Now that we’ve already given you our predictions for this year’s SummerSlam, it’s time to step into the proverbial way back machine to see which matches our staffers regard as the best SummerSlam matches of all-time.
John Dinsdale (@johndeathman)
The biggest party of the summer has been going for decades now and has had some absolutely stellar matches over the years. Making this list was no easy task as you could likely fill the space of a novel with the amount of amazing matches that could be thrown onto a list like this. Now the matches I have picked are in no particular order as they all stand out as personal favourites to me. I have tried to vary them as much as possible. If you think I’ve missed any then be sure to let me know.
John Cena vs Daniel Bryan (SummerSlam 2013)
Hardyz vs Dudley Boyz vs Edge and Christian (SummerSlam 2000)
Kurt Angle vs Rey Mysterio (SummerSlam 2002)
5) Bret Hart vs The British Bulldog (SummerSlam 1992)
Now I don’t want people thinking this is bias as I happen to hail from the UK. This legitimately was and still is one of the best matches for the IC title in wrestling history. Taking place in front of a sold out crowd and the Wembley Stadium, Bret Hart and the British Bulldog put on a clinic. The crowd ate up every moment, every move and every near fall. There were so many tense moments and there has never been a louder sigh of relief than when Davey Boy Smith got to the bottom rope to break the Sharpshooter. Not to mention there has never been a bigger crowd reaction than when the Bulldog finally got the pin and won in his home nation. It was one of the biggest pops the IC title will ever receive. A true classic by two legends and definitely worth a watch.
4. Bret Hart vs Owen Hart (SummerSlam 1994)
Probably one of the best cage matches I have ever seen. I have never been Bret Hart’s biggest fan but I could always appreciate the match quality he put on. He really was one of the best and he was in a cage with another of the best. This was another personal brawl that took both men to hell. They would use the cage to maximum brutal effect as well as showcasing their amazing wrestling talents. We were watching a Hart family civil war unfold in front of our eyes as the two men beat each other black and blue. Bret would eventually win as both men fought whilst clinging to the outside of the cage. Owen would get stuck and Bret would fall to the floor. The ensuing brawl afterwards just added more heat to what had already been a red-hot match.
3. Kurt Angle vs Eddie Guerrero (SummerSlam 2004)
What happens when you put two of the era’s best in a match together? You get this, a masterclass in the art of anything you can do I can do better. That appeared to be the mentality going into this match as Guerrero hit Angle with his own moves to try and win. He trapped Angle in the ankle lock and hit him with an Olympic Slam. The majority of the match however would be Eddie continuously having to fight out of Angle’s submissions. Angle was laser focused on the ankle of Guerrero and would attack it multiple times with various submissions. He would even go so far as to undo Eddie’s boot to further expose it. Both men would also bend the rules to their advantage as you would expect, thumbs went to eyes and even the boot was used as a means to try and secure a win. It wasn’t a particularly long match but it made every minute count. Finishers would be countered, interference ran by Angle’s assistant and plenty of Latino heat. The finish saw Eddie unfortunately succumb to the Ankle lock after being unable to reach the ropes and Angle locked around the exposed and damaged ankle. It was a heroic struggle but too much for Guerrero. It’s still an amazing match to watch now.
2. CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy (SummerSlam 2009)
TLC matches are always a fun watch. Putting on a TLC match with two people with opposing ideologies for a belt creates the magic that fans witnessed here. Hardy and Punk were polar opposites, Hardy with his substance problems and Punk the straight edge saviour. Their differences created a feud of epic proportions that culminated in one of the most impressive TLC matches ever. There were spots galore as both men seemed set to kill each other. This bloodlust would be Hardy’s undoing however as he would dive off a massive ladder to put Punk through the announcer’s table. It was an impressive spot but it cost Hardy the match as it put him out of commission. The last few dramatic moments as both men scrambled for the belt and slugged it out atop the ladder were some of the most intense felt in a match. It would take one heavy punch to send Hardy to the floor and Punk would win the match.
1) John Cena vs Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam 2014)
The match that birthed Suplex City. This was a one-sided brutalisation of one of WWE’s gatekeepers at the hands of the beast. Brock Lesnar dominated this match from bell to bell. He threw Cena around like he was nothing and would beat him back down every time Cena would try to mount a comeback. This was one of the few times we have ever seen Cena so helpless at the hands of an opponent. After about 15 German Suplexes and multiple F5’s, the match would come to a finish with Brock standing tall having just murdered the seemingly invincible John Cena. It was powerful booking at its finest and foreshadowed the things to come in Brock’s career.
Frank Anguiano (@fightfanaticpod)
As a fan, SummerSlam has always held a special place in my heart. The first wrestling tape I ever rented was that of SummerSlam 91 and since coming to FightBooth, I have not been shy about my love for Summerslam. I even did power rankings last year. (Post link if you can find it). That being said, you might think deciding on my Top 5 matches would be hard. It isn’t.
