Counting Down the Top 10 Contenders for WWE's Mr. SummerSlam Title

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured Columnist IVJuly 14, 2022

Counting Down the Top 10 Contenders for WWE's Mr. SummerSlam Title

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Who the title of Mr. WrestleMania belongs to is often debated by WWE fans, with Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker typically being the most popular answers.

    There isn't nearly as much conversation regarding who the true Mr. SummerSlam is despite there being many potential contenders to that title.

    Since the inaugural installment in 1988, SummerSlam has hosted many exceptional matches and moments. From phenomenal performances to impressive win-loss records, several stars stand out as being most synonymous with the prestigious pay-per-view.

    That includes icons who competed in the early years of the event and even a few headliners from the last decade. All of them are responsible for making SummerSlam the highly anticipated extravaganza it is today.

    In counting down the top 10 contenders to the title, this list will look at everyone who could lay claim to being the undisputed Mr. SummerSlam.

10. Hulk Hogan (6-0)

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    No one has gone undefeated at SummerSlam and amounted as many wins as Hulk Hogan with six. However, Hogan's biggest and best bouts came at WrestleMania, so although he was a SummerSlam staple for the first four installments, most of his matches were fairly forgettable.

    Three of them were tag team main events, joining forces with Randy Savage on one occasion and The Ultimate Warrior on another. After leaving the company in 1993, it wasn't until 2005 that he was in action at the event again for a polarizing main event with Shawn Michaels.

    Furthermore, his last match with WWE occurred a year later at SummerSlam 2006, when he beat Randy Orton. Both matches were enjoyable but were far from the show-stealers of the night.

    Interestingly, Hogan never once defended or challenged for a championship at SummerSlam. He was champion at the time of a few of them, but for whatever reason, WWE didn't feel it was necessary to have the top title on the line in those first few main events.

    His undefeated SummerSlam streak earns him a spot in the countdown, albeit at the very bottom.

9. The Undertaker (10-5-1)

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    As previously noted, The Undertaker is best known for his iconic undefeated streak at WrestleMania that spanned over two decades.

    He had countless classics at that event, including his swan song against AJ Styles in 2020. What fans may not know is that he's tied with Randy Orton for most SummerSlam matches ever at 16, though a majority of those matchups weren't exactly barn burners.

    His first few SummerSlam showings versus Kamala, Giant Gonzalez, Kama and even an Undertaker impersonator were dreadfully boring duds. He had a solid stretch of matches in the late '90s with Mankind, Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (all of which he lost), but his early 2000s outings were nothing out of the ordinary.

    Thankfully, The Phenom closed out his SummerSlam resume with three top-tier matches against Randy Orton in 2005, Edge in 2008, and Brock Lesnar in 2015. He also made shocking returns at the 2009 and 2010 installments.

    Racking up 10 wins at any event is an impressive feat, but his SummerSlam resume pales in comparison to the next several Superstars.

8. Shawn Michaels (6-4-1)

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    Similar to The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels will always be more tied to the title of Mr. WrestleMania than Mr. SummerSlam, but that isn't to say he hasn't had his fair share of above-average matches at the event throughout his career.

    The Heartbreak Kid didn't get off to the strongest start at SummerSlam with back-to-back tag team losses in 1989 and 1990 followed by a non-finish in a match with Rick Martel in 1992. His count-out win over Mr. Perfect in 1993 was also underwhelming, but he bounced back in his show-stealing ladder match with Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental Championship in 1995.

    His next two SummerSlam matches were undoubtedly his greatest: a WWE Championship defense versus Vader in 1996 and an Unsanctioned Street Fight with Triple H in 2002. The latter bout also marked his return to the ring after over four years, and he had a spectacular showing.

    Michaels likely would have ranked higher on this list if his next four SummerSlam matches were a bit more special. He lost inside the Elimination Chamber in 2003, his main event match with Hulk Hogan in 2005 also ended in defeat, and his tag team wins as part of D-Generation X in 2006 and 2010 were fun yet unremarkable.

7. Triple H (8-5)

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    Triple H is perhaps one of the more underrated stars in SummerSlam history, having won eight of the 13 matches he had at the event between 1995 and 2012.

