SummerSlam is billed as one of WWE’s biggest events of the year. Many put SummerSlam in third position behind The Royal Rumble and WrestleMania but ahead of Survivor Series when it comes to the four biggest shows.
WWE always pulls out all the stops when it comes to their biggest events of the year and SummerSlam is one that has some of the best memories. The WWE Universe has witnessed some of the best matches, swerves, heel turns, face turns and returns over the past few decades and it seems that this year is set to be no different.
SummerSlam emanates from The Barclays Center in Brooklyn New York for the third year in a row, the night after NXT Takeover; Brooklyn boasts one of the biggest matches of the year as Brock Lesnar defends his Universal Championship in a fatal-four way match against Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns, and Samoa Joe.
Brock Lesnar has main evented the last four SummerSlam events and some of his matches have been the most memorable of his career. It seems that Brock has become the box office draw for WWE over the past few years, so he is sure to appear more than once on this list.
The following list looks at some of the biggest SummerSlam moments over the past few years, the ones that have lived long in the memory of the WWE Universe even years after they first took place, the ones that are frozen in time because of the reaction they caused.
15. The Rise Of The Authority
SummerSlam 2013 is memorable for two reasons: it was main evented by a fantastic WWE Championship match between John Cena and Daniel Bryan, an incredibly rare face versus face match on WWE TV, and because it was where the rise of The Authority officially began.
Daniel Bryan managed to defeat Cena, who was heading off to have surgery on a nasty looking elbow growth and Triple H had stepped in to be the guest referee because his father-in-law Vince was completely against Bryan becoming a Champion and Hunter wanted to do what was best for business. As Bryan held the title aloft, Triple H turned heel and hit a pedigree on Bryan before Randy Orton ran out and cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. It was the beginning of a storyline that would eclipse the next year of WWE TV and finally end when Bryan defeated Triple H at WrestleMania 30 the following year.
14. A New Star Is Born
At SummerSlam 15 years ago, Brock Lesnar challenged The Rock for the WWE Undisputed Championship. Brock was just 25 years old and stepping up to The Rock took some guts given the star he was in WWE at the time. Brock wasn’t the former UFC destroyer that he is seen as today; 15 years ago, Brock was just like every other wrestler in the locker room trying to make a name for himself and he definitely did that at SummerSlam.
Brock defeated The Rock to not only signal his arrival in WWE but also became the youngest ever World Champion and held the record for the second fastest Championship win from his debut with just 126 days. It would become a huge match in the career of Brock Lesnar and it has made SummerSlam one of the best pay-per-view events for The Beast Incarnate, something he will continue to prove in just two weeks time.
13. The Match Too Big For WrestleMania
Despite WrestleMania being the biggest event of the year, WWE billed the match between The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2015 to be a match that was too big for WrestleMania. 16 months before, Brock Lesnar had ended The Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania 30 and The Deadman returned as Brock looked to reclaim the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Seth Rollins at Battleground.
The Deadman hit Brock with a tombstone to send a message and set up a huge rematch between two of WWE’s biggest stars. The match itself lived up to the hype, except for the ending when it was decided that the time keeper could overrule the referee since he rang the bell when he saw The Undertaker tap but the referee never saw it or signaled for the bell to be rung. The duo had a number of rematches and their feud continued throughout the year until Brock finally came out on top and that was then the end of that.
12. The American Dragon Returns
SummerSlam 2010 saw one of the biggest matches that SummerSlam has ever seen as a main event as The Nexus took on Team WWE, headed by John Cena. Team WWE needed one more member and it was thought that The Miz would make up the numbers after teasing it for a number of weeks, but when The Miz came out and offered his services, it seems that Cena had already filled the slot.
In a shocking turn around it was revealed that the seventh member of Team WWE was former Nexus member himself, Daniel Bryan. Bryan had been fired from WWE a few months earlier when he was seen choking WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts at ringside and WWE thought that this was too much on a PG programme and terminated his contract. Fans petitioned against his release and were happy to see the return of The American Dragon to go against his former friends at SummerSlam that year.
