For nearly 30 years, SummerSlam has been one of the biggest shows of the WWE calendar. In fact, outside of Wrestlemania, it may be the biggest. WWE’s SummerSlam philosophy appears to be changing as they’ve tried to make the show feel as big as possible the latest couple of years.
This year is shaping up to have another big card, as Brock Lesnar will defend his Universal Championship against Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, and Samoa Joe in a Fatal 4-Way. Jinder Mahal will defend his WWE Championship against the winner of tomorrow night’s Shinsuke Nakamura vs. John Cena bout. So, in the spirit of WWE’s annual Summertime super card, let’s take a look back at some of the greatest shows in the event’s history.
10 Greatest SummerSlam Cards of All Time
10. 2000 – The 2000 installment of SummerSlam had a bit of a weak undercard, but the signature matches were star-studded: The Rock vs. Kurt Angle vs. Triple H in the main event, the first TLC match, Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit, and The Undertaker vs. Kane. This show also brought us the infamous Shane McMahon free fall off the TitanTron after his hardcore match against Steve Blackman.
9. 2008 – The two main events in 2008 were huge. While the rest of the matches were decent, nothing really stands out. Still, the first encounter between John Cena and Batista was a monumental occasion. Plus, the Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Edge remains one of the greatest main events in SummerSlam history.
8. 2001 – While the invasion angle is largely considered one of the most botched storylines in wrestling history, the WWE managed to squeeze a few great pay-per-views out of it. SummerSlam 2001 was one of those shows. It was marked by a classic between Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin, but also featured strong contests between The Rock and Booker T, Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy, and Edge and Lance Storm.
7. 1991 – 1991’s SummerSlam is about as nostalgic as it gets – Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior teaming up to take down Sgt. Slaught, Col. Mustafa, and General Adnan. But, the show also featured an all-time classic when Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect wrestled for the Intercontinental Championship.
6. 2009 – From the opening bell on Rey Mysterio and Dolph Ziggler’s Intercontinental Championship match to the C.M. Punk-Jeff Hardy TLC main event, Summerslam 2009 felt fun and fresh. The show was also marked by a 20-minute bout between D-Generation X (Triple H & Shawn Michaels) and The Legacy (Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes).
5. 2015 – It may not have materialized quite like we thought it would, but the 2015 SummerSlam was absolutely loaded: an Undertaker-Brock Lesnar main event, a classic between John Cena and Seth Rollins, and a wealth of decent mid-card matches. The biggest drawback was the run time of the show. It was a long one, and it felt every bit of it.
4. 2005 – You may laugh thinking about Shawn Michaels comically selling Hulk Hogan’s offense in the dream match main event, but SummerSlam 2005 was stacked from beginning to end. This was during the height of John Cena and Batista’s first championship runs, and the two wrestled Chris Jericho and JBL respectively. The Undertaker and Randy Orton had a good match, and we can’t mention this show without mentioning the classic ‘Custody of Dominick’ Ladder Match between Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio.
3. 2013 – Two of the greatest matches in SummerSlam history took place on the 2013 card: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship and Brock Lesnar vs. C.M. Punk. But even setting those two bouts aside, the show had a fun title match between Christian and Alberto Del Rio and marked the debut of Bray Wyatt.
2. 1992 – From the moment the Legion of Doom rode their motorcycles to the ring to the main event pitting Bret Hart against The British Bulldog for the Intercontinental Championship, SummerSlam 1992 was a classic. Factor in a nearly-30-minute classic between The Ultimate Warrior and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and this show is hard to beat.
1. 2002 – The 2002 edition was the penultimate Summerslam card headlined by a blockbuster main event in The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar. That match was great, but it was the return of Shawn Michaels that highlights this show. His non-sanctioned match with Triple H remains one of the greatest bouts of all time. Match this with an undercard that featured Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Benoit, Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero, Ric Flair vs. Chris Jericho, and Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio, and you have the greatest SummerSlam of all time.
Which SummerSlam is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.