WWE’s next PPV SummerSlam is right around the corner and is gearing up to be one hell of a show. With matches such as Roman Reigns vs John Cena, Seth Rollins vs Edge and Bianca Belair vs Sasha Banks, the show is on WrestleMania levels of splendour.
As one of the “big four” shows SummerSlam has always been a great event and as WWE puts it “the biggest party of the summer”. Ever since the first show way back in 1988, it has been in a staple PPV for the company.
Throughout its 33-year history, the PPV has delivered a plethora of exceptional outings. Here are a few honourable mentions:
- The Hart Foundation vs Demolition Best Two Out Of Three Falls Match WWE Tag Team Championships – SummerSlam 1990
- The Ultimate Warrior vs Rick Rude Intercontinental Championship – SummerSlam 1989
- Seth Rollins vs John Cena – SummerSlam 2015
- Triple H vs The Rock Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match – SummerSlam 1998
- Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin WWF World Heavyweight Title Match – SummerSlam 2001
- CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy World Heavyweight Championship Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match – SummerSlam 2009
- Brock Lesnar vs CM Punk No Disqualification Match – SummerSlam 2013
Now for the ten Best SummerSlam matches in WWE history – all of which can be viewed on the WWE Network.
10. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
Let’s start the list with a bang and HBK vs Razor Ramon part II is a bona fide banger. The epic encounter took place at the Pittsburgh Civic Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 27, 1995. It was a great “old-school” ladder match that inspired generations of wrestlers to come.
It was a rematch from their game-changing outing at WrestleMania X the year prior, but don’t let that make you think it was any less, because it is excellent. Michaels was on his ascent to legendary status and the crowd ate up everything he did. Razor was also a hugely popular figure in the company. Therefore the face vs face dynamic of the match made for intriguing viewing.
The action was on fire from the get-go with Michaels and Ramon going blow-for-blow early on in the match. The brutality shown was rarely seen at the time in WWE, the spot where Ramon suplexes HBK from the ring apron to the floor was especially nasty. Once the ladder/s got involved the violence escalated with Ramon going after Michaels’ knee. Michaels playing the babyface in peril is the part he was born to play while Ramon as the Bad Guy was equally enchanting.
This was a truly show-stealing and career-defining performance for both wrestlers and one of the best matches of Scott Hall’s career and is easily a contender for the greatest Ladder Match.
9. Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns
WWE Universal Title Fatal 4-Way Match
Next on the list is easily one of the best Fatal 4-Way matches ever. This wild and fun-filled brawl is an action-packed, chaotic and enjoyable match from start to finish. The demolition derby happened in front of an electric crowd at the Barclays Center in New York City on August 20, 2017.
Heading into the match all competitors were feuding and they all wanted the Universal Championship. At Great Balls of Fire PPV before this excellent encounter, Lesnar and Joe clashed for the title while Reigns and Strowman went to war in an Ambulance match. On the following RAW, it was announced that all four would battle for the title at SummerSlam.
The match began at a frantic pace and didn’t let up until it was over. Each wrestler took out their foes in destructive and inventive ways. Reigns speared Lesnar through the barricade, Joe slammed Reigns into the announce table, Strowman slammed Lesnar through said announce table before taking out Reigns and Joe by launching a commentator’s chair into them.
Every single performer was on fire throughout battling it out in a fight of utter destruction and the crowd loved every second of it. It was pure marvellous mayhem for 20 minutes and an extremely enjoyable watch.
8. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena
WWE Heavyweight Championship Match
Next up is a match that cemented Daniel Bryan as a megastar. Everything about this match had a big fight feel to it. It was the main event with the WWE Heavyweight title on the line and Triple H as the special guest referee. The audience at the Staples Center in Los Angles on August 18, 2013, was fully invested in the match creating an awesome buzz.
Leading into the match Cena hand-picked Bryan as his SummerSlam opponent. Bryan was at the zenith of his popularity and WWE was doing everything to stop his momentum as they didn’t want him representing the promotion as their champion. This created a groundswell of support from the WWE Universe.
