We’re a few weeks away from “Summerslam 2016” and that makes me think back about the Summerslams of years past. A few months ago I took a look back at a forgotten match at every Wrestlemania so today we’re going to do that same with Summerslam. Just like before I’m not saying this is the best show of the show or anything like that. These are matches that are good enough to be remembered but are often overlooked for one reason or another.
For the second show we’ll look at another tag match though this time it’s a six man. One of the best ideas you can have in wrestling is to take two feuds and combine them into one match and that’s what worked here. In this case it’s the Rockers/Tito Santana vs. Fabulous Rougeau Brothers/Rick Martel. It wasn’t any big blowoff match or anything like that but it was six guys who could work all night long and show off in a great match. I’ve liked this match since I was a kid and I still do to this day.
Since the best match on this show is the most remembered (and not even part of the double main event), we’ll go with a match that wasn’t great but was very well booked. The Texas Tornado made one of his first TV appearances and beat Mr. Perfect to win the Intercontinental Title in a quick match. It was a simple story of Perfect accepting the match on short notice and being overconfident, allowing the Tornado to win the title on a glorified fluke. Not a great match or anything, but it did exactly what it was supposed to do.
For this one we’ll go with the main event, which is barely remembered thanks to Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart stealing the show earlier in the night. This time it was Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior teaming up to face Sgt. Slaughter, General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa in a handicap match to blow off the US vs. Iraq story once and for all. Just like last time it wasn’t a great match but it gave the fans what they wanted to see and sent them home happy. Well at least until the wedding angle was ruined but the last match made them happy at least.
This is a change of pace as we’re going with the World Title match that is almost entirely forgotten, again because of what Hart did later in the night. This was Randy Savage defending against Ultimate Warrior in a rematch of their classic at “Wrestlemania VII”. The twist here though was Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect (he comes up a lot in the old days) teasing that they were going to join one of them.
In a great line, Mr. Perfect was asked whose dressing room Flair was in. Perfect’s response: “He’s in the dressing room of the winner of course.” Warrior was supposed to turn heel here but said no, which was about it for him in the company. Still though, it’s a forgotten classic with an even better angle to lift it higher.
Instead of Hart stealing the show from someone else, we’ll look at a show where he stole it for himself. In this case he had to fight twice as part of his two plus year long war against Jerry Lawler. Due to various reasons, Hart had to face Doink the Clown before getting his hands on Lawler later in the night. Since he is who he is, Hart had a great match against an evil clown before having an even better one with Lawler (which is fairly well remembered) later on. It was proof of how good he really was and a great night for him all around.
When all else fails, go with a Kliq match. I know they get a lot of flack for the shenanigans they pulled over the years but the fact of the matter is they worked very well together. This match would be no exception as Diesel dropped the Intercontinental Title back to Razor Ramon. Diesel had taken the title from him a few months earlier and Ramon gets it back here in a big, well done match. What more can you ask for?
Given that there’s a total of one really good match on this horrid show, I really don’t know what else to pick other than the opener with the 1-2-3 Kid and Hakushi having the fun, energetic match that you would expect from them. This cruiserweight style opener worked for WCW for years and it worked very well here too. There isn’t much to say about this one, other than it did everything it was asked to and that’s a good thing.
Unfortunately this is another case where I have to go with the least bad match instead of anything good. That leaves us with the British Bulldog vs. Sycho Sid in a match that is every bit as bad as you would expect it to be. Neither guy can do much against someone with the same style they have and the match was pretty lame. Still though, it was probably the best one out of the show aside from the double main event.
I might be stretching a bit to call this one underrated or forgotten but I love the opening cage match between Mankind and Triple H. These two feuded for a long time in 1997 and it was cool to see them get a major match on a major show like this. You could see these two becoming bigger and bigger stars every night and this was the great match that they were just waiting to have.
This was the one that I didn’t have to think about for a second as we’re going with Val Venis vs. D’Lo Brown for the European Title. It’s not an important match or anything and there are other things on this show that are far more interesting but this was about two guys giving it everything they had on the biggest stage either of them had ever been on. It’s always cool to see people put in the effort like that and this was no exception. Really good match and actually my second favorite match on the show.
In a great example of an outsider coming in and having a great match, we have Shane McMahon vs. Test in part of the Test/Stephanie McMahon romance. The idea here was Love Her Or Leave Her as Shane had to win to get Test out of his sister’s life while Test was fighting to be with the woman he loved. The result was one heck of a brawl with Shane having one of his first really fun matches.
I’m going to cheat here and go with two matches that I can’t choose between. First up is the original Tables, Ladders and Chairs match (assuming you don’t count the triangle ladder match from “Wrestlemania 2000” which was a TLC match for all intents and purposes) between Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz. On the other hand we have Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho in a 2/3 falls match. Do I really need to explain either of these two?
We’ll continue the Jericho theme with his match against Rhyno here. This was another part of the Stephanie vs. Jericho feud that went on forever (and for some reason never included them getting together, which should have made millions) and never stopped being entertaining. Rhyno was more than up for this one too and that’s always cool to see, especially when Jericho was on his game so much around this time.
