With Summerslam fast approaching, today we’ll be looking back at some of the top matches in the show’s history. We usually do a top 5 list for these events, but with so many great matches to choose from, we’ve decided to do a top 10 list. Even with this, it was still incredibly difficult to pick 10 with some iconic matches to choose from and the list may divide some fans. Nevertheless we’ve managed to do it, so without further ado, here are our top 10 matches in Summerslam history.
John Cena v Daniel Bryan (2013)
Triple H v The Rock (1998)
Brock Lesnar v Braun Strowman v Samoa Joe v Roman Reigns (2017)
Steve Austin v Kurt Angle (2001)
CM Punk v Jeff Hardy (2009)
10 Edge v The Undertaker (Hell in a Cell Match, 2008)
Starting off with a personal feud that went on through most of 2008 including the main event of Wrestlemania and actually warranted the Hell in a Cell stipulation. The two competitors put on a violent, story filled and engaging match that had the crowd going wild throughout. The match really showcased the personal rivalry with some brutal weapon spots. Edge got Chokeslammed through two tables, was hit with a camera, a conchairto and a Tombstone to seal the win for The Deadman. After the match in an memorable spot, Taker Chokeslammed Edge off a ladder through the ring and then set the ring on fire to cement his victory.
9 Kurt Angle (c) v Brock Lesnar (WWE Championship, 2003)
This feud started off as a friendly rivalry, and began in the main event of Wrestlemania XIX after Brock dethroned the Olympic Hero for the WWE Title. Kurt won the strap back in a triple threat involving Big Show and then Brock turned heel and aligned himself with Mr. McMahon in a bid to get the title back and the match at Summerslam was set. The two competitors, being renowned for their hard hitting, submissions, and technical grappling delivered exactly that style of match with some terrific bell to bell wrestling. The closing stages really put the match over as there were some super close false finishes and dramatic moments as the babyface Angle was fighting against McMahon and Lesnar. In the end, Angle disposed of McMahon with a steel chair and made Brock tap out clean in the middle to a huge pop.
8 TLC (2000)
These were the three best teams of the Attitude Era and they came together for this match which was the first of its kind, a TLC match (oh my!) for the WWF World Tag Team Championships. The Dudley Boyz, Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian put their bodies on the line, took crazy chances and the match featured some death defying spots which had been seldom seen in wrestling up to this point. The match was a car crash with all 6 men taking crazy bumps including Jeff’s missed Swanton Bomb off a ladder through a table, Matt being tossed off the ladders through two tables and Bubba Dudley being pushed off the ladder and crashing through four tables on the outside. A crazy car crash of a match and ultimately it was E&C who stood tall at the end.
7 Mr. Perfect (c) v Bret Hart (Intercontinental Championship, 1991)
This was a technical masterpiece by two of the greatest technical wrestlers in history. Bret was being built up at this point as one of the next future stars and this match and subsequent victory did wonders for him. Bret and Perfect both showcased their technical brilliance, with smooth transitions, counter wrestling and back and forth exchanges which had the crowd invested throughout. They both targeted each other’s limbs and told a great story in the ring, with frustration and determination shown from both, leading to a hot finish with some exhilarating near falls. Ultimately Bret locked in a deep Sharpshooter and scored the win and the IC Title.
6 John Cena v AJ Styles (2016)
This was a dream match encounter for sure as AJ had debuted in the WWE in early 2016 and was trying to establish himself as one of the top players, whereas Cena was still trying to prove that he was the man around WWE. The two had met at Money in the Bank previous in a brilliant match but the finish was screwy and fans were hoping for a clean match and result. This match was big in crowd reaction, because although AJ was the heel and Cena the babyface, the crowd were desperate for AJ to win and alter the landscape of the company after years of seeing Cena on top. The match was an instant classic, as both men exhibited great storytelling through hitting each other with every big move they had and neither refusing to stay down. They had amazing chemistry together and some of the near falls and drama were jaw dropping. In the end, the crowd got exactly what they wanted as Styles pinned Cena clean in the middle of the ring to carry on his excellent first year in the company.
