WWE: “30 Years of SummerSlam” is a very straight-forward DVD; it brings together a collection of SummerSlam’s greatest matches from its 30-year history.
There is no main feature here, unlike 30 Years of Survivor Series, but it does feature a suitably nostalgic series of “Report” segments (look out for Mean Gene on the first disc), which introduce different eras from the three decades that SummerSlam has been on the scene. I personally love the use of the old-school SummerSlam logo, the defining logo of that PPV in my opinion.
Before we get to the matches, I’ll mention that there are some notable omissions, presumably because of how often they have been released previously (despite the fact that you could say the same about some bouts that ARE included on the DVD). Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart from 1991, Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon from 1995, the first TLC bout from 2000 and John Cena vs. AJ Styles from 2016 are amongst those that didn’t make the cut, so there will be a bit of disappointment about this.
However, when you see the wealth of great matches that do comprise this collection, these absences are quickly forgiven, because there is a lot to like here. With that being said, let’s get to the action!
WWF SummerSlam 1988 – August 29, 1988
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match
Honky Tonk Man (C) vs. Ultimate Warrior
This match is a huge milestone in the career of Ultimate Warrior: in less than 30 seconds, Warrior manages to end Honky Tonk Man’s record-breaking reign as Intercontinental Champion, and in doing so, he establishes himself as the WWF’s most popular babyface behind only Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
WWF SummerSlam 1990 – August 27, 1990
WWF World Tag Team Championship Two Out Of Three Falls Match
Demolition (C) vs. Hart Foundation
This is more poignant given the recent passing of Jim Neidhart. This excellent tag team match is arguably the best of the Anvil’s career, and it marks the peak of the Hart Foundation in terms of popularity. It also marks the last hurrah for Demolition, whose years of WWF tag team dominance ended here, and the team as a whole would disappear within the next 12 months.
WWF SummerSlam 1992 – August 29, 1992
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match
Bret Hart (C) vs. British Bulldog
If you’re a longtime fan, you’ve probably seen this match, so there is little more to say. If you’ve never seen this battle, though, then you simply HAVE to; it’s arguably the greatest SummerSlam match ever, and though in theory it is the British Bulldog’s night, it would be Bret Hart’s performance that left the biggest lasting impression on Vince McMahon, which was a major factor in Hart becoming WWF Champion later in the year.
WWF SummerSlam 1994 – August 29, 1994
WWF Championship Steel Cage Match
Bret Hart (C) vs. Owen Hart
If Shawn Michaels was Mr. WrestleMania, then Bret Hart had to be Mr. SummerSlam, because we get another classic Hitman match against his brother Owen inside the old blue-bar Cage. It’s one of the best Cage matches in WWF/WWE history, and it sees Bret finally get a major victory over The Rocket following his betrayal at Royal Rumble. In addition, the post-match scenes were very chaotic by 1994 WWF standards.
WWF SummerSlam 1996 – August 18, 1996
Boiler Room Brawl
The Undertaker vs. Mankind
Speaking of chaotic, this Boiler Room Brawl is an absolute war. Those who believe that the Attitude Era began in 1997 should take note of battles like this, which was extremely physical and violent by the standards of the time, and it would have been inconceivable even one year earlier in the WWF. But more than the brutality on display, the lasting moment concerns Paul Bearer, and without spoiling the details, his actions here would lead to a long rivalry that ultimately resulted in the arrival of a certain seven-foot monster.
WWF SummerSlam 1998 – August 30, 1998
WWF Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
The Rock (C) vs. Triple H
Stealing the show at a PPV event in Madison Square Garden is a career highlight for anybody, and that is what The Rock and Triple H managed to achieve here in this Ladder match. This also sees the end of a lengthy IC Title reign for Rocky, though injury meant that Tripper’s subsequent run with the gold didn’t last that long. Both would go on to achieve genuine main event status shortly thereafter; Rock would win his first WWF Championship only three months later.
