For more than 30 years, SummerSlam has been one of WWE's signature shows.

 

The August event often features hot main events and unique match-ups throughout the midcard. In fact, even with a glut of monthly (and sometimes more than monthly) pay-per-views at the ready, SummerSlam often serves as a great bridge between WrestleMania and Survivor Series.

 

But which matches are the absolute best from the biggest party of the summer? Glad you asked.

 

In counting down the Top 50 SummerSlam Matches, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories looked at the following criteria:

 

  • How well was the match promoted?

  • How memorable was the contest?

  • What were the stakes?

  • Technically (or however the match was contested), how well does it stack up against other matches of its time period?

 

 

If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.


Ready? Here we go!

50.

The British Bulldogs vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers

What better way to kick off this list than with the very first match in SummerSlam history? The British Bulldogs (no relation) and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers were two of the top teams in the WWF when they clashed for the first time at SummerSlam 1988 and wrestled to a twenty-minute time limit.

48.

Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Shortly after Mick Foley unveiled his Dude Love persona, Foley's other alter-ego Mankind took on rival Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a Steel Cage match at SummerSlam 1997, a rematch from their King Of The Ring contest. Towards the end of the match, Dude Love (not Mankind) scaled the cage and won his match.

46.

Randy Orton vs. Christian

Leading into SummerSlam 2011, Christian and Randy Orton had been feuding over the World Championship, with Christian constantly demanding "One More Match" against his rival. That match took place at SummerSlam, but perhaps Christian should have been more cautious, as he ended up losing the title.

44.

The Rock vs. Booker T

Even since the WCW InVasion began in early 2001, Booker T led the charge as WCW World Champion. Unfortunately for him, The Rock returned from Hollywood to defend both himself and the rest of the WWF. At SummerSlam 2001, The Rock defeated Booker, adding the WCW World Title to his accolades

42.

Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels

A dream match between future WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels headlined SummerSlam 2005. Although Michaels turned heel to add another element to the match, there were backstage clashes over the finish, leading Michaels to comically oversell for Hogan at points, en route to losing.

40.

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins

In 2014, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were in the midst of a feud after Rollins turned against his brethren in The Shield. As a result, the two competed in a Lumberjack Match at SummerSlam 2014 in which The Architect was victorious. However, their relationship would come full circle about three years later...

38.

Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar

Seth Rollins pulled off an upset earlier in the year when he defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, but could he do it for a second time? Rollins once again became The Beastslayer at SummerSlam 2019, reclaiming the gold from Lesnar.

36.

Shawn Michaels vs. Vader

One of Shawn Michaels' biggest challenges during his first reign as WWF World Champion came from The Man They Call Vader at SummerSlam 1996. The match was restarted twice after The Heartbreak Kid lost by countout and then disqualification. By the final go-round, Michaels pinned Vader to win the match.

34.

Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte

One of the biggest female matches at SummerSlam took place at SummerSlam 2016, when Charlotte battled former friend Sasha Banks for the Raw Womens Championship. Banks captured the championship a month prior, but Charlotte kept her pay-per-view winning streak alive by regaining the gold.

32.

Batista vs. John Cena

Going into SummerSlam 2008, Batista and John Cena were the two top fan favorites on Raw, so General Manager Mike Adamle decided to pit them against one another. A first meeting of the two main-eventers, the two battled back and forth until Cena was trapped in a pair of Batista Bombs and pinned for the loss.

30.

Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins

A match to crown the first-ever Universal Champion was set for SummerSlam 2016, with Seth Rollins battling Finn Balor, who had just recently arrived to Raw from NXT. Balor defied the odds by pinning Rollins, although he was injured and subsequently vacated the title.

28.

The Undertaker vs. Edge

Leading into SummerSlam 2008, Edge had "banished" The Undertaker from WWE, but his estranged wife Vickie Guerrero reinstated The Dead Man as revenge on her husband. Taker and Edge battled in a Hell In A Cell match in the main event of that year's SummerSlam, with The Phenom gaining some revenge.

26.

The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage

The Ultimate Warrior and Randy Macho Man Savage had an epic rivalry earlier in the decade, but when they battled at SummerSlam 1992, they were both fan favorites. Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair were at ringside to draw a wedge between them, and Warrior won the match by countout as a result of their interference.

24.

Steve Austin vs Mankind vs. Triple H

At SummerSlam 1999, Jesse Ventura -- who had refereed the main event of the first SummerSlam -- returned to do the same role 11 years later. The Body oversaw the WWF World Title match between champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and Mankind.... with Mankind winning the gold.

22.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton

John Cena and Randy Orton have had hundreds of matches over the years, and continued their rivalry at SummerSlam 2009. Vince McMahon kept restarting the match to give WWE Champion Orton an advantage, and then outside interference led to Cena losing the match.

20.

CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar

Leading into SummerSlam 2013, CM Punk's longtime friend and manager Paul Heyman abandoned him. When Punk sought revenge, Heyman brought in his other client, Brock Lesnar, to take care of The Straight Edge Superstar. The Beast Incarnate did just that at SummerSlam, beating Punk in a No-DQ Match.

18.

The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

After Brock Lesnar ended The Undertaker's winning streak at WrestleMania XXX, you knew there was going to be a rematch. It took place at SummerSlam 2015, and it wasn't without controversy. Undertaker tapped out, but the match was restarted with The Dead Man getting the win.

16.

John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar

Yet ANOTHER big Brock Lesnar moment came 12 years after his match with The Rock, regaining the company's only (at the time) World Championship. After hitting John Cena with an unprecedented 16 German Suplexes (and also two F-5s), Brock Lesnar regained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

14.

Team WWE vs. Team Nexus

In 2010, The Nexus graduated from the first season of NXT and challenged non-Nexus members to a seven on seven elimination match. Captain John Cena selected R-Truth, John Morrison, the returning Daniel Bryan, Bret Hart, Edge, and Chris Jericho to assist in a win by Team WWE.

12.

Triple H vs. The Rock

A few years before both men became huge stars of their generation, Triple H and The Rock were leading their feuding factions (D-Generation X and The Nation, respectively) when the two had a Ladder Match for The Rock's Intercontinental Championship. Triple H won, capturing a critical point in their ongoing rivalry.

10.

The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart

The stakes were high for this SummerSlam 1997 match: The Undertaker put his WWF World Championship on the line; challenger Bret Hart promised to never wrestle in the U.S. again if he lost, and Hart's archenemy Shawn Michaels would be fired if he wasn't an impartial referee. Hart won the title here

8.

Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk

Jeff Hardy had been pursuing World Champion CM Punk for months, after The Straight Edge Superstar had cashed in his Money In The Bank contract on him. The bad blood led to a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match between the two at SummerSlam 2009. After Punk won the bout, The Undertaker challenged him.

6.

John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan

WWE Champion John Cena hand-picked Daniel Bryan to be his challenger for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2013. The match lasted nearly half an hour, with Bryan capturing the gold. Afterwards, referee Triple H and Money In The Bank winner Randy Orton conspired to displace Bryan as the champion.

4.

Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart

Another WrestleMania rematch took place at SummerSlam 1994, this one between Bret Hart and his brother Owen Hart. Bret, by this time the WWF World Champion, took on Owen in a Steel Cage Match to reduce interference from feuding members of the Hart family. Bret retained the title.

2.

Triple H vs. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle

Trouble was brewing between Triple H and Kurt Angle leading into SummerSlam 2000, with the two involved in a love triangle of sorts with Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley. Both were part of an eventful Triple Threat match with WWF Champion The Rock that year, with The Great One victorious.

49

Virgil vs. The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase

Earlier in the year, Wrestling Superstar Virgil had separated from The Million Dollar Ted DiBiase, but wasn't able to gain a clear advantage. At SummerSlam 1991, DiBiase put his prized Million Dollar Belt on the line. Shocking everyone, Virgil defeated his former boss and captured the diamond-studded title belt.

47.

Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano

Long before women's wrestling was a central part of programming, SummerSlam 1994 featured WWF Women's Champion Alundra Blayze take on the huge Bull Nakano. Despite Luna Vachon being in Nakano's corner, Blazye sidestep them and managed to retain her WWF Women's Championship.

45

Trish Stratus vs. Charlotte Flair

A dream match between two of WWE's all-time greatest female performers took place at SummerSlam 2019. WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus returned to the ring in front of her hometown crowd of Toronto, but was unsuccessful against current star Charlotte Flair. 

43.

Test vs. Shane McMahon

In 1999, Test had been dating Stephanie McMahon, much to the chagrin of Stephanie's brother Shane McMahon. Shane O'Mac challenged Test to a Greenwich Street Fight at SummerSlam 1999 in a "Love Her Or Leave Her" stipulation. In a tremendous brawl, Test beat McMahon to keep his relationship.

41.

The Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude

The Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude battled at two consecutive SummerSlams. However, their first meeting at SummerSlam 1989 was better: Warrior was laser-focused on regaining the Intercontinental Title he'd dropped to Rude at WrestleMania. With Rowdy Roddy Piper's help, Warrior did just that.

39.

Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. The Bar

In the summer of 2017, Seth Rollins offered to put his differences aside with former Shield member Dean Ambrose, although The Lunatic Fringe repeatedly refused. That changed when The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) attacked both men, leading to Rollins and Ambrose winning the Raw Tag Team Titles that night.

37.

The Legion Of Doom vs. The Nasty Boys

The Legion Of Doom had dominated everywhere tbut had never been able to capture the gold in the WWF. That changed at SummerSlam 1991when they faced WWF Tag Team Champions The Nasty Boys in a Streetfight. The LOD won the brutal battle and also got the tag titles.

