at Survivor Series by joining up with Vince McMahon. A year after this match, Triple H would win his first WWF Title. I think it’s fair to say that everybody knew these two would be World Champions and in my opinion they had a better match after this (Judgment Day 2000), but this laid the foundation for their careers as main event players in the most successful era in WWE history. They are unquestionably two of the greatest wrestlers in WWE history and this is their breakout match.

7. Undertaker vs. Edge (Hell In A Cell) – 2008 (****1/2)
I didn’t write a lot from 2006 to 2008 (eleven columns in total for those three years), but this feud was a highlight of that year along with the Jericho/Michaels feud. That was Raw, this was Smackdown. The Undertaker and Edge had a feud that lasted for much of the year with Undertaker winning at WrestleMania, Edge getting his win back later in the year and then this was the finish to the feud after all the stress that Edge had caused Undertaker. It also came at a time following WWE’s change of direction back to a PG show after being TV14 for about a decade. I remember going into the match thinking how can they pull off a Hell in a Cell match without blood, which was a common theme for these kinds of matches? Of course that was a stupid question because these were two of the best in a hot feud and they did everything right in the match. What was cool is that Undertaker gave Edge a lot of offense and treated him as an equal rather than the underdog. They pushed that angle in the weeks building up to it, so when the announcers talked about how nobody could hurt Undertaker like Edge you actually believed it in this case. That’s how you use the story to build up to a match.

The big spot in the match was when Undertaker was leaning by the cage, Edge came charging in at him and speared him through the side of the cage. They obviously must have gimmicked that part of the cage to allow it to get unhinged easier. Edge continued the assault by hitting him with a monitor to the head and then speared Undertaker through one of the announce tables while running across all of them. It was a very memorable spot. Undertaker managed to get back up, they went into this crazy sequence of nearfalls that was big move after big move. The big turning point spot of the match was when Edge went for the Old School clothesline only for Undertaker to counter it and chokeslam him through tables. See, what I liked is that they incorporated tables, ladders & chairs into a Hell in a Cell match (they already had a TLC match) so it made it unique. To wrap it up Undertaker did all of his payback spots like the Spear to Edge, a camera shot to the head, a conchairto and then he finished it with a Tombstone for the pinfall at the 27 minute mark. After the match, Undertaker chokeslammed Edge “straight to hell” as the ring collapsed and lit on fire. Edge was gone for a few months after this to heal up from various injuries. This match should be remembered as a very physical encounter that was part HIAC, part TLC. I liked the mix even with the PG setting.

6. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (Street Fight) – 2002 (****1/2)
The term “marking out” is a commonly used phrase by fans of professional wrestling. It’s another way of saying that somebody is excited about something that they are watching. When my favorite wrestler ever Shawn Michaels returned to the ring at Summerslam 2002 everybody wondered how good would he be. Would he be like the HBK that was arguably the wrestler of the 90s or would he be a shell of his former self and somebody that was broken down due to the back surgery he had? Guess what? It was the same old HBK we know and love. The match was a street fight, which allowed them to do some tricks to help the flow of it in case Shawn wasn’t up to his normal speed.

The match was a lot of fun and they went long at 28 minutes. Who comes back after four years to work such a long match? HBK. That’s who. Hunter was bleeding, Shawn was selling every back bump as if it was going to put him in a wheelchair and everybody watching believed that it would do that. The biggest spot of the match was HBK propping up a table on the floor, laying HHH across it and splashing him off the top. In the ring, he hit an elbow drop off the ladder. I’ll never forget him doing the “I’m crazy” hand motion. The finish saw the superkick get blocked, then the Pedigree countered into a roll though cradle for Michaels. He won the match and everybody was loving it. Post match, HHH hit him twice in the back with his trusty sledgehammer to put Michaels out for a few more months. We didn’t know how much longer HBK would work. It turns out it would be another eight years. This was a very good brawl that really was better than I thought it would be. Who knew that Michaels would come back after four years to be this good again? It was awesome. Watching it live, all I could think about was how all I wanted was to see Michaels walk out of there safe. It was great for HHH too. His face run just didn’t work that well in 2002. He’s more natural as a heel and this was his first big match as a heel in over a year. He delivered. The spots they worked were perfect. Everything made sense, everything had the right flow and as is always the case with these guys, the timing was spot on. It’s a really fun, emotional match that is one of those memorable ones that will last a lifetime.

