SummerSlam is under a week away and what is a good wrestling blog without predictions for the “Biggest Party of the Summer”? With so many matches on the card and rumors that the show could run anywhere from five hours to eternity, there is a lot to cover. So we are going to break down how we got here for each SummerSlam match and then provide our predictions/thoughts on each. This list is in the order of perceived importance. So naturally we start with…
Big Show vs. Big Cass (with Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a Shark Cage)
The story: Enzo suffered a series of backstage attacks setting up an whodunit story on Raw than ran for a few weeks. Inevitably it was revealed that Cass was his attacker. Cass laid into Enzo for reasons that seemed both kayfabe and shoot as to why “everybody hates Enzo”. Big Show, a third party to the story by his assistance to the duo during the whole situation befriended Enzo in the aftermath of the split leading us to this match. By the way, this deserves to be in the middle of the pre-show, at that awkward moment when some people are already there but most are just filing in
Javon: I have little to no interest from me towards this match. Pick: Big Cass
Alex: I’m not sure if it is possible for me to care less about this match. If we’re going by backstage rumors and how much locker room hate there is for Enzo, then the likely outcome is one where Cass disposes of Big Show and gets to send Enzo to 205 Live or back to NXT. If we’re going to consider how much fan support there still appears to be for Enzo, then maybe we get the Enzo and Cass heel reunion and a push towards a big championship win against a star-studded super babyface team of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. I’m banking on Enzo’s popularity and his ability to be an annoying jackoff to be sufficient to keep him on the main roster and reunite him as a heel with Mr. 7 feet tall. Pick: Cass (with an assist from Enzo)
Cardo: This storyline, in my opinion, has been poorly constructed and this match serves no purpose. A waste of 15mins at Summerslam.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
The story: To be honest, not much. Randy has been taking a whole lot of L’s in the aftermath of Wrestlemania. He lost four ppv matches in a row – one to Bray Wyatt and three to Jinder Mahal. He quickly turned his attention to the recently returned Rusev. As for Rusev, he returned about a month ago and immediately rekindled his fued with John Cena. Rusev, having lost to Cena, is still in his Bulgarian Brute, foreign heel gimmick. That’s the nuts and bolts of this “feud”.
Cardo: HAHAHAH! The WWE wants to make us forget Randy dropped the belt to Jinder and was unable, on two occasions, to reclaim.
Javon: Once again, a meaningless match and does nothing for either moving forward. Pick: Randy Orton
Alex: This match features two guys who both really need a strong W. If Rusev is ever going to be more than a retread of every 80s foreign heel WWE has ever created, now is the time to do so. Let him get this win from Randy Orton – which even in Orton’s current state still means something – and begin to move him up the card. He could play great foil in a WWE title feud against either Shinsuke Nakamura or AJ Styles. This also allows WWE to turn Randy back heel. Let him take a few more ppv losses and flip him back to where he does his best work. Pick: Rusev – which should mean we all win.
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
The story: Sigh. These first few matches are rough. John Cena was missing in action from Wrestlemania until the fourth of July. Upon his return he took down Rusev on ppv and challenged Jinder Mahal for the WWE championship. Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan instead made a match between Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura for the right to face Jinder at SummerSlam. Cena lost (as he is wont to do this time of year) and Shinsuke got his pass out of his feud with (drum roll please) Baron Corbin, who attempted to attack Nakamura after this same match but was foiled by Cena. Corbin won MITB earlier this year while in the midst of his feud with Nakamura. He lost the feud to Nak. Then on the go home show for SummerSlam Corbin unsuccessfully cashed in his MITB contract due to him being distracted by Cena. So here we are.
Alex: Given that Cena has already taken his SummerSlam season loss and rumor is that Corbin has fallen out of favor of the powers that be – and in a case of what came first, the chicken or the egg, Corbin has been made to look really foolish these last few weeks – there is no way I can pick Corbin to win this match. Tack on the poorly kept secret that Cena will likely move to Raw as soon as next Monday and Cena becomes the obvious choice. Pick: Cena, thus ending his six year losing streak at SummerSlam
Cardo: So what’s the point of this match after Tuesday. Corbin comes across as an idiot, and everyone knows Cena is on his way out.
