WWE’s biggest second-biggest yearly pay-per-view, SummerSlam, is right around the corner, taking place at Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY, on Aug. 23.
What better way to get hyped up for the occasion by running through the most piss-poor premiere showcases the promotion had to offer?
SummerSlam is usually a solid event, capping off WWE’s post-WrestleMania season. Some see it as the final stretch before the company regroups for the fall plans, all the way up to the Show of Shows of next year. SummerSlam cards of years past show that the shindig is usually stacked from top-to-bottom. However, that doesn’t mean every premiere showcase delivers.
Since its inception in 1988, SummerSlam was part of the original big-four pay-per-views (Mania, Royal Rumble and Survivor Series), yet its popularity is synonymous with WWE’s grandest spectacle of them all. Wrestlers from past and present, including Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and Triple H, were familiar faces at multiple events. On the flip side, a few of those wrestlers didn’t exactly steal the show.
This year’s showcase features a WrestleMania 30 rematch, pitting The Undertaker against the conqueror of his WrestleMania streak, Brock Lesnar. This superfight doesn’t involve a title on the line, considering United States champion John Cena squares off against the current World Heavyweight titleholder and former Shield architect, Seth Rollins in a Title vs. Title Match. Surely, these contests should deliver, but what if they don’t?
Hopefully, this listing doesn’t jinx the festivities. Here are 10 SummerSlam matches you’re better off not watching, because we’ve already done it for you in the most masochistic way:
9 Team WWE vs. Team Nexus - SummerSlam 2010
Starting things off with a bit of a strange inclusion, the SummerSlam 2000 main event wasn’t an awful match; it revolved around the Nexus group, the NXT youngsters looking to make their mark on the main event scene.
It didn’t matter, though, after an ailing Cena recovered instantly from a DDT on concrete, eliminating Justin Gabriel and Wade Barrett of the Nexus, destroying the faction in a matter of minutes.
Whether Cena crushing the Nexus was entirely his fault or not, the group’s demise came soon after, never recovering from a match that made Cena look like he was from Star Wars.
8 Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels - SummerSlam 2005
A match-up years in the making featuring the two of the biggest stars in wrestling history turned sour fast, because we’re dealing with divas here, folks.
When Hulk Hogan got the nod to go over Michaels at SummerSlam 2005, he was supposed to return the favor shortly after, but claimed he was hurt (that, and Michaels didn’t really want to lose, either). An irate Michaels thought Hogan was up to his old tricks, so he decided to sell Hogan’s power moves as if they were the most damaging blows he’s ever taken in his career.
Even Hogan looked puzzled by the Heartbreak Kid’s actions, which couldn’t have been taken seriously by any measure.
7 Shawn Michaels vs. Vader - SummerSlam 1996
For Michaels to be included in two worst of matches in a row, it’s a little odd. But you have to consider the transitions in his career, especially how he acted in 1996.
Michaels and Vader didn’t have a terrible match. Michaels, however, grew tired of Vader’s plodding style (which was natural), and decided to kick him right in the head twice after a botched elbow drop from the third rope.
Vader was supposed to beat Michaels for the title, but given this was Michaels from the mid-1990s (out-of-control Kliq member, “I lost my smile,” etc.), HBK wasn’t having any of it. After the perfect build-up to promote Vader as a monster weeks prior, Michaels didn’t do the job, and the match itself was a train wreck. Vader had won by count-out, disqualification, kicked out of the Sweet Chin Music, and still left Cleveland a loser when Michaels hit a moonsault after he missed a moonsault.
6 Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage vs. Andre The Giant & Ted DiBiase - SummerSlam 1988
The Mega Powers and The Mega Bucks clashed in the first headliner at the inaugural event, and the most memorable part of the match was when Miss Elizabeth took off her skirt to distract a bewildered DiBiase and fuming Andre.
Instead of Savage continuing his beef with DiBiase in a rematch from WrestleMania 4, (where they clashed in the WWF Championship tournament finals), the promotion decided to have them backed up by Hogan and Andre in match where the four men lacked chemistry as a unit to put on a decent offering.
