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10 Biggest WWE SummerSlam Moments Of All Time

The biggest stuff from the Biggest Party/Event of the Summer...

Shave your chest, wax your feet, grab the nearest lilo and head for the beach! It's the WWE's "Biggest Party of the Summer" WWE SummerSlam, and they're inviting YOU (via the WWE Network for $9.99) to join in the fun, pomp and circumstance of their 2nd biggest pay-per-view of the year! Just remember kids... under no circumstances should you bring a beach ball!

The WWE's annual August pay-per-view has been a staple of the wrestling calendar for 30 years, having marked its debut on 29 August 1988. Since the opening match between The British Bulldogs and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, the event has presented hundreds of matches and been the home to countless memorable moments. For some of the icons of the industry, SummerSlam marks the birthplace of their first championship reign, while others can remember it as being the standout moment in the most popular run of their career. Over the years, we've had legendary "first time ever" match-ups and "first time ever" match types, we've seen records broken, unexpected returns and a whole heap of excellent wrestling. In this list, we're counting down our selection for the very best the show has had to offer in this: the 10 Biggest WWE SummerSlam Moments.

(Honourable Mentions: Nikki Bella turns on Brie Bella to side with Stephanie McMahon, Randy Orton becomes youngest World Champion ever & Finn Balor becomes first-ever Universal Champion)

10. The Next Big Thing Becomes The Now Big Thing - 2002


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Heading into WWE SummerSlam 2002, The Rock was fresh off defeating Hulk Hogan at that year's WrestleMania, but he was also on the cusp of heading to Hollywood for a more full-time attempt at becoming a successful actor - yeah, good luck with that Rock; what a dumb move!

His opponent Brock Lesnar was billed as The Next Big Thing after impressing in the WWE at an age when a lot of us are still living with our parents and listening to My Chemical Romance (25), and the rocket that was attached to him at the time seemed to indicate a strong change in direction towards a more realistic and technical style of wrestling that suited the likes of Lesnar, Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit - the guys who'd lead the WWE as champions in the years to come.

Lesnar would, of course, defeat The Rock, and thus send him packing from the wrestling industry for the best part of eight years (aside from a brief cameo at WrestleMania XX as a part of The Rock 'n' Sock Connection), but in doing so he would not only shock the world as a relative newcomer managing to overcome The Great One, but he'd also become the youngest ever WWE champion in the process, marking his name down in history and setting in motion the 16 years of ups and downs he's brought to the industry ever since. It was the first major highlight in a career filled with them and one of the biggest SummerSlam moments in history.

9. First-Ever TLC Match - 2000


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Enough has been said about the circumstances that brought together such phenomenal talents as the Dudleyz, Edge and Christian, and the Hardyz for their phenomenal series of matches between 2000 and 2001, but in the first-ever tables, ladders and chairs match, it seemed absolutely certain that all six men were determined to make their mark on the industry, sacrificing their bodies in such a way that wrestling as a whole would be repaying them for years to come.

Cleverly, the WWE spent weeks and months building the backstory of each team specialising in the use of the match's various weapons - The Dudleyz were table experts, The Hardyz were ladder experts and Edge and Christian were chair experts long before the match ever took place - so when all of these tools and each of the teams came head to head at SummerSlam, everything had a meaning. As such, the spots felt more spectacular, the so-called "rest periods" were filled with character moments and there was a genuinely high level of investment from the WWE crowd in Raleigh, North Carolina.

This match was not only career-defining for everyone involved, but it also featured levels of innovation never before seen. Broken tables, broken ladders, broken chairs and broken bodies made history at SummerSlam 2000 in one of the greatest, and arguably the most exciting match in the history of the event. An era-defining bout featuring six hungry, youthful prospects earning their stripes and forcing themselves into the upper echelons of a stacked WWE roster, the original tables, ladders and chairs match was had it all and is undeniably one of the greatest moments in SummerSlam history.

8. Shawn Michaels Appears In The Hit Film, Dodgeball - 2005


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Dive, duck, dip, dive and dodge... you get it, don't you? And anyway, we said "biggest" moments, not "greatest", so stick that in your Big Dog and stroke it.

When backstage politics transpired in such a way that the feud between the Immortal Hulk Hogan and The Iconic Shawn Michaels would take place in just one match as opposed to the agreed matches, the plan changed from Michaels taking the loss with the guarantee of a victorious rematch or two, to Michaels simply losing the entire feud in a SummerSlam 2005 match that would become infamous for HBK's behaviour.