Javon: After an horrendous decision of having Corbin fail to cash in to generate something to justify this fued, Corbin has to come out strong. Pick: Baron Corbin
Finn Bálor vs. Bray Wyatt
The story: WWE really tries too hard sometimes. Both of these guys have been floating around more or less in the aftermath of Wrestlemania. Our recent discussion of Finn kinda speaks to the fact that he has been (pardon the pun) drifting around Raw with only a brief feud with Elias (formerly Samson) to speak of. Bray likewise had a short feud with Seth Rollins and has been circling Finn off and on for a few months now. This is now coming to a head with the build towards this match. On the go home show of Raw, Bray beat Finn and doused him with a red paint-like substance. As if we needed any further indication they had Finn declare that his “demons” would be coming to see Bray on Sunday. We all knew that’s where this was headed, but at least WWE could have attempted to do something more here. Nonetheless, that’s how we got here.
Javon: Not the best of builds for either guy, but we get the return of the Demon, so it should lean towards an entertaining match. Pick: Finn Bálor
Alex: Similar to Randy and Rusev, both of these guys need a win to establish themselves as being worthy contenders for a future Universal title feud. While people may say they both have an easy in to any title scene by both being former champs, neither of these guys has the Randy Orton resume. Therefore, where Randy could take the L from Rusev, the loser of this match will have a continued uphill battle. I don’t see Demon Finn losing to Bray as currently constituted – unless the feud is meant to break Finn down to a point where either he needs his friends – hint, hint – or he joins some reformed Wyatt Family. Pick:Finn Bálor – because this would be a dumb place for Demon Finn to take his first main roster loss.
Cardo: Well they say this is the return of the Demon….. MUST WATCH
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Akira Tozawa vs. Neville
The story: You mean other than the fact that Neville has had the cruiserweight title so long that they gave away his championship loss on free tv instead of at SummerSlam? The story here has basically been two things – one, Neville has dominated the division, and two, Tozawa as the first client of the Titus Worldwide brand, has been sincerely entertaining. Tozawa earned a shot at the title at Great Balls of Fire and lost. He then eventually earned another title shot, presumably for SummerSlam. As WWE is wont to do, they gave away the match for free on the go home show and Tozawa won. So the match is the same, but now Tozawa is defending and Neville is challenging.
Cardo: Why allow Tozawa to have his moment on Raw and not at the PPV? Who’s writing these scripts?
Javon: Really? Aries fails to capture the belt multiple times, but Tozawa does in an anticlimactic manner, on Raw no less? …thanks WWE. Pick: Neville
Alex: In all fairness, I have not been watching 205 Live at all. I keep up with that show mostly off of internet recaps and videos. I think Neville as dominant champion was good but probably should have ended a month or two ago. After having someone dominate the division the way Neville has, I can see this match going either way, but my hope is that we get a bit more story between these guys. And yes, it was a stupid decision to have Tozawa capture the title on Raw, but we have seen the bad booking recently, should we even expect better?. Pick: Tozawa – hopefully followed by a Neville post-match beatdown
SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi vs. Natalya
The story: This division has not had much going for it in recent times. The story of Lana challenging for the title was mildly entertaining. The lack of Charlotte Flair (prayers with the family) or Becky Lynch challenging for the title at a Big Four ppv seems weird and wrong. Naomi as champion seems more like a lifetime achievement award than a legitimate run – hampered especially by the Lana “feud”. Also, there is Carmella lurking as the first Ms. MITB. As for how we got here, Naomi won the title at Elimination Chamber, had to relinquish it due to an injury and then regained the title at Wrestlemania. On July 23, Natalya defeated Flair, Lynch, Tamina, and Lana in a five-way elimination match at Battleground, earning an opportunity to face Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam.
Alex: Naomi has been a decent champion and the story of her accomplishment is fine – but this division deserves better stories. At this stage Naomi chasing the title to reclaim it may be a far better story. By that logic, that would mean my prediction is a Nattie victory – but no, that’s not where I am going. Pick: Naomi – followed by a successful Carmella cash-in
Cardo: Natalya for the win!
