Top 10 Best WWE SummerSlam Main Events of All Time | Smark Out Moment

Top 10 Best WWE SummerSlam Main Events of All Time

Posted by Rick Young Saturday, August 15, 2015
Over the years, SummerSlam has seen its share of memorable main event contests that have launched careers, cemented legacies, and flat out entertained all of us as pro wrestling fans. Today, I've compiled a list of the ten absolute best main event bouts in SummerSlam history.

WWE SummerSlam Logo Best Big Four PPV

10. SummerSlam 2001: The Rock vs. Booker T for the WCW Championship

WWF SummerSlam 2001 Booker T Shane McMahon vs Rock WCW Championship Main Event

Ah yes, the feud that pushed Sting away from joining WWE for so many years. If only The Rock hadn't completely trashed Booker T's accomplishments in the build-up. Not long after theWWF bought out WCW, former WCW and ECW wrestlers jumped ship. This sparked a company-wide angle that saw WWF's performers collide with the incoming threat of new talent. One of the greatest threats out of WCW was Booker T. Over in WCW, Booker T was treated as the main event caliber wrestler that he was. Unfortunately for him, The Rock made a return to Raw not long after. Long story short, Booker T—one of The Alliance's top dogs—came out and introduced himself to The Rock, who was one of the WWF's leaders. The Rock replied by saying, "Who?" and of course, when Booker continued, The Rock interrupted with his famous "It doesn't matter!" line. This led to Sting refusing to join the WWF for years in fear that his legacy would also be tarnished. The Rock and Booker then went back and forth, destroying one another until their bout at that year's SummerSlam.

Shane McMahon, as the de facto leader of The Alliance, hung around at ringside, causing mischief for The Rock throughout the match. Although this made the match more interesting, the extent of his interference made Booker T look even weaker. It was fun to see Shane's crafty mind at work, scheming to find new ways to aid Booker, including leaving a chair at one end of the ring and knocking out The Rock with the belt as the referee moved to remove it. Although the ending was amusing, Booker looked like even more of a fool for celebrating prematurely, giving The Rock the perfect opportunity to strike with The Rock Bottom for the win. This one would've been higher up on the list had the WWF done a better job of preserving Booker's credibility during the match. I understand that he was playing the heel role, but the company could've given Booker the win here and have him drop the belt to The Rock at a later date.

9. SummerSlam 2013: Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship with Triple H as the special guest referee + Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship with Triple H as the special guest referee

WWE SummerSlam 2013 Daniel Bryan Randy Orton WWE Champions Triple H guest referee Twist Ending
Two new WWE Champions within minutes.
The match was billed as a "David vs. Goliath" scenario as John Cena was presented with the opportunity to choose his SummerSlam opponent and he went with Daniel Bryan. Vince McMahon and Brad Maddox hounded Bryan in the weeks that followed, taunting him about his size and lack of sizzle that Cena has. At one point, they tried to give Bryan the corporate makeover, to which a rebellious Bryan refused. Bryan did so by shaving his would-be barber, Wade Barrett, which led to them facing off with Maddox as the special guest referee. As a heel authority figure, Maddox pulled a fast count on Bryan, granting Barrett the pinfall victory. Selling his new experience as a guest referee, Maddox asked McMahon to be the guest ref at SummerSlam. McMahon said okay, but Triple H put an end to their colluding with a Pedigree to Maddox. A neutral Triple H stepped up to the plate as the official for the match between WWE's biggest babyfaces.

This was a sound, technical match. It was clear that Cena wasn't on Bryan's level of technique, but he ran move for move with the "Yes!" Man. The match had a couple of neat spots, featuring a suplex off the steel steps, and the crowd was clearly behind Bryan, especially with the "Yes!" chant that signals the running single leg high knee finisher. Triple H did what he said he'd do, and called this one down the middle. In the wake of his clean loss, John Cena shook hands with Daniel Bryan for a great passing of the torch moment. Most thought the night would've ended there, but lo and behold, the Viper, Randy Orton walked out with his Money in the Bank briefcase. In a Game of Thrones-style twist, Triple H fed Bryan a Pedigree, and 8 seconds later, Randy Orton was the WWE Champion. Once again, the WWE cheated the Internet Wrestling Community out of a win. However, it was more necessary this time around because it led to the creation of the still-running heel faction, The Authority. With the birth of evil, a hero must rise, and so, too, did Daniel Bryan's "Yes!" Movement.

