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.
This edition gives us lessons in overselling!
SummerSlam 2005 – August 21, 2005, MCI Center, Washington, DC
For the first time since 1994, SummerSlam ended with a match that was not for a championship. And for the first time since 1991, the main event of SummerSlam included WWE icon Hulk Hogan. Hogan returned for his fifth SummerSlam to avenge getting some sweet chin music from Shawn Michaels. The match has become something of a classic because of Michaels’ crazy overselling in the match, apparently because he was protesting laying down for Hogan at the end of the match.
The build for this match was great, with Michaels selling the match by becoming pre-injury HBK. The faux Larry King segment is one of my favorites, ending with HBK, dressed as Hogan, superkicking the talk show host. And of course there was his promo in Montreal. Just brilliant stuff from Michaels. And then, when the match came along, he bounced around the ring like he was an overactive jumping bean. Hogan looked more annoyed than usual with HBK toward the end of the match, and only seemed to lighten up once he was alone in the ring posing. Jim Ross’ line of, “There’s a lot of class in that ring,” as the two shook hands post match, is a legit laugh out loud moment.
Best Match: Randy Orton defeated the Undertaker. I think I enjoy this match more than the WrestleMania match they had earlier in 2005. The two guys seem to have worked out the kinks and get things right. Orton going over in this match also helped, I think, as it worked to bring Orton back into the scene as a major player after his first World Heavyweight Championship reign was a bust.
Also, what the hell was the deal with WWE and those Mission: Impossible masks, like the one “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr. used here? They liked to use this stuff a lot.
Worst Match: Edge defeated Matt Hardy. Man, what happens to Matt Hardy’s career if Lita doesn’t sleep with Edge? This should have been an amazing worked shoot feud between the two, but whatever the choices were that led to this match really just deflated it. Hardy, looking for revenge on the guy who stole his woman and got him fired, gets knocked out after 4 minutes. A whole lot of wasted potential here. They could have done so much more.
DNA On A Pole Match: For our second tasteless angle of the night, we have the “Ladder Match for Custody of Domenick” between Eddie Guerrero and Domenick’s father, Rey Mysterio. The match was good – with the exception of Eddie yelling about Vicki Guerrero missing her cue – but the whole thing is wacky when you consider they were fighting for custody of an 8-year-old. At least they got these ridiculous angles out of the way early in the card.
Oh Wait: We can never forget about Eugene, can we. Of course, he’s usually treated with a lot more respect than most of the guys on the roster. Getting a SummerSlam match against Kurt Angle should have been a big deal, with a lead-in that saw Eugene take Angle’s Olympic Gold Medals. And then Angle went over in less than five minutes to take his medals back. Hardly a competitive contest, as Eugene continues his descent into uselessness.
The Era of the Champ Is Here: John Cena had his first SummerSlam WWE Title defense right here, taking on Chris Jericho. WWE put the WWE Title back on Raw with the 2005 draft, as Cena was the first pick. I would have preferred elevating Christian for the SummerSlam shot instead of Y2J, but that’s just my thoughts. The Washington DC crowd was vocal during the match with a split opinion on Cena that continues to this day. After a series of counters, Cena hits an FU – just one – to beat Jericho and establish himself as more than a transitional champ.
The SummerSlam Top Ten!
Randy Orton and The Undertaker make their Top Ten debuts!
*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 – Randy Orton defeated the Undertaker (2005)
10 – Brock Lesnar defeated The Rock (c) – WWE Title Match (2002)