Power Ranking Every Match from WWE SummerSlam 2021 Match Card
The 2021 edition of WWE SummerSlam will be remembered as much for its moments, namely the returns of Becky Lynch and Brock Lesnar, as its in-ring content.
Inconsistent performances up and down the card and the unshakable feeling that we had already seen most of the matches in one form or another definitely hurt the overall effectiveness and quality of what happened between the ropes Saturday.
That is not to say there were not great matches to be had.
John Cena and Roman Reigns contested a banger of a main event. Edge and Seth Rollins lived up to lofty expectations. Charlotte Flair delivered once again, and Goldberg was exactly who we thought he was when he challenged Bobby Lashley for the WWE title.
Where do those matches fall in a ranking from best to worst from the show, though?
Find out with this recap of the event's in-ring offerings.
11. Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch returned to WWE to an enormous pop on Saturday night, reflecting the level of star she is at this point in her career. She was greeted with open arms by an audience eager to have her back. Unfortunately, that is where the positives ends.
Lynch defeated Bianca Belair to capture the SmackDown Women's Championship in 26 seconds, using one move to put away a woman WWE spent the past six months establishing as the here-and-now of the women's division.
The "match," as it played out, was an abomination and disrespectful to Belair and everything she has accomplished this year. There may be more to it, and it may lead to a character shift for The EST, but there is no denying that the worst match of this year's SummerSlam pay-per-view saw Belair inexcusably tossed aside like a sack of garbage.
10. Goldberg vs. Bobby Lashley
At what point must WWE watch Goldberg stumble his way through a world title match before it stops booking him in them?
His aura is just about gone. The thirst for nostalgia certainly is. Goldberg was booed through the majority of his WWE Championship match against Bobby Lashley on Saturday, not because fans don't appreciate the force he was at the height of his WCW career but because they recognize he has no business sharing the ring with someone in their physical prime like The All Mighty.
He proved them right too, looking hella awkward as he attempted to keep up with the champion.
The finish, designed to protect both men, saw the referee stop the match when it became apparent the challenger could not stand on a knee that was injured earlier by MVP. The post-match angle that saw Lashley put out Goldberg's son, Gage, with The Hurt Lock almost certainly guarantees a rematch.
Regardless of whether fans want to see another bastardized rendition of the former WCW champion again.
9. Alexa Bliss vs. Eva Marie
No one expected Alexa Bliss and Eva Marie to have a good match, so when they did not, there were no hard feelings.
Bliss is a talented worker who has performed on the biggest stages, working with the brightest stars. She knows how to have a good match and has done so against everyone from Naomi to Ronda Rousey. The different between those matches and this, though, was Eva's skill set and experience.
The pink-haired heel simply does not have enough reps under her belt. Nor is she talented enough to have a great match with anyone. She is rigid and clearly lacks confidence between the ropes. The match with Bliss was disjointed, and their timing was rarely in sync.
The result was a bad match that fans were never into. Given the story that accompanied it, no one can blame them, either.
8. Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal
Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal was one of those matches shoehorned on to the SummerSlam card solely for the purpose of getting The Scottish Warrior on the show. The story and match weren't good enough to justify it being there when it easily could have been hyped up for Monday's Raw.
It was not, though, taking up a spot on an already bloated card.
McIntyre predictably won in a match wherein nothing was inherently bad or overwhelmingly good but, rather, existed for the sake of existing. The former WWE champion went over the Modern Day Maharaja, and everything is right with the world.
As it would have been had WWE just held off until Monday to wrap things up between them.
Knowing the company and its love for rematches, it still probably will.
7. Big E vs. Baron Corbin
The "it was fine" portion of our countdown continues with the SummerSlam Kickoff match between Baron Corbin and Big E.
The action was perfectly acceptable, the story was easy to follow and the crowd seemed to be solidly behind Big E as he sought to regain his Money in the Bank briefcase from the lowly soul who stole it from him.
The babyface won, putting away his opponent definitively with the Big Ending, and everyone moved on.
Very much the equivalent to an inoffensive television match, this was an effective way to drum up energy ahead of the main card and little more than that.
6. RK-Bro vs. AJ Styles and Omos
The crowd loved Randy Orton and Riddle as they challenged AJ Styles and Omos for the Raw Tag Team Championship, and how could they not? The wacky, mismatched tag team has been one of the bright spots on the red brand for months and is jelling at a time when the flagship needs something for fans to be interested in.
