* 25 years ago in 1990, the WWF held the third annual SummerSlam live on pay-per-view from the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The show was a huge success on pay-per-view, thanks primarily to the Hulk Hogan vs. Earthquake feud. There were two keys to why that program was such a big success.
First, as strange as it may sound, before 1990, Hulk Hogan had never taken time off to sell an injury angle in the WWF (he was working his normal schedule after the King Kong Bundy angle in 1986). The first time was going to work in a big way. Not only that, but it was a great angle in and of itself. Earthquake blindsided Hogan with a chair shot on the Brother Love Show, stood on Hogan's chest while mocking his posing routine, and then hit three of his sit down splashes to injure Hogan's ribs. Jimmy Hart got to be a serious heel manager for once in the WWF, cheering Earthquake on by screaming in his megaphone, plus Brother Love added to it by revelling in the carnage. John Tenta, Jimmy Hart, and Bruce Prichard were all tremendous here, as was the production, with great camerawork and the wise decision to drop all commentary onc the angle started.
Second, they made this video. WWE's production team has made a lot of great videos over the years, but for getting over an angle, there were arguably none better than this. It starts as a Hogan video set to "Real American," only to to switch to scary music and video of the attack after showing Hogan displaying a "Hulkamania will live forever" banner. Then it transitions into a montage of famous Hogan moments set to a somber version of "Real American," only to keep cutting back and forth to and from the attack. At the end, we see a locker with nothing but Hogan's shirt, bandana, and crucifix hanging in it...and the door slams shut.
As for the match itself? Hogan won by count out to set up house show rematches.
The co-main event and show closer was The Ultimate Warrior defending the WWF Championship against Rick Rude in a steel cage match. While the level to which this feud bombed might be overstated (they did big business on a swing through California, for example), it just didn't click with fans overall. Rude was a good opponent for Warrior in that he and Randy Savage were the only two guys to get consistent matches out of him, but a bad one in that they had just feuded. S they showed videos of Rude training for Warrior for months while talking about him being the only man to beat Warrior (even if it was a screwjob finish) and eventually sporting a new "serious" haircut. That was the extent of the build. The cage match was good, and of course Warrior won.
The undercard was highlighted by two title changes, with "Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich winning the Intercontinental Championship from Mr. Perfect and The Hart Foundation regaining the Tag Team Championship by defeating Demolition in a memorable best two out of three falls match. Von Erich was the replacement from Brutus Beefcake, who was still early in his recovery from his parasailing accident. While a big babyface star winning a title within weeks of his debut was a great moment, Von Erich wasn't right for the spot due to his personal issues and overall decline after his motorcycle accident, He quickly (by 1990 standards) dropped the title back to Perfect on TV thanks to interference from Ted DiBiase
* 20 years ago in 1995, the WWF held th eighth annual SummerSlam live on pay-per-view from the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While it might be a statement about the quality of American wrestling at the time, the show was considered a near universal thumbs up effort at the time even though 20 years later it's not looked back on especially favorably. 1-2-3 Kid vs. Hakushi and Skip vs. Barry Horowitz were very good, and little was boring. But thanks to the famously ridiculous push of King Mabel as top heel and Bret Hart being stuck wrestling the debuting Dr. Isaac Yankem,, it's remembered as a one match show...and it's quite the "one match."
Originally, Shawn Michaels was to defend the Intercontinental Championship against Sid. Before long, someone panicked over the show not having a standout match, so hey had new fan-friendly (figurehead) Interim WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon announce that instead, Michaels would defend against Razor Ramon in their second PPV ladder match. While WrestleMania X was the match that put the gimmick on the map, there's an argument for this bout being better: The storytelling is stronger with Razor as subtle heel working over Michaels' knee, it builds better, and honestly, it has more spectacular highspots. The finish was blown thanks to the belt being hung too high, but it's neither guy's fault.
* 15 years ago in 2000, the WWF ran the 13th annual SummerSlam live from the Entertainment and Sports Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina. While it's something of a forgotten show as a whole these days, that's likely because it was just one of many strong WWF PPVs that year. With Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit in a best two out of three falls match and a main event of The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle, there was no shortage of great wrestling, but the stunts that night are what have lived on the longest.
First, Steve Blackman defeated Shane McMahon to win the Hardcore Championship. This was the moment Shane started to do way too much: Here, he and Blackman climbed the side of the TitanTron until they got near the top. Shane was knocked off, landing on a barely concealed crash pad, and then Blackman dove onto him for the win. It was overkill, to say the least.
WWF Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian defeated The Dudley Boyz and Matt & Jeff Hardy in the first ever Tables, Ladders, And Chairs Match to retain the titles and it was…frightening, especially in hindsight. One team is retired, another developed significant painkiller problems, and the third... well, they're inexplicably doing OK. This was when these matches went from "normal" wrestling craziness to too much, like wrestlers hanging from the (too high) metal ring that held the belts. It would get even crazier in the rematch at WrestleMania, with Edge spearing Jeff off the metal ring, and clearly they paid the price. It was an amazing spectacle, but it's hard to watch now.