For more than thirty years, SummerSlam has been WWE’s premiere summer PPV. From a simple seasonal PPV, SummerSlam has become almost the summer version of WrestleMania. It has become the staging ground for some astonishing, unforgettable moments. SummerSlam brought us TLC, the returns of the Rock, Shawn Michaels, Jon Moxley, and Roman Reigns. It is where The Man was born, and where a legendary Intercontinental Championship took place in London, England.
Let me preface this by saying that this isn’t a deep dive into SummerSlam. RL kept that from happening. What this is going to be is a review/watch of a DVD set WWE put out in 2018 of what THEY considered the best matches of SummerSlam, and if I don’t agree, or I think there’s another match that was just as good, or better, I’ll watch that match too and explain why I think that. Also, since WWE didn’t include a match from every SummerSlam, I’ll be picking my personal favorite of the missing years and explaining why I liked it.
Are you game? Okay, let’s do this!
Notes: An asterisk indicates that the match is NOT part of the WWE DVD.
WWE’s Pick: Intercontinental Championship Match – Honky Tonk Man vs The Ultimate Warrior:
Winner: Ultimate Warrior by pinfall.
Would I Choose This Match: God no! Honky Tonk Man’s run as IC champ isn’t something I remember very fondly, if at all, but it deserved a better end than that.
Tiffany’s Pick: Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth vs Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant with Virgil and Bobby Heenan)
The Winner: The Mega Powers
Why It’s My Pick: A lot is said about Hulk Hogan, good and bad, and he deserves both, but you can’t deny that his charisma made up for his shortcomings in the ring. His charisma with Savage’s undeniable talent up against DiBiase and Andre was just magical. Ventura was great as the questionable ref and Miss Elizabeth and Heenan added to the grandeur. No, it wasn’t the greatest match ever, but it lived up to the hype, which is what you want. Plus, Elizabeth ripping off her skirt was absolutely shocking in 1988.
Intercontinental Championship Match – Ultimate Warrior vs Rick Rude
Why It’s My Pick: Rick Rude’s selling and in-ring work made this match watchable. Warrior had improved to the point where it looked like he actually could do the moves correctly, but it’s still rough to watch. Rude managed to make this work, and God bless him for it.
Also, this got the pick because I HATED the main event tag match between Hogan/Beefcake and Savage/Zeus and while this match isn’t great, it was at least interesting.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match – Demolition vs Hart Foundation – 2 out of 3 Falls
The Winner: The Hart Foundation.
Would I Pick This: You can’t go wrong with the Hart Foundation vs Anyone. Is it my personal favorite? Eh, not really. It was a solid match, but, as is typical for any match featuring Bret Hart, it wasn’t terribly exciting. Thankfully, Neidhart and Demolition were there to make it interesting, along with Legion of Doom, setting up LOD’s first big feud in WWF/E.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match – Nasty Boys with Jimmy Hart vs Legion of Doom – Street Fight
The Winner: Legion of Doom by pinfall.
Why It’s My Pick: This match was a wild one. When you get two teams who are INFAMOUS for working stiff, you have to expect wild and crazy. My main gripe is that, for a supposed street fight, they still abided by the rules, but then, I’m more used to the Attitude Era, which would’ve made this match a lot more crazy.
Intercontinental Championship Match – Mr. Perfect vs Bret Hart
The Winner: Bret Hart by submission.
Why It’s My Pick: Other than being a really great match, I love watching Mr. Perfect wrestle. He was the right combination of talent and charisma and he was always fun to watch. Plus, given that Bret Hart is a great wrestler but had very little personality, especially at that point in his career, working with someone like Mr. Perfect was a great way to keep the audience interested in a mid-card match. I’m not sure why it was decided to strip Perfect out of his singlet, but whatever floats the boat.
Honorable Mention: It wasn't until I actually WATCHED the whole PPV that I realized that the Big Boss Man vs The Mountie Jailhouse match was on '91 SummerSlam card. The match itself was 'eh', but the clips of the Mountie absolutely LOSING his shit while being booked in a New York City jail that WWE showed throughout the rest of the show were HILARIOUS.
WWE’s Pick: Intercontinental Championship Match – Bret Hart vs British Bulldog
The Winner: The British Bulldog.
