SummerSlam: A Look Back at Summer’s Biggest Show

The year was 1988 the WWF was competing with the NWA to be the top organization in wrestling. The WWF had Wrestlemania as there top drawing pay per view but they still needed something else to be ahead of the NWA. With this they created a new pay per view that would be called SummerSlam. Only to be one with some of the biggest stars to ever compete in wrestling and some matches that will go down in history.

The first SummerSlam came to us from Madison Square Garden in August 29, 1988. It was a jam packed card with all of the WWF superstars lined up to wrestle.

Brutus Beefcake was scheduled to face The Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental title. A few days before SummerSlam Beefcake was attacked by Ron Bass causing a injury. Beefcake was replaced in the match by a newcomer to WWF by the name of The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior made short work of Honky Tonk Man defeating him in a record 27 seconds to win his first major WWF title. Later that night in the main event saw a battle between the four biggest superstars in the WWF in a tag team match. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage took on Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant with special referee Jesse Ventura. After a grueling battle Hogan and Savage would prevail as winners.

SummerSlam returned in 1989 in East Rutherford, New Jersey to a sell out crowd. With yet another packed house and a action packed card it would be sure to go down in history as one of the best SummerSlams.

Ultimate Warrior had lost his Intercontinental title to Rick Rude. The two had feuded most of the year and this match would be for the title. After a action packed match The Ultimate Warrior would prevail and retain his title. Later in the night saw one of the years most anticipated matches between Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake taking on Randy Savage and Zeus. Hogan and Zeus had starred in there latest movie ‘No Holds Barred’ and this heated up there feud throughout 1989. With the split of the Mega-Powers Savage had a heated rivalry with Hogan throughout 1989 which prompted this tag team match after Hogan began siding with his friend Brutus Beefcake. After all the hype of this match Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake would take down the challenge of Randy Savage and Zeus.

With another sell out crown in 1990 SummerSlam was yet another hit for the WWF. With two of the WWF’s greatest tag teams competing for the WWF World Tag Team titles in a best of 3 falls match. The Hart Foundation defeated Demolition to win the WWF World Tag Team titles. In another match that would be for the WWF World title The Ultimate Warrior took on Rick Rude inside a steel cage. Rude and Warriors feud had lasted since the last SummerSlam and was heated by this point even more when Warrior won the World title from Hogan. After a grueling match Warrior prevailed yet again by escaping the cage and retaining his recent won World Heavyweight title.

SummerSlam 1991 returned to Madison Square Garden. This year saw one of wrestling first weddings between Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth. Also one of the first years that fans saw three WWF titles change hands. In the first bout we saw Bret Hart defeat Curt Hennig to win his first WWF singles title and start a legacy as the Hitman. In another bout Virgil took on Ted DiBiase for the Million Dollar belt. Virgil had been by DiBiase’s side for many years and finally took all he could and started a feud with DiBiase. Virgil prevailed in the match and won DiBiase’s self proclaimed Million Dollar Title. In a unforgettable tag team match for the WWF World Tag Team titles saw the Legion of Doom defeat the Nasty Boys in a No DQ, No Coutout match to win the belts. This made the LOD go down in the history books as holders of tag belts in three major organizations (AWA, NWA, WWF).

In 1992 SummerSlam tried it out in London England. With success to a sell out crowd. This year saw one of the greatest matches in WWF history between Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith. The two brothers in law would face off for Bret’s Intercontinental title. With there families at ringside Smith would defeat Bret to win his first singles title in the WWF. The match would later go on to win PWI’s 1992 Match of Year Award.

SummerSlam 93 out of Auburn Hills, Michigan saw the Undertaker face his biggest challenge in the Giant Gonzales in a Rest in Peace match. After a grueling match Taker defeated Giant handing him his first loss. In the main event Lex Luger faced Yokozuna for the WWF World title. Luger won the match by countout this allowing Yokozuna to retain his title.

The United Center in Chicago was the place for SummerSlam 94 with yet another sell out crowd. Razor Ramon faced Diesel for the Intercontinental title. After a struggling match Razor would come out on top and win the title. Yet in another history making match saw the World Heavyweight title on the line pitting brother  against brother inside a steel cage. Bret and Owen Hart had a heated rivalry all year long and it would be decided inside the cage. Bret would prevail and retain his World title in one of WWF’s greatest matches.

SummerSlam 95 saw the ladies step up to shine when newcomer Bertha Faye defeated Alundra Blayze to win the WWF Women’s title. Later in the night the Undertaker defeated Kama in his signature Casket Match. And one of WWF’s most unforgettable matches took place when Shawn Micheals defended his Intercontinental title against Razor Ramon in a Ladder Match. Micheals prevailed showing the world that he was the Show Stopper.

With 17,000 in attendance for SummerSlam 96 the Undertaker and Mankind waged war in a Boiler Room Brawl. In yet another history making match Mankind would defeat The Undertaker. Yet another show stopping performance Shawn Michaels defeated Vader to retain his WWF World Heavyweight title.

