The Wrestling Classic's 50 Best WWE SummerSlam Matches of All Time

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JP Yim / Stringer via Getty Images

Hey everyone! It's "The Wrestling Classic" Justin here with another article for ONE37PM. SummerSlam is literally around the corner, so I thought I would create a list of my favorite matches from the annual event. The biggest party of the Summer is considered the second biggest WWE PPV event—following Wrestlemania—and one of the big four events. A lot of blockbuster matches have taken place at SummerSlam throughout the years. I figured I would create a catalog of matches from the event's 33 year history that I feel you need to check out.

There are some matches that didn't make this list that you should definitely still check out (Rude/Warrior, for example), but these are my personal favorite matches. I went back to watch a lot of these matches when compiling this list, so that really helped determine the order. I'm sure this year with Edge/Rollins, Reigns/Cena and the Sasha/Bianca rematch on the SummerSlam card, there will be new matches that will make the list in the future. Regardless, check these matches out before this year's event if you have the time. These are the best WWE SummerSlam matches everyone should watch!

Let me know what you think; I hope you all appreciate the list.

Honorable Mentions:

SummerSlam 1988

Mega Powers w/ Miss Elizabeth vs. Mega Bucks w/ Bobby Heenan

Special Referee - Jesse Ventura

SummerSlam 1990

Demolition ( C) vs. Hart Foundation

2-out-of-3 Falls

WWE Tag Team Championship

SummerSlam 1994

Alundra Blayze ( C )  vs. Bull Nakano w/ Luna Vachon

WWE Women’s Championship

SummerSlam 1998

Ken Shamrock vs. Owen Hart

Lions Den Match

SummerSlam 1999

Test vs. Shane McMahon

Greenwich Street Fight

“Love Her & Leave Her” Match

SummerSlam 1999

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin ( C ) vs. Mankind vs. Triple H

Special Referee - Jesse Ventura

WWE Championship

SummerSlam 2000

Shane McMahon ( C )  vs. Steve Blackman

Hardcore Championship

WWE Tag Team Championship

SummerSlam 2001

Booker T ( C) w/ Shane McMahon vs. The Rock

WCW World Championship

SummerSlam 2012

CM Punk ( C ) vs. John Cena vs. Big Show

WWE Championship

SummerSlam 2014

Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose

Lumberjack Match

SummerSlam 2015

Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro

SummerSlam 2016

Sasha Banks ( C ) vs. Charlotte Flair

RAW Womens Championship

SummerSlam 2016

Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins

Undisputed Championship

SummerSlam 2019

Becky Lynch ( C ) vs. Natalya

Submission Match

RAW Women's Championship

SummerSlam 2019

Trish Stratus vs. Charlotte Flair

35. Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels

wwe summerslam 0011 hogan and shawn

Summerslam 2005

This matchup was a legend versus an icon and the wrestling world was excited to see it. Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan had never faced each other before 2005, despite being in the same company for many years. At the time though, Hogan was the main attraction on top of the WWE card, while Michaels was first in a tag team during those years and only began making his name as a singles star briefly before Hogan left the WWE in 1993. Hogan never passed the torch to guys such as Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels before leaving. Shawn Michaels eventually took that top spot in WWE while Hogan was on WCW as their top guy. These two teamed up prior to this match multiple times before Shawn Michaels turned on the Hulkster, saying he wanted to prove he could beat Hogan.

Rumor has it that this was supposed to be a trilogy of matches, but due to Hogan needing back surgery, it ended up being one match where Hogan went over. Michaels showed his dismay with the seemingly political situation with his over-selling during the match. Although the match isn't an all-time classic, the overselling from HBK makes it a must-watch because, frankly, it's just funny.

34. Jeff Hardy (C) vs. Rob Van Dam - Hardcore Championship - Ladder Match

wwe summerslam 0024 rvdhardy

SummerSlam 2001

Summerslam 2001 took place in midst of the WCW/ECW invasion angle, so we got a lot of cool matches we couldn't even imagine getting earlier in the year. One of those matches was Jeff Hardy versus Rob Van Dam in a ladder match. There are a fair share of ladder matches on this list and they are all pretty unique from each other. The "Whole F'n' Show" and the "Charismatic Enigma" were two high-flying, risk taking and innovative superstars who have no regard for their bodies when it comes to entertaining the fans, so you know what to expect here. It was hard-hitting and a fun watch. It may be the greatest Hardcore Championship match in SummerSlam history. How about that?

