As the dust is settling on the latest new era in WWE, we’ve got the small matter of the biggest WWE show of the summer. They’re back in Brooklyn for Summerslam!
We’re already back in familiar territory though, as the top two draws for the show will be an “interpromotional” match between Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, plus the crowning of the first ever WWE Universal champion – a belt that’s suddenly ahead of the long-running WWE World title in the pecking order.
As usual, odds listed are correct at time of writing, and are from 888sport.
Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
Billed as “a main event”, this match really lost a lot of lustre in the past few weeks thanks to a third party: USADA. Booked before Brock’s UFC fight over Mark Hunt in July, WWE would have been able to capitalise on the hype surrounding Lesnar after his win… and then he went and spoiled it all by doing something stupid like get flagged. Twice.
As with most Brock Lesnar matches, we’ve got the question mark over his head of “what happens if he wins?”, and like usual, his limited contract will likely mean that a Lesnar win will see nothing, as he’ll take off and disappear until the next major PPV. A Randy Orton win, in theory, would build up SmackDown as “the better brand” in the first of what’ll be no doubt many “interpromotional” matches in the future. WWE’s done a good job of building this up, and have called on their history in developmental from the early 2000s, but as far as the relevance of this match in 2016? I’d hope this isn’t “the” main event, that’s for sure… Prediction: Randy Orton; Odds: Lesnar (3/10); Orton (11/5)
WWE Universal Championship: Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins
Since SmackDown has the WWE World title, Raw has to go one step further and create a new belt – the Universal title. I’ve a feeling it’s not quite a homage to the owners of USA Network, but it’d be quite nice if these title matches were led into by the Universal jingle and credits.
The result of this match is going to be a tough one to call, as either way it’s going to get criticism. Put the belt on Finn Balor on his first month on the main roster, and you run the risk of him peaking too early (Roman Reigns syndrome – how do you get excited for future big title matches at, say, WrestleMania). Put the belt on Rollins, and you run the risk of Raw going back to the groove we were in last year where it was heel Rollins vs. the world. Given that we’ve already got a babyface champion on SmackDown, I can’t see WWE doing the double, so… Prediction: Seth Rollins; Odds: Balor (13/20); Rollins: (11/10)
WWE World Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Another unusual one – Ziggler won a six-way match to get the shot at Dean Ambrose, whose stock has taken an almighty hit after his appearance on the Stone Cold Podcast earlier this week.
As a world title feud, Ambrose vs. Ziggler feels distinctly “B-show” – especially with Ziggler being plucked from the booking purgatory he’s recently been in. Not too long ago, he was losing to Baron Corbin, and now he’s in a world title feud? Long term planning, for the win! I really don’t see Ziggler winning the title here, but I would hope for his own sake, we get a fired-up Dean Ambrose for his first “big stage” title defence. Prediction: Dean Ambrose; Odds: Ambrose (2/15); Ziggler (4/1)
WWE Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte
Dana Brooke is banned from ringside, so this either means a clean finish, or we’ll get someone dressed as Dana interfering? This was apparently originally set to be the coronation of Sasha Banks… and then the title change was pushed up to the first Raw of the “new, new era”.
