As I mentioned before, I’ve delved back into pro wrestling. I have a few ideas of other wrestling posts in the near future, but as this Sunday is SummerSlam, I thought I would write down my predictions for the massively long PPV. It’s going to be a crazy six hours on Sunday, if you are watching, find me on Twitter where I’ll most likely be adding my comments to the events.
Note: Two things will set my prediction apart from others you’ll see online. 1.) I have only been watching since Wrestlemania, so I know there is a lot that has happened in the last year that may also be affecting outcomes that I just have no idea about. 2.) I’m a story guy, I hope that WWE is also story people too since they’re all about entertainment, so I’m coming at this as a writer and how I see the character developing and what would make the most sense. I know there is a lot of business and politics that can change things from what seem narratively more satisfying, but I don’t keep up on all of it. I’m not expecting to be 100% right, but I think, right or wrong, these would be the best stories for the characters.
Big Show v. Big Cass
This match is what I’m calling the “You must be ‘this’ tall to compete” match. It’s funny because when they announced that Enzo Amore was getting locked in a cage above the ring, all I though about the was the old Raw episode I saw a few months ago with Bret Hart and Issac Yankum with Jerry “The King” Lawler in the same situation. What will be interesting is how much of history will repeat itself. Last Monday, Cass, with the help of Gallows & Anderson, broke Big Show’s hand so he can’t pull off his Knockout Punch. The setup being that Big Show is now weaker and if you went with pure statistics, Cass should win. But this is wrestling. What we have to look at are the changes going on with the characters. While I could see them actually repeating that Hart/Yankum match, where Enzo drops a foreign object into the ring as an equalizer for Show, I kind of hope they don’t. I don’t think Cass is as over as a heel as many think. If it’s not a clean finish for Show, it’s going to prolong this feud and I think people are turning off to it all. If it’s not a clean finish for Cass, due to Enzo’s interference, I think it would still continue the feud. There is part of me that thinks that is what will happen. In a six-hour show, dirty finishes keep the show from becoming too monotonous. As a gimmick match, it’s set up for a dirty finish. But I think if they want to make Cass more accepted as a singles heel, he’s going to win the match clean, letting Big Show take the pin to pass the torch to Cass as the giant gimmick for the company.
Jason Jordan & The Hardy Boys v. The Miztourage (kickoff)
As much as I love the Hardys, I am not looking forward to this match. It’s really more about Jason Jordan and continuing to get him over as Kurt Angle’s illegitimate son with this feud with The Miz. Plus, there was no build up to the Hardys involvement to this except for them randomly helping Jordan this past Monday. On a card that was already bursting, one more match wasn’t really needed. Especially since this is one of the four major PPVs and the Intercontinental Championship isn’t being defended. Now, that’s possibly because they are trying to set up Jordan for a run at the title later, but I think that it would have been better to have shorten the “Kurt Angle’s Secret” angle and brought Jordan over sooner to have this be the championship match. I don’t think they could prolong it till Survivor Series and it feels like a lot of the meaning and prestige of the title is lost if it’s relegated to the B-show PPV. That being said, I think the match favors The Miztourage. Monday’s version of this match was a fast-paced win for Jordan/Hardys, which would tend to give the heels more momentum to win that the babyfaces.
Finn Bálor v. Bray Wyatt
Meanwhile, this is a match I can’t wait to see. I dipped my toe back in 2014 and one of the wrestlers I liked back then was Bray Wyatt. I loved him and the The Wyatt Family since it was a great modern gimmick that called back to The Undertaker and his Ministry of Darkness back in the 90’s. Unfortunately, not a lot kept me watching back than–one wrestler is not enough. Coming back in now, I discover Finn Bálor. He is probably one of my current favorite wrestlers currently. But I didn’t know anything about him, it was simply based on his in-ring talent. After a few months I discover he has this whole Demon King persona that comes out from time to time. And I knew at some point a match would be made between these two. Now I know there are some that don’t care for the supernatural gimmick of Wyatt and don’t want that the reason for The Demon King to come back, but I think that is actually a perfect setup. This is like Undertaker/Kane throughout the Attitude Era. That being said, I think this progress match will decide a lot. I could even see this being a match that may have finish change during the match. I say that because I think this is a longer feud on paper. Bray’s had a hard time recently and Finn is getting back into the title picture for when WWE finish the Lesner, Strowman, Reigns, and Joe gangbang. So, I think this feud is a development storyline. With that, it means it has to have a reason to keep going after Summer Slam and I don’t see a way of that happening with Bálor winning. But, if the match goes like Wyatt’s matched that have gone for the last few months, I could see them making it a Finn win and the feud ends Sunday.
