Why 2002 is the Gold Standard of WWE SummerSlam Events

It can’t be stressed enough, that the wrestling community is on edge for this coming weekend.

Honestly, look at that wrestling fanatic in your life, and hand that individual a Xanax.

The next several days have the potential to be one of the most significant, in terms of wrestling notoriety, for quite some time. Albeit, it still may not make a massive dint in mainstream media, but to the loyal fanbase, the excitement is real.

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You see, it all starts on Friday night.

AEW are hosting the second episode of their newest weekly show, Rampage.

It will emanate live from the United Center, based in the Windy City, Chi-Town itself, Chicago, Illinois.

Mask mandate issued for Chicago, UC to require masks for AEW Rampage

Chicago is famous for a whole host of reasons.

Their popular sights, like Willis Sears Tower. The plethora of world-famous sports teams, like the Chicago Bulls or the Blackhawks. We certainly can’t forget about a mouth-watering deep-dish pizza. Heck, why not throw the timeless classic motion picture, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off into the mix.

Even with all that, ask any wrestling fan to associate something with the great city of Chicago, and they’ll very likely mention Charles Montgomery Punk himself, CM Punk.

After years, upon years of speculation, the return of CM Punk looks extremely likely to go down this Friday, on AEW Rampage. Certain media outlets are even hailing it as ‘CM Punk Day’, could it finally happen?

WATCH: Compilation of CM Punk references and teases on AEW Dynamite and  elsewhere in recent weeks | Wrestling News

That’s without even mentioning what’s going on over on the WWE side of the fence.

We’ll round off our mammoth weekend, with a stacked NXT TakeOver 36 card, that’s not to be missed.

However, sandwiched in between that wrestling goodness, on Saturday night, is the biggest party of the summer, SummerSlam.

Roman Reigns will defend his Universal Championship against John Cena, in the blockbuster main event.

Bobby Lashley puts his WWE title on the line, against WWE Hall of Famer, Goldberg.

Plus, we got stellar action as Edge and Seth Rollins, finally step into the squared circle, with a match that’s years in the making.

WWE SummerSlam 2021: Date, Start Time, Matches, How To Watch, Streaming,  Viewing Parties - Hooked On Wrestling

Even for European wrestling fans, forget the lack of sleep, this is a weekend you’ll need to keep your eyes on.

The Best Ever SummerSlam You Say?

So, what’s the point of this far too indulgent introduction?

Well, it’s a roundabout way to get onto the topic of SummerSlam events.

2021’s edition of the highly anticipated extravaganza, has been promised to be on the same scale as Wrestlemania. As it all takes place inside the Allegiant Stadium, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Huge card, packed stadium, and plenty of stars to plaster on the marquee.

This could turn out to be a monumental night in the calendar of WWE. Along with one of the best SummerSlam events in the organisation’s history.

But for our money, there’s a very clear measuring stick when talking about the best SummerSlam of all time.

More weathered wrestling fans may point to the iconic event of 1988. The 1992 show in Wembley Stadium is in the conversation. Plus, the 2000, 2008 and 2013 PPV’s deserve some love too.

But let’s get serious, SummerSlam 2002 is the only choice.

SummerSlam 2002

It took place on the 25th of August 2002, in the famous Nassau Coliseum, in Uniondale, New York.

Vince McMahon’s company was looking to re-establish itself, after the disastrous Invasion angle failed to capture the imagination.

SummerSlam 2002 set the foundations for the emergence of the new stars that would come to the forefront during the Ruthless Aggression Era.

Once the main card of this event started, it was off to the races.

When talking about the greatest WWE pay-per-view openers, the likes of Bret vs Owen at Wrestlemania 10 comes up. Along with Daniel Bryan vs Triple H at Wrestlemania 30.

But the curtain raiser of SummerSlam 2002, between Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio making his WWE PPV debut, belongs with those two excellent examples.

