Even before the WWE started to brand SummerSlam as “The Greatest Party Of The Summer,” the fans, as well as the company, knew quite how important the event was. The first event, held in 1988, was jam-packed with shocks and action appropriate to a show that WWE would later claim to be as huge as WrestleMania.
SummerSlam is one of the famous and oldest Pay Per Views in the history of WWE and one of the original “Big Four”, together with Survivor Series, WrestleMania, and the Royal Rumble. And as you would expect from a PPV with a long history, this event has hosted several outstanding battles over the years, from creative masterpieces to the most absurd gimmick matchups imaginable. We’ve compiled what we think are the top matchups that have ever happened at SummerSlam for your consideration, and there are a lot of them.
Sincerely, if you haven’t seen any of the matches on this list, make sure to change that as soon as possible.
10. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (SummerSlam 1995)
A genuine banger to start off the list is HBK vs. Razor Ramon part II. On August 27, 1995, the historic confrontation took place at the Civic Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was a fantastic “old-school” ladder match that served as an example for later generations of wrestlers.
It was a rematch from their critical performance at WrestleMania X the year before, but don’t let that fool you; it was still fantastic. The crowd ate up everything Michaels did as he rose to legendary status. Furthermore, Razor enjoyed enormous popularity within the business. Consequently, the face-to-face nature of the match made for interesting watching.
With Michaels and Ramon’s trading blows early in the contest, the action was hot off the bat. The scene where Ramon suplexes HBK out over the ring apron to the floor was particularly horrific; at the time, WWE rarely displayed such cruelty. Ramon attacked Michael’s leg as the fight intensified after the ladder or ladders were involved. Ramon was equally fascinating as the Bad Guy, and Michaels was built to play the babyface in danger.
9. CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam 2013)
Even if many find his attitude to be troublesome, there is no denying that when CM Punk was at the top of his career, few could challenge his claim to be the “Best in the World.” Due to the fact that he had so many fantastic matches at the height of his career that some were overlooked, he ended up having a lot of legendary matches that have since been forgotten.
This match with Lesnar, which was likely one of the greatest matches Lesnar has had in his second run with WWE, frequently falls into that category because it was overlooked by the main event of the same show (which we’ll get to), there was no follow-up, and Punk ended up moving on to a much worse feud with Ryback right away as a result of Lesnar’s inconsistent schedule. This was also before Lesnar became “Suplex City,” when he still chose to wrestle entire matches rather than start chucking a dozen suplexes and call it a night. It immediately demonstrated why everyone wonders what Lesnar might have become if he had cared and stayed in WWE full-time for the duration of his career.
8. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena (SummerSlam 2013)
The next match is the one that made Daniel Bryan a megastar. This battle had a “big fight” vibe throughout. The WWE Heavyweight title was on the line, and Triple H served as the special guest referee for the main event. On August 18, 2013, the crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles was completely absorbed in the match, generating an amazing vibe.
Bryan was specifically chosen by Cena to be his SummerSlam opponent prior to the event. When Bryan reached the height of his fame, WWE did everything in their power to slow down his rise because they didn’t want him to represent the company as their champion. There was a tsunami of support from the WWE fanbase as a result.
As soon as the bell rang, the action picked up, and the storytelling excelled. It was champion versus underdog, wrestler versus sports entertainer, and it was face superstar vs. face superstar. Cena was the overly confident champion trying to fight both against his challenger and the audience, who booed everything he did. Bryan outperformed himself to the fullest, defeating the WWE legend with both his wrestling and striking skills. The events that followed the match changed happiness into utter despair and continued the tale of Bryan’s quick rise to stardom.
7. Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog (SummerSlam 1992)
One of the greatest SummerSlam matches in the history of the company occurred during the first WWE PPV event to be held on British soil. The British Bulldog and Bret Hart tore the roof off of Wembley Stadium in 1992.
The storyline leading to the match was excellent. Bulldog, who was Hart’s legal brother-in-law and was wed to his sister Diane, said the match was severing the family. Hart was the champion and very well-liked going into this great match, but Bulldog was the hometown favorite, and the energy was high.
The bout featured a fantastic back-and-forth battle between Bulldog’s overwhelming strength and Hart’s greater technical ability. Bulldog returned the favor with an outstanding array of power moves while Hart tried to grind Smith down with a variety of submissions.
6. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (SummerSlam 2002)
The best comeback performance in history. After leaving the WWE in 1998 to pursue other interests, Shawn Michaels came back to compete against Triple H in this thrilling match. On August 25, 2002, a bloody grudge bout took place in the Nassau Coliseum in New York.
In order to be with his best friend, Triple H joined RAW. However, after DX was reformed, Triple H turned on Michaels. After a vicious sneak assault left Michaels bleeding and the Cerebal Assassin was identified as the attacker, GM Eric Bischoff set up an unofficial match for them to resolve their disagreements.
The fight is intense, filled with violence and brutality. Early on, Triple H dominated the action, viciously attacking HBK’s back. Michaels’ skillful selling was on full display, and he consistently appeared to be on the edge of losing. Both warriors pushed one other to the utmost in this violent and fascinating fight as the blood flowed.
5. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boys (SummerSlam 2000)
The incredible spectacle that is the Table, Ladders, and Chairs match was finally seen by the WWE Universe. The events that took place in the Raleigh Entertainment in North Carolina on August 27, 2000, will live on forever.
