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    Half Luck, Half Skul: August Madness - The Greatest SummerSlam Match (R2)

    As we officially creep into August, the biggest party of the summer draws nearer and nearer. Perfect time to dive into the second round of August Madness!

    Once again, I am privileged to be joined by six fellow columnists - mizfan, Oliver, Steve, Mazza, Maverick, and Prime Time - as we vote in a series of bracketed match-ups, eventually whittling down the field until we are left with an undisputed greatest SummerSlam match. In the first round, we eliminated 32 matches, and find ourselves facing the elimination of a further 16 today.

    More upsets on the way? Can the pair of (15)-seeded matches continue to march forward? Which matches will prove to be the most divisive amongst our panel? Back into Madness we go!

    Bracket A

    (1) Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart ('94) vs. (9) Batista vs. John Cena ('08)

    Maverick: Bret and Owenís psychological masterclass is the clear winner here over the tepid face v face affair from Summerslam 08. I could not believe some of the comments in the last round. If you donít understand why Bret vs Owen is good, you probably donít understand wrestling very well.

    mizfan: I still think this is overrated as the ďbest cage match of all timeĒ. Itís a great one, but thatís too much for me. I will take the Hart brothers pretty handily over Cena/Batista, though.

    Steve: Batista/Cena is a fun match, especially upon revisiting it recently, but I don't know that anything in this tourney is going to be able to knock off the battle between Owen and his evil brother Bret.

    Mazza: Number one seed lives another day in the Mazza voting. Not a big fan of it, but I have to give it the edge over Dave and John. I am a fan of their chemistry and this match however. And Mike Adamle announcing it too. Good times, but the Hart brothers edge through another round.

    Oliver: I mean, this is easy as heck for me, but a nod to Batista and Cena for delivering the kind of big match that was, to some extent, not prevalent in WWE at this point in time where itís just the top guys throwing big bombs at each other until one can no longer kick out. And hey, Batista wins clean. But against the technical brilliance of Bret and Owen it doesnít stand a chance. Thatís the best cage match in history, bar none, I think (although Iím sure Iíve said that about another match, now I think about it. Weird.) and I love it as much now as I did the first time. And the ending is properly old school, simple, NWA style booking. Itís actually kind of amazing how old school that is despite a very modern setting Ė itís not really a cage match as much as a match that happens in a cage. More bouts should be like that.

    Prime Time: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart. Itís going to take quite a lot for me to vote against the cage match, Iíll put that out there right now. Iím not sure thereís anything in Bracket A thatíll do the trick, though I am rewatching as I go and I can see at least one thing that intrigues me.

    Skulduggery: Iím not crazy about either of these matches. But Batista/Cena is at least solid, limited in how laborious the finish is, and has one really jaw-dropping spot with Bats reversing Cenaís leg drop into a Batista Bomb. Bret/Owen has some positive qualities sprinkled in it, but thereís just way too much time dedicated toward attempted escapes Ė especially early on.

    (1) Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart ('94) wins 6-1

    (4) Seth Rollins vs. John Cena ('15) vs. (12) Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero ('05)

    Oliver: Thereís far too many modern WWE matches which can be described as Ďthe match was good but the finish absolutely suckedí. Itís like a school child doing all the working on a match question in a quiz and then getting the wrong answer. Thatís how I feel about Rollins vs Cena here. Yeah, the finish absolutely sucked, but the match before it was great. Absolutely great. And that probably pulls it past my sentimental favourite in Rey vs Eddie, which is still a very good match in my book, just lacking the high quality work those two are capable of and being spoilt by a couple of slip ups here and there.

    mizfan: Mysterio/Eddie is melodramatic and silly, but in a fun way. As I said before, I canít stand the ending of Rollins/Cena, and I wasnít really that taken with the match even before that. Give me that telenovela flavor for the upset here, PLEASE.

    Skulduggery: Tricky selection here. On one hand, youíve got the more blockbuster, big fight feel that occurred in Champion vs. Champion. On the other hand, youíve got a grittier blood feud via the ladder match. Both delivered with aplomb, despite questionable endings on both sides Ė the Jon Stewart interference and the tardy Vickie Guerrero. Iíll say right now that either match advancing is a treat.

    I think Rollins capturing two championships will narrowly get my vote. I just had so much fun watching this one go down at initial airing. Everything from the fresh Superplex-Falcon Arrow combo to Seth countering a number of Cenaís moves with cat-like landings; everything from Cena employing a Figure Four for his shot at # 16 to Rollinsí white gear just screamed big-time PPV match to me. Eddie vs. Rey is spectacular too, though Ė the story of Mysterio using his trump card on Eddie to get one more match laid out the field for the insecurities of Latino Heat in the ladder match. Combine that with a series of incredible spots and how faithfully these intertwined with the hatred bursting between Eddie and Rey, and youíve got a worthy competitor to Rollins/Cena.

    Maverick: While flawed, Rey and Eddieís kitchen sink family drama is a much more enjoyable match to me than Seth and Cena going full spot monkey for twenty minutes straight.

    Mazza: Last round Eddie and Rey had me questioning myself for a moment. Not this round. I enjoyed the lumberjack match more than the champ vs champ match so itís a no-brainer this time. Ladder match for the custody of Dominick to advance please.

    Steve: Gotta go Rollins vs Cena here. While Rey and Eddie were obviously on a wavelength whenever they met in the ring, the 2015 match is more my vibe.

    Prime Time: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero. Honestly, this one is Ďby a noseí for me. I donít love either, thereís bits I like more in the Rollins and Cena match but I think there are just a few more bits in this one that I like, combined with the more legitimate feel that some aspects of the match have.

