Ranking the 8 greatest SummerSlam main events of all time
It is no secret that SummerSlam is the WWE's second biggest annual event. They put in a lot of effort to make every edition feel worthwhile and big, some do not succeed but the majority of SummerSlam pay-per-views have been a raging success in terms of both quality and reception. The most important aspect of the success of any pay-per-view, let alone SummerSlam, is not only consistent action throughout the event, but it is getting the main event right.
The final match of the night is the one that determines how good a show can be. Some say that a wrestling event can only be as good as its main event. While not entirely true, it still holds some sense. You'd rather have a SummerSlam headlined by Undertaker vs Steve Austin than one headlined by Diesel vs Mabel. It just holds up better. These facts are backed up by figures as pay-per-view buyrates were heavily dependent on the main event of the show.
As evidenced by this list, a good main event severely drags up the quality of a show. Every single one of the SummerSlam events on this list has ranged from decent to legendary, thanks in no small part to their main event. There have been some absolute bangers to cap off WWE's Summertime Spectacular, including some not on this list. Before we get to the greatest main events in SummerSlam's history, here are a few honorable mentions.
Bret Hart vs The Undertaker (1997)
The Rock vs Triple H vs Kurt Angle (2000)
Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker (2015)
Let us now get to the main list.
#8 Steve Austin vs The Undertaker (1998)
In the summer of 1998, WWE was hot as ever. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was finally on top of the mountain, looking directly down at the likes of Kane, Mick Foley and The Undertaker. Bar one day, Steve Austin was reigning supreme in the then-WWF as the champion. 'Taker decided not to play by Vince McMahon's demands and assisted Austin in retaining his title against Mick Foley, in his Dude Love persona.
A month later, the most infamous in-match moment in WWE history occurred. That Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Mankind, the second Face of Foley. After Austin fended Kane off, the two biggest stars in the company were set to be on a collision course inside Madison Square Garden, at the Biggest Party of the Summer.
SummerSlam 1998 was the most-bought one in the history of the pay-per-view and the second-most bought non-WrestleMania pay-per-view, behind the Invasion pay-per-view featuring the initial brawl between WWE and WCW. The match also did not disappoint. On a show which featured two future legends, The Rock and Triple H, in a Ladder Match, it would have been easy to be overshadowed.
However, Austin and 'Taker most certainly did not. They carved out an excellent main event worthy of the number of buys this pay-per-view got, as the champ retained his title. The fact that the Texas Rattlesnake was concussed mid-way throughout the match makes it all-the-more impressive. Throw in the setting of the legendary MSG and this match will forever be remembered as a legendary war between two of the biggest stars in the company.