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Top 5 SummerSlam Moments That Still Give the WWE Universe Goosebumps

Take a trip down memory lane with these massively memorable WWE SummerSlam moments.

By Chris Phelan
Brock Lesnar standing outside of the ring

SummerSlam 2023 is officially two weeks away, and based on the lineup that's been revealed so far, the WWE Universe is in for another unforgettable event!

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For 35 years, SummerSlam has given fans worldwide countless memorable moments that wouldn't seem out of place at WrestleMania. After all, when an event is nicknamed "The Biggest Party of the Summer," you wouldn't expect anything less, right? Sometimes, the best way to get excited about something is to reminisce about its history, and recently, WWE looked back at some of the best SummerSlam happenings. Reliving these moments still gives us goosebumps:

Speaking of goosebumps, it's the perfect time to share USA Insider's top five SummerSlam moments that consistently live rent-free in our heads. In fact, we went a step further and picked the best moment from each decade SummerSlam has been around. From the Ultimate Warrior winning the Intercontinental for the first time to Brock Lesnar nearly committing vehicular manslaughter, here are our favorite all-time SummerSlam moments!

The Honky Tonk Man's Intercontinental Reign Comes to an Ultimate End – 1988

Back in 1988, things were a little crazy in WWE. The Honky Tonk Man was enjoying an Intercontinental Title reign spanning 454 days – an unheard-of length for the "workhorse" championship of the 80s. Unfortunately, there was nothing "workhorse" about Honky Tonk Man whatsoever. Moreover, the villain enjoyed such a lengthy title reign because he consistently avoided being pinned for the championship at all costs. Honky Tonk Man frequently took countout and disqualification losses, knowing that the Intercontinental Title could only change hands via pinfall. It was a bold strategy that worked for nearly a year and a half!

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At SummerSlam 1988, Honky Tonk Man's confidence level was at an all-time high – he had figured out a way to keep the championship around his waist indefinitely. He was so confident that he issued an open challenge that night, which The Ultimate Warrior memorably answered. 

The Warrior steamrolled Honky Tonk Man as soon as the bell rang, not giving the champion enough time to escape the ring for a countout loss. Before the WWE Universe knew what was happening, The Ultimate Warrior ran through Honky Tonk Man and unexpectedly became the Intercontinental Champion to an astounding reaction from the crowd. In the blink of an eye, the villain's reign of terror was over, and Ultimate Warrior used his position of Intercontinental Champion to eventually capture the WWE Championship from Hulk Hogan a few months later.

Wembley Stadium Witnesses an Unrivaled Classic – 1992

Some of the most significant victories in WWE history happen when the hometown hero finally wins "the big one." In 1992, the British Bulldog accomplished precisely that during his match against Bret Hart for the Hitman's Intercontinental Championship. The match can be best described as a work of art: Countless holds were exchanged effortlessly during unforgettable chain wrestling sequences. The bout featured reversals galore, as both Superstars were intimately familiar with each other, having extensive history coming up in the Canadian wrestling scene when they were younger. In the end, the match concluded when British Bulldog shocked Bret Hart with a surprise reversal pin out of a sunset flip, sending the fans in England into a frenzy. The hometown kid had finally captured gold in WWE.

Many aspiring wrestlers watch this match during their initial in-ring training – it's that influential! Cody Rhodes has gone on the record saying he believes it's a must-watch for anyone who wants to get into sports entertainment. It's a match that lives on in history as the greatest wrestling match the United Kingdom has ever seen – a wrestling purist's dream. 

The Custody Battle Over Dominik Mysterio – 2005

The current NXT North American Champion may be enjoying the high life as part of The Judgment Day. Still, long-time fans know Dominik Mysterio first captivated the WWE Universe nearly 20 years ago when two legendary Superstars fought in a ladder match to determine the custody of future Dom-Dom!

You read that correctly; at SummerSlam 2005, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio fought in a ladder match – but it wasn't a championship they were trying to reach; it was Dominik's custody papers! For months, Guerrero assumed the position of Dominik's de facto father, enraging Mysterio in the process. When the two ex-world champions finally had their custody showdown, they dazzled the WWE Universe – it wasn't surprising, considering Guerrero and Mysterio were tailor-made for ladder matches at that point in their careers.

In the end, Mysterio officially won custody of his son, setting the stage for nearly two decades of father-son bliss with Dominik – until it all came crashing down recently, of course!

The Complete Annihilation of John Cena – 2014

Almost immediately after his debut in WWE, John Cena quickly staked claim to being THE top Superstar in professional wrestling. During that time, many Superstars tried – and failed – to knock him off his perch. From CM Punk to Chris Jericho to Batista to Randy Orton to Bray Wyatt – and countless athletes in between – Cena made a habit of taking on all comers as they tried to best him as the unparalleled generational talent of the 2000s. Unsurprisingly, Cena was always successful in defeating the many contenders to his throne…

Until SummerSlam 2014, when Brock Lesnar destroyed everything Cena had built.

It wasn't a match so much as an annihilation. The WWE Universe saw Cena – built up as their own personal Superman – get summarily massacred by Doomsday himself. Throughout the match, fans were breathless as they expected Cena to overcome the odds (like he always did) and make his comeback against the Beast Incarnate. There was one problem, however: The Cena comeback never happened. Brock destroyed Cena from bell to bell, winning one of the most lopsided matches in WWE history. Although Cena eventually recovered, Lesnar went on to have one of the most dominating runs any athlete has ever had in professional wrestling – a run that is still going strong today.

Brock Lesnar Introduces Roman Reigns to Farm Equipment – 2022

We still can't believe the events that transpired during the main event of SummerSlam 2022! After it happened, we called it the new greatest SummerSlam moment of all time. Of course, we're referring to Brock Lesnar actively using his tractor against Roman Reigns in the middle of an absolutely chaotic Undisputed WWE Universal Championship match.

We're not going to lie; it raised our eyebrows a tad when Brock entered Nissan Stadium on his tractor. However, grand entrances are part of WWE mega-events like SummerSlam and WrestleMania, so we didn't overthink it. However, the moment became legendary when the tractor actively participated in the match. The WWE Universe never thought they'd see the day when a Superstar would use the tractor to physically lift the ring and nearly topple it over – with his opponent still in the ring! 

While we can't imagine Brock lugging his farm equipment back for another go-around this year for his match against Cody Rhodes, we're not ruling anything out! 

You can tune in to Peacock to watch WWE's SummerSlam on August 5. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock as well.