WWE SummerSlam 2013: Ranking Every Main Event of the Past 10 Years
WWE SummerSlam was held for the first time inside Madison Square Garden in August 1988.
Over the years, SummerSlam has become known as the second-biggest pay-per-view that WWE puts on each year. Iconic matches such as Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog and The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar have taken place at this event.
SummerSlam is not only a fitting end to the summer season, it also gives the WWE Universe a chance to see the top Superstars in the WWE go head-to-head. Over the last 10 years, that has certainly been the case.
John Cena is scheduled to defend his WWE title against Daniel Bryan in less than two weeks at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Where will that match rank among the best main events in SummerSlam history?
Here, we will focus on the last decade of the event. From the quality of the in-ring battle to the entertainment behind the story that led to the match, the main events from every SummerSlam since 2003 have been ranked for your reading pleasure.
10. Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H, 2012
In Brock Lesnar's first run in WWE, he never had a major program with Triple H. When he made his long-awaited return in April 2012, it was destined to happen.
Triple H and Lesnar put together an interesting storyline leading up to their match at SummerSlam in 2012, which all started with an unprovoked attack (video) by Lesnar.
However, the match itself was a little underwhelming.
No disqualification rules were put in place, allowing the men to brawl inside and outside the ring. The match more closely resembled a street fight than a wrestling match, and it was Lesnar who would emerge victorious.
After securing the kimura lock, he forced Triple H to tap out. After the match, Triple H stood in the ring and absorbed an applause from the crowd as if it would be his last time in the ring.
Of course, that didn't happen, and he and Lesnar went on to face each other two more times.
9. Elimination Chamber Match, 2003
SummerSlam 2003 was capped off by an Elimination Chamber match that saw Triple H defend the World Heavyweight Championship against five other men. The challengers included Kevin Nash, Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton.
While it may be the most star-studded Elimination Chamber match on record, it certainly isn't the most memorable.
Nash was eliminated early in the match, and Goldberg later eliminated three men within three minutes of each other. But there was still one man left.
Triple H was handed a sledgehammer through the cage from Ric Flair. He managed to turn that weapon on Goldberg as he charged in for a spear, winning the match and retaining his belt.
8. Team WWE vs. Team Nexus, 2010
The main event of SummerSlam 2010 was a good match, but it was a very poor booking decision.
In the summer of 2010, WWE had come up with an angle that had wrestling fans as interested as they'd been in years.
On the June 7, 2010, edition of Monday Night Raw, a group of rookies known as The Nexus came out at the end of the show (video) and wreaked havoc the likes of which had never been seen before.
They dominated WWE until SummerSlam, where they took on a team led by John Cena. Daniel Bryan would be revealed as a mystery partner as the match started, lending even more excitement to the match.
But in the end, Cena overcame both Wade Barrett and Justin Gabriel to win the seven-on-seven affair, virtually crushing the push The Nexus had received as the group never really recovered from the defeat.
7. Edge vs. John Cena, 2006
It was Edge who initially cost John Cena the WWE title in 2006, spearing him at ECW One Night Stand and allowing Rob Van Dam to pick up the pieces.
Two months later, the two battled for the title in Boston.
While Cena and Edge always put on great matches, this one only lasted a little over 15 minutes and was marred by interference from Lita.
Not only that, but Edge also needed brass knuckles to walk away with his title still intact.
6. Randy Orton vs. Chris Benoit, 2004
Leading up to this match, Randy Orton could not stop talking about how winning the World Heavyweight Championship was his "destiny."
But would he really end the reign of Chris Benoit after everything Benoit went through to finally win that belt?
In Toronto in 2004, the WWE Universe was given that answer—yes.
After a solid match between the two, Orton came up with a terrific counter to hit the RKO out of nowhere and pin Benoit.
In the process, Orton became the youngest world champion ever.
5. John Cena vs. Randy Orton, 2007
This was the first of two clashes at SummerSlam between John Cena and Randy Orton.
In 2007, the two met with the WWE title on the line in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The two men threw their entire arsenal at one another, and the match nearly ended on several occasions. However, it was Cena who would deliver the final blow—an Attitude Adjustment—for the victory.
Following the successful title defense, Cena was approaching one year as WWE champion.
4. Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels, 2005
For the fans who were backing Shawn Michaels on August 21, 2005, this match probably wouldn't go on their list of favorites.
With that said, Shawn Michaels vs. Hulk Hogan was one of the most anticipated matches in the history of SummerSlam for the fact that it had never happened before.
On one side, you had the megastar of the 1980s in Hogan against arguably the most successful Superstar of the 1990s in Michaels. On top of that, WWE had set it up beautifully.
In the spring of 2005, Hogan and Michaels formed somewhat of an alliance together. They even teamed up to take on Muhammad Hassan and Daivari that year at Backlash.
Everything seemed great between the two. That was, until Shawn Michaels pulled one of the biggest swerves (video) in WWE history on the Fourth of July.
The match itself wasn't the best, but it was still a special moment to see these two men in the ring. Michaels' overselling of some of Hogan's moves was likely comedic to some, but it took away from the match.
In the end, Hogan walked away with the victory following his big leg drop.
3. Edge vs. Undertaker, 2008
After coming very close to defeating The Undertaker at WrestleMania 24, Edge got another crack at him at SummerSlam in 2008. This time, the match would take place inside Hell in a Cell.
There were no titles on the line. Also, Edge was having to face the music after initially ending Undertaker's career at One Night Stand that June.
SmackDown general manager Vickie Guerrero would later reinstate Undertaker as a punishment to Edge, the man she was once romantically linked to.
Edge and Undertaker put together an excellent, brutal contest inside the cell that saw both men get pushed to their limit.
Undertaker would get the victory after the Tombstone Piledriver ended a war that lasted nearly 27 minutes.
2. CM Punk vs. John Cena, 2011
CM Punk was able to take the WWE title away from John Cena at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in July 2011, but with his contract expiring, Vince McMahon ordered a new champion to be crowned.
John Cena eventually won back the title after defeating Rey Mysterio, prompting the return of Punk. With each man laying claim to being the undisputed champion, a rematch was set up for SummerSlam.
Punk and Cena were able to match their Money in the Bank performance, this time with Triple H as the special referee.
The match went back and forth, and both men had their chance to win it, but it was Punk who delivered the GTS for a second time and pinned Cena. Triple H missed the fact that Cena had his foot on the ropes.
But Punk's victory was short-lived. After the match, a returning Kevin Nash attacked him. This set the stage for Alberto Del Rio to virtually steal the title (video).
1. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk, 2009
CM Punk and Jeff Hardy had a memorable feud in 2009, and the match they put on at SummerSlam that year was equally memorable.
With the World Heavyweight Championship up for grabs, Punk faced Hardy in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match. While Punk was two-time winner of Money in the Bank, TLC was the match Hardy was partly responsible for making famous.
With the title belt dangling above the ring, the two men battled for over 21 minutes. At one point, Hardy was wheeled off on a stretcher, only to come back and continue fighting.
Punk ended up being too much for the champion, knocking him off a ladder and snatching the belt, becoming champion for a third time.
Following the match, Punk was paid a visit by The Undertaker, who closed the night with a thunderous chokeslam of the new champ.