11. Bret Hart Is Better Than Perfect
SummerSlam 1991 was a memorable event for Bret Hart as he finally managed to overcome his old adversary Mr. Perfect to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. It was a fantastic match between two of the biggest legends that WWE has ever created in the main event as Hart managed to reverse Perfect’s leg drop attempt into the Sharpshooter from a grounded position to then make the Perfect star tap out.
Bret proved that day that he had what it took to be one of the best representatives of the company. 1991 ended up being a fantastic year for Hart as he went on to win the King of the Ring tournament as well as being the reigning Intercontinental Champion for a number of months and recorded many successful title defences during that time. It seems that win over Mr. Perfect kickstarted something inside Hart when it came to his WWE career.
10. Paul Bearer Betrays The Undertaker
After years of loyalty between The Undertaker and Paul Bearer, SummerSlam 1996 saw Bearer do the unthinkable when he turned on Undertaker and aligned himself with his arch enemy ManKind. Undertaker looked to be trying to reach out for his urn to gain some strength when Bearer moved it away from him and then laughed as Mankind locked in the Mandible Claw to win the match.
Bearer went on to add insult to injury when he hit Undertaker on the head with the urn and left him on his back in the centre of the ring. It was one of the biggest shocks in the history of SummerSlam as Bearer decided to turn his back on a man he had been loyal to for more than six years. It definitely got the WWE Universe talking afterwards, but Undertaker and Bearer later managed to find their way back to each other and had many more great years working together.
9. Jeff Hardy Takes To The Skies
Jeff Hardy is well known to be one of the biggest risk takers in WWE. He pretty much invented some of the craziest spots that have ever made it to WWE TV and this was never made more obvious than at SummerSlam 2009 when Hardy took on CM Punk in a TLC Match with the World Heavyweight Championship on the line.
This turned out to be Hardy’s final pay-per-view match with WWE, until he and his brother returned earlier this year. Hardy decided to risk it all once again and took to the sky as he delivered an incredible Swanton Bomb from the top of the latter and through the announcer table on top of Punk. Punk came out as the winner of the match and took Hardy’s title away from him and Hardy left the company a few weeks later when he lost a “loser leaves” WWE match against Punk when it was revealed that Hardy had failed another of WWE’s Wellness tests so he had been fired from the company.
8. Shane McMahon Takes A Big Fall
Shane McMahon walked into SummerSlam 2000 as The Hardcore Champion but he met Steve Blackman in a very physical encounter that would end up causing him such serious injuries that he was kept off WWE TV for a number of months afterwards.
Shane thought it was a good idea to climb the SummerSlam set to get away from Blackman but he followed and managed to hit Shane a number of times with a Singapore Cane. McMahon couldn’t hang on to the scaffolding any longer and ended up falling 15 feet through the stage below. He lost the Hardcore Championship to Blackman after the fall and lost the match, but it is one of the best-remembered stunts that any wrestler has ever done on any pay-per-view so it seems that his fall left the impact that he had been hoping for. McMahon is now the Commissioner of SmackDown Live, but he still takes part in a number of crazy stunts and even jumped off Hell in a Cell last year at WrestleMania.
7. Stephanie McMahon Returns To The Ring
Stephanie McMahon was dragged into the rivalry between her husband and Daniel Bryan back in 2015 when it was made obvious that Daniel Bryan couldn’t compete at that time so instead, the wives of Bryan and Triple H decided to continue the rivalry. After Brie Bella quit WWE and slapped Stephanie, she returned and challenged Steph to a match at SummerSlam in 2015.
The match proved that Steph had remained in good shape and could have gone much better if Brie’s sister Nikki didn’t decide to make her presence known and shockingly turn on her sister to hand Stephanie the win. This then led to one of the worst storylines WWE has ever come up with between Brie and Nikki, the less said about that one, the better. But at least the match between Brie and Stephanie led up to the hype before Nikki rudely interrupted with her own agenda.
6. John Cena Is Welcomed To Suplex City
John Cena doesn’t have fond memories of SummerSlam and it seems that these only got worse back in 2014 when he took on Brock Lesnar in what was deemed to be a squash match as Brock hit Cena with 16 German Suplexes and two F5’s to take the WWE Championship.