WWF SummerSlam 2001 – August 19, 2001
WWF Hardcore Championship Ladder Match
Jeff Hardy (C) vs. Rob Van Dam
When people think of Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam, they generally bring up their incredible clash from Invasion 2001. But their Ladder rematch a few weeks later is almost as good, and a forgotten gem in a year packed with great PPV encounters. There are a couple of slip-ups, but otherwise this is really entertaining, and a reminder of just how over RVD was during the infamous summer of ’01.
WWF SummerSlam 2001 – August 19, 2001
WWF Championship Match
Steve Austin (C) vs. Kurt Angle
That same night, we were treated to a gripping encounter between the heel Steve Austin and the recently-turned babyface Kurt Angle. Anyone who dismisses Austin’s heel turn as a failure should rewatch this bout and realize just how damn good he was in the villain role, and how much he managed to get Angle over as a face. Here, Kurt spills tons of blood, yet he withstands three Stone Cold Stunners, and only a cheap DQ finish prevents him from a clean victory over Austin (which he would achieve a few weeks later at Unforgiven, in his hometown of Pittsburgh).
WWE SummerSlam 2002 – August 25, 2002
Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H
Next, we have another strong contender for Best SummerSlam Match Ever. Shawn Michaels’ first bout in over four years is a joy to watch, telling a fantastic and highly believable story, as he looks to vanquish Triple H and prove, if only for one night, that The Showstopper was back. Of course, his return would end up lasting many years, but at the time, this seemed destined to be one last round for HBK. If this HAD marked the end, he would have gone out in style with this performance.
WWE SummerSlam 2002 – August 25, 2002
WWE Undisputed Championship Match
The Rock (C) vs. Brock Lesnar
Recently, we were in the midst of a situation where fans couldn’t wait for Brock Lesnar to lose a major title. In this bout, though, the opposite was true, as fans in the Nassau Coliseum were fully behind Brock in his attempt to capture the Undisputed Championship from – get this – a part-time performer in The Rock. Lesnar’s dominance of combat sports/sports entertainment began with this win (and it’s a thrilling match to boot); as for Rock, who was booed for much of the contest, he wouldn’t hold another WWE title for over a decade!
WWE SummerSlam 2005 – August 21, 2005
Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels
This was a WrestleMania-level encounter that main evented the 2005 summer spectacular. Adding to its appeal was Michaels being back in the heel role, and being highly entertaining in the process, along with Hogan having yet another surge of popularity. Of course, Hogan triumphs, but what everybody talks about here is how Michaels oversold Hulk’s offence to a ridiculous degree. Was this in protest at the alleged backstage politicking by Hogan, or was Shawn simply playing his big-bumping heel character to the nth degree, as he has previously maintained? You be the judge.
WWE SummerSlam 2007 – August 26, 2007
WWE Championship Match
John Cena (C) vs. Randy Orton
Before WWE overdid their conflict to the point where it inadvertently helped to spread the idea of fans hijacking major shows, John Cena vs. Randy Orton was a very appealing prospect, and a sure-fire PPV main event. Their first supercard battle was here at SummerSlam 2007, and though their many future bouts would follow a similar formula (thus diluting the enjoyment factor significantly), this was still very well-received at the time. Orton seemed a certainty to end Cena’s long WWE Championship reign, but Johnny Boy would ultimately triumph. That being said, Cena would forfeit the title due to injury within six weeks, with Orton himself ending up being the beneficiary.
WWE SummerSlam 2009 – August 23, 2009
World Heavyweight Championship TLC Match
Jeff Hardy (C) vs. CM Punk
In my opinion, SummerSlam 2009 is a very underrated card, but most agree that its headline attraction was outstanding. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk under TLC rules relied more on psychology than major bumps, though it wasn’t short on the latter; in particular, Jeff’s crazy Swanton Bomb off a massive ladder onto Punk and through the announcer’s table. The post-match scenes provide a huge surprise that is very well-executed.