5 Triple H v Shawn Michaels (Unsanctioned Match, 2002)
HBK made his triumphant return to WWE in 2002 and soon came to blows with his former DX teammate. Hunter and Shawn initially looked like they would reform DX, however, The Game ever the despicable heel, turned heel on Shawn and beat him down and Michaels challenged him to an Unsanctioned Street Fight. This was storytelling personified as there was a great storyline grudge between the two former best friends and years of backstory to go with it which enhanced the match greatly. The match was a violent, brutal and bloody one as the two used chairs, steps, trash cans and ladders and beat the holy hell out of each other with some crazy spots and viscous brutality putting the match over big. Shawn scored the win with a Jacknife cover but Hunter got the last laugh as he attacked HBK with a sledgehammer which extended their excellent feud through most of 2002.
4 CM Punk v Brock Lesnar (No DQ, 2013)
This match was another dream match on paper. Never seen before, this offered something fresh and in an era were Brock was the unstoppable beast, he worked brilliant opposing a smaller more technical guy, just like Punk. Paul Heyman started the feud by turning on Punk at the previous PPV and the match was on for Summerslam. The two beat the hell out of each other for 25 minutes, going back and forth with big moves and punishing violence, Punk looking every bit Lesnar’s equal at a time where not many would. Although it was no DQ, only a chair would be used, but used well as Punk tried to nullify The Beast’s power and size. The crowd were super hot too and it led to a hot closing sequence with some super close false finishes for Punk, but in the end, Lesnar overpowered The Best in the World and hit an F-5 on a chair for the win.
3 Bret Hart (c) v Owen Hart (Steel Cage Match for the WWF Championship, 1994)
Brother v brother. A rivalry that started late 1993 and continued on through a classic match at Wrestlemania X and culminated in a brilliant rivalry ending match. Owen was the whiny heel who hated being in his brother’s shadow and Bret was the company babyface who was on top of the world. To add to the storyline and family drama, most of the Hart family were at ringside with family members taking different sides on the night. The crowd was incredibly hot, undoubtedly down to the excellent story the brothers had told over the past year, for over 30 minutes the crowd went nuts everytime there was an escape attempt, cheering both wrestlers nearly equally. The selling from the two superstars was exemplary as they sold the fact they used up so much energy hitting moves and trying to escape. Although the match stipulation hindered them a little bit, the rivalry and crowd put the match way over and it stands today as one of the best cage matches in history.
2 Shawn Michaels (c) v Razor Ramon (Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match, 1995)
This was the rematch from their pioneering, iconic, instant classic at Wrestlemania X. Again it would be a ladder match, and again for the IC strap, and again the two stars put on an incredible performance. The match, much like Mania X, was a thrilling display of athleticism, daring spots and great psychology as Razor spent a lot of the match going for Shawn’s knees to hinder him climbing the ladder. There was a scary spot where Shawn was pushed off the ladder but his left leg was stuck in it which could’ve ended in disaster. The way the two utilised the ladder was expert as Shawn went for his big dives off it and Razor used it as an offensive weapon. Also it was the first time that two ladders would be used in one match which added to the drama and unexpected nature of the match. In the end, Shawn got his win back and retained the title in a thrilling contest which had the crowd invested in everything the two did.
1 Bret Hart (c) v British Bulldog (Intercontinental Championship, 1992)
This match took place in front of nearly 90,000 fans in England’s fabled Wembley Stadium which added massively to the match’s acclaim. The fans were rabid in London that night, cheering on their hometown boy, The British Bulldog. The story was that Bret and Bulldog were friends going into the match, two babyfaces fighting it out to see who was the better man and it meant for an legendary match which is still heralded to this day. A very technical match which was big in technical holds and moves and plenty of close near falls to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats. Bret, ever the pro, carried the match somewhat as Bulldog could not remember some of the spots and Bret worked the match on the fly brilliantly by starting to play the heel, knowing that it would make for an even bigger reaction when the finish came. The crowd played a huge part as they were completely behind Bulldog by the end and the atmosphere was off the charts. After 25 minutes, lots of back and forth, near falls and a brilliantly wrestled match, Bulldog countered a Sunset Flip and Cradled Bret for the win and the roof blew off Wembley Stadium. In our opinion, the best match in Summerslam history.
Author: Alex Bakothanasis
Photo Credit: WWE