Javon: Sorry Naomi I love yah and the glow, but Nattie’s glow up is long over due. Pick: Natalya
Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
The story: Alexa Bliss was brought to Raw during the post-Wrestlemania Superstar Shake-up. She quickly became number one contender and won the Raw Women’s Championship at Payback. She has held the title since that time and has had a feud with Bayley and the initial stages of a feud with Sasha Banks. We got to this match through some fairly interesting circumstances. On July 24, Bayley won the right to contend for the title against Alexa at SummerSlam by beating Sasha Banks. A week later, Bayley was injured (we’re not sure what’s real or fake here) at the hands of Nia Jax during a match and was ruled out for SummerSlam. Raw GM Kurt Angle setup two triple threat matches with the winners facing each other for the number one contendership. Sasha and Nia won those matches and Sasha defeated Nia subsequently to become number one contender.
Javon: Not much to say here, this whole division is due for a breath of life. Pick: Sasha Banks
Alex: I am going to go relatively off the wall with my prediction for this match and the fallout. This is partially because I feel the fallout may be more important than the result of the match itself. I will say this first, we are due for a Sasha title run – a lengthy, successful, near-dominant run – it’s time. What we are also due for is a refreshing of the Bayley character. It has become clear that the happy go lucky thing is not happening. I am thinking we should prep for a heel Bayley vs. face Sasha at Wrestlemania for the title. Pick: Sasha Banks – and a slow burn on the Bayley heel turn leading to an epic series between the two culminating at Wrestlemania
Cardo: Waiting on Nia…
United States Champion AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens (Shane McMahon as special guest referee)
The story: Before I get into the story for this match, I will say this, these next two matches have the potential to absolutely steal the show at SummerSlam. As for how we got here, it is a confusing story. Owens defeated Jericho for the U.S. title at Wrestlemania. Jericho regained the title at Payback and then lost the title back to KO two days later. KO then went into a feud (albeit fragmented early) with AJ over the title. Owens retained via countout at Backlash. Then in July AJ won the title at a house show at Madison Square Garden. KO would regain the title at Battleground, only to lose it two days later at Smackdown in a triple threat match between himself, AJ and a (briefly) returning Chris Jericho. Most of the AJ/KO matches were marked by some sort of controversy. Two things to note here. First, From January to August the US title has changed hands on seven different occasions with three happening in the last six weeks alone. Secondly, during this process KO directed his ire at Shane McMahon Smackdown Commissioner. Now we have Shane as the referee for their title match at SummerSlam.
Cardo: This will be the match of the night.
Javon: Arguably one the better feuds on this card and possibly match of the night. Pick: AJ Styles
Alex: I’m just gonna pick a screwy finish. I think at this point we need to move beyond AJ vs KO and take both these guys into fresh feuds. Who wins this title I think depends on when the expected Shane vs KO match is slated to take place. If it is at Survivor Series, then AJ wins. If it is at Wrestlemania then KO wins and maybe we get a bit more KO vs AJ. Given that Shane wrestled Mania and Survivor Series last year, I am going to lean in that direction. Pick: AJ Styles via some method that escalates the KO – Shane rivalry
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. The Usos
The story: Much to Ricardo’s chagrin (look at his comment), this Usos vs New Day feud has been one of the hottest since the calendar and temperatures turned to “Hot in Herre” levels. This Usos heel turn continues to be a revelation. This run has, in my opinion, been the best of their career. The New Day has been the hottest tag team act this decade and have the ability to work well across from anyone. So yea, forget you Cardo, we’re all in on this.
Alex: I legitimately do not care who wins this match because either option is palatable to me and either option is believable. Sadly, I imagine that we may be nearing the end of this run. This is especially so if the rumored post-SummerSlam Superstar Shake-up does actually happen. I can easily see the Usos migrating to Raw to end up in a feud with a freshly crowned and reunited Shield in Ambrose and Seth. Likewise, I can see Dash and Dawson being moved to Smackdown, whether known or unknown, and given a fresh start upon the return of whichever one of these fools is injured this week. (Editor’s note: Dawson is the fool with the bicep injury). Pick: The New Day and the impetus for fresh starts for everyone in the tag division
Cardo: Usos still a thing?
Javon: My choice for the dark horse match of the night and also joins the ranks of being one of the better feuds of the night. Pick: The New Day
Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
The story: Not much to this story on the tag champs side of this match to be honest. Sheamus and Cesaro won the tag belts from the Hardyz back in June at the Extreme Rules ppv. The real story of this match has been their recently announced opponents in Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. The WWE has accomplished a rare feat in telling a nuanced story with solid depth and callbacks to the rich history between these two men. Although the completion of the mini-Shield reunion seems a bit rushed, the build to it was solid and the crowd legitimately popped for this moment – that should have been saved for SummerSlam post-victory celebration, but again poor booking.
