The 10 Most Memorable WWE SummerSlam Moments of the Last Decade
For over 30 years, WWE SummerSlam has provided the sports-entertainment industry with classic encounters featuring the most recognizable faces in the business.
Over the last decade, though, angle-driven moments have become as synonymous with the extravaganza as championship battles and intense grudge matches.
In preparation for this year's Biggest Party of the Summer, relive the moments that have left the greatest impression over the last 10 years, featuring the likes of Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Roman Reigns, Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch.
10. Sisterly Betrayal (2014)
The match pitting Brie Bella against Stephanie McMahon at SummerSlam 2014 was, surprisingly enough, one of the more emotionally fueled bouts of the night. Fighting for her own pride, as well as that of her family, Brie unloaded on The Billion Dollar Princess.
Just when it appeared as though she was en route to the biggest, most significant victory of her career, sister Nikki shockingly betrayed her, leveling her with a forearm. McMahon would then execute a Pedigree that secured the win.
The betrayal would lead nowhere, though, as WWE Creative opted to reunite the sisters within months, wasting a potentially intriguing storyline. Still, the execution of the angle itself was strong enough to make it one of the show's lasting impressions.
9. Jon Stewart Turns Heel, Helps Seth Rollins to Win over John Cena (2015)
For an entire generation, Jon Stewart provided biting news coverage in satirical form. However, the SummerSlam 2015 host made his presence felt in a serious manner, by affecting the outcome of a high-profile showdown between John Cena and Seth Rollins.
With both the WWE and United States Championships up for grabs, Cena and Rollins fought for Raw supremacy. The dramatic contest, elevated by strong near-falls by the Superstars and their superb in-ring timing, came to screeching halt with the bumping of the official.
Stewart appeared, seemingly to prevent Rollins from utilizing a steel chair. Instead, he blasted Cena with it and set The Architect up to emerge from The Biggest Party of the Summer with his arm raised and two championships in his possession.
Though it made little sense at the time, the moment put Stewart in the position to contribute in a significant way as the host rather than popping up for a few inconsequential bits throughout the show.
8. Roman Reigns Ends Brock Lesnar's 504-Day Title Run (2018)
For 504 days, Brock Lesnar reigned over the Raw brand as its universal champion, unwavering in his devotion to himself and no one else.
The Beast Incarnate showed up when he wanted, defended when he wanted and irritated the fans with his unavailability.
At SummerSlam 2018, Roman Reigns received his third championship opportunity of the year after failing to dethrone Lesnar on two previous occasions. Working with a sense of urgency, The Big Dog capitalized on the tease of a Money in the Bank cash-in from Braun Strowman and defeated The Beast in just six minutes.
The win signified the end of one of the longest title reigns of the modern era and paid off Reigns' journey back to the gold in an effective way that also set up Strowman to challenge in the months proceeding the show.
That WWE Creative bungled the follow-up is of no consequence to the moment itself.
7. Ronda Rousey Strikes Gold, Wins Raw Women's Championship (2018)
Ronda Rousey's first year in WWE ranks right alongside Kurt Angle's as the greatest in wrestling history.
Rowdy made the seamless transition from mixed martial arts to professional wrestling, and just four months into her in-ring career, she was a favorite to leave SummerSlam with the Raw women's title. To do so, she would have to defeat Alexa Bliss, who had a knack for sneakily retaining her title.
The best way to do that? Strike quickly, leaving Little Miss Bliss zero opportunity to manipulate and scheme.
That is exactly what Rousey did, tapping the champion out in just four minutes to win her first championship.
It was a quick, decisive win that set in motion the events that would eventually lead to a historic WrestleMania 35 main event appearance, with the title she won in Brooklyn up for grabs.
6. Daniel Bryan Returns (2010)
Two months after an unceremonious dismissal from the company after choking ring announcer Justin Roberts with his necktie during Nexus' debut assault on Raw, Daniel Bryan returned to WWE, joining the babyface team of John Cena, R-Truth, John Morrison, Edge, Chris Jericho and Bret Hart in battle against Wade Barrett, Michael Tarver, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Darren Young and Skip Sheffield.
The former Ring of Honor star exploded into the match and were it not for an angry and disgruntled Miz hitting him with the Money in the Bank briefcase, Bryan would have stood alongside Cena in victory to close out the evening's broadcast.
The return was not only the most significant moment of the entire pay-per-view—outside of Cena's Superman-like comeback against the heel faction tapped to dominate storylines throughout the remainder of the year—it also sparked one of the most improbable runs for any Superstar in the years that proceeded it.
