John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar and CM Punk have to put on a fantastic show to top some of the best versions of the SummerSlam pay-per-view
SummerSlam 2013 has some potentially great matches on its card, but WWE's summer event has featured some of the best ladder, cage and 2-out-of-3 Falls matches ever. It's been a night of surprises, thrills and disappointments.
Will Bryan vs. Cena and Lesnar vs. Punk have SummerSlam 2013 near the bottom of this list or challenging 2002 for the top spot?
Based on the quality of the undercard matches, the entertainment value as a whole and how well the main event delivered, here are all the SummerSlam events ranked from worst to first.
Main Event: Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage vs Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant.
Notable Matches: Ultimate Warrior vs. Honky Tonk Man
The first SummerSlam suffered from an overly crammed card. When an event is best remembered for a 31-second match, it's likely it wasn't the greatest pay-per-view.
In one of the most famous squash matches of all time, the Intercontinental Champion Honky Tonk Man lost his belt before the echo of the opening bell died. A rabid Ultimate Warrior won the title in record fashion, the surprise of which was the highlight of the night.
A couple of solid tag matches filled out the card.
The Fabulous Rougeaus took on the British Bulldogs while Demolition battled the Hart Foundation. The rest of the show felt like filler and the main event didn't have enough emotional firepower to overcome it.
Main Event: Diesel vs. King Mabel
Notable Matches: Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels
Other than one of the most thrilling ladder matches in WWE history, this event offered mostly blase bouts.
Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon tried to outdo their career-defining performances at WrestleMania X in a classic Intercontinental Championship match, but this SummerSlam offered little else.
Kane was still Isaac Yankem DDS when he and Bret Hart put on an underwhelming performance. The Smoking Gunns beat the Blu Brothers. The Undertaker put Kama in a casket.
Even the main event sagged. WWE champ Diesel defended his title against Mabel in a tepid match that few will remember in a positive light.
Main Event: Bret Hart vs. Undertaker
Notable Matches: Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Owen Hart vs. Steve Austin
This SummerSlam will be remembered most for a move gone wrong.
Owen Hart's botched reverse piledriver had Steve Austin thinking he might be paralyzed.
The aging Legion of Doom took on the hog-farming Godwinns. Brian Pillman, on the downside of his career, was forced to wear Marlena's dress after losing to Goldust.
The cage match between Mankind and Hunter Hearst Helmsley could have been far better as both men have delivered far superior matches on other nights.
Bret Hart and The Undertaker's clash in the main event was solid, but not strong enough to make up for the lackluster bouts that preceded it. Their chemistry didn't sizzle as it has on other occasions.
Main Event: John Cena vs. Randy Orton
Notable Matches: Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero
SummerSlam 2007 wasn't a bad show per say, but it didn't feel like one of the biggest shows of the year.
John Cena and Randy Orton's match over the WWE Championship was compelling and extracted drama from their rivalry when it was still fresh.
Other than the well-worked Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero match, the event offered little to talk about.
The Divas fought in a squeal-heavy Battle Royal. Kane beat Finlay, Booker T battled Triple H and Batista took on The Great Khali in a string of okay matches.
Main Event: Team WWE vs. Nexus
Notable Matches: Randy Orton vs. Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston
Nexus interrupted a match bordering on greatness between Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston.
The card then meandered for the most part, but the Randy Orton and Sheamus battle stands out. Their bout was intense and the two foes worked extremely well together.
Melina vs. Alicia Fox and Kane vs. Rey Mysterio didn't do much to stand out, but weren't bad matches either.
The main event, Team WWE fending off The Nexus, was an exciting match, chaotic at times. Daniel Bryan's surprise return, Chris Jericho's springboard skills and the nostalgia-inducing image of Bret Hart slapping on a sharpshooter were among the highlights.
Main Event: Zeus and Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake
Notable Matches: Brain Busters vs. Hart Foundation, Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior
A great main event would have catapulted this SummerSlam way up the list.
The quality undercard built beautifully toward the climax, one that the tag match between Zeus and Randy Savage against Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake didn't capitalize on.
The opening bout between the Brain Busters and the Hart Foundation was a classic tag match that made every man involved look good. The Rockers and Tito Santana took on The Fabulous Rougeaus and Rick Martel in a show-stealing clash.
Rick Rude and Ultimate Warrior added to their list of memorable bouts together.
Then came a main event that featured Brutus Beefcake and Tiny Lister, Jr. It was a strange offering that carried on a feud that Hogan and Lister (Zeus) started in the movie No Holds Barred.
