SummerSlam is this Sunday, August 20, and it will be main evented by Brock Lesnar, as he squares off against Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman. This isn’t Lesnar’s first time at SummerSlam: In fact, he’s competed at seven previous SummerSlams dating back to 2002, nearly all of them main events, and his SummerSlam record to date is a whopping 5-2. Not bad for a part-timer, eh?
Before the Beast Incarnate climbs through the ropes for one more – and possibly one final — time this Sunday, we thought it would be fun to take a look at all of his previous SummerSlam matches, from worst to best.
7. Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton, 2016
Hoo boy, talk about a dud. This inter-promotional match between Raw’s Lesnar and Smackdown’s Orton played out exactly like most Suplex City-era Lesnar matches do, with a whole lotta throws and not a lot of anything else — that is, until the bizarre finish, which saw Lesnar cracking Orton’s skull open (concussing him in the process), a whole lotta blood all over the mat, and a crowd that had no idea how they should process what they just witnessed. This match is better left unwatched.
6. Brock Lesnar vs Triple H, 2012
Speaking of matches better left unwatched: What a snoozefest. This 19-minute match feels twice as long, although amazingly, even though it is a no-DQ match, Triple H never pulls out his sledgehammer. It’s a slow, plodding affair that is really only notable for Triple H pandering for cheers after losing for four straight minutes, instead receiving a chorus of “YOU TAPPED OUT!” chants from the Los Angeles crowd.
Triple H “retired from WWE” eight days later, so I guess this was supposed to serve as some sort of goodbye match, but dude’s worked nearly two dozen matches since then, including five straight WrestleManias. Just imagine: If L.A. had cheered him like he wanted, maybe we would have never gotten that atrocious WrestleMania 32 main event, or the head-scratching finish to the Triple H/Sting match at WrestleMania 31, or that stinker of a SummerSlam rematch with Lesnar at WrestleMania 29. Basically, every Mania I’ve attended live has featured Triple H doing dumb things, so I’m holding a grudge on this one, Los Angeles.
5. Brock Lesnar vs Kurt Angle, 2003
The main problem with this match is that no matter how good it was, it wasn’t going to beat the Lesnar/Angle main event from WrestleMania XIX earlier in the year. The real bummer, though, is that it wasn’t that good, considering the talent in the ring. Add in some steel chair interference from Mr. McMahon, and this match, while serviceable, doesn’t ever need to be rewatched.
4. Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker, 2015
Okay, now we’re getting to the good sh*t. Most people probably remember this match for its screwy finish, in which Taker taps out but no one sees it except, inexplicably, the timekeeper, who rings the bell without the ref instructing him. Then as everyone tries to figure out what’s going on, Taker hits Brock with a low blow and locks him in the Hell’s Gate, with Lesnar eventually passing out. Then, Paul Heyman rings the bell a billion times and declares Lesnar the winner instead of Taker, to the confusion of 15,000 or so members of the WWE Universe.
So, yeah: Dumb ending. But man oh man, was this match a barnburner until that point. Taker takes five suplexes and an F5 through the announce table, but he also draws blood from Brock and delivers a chokeslam that sends Lesnar sky high. This was one hell of a makeup match for their WrestleMania XXX debacle, and most importantly, it gave us that classic GIF of Lesnar and Taker laughing at one another.
3. Brock Lesnar vs CM Punk, 2013
This match is notable for being the only SummerSlam match in Lesnar’s career where the crowd was not split whatsoever — this arena was 10,000 percent in the corner of CM Punk, from the second he walked out until he was pinned 25 minutes later. Like Lesnar’s SummerSlam match with Triple H from the previous year, this was also no DQ, but unlike that match, Lesnar and CM Punk put on one hell of David-and-Goliath show, all about speed versus power.
Also unlike the previous year’s main event, Lesnar is not the giver of a low blow but instead the receiver, in an eerie bit of foreshadowing for his eventual loss to the Undertaker two SummerSlams later. (Who would’ve guessed that the guy with a dick-sword tattoo on his chest would have most of his high-profile matches involve low blows?) This was the only match these two competitors ever had, but who knows, maybe they’ll meet again in the UFC? (LOL —ed.)
2. Brock Lesnar vs The Rock, 2002
Nos. 2 and 1 on this list share a lot of similarities. Each features Brock Lesnar going into a main event seeking the WWE Championship, and each features an opponent that is equal parts loved and hated by the audience. In short: There are a whooooole lotta “ROCKY SUCKS!” chants. Lesnar, who had only debuted in WWE a mere four months prior, absolutely wrecks Rocky on the way to his first-ever WWE Championship, sending the Rock off on a six-month sabbatical in the process. Lesnar was already being billed as “The Next Big Thing” by Paul Heyman at this time, but it was after SummerSlam where that title truly meant something.
1. Brock Lesnar vs John Cena, 2014
If there’s one thing Brock Lesnar knows how to do, it’s create shocking moments in the ring. From splitting Randy Orton’s skull open to ending the Undertaker’s streak, you might not like everything he does, but you’re damn sure gonna remember it. Nothing sums that up better than Lesnar’s all-time best SummerSlam match, an extended squash match against John Cena that went on for 16 excruciatingly brutal minutes.
This main event featured the genesis of Lesnar’s Suplex City character nine months before Suplex City was really a thing — in fact, the only words Lesnar yells in this match are “DIE! DIE!” to a prone Cena. I’ll be honest: Rewatching this match now, it isn’t really that exciting, mainly because as a viewer, I know what’s about to happen. It’s kind of like how a lot of suspense movies don’t hold up on rewatches because you know the twist already.
But going into SummerSlam 2014, while some people may have picked Brock to win against Cena, virtually no one could have guessed how the match went down, except former With Spandex contributor Jessica Hudnall, who expertly predicted “What I want to happen is Brock just pastes Cena for about fifteen minutes and then eats his face.” Okay, so the face-eating thing never happened, but we did get a quarter-hour of Cena just getting wrecked by the WWE’s most overpowered supervillain (that half the building was cheering). It might not be especially engaging now, but holy sh*t was it ever when it happened live.