    (12) Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero ('05) wins 4-3

    (3) Kurt Angle vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin ('01) vs. (6) Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock ('02)

    Skulduggery: Another close call here! I really like the unique tempo to Brock/Rock, from the opening sprint to the ring by Rocky to the double kip-up, which will never fail to be cool. Whatís also interesting about this one is that itís viewed as Rookie vs. Veteran Ė but The Rock, at 30, was pretty damn young here himself! In fact, had he been born 4 months later, then this match becomes the only WWE PPV main event between Survivor Series 1994 and Hell in a Cell 2014 to be contested exclusively by 20-somethings.

    If youíll forgive that tangent, I will refocus, and actually vote the other way, for the match more soaked in grandeur, emotion, and carnage Ė Angle/Austin. What Brock/Rock has in electricity and excitement, it loses out just a little on the scales of gravitas and hatred. Mechanically, the 2001 championship match is a little more limited than í02, but itís ultimately superior in storytelling.

    Steve: Gotta ride with the Rock and the Block one more time.

    mizfan: I could easily go either way on this one. I know some people think of Angle/Austin as an all time classic, and I get that. Iím just not quite there though, I was ultimately a little more taken by Lesnar aggressively upsetting the Rock, and it gets my vote here.

    Mazza: I am still absolutely fuming that Angle and Austin almost fell to a New Gen tag team filler bout. I mean what the hell. It doesnít give me confidence that it will get through here against Brock and Rock. It absolutely should though. That 2001 encounter is a conclusive finish away from being a five star match in my eyes. Like almost everything during the InVasion angle, it is terribly underrated because of this strange obsession over it not actually being WCWís best. Creatively the product was absolutely on fire and the intensity of Kurt-Stone Cold feud was on another level. It wasnít all tiny hats and banjos. Go watch this match to find out what it was. Elite professional wrestling.

    Maverick: Ok, hereís the first tough choice. As I said in the last round, Rockís put over job of Lesnar ranks among the best ever, but as I also noted last time out, Angle and Austin is perhaps my favourite match in Summerslam history, so with regret, we see Lesnar and Rock depart into the sunset. The draw was not kind to it.

    Prime Time: Kurt Angle vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. I know I voted against it in the first round but that was because I didnít think the Steiners and Bodies would get the love that they did. That said, Iíve had the chance to re-watch it now. Honestly, itís a bit ĎAttitude-clichťí heavy for my personal taste, but I donít know if I can hold that against it. Itís still very much a classic of that genre.

    Oliver: If Angle vs Austin had a finish it would be dangerous. The winner, no doubt, for me Ė I like Brock vs Rock just fine, but it doesnít really do it for me on a regular basis in the way that Austin and Angle do. Angle just got it, didnít he?

    (3) Kurt Angle vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin ('01) wins 5-2

    (2) TLC I ('00) vs. (7) Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins vs. The Bar ('17)

    Oliver: Do you know what I realised watching SummerSlam 2000 back specifically for this match? Jericho vs Benoit, 2/3 falls wasnít even on the original ballot! What are you playing at Skul! That match is incredible. Canadians rule! Instead of either of these two matches, Iím now going to treat you to a paragraph about Benoit vs Jericho before getting to my vote.

    The thing about Jericho vs Benoit is that it absolutely nails the psychology of a 2/3 falls match. Take, for example, the first fall Ė Benoit taps Jericho out with the Crossface, Jericho tapping quickly for self-preservation reasons. Rather than letting space get created when the ref breaks the hold up, Benoit gets right back on Jericho with another Crossface Ė and now Jericho canít tap! Thatís clever, isnít it? Benoit then repeats the act of tapping for the second fall, which Jericho gets after reversing the third German suplex in the trio into the Liontamer, because heís a wrestling genius. And then rather than give us a completely decisive third fall, Benoit takes the win with a reversed roll-up and a handful of ropes. This comes after Jericho has hit a Lionsault but canít pin his opponent because he previously wrecked his shoulder in the Crossface and against the ringpost. I mean, come on, itís amazing. Plus, it has a frigging Tiger Suplex in it.

    So, in light of not being able to vote for that, Iím voting for Ambrose & Rollins vs The Bar. Because that whole storyline with the ex-Shield Bros was the only watchable thing WWE delivered last year, and the pay-off was excellent. Shame about Deanís shoulder, like.

    Mazza: I am not going to be able to show my face at the Pond summer party. I love that tag match from last year but got to go with the game changer. Tables and Ladders and Chairs, oh my.

    Skulduggery: Itís Tables, Ladders, and Chairs in not quite a landslide, but a highly accelerated erosion for sure. And thatís coming from somebody who really enjoys last yearís tag match. But TLC is monstrously fun and continued the violent map-marking of so many great young superstars.

    Maverick: The emotional rollercoaster of Dean and Sethís triumphant reunion is a million times the match the simplistic crash, bang, wallop of TLC was. I know I may be alone in thinking this, but somebody has to take a stand.

    Prime Time: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins vs. The Bar. I have no time for car crashes, and I donít think thereís much wrong in the tag match from last year. Presented as an older bout, filmed that way and called that way, Iíd probably have really liked it. And it gets an extra plus ten for Cesaro destroying the beach ball, and only a few minus for a weak-ass hurricanrana in the finishing sequence.

    Steve: The reunion of the Shield brothers was a wonderful thing, but TLC set a standard that defined an era. That carries some weight with it.

    mizfan: Another one where I could go either way. The car crash fun of TLC or the more story oriented Shield/Bar confrontation? Although my usual taste favors story, I canít deny I just have a little bit more fun with TLC here. Both are worthy contenders in my book though.