The trio of teams was continuously clashing since WrestleMania 2000. But as each team used their preferred weapon, their rivalry intensified to the point where Chairman Foley had to use the phrase “tables, ladders, and chairs, oh my!”
From the very first second, the crowd was fascinated by the magnificent action. Christian was run over by Bubba and D-Von with a 3D. When Jeff Hardy leaped from heaven to a cringe-inducing backfire through a table, he lived up to his name as a daredevil. Bubba had been sent flying from the top of the ladder through four tables just outside of the ring. Lita interfered by sending Christian and Edge flying. Matt Hardy dropped sharply through two tables since all six wrestlers put their lives on the line and became legends.
4. AJ Styles vs. John Cena (SummerSlam 2016)
The chemistry between AJ Styles and John Cena in the ring was incredible (major pun intended). The two had previously faced off at Money in the Bank a few months earlier in a fantastic match, but their match on August 12, 2016, at SummerSlam at the Barclays Center in New York was spectacular.
Styles had only recently signed on with WWE in January, but he quickly made a name for himself as a top performer. Styles turned heel and created The Club while being flanked by his fellow soldiers, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. The group decided to go after Cena, which resulted in the two of them having another memorable encounter during the “biggest party of the summer.”
Both performers put on a show-stopping performance during the match. The passionate crowd supported each move, big moment, and close call (of which there were many). While desperately attempting to gain the upper hand, Styles and Cena faced tremendous counterattack after incredible counterattack. Cena dodged the Phenomenal Forearm in the STF, which Style then converted into a crossface after he reversed a Super-AA into a Frankensteiner. After twenty breathless minutes, the blow-for-blow and move-for-move combat came to an end.
Amazing performances from both wrestlers and Cena truly handed the spotlight over to Styles by losing to him. To make the occasion even more memorable. Eight months into his WWE career, AJ Styles had already defeated the Face That Runs The Place.
3. Bret Hart vs. Mr Perfect (SummerSlam 1991)
A spectacular contest between the two greatest wrestlers in history. I’m going to say it: Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect made the perfect rivals for one another. On August 26, 1991, two true masters of the ring displayed their skills in front of a crowded Madison Square Garden.
Following a period of tag team wrestling, Hart was in the thick of his solo career. He had gained victories along the way on the two current wrestling competition shows, Superstars and Wrestling Challenge. He then competed against Mr. Perfect for the championship at the pay-per-view. The champion, who had held the title for more than a year, had to take some time off following the tournament because he suffered a serious back ailment.
The actual match is a superb display of in-ring psychology and technical wrestling. Hart beat Perfect early on, forcing the champion to cheat, but the challenger was prepared and stopped each attack. On his path to winning his first WWE singles championship, Hart made history by being the first person to kick out of the Perfect Plex. This was the Hitman’s peak moment and the beginning of his rise to legend. It made him a singles superstar and ranks among the all-time great Intercontinental Championship matches.
2. The Undertaker vs. Edge (SummerSlam 2008)
Even though Edge and The Undertaker frequently fought in matches, their match on August 17, 2008, at Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse, was unique.
The build started when Edge won the World Heavyweight Championship from ‘Taker in a TLC match at One Night Stand. The Undertaker was banned from WWE as required by the clause after the defeat. As revenge for Edge’s cheating, Vickie Guerrero, his betrayed future wife, reinstated the Deadman and scheduled the Hell in a Cell match at SummerSlam.
The two adversaries tortured one another inside the harsh structure. It was a chaotic brawl with several jaw-dropping scenes. Edge drove a spear through the cell wall and onto the announcer table, hitting ‘Taker. Edge was choke slammed by The Undertaker through two tables and into the steel steps. The Rated-R Superstar embraced his extreme side as The Undertaker fought at his most destructive to put on a stunning feast for the eyes. It was a harsh and appropriate way to finish their long-running rivalry, and it ranks among the top Hell in a Cell fights ever.
1. Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart (SummerSlam 1994)
We save the best for last by concluding the list with another Bret Hart match. The Hart brothers produced a high-caliber match that was filled with drama, tension, and excitement at every turn. A match between one of the greatest families was staged on August 29, 1994, in front of a passionate and engaged crowd at the United Center in Chicago.
Their legendary match was followed by a masterfully told sibling feud. The WWE and the Hart family saw Bret Hart as their golden child. The youngest Hart, Owen, desired to escape from his older brother’s shadow. Due to the resulting conflict between the brothers, Owen attacked Bret during a tag match at the Royal Rumble. Another outstanding match is when Owen beat Bret at WrestleMania X, which heightened the rivalry. The brothers’ ongoing conflict ended in a match for the WWE Championship inside a steel cage.
Both Harts were trying to outsmart one another and escape the cage as the story continued during the match. The two were highly competitive, and the match is full of skillful exchanges and clever counters that kept the audience on the edge of their seats the entire time. As Bret started to take advantage of their surroundings, the tension erupted. With both Harts outside the cage, the action reached a wonderful peak. Bret knocks Owen’s head into the steel, causing the champion to collapse to the ground in front of a crowd of enraged fans while his leg becomes caught in the cage.
This match was amazing in every way. A wrestling classic, which this unquestionably is, requires two of the best wrestlers to tell a wonderful story.