35

The Hart Foundation vs. Demolition

The Hart Foundation actually battled WWF Tag Team Champions Demolition at two of the first three SummerSlams. Their second shot came at SummerSlam 1990 in a Best Of Three Falls Match. Due to interference from The Legion Of Doom, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart won the third fall, regaining the tag belts.

33.

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker

The apex of The Attitude Era came at SummerSlam 1998, when Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker battled for the WWF World Championship. Their Highway To Hell match was threatened by Undertaker's estranged brother Kane, yet Austin managed to pin The Dead Man.

31.

The Undertaker vs. Mankind

The Undertaker and Mankind had battled numerous times, but their SummerSlam 1996 encounter was the first-ever Boiler Room Brawl. When Undertaker emerged in the ring, manager Paul Bearer turned against him and helped Mankind get the win.

29.

Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton

Randy Orton's first main event was SummerSlam 2004, when he challenged for the World Title. Although he was the underdog against champion Chris Benoit, Orton managed to pin Benoit for the win, and the match ended with a handshake.

27.

Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero

Ever since WrestleMania XXI, friends Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero had been at odds. Guerrero then told the world Rey's son Dominick was actually his. The two battled for Dominick's custody in a Ladder Match (of course they did!), with Mysterio keeping his son.

25.

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe

Universal Champion Brock Lesnar had the odds stacked against him when Kurt Angle forced him to face three monsters at SummerSlam 2017. Lesnar overcame Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe, pinning Reigns in a tremendous match.

23.

John Cena vs. CM Punk

Both John Cena and CM Punk had legitimate claims to the WWE Championship heading into SummerSlam 2011, leading to a match between them to ultimately decide who was champion. Cena won the match.... although his title was taken away minutes later, after Alberto Del Rio cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase.

21.

Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H

Shawn Michaels had been out of action for four years when his longtime D-Generation X partner Triple H attacked him. That led to an Unsanctioned Street Fight between the two at SummerSlam 2002. Michaels hadn't lost a step, defeating The Game.

19.

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar

Another big Brock Lesnar moment came at SummerSlam 2012, following an incident where The Beast Incarnate broke the arm of WWE COO Triple H. The two met at SummerSlam in a No-Disqualification Match and, to many people's surprise, Lesnar decimated Triple H and made him tap out to his Kimura Lock.

17.

The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar

And ANOTHER big Brock Lesnar took place at The Beast Incarnate's very first SummerSlam in 2002, where he received his very first shot at Undisputed WWE Champion The Rock after becoming King Of The Ring earlier in the year. With Paul Heyman by his side, Lesnar won his first WWE title after F-5ing The Great One.

15.

Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar

Okay, fine - one last Brock Lesnar moment. At SummerSlam 2003, The Next Big Thing challenged WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle to a rematch from their WrestleMania XIX contest, with Angle's WWE Championship on the line. Not only did Angle win - he managed to get a rare submission victory over Lesnar!

13.

The Mega Powers vs. The Mega Bucks

The original SummerSlam in 1988 was headlined by four WWE Hall of Famers. In one corner were The Mega Powers of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, and the other were The Mega Bucks of Ted DiBiase and Andre The Giant. With Jesse Ventura as special referee, Miss Elizabeth helped her Mega Powers get the win.

11.

Kurt Angle vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

Leading into SummerSlam 2001, WWF turncoat Stone Cold Steve Austin had a lock on the WWF World Championship, with Kurt Angle on his tail. Worried he would lose the title, Austin low-blowed Angle and then attacked the referee to intentionally become disqualified.

9.

Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon

Although not as iconic as their WrestleMania X contest, the Ladder Match rematch between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon was arguably a much better match. While both men were babyfaces, Michaels and Ramon upped the ante, with Michaels retaining his Intercontinental Title here.

7.

John Cena vs. AJ Styles

AJ Styles defeated John Cena at Money In The Bank, but could he do it again at SummerSlam 2016, and without The Club in his corner? In one of the top matches of the year, Styles nailed Cena with his Phenomenal Forearm for the win. Afterwards, Cena dramatically left his wristbands in the middle of the ring.

5.

Matt & Jeff Hardy vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz

SummerSlam 2000 featured the first Tables, Ladders and Chairs match in company history. Edge & Christian retained their WWF Tag Team Titles in a wild and dangerous TLC match featuring rivals Matt & Jeff Hardy and The Dudley Boyz.

3.

Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect

Bret "Hit Man" Hart and Mr. Perfect had a classic match at SummerSlam 1991. Not only was it one of the most important matches ever for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, but Hart's submission victory helped launched The Hit Man as a singles star.

1.

Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog

SummerSlam 1992 was dubbed "The SummerSlam you thought you'd never see" because of the main event where Bret "Hit Man" Hart defended his WWF Intercontinental Championship against his brother-in-law and fellow babyface The British Bulldog. In an era where good guy vs. good guy matches rarely happened, Bulldog captured the title in this tremendous home-country match in England's Wembley Stadium.

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Wrestling Merchandise and Memories podca
Wrestling Historian Mike Rickard