    (2) TLC I ('00) wins 4-3

    Bracket B

    (1) British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart ('92) vs. (9) Rey Mysterio vs. Dolph Ziggler ('09)

    Steve: This one is a no contest. I like Ziggler and Rey alright, but seriously? Bulldog/Bret all day.

    Skulduggery: Itís Bret and Bulldog, but itís close. Donít sleep on Mysterio and Ziggler, who zip together a thrilling bout between quick and quicker; newcomer and veteran. As a show opener, itís a near-perfect hook to magnetize viewers from the go.

    But itís up against a juggernaut. What I really like about the 1992 classic is the series of counters, especially in the early part of the match, that are as un-telegraphed as Iíve seen. Youíre convinced that the Crucifix Pin is going through, until itís reversed into a Samoan Drop. Thereís no timidity in the actions of whomever is throwing the move thatís ultimately countered; thereís no obvious ďpreparingĒ for the move to be countered; no ďflying nothingĒ that, even with a split second of analysis, has no other ultimate end than a counter. You also have to give a nod to the theme of gradual fatigue in this match Ė be it Bulldogís Gorilla Press Slam of his opponent into the ropes rather than over them or Bret, out of necessity, setting up the Sharpshooter while on his back.

    Rey and Ziggler put up a hell of a fight, though Ė Iíll happily turn on that match nearly anytime. Iíd consider them well-suited for a bit of a Cinderella run but for the fact that they encountered such a colossus.

    Maverick: Another pair of matches I love, however, the higher seed clearly advances here. For any Brit of my generation, Bulldogís IC title win was absolutely magical, and the match retains all of its drama and majesty to this very day.

    Prime Time: British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart. You know, I donít know if this is the best match ever but itís still the one that really defines Summerslam for me. Itíll take something really, really fucking good to knock it out.

    mizfan: Another case where I really like both matches, but at the risk of being thrown into the looney bin again, Iíll concede that Bret and Bulldog had the superior performance here.

    Oliver: Try voting against the SummerSlam 1992 bout.

    Go on, try it.

    You canít. Your fingers wonít allow it. Even here, where I really like Mysterio vs Ziggler, my fingers were typing ĎBulldog vs Bretí before Iíd even seen their opponent.


    (1) British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart ('92) wins 7-0

    (4) Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio ('02) vs. (5) Usos vs. New Day ('17)

    Prime Time: Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio. So both of these matches have their flaws; you can nitpick both, and they have some more serious issues too. Thereís a section from about three-quarters of the way into the tag match where it all goes a bit mad and from there itís not great from anything other than an athletic standpoint, while surprisingly Angle and Rey manage to make their finish look like a real turd. But with neither match being exactly clean, youíve got to judge it on the positives rather than worry about the negatives, and I think thereís more in the singles match.

    Maverick: The best curtain jerker in wrestling history against an overrated tag match from an overrated series. Kurt and Rey win handsomely here.

    Oliver: I just want to point out that The Usos and The New Day stole a show that they werenít even technically on. Thatís magical. And itís an amazing match, stacked full of believable near falls, Big E working his backside off and confirming that he should be WWE Champion within the next 24 months, Woods showing more than heís basically ever done in the ring, and The Usos looking like actual brothers on the same page rather than one man wrestling with a mirror as a partner. Itís 20 minutes of freaking excellent tag team wrestling, and Iím giving it the win here.

    Skulduggery: Oh, this pains me. How do you split these two? Theyíre both incredible, and itís a shame that one will be exiting so early.

    Angle and Mysterio have as hot a start as you can, with the smaller man surprising Angle with a ridiculous Headscissors from behind. They barely let off the gas throughout, peppering in some rapid Rey offense and some sleek Angle counters Ė the Wheelbarrow Bulldog into a German Suplex being a particular standout. With the Usos and New Day, the action takes long to rev up, but once Big E enters the fray, itís nothing but excellence from both teams. Jimmy and Jey taking Woods from the ring to the outside with an Alley-Uce is especially ridiculous.

    So with the tag match, you have a more methodical start that accelerates into a dynamic finish, whereas the singles bout is bullet quick for its duration, which I love. On the other hand, the near falls in Usos/New Day are more electric, without ever nearing tedious territory. I adore both matches, and Iíll be happy with whatever goes through, but in a razor-thin decision, I have to roll with my boys from the New Day on this one!

    Mazza: The match that was actually on the show please. If it made it, I may have had a tough time here but as it is, Kurt and Rey.

    Steve: The Angle vs Rey bout changed my perception of Mysterio. I had enjoyed him as the Cruiserweight guy in WCW but at SummerSlam 2002 he staked his claim towards being something special outside that weight class.

    mizfan: I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Usos and New Day, but there are very few things Iíll vote over the near perfection of Angle and Mysterio on that day in 2002. Itíll have a tough battle next round but I think it should have the chance to fight it out regardless.

    (4) Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio ('02) wins 5-2

    (3) Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena ('13) vs. (6) Randy Orton vs. Chris Benoit ('04)

    Mazza: I will take the OVW Class of 2002 Poster Boy vs Internet Darling and Mat Mastermind who took too many shots to the head pleaseÖ.

    Oh sorry, yeah the Brothers Bella all day long.

    Oliver: I donít think I have much to say except that Bryan vs Cena should win this at a canter. Also to point out that that match was five years ago and yes, you are old.

    mizfan: I think Mazza says Bryan/Cena is a match he probably wonít vote against the whole tournament, and I think I may well be in the same boat. Benoit/Orton is good, no mistake, but Bryan/Cena is truly top tier stuff.

    Prime Time: Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena. From the first round I have the feeling the fuck-finish isnít going to count against the 2013 bout as much as it should, but I think itíll still have enough to get past the carry job that [name redacted] did on the young Orton.

