Editors’ Choice: What is the greatest blockbuster in SummerSlam history?
SummerSlam first premiered more than three decades ago, and the annual August event has provided some of the most exciting matchups in WWE history, from megastars colliding to up-and-comers battling icons.
With the 32nd edition of SummerSlam looming, WWE.com editors make a case for the greatest blockbuster bout contested at The Biggest Event of the Summer. Presented by Cricket Wireless.
Carmella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair - SmackDown Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match (SummerSlam 2018)
Then-best friends Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch were pit against each other as they challenged SmackDown Women’s Champion Carmella in a Triple Threat Match at SummerSlam 2018. In the height of the all-out free-for-all, The Irish Lass Kicker locked Princess ’Mella in the Dis-arm-her, only to have Charlotte dash in and blast her best friend with Natural Selection to win her record-tying seventh Women’s Title.
The surprises didn’t stop at the bell, however. Visibly upset in the aftermath, Becky suddenly snapped into a frightening rage, slapping the victorious Queen across the face before recklessly tossing her over the announce table. — MIKE BURDICK
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker – WWE Championship Match (SummerSlam 1998)
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Undertaker were on a “Highway to Hell” in the boiling-hot summer of 1998, and when both Superstars reached their destination, Madison Square Garden, it was a scorcher in more ways than one. Set on taking possession of The Texas Rattlesnake’s WWE Title, The Deadman countered Austin’s brawling style with furious strikes and power moves of his own, including a top-rope leg drop through the Spanish announce table. Forced into desperation mode by his imposing opponent, “Stone Cold” ultimately turned the tide when he evaded The Phenom’s Old School by going below the belt, then finished off The Deadman with a Stunner that put the chilling challenger down for a three-count.
Although far from a technical masterpiece, this hard-hitting Attitude Era slugfest established the template for marquee SummerSlam matches, setting the main event standard for The Biggest Event of the Summer for years to come. — JAMES WORTMAN
The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar - WWE Championship Match (SummerSlam 2002)
Brock Lesnar burst onto the WWE scene like a bat out of hell in March 2002, mercilessly eradicating some of our favorite WWE Superstars (The Hardy Boyz, Rob Van Dam, Hulk Hogan) at a frightening pace and winning the King of the Ring to set up a titanic SummerSlam collision with The Rock for the WWE Undisputed Championship.
The title fight sent shockwaves through the WWE Universe, who watched in amazement as a rookie thoroughly thrashed one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots, with a non-stop barrage of painful strikes, thunderous suplexes and the biggest F-5 of Lesnar’s young career.
If we learned anything on that hot summer night in Long Island 17 years ago, it’s that Paul Heyman knocked it out of the park with his prediction (spoiler?) that Brock, who captured the WWE Undisputed Title just 126 days after his debut, was indeed “The Next Big Thing.” — JON CHIK
Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog - Intercontinental Championship Match (SummerSlam 1992)
The British Bulldog entered SummerSlam 1992 with the weight of the world on his shoulders. When Bulldog finally earned an opportunity at the Intercontinental Championship, it came against his own brother-in-law, Bret Hart, in front of 80,000 of his fellow countrymen at London’s Wembley Stadium.
As if the atmosphere wasn’t tense enough, among those 80,000 fans was a concerned Diana Hart Smith — Bulldog’s wife and Bret’s sister. The match was a back-and-forth battle for the ages, with Bulldog ultimately surviving the Sharpshooter and reversing a sunset flip to capture the title, leading to a family celebration over a hard-fought bout. — JEFF LABOON
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam 2012)
It begins, as it always does, with the name: “The Perfect Storm,” a title that was tailor-made for and in fact used by a summer blockbuster in 2000.
Then comes the story. On one side, a weathered veteran (Triple H), fighting for his pride, the dignity of his friends and his industry. On the other, a monster (Brock Lesnar) coming into his own and aiming to show no mercy after a gory but disappointing return a few months prior.
Then comes the battle, which is like if someone shrunk two kaiju to human size (relatively speaking) and gave them a loose set of guidelines by which to fight.
The ending, however, is key: Our hero fights until his body gives out, his arm snapped in the deciding moments of the fight. The monster leaves victorious, and the crowd ... kinda loves it. Energized by the idea of a new beast atop the food chain, they shower the vanquished with “You Tapped Out!” chants as he backs, teary-eyed up the ramp; he both died the hero and lived long enough to see himself become the villain. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz - World Tag Team Championship TLC Match (SummerSlam 2000)
It’s super appropriate that we’re labeling this feature “SummerSlam blockbusters” because the TLC Match between The Dudley Boyz, The Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian at SummerSlam 2000 is one of those rare cases where the sequel surpassed the original.
The three trailblazing teams stole the show at WrestleMania earlier that year with a Triangle Ladder Match that made the WWE Universe collectively turn its head and take notice of the new tag team renaissance descending upon them. The ante was upped for the rising Superstars four months later when, for the first time in WWE history, Tables, Ladders and Chairs (oh my) were fused together for a Tag Team Championship Match at SummerSlam. TLC would not only become a WWE match-type mainstay but would also become so iconic that it spawned its own pay-per-view spinoff.
As for the bout itself? You know how it went. And if it’s been a while, pop some corn and fire up that WWE Network (with its sleek new design) and reacquaint yourself. It’ll always be worth your time to watch a match that redefined the industry. — RYAN PAPPOLLA