    Following his successful SummerSlam debut win over Bob Holly in 1995, he went on to have an excellent Steel Cage match with Mankind in 1997 as well as a legendary ladder match with The Rock for the Intercontinental Championship in 1998.

    It wasn't until 2002 that he had his next classic contest, this time with Shawn Michaels in The Heartbreak Kid's return to the ring. Their Unsanctioned Street Fight was the best match they ever had against each other, and it also marked the last loss Triple H would suffer at SummerSlam for another decade.

    In that time, he racked up wins over the likes of Eugene, The Great Khali, Legacy, King Booker and Vince and Shane McMahon. He also emerged victorious in 2003's Elimination Chamber main event to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.

    Unfortunately, none of those matches were particularly interesting, so for as many wins as he had at the pay-per-view, the lack of compelling opponents hurt him in the long run.

6. John Cena (5-10)

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    Interestingly enough, John Cena's SummerSlam experience has been the exact opposite of Triple H's in that he's lost twice as many matches as he's won, but a majority of those matchups were tremendous.

    Cena's SummerSlam debut saw him best Booker T in 2004 before beating Chris Jericho to retain the WWE Championship in 2005. Both bouts were solid, but his main event battles with Edge and Randy Orton for the prestigious prize in subsequent two years were even better.

    Although his decisive victory over The Nexus at SummerSlam 2010 is still regarded by fans as one of WWE's most bone-headed booking decisions in the last 15 years, he made sure to elevate everyone he shared the ring with at SummerSlam from that point forward.

    His Money in the Bank rematch with CM Punk at SummerSlam 2011 lived up to the hype, along with his exceptional encounter with Daniel Bryan in 2013. His next four losses consisted of him being squashed by Brock Lesnar and having instant classics with Seth Rollins and AJ Styles.

    The win over Baron Corbin at the 2017 installment is better off forgotten, but he more than made up for it when he collided with Roman Reigns in last year's main event and fell short of becoming universal champion.

    Cena has had some spectacular WrestleMania matches over the years, but he was always on another level whenever SummerSlam season rolled around.

5. Randy Orton (8-7-1)

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    With Cena and Randy Orton both having made their WWE debuts in 2002, it makes sense that they have more appearances at SummerSlam than anyone else on the current roster.

    Compared to Cena, however, Orton has been significantly more successful, with eight wins, seven losses, and one double count-out. That's in addition to most of his matches ranging from good to great and him winning a world title at the event on three occasions.

    The first occurred in 2004, when he knocked off Chris Benoit to become the youngest world heavyweight champion in company history. He shared the SummerSlam ring with a whole heap of legends in the years that followed, including The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan and John Cena.

    In 2011, Orton and Christian blew off their exciting rivalry in emphatic fashion with a highly physical No Holds Barred bout, won by Orton. After missing the 2012 installment, he bounced back in a major way in 2013 when he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, pinned Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship and cemented his heel turn to close the show.

    The Viper had mixed results in the remainder of the 2010s in matches with Roman Reigns, Sheamus, Brock Lesnar, Rusev and Kofi Kingston. His last two SummerSlam shows have seen have him come close to capturing the WWE title and win the Raw Tag Team Championship with Riddle in what was an awesome moment.

4. Seth Rollins (6-2)

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    The common theme throughout all of these selections so far is that none of them are fresh faces. They all debuted in either 2002 or earlier, and while that gives them a distinct advantage with more matches under their belt, sometimes quality means more than quantity.

    Of everyone on the active roster, Seth Rollins comes the closest to being on their elite level on the SummerSlam stage.

    In a relatively short span of time, Rollins has put together a tremendous resume of matches at WWE's biggest party of the summer, starting with his white-hot Lumberjack match with Dean Ambrose in 2014. Even with nothing on the line, the two had an excellent outing and Rollins stole the victory.

    The stakes were much higher a year later when Rollins bested John Cena in a Winner Takes All match to not only retain his WWE Championship but also secure his very first United States Championship. Fluky finish featuring Jon Stewart aside, this was another outstanding piece of business.

