SummerSlam is WWE’s second biggest show of the year. Recently, it’s been put on the same level as WrestleMania. The card often features the company’s biggest stars and the build starts mid-summer.
There have been 31 SummerSlams, and any event with that many iterations is bound to have a wide variety of main events. Some are instant classics we love to rewatch, while others we would rather forget. There’s no better way to celebrate summer than taking a look at the 5 best and 5 worst SummerSlam main events.
10 WORST: WWF CHAMPION STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN VS THE UNDERTAKER - 1998
Normally we would never dream of putting a Stone Cold vs Undertaker match on a worst list, but a simple rewatch will reveal that this was nowhere near their best face off. Early in the match, the two hit heads and it becomes painfully clear that Austin never recovers.
Undertaker covers the best he can, but the contest becomes a series of spots meant to take up time during a match. They fight in the crowd and there’s even an appearance from Kane. We know they can do better because we’ve seen it.
9 BEST: INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION BRET HART VS THE BRITISH BULLDOG - 1992
This match isn’t necessarily full of big crowd pleasing spots, but the story behind it adds so much emotion, viewers can’t help being drawn in. Bret Hart battles his brother-in law Davey Boy Smith in the main event in Wembley and the crowd is off the charts involved from the first second.
The pacing is up and down, but even during armbars and headlocks these guys tell enough of a story that you almost don’t notice. Though the finish is a little lackluster, the emotional release of the crowd makes up for it.
8 WORST: THE UNDERTAKER VS “THE UNDERTAKER” - 1994
Following an uncharacteristic loss in a casket match, The Undertaker disappeared. However, a story about his return developed, then Ted Dibiase brought him back. Except Paul Bearer knew that it wasn’t the real Undertaker.
The problem is it becomes very clear very quickly that The Undertaker is one of the best ever, whereas the fake is just a big guy who has no business in a ring with a bonafide legend. This isn’t the most ridiculous story Taker has been involved in, but it’s certainly one of the worst, so it’s one fans choose to forget.
7 BEST: EDGE VS THE UNDERTAKER (HELL IN A CELL) - 2008
As great as their WrestleMania match is, there’s a real argument to be made that this is the best of Edge and Undertaker’s rivalry. Everyone knows Hell in a Cell is basically The Undertaker’s second home, however, Edge steps up his brutality and brings his TLC experience to a new level.
Though the ending, where Edge gets choke slammed to Hell, gets all the attention, Edge has some amazing spots. From spearing Undertaker through the cage to another spear across the announce tables, this is the Rated R Superstar and the Deadman at the absolute top of their games.
6 WORST: BROCK LESNAR VS RANDY ORTON - 2016
If you ever wondered what happens when you put two guys known to work a little stiff in the same match, the answer is this clunker. Since Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar were in the same developmental class, they billed this as 15 years in the making.
It started with Orton taking multiple German suplexes, but something clearly changed and the duo no longer appeared on the same page. He pounded Orton with extremely hard elbows, causing him to bleed from the head and the match was stopped. Over the years there have been conflicting stories about what actually happened, but the truth won’t change how disappointing the match was.
5 BEST: WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION JEFF HARDY VS CM PUNK (TLC MATCH) - 2009
The best tables, ladders and chairs matches feature wrestlers who know how to work the stipulation to their advantage, and no one knows TLC matches like Jeff Hardy. The veteran used every move in his arsenal to make CM Punk look like the future star he was.
Punk was the heel who wanted to rid WWE of unworthy champion Hardy. The match included a myriad of amazing spots, but what makes it so memorable is Hardy’s performance as the never say die competitor he has become famous for. Of course, a post match return from The Undertaker didn’t hurt.
4 WORST: TEAM WWE VS THE NEXUS - 2010
Back in 2010, WWE was taken over by a cocky group of rookies called The Nexus. Their main target John Cena got fed up and put together a dream team featuring Edge, Chris Jericho, R-Truth, John Morrison, former Nexus member Daniel Bryan and hall of famer Bret Hart.
This was essentially a Survivor Series elimination match of champions vs jobbers. After weeks of dominating, Nexus looked like the newcomers they were in a ring full of legends. Everyone gets their big moves in and Hart is mercifully eliminated early.
3 BEST: WWE UNDISPUTED CHAMPION THE ROCK VS BROCK LESNAR - 2002
It’s easy to forget now, but there was a time when Brock Lesnar was the young hungry newcomer fighting for his first championship. With the right look and full of athleticism, Lesnar burst on the scene just as The Rock was leaving to really begin his movie career.
The Rock put Lesnar over as a beast with superhuman strength while also showcasing all the moves and personality that make him the people’s champ. This is Lesnar at his best, a reminder of why he became such a huge star in the first place.
2 WORST: WWE CHAMPION JOHN CENA VS BROCK LESNAR - 2014
If you’re looking for the moment when we switched from super athletic, interesting Brock Lesnar to two move, going through the motions Brock Lesnar, it’s this match. The build up had all the usual moments, however, once the match started it turned into a squash no one was expecting.
Here’s the thing, John Cena may have been willing to take that beating, but that doesn’t mean fans wanted to watch it. There’s nothing wrong with Cena losing, but there was no reason for it to be so one sided and non-competitive. Plus, it started a trend of Lesnar’s matches that we still haven’t recovered from.
1 BEST: WWE CHAMPION JOHN CENA VS DANIEL BRYAN - 2013
There is no better storyteller in the ring than John Cena. He has the ability to make any match feel important. Put him in the ring with Daniel Bryan at his peak, and we all knew we were getting an instant classic.
Bryan had labeled Cena an entertainer who couldn’t handle a wrestling match with him, setting up a great story where they both had something to prove. They threw everything but the kitchen sink at one another, exciting the fans with each kick out. Outside circumstances have prevented the two from another great feud, but we’re hoping we see them face off again sooner rather than later.