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TUCKER'S TOP 10: Best Summerslam Matches of All-Time - How do HBK vs. Razor and Bret vs. Bulldog compare?

Aug 17, 2012 - 12:30:23 PM
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By Benjamin Tucker, PWTorch TV specialist

Tucker's Top 10: Summerslam Matches

Summerslam 2012 is just around the corner. And, since it's inception in 1988, countless historic matches have taken place at the August event. Which ones are the best? Well, after spending hours going back through the Summerslam library, I have made what I consider to be a list of the Top 10 all-time Summerslam matches. And, before we get started, yes, I know that there are numerous ladder matches on here. Matches that were close to making the list include C.M. Punk vs. Jeff Hardy from Summerslam 2009, RVD vs. Jeff Hardy in a Hardcore Ladder match, and the infamous Triple H-Rock-Angle Triple Threat match from Summerslam 2000. Now, without further ado, the Top 10 Summerslam matches of all-time.

(10) Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio (Ladder Match for the Custody of Dominic) - Summerslam 2005. If this were TNA, you know that it would have been a "Dominic on a Pole" match. The entire match revolved around Eddie being irate that he could never beat Rey Mysterio in a match. Their feud culminated in this ladder match, where the winner would be given custody of Rey's son, Dominic. Yeah, it's a pretty uncomfortable storyline. Even more uncomfortable is the fact that Eddie died just a few months later, making this one of his last pay-per-view appearances. Despite those facts, the match itself was extremely dramatic and had some great near-grabs by Eddie. More than anything, this was one of Michael Cole's greatest moments as a commentator. His passionate support for Rey really enhanced his commentary and made the match even more intense. Cole's commentary even works when looking back on it seven years later. Yes, there were more botches than usual (like where Vickie Guerrero misses her cue to come out and Eddie yells to Charles Robinson, "Where the [expletive] was Vickie?!"), but the affair was one heck of a way to end their feud.

(9) Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle (WWE Championship) - Summerslam 2001. Ah, yes, the Invasion angle. In this main event, Angle was attempting to take the WWF Title back home to the WWF, away from the heel Austin (leader of the Alliance). The match itself was bloody, brutal, and put Angle over as one legit competitor. This match would actually be higher up on the list if it wasn't for the fact that the screwjob finish (where WCW referee Nick Patrick disqualified Austin so he'd retain the title) felt overly-contrived. But, even despite that, the match was awesome. A bloody Kurt Angle dragging Austin into the ring with the Anklelock was a great moment, and it really felt like he was going to win the title. It wasn't so, and the ending left people feeling cheated, but this title match still deserves a spot on the list.

(8) Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (WWE Championship Steel Cage Match) - Summerslam 1994. Some people regard this match as the best cage match of all-time. Yes, it's a great match, but I wouldn't say the best. The entire cage match was essentially "Owen tries to get out, Bret stops him, Bret tries to get out, Owen stops him" repeatedly until the end. I know that in a real-life situation, that's probably what would happen, but it did get a tad repetitive at the end. Surprisingly, though, Bret and Owen managed to make each near-escape just enough different from the last one that the match didn't get too stale. Instead, we witnessed one of the more emotional cage matches in WWE history, with a family torn apart by a sibling rivalry. Owen was at his best in this match, yelling at Bret that he was going to end his career, showing the years of frustration that led to the encounter. By the end, the crowd was worked into a frenzy, buying into each time Bret or Owen got near the door. Even the finish was a classic. Is it a perfect match? No, but I'd be remiss not to give it a spot on the list.

(7) Triple H vs. The Rock (WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match) - Summerslam 1998. Simply a well-hyped and good match for the Intercontinental Title. You know, back when the title used to mean something. A more hardcore version of previous ladder matches, the two wrestled a pretty brutal match that resulted in Triple H getting a tainted win via help from Chyna. The crowd was hot for the finish and the near-grabs were pretty good, but not quite up to par with previous ones (this match really started to use the "slowly climb up the ladder" tactic that's been used in almost every single ladder match since). Nonetheless, this was a very fun affair with a satisfying ending.

