The party to end all parties
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Some people mark their 20th anniversary with a candlelit dinner at a quiet restaurant. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of SummerSlam, however, WWE took a slightly different approach. On Sunday, more than 17,000 roaring fans helped celebrate the Biggest Party of the Summer at the Continental Airlines Arena and witnessed two of the most exciting resurrections in sports-entertainment history, the return of Rey Mysterio and Triple H.
"The crowd was the loudest I've ever heard in this arena," shouted fan Brian Gilbert over the thundering din. "I've been to New Jersey Nets and Devils games, but tonight was the loudest. It was sick!"
Fans worked themselves into a frenzy of anticipation before the first bell even sounded. So coiled was the energy in the arena that by the time Kane had entered the ring to battle Finlay and trigger his pre-match pyrotechnics, the party was well underway.
"I was here the last time SummerSlam came to East Rutherford in ‘97 when Bret Hart beat Undertaker," recalled Chris Johnston of Maspeth, N.Y. "Now I'm here again to watch the Championship Match and to see two future Hall-of-Famers make their returns. I don't know if it gets any better than this!"
And yet it did. The place was a powder keg waiting to explode when the sure-fire fuse-lighter himself, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, brought down the house with a surprise visit. At the behest of Matt Hardy, the Texas Rattlesnake sauntered down the entrance ramp to take on MVP in a beer drinking contest. As expected, the United States Champion couldn't hold a can to the legendary imbiber, who proceeded to drop the cocky pretender with a Stone Cold Stunner.
Meanwhile, the return of Rey Mysterio -- who was sidelined for almost a year due to injury -- brought the crowd to its feet.. The sultan of the 619 charged the ring covered in silver paint and lots of attitude. And he did not disappoint fans who were anxious to see him get revenge on his longtime nemesis, Chavo Guerrero.
"Rey came back with a bang," said Mysterio fan Anthony Mondragon of Los Angeles. "Wow, man, to come back from an injury and to come back like that right away… he was on top of everything."
But another comeback was savored by both our fans and the returning gladiator. When the familiar strains of Triple H's entrance music reverberated throughout the arena, The King of Kings entered and soaked up every molecule of excitement that radiated off the capacity crowd.
"It was great to see Triple H come back," explained Matt Sammon, a longtime fan of The Game. "He did what he always does: He put on a good show, [and] performed to the best of his ability."
And he also won, beating King Booker for royal bragging rights. "Seeing Triple H was by far the greatest thing I've ever seen in person," exclaimed Gilbert. "It was absolutely unbelievable."
To top off the 20th anniversary extravaganza, John Cena defeated Randy Orton to hold on to his WWE Championship in a title match that may undoubtedly still be talked about 20 years from now. It was the perfect nightcap for the party to end all parties. That is until next year's SummerSlam.