    Skulduggery: Interesting match-up here. In 2004, Orton was the coal that was to be squeezed into the diamond, and his record-setting coronation against Benoit was the first big leap. Nine years later, he rejoined forces with Triple H as the diamond, and got his dirty fingerprints all over Daniel Bryanís biggest WWE victory (at the time). Once again, as enjoyable as Benoit/Orton is, I have to vote another match from the excellent 2013 card over it. Prior to the Viper puncturing Bryanís summit, the latter wrestled a tremendous match with John Cena, and they get the nod.

    Steve: Again, no contest. Bryan vs Cena wins this handily, in my book.

    Maverick: Tough choice, with two truly fantastic show closers. For context though, and for how important to wrestling history it was, Iíll choose Cena and Bryanís five star spectacular here.

    (3) Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena ('13) wins 7-0

    (10) Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero ('02) vs. (15) Virgil vs. Ted DiBiase ('91)

    mizfan: To the surprise of no one, Iím strongly campaigning for the masterful and emotional storytelling of Virgil and Dibiase here, over a competent but honestly forgettable midcard bout on a stacked card. I really want to see how deep Virgil and Ted can go!

    Mazza: A pair of strong midcard outings that caused upsets in round one. I honestly donít care for either of them too much. I am voting Eddie and Edge though in case this strange Virgil and Ted obsessions snowballs into something really dumb.

    Skulduggery: Virgil and DiBiaseís well-executed, feel-good simplicity was enough to take it past the flawed Styles/Cena match in the first round, but itís not enough to push it past Guerrero and Edge. Though itís done in a less shouted about fashion, the 2002 midcard match nails all of its tricks and pops with some excellent in-ring chemistry. What are the odds we see two í02 matches consisting of members of the SmackDown Six meeting in the finals of Bracket B?

    Steve: I remember being all in on the Virgil vs Dibiase feud back in the day, but the matches they produced weren't much of anything to look at. Edge vs Eddie, though, is an excellent example of two young, hungry guys busting ass to make an impact and move up the card.

    Oliver: A battle of the underdogs! I like it. In all honesty, this is the toughest to call. Neither match is one that leaves a significant technical mark on me, and while I appreciate the psychology in play in Edge vs Eddie, the arm that gets worked all match ends up being the arm that also hits the spear to finish it which undoes some of the fine work preceding it. I think, in the end, Iím going to side with the true underdog and give the nod here to Virgil vs Ted Ė cromulent wrestling, elevated by a fantastic story around it.

    Maverick: You know what? VIRGIL AND TED.

    Prime Time: Virgil vs. Ted DiBiase. Yíknow, I think youíve got to say that Edge and Eddie is a really decent midcard match. Wouldnít really want to say anything bad about it at all. That said, my esteem for Ted and Virgil has grown since going back to it for this. Iíve always liked it but now Iíd upgrade that label to another Ė classic. And Iíd love to see it take another big scalp here.

    (15) Virgil vs. Ted DiBiase ('91) wins 4-3

    Bracket C

    (1) Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon ('95) vs. (8) CM Punk vs. John Cena ('11)

    mizfan: The Punk/Cena rematch didnít hold much of the charm of the original, itís not bad but a lot of the heat had already been let out of the feud. The finish, even before the post match stuff, is fairly disappointing. Iím not sure HBK and Razor raised up from their ĎMania effort but they definitely switched up the formula and had a different, also great match, and it gets my vote decisively here.

    Mazza: Pretty easy choice here for me in the battle of the rematches of absolute classics. Iím not a big fan of the MITB rematch and everything that surrounded it. A case of WWE messing up a good thing. The ladder match advances.

    Oliver: I know there was a lot of chat from my co-columnists in the previous assessment of Block C about the nature of Punk vs Cena, how it lacked the magic from a month previous and wasnít quite as good. True, recapturing the wonderful nature of that one night in Chicago is an enormous uphill struggle, one that here isnít as easy to do given a less partisan crowd, but I think the SummerSlam match is a technically better affair, worked slightly more aggressively and with less sloppy bits. I mean, the pace is incredible in this one, better than at MitB for my money, and thereís a bunch of near falls after the count out tease that I completely buy. Weirdly enough, watching this back today, the near fall I bought into the most was the one that I can see is least likely to actually connect Ė Punk and Cena go through an old Flair/Steamboat sequence and I just idly twiddled my thumbs knowing nothing was going to happen, only for Punk to absolutely boot the shit out of Cena with an enzuigiri and nearly take the win. Something about that had be completely in.

    And look, I know itís not perfect, I know itís got too much Triple H in it (i.e. one (1) Triple H), and I know the finish is a bit like the damp squib at the ending of The Dark Knight Rises where youíre like Ďhoooooly shit they actually killed off Batman! Thatís amazing! This whole film has been building terrifically to this moment and it really has paid off the entire redemption and rebirth story of Batman for him to realise that he has to give his own life to saveÖoh, shit, is that Batman having tea with Catwoman in fucking Italy? What is this shit? And theyíre going to make a Robin spin-off too? Urgh, worst film ever, 1% on Rotten Tomatoes, zero stars, no thumbs upí or whatever, but hey, sod it, WWE booked themselves into a corner. And yeah, they probably could have had a better or more interesting main event and story if theyíd just done, I donít know, maybe John Cena vs Rey Mysterio as the headliner for SummerSlam in Los Angeles where there are about 5 million Hispanic people who would go freaking nuts for Mysterio headlining SummerSlam, and then you could keep the Punk return for, somewhere down the line and build a killer storyline out of him being the Ďrealí champion or whatever. But the work here is great, the match itself is better than the MitB bout, and I love it.

    I think what Iím trying to say is that Iím voting for Punk vs Cena.

