WWE is set to present the 36th annual SummerSlam on August 5, 2023, in Detroit, Michigan. The hottest event of the summer has always been a major part of WWE’s Premium Live Event calendar.
This was especially true during the 2000s when WWE pulled enormous buy rates for its annual summer extravaganza.
This feature looks back at the best matches from SummerSlam during the 2000s.
#5 The Rock vs Brock Lesnar – SummerSlam 2002 (August 25, 2002)
The headliner of SummerSlam 2002 was a heavily hyped World Title match between Undisputed Champion, The Rock and King of the Ring winner, Brock Lesnar.
The build-up was focussed on sports-style training videos which enhanced the big match feel.
The New York crowd ruthlessly booed The Rock, who they had recognised was no longer a full time member of Team WWE and cheered the heel rookie, Lesnar.
‘The People’s Champion’ carried Lesnar to his finest match at that point in his fledgling career in a fast paced match-up, that delivered big moves and exciting counter moves.
Lesnar reversed a Rock Bottom into an F-5 to a thunderous response in Nassau Coliseum. ‘The Next Big Thing’ had arrived.
#4 Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Kurt Angle – SummerSlam 2001 (August 19, 2001)
The Invasion is not a fondly remembered storyline by most long-time fans, but it did play host to a sterling feud between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle.
At SummerSlam 2001 they clashed over Stone Cold’s WWF Championship in a full-on, white-hot brawl.
Both men bled as the crowd roared its approval. The match featured huge moves, outside interference and referee bumps.
‘The Olympic Hero’ kicked out of an unprecedented three Stone Cold Stunners. A desperate Austin then nailed the bout’s third referee to earn a disqualification and retain his belt in the cheapest fashion possible.
Tremendous match, marred only slightly by the finish. However, that did extend the feud and fed into future rematches so the booking did serve a purpose.
#3 CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy – SummerSlam 2009 (August 23, 2009)
CM Punk terminated Jeff Hardy’s World Title reign when he famously cashed in his Money in the Bank contract following Hardy’s victory over Edge at Extreme Rules.
Hardy had regained the strap at Night of Champions which set up this feud-ending SummerSlam collision under Tables, Ladders and Chairs rules.
This contest was the best of their terrific rivalry. The storytelling was simple. Punk was straight edge and Hardy had a long history of personal problems.
The bout was incredibly heated and packed full of risky, high-impact spots as the pair made full use of the furniture available.
Punk was vicious in his assaults and Hardy timed his sporadic comebacks to perfection. The most memorable spot saw Hardy perform a Swanton through onto Punk through the announce table.
Punk regained the gold after knocking an injured Hardy off the ladder. An excellent encounter that built logically and felt like a real fight.
#2 Edge & Christian vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Hardy Boyz – SummerSlam 2000 (August 27, 2000)
The original TLC bout remains one of the finest ever held at SummerSlam and was a highlight of the decade at the hottest event of the summer.
The match-up pitted Tag Team Champions, Edge and Christian against familiar foes, The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz.
There are no superlatives that do this contest justice. It was fast-paced from the start, with an almighty brawl to begin the match. Packed full of innovative stunts that had not been seen before, big moves, excellent tandem offence, and an escalation of action down the home straight.
The famous image of Bubba Ray Dudley falling off a ladder through a pile of ringside tables will live in infamy forever. The finish of this brutal match came after 15 minutes when Edge and Christian smashed Jeff Hardy with chairs to climb the ladder to retain.
Wall-to-wall incredible action that never let up. One of the best stunt matches of all time. It still retains its power over two decades on.
#1 Shawn Michaels vs Triple H – SummerSlam 2002 (August 25, 2002)
SummerSlam 2002 was a stacked show and the bout between Shawn Michaels and Triple H is the second match from the card on this list.
The Street Fight saw the return of ‘The Showstopper’ after a four-year absence from WWE rings. The build was masterful, as ‘The Game’ assaulted his former buddy and claimed Michaels was using him to stay relevant.
WWE purposely lowered expectations around what Michaels would be capable of doing, heading into the contest. However, it soon became clear, that ‘The Icon’s’ surgically repaired back could take the bumps.
Michaels and Triple H battered each other senseless with chairs, tables and sledgehammers throughout an enthralling, expertly paced match-up with an engaging story as Triple H ruthlessly targeted Michaels’s back.
Michaels reversed a Pedigree into a pin for a well-received victory. Several months later, he would return to full-time competition.
You can watch every SummerSlam pay-per-view exclusively on the WWE Network.