8. SummerSlam 2006: John Cena vs. Edge for the WWE Championship

WWE SummerSlam 2006 Edge Lita vs Cena WWE Championship

Edge had been feuding with John Cena since New Year's Revolution when Edge was the first man to successfully cash in the Money in the Bank contract. Cena, being Superman, won the belt right back at the Royal Rumble, but Edge wasn't finished yet. During another Money in the Bank cash-in match—this time with Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand—Edge speared Cena, leaving him vulnerable to a Five-Star Frog Splash from RVD, losing the title in the process. All three men then met on Monday Night Raw in a triple threat match. As Cena was about to pin RVD, Edge knocked Cena out of contention and stole the win and was champion once more. In the coming weeks, an out of control Edge assaulted Cena's father and went on to defend his title against Cena at Saturday Night's Main Event. Although John was closing in on the win, Lita attacked the ref, disqualifying Edge and allowing him to retain the title. Cena was offered another match against Edge at SummerSlam. This time, if Edge was disqualified, he would forfeit the belt to John Cena.

This match wasn't as technical as the previous Cena match on the list, but it sure was fun to watch. The Edge-can't-be-DQ'd stipulation made for some entertaining moments. For instance, Lita idiotically gave Edge a chair right in front of the ref to Edge's horror. This match was only about 15 minutes, but it didn't have to be long for Cena and Edge to pull off another great match together. Eventually, Edge scored the win after cold-cocking Cena with brass knuckles anyway, but fortuitously for him, the ref was distracted by Lita, and Edge snuck away with another win over Cena.

7. SummerSlam 2000: Kurt Angle vs. Triple H vs. The Rock for the WWF Championship

WWF SummerSlam 2000 Kurt Angle vs Triple H Stephanie McMahon vs The Rock WWF Championship

After both men simultaneously pinned Chris Jericho, they were booked in a three-way dance at SummerSlam with The Rock. Although this was a triple threat match, the primary rivalry was between the two contenders, Triple H and Kurt Angle. The catalyst for their feud wasn't the title, but Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie walked in on what appeared to be Triple H grinding on Trish Stratus backstage (though it wasn't). A saddened Stephanie became closer with Angle as a way to fill the void caused by her anger towards her husband. As many people out there can relate, Triple H played the part of the jealous husband. Concerned for both men, Stephanie called up her father, Vince, who threateningly encouraged both men to bury the hatchet. Though the Game and the Olympic Hero tried to play nice, unfolding circumstances led to each man taking a turn at walking out while the other was beat down. The final straw came when Kurt Angle professed his love to a dazed Stephanie, and then made out with her backstage, leaving Stephanie with mixed feelings.

It was great to see Triple H go after Kurt Angle before The Rock came out for the match. Seeing Triple H respond the way he did provided some nice vicarious satisfaction for all of the jealous boyfriends/husbands out there. Then this match became mostly a Rock vs. Triple H affair, which was by no means, bad. Concerned for her husband, Stephanie pleaded with Angle to save Triple H because of his love for her. Returning to the ring, Angle appeared to be Triple H's savior, until he wasn't and a combination of his and Stephanie's involvement cost Triple H the WWF Championship to The Rock. To make matters worse, Angle carried off a once again dazed Stephanie McMahon. The finish was exactly what it needed to be in order for the WWF to build up the concluding chapter between Kurt Angle and Triple H, though it would've been better if the WWF Championship wasn't a secondary factor.

6. SummerSlam 2002: The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar for the Undisputed WWE Championship

WWE SummerSlam 2002 Rock vs Brock Lesnar Paul Heyman Undisputed WWE Championship

We've now arrived at Brock Lesnar's career-making match against The Rock. Brock Lesnar had been in the WWF for about five months, and had already steamrolled through several of the company's top talent, including Hollywood Hulk Hogan. On a hot streak, this led to Brock Lesnar winning the King of the Ring tournament, thus becoming the number one contender. On The Rock's end, he had just beaten Kurt Angle and the Undertaker in a terrific triple threat match to become the Undisputed WWE Champion.

It was awesome seeing Paul Heyman at Lesnar's side back then and realizing how his mic role heavily influenced the rising superstar's career. &amp The crowd was outright divided between the two, and the energy was there for their competitive face-off. The final moments were intense watching the two battle to see who would hit their finisher first. This was a pretty straight forward build-up for the match, but the implications of the contest led to Brock Lesnar reaching main event status for the remainder of his career.

5. SummerSlam 2008: The Undertaker vs. Edge in a Hell in a Cell match

WWE SummerSlam Undertaker chokeslam Edge Hell in a Cell Steel Steps

In a stupid storyline, Edge cheated on Vickie Guerrero with Alicia Fox. Out of spite, Vickie reinstated the Undertaker as a wrestler (who was forced out after he lost to Edge in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match) and the two were booked to face off at SummerSlam. Undertaker and Edge had been feuding for quite some time at this point. This match was designed to end that rivalry. Edge sought advice from Mick Foley, due to Foley's past Hell in a Cell match experience against the Undertaker and the Hardcore Legend told Edge to believe in himself and bring out his past viciousness. Edge responded by destroying Mick Foley, Chavo Guerrero, and even Vickie herself. An insane Edge then headed into SummerSlam with his new-found sense of destruction.

