Stock up on drinks and pretzels! Put your favorite pizza delivery place on speed dial! It’s SummerSlam weekend, one of the biggest wrestling events of the year. The whole thing kicks off with NXT TakeOver Toronto on Saturday night. Then, Sunday evening is all WrestleMania: The Phantom Menace! I mean, SummerSlam! There’s going to be a lot of sports entertaining Sunday night. Let’s break down that card!
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins – Oh, this match again? Well, the interesting thing is that the advancement of this storyline has mainly gone on in other areas. Lesnar is still looked at as a part-time champion. He’s strong, but he’s smug and cocky. However, Lesnar’s advocate, Paul Heyman, has a huge amount of backstage stroke as second-in-command of RAW. It’s hard to think that won’t carry over into the ring. Rollins, on the other hand, has been hamstrung by Creative. They’ve played up his relationship with Becky Lynch, making him a subdued second fiddle to The Man. He has also gone on a few Twitter rampages, disparaging other wrestling companies and performers. The truth of his claims is arguable, but he could be viewed as being a bit too big for his Power Ranger trunks. Rollins has guaranteed that he will defeat Lesnar at SummerSlam. To me, that’s a surefire sign that Lesnar will retain the title. If Lesnar can keep Rollins from hitting the Curbstomp, then SummerSlam should end with another Brock Party.
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Randy Orton – To put it mildly, I am not a fan of Randy Orton. I dislike the slow pace of his matches and his fondness for rest holds. After prolonged sequences of headlocks and half-assed sleeper holds, having Orton end a match with his RKO is often abrupt and silly. It’s like having a ten-minute-long make-out session suddenly stopped by premature ejaculation. Having said that, the build-up to this match has been stellar. By focusing on how Orton has used his influence to hold Kofi Kingston back for ten years, the company has given us a reason for this fight. Kingston wants to prove that he is worthy of this championship. Of course, he also wanted to prove that to Kevin Owens. And Dolph Ziggler. Man, how fragile is Kingston’s ego? He’s had the title since WrestleMania 35. We get it. You deserve it (clap, clap, clap clap clap). Kingston, fueled by anger at being held down by the man for so long, will defeat Orton as he did during the April house show loop. The Kofi Train will have to stop rolling at some point, but I don’t think it will be at SummerSlam.
RAW Women’s Championship (submission match): Becky Lynch (c) vs. Natalya – When done correctly, submission matches can be awesome. I’ve raved about the Gulak v KUSHIDA match on NXT a while back. That was a clinic in technical domination. That being said, I wonder how great this one will be. On paper, it’s the Disarm-Her against the Sharpshooter (or, I suppose, it would be the Sharpshoot-Her, in this case). When Lynch gets going, she’s a great performer. She can get an opponent into position for the Disarm-Her in a heartbeat. Natalya, on the other hand, is like a wrestling automaton. It has never felt like she belongs in the business. She knows the moves, but everything feels rote. Natural’s not in it for Natalya. This submission match promises to be wrestling by numbers, with the one-two-three going to Becky Lynch.
SmackDown Live Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Ember Moon – In our hearts, we all figured Bayley could be a good champion. Thankfully, she has proven us right. Her aggressive nature is coming out more and more, turning the Hugger into the Mugger. This should be tested against the inherent brutality of the War Goddess, Ember Moon. The two seem evenly matched, although Moon’s finisher, the Eclipse, looks ridiculously painful. Comparing their skills and movesets, this one is practically even. However, my heart is going with Ember Moon. Her victory would be an upset, but it could set up a return for the AWOL Sasha Banks. Banks and Bayley have established themselves as a team. Watching them chase after current Women’s Tag Team Champions, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, could be a fun ride. For me, it’s not so much what Ember Moon could do with the title, which would probably be an extended program with Mandy Rose. It’s what Bayley can do without the title, which could be a lot.
Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens (if Owens loses, he must quit WWE) – Dear God, if thou doth indeed exist, please let this be the end of Shane McMahon’s “Best in the World” storyline. Let Kevin Owens cannonball him out of the title scene, in thy mercy. If it is thy will, let Drew McIntyre, Elias, and The Revival not be required to participate in this stupid shit anymore. We’re weary of it, God, absolutely sick unto death of this horrible thing that has gone on far too long. Look upon us, the WWE Universe, and consider our humble, yet whinging, pleas. We beg thee to cause this whole Shane debacle to come to an end, so that we may dwell in the wonder of The Kevin Owens Show forever. For thine is the kingdom, the pop-up powerbomb, and the stunner. Amen.