5. WWF Tag Titles: Edge & Christian vs. Dudleys vs. Hardys (TLC) – 2000 (****3/4)
This is the first three team TLC match in WWE history, not to be confused with the Tables & Ladders match from WrestleMania 16 in 2000. E&C as the heel tag team champions had the chairs, the Hardys had the ladders, the Dudleys had the tables and what did you get when you put them all together? Tables, ladders and chairs. Oh my. The match had a lot of spots, a lot of moments where guys are falling off ladders, taking chair shots or going through tables making you say “ouch” with every one. Bubba’s full nelson bomb on Christian off the ladder was a sick spot early on. Then there was Jeff Hardy getting shoved off the ladder by Edge, only to land on a prone ladder that ended up slingshotting into Matt’s face while he was on the ground. There were parts of the match where Edge was creaming the Dudleys with really stiff chairshots (those aren’t even allowed today), but they barely get a reaction because it seems like nothing compared to the Hardy’s legdrops off the ladder or Christian getting tossed off the top landing on Edge while he is sandwiched in between a ladder. Towards the end, Bubba climbed the “20 foot ladder” in the middle only to be shoved off over the top rope all the way to the stacked tables on the floor. So then Matt gets to climb, but D’Von pushes the ladder back backwards into some tables on the other side of the ring in another sick landing. The finish came when E&C knocked down Jeff Hardy while he was hanging from the titles, unable to pull them down and the champs made the climb to retain after 19 minutes of pain. That one was really dangerous.

I remember thinking the Hardys would win this one because it was in Raleigh, North Carolina, also known as Hardy country. Instead, they kept the belts on Edge & Christian. There were plenty of title matches and great moments between these teams over the course of a couple years, but this match is always going to stand out in my mind as one of their best moments. The spots they did were done perfectly. They made sense too. I think it was more than just climb up and get knocked down. How can you not respect and admire these six guys for putting their careers on the line like this? It definitely shorted the career of Edge as we know and you know that it hurt the others too. Do they regret any of it? Probably not. Much respect to all of them.

4. WWF Title: Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin – 2001 (****3/4)
What a ridiculously fun match this is. If I had to pick my favorite match in the history of wrestling that ended in a disqualification this is it. The work in this match is off the charts good. Austin was in the middle of his run as the top heel after he had turned on the WWF during the Invasion storyline against WCW and ECW. Angle ended up being the top babyface that was defending the WWF even though he had been a heel for the year and a half prior to this match. In terms of their work, Austin might have had his best year ever in 2001 while Angle was as good as anybody in the business despite being in WWE for under two years. The match was fresh and action packed. Early on Austin hit the Stunner and Angle kicked out. What does an angry Austin do? He repeatedly rammed Angle’s head into the ringpost, which drew blood and it added to the story of the match because Kurt looked physically out of it, yet he kept fighting back. There were also memorable moments like the Angle’s Ankle Lock on the floor and a belly to belly on the floor that couldn’t have been good for Austin’s neck.

The last five minutes of the match were heart wrenching as Angle kicked out of the Stunner again, Austin kicked out of the Olympic Slam and Angle snapped on the Ankle Lock. Everybody wanted Austin to tap, but he kept fighting. Then Austin attacked the referees (punch to Hebner, Stunner to Chioda, belt shot to White) and finally the fourth referee Nick Patrick rang the bell, disqualifying Austin at the 21 minute mark. This match worked on so many levels because both guys were on their games as well as I could ever remember. I can’t think of a match where Angle wrestled better as a babyface. Austin was at his heel best here. People who think his heel run didn’t work because the crowd was reluctant to boo him need to watch this match. He got massive heat and Angle had them jumping for everything he did too. A month later Angle won the title clean at Unforgiven in his hometown of Pittsburgh before dropping it back to Austin a few weeks after that. Should I add here that these are two of my three favorite wrestlers ever? You can see why in this match. The other guy in my top three is Shawn Michaels, who has another matchup coming up soon.

Now we get to the five star level. It’s hard to differentiate them, but for the sake of the column I will do just that. Two of them are gimmick matches while one is a straight up wrestling match.