WWE SummerSlam 2012 – August 19, 2012
Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler
Chris Jericho’s 2012 won’t be remembered as a career year, but he could still be relied upon to provide a terrific match. At the time, Dolph Ziggler had a hot streak of momentum and was the perfect opponent for Y2J, as they kick off the 25th annual SummerSlam in grand fashion. Jericho has his hand raised in victory, but Dolph would win a rematch the following night that banished Y2J from WWE for over five months.
WWE SummerSlam 2013 – August 18, 2013
WWE Championship Match (Special Guest Referee: Triple H)
John Cena (C) vs. Daniel Bryan
Even without the post-match shenanigans, this would have made for a worthy inclusion, because it’s a superb match, and it sees Daniel Bryan stun the world by cleanly pinning John Cena to win the WWE Championship. But the huge swerve afterwards, where Triple H turns heel on Bryan and allows Randy Orton to successfully cash in Money in the Bank, elevates this segment to legendary status. It also marked the beginning of a journey which, by design or otherwise, would culminate in Bryan regaining the top prize in the unforgettable main event of WrestleMania XXX.
WWE SummerSlam 2014 – August 17, 2014
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
John Cena (C) vs. Brock Lesnar
“Suplex City, bitch!” didn’t become a thing until WrestleMania 31, but Brock Lesnar laid the foundations in this battle against John Cena. Seeing WWE’s biggest name lose what was essentially a squash match, taking 16 German Suplexes and multiple F5’s, was a jaw-dropping sight, and it helped to establish Brock Lesnar as WWE’s biggest bad-ass. The company was sowing the seeds for Roman Reigns to eventually be the guy that dethroned Big Bad Brock; as it turned out, it would take four years for that plan to come to pass.
WWE SummerSlam 2016 – August 21, 2016
WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match
Sasha Banks (C) vs. Charlotte
This was a chapter in the most important women’s rivalry in WWE history, but whilst Sasha and Charlotte put on a show here, it is most notable for two things: firstly, Sasha’s frightening bump on the back of her head after a Charlotte backbreaker on the ropes, and secondly, Charlotte unexpectedly ending Banks’ title reign just weeks after it had begun. This was part of Charlotte’s undefeated streak on PPV, a record which was sadly ended in an extremely underwhelming fashion in early 2017.
WWE SummerSlam 2017 – August 20, 2017
WWE Universal Championship Fatal Four Way Match
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe
The final match on this DVD is one hell of a fight between four of WWE’s biggest names. The structure of the bout allows Braun Strowman to shine the most, but everybody involved is at the top of their game, and there is always something going on here, meaning that you can’t take your eyes off the action for a second. Lesnar’s pinfall win over Reigns was a slight surprise, given the rumors that Brock was about to leave for UFC; one year on, The Beast is only now preparing to return to the Octagon.
This is a great DVD – the best WWE DVD of the year so far in my opinion. There’s one fantastic match after another, and even when the quality standards slip, there is still some sort of historic value. Whether it’s the demise of long-running title reigns, massive bumps, huge surprises, career-making victories or simply five-star action, there are a ton of moments and memories, and it all underlines why SummerSlam has always been a major part of WWE’s calendar year, and continues to serve a vital purpose today (as evidenced by this year’s entry, which I will be reviewing in the near future).
Yes, you’ve probably seen most if not all of these bouts before, but with “30 Years of SummerSlam” they are all brought together to make for a tremendous compilation.
So, I definitely recommend this DVD, and if nothing else, you’ll get to see such visuals as Shawn Michaels acting out an invisible burial during Hulk Hogan’s entrance. What more could you ask for?
Grab your copy of the WWE “30 YEARS OF SUMMERSLAM” DVD…
– UK/Europe: RIGHT NOW! Grab the new SummerSlam collection now on Amazon.co.uk.
– United States: RIGHT NOW! Get your copy of the DVD now here on Amazon.com.
– Australia: October 17th. Your pre-order opportunity is now live over at Madman.com.au.