Looking back at SummerSlam's greatest Intercontinental Championship matches
by Michael Dworkis
Heading into this year’s SummerSlam, the two matches that were on everybody’s radar were the World Championship matches. Needless to say, they did not disappoint. However, while those matches were both amazing, the one match that certainly opened everybody’s eyes was the Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship, pitting Chris Jericho, Batista and Edge all against each other.
In an almost unbelievable turn of events, the Toronto crowd booed hometown boy Edge, all the while cheering for Y2J and Batista. Yes, they were cheering Evolution member Batista. In the end, it was Edge picking up the “W” in thrilling fashion. However, now that the match is in the books, many are wondering where it sits among all-time great Intercontinental Championship Matches at SummerSlam. Get out your paper and pencils, because it’s time to learn some history.
First we head to Madison Square Garden, the home of SummerSlam ’91. For nearly 20 minutes, Bret “Hit Man” Hart and Mr. Perfect put on what could be described as a technical clinic. Hart aggressively took control of the match from the bell, throwing Perfect around with numerous hip-tosses. Perfect would try to mount a comeback, but Hart retaliated with a number of sliding headlock takedowns. Fighting back with some hard chops and punches, Perfect tossed Hart to the floor. Back in the ring, Perfect dazed the Hit Man with a rollup for two. Then the action heated up. Back and froth slugfest, the crowd cheering with every punch scored by Bret. Back and forth each man trying to wear down the other with slams, and suplexes. Perfect rammed Hart into the corner hard, and then took Hart for the ride, hitting the Perfect-Plex. One… Two… NO! Bret kicked up and out, Mr. Perfect was livid and the fans erupted. Hart then wasted no time in fighting back. Hart hit a vertical suplex, followed by the Russian leg sweep and a backbreaker, leaving Perfect to be hit with an elbow off the second rope. Hart covered, but Perfect kicked out. As Hart continued his onslaught, Perfect’s associate “Coach” attempted to interfere, but the Hit Man took him out of the picture. Perfect took down Hart and attempted a legdrop to the gut, but Hart caught his leg and trapped him. Hart twisted Perfect’s legs around and rolled, turning him over into the Sharpshooter. The Intercontinental Champion had nowhere to go, and he submitted. The victory gave Hart his first-ever single’s reign in WWE.
Next we go to the following year, 1992.
SummerSlam emanated from Wembley Stadium in London, England. In an eventful night, Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior had the hell beat out of them by Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect, the Legion of Doom defeated Money Inc, and Shawn Michaels and Rick Martel brawled until Sherri fainted. The final match of the night featured Bret Hart, defending the Intercontinental Championship that he defeated Roddy Piper for at WrestleMania VIII, against London’s homeboy, the “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith. What a match. For more than 25 minutes, the two traded headlocks, wristlocks, takedowns and more. The middle of the match was dominated by Bret, as he continued to wear down the Bulldog by targeting his back and legs, obviously to set up for the Sharpshooter. However, the jam-packed crowd at Wembley Stadium cheered on their homeboy hero, and the Bulldog came back. Bulldog attempted a press slam, and while Bret tried to escape, Bulldog dropped him backwards onto the ropes. Smith then took Bret skyward with a vertical suplex and held him there for nearly 10 seconds before dropping him straight down. Sensing victory, the Bulldog draped Hart over his right shoulder, ran across the ring and hit the running powerslam. The crowd rose to their feet as the ref counted, but Hart kicked out at two! In disbelief, the crowd sat down, but quickly jumped back to their feet as both men leveled each other with a double clothesline! Just then, Hart reached over, grabbed the Bulldog’s legs, intertwined them with his own, and that’s when everyone realized that Hart was going for the Sharpshooter. Hart sat up and successfully turned Smith over locking it in. It seemed that Hart would retain, but Smith used every ounce of strength and made his way to the ropes. With both men back on their feet, Hart attempted to throw Smith off the ropes, but the challenger reversed it, Hart went to the ropes and Smith then put his head down. Hart wisely saw the move coming and flipped over in an attempt to rollup the Bulldog and certainly get the win, but Davey Boy had his own plan and wrapped Hart’s legs with his arms and sat down, trapping the Hit Man as the ref counted to three, and the challenger became champion in his hometown.
The third contest took place at SummerSlam 2002, the same night when Brock Lesnar defeated The Rock for the WWE Championship. During the time when SmackDown! was run by General Manager Stephanie McMahon, rosters and championships were not yet elite to one brand.
Benoit of SmackDown! was defending the Intercontinental Championship against RAW’s Rob Van Dam. These two beat the hell out of each other for close to 20 minutes. At the start, each man tried a kick, a chop, and clothesline, but both men dodged each attempted attack. RVD made a mistake and Benoit went for an early Crossface. After RVD missed a spin kick, Benoit locked his arms around Van Dam and launched him back with a huge German suplex that folded RVD like an accordion. RVD came back with flips and moonsaults that only Mr. Thursday Night is famous for. After knocking Benoit to the mat, RVD went for a split-legged moonsault but Benoit got the knees up. Benoit then went for the diving head butt, and this time Van Dam got out of the way… and then went upstairs for a Five-Star Frog Splash… but Benoit dodged! Benoit went after Van Dam’s arm to soften up for the Crossface. In one of the most spectacular feats of strength ever witness, Benoit locked RVD for a Northern Lights Suplex, hit one, then Benoit flipped over Van Dam’s body, still holding on and hit another three in a row! The match really heated up when Rob Van Dam took down Benoit, and locked him in his own finishing maneuver. Benoit and RVD slugged it out, until Benoit got the advantage. Benoit took RVD up to the top, and lifted off for a superplex, but Van Dam countered and crashed onto Benoit! RVD jumped back up to the top corner and crushed Benoit with the Five-Star Frog Splash, earning the victory and taking the Intercontinental Championship back to RAW.
Those were some great matches. Which SummerSlam Intercontinental Championship match do you think was the best of all time?