One of the most hardcore matches on this list, this hell in a cell match pushed both men to their limits. The match ended perfectly with the Undertaker throwing all of Edge's moves back at him: spearing Edge, striking him with the camera, giving him the con-chair-to, and lastly, hitting the Tombstone Piledriver for the win. The post-match chokeslam off the ladder to "Hell" was also a great way to put this rivalry to bed.

4. SummerSlam 1998: The Undertaker vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin for the WWF Championship

WWF SummerSlam 1998 Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Undertaker WWF Championship

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin was set to face number one contender and former tag team partner, the Undertaker, at SummerSlam for the WWF Championship. Unluckily for Stone Cold, he also had to worry about Taker's brother Kane coming into play.

Early on Kane came out, but Undertaker sent him away. While I liked the mano a mano attitude, this made the whole Undertaker and Kane threat moot. This match marked the first SummerSlam main event where the announce table broke. It occurred when Undertaker did a diving leg drop from the top turnbuckle onto to Stone Cold. These two battled throughout the duration of the match. Towards the end it was clear how tired both men were as doing a simple body slam looked as if it sapped away the last of their strength. Stone Cold closed in on the "W" with a low blow and a stunner, and afterward Taker should his hand anyway.

3. SummerSlam 1992: Davey Boy Smith vs. Bret Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

WWF SummerSlam 1992 Bret Hart shake hands British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith Intercontinental Championship

Yes; there was once a time when a match for the Intercontinental Championship could end a Pay-Per-View, but that time has long passed. Having said that, this London-based match played on a relatable theme: family. &amp Given that the two were real-life brother-in-laws, some members of their family began choosing sides going into the main event, while others simply wished them both good health for their match.

This match was a technical masterpiece. Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith ran a professional wrestling clinic on creating the perfectly-paced match. On the outside, the camera cut to Diana, showcasing the emotional tear between her husband (Smith) and her brother (Hart), and her concern for both men's well-being. Hart played the match's heel without going full heel, effectively throwing out a couple taunts and using the ropes for attacks. After countless attacks and near-falls, Davey Boy Smith finally scored the win out of nowhere when he reversed Hart's sunset flip pin attempt into a pin of his own. Post-match, these two embraced, ending the family's civil war, and were then joined by Diana who raised both combatants' hands for the perfect family celebration and closing reconciliation.

2. CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight Championship in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match

WWE SummerSlam 2009 Jeff Hardy Swanton Bomb CM Punk Off Ladder World Heavyweight Championship

CM Punk lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Jeff Hardy at Night of Champions. CM Punk of course, wanted his rematch. In addition, Punk (as a liver of a "Straight Edge" lifestyle) berated Hardy for his past run-ins with drug/alcoholic substances.

So many terrific spots in this main event, including a brutal superplex onto a laid-down ladder and a Swanton Bomb off a ladder that must've been thirty feet tall. Punk wins the title after knocking Hardy all the way off a ladder placed in the center of the ring. The Undertaker showing up to chokeslam CM Punk post-match was an awesome way to immediately set up the next feud for the World Heavyweight Championship, and it showed that WWE was doing a great job of planning ahead. The conflicting life choices and philosophies mixed into a phenomenal concoction of mic abilities, wrestling talent, and hardcore spots are what made this match incredible.

Honorable Mentions

SummerSlam 2011: CM Punk vs. John Cena in a match to determine the Undisputed WWE Championship with Triple H as the special guest referee/CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio for the WWE Championship

WWE SummerSlam 2011 John Cena vs CM Punk Triple H Ref Undisputed WWE Champion Main Event

A few years back, CM Punk gave his legendary "Pipe Bomb" speech, where he sat down on the entrance ramp towards the end of a Raw episode, and called out Vince McMahon and John Cena for all of their backstage BS. That match led to one of the greatest matches of all time, CM Punk vs. John Cena at the Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View. The story was simple: Punk's contract was expiring the midnight after the PPV. If Punk won, he would walk out of the company as the WWE Champion. Seeing his business' grand prize leaving, was nightmarish for Vince McMahon, so he attempted to pull a "Chicago Screwjob" when Cena had Punk locked in the STF towards the end of the match. Cena, being the Boy Scout that he is, foiled the attempt and was rewarded with a GTS from CM Punk. A desperate McMahon summoned Alberto Del Rio to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. With a well-timed roundhouse kick, Punk laid out Del Rio and rode off into the sunset. Back on Raw, Rey Mysterio won a tournament to become the new WWE Champion. Unfortunately for Mysterio, his reign wasn't long because Triple H suddenly ousted McMahon, and reinstated Cena, who then defeated Mysterio for the belt later that same night. A cocky CM Punk returned, declaring himself the true WWE Champion. Of course, Cena disagreed, and Triple booked these two for a showdown at "the biggest party of the summer".

