The Most Memorable Moments in SummerSlam History

As one of WWE’s “Big Four” PPV's, SummerSlam has been home to some of the company’s biggest moments throughout its 30-year run. While not as grandiose as WrestleMania, Vince McMahon’s summertime extravaganza is still a must-watch for wrestling fans every year. Here is a list of some of the best SummerSlam moments.

WWE SummerSlam Barclays Center 2015

General atmosphere at the WWE SummerSlam 2015 at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on August 23, 2015 in New York City.

WWE SummerSlam Barclays Center 2015

Many people view the end of summertime with dismay. For some, it marks the end of days spent at the beach, by the pool, or cracking open a cold one at the family barbecue. For others, it is the dreadful reminder that school is back to occupy all of their free time and the fall semester is right around the corner. But wrestling fans always get to look forward to something as summer slowly fades into fall—SummerSlam.

While SummerSlam might not be as big of a spectacle as some of WWE’s other “Big Four” pay-per-views like WrestleMania or the Royal Rumble, the company still does everything in its power to truly make it feel like the “Biggest Party of the Summer.”

Since its inaugural year in 1988, SummerSlam has continued on as one of the pro wrestling’s longest running annual events. While it moved from city to city for the first two decades, as most major wrestling shows frequently do, SummerSlam has become a New York tradition of sorts in recent years that, despite not being at WWE’s original home of Madison Square Garden, still evokes memories of the company’s roots in the Big Apple. Since 2015, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn has housed the show. Before that, it saw a six-year run at the Staples Center in Los Angeles--a trend that has not been common for any other of Vince McMahon’s major events.

As one can expect, a pay-per-view going into its 30th year has provided its fair share of unforgettable memories over the years. Whether you’re a pro wrestling diehard or casual viewer being dragged to a friend’s watch party this weekend, make sure to check out our list of the Most Memorable Moments in SummerSlam History before this year’s airs on Sunday, Aug. 19.

33. The Mountie Goes to Jail

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Date: Aug. 26, 1991

Wrestlers: Big Bossman, The Mountie

Stadium and location: Madison Square Garden (New York)

Because a pinfall, submission, or just beating the hell out of each other simply won't do, The Mountie and Big Bossman faced off in a Jailhouse Match. The loser had to be taken away in a paddy wagon, fingerprinted, and placed in an NYC jail cell for 24 hours.

The Mountie did have Jimmy Hart on his side, but "The Mouth of the South" wouldn't be that much of a factor. His appearance really only had two highlights: getting called "The greatest walking advertisement for birth control" by one of the commentators and watching The Mountie lose as he received a vicious slam from Big Bossman. The Mountie had to get locked up.

As the NYPD dragged The Mountie to jail, he screams "I'm the Mountie! You can't fingerprint me." Well, they can with kayfabe, and in real life you can face years' long imprisonment for impersonating a police officer.

32. John Stewart Helps Seth Rollins Capture the U.S. and WWE Titles

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Date: Aug. 23, 2015

Wrestlers: John Cena and Seth Rollins

Stadium and Location: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)

For 2015’s installment of SummerSlam, former Daily Show host John Stewart was the special guest host of the festivities. Leading up to the event, Seth Rollins crashed Stewart’s late night program and the two started a war of words. 

That night, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Rollins squared off against United States Champion John Cena in a winner-take-all match for both titles. The two put on a good match before it was time for the finish. Cena delivered an Attitude Adjustment to Rollins that caused the referee to be knocked down. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Stewart ran down to the ring with a steel chair in hand. All signs pointed to the comedian getting his free shot on Rollins, but instead he hit Cena in the gut with the weapon. This gave Rollins an opening to hit a Pedigree on the chair in the middle of the ring just as the ref was coming to his senses. The Architect walked away a dual champion, winning in rather heelish fashion, thanks to some unexpected interference from a newfound ally.

31. Shane McMahon and Test Battle Over Stephanie

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Date: Aug. 22, 1999

Wrestlers: Shane McMahon, Test

Stadium and location: Target Center (Minneapolis)

Now here's a novel idea. Shane McMahon and Test face off in a match in which, if Test wins, he gets to stay married to Shane's sister Stephanie, and if he loses he must divorce her. It's essentially every younger disgruntled brother's dream.

The match itself was a joy to watch though, as the undermanned Shane put on a show against 6'6" Test. Interference or not, who would've have thought Shane was capable of executing a diving elbow that put Test through the commentators' table? But despite his efforts and the Mean Street Posse's help, Shane was ironically done in by a Test diving elbow. Despite the loss, Shane got even more hardcore the very next year.

30. Rey Mysterio Makes His WWE Pay-Per-View Debut Against Kurt Angle

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Date: Aug. 25, 2002

Wrestlers: Rey Mysterio and Kurt Angle

Stadium and Location: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Uniondale, NY)

In the weeks leading up to SummerSlam 2002, Rey Mysterio made his WWE debut on Smackdown by defeating Chavo Guerrero. Not getting such a warm welcome from everyone in the locker room, the cruiserweight quickly found himself enveloped in a feud with one of the company’s biggest stars at the time, Kurt Angle. The Olympic gold medalist even vowed to break his ankle during their summertime clash. The David vs. Goliath matchup was fast-paced and perfectly showcased Mysterio’s high-flying lucha style, as well as Angle’s technical abilities in the squared circle. 