    At the next three installments, he walked away with gold in the form of the Raw Tag Team Championship, the Intercontinental Championship and the Universal Championship. His last two SummerSlam matches with Dominik Mysterio and Edge have arguably been the best on either card.

    Expect Rollins to continue to climb these rankings the more gems he has at the event in the years to come.

3. Edge (12-2)

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    Edge's name isn't mentioned nearly as much as it should be when it comes to SummerSlam's greatest competitors ever.

    He has an astounding record of 9-2, and one of those losses came in a Tag Team Turmoil match in 1999. The only other defeat was to The Undertaker in a top-notch Hell in a Cell clash in 2008.

    Otherwise, Edge's SummerSlam record is practically flawless, and a lot of those matches and victories majorly contributed to his iconic career.

    His most famous SummerSlam showing was, without question, the first-ever official Tables, Ladders and Chairs tag team match with Christian against The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz. Those three tandems put tag team wrestling on the map and made history that night.

    Edge's next few wins were solid, but it was at the 2005 installment that he reached the next level of stardom when he obliterated Matt Hardy, forcing the referee to call for the bell and award Edge the win.

    In addition to defeating John Cena in his home state in 2006 and playing a part in The Nexus' demise in 2010, Edge had another all-timer with Seth Rollins at last year's installment. With The Rated-R Superstar due back soon, it's possible his SummerSlam streak extends this year and he too gets closer to the top.

2. Brock Lesnar (6-4)

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    Few men have been more dominant at SummerSlam throughout the years than Brock Lesnar.

    Making his first in-ring appearance at the 2002 installment, he and The Rock had an energetic, fast-paced match that culminated in Lesnar becoming the youngest WWE champion ever up to that point. He'd lose that very same title a year later to Kurt Angle at SummerSlam 2003, but at the very least, it was on par with their wonderful WrestleMania match.

    Lesnar left WWE shortly thereafter to pursue a career in MMA, only to return to his old stomping grounds in 2012 and compete at that year's SummerSlam. His decisive win over Triple H that night kicked off a streak that saw him demolish CM Punk and John Cena at subsequent SummerSlam shows before narrowly losing to The Undertaker in 2015.

    The Beast returned to his winning ways in 2016 when he manhandled Randy Orton and retained his Universal Championship over three of Raw's biggest and baddest in 2017. He wasn't able to secure victories at the 2018 and 2019 installments, but both bouts with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins had high-quality action and hot crowds.

    It was actually at SummerSlam last year that Lesnar made his triumphant return after a year-and-a-half away to confront Reigns, so their storyline will come full circle when they collide for one final time at SummerSlam later this month.

    Given the list of legends Lesnar has faced and beaten at the pay-per-view in the past, Reigns' run as undisputed WWE universal champion may be in jeopardy.

1. Bret Hart (7-4)

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    It's only fitting that the title of Mr. SummerSlam go to the Superstar who claims to be the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.

    When you look at the incredible classics he's had at the event, there should be no debating it, and that's even with three of his 11 SummerSlam matches were stinkers with Jerry Lawler, Doink the Clown and Issac Yankem, DDS.

    That's a testament to the talent The Hitman was and how consistently he was on his A-game every time he stepped in the ring at SummerSlam.

    His first two SummerSlams saw him and Jim Neidhart fall to Demolition and The Brainbusters in tag team action, but both bouts were exceptional. They finally took the tag titles from Demolition at the 1990 installment in a two-out-of-three falls that left the crowd in awe.

    Once he transitioned to singles competition, he and Mr. Perfect tore the house down in 1991 for the Intercontinental Championship. Hart repeated that feat the following year when he and The British Bulldog headlined for that same title, this time in Wembley Stadium in London.

    Those five matches alone would have been enough to earn him the title of Mr. SummerSlam, but then he outdid himself with the Steel Cage match against Owen Hart in 1994 and the WWE Championship main event against The Undertaker in 1997.

    The Hitman's sheer excellence at this event was unlike anything fans had seen before or have seen since, raising the bar exponentially high for anyone looking to match his magic on the SummerSlam stage.


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.

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