Once the bell rang the action was thrilling and the storytelling was superb. It was face vs face, champion vs underdog and sports entertainer vs wrestler. Cena was the overconfident champion fighting against both his challenger and the crowd, who booed everything he did. Bryan was at his brilliant best using his wrestling and striking prowess to overcome the WWE legend. What happened after the match turned joy into despair and continued the story of Bryan’s meteoric rise to superstardom.
The match is outstanding with both wrestlers bringing their A-game and had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. It was one of Cena’s best outings and established Bryan as a top-tier WWE talent.
7. Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog
The only WWE PPV event to take place on the shores of old blighty gave us one of the best ever SummerSlam matches in the company’s history. At Wembley Stadium in 1992, Bret Hart and The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith blew the roof off the place (if it had a roof, but you know what I mean).
The story heading into the match was excellent. Bulldog was Hart’s legitimate brother-in-law being married to his sister Diane, who said the match was tearing the family apart. Heading into this classic confrontation, Hart was the champion and extremely popular but Bulldog was the hometown hero and the atmosphere was electric.
The match pitted Hart’s superior technical ability against Bulldog’s sheer strength and provided a superb back-and-forth battle. Hart attempted to grind down Smith with an array of submissions while Bulldog returned the favour with his impressive arsenal of power moves.
The match was a perfect mix of brilliant in-ring action and a white-hot crowd who were emotionally invested from the entrances to the family embrace after the final bell.
6. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H
Unsanctioned Street Fight
Quite possibly the greatest comeback performance of all time. Shawn Michaels returned to WWE after retiring in 1998 to take part in this excellent and explosive outing against his former best friend and stablemate, Triple H. The violent grudge match took place in the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York on August 25 2002.
Triple H joined RAW to be with his best friend but turned on Michaels during a reformation of DX. A brutal sneak attack saw Michaels left bloodied and the Cerebal Assassin revealed as the assailant led to GM Eric Bischoff making an unsanctioned match for them to settle their differences.
The fight is incredible chock full of brutality and violence. Triple H dominated the early stages of the match targeting HBK’s back in vicious fashion. Michaels’ masterful selling was on full show and he looked to be on the verge of defeat throughout. As the blood flowed both warriors took each other to the limit in this intense and enthralling battle.
A brilliant and bloody brawl with tonnes of story thrown in told by two of the best. Michaels was fantastic and considering it was his first match in five years makes his performance that much more awe-inspiring while Triple H was at his vindictive best.
5. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boys
Tag Team Championship Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match
This was the first time the WWE Universe got to witness the awesome spectacle that is the Table, Ladders and Chairs match. What went down in the Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena in North Carolina on August 27 2000 will be remembered forever.
The trio of teams was constantly feuding since WrestleMania 2000 where they clashed in an amazing Triangle Ladder match. But their rivalry escalated with each team using their weapon of choice to the point where Commissioner Foley had to introduce “tables, ladders and chairs oh my!”
The breathtaking action had the crowd at a fever pitch from the very first second. Bubba and D-Von ploughed Christian through a table with a 3D. Jeff Hardy lived up to his daredevil moniker by leaping from heaven to a wince-inducing crash and burn through a table. Bubba was sent flying from atop the ladder through four tables outside of the ring. Lita got involved by sending Edge and Christian crashing. Matt Hardy plummeted through two tables as all six wrestlers put their bodies on the line and became legends.
The emphatic action made the teams icons and took tag team wrestling in WWE to another dimension. The teams would meet again in several spectacular matches but this was the first of its kind and an unforgettable SummerSlam match.
4. AJ Styles vs. John Cena
AJ Styles and John Cena had phenomenal (pun massively intended) chemistry in the ring. They first clashed at Money in the Bank some months earlier in a splendid outing but their match at SummerSlam at the Barclays Center in New York on August 12, 2016, was something to behold.
Styles had only just joined WWE in January and established himself as a top-level star from day one. Flanked by his brothers in arms, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Styles turned heel and formed The Club. The trio would target Cena, which led to another stellar meeting between the two at the “biggest party of the summer”.