Each superstar got to shine, with Mysterio flying all around the ring and Angle seeming to always find a way to overpower his smaller foe and halt his momentum. The highlight of the match came when Mysterio hit a springboard front flip over the crouched referee that took out Angle on the outside. Ultimately, the masked man was bested by Angle in the contest and tapped out to the Ankle Lock, but the stellar showing quickly cemented him as a fan-favorite for years to come.

29. Virgil Stands Up to Ted DiBiase

WWE SummerSlam Barclays Center 2015

28. Brock Lesnar Busts Open Randy Orton

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Date: Aug. 21, 2016

Wrestlers: Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton

Stadium and Location: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)

Admittedly, a Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton main event in 2016 wasn’t exactly something we wanted to see. At this point, Lesnar’s part-time schedule was getting aggravating and Orton was nowhere near the draw he’d been in his younger days, no matter how badass the RKO still was. 

Fans will never get to know what the outcome of an actual Lesnar vs. Orton clash would have looked like in 2016, but it seems like they were never supposed to anyway. As the match went through its motions, Lesnar reached a boiling point after Orton kicked out of an F5, removed his pads, and started raining down elbows on his opponent’s forehead. While the Viper was likely supposed to be bludgeoned, Lesnar connected with one strike that left a giant gash in Orton’s head and a pool of red blood stained the center of the squared circle. Lesnar would win via TKO in what was one of the bloodiest and most sudden finishes in wrestling’s modern PG era.

27. CM Punk Gets Got After Winning Championship

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Date: Aug. 14, 2011

Wrestlers: CM Punk, John Cena, Alberto Del Rio

Stadium and location: Staples Center (Los Angeles)

Although the backstory wasn't the greatest, CM Punk and John Cena's match for the Undisputed Championship succeeded because of how well it was executed. Neither men had the advantage for long as the two squared off in what was easily one of the finest SummerSlam matches of this decade.

Triple H as special guest referee was an added bonus, and thankfully, he wasn't just a meaningless addition. The two champions were laying outside the ring and were at risk of failing to answer the 10-count, but Triple H—who was known for his pathological desire for a championship during his prime—wasn't having it at all. He tossed their asses back into the ring to have them finish like men.

The two were barely surviving each other's finishers toward the end, but like commentator Booker T said prior to the match, a mistake would end up costing one of the competitors. Surprisingly, that mistake came from Triple H, who failed to see John Cena's foot on the rope as he counted to three. A dubious ending, but fans had to give CM Punk credit for putting in work.

The WWE isn't entirely a meritocracy though. Kevin Nash Jackknife Powerbombed CM Punk right after to give Alberto Del Rio a chance to cash in his Money in the Bank contract, pinned the just crowned champion, and snatched the belt. Cue the soundtrack.

26. Brock Lesnar Flips Undertaker the Bird

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Date: Aug. 23, 2015

Wrestlers: Undertaker and Brock Lesnar

Stadium and Location: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)

When Brock Lesnar pinned the Undertaker to snap his undefeated Wrestlemania streak at Wrestlemania XXX, the pro wrestling world all stood at a collective standstill in utter shock at what they had just witnessed. Naturally, when Undertaker got his rematch at SummerSlam 2015, everyone wanted to see The Deadman get his redemption.

By no means was the match pretty. By this point, it was painfully evident that age was catching up to the real life man behind the Undertaker character, Mark Calaway. Somehow the 50-year old took a bump through an announcer’s table during the match when he received an F5 and was able to stand up afterward, but as a whole it was all just a bit more sluggish than the good ‘ol days.

The match is more remembered for some of its wild antics and confusing finish. Midway through, both men sat up in patented Deadman fashion and laughed maniacally in each other’s faces (creating a spectacular GIF).

The conclusion was also memorable. After a false finish following a misjudged tap out by Taker, the match was restarted. In the midst of the confusion, he gave Lesnar a low blow before locking in the Hell’s Gate submission. Refusing to tap out, Lesnar instead flipped off his competitor before passing out from the hold and causing the ref to call for the bell. While not technically beautiful, it furthered the rivalry that eventually led to a rubber match in the Devil’s Playground later that year.

25. Legion of Doom Wins Tag Team Championship

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Date: Aug. 29, 1991

Wrestlers: Legion of Doom, The Nasty Boys

Stadium and location: Madison Square Garden (New York)

As one of the most dominant duos in wrestling history, it was only a matter of time before the Legion of Doom got a shot at the Tag Team Championship. It's unsurprising how Animal and Hawk ended up snatching the belt from The Nasty Boys. They gave Hawk some trouble in the first half of the bout, but the tide of the match changed when Animal got tagged in. A few minutes, two whacks with a helmet, and a pin fall later, Legion of Doom became the first team to win championships in AWA, NWA and WWE—a truly unbeatable accomplishment because one of the three no longer exists.

