SummerSlam is one of WWE’s biggest PPVs of the year and always has been. Now more than ever, theyre doing evrything in their power to make sure this show is the summertime spitting image of a WrestleMania, minus America The Beautiful (except for that one National Anthem performance from JoJo Offerman a couple years ago) and convenient cameos from Dwayne Johnson. But in all other regards, this is WrestleMania with a bigger heatwave; the two hour pre-shows, the celebrity appearances, the shoving everyone they can on the card, the use of pop songs as the soundtrack. Did you ever expect WWE would go from Demi Lovato to Wale in back-to-back years to provide theme songs for a PPV? That was totally unexpected, especially since hard rock band Godsmack provided one of the SummerSlam themes a decade ago. But I’ve digressed too far. I do have a match card to evaluate; a match card that people are already claiming will not even come close to topping NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II. And given Shinsuke Nakamura‘s title win, Ember Moon‘s debut, and Bayley‘s possible swan song (if you haven’t watched it yet, sorry I spoiled all this for you), that claim seems legit. But let’s stay open minded and see what we’re working with this time around:
Sami Zayn & Neville vs. The Dudley Boyz
Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? In regards to this match here, I gotta take Christina Grimmie‘s advice and hit ’em all with the shrug. For real, who booked this match? What’s the purpose of it? When was it booked? Where was the decision made? Why are Neville and Sami Zayn a tag team now? And most importantly, how did the Dudley Boyz end up just being the default pre-show match guys? All of these men are too talented to be non-factors on RAW and randomly shoved into a pre-show tag team match. Someone slip the answers under the door, because I’m so confused, I’m convinced the Happening is upon us.
Who I Want to Win: I guess Zayn and Neville, though they both deserve better than this.
Who Will Win: Zayn and Neville, because the Dudleyz are in face in the “Put other people over” era of their careers.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus
Who Will Win: Sheamus. After Cesaro just beat him twice, expect Sheamus to cheat to move along here.
12-MAN TAG TEAM MATCH
The Vaudevillains, The Ascension, & Breezango vs. The Usos, American Alpha, & The Hype Bros
This is what I mean when I said this is almost WrestleMania. WWE really wants to give everyone a SummerSlam paycheck, so the entire tag team division of Smackdown will be in action in one huge match. Maybe with some luck, they’ll all get some legal ring time, unlike any time WWE puts more than 10 women in one match. Smackdown’s tag team division on the surface doesn’t seem like it’s at the most respectable level. Sure, there’s the popular and talented American Alpha and the ever-present Usos. But every other team just seems like either pure comedy (Hype Bros, Breezango) or total losers (The Ascension, The Vaudevillains). Therefore, if you decide not to subject yourself to this match, I’d totally understand.
Who I Want to Win: The good guys, but only because American Alpha are freaking awesome..
Who Will Win: The good guys, so we can enter the main show on a happy note.
Carmella, Naomi, & Becky Lynch vs. Natalya & Alexa Bliss
As soon as this match was announced, I jokes that it would end up being a 2-on-3 Handicap Match because of Eva Marie‘s streak of early dismissals from class so-to-speak recently on Smackdown by way of “injury”, wardrobe malfunctions, and clogged traffic. Like, maybe this time she’d turn up to the show and suddenly either gets food poisoning, have to run home to turn the oven off, or a dog ate her gear on the way into the arena. Turns out she wouldn’t have to make up an excuse because the Wellness Policy just banned her from TV for a month. So now my joke is no longer humorous because unless some kind of surprise swerve happens (a certain twin is eligible for competition again), The Queen of Harts and Little Miss Bliss really do have to face The Irish Lasskicker, The Princess of Staten Island, and Slayomi in a Handicap Match. I totally didn’t anticipate that.
Who I Want to Win: Becky, Naomi, and Less Charismatic Female Enzo…I mean, Carmella.
