WITH SummerSlam just around the corner, we have taken a look at some of the most iconic match-ups in recent history.
SummerSlam has been the catalyst to superstardom for many wrestlers with Finn Balor, Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, Triple H and Daniel Bryan all thriving under the spotlight.
Take a read of the below to see just how big an impact SummerSlam has had on each superstar in getting to where they are now.
Finn Balor – SummerSlam 2016
Any modern WWE fan will know the story of Finn Balor’s dream and nightmare SummerSlam.
Taking the NXT world by storm, he became the longest reigning NXT Champion at 292 days.
Finn was then drafted to Raw as the fifth overall pick in the 2016 WWE draft, and made his debut on the 25 July – The Demon King’s 35th birthday.
It was a birthday to remember, as he defeated Rusev, Cesaro and Kevin Owens in a Fatal- 4-way, and went on to beat Roman Reigns in a match that meant he would compete for the new WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam 2016.
Balor went toe-to-toe with Seth Rollins in a savage battle. At one point in the match, Seth performed a running powerbomb and slammed Finn into the safety barrier outside the ring, and disaster struck.
Finn suffered a 180 degree labrum tear, a torn bicep and pectoral tendon, cartilage damage and a fracture to the glenoid neck socket.
This wasn’t enough to thwart The Demon King, however, as he went to defeat Seth Rollins with his patented Coup De Grace and became the first ever WWE Universal Champion.
He also became the first ever Superstar to relinquish the Title, as his injuries were too severe to continue in the ring for several months.
Balor is currently on the road back to the top, most recently ending his rivalry with Elias and is now in the midst of mind games with The Eater of Worlds, Bray Wyatt, who he faces this Sunday at SummerSlam.
Brock Lesnar – SummerSlam 2002
Brock Lesnar was the specimen that blasted on the scene in 2002, attacking Al Snow, Maven and Spike Dudley, with the latter being on the receiving end of a devastating triple powerbomb. And who was by his side? None other than The Advocate, Paul Heyman, who was seen barking orders.
At the time, Brock was nicknamed “The Next Big Thing”, and boy were they right. His first feud was with The Hardy Boyz, defeating them at multiple PPVs including Backlash and Judgement Day.
After winning the King of the Ring final against RVD, Brock earned his WWE Undisputed Championship shot against The Rock at SummerSlam 2002. Brock executed his own Rock Bottom and F5, and with the help of an interference from Paul Heyman, he landed the big time and won his first championship.
Brock began to make an even bigger name for himself as he went to war with The Undertaker at No Mercy, defeating him in a Hell in a Cell match.
We all know how The Deadman and The Beast’s rivalry progressed in the future.
Lesnar went on to feud with Big Show, the feud that led Paul Heyman to betray him. Lesnar would suffer his first pin fall loss to Show at Survivor Series, which catapulted his reputation with the fans, and went on to do great things with the company.
Kurt Angle – SummerSlam 2000
Kurt Angle’s first appearance at WWE came in 1999, quickly establishing his American Hero character based on his gold medal win at the 1998 Summer Olympics.
After his initial stint as a “good guy”, fans quickly began to boo his entrances, which Kurt quickly capitalised on and turned into a villain, patronising his fellow Superstars and the audience themselves.
Just a year later, Angle won the European Championship and the Intercontinental Championship, and then losing both titles without ever conceding a fall in a two-pin Triple Threat match at WrestleMania 2000.
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With these two Titles a distant memory, he then became a top-tier Superstar, feuding with The Rock and Triple H which led to a Triple Threat Match at SummerSlam. Angle was stretchered out during the match after a Pedigree through the announcement table.
As The People’s Champion and The King of Kings battled on, Kurt would be brought back in alongside Vince McMahon to take on Triple H, but after a tussle between The Game and Kurt over a sledgehammer, Vince was on the receiving end of a bash.
With Kurt and Triple H distracted, the Rock threw the American Hero over the ropes, and then pinned The Game after dishing out The People’s Elbow.
SummerSlam would be the catalyst to spark his career. He would go on to have a heated rivalry with Triple H, with Kurt frequently interfering in The Game’s matches and ruining his title opportunities.
They’d go on to do battle a week before Unforgiven, as Angle attacked Triple H with a sledgehammer, leading to the American Hero kissing Stephanie McMahon as her husband lay unconscious in the ring.
Triple H earned vengeance at Unforgiven, but Kurt would go on to have one of the greatest rivalries in recent memories against Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Triple H – SummerSlam 1998
SummerSlam 1998 was nicknamed “Highway to Hell”, with a fierce main card on the table. Stone Cold was due to defend his title against The Undertaker, Ken Shamrock had a huge bout with Owen Hart, and X-Pac battled Jeff Jarret, but it was the two young guns that stole the show – The Rock and Triple H.
The two up and coming Superstars faced off in a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title, with carnage ensuing. After weaponising the ladder to both their advantages, Chyna delivered a low blow to The Rock which allowed HHH to win the Intercontinental Title.
Unfortunately, Triple H would be sidelined with a knee injury and gave up the title, but while he was away The Rock went on to win the WWF Championship at Survivor Series.
The two would reignite their rivalry in an I Quit match, The Rock accompanied by Kane and The Game by Chyna. Much to Triple H’s dismay, he was forced to say I Quit to stop Kane chokeslamming Chyna.
However, Chyna later attacked Triple H, showing that she planned to betray him all along.
The Game would then go on to have one of his most memorable heel turns, and become a part of The Corporation.
Daniel Bryan – SummerSlam 2013
Daniel Bryan is the Rocky of the WWE Universe – the true underdog story that everyone wanted to succeed. His unconventional looks, his smaller frame, his wild facial hair, it was everything that the WWE hadn’t seen in a Title contender before. But nobody resonated with the fans better than the do-or-die Daniel Bryan.
Before SummerSlam 2013, the Team Hell No tag-team was formed of Bryan and Kane, where they would often bicker between themselves during matches. They would go on to have a successful run as WWE Tag Team Champions, feuding with the likes of Team Rhodes Scholars, 3MB and, later down the line, The Shield, who they lost the titles to.
Bryan became obsessed to prove he wasn’t the weak link of Team Hell No and launched the “Yes!’ movement, becoming more aggressive in the process.
This was the year he began to become the Superstar that put his name in lights. After Team Hell No separated, Bryan went on to better Randy Orton in a rivalry, and continued his hot streak by picking up wins over Sheamus and Christian.
The crowd was pining for Bryan to win the Money in the Bank that year, but was foiled by Curtis Axel, a non-participant, with Randy Orton picking up the win.
However, the crowd would have their dreams come true as John Cena picked Bryan to be his opponent at SummerSlam 2013. This is where The Corporation began to dampen any hopes Bryan would have at victory by psychologically and physically damaging him. Bryan was labelled the ‘B+ Player’, he was put through gauntlet matches, and was made to face his old tag-team partner Kane.
None of that mattered, as Cena and Bryan went hammer and tong, as the Yes Man beat the odds to become the WWE Champion. Special referee Triple H, however, had other plans, and planted a Pedigree to Bryan. Orton would cash in his Money in the Bank and cut the title reign short.
SummerSlam would further propel his connection with the crowd, and went on to create the biggest atmospheres in stadiums across the world from his matches – he’d feud with The Corporation, Randy Orton, and the up and coming Bray Wyatt.
Bryan would go on to main event WrestleMania XXX, defeating Batista and Randy Orton in a Triple Threat Match to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Watch WWE SummerSlam 2017 live on the WWE Network or on Sky Sports Box Office at 1am on Monday, August 21.