The 2015 SummerSlam was treated like a big deal (more on that soon), even moreso than the half-dozen Los Angeles events that coincided with celebrity schmoozing and shoulder-rubbing. In fact, beginning with this event, SummerSlam would be sandwiched between an NXT TakeOver and an episode of Raw in the same venue, creating an entire weekend gala.
And the card itself was loaded to the gills. Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker, Seth Rollins vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship, Shield remnants vs. Wyatt Family remnants, Randy Orton vs. Sheamus, et al, made SummerSlam 2015 feel like a B+ WrestleMania card, less in the way of blowing off long-simmering feuds, but more along the lines of trumping up the overall flair of the night. The first of the Brooklyn 'Slams, while imperfect, felt like an utterly big deal.
10. The Length Wars Commence
For the first time ever, SummerSlam would have a duration of four hours (Kickoff Show runtime excluded), as a way of attempting to put the show on a WrestleMania-like level of importance. One benefit of the expanded length is that nothing felt particularly rushed, as the matches you expected to be good-to-great had plenty of space with which to work.
Mind you, this led to WrestleMania 32's duration stretching to five pay-per-view hours (and even longer when three pre-show matches are factored in), so there's a good argument to be made against this sort of show bloating. The 2016 and 2017 SummerSlams admittedly felt a bit laggy, but the expansion didn't seem to hurt 2015 all that much. Except for the part where Roman Reigns fell asleep, of course.
9. Triple Threat Theater
By making SummerSlam a destination weekend that included NXT TakeOver and WWE Raw as bookends in the same Barclays Center, WWE sought to make the three-day run as lucrative as humanly possible. In all, each of the three events sold out, doing more than 15,500 seats apiece for all three shows.
According to The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, this marked the first time in American wrestling history that a company sold out an NBA-sized entertainment venue on three consecutive nights, demonstrating the power of the overall WWE brand. There's a good reason why WWE began running their TakeOvers in conjunction with the Big Four pay-per-view weekends (plus a fifth one in the springtime), and why such weekend affairs tend to bring in fans from around the world.
8. WWE's 99 Problems Include Parodies
By the time SummerSlam 2015 rolled around, The New Day had gone from way-too-chipper babyfaces that nobody liked, to insincere, glad-handing villains with a marked sense of humour, and creative ways of engaging the crowds. They were too cool to hate, given how few performers on the roster had their fingers on the cultural zeitgeist like these three.
The overness of the collective was made apparent at SummerSlam, when Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods sang and grinded their way through a parody of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' Empire State of Mind, subbing out "Newwww Yorrrrk" for "Newwww Daaaay". It was a rather transcendent moment for the group, and it's a shame that WWE edited it off of subsequent releases of the event, including the official DVD. Reportedly, there was concern that New Day appropriated too much of the song, making it a possible (but admittedly unlikely) legal issue.
7. Took Long Enough
The New Day made good after their lively crooning by capturing the WWE Tag Team championships for the second time that night, winning in a Fatal 4-Way match over The Prime Time Players, Los Matadores, and The Lucha Dragons. The energetic match would set up New Day's interminable 16-month reign with the belts and was historic in other ways as well.
The title change marked the first time in 14 years that any set of Tag Team titles changed hands at SummerSlam. You'd have to go back to the 2001 show when Undertaker and Kane defeated Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon in a Steel Cage Match to claim the gold. Between the two events, tag belts were only defended four times at SummerSlam (2002, 2003, 2009, and 2012), but wouldn't change hands in any of those instances.
6. The Hero We Deserve
One of the curiosities from SummerSlam 2015 was the in-ring debut of Arrow star Stephen Amell, who had spent some time in a heated row with Stardust. The two were pitted on opposite sides of a tag team match (Amell with Neville, Stardust with King Barrett) at the pay-per-view, and Amell performed quite admirably for a green rookie. His work in the match would earn some genuine praise from all realms of fan and critic.
