Since 1988, SummerSlam has been WWE’s second biggest show of the year. As we count down the days to the 2016 edition, the Top Ten will rank the annual event’s matches year-by-year to determine the best SummerSlam matches of all time.
In this edition, The Beast incarnate becomes The Man!
SummerSlam 2002 – August 25, 2002 – Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
Welcome to the first SummerSlam of the Brand Split era. Two sets of announcers representing two brands. Thankfully, we are not yet to the two Heavyweight Championships, but that would come soon enough. We still have just the one – the still-newly-christened WWE Title. The WWE Title was a bit of a hot potato starting at WrestleMania X8, when Triple H beat Chris Jericho for it. Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker both took turns with the title before it landed on The Rock.
While The Rock was keeping the belt warm this month, his opponent for SummerSlam was the up-and-coming BEAST INCARNATE Brock Lesnar, who had been running through the WWE like a hot knife through butter since his debut. He earned his title shot by winning King Of The Ring (a show I discussed over at Place To Be Nation on the Rewind podcast). Rock and Lesnar had a great match with a lot of energy that put Brock over strong. Most importantly, Rock went down to just ONE F5.
Best Match: Shawn Michaels defeated Triple H – Street Fight. Opinions may vary on this match, but it s easily the most enjoyable match I’ve watched since I started the SummerSlam Top 10. Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley put on a brutal exhibition in the ring and – as you can tell by the ring apron during the main event – left it all out there for the fans. It was the start of Shawn Michaels’ career resurgence, which would see him win the still-not-created World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series. Really great match, in my opinion.
Worst Match: The Un-Americans defeated Booker T and Goldust – WWF Tag Team Title Match. Here’s another example of a match not being bad, but the rest of the card being really good. All four guys delivered in the ring and told a story, but it didn’t match up to the rest of the card. Nothing against this match, just the way it went. Most notable part of the match was Test interfering and as he walked out of the ring, Jim Ross exclaimed, “The referee was down, he didn’t see a damn thing… Well, I guess he seems him leaving the ring…”
Battle For Brand Supremacy: The Intercontinental Title match between champion Chris Benoit and Rob Van Dam turned into a game of one-upsmanship between Raw GM Eric Bischoff and SmackDown GM Stephanie McMahon. The title was on a SmackDown superstar, with a Raw challenger, so a lot of the focus of the match was on where the IC Title would end up. That didn’t really overshadow a great match between the two, but it did foreshadow what was to come for us as WWE fans.
RVD won the title and brought it back to Raw… which would soon be the title’s temporary demise.
What The Hell?: Right before the main event, Howard Finkel started boasting about his accomplishments before being interrupted by Trish Stratus. Trish started flirting with the Fink, setting up an attack by Lillian Garcia, who was upset that Finkel tried to get rid of her. I never want to hear Finkel talk about his wiener ever again, for the record.
The SummerSlam Top Ten!
Two new Top Ten matches? What sorcery is this?
*DISCLAIMER* The Top Ten is for discussion purposes only and is in no way an official or authoritative list. It is simply my opinion. If you disagree, leave your thoughts in the comments section.
1 – Shawn Michaels defeated Triple H – Street Fight (2002)
2 – Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) defeated Owen Hart – WWF Title Steel Cage Match (1994)
3 – Shawn Michaels (c) defeated Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (1995)
4 – Kurt Angle beat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (c) by DQ – WWF Title Match (2001)
5 – Bret “Hitman” Hart defeated Mr. Perfect (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1991)
6 – Davey Boy Smith defeated Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1992)
7 – Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard defeated the Hart Foundation (1989)
8 – Edge and Christian (c) defeated the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz – TLC Tag Team Title Match (2000)
9 – Brock Lesnar defeated The Rock (c) – WWE Title Match (2002)
10 – The Hart Foundation defeated Demolition (c) – 2-out-of-3 Falls Tag Team Title Match (1990)