Top 10 WWE Summerslam Surprises
WRITTEN BY: Nick Miller
It's wrestling's biggest event of the summer, and has often proven to be the most shocking. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today, we're counting down the top 10 WWE Summerslam surprises.
Top 10 Summerslam Surprises
It’s wrestling’s biggest event of the summer, and has often proven to be the most shocking. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today, we’re counting down the top 10 WWE Summerslam surprises.
#10: Finn Balor Becomes the First Universal Champion
2016 was an exciting time for the WWE. With the reintroduction of the brand split, the company saw a brief creative golden period. Though Smackdown Live wound up getting most of the praise, hopes were high for Raw when, only a short time after debuting on the main roster, Finn Balor defeated Seth Rollins in an exhilarating match to become the first-ever WWE Universal Champion. In a terrible stroke of luck, Balor injured his shoulder in the match, and was forced to relinquish the title the very next night. Things haven’t quite been the same for Finn since he returned, but we’re hopeful that he can regain his spot at the top of the company.
#9: Nikki Betrays Brie
The 2014 Summerslam match between Brie Bella and Stephanie McMahon wasn’t exactly the most exciting thing on that year’s Summerslam (more on that later), but the end of the bout saw Nikki Bella turn heel by attacking her sister in the ring, causing her to lose to Stephanie. This injected a solid amount of excitement and promise into a lackluster program, but unfortunately what followed was a disappointing match at Hell in a Cell that couldn’t live up to the initial shock of Nikki’s betrayal. Nonetheless, this Summerslam moment will be remembered for its immediate impact.
#8: HBK vs. Hogan
By 2005, Shawn Michaels was a near-universally loved babyface. It’s hard to even imagine turning him heel, but that’s exactly what happened when Hulk Hogan returned and wanted to wrestle Michaels and win. This, understandably, made Michaels a little unhappy, and what resulted is one of the funniest feuds the WWE has seen. Michaels tries his hardest to make Hogan look like a fool, from mocking him in the lead-up to the match to cartoonishly over-selling all his moves during the match. Despite Hulk Hogan winning, in a classic Shawn Michaels move, he refused to put him over the way he was expected to.
#7: Shane McMahon Takes a Fall
Shane McMahon has become known for his willingness to put his health and safety on the line in death-defying stunts. This reputation began in this match between McMahon and Steve Blackman for the hardcore championship at Summerslam 2000. After a few minutes of back-and-forth, Blackman chased McMahon out of the ring, and Shane began climbing up the entrance set, a massive structure built for Summerslam. McMahon would jump off, plummeting 50 feet down onto the concrete floor. Blackman would pin Shane and win the title, but Shane’s career and reputation for dangerous stunts would continue to this day, nearly 20 years later.
#6: HBK Returns at the Top of his Game
After being forced to retire in 1998 due to injuries, Shawn Michaels received the good news that he was fit to return to in-ring action, and he did just that at Summerslam 2002 in an unsanctioned street fight against his old friend, Triple H. This quick-paced and brutal fight is one of the most memorable of both men’s careers, and incredibly, Michaels wow-ed viewers by showing little-to-no ring-rust despite being out of action for over four years. Michaels defeated The Game in the tightly-contested bout, but was brutalized by a sledgehammer and had to be carted away afterwards by medical staff.
#5: Brock Lesnar Assaults Randy Orton
In the midst of Brock Lesnar’s UFC steroid scandal, this Summerslam match had an air of controversy from the very beginning, with Orton making several pointed personal jabs on television towards Lesnar. From the match’s start, it was uncomfortable to watch, with Orton sandbagging Lesnar’s suplexes and the two trading convincingly realistic blows. Eventually, Lesnar, kayfabe or not, lost his cool and began landing heavy elbows on Orton’s head, viciously busting him open. The match was broken up and Lesnar was declared the winner via technical knockout in a move referencing Lesnar’s MMA background. If this was fake, it was a hell of a lot more convincing than what we usually see on WWE TV.
#4: Styles Beats Cena Clean
On the same night as the Randy Orton/Brock Lesnar fiasco was this highly-anticipated undercard match-up in the continuing rivalry between John Cena and AJ Styles. Prior to this match, Styles had defeated Cena before with the help of Gallows and Anderson, but with his good brothers drafted to Raw, he had no one else in his corner, setting up the inevitable conclusion of losing to Cena. In a shocking turn of events, Styles stunned the wrestling world when he defeated Cena clean on the summer’s biggest stage. Though their rivalry would later be reignited, this match ended with Cena leaving his wristbands in the ring, sowing doubt for his wrestling future.
#3: Triple H Turns on Daniel Bryan
In the lead-up to Summerslam 2013, John Cena picked Daniel Bryan to be his challenger for the WWE Championship, with Triple H offering to serve as special guest referee, presumably to stop any interference. What happened instead was that Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship for the first time, only for Randy Orton to come out with his Money in the Bank contract. Triple H attacked Bryan with a Pedigree, ensuring he would lose his title to Orton, and leading to the fantastic Bryan vs. Authority storyline that would culminate the following year at Wrestlemania.
#2: Daniel Bryan Returns to the WWE
Before his rise to title glory, Daniel Bryan was fired from the WWE, allegedly for going a little too far with the violence in a television segment. This disappointed wrestling fans who wanted to see the indie legend make it to the top rung of the industry, but thankfully the top brass changed their mind and Daniel Bryan made a surprise return at Summerslam 2010. He was once again handpicked by John Cena to compete on his elimination team against the nexus. The match also furthered the long-running rivalry that’s set to come to a head this year between Daniel Bryan and The Miz.
#1: Lesnar Squashes Cena
Brock Lesnar can be an absolutely monster in the ring when he wants to be, and if you need further proof of that, just take a look at this 2014 match between The Beast Incarnate and John Cena. Lesnar utterly destroys Cena, hitting him with an F5 right away, and dominating the entire match. Lesnar lands 16 suplexes on John over the course of the match, with Cena offering little offense in return. It’s a shocking twist on what we’ve come to expect out of Cena prior to the last few years, and it helped solidify Brock Lesnar, who’s been essentially the WWE’s final boss ever since.