    Steve: While I'm a big fan of any match that involves Cena and Punk, I think I've gotta go with the ladder match.

    Maverick: I think both of these matches are slightly poorer reflections on their more famous counterparts from other pay-per-views, but Iíll go with Punk and Cena, as I was super invested in the feud.

    Skulduggery: I gotta go with Punk and Cena. I said it last round, but the fact that this encounter between the two is like, their fourth or fifth best match between each other, gives it a worse reputation on paper than on canvas. Itís like slamming Kobe Bryantís fifth best season in his career. In his fifth best season, Kobe was probably still the second or third best player in the NBA that year. HBK/Razor is great, but its ugly finish demotes it a few points.

    Prime Time: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon. I know this match isnít as loved as the original, but I tend to defy the obvious line on this. There are things about this second one that worked better for me than the first time around. I could wax lyrical about it but one of the important things in it for me was the face vs face dynamic. Iíd add the fact that the two were probably more evenly matched in terms of their starpower by the summer of 1995. Basically Iím sticking with one of the favourites from my youth here.

    (1) Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon ('95) wins 4-3

    (4) Triple H vs. The Rock ('98) vs. (12) Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy ('01)

    Steve: I can't imagine it'll be that popular of a decision, but Jeff and Rob are two of my favorite all-time guys. Not top 5 or even 10, but definitely on the list. I'm sticking with the high fliers.

    mizfan: Well, I may be consigned to the looney bin after all, because Iím voting for RVD and Jeff here. HHH/Rock simply didnít grab me much, it was good but too long and never came together to fulfill itís potential, in my opinion. Jeff and RVD went all out with some nutty stuff and ultimately I had a better time with the match.

    Mazza: As I was saying, the ladder match advances. Oh, you need more. Fine. I think the hardcore bout from Ď01 has a big shot at the upset here with this hipster panel. It has every right to come close as it really was a good match, however it would be the wrong choice. Rock and HHH just showed everything they were going to become. Not just multi-time WWE champions but the heir apparent to the WWE machine and the King of Tinseltown. Drive is everything with these two and there is probably no better showcase for that than 1998. Both on the rise, both grabbing the bull by the horns and literally and metaphorically climbing that ladder to the top. The chemistry was top notch. The talent was top notch. The desire was top notch. Only one thing the match could be.

    Maverick: Another pair of matches I love, but the generational rivalry of Trips and Rocky remains close to my heart, and this was arguably their greatest match together.

    Prime Time: Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy. I remember it being the Invasion match that was really the eye-opener, and Iíve still got a lot of love for the 1998 match, but I think Iím going to stick with the 2001 bout. Van Dam was probably the hottest newcomer around and could have been still bigger in 2002 with some tweaks, while Iím not sure Hardy has ever been more relevant as a solo performer.

    Oliver: Ooh, a ladder match duel! I like Triple H/Rock a lot, and that match and feud is probably the one that first suggested these two could be serious main event contenders in the years to come. That said, I think Iím going for the slightly more balls out affair in RVD vs Hardy for my vote. I donít know why, exactly, but I found it a mite more enjoyable, plus there wasnít the slightly screwy ending which damaged the Rock/Triple H one for me.

    Skulduggery: I guess this one ended up unofficially being the Ladder match bracket. No question in my mind about this one Ė Jeff Hardy made a living out of losing ladder matches in electric fashion, and him looking up at the lights to Van Dam in í01 is no different. Iíll take the daring antics of RVD/Jeff over the methodical Rock/HHH any day.

    (12) Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy ('01) wins 5-2

    (3) Undertaker vs. Edge ('08) vs. (6) Shawn Michaels vs. Vader ('96)

    Prime Time: Undertaker vs. Edge. A match between Shawn and Vader could have been a contender for the whole thing, if HBK hadnít gone out of his way to fuck with it. And can you imagine him dropping the belt in a contentious Survivor Series, only to take it back in his home town at the Royal Rumble? Yeah, itís harsh on Vader but Shawn deserves elimination for fucking his own feud.

    Maverick: Michaels and Vader and EASILY. As I said before, people get way too obsessed with the one little glitch in what was a brilliant match, whilst I just donít dig the PG era cell matches at all, particularly that one.

    Steve: It's Vader Time.

    Skulduggery: I have to gush about the '08 main event. The long-term and short-term leadup to Hell in a Cell for Edge and the Undertaker is incredible. Edge went from a vicious, controversial, hungry predator when paired with Lita circa 2005-06 to a complacent, power-tripping, comfortable monarch when paired with Vickie circa 2008. Aside from the obvious newfound authority alongside Vickie, the main difference is that Edge was hunting World Championships with Lita and had already secured multiple ones by the time he cozied up to Vickie. The more comfortable he got, the duller his bite had become, and as a result, he was trounced by the Undertaker several times. This softening was revealed to the Rated R Superstar by a lethally honest Mick Foley on an episode of the Cutting Edge leading up to SummerSlam, and the stinging words relit the fire within Edge. Itís my favorite promo of all time, and it comes from both incredible character work by Edge and by untouchable mic ability by Foley.

    With a rediscovered fervor, a manic Edge sheds his luxuries, tortures not only Vickie but all of La Familia, and enters Hell in a Cell, craving its chaos. He refuses to acknowledge that itís the Devilís Playground, refuses to cede the psychological advantage of the structure to the Undertaker, and instead capitalizes on its contents within that made him dangerous in the first place Ė tables, ladders, and chairs.

