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SummerSlam Power Rankings Part 1: The Worst of the Worst (#29-24)

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It’s August once again and that means the eyes of the WWE Universe will once again be turning to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center where WWE’s SummerSlam will emanate for the third year in a year. This one carries additional historical significance as this will be the thirtieth edition of “The Biggest Party of the Summer,” which first took place on August 29, 1988 from Madison Square Garden.

While Summerslam lacks the pageantry and mainstream appeal of WrestleMania, what SummerSlam had not lacked over the years is the kind of amazing moments that make us all wrestling fans. With the tendency of SummerSlam to deliver incredible matches and great storylines, one can think of SummerSlam as almost the Smart Fans WrestleMania is some ways, and SummerSlams are some of the best shows in the history of the WWE. One thing that is for sure is that the men and women who will be putting on a show next week in Brooklyn will have a lot to live up too.

But not all SummerSlams are created equal, of course. And while SummerSlam has been less likely to deliver duds than other shows, some do exist. It is with this in mind that we now rank the past twenty-nine additions of the WWE’s Summer Extravaganza, as we eagerly await to see where this year show will rank…

29. SummerSlam 1996: August 18, 1997 – Gund Arena – Cleveland, Ohio

The WWF in the summer of the 1996 was one trying to find its way. WCW, led by the red-hot NWO storyline carried out by two recently departed WWF stars, Diesel and Razor Ramon, was regularly defeating the WWF in every metric from TV ratings to PPV buys. Meanwhile, the WWF’s biggest star, Bret Hart, was at home on hiatus in Calgary and somehow, the new big star that they had created two months ago, Stone Cold Steve Austin, was relegated to the Free For All.

What resulted that night in Cleveland was a pure dud. The show was plagued by a lack of star power and a number of slow-paced, uncreative matches, with a confrontation between Goldust and Marc Mero being especially hard on the eyes. This show also included the polarizing Boiler Room Brawl, where Mankind and the Undertaker had a physical confrontation that was interesting, but probably not fitting in the second biggest show of the year. While Shawn Michaels delivered as usual in the midst of his first “Boyhood Dream” run as WWF Champion, he sullied his main event match with Vader by yelling at him to “MOVE” during a top rope elbowdrop in the middle of a match, in full hearing of the crowd. That we had the centerpiece of the company behaving like that at this time kinda tells you all you need to know about this show-simply the worst SummerSlam ever (which was still better than Battleground last month-YUCK!)

28. SummerSlam 1990: August 27, 1990 – CoreStates Spectrum – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In the late 80’s and early 90s, the WWF tended to do something with a lot of their big shows that annoys me to this day-one short match after the other. You see it a lot of the early WrestleManias, and we saw it here on this night in Philadelphia.

While there were some gems here to be sure, such as the Hart Foundation beating Demolition in a two out of a three falls match for the Tag Team Belts, plus an actual fun Hulk Hogan match versus Earthquake, you had some stinkers as well. Poor Tito Santana had to put over the Warlord. Two legends of the sport in Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage had a two-minute match and Bad News Brown and Jake Roberts had a battle of snake versus sewer rat. The actual fuck?

The most telling thing about this show may be that this was the first PPV for Ultimate Warrior as Champion. Rick Rude and Bobby Hennan did their best to make this guy look good, but their main event was hard on the eyes. Then again, so was most of the show…

27. SummerSlam 2012: August 19, 2012 – Staples Center – Los Angeles, California.

One word comes to mind when I think of this show-Stale. The WWE had grown stale in the summer of 2012 and was plagued by questionable, often nonsensical booking. The popular WWE Champion, CM Punk was suddenly turned heel, and was made to semi main event for COO of the Company. The WWE also had yet to realize the monster they had in the recently returned Brock Lesnar, and seeing him go blow for blow with a no longer everyday wrestler in Triple H boggles the mind.

This match does feature two strong opening matches, with Chris Jericho beating Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan beating Kane to start what would be a classic storyline between the two. But after that, do yourself a favor and turn of the show. The WWE badly needed a shot in the arm here and it would be months for before they got it. (Spoiler-it was spelled S-H-I-E-L-D.)

26. SummerSlam 1995: August 27, 1994 – The Igloo – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If the WWF was lost in 1996, they weren’t even on the freaking map in 1995. The fact that they had The Undertaker wrestling Kama and Bret Hart wrestling Isaac Yankem D.D.S should tell you all need to know about this time period, but if you don’t get it, the fact that Diesel faced King Mabel for the WWF Title in what is easily the worst main event in SummerSlam history should hammer that sucker home.

The only reasons this show isn’t the worst SummerSlam of all time-well, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon had an excellent rematch of their historic WrestleMania X ladder match for one, and two, this show actually turned out a lot better than it looked on paper. There is some fun stuff on the undercard and Bret Hart gets a pretty good match out of the young Glenn Jacobs. This isn’t the best SummerSlam to be sure, but it’s still any better than it had any right to be.

25. SummerSlam 1993: August 30, 1993 – The Palace of Auburn Hills – Detroit, Michigan.

This show actually has a lot in common with modern WWE PPVs. A hot start, some great matches in the first hour or so, but then hoping to God the show ends soon by the end. The first hour of this show featured a phenomenal Tag Team Title match between the Steiners and Heavenly Bodies, as well as excellent Bret Hart-Doink-Jerry The King Lawler angle that holds up well to this day.

But then, things got ugly in hurry. First, you had Ludvig Borga. Then you had the Giant Freaking Gonzales. And just when you think things might get better, you had the most perplexing main event in SummerSlam history. The Lex Express had been roaring across the country for the past month and a half, and when Lex Luger, decked in red, white, and blue, and the most red, white, and blue show in WWF History to that point, beats the mighty Yokozuna, BY COUNTOUT! And they treat it like he just won the WWF Title, an Olympic Gold Medal, and The Presidency all in one. It is one of the most ridiculous scenes of all time in the WWF and that as we all know, is saying something.

24. SummerSlam 2003: August 24, 2003 – America West Arena – Phoenix, Arizona.

While not a bad show per say, something about this show just lacked something that makes a show feel special and big. Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar have an excellent WWE Title match on the show, as well as pretty damn entertaining brawl between Shane McMahon and Eric Bischoff. But the undercard of the show was a little weak and the finish of Elimination Chamber main event, where Goldberg killed everyone only to be eliminated in the end by Triple H made you want to puke in your mouth. While it’s understandable in hindsight, it created a meltdown on the internet at the time. Ah, the days before Twitter…

Come Back Tomorrow for #23 through 17 on Frank’s All-Time SummerSlam Power Rankings

Frank has been a wrestling fan since he was two years old. (Don’t worry, he’s got proof.) He’s also a huge boxing and UFC fan and has a long standing love affair with Popeyes Chicken. He still owns a VHS copy of the first Ring of Honor show ever and was watching NXT before it was cool (or good). Bret Hart > Shawn Michaels. You can follow him on Twitter at @FightFanaticPod and on Tumblr at FrankTheFightFanatic. He’s also starting his own podcast soon!

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