5) Shawn Michaels pins Triple H in a Non-Sanctioned Match (SummerSlam 2002)
This match made the list for a few reasons, the first being that SummerSlam 2002 is the best SummerSlam ever (and it ain’t close), and it’s one of the best WWE shows of all time, and this is the best match on a card that saw Rey Mysterio and Kurt Angle have one of the best opening matches of all time, and Brock Lesnar and The Rock kill it in the main event. Wow.
The thing I love so much about this match was they made you believe that Shawn Michaels, wrestling his first match in four years, was in legitimate jeopardy in this match. After all he was coming back from a back injury that was career ending and many of our last memories was him trying to grit through his pain in his WrestleMania XIV match with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Any wrong movement and Shawn may be crippled. I bought it hook, line, and sinker.
Yet despite Shawn not having a match in four years, he was unbelievable that night. Diving off the top rope through tables, dropping an elbow off the ladder, and making Triple H look like a killer that night. In the end, a dramatic series culminated in Shawn reversing a Pedigree into a jackknife pin for the three count, only for Triple H to bend a sledgehammer across his back. It was an incredible story that led to two years worth of great battles, but these two did their best that night.
4) CM Punk beats Jeff Hardy in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match to win the World Heavyweight title (SummerSlam 2009)
This was a great feud between of two of my all-time favorites, and it culminated in one hell of a ladder match. Punk had pissed Hardy off so much that Hardy wanted to beat the crap out of him just as much as he wanted to win the title, and that came across so well here. Unlike most Jeff Hardy ladder matches, which are usually one dangerous spot after another, this is the kind of ladder match where you are convinced that these two want to beat the legitimate crap out of one another.
They built the spots really well here. From Punk superplexing Hardy onto a ladder, Hardy blocking a bulldog and tossing Punk through a ringside table, to Hardy’s killer chairshots to Punks head, all culminating in one of the craziest dives of Jeff Hardy’s career, a swanton off the top of the biggest ladder we’ve probably ever see in these matches. They sold the spot like Hardy were legitimately injured for a moment and put him on a stretcher, only to have Hardy rip off his neck collar.
The climb that both made up the ladder is one of my favorites that I’ve ever seen, with the facial expressions of CM Punk making the moment. In the end, Punk managed to catch Hardy with a kick to his injured ribs and toss him off the ladder and claim the victory. It was awesome.
3) Bret Hart submits Mr. Perfect to win the Intercontinental title (SummerSlam 91)
As I said earlier, SummerSlam 91 is the first wrestling tape I ever rented, back when people did that sort of thing. It is quite possible that I have seen this match more times than I have any other match, and why not? It is a technical masterpiece between two of the best in ring performers ever, who also had incredible chemistry with one another.
Perfect had been out for weeks with a back injury, but it’s hard to tell that early, as he’s taking best bumps for Bret early in the match. Bret was on his first big singles run and he looked great. But then Perfect turned the tide and started working him over. It all culminated in the Perfect Plex, but then Bret kicked out, in an era where kicking out of a man’s finisher wasn’t something you saw every week…
In the end, Perfect was trying to drop a leg to Bret’s groin, but in an awesome move that I love to this day, Bret blocks and turns into the Sharpshooter, rising to the mat and forcing Perfect to submit like a crazy man. It’s an excellent match that I will never get tired off, and also features incredible commentary from Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, and Roddy Piper.
2) Bret Hart beats Owen Hart to retain the WWF Championship (SummerSlam 1994)
Cage matches in WWE in the past ten years have not been my favorite. Without at least the threat of blood, the genre has just made me lose interest. After all, not everyone can be Bret and Owen. These two were under strict instructions to not get blood going into their cage match at SummerSlam 94, but somehow, they used to make this one of the best cage matches ever.
This was old school WWF cage rules, meaning the only way to win was by escape. They used to their advantage, using many near escapes and climbing to set up some great spots, including a superplex from the top of the cage, an incredible spot in any era. Even twenty-five years later, the match keeps me at the edge of my seat.
The finish off this match was a classic. With both men trying desperately to climb out of the cage, Bret pulled off a now classic finish, tangling Owen’s legs in the cage and making his way down for the victory. Just a classic.
1) Davey Boy Smith beats Bret Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Title (SummerSlam 1992)
The biggest SummerSlam ever still has the best main event, with 80,000 strong going crazy for two of the most popular wrestlers ever in England. Bret was in the midst of an excellent run with the IC title and for the first time, the secondary title was given the spot in a main event. Bret had promised Vince they would deliver and did they ever!