24. Undertaker vs. Undertaker

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Date: Aug. 29, 1994

Wrestlers: Undertaker and Undertaker (Brian Lee)

Stadium and Location: United Center (Chicago)

This is a weird one. In the months leading up to 1994’s summer bash, the real Undertaker was taken out of commission after suffering a defeat at the hands of Yokozuna at that year’s Royal Rumble (the real reason was to nurse a back injury). Instead of writing him off the program completely, Vince McMahon created a storyline revolving around a detective played by the late Leslie Nielsen tracking down the Deadman. The payoff led to Ted DiBiase showing up with an imposter Undertaker (played by Brian Lee) and thus a Taker vs. Taker match was set to co-main event SummerSlam in Chicago. 

The entire premise was admittedly wacky. The match itself was nothing to write home about, but the sheer spectacle of it all is what makes this moment one of the event’s most memorable: Paul Bearer came to the ring with a casket to summon the real Undertaker with his trademark urn, and both competitors stared each other down in the middle of the ring wearing matching gear—it was all something to behold. Ultimately, the authentic Undertaker retired his doppelganger with two Tombstone piledrivers before summoning his band of druids, because kayfabe is incredible, to carry off the bootleg in a casket of his own. Rest. In. Peace.

23. Shane McMahon Falls 40 Feet From Column

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Date: Aug. 27, /2000

Wrestlers: Shane McMahon, Steve Blackman

Stadium and location: Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena (Raleigh, N.C.)

Forget whatever backstory or scenario that caused Shane to agree to a hardcore match. The dude really fell 40 feet from the stage set. We've seen Mankind get thrown through a cage twice and Big Show throw Kurt Angle off a ledge onto concrete. But you kind of figure they're trained for that stuff and will be OK for the most part. Not flaccid ass Shane McMahon. Needless to say there was no miraculous comeback from this.

22. Undertaker Chokeslams JBL Through Limosine Roof

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Date: Aug. 15, 2004

Wrestlers: Undertaker, JBL

Stadium and location: Air Canada Centre (Toronto)

Wealthy in pocket but bankrupt in morality, JBL was easily one of the biggest heels of last decade. He's the only character who thought it was all right to go to the border and personally chase away illegal immigrants because he's JBL, rich, and has the license to do that.

Karma doesn't have JBL beating Undertaker by disqualification. The jerk took advantage of a knocked out referee to hit Undertaker with the championship belt. When Undertaker returned the favor, the referee saw him and gave him the DQ, handing JBL the championship. Karma did call for what happened afterward. An angry Undertaker attacked JBL afterward and delivered an epic chokeslam through his limo. Rest in money, JBL.

21. Bret Hart Beats Perfection

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Date: Aug. 26, 1991

Wrestlers: Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect

Stadium and location: Madison Square Garden (New York)

This is where Bret Hart starts building his legacy. The Hitman quickly built his reputation as a fan favorite during 1991 as he entered singles competition, and he finally got a chance at the Intercontinental Championship against Mr. Perfect. The matchup wasn't notable in just the context of his career; it was an intense back and forth match between two technicians.

After being the first person to ever escape out of the perfect-pike (according to Rowdy Roddy Piper anyway), Hart attempted a aharpshooter only to be interrupted by The Coach—Mr. Perfect's unfortunately named manager. Destiny couldn't be stopped however, and Hart locked in a sharpshooter after the delay. Mr. Perfect tapped within seconds, and Hart's legend would only rise.

20. Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth Get Married

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Date: Aug. 26, 1991

Wrestler: Macho Man

Stadium and location: Madison Square Garden (New York)

Only a woman who's wifey material would strip off her skirt to allow your tag team enough time to recuperate and win a match (more on that later). Macho Man knew this, which is why he finally decided to tie the knot with Miss Elizabeth in the same event she proved she was a ride-or-die. Savage and Elizabeth Ann Hulette were actually married in real life since 1984. Ironically, the two separated a year after the "marriage." That doesn't make Macho Man yelling his signature "OHHH YEAH!" while exchanging vows any less awesome though.

19. Bret Hart Beats Owen

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Date: Aug. 29, 1994

Wrestlers: Bret Hart, Owen Hart

Stadium and location: United Center (Chicago)

Unsurprisingly, the WWE decided to use the Hart Brothers' blood bond to fuel a storyline centered around brotherly jealousy and an instigator—then real life brother-in-law—Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. It wasn't the most amazing storyline, but it put two great performers in the ring together. Also, unsurprisingly, the two fought a great match.

Owen Hart immediately attacked Bret from the beginning of the match, and as he towered over his kin on the turnbuckle, Owen yells "He's nothing to me!" But the future Hall of Famer was something and gave everything against his brother. The two matched each other suplex for suplex, punch for punch for 30 minutes.

It all led to a pulse-pounding conclusion where the two battled each other while attemping to climb down outside the cage. Bret won by ramming Owen's head into the cage, leaving him dangling as Bret climbed down and won. Even the Neidhart ambush afterward couldn't cheapen the moment all that much.

