7 Strongest Contenders for Title of WWE's Mr. SummerSlam

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2020

7 Strongest Contenders for Title of WWE's Mr. SummerSlam

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    Brock Lesnar isn't the only WWE Superstar to have experienced great success on the SummerSlam stage.
    Brock Lesnar isn't the only WWE Superstar to have experienced great success on the SummerSlam stage.Credit: WWE.com

    It's tradition for WWE fans to debate every August who the title of Mr. SummerSlam belongs to, and this season has been no exception.

    Based on their track record at the events, it can easily be argued that The Undertaker, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Randy Orton are Mr. WrestleMania, Mr. Royal Rumble and Mr. Survivor Series, respectively. Their success on each of those stages speaks for itself, and they are usually the first names most people think of when it comes to those shows.

    However, a case can be made for several Superstars being synonymous with SummerSlam since its inception in 1988.

    The Biggest Party of the Summer, while not as grand as WrestleMania or as unpredictable as the Royal Rumble, is special in its own right and has hosted more milestones than most may realize. It's a celebration of the company's most decorated athletes and specifically those who helped make it the prestigious pay-per-view it is today.

    A strong win-loss record is an important factor to consider when attempting to determine a proper Mr. SummerSlam, but it's not everything. For example, Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior are both undefeated at the event, but neither of them are remembered for having any instant classics compared to what they've accomplished at WrestleMania.

    It's the memorable matchups and moments that truly earn someone that elusive distinction, making these seven Superstars the strongest contenders for Mr. SummerSlam.

Bret Hart

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    Overall record


    Best match

    Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (1994)


    Bret Hart was one of an elite group of WWE Superstars to possess that innate ability to have a superb match with just about anyone. While he had classics on almost every pay-per-view he competed on, SummerSlam seemed to be where he shined brightest.

    The Hart Foundation's early wars with Demolition and The Brain Busters at the event featured tag team wrestling at its finest. He then went on to have back-to-back blockbusters with Mr. Perfect and British Bulldog for the Intercontinental Championship at the next two installments of the pay-per-view. Both are regarded as being among the greatest IC matches of all time.

    Although his matches with Doink the Clown, Jerry Lawler and Issac Yankem D.D.S. in 1993 and 1995 were a waste of his talent, he bounced back in a major way with his WWE Championship steel cage match versus Owen Hart in 1994. The only knock against it was that the bout didn't go on last.

    He closed out the SummerSlam chapter of his career in 1997 when he defeated The Undertaker for the WWE Championship in another above-average main event. He returned to action at the 2010 installment.

    The Hitman is the safest choice of anyone to go with for Mr. SummerSlam because of the ample amount of barn burners he had along with his impressive 7-4 record.

The Undertaker

2 of 7

    Overall record


    Best match

    The Undertaker vs. Edge (2008)


    The Undertaker tends to be associated with WrestleMania more than any other PPV and for good reason. It was there that he embarked on a historic winning streak that lasted over two decades and will never be repeated or replicated.

    Although he endured his first loss at the event in 2014, he has continued to compete at The Showcase of the Immortals almost every year since then. That's in addition to the fact that he made his WWE debut at Survivor Series, so SummerSlam doesn't rank high on the list of events he's most synonymous with.

    That said, he's won more matches at The Biggest Party of the Summer than anyone else with 10 to his name.

    Unfortunately, few of those victories were actually memorable, or at least for the right reasons. He got off to a rough start at SummerSlam in subpar matches with Kamala, Giant Gonzalez and a fake Undertaker before redeeming himself in better bouts with Bret Hart, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Mankind in later years.

    His best work at the August extravaganza came in the twilight of his career, starting in 2005 when he took on Randy Orton in a worthy WrestleMania rematch. Additionally, his Hell in a Cell contest against Edge in 2008 was perfection, followed by his battle with Brock Lesnar in the main event of SummerSlam 2015.

    If that was it for The Deadman at The Biggest Party of the Summer, then it's safe to say he went out on a high note.


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    Overall record


    Best match

    Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (2000)


    Edge is right up there with The Undertaker as one of the winningest wrestlers in SummerSlam history and has a handful of remarkable matches to back that claim up.

    His first two appearances at the August extravaganza in 1998 and 1999 were nothing special, but at the 2000 installment, he helped put the TLC match on the map along with Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz. It was the first of its kind (not counting the Triangle Ladder matchup at WrestleMania 2000) and ended with a win for Edge and Christian.

    The Rated R-Superstar then embarked on something of an undefeated streak at SummerSlam coming into the new millennium, continuing in 2001 when he beat Lance Storm. From there, he defeated Eddie Guerrero in 2002, Batista and Chris Jericho in 2004, Matt Hardy in 2005 and John Cena in 2006.

    With each victory, Edge became a bigger star than he was the year before. His WWE Championship match with Cena headlined SummerSlam that year, much like his Hell in a Cell clash against The Undertaker two years later that fittingly closed out their legendary year-long rivalry.

    Edge's final in-ring appearance was unfortunately a forgettable one, as he teamed with six other members of Team WWE to beat The Nexus in 2010. Luckily, his two returns at the event in 2011 and 2019 respectively more than made up for it and paved the way for him to lace up the boots again this past year.

    Fingers crossed his next SummerSlam match is on par with these exceptional outings.