Who Will Win: Alexa Bliss and Natalya, probably by way of grabbing some tights are taking advantage of Becky Lynch’s bad luck.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
The Miz vs. Apollo Crews
The Miz‘s Intercontinental Championship Tour rolls into SummerSlam with a potential derailment as a possibility. While Baron Corbin bullies Kalisto out of frustration for not being in this match, Apollo Creed is completely focused on Mr. A-List. And yes, you did read that correctly; if Daniel Bryan can get away with such a vocal botch, I can too. This is the main show match I’m having the most problems trying to say anything about because if these two have interacted in the last few weeks, it definitely escaped my mind. Plus, Apollo hasn’t exactly been given the gift of a character. People who complained about the one-note, smiling babyface women on the roster in the early-2010s must be having trouble accepting Apollo Crews as he’s been booked. Given the man’s in-ring ability, he’d be doing gangbusters if he just finds a persona to work with. Maybe the IC Title can light a fire within him.
Who I Want to Win: The Miz. Again, as good as Apollo Crews is, I wanna see more from him before he nabs that prestigious title.
Who Will Win: The Miz, probably from shenanigans on Maryse’s part.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens
TV this decade has given us some hilariously dysfunctional funny duos. Brian and Stewie Griffin. Max Black and Caroline Channing. Drake Park and Josh Nichols. We can probably go ahead and throw Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens in the ring too. The two Canadians have managed to form a bond over their mutual status as grumpy men who hate everything and are good enough at wrestling to back up their dry, humorous trash talk. They’re kind of the opposite of their opponents, Enzo & Cass. The Certified G and his 7-foot tall BFF are a lot louder and in your face, which can be obnoxious to some. But they get the job done more often than not. But given the caliber of their definitely not-SAWFT opponents, the duo will be in for a hard one at SummerSlam.
Who I Want to Win: Honestly, Jericho and Owens. I like Enzo & Cass, but this newly fomed tandem of Owens and Jericho is working for me.
Who Will Win: Owens and Jericho. And though it’s not their theme song, it’ll be #Glorious.
WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
The New Day vs. The Club
Remember when The New Day got serious in their feud with The Wyatt Family? Remember how it ended incredibly quickly with the most noteworthy occurrence being that Final Deletion ripoff segment replaced the dilapidated boat with a couple of disposable trucks? With Bray going to Smackdown, it seemed like New Day wild go back to just being comic relief on the red brand, especially after that surreal “Sunny Boy” segment. But cue Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, who decided to fight comedy with comedy. More specifically, comedy about breaking people’s balls, and not in the figurative Cartman way. The result, if this past Monday is to be believed, looked to be Xavier and Kofi getting serious and seeking revenge for Anderson & Gallows leaving Big E’s downstairs area in a severe state of wreck. We’ll have to see how long this serious turn sticks.
Who I Want to Win: Gallows and Anderson. New Day had a good run; winning the titles at SummerSlam and then losing the titles at the next SummerSlam is impressive and noteworthy.
Who Will Win: Gallows and Anderson, assuming Booty-O’s sales aren’t going through the roof and Vince let’s New Day have the titles a little longer.
WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP
Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
Has the era of Roman Reigns being forced into the main event spotlight come and gone just that quickly? The Guy has gone from winning the WWE Championship in the WrestleMania main event to challenging for the U.S. Title in about four months. He may have sealed his fate with that wellness policy suspension, but seeing that he’s still in A title picture at all means WWE obviously still doesn’t wanna cast him aside completely. He’s just going back down to the midcard for a bit. And it’s a midcard where Rusev is secretly one of the best acts going. He and Princess Lana look to surpass Rusev’s previous reign and become the most dominant U.S. Champion of all-time. But can he turn back the challenge of wedding crasher Roman Reigns?
Who I Want to Win: Rusev. A Roman win is too predictable and immediate.
Who Will Win: Roman Reigns…..via disqualification. Yeah, Rusev’s still leaving with the gold, even in the L column.