It was a technical battle early, with Bret trying to use his speed and technique against the Bulldog’s superior power. There were some crazy spots, like Bret nearly killing Bulldog when Bulldog forget Bret was going to dive, Bret taking a big superplex, and even kicking off the Bulldog’s famous powerslam. Bulldog in returned survived the Sharpshooter, the crowd in Wembley Stadium roaring the whole time.
The finish is still classic. A series of false finishes culminated and Bret going for a sunset flip in the middle of the ring, but Bulldog dropped down and hooked the legs for the three count. It is a still classic match between two brothers in law in an understated, yet emotional storyline. While Bulldog got the biggest win of his career which he rode to a big contract with WCW, the loss turned out to be the best thing for Bret’s career. Losing the IC Belt gave him the opening to win the World Title two months later and launched him to be the greatest wrestler of the 90s. And I will fight anyone who wants to debate that.
Dave Reno (@dw_reno)
Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz (TLC Match – SummerSlam 2000)
AJ Styles vs. John Cena (SummerSlam 2016)
Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (Ladder Match – SummerSlam 1995)
Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk (TLC Match – SummerSlam 2009)
5) Mick Foley vs. Ric Flair (I Quit Match – SummerSlam 2006)
You’ll never see anything that even resembles what we saw during this match during today’s PG era. This was advertised as a personal match, 12 years in the making, and these two legends sold it every which way. My only quip with it is that it was relatively short but that may have been due to the amount of blood that was shed (even though you know if it was up to Flair or Foley they would’ve went all night.)
Remember, this was a 57-year-old Ric Flair putting on the kind of hardcore show that wrestlers who are 20 or 30 years younger wouldn’t dream of putting on even today; he beat Foley at his kind of match. Sure, it wasn’t on par with his matches against Steamboat or Harley or even his 1992 Royal Rumble performance (definitely his best WWE work) but it should be mentioned when we look at his overall body of work. This is far and away the most brutal “I Quit” match in WWE history. Melina couldn’t even ruin it.
4) The Undertaker vs. Edge (Hell in a Cell Match – SummerSlam 2008)
Personally, these are two of my favorite all time characters in history so I’m a sucker for this one. I watched it in prep for this article and it still had me on the edge of my seat. Kind of off topic but if Edge’s career wasn’t cut short due to spine trauma I guarantee that it would have been him, not Cena, to tie (and possibly break) Flair’s record of 16 title reigns. This man was electric, and this match was one of his best.
After all of the amazing spots in this match, we got the perfect ending. Taker got every bit of revenge he needed on Edge, who came into the match like a man possessed, thinking that he actually “understood,” but he had no idea. Instead, Taker would send Edge to hell with a one way ticket. I’m not just making that up either — he chokeslammed him off a ladder and sent him through the canvas then proceeded to pose as flames came out of the hole. God help us all.
3) Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena (SummerSlam 2014)
This match was f**king shocking.
Months after he made the “Universe” stop at WrestleMania by ending “The Streak,” Lesnar put on a tour de force performance against Cena here in the main event at SummerSlam. It was complete and utter domination by Lesnar from bell to bell against someone in Cena who you just always expected to make a comeback at the time.
One of the things that really stood out to me here was Heyman screaming “Here Comes the Pain,” as Lesnar hit suplex after suplex on his battered opponent. Anytime Cena even remotely started to gain some momentum, Lesnar quickly put the kibosh on the then 15-time World Champ. This was peak Lesnar having the time of his life. There would be no comeback from the Cenation leader on this night, instead, we’d witness the beginning of “The Era of the Beast” and it is still going strong.
2) Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (Steel Cage Match – SummerSlam 1994)
Before the worst main event in SummerSlam history took place between The Undertaker and The Undertaker, we were gifted with an absolute clinic of a contest between two of the best to ever lace em up.
I believe that these two men would’ve been at the top of the card in any era you decide to put them in. This was also by far the best Steel Cage match in the “Blue Steel” 15 foot cage era coming just months after Owen began his “King of Harts” gimmick after winning the 2nd annual King of the Ring.
Just two years after Hart and Davey Boy put on the best match in SummerSlam history, we get a close second here in Chicago but this time Davey Boy is on the side of Bret while the late Jim “The Anvil” sides with Owen. This one was high-drama from start to finish and beyond with all of the craziness that would ensue after Bret escaped the cage, leaving Owen’s leg trapped in between those blue bars.
1) Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog (SummerSlam 1992)
Over 80,000 strong witnessed what still remains to this day as the best match in SummerSlam history inside of Wembley Stadium when Bret Hart put his Intercontinental Championship on the line against his brother-in-law, Davey Boy Smith aka The British Bulldog, in the main event of the evening.
As far as pro wrestling main events go — this one had everything you could ask for and more. Phenomenal storytelling, a crowd that was beyond hot for every move and two competitors who just understood their craft. This is one of those matches I like to go back to whenever I get the chance, especially this time of year. It’s not only the best match in SummerSlam history, it’s one of the best matches in WWE history.
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