3. WWF Title: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (Cage) – 1994 (*****)
I absolutely loved everything about the Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart feud. The seeds were planted at Survivor Series 1993, Owen turned heel at the 1994 Royal Rumble, then he beat Bret clean at WrestleMania 10 in 1994 (before Bret won the title later in the show) and all of that led to this epic (blue) steel cage match. I’m not a fan of the blue cage because it looks silly. The silver steel cage is better because it actually looks steel, it looks like it would hurt if you ran into it and that’s the point of cage match. The blue cage is more visually appealing because you can see more of the match through the square holes, but it’s not something I particularly enjoyed. Still, this is Hart vs. Hart in a cage for 32 minutes. Do you think it’s going to be a classic? Of course it is. I think the best way to describe this match is by saying that these were two guys who were masters of the little things. I noticed it in a lot of their matches. They were always on the same page. You know how sometimes a guy will be in the spot for a move and the other guy is a step slow, so it’s botched a bit? Not with these two. It must be a brotherly instinct and the fact that they were born to be professional wrestlers. Another thing I love about this match? It was escape the cage only. No pinfalls or submissions like they do in cage matches now. You can win by either climbing out of the cage or escaping through the door. That’s how ALL cage matches should be.

It’s hard to describe all of the action because over the course of the 32 minutes there was a lot going on. I really liked how they had some realistic escape opportunities. You had each guy lunging to get out through the door at various times, a lot of smart escape chances and they built up to the big spots well. The two highlight spots were late in the match. Owen’s climbing out of the ring when Bret goes after him. They’re right above one of the turnbuckles. Instead of simply pulling him back in, Bret does a spectacular move: a superplex off the top of the cage. You have to remember that this is 1994. Not a common move back then especially at this time in main event level matches. At the same time WCW was having Hogan vs. Flair matches and they were both old back then! A bit after that, Owen had Bret in the Sharpshooter. Bret was able to reverse out of that and put Owen in one of his own. The crowd was going nuts for it! Then they each climbed the cage, getting to the outside. If you watch it again you can notice Owen hooking his leg on the inside to make sure he didn’t accidentally fall out first. Bret rammed him into the cage, Owen went upside down, hanging by his leg and Bret dropped down to retain the WWF Title. It wasn’t a dominant victory at all. It was a victory after an evenly fought match that made both guys look strong. Post match was great too as Bret & Owen’s brother in law Jim Neidhart attacked Bret Hart. All of the Hart family was sitting at ringside. They also attacked the British Bulldog, who was another brother in law of the family that was a babyface at this point. This led to Neidhart & Owen double teaming Bret in the cage while all of the other brothers tried to get in until Bulldog finally made it. It was such a great feud. I really love this match. I could have easily put it at number one on this list and had no problem justifying it, but there are two that I think are a little bit better.

2. WWF Intercontinental Title: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (Ladder) – 1995 (*****)
After seeing their epic, five star WM10 ladder match I had no idea what to expect for the second ladder match between Shawn and Razor. How could they top a match that had so much heat, psychology and pacing with absolutely no flaws? One way they could do it was by having more time for the action. Another way they could do it was by having a second ladder present just in case the first ladder takes too much of a beating. There was not much of a feud heading into this one as both guys were babyfaces at the time. Michaels was actually going to face Sid, but they realized how much Sid sucked so they decided to have a ladder match rematch because Summerslam 1995 was a weak show. Shawn was over huge and about to be pushed as the top babyface in the company while Razor was doing solid work as a midcard babyface. The action in the match is spectacular right from the start. There’s a spot where Razor suplexes Shawn over to the top to the floor that HBK takes on the knees, which is crazy to do and it’s no shock that he had knee injuries when you see a bump like that. There were some cool counters by Razor where he avoids the baseball slide ladder shot to the ribs and the splash off the ladder, which were both prominent spots in the WM10 ladder match. They also mixed in psychology with Michaels hurting his knee and Razor worked it over very well.