Rusev v. Randy Orton
What’s interesting about this match is Randy Orton. Towards the end of the last time I watched wrestling, Orton was on his “Legend Killer” kick and such, so basically he always won. It’s why I had a hard time enjoying him because it was so predictable. So it was surprising to see Orton lost the last four PPVs in a row. Which makes the outcome of this one a bit suspect. On one hand, I can’t see them letting Randy lose five PPVs in a row. If they did, I’m not sure that it actually helps Rusev for any future title shots since Orton’s perceived standing seems low. Then again, Rusev only just came back, so he needs to solidify where on the card WWE wants him. Unless there is something big that either happens Sunday night or on the following Smackdown that will push Rusev into a new feud, Randy wins this one.
John Cena v. Baron Corban
Baron Corbin is in a weird place. His feud and matches with Shinsuke were awful. He just blew his Money in the Bank cash-in. And two weeks ago, the Smackdown crowd chanted “Dumpster Fire” to him. I don’t know how much lower you get in pro wrestling. There is nothing helping him now, and a lose here I think could end whatever main event possibilities in his future. But his opponent is John Cena. To have Cena lose to him seems very off, plus, I don’t think it would get Corban over anyways. What is in Corban’s favor is that Cena is a free-agent–meaning he can switch between Raw and Smackdown rosters–so that moving target presence makes Cena a better high-profile guy to get him over than the ones solidly on Smackdown. There are a lot of people saying that Cena is moving over to Raw after Sunday, so that would make it likely that Corban wins. I can see that, but i think it hurts Corban more winning than losing at this point. If he wins, what does that gain him. The only guy he beat possibly gone from the show anymore for months, he lost his ace card in the MitB contract, and the audience think he is a dumpster fire. He has no setup for a feud after Sunday, so I think he’ll lose and then be off TV for a bit while all the new storylines get started and gain traction and then something will develop out of the roster that is free.
Raw Title Matches
Tag Team Championship – Seth Rollins/Dean Ambrose v. Sheamus/Cesaro (c)
I never knew The Shield. My last look at WWE that I spoke of was after they broke up, so they were still dealing with the fallout from that. When Dean and Seth reunited after weeks of build up, I knew it was important, but it didn’t mean much to me. But I think that also helps because there is so much fan love behind them and other’s predictions that it may cloud over what I see happening now. Sheamus and Cesaro, while a good tag team, are running out of steam. With WWE breaking up tag teams, it’s getting a little tired to see the same matches end the same way, week after week. With The Revival out of the picture, I think more than ever they needed the Shield back together to have a team that would create new matches to watch. Since the Hardy’s seem stuck with Jason Jordan for an undetermined amount of time, Cass and Enzo broken up, Golden Truth broken up, The Miztourage also caught up with Jordan, all that’s left is Gallows & Anderson. So I think there is more stock in having The Shield win the titles and feud for another month or more with Sheamaro while hopefully the rest of the tag division frees up.
