50 Greatest Matches in WWE SummerSlam History

Erik BeastonJuly 27, 2022

50 Greatest Matches in WWE SummerSlam History

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WrestleMania may be WWE's annual Showcase of the Immortals, but it is SummerSlam that has been home to some of the best matches in the company's history.

    A showcase of superb in-ring performances, grudge matches and wild, chaotic encounters, the event has captivated fans and will look to continue that trend Saturday night in Nashville, Tennessee with the 2022 event.

    Ahead of a card that features Brock Lesnar challenging Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship in a Last Man Standing match that may well join this list in the future, these are the 50 greatest matches SummerSlam has produced.

Nos. 26 through 50

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    50. Mega Powers vs. Mega Bucks (1988)

    49. Raw Women's Championship: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair (2016)

    48. 123 Kid vs. Hakushi (1995)

    47. Boiler Room Brawl: Undertaker vs. Mankind (1996)

    46. Universal Championship: Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins (2016)

    45. Intercontinental Championship: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude (1989)

    44. Non-Title Match: The Hart Foundation vs. The Brainbusters (1989)

    43. WWE Championship: The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart (1997)

    42. WCW Championship: The Rock vs. Booker T (2001)

    41. Intercontinental Championship: Rey Mysterio vs. Dolph Ziggler (2009)

    40. The Smoking Gunns and Tatanka vs. The Headshrinkers and Bam Bam Bigelow (1993)

    39. Winner Takes All: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins (2015)

    38. Lion's Den match: Ken Shamrock vs. Owen Hart (1998)

    37. WWE Championship: The Rock vs. Kurt Angle vs. Triple H (2000)

    36. The British Bulldogs vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus (1988)

    35. Intercontinental Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Benoit (2002)

    34. Million Dollar Championship: Virgil vs. Ted DiBiase (1991)

    33. D-Generation X vs. Legacy (2009)

    32. Intercontinental Championship: Edge vs. Lance Storm (2001)

    31. Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler (2012)

    30. The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (2015)

    29. Bret Hart vs. Doink the Clown/Jerry "The King" Lawler (1993)

    28. Love Her or Leave Her match: Test vs. Shane McMahon (1999)

    27. The Rockers and Tito Santana vs. Rick Martel and The Fabulous Rougeaus (1989)

    26. Ladder match for the Hardcore Championship: Jeff Hardy vs. Rob Van Dam (2001)

25. Submission Match for Raw Women's Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Natalya (2019)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The opening contest of the 2019 SummerSlam event pitted the red-hot Becky Lynch defending the Raw women's title against Natalya in a submission match at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

    What was a one-sided affair on paper became a fiercely contested match that saw The Queen of Harts feed off the energy of her fellow Canadians to almost dethrone The Man.

    In one of the most memorable moments of the bout, the challenger trapped Lynch in a Sharpshooter on the top rope, leaving The Irish Lass Kicker grasping at the ring post only to find herself firmly trapped in the signature move of the legendary Hart family.

    Unfortunately, Natalya's quest to add another title to her impressive resume ended in disappointment as Lynch tapped her out to the Dis-Arm-Her and continued a run with the gold that we may not see again in the WWE women's division anytime soon.

24. Edge vs. Seth Rollins (2021)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Hellbent on proving he was anything but "Edge-lite," Seth Rollins set out to defeat his Hall of Fame opponent in one of the most eagerly anticipated matches on the 2021 card.

    What ensued was a strong match that proved The Rated-R Superstar could still hang with, arguably, the best wrestler in the world.

    An intense, action-packed bout full of dramatic near-falls and reversals concluded with Edge trapping The Visionary in a crossface.

    As Rollins attempted to break the hold, the veteran grabbed him by the hair and repeatedly slammed his face into the mat, showing a level of brutality fans had not seen out of him. Dazed and defeated, Rollins meekly tapped out.

    The strength of the match would necessitate two equally wonderful rematches in which Edge established an ability to keep up with the style of this era and Rollins continued to solidify his role as the measuring stick for in-ring performance in WWE.

