10 hottest blockbuster matches in SummerSlam history
SummerSlam has earned the reputation of being The Biggest Event of the Summer through its nearly 30 years of heart-racing, marquee matches. From a rematch of the most shocking upset in WWE history to the triumphant in-ring return of an icon, these bouts had members of the WWE Universe falling off the edges of their seats. Presented by Cricket Wireless.
Finn Bálor vs. Seth Rollins - 2016
Seth Rollins hoped to leave Barclays Center as the first Universal Champion to prove he was “The Man” in WWE. However, he’d have to go through Finn Bálor to do so.
Rollins and Bálor expertly and repeatedly countered one another’s thrilling high-risk moves in the dream matchup. Even though The Demon King suffered a shoulder injury early on, he refused to surrender. Instead, he popped his shoulder back into its socket and valiantly battled through a labrum tear, which ultimately sidelined him for eight months.
Rallying back from The Architect’s assault one more time, Bálor dropkicked Rollins into the turnbuckle, then capitalized with the Coup de Grace to leave Brooklyn, N.Y., as Universal Champion.
Elimination Chamber Match - 2003
Sometimes the sequel does not live up to the original. That was far from the case at SummerSlam 2003, however, when six of Raw’s top Superstars competed in the second-ever Elimination Chamber Match.
Chris Jericho capitalized on Shawn Michaels’ superkick to Kevin Nash to eliminate the near 7-footer, but the next three eliminations belonged to Goldberg. The Icon put on a clinic, spearing and Jackhammering his way to dispatch Randy Orton, Jericho and Michaels. Ric Flair slipped Triple H’s sledgehammer into the Chamber, though, giving The Game a much-needed upper hand over his challenger and allowing him to escape the Chamber with the World Heavyweight Championship still around his waist.
Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H - 2002
A back injury forced Shawn Michaels into early retirement in 1998. However, after more than four years of sporadic appearances, a heinous attack by his supposed best friend, Triple H, compelled Michaels to dust off his boots and step back in the ring.
Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff had to make their SummerSlam bout an Unsanctioned Match for fear of what they would do to each other (or arguably, what Triple H might to do to the untested Michaels). The concern was warranted, as the former friends dented chairs and broke tables. When The Game set him up for a Pedigree, Michaels slipped out and countered with a school boy pinfall, capping his glorious comeback win (and earning a brutal post-match assault that put him on the shelf again for several months).
John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan - 2013
Bryan proved he belonged in the main event, though, taking everything Cena dished out and responding with his innovative holds. After Bryan nearly took off Cena’s head with a Running Knee, he raised the WWE Title in a confetti-filled scene that seemed too surreal to be true.
However, the fairytale ending was not meant to be. In the midst of Bryan’s celebration, guest referee Triple H Pedigreed the new titleholder, allowing Randy Orton to cash in and become WWE Champion.
Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz - 2000
The first Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match revolutionized tag team competition in WWE and encapsulated the Attitude Era’s high-risk, hardcore style. Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz threw caution to the wind in the hopes of leaving SummerSlam 2000 with the World Tag Team Championship, and their rival teams with too many splinters and bruises to count.
The ringside area resembled a post-apocalyptic world, one where the Superstars collectively broke nine tables and dented dozens of chairs. Edge & Christian only needed to climb one ladder, however, to reclaim their World Tag Team Championship.
Team WWE vs. The Nexus - 2010
The Nexus had terrorized WWE throughout the summer of 2010, pouncing on everyone in sight like a pack of rabid dogs. Therefore, John Cena assembled an “Avengers”-esque team to stop them. Cena’s Team WWE — featuring Edge, Chris Jericho, Bret Hart, R-Truth, John Morrison and Daniel Bryan — put aside their differences to save the future of the company.
Cena and Bryan, a former Nexus member who made an unexpected return to WWE at SummerSlam, survived betrayals by Edge and Chris Jericho to even the match into a 2-on-2. After The Miz interfered on The Nexus’ behalf to help eliminate Bryan, Cena resiliently fought through Barrett and Justin Gabriel’s double-team assaults to defeat The Nexus.
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar - 2012
After WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H rejected new signing Brock Lesnar’s contract demands, The Beast Incarnate snapped his left arm. Eyeing redemption, The Game demanded a SummerSlam showdown after he recovered. However, Lesnar upped the ante even further by breaking the arm of Shawn Michaels, Triple H’s best friend.
Dubbed “The Perfect Storm,” this SummerSlam main event carried a big-fight feel as the multi-time World Champions collided for the first time.
No amount of knees to the gut would stop Lesnar’s relentless attack. After Triple H punched his way out of the Kimura Lock and attempted a Pedigree, Lesnar cinched in one more Kimura, twisting and torquing The Game’s arm until he finally submitted.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker - 1998
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s match against The Undertaker at SummerSlam 1998 could best be described as King Kong vs. Godzilla. Even the event poster had monster-like versions of The Texas Rattlesnake and The Deadman destroying New York City.
The depiction of their destruction wasn’t far off the mark. The 300-pound Undertaker stunned the crowd in Madison Square Garden as he leaped from the top turnbuckle to leg-drop Austin on the Spanish announce desk. But when The Deadman tried to follow up with his “Old School” top-rope maneuver, Austin countered with a punch to the groin, setting up a decisive Stone Cold Stunner. Even the defeated Undertaker had to respect the war they had just battled.
John Cena vs. Batista - 2008
John Cena and Batista simultaneously ascended to WWE Superstardom. While one dominated Raw and the other ruled over SmackDown, the fans dreamed that someday, they'd go face-to-face for a classic crossover. Yet, aside from the occasional inter-brand tag team bout or Royal Rumble Match, their paths never crossed. That finally changed at SummerSlam 2008, an event that was billed, fittingly enough, as “The Biggest Blockbuster of the Summer.”
The two powerhouses each displayed their insane strength throughout the matchup, with Cena reversing a Batista powerslam into an AA and The Animal catching his opponent in midair for a Batista Bomb. A second crushing Batista Bomb would briefly put Cena on the shelf and, at least on that night, assert Batista as the top Superstar.
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar - 2015
Brock Lesnar shocked the world in 2014 by ending The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak. At SummerSlam 2015, the two Superstars added another fierce, bitter chapter to their 13-year rivalry. Lesnar established the match’s tone during the entrances, viciously pouncing on The Deadman before he could even remove his signature duster.
The brutal encounter that saw Undertaker F-5’d through a table and Lesnar’s Kimura Lock reversed into a Last Ride ended in a slew of controversy. Lesnar forced Undertaker to submit to a second Kimura Lock — except the referee did not see it.
While the official argued with the timekeeper, Undertaker trapped Lesnar in his Hell’s Gate submission move. Instead of conceding the loss, though, The Beast Incarnate defiantly gestured to his opponent and passed out.