18. John Cena Becomes the First Superstar to Vacation at Suplex City

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Date: Aug. 17, 2014

Wrestlers: Brock Lesnar and John Cena

Stadium and Location: Staples Center (Los Angeles)

When Brock Lesnar’s music hit in the Staples Center on the night of SummerSlam 2014, nobody could have expected what would unfold. He was challenging John Cena for the WWE Championship. Although he was beginning to age, Cena was still WWE’s Superman. The kids loved him, the diehard fans booed him, and he was virtually unbeatable--at least, he was never absolutely dominated. Well, that theory was proven wrong on this evening because Lesnar tossed around Cena like a rag doll. He performed his finisher, the F5, within the first minute of the bell ringing. 

For the remainder of the match, Cena was essentially a test dummy for Lesnar to practice his German Suplexes on. In total, Cena got thrown on his head 16 times by the Beast Incarnate—Cena’s patented comeback sequence never came. Ultimately, Lesnar secured the victory with a second F5. It was a shock to many. Cena had never lost such a lopsided match before as the “top guy,” especially when he’s main eventing one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year. Lesnar was booked as an unbeatable monster going forward, and he would continue to add new residents to Suplex City for the remainder of the year.

17. Brock Beats Rock

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Date: Aug. 25, 2002

Wrestlers: Brock Lesnar, The Rock

Stadium And Location: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Uniondale, N.Y.)

Before a disappointingly short mixed martial arts career that saw him beating Randy Couture and receiving one of the worst bashings ever given to a professional fighter above 250 pounds, Brock Lesnar was an absolute WWE beast. He wasn't all that entertaining, but make no mistake, he was a ruthless beast. WWE fans constantly sharted their shorts as Brock Lesnar finished with those brutal F5s and various displays of domination.

Of course, The Rock wasn't going to back down. After a series of promos that featured the duo's training regiments (The Log ain't get this much love since Ren & Stimpy), the two finally squared off at Nassau Coliseum.

The Rock never seemed this small before as Lesnar started the match dominating him with power and unneeded help from Paul Heyman. The People's Champ eventually evened things out with determination and technical skill, as well as a deserved bitch slap to Heyman. The Rock finally gave the fans what they've been hoping for when he Rock Bottomed Heyman through the announcers' table.

Another Rock Bottom, this time on Lesnar, wasn't enough to defend his Undisputed Championship though. One failed People's Elbow and an F5 made Lesnar the youngest WWE Champion in history ever until SummerSlam 2004.

16. Miss Elizabeth Strips, Mega Powers Win

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Date: Aug. 29, /1988

Wrestlers: Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage) and Mega Bucks (Andre the Giant and Ted Dibiase)

Stadium and location: Madison Square Garden (New York)

An obscene clash of masculinity here. The hyper-masculine Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage) faced off against the brute Andre the Giant and the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase (Mega Bucks) for the main event with Jesse "The Body" Ventura as the special guest referee. As good as the Mega Powers were, even they were over matched by the Mega Bucks. The duo tossed the Hogan and Savage out of the ring and suddenly were in control of the bout.

Cue Miss Elizabeth's grand moment. After watching the carnage at ringside, the glamorous star steps onto the apron and starts arguing with Ventura. Then she rips off her skirt, exposing seductive red panties. Ventura and the Mega Bucks are disarmed by the scene, and suddenly masculinity fails in the face of femininity.

Anyway, the Mega Powers take advantage of the extra recuperation time and take out their opponents with a series of well-timed slams and leg drops. Hulk Hogan pins DiBiase while Savage slams a slow-counting Ventura's arm to the mat to complete the three-count, and viola, there's one of SummerSlam's first classic moments.

15. A.J. Styles and John Cena Steal the Show

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Date: Aug. 21, 2016 

Wrestlers: A.J. Styles and John Cena

Stadium and Location: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)

Quite honestly, A.J. Styles and John Cena are two of the biggest names in the history of pro wrestling. Styles made a name for himself with his technical mastery at other promotions throughout the 2000s like TNA and New Japan before finally making his debut for WWE at the 2016 Royal Rumble. On the other hand, Cena was the guy at Vinny Mac’s empire for the better part of a decade and has more than earned his spot on the company’s Mt. Rushmore. Two different career paths. Two different styles. It never seemed like a match between the two would be possible. 

The dream match finally took place at SummerSlam 2016. Nearly a 30-minute showcase, the match lived up to the hype and then some. From the initial bell, the crowd was invested with each competitor getting their fair share of cheers from the members of the WWE Universe packing the Barclays Center. Each performer got their moves in with plenty of near-falls and reversals to keep fans on the edge of their seats. 

Ultimately, Styles would come away with the victory following a second Phenomenal Forearm to the leader of Cenation for the three-count. As an added bit of drama, Cena would remove his arm band (a headband he can somehow fit on his bicep) and place it in the center of the ring before his exit, leaving many fans questioning if this was Cena’s impromptu hint that he had just been a part of his last match.