23. John Cena vs. Batista (2008)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    John Cena and Batista rose to the top of professional wrestling on the same night, when they won the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships, respectively, at WrestleMania 21.

    They proceeded to reign over Raw and SmackDown as the top babyfaces in the industry but never crossed paths, creating a dream-match scenario for fans.

    Three years after they climbed to the mountaintop, they finally clashed at SummerSlam in 2008, giving WWE an undisputed blockbuster to promote the PPV around.

    A heavy-hitting battle between two top-tier heavyweights, it gave fans everything they could have wanted while keeping them guessing as to who would emerge with his arm raised in victory.

    The answer was Batista, who delivered a devastating Batista Bomb to secure the victory and bragging rights over his fellow megastar.

22. Unsanctioned Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (2002)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    It is a testament to the strength of SummerSlam's greatest matches that the iconic return of Shawn Michaels to the squared circle after a four-year hiatus only comes in at No. 22 on this countdown.

    A debilitating back injury cost The Heartbreak Kid four years of his career, taking him out of the squared circle at the height of his popularity during the Attitude Era.

    His return had been considered unlikely, but the wrestling world watched in 2002 as he not only returned to the squared circle at SummerSlam but also delivered one of the best matches of the year.

    A story-heavy contest that played on his well-established friendship with Triple H and centered around repeated punishment to his back, it captivated fans in the Nassau Coliseum and took them on an emotional roller coaster ride.

    Despite taking tremendous punishment and having to overcome considerable ring rust, Michaels caught The Game in a jackknife roll-up to secure the win and put an exclamation point on one of the most inspirational comebacks in wrestling history.

21. WWE Championship: Shawn Michaels vs. Vader (1996)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Michaels had the innate ability to work a near-perfect David vs. Goliath-style match, mostly because he could convincingly be the tenacious babyface who could throw punches and fire up against the biggest, baddest guys on the roster.

    Look no further than his legendary matches with The Undertaker for evidence of that.

    However, that ability was on full display in his match with Vader, who entered WWE in 1996 and was immediately expected to challenge for the world title. Despite a rough start to his run, he entered the championship picture in the summer and proceeded to bump Michaels around in the weeks before SummerSlam.

    Then, he did it in Cleveland in that year's main event.

    Michaels fought back and used heel manager Jim Cornette's own hubris against him.

    When Vader won the match via count-out and then by disqualification, Cornette ordered the bout to be restarted so his client could win the title.

    Michaels capitalized on the opportunity and beat Vader straight up, ending The Mastadon's threat to his title in a match that is often overlooked for its superb in-ring chemistry and the storytelling throughout.

20. WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton (2020)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Drew McIntyre's WWE Championship reign was unlike any other as it occurred during a worldwide pandemic, in front of no fans and with no energy to feed off.

    He guided the company through the most unprecedented period in its long history and at SummerSlam in August 2020, he defended against Randy Orton.

    It should be of no real surprise to anyone that a guy like The Viper, widely considered to be one of the smartest workers of this generation, would mesh well with the bruiser champion.

    A physical match with great ring psychology, it was a big, tough hoss fight between quality heavyweights that ended with McIntyre outwrestling his opponent and scoring the win with a backslide.

    It was one of the great matches to come out of the ThunderDome era that, hopefully, won't be lost to time because the efforts of both men are among some of their best work.

19. WWE Championship: Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage (1992)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Without the star power of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair unavailable due to injury, WWE turned to two top babyfaces for its world title match at SummerSlam 1992.

    Ultimate Warrior and "Macho Man" Randy Savage had an epic encounter a year earlier at WrestleMania VII, so officials had reason to believe they could replicate their efforts at Wembley Stadium in London.

    While matching the emotion and storytelling of that match was near-impossible, Warrior and Savage delivered a high-drama encounter that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. The added mystery surrounding Flair's claims that one of the two had aligned themselves with him and Mr. Perfect only added to the drama.

    There was never any real resolution to that story as it was revealed the heels screwed with both men, apparently just because they could, but that particular creative decision does not hurt what was an otherwise outstanding match.

