Let’s not mess around. These are the five greatest SummerSlam matches of all time. You might as well just copy and paste this into Wikipedia when you’re done reading.
5. Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog (Wembley Stadium, 1992)
Bulldog beating Bret in his home country is what sets this match apart. We very rarely run pay-per-view shows in London, but the crowds are great there. And SummerSlam 1992 had one of the best ever: 80,000 people, screaming, inside Wembley Stadium, for a hometown guy — totally electric. And then on top of that, you had the family angle, with Davey’s wife, Diana, being Bret’s sister — and her watching from ringside. The emotion going on there was unlike anything I’d ever seen in a WWE match. It was wild. When you see the way Davey reacted after he won the title … people talk about our industry all the time, real or fake or what have you. But that’s as real as it gets. Not entertainment or television real — human real. That match had raw, human emotion, grounded in a story about a family. You can try to fake that sort of stuff — but good luck making 80,000 people scream.
As for the match itself: It’s probably the best match Bulldog ever had. From reading Bret’s autobiography, I know that a lot of time went into that match, from a technical perspective. He wanted to make it special for Davey Boy — and came up with a pretty sweet finish in the sunset flip. Looking back on it now, considering all of the stuff we do in the ring in 2015, it’s a move that might not pop out at you. But at the time, man, it was super-revolutionary. WWE had never seen that crazy of a reversal before. The way that Bulldog sort of sits on Bret and ties him up, in one fluid motion — incredible. Bret and Bulldog made an Intercontinental Title match at the end of August feel like the main event of WrestleMania. It was just a really cool match and a really cool moment — for our industry as a whole; for SummerSlam as an event; and for me as a fan. Simply put, it’s a classic.
4. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (Nassau Coliseum, 2002)
Another one that stands out to me is Shawn Michaels’ return match in 2002. Shawn retired in 1998 with a pretty bad back injury, after losing to Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14. If you go back and watch that match, you can see how much pain Shawn’s in — though he still somehow guts it out and puts on a show.
Of course, 1998 was before the Internet was a huge presence in the WWE world. And so when Shawn retired, you just didn’t know a whole lot of information.
This meant that his comeback — at SummerSlam 2002 — was pretty much shrouded in mystery. Like: How hurt is this guy? What sort of physical shape is he in? Shawn was my favorite WWE Superstar, so as a fan I was excited and nervous at the same time. And he was very upfront about it himself, leading up to the match: Talking on television about the honest fear he had that he wouldn’t be the same guy he once was. I think a lot of his old confidence, that famous swagger he was known for in ‘96, ‘97, ’98, when he was The Man, was gone now. “I don’t know if I can still wrestle,” I remember him saying. “But I know I can fight.”
The match was billed as an “unsanctioned street fight.” You really just didn’t know what was going to happen. You were holding your breath. As it turns out, Shawn was right. He wasn’t the same. He was better. Continue Reading
Seth Rollins has had quite a year in the WWE. After splitting off on his own from the highly popular trio he was a part of, The Shield, Rollins would find increasing success and in 2015, became the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion at the culmination of WrestleMania 31. At this weekend’s SummerSlam — look for IGN’s live-blog during the event on Sunday! — Rollins will face John Cena in a match that has both of their titles (Cena is the current United States Champion) on the line. I had the chance to speak to Rollins at the big SummerSlam kickoff event this week, which was also celebrating the upcoming release of WWE 2K16. Rollins and I discussed his SummerSlam match, what it’s like being in a video game and more – including the fact that big wrestling fan Jon Stewart, who Rollins had a comedic feud storyline with earlier this year, will be returning to WWE as the host of SummerSlam.
IGN: Let me start off asking about 2K16. I feel like it must be really strange to see yourself in a video game. Or do you get used to it?
Rollins: You know, not really. And this is the first incarnation of the game that I’ve had my gear on and it hasn’t been me as a Shield member. So it’s even fresh again this year. It’s pretty awesome to see the whole thing come full circle and watch myself do an entrance with my music and the world title on my waist – all that crazy stuff. It’s pretty wild.
IGN: This game includes Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator in it – which means you can fight the freaking Terminator!
Rollins: Yeah, I don’t even know… Is the Terminator going go be robotic? Like superhuman? How are you going to beat the Terminator?! You can’t pin the Terminator! We’ve watched him get shot in the face with a shotgun and survive! So unless there’s some sort of lava pit that exists that you can dump him in to melt him, I feel like he’s going to be invincible and I’m slightly concerned about that.
IGN: This has been quite a year for you and now you’re going into SummerSlam as the champ, facing John Cena. Does it feel like another huge notch on the belt?
Rollins: Yeah, I mean it’s been an incredible year. Basically from WrestleMania on it’s been sensational for me. Even Royal Rumble, from the triple threat match with Brock and Cena, it’s been one incredible moment after another. Lots of things happened for me this year, and to be able to go into SummerSlam in Brooklyn, with a sold out crowd, feeling like I’m the main event of the show – whether it’s billed that way or not! – I’m really excited to be a part of it and I feel like John and I are going to have an excellent contest.
IGN: You’ve had plenty of great feuds this year, including Brock and Cena, but your nemesis Jon Stewart will be present at SummerSlam. Are you excited to have him be a part of it?