To hype the match, Amell wore a customized t-shirt promoting his big showdown with Stardust, and put the shirts up for sale. It wasn't a cash grab - Amell donated the proceeds to Emily's House, a children's hospice in his native Canada. In all, Amell sold over 10,000 shirts, raising $300,000 for the charity, and he and Cody Rhodes (in his Stardust paint) delivered the check to Emily's House in person.
5. The Summer Of Sting?
The year 2015 would see a sight that many assumed was no longer in the cards: Sting wrestling in a WWE ring. His two most high-profile WWE matches included the WrestleMania 31 time-warper with Triple H, and his WWE Championship match against Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. Turns out, one more Sting WWE match could have been in play.
Reports indicated that for SummerSlam, Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan were to have faced Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and a mystery partner, which would've been revealed as Sting. However, an injury to Rowan led to WWE downsizing the match into a standard tag, no Sting required. Some thought was given to debuting Braun Strowman early, and putting him with the Wyatts, but it was believed that a Sting surprise and an early Braun match would've been too much to process, since one would've taken a backseat to the other.
4. The Back-Up Plan
The Seth Rollins/John Cena WWE Championship match was almost jeopardized by an in-ring mishap. Weeks before SummerSlam, during a match between the two on Raw, Rollins smashed Cena's face with an errant knee, disfiguring Big Match John's nose to the point where it looked like a Magnum condom filled with nacho cheese. To put it much more mildly, the visual wasn't a pretty one.
It was touch-and-go at one time if Cena would even be able to make it to SummerSlam, though the feeling was that Cena (who's wrestled with much worse injuries, and could still have a ****1/2 match despite being literally decapitated) would make the match with no problems. Just in case he was unable to, WWE had plans to reconfigure the card, putting Randy Orton in Cena's place, due to his prior issue with Rollins. Naturally, Cena made the date, because he's Cena.
3. United Sleep States
Sometimes forgotten about the Rollins/Cena championship bout was that it was title for title. Rollins wagered his WWE Championship against Cena's United States gold, the belt that he'd spent the previous five months resuscitating with open challenges on Raw. Arguably, those five months were the United States title's best in its 15 years as a WWE property.
Cena also revitalized something else - the match marked the first US Title defence on SummerSlam's main card in 10 years, since Chris Benoit tapped out Orlando Jordan in 30 seconds in 2005. The 2012 and 2013 events saw the belt defended on the pre-show (Cesaro winning it from Santino Marella, followed by Dean Ambrose taking a DQ loss to Rob Van Dam), but the pay-per-view card was without its American charm for a full decade.
2. The Dead Rises Outside Of 'Mania
The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar's heavyweight slugfest was an appropriate ending to SummerSlam, even if the actual match ending itself (the premature ringing of the bell) was rather lame and confusing. Really, it was all worth it just to see Lesnar and Undertaker maniacally laughing at each other on the double sit-up spot.
For Undertaker, it was a rare wrestling appearance outside the confines of WrestleMania. In fact, the match marked his first on a non-WrestleMania pay-per-view in close to five years, since Kane defeated him in a Buried Alive match at Bragging Rights 2010. Undertaker only wrestled eight total matches in between Bragging Rights and this SummerSlam - five 'Mania bouts, two free TV matches in the spring of 2013 with Shield opponents, and a random February 2013 house show match in Waco, TX, in which he teamed with Sheamus to face Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow.
1. Not Just A Beast At WrestleMania
The Undertaker's longevity on the WWE roster is evident by his 26 WrestleMania matches, which gives him a career mark of 24-2 at that event. His SummerSlam resume isn't quite as impressive, but it's impressive nonetheless. The Phenom has competed in more SummerSlam matches than anybody in history, and has a record to back up his lengthy standing.
With the victory over Lesnar, Undertaker became the first man to 10 wins at SummerSlam. This was fitting, as he was the first to 10 WrestleMania wins, back in 2002. But Undertaker wouldn't reach those 10 wins unscathed - his career record at the event is 10-5-1 across 16 bouts. His victims list includes a rather motley crew: Kamala, Giant Gonzalez, The Underfaker, Kama, Kane & X-Pac, Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon, Test, Albert, Edge, and finally Lesnar.