The Summer is usually pretty slow in the WWE. The Wrestlemania letdown sets in as we either get pointless feuds or rematches for a month or two after the ‘show of shows.’ Overall, booking is in limbo until they’re ready to start gearing up for SummerSlam, but deep in the annals of WWE history, some of the finest matches have taken place in this transition period of the WWE calendar.
So, let’s take a look back at some of the WWE’s greatest Summer time contests. If you haven’t seen any of these, I’d advise digging ’em up on the WWE Network.
10 Best WWE Matches on the ‘Road to SummerSlam’
10. 1999: Last Man Standing Match: Triple H vs. Chris Jericho, Fully Loaded – Triple H and Jericho have always had an underrated chemistry, but it doesn’t seem like many people talk about the encounters they’ve had throughout WWE history. This match is a fine example of that chemistry.
9. 2015: John Cena vs. Kevin Owens, Elimination Chamber – Owens burst onto the scene in 2015. As NXT Champion, he showed up to answer Cena’s United States Championship Open Challenge. It eventually led to a pay-per-view match between the two where Owens shocked the world and pinned Cena clean.
8. 1998: Fully Loaded Strap Match: Triple H vs. The Rock, Fully Loaded – Fully Loaded was one of the more fun events of the Attitude Era. In 1998, Triple H and The Rock continued their historic feud in a physical Strap Match for a shot at the WWE Championship.
7. 2005: World Heavyweight Championship, Hell in a Cell Match: Batista vs. Triple H, Vengeance – Early on in his career, Batista’s in-ring ability often came under fire. So, when he battled Triple H in the confines of Hell in a Cell, it was his breakthrough performance. It was hard-hitting and brutal, but most importantly, it settled the feud between these two and proved Batista was a worthy franchise superstar.
6. 2012: WWE Championship, No Disqualification Match: Daniel Bryan vs. C.M. Punk, Money in the Bank – Like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in the mid-1990s, Bryan and Punk could put on a mat classic any time they crossed paths. They had a stellar series of matches in the Summer of 2012, but the No DQ Match at Money in the Bank gets the nod.
5. 2003: United States Championship: Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero, Vengeance – Really, all of Vengeance 2003 was a high quality show, but the match of the night goes to these two. It was the finals of the United States Championship tournament, and to the surprise of no one, these two put on a 20+-minute classic.
4. 2016: John Cena vs. A.J. Styles, Money in the Bank – Every match that Cena and Styles have had has been a ‘Match of the Year’ contender, and their first encounter is no different. At the time, it was a veritable dream match. In hindsight, it kicked off one of the greatest feuds of the last several years.
3. 2001: Street Fight: Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon, King of the Ring – Before the PG Era began, Angle suplexing McMahon through glass panes was one of the most replayed clips in highlight packages. But, the two had an insane chemistry that created for a memorable match.
2. 2006: WWE Championship, Extreme Rules Match: John Cena vs. Rob Van Dam, One Night Stand – ECW always had a bit of a cult following. When WWE announced an ECW reunion in 2005, it went over very well. In 2006, however, they brought in some of the WWE guys to create some new match-ups. One of those bouts was an epic between Cena and RVD. A lot of crowds have hoisted “if Cena wins, we riot” signs, but in this case, I fully believe that had Cena won that match, that place would’ve rioted.
1. 2011: WWE Championship: C.M. Punk vs. John Cena, Money in the Bank – The Summer of 2011 was one of the most tumultuous for the WWE Championship. At the time, Punk’s status with WWE was completely up in the air. The Chicago crowd was white hot, and this match remains one of the greatest contests of all time.