    Meanwhile, the Undertaker enters as intimidatingly stoic as ever, as cold and uncaring as the Cell itself, but eventually reveals a single mission in mind: carnal vengeance. The match unfolds as a treasure as you watch it from both perspectives, with flooring spots and sequences to boot. The Ultimate Opportunist becomes as creative as ever, with Spears through the Cell wall and the announce table. The Deadman compiles a symbolic chain of match-concluding strikes, as each Spear, Con-Chair-to, and camera shot not only alludes to the past between the two, but also delivers a frightening message to Edge: The Undertaker never forgets.

    HBK/Vader is outmatched at every turn. No big question in my mind!

    mizfan: I love Vader, but the flaws in his match with Michaels are well documented. Taker and Edge had a hell of a war to cap off their feud, and I have no qualms about throwing a vote their way here.

    Mazza: Yeah the cell match is a bit much for me when put up against top quality regular match. HBK and Vader put on one hell of a show in 96. An excellent example of big heel versus smaller babyface, even if said face throws in a shoot heel move in the middle of it all.

    Oliver: Oh man, Iím finding this one super tough to call right now. On the one hand you have Michaels vs Vader, which is absolutely great until the whole Ďoh no, Big Van Vader doesnít want to win like THAT! Restart the match!í stuff whichÖI mean, once would probably have been OK, but doing it twice? And then not having him win in the end anyway? They really did make Vader look like a big fat piece of shit. On the other is a Hell in a Cell match which I think is probably the best PG version of the cell, but Iím not quite sure itís all that good right now. Itís fun, but ends up just as a kind of garbage brawl for a lot of it. Mind you, I suppose thatís what the cell is all about. Edge vs Taker, then, by a nose hair.

    (3) Undertaker vs. Edge ('08) wins 4-3

    (10) Edge vs. Lance Storm ('01) vs. (15) Team WWE vs. Nexus ('10)

    Skulduggery: Hereís a little fun fact about Team WWE vs. Nexus, other than the fact that it pulled a massive upset in Round 1. The three men who featured the most frequently in the first two rounds of this entire SummerSlam tournament Ė John Cena, Bret Hart, and Edge Ė all appear on Team WWE in this match!

    Hereís another fun fact: Edge and Lance had the best SummerSlam curtain jerker to that point. Big win for the Intercontinental Championship match.

    Maverick: Letís go with the elimination tag. It is flawed, but only for the final two minutes. Up to that point, it was a very worthy in ring debut for Wade Barrett and co.

    Oliver: Edge vs Lance Storm, and can we please put the fourteen man match out of itís misery?

    Prime Time: Team WWE vs. Nexus. Weíre running out of time and I remember this one a lot better. Sure itís more recent, but by itself that ainít nothing. The fact Iíve essentially forgotten the other match speaks for itself, in its importance if not its execution.

    mizfan: I donít really get the hype with Edge vs. Storm. Itís a fine match but really nothing special, in my eyes. The big Nexus match is not perfect but Iím strongly pulling for an upset here, because that match has a huge number of things going in itís favor to offset itís flaws.

    Steve: Again, I may be in the minority on this one, but I never really liked the whole Nexus angle. It had an awesome start but then, well, it was just a bunch of guys with no standout stars beyond Barrett. I'll go with the Canadian battle.

    Mazza: If I didnít make it perfectly clear in the first round, I absolutely love 95% of the elimination main event from 2010. Edgward can hit the bricks once again Iím afraid. Well, not really because he was in both matches. The ďwhat coulda beenĒ element of the Nexus storyline will live on forever. It was botched seriously in the last minute of this match but it still could have been saved. Unfortunately it wasnít but we will always have everything from the debut until the last minute here.

    (15) Team WWE vs. Nexus ('10) wins 4-3

    Bracket D

    (1) Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H ('02) vs. (9) DX vs. Legacy ('09)

    Maverick: This is another extremely painful choice. Shawn and Trips put together a masterpiece in 02, whilst they also paired up to make Cody and Ted look a million bucks in 09. The 2002 match has to take the honours here, but itís a harder choice than it looks on paper.

    mizfan: I didnít think HBK/HHH was quite as good as I used to when I rewatched it, but itís unquestionably a great match and deserves the nod here without a doubt. No offense to a perfectly fine DX/Legacy match, but itís out of itís depth here.

    Skulduggery: Iím really bummed about losing the 2015 tag team match so early, but at least its elimination saved me from a hair-pulling decision. I have an easy one now! Donít get me wrong Ė DX/Legacy is a damn fine match, with insane hype in the entrance to a razor-thin victory by legends over the young guns. But split DX up, put them in the DeLorean 7 years, and have them go to war in an Unsanctioned match, and youíll forget about Legacy pretty quickly. Michaels and Hunter for the win!

    Mazza: Sorry Ted and Cody, you put up a fine effort here and should have been made guys. But hanging with the two guys in the match youíre up against doesnít mean you can top them. Unsanctioned match to advance.

    Oliver: Michaels vs Triple H. As others have said, the return of Michaels to deliver such an incredible match, laden with so much storytelling and perfect psychology, was otherworldly.

    Prime Time: Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H. My take on Shawn differs from the majority in that I tend to prefer the earlier, pre-injury section of his career because post-injury his work is inflicted with the some issues that I see in pretty much everyone else. That said, there are some exceptions, and I think this match is clearly one.

    Steve: No question I'm going with Michaels/HHH bout here. I just really like HBK's triumphant return to the ring.

    (1) Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H ('02) wins 7-0

    (4) Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect ('91) vs. (5) Ultimate Warrior vs. Macho Man Randy Savage ('92)

    Mazza: If this was Savage and Warriorís Mania encounter, Iíd have sleepless nights over the choice. As it isnít, I donít. Perfect and Hart take this one for me. A very special IC match and one of my absolute childhood favourites.