United States Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Ricochet – The [REDACTED] Club is mostly back together under the leadership of AJ Styles, and they’re sporting an awful new name. Character-wise, I can’t tell much of a difference between face Styles and heel Styles. That probably says more about me than AJ. Ricochet is an excellent opponent for Styles. He’s got the look, the moves, and the impetus to flip The Schlub Who Built The Club from hell to breakfast. Gallows and Anderson will interfere, because that’s what they do, frustrating Ricochet’s attempts to regain the title. I can’t imagine Styles losing this match. It won’t be a clean pin, either. Look for standard heel faction behavior during this bout, and for Ricochet to lose because of some devious action just out of the ref’s line of vision.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Drew Gulak (c) vs. Oney Lorcan – This will be one of the best matches of the night, and most of you will be using the bathroom while it is on. You make me sad. Gulak is one of the best workers in the business. From a technical standpoint, the guy is at the top of his game. Gulak’s style couldn’t be any more different than that of his opponent, Oney Lorcan. Lorcan is one tough son of a bitch. He’s a brawler, the kind of guy that will bite your face while he’s kneeing you in the nuts. Fans who talk about not seeing enough wrestling from WWE would do well to watch this one. It’s about time Oney Lorcan got a title because he’s just that good. However, I think Gulak will steal a win to retain.
Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor – I’ve got my nose open for this match. It will be the first time Wyatt’s new alter-ego, The Fiend, shows us what he can do in the ring. Hopefully, it involves a new finishing move. In my head, The Fiend shouldn’t be relying on Sister Abigail to end matches. The Fiend is taking on The Demon, Finn Balor, who reportedly won’t do the bodypaint extravaganza Sunday night. Odds are, we’ll be getting the Hell Clown against Smilin’ Finn in a battle of minor proportions. That could be completely wrong, and I would be fine with that. Watching the two demonic gimmicks square off could be tons of fun. The dirt sheets say Balor has already planned for some time off after SummerSlam, so a Wyatt win is likely. But even if that rumor weren’t floating about, the smart money would still be on The Fiend. Wyatt has the fans behind him. His promos are high points of the main roster shows. All he needs is a strong feud to get The Fiend completely over. Wyatt certainly angered and embarrassed enough people in his first run. A good opponent, with reasons for revenge, shouldn’t be hard to find.
Charlotte Flair vs. Trish Stratus – Flair v Stratus feels like a leftover idea from the RAW Reunion. Flair has had negative booking lately, rarely appearing on television. She showed up long enough to verbally berate Trish into a match at SummerSlam in a heatless spot that reeked of unbelievability. That was mostly due to Trish’s inability to deliver a line without sounding like she was reading from a cue card. Why is this match happening? Because Flair hasn’t had a decent opponent since Becky stopped having tea with her? Or because Trish is behind on her mortgage and needs that lump sum payout? I don’t know, man. I didn’t do it. Trish will pick up that win, because of Attitude Era fans, cheap pops, and the toxic nostalgia that continually infects WWE. But wouldn’t it be awesome if Charlotte did win and went on a Legend Killer tear, like Randy Orton did? It’s a shame Mae Young and Moolah are no longer with us. That would have been one helluva triple threat at TLC.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Bill Goldberg – I have talked to no less than two people about this match, and none of us want it to happen. I’m not positive the participants in the match want it to happen. Even on paper, this is a raging misfire. The reasoning behind it is obvious. Bill Goldberg left whatever credibility and clout he had wrapped around a corner post in Saudi Arabia. This is his attempt to get it back. My colleague, Richard Kirwin, was correct when he told me in a conversation that Ziggler will sell the hell out of a spear from Goldberg. That’s great if you’re a fan of Ziggler flipping and flopping himself all over the mat. The Showoff could fall down in the face of a stiff breeze and go into a frightening series of muscle spasms. Goldberg will win over Dolph Ziggler, but it won’t mean a thing. His career will always be marred by that heinous mule kick that ended the Bret “The Hitman” Hart’s career. When karma finally caught up with Goldberg, the world watched him give himself a concussion and wallow about in his own blood during Super Showdown. For Goldberg, it’s no longer about who’s next. It’s about salvaging what’s left. Honestly, there ain’t much.
That’s ten matches, folks. If you’re watching SummerSlam, prepare to settle in for the long haul. However, I’m the guy who trusts WWE to put on a good show and give us a few surprises. Will we see a 24/7 title change on the kickoff show? Will the Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan feud begin in earnest? Will they tease a Booker T on a Pole match? I hope the answer is ‘yes’ for all of those things.
SummerSlam will be broadcast live from the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on the WWE Network on August 11. The kickoff show starts at 5:00 PM EST. The main card begins at 7 PM EST. Card is subject to change.