5 Greatest WWE SummerSlam World Title Matches

Roman Reigns stands over Brock Lesnar at WWE SummerSlam 2022

The 36th annual WWE SummerSlam is set to take place on August 5, 2023.

The Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns will defend his titles against his cousin, Jey Uso in a heavily anticipated World Title match-up that is sure to deliver in spades.

It will also play host to a World Title rematch between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor which will also likely be another top-drawer collision. Excellent World Championship matches at SummerSlam are nothing new. The annual spectacular has a long tradition of sterling World Title collisions.

This feature looks back on the five greatest World Title matches to date at the hottest event of the summer.

#5 The Rock vs Brock Lesnar – SummerSlam 2002 (August 25, 2002)

The Rock vs Brock Lesnar SummerSlam 2002

The Rock versus Brock Lesnar topped the bill of a superlative SummerSlam event that was packed full of excellent bouts.

It was a worthy headliner. Fought at a ferocious pace, the pair battled each other for 16 action-filled minutes, which saw them exchange constant holds and counter holds.

Lesnar used his power to dominate the Undisputed Champion, but the Brahma Bull made sporadic comebacks and on several occasions appeared to have the match won.

However, The Next Big Thing reversed a Rock Bottom into an F-5 to claim his first World Title.

Full of energy, excitement, and an excellent New York crowd that loudly booed the outgoing face champion, The Rock, and cheered the rookie heel, Lesnar, this was a memorable match and one of the event’s greatest World Title contests.

Interestingly, Paul Heyman has since revealed that Lesnar wasn’t originally scheduled to win the title at the event, and plans were changed after he was fast-tracked through the main roster.

#4 Jeff Hardy vs CM Punk – SummerSlam 2009 (August 23, 2009)

Hardy vs CM Punk - SummerSlam 2009

The CM Punk versus Jeff Hardy feud carried SmackDown during the summer of 2009. The conceit was simple: Punk was straight edge and he was trying to make the recovered addict, Hardy see the light.

There were huge bumps as you would expect from a TLC encounter, such as a Superplex and Powerbomb onto the ladder, a slam onto a chair, and a crazy spot where Hardy smashed Punk through a table off a huge ladder.

The spots were fantastic, the story resonated with the live crowd and the timing was spot on. The finish saw Hardy nail the Swanton through the announce table onto Punk, but he injured himself in the process.

Punk crawled to the ladder as a desperate Hardy struggled off a stretcher to catch him. Punk knocked an ailing Hardy off the ladder to claim the gold and the strap.

The post-match was memorable as the lights went out and a returning Undertaker nailed Punk with a Chokeslam, setting up the next World Title program.

#3 Bret Hart vs Owen Hart – SummerSlam 1994 (August 29, 1994)

Hart vs Hart - SummerSlam 1994

WrestleMania X saw Bret Hart and Owen Hart construct an all-time classic match-up in a sterling mat war of holds and counter holds. Several months later and the enmity between the brothers had not abated and they contested another classic, this time inside a steel cage with the WWF Championship at stake.

For over 30 minutes, the brothers battered each other and continually tried to escape the cage to win the bout. The heat inside the arena was off the charts as each man kept denying the other victory at the last possible second.

The finish came when Bret trapped Owen’s leg on the cage and he descended the cage to the floor. Following the bout there was another memorable brawl as Owen and Jim Neidhart trapped Bret inside the cage and relentlessly beat him down while his other brothers and a returning, British Bulldog attempted to make the save.

A fantastic match and post-match, with crisp, logical action that told a memorable story.

#2 Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar (July 30, 2022)

Brock Lesnar SummerSlam 2022

SummerSlam 2022’s main event closed the book on the long-running Brock Lesnar versus Roman Reigns conflict. They saved the best for last.

In an incredible battle held under Last Man Standing rules, the pair crushed each other with countless big moves as the bout ebbed and flowed at a relentless pace.

The highlight of the contest was undoubtedly the spot wherein Lesnar used a tractor to lift the ring with Reigns inside who went tumbling to the floor. Amidst the chaos, Austin Theory attempted to cash in his Money in the Bank contract on Reigns but was nailed by a Lesnar F-5.

Lesnar was then conquered by a three-on-one assault by Reigns and The Uso’s who ultimately buried him under a heap of ringside furniture to keep ‘The Beast’ down for a ten count.

Brutal, innovative, and absorbing. Lesnar versus Reigns was an excellent SummerSlam headliner.

#1 John Cena vs Daniel Bryan (August 13, 2013)

SummerSlam 2013 Cena vs Bryan

John Cena hand-picked his SummerSlam 2013 opponent as he put his WWE Championship on the line. Cena chose Daniel Bryan who had a groundswell of fan support.

That made for an electric atmosphere inside the Staples Centre in LA. Triple H was the special referee which also added intrigue to the outcome.

For 27 minutes, the pair contested an old-school wrestling match, with no shenanigans, just straight-up wrestling holds and counter holds. Cena as the bigger man used his strength to overpower the smaller, Bryan.

‘The American Dragon’ made sporadic comebacks and had many of Cena’s moves well scouted. Bryan countered an AA into a roll-up, which the champion kicked out of. Bryan then quickly nailed Cena with the running knee to claim the title.

The near falls were superb. The bout was masterful storytelling and built to a crescendo down the home straight. The match-up is also infamous for the post-match when Triple H turned on Bryan and allowed Randy Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. That development set up over seven months worth of the Bryan versus Authority storyline which culminated in his career highlight; victory in the main event of WrestleMania XXX.

The finest World Title match ever at SummerSlam, given the hot crowd, superlative action, and excellent storytelling.

You can watch all of these matches exclusively on the WWE Network.