The 31st annual SummerSlam will take place on August 11th this year in Toronto at the Scotiabank Arena. As the card takes shape and in the shadow of the RAW Reunion, let's take a look back at the five most memorable moments in WWE SummerSlam history. SummerSlam has traditionally ended major feuds that may have started as early as The Royal Rumble in January as WWE prepares for the fall season of television programming. This year's SummerSlam has potential to be especially memorable as it will set up the future of WWE on FOX as well as the future vision of a Heyman-led RAW brand and a Bischoff-led SmackDown brand while Vince starts to focus more on the XFL.
This list was not created just for debate, it was also created to spark an interest in revisiting the past feuds that led to these memorable moments. Take the time to enjoy the feuds that led to the moments below. In the comments, share which SummerSlam moments were most memorable for you.
5. The Match Made In Heaven
Macho Man Randy Savage & Miss Elizabeth get married
The love story of Miss Elizabeth and The Macho Man started with his debut as "the top free agent in pro wrestling". Every top manager in the WWF courted Savage to represent him, but he revealed that his choice of manager was someone no one had seen before: Miss Elizabeth. Their partnership was known for Macho Man ordering her around, being protective of her, and overall being an obnoxiously macho man. After losing the Intercontinental Championship to Ricky Steamboat in one of the greatest matches of all time at WrestleMania III, the fans started to cheer The Macho Man and his behavior toward Miss Elizabeth started to shift as well. He feuded with Honky Tonk Man in an attempt to regain his Intercontinental Championship. Miss Elizabeth enlisted the help of Hulk Hogan to save The Macho Man from Honky Tonk Man & The Hart Foundation starting a team between the two top heroes in WWF: The Mega Powers. Miss Elizabeth was often referred to as "The First Lady Of Wrestling" and she got big reactions from the crowd whenever she entered the arena. Miss Elizabeth became close with Hogan during this time, drawing out the jealousy of The Macho Man. After Hogan accidentally eliminated Macho Man from the '89 Royal Rumble and walked out on Savage (to attend to an injured Miss Elizabeth) during their tag match against The Twin Towers, Savage couldn't contain his jealousy any longer. Savage lost the WWF championship to Hogan at WrestleMania V and subsequently dumped Miss Elizabeth as his manager for Sherri Martel. Sherri and Macho Man's partnership lasted until WrestleMania VII, when Savage lost a career-ending match to The Ultimate Warrior. Miss Elizabeth was in attendance for the match and ran to Savage's aid after Sherri beat Savage down following his loss to the Warrior. The fans went crazy for Miss Elizabeth and Savage's reunion. Savage moved to commentary for the WWF but his story with Miss Elizabeth progressed until he finally proposed to her in the ring on WWF Superstars in front of Gene Okerlund.
The wedding between Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth was the main event of SummerSlam '91 and billed as "The Match Made In Heaven". It followed "The Match Made In Hell" where Hulk Hogan & The Ultimate Warrior faced Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa (The Iron Sheik), & General Adnan. The fans stayed for this wedding that shockingly had no interruptions or funny business at all. SummerSlam '91 ended with a lovely wedding between two of the most beloved characters in WWF in one of the happiest endings to a show in wrestling history with no violence whatsoever.
4. The Ultimate Warrior wins the Intercontinental Championship
"Get me somebody out here to wrestle! I don't care who it is!" - The famous last words uttered by the Honky Tonk Man before his 454 day reign as Intercontinental Champion were ended in 31 seconds by The Ultimate Warrior. The Honky Tonk Man defeated Ricky "The Dragon Steamboat" on the June 13th, 1987 episode of "Superstars" by holding the ropes while reversing an inside cradle to win the Intercontinental Championship. This ended the Intercontinental Championship reign of Steamboat after he had won it at WrestleMania III from Macho Man Randy Savage in one of the greatest wrestling matches of all time. The heat on Honky Tonk Man for this win was hot and he maintained it by walking out on matches and cheating. Since a championship can only change hands via pinfall or submission, Honky Tonk Man took advantage of this as much as possible. Honky Tonk Man's heat was used to help start the Mega Powers storyline when Honky Tonk Man faced Macho Man Randy Savage on Saturday Night's Main Event (October 3, 1987). Honky Tonk Man shoved Miss Elizabeth after The Hart Foundation attacked Savage to get Honky Tonk Man disqualified, thus preserving Honky's reign as Intercontinental Champion. When Honky Tonk Man went to smash his guitar over Savage's head, Miss Elizabeth returned with Hulk Hogan to make the save and begin The Mega Powers. Honky Tonk Man feuded with Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake for a few months after this but The Ultimate Warrior's star had been rising fast in the summer of 1988. Warrior had just defeated Hercules Hernandez in his WrestleMania debut at WrestleMania IV and had been beating Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan on shows in "Weasel Suit" matches between running through jobbers on "Superstars". The Warrior was clearly over and SummerSlam 1988 was the perfect time for him to start his meteoric rise to the top of the wrestling business.
