Throughout the nine main Star Wars films, Anakin Skywalker has three lightsabers. He builds his first lightsaber when he’s fourteen and still a padawan. He loses this lightsaber on Geonosis during Attack of the Clones. (What happened to that lightsaber?) He builds his second one soon after that; it’s pretty similar to his first one. He uses this lightsaber as a Jedi, turns evil, uses it to murder everybody he ever knew (except Obi-Wan), and then loses it when Obi-Wan cuts off all of his limbs. Shortly after going full evil, Anakin killed a Jedi knight and stole the kyber crystal from his lightsaber. He “bled” the crystal, turning it red, and then used it to build his red-bladed lightsaber. The iconic Darth Vader lightsaber looks similar to his first two. Anakin lacked imagination, it seems.
Anakin’s second attempt, the Skywalker lightsaber, was an iconic mcguffin throughout episodes IV through IX. Obi-Wan still had it with him at his hut on Tatooine. He gave it to Luke during Episode IV with absolutely zero instructions on safe handling. Luke lost it at the end of Empire Strikes Back when Vader cut off his saber hand.
Maz Kanata retrieved the lightsaber somehow. The lightsaber called out to Rey during The Force Awakens. She then claimed it. Kylo Ren, considering himself the heir to Anakin Skywalker, felt the lightsaber belonged to him. Rey tried to give it back to Luke in The Last Jedi, but Luke refused to take it. Kylo Ren and Rey had a Force tug-o-war that ripped it in half. At some point before Rise of Skywalker, Rey rebuilt it. Ultimately, she buried it back at Anakin/Luke’s homestead on Tatooine. She buried it alongside Leia’s lightsaber, reuniting Luke and Leia.
All of this is wrong. Luke didn’t deserve Anakin’s lightsaber. Rey didn’t deserve it. Kylo Ren didn’t deserve it. None of them was worthy of Anakin’s lightsaber. They were amateurs; Anakin was an auteur.
Anakin vs Luke
I think everyone but the most devoted Luke Skywalker fanboys would agree that he was a weak lightsaber combatant throughout the Original Trilogy. It wasn’t really his fault, though. In A New Hope, he learned from the aged and rusty Obi-Wan Kenobi for about a month. In Empire Strikes Back, he mostly learned Force theory. So, his lightsaber technique involved a lot of hacking and slashing. When he faced Darth Vader in the throne room in Return of the Jedi, he basically swung the lightsaber around like a club. By that point, Vader was decrepit, so Luke beat him into submission.
However, it’s absolutely absurd to think 23-year old Luke Skywalker was even in the same galaxy as the 23-year old Anakin Skywalker. (This is mostly due to technological constraints when filming in the 70s and 80s, but let’s keep it in-universe.) If you watch Obi-Wan fight Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, you can see two lightsaber wielders at the height of skill. Compared to pre-decapitation Anakin, Luke was just a kid in his living room with a flashlight making the lightsaber noises with his mouth.
Honorable mention should be given to Luke’s triumphant return in The Mandalorian. He carved up those droids with some Old Republic-era skill, but watch the Clone Wars cartoon and tell me any random Jedi couldn’t do that.
It’s not Luke’s fault, but his lightsaber skills were weak.
Anakin vs Rey
Rey basically experienced the same abbreviated training as Luke (the Sequel Trilogy didn’t bother with much originality. However, considering their original ideas, maybe it was for the best.) Rey had no lightsaber training in Episode VII; apparently, using an improvised bo staff just translates to lightsabering somehow. In Episode VIII, she allegedly learned from Luke but we don’t really see much of that. Mostly, we see Rian Johnson’s diligent attempts to destroy Luke Skywalker’s character (but that’s a different article).
She finally got some formal training in Episode IX, but that training mostly just put her on par with Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren, it should be stated, was the worst lightsaber combatant I’ve ever seen.
Literally Anybody vs Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren rejected the label of Sith; he wanted to be some kind of new tradition-less darksider. That’s obviously silly because the Sith were the coolest badasses in the galaxy. However, it’s good he didn’t try to be a Sith because he’d have been an embarrassment to the Order. In The Force Awakens, we see him fought to a draw by Finn who had zero lightsaber training. If a skilled stormtrooper can fight you to a stalemate, you’re not going to last very long in the galaxy far, far away.
Rey fought him a few times, and then she finally beat him in Rise of Skywalker. Sure she had Palpatine’s lineage which means she had nearly-unprecedented Force powers, but I say “nearly” because those powers ultimately are precedented by the Skywalkers. Kylo Ren should have been equally powerful in the Force and far more skilled with lightsabers since he learned from Luke. Which brings us all the way back around to Luke Skywalker.
Kylo Ren was a terrible lightsaber combatant because he learned from Luke, another terrible lightsaber combatant.
Rey should have taken that lightsaber back to Coruscant and put it in a museum. Obi-Wan never should have given it to Luke. He should have said, “That’s your father’s lightsaber. Make your own. Ani would have had me but I had the high ground, and the boy was dumb. Great with a lightsaber, but dumb.” Kylo Ren should get into his goofy ship whose wings never fully open and fly into a star.