33. Carmella (C) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch - Smackdown Women's Championship

wwe summerslam 0003 mellacharbeck

SummerSlam 2018

When doing my research for this article and watching a lot of these matches, I realized that there unfortunately weren't many great women's matches at SummerSlam until the last six years. There were only about five matches that I even considered for this list, with only two of them making it. I really hope we get more classic women's wrestling matches at SummerSlam moving forward. I'm sure this year with Sasha/Bianca, we'll be getting one.

Keeping the above in mind, I really enjoyed this triple threat match where Carmella had to defend the Smackdown Women's Championship against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. This was the period when the fans were really behind Lynch as the ultimate underdog and her over-achieving best friend Charlotte Flair found her way into her title match. Carmella was having a great run as champion with multiple impressive victories over both Charlotte and Asuka already.

All three women delivered in a great match. Carmella proved that—in a big match situation—she could hang with the very best and deserved to be there. It also took Charlotte winning the match for Becky Lynch to finally snap. It was the beginning of Becky's run with "The Man" gimmick, and for that alone, this match holds a ton of significance.

32. Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe - Universal Championship

wwe summerslam 0025 brockromanbraunjoe

SummerSlam 2017

Are you a fan of demolition derbies or monster truck shows? Then this is the match for you. It was four of the WWE's biggest men in a fatal four way for the Universal Championship. Brock Lesnar defended the championship against Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman. The odds were stacked against him and there was a stipulation that if he lost, he had to leave the WWE. This was chaotic and spilled all over ringside, destroying everything in sight. I never realized how enjoyable this was until I rewatched it for the first time. I guess when watching it live I must have been wanting something to happen, but just watching back years later I got to just enjoy the mayhem. Check it out to see if Lesnar survives.

31. John Cena (C) vs. Brock Lesnar - WWE World Heavyweight Championship

wwe summerslam 0012 brockcena

SummerSlam 2014

Listen... I felt a special sort of joy watching John Cena get absolutely annihilated by The Beast. This really was a special match for me. I was one of those fans that couldn't stand Cena from 2006-2012. Many of us describe that as the "Super Cena" era because so many of the great characters WWE would build up just ended up losing against Cena. If it was not them losing to Cena initially, they always did eventually. Up to this point, we had never seen Cena in such a one-sided match like this one. These two wrestled each other when Lesnar returned in 2012 and that match was even more evenly matched, with Cena picking up the win.

However, this was just a beating, and we loved to see it. This was the inception of suplex city, the origin of Lesnar being a dominant force in the title picture for years to come and sort of a farewell to the Super Cena Era that once was.

30. Undertaker vs. Randy Orton

wwe summerslam 0007 ortontaker

SummerSlam 2005

Randy Orton was dubbed the "Legend Killer" in his early years and the Undertaker is one of the biggest legends in pro wrestling. Therefore, it wasn't a surprise when Orton challenged Undertaker and his streak earlier in the year at Wrestlemania. He came up on the short end, but the rivalry didn't end there.

Orton got drafted to Smackdown and his first target was none other than the Deadman. This led to a rematch at SummerSlam and—although it was a step down from their Wrestlemania match—it was still really good. Randy Orton was finally able to pick up a RKO victory against The Undertaker, even if it was partially due to a distraction from a fan who entered the ring as Undertaker was going for the tombstone. The fan was revealed to be Randy Orton's Hall of Fame father, "Cowboy" Bob Orton; they outsmarted the Phenom.

29. Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns

wwe summerslam 0009 randyroman

SummerSlam 2014

The Shield had just broken up a couple of months earlier. Their last feud was against "Evolution," consisting of Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton. Roman Reigns' first rival as a singles star was Randy Orton. This was Roman's first big PPV singles match as they were trying to build him up as the next big star. It became evident to fans that Roman was the chosen one by the company at this point, so a lot of people began turning on him. Due to that, people didn't really give this match the credit it deserved. Randy Orton was a seasoned veteran and he gave Reigns the opportunity to shine in a solid match. The Viper did a really good job of making Reigns look like a future star while it doing nothing to hurt his own stock. Only if Hogan did the same thing for Randal in 2006...

28. The Rock (C) vs. Brock Lesnar - WWE Championship

wwe summerslam 0035 rockbrock

SummerSlam 2002

It was the "Next Big Thing" versus the "Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment" for the Undisputed Championship. Brock Lesnar was fresh on the WWE scene in his rookie year when he won the opportunity to face the champion after winning the King of the Ring tournament. The Rock was focusing more on his Hollywood career in 2002 and was scheduled to take time off after the event.

For hardcore fans like myself who were reading dirt sheets back then, the writing was on the wall. This was a match that started off hot and never really slowed down. Paul Heyman even went through a table. Although the outcome felt inevitable, it really felt like the beginning of a new era when Brock Lesnar finished The Rock off with an F5 to win the WWE Championship in the main event of SummerSlam. Brock Lesnar still remains the youngest WWE Champion, winning it at the age of 25. 

27. Sasha Banks (C) vs. Asuka - Raw Women's Championship

wwe summerslam 0039 sashaasuka

SummerSlam 2020

The second of our two women's matches on this list comes from last year, when Sasha Banks defended her Raw Women's Championship against Asuka. Banks and Asuka always had great matches with each other and this was no different. This was the period where Sasha and Bayley were holding all the belts in the women's division. Asuka had faced Bayley earlier in the night for the Smackdown Women's Title, but lost due to Sasha's successful distractions. The story here was that Bayley didn't sacrifice herself as much as Sasha did for her to distract Asuka in this match, ultimately allowing Asuka to pick up the victory. Regardless, with the time they were given, they really gave us a great match that progressed all relevant storylines. This is possibly the best women's match on SummerSlam to date. It's just a shame that it wasn't in front of a live audience. I have high hopes for Sasha Banks vs Bianca Belair to outdo it.

If you're a women's wrestling fan, I would say Blayze/Nakano (1994), Sasha/Charlotte (2016), Charlotte/Trish (2019), Becky/Natalya (2019) and Bayley/Asuka (2020) are honourable mentions for women's matches at Summerslam.

26. Christian (C) vs. Randy Orton - World Championship - No Holds Barred

wwe summerslam 0043 Christian Randy Orton

SummerSlam 2011

Randy Orton and Christian put on a series of great matches in 2011 for the World Championship. They sometimes gets overshadowed by everything that was happening on Raw with the "Summer of Punk.” Although, if you were tuning into Smackdown's product, these two were consistently giving us top quality matches.

This rivalry began back in May when Christian finally won the World Championship from Alberto Del Rio, only to lose it to Orton five days later. Christian was unsuccessful in his next two opportunities to win the title back, but his third opportunity at Money in the Bank led to him regaining the championship under some unique stipulations. Orton was granted his rematch at SummerSlam in a No Holds Barred match and these two had yet another great match. They had great chemistry with each other and put on bangers; I really dislike how this match falls under the radar. This was a blow-off to a great series of matches and you should watch them all.

25. John Cena vs. Batista

wwe summerslam 0002 cenabatista

SummerSlam 2008

The final two superstars in the 2005 Royal Rumble were John Cena and Dave Batista. Both men would go to Wrestlemania that year to win the World Titles of their respective brands to usher in a new era. They were the top guys on their brands for the years that followed. They would not be on the same brand in their careers until 2008, outside of the brief period they were both on Raw as champions in 2005. It was a big deal when we found out the two favorites would finally be facing each other at SummerSlam.

Considering my feelings towards John Cena, especially during those years, I was strongly behind Batista. Batista was already a favorite of mine since his days in Evolution, but most of the fans were split down the middle. It was a hard-hitting and unpredictable match filled with near falls, so I was still shocked when Batista picked up the victory over Cena after a second Batista Bomb. Cena would end up breaking his neck in this match, but I respect his willingness to finish the match.