Cruiserweight Championship – Neville v. Akira Tozawa (c) (Kickoff)
Up until Monday, I was ready to say that it would Akira Tozawa winning the championship. Then they decided to have that match on Raw, where Akria won. Then they decide to have the rematch at SummerSlam. First, can WWE stop having the matches to build up to the same match at the PPVs. While one could say the same thing about the Bálor v. Wyatt match, I can see a longer storyline developing there and it paved the way for the return of The Demon King, so there were going to be intrinsic differences to the Raw match and the SummerSlam one. But this one is basically going to be the same, the only difference will be how the match ends, which will be gone over in detail on Raw the next night. So very little left to make me go see the match. that being said, where do I think the title will land. Neville has had a long reign as champion and is an impressive fighter. I like where they are going with the loss of the title almost breaking him and I think that should play out. There is more there than just a week’s worth. Also, Tozawa has everything a good champion needs, and there has been so much “takesy-backsy” title swaps that I think it’s best for the title to hold on Tozawa for a while. I think that could deepen what’s going on with Neville and if anything may let him find a way to transition as a full Raw roster member and taking on bigger guys like The Miz or Jason Jordan. I think Neville has everything that guys like Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero had to be more than just cruiserweight fighters.
Women’s Championship – Sasha Banks v. Alexa Bliss (c)
While this match was Bayley v. Alexa until injury took the hugger out, Sasha has been there for the set up as well since she is Bayley’s best friend. Sometimes I think took much because it exposed how badly WWE were doing with the Bayley character in promos and certain spots *cough*kendo stick*cough* I haven’t seen a lot of Bayley during her NXT time–something else I’m catching up on as I never saw any of it after the Nexus angle–I’ve seen enough to see how Raw totally missed on why Bayley worked. Honestly, I kind hope she gets traded over to Smackdown where I think her character would fit in better with that environment. That said, I would say that even thought the match was only setup this past Monday, there’s been enough backstory to see this match happening. Sasha has as much beef with Alexa as Bayley does and now she gets the PPV chance to deal with it. But will she win? I have a feeling Alexa is going to retain here. And the reason I say that is because of Nia Jax. It’s been a while since Alexa promised Nia a shot at the title if she helped Alexa, so it’s possible that it’s been dropped, but there is still a team mentality between them that you can’t count Nia out during a match. Granted, Alexa has proven that she can keep the belt on her own most of the time, but since Nia was so close on Monday, I think that is going give more fuel to the fire than keep her backstage through the match. But even if she does stay out of it, I think Alexa is going keep because I think she’s proving to be a good heel champion. They may also want to wait and give Bayley that match once she’s healed or have storylines to get other women like Emma, Dana Brooke, or Mickie James a spotlight with Alexa, I think there is more there if Alexa keeps than if there is a title switch.
Universal Championship – Samoa Joe v. Braun Strowman v. Roman Reigns v. Brock Lesner (c)
The big match. I think this is the one most people are tuning in to see. While I mentioned above that I don’t really keep up too much on the business end of wrestling, it’s hard not to read or hear about this match without knowing the leak of Brock Lesner possibly going back to UFC at some point. Even if you just stuck to what was on Monday night’s, Paul Heyman has peppered that leak into his promos for Brock for the 2-3 weeks. Which makes me thing that any booking of Brock losing the title are wrong. This is something that has been a trait of WWE since the I’ve watched it back as a kid: The more a guy promos a certain outcome will happen do to a match result, the exact opposite result happens. A recent example I saw was the Caribbean Strap Match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Salvio Vega where Ted DiBias but his career on the line. WWE doth protest too much. His promos had no room for doubt that Austin would win, but Vega won and DiBiase went to WCW. Now you have Heyman promoing hard that if Brock loses, because this is all a setup to strip Brock of the title, both Brock and Heyman will leave the WWE, I don’t see how this means Lesner is going to drop the title. A number of close calls, for sure, and I think we are going to see more of a feud start between Strowman and Lesner out of this, but Brock will still be Universal Champion at the end.
