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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Presents - a 15 Part Column Series - Ranking The Summerslam Main Events (#29-28)
By Dave Fenichel
Jun 28, 2017 - 7:45:27 PM

Hi kids.

Welcome to the first installment of my fifteen part column series, “Ranking the Summerslam Main Events”. Being in the Summerslam main event is one of the pinnacle accomplishments that one can have in the wrestling industry. However, just because a wrestler made it there doesn’t mean things went according to plan once the moment of truth arrived. With that in mind, I’m going to spend the next six weeks ranking the 29 main events. For purposes of this countdown, the main event is the last match of each Summerslam.

For each match, I will be asking three questions:

Was the build-up to the match successful? In other words, was the build worthy of a main event match at Summerslam?

Did the match deliver? Please take note – this is not strictly about “work-rate”. In some situations, a match can just be “o” athletically, but still have the crowd eating it up with a spoon. Think Hogan v The Rock at Wrestlemania 18.

What was the historical significance of the match? Did the match have the type of impact on the industry that you would expect from a Summerslam main event?

Please note – this is my opinion. I won’t be mathematically weighing the criteria. Certain matches will rank better because they were strong in one aspect where other matches may rank well because they were strong in others. If you disagree with my opinions, eat sh……I mean, I feel free to leave a comment and start a debate.

I did a similar series last year where I ranked the Wrestlemania main events last year. Up until now, I consider it the best writing that I’ve ever done. I truly believe that this series is better. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Without further ado, let’s look at the two worst matches in Summerslam main event history.

Question of the Day: What was YOUR least favorite Summerslam main event?

#29: Brock Lesnar v Triple H - (Summerslam 2012)

Did the Buildup Deliver? – I found myself with tremendous writer’s block when it came to my thoughts on Triple H v Brock Lesnar. I asked a friend whose opinion I respect about how to cure said writer’s block relating to this match. His answer? “Take a Giant Dump on It”. That about sums up my thoughts here.

Brock Lesnar had recently returned to tremendous fanfare. His no holds barred match against John Cena at Extreme Rules was tremendous. This was the time to capitalize on his momentum and put him in a blockbuster storyline. That storyline was not opposite Triple H. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Triple H as a face is not a headlining act. He’s a great heel but NO ONE wants to get behind him as the top good guy.

The storyline itself was stupid. The WWE had Brock Lesnar hold out for new contract demands and sued the company. This screamed of the actions of a whiny heel, not the killer that he is. The kickoff to the feud where Lesnar broke Triple H’s arm with a kimura was fine, but Triple H’s return to and subsequent booking was incomprehensibly bad. When you run the company, you can book yourself anyway that you want. Triple H chose to book himself as a badass on equal footing with Lesnar. It wasn’t believable, and no one bought it.

The WWE must have recognized that they had a flaming pile of dog poo on their hands, so they tried to insert HBK into the storyline. It didn’t work. Sure, Lesnar snapped HBK’s arm like a twig, but it didn’t make anyone any more interested in seeing Triple H take him on. This entire feud was a turd that you couldn’t flush.

Did the Match Deliver? – How do I even begin to talk about how bad this was? “Just Take a Dump on it Dave”. Don’t mind if I do! First off – this had to be the most heatless main event ever. The crowd was silent….SILENT. Seriously, you could hear a pin drop in the entire arena, for the ENTIRE match. At no point during the thirty minutes that this nonsense unfolded did they reach any point where the crowd gave a damn. That’s impressive in all of the wrong ways.

On top of all the other problems with this match, Triple H and Lesnar were a horrible clash of styles in the ring. Brock excels with two types of opponents. The first is a lighter guy that will bump like crazy for him. Guys like CM Punk and Seth Rollins come to mind. The second is a powerhouse with high paced, high impact moves. John Cena is the prototype for this style. Lesnar’s move set and lack of selling is a horrible pairing against a guy who wants to dominate the match with slow and basic offense.

The WWE went so far out of their way to book the match to make Triple H look like Brock’s equal. When you are the guy married to the boss’s daughter, you are afforded liberties that other wrestlers are not. The only acceptable outcome for this match would have been a one sided squash match. Brock Lesnar v John Cena from Summerslam 2014 would have worked well here. Instead, even in victory, Brock was made to look weak.

Lastly, the aftermath of the match highlighted the problems with the match and the booking. Triple H’s ego was so big that he just assumed that the fans would cheer him in a sympathy spot post-match. Instead, they chanted “You tapped Out” at him. This goes to show you that NO ONE was interested in cheering for him, and he should have never booked himself into this high profile spot. This match was a complete bomb on all levels.