The stage was set at SummerSlam 1988 for Honky Tonk Man to defend his Intercontinental Championship against a mystery opponent at Madison Square Garden. When no one came out to challenge, Honky Tonk Man grabbed the mic and uttered his famous last words. The Ultimate Warrior's music pierced through Madison Square Garden, invigorating the sold-out crowd. The Warrior sprinted to the ring and hit three punches on Honky Tonk Man. Warrior got in a bodyslam, a flying shoulder tackle, and a clothesline before hitting his flying body press to end Honky Tonk Man's 454 day reign as Intercontinental Champion in the greatest squash match in history. With all of the heat Honky Tonky Man was able to build for that 454 days coupled with the character Warrior had been building on television and the road with the WWF for the past year, The Ultimate Warrior was set to become a top guy in the WWF. The crowd was hot for the whole segment and it launched the career of one of the greatest stars in WWE history making for one of the most memorable moments in the history of SummerSlam.
Daniel Bryan's popularity skyrocketed as he broke from his tag team with Kane to prove that he wasn't the weak link of Team Hell No. Bryan was the first person to end The SHIELD's unpinned/unsubmitted streak by forcing Rollins to submit in a six-man tag team match on the June 14th, 2013 episode of SmackDown. Bryan would then team with Randy Orton to lose to The SHIELD once more, leading to Bryan and Orton facing off the next night on RAW in a no disqualification match. Bryan would suffer a stinger in the match and lose due to stoppage. Bryan was able to get to "redo" the match the week after and got an emotional win over Orton. Bryan then picked up a win over his WrestleMania 28 rival, Sheamus, and another win over Christian to continue his momentum. Bryan's bid to win the Money In The Bank match was sabotaged by Curtis Axel in a story that ended up getting dropped the next night because of fan response. The next night on RAW, John Cena (much to the dismay of Mr. McMahon) announced that his choice of opponent for SummerSlam is Daniel Bryan. This started a storyline of Vince and Triple H squabbling over whether Bryan was championship material. Bryan picked up more momentum by defeating Jack Swagger, Cesaro, and Ryback in a gauntlet match while continuing his storyline with McMahon & Triple H.
SummerSlam '13 had an amazing card that built perfectly to the WWE Title match between Cena and Bryan. The match was absolutely fantastic and ended with Bryan surprising John Cena and the WWE Universe by unveiling his new finisher: the Busaiku Knee Strike. That strike was the beginning of the end of John Cena as "Super Cena" as he stayed out of the title picture until the next summer only to lose most of the big matches he had until shifting focus to the United States Title. Bryan's win was celebrated with confetti and pyro. Guest referee, Triple H, applauded Bryan along with the capacity crowd at Staples Center. Randy Orton interrupted the celebration, threatening to cash in his Money In The Bank contract. While Bryan welcomed the challenge, he was surprised with a Pedigree from Triple H. Triple H made Orton's cash-in official and counted Orton's pin over Bryan to make Orton the new WWE Champion. This betrayal led to the formation of The Authority and Bryan taking on the role of the top hero of WWE (launching the "YES! Movement") while John Cena was injured. The shocking passing of the torch followed by an even more shocking betrayal and its ripple-effect on the WWE make this one of the most memorable moments in SummerSlam history.