The match was another back-and-forth bout between Punk and Cena. Triple H called it right down the middle and threw both of them back in the ring to avoid a count-out decision at one point. With a botched GTS and Cena's foot on the ropes, Punk managed to win the match. Triple H, who missed the foot, stuck by his initial decision and Punk was the Undisputed WWE Champion for a few minutes. Then Kevin Nash came out and hit Punk with a Jackknife Powerbomb for some reason. Like a vulture, Del Rio ran down once again, this time successfully cashing in to become the WWE Champion, and effectively ruining the "Summer of Punk" story angle. Had this match ended without the cash-in, it might've ended up in the top ten, but instead SummerSlam 2011's main event will have to settle for the honorable mention.

SummerSlam 1988: The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage) vs. The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant) with Jesse "The Body" Ventura as the special guest referee.

WWF SummerSlam 1988 Mega Powers Hulk Hogan Randy Savage Miss Elizabeth vs Mega Bucks Andre the Giant Ted DiBiase Bobby Heenan
The one that started it all.

The main event that capped off WWE's very first SummerSlam event. Ted DiBiase and André the Giant beat down Macho Man, while Miss Elizabeth watched in horror. Savage responded by issuing a tag team challenge towards the heel team. Bobby Heenan openly accepted the challenge for his team. Immediately after, it was revealed that Jesse Ventura was declared the special referee. A week after, Macho Man proudly announced Hulk Hogan as his partner. DiBiase then paid off Ventura to ensure that he'll call the match in his team's favor.

The match itself was a little more entertaining than your typical Monday Night Raw tag team match. There was good give-and-take on both sides, but André didn't see too much action. I did enjoy the finish when Miss Elizabeth removed her skirt to distract Ventura. It was funny how a moment like that was risqué for the time. Savage and Hogan then hit a great diving elbow drop/running leg drop combo for the pin on DiBiase. This match created a legacy for all SummerSlam main events to follow, and that's more than enough reason to give this one an honorable mention.

So those are the honorable mentions. And now, on to the crème de la crème, WWE's best SummerSlam main event of all time.

1. SummerSlam 1997: Bret Hart vs. the Undertaker for the WWF Championship with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee.

WWF SummerSlam 1997 Bret Hart Sharpshooter Undertaker Shawn Michaels guest ref WWF Championship

Bret Hart started this rivalry by making an announcement that he will never again wrestle in the U.S. if he doesn't reclaim the WWF Championship at that year's SummerSlam. Shawn Michaels then agreed to be the special guest referee and a condition was placed, banning HBK from U.S. wrestling if showed favoritism to The Undertaker. A distrusting, livid Bret Hart attacked Vince McMahon for allowing HBK to have a role in what could be his final U.S. match. The tension boiled over between the Heart Break Kid and the Hitman when Shawn Michaels cost Bret Hart a match against the Patriot in the weeks that followed. A calculating Undertaker looked on with an icy stare as his official and his nemesis were at one another's throats.

The match itself was terrific. Hart lunged after Taker before the bell even rang, and the intensity never died. Undertaker had a cool spot where he lifted Hart over the ropes into the ring for a chokeslam. He also had some snappy chokeslam grabs that looked like they alone would've hurt. I enjoyed the Hart Foundation's distractions. The utilization of Shawn Michaels was great. He perfectly played the role of the conflicted ref trying his best to call the match down the middle. Matches like this one prove why these three men are known as some of the most celebrated the industry's ever seen. The Undertaker breaking the Sharpshooter submission hold was unheard of at the time. A particularly innovative Bret Hart even used the ring post to lock the Undertaker in another Sharpshooter. Undertaker kicking out after the chair shot was exciting &amp to see because in those days a chair shot meant you were more or less done. A highly conflicted HBK costing Taker the match after hitting him with the chair by mistake was gold. All of these reasons justify why this one is clearly the best SummerSlam match of all time, but it's safe to say that every single on the matches on this list are worth checking out.

Do you agree with my list? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think the top 10 best SummerSlam main events are. Thanks for reading!
THIS POST WRITTEN BY: RICHARD YOUNG

Richard Young was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up, he developed a passion for writing and later found a love for pro wrestling to the point where he was a walking encyclopedia of pro wrestling information. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pro Wrestling 3 Count.

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