What was the Historical Impact? - None. Triple H had long been past the point of relevancy as a wrestler. He booked the shows so this was yet another example of him putting himself in a position he didn’t belong. This match had no impact on his standing or status.

On the other hand, while the pairing of Lesnar did him no favors, he recovered. He was irrelevant for the better part of a year and a half but rebounded in the biggest way possible by ending the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak.

This match meant nothing in the short, middle or long term.

The Last Word – Triple H v Brock Lesnar shot a complete air ball in all three criteria on our countdown. I’ll be honest. This is one of the worst matches of all time. There were many matches on the countdown for which I struggled to rate. This was not one of them. Triple H v Brock Lesnar is without a doubt the worst Summerslam main event in history.

#28: The Ultimate Warrior v Rick Rude - Steel Cage Match (Summerslam 1990)

Did the Buildup Deliver? - Nope, this was a dud. The Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude had an amazing and incredibly underrated feud. The problem? It ended at Summerslam 1989. From the 1989 Royal Rumble pose down to the IC title classic at Wrestlemania V to the blow-off return match at Wrestlemania 1989, everything that Rude and The Warrior did together was magic.

Fast forward a year later. Rick Rude has been pushed significantly down the card. The Ultimate Warrior was pushed to the moon, resulting in a defeat of Hulk Hogan in one of the biggest matches of all time at Wrestlemania VI. Unfortunately, his title reign was floundering.
Attendance was down, and any of the heels that were main event level were wrestlers that Hulk Hogan had already beaten.

Thus, Rude gets hot-shot to the main event. He cuts his hair and starts to become more aggressive. Week after week, we are treated to his training montages and his attempts to call out The Warrior. Finally, they face off in July at Saturday Night’s Main Event. The match ends in a DQ and a rematch is booked for Summerslam. It was lame, it was forced and it didn’t work.

The feud had already run its course. Warrior wasn’t a great champion and Rude certainly wasn’t a credible challenger. They billed Summerslam 1990 as a double main event. Make no mistake about it. Hulk Hogan v Earthquake was the real main event, even if Rude v The Warrior closed the show. The buildup was a joke and the match was an afterthought. Without question, this was one of the worst built Summerslam main events ever.

Did the Match Deliver? – Nope, the match fell flat as well. I remember this match being so much better than it actually was. Here’s the thing. The match is ten minutes long. There are ways to do a short match and do it well. Goldberg v Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 33 is a perfect example of that. The action should be hard hitting and intense. There should be big spots. The finish should be dramatic.

Warrior v Rude had none of that. The crowd was hot for Warrior’s entrance, but not hot by late 1980s WWE standards. The first couple minutes weren’t bad as Rude was bumping for the Warrior all over the place. Unfortunately, the match fell apart quickly. Rude took control and started to unleash methodical offense. The crowd was bored. I was bored. My wife was bored. I’m just kidding. My wife would never watch wrestling. With a ten minute match, you can’t have the middle five minutes be hum-ho. You just can’t have it.

They did so little in the ring that they had to kill time by having Bobby “The Brain” Heenan interfere. The best part of the match was Heenan slamming the cage door onto the Warrior only to get dragged into the ring and beaten. From there, they went to the finish. The finish was fine, nothing less and nothing more. They never built to a crescendo and at no point in the match did you feel that Rude had any chance of dethroning The Warrior. In the end, this match was never treated like a main event, and it certainly didn’t deliver main event quality.

What was the historical impact? – Nothing on the positive side, that’s for sure. This was Rude’s last PPV match in the WWE. This should was no surprise, as he was de-pushed massively prior to being spontaneously thrown into the main event of the second biggest PPV of the year.

For the Warrior, this was the final nail in his coffin. He hadn’t been drawing well as champ. He was still in the shadow of Hulk Hogan. It had become obvious to Vince that he hadn’t found his next cash cow. A bad feud and a match that completely bombed was all Vince needed to see in order to put the wheels in motion to get the title off of him. I believe that the original plan for Wrestlemania VII would have been a rematch between The Warrior and Hogan. Instead, the WWE had to get creative and find an alternative for the Hulkster. Summerslam 1990 marked the beginning of the end of the Warrior’s run in the WWE.

The Last Word – This was one of the worst Summerslam Main Events ever. The build was a year stale, the match sucked and the historical impact was minimal. A bottom feeder on our countdown for sure.

That's a wrap kids. As always, you can find me on Facebook at David Fenichel or on Twitter @FFFightLeague. Thank you for reading.

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