Seth Rollins

4 of 7

    Overall record


    Best match

    Seth Rollins vs. John Cena (2015)


    It's still too early to say for sure whether Seth Rollins will be known as Mr. SummerSlam someday, but he's well on his way to making that a reality with the hot streak he's been on at the event these past few years.

    Despite debuting on the main roster in 2012 as part of The Shield, it wasn't until the 2014 installment that he was finally in action at the pay-per-view. There, he and Dean Ambrose exceeded everyone's expectations by having one of the most thrilling Lumberjack matches in recent history.

    In 2015, he had everything going for him heading into his title for title affair with John Cena. The two tore the house down that evening, and even though the ending was tainted thanks to interference from The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, Rollins still managed to reign supreme a dual champion.

    His first loss on the SummerSlam stage came in 2016 against Finn Balor in a matchup that determined the inaugural Universal champion. The Architect put forth an incredible effort before eating defeat.

    In the next three years at The Biggest Party of the Summer, Rollins reunited with Dean Ambrose to win the Raw Tag Team Champion, regained the Intercontinental Championship from Dolph Ziggler in an excellent opener, and slayed "The Beast" Brock Lesnar to secure his second Universal Championship.

    From an in-ring standpoint at SummerSlam, Rollins has been on the roll of a lifetime, but whether he can keep his winning ways alive this Sunday when he takes on Dominik Mysterio in a Street Fight remains to be seen.

John Cena

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    Overall record


    Best match

    John Cena vs. AJ Styles (2016)


    John Cena far and away has the worst record of anyone included in the conversation for Mr. SummerSlam, but the quality of almost every one of those matches was too tremendous to ignore.

    He started out at SummerSlam with some solid matches against Booker T and Chris Jericho before kicking it up a notch in the years that followed against the likes of Edge, Randy Orton and specifically Batista. Each of those encounters was incredibly entertaining.

    Cena's triumph over The Nexus at the 2010 installment isn't looked back on as being one of his fonder moments at the event, which may have cursed him from that point forward. It was another seven years before he finally won on the SummerSlam stage again in a lackluster bout with Baron Corbin and he hasn't been in action there since.

    The six straight matches he lost at SummerSlam from 2011 to 2016, however, were all outstanding.

    He and CM Punk made magic back-to-back years in 2011 and 2012 before he elevated Daniel Bryan with their brilliant bout in 2013. He did the same for Seth Rollins in 2015, and even though Brock Lesnar is no newcomer, Cena losing to him in the decisive fashion he did in 2014 was a work of art.

    Cena has competed in countless classics over the years and his outing against AJ Styles in 2016 is undeniably among them. They stole the show in the Barclays Center that evening and it was that win for Styles that cemented him as the star fans know him as today.

Randy Orton

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    Overall record


    Best match

    Randy Orton vs. Chris Benoit (2004)


    Randy Orton's SummerSlam singles debut in 2004 was a memorable one, as it was there that he beat Chris Benoit to become the youngest world champion in WWE history at the age of 24. He headlined the event one year earlier inside the Elimination Chamber as well in a losing effort.

    The Legend Killer kept that momentum rolling into SummerSlam 2005 when he knocked off The Undertaker to avenge his loss to The Deadman from WrestleMania that year. He was finally beaten one-on-one at the event in 2006 by Hulk Hogan, but the loss wasn't damaging enough to hurt his standing as a top star.

    Although no SummerSlam match he's had since 2004 has topped the often-overlooked gem against Benoit, there have been a ton of great ones, including his clash with Christian in 2011 for the World Heavyweight Championship. His surprise Money in the Bank cash-in on Daniel Bryan in 2013 was another notable highlight, especially with how it marked the dawn of The Authority and the return of heel Orton.

    His in-ring encounters with Roman Reigns and Sheamus were enjoyable as well, though his underwhelming outings with Brock Lesnar, Rusev and Kofi Kingston in recent years hurt his chances of being deemed Mr. SummerSlam.

Brock Lesnar

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    Overall record


    Best match

    Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk (2013)


    When Brock Lesnar initially returned to WWE in 2012, no one could have imagined that he'd become the ultimate SummerSlam staple for the next eight years and have the level of success that he has at the event.

    Lesnar's SummerSlam roots date back to 2002 when he collided with The Rock for the WWE Championship in the night's main event. Despite being mere months into his run on the main roster, he defeated The Great One in clean fashion to clinch the title and cement himself as WWE's next big thing.

    It was a great match to boot, rivaled only by his SummerSlam 2003 war with Kurt Angle. He suffered a rare submission loss on that show ahead of his abrupt exit from the company the subsequent spring.

    Upon his return to WWE almost a decade later, he proved to be bigger, badder and better than ever before by embarking on an absolute tear. At SummerSlam alone, he's squared off with Triple H, CM Punk, John Cena, The Undertaker, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins.

    He lost his last two matches at The Biggest Party of the Summer but put into spectacular showings both times. His decimation of Cena in 2014 was a sight to behold, while his No Holds Barred battle with Punk the year prior is widely considered to be one of the best in the event's illustrious history.

    Regardless of the criticisms levied against him by fans, when the lights are on bright, Lesnar never ceases to deliver on the SummerSlam stage and add to his already-iconic legacy with each passing performance.


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.