    Savage lost via count-out, which only added fuel to his feud with Flair, and Warrior won to keep him strong. Taking that into consideration, history should be kinder to a match that benefited from storytelling and a raucous crowd.

    It's too bad we did not get to see the legendary competitors do battle again.

18. TLC for World Heavyweight Championship: Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk (2009)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    CM Punk turned heel for the first time in his WWE career in the summer of 2009 after cashing in Money in the Bank and ending Jeff Hardy's reign as world heavyweight champion before it even got started.

    The two would trade the title back and forth over the course of three months, Punk's disdain for the lifestyle Hardy had.

    Self-righteous and insufferable, Punk sought to regain the title he had lost weeks earlier at Night of Champions and turn Hardy's dream of reigning atop Smackdown into a nightmare.

    And he did so in a punishing Tables, Ladders and Chairs match that saw a huge Swanton Bomb through the announce table by Hardy and a tough-to-watch superplex spot that appeared to have destroyed both competitors.

    Punk's facial expressions as Hardy scratched and clawed his way back into the match were great, as was his exuberant celebration when he retrieved the belt and regained his power over the blue brand.

    Of course, The Undertaker returned immediately after the bell and everything that followed is better left unsaid.

    This was a great match between two guys whose chemistry was off-the-charts but whose love for each other away from the cameras was anything but.

17. Trish Stratus vs. Charlotte Flair (2019)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Trish Stratus earned herself a Hall of Fame induction based on her role as the face of the Golden Age of women's wrestling in WWE.

    Charlotte Flair, meanwhile, was a driving force in the Women's Revolution and one of the Four Horsewomen who put women's wrestling back on the map via their work in NXT.

    In 2019, the two all-timers clashed in a generational dream match in Stratus' hometown, Toronto. With a red-hot crowd behind them, they tore the house down and threatened to steal the show from everything else on the packed card.

    Flair dominated but the tenacious Stratus fought back and looked to upset her rival late in the contest. But The Queen capitalized on her opponent's injured knee and applied the Figure Eight for the tapout victory.

    The match took some time to get fans invested, but they were hot for everything eventually. The story of an overconfident star of today believing she had her Hall of Fame opponent beaten, only for Stratus to come back and nearly pull off the upset certainly helped.

    In the aftermath, Stratus teased that we had witnessed her retirement match. One can only hope that is not the case because she proved she still has a ton to offer the industry and a WWE women's roster that could benefit from a match with the seven-time champion.

16. WWE Championship: John Cena vs. CM Punk (2011)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    CM Punk and John Cena tore the roof off the Allstate Arena in Chicago at Money in the Bank 2011, delivering an all-time great match. In typical WWE fashion, they were booked to run it back just weeks later at SummerSlam in Los Angeles' Staples Center.

    There was no chance they were going to replicate the heat, emotion and genuine mystery that hung over that first match but they sure tried in a bout officiated by Triple H.

    With the eyes of a reawakened wrestling world watching, the combatants relied on finishers and the resulting near-falls to create drama. The presence of The Game did little to take the focus off of Cena and Punk during the match, but it did lead to a tainted finish that saw the latter score the pin and victory despite WWE's resident Superman having his foot draped over the bottom rope.

    The finish was, in hindsight, the wrong call and hurt the overall quality of what Punk and Cena accomplished. Still, it was one of the best matches of a loaded card.

15. No Holds Barred for World Championship: Randy Orton vs. Christian (2011)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Randy Orton and Christian tore the house down in the summer of 2011, routinely having the best match on any card on which they appeared.

    No one could have expected the extraordinary classic they had in store for fans at SummerSlam, though.

    A No Holds Barred match that capped off a four-month feud, it made use of a variety of weapons and captivated the fans with its violence and physicality. Christian took a tremendous beating, but it was an ill-fated springboard attempt directly into an RKO that Orton delivered onto the steel steps that proved his downfall.

    The Viper regained the World Heavyweight Championship and continued what was then his greatest run in WWE. For Christian, the match represented the end of his main event days with the company but proved he was capable of performing at the highest level.

14. Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker vs. Edge (2008)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Undertaker and Edge clashed five times on PPV in 2008, with their Hell in a Cell match in the main event of SummerSlam being the decisive conclusion to the rivalry.

    Nine months earlier at Survivor Series, Edge made an explosive return to TV by attacking The Deadman and costing him the World Heavyweight Championship in that same structure.

    A match five months in the making culminated with a physical bout that included big bumps and considerable use of weapons.

    The high spots took a little too much time to set up, but the crowd stuck with everything the future Hall of Famers did and were on their feet by the time The Phenom delivered his Tombstone piledriver for the emphatic victory.

    Not as good as their WrestleMania 24 classic, but it was still an excellent main event that wrapped things up for them and belongs as high on this list as it is.

    Props to Edge, too, for taking the number of bumps he did. He may have been a great heel, but he also understood when it was time to take a beating.

13. Intercontinental Championship: Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect (1991)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    From the moment this match was announced for SummerSlam 1991, intercontinental champion Mr. Perfect overlooked his challenger, Bret "Hitman" Hart.

    He did not find the second-generation star to be worthy of sharing the ring with him and did he think Hart could actually beat him and take the title.

    That overconfidence played a key role in the match, too, as Perfect controlled a portion of it, working over The Hitman and even delivering the Perfectplex in what fans and the commentary team alike were sure was the end of Hart's championship dreams.

    However, Hart fought back and even when it looked like Perfect might have him beaten again, grabbed hold of his opponent and applied the Sharpshooter, adding extra torque to exploit the champion's injured back.

    Perfect tapped and Hart won his first singles title on his way to establishing himself as, arguably, the greatest competitor in SummerSlam history.

    More on that in a moment.

    This was an excellent match between two of the best to lace a pair of boots. The overconfidence of Perfect, the never-say-day attitude of Hart and a red-hot crowd in New York meshed to create an instant classic.

    It is a testament to their excellence that they would eclipse this match two years later at the first King of the Ring pay-per-view.

12. Fatal 4-Way Universal Championship (2017)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Take four of the baddest men in WWE, put them together in a Fatal 4-Way Match for the Universal Championship, and let them raise hell and tear stuff up.

    It seems like a fairly simple premise and the company did just that in 2017, booking Brock Lesnar to defend his title against Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns in the marquee match of The Biggest Party of the Summer.

    Lesnar had been the dominant heel champion, but Strowman was building popularity and credibility with fans. In one of the key spots of the match, he powerslammed The Beast through the announce table and buried him under the rubble.

    With Lesnar carried out of the arena, it appeared as though there would be a new champion.

    Reigns, Strowman and Joe then tore the house down, but it was the triumphant return of WWE's resident ass-kicker that popped the crowd and pushed the quality of the contest into "great" status.

    Lesnar exploded back into the match, obliterated the competition and pinned Reigns to retain his title in one of the rare instances in which he was allowed to highlight his resiliency.

    A forgotten classic, it suffers due to the stigma surrounding the modern WWE product and the disdain die-hard fans have for it. Set that aside, though, because this was a wonderful, Attitude Era-esque brawl that would have been right at home alongside Steve Austin vs. The Rock or Triple H vs. Undertaker.

    It is that good and almost single-handedly made a main event star out of Strowman.

11. WWE Championship: Kurt Angle vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin (2001)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The match between Kurt Angle and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in 2001 would have been higher on this list with a better finish.

    As it is, though, it still ranks just outside the top 10 best in event history, thanks to a physical match between two elite performers at their peaks.

    Austin was the heel WWE champion and leader of the WCW/ECW Alliance that had threatened the existence of the company he reigned over.

    Angle was the honorable defender of Vince McMahon's promotion. Fighting for all that was good, he endured a hell of a beating and sported a crimson mask midway through the encounter.

    The Texas Rattlesnake was the relentless heel, throwing everything he had at Angle (including the Million Dollar Dream), then wearing a look of disbelief when his rival kicked out of the Stone Cold Stunner.

    Frustration set in, leading Austin to assault three different WWE officials. Angle delivered the Olympic Slam but no one was there to count the fall until Alliance official Nick Patrick showed up. Instead of doing the right thing, he called for the bell, disqualifying Austin for beating down the referees.