I really liked the finishing sequence. Razor brought in a spare ladder from under the ring, which led to Vince McMahon asking what one was the legal ladder. Yes folks, a legal ladder. Vince sucked on commentary. Where do you think Michael Cole gets his inspiration from? As Shawn started to climb, Razor hit the Razor’s Edge off the ladder in another cool spot. They both set up their respective ladders and started to climb up when Shawn hit Sweet Chin Music to send Razor off the ladder. Shawn fell off his ladder in a bad fall that was unplanned. They had to improvise here, so Razor set him up for another Razor’s Edge so Michaels’ backdropped him over the top rope in a bump reminiscent to the one Razor took at WM10 on the exposed concrete. Shawn went up again, missed on his first grab, was furious with the ladder because of it and then finally grabbed the belt to retain his Intercontinental Title after 25 minutes of amazing action. The ladder match between them at WM10 gets more praise, but I think this is the better match. I think one of the reasons why people like the WM10 match more is because it happened first, plus things at WrestleMania are usually glorified more. Others point out that Shawn failed to grab the belt on his first try in this one. That’s a very valid point, but I don’t see why one small gaffe should mean that this match was worse. This one went seven minutes longer, the time was used wisely, they told more of a story (working over Shawn’s knee for example), they built off history and the crowd was hot the entire time. A true classic.

Now for the number one match in the history of Summerslam…

1. WWF Intercontinental Title: “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith vs. Bret Hart – 1992 (*****)
I love everything about this match. I loved it 19 years ago and I think I loved it even more when I watched it again for the purposes of this column. It was in London, England and a lot of people may not know this but it was taped on August 29th and then shown on August 31st in 1992 with just over 80,000 fans in attendance. The main event wasn’t the Savage/Warrior match for the WWF Title (#22 on this list), but the Intercontinental Title match between champion Bret Hart and challenger the British Bulldog , who was wrestling in his home country. It was a face vs. face match with the added dynamic of Bulldog’s wife Diana being at ringside, who was also the sister of Bret Hart.

The work in the match was special from the beginning. Through a lot of it, Bret was working as a heel because I think he realized he needed to in order to get the crowd totally behind Smith. It wasn’t aggressive heel work, but it was basic stuff that helped the match because it built up the support for their countryman. It’s interesting to note that Bret Hart wrote in his book about how Bulldog was blown up (aka tired) very early in the match, so he forgot a lot of the things that he had to do. Bret claims that he carried the majority of the match, which isn’t much of a surprise because Bret was such a great technician. You could tell Bulldog had lost it a little bit because of the bump where Bret did a slingshot over the top rope and Bulldog was supposed to catch him. Instead, he was hunched over against the side of the ring where he was trying to catch his breath. Hart ended up grabbing him by the shoulder to pull him down. Like he says on his DVD, he could have easily tore his knee. Let’s jump to the awesome finishing sequence. After a double clothesline spot, Bret wrapped Bulldog up in the Sharpshooter while they were on their backs. He sits in it, the crowd is going NUTS freaking out and Bulldog gets the ropes. “If you don’t like it you shouldn’t be here – go do the dishes,” is what Bobby Heenan says when they showed Diana Hart-Smith. The Brain is a legend, folks. Bret whips him into the ropes, does a sunset flip, Bulldog drops to his knees, hooks the arms, leans forward for the one, two and three for what might be the loudest ovation I’ve ever heard. The new Intercontinental Champion was the British Bulldog. Post match, Bret sold dejection and he even teased leaving, but he hugged his brother-in-law and the crowd popped huge for it as Diana went into the ring for the big family celebration. The match went 25 minutes.

On his DVD and in his book, Bret Hart talks about going into this match with the idea that not only will people think Bulldog got elevated by winning the title, but that Bret would be a bigger star after his performance. He wanted to prove that he could be the top guy in the company. Less than two months later he would win his first ever WWF Title. He was right. It’s the perfect example of a match doing great things for both guys. One guy went over (Bulldog), but the other guy became a bigger star after it was finished (Hart). That’s the point of wrestling. It’s not about the wins and losses. It’s about telling stories, getting over and creating memories to last a lifetime. That’s exactly what they did here. I’ll never forget how loud that pop was when Bulldog countered Bret, dropped down and cradled him up to get the victory. At the end of the match, Vince McMahon called it one of the greatest wrestling matches of all-time. Guess what? He was absolutely right. The greatest Summerslam match of all-time.

What’s weird about the list is that the top two matches are both babyface vs. babyface. You wouldn’t expect that, but it happened. It also helped that both matches got over 25 minutes and featured guys with amazing chemistry. It’s not an accident that they had matches on a big stage like Summerslam. It’s pure talent.