Yet another record breaking crowd in East Rutherford, New Jersey saw SummerSlam 97 and its tremendous line up of stars. Mankind defeated Triple H in a unforgettable steel cage match. Steve Austin defeated Owen Hart to win the Intercontinental title after there year long feud. In the main event saw Bret Hart take on The Undertaker for the WWF World Heavyweight title with Shawn Michaels as guest referee. Bret would defeat Taker to win the World title and then turn on the fans and join his family in the newly formed Hart Foundation.

In 1998 SummerSlam returned to Madison Square Garden to a sell out crowd. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn defeated Mankind in a anything goes handicap match to win the WWF World Tag Team titles. And in yet another spectacular Ladder Match Triple H defeated The Rock to win the Intercontinental title.

With another sell out crowd at the Target Center Summerslam 99 was a huge success. Jeff Jarrett defeated D Lo Brown to win the Intercontinental title and the European title. The Big Show and The Undertaker teamed to win the WWF World Tag titles from X Pac and Kane. And just like all the other SummerSlams before the main event was yet another history maker. Mankind defeated Triple H and Steve Austin in a Triple Threat Match to win the WWF World Heavyweight title.

SummerSlam 2000  was with another sell out crowd in Raleigh, North Carolina. One of WWF’s best matches in history took place on this card when Edge and Christian defended there World Tag titles against the Dudley Boys and The Hardy Boys in a TLC Match. After one of the most exciting matches in the history of WWF Edge and Christian prevailed to retain there belts. The match won the PWI Match of the Year in 2000.

In 2001 SummerSlam saw a record 5 title changes on one card. The first was when Edge defeated Lance Storm to win the Intercontinental title. Then X Pac defeated Tajiri to combine the WWF Light Heavyweight and the WCW Crusierweight titles. Rob Van Dam defeated Jeff Hardy in yet another spectacular Ladder Match to win the WWF Hardcore title. Undertaker and Kane teamed up to defeat Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon to combine the WWF World Tag titles and the WCW World Tag titles. And in the main event one of the years most anticipated matches happened when The Rock defeat Booker T to win the WCW World Heavyweight title.

SummerSlam 2002 saw the heading of some of the years biggest feuds. Rob Van Dam defeated Chris Benoit to win the Intercontinental title. And in a non sanctioned Street Fight Shawn Michaels defeated Triple H. And the main event was between two of WWE’s biggest superstars for the World title. Brock Lesnar defeated The Rock to win the World Heavyweight title.

The first Elimination Chamber match was saw at SummerSlam 03. Triple H successfully defended his World Heavyweight title against Bill Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Rand y Orton and Kevin Nash in this history making matchup.

SummerSlam 04 from Toronto, Ontario saw Randy Orton win his first WWE World title when he defeated Chris Benoit in an unforgettable match.

Coming from the nations capital in Washington D.C Summerslam 05 was yet another sell out in attendance. Chris Beniot defeated Orlando Jordan in a record 25 seconds to win the WWE United States title. And in the main event saw one of wrestling’s most anticipated matches of the year when Hulk Hogan defeated Shawn Michaels in a history making battle.

SummerSlam 06 was yet another success with a sell out crowd in Boston. Some of the hottest feuds in WWE were decided on this card. After a long heated rivalry the legend Hulk Hogan defeated the Legend Killer Randy Orton. Ric Flair ended his rivalry with Mick Foley in a unforgettable I Quit Match where Flair would be the victor. And one of the years most anticipated matches Triple H and Shawn Michaels defeated Vince and Shane McMahon in a grueling tag team match.

As years before SummerSlam 07 was also had a sell out crowd. This year saw a great match between John Cena and Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight title.  Cena defeated Orton to retain his World title.

SummerSlam 08 was yet another huge success with yet another sell out crowd in Indianapolis. The card was packed with great matches. Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix defeated Kofi Kingston and Mickie James to win both the Intercontinental title and the Women’s title. With the Undertaker taking on Edge in yet another historic Hell in a Cell Match. And yet again the Undertaker won inside the cell.

SummerSlam 09 from the Staples Center saw CM Punk defeat Jeff Hardy to win the WWE World title in a unforgettable TLC match. This was Punk’s first WWE World title.

The Staples Center yet again hosted SummerSlam in 2010 to yet another sell out crowd in attendance. After a assault from the Nexus a few weeks earlier John Cena formed his own team to take on The Nexus in a elimination style matchup. Cena teamed with Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, R Truth, John Morrison, Daniel Bryan to defeated The Nexus.

Last years SummerSlam was also a historic event. We saw Randy Orton defeat Christian in a No Holds Barred Match to win the WWE World title. And in a unforgettable chain of events we saw CM Punk defeat John Cena to be sole owner of the WWE World title. As Punk was leaving he was attacked by Kevin Nash. As he lay there out and unexpected he had to defend his title again. Alberto Del Rio saw the chance to cash in his recently won Money In the Bank title shot he ran out and in a record 13 seconds defeated Punk to win his first WWE World title.

As you can see from the years past SummerSlam has been like the backbone of WWE next to Wrestlemania. And this years SummerSlam should be no different than others with exciting history making matchups that is bound to please any wrestling fan.


– Michael Williams is  guest columnist for OWW

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