This Sunday, the WWE’s second biggest show of the year, Summer Slam returns to Brooklyn for another combined-brand show that will hopefully keep us entertained for six-plus hours of wrestling (WWE can get away with this for NOW, but only until the return of the NFL.). Let’s see what Vince and friends have in store for the “Biggest Party of the Summer”
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman
With Samoa Joe’s strong showing in his program with Brock Lesnar he has made a case to continue his pursuit of the beast. Add in the assumed heir to Brock’s throne Roman Reigns and a Monster Amongst Men who’s still not finished with Roman and you have a recipe for a Fatal Four-Way of epic proportions. With rumors swirling both behind the scenes and on camera of Brock’s eventual departure from the company, this one becomes a little trickier to predict.
Prediction: I’m not sure who the “safe pick” is here, but I’m going to a bit outside the box and say that Samoa Joe emerges victorious. Reigns and Strowman will have their time in the leadup to Wrestlemania to get back in the title picture. Lesnar doesn’t need to have the belt anymore, and it’d be good to have the champ on TV during football season.
WWE Champion Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
So much like last year’s strangely-thrown together Smackdown title match (Ambrose/Ziggler), Shinsuke Nakamura finds himself as the last minute challenger in the title match at Summer Slam. It seemed as though everything was set for Uber-American John Cena to beat the uber-foreign baddy (from the nefarious country of India…our sworn enemy!) and top Ric Flair for the most heavyweight titles of all time. But then Cena was forced to fight Shinsuke Nakamura to gain the chance (Smackdown, land of opportunity, yada yada) and was upset by the “artist/rock star”.
Prediction: Even though Jinder really doesn’t have that much going for him right now, this doesn’t seem like the right time to pull the trigger on Nakamura’s first title run. Maybe we’ll have a screwy finish and Nakamura can flesh this feud out for another PPV or two before taking the belt. Mahal retains
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
So in the blink of an eye, Baron Corbin went from soon-to-be future world champion to soon-to-be future endeavored. Well maybe it’s not that bad, but things sure aren’t looking up for the Lone Wolf after unsuccessfully cashing in his Money in The Bank briefcase this past Tuesday on Smackdown Live. I’m not sure why WWE did this (one would presume they’ve lost confidence in him) but why not delay the failed cash-in until AFTER Summer Slam. Now this match has no intrigue (kind of not fair to Cena either) as Corbin seems like a big dummy who isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Prediction: I don’t see any logic in taking the briefcase from Corbin only to have him turn around and beat Cena at Summer Slam (though Cena does seem to take some bad losses in August). Cena shines up his Slam record and beats Corbin cleanly.
US Champion AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens (special guest referee, Shane McMahon)
So after trading the title back and forth a few times (including a surprising Styles win at a house show at MSG), Styles comes into Summer Slam as champion. Owens has felt cheated out of a fair opportunity for the belt on more than one occasion and seems to have the bigger grudge with Shane than he does with Styles. I think we can safely expect a well-wrestled match with a Shane-centric finish.
Prediction: It seems the bigger story here is the building feud between Owens and Shane O Mac. I’m calling some questionable refereeing leading to another loss for the New Face of America. Styles retains and move on to his next program with Luke Harper (haha, that would be cool though, huh?)
Raw Tag Team Champions Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins
After a soap-opera like weekly tease of a return engagement for the Shield boys, the Architect and Lunatic Fringe finally bumped fists and seem to be back on the same page, if only to stand up to a common enemy. The champions meanwhile have really only served as props in the bigger Rollins/Ambrose drama.
Prediction: I suppose Ambrollins could lose, leading to an Ambrose heel turn the following night on Raw. However, I think they drag this out and we got months of Ambrose and Rollins learning to trust each other again, before one of them (hopefully Ambrose) eventually pulls the rug out from the other. Maybe we’ll get Reigns throwin in the mix too before Wrestlemania. The first step though, is for Rollins/Ambrose to win the belts on Sunday.
Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
The original matchup featuring Bliss taking on Bayley was cancelled due to The Hugster’s legit shoulder injury. Banks stepped up after winning a triple threat and a one-on-one against Nia Jax. It’s hard to tell where the division is going (is Asuka getting called up anytime soon?) and what the plans would have called for with a healthy Bayley.
Prediction: I’m predicting we get a heel Banks against a returning Bayley for ‘Mania. On Sunday, perhaps Nia Jax interferes to help Bliss retain. This could be the seeds of a potential rift between Bliss and Jax – maybe Bliss can say she didn’t ask for Jax’s help and Jax can grow frustrated with protecting the champ without anything in return. All this to say, Bliss retains.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi vs. Natalya
Raise your hand if you had Natalya winning the five-woman elimination match at Battleground. Now bring that hand down across your face, because liars get slapped! Ok then. Anyways, Smackdown has decided to run with another semi-last second feud for a top belt on the second biggest PPV of the year. It’s not like Natalya had done anything up until Battleground that made her seem like any kind of a threat. Is the Welcoming Committee still a thing? Also to consider, is the impending cash-in attempt from women’s MITB holder, Carmella.