    Prime Time: Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect. Iím just not sure even Savage can drag Warrior to something I like as much as Hart and Perfect. Iíd probably vote for this over their Wrestlemania match so over the Summerslam match is a no-brainer.

    mizfan: As I mentioned last time, I was disappointed by the Warrior/Savage match when I watched it for this series. Itís overlong and muddled in itís focus, a far cry from their fantastic Wrestlemania bout. Bret/Perfect, however, is one of my favorite matches in Summerslam history, and I hope it goes even deeper than itís seeding suggests, because itís an absolute masterpiece in my mind.

    Steve: Bret vs Perfect is right up there as one of the most overlooked and underrated matches of all-time. It's really good stuff.

    Skulduggery: Bret/Perfect is ahead of its time in many ways, not least of which is Gorilla Monsoon using the term ďSuplex CityĒ 24 years before it boomed in popularity. The concluding moments of the match provide excellent viewing, with a seemingly on-his-heels Bret countering a Leg Drop into the Sharpshooter. Really provided the framework for the dangerous submission specialist that can turn anything around into a hold Ė early work for the likes of a Kurt Angle. The middle ground of the 1991 match is still a little too mediocre for me to consider the entire match at an A+ level, but itís still comfortably ahead of Warrior and Savage.

    Oliver: Definitely Bret vs Perfect, here. That match is just beyond perfect, especially when you consider the shape that Hennigís back was in at the time. How on Earth he managed to deliver this performance Iíll never know. Guy can barely stand at points in this.

    Maverick: Bret and Perfectís technical wizardry is burnt into my memory permanently. I could watch it any day of the week and find something new. I love it, and it easily moves through here.

    (4) Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect ('91) wins 7-0

    (3) CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy ('09) vs. (6) Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena ('14)

    Prime Time: Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena. A lot of the praise I hear for the Hardy and Punk match comes from the angle. Well, I was away from wrestling at the time and came to it cold. And to be honest it did very little for me. Seems just like a lot of meaninglessness. I know Iím going to lose this one, but Lesnar beating up Cena the way he did got my attention. It made a huge amount of sense. And just because itís been repeated less successfully and was never really capitalised on, I donít see that as any reason to ignore the fact that this was a hell of an idea and well executed. So, falling on my sword, Iíll take the annihilation.

    Steve: Punk vs Hardy easily. That Lesnar vs Cena match was a fucking joke. It's on here but the legendary Undertaker vs Undertaker bout is absent? That's just not cool, man.

    Skulduggery: Easiest decision of the round. Lesnar crushing Cena was stunning to watch once. Punk/Hardy remains incredible after 10+ viewings.

    Maverick: Punk and Hardyís fantastic singles TLC easily moves past the match with 93 suplexes.

    Mazza: Have I said anything about ladder matches advancing today?

    mizfan: I donít care much for the Cena squash, and I think this is a great time for it to bow out. Punk/Jeff is a character driven story meeting a visual spectacle, and I strongly endorse it getting the victory here!

    Oliver: I mean, Lesnar vs Cena is this beautiful, brutal, hilarious massacre, while Hardy vs Punk is a beautiful, brutal, hilarious massacre. What do you choose Ė Cena getting suplexed out of his trainers for 20 minutes or Jeff Hardy getting stretchered out because heís stupid enough to jump onto his neck from 20 feet? I donít think anybody in WWE has quite bumped like Hardy, because he fell so realistically. That might sound like a really odd compliment, but you see some people and they fall off a ladder and then do a triple somersault with a twist in order to land in a way that doesnít hurt them. Hardyís just like Ďfuck thatí and falls without any regard for protecting himself. How he isnít just a pile of dusty bones by now Iíll never know. Iím giving the nod to Punk vs Hardy, even if Undertaker turning up at the end and being grumpy because Punkís a millennial who likes wearing hoodies instead of button down shirts puts a bit of a dampener on it.

    That was what their feud was about, right?

    Also on SummerSlam 2009 Ė John Cena and Randall Keith Orton do an homage to Shawn Michaels vs Vader but with the added twist of a third restart. Just thought Iíd mention it.

    (3) CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy ('09) wins 6-1

    (2) Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk ('13) vs. (7) Randy Orton vs. Christian ('11)

    Mazza: Curse you horrible draw!! I really donít want to be going against Randy and Christian this early in this thing but it is up against an absolute juggernaut in my mind. The fact is, this could well be my favourite Punk match and my favourite Lesnar match. Donít totally quote me on that but there are certainly days where it is true. SummerSlam 13 edges out SummerSlam 11.

    Maverick: In a round full of tough picks, this was the toughest of allÖI love both matches, but Punk and Lesnarís tornado of destruction across the Staples Center just about carries the day.

    mizfan: Orton/Christian is a great match, and not even their best together, but with Lesnar and Punk youíre talking about a clear final 4 contender. The vote is clear here, give me Heymanís clients on to the next round!

    Oliver: I watched Lesnar vs Punk just yesterday. I still think itís incredible, BUT I do think it has some flaws, largely in Punkís execution of certain things. The overriding feeling I have when watching it is Ďimagine if, instead of Punk here, we had someone thatís actually good at strikes and submissions but also a beloved underdog who the crowd want to get behind. That would be good, wouldnít it? What if, instead, this was, say, Brock Lesnar vs Daniel Bryan?í and then I drift into a dreamy reverie for ten to fifteen minutes thinking about Bryan winning the Universal Title from Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 35 somehow and becoming the only man in the history of the sport to hold the World Heavyweight, WWE, and Universal Championships.

    So Iím going to vote for Randy Orton vs Christian, because it doesnít make me think about how much better the match would be if it had someone else in it. But seriously, WWE should book Lesnar vs Bryan before Bryan bursts into tiny rainbow stars taking a Jinder Mahal clothesline or something.