The writing seemed to be on the wall when Shawn would enter the arena and await the entrance of The Hulkster while mimicking the action of digging a hole, pretending to leverage a shovel as if digging his own grave ready for Hogan to bury him, but things really kicked off once Hogan arrived in the squared circle.

Michaels threw himself pilar to post in the most exaggerated manner he possibly could, outing Hogan's uninspired offensive style as being behind the times and arguably unbelievable. In taking a simple head bump on the top turnbuckle, Michaels did a spinning somersault out of the corner as if the power of Hogan's attack had almost literally turned him inside out, and in taking a simple shoulder tackle Michaels flung his body 10 feet back and to the outside of the ring.

It was a SummerSlam moment the purists like Jim Cornette likely despise, but whether you believe it to be unprofessional, funny, or somewhere in the middle, there's no denying that this was one of the biggest and most memorable SummerSlam moments ever.

7. Shane McMahon's Fall - 2000


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Isn't it funny how the son of a billionaire still feels the need to nearly kill himself for our viewing pleasure? Surely he could just sit in the WWE offices, maybe wait on some sweet inheritance from his father? But no, Shane-O-Mac has developed the reputation of being indestructible, and fair play to him for that. I mean, if a helicopter crash won't kill you; can anything?

One such a death-defying occasion came on live WWE programming at SummerSlam 2000 when, after being chased up the scaffolding of the Titantron, Shane McMahon would pull off arguably his most insane stunt yet - falling from a 40-foot height from the top of the screen, backwards...

Seeing a man fall for that long is never easy, but when they're pulling off a stunt and can't see where they're going it becomes even more concerning. Clearly, Shane was okay, and by that point, we'd become accustomed to him surviving massive stunts, but in pulling off this brave (or insane) act Shane-O elevated his throwaway match with Steve Blackman to the stuff of legend and guaranteed he'd be remembered forever in the annuls of SummerSlam history. What a guy.

6. The Birth Of Suplex City - 2014


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After conquering The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak four months prior to his match with John Cena at SummerSlam 2014, Brock Lesnar was a monster heel of mythical proportions. Had he gone against the WWE's instructions to beat The Undertaker against the will of The Deadman and even Vince McMahon? Was his victory the result of 'Taker failing to realise he was supposed to kick out due to a concussion Lesnar had given him earlier in the match? Nobody knew for sure, and it built up a level of suspense that made his return to the ring a must-see event.

When Cena stepped up, having beaten him a few years prior in Brock's return match no less, it seemed like the marker for how far the WWE were willing to push The Beast was to be tested immediately.

SIXTEEN German Suplexes later and Suplex City was born.

Cena was squashed, adding to the "against the norm and against the rules" aura of the former UFC Champion. He was a legit fighter, so even if someone wanted to fight back against what he had planned for them, could they? It was the most one-sided marquee matches in the history of the SummerSlam event and therefore brought a lot of attention, a lot of intrigue, and a lot of investment in seeing Lesnar lose; the sort of investment we were supposed to place on Roman Reigns in the title match at Wrestlemania in 2015, but let's forget about that...

5. Warrior Ends Honky Tonk Man's IC Title Reign - 1988


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On the 13 June 1987, Elvis knock-off The Honky Tonk Man would pin Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat with the illegal help and leverage of the ring ropes to become the Intercontinental Champion. 454 days later at WWE SummerSlam 1988, The Ultimate Warrior would hit some strong shoulder tackles and an Ultimate Splash to end the guitar-wielding, quiff sporting, always cheating mega-heel's record-setting run as IC champ in just 31 seconds.

Madison Square Garden errupted in support of the energetic super babyface Warrior and we were all finally rewarded for suffering Honky Tonk's despicable actions for so long. It was arguably the most memorable moment of Warrior's career and perhaps the most must-see moment of the inaugural SummerSlam event, therefore setting the precedent of what to expect moving forward. It was so great that it inspired moments for years to come, just like our last entry, and even our next one...

4. Randy Orton Cashes in on Daniel Bryan - 2013


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The man of the people Daniel Bryan was finally given the chance in the main event of a major WWE pay-per-view at SummerSlam 2013 when, in the story at least, fellow (sort of) Bella family member John Cena hand-picked him as his opponent for the WWE title Cena had held since beating The Rock at that year's WrestleMania.