14. Honky Tonk Man Loses His Title in 30 Seconds

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Date: Aug. 28, 1988

Wrestlers: Honky Tonk Man, Ultimate Warrior

Stadium and location: Madison Square Garden (New York)

Want to see how quickly someone can go from top of the mountain to a punchline? Look no further than former Intercontinental Champion Honky Tonk Man's title "defense." His scheduled challenger got injured, so Honky Tonk Man took to the ring despite having no idea who will be taking his opponent's place. He boasted he didn't care who he was facing, words he would choke on when Ultimate Warrior ran into the ring and started destroying him. Ultimate Warrior won by pinfall, ending Honky Tonk Man's nearly 15-month reign as the champion.

13. A Bloodied Hulk Hogan Beats Shawn Michaels

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Date: Aug. 25, 2005

Wrestlers: Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels

Stadium and location: MCI Center (Washington, D.C.)

It was just too good to be true. When Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan teamed up it felt like there's no way a pairing of two massive fan favorites could last that long. It didn't. When Michael betrayed Hogan with some "Sweet Chin Music," the team broke up and the Heartbreak Kid made a swift turn into a heel. This led to something better: A SummerSlam match between stars who made two of the event's finest moments.

There couldn't be too many fans who predicted Michaels was going to be this dominant over The Hulk. HBK drew blood with some throws to the ring post and some hard rights. Hogan looked like death with all the blood dripping from his head. And that image of Michaels locking in that sleeper hold with Hogan's blood oozing down his arm? Sheesh.

Hogan still prevailed in ways that made sense to only the WWE writers and Shawn Michaels—who was supposed to lose this match and was accused of overselling it. The Hulk survived a hit with the steel chair, another Michaels superkick, and a flying elbow drop to pin his opponent after a big boot and a leg drog. The two competitors shook hands and the two legends reconciled.

12. Undertaker Damns Edge

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Date: Aug. 17, 2008

Wrestlers: Undertaker, Edge

Stadium and location: Conseco Fieldhouse (Indianapolis)

When given a choice between the American Badass Undertaker or the Deadman, a lot of people would understandably pick the latter because of events like SummerSlam 2008. It's odd that a non-title match would be billed as a main event. But when you think about it, Undertaker vs. Edge in a Hell in a Cell match spells classic.

The events leading up to the match included Undertaker's return after being forced into retirement after losing to Edge in a prior TLC match, a Mick Foley real talk moment, and Edge going batshit insane, which mostly stemmed from general manager Vickie Guerrero being the absolute worst. The events didn't hide the fact that this was Edge's first Hell in a Cell match to the Deadman's eighth.

This match was a helluva way to pop Edge's Hell in a Cell cherry. The bout delivered in all aspects as the duo proved to be two of the best in the game Take Edge spearing Undertaker through the cell walls as an example of this. Or what about Undertaker chokeslaming Edge through two tables?

The way the match ends was something out of a fan's fantasy. Undertaker finished Edge with a Con-Chair-Tombstone Piledriver sequence. The Deadman leaves the ring with a spectacularly broken Edge in his wake, and just as he's about exit entirely he turns around. Edge is too destroyed to even recognize what's about to happen.

Undertaker returns to the ring to toss Edge from a ladder and right through the ring. The lights dim and Undertaker's music starts playing as he kneels. Cue the flames arising from the hole in the canvas Edge rests in. Perfectly acceptable behavior with kayfabe.

11. Triple H Survives Goldberg, Wins in Elimination Chamber

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Date: Aug. 24, 2003

Wrestlers: Triple H, Goldberg, Randy Orton, Kevin Nash, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels

Stadium and location: America West Arena (Phoenix)

Because Satan's Structure wasn't satanic enough, Vince McMahon one-upped the Hell in a Cell with the Elimination Chamber in the 2002 Survivor Series. Its second appearance in 2003's SummerSlam made a strong case about why it should be here to stay.

The contents of the match was dynamite on paper: Triple H, Goldberg, Kevin Nash, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, and Randy Orton, and atomic in execution. A large part of the greatness of the match was Goldberg's performance, although moments like when Jericho disrespectfully slapped Michael before his appearance also stood out.

Goldberg ran through the competition. He ate Orton's soul as soon as he came out the chamber, murdered Jericho with a spear through one of the Plexiglas chambers, and then proceeded to destroy Michaels. The beast eliminated all of them by pin fall, leaving him to deal with Triple H, who was chilling in his chamber the whole time after Michaels superkicked him before he even got out.

Goldberg was straight up whipping Triple H's ass after having to kick the glass in to get to him, but the tide suddenly changed when a ringside Ric Flair threw in a sledgehammer. Triple H wacked Goldberg in the dome with the instrument as he went for the spear to allow him to win by pin fall. Goldberg was awarded with a bloody Evolution beatdown afterward.