    The finish infuriated fans but played into the "do anything to keep the title" mentality Austin had adopted, with the biased referee also staying true to his persona. A fired-up Angle beat the life out of Patrick before basking in the cheers of the fans in San Jose.

    Had there been a definitive finish, this would have most likely been in our top five. As it is, it is still a great match and, arguably, the best either man had in those particular roles.

10. Universal Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar (2019)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Universal Championship match between Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar from 2019 may be the single biggest surprise on this countdown in that it made the top 10 while others didn't, but anyone arguing against it probably has not rewatched the instant classic since it aired three years ago.

    Lesnar had avenged his quick loss to Rollins at WrestleMania XIX by cashing in and ending The Architect's title reign at Extreme Rules in June.

    Rollins earned his way to another title opportunity and in the main event of SummerSlam, the rivals tore it up in a phenomenal main event.

    Nothing was wasted in the 13-minute contest. Rollins threw everything he had at Lesnar, who often met it with unbridled power and fury. In one great spot, he flattened The Beast on the announce table and delivered a splash from the top rope that obliterated the table and stunned the champion.

    Back inside, a frog splash and two stomps finished Lesnar and gave Rollins the clean victory.

    Not only was it a great match, but it was also a largely selfless performance from Lesnar. He laid down clean for his opponent and established himself as a legitimate main event babyface in the same vein as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Eddie Guerrero.

    Easily one of the best WWE matches of the last five years, a Match of the Year candidate and one that could rank even higher on this countdown in the coming years.

9. Ladder Match for Intercontinental Championship: Triple H vs. The Rock (1998)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    D-Generation X and The Nation feuded throughout the summer of 1998, with leaders Triple H and intercontinental champion The Rock competing in some of the most intensely personal battles along the way.

    At Fully Loaded in July, they competed to a draw. At SummerSlam, with the IC title up for grabs, they sparred once more, this time in a ladder match.

    The fans in Madison Square Garden witnessed a classic performance out of The Great One and one of the more gutsy showings from Triple H, which is saying something considering the numerous times he has battled through injury to finish a fight.

    The future main event competitors overshadowed a loaded card, even stealing the show out from underneath the hotly anticipated WWE Championship match between Austin and Undertaker.

    A brutal ladder match that replaced high spots with unabashed physicality, it culminated with The Game overcoming a severely damaged knee and a face full of powder that momentarily blinded him, and capitalizing on late interference from Chyna to secure the win and title.

    By the end of the contest, there was a new appreciation for Triple H's toughness while fans in MSG had switched from chants of "Rocky sucks" to cheers of adulation for the third-generation star, who left the arena that night and walked almost directly into the main event.

    Within two months, he would be world champion.

    There are other ladder matches on this countdown that are more memorable, but Rock vs. Triple H earned recognition alongside them, both for its overall quality as well as its historical significance.

8. Best 2-Out-of-3 Falls: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit (2000)

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    Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

    Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit had so many matches in WWE over their first year with the company that it would be nearly impossible to fault anyone who failed to keep them straight.

    One definitely stands out, though: their Best 2-Out-of-3 Falls match from SummerSlam 2000.

    Like all of their clashes, it was a physical encounter that did not try to be flashy or exuberant but instead relied on strong in-ring psychology to tell its story.

    It succeeded, with Jericho nursing an injured shoulder and Benoit repeatedly exploiting it to his advantage. It was the finish, though, that really put this one over the top.

    Benoit's entire character centered around him being this elite professional wrestler but when all else failed, he took him down, rolled him up and grabbed the ropes for the tainted win.

    The match was arguably the most physically intense of any of the 50 on this countdown and a reminder that, amid all of the wild brawling, chaotic encounters and flashiness of the Attitude Era, Jericho and Benoit were out there beating the tar out of each other in these hard-hitting matches designed to change the tone and set a precedent for match quality.

    They certainly did and were only overshadowed that year by a match still to come on our list.

