WrestleMania might be the biggest event of each WWE year, but you really should not count out SummerSlam. It might not be as shiny as WrestleMania, nor is it anchored by a huge match like Royal Rumble, but the promotion has always been sure to put on a great show for fans in the Summer. Acting as the first major check in on the road from and to WrestleMania, SummerSlam has been home to some of the most memorable matches in WWE history. But when thinking about the cream of the crop, it can be tough to really get down to it.
So what matches are really the greatest in WWE SummerSlam history? A couple of factors go into making these choices including the story leading in, the result, crowd hype, and much more. Not only that, but if it's one of the greatest matches it has to hold up to a rewatch right? With all that being said, let's get to it!
Read on for our picks for the greatest WWE SummerSlam matches of all time, and let us know your picks! Which matches stand out to you for good reasons? Who are your favorite winners? Let us know all of your thoughts in the comments!
Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog - Intercontinental Championship (1992)
When thinking about the best SummerSlam competitors, you really have to start with Bret Hart. Hart has been in some of the most memorable SummerSlam matches ever, but the best showcase of this has to be his match against his brother-in-law, Davey Boy Smith. At the first pay-per-view event outside of North America, this one had a ton of hype going in as the lead ins involved interviews with the rest of the Hart family choosing sides. The match itself paid off in full with cuts to Diana Hart, and tons of methodical work between the two athletes. Feats of strength truly kept the hype going, and it ends with one of the most heartwarming moments in WWF history with Bret and Diana Hart and Davey Boy Smith all hugging it out as fireworks erupted around them.prevnext
Mankind vs. The Undertaker - Boiler Room Brawl (1996)
WWE might be making waves with its cinematic matches these days, but the roots of these more exaggerated arenas goes far back. One of the most famous examples is the Boiler Room Brawl between Mankind and the Undertaker. While technically it's not as proficient or exciting as some of the other choices on this list, but it's more about the packaging that elevates to new heights. The lead in interviews with Mankind had to have been some of the funnest as Mick Foley explored more of the Mankind character, and it ended with one of the hugest surprises ever as Paul Bearer turned on the Undertaker!prevnext
The Rock vs. Triple H - Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match (1998)
But if you want the spectacle along with the athleticism, then look no further than The Rock and Triple H's ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship! Accompanied by Mark Henry and Chyna respectively, this one was tough because it was hard to pick who to root for seeing as how the both of them were so damn cool at the time. That was the fun of watching the match in action too as it really could have gone either way at many different points of the match. Only back to back interferences (ending with a great low blow) brought it all to an end, and yet it was still a surprise to see who actually won at the end of it all.prevnext
Tables, Ladders & Chairs (2000)
Speaking of ladders, throw some tables and chairs in there and you have a great set up for a match. So great in fact, that the very first TLC match went on to inspire an entire pay-per-view several years later. Edge and Christian, Matt and Jeff Hardy, and the Dudley Boyz had to have been at their peak around this time and the only way to truly settle their three way rivalry was to go all out. The first one was probably the best with tons of high flying moves (especially from Jeff Hardy), a Lita interference (that ended up going nowhere), and an Edge and Christian victory following tons of brutality.prevnext
Triple H vs Shawn Michaels - Unsanctioned Match (2002)
But if we're talking brutality, there's no better SummerSlam example of this that Shawn Michaels' big return match against Triple H. Returning to the WWE after a couple of years, Shawn Michaels was gearing up for another major run and this served as a re-introduction to who Micheals was in the ring. Triple H really dug into his nasty side here (launching a several year rivalry to boot), and the resulting chaos and eruptions of blood certainly made this one a match to remember. Especially when you get to the ending as a sour grapes Triple H made sure to use the sledgehammer he loved so much and walked away with his head hilariously held high.prevnext
Cena vs CM Punk - Undisputed WWE Championship (2011)
In many ways, CM Punk was the people's champion. He kind of still is as it's become a running joke among crowds to constantly chant his name, and that's because of surprises like the one leading to a fateful match against John Cena in 2011. Following CM Punk's "exit" from the company, Triple H "took over" and created a second WWE belt. This led to the ultimate company champion with John Cena, and CM Punk's surprising return to reclaim his rightful spot became a true clash between the audience and WWE itself. Fighting over who got to be the true WWE Champion, Cena and Punk delivered what is undoubtedly the best match in either of their careers. Couple this with the fact that Triple H served as referee (and even brought them back into the ring to avoid a double count out), and you've got a match that holds up under multiple rewatches.prevnext
Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins - Universal Championship (2016)
It's not as if SummerSlam matches have been slacking off, however. 2016 was a special time for the company with the first notable WWE Draft bringing in new stars from NXT into the fold, and Finn Balor was riding a peak career high in the WWE. After surprisingly making his way into the match for the inaugural WWE Universal Championship, Balor and Rollins put on a stunning display of their athleticism (even allowing Rollins to dig deep into his arsenal for moves he had not used in a while) with Balor surprisingly being crowned the winner. It was such a high that Balor himself was never able to reach this level again following his injury, unfortunately, but forever cemented himself within all time great matches!prev