Main Event: Edge vs. John Cena
Notable Matches: Mick Foley vs. Ric Flair, Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero
Ric Flair and Mick Foley stole the show assisted by barbed-wire wrapped fists, blood and thumbtacks. It had the right balance of gore and storytelling and elevated the pay-per-view.
Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero had a solid bout though it may make fans uncomfortable with how much their feud centered around the late Eddie Guerrero.
Big Show beat Sabu. Hulk Hogan defeated Randy Orton. DX against The McMahons had some exciting spots.
In the main event, Edge brought out John Cena's best in a battle over the WWE Championship. Each man played his role perfectly and accomplished what a main event is supposed to do.
Main Event: Yokozuna vs. Lex Luger
Notable Matches: Mr. Perfect vs. Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart vs. Doink
For a countout victory that didn't earn him a title, the moment managed to have a powerful, emotional effect on the audience. That bout wasn't a wrestling clinic by any stretch, but it told an intriguing story of good overcoming evil.
Of the rest of the card, The Steiner Brothers against The Heavenly Bodies for the tag titles was one of the highlights, even if it didn't get enough time.
Mr. Perfect and Shawn Michaels put on a good show although the match's climax was far from satisfying. Bret Hart and Doink executed their story to perfection, putting on a surprising show-stealing peformance.
These matches balanced out the duds for the most part.
Main Event: Shawn Michaels vs. Vader
Notable Matches: Mankind vs. Undertaker
Sometimes the main event is so enthralling that it doesn't really matter what came before it. That's the case with Shawn Michaels and Vader.
Mankind and the Undertaker's Boiler Room Brawl was solid, but matches like Jake Roberts vs. Jerry Lawler and Goldust vs. Marc Mero won't go on any greatest hits collection.
It was the battle of speed vs. size over the WWE title that made this SummerSlam. Vader looked like an unstoppable monster at times and Michaels played the resilient showman in a classic bout.
Main Event: Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior
Notable Matches: Hart Foundation vs. Demolition, Hulk Hogan vs. Earthquake
SummerSlam 1990 was a good show hampered by matches that were too short, a by-product of a cramped card. Had WWE slimmed down the schedule, the wrestlers would have had a better chance to milk the drama from their bouts.
Even with the time constraints, the Hart Foundation and Demolition put on one of the finest 2-out-of-3 Falls matches in company history and Hulk Hogan and Earthquake exceeded expectations.
The Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude steel cage battle wasn't as good as their best work together. It was an underwhelming main event that followed a show filled with quality matches.
Main Event: Steve Austin vs. Triple H vs. Mankind
Notable Matches: Shane McMahon vs. Test, Tag Team Turmoil match
Some of WWE's biggest stars found themselves in matches that didn't showcase their talents, but the night's best matches made up for those missteps.
Forget about The Rock in a Kiss My Ass match against Billy Gunn or the tag team match between Big Show and The Undertaker and X-Pac and Kane. Those average affairs were outclassed by the best the night had to offer.
Shane McMahon and Test surprisingly had the match of the night. Their Street Fight was booked well, featured just enough big spots and had the crowd buzzing toward the end.
To make use of its deep tag team division, WWE crammed six teams into a Tag Team Turmoil match where Edge and Christian entertained the most and the Acolytes came out on top.
With Jesse Ventura as special guest referee, Mankind won the WWE Championship in a match with Stone Cold and Triple H.
While not their best work, those three men put on an entertaining match that ended the show with an explosive climax and kept WWE's momentum moving.
Main Event: Undertaker vs. Undertaker
Notable Matches: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano
Take Undertaker vs. Undertaker out of SummerSlam 1994 and suddenly the show shines brighter.
The event boasted one of the best cage matches of all-time when Bret and Owen Hart battled for the WWE Championship.
Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano delivered a fantastic match filled with power and submissions. Diesel vs. Razor Ramon (with Walter Payton) was a good match as well.
Unfortunately, the final taste in the audience's mouth was the silliness of the dual Undertaker storyline.
Main Event: Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels
Notable Matches: Chris Jericho vs. John Cena, Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero
Shawn Michaels has been a part of an impressive number of classic matches. His bout with Hulk Hogan was not one of them. Had he not turned it into an exercise in slapstick, an excellent SummerSlam would have been even better.
Rey Mysterio beat Eddie Guerrero in an awesome ladder match with the strange stipulation that the winner received custody of Mysterio's son, Dominick.
Elsewhere on the card, Edge vs. Matt Hardy, Batista vs. JBL, Randy Orton vs. the Undertaker were all good battles that helped round out the card.
It was John Cena and Chris Jericho's stellar match for the WWE Championship that stole the show. Cena put one of his first great matches opposite the veteran Jericho.