7. John Cena vs. AJ Styles (2016)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    AJ Styles had long been considered one of, if not the, best wrestler on the planet by the time he arrived in WWE in 2016.

    Matches with Chris Jericho and Roman Reigns introduced him to the fans, but it was his match with John Cena at SummerSlam that earned him the respect of the WWE Universe.

    The combatants kicked out of each other's finishers early, setting the stage for a grueling display of oneupmanship that left the audience on the edge of their seats, unsure if the latest pin or submission attempt would be the one to end the match.

    Mauro Ranallo was visibly excited at the commentary position, reflecting the emotional roller coaster the performers took the audience on, all the way until Styles kicked out of an avalanche Attitude Adjustment, leaving his opponent dumbfounded.

    A reversal out of another AA, a Styles Clash and one last Phenomenal Forearm gave Styles a win that made him a genuine star in McMahonland and further established Cena as one of the best big-match performers in WWE history.

    It was a match that relied on the nonstop action, finisher-heavy style of the indies. It would, indirectly, set the stage for more matches of its type in the years that followed, making its influence as great as its quality.

6. WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan (2013)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Daniel Bryan entered SummerSlam a "B+ player," according to the McMahon family. He did not have the look of a WWE champion. He was good, but not great, Vince, Stephanie and Triple H argued.

    John Cena, though, believed in Bryan and hand-picked him as his opponent for the main event of the 2013 PPV.

    It was the right call.

    Despite a torn triceps that had rolled up into his elbow, Cena delivered a fantastic performance as he hung with the best wrestler in the world in a five-star classic that was every bit as great as fans had hoped for.

    The crowd in Los Angeles was on fire for Bryan, hopeful that the leader of The Yes! Movement would be able to overcome the franchise star and prove his worth as the top guy in the company.

    He did, absorbing everything Cena threw at him and then delivering the running knee for the pinfall victory and the title.

    A stiff, physical match remembered as much for the sickening image of Cena's tricep muscle being very much not where it belonged on his arm, the contest was part one of Bryan's coronation as the lead babyface in WWE.

    It is also somewhat overshadowed by the Triple H heel turn and Randy Orton cash-in that immediately followed it and jumpstarted the battle between Bryan and The Authority, but that does not take away from the magical contest the two men turned in.

5. Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (1995)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WrestleMania X is forever remembered for the historic ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon to determine the undisputed intercontinental champion.

    A year and some months later, Vince McMahon recognized the need to spruce up a rather pedestrian SummerSlam card and booked Michaels vs. Ramon II, with The Heartbreak Kid's title on the line, again in a ladder match.

    Understandably, there was a buzz in Pittsburgh for the fight, with fans eager to see if the legendary competitors would be able to replicate the magic of their first encounter. The answer? Yes.

    In fact, there are some who watch that 1995 match and believe it is the better of the two. It is easy to see why. It is, arguably, more physical than the first one and the dynamic of Ramon as the aggressor to HBK's resilient babyface works better.

    That Ramon targeted the knee of Michaels, putting him on the defensive and giving him something to fight through provided fans with a story they could easily sink their teeth into. Sure, the finish is messy and the ladders did not always cooperate, but the unpolished nature of it made it feel more organic and less choreographed.

    The result? A more believable match with some improvisation to boot.

    A second five-star classic between the friends and future Hall of Famers, it kicks off a top five full of extraordinary storytelling and in-ring performances.

4. Steel Cage Match for WWE Championship: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (1994)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The sibling rivalry between Bret and Owen Hart dominated 1994, and they wrote the latest chapter of their feud inside a steel cage at SummerSlam, with The Hitman's WWE Championship at stake while their family watched from ringside.

    What easily could have been a violent, bloody match instead set aside that theatricality for pure drama. It was less bout crimson masks and the use of the cage as a weapon and more about expert timing and the drama that resulted from it.

    Who would climb the cage and escape first? Could the sneaky Owen crawl through the cage door or would Bret stop him in the nick of time, saving his reign to the delight of the fans in Chicago's United Center?

    Which brother would outwrestle the other and leave with the gold?

    The answer was Bret, who trapped his brother's legs in the side of the cage, hanging him upside down and hitting the floor to secure the victory.