Javon: 2/3 of the shield are back, and the hounds of justice tee is coming out, if you aren’t excited for this get woke. Pick: The (mini) Shield
Alex: I have flip-flopped on my pick for this match for the last few weeks and I’m still not sure I am 100% behind my pick, but I have a (contrarian) theory. What if the reason WWE gave us that “reunion” fist bump on Monday is because that isn’t the actual endgame? What if WWE is telling a different story? What if the one they are telling is the one in which the guy who was initially seen as the leader of one of the most dominant groups in WWE history is finally fed up with being on the short end of the post-breakup stick? What if Dean was reluctant to go through with the reunion because he has come to bear a deep hatred for both Rollins and Reigns? I don’t know that that is what is happening or even if it should happen, but Dean is in need of such a refresh just now that the mini-reunion may not be sufficient. Devil’s Advocate Pick: Cesaro & Sheamus; Actual Pick: The (mini) Shield
Cardo: The Shield reunion this past week was the biggest pop I’ve seen on Raw in some time, I’m all in with this…. SIERRA HOTEL INDIA LIMA DELTA
**Editor’s note: Alex is really hedging his bets here with this pick, feel free to call him out on it.
WWE Champion Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
The story: Well, this one is really simple. Mahal beat Randy for the title at Backlash with help. He then retained against Randy twice – once at Money in the Bank and once at Battleground. He also survived a cash-in attempt by Baron Corbin on the go home episode of Smackdown. Meanwhile, Shinsuke had a brief feud with Dolph, followed by a stop and start feud with Baron Corbin. After winning that feud, Shinsuke got an opportunity to become the number one contender against John Cena – which he won, CLEAN.
Cardo: NAKAMURA, NAKAMURA, NAKAMURA
Javon: There should be absolutely no reason for Nakamura to not leave Summerslam as your Champion. Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura
Alex: I have no commentary on this match. Shinsuke Nakamura better win this match. We got Jinder as champion up to and through India’s independence. It is time to move on. I’m not saying anything else on this. One more thing, WWE, for heaven’s sake do not screw this up. I see the talk about Vince being angry about Shinsuke dropping Cena on his neck. Cena’s good, Shinsuke is a superstar waiting to explode. Ok, I’m done. Final point, we want AJ vs Shinsuke at Wrestlemania for the WWE title, Vince, do it for the damn culture. Pick: SHINSUKE NAKAMURA in a SQUASH OF EPIC PROPORTIONS. Anything else is insufficient.
**Editor’s note: I apologize for this, but, what if WWE decides to let Mahal break Punk’s record reign. That would be so petty, but so WWE. And yes, I know this would mean another (checks Wikipedia) 343 days of Mahal as champion, but man WWE can be THAT petty.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman (Fatal 4-Way Match)
The story: Four monstrous guys in a match for the Universal Title. Need Vince say more? Let’s rewind. Brock won the Universal Title from Bill Goldberg (RIP) at Wrestlemania. Brock then took a vacation to sip margaritas, have sex with his hot wife (is Sable still hot?), tend to his farm and field calls about a superfight in UFC against Jon Jones. During his extended sabbatical, the Raw main event scene basically didn’t exist. In June, at Extreme Rules, Samoa Joe won a fatal fiveway match to become number one contender for the vacationer’s Universal Title. They battled at Great Balls of Fire in a match that saw Joe solidify and reinforce his push while still coming up short to Brock (Pause). Fast forward two weeks – and one disrupted number one contender match later – and you have the SummerSlam main event match announced – Brock, Braun, Roman, and Joe. Or, as Vince likes to call it, “my favorite thing ever”. Fans are generally in on this match because one, a multi-man match allows Brock to lose the title (while not looking weak), two, everyone involved is more or less capable of carrying the title for a while (yes, that even includes the green Braun Strowman), and three, a multi-man match means that anything and everything goes and with these four, we can expect a demolition derby approach to the bulk of this match.
**Editor’s Note: Goldberg is not dead. Also, Brock don’t kill Alex for questioning Sable’s current hotness.