The opening contest of the main card, in which they captured the titles from The Phenomenal One and his massive bodyguard, was a fun sprint of a match that never had the opportunity to develop into more than that.
The action was nonstop, the right team went over and the crowd was overjoyed by the crowning of new champions. With only a seven-minute window in which to work, it was only ever going to be so good. This is one instance when a Raw rematch that has more time to develop may not be a terrible idea.
5. The Mysterios vs. The Usos
Odds are if you have watched any episode of SmackDown recently, you have seen The Mysterios and The Usos do battle in some form or fashion, so you knew to expect a solid tag team match out of them Saturday night. They delivered just that, bringing energy and drama to the blue brand's tag title match.
Rey Mysterio, in particular, continued to amaze at 46, performing at a level some 20-somethings could only dream of. He was excellent as he brought his team back into the match with a stirring babyface comeback that fell just short of the desired outcome.
The Usos are low-key great, the sort of team an entire generation of fans will look back on one day and give their flowers. Jimmy and Jey are special, and matches like this, wherein they were not the focal point but still managed to spotlight their excellence, are why.
4. Damian Priest vs. Sheamus
Speaking of underappreciated talent, Sheamus once again nearly stole the show from the more touted performers on the card, delivering a hard-hitting and intensely physical match with Damian Priest.
The United States Championship was at the center of a contest that saw welts, bruises and maybe even a little blood as titleholder and challenger beat the ever-loving hell out of each other. What started with a slower feeling-out process evolved into a strike-heavy, dramatic final stretch with a creative finish.
After weeks of watching Sheamus slyly utilize his protective facemask to win matches, Priest ripped it off The Celtic Warrior's face, rocked him with a kick and ended his reign with The Reckoning.
It was apropos, built on previous spots between the two and delivered the right finish.
3. Nikki A.S.H. vs. Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair
Stop me if you have heard this before, but Charlotte Flair was involved in one of the night's best matches.
Regardless of the opponent, the circumstances or the title at stake, Flair has an innate ability to deliver under the brightest lights and on the biggest stages, making her invaluable to WWE at this time.
She is much like her father, the legendary Ric, in that regard. The Queen can make the most out of anything, delivering a barn-burner with anyone at any time. She did it again Saturday, taking a three-way rivalry over the Raw women's title that had little heat coming into the show and, through sheer willpower, producing one of the best matches on the show.
That is not to diminish the contributions of Rhea Ripley or Nikki A.S.H., both of whom were great in their own regard.
Flair winning the title by tapping out A.S.H. will draw criticism for what it means to that particular babyface character and dismay from fans tired of seeing her collect titles, but when the result is continued excellence between the ropes, it becomes more and more difficult to rally against her success.
2. John Cena vs. Roman Reigns
It took a little while to get there, but John Cena and universal champion Roman Reigns had the big-fight main event everyone expected from them, complete with dramatic near-falls and finishers galore.
Reigns trash-talked while dominating Cena early, but once they started throwing signature stuff at each other, including an Attitude Adjustment through the announce table by the challenger, it ramped up into the match so many hoped it would be.
Cena nearly captured the title on more than one occasion thanks to his finisher, but not even a super AA from the middle rope was enough to defeat Reigns and send him packing from WWE.
Instead, The Head of the Table absorbed everything, rocked his opponent with consecutive Superman punches and put him away with the spear. The right finish, high drama and Cena turning the clock back one more time helped make this the second-best match of this year's SummerSlam event.
1. Edge vs. Seth Rollins
Best match honors belong to Edge and Seth Rollins, who had a stellar encounter that single-handedly saved the show. After about an hour of uneasiness following the Becky Lynch-Bianca Belair debacle, The Rated R Superstar rose from the fiery pits of hell, paying homage to The Brood as he took to the ring for his showdown with The Drip King.
With all the pomp and circumstance out of the way, the two celebrated in-ring performers did what they have done their entire lives: delivered between the ropes.
Rollins was great as the focused heel, obsessed with attacking his opponent's neck and driving him from the business as he could have done seven years earlier. Edge, the crafty veteran, had a counter for every stomp Rollins tried, culminating in a submission finish that first saw the Hall of Famer ruthlessly bash his opponent's face into the mat.
Great storytelling, some dramatic near-falls and a rejuvenated crowd helped a match we all expected to be spectacular live up to expectations.