The nine-minute match takes off at blistering pace and doesn’t slow down for breath once.

Angle and Mysterio’s contrasting styles blended perfectly. With Rey catching his opponent off guard with his quickness and athleticism. While Angle used his cunning, and grizzled wrestling knowledge to counter with fantastic reversals.

It was a shot of adrenaline that set the crowd up perfectly for the event ahead, and we’d implore those that somehow haven’t seen it to search it out.

WATCH: Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio: SummerSlam 2002 Full Match Wrestling  News - WWE News, AEW News, Rumors, Spoilers, WWE SummerSlam 2021 Results -  WrestlingNewsSource.Com

Bouts between fan favourites like Ric Flair vs Chris Jericho, Edge vs Eddie Guerrero, The Undertaker vs Test, and RVD vs Chris Benoit for the Intercontinental Championship, all offered something unique, but were performed with silky smooth precision.

The Un-Americans Lance Storm and Christian also put their WWE Tag Team Titles up against the charismatic, odd couple of Booker T, and Goldust.

That list really emphasises the wealth of talent at WWE’s disposal in the early 2000’s, with ample amounts of goodness sprinkled throughout the mid-card.

Retro Pops & Botches: WWE SummerSlam 2002 - Steel Ring Post

However, while this was far from a two-match show, the final two contests were all anyone could talk about, when SummerSlam 2002 was said and done.


Firstly, we had an epic unsanctioned match, between best friends, turned bitter rivals, Triple H and Shawn Michaels.

On a night full of highlights, none shined brighter than this match.

Michaels spent the previous four years on the side-line, with a legitimate back injury, thought never to return to in-ring action again.

About a month out from the show, Michaels returned to Raw, decked out in the now famous DX t-shirt, flacked by his stable brethren, Triple H.

The pair seemed destined to pick up where they left off four years ago, but that wasn’t to be the case.

Since then, Triple H turned into a completely different beast. He turned on his brother in arms, hitting him with a pedigree, and becoming that summers pantomime villain.

The feud escalated in the following weeks.

The Game brutally attacked HBK in the parking lot, viciously ramming his head through a car window.

10 WWE Storylines That Were Only Good For One Moment – Page 3

It turned out to be one of, if not the best SummerSlam match in the company’s lengthy history.

The storytelling was masterful. Michaels proved that he hadn’t missed a beat in those four years and put on an almost half-hour barn burner.

It was clear the Heart Break Kid was back, and better than ever.

Triple H solidified himself as a monster heel. Throughout the entire duration of this contest, he targeted the previously injured back of Michaels. Even after falling short, he continued the assault after the bell to conclude an emotionally taxing bout.

It was violent, bloody, and thrilling to watch. Something that ticks the boxes of every blood-thirsty wrestling fan.

2002 Shawn Michaels | Wrestlingfigs.com WWE Figure Forums

No Longer The ‘Next Big Thing’

Then to top the bill, 25-year-old Brock Lesnar was steamrolling the competition, and had his eyes firmly on the WWE Championship.

There was just the small matter of snaring the title off the shoulders of, The Rock. One of the most popular superstars in the sports history, but with one foot out the door to Hollywood, fans were beginning to sour on the Brahma Bull.

The two behemoths, with the aid of Paul Heyman at ringside, kept fans on the edge of their seats.

They offered up razor close near falls, huge feats of strength, and Heyman even took a Rock Bottom through the announce table.

Ultimately, this night belonged to Brock Lesnar, who beat the champ, clean as a whistle.

It was a symbolic passing of the torch, to a man many believed would carry the entire industry forward for the coming decades. While that wasn’t to be the case, Lesnar became the youngest WWE champion in the belt’s illustrious history.

Capping off the best SummerSlam event of all time, and one of the most memorable WWE PPV’s of the millennium.

We won’t hear a bad word said about it.

SummerSlam Recall, Match #12: The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar, SummerSlam 2002 -  WrestleRant

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