24. Ric Flair vs. Mick Foley - I Quit Match

wwe summerslam 0014 flairfoley

SummerSlam 2006

Why do I feel like most wrestling fans forget that this iconic match happened at SummerSlam? It was two legends taking their real life past animosity towards each other and translating their history into an on-air feud. They wrote hurtful things about each other in their autobiographies, which led to a backstage altercation in 2004, but the two had reconciled by 2006. They wrestled in a two-out-of-three falls match at Vengeance, but their second match was an "I Quit" match.

It was a brutal affair; Flair left covered in his own blood, thumbtacks and barbed wire cuts. Flair was known to bleed, but really never got this extreme. Melina was Foley's friend at the time and came to his aid near the end of the match. Foley was forced to say the words, "I quit," when Flair threatened to attack Melina with the barbed wire bat. This was far from a technical masterpiece, but definitely an unforgettable fight between two legends.

23. The Rock (C) vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle - WWE Championship

wwe summerslam 0034 kurtrocktriple

SummerSlam 2000

By the Summer of 2000, The Rock had overcome the McMahon/Helmsley Faction and was our WWE Champion. Kurt Angle was building his own relationship with Triple H's wife Stephanie McMahon. This created tension between Angle and Triple H, who both became number one contenders for The Rock's championship.

The match started with Triple H taking Kurt Angle out of the equation before The Rock even made his way to the ring by pedigreeing him through a table that broke prematurely. The EMT's with Stephanie took Angle backstage, leaving mainly a singles match until Kurt Angle made his way back to ringside. The drama between Triple H, Kurt Angle and Stephanie was all too much of a distraction allowing The Rock to retain his championship. It was a soap opera-like drama, but it sure was entertaining.

22. John Cena (C) vs. Daniel Bryan - WWE Championship

wwe summerslam 0004 cenabryan

SummerSlam 2013

John Cena was given the opportunity to choose his own opponent for SummerSlam and picked fan-favorite Daniel Bryan. They had great promos leading up to the match, splitting the fans down the middle, while Mr. McMahon didn't like the idea of Bryan being the poster boy for WWE. Triple H would appoint himself the special referee for the match to avoid any shenanigans taking place.

Overall, this was a really good match that showed WWE giving smaller indy darling guys a chance. Bryan defeated John Cena clean with a running knee to win his first WWE Championship. Cena even showed him respect following his shocking loss. The celebration was cut short though when Triple H hit the pedigree on Bryan, allowing Orton to successfully cash in his Money in the Bank contract to win the championship. I ranked this match high on the list because—watching it back—it felt like the match dragged on longer than I remembered, even though the finish was awesome. 

21. Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero - Custody of Dominik - Ladder Match

wwe summerslam 0031 reyeddie

SummerSlam 2005

This was a great match with a storyline that us wrestling fans still make fun of today. In 2005, Eddie Guerrero got so frustrated that he couldn't defeat his friend and former tag partner in a match that he went on to play mind games with Mysterio instead to crush him. Guerrero began saying that Rey's son Dominik was actually his son. This all led to a ladder match between the two where the custody papers for Dominik were hung above the ring in a briefcase. A young Dominik would watch them battle for these custody papers in the front row along with a child services attorney.

That all aside, they gave us a really good competitive ladder match. I don't think we would expect anything less from these two lucha legends. The finish came when Vickie Guerrero wouldn't let Eddie stop Rey from retrieving the custody papers because she knew he was lying and trying to tear apart the Mysterio family. It's crazy that Dominik is an active member of the WWE roster now. Good times.

20. Brain Busters vs. Hart Foundation

wwe summerslam 0038 brainbusters

SummerSlam 1989

Listen, hear me out before you judge me for putting this match at number 20. If you have any ounce of appreciation for tag team wrestling and the psychology of professional wrestling generally, watch this match. The Brain Busters had a brief stint in the WWE with Heenan as their manager, but they left us with classics such as this one, thankfully. It was even more appropriate that Tony Schiavone was on commentary for this particular SummerSlam too due to his history with the two in JCP and WCW. Although the Brain Busters were the tag team champions, this was a non-title match due to them winning the belts after the match was already booked. The chemistry of the two teams and the perfect storytelling really made me love this match. It’s a masterclass of tag team wrestling. It was simple yet significant. Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Jim Neidhart and Bret Hart... come on. Just watch it. 