10. Randy Orton Becomes the Youngest WWE Championship in History

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Date: Aug. 15, 2004

Wrestlers: Randy Orton, Chris Benoit

Stadium and location: Air Canada Centre (Toronto)

Randy Orton had quite a lot going for him in his earlier years in the WWE. He had the looks, was part of one of the most gangster cliques in WWE History (Evolution, which included Ric Flair, the perpetually badass Triple H, and Batista), and had the skills to match. This led to his shot at making history.

Orton faced-off against Benoit in Canada, the latter's home country. The match ended in a flash after a half hour of technical clashes and displays of will between the two stars. Orton fended himself from the Clipper Crossface to counter with an extremely sudden RKO to defeat Benoit by pin fall.

After losing the belt in his own country, Benoit bared up and made his way to the ring to offer a handshake to the new champion ("BE A MAN!"). Orton accepted the handshake. It was a show of class from the defeated and one of grace from Orton, who became the youngest ever to hold the belt. However, the victory had its repercussions. In a fit of jealously and rage, Triple H betrayed Orton by feigning a celebration and prompting the fellow Evolution members to attack him. Gangster clique.

9. Mankind Jumps Off Cage

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Date: Aug. 3, 1997

Wrestlers: Mankind, Triple H

Stadium and location: Continental Airlines Arena (East Rutherford, N.J.)

Many fans remember Mick Foley for all the crazy shit he's been through in the ring. This includes getting thrown off the top of a 16-foot cell to crash through an announcer's table ("Holy shit" indeed), getting the skin of his forehead ripped off by a barbed wire-wrapped 2x4, and getting Pedigree'd onto thumbtacks. Two of the three aforementioned incidents came by Triple H's hands.

Mick Foley's/Mankind's/Cactus Jack's feud against Triple H didn't totally consist of getting got by Triple H though. Mankind faced off against the Cerebral Assassin, who was then known as faux-blueblood Hunter Hearst Helmsley, in a Cell Match. Despite interference from porn star wrestler Chyna, Mankind came out on top.

The highlight of the match, however, came when Mankind decided not to leave the cage even when he was just inches away from victory. Instead, he ripped off the mask and performed a diving splash from the top of the cage. This wasn't just to finish Triple H off; the splash was a shoutout to Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, who famously performed a Superfly Splash off the top of the cage against the "Magnificent" Don Muraco at Madison Square Garden in 1983. That's how you pay tribute.

8. Bret Hart Beats Jerry Lawler With Sharpshooter, Doesn't Break the Hold

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Date: Aug. 30, 1993

Wrestlers: Bret Hart, Jerry Lawler

Stadium and location: The Palace of Auburn Hills (Auburn Hills, Mich.)

"I'm going to tell you exactly what is going on. This was going to be the biggest night of my entire life. I hate you Bret Hart. I hate you. I hate your stinking father. I hate your wrinkled-up old mother. I hate your brothers, and I can not wait until I get my hands around your neck and snap it."

Someone had to go night-night as soon as Jerry Lawler made his entrance and said the above quote. After Hart won the 1993 King of the Ring, Jerry "The King" Lawler made it his mission to fuck with Hart as he attacked both him and members of the Hart family. Then on the night of SummerSlam, Lawler came in crutches because of a supposed kayfabe 10-car pile up.

Lawler ended up learning that night that hell hath no fury like a pissed off Hart. The King sent Doink the Clown into the ring to take his place. Hart worked him and as he was about to finish him off with a Sharpshooter, Lawler cracked Hart in the back of the head with his crutches, revealing that his leg wasn't broken. This prompted one of the most hilariously epic stan moments ever by a WWE color commentator courtesy of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan: "It's a miracle! He can walk!"

After an attempt to escape got foiled by then-president Jack Tunney, Lawler was forced to fight against a livid Bret Hart. The King took advantage of the worn out Hitman, but in the end he was done in by the Sharpshooter. This wasn't about just winning, though. Like the Scotty Appleton to Lawler's Nino Brown, the shit was personal. He refused to let go of the sharpshooter, prompting multiple officials to enter the ring in hopes of separating the two. Hart had the decision reversed into a disqualification, while Lawler was left broken.

7. Triple H Costs Daniel Bryan the WWE Championship

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Date: Aug. 18, 2013

Wrestlers: Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Randy Orton, Triple H

Stadium and Location: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)

Before Daniel Bryan got his career-defining moment at Wrestlemania XXX by finally toppling the Authority behind the support of the “Yes Movement,” Bryan still always somehow found himself with the short end of the stick. 

Following up a contest against John Cena for the WWE title, which he won clean, it looked like Bryan was going to close out the show hoisting the title in the center of the ring as the screen faded to black. Of course, that wasn’t at all the case. During his post-match celebration, special guest referee Triple H stunned the crowd by hitting Bryan with a Pedigree after Randy Orton had approached ringside with his Money in the Bank briefcase in-hand. Orton made the most of the opportunity and covered Bryan for the 1, 2, 3. Just like that, Orton was champion, Bryan was knocked back down to his “rightful place” in the company, and the Authority was born--a faction that would manipulate the main roster in its favor for the better part of the next year. 

In the end, Bryan got his redemption, but the closer of 2013’s Summerslam gave fans yet another reason to get behind the scraggly bearded superstar on his difficult path to acceptance in WWE’s main event picture.