    Another extraordinary contest between two brothers who had kicked off WrestleMania X months earlier with a five-star all-timer, this was a masterclass in crowd manipulation, timing and storytelling that still feels underrated.

    It is not Bret's final appearance on this countdown, though.

3. No Disqualification Match: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (2013)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    In 2013, Brock Lesnar was still a punishing force who beat the life out of anyone standing across the ring from him and whose aura was still very much intact.

    CM Punk was fresh off a return and the most over star in WWE.

    Two Paul Heyman guys, they set out to steal the show at SummerSlam and proceeded to do just that.

    Punk suckered Lesnar in, using the old rope-a-dope method to perfection. The Beast brutalized his rival, beating him down and tossing him around the ring with reckless abandon.

    The Chicago native proved resilient and tenacious, though, fighting back on several occasions and nearly beating The Beast, to the delight of the Los Angeles fans.

    Unfortunately, a late-match distraction by Heyman led to Punk's demise as Lesnar capitalized and delivered an F-5 onto a chair for the pinfall victory.

    No one was really sure of what to expect from the match. Would Lesnar gobble Punk up in one of those one-sided beatdowns that The Beast had become synonymous with or would he sell for Punk in a main event-style match that had fans champing at the bit for the babyface to win?

    The answer was option two and the result was a five-star classic that served as the last great Punk match in WWE and proof that when Lesnar wanted to, he could lace up the work boots and deliver a classic performance.

    Just a great, great match that would be higher on this list if it were not for the two contests ahead of it.

2. TLC I: Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge and Christian (2000)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Since 2000, WWE has produced countless Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches. It has even named an entire PPV after the popular match type.

    None of that would be possible without the all-time great car wreck of a match that The Hardy Boyz, Edge and Christian, and The Dudley Boyz created and popularized at the first SummerSlam of the new century.

    Faced with the unenviable task of one-upping their classic triangle ladder match from WrestleMania 2000, the three teams upped the ante with more dangerous spots, death-defying risks and creativity the likes of which even the most ardent fans never imagined they would see inside a ring.

    D'Von Dudley overcame his fear of heights to dangle from above the rings, his grasp on the championships the only thing keeping him from falling. Tables were obliterated as Superstars fell through them, the interfering Lita suffered a devastating Spear from Edge that ended with the back of her head smacking a ladder, and the dastardly heels retained the titles and robbed the hometown Hardys from a milestone victory.

    A great match that set the bar unfairly high, it provided WWE and its fans with a staple of the annual schedule and one that has produced many an extraordinary match.

    And to think it would be eclipsed by another one featuring the same three teams less than a year later...

1. Intercontinental Championship: Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog (1992)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Despite 49 other fantastic matches on this list, the top spot was never really in doubt.

    Intercontinental champion Bret Hart and "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith competed in a classic encounter at Wembley Stadium in 1992 that had 80,000-plus fans hanging on every near-fall and wondering if it was the night when their countryman would win and establish himself a legitimate singles star.

    Hart would not make it easy, spending the majority of the match outwrestling his brother-in-law while sister Diana watched from ringside. With family drama providing the foundation of the dispute, the match took on greater meaning than just a championship clash.

    There was a ton of physicality from Hart, resiliency from Smith and a crowd that became more split as the bout went on than one would have expected. In the end, though, Smith countered a sunset flip, stacked Hart up and scored the pinfall victory.

    The emotion, the crowd heat and the efforts of both men are iconic. That it was the first time the Intercontinental Championship headlined a PPV, based almost exclusively on Vince McMahon's trust in Hart to deliver, heightens its historic significance, too.

    Enough cannot be said about what Hart accomplished that night. Not only did he lead a visibly nervous Bulldog through the match, but he also did something very rare in today's wrestling world: He came out looking better in defeat.

    Hart was clearly the better wrestler and was obviously responsible for the majority of what worked in the match. That is not to discount Smith, who delivered one of his greatest performances when the lights were brightest.

    Together, they created a moment that will stand the test of time. Its spot at No. 1 is a no-brainer.


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