(6) Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect (WWE Intercontinental Championship) - Summerslam 1991. So, Mr. Perfect, the IC champ, has to go away because of multiple back problems, issues that would sideline him for over a year. Instead of forfeiting the title, Perfect agrees to have one more match at Summerslam against Bret Hart. It's incredible that, despite the injury, Bret and Perfect had one heck of a match. Perfect looked surprisingly good for a guy that was probably screaming in pain on the inside, and both men sold well for each other. Several nearfalls were incredible, especially where Bret kicked out of the Perfectplex. The crowd was eating this up! The late Curt Hennig deserves every bit of credit in the world for putting out such a great performance under such bad conditions. Bret eventually won, and Perfect would switch to commentary for the next bit of time. Had both men been in good shape, I guarantee you this match would be within the top three.
UndertakerArt_130GG_18.jpg

(5) Undertaker vs. Edge (Hell in a Cell) - Summerslam 2008. Undertaker, simply put, knows how to have a good Hell in a Cell match. This one with Edge was no different. Edge himself was no slouch, entering the show with a deranged attitude right after he destroyed Mick Foley on Smackdown (Foley would go to TNA soon after). The match itself was a typical Ruthless Aggression era Hell in a Cell match. Not on the level of Michaels-Taker, but still a lot of fun. And, this was one of the better ones, definitely outshining Taker-Batista from 2007, and maybe even Taker-Orton from 2005. Yeah, the post-match where Taker "sent Edge to hell" (he threw him through the ring and lit the hole on fire) was a bit gimmicky, but hey, at least it looked cool!

(4) Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. Dudley Boyz (WWE Tag Team Championship TLC Match) - Summerslam 2000. Did anyone think I wouldn't put this on the list? The TLC match is one of the defining moments of the latter part of the Attitude Era, almost a culmination of the evolution of the then-WWF from 1997 until then. Some of the match's spots include Bubba Ray Dudley being flung off a ladder through four tables at ringside, Jeff Hardy missing a swanton through a table off a ladder, Lita being speared by Edge and taking the bump like she was shot, etc. As far as spot fests go, it's hard to top one like this. Better than TLC 2 in 2001? I probably prefer the "ladder" (ha ha!), but both are classics in their own right.

(3) Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (Unsanctioned Street Fight) - Summerslam 2002. Remember, when this match took place, no one knew what Shawn Michaels could do. It was almost four-and-a-half years since his last match, and he wasn't the same guy that he used to be. Much to everyone's surprise (and pleasure), Shawn proved that yes, he could still go, even after all of his years of absence from the ring. His match with Triple H was grueling and bloody, exactly as you'd expect it to be. Weapons were used, nearfalls were abundant, and it was a real treat to see the "Showstopper" back in the ring. I was even surprised that the post-match angle worked so well (where Triple H drove his sledgehammer into Shawn's back), bringing their feud (and Triple H's new heel persona) to a new level. As far as matches like this are concerned, it's difficult to find a better one.

(2) Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog (WWE Intercontinental Championship) - Summerslam 1992. Widely considered by many to be the best Summerslam match of all-time, I admit that this was a barnburner. Both Bret and Davey Boy Smith really knew how to work with each other, and the raucous Wembley Stadium did that match a lot of favors. The commentary team was pretty good in their own right as well, and all of the pieces came together to create one of the most memorable Summerslam moments. When Davey Boy scored the pin, the crowd erupted in a way I've heard only a few times in WWE history. Is it the best match in Summerslam history, though? Well...
MichaelsShawnArt_130GG_7_35.jpg

(1) Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (WWE Intercontinental Championship Match) - Summerslam 1995. Simply one of the greatest ladder matches of all-time. No, it wasn't as crazy as the Money in the Bank matches of today or the wicked TLC matches of the early 2000s, but this one had a sense of grit and realism, along with athleticism, that brought it to a completely different level. I'd question whether it matched their previous ladder match at WrestleMania, but nonetheless this one was near perfection. Not too many slow climbs. Incredible spots that, for the most part, actually made sense. A good progression from beginning to end, preventing it from being a spotfest. Even the way that Shawn Michaels kept falling off the ladder at the end, trying to get the title (I still think it was a botch) somehow made the crowd even more invested in the match. The way that ladder matches of today are, I don't think that there will ever be another one like this. More than anything, both Shawn and Razor used the ladder brilliantly and deserve the number one spot for the greatest Summerslam match of all time.

Any questions or comments? What should my next Top 10 be? Find me on Twitter @BTuckertorch.

[Torch art credit Grant Gould (c) PWTorch.com]


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