Oh geez where do you even start on this show? It’s the best Summerslam of all time and one of the best shows of all time with at least five matches that could have stolen the show on any given night that didn’t have the Triple H vs. Michaels masterpiece. We’ll pick a random one and go with Benoit vs. Rob Van Dam for the Intercontinental Title. This is another match that really shouldn’t need much of an explanation, especially when you should be going off to watch this show instead of reading the rest of this column.
This show is best remembered (and I use that term loosely) for the bad Elimination Chamber main event so instead we’ll look at another multi-man match from earlier in the night. In this case it would be Eddie Guerrero defending the United States Title against Benoit, Tajiri and Rhyno. As has been the case many times in this series, this was about letting talented people go out and have an action packed match with Guerrero retaining his title after eleven minutes of non-stop action. Smackdown could do very little wrong at this point and this was a great example of it.
In the vein of the Love Her Or Leave Her match, we have a Til Death Do Us Part match between Kane and Matt Hardy with the winner getting to marry Lita (just go with it). This feud was so over the top that it was hard not to be entertained (with the eventual wedding being a blast) and the chokeslam from the top that ended Hardy making this match all the more fun.
Again I had a few options here with stuff like Undertaker vs. Randy Orton II, Rey Mysterio vs. Guerrero (“For the custody of Dominic!”) and the main event, but I’m actually going to go with Benoit making Orlando Jordan tap out in 25 seconds to win the United States Title. No one wanted to see Benoit slow everything down so Jordan could keep up with him and there was no reason for the worthless Jordan to hang onto the title any longer, so screw the wasting time and just have Benoit squash him into dust to wake the fans up and give them something to cheer for.
As bad of a reputation as Chavo Guerrero Jr. has gotten over the years, he was always good for a match against someone like Rey Mysterio and that’s what we got here. It’s another great choice for an opener (a common theme here) and for once it was Guerrero getting the win on a major stage. Guerrero would actually beat Mysterio more than once in a feud that was far more competitive than people remember.
Take two guys (Finlay and Kane) and have them beat on each other with heavy punches and the occasional club that I still can’t spell. This wasn’t anything groundbreaking or anything we haven’t seen before but it’s a great way to open a show and that’s what we got here. Finlay is a great example of a role player and someone who is going to have a job for years as a result of playing that role so well.
It’s pretty difficult to stand out on a show with a double main event of Batista vs. John Cena and Undertaker vs. Edge inside the Cell but this show had a really underrated match as Smackdown World Champion Triple H defended against Great Khali. This was a simple idea as Triple H knew he couldn’t do anything other than hit the Pedigree so he tried the entire match. Somehow he pulled off the greatest match Khali had ever had and it’s still worth checking out today.
People remember the Orton vs. Cena match and Legacy vs. D-Generation X but how many people remember that it was Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk in a TLC match closing the show? This was one of the last times that the Smackdown World Title got to close the show and even though it was really about the returning Undertaker in the end (again), these two put on an outstanding performance, as if you would have expected them to do anything less.
This is another show without many options since the main event was a massive elimination tag match. Therefore we’ll go with Orton vs. Sheamus in one of the only good matches the two of them ever had. Sheamus was defending his Raw World Title and didn’t do much other than his usual stuff here as everyone was caring about the main event instead of anything else. Unfortunately this was the best option we had otherwise and that’s not a good thing.
While it’s a bit later than it should have been, this year saw Wade Barrett beat Daniel Bryan clean with the Wasteland in the middle of the ring. It turns out that Barrett is capable of having a really strong match like this one, though I’m sure having Bryan as an opponent didn’t hurt things. The ending was clean and it gave us a strong match to enjoy and lift the show up in the middle. Why can’t more major shows have that feature?
You know the team I miss? Bryan and Kane. Those two brought out some great stuff in each other and this was the match that made Bryan a star. The idea was that both of them had anger management issues so they were being put into a team together to see what they could do together. However, none of that happens without them getting together for this match in the first place. The match itself was fine but above that it led to Bryan’s remarkable rise to the top of the company, showing you that you never know what you might get out of a lame midcard feud.
I know a World Title match isn’t exactly forgotten but this is one last instance of having no other option. Alberto Del Rio was defending the Smackdown World Title against his longtime rival Christian in a match that didn’t have the best heat coming in. Christian wouldn’t be long for the company as even more injuries would bring him down so it was nice to see him get another big match like this one.
It’s time for the women to get a turn as Paige defeated AJ Lee to get the Women’s Title back. These two had a great rivalry starting back when Lee ran her mouth and lost the title to the debuting Paige the night after “Wrestlemania XXX” in about a minute and a half so it was good to see them have a full on match. If nothing else it meant seeing the always cool Rampaige, which never got old whatsoever.
We’ll wrap it up with some New Day, who were still heels at this point but getting cheered more and more every single night. This would be their second Tag Team Title win as they defeated defending champions the Prime Time Players, Los Matadores and the Lucha Dragons to get back the titles they never should have lost in the first place. The fans wanted to cheer for New Day and that’s what they got to do here, especially due to Big E.’s dancing celebration.
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