Prediction: I really have no idea. As with the Raw women’s division, the looming threat of Asuka may have something to do with the outcome here. I’m gonna go with a clean Naomi win followed by a teased, but never consummated cash-in (Carmella then cashes in on Tuesday’s Smackdown Live).
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Yup, another last second somewhat random feud from the folks over at Smackdown. Rusev wanted a challenger. Orton is that challenger. Now we have a match, and all is right in the Smackdown world.
Prediction: My heart says Rusev, but my jaded mind that has seen 30+ years of WWE writing says Orton. Sorry, heart…Orton wins. Here’s hoping Rusev’s loss doesn’t hurt a potential push.
Big Show vs. Big Cass (w/ Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a shark cage)
Big Cass is big. Big Show is big. We can’t have two superstars that are big. Therefore there will be a match to determine who gets to be big. The loser will presumably have to change their name to Small Cass or Small Show. Enzo isn’t big but Kurt Angle strangely decided to listen to Cass’ big idea and suspend Enzo in a shark cage above the ring (oh no, is he scared of heights? Egads!). He’ll try, but I don’t think he can be quite as entertaining as Jericho in a shark cage. Additionally, if baseball wants to regain some popularity, why not put managers who get ejected in a shark cage above the field…this way they don’t try to pull a Bobby Valentine.
Prediction: I’m going to go out on a limb and say the guy with “Big” in his name is gonna prevail. Since we’re already talking baseball, I’m actually, kind of hoping that Cass’s new friend Aaron Judge interferes and takes a bat to Show (though the way he’s been going lately, he’d probably whiff). It would make sense for Cass to win to prove himself, but I think they drag this feud out a bit and give Show the win here.
The Demon Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
I am so incredibly bored with Bray Wyatt’s act right now that I really don’t care what happens in this match. Big deal, he poured blood/cherry dip on Finn Balor. Ooh, now Finn Balor is gonna be a demon to counter Bray’s demon shtick. Why did these two even start fighting?
Prediction: Finn is putting on the demon costume so I guess has to win, right?
Smackdown Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. The Usos
Who would have thought that a heel turn would make me actually enjoy listening to the Usos speak? Not I, that’s for sure. Not I, indeed. The feud between The New Day and The Usos has been one of the strongest both on the mic and in the ring in the forgettable last few months of Smackdown Live (it’s been really bad, save a few recent shows). This makes it all-the-more confusing as to why this is being placed on the Kickoff show. Much like NXT, there isn’t a whole lot of depth to the tag scene (save the Fashion Police and whomever their attackers may be), so there’s no reason to think this feud has to end at Summer Slam.
Prediction: The Usos regain the gold here and go on to feud with that crazy new duo of Ty Dillinger and Sami Zayn (Tye-Zayn? The Perfect The Canadian Beard Squad?). As for the New Day…maybe they break up? I really don’t know where they go from here.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Akira Tozawa vs. Neville
Not sure why they spoiled this one by having the two cruiserweights duke it out a week out from the PPV. But this is WWE and anything can happen in the WWE! So, now that the luster’s gone from this match we’ll see if Neville can pry back his title from Tozawa and the rest of Titus Worldwide.
Prediction: I’m rooting for Titus Worldwide to really pick up steam and do some big things (maybe finally get that first piece of merch. on WWE Shop). However, I think WWE chickens out and puts the belt back on the King of Cruiserweights. Neville becomes a 2-time Cruiserweight champoin.
The Hardy Boyz and Jason Jordan vs. The Miz and the Miztourage
So the whole Jason Jordan is Kurt Angle’s son thing didn’t go exactly as planned, huh? Jordan’s lack of presence on the mic has hurt him dearly, even working with a veteran talker like the Miz. It remains to be seen if his supposed push will continue or if in two weeks no one will even mention that he’s related to the commissioner. With another injury to the Revival, this becomes the Plan B for the former Broken Matt and Brother Nero. Let’s hope the writers get on the stick, as all of the performers in this match deserve better. Especially Bo Dallas…shouldn’t he be Universal Champion by now? Ya gotta Bolieve!
Prediction: Let’s give it to the faces here. Hardyz and Jordan pick up the win.
While writing this, I really started to see how poorly the Smackdown storylines have been the past three months or so. Hopefully, Summer Slam can serve as a reset button and we can have a Fall with decent feuds (not likely though…it’s football season…gotta save the good stories for Wrestlemania season). The Raw Universal title picture is intriguing as is the Ambrose/Rollins reunion. Outside of the fatal four-way I can’t say there’s any match I’m really looking forward to…hope they prove me wrong.