Rollins: [Laughs] I feel like Jon knows his place, so I’m excited to have him come aboard. I was actually the one who was able to offer him his hosting gig when I did my last Daily Show I was on and so I’m very much looking forward to Jon coming on. He’s had an excellent history of hosting shows – and award shows, not just his own show, so I think he’ll do a tremendous job in this setting. Continue Reading
On SI Now, WWE world heavyweight champion Seth Rollins took major shots at several of America’s most popular sports teams.
Host Maggie Gray asked Rollins, in New York for the 2015 WWE SummerSlam on Sunday about the Dallas Cowboys, Boston Red Sox, Duke basketball and other notable teams. He had plenty of spite to go around. Rollins on the Cowboys: “America’s team? Right. More like America’s Scumbags. The worst team in the NFL, led by the worst owner in the NFL, never going to win another Super Bowl as long as Jerry Jones thinks he’s running that organization.” On the Red Sox: “They’re still living in the past. They got out of shadow of the curse, of the Babe, they’re still hanging on by a thread. Although I will give David Ortiz some credit, he’s having a phenomenal year this year, but maybe past their prime. I think it’s time to start looking to some of the youth.”
On Duke: “I watched the documentary I Hate Christian Laettner, and I really hate Christian Laettner. It made me understand why everybody hates Christian Laettner and Duke basketball. I mean, they’re just a bunch of preppy white boys from Tobacco Road or whatever. I’m a Hawkeye fan, I don’t think those guys know how to play gritty basketball. Coach K, I give him all the credit in the world, but he’s got some sissies for players on that squad.”
On Urban Meyer and Ohio State: “Poor excuse for a coach, poor excuse for a program.” Gray also compared Rollins’ style to Bill Belichick and the Patriots, which he seemed to embrace. “Belichick’s actually great. I wouldn’t mind being the New England Patriots. they seem to win a lot. Four game suspension here and there doesn’t hurt nobody.”
Rollins takes on United States champion John Cena at SummerSlam on Sunday.
For all this and more, you can watch Rollins’ full SI Now interview here, beginning around the 17 minute mark.
It’s been more than a year since Seth Rollins sold out – or “bought in” – via a series of chair shots on former Shield brothers Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, and in the time since, he’s made the most of his opportunities, becoming one of the top heels in WWE, winning the Money in the Bank briefcase and cashing in at WrestleMania to become the World Heavyweight Champion. In many ways, his rise was remarkable. But, since making it to the top, he’s been forced to watch those beneath him snatch the spotlight. From John Cena revitalizing the United States Championship and Brock Lesnar casting a sizeable shadow over the promotion (on a part-time basis), Rollins has almost become an afterthought. On top of that, his reign has coincided with the rapid ascent of the promotion he used to rule, NXT, and talent like Kevin Owens, who made waves when he was called up to WWE earlier this year. More proof that it’s not easy being champ.
But has any of that caused Rollins to lose confidence? Of course not. And as he prepares to reassert his dominance (and his title’s eminence) against Cena on Sunday at SummerSlam, the WWE champ spoke to Rolling Stone about the criticisms of his reign, the art of working a crowd and why he thinks he’s still the best in the business.
So I wanted to ask you right off the bat: What was it like to break John Cena’s nose?
It was bad. John, being who he is, had no intention of stopping that match, whether his nose was halfway off his face or not, but I knew right away when I hit him; the impact was way harder than I thought it was going to be. I heard his nose pop, and I felt it on my knee – I thought it was his eye socket or something; the way it cracked, I never heard a nose break like that before. The narrative changed after that, but that’s one of the cool things about all this. You can’t do that in any other medium. That visual of him finishing the match, standing there with his nose halfway across his face, that’s something that will be around forever. It’s pretty awesome.
Speaking of narratives, are you aware of how your reign as WWE Champion has been received? A lot of what I read online has been less-than-complimentary, to put it mildly.
Twitter’s kind of an abridged version of all that; I see enough of it, so I don’t really go out of my way to read the sites or the sheets or anything like that. You have to take everything with a grain of salt, because everyone’s got an opinion, and now, with Twitter and the blogosphere and all that bull crap, everyone has the means to express that opinion, so it’s really hard to gauge an actual response. You just have to go out and do what you do; I know when things I do are good, and I know when they’re not, so I’m not going to lose my confidence over one dude online who’s writing a report that 20 people read. I know that I’m the one who worked for 12 years to get to this point, I’m the one who spent my whole life putting this before my family and friends, I’m the one who sacrificed every relationship I’ve ever had to get to this point, and if that guy sitting on his couch, who never did a thing, wants to point fingers at me and talk to me about my championship reign – even if it’s a good thing – he can suck it. His opinion is irrelevant to me.
To be fair, most of the criticisms have little to do with you and everything to do with the way you’ve been booked – as cowardly and incompetent, a weak champion.
Well, I am a heel. I am a bad guy. The object of being a bad guy is to be hated, and for people to not want you to have the championship. And I’ve had the title for 100-and-whatever days, and every single day of that reign, people have wanted me to lose that title more and more; so in my estimation, I’m doing a bang-up job as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. People have lost sight of what heat is. They don’t understand it, in the era of reality in wrestling, and how smart they are and all this, they’ve lost sight of what actual heat is. So the idea of booking a champion too weak doesn’t exist in my opinion. It’s about the heat. Continue Reading