Main Event: Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H
Notable Matches: Dolph Ziggler vs. Chris Jericho, CM Punk vs. Big Show vs. John Cena
Last year's SummerSlam featured good matches on most of the card, but nothing great.
Kane and Daniel Bryan's match was more the catalyst that that set off their rivalry/partnership than an entertaining match in itself. Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho showcased their athleticism. CM Punk's title defense against John Cena and Big Show told an interesting story of Punk's savvy, the champ surviving against two foes.
Brock Lesnar and Triple H's match was the least appealing of their trilogy. Perhaps it took them a few times to develop the chemistry they would later show off, but this time around, the action, like SummerSlam 2012 was solid but not spectacular.
Main Event: Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter, General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa
Notable Matches: Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect, Virgil vs. Ted DiBiase
Classic American good guys vs. foreign bad guys storytelling overcame so-so wrestling in an entertaining main event. Hulk Hogan teamed up with The Ultimate Warrior to face recent traitor Sgt. Slaughter, General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa with Sid Justice as referee.
This bout, a wedding and a tangle between two of the best technicians, highlighted the 1991 edition of SummerSlam.
The match to watch from this SummerSlam was Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental Championship. The two masters put on an incredible show even though Perfect's back was a wreck at this point.
Randy Savage and Elizabeth's wedding ended the show, feeding into the fans absolute love of Elizabeth. There hasn't been a couple since that could generate the buzz and emotions that these two could.
SummerSlam 1991 may appear outdated to younger fans, but it hit a lot of the right nerves, in and out of the ring.
Main Event: Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton
Notable Matches: Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero, The Dudleys vs. Rey Mysterio, Paul London and Billy Kidman
SummerSlam 2004's lasting image is of Randy Orton hoisting the World Heavyweight Championship above his head, his face squeezed in tearful joy.
Crowning Orton champ, making him the youngest ever, was a bold move. The match between him and Chris Benoit was excellent and having Orton pull out the victory was surprising.
The rest of the event featured a great opener and a quality match from Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero.
This SummerSlam opened with a six-man tag match between The Dudleys and the team of Rey Mysterio, Paul London and Billy Kidman. The match turned out just like you thought it might, with fast-paced action and some brilliant spots.
The many entertaining matches made up for the clunkers like Booker T and John opening their best-of-five series.
Main Event: Booker T vs. The Rock
Notable Matches: Lance Storm vs. Edge, Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin, X-Pac vs. Tajiri
SummerSlam 2001 turned out to be a satisfying, exciting show, even if there weren't enough clean finishes for some fans' taste.
The opener between Edge and Lance Storm for the Intercontinental is an underrated gem of a match. X-Pac and Tajiri topped that effort with a spot-heavy, heart racer of their own. Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy put on a good match as well.
A great undercard was the theme of the night.
Kurt Angle and Steve Austin didn't quite satisfy because of the anti-climactic finish, but their fight over the WWE Championship was mighty compelling. That fantastic bout outshined Booker T against The Rock as did most of the stacked card.
Main Event: Undertaker vs. Edge
Notable Matches: Batista vs. John Cena
SummerSlam is supposed to feel like a huge show, second only to WrestleMania and 2008's version did just that. A stellar main event, excellent championship matches and very little filler made for one of the top SummerSlams ever.
Everything from the comedic value of Santino and Beth Phoenix vs. Kofi Kingston and Mickie James to Montel Vontavious Porter's battle with Jeff Hardy worked. Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels pushed their feud forward with a great segment.
Both men shined here, mixing in viciousness with cunning, determination with strategy in what some call the last great Hell in a Cell match. The match and the pay-per-view ended with Taker chokeslamming Edge through the ring in an awesome, jaw-dropping moment.
Main Event: CM Punk vs. John Cena
Notable Matches: Wade Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton vs. Christian
CM Punk's red-hot momentum that began with his infamous shoot promo on WWE Raw was still going strong come SummerSlam 2011. He faced John Cena in a battle to determine the true WWE Champion powered by an interesting story and great hype.
A Kevin Nash surprise return and a Alberto Del Rio Money in the Bank cash in added surprise to that main event.
The rest of the card had Wade Barrett and Daniel Bryan impress and Mark Henry put on a decent brawl with Sheamus.
All that would have made for a very good SummerSlam, but Randy Orton and Christian's classic elevated it further. The climax of their hatred exploded for all the world to see, their clash leaving a wake of blood and dented trash cans.
Main Event: Elimination Chamber match
Notable Matches: Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit vs. Rhyno vs. Tajiri
Summerslam 2003's strength lies in two stellar matches, Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle and the Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Triple H escaped with a win against Goldberg, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton. Angle and Lesnar delivered the third best match they've done together, which is more about how great the other matches were and not about this one lacking anything.