The choice antagonised the always despicable Mr. McMahon, who had made it clear that he didn't like Bryan in a series of promos in which he described the challenger as "a dwarf," and "a toothpick," among other things. Then, babyface Triple H opposed his father-in-law's stance on Bryan, suggesting instead that the direction of wrestling was heading towards a landscape of wrestlers just like him, and in the interest of fairness he assigned himself as the special guest referee to ensure that the match would be called right down the middle.

Call it down the middle he did, and Bryan won. But, in the midst of the euphoria of Bryan's ascension to the top of the WWE mountain, a briefcase wielding Randy Orton would make his way down the ramp and posture as if to challenge the ready and waiting underdog champion. It was in this moment that the hopes of the SummerSlam crowd and everyone watching at home came crashing down.

Triple H turned on Bryan, delivering a Pedigree that would leave him prone for long enough for Orton to cash in on him and become the new WWE champion, thus creating one of the most memorable SummerSlam moments of all time.

3. "Macho Man" & Elizabeth Get Married - 1991


WWE


What's better than love? Well, two things, I guess, given that this is just number three...Anyway...

WWE audiences had bared witness to the turbulent relationship of Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth through the late 80s, so when the two were due to be married at SummerSlam 1991, it seemed like the ultimate pay off to a soap opera romance. Finally, the beloved couple could go off into the sunset as man and wife in a wrestling story that didn't end in tragedy for once?

Well, yes, sort of...

Savage and Elizabeth were married in the ring during the pay-per-view in a ceremony that went down without a hitch. Yes, really, a wrestling wedding without an angle attached - shocking really.

It wasn't until the after party that the angle played out, with the always vicious Jake 'The Snake' Roberts interrupting the happy couple's cutting of the cake to wreak havoc on the two of them and their guests, Snake in hand. In comparison to the ceremony itself this part of the wedding is barely remembered, and with good reason, as despite their questionable real-life relationship, Savage and Elizabeth always seemed like two characters in love, and their on-screen marriage was a well-orchestrated conclusion to their arcs as characters; a truly satisfying moment for anyone who had been invested in their relationship to that point.

2. Shawn Michaels' 'Return' Match vs Triple H - 2002


WWE


Shawn Michaels was so good that he wrestled for nearly 40 minutes in his return match after being retired for four years due to back problems and substance abuse issues, and he didn't seem like he even missed a step!

What a moment this was. Seeing the former multi-time WWE champion walk the aisle in the Summer of 2002 to his iconic "sexy boy" entrance theme was the sort of moment only professional wrestling can provide - it was like seeing David Beckham playing for England again!

Not only was it this an all-time SummerSlam moment in terms of nostalgia, but it was also a phenomenal match that Michaels actually won. At the time, Triple H was almost invincible, so this came as a shock, especially when nobody knew if Michaels would ever return after the fact. It had everything it needed to have and vitally reminded us of exactly who Shawn Michaels is and how much of an all-time great in-ring performer he would ultimately go down in history as being.

1. The British Bulldog Wins The IC Title At Wembley - 1992


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Before "football's coming home" was even a thing, wrestling came home to the UK in 1992 for WWE SummerSlam, an event that would be placed in the record books as one of the best attended and most lucrative WWE events of all time and would be the destination for the undisputed number one moment in SummerSlam history: The British Bulldog's Intercontinental Championship victory over the best there ever is, was or will be, Bret Hart.

The technical match-up, which is still considered among the very best to ever take place at a SummerSlam pay-per-view, beautifully incorporated its surprise finish at the peak of the audience's emotional investment to offer a crescendo unlike any other. It birthed arguably the loudest and most sustained pop in the history of professional wrestling, as 80,000 people cheered, threw beer in the air and jumped up and down in the aisles of the world's most famous football stadium through their pure joy at one of their own becoming the Intercontinental champ.

At the time, known for being the belt for the best worker in the company as opposed to the most easily promotable talent (ie, Hulk Hogan), the IC belt was held to much higher esteem, and even main evented the London-based PPV, ensuring all the blocks were in place for a great WWE moment even before the mind-melting reaction.

If SummerSlam was ever to be remembered for one singular moment it would be this one: Bulldog reversing a Bret Hart sunset flip into a sit-down pinfall to grab a three count, the IC championship, the biggest pop of all time and the biggest moment in WWE SummerSlam history.

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