    Steve: Brock vs Punk still stands as my personal favorite singles match outing since Brock came back to the company lo so many years ago. It wasn't because of Brock, either. It was Punk, who tore the house down and showed us that Lesnar could be more than his self imposed limitations.

    Skulduggery: I wouldnít be surprised whatsoever if this was another comfortable victory for The Best and The Beast, despite the No Holds Barred match from 2011 being terrific in its own right. Itís simply a match-up between elite and very good. Orton and Christian execute a very good, very creative, and very well-told match in an environment that lends itself to being creative and well-told. They nail what they are aiming for, and itís truly enjoyable to watch, but itís a comparatively broad target to hit. Punk and Brock, meanwhile, put on a dazzling display with their bullseyes being much harder to pinpoint. Itís very tricky to have a clear gulf between favorite and underdog, never waver from that, and yet have a genuine nail-biter on your hands.

    Prime Time: Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk. Canít see any reason to vote against this yet. Competition is about to get interesting in this bracket, though!

    (2) Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk ('13) wins 6-1

    And with that, we are down to the Sweet 16! A pair of (12)-seeded Ladder matches continue their unlikely journey through, with Mysterio/Eddie and RVD/Hardy continuing to pull upsets. Speaking of which, both Virgil/DiBiase and WWE/Nexus are both alive as well - with the latter meaning that Heath Slater officially has more matches in the Sweet 16 than The Rock, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, and Randy Orton combined. We also have only four years of SummerSlam that boast multiple matches still alive - 1991, 2001, 2002, and 2013. Based on the way the brackets fell, it is entirely possible to have any of the following - an all '91 final match-up, an all '01 final match-up, an all '02 final match-up, or an all '13 final match-up. Also, how will 'Plan deal with Rey/Eddie going over another Seth Rollins match?

    I have to agree with Prime Time - Bracket D in particular has some appetizing match-ups. All four victors won in blowouts today, but we are now down to four seriously elite matches going head-to-head. Which matches will continue to march forward? More Madness, on the way!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2018
    I'm really glad Rey and Eddie progressed. I love that match, even though I didn't see reason enough to vote for it this time around against one I thought was a squidgen better.


    And I think this could be my first time on the wrong side of a 6-1 but at least someone repped for Christian Vs Orton!

  3. #3
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    If Bulldog v Bret doesn't win this, the whole thing is a farce.

  4. #4
    Cero Miedo Mystic's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    For all the damn hype, this match--(1) Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart ('94)--had better own when we get to it in TLS. Also if this series comes down to something like Bret/Bulldog vs. Bret/Owen, you all should hang yourselves. (Though I will miss some of you, justice is justice.)

    LOL @ Dolph Ziggler losing 7-0. Story of his over-hyped life. Dolph Ziggler could tie himself to Johnny Mundo and they could fall on a thin sheet of ice and still not make an impact.

    I was about to bash this 7-0 outcome--(4) Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect ('91) vs. (5) Ultimate Warrior vs. Macho Man Randy Savage ('92)--but then my old, tired mind remembered this was not their match at WM. Forget they even had the SS match with fake Ultimate Warrior.

    Still an Oli guy.

    I saw the 6-1 against Christian-Orton and scrolled back up knowing who gave Christian some shine. Plus, I like how he goes into business for himself in his paragraph, ranting and raving about matches not even listed.

    Keep rollin' guys. Great work.

  5. #5
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Man, lots of great stuff coming out of this one.

    Shane, I'll be very interested in your thoughts on the Hart brothers cage match when we get to it. I'm really not sure what you'll think of it. I do think it's good, though less so than others seem to, and there's no real chance I'll be voting it all the way down the line. Hopefully I can avoid execution in the meantime, if I vote against that final and it goes through anyway, spare me the noose!

    Very pleased that Cena/Rollins bit the dust here, and Lesnar/Cena as well. Pleased as punch, on the other side, that Virgil/Ted and the Nexus match continue to plug on! Well done, you little underdogs!

    I am glad that Orton/Christian got some positive attention. It had a very tough draw and probably could have gone a lot deeper going down a different path.

    I will say I think I got a flash of the HBK supporters who think people have gone too far pushing back against his WWE approved undisputed GOAT status when I read Ollie's bit about Punk. Punk was never a super-athlete but I always thought he did exactly what he needed to in the ring, and I guess the best evidence is that people did buy his work against Lesnar 5 years ago. Then again, you put the idea of Bryan/Lesnar in 2013 in my head, and of course you're going to get me salivating, so it's not like I don't see your point! Good call on Benoit/Jericho being excluded as well, I love our man Skully but there are definitely some bottom tier matches I would have gladly bumped for that one!

    Last but not least, I'm glad we can now all empirically agree on the excellence of Heath Slater.

    Looking forward to the next part, Skul!

  6. #6
    Thanks to everybody for the feedback! miz, I knew you'd appreciate the fun fact regarding Heath Slater...obviously cherry-picked but that doesn't make it any less true. In fact, I had a feeling you'd be pleased overall with the results on this one - I think 15 of the 16 eventual victors lined up with your votes, by far your "best" round since we've been doing this!

    Speaking of which - Oli, you being the 1 in 6-1 is, by the spirit of the law, correct. But by the letter of the law, it's not, haha. Remember voting against every single HBK match in the opening round of the WrestleMania tournament? That one caused you to be the only dissenter in Taker/Michaels from '09 vs. Hardy/Hardy from '09, for instance. But, yes, in the spirit of the law, you're dead on. Kinda feels defiant, doesn't it? I like that Mystic is "an Oli guy". Though, Mystic, I'll argue that I should be spared your noose, too, seeing that I've voted against Bret/Owen every single time.

    Thanks again all!

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