6. Shawn Michaels Beats Razor Ramon in Ladder Match

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Date: Aug. 27, 1995

Wrestlers: Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon

Stadium and location: Pittsburgh Civic Arena (Pittsburgh)

It's hard to imagine the pressure Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon felt to top their Wrestlemania X ladder match, which is considered one of the greatest in history. Whether or not they accomplished that with the rematch is debatable, but what isn't debatable is how much of a joy it was to watch. The greatness of the match wasn't just in their performance; it was how unpredictable it all was. The match seemed so frantic but never got too frantic to the point where the wrestlers lost focus. This kept the fans' eyes wide open as they were once again witnessing history. They opened even wider when Michaels attempted a splash off the top of the ladder and missed.

Even the fails were pulse pounding. Michaels kicked Ramon off the second ladder to ensure his clear shot at grabbing the suspended belt, but he missed and fell. The Heartbreak Kid then backdropped Ramon out of the ring and missed the belt one more time before finally grabbing it on his third try.

5. Paul Bearer Betrays The Undertaker

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Date: Aug. 18, 1996

Wrestlers: Undertaker, Mankind

Stadium and location: Gund Arena (Cleveland)

Paul Bearer and The Undertaker were BFFs who came up from the cemetery. They were also a dominant duo during their first six years in the game, which was a reason why people were so shook when Paul Bearer turned on Undertaker after going through it with Mankind. It's that feeling of disbelief many got when Vince McMahon aligned himself with career-long enemy Stone Cold Steve Austin during his match against The Rock at Wrestlemania XVII, except with like three times the dementedness. Paul Bearer waited in the ring as Undertaker fought Mankind in a Boiler Room Brawl; the first person who got the urn he was holding won the match.

Even Undertaker looked a little shook as he headed into the boiler room to face one of the biggest adversaries of his career. As he entered to search for a hiding Mankind, there was a sense of claustrophobia and tension that slightly recalled the climax of Silence of the Lambs. When Mankind finally hit The Undertaker from the back, it was on. A hellish 20 minutes ensued, and Mankind's constant wails and screeches didn't make the viewing any more comfortable. Mick Foley really knew how to sell that psychotic persona.

Undertaker endured scalding hot coffee, among other things, to finally make it to ringside. The Deadman survived a piledriver to the ringside concrete and tossed aside Mankind to meet Paul Bearer. Undertaker kneels down to receive it, but Bearer turns away. Just when you thought things couldn't get any more insane, this happens.

Undertaker gets whacked in the dome by the urn—his character's source of power—and Bearer awards it to his new ally, Mankind. Shawn Michaels' match begins afterward while fans are still trying to pick up their jaws from the floor. As far as Undertaker and Mankind's rivalry goes, the two would go on to battle in the greatest and most brutal Hell in a Cell match of all time.

4. First-Ever TLC Match

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Date: Aug. 27, 2000

Wrestlers: Dudley Boyz, Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian

Stadium and location: Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena (Raleigh, N.C.)

The late '90s to early '00s were great times for tag team wrestling in the WWE. It was an era that had some of the more intense rivalries that disregarded basic human rationale in favor of physical in-the-ring thrills. Honestly, who really gave a shit about rationale when there are grown bodies being thrown through tables? The three duos who were near the center of attention during those times were the chair-using, long-haired Edge & Christian, the gnarly acrobatics of the Hardy Boyz, and the hardcore table-abusing Dudley Boyz. Tables, ladders, and chairs. Throwing all the elements into one match even sounds good on paper. It was even better in execution.

SummerSlam 2000 featured the very first TLC match, and it was a just-over-15 minutes epic that walked the fine line between physical achievement and absurdity. The casual viewer didn't need to know much backstory before the matchups. The only thing they needed to know was tables, ladders, and chairs were involved and it was for the championship.

What's special about this TLC match is how it doesn't necessarily have one climax; the high points just kept on coming. You kind of got the sense this was going to be the case when the Hardy Boyz charged into the ring and started brawling with the Dudleys, not even giving the ring announcer a chance to call their entrance. Pride was at stake. Dudes didn't have time for introductions.

The first half was great, filled with just the right amount of broken tables and slams you'd hope. The fact that the second half topped it was nothing short of impressive. The conclusion starts when Jeff Hardy attempts to Swanton Bomb Bubba Ray through two tables only to have the Dudley Boy move in time for Jeff to complete his trip through the tables by himself, leaving him broken in half.

Soon after, Bubba Ray starts climbing the ladder to grab the suspended tag team belts, but not so fast! Edge & Christian gets up to push the ladder to send Bubba Ray through the four tables waiting ringside, which was the very same ones he helped set up. How poetic.

This puts Edge and Christian in position to grab the belt, and they very likely would have, if Lita didn't run into the ring and push the ladder to send the duo groin first into the ropes. Lita's efforts turned out to be for naught though, as she could only watch as Devon lifts the ladder to send Matt's ass through two tables. She then was speared by Edge.

