Summer of Controversies
By Michael Dworkis

With several championships on the line at this year's SummerSlam, it is important to note that these championships have an interesting history at the August pay-per-view event.

In 1988 and '89, the WWE Championship wasn't even defended at all. In fact, the first time the championship was defended at a SummerSlam was in 1990, when the Ultimate Warrior defeated Rick Rude in a Steel Cage Match to retain. That match was particularly interesting due to the fact that a year before at WrestleMania V, Rude defeated the Warrior for the Intercontinental Championship. It looked like Rude would repeat history at SummerSlam '90, but it was not to be.

Many could claim that Hulk Hogan had a phobia of defending the championship at SummerSlam. In '89, Hogan was champion, but instead of defending the championship, he teamed with Brutus Beefcake to face Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Zeus. Again, when he was champ in '91, the championship was not on the line. Rather, Hogan teamed with Warrior to defeat Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa and Gen. Adnan in a Handicap Match.

The next year, the Warrior defeated then-champion Randy Savage. It wasn't without more controversy, however, as there was speculation as to which competitor, Warrior or Savage, had bought the services of Mr. Perfect. Well, Perfect showed his true loyalties, to himself of course, and leveled both Warrior and Savage. In the end, Savage took a beating from Ric Flair and Perfect that lead to the champ's count out. Warrior got the win, but not the WWE Championship.

The night's second main event featured a heated bout between relatives as Bret "Hit Man" Hart put his Intercontinental Championship on the line against "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith. In a match that lasted nearly 30 minutes, both men used every suplex, slam and hold known to man, and even some not ever heard of. In the end, the Bulldog reversed a sunset flip rollup executed by Hart, and turned it into his own rollup, and secured the win in his hometown of
London.

SummerSlam 1996 had an outcome of a very questionable nature. Shawn Michaels was defending the WWE Championship against Vader. Vader initially won the match by countout, but his manager James E. Cornette demanded the match be restarted, saying HBK purposely did it to escape with the title. HBK then got himself disqualified when he hit Vader with Cornette's tennis racket. The match resumed again at the demand of Vader and Cornette, but it backfired when Vader missed a moonsault, and Michaels capitalized and pinned Vader.

At the '95 SummerSlam, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon contested over the Intercontinental Championship in a Ladder Match. Shawn Michaels would prevail and retain his championship in a contest that many would consider a rival of their first Ladder Match, which took place at WrestleMania X. After their hard-fought match at SummerSlam '95, Michaels and Ramon shook hands in a show of true sportsmanship.

Finally in '97, the WWE Championship would change hands for the first time when Bret Hart defeated the Undertaker for the title. However, the shadow of controversy reared its ugly head once again. During the match it would seem nothing could stop Undertaker, except when guest referee Shawn Michaels swung a chair at Hart's head. Hart ducked and HBK clobbered 'Taker. Bret made the cover and Shawn had no choice but to make the three count, giving Hart the championship for the fifth time.

The following year's SummerSlam also was not as good for the Undertaker, as he would challenge Stone Cold Steve Austin for the championship.
Austin prevailed after a long bout to retain the title.

The WWE Championship changed hands again in 1999 when, under the guise of Mankind, Mick Foley captured the championship, defeating then-champion Steve Austin and Triple H, with a small assist from special guest referee, Jesse "the Body" Ventura.

In 2000's main event, The Rock retained his WWE Championship when he pinned Triple H in a Triple Threat Match also involving Kurt Angle, who had to be taken out of the match for a while after Triple H pedigreed him through a table.

A first in WWE history took place at SummerSlam 2001, when two World Championships were put on the line, from both WWE and WCW. The Rock defeated Booker T to win the WCW Championship, and Kurt Angle defeated WWE Champion Steve Austin, but it was by DQ when
Austin took out a number of referees, enabling Austin to leave with the championship.

Soon after the merging of the two organizations, both the WWE and WCW Championships were unified into one and was recognized as the Undisputed World Championship. Going into 2002's SummerSlam, The Rock held the title and would be defending it against the young WWE rookie who earned his chance by defeating Rob Van Dam in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament, Brock Lesnar. The biggest surprise was not only when Brock defeated The Rock for the championship, but it was then the fans no longer viewed The Rock as the "people's champ" and rallied behind Lesnar during the match instead. Shortly after defeating The Rock for the Undisputed Championship, Brock would exclusively compete on SmackDown!, leaving RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff to create the World Heavyweight Championship for his roster.

At last year's SummerSlam event, both the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships remained with their owners, as Kurt Angle defeated Brock Lesnar to retain the WWE Championship, and Triple H survived the second Elimination Chamber outlasting Kevin Nash, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, and blasting Goldberg with a sledgehammer to get the final pinfall to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.

This year's SummerSlam features two of the most unexpected matches ever. The Undertaker vs. JBL for the WWE Championship. JBL has no intention of making this a walk in the pa... graveyard for the Deadman, and on the flipside, the Undertaker has all the intention of making JBL's life a living hell.

Chris Benoit is defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Randy Orton. Orton earned this opportunity of a lifetime by last ousting Chris Jericho in a Battle Royal. Triple H may be a bit preoccupied to worry if Orton will claim the championship he once held, because The Game has to deal with the amazing and unpredictable skill of
Eugene. In addition, John Cena will take on Booker T in the first match of a Best-of-Five Series for the United States Championship. Many fans will remember that classic Best-of-Seven that Booker T had with Chris Benoit in WCW to become the No. 1 Contender for the WCW Television Championship which was held by Dave Finlay. Eddie Guerrero will attempt to exact revenge on Kurt Angle for costing Eddie the WWE Championship. In addition, the Intercontinental Championship will be decided in a Triple Threat Match where Edge will be defending against Batista and Chris Jericho. Also, in the first-ever "Till Death Do Us Part" Match, Kane challenges Matt Hardy for the right to marry Lita. One thing is for certain at SummerSlam '04... no matter what happens at the event, it will make heads turn as the year begins to come to a close.