Full disclosure: I just wanted to do something about The Undertaker and SummerSlam because I know how you guys love him. I thought it would be good fun.
It was not.
The Undertaker, for as much as we love him, has had a long history of the sh*ttiest matches imaginable at SummerSlam. The Summer Classic was mostly used to end spectacle feuds in casket matches and the like, but they rarely yielded great matches. But alas, here we are. If I have to suffer, so do you. So here they are: the definitive ranking of Undertaker’s SummerSlam matches.
15. SummerSlam 1993 – vs. Giant Gonzalez – Rest In Peace Match
This was leaps and bounds better than their WrestleMania match due to the gimmicks but it’s still Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez. The only people who fell asleep in this match were the fans. *rimshot*
14. SummerSlam 1992 – vs. Kamala
Here we are, firmly in the “Undertaker faces big guys who can’t wrestle” stage of his career where everything is trash. And, spoiler alert, a plodding match with Kamala that ends in a disqualification is indeed a trash match.
13. SummerSlam 2000 – vs. Kane
This is the 240th best Undertaker vs. Kane match. It lasts five minutes and ends with Undertaker trying to rip off Kane’s mask. Man. Look. I have no more words for this.
12. SummerSlam 1994 – vs. The Undertaker [sic]
This match is just nine minutes of plodding big man action. But the build-up makes this match way better. Hint: DON’T WATCH THIS MATCH, JUST REMEMBER THE NAKED GUN VIGNETTES. Because we’re in a multi-match tie for last place right now.
11. SummerSlam 2001 – with Kane vs. DDP and Kanyon
For whatever reason, Vince McMahon wanted to spend as much time as possible watching DDP and Kanyon get murdered on live television. So they fed them to Kane and Undertaker for a match that had zero drama or excitement. Instead, it was a semi-PG beat down in a cage. This wasn’t a match as much as it was public hazing to help Vince achieve full erection. Good for him, I guess.
10. SummerSlam 1995 – vs. Kama – Casket Match
I talked about this before (to the consternation of plenty of commenters) but in terms of an actual match, this isn’t too bad. We’re still in the dark ages of Undertaker feuds but Kama offered a nice contrast in size and style. It’s crazy that the WWF was once marketing The Godfather as a workhorse.
9. SummerSlam 2002 – vs. Test
This is my favorite non-WrestleMania pay-per-view of all time.
… And this is the worst match on the card. I’m one of the few people who love Diesel vs. Undertaker at WM 12 so I remember being moderately excited about this match. It didn’t live up to my expectations. Test was a bad wrestler. A very, very bad wrestler. And Undertaker was smack-dab in the middle of not caring. There’s even a guy in a Jets jersey who gets up to leave in the middle of the match. And he sits through Jets games.
8. SummerSlam 2003 – vs. A-Train
Y’know, I spoke a lot about how much I preferred pre-surgical enhancement Sable from 1996 to later versions. And I’m sure that earned me brownie points. But I have to be honest. Sable looked goddamn glorious here. Sue me. And let’s face it: these bottom matches are similar levels of sh*t that it makes it hard to rank. So this one gets bumped up because boobs.
7. SummerSlam 1999 – with Big Show vs. Kane and X-Pac
Hey look, a DX match where X-Pac cared. He actually carried the match here and played a hopeless babyface to Show and Undertaker. Are Kane, Undertaker and Big Show the only guys this pay-per-view who are wrestling multiple matches in 2015? Consult your trivia gurus, folks. For what it’s worth, I liked the Show Takers but they never got a long enough run to be truly dominant. Too bad.
6. SummerSlam 2004 – vs. JBL
Funny note: WWE network doesn’t have a chapter marker for the main event to this show. Anyway, I don’t mind this match as much as I thought I would. Undertaker is busting out superplexes and JBL is Heel Gawd. All of it comes together for a nice little surprise that had a screwy ending like every JBL match ever. There’s a spot where Orlando Jordan grabbed an unconscious ref and started counting for him… then he stops when The Undertaker kicks out. And that makes zero sense.
5. SummerSlam 1998 – vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
It’s sort of unfair to judge this match on the list. It starts off with chain wrestling and the guys were really trying to put on a great match. Then a few minutes in, Austin bumped heads with Taker, blacked out and never got his bearings for the rest of the night. Undertaker was also nearing the end of the first act of his career and was battling nagging injuries, so he couldn’t really carry anyone. Basically this is as awkward as Brock vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania.
4. SummerSlam 1997 – vs. Bret Hart
Thanks to all the Bret Hart DVDs, I now know that Undertaker and Bret Hart had dozens of matches better than this one, but it’s another example of the evolved Dead Man. Here he’s actually wrestling and doing it for the better part of 20 minutes. What’s even better is we see his ability to be a believable babyface who’s a foot taller than the heel. It’s a quality that only a few big men possess. Of course we know the ending that overshadowed the match. But it’s 1997, that’s to be expected.
3. SummerSlam 2005 – vs. Randy Orton
This wasn’t their WrestleMania match but it was damn great. Orton and Undertaker had great chemistry and young heel Orton is a national treasure. Undertaker is zipping around better than he had since 1997 and he looks like he cares. The ending is a throwback screw job that can look silly, but they pulled it off.
2. SummerSlam 1996 – vs. Mankind – Boiler Room Brawl
This match changed the course of wrestling. What, no you use hyperboles. But seriously, the Mankind feud, and specifically the end of this match – is a huge reason The Undertaker is still a thing. This match showed us that Undertaker can do more than have plodding matches, showed his hardcore style and added layers of his character that would be explored for the next six years in storylines. Beyond that, this is one of the early great hardcore matches of the Attitude Era. I really think that if Mankind doesn’t come around, we’re not seeing Undertaker still wrestling in 2015.
1. SummerSlam 2008 – vs. Edge – Hell In A Cell
This is the runaway, kids. Not only did Undertaker not have a lot of matches to choose from, but this is just a classic. Undertaker could brawl and murder as well as anyone and Edge was always begging to take a beating. In the end, Undertaker wins then murders Edge in literal fire. This is right in the middle of The Undertaker renaissance where he was having a borderline five star match at least once a year. And who knows… this may be what we get this year at SummerSlam.