5 The Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude - SummerSlam 1990
He was decent when it came to crowds, but he wasn’t everyone’s favorite working partner. Rick Rude and the Warrior just couldn’t gel, on an off the screen. The crowd seemed disinterested considering this Cage Match followed a grudge match between Hogan vs. Earthquake, and both failed to impress in a lackluster headlining affair that lasted just over 10 minutes.
4 Yokozuna vs. Lex Luger - SummerSlam 1993
The “Lex Express” movement marketed Lex Luger as the all-American hero, built to be the savior of WWE at the time (1993). The promotion had to lay low courtesy of the steroid case against the company, needing to build new stars, too, considering Hogan was on his way out.
After failing to be a top guy in Jim Crockett Promotions, he was given another big opportunity to be the face of the franchise, this time against a budding superstar like Yokozuna.
Yoko didn’t have to lose the belt (McMahon certainly felt that way), but seeing how WWE promoted Luger across America and sold him like its next big star, only to have him win by count-out and make the whole ordeal look bigger than it actually was, it made no sense to finish it the way it did.
McMahon wasn’t all that confident in Luger and wanted Yoko to have more title time, which is understandable, yet a decent match turned into one of WWE’s worst main event finishes ever. Luger would be passed up again months later at WrestleMania X.
3 Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake vs. Randy Savage & Zeus - SummerSlam 1989
The action movie No Holds Barred, starring Hulk Hogan and Zeus, was at the forefront of this story as McMahon ventured into the mainstream with his product feeding off the film’s release.
Zeus, a gimmick portrayed by actor Tom Lister looked incredibly menacing. The problem was he had no in-ring skills to boast about, and despite their efforts, Hogan and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake weren’t exactly the ones to bring out the best work in their opponents.
This was also the second tag match in a row that headlined SummerSlam, both involving Savage and Hogan. At that point, you’ve got to wonder if they were better suited for a singles competition after the Mega Powers exploded, with the threat of Zeus lingering on the outside.
3. Hulk Hogan & The Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa & Gen. Adnan - SummerSlam 1991
It must be a mere coincidence that the Hulkster finds himself on this list three times, right?
Hogan was definitely the most iconic superstar in wrestling history, but looking back on his matches, you can’t argue the “five moves of doom” activists don’t have a point.
The worst part is he wasn’t alone in making this contest a forgetful one, given the Warrior’s demands for McMahon to pay him money he thought he was owed or he was going to no-show (Oh yeah, and Sid’s inclusion as a referee, too.) On the opposing end, the team of Slaughter, aging Iron Sheik (Mustafa) and useless Adnan couldn’t bring anything to the table to save this “Match Made In Hell” (a basic 2-on-3 Handicap Match) and this horror show should have closed out a mundane episode of WWF Superstars instead.
Warrior was fired immediately after the event.
2 Undertaker vs. Undertaker - SummerSlam 1994
A fake Undertaker - otherwise known as Brian Lee - adopted the Deadman’s gimmick, and when it all boiled over at SummerSlam, thanks to montages of the late Leslie Nielson (of Naked Gun fame) working on the case and disappearance of Taker, the only positive worth noting was that the real Undertaker was back and the whole ordeal finally came to a close. It felt even more pointless considering the Hart brothers, Bret and Owen, put on a five-star cage match prior to this engagement.
1 Diesel vs. Mabel - SummerSlam 1995
When Mabel split from his Men on a Mission tag team, he was given the big push by WWE, mainly due to his size and the fact that WWE was in need of the big, muscular wrestler prototype McMahon all has always desired.
Diesel, who wasn’t exactly ready to take the company on his shoulders, didn’t have good WWE title matches as the promotion’s champion, hence being grilled at ringside by the President when he and British Bulldog clashed at In Your House 4: Great White North (two months after SummerSlam). Mabel was fresh off a King of the Ring triumph, and despite his ascension, the beast wasn’t all that safe in the ring, nearly decapitating Diesel which caused McMahon to lose it backstage and nearly fire him after the match.
The extremely weak contest was a wrong choice to close out the show and proof that sometimes, bigger isn’t always better in the squared circle.