19. Jeff Hardy (C) vs. CM Punk - World Championship - TLC Match

wwe summerslam 0023 punkhardy

SummerSlam 2009

Jeff Hardy was a master of the TLC match, so when it was announced that Punk and Hardy would meet in a TLC match, it seemed in Hardy's favor. Punk had his fair share of success in ladder matches as he was a two time Money in the Bank winner and successfully cashed in his second contract on Hardy, which started this feud. Hardy would win the title back at Night of Champions, but their rivalry over conflicting lifestyle philosophies continued.

These two beat the hell out of each other and it was Hardy's high risk antics that cost him this match. Hardy was unable to fully recover following a swanton bomb onto Punk off a large ladder outside of the ring through the announcer table. It allowed Punk to easily push Hardy off the ladder they were both climbing in the final moments of the match to regain the championship. Undertaker would make a surprise appearance after the match too, which was a cherry on top.

18. Shawn Michaels (C) vs. Vader - WWE Championship

wwe summerslam 0005 Shawn Michaels and Vader

SummerSlam 1996

The Boyhood Dream for Shawn Michaels came true in 1996 when he won the WWE Championship. Following Wrestlemania, he took on every competitor who tried to take it away from him. One of the biggest threats was none other than "The Mastodon" Vader with Jim Cornette in his corner. The "Heartbreak Kid" always had great matches with larger opponents and this was no different. Although there were some miscommunications during the match that Michaels made very evident, I still really enjoyed it. Vader would pick up the victory by DQ and then by count out, which were both ways that wouldn't make the title change hands, so Jim Cornette requested the match be restarted to declare a decisive winner.

When the match was restarted, Michaels ended up picking up the victory, but barely, which told a great story. Bruce Prichard has said that Vader was in line to win the championship from Michaels at Survivor Series, but was replaced by Sid because Michaels didn't like working with Vader. It's a shame because I liked their dynamic as opponents.

17. Undertaker (C) vs. Bret Hart - WWE Championship (Special Referee - Shawn Michaels)

wwe summerslam 0019 takerbretshawn

SummerSlam 1997

This is one of my personal favorite matches. It was two of the all-time greats fighting over the WWE Championship while Shawn Michaels was the special referee in a controversial decision. Undertaker was defending his championship. If Bret Hart lost, he would no longer be allowed to wrestle on US soil. If Shawn Michaels intentionally screwed over Bret Hart and was not impartial, he would not be allowed to wrestle on US soil. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had a ton of on-air and real life tension with each other so there was concern that he wouldn't call it down the middle. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, respectively, were two guys who brought the best out of Undertaker, so believe me when I say this was a good match. However, it was the finish when Shawn Michaels stopped Bret Hart from using a chair on the Undertaker, but then inadvertently hit Undertaker with the same chair himself costing the “Deadman” the match, which set up so much for the next year. It set up the Undertaker/Michaels feud, the first Hell in a Cell match, Kane's debut and the infamous Montreal Screwjob. 

16. Seth Rollins (C) vs. John Cena (C) - WWE Championship and United States Championship - Winner Takes All

wwe summerslam 0020 sethcena

SummerSlam 2015

This was when I was a huge Seth Rollins fan during his first championship title run and still wanted John Cena as far away from the championship title picture as possible. Therefore, I was really invested in this match because I really didn't want John Cena to win and end Rollins' amazing reign as champion. John Cena was the United States Champion at the time, so this was a winner takes all match where one of the two superstars would walk out with both belts.

This was an absolute banger that had me on the edge of my seat. There were a ton of near falls and signature moves nailed during this match. In the end though, it would be the host of the “Daily Show” John Stewart interfering in the match—hitting Cena with a chair, that would allow Rollins to pick up the pieces to win the match, thus becoming a double champion. A lot of fans disliked this finish, but I was happy as hell. Stewart’s reasoning for interfering was that he did not want Cena to tie Ric Flair's record of 16 World Championship reigns, as Naitch was his favorite. I appreciated it.