After that whirlwind of events, Devon and Jeff are left hanging onto the belt without the ladder under them. Devon falls to the mat and Edge & Christian toss a ladder at Jeff to fling him from the belt. Edge & Christian then proceed to climb and grab the belts. The bell rings and history is made.

So yeah, it was basically a smorgasbord of chaos. Wrestlemania XVII a year later featured the same match with the same three teams, and amazingly, it ended up trumping SummerSlam's. But that's not to say the first TLC match wore with time, obviously; Wrestlemania's match was arguably one of the better matches of the past 20 years.

3. Shawn Michaels and Triple H Almost Kill Each Other

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Date: Aug. 25, 2002

Wrestlers: Shawn Michaels, Triple H

Stadium and location: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Uniondale, N.Y.)

Right before Brock Lesnar made history, Shawn Michaels and Triple H had to settle their beef in a brutal street fight. Michaels had just returned to the WWE after a four-year hiatus only to have buddy Triple H betray him. He did this to prove Shawn Michaels was weak, which by the way is NOT an acceptable defense outside of a wrestling storyline to put someone's head through a car window.

There's not just broken tables here though. There's also broken bodies. Michaels took it to Triple H in his first match back. How many Sweet Chin Musics did Michaels perform that were better than the one he used to bust Triple H open as he was holding a chair? And taking off one of the commentators' boots and smacking The Game with it? Classic stuff.

Shawn Michaels won by pin fall, but Triple H wasn't going down like that. He cut the celebration short by driving a sledgehammer to Michaels' back—the same area which caused the four-year retirement in the first place. The image of a bloodied, demented Triple H leaving the ring as medics tended to Shawn Michaels is one of SummerSlam's most frightening moments ever. Jim Ross' seething commentary only added to how visceral the match and that moment was.

2. Stone Cold Breaks His Neck

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Date: Aug. 3, 1997

Wrestlers: Stone Cold Steve Austin, Owen Hart

Stadium and location: Continental Airlines Arena (East Rutherford, N.J.)

A big part of Kurt Angle's shtick back in the day was how he won the gold medal in the 1996 Olympics after suffering from severe neck injuries. For Steve Austin, a similar injury was another mark in his legend of badassery.

Austin and Owen Hart were feuding for a while and ended up wrestling for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam. The stipulation was if Austin lost, he'd have to kiss Hart's ass. That's pretty hard to do if you've just suffered temporary paralysis.

Austin landed squarely on his head when Hart messed up on a piledriver. The Texas star was immobile, creating a genuinely scary situation for the referee and Owen Hart, who broke kayfabe and paced the ring before he feigned "Now he's gonna kiss my ass!" Stone Cold later remarked he never thought he was going to move again in his life. He also remembered thinking, "If I lose this, I'm going to have to kiss his ass. I gotta get out of this match." Barely being able to move, Austin caught Hart in a roll-up pin to win the match. Shit like this is why Austin 3:16 is gospel.

Austin had to be helped out the ring by three referees, and he was forced to surrender the title since he was out of action for three-to-four months because of the injury.

1. Bret Hart and The British Bulldog Square Off at Wembley

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Date: Aug. 29, 1992

Wrestlers: Bret Hart, "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith

Stadium and location: Wembley Stadium (London)

You don't need chairs, tables, ladders, overwrought gimmicks, or additional stipulations for a classic match. They're fun, sure, but sometimes they cloud the formula of what makes some of the greatest WWE matches of all time. It's a formula that includes passion, empathy with the fans, basic wrestling precision, and just a pinch of drama. That's basically everything Bret Hart and The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith's 1992 Intercontinental Championship match had.

The two look so unnaturally big as they battled in their career-defining match. It's an odd feeling in retrospect. This match took place in front of a prideful Wembley Stadium crowd of 80,355, which is believed to be the third largest in WWE history. Winning this was more than about accomplishments; it was about the pride of a country. It was about family, too. Smith was actually married to Hart's sister, Diana, and the matchup put her in an awkward predicament. Cheer for her brother or her husband? Bruce Hart had sided with Diana, while Owen Hart stuck with his brother. Diana chose neither side, only wishing no one got hurt.

And neither really did get seriously hurt despite such high expectations pressing down on them. The match itself was artful in a technical and entertainment sense. The two looked so dynamic together as advantages and momentum gave way within seconds as the two dueled. It was a test of human endurance that felt progressively less human as the match went on. It was the transformation of men into icons, and that may've been why the two seemed so big. Suplexes hit harder and submission holds became tenser, and as the match steadily rolled toward its climax, it ended. The British Bulldog suddenly countered a Sunset Flip to defeat Bret Hart by pinfall.

It sounds like a letdown on paper, but perhaps the true climax happens after the match. After initially refusing, Bret shakes his brother-in-law's hand and Diana enters the ring so the family can embrace as the British crowd roars. Fans are once again reminded that the moment is bigger than the two stars, while the WWE earns a big win. SummerSlam 1992 earned $2,200,000 from admission, a huge increase from the $445,000 the year before.

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