Smackdown Title Matches
Tag Team Championship – The Usos v. The New Day (c) (kickoff)
This is about as straight a match as you can get. The New Day (Rocks!) won the titles at Battleground and this is the rematch. Both of the teams have a lot of character and personality and are possibly some of the best tag teams in WWE history. They have had a good feud going from before Battleground and I think this is going to be the wrap up match. That being said, I don’t see them taking the titles away. The Usos reign had them battle with everyone that’s still a tag team, currently, between Wrestlemania and Battleground. The New Day are new on Smackdown and haven’t gone through the roster yet. So I think thee is more mileage out of The New Day retaining. But you know what, it almost doesn’t matter because this will be a great match to watch.
United States Championship – Kevin Owens v. AJ Styles (c)
This is tricky since there have been so many moments that have either seemed like mistakes or unplanned finishes that it’s hard to see where they want to take this. Add to that we have Shane McMahon as the special referee who has a past with Styles, but in the last two weeks both contestants have clocked him, by accident of course, to play up the idea that while he’s not impartial, but he at least has a reason to screw over both of them. So I guess that means it’s a fair fight. But what is keeping me from saying that Owen will win is the spot on Smackdown a few weeks ago where Shinsuke Nakamura came into AJ Styles locker room and told him he would be coming for the US title at some point. If Nakamura doesn’t win his match with Jinder Mahal–detailed below–I think that sets up a feud with Styles and Nakamura, maybe going all the way to Survivor Series. But the other thing to think about is the set up of Owens. His multiple reigns in the last few months has set up a feud with at least management, if not Shane directly. Also, we just saw a Shane/AJ feud, I think it too soon to dip back into that bucket. All that seems to be pushing something happening to Owens, which means not winning the title.
Women’s Championship – Natalya v. Naomi (c)
Unlike the WWE Championship, we still have a Money in the Bank cash-in waiting in the wings for this title. Carmella has been quiet during the time James Ellsworth’s ban from Smackdown, and the moment he came back, they both have targeted Naomi. A lot of people don’t think that WWE will waste another cash-in after the Corban botch, but I don’t see how they can prolong it any further. If they had put Carmella in more matches and made her seem like a competitor while Ellsworth was gone, I could see that. It would be her doing the job until she finds the right moment to cash in. But now, she only exists for the cash-in. That’s the push they’re giving her. And what’s a shame is that I think it’s going interfere with a good match. Natalya is a hell of a competitor and this PPV will make her the most consistent woman performer at PPVs in WWE history, beating Trish Stratus’ record. She also hasn’t held a title in years. I think Nattie has earned another shot as champion and she could do some great stuff as one. But Natalya is also a Hart, so it’s hard for me not to see this being the outcome: Towards the end of the match Naomi starts to pick up steam and looks to close out the match with a win, when Ellsworth does something to interfere and knock out Naomi. Natalya doesn’t see it and gets Naomi in the Sharpshooter and Naomi taps. Nattie either holds the Shooter or is basking in the glory of winning and doesn’t see Carmella and Ellsworth come in clock her out cold. Carmella cashes in, gets the 1-2-3 and ladies and gentlemen, we have our very own Brooklyn Screwjob.
WWE Championship – Shinsuke Nakamura v. Jinder Mahal (c)
Since Corban botched the Money in the Back cash-in, we know the champion will be either of these two. I think there are a lot of people hoping Nakamura wins, I don’t think this is the time. But there is one thing I’ll be interested in seeing first before I know my prediction is rock solid: where on the card the match happens. Since Mahal became champion, he hasn’t the same main event run you would expect for the champion of the company. Most of the time he’s been in a main event on Smackdown it’s because who ever he’s up against is a main eventer. Shinsuke also has had a weird push, too, with badly booked feuds with Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corban. And while there was some setup for this match, it’s a little less than 2 weeks. That says to me this is another development match and status quo will stay the same. I will say, if we see this match before hour three, it’s gonna be short match and Jinder definitely going to keep the title. If WWE does honor to the belt at stake, this will be one of the last matches on the card and could be a good brawl, but I still think the Modern Day Maharaja will be victorious.
Those are my thoughts, how do you think it will all play out?
While I’m not doing NXT Takeover Brooklyn III predictions, I will be watching it tonight, so make sure to follow me on Twitter if you want some fun commentary.