Here’s the final listing of the top 25 matches:

25. Steve Austin vs. Owen Hart ***1/2 97
24. Hart Foundation vs. Demolition (2/3 Falls) ***1/2 90
23. Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero ***3/4 04
22. Warrior vs. Savage ***3/4 92
21. Batista vs. John Cena ***3/4 08
20. Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero (Ladder) ***3/4 05
19. Triple H/Michaels vs. Dibiase/Orton ***3/4 09
18. Mankind vs. Steve Austin vs. Triple H ***3/4 99
17. Steve Austin vs. Undertaker **** 98
16. Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio **** 02
15. Shawn Michaels vs. Vader **** 96
14. Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy (Ladder) **** 01
13. Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle **** 00
12. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho (2/3 Falls) ****1/4 00
11. Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect ****1/4 91
10. CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy (TLC) ****1/4
9. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar ****1/2 03
8. Triple H vs. Rock ****1/2 (Ladder) 98
7. Undertaker vs. Edge HIAC ****1/2 08
6. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (Street Fight) ****1/2 02
5. Edge & Christian vs. Dudleys vs. Hardys (TLC) ****3/4 00
4. Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin ****3/4 01
3. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (Cage) ***** 94
2. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (Ladder) ***** 95
1. Bulldog vs. Bret Hart ***** 92

How about a poll? I’ll put the ones that are in my top 10. You can vote for what you think are the three best.

Once again if you missed part one it’s RIGHT HERE.

Most number of matches by a wrestler:
Kurt Angle – 5 (He wrestled in six Summerslams. The only unlisted one was a five minute squash of Eugene in 2005. One of the best ever)
Triple H – 5 (He’s in here as a midcard babyface, a tag team babyface, a midcard heel and twice as a top heel. Very versatile.)
Shawn Michaels – 4 (No surprise that he comes up huge at an annual big show like this. Nobody better on the big stage.)
Bret Hart – 4 (Even though Angle & Triple H have one more match in the top 25, you could argue that with two of the top three matches, the Hitman is Mr. Summerslam.)
Steve Austin – 4 (Summerslam will always be remembered in his case because of the neck injury in 1997.)
Jeff Hardy – 3 (One with his brother, one against RVD and one against Punk. The one constant? All of them involve a ladder.)

The only PPV with three matches on the list was 2000, which isn’t a surprise because that’s the best year in WWE history. Summerslam 2002 had two matches with others like Lesnar/Rock being very close. Off the top of my head I’d say those are the two best Summerslam PPVs ever.

You know what I learned from writing this column? Two things: The first thing is that my memory as it pertains to quality wrestling matches is absolutely disgusting. I re-watched everything on here in the last two months, but a lot of the time I could remember spots as they were about to happen. These are the matches that resonate with us and allow us to point at them to say “that’s why I’m a fan!”

The second thing is that wrestling at its absolute best, like all these matches, are why I’m still a fan at 30 years old and 25 years of watching this crazy business. The art of telling the story still means a lot to me. I think classics like Hart/Bulldog, Shawn/Razor and Hart/Hart (just to name three) are matches that will stand the test of time as legendary performances. My respect for every one of these performers is through the roof. It’s not an easy job, no matter how they make it look and I reflect back on 23 years of Summerslam all I have to say is thank you everybody that has put on a show for us through the years. You’re the ones that make it fun for us. You’re the reason we watch. Thank you for all the memorable matches…even the crap like Diesel vs. Mabel at Summerslam 1995. Who thought that was a good way to follow up Shawn vs. Razor’s ladder match? Are you freaking kidding me? Come on!

My hope is that this column makes you check out some of these matches that you’ve never seen or maybe you’ve forgotten. Talk about it with your friends. Relive the memories. These are what help shape us as fans. I’ll never forget watching Hart/Bulldog or Michaels/Triple H for the first time. They were ten years apart, one was when I was a boy and another was when I was a man, but they were still able to make me feel like the same type of fan. If it’s a great match it shouldn’t matter what kind of fan you are. If you’re a true fan you’ll appreciate it for what pro wrestling is: an art form. That goes for every match except Diesel vs. Mabel, of course. That was awful! Okay, I think I made my point about that match.

Thoughts? Comments? My contact info is below. I’ll be back on Friday with the Summerslam preview, Canton’s Corner column that reviews the week in wrestling will be on Saturday and then on Sunday night with live coverage of the 24th annual Summerslam event. Also keep checking out for daily columns and reviews covering the crazy business of wrestling. Now if you’ll excuse me, after writing nearly 12,000 words on the 25 Greatest Summerslam Matches of All-Time I think I’m going to need a nap.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton –
Twitter @johnreport

Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.

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