TORONTO (UPI) — WWE’s SummerSlam event brings spectacular matches, moments and mayhem every year with the 32nd edition arriving on Aug. 11.
Professional wrestling’s biggest party of the summer is WWE’s second most important show behind WrestleMania. The event has featured the return of legends, shocking upsets, the ending of rivalries and unforgettable moments.
SummerSlam might not have the pageantry or fireworks of WrestleMania but it does offer something different — something more fun, less predictable and ultimately more violent. SummerSlam is WWE’s summer blockbuster film, offering an action-packed ride featuring the most recognizable stars in the business.
Here are UPI’s Top 5 SummerSlam matches of all time:
5. Triple H (Champion) with Ric Flair vs. Goldberg vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Nash in an Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam 2003
This contest features a who’s who of WWE legends, all Hall of Famers or guaranteed to be Hall of Famers in Randy Orton and Chris Jericho’s case.
These six combatants came together in 2003 to deliver the second-ever Elimination Chamber match that still stands the test of time and remains one of the best bouts to take place inside the unforgiving steel structure.
Triple H winning, while upsetting at the time, does not take away from everything this match offers which includes Shawn Micheals and Jericho getting to battle once again, Ric Flair losing his temper from ringside as only he can, Kevin Nash looking the best he had in years and Goldberg having his arguably greatest moment in WWE.
Goldberg, better known for his time in WWE rival WCW, never got to fully take off during his first WWE stint except for in this match. Goldberg absolutely destroyed the competition and stole the show by delivering ring-rattling Jackhammers and for kicking down the glass door to Triple H’s holding cell.
Goldberg may never have reached the same heights in WWE as he did in WCW, but he came close here.
4. Stone Cold Steve Austin (Champion) vs. Mankind vs. Triple H with Chyna in a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship with special guest referee Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura at SummerSlam 1999
Stone Cold Steve Austin had to defend his WWE Championship against Triple H and Mankind in this Triple Threat match that took place at the height of the Attitude Era, WWE’s most lucrative period where Austin reigned supreme.
The match represents what made the Attitude Era great as it was a more gritty, violent and brawl-heavy confrontation that had outside interference in the form of Triple H’s partner Chyna, a special guest referee in the form of Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura, and a surprise finish with Mankind suddenly pinning Austin to become WWE Champion.
Also on display is a raucous live audience who shower Austin and Ventura with love. The audience also enjoyably gets louder during key moments of the match such as when Austin and Triple H begin fighting within the crowd.
Ventura, a wrestling legend and former Governor of Minnesota, truly shines here in his return to WWE. The Body has multiple, memorable moments, including his banning of Chyna from ringside, how he refused to count Triple H’s pinning attempt after The Game cheated and how he physically tossed out of the ring an interfering Shane McMahon.
3. John Cena (Champion) vs. Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam 2014
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar from SummerSlam 2014 is perhaps a controversial match to place onto a Top 5 list as it isn’t much of a match at all. Instead, fans were treated to a straight-up beatdown of epic proportions as Lesnar decimated Cena to the shock of many.
What makes this one-sided battle special is just how The Beast stomps over Cena. This was like watching Captain America lose to the likes of Thanos.
Cena, a poster boy and hero of WWE, had no answers for Lesnar who completely and utterly defeated him. In the background, a young fan can be heard cheering for Cena despite how bad things were looking.
That young fan, like many WWE viewers at the time, must have thought that there is no way Cena is going out like this, that he will find a way to fight back. Eventually, Cena did get in a few shots including an Attitude Adjustment only for Lesnar to sit right back up, a moment he did in order to mock The Undertaker who Lesnar had famously defeated that same year at WrestleMania.
It almost had if Lesnar had inherited The Undertaker’s otherworldly strength. It was this match where Lesnar’s reign of terror on WWE truly began. A hero like Cena losing so brutally might never be seen again.
2. The Undertaker vs. Edge in a Hell in a Cell Match from SummerSlam 2008
Edge is without question one of The Undertaker’s most heated rivals with this Hell in a Cell match at SummerSlam 2008 showing the burning hatred each man had for each other.
Hell in a Cell matches always promise carnage and blood-shed with this edition being no different as The Undertaker and Edge cared less about winning and more about inflicting as much pain to each other as possible.
Edge and The Undertaker delivered one of the best Hell in a Cell matches in WWE history by utilizing weapons such as chairs, steel steps, tables and ladders in unique ways.
Edge, who has a history of creating unforgettable moments during violent matches, memorably jumps from the top of a ladder while holding a chair to send The Undertaker straight through a table. The Rated R Superstar then shocks audiences again by running across the announcer’s desk in order to Spear The Deadman into another table.
The Undertaker chokeslams Edge off the top turnbuckle into two tables that were stacked together.
The living legend, after winning, sent Edge straight through the ring after he tossed him off a ladder. Edge seemingly fell to the bottom of the ring, leaving a gaping hole in his wake. The Undertaker then set the hole on fire, bringing new meaning to Hell in a Cell and what can happen inside the devil’s favorite playground.
1. Bret Hart (Champion) vs. British Bulldog for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam 1992
Family drama within the storied Hart family was on full display in this match which featured Bret Hart taking on his brother-in-law, the late British Bulldog, also known as Davey Boy Smith.
Adding to the family feud was the British Bulldog’s wife and Hart’s sister Diana watching the match from within the packed Wembley Stadium in London. The British Bulldog was, of course, competing on his home turf, getting support from the over 80,000 who were in attendance.
The match that followed solidified SummerSlam as a marquee event that could stand up to the prestige of WrestleMania and that could create long-lasting memories for fans. SummerSlam 1992 was the first SummerSlam to not feature the iconic Hulk Hogan, but it didn’t matter.
Hart and The British Bulldog put on an exciting, athletic and technical showcase that helped WWE usher into a new era that wasn’t dominated solely by the likes of Hogan and other, large-bodied grapplers.
The British Bulldog somehow survived Hart’s patent submission hold The Sharpshooter and later won with a sudden pin that ignited Wembley Stadium. Diana arrived into the ring and held both men’s hands up high before the pair shared a heartwarming group hug.
WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon worked at the announcer’s table at the time and said he just witnessed one of the greatest matches of all time. Not a crazy thing for an announcer to say in the world of professional wrestling, but this time McMahon was telling the truth.
Reporting by Wade Sheridan
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