The match was a show-stealing affair with both performers firing on all cylinders. The white-hot crowd bought into every move, big spot and near fall (of which there were many). Styles and Cena fought desperately to get the upper hand but were met with incredible counter after incredible counter. Style reversed a Super-AA into a Frankensteiner, Cena countered the Phenomenal Forearm in the STF, which was then reversed into a crossface. The blow-for-blow and move-for-move action came to a close after twenty thrilling minutes.
Incredible stuff from both wrestlers and a true passing of the torch moment from Cena to Styles. To make the moment even more special AJ Styles’ WWE career was only eight months old and he was already taking out the Face That Runs The Place.
3. Bret Hart vs. Mr Perfect
A classic match from the two of the best to ever do it. Bret Hart and Mr Perfect were (I’m gonna say it) perfect opponents for each other. Two true masters of the ring proved just how good they were in front of a packed Madison Square Garden on August 26, 1991.
Heading into SummerSlam Hart was in the midst of his singles run after years of tag team wrestling. He had picked up wins along the way on the shows of the day, Superstars and Wrestling Challenge. This led to him challenging Mr Perfect for the title at the PPV. The champ had held the title for over a year and was legitimately suffering from a severe back injury, which resulted in him taking some time away after the match.
The match itself is a fantastic display of technical wrestling and in-ring psychology. Hart outwrestled Perfect in the early stage, which forced the champion to cheat but the challenger was ready and countered every attempt. Hart became the first wrestler to kick out of the Perfect Plex on the way to capturing his first WWE singles championship.
A crowning moment for the Hitman and one that began his ascent to legendary status. It established him as a singles star and is possibly one of the very best Intercontinental Championship matches ever.
2. The Undertaker vs. Edge
Hell In A Cell Match
Edge and The Undertaker went to war many a time but this meeting at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on August 17, 2008, was something special.
The build began when Edge defeated ‘Taker for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship in a TLC match at One Night Stand. As per the stipulation, The Undertaker was banished from WWE after the loss. However, Edge’s jilted bride-to-be Vickie Guerrero reinstated the Deadman and set the Hell in a Cell match at SummerSlam as revenge for his cheating ways.
Once inside the unforgiving structure, the two enemies put each other through hell. It was a wild and crazy brawl filled with jaw-dropping spots. Edge speared ‘Taker through the cell wall and into the announce table. The Undertaker chokeslammed Edge onto the steel steps and through two tables. The Undertaker was at his destructive best while the Rated-R Superstar channelled his extreme side to put on a spectacular feast for the eyes.
It was a brutal and fitting end to their epic rivalry and definitely up there as one of the best Hell in a Cell matches of all time.
1. Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart
WWF Championship Steel Cage Match
We end the list with another Bret Hart match but we saved the best for last. The Hart brothers put on a match of the highest quality with excitement, anguish and drama every step of the way. On August 29, 1994, in front of a wild and invested audience at the United Center in Chicago witnessed one of the greatest families put on a brilliant and beautiful match.
The story leading into their classic match was an expertly told sibling rivalry. Bret Hart was the golden boy of the Hart family and WWE. Owen was the youngest Hart and yearned to break out of his big brother’s shadow. As Survivor Series the previous year, Owen was the only one eliminated from the Hart Brothers vs. Shawn Michaels and His Knights match. This led to tension between the brothers, which resulted in Owen attacking Bret in a tag match at the Royal Rumble. The rivalry escalated when Owen defeated Bret at WrestleMania X is another exceptional match. The brothers continued to feud and would culminate inside a steel cage for the WWE Championship.
The storyline carried into the match with both Harts trying to outfox one another and escape the cage. The competition between the two was rife and the match is filled with skilled exchanges and clinical counters that have the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout. The tension exploded as Bret began to use their surrounding to his advantage. The action built to a superb crescendo with both Harts on the outside of the cage. Bret slams Owen’s head into the steel that causes his leg to catch in the cage and allow the champion the fall to the ground in front of thousands of frenzied fans.
Everything about this match was tremendous. Two of the greatest wrestlers executing a sublime story is everything needed for a wrestling masterpiece, which this most certainly is.