Would I Pick This Match: Absolutely! This match is considered one of the greatest Intercontinental Championship matches of all time for good reason and it had the right finish. My only real gripe with it is that it was such a long match, plus the whole Hart Family drama is boring. However, seeing Bulldog and Bret put on a barnburner match was fun and more than lived up to the hype. Plus, someone winning a big match in their hometown/country is always fun.
Intercontinental Championship Match – Shawn Michaels vs Mr. Perfect
The Winner: Shawn Michaels with an assist from Diesel.
Why It’s My Pick: It’s Shawn Michaels vs Mr. Perfect, what more needs to be said? You have two great ring workers with tons of charisma going at it for a title, plus Big Daddy Cool Diesel, and his lovely mullet, at ringside. My early 90s pre-teen is in heaven.
WWE’s Pick: WWF Championship Match – Bret Hart vs Owen Hart – Steel Cage Match
The Winner: Bret Hart.
Would I Pick This: That’s a tough question. Yes, this is a great championship match, steel cage or not, but, like so many of Bret’s matches, it went too long and began to drag after 15 minutes. It was probably the best match on the card in terms of quality and storytelling, but it doesn’t rank up there with what I consider a showcase of SummerSlam. Plus, the Hart Family saga bores me rigid. I will say the post-match beatdown was fun.
Tiffany’s Pick: Undertaker vs Undertaker
The Winner: The REAL Undertaker.
Why It’s My Pick: This match was fun and fucked up. Sometimes the best matches on the card aren’t the best in terms of quality, sometimes the best matches are just fun and crazy. This was both and I loved it. If this match was done by anyone but the Undertaker, I would’ve panned it, Taker’s gimmick made this feasible enough to not be stupid. Plus, Paul Bearer’s selling the Undertaker’s return with urn was just hilarious.
Undertaker vs Kama – Casket Match
The Winner: The Undertaker.
Why It’s My Pick: Well, it’s the Undertaker and it’s his signature gimmick match. Plus, the match was hard-hitting and interesting since Kama was a tough opponent. Being more used to the Godfather gimmick, I was kind of disappointed that Kama didn’t get title run because that gimmick was really cool and badass, especially for the mid-90s.
WWE’s Pick: Mankind vs The Undertaker – Boiler Room Brawl
The Winner: Mankind after Paul Bearer turns on Undertaker.
Would I Pick This: Yeah, I would. As I said in the discussion about Undertaker vs Undertaker. Sometimes you don’t need to put on a 5 star technical masterpiece to have the best match on the card. Telling a great story and having an interesting, fun match, is more important. This match was good quality and fun.
Tiffany’s Pick: WWF Championship Match – Shawn Michaels vs Vader
The Winner: Shawn Michaels by pinfall.
Why It’s My Pick: Why did I add this when I praised the Boiler Room Brawl? Because this was a real test for HBK as champ because Vader was HUGE. Granted, he was extremely nimble for a 400lb man, but that was still going to be a job for the 200lb HBK and he rose to the challenge very well. Also, this match was absolutely insane. Jim Cornette insisting on restarting the match twice so Vader wouldn’t get an empty victory only for him to lose in the end was classic heel manager stuff.
Mankind vs Triple H – Steel Cage Match
The Winner: Mankind
Why It’s My Pick: It’s hard to have a quality match in a steel cage, it’s too easy to rely on the cage to do most of the work, but Triple H and Mankind did that and it was great to see Mankind get a win over Triple H. Plus, we got the birth of Dude Love.
WWF Championship Match – Undertaker vs Bret Hart with Shawn Michaels as Guest Referee
The Winner: Bret Hart.
Why It’s My Pick: This was just a quality story and match. You had the cold war between HBK and Bret Hart, plus the Undertaker. Bret Hart as a heel wasn’t much more interesting than he was as a face, and he was whinier, but the legit heat between Hart and HBK gave the match a gritty feel that was great to watch. The frustrating part was that Undertaker, the WWF Champ, almost felt like a third wheel to the Hart/Michaels drama, which was frustrating. However, the end of this match gave us the HBK/Taker feud that would be a game changer for WWF and the fans.