2. Lesnar Dominates Cena
After losing to Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam '13, John Cena underwent surgery for a triceps tear that left him out of action for 2 months. Cena returned to handily defeat Alberto Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship at Hell In A Cell. Cena then lost the title to Randy Orton and feuded with Bray Wyatt through WrestleMania XXX. Cena won the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a ladder match at Money In The Bank '14 and began a feud with The Authority. Triple H announced his new plan to defeat John Cena was Brock Lesnar. Lesnar was fresh off ending The Undertaker's streak: the most shocking win in WWE history, perhaps second most-shocking to the Montreal Screwjob depending on who you ask. This victory made Brock Lesnar public enemy number one in the eyes of the WWE Universe, who had grown weary of Cena in the top spot. This matchup allowed Cena to become sympathetic and human again in the eyes of the fans while building Lesnar as a monster.
The match itself started like Cena and Lesnar's previous match with Cena charging first, but this time Lesnar managed to hit Cena with an F5 in the first 30 seconds of the match. Lesnar smiled a terrifyingly knowing smile and told Cena, "I'm gonna kill you!" Lesnar then followed with two German suplexes, two knees to the ribs, and a snap suplex before Cena could muster any offense. Lesnar managed another six German suplexes before Cena managed to have a burst of energy resulting in an AA and a near-fall on Lesnar. Lesnar then mimicked The Undertaker's sit-up and laughed at an exhausted and vulnerable Cena. The crowd reacted in shock at the merciless beatdown put on Cena by Lesnar. Lesnar hit another five German suplexes on Cena before Cena's expended his last gasp of energy locking Lesnar in an STF. Lesnar broke it easily and F5'd Cena, ending Cena's reign as champion and top guy in WWE. "Super Cena" had become human again and the fans in attendance looked on in shock. John Cena had been virtually unstoppable in WWE for nine years but this night at SummerSlam was the shocking and violent beginning of the end of John Cena's career at the top of WWE.
1. British Bulldog wins the Intercontinental Championship in front of 80,000 at Wembley Stadium
Bret "Hitman" Hart first won the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam '91 against Mr. Perfect before losing it to The Mountie after being shocked by a cattle prod. Hart won the title back at WrestleMania VIII becoming the first man to pin Rowdy Roddy Piper on WWF television. Getting the rub from Piper helped Hart's star rise even higher. Davey Boy Smith returned to the WWF in 1990 as a singles star after splitting from his partner, The Dynamite Kid. The British Bulldog's statement-making match was in the 1992 Royal Rumble after he eliminated Ted DiBiase, Jerry Sags, & Haku before being eliminated by the eventual winner, Ric Flair. Bulldog's popularity in the UK as an attraction opened the eyes of Vince McMahon to the prospect of holding a WWF PPV in England.
SummerSlam '92 took place at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,355 British WWF fans. The British Bulldog was led to the ring by boxing champion and fellow Englishman, Lennox Lewis, who waved the Union Jack flag as they walked toward the ring. The match started with a lock-up but the Bulldog shoved Hart out of it, showing aggression beyond the technical wrestling prowess that both men clearly possessed. In spite of the aggressive start, what followed was a technical masterpiece between two of the top athletes in wrestling at the time in front of the largest crowd ever assembled to watch SummerSlam. Once the match spilled to the outside, Hart slammed Davey Boy's spine into the ringpost to gain an advantage to break the stalemate between the two athletes. Hart continued to beat down Bulldog, drawing boos from the British crowd as he shined up Davey Boy for his comeback. After surviving a five minute beatdown from Bret Hart, The British Bulldog managed to get momentum back on his side. Davey Boy used a rope break to get out of Hart's Sharpshooter and finished the match by reversing an attempted Sunset Flip by Hart, pinning his shoulders to the match in a surprise finish that popped the 80,355 fans in attendance for the loudest cheers in SummerSlam history. Bret Hart has been quoted saying this was his favorite match of all time and it certainly is the most epic and memorable moment in SummerSlam history. Unfortunately, Davey Boy Smith had to drop the Intercontinental Championship two months later after he and The Ultimate Warrior were caught receiving shipments of PEDs and were subsequently released from their contracts with the WWF. This cut short the rise of The British Bulldog who drew one of the biggest crowds in WWF history in one of the few main events that focussed on a midcard title instead of the World Championship.