Their fantastic chemistry led to a match that held our attention from bell to bell.
Had SummerSlam just been those two matches, fans would have had their money's worth.
The Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit vs. Rhyno vs. Tajiri Fatal 4-Way match had some excellent moments as well. All the great aspects made dud matches like Shane McMahon against Eric Bischoff easy to forget.
Main Event: Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog
Notable Matches: Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage
Two superb matches earn SummerSlam 1992 a high ranking despite all the filler and forgettable encounters surrounding them.
The Ultimate Warrior had one of the best matches of his career, when he took on Randy Savage for the WWE Championship. Rick Rude brought out some of Warrior's best wrestling, but Savage topped that. The hyped London crowd watched Savage and Warrior deliver main-event worthy intensity and drama.
That classic overcame bombs like Nailz vs. Virgil and Crush vs. Repo Man and the night’s main event made this an all-time great pay-perv-view.
A supercharged crowd watched as the British Bulldog challenged Bret Hart for the Intercontinental title Hart and Bulldog constructed a near-perfect battle, one that deserves to be watched again and again.
Main Event: Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk
Notable Matches: Rey Mysterio vs. Dolph Ziggler, DX vs. Legacy
A spectacular main event, the return of DX and a beautifully worked opener helped make SummerSlam 2009 one of the best in recent years.
Rey Mysterio and Dolph Ziggler opened the night with a match for the Intercontinental Championship. The back-and-forth battle further proved Ziggler's potential and showed off Rey's high-flying wizardry.
DX returned riding on a tank and had a great showing against Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. The match made Legacy look great despite the loss. Both teams thrilled with great strategy, athleticism and showmanship.
The rest of the card was nothing special, but what elevated this SummerSlam into greatness despite those blemishes was the CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy main event.
Any fans who doubted either man deserving of the main event slot was proved wrong. Punk and Hardy put on a TLC Match that was one of the best matches of the year and one of SummerSlam's finest.
Main Event: The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle
Notable Matches: Shane McMahon vs. Steve Blackman, Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for tag titles, Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit.
High risk and high drama highlighted this SummerSlam.
Shane McMahon and Steve Blackman's Street Firght is remembered for one massive, breathtaking bump, Shane dropping several stories.
The Hardys, Dudley Boys and Edge and Christian worked their magic again in a TLC Match just as thrilling as the others. Flesh against steel, spot after spot, these six guys tried once again to outdo each other and grab the world's attention.
Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho continued their run of excellent pay-per-view matches with one of the best 2-out-of-3 Falls matches in WWE history.
To top that rumbling momentum, The Rock, Triple H and Kurt Angle gave us an emotional ride of a match, one that took full advantage of the love triangle story between Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Angle.
No show is going to deliver on every moment and every match, but SummerSlam 2000 was pretty darn close.
Main Event: Steve Austin vs. Undertaker
Notable Matches: Triple H vs. The Rock, X-Pac vs. Jeff Jarrett
In the midst of the Attitude Era, WWE delivered a stacked SummerSlam.
Even the filler was entertaining. X-Pac and Jeff Jarrett produced a well-worked, compelling Hair vs. Hair match. Ken Shamrock and Owen Hart did well to make the most of the Lion's Den gimmick. Mankind made his handicap match against the New Age Outlaws far better than most wrestlers would have.
As good as Stone Cold vs. The Undertaker was, as much as it had a big-fight feel, it was Triple H and The Rock's ladder match that stole the show. That violent, hard-hitting bout for the Intercontinental title remains one of SummerSlam's best battles ever.
Main Event: The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar
Notable Matches: Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio, Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels
The best SummerSlam ever gave fans everything they could want in a pay-per-view.
It featured Shawn Michaels' in-ring return after years of recovery from his back injury, a showdown between Brock Lesnar and The Rock and one of the best undercards in SummerSlam history.
Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio opened the pay-per-view and, as you might expect, delivered a great match. Angle's viciousness and Mysterio's crafty escapes highlighted a dynamite opener.
Edge against Eddie Guerrero, Ric Flair against Chris Jericho and Bookdust facing Lance Storm and Christian were all entertaining as well.
Had SummerSlam 2002 ended with Triple H and Shawn Michaels' now classic unsanctioned Street Fight, the crowd would have been elated with the show they'd seen. A memorable main event followed that bloodbath.
Brock Lesnar won his first major championship, as the unstoppable monster overcame the larger-than-life icon in a powerful, dramatic match.
The stacked event stands as SummerSlam's best because of well-hyped matches, big names and great performances.