Long before World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) started running a pay-per-view (PPV) event every month, the company ran just four pay shows a year. Those four -- Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, Summerslam, Survivor Series -- became known as the "Big Four" once more shows were added and were traditionally booked stronger to maintain their importance.
Summerslam was initially regarded as the number two show each year but quickly fell behind the Royal Rumble. Still, it has a rich history, beginning in 1988 and going each year on through until this year's show, number 25.
Naturally, with this year's show fast approaching, WWE.com has taken to making a list of the top 10 Summerslam's in history. And you didn't think we would let it go without breaking it down, did you?
Let's start from the top.
10. Summerslam 1994: This show featured the laughable Undertaker vs. Underfaker match that went nine minutes and the stunk the joint up in the main event. For those who don't remember the storyline, be glad. Then again, those Leslie Nielsen detective skits were awesome. Thankfully the undercard featured a classic cage match between Bret Hart and Owen Hart for the WWF championship, not to mention Razor Ramon working with fellow Kliq member Diesel for the Intercontinental title.
9. Summerslam 2011: Last year's offering brought us the CM Punk vs. John Cena rematch from Money in the Bank to unify the two WWE championships both men were carrying. Triple H, never one to miss out on an opportunity to insert himself into a hot angle, served as special guest referee. This event also saw the return of Kevin Nash to "stick the winner," which turned out to be Punk. This allowed Alberto Del Rio to cash in the Money in the Bank contract he earned the previous month to win his first WWE championship. Elsewhere on the card, Randy Orton had an awesome No Holds Barred match against Christian for the world heavyweight title and Mark Henry had one hell of a hoss fight with Sheamus.
The rest of the list after the jump.
8. Summerslam 2001: The Invasion was in full swing during this particular show and it featured a top heavy card with The Rock defeating Booker T to win the WCW championship and Kurt Angle defeating Stone Cold Steve Austin in a WWF championship match. Austin retained thanks to a disqualification, however. Undertaker and Kane unified the WWF and WCW tag team titles by defeating Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon while Rob Van Dam won the WWF Hardcore title in a memorable ladder match against Jeff Hardy.
7. Summerslam 1997: This was a memorable night for a number of reasons, both good and bad. In an homage to Jimmy Snuka and a moment integral in his history, Mankind came off the top of the cage to drop an elbow in his match against Triple H. That's the good. The bad was Stone Cold Steve Austin suffering a broken neck in his match against Owen Hart on a botched piledriver. The injury would help catapult Austin into levels of popularity he could never dream of but it also led to an earlier than planned end to his career. This was also the night Ken Shamrock got his trunks jammed up the crack of his ass while delivering a belly-to-belly suplex to everyone in sight before screaming "GET OUT OF MY WAY." The main event saw Bret Hart defeat Undertaker to win the WWF championship thanks to an errant chair shot from special guest referee Shawn Michaels, which helped lead to Michaels and 'Taker's five-star classic Hell in a Cell match at Badd Blood a couple months later.
6. Summerslam 2000: The big angle headed into this show was the love triangle storyline between Kurt Angle, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon. The main event was a WWF championship match that also involved the titleholder at the time, The Rock. It was a decent match but it was overshadowed by two matches earlier in the evening. The first was a hardcore match between Shane McMahon and Steve Blackman that featured McMahon taking a back bump some 40 feet in the air off the stage set up and Blackman climbing down a bit before coming down after him with an elbow. The second was the best match on the card, the first ever Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match with Edge and Christian defending the WWF tag team titles against the Dudley Boyz and the Hardy Boyz. It was an insane spotfest that saw each and every guy sell out their body in one way or another. Go back and watch (here and here) if you don't believe me.
5. Summerslam 1991: Although the main event of this show was Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior teaming up to take on Sgt. Slaughter, Colonel Mustafa, and General Adnan with Sid Justice as special guest referee, the big angle at this show was a wedding. Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth tied the knot at this show with Jake Roberts and Undertaker famously crashing the party. Other action on the card saw Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect have a spectacular match for the Intercontinental championship, essentially blowing away everything else on the card.
4. Summerslam 2008: Truthfully, I'm not sure how this show got so high on the list. Undertaker and Edge had a memorable Hell in a Cell match in the main event but outside of that this was a fairly mediocre show. John Cena and Batista met for their first ever match and the result was Cena coming away with a legitimate neck injury. The two major title matches, Triple H vs. Great Khali for the WWE championship and CM Punk vs. JBL for the world heavyweight championship, were largely forgettable affairs. There was a memorable angle in the Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels feud, with Jericho accidentally punching Michaels' wife, Rebecca, after HBK ducked out of the way. Rebecca took it like a champ, too, with Jericho throwing a hard punch that actually caused a fat lip.
3. Summerslam 1998: The main event of this show saw Stone Cold Steve Austin, who was hot as could be at this time, defeat Undertaker to retain the WWF championship in a damn good brawl. The show was stolen, however, by Triple H and The Rock, who had one hell of a ladder match for the Intercontinental title, won by Triple H. This show also saw Ken Shamrock defeat Owen Hart in the utterly ridiculous Lion's Den match while Jeff Jarrett got his hair cut after losing to X-Pac.
2. Summerslam 1992: A stadium show that took place in London, this event featured the Intercontinental title taking precedence over the WWF championship. That was the right move, too, as Bret Hart and British Bulldog had one of the greatest matches of all time with Hart putting Bulldog over to one of the loudest pops you will ever hear for a three-count. On the strength of this match alone, this was a great show but Randy Savage, the WWF champion at the time, also managed to get a good match out of Ultimate Warrior, no small feat.
1. Summerslam 2002: This show was notable for two things and I suppose it's no surprise that it was given the number one slot based on current events. First, Shawn Michaels wrestled for the first time in over four years when he came out of retirement for a Street Fight against Triple H. The match was amazing and despite his being out for so long due to a debilitating back injury, Michaels seemed to be just as good as he was before he left. Second, Brock Lesnar became WWE champion for the first time (and the youngest in history up to that point) by defeating The Rock in the main event. The match was good and it crowned a new superstar who would dominate the main event scene over the next two years. There were other solid matches on the undercard, too, like Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero, Ric Flair vs. Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio.
That's the list, Cagesiders. I really don't mind it so much, other than Summerslam 2008 being too high. What are your thoughts?