It was just months after the world had been made aware that Suplex City existed and the same year that Brock ended The Undertaker’s Undefeated Streak. At this point Brock was one of the biggest things that WWE had and this began a title reign that ended at WrestleMania 31 when Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to finally dethrone The Beast. John Cena has never been more brutalized in a match than he was at SummerSlam back in 2014, when Lesnar was finally introduced to the WWE Universe as the threat that he had always been seen as by the WWE Locker Room.
5. Randy Orton Is Brutalized By The Beast
For the third year in a row, Brock Lesnar main evented SummerSlam but this time it was against Randy Orton. It was a match that had been years in the making after Randy Orton won the WWE Championship at SummerSlam in 2004 to break Brock’s record as the youngest WWE Champion of all time. It was billed as the match that was ten years in the making and while it delivered, the ending was seen as a little bit too far.
Brock won the match and then continued to beat Orton and cause a huge gash to open up on his head as blood flowed out all over the canvas. The beating looked real, so real that Orton’s friend Chris Jericho actually confronted Lesnar backstage after the match and their argument almost turned physical. It seems that Brock was sent out to make a statement and he definitely managed that with his beating to Orton.
4. The Undertaker Versus The Undertaker
SummerSlam 1994 saw one of the most anticipated showdowns in WWE history as The Undertaker finally got his hands on The Imposter Undertaker and the duo had an incredible match at the event.
Ted Dibiase managed one Undertaker while Paul Bearer remained by the side of the real Undertaker and after a back and forth match it was the real version who prevailed. Imposter Undertaker wasn’t seen in WWE again after that since his storyline had finally reached its climax, but the man who portrayed him did return to WWE with a different gimmick, known as Chainz. The build up to the match was considered to be one of the best as Undertaker was confused when he was confronted more than once by a man who resembled himself, but he finally put his demons to rest at SummerSlam in 1994 with the help of the ever loyal Paul Bearer.
3. Mysterio Defeats Eddie Guerrero
Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero were locked in a rivalry heading into SummerSlam 2005 when it was revealed that Eddie was the real father of Rey’s son Dominik. The duo then met in a ladder match with the custody of Dominik on the line in the briefcase that the winner would have to reach for in order to win the match.
It was a fantastic match between two of WWE’s best wrestlers until Eddie’s wife Vickie Guerrero decided to involve herself in the match and cost her husband the chance to win custody of his son. It was a deeply personal feud that was finalized in the best possible way when Dominik ran to the ring and celebrated with the man he had called his father his entire life. It was a personal storyline that grabbed the attention and imagination of the WWE Universe and really elevated Rey Mysterio to a bigger position in WWE since he went on to win The World Championship less than a year later.
2. The First Ever TLC Match
The TLC match is now an afterthought in WWE with a pay-per-view of the same name taking place annually and always boasting a main event that is contested under the usual TLC rules, but back in 2000 at SummerSlam the match finally made its first appearance.
It was a match that pitted The Hardyz, Edge and Christian, and The Dudley Boyz up against each other as Edge and Christian put their Tag Team Championships on the line. The match had it all, brutal high spots, table’s breaking, ladders being used as weapons and even Lita coming out and was brutally beaten under the no disqualification rules of the match. In the end, it was Edge and Christian who managed to climb the ladder and retain their championships in the first ever match of its type that then set to tone for the many matches that have taken place under the same rules ever since.
1. Bret Hart Defeats The British Bulldog
SummerSlam 1992 made history for many reasons, one of the most obvious was the fact that it took place in The United Kingdom and saw family members The British Bulldog face off against Bret Hart in the main event.
Having Davey Boy Smith win the IC Championship in his hometown was an incredible decision from WWE, one that pleased the hometown hero’s travelling fans inside Wembley stadium. To date this is still the only ever event to have taken place outside of North America and it boasted what has been called the greatest SummerSlam match of all time. The story behind this match makes it even more brilliant since Bret Hart revealed that Davey Boy forgot everything in the match part way through and Bret was forced to carry him and call out all of the moves as the match went on in front of a live crowd. The story that the two men told in the ring and the reaction of the Universe following Davey’s win easily makes this the best match in SummerSlam history and one of the most memorable moments of all time.
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