15. Edge vs. Undertaker - Hell in a Cell

wwe summerslam 0006 underteredge

SummerSlam 2008

The Edge and Undertaker rivalry went all the way back to May of 2007 when Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on the Undertaker to win the World Championship. Although they took breaks from the rivalry in late 2007, the feud reignited when Edge returned at Survivor Series crashing Undertaker’s Hell in a Cell match against Batista. They were even the main event of Wrestlemania in 2008 and had a TLC match later that year. The blow-off to the feud was inside of Hell in a Cell and it really was a helluva match, fueled by months of frustrations with one another. These guys found a way to make this match memorable without doing any crazy stunts off the top or side of the cell. The Undertaker would defeat Edge, but the visual we were left with when he choke-slammed the “Rated R Superstar” off a ladder through the canvas to be engulfed by flames was unforgettable.

14. Kurt Angle (C) vs. Brock Lesnar - WWE Championship

wwe summerslam 0026 kurtbrock

SummerSlam 2003

Anytime Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar wrestled each other, it was something special. They were two wrestlers with strong amateur wrestling backgrounds, but also really talented performers in the professional wrestling world. This was a rematch from Wrestlemania earlier in the year, although the roles had changed, since Angle was the babyface this time around while Lesnar was the heel. The match started off slow with a lot of mat work as you would expect, but once it picked up it did not slow down. Vince McMahon even came out to try to help Lesnar win, but in the end the Angle would shockingly force Brock to tap out to his ankle lock. This was the only time I remember Brock tapping out in the WWE and it was fitting that it was to the Olympic Gold Medalist. Kurt Angle would Angle Slam McMahon on a chair for good measure after as well.

13. Shawn Michaels (C) vs. Razor Ramon - Intercontinental Championship - Ladder Match

wwe summerslam 0027 razorshawn

SummerSlam 1995

The pioneers of the ladder match in the WWE would have a rematch of their Wrestlemania X classic the following year at SummerSlam. Once again, Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels would fight over the Intercontinental Championship, but this time they were both coming in as baby faces and there was way less of a build up. Originally, it seemed as if Michaels would be wrestling Sid at this event, but it was scrapped for this match instead. To the fans' luck, these two put on a stellar performance that was ahead of its time in this era and evolved from their first ladder match. This was the time when a moonsault off a ladder was still a spectacular site to see. This was also the first time we saw a second ladder introduced into the match. The finish came when Shawn retrieved the title, even though it took him a second climb to properly retrieve it, and he seemed visibly mad about that.

12. Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle

wwe summerslam 0016 reykurt

SummerSlam 2002

This might as well be the greatest opening match to SummerSlam in history. It was nothing too flashy and didn't even go ten minutes long, but it's just so easy to watch. Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio are two of the all-time greats; on paper you'd expect them to have a great match, and they lived up to the expectations.

It started off hot, was quick paced and just a banger. I don't know what else to say about it, but it's definitely worth the watch. It was just fluid non-stop action with great storytelling, I honestly think the fact that it didn't go too long made it even greater cause many other solid SummerSlam matches had the problem of just going a few minutes too long.

11. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (C) vs. Kurt Angle - WWE Championship

wwe summerslam 0015 kurtaustin

SummerSlam 2001

This was during the Invasion storyline and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's heel run. Kurt Angle was the top babyface for team WWE, even though The Rock had just returned before this event. As The Rock focused on the WCW Championship, Angle feuded with Austin over the WWE Championship.

This match was an absolute brawl, which even saw Angle get busted open. Austin got so extremely frustrated by not being able to put away the “Olympic Gold Medalist” after multiple Stunners that he started attacking referees. When Angle seemed to have had the match won, WCW senior official Nick Patrick came out to call the match as DQ due to all the attacks on referees. Kurt Angle ended up taking his frustration out with an Ankle Lock to Nick Patrick, while Austin snuck away with his title.

10. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (C) vs. Ultimate Warrior - WWE Championship

wwe summerslam 0000 randywarrior

SummerSlam 1992

"Macho Man" Randy Savage gave the Ultimate Warrior two of his best matches and this was one of them. It was never about the quality of the in-ring work, but more about them both being larger than life characters. They were also both good guys at the time, which had the fans split down the middle for who they wanted to see win. Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect played a part in the match, adding to the drama. It was a highly competitive match between two superhero like legends on one of the biggest stages of the year, live from the UK. The fans were hot for this match and rightfully so. Both men had nearly won the match at times, but it would end in a count out due to all the outside interference by Flair and Perfect. Regardless, this match is more of a spectacle than a five star match. Those who know me would know how much I value characters and storytelling above wrestling moves with no meaning. This match always stood out to me as a kid.

9. CM Punk (C) vs. John Cena (C) - WWE Championship (Special Referee - Triple H)

wwe summerslam 0037 punkcena

SummerSlam 2011

The Summer of Punk was a special time in the WWE. I might have favored this match a little more because it was the period of time that I got back into the WWE product heavily after years of being hot and cold with the product. Punk was definitely one of Cena's best opponents of all time. CM Punk defeated Cena for the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank and walked out with the title as his contract expired. Cena defeated Rey Mysterio, who was the newly crowned champion on Raw for the WWE Championship, only for Punk to return. This led to a match at SummerSlam to crown the undisputed champion with Triple H as the special referee. The night ended with Alberto Del Rio as the new champion and a Kevin Nash appearance, yet it didn't take away from the match and the hype that surrounded it. 

8. Edge and Christian (C) vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz - WWE Tag Team Championship - TLC Match

wwe summerslam 0013 tlc

SummerSlam 2000

The three teams that are synonymous with the Table, Ladders and Chairs match had their first TLC match at SummerSlam. Although the Wrestlemania X-7 match stands out to many casual fans, it was not the first. This was everything you expected from The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian in a TLC match. It was a car wreck with everyone risking their bodies, not only to win the tag team titles, but to entertain the fans and steal the show. It set the bar for all future TLC matches and even forced them to step up their game in their second TLC encounter at Wrestlemania. I'll always appreciate the beating these men put themselves through during these matches. They set the bar for years to come and changed the game.

7. Bret Hart (C) vs. Owen Hart - WWE Championship - Steel Cage Match

wwe summerslam 0018 bretowen

SummerSlam 1994

In 1994, the sibling rivalry between Owen Hart and Bret Hart escalated to the point where the two faced off against each other inside of the steel cage over the WWE Championship. This was the blow-off to their feud that started back at Survivor Series 1993 for the time being, although they kept the tension until 1997. Owen was sick of being in Bret's shadow because he felt like he was better than him. This may be one of the best cage matches in WWE history and specifically up to this point. The entire Hart Family being in the audience watching this family affair first hand added to the drama. However, watching it back, my only complaint was that it felt sort of long. Regardless of the length, it is truly one of the greatest SummerSlam matches of all time.

6. The Rock (C) vs. Triple H - Intercontinental Championship - Ladder Match

wwe summerslam 0010 triplehrock

SummerSlam 1998

The Rock and Triple H were on the rise at the same time as their careers ran parallel for many years. In 1998, The Rock was the leader of the Nation of Domination and Triple H was the leader of DX. The two factions were immersed in a heated rivalry for most of the year. The feud led to a ladder match between Triple H and The Rock at Summerslam 1998. This was the first ladder match in WWE not to feature Shawn Michaels, but the Intercontinental Championship continued to be the prize. This was an outstanding ladder match that told a great story of The Rock attacking the knee of Triple H. Chyna and Mark Henry got involved in the match too. In the end, Triple H retrieved the belt, ending The Rock's nine month reign. Both men left this match as bigger stars as their ascend to the top continued.

5. CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar - No Disqualification

wwe summerslam 0029 cmpunkbrock

SummerSlam 2013

Imagine Wolverine going to battle against Incredible Hulk. That's what this felt like. It was dubbed "The Best vs. The Beast'' and we were all in for the ride. CM Punk was beloved by the fans and a bonafide top guy at this point of his career. Punk was feuding with his former friend and advocate Paul Heyman, who was also the advocate for Brock Lesnar. While it seemed as if Lesnar was attacking Punk on Heyman's behalf, he made it clear that he never liked Punk, but only left him alone out of respect for Heyman.

