Top 10 SummerSlam Matches of All-Time

Mark Freitas
FiredUp Network Sports Writer


Wednesday, August 2, 2023

This Saturday will be the 36th annual SummerSlam event at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Throughout the years of SummerSlam, we, as fans, have seen some of the best matches in WWE's history at the biggest party of the summer. Today I will give you my top 10 SummerSlam matches of all time. 


10. John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan - SummerSlam 2013


This great match between John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan is starting off the list. John Cena was allowed to pick his opponent for SummerSlam. He chose Daniel Bryan, much to the pleasure of the WWE fans, because in 2013, Daniel Bryan was the most popular wrestler at the time. The Yes movement was in full effect, and the fans were ready for Bryan to finally get his big win and become the new face of the WWE.


This match was fantastic, despite Cena having to use one arm (he had a preestablished elbow injury). Fans knew John was going to take time off for surgery. Cena put on a classic in this match, as Bryan made the match hell for him. 


Bryan would win the WWE Championship by hitting Cena with the running knee. Unfortunately for Bryan and the fans, the moment would be short-lived as Randy Orton cashed in his Money in the Bank contract with the help of Triple H. 


This would set up Daniel Bryan to win the Unified WWE Championship at WrestleMania 30 in a legendary triple-threat match.


9. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio – SummerSlam 2005


Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero had many great matches over the years. At SummerSlam 2005, they had another memorable match, but with a strange stipulation as they fought in a ladder match for the custody of Dominik Mysterio, Rey's son. 


This was the end of a four-month feud between these two legends. Both superstars put on a good match with lots of high-flying moves in an exciting match. The ending of the match could have been better instead of Vicki Guerrero holding down Eddie, but that is my only takeaway. Another memorable moment is when Vicki misses her cue, and Eddie gets visibly upset, saying, "Where the (expletive) is Vickie."


In conclusion, it was great that Rey got the win to end the feud on a high note after Eddie put him through hell for the last four months.


8. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudleys vs. Edge & Christian – SummerSlam 2000


 In recent years the TLC match has seemed to lose its touch, but in 2000, WWE fans got something new and exciting. What is memorable about this match is that all three teams left memories that won't be forgotten, such as Bubba Ray Dudley moving out of the way from Jeff Hardy's Swanton Bomb on the outside of the ring as he crashes through two tables. The match was chaotic from start to finish.


Months prior, The Dudleys, Hardy's, Edge & Christian put on the first-ever tag team triple threat ladder match at WrestleMania 16, but the bar was raised for the first-ever TLC match. The Hardy Boyz were in their hometown, but it didn't help them much because Edge & Christian were the last teams standing, and they retained the WWE Tag-Team Championships in a match that changed the landscape of tag team wrestling.


7. Undertaker vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – SummerSlam 1998


 This is one of the best SummerSlam main events ever. The buildup to this match was significant, as you didn't know what to expect. The pay-per-view was promoted as "The Highway to Hell." 


After re-watching this match, it's got everything wrestling fans like it was a well-paced match, and both men got 50/50 offence in. My favourite part from this match was Undertaker's leg drop from the top rope to the announce table, hitting Austin.


Kane came out during the match, but Undertaker told him to go backstage as he wanted the match to be a fair fight and have it be one on one. 


Stone Cold won the match by hitting Taker with the Stone Cold Stunner. After this, their rivalry continued, but this match was the best out of all their matches. It will go down as one of the best SummerSlam matches ever.


6. Undertaker vs. Bret Hart SummerSlam (1997)


Bret Hart is one of the best wrestlers of all time. He and The Undertaker always worked great together in the ring.


In this match, Bret worked on Undertaker's lower body for most of the match so that Taker couldn't hit any of his big moves. Shawn Michaels was the special guest referee for this match, so it kept everyone on their toes to wait and see if something would happen.


Something did happen, and Shawn Michaels hit the Undertaker in the head with a chair. This chair shot was supposed to be aimed at Bret after Bret spat in Shawn Michaels's face. Bret Hart would win the championship because Michaels cost Undertaker the championship. The seed was planted to lead to the first-ever Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels months later.


5. Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith – SummerSlam 1992


Everything in this match was perfect the storytelling, the Intercontinental Championship being on the line and the perfect setting of the match at Wembley Stadium. The crowd was electric for this match, and when Davey Boy defeated his brother-in-law, Bret Hart, it was a fantastic moment, and it made the Intercontinental Championship.


Dwayne Comer, an avid wrestling fan, loves this match and considers it one of his favourite SummerSlam matches of all time. "It is one of my favourite matches because he fought his brother-in-law. It was an all-out brawl and war, with the British Bulldog winning the Intercontinental Championship in Wembley Stadium. It was a pretty sweet moment".


To many wrestling fans, this match was a technical wrestling masterpiece that we have not seen much in today's era of wrestling.


4. John Cena vs. AJ Styles – SummerSlam 2016


This match is a modern-day classic. John Cena and AJ Styles had amazing chemistry whenever they wrestled, but everything was unique this night. Both superstars brought their A-game. The crowd was into this match every second. There were a lot of near falls that kept you on the edge of your set.


