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It’s been 15 years since a wrestler challenged for the WWE Championship in his SummerSlam debut

Shinsuke Nakamura is going to make his SummerSlam debut in grand fashion when he challenges Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship.

This begs the question, which other wrestlers have competed for the WWE Championship in their first ever SummerSlam match? And how have they fared?

Here is a full list of all WWE Championship matches in the history of SummerSlam. The entries in bold are the ones that include a challenger competing in his first ever match at a SummerSlam event. The defending WWE champion will have a “(c)” included after his name.

  • 1990: Ultimate Warrior (c) defeats Rick Rude
  • 1992: Ultimate Warrior defeats Randy Savage (c) [count out]
  • 1993: Lex Luger defeats Yokozuna (c) [count out]
  • 1994: Bret Hart (c) defeats Owen Hart
  • 1995: Diesel (c) defeats King Mabel
  • 1996: Shawn Michaels (c) defeats Vader
  • 1997: Bret Hart defeats Undertaker (c)
  • 1998: Steve Austin (c) defeats Undertaker
  • 1999: Mankind defeats Steve Austin (c) and Triple H
  • 2000: The Rock (c) defeats Kurt Angle and Triple H
  • 2001: Kurt Angle defeats Steve Austin (c) [disqualification]
  • 2002: Brock Lesnar defeats The Rock (c)
  • 2003: Kurt Angle (c) defeats Brock Lesnar
  • 2004: John Bradshaw Layfield (c) defeats Undertaker [disqualification]
  • 2005: John Cena (c) defeats Chris Jericho
  • 2006: Edge (c) defeats John Cena
  • 2007: John Cena (c) defeats Randy Orton
  • 2008: Triple H (c) defeats The Great Khali
  • 2009: Randy Orton (c) defeats John Cena
  • 2010: Randy Orton defeats Sheamus (c) [disqualification]
  • 2011: CM Punk (c) defeats John Cena (c)
  • 2011: Alberto Del Rio defeats CM Punk (c) [MITB cash-in]
  • 2012: CM Punk (c) defeats Big Show and John Cena
  • 2013: Daniel Bryan defeats John Cena (c)
  • 2013: Randy Orton defeats Daniel Bryan (c) [MITB cash-in]
  • 2014: Brock Lesnar defeats John Cena (c)
  • 2015: Seth Rollins (c) defeats John Cena
  • 2016: Dean Ambrose (c) defeats Dolph Ziggler

On August 20 in Brooklyn, Shinsuke Nakamura will join Lex Luger, Owen Hart, Vader, Kurt Angle, and Brock Lesnar as the only wrestlers to compete for the WWE Championship in their first ever SummerSlam match.

Brock Lesnar (2002) is the only one of those five challengers who walked out of the event with gold around his waist.

Lex Luger did defeat the defending WWE champion Yokozuna in 1993, but the title did not change hands due to a count out.

Owen Hart (1994), Vader (1996), and Kurt Angle (2000) were all defeated in their championship quests.

2011 is a special case where Alberto Del Rio did indeed finish the night as WWE Champion in his first ever SummerSlam event, but he also competed earlier in the night, and so the championship victory was not his debut match at SummerSlam.

Shinsuke Nakamura will be the first wrestler in 15 years to compete for the WWE Championship in his first ever SummerSlam match. What do you think his chances are of joining Brock Lesnar as the only such challenger to walk out of the PPV as the new WWE Champion?

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