The match was incredible and there were a few instances when it seemed as if Punk had the upper hand on The Beast. Lesnar had underestimated CM Punk, as they had never wrestled before, which allowed Punk to catch him off guard many times. In the end, it was Punk's obsession with getting his hands on Heyman that truly cost him the match. This didn't feel like a wrestling match, but a true battle between two superhumans.

4. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H - Unsanctioned Street Fight

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SummerSlam 2002

Shawn Michaels had retired from wrestling for four years after losing the WWE Championship Wrestlemania 14 in 1998. No one ever thought he was going to step back into the squared circle. Michaels would appear on television sporadically during those retired years in different roles, but never wrestled. When Shawn Michaels returned in 2002 for the short-lived NWO angle, we still didn't think he would wrestle. However, when the reunion with his old friend Triple H was cut short due to Triple H turning on him, it was inevitable that it would lead to a match. Shawn Michaels and Triple H would go on to have a bloody unsanctioned street fight where the “Heartbreak Kid” came out victorious. Although we were expecting less from Michaels due to his career-ending back injury, he hadn't lost a step. What was supposed to be a one-off led to Michaels returning to the ring for the next eight years. It was special to see the “Showstopper” return to the ring.

3. Mr. Perfect (C) vs. Bret Hart - Intercontinental Championship

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SummerSlam 1991

What happens when you take two of the hungriest second generation superstars and give them the opportunity to steal the show? They'll do just that.

It was the beginning of Bret Hart's singles run after the Hart Foundation split up. Mr. Perfect was the Intercontinental Champion. This was when the title really represented the workhorses and was a stepping stone to the World Title. These two put on an absolute classic as a duo, which was expected from two of the best technical wrestlers of the time. Curt Hennig went into this match with his back already injured, but still wanting to put on a classic because of their real-life friendship and respect for each other. Hart kicked out of the Perfectplex, which nobody had done before in an era when kicking out of a finisher was still a big deal. He then got on the Sharpshooter to make Perfect tap, earning his first singles title in an absolutely perfect and excellently executed match.

2. John Cena vs. AJ Styles

wwe summerslam 0040 ajstylescena

SummerSlam 2016

AJ Styles made a name for himself around the world for 16 years before making his official debut in WWE. When he finally made his debut at the Royal Rumble, there were many dream Styles matches. On the top of that list was AJ Styles versus John Cena. They had their first match at Money in the Bank when AJ Styles came out on top, but not without help from Gallows and Anderson. The rematch was set for SummerSlam, but this time The Club wasn't expected to interfere due to them being drafted to different shows. This was a fantastic match filled with near falls and it was really unpredictable who was going to win. The idea of Styles winning two straight matches against Cena seemed unlikely since Cena was WWE's golden goose and that rarely happened. It had me on the edge of my seat, as I was rooting for Styles. When Styles hit the second Phenomenal Forearm for the clean win, I was ecstatic. This was a SummerSlam classic for sure, and must watch if you’ve never seen it.

1. Bret Hart (C) vs. "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith

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Intercontinental Championship - SummerSlam 1992

The 1992 edition of Summerslam featured the Intercontinental Championship as the main event of the show. It was appropriate due to "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith being the number one contender for the championship, and the event taking place in his home country of England. They wanted to see their hometown boy bring it home on their own soil, which made the match big enough to be the main event. Davey Boy had his brother-in-law and current champion Bret "The Hitman" Hart as his opponent. He couldn't have asked for a better dance partner. These two told a great story when Hart, who was the top babyface at the time, played a more heel role, knowing the fans were behind the Bulldog. It was a back and forth battle that ended with Davey Boy catching the Hitman unexpectedly with a pin when he was going for a sunset flip. The crowd pop for Davey winning was insane and the atmosphere was electric.

This was professional wrestling at it's finest. This match still holds up today, and if you're a wrestling fan who has never seen this match, go watch it now! Thank me later.

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