Wrestling enthusiast Jacob Calvert calls this match a classic. "It's a classic, as nobody thought AJ was going win. He got a cheap win at Money in the Bank (Kevin Owens got the same the previous year). Everyone figured Cena was going to win the revenge match. But AJ got the win which showed WWE thought highly of him and put their faith in Styles. They didn't see him as a disposable TNA/indie guy". 


It was an outstanding performance from both men, and Cena passed over the torch to AJ as he was eight months into his WWE tenure. Since then, AJ Styles has been one of the top guys in the WWE due to his rivalry with John Cena, which showed he can hang around with big-time players.


3. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle – SummerSlam 2003


 The rematch from Wrestlemania 19. The SummerSlam match between Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle exceeded expectations and is one of my favourite Summerslam matches of all time. 


Both men worked amazingly together; the match had lots of near falls. Kurt and Brock always brought the best out of each other. Lesnar recently turned heel weeks before this match, and Brock did everything he could to win the WWE Championship with the help of Mr. McMahon hitting Kurt in the back with a chair because the referee got knocked out for a moment. Brock hit an F5, but it wasn't enough to keep Angle down.


Brock tried to hit another F5, and Angle would counter into the ankle lock. Brock would tap out, and Kurt retained the championship; this match holds up today as a great match in this incredible rivalry between these athletes.


2. The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar – SummerSlam 2002


Brock Lesnar dominated the summer of 2002. Lesnar debuted the night after WrestleMania 18 during a Hardcore Match and took out everyone. From then on, accompanied by Paul Heyman, he was built up as "The Next Big Thing," and that's what Brock Lesnar was. Lesnar would take out the likes of superstars, The Hardy Boyz, Rob Van Dam and Hulk Hogan.


WWE was marketing Lesnar to be their next top guy; Lesnar would win the King of the Ring Tournament and get an Undisputed Championship match at SummerSlam. His opponent would be The Rock. At the time, The Rock was slowly transitioning into Hollywood to break into the movie business. The WWE was moving out of the Attitude Era and moving forward into the Ruthless Aggression Era with The Rock leaving and Stone Cold Steve Austin walking out on the company. WWE needed to build new superstars, which they wanted to do, and they did with Brock Lesnar.


Going into the match, Brock Lesnar was cheered, and The Rock received boos because the crowd knew he would take time off to film another movie. From the start of the match, you knew it would be electrifying. The WWE fans were loud, and you could tell The Rock was frustrated with the "Rocky sucks" chants.


Brock would win the match by hitting The Rock with an F-5. Brock Lesnar became the youngest WWE Champion at 25, officially becoming "The Next Big Thing." The record would stand until Randy Orton won the World Heavyweight Champion at 24 at SummerSlam 2004 in Toronto.


A little-known fact about this match, WWE planned to have Lesnar win with help from Paul Heyman, but Rock thought It would be best for him to lose clean to give Lesnar the most momentum possible and start his time as a main eventer the right way.


Honourable mentions


Randy Orton vs. Chris Benoit – SummerSlam 2004


Stone-Cold Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle – SummerSlam 2001


Undertaker vs. Edge – SummerSlam 2008


Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart – SummerSlam 1994


The Rock vs. Triple H – SummerSlam 1998


Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – SummerSlam 1995


Seth Rollins vs. John Cena – SummerSlam 2015


CM Punk vs. John Cena – SummerSlam 2011


Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk – SummerSlam 2013


1. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H – SummerSlam 2002


 In 2002 Shawn Michaels returned to a WWE ring after being injured for four years due to a back injury. Shawn's first feud back was with his best friend Triple H. At Vengeance of that year, Triple H had a decision to make. Choosing between Raw or SmackDown, on which brand he wanted to go with because Stephanie McMahon and Eric Bishoff wanted him on their shows because he wasn't drafted to either show. Shawn Michaels came to the ring and convinced Triple H to join Raw so they could reform DX and make Bishoff's life hell. Both men hugged, and it was official.


On the following night on Raw, DX returned, and during their signature catchphrase, Triple H did the unthinkable and turned on Shawn Michaels, hitting him with a pedigree. As the weeks progressed, Triple H sneaked, attacked Michaels, and put him headfirst into a car window. Before the attack, we didn't know Triple H was the culprit until Shawn Michaels revealed that he had attacked him, and we got security footage of the assault. Michaels challenged Triple H to a match at SummerSlam in an unsanctioned match.


In this match, Shawn looked terrific, as he did not miss a beat after being gone for four years. This match made Triple H get to the top and become one of the best heels in wrestling. On this night, Shawn won the match, but Triple H won the war because, after the match, Triple H hit Michaels in the back with a sledgehammer. This was the start of a two-year feud between these legends. This match is the best SummerSlam match of all time.


In conclusion, there have been a lot of excellent SummerSlam matches, and these 10 matches will be remembered by wrestling fans forever. Hopefully, as the years go on, we will get more memorable matches like these. 


Photo Credits/WWE