Within three years, Bryan would return to the main event for a date with Cena in one of the most emotional headliners in some time.
5. Crowning the 1st Universal Champion (2016)
The brand extension of 2016 necessitated the creation of Raw's own heavyweight title. That year's SummerSlam brought with it a match between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor in which the winner would be crowned the first-ever universal champion.
It was a highly competitive match that ended when the Irishman delivered Coup de Grace to the midsection of The Architect and pinned him to earn the biggest victory of his young career.
As Balor clutched the universal title, fans could not have known or realized the extent of a shoulder and upper-body injury suffered midway through the bout. The Demon's celebration would be limited to that one moment in time.
Within 24 hours, his championship dreams turned into a nightmare eight months on the shelf, as he recovered from numerous tears, pulls and dislocations.
It remains his one and only shot at standing atop a brand as its champion.
4. Kevin Nash's Shocking Jackknife Sets Up Alberto Del Rio's Cash-in (2011)
CM Punk and John Cena tore the Staples Center down in the main event of SummerSlam 2011, renewing their rivalry while fighting to establish themselves as the undisputed WWE champion.
Punk came out on top in questionable fashion after special referee Triple H missed Cena's foot on the bottom rope, but that would be just the start of the controversy that would engulf the main event.
As Punk celebrated, Kevin Nash appeared from out of nowhere and dropped him with a jackknife powerbomb. The look of disbelief in Triple H's face as his lifelong friend walked back through the crowd and out of the arena was interrupted only by the arrival of Alberto Del Rio, who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and dethroned Punk for the title he had just worked so hard for.
The moment stands out so many years later for the creative misstep it proved to be.
Punk was the hottest act in wrestling, but in one fell swoop, WWE opted to emphasize the bland Del Rio and reintroduce a nearly immobile Nash to make the storyline more convoluted than it needed to be, all at his expense.
3. Becky Lynch Turns on Charlotte Flair (2018)
There are watershed moments in a performer's career that send them on a completely different path than the one they envisioned for themselves.
Becky Lynch's shocking attack of Charlotte Flair, moments after The Queen captured the SmackDown women's title from Carmella in a Triple Threat match at the expense of The Irish Lass Kicker, is one such moment.
The underutilized Lynch beat the life out of Flair, releasing years of pent-up frustration and rendering her a heap of battered flesh before leaving Brooklyn's Barclay Center to a thunderous ovation.
Fans had waited for the Irish competitor to break out, to receive that jolt of energy from the creative team that allowed her to assume the role of a lead character in the women's revolution.
On that night, she got that jolt, igniting what would prove to be a monumental run that culminated with the debut of The Man and a victory in the first women's WrestleMania main event.
2. The Authority Screws Daniel Bryan (2013)
Daniel Bryan was the B-plus player the McMahons did not want in their SummerSlam main event, and the most powerful family in sports entertainment made sure to tell him as much every week leading into his WWE Championship match against John Cena.
Yet, at the company's second most significant pay-per-view of the year, Bryan outwrestled the franchise star to capture the WWE Championship in a match preceded over by special referee Triple H.
It was not Bryan's victory that was particularly memorable, nor was the fact Cena again showcased his toughness by fighting through a torn triceps. No, most memorable was the screwjob that ensued after the bell.
Bryan's celebration was cut short by the appearance of Randy Orton, with his Money in the Bank briefcase in hand. Triple H, in a shocking moment, delivered a Pedigree to the new champion and The Viper took advantage.
Three seconds later and The Authority was born, its hand-picked champion established and Bryan was left to face an uphill battle if he ever wanted to regain his title.
1. Brock Lesnar Decimates John Cena (2014)
Brock Lesnar ended the undefeated streak of The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX, making headlines and stunning audiences around the globe. He turned his momentum into a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against John Cena at SummerSlam 2014.
It was a match unlike any seen before it on that stage.
The Beast obliterated Cena, picking him apart and introducing him to Suplex City with 16 German suplexes.
There was no miraculous comeback, no comic-book ending where Iron Man overcomes Thanos. The Cenation Leader succumbed to the oppressive onslaught of his challenger, and Lesnar emerged from the one-sided ass-kicking with the WWE title around his waist.
Never before had a franchise star the magnitude of Cena been so systematically beaten down without even the slightest hope of a victory. The complete lack of competitiveness makes the match one of the most jaw-droppingly unexpected and wholly effective pieces of storytelling in recent memory.