Amongst rumours of Charlotte wanting time off (which, for now, appear to have been unsubstantiated), I really can’t see WWE hot-shotting the title back. But in the back of my head, I’ve got to believe that the stipulation is going to lead to something, even if it backfires for Charlotte. Prediction: Sasha Banks; Odds: Banks (1/15); Charlotte (6/1)
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
The continuation of their feud from when The Club was a three-man act, and this just seems to be a continuation, given that little has been done on TV to further this. Since Cena’s now pretty much just a part-timer, AJ Styles would almost have to go over, especially if he’s meant to be heading to the main events again. This’ll be a good match, but without much in the way of storylines, this is going to be hard to get invested in. Prediction: AJ Styles; Odds: Styles (3/10); Cena (11/5)
WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Apollo Crews
So, after his non-finish over Darren Young at Battleground, the Miz was left without a feud thanks to the draft. Instead, Miz gets the winner of a triple-threat match, and it’s Apollo Crews – a man who has utterly floundered since his call-up after WrestleMania. Again, with the only build being “Apollo won a three-way”, I don’t see Miz losing the belt, particularly as part of his gimmick now is that he’s counting the days since he won the belt. Prediction: The Miz; Odds: Miz (7/5); Crews (1/2)
WWE United States Championship: Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns
How’s this for a fall to the midcard? Since returning from suspension, Roman lost in a three-way, then won a four-way qualifier to make it to the finals for a shot at the newly-created Universal title, only to lose out to Finn Balor. Reigns hasn’t wrestled since on Raw, and all he’s done to get his title shot is… interrupt a wedding celebration? Seriously? Part of me is thinking that Reigns may actually get the title if Seth Rollins is winning in the main event, but I’m not quite sure if WWE’s done “punishing” Reigns. I’m going to toss a coin for this – Reigns isn’t getting the belt, but he’ll get the win. Prediction: Roman Reigns by DQ; Odds: Rusev (2/5); Reigns (7/4)
WWE Tag Team Championship: The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (c) vs. The Club (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson)
A month ago, the WWE were all over the New Day as the “longest reigning tag champions”, and now all of a sudden they’ve remembered prior tag teams. Big E’s been put out of the picture with a storyline injury, which in my mind could open the door for the Club to snatch the titles. That being said, given that the storyline so far has mostly been all Club, I have a feeling Big E’s going to come back and have a say in the finish. Another screwy ending, methinks: Prediction: The Club by DQ; Odds: Club (21/50); New Day (33/20)
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens
Formed from the fall-out of a Sasha/Enzo vs. Charlotte/Jericho match, this is really just a filler match. On the surface, the Jericho/Owens pairing would suggest that somehow these two have actually lost out in the latest brand split, and I really can’t see these two lasting as a tag team, not when you’ve got established teams like Enzo and Cass, and, err, the Shining Stars. Either way, this could be a pick ‘em given how low in the card it is, but I’m going to go with Enzo and Cass. Prediction: Enzo Amore & Big Cass; Odds: Enzo/Cass (2/15); Owens/Jericho (4/1)
Cesaro vs. Sheamus
This is the first match in a best-of-seven series, in what is the first time WWE’s wheeled out that type of storyline since that-guy-we-can’t-talk-about. These two have been feuding since the draft, specifically over a belief that they should have been drafted a lot higher up the pecking order by Raw. Of course, Sheamus losing both matches to Cesaro since then doesn’t exactly help his cause… and we’re not counting those two Raw matches in this series either. So, I’ll go for the obvious pick, since there’s no way he’s dropping three in a row… Prediction: Sheamus; Odds: Sheamus (4/5); Cesaro (9/10)
Natalya, Alexa Bliss & (someone replacing Eva Marie) vs. Becky Lynch, Carmella & Naomi
This match will probably get rejigged, given that the “Eva Marie finds new ways to not compete” storyline was added to in real life with a 30 day Wellness suspension. I’ll assume that they’ll now push this to the pre-show, and will either add someone from NXT, bring back Nikki Bella as a heel, or have it a straight tag team match. Prediction: Natalya, Alexa Bliss & ???
Dudley Boyz vs. Neville & Sami Zayn
Wow… so, Sami Zayn beat Kevin Owens in the match of the night at Battleground last month, and his reward is to be completely out of any storylines, any pay-per-view matches, and a last minute addition to the pre-show, in a throwaway tag match? The Dudleys have been virtually enhancement talent in the last few months, and I don’t expect this to be any different. The guys who should be on the main show to get the win. Prediction: Neville & Sami Zayn
American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable), Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) & The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) vs. Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango), The Vaudevillains (Simon Gotch & Aiden English) & The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
Remember how we all had a moan about how Raw gave away a SummerSlam match when they gave us Rusev vs. Reigns last week? SmackDown’s gotten in on the act! With the tag team division undecided (as in whether there’s brand-specific or floating tag titles), all of SmackDown’s tag teams will congregate on the pre-show. I’m not expecting this to go long, and in the spirit of parity, the heel team will get the win. I know, American Alpha should be the team that they’re building around, but they haven’t even decided what they’re fighting for, so it’s a little too soon to build…. Prediction: Breezango, Vaudevillains & Ascension
SummerSlam is going to be four hours “plus” this year (since we now have to have over-runs on pay-per-views…), and a two-hour pre-show. Yes, we’re getting into WrestleMania territory, and we’ll be bringing you our review live this Sunday night!