WWE WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte
Everyone assumed that Sasha Banks would be winning the WWE Women’s Championship at this show. WWE decided to swerve us all by having Sasha win the title on the very first RAW of the new brand split era. Conflicting reasons emerged as to why they went in that direction, but honestly, I just choose to believe they just needed a good women’s moment to put on the Best of RAW and Smackdown DVD at the end of the year. Sasha and Charlotte continue to cross paths and Flair Jr. gets her official rematch at the biggest party of the summer. In the meantime, she’s kept herself busy by upping her diss game, overdoing it with the fake tension between herself and Dana Brooke, and getting vitriolic heat from the WWE fanbase not heard some maybe Vickie Guerrero. Yeah, her awkward promo delivery aside, the fans really seem to despise Charlotte’s persona, so she is doing her job right.
Who I Want to Win: Sasha Banks. I could use a little bit more time of Charlotte going title-less.
Who Will Win: Sasha Banks, because why would WWE take the title off of someone this popular so soon? …OK, they did it to Paige before, but they won’t repeat that, will they?
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
AJ Styles hates John Cena. Not enough to throw all cares into the wind and crash the Teen Choice or ESPY Awards to beat him down in front of millions, but he hates him and wants him gone. Styles already beat Cena (admittedly with assistance), so Styles should want to move on with his life. Too bad for him, he forgot John Cena rule #34: Cena gets as many rematches as he wants until he accomplishes his missions. And with the two men landing on the same roster in the brand split, Cena and Styles could go at it as much as they want to. But I think Styles looks to end it at SummerSlam; there’s no stipulation attached or anything, but Styles has been at his most motivated on the mic lately and does not plan to let John Cena beat him like numerous others have.
Who I Want to Win: AJ Styles. I don’t want to see John Cena gone, but I also don’t wanna see AJ Styles buried.
Who Will Win: John Cena. You’ve seen his feuds; you know the drill.
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler
It is 2016; how is Dolph Ziggler in a World Championship match again? I assumed this guy’s main event day were done and that as long as he was signed to WWE, Vince would turn him into a higher-profile Zack Ryder. He’s been in some absolutely terrible angles over the last few years and Everytime it looked like he’d rise back up to prominence, he’d end up back in the same spots he was in before. He should probably count his lucky stars that the brand split happened; it’s really created opportunity and he’s just one of the people who has benefited from its early boom. Given his talent, he should probably be able to put on a very entertaining match with the Lunatic Fringe. Wow, this kind of seems like a midcard match that somehow ended up getting a main event title thrown in the middle.
Who I Want to Win: Dean Ambrose; I don’t think I’ll be disappointed if Ziggler never holds a World Title again.
Who Will Win: Dean Ambrose; yes, despite the recent remors that he may have backstage on him, I see Ambrose holding onto the gold here.
WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Finn Bálor vs. Seth Rollins
The first ever Intergalactic Unisex Multilingual Championship (Daniel Bryan might get a laugh out of that) that has never been seen (unless you count Shane O’Mac‘s prototype) will be making its debut on SummerSlam when either Finn Bálor or Seth Rollins gets the 1-2-3. Finn Bálor probably had one of the best birthdays ever when he won two matches on the first RAW episode of WWE’s new draft era, which also happened to be his debut night on the main roster. Seth Rollins, meanwhile, got in this match by virtue of existing. Stephanie just granted her #1 draft pick a spot in the match out of blatant favoritism. This means we get a main roster dream match pretty quickly, and given how big a deal SummerSlam is, the demon will definitely emerge. Sure, WWE debuted it on RAW rather than SummerSlam to the complaints of many on Twitter, but but don’t let that take away from how good a match this should be.
Who I Want to Win: Finn Bálor, just because I don’t want to see Demon Bálor lose it’s first time out the gate on the main roster.
Who Will Win: Seth Rollins, under the “It’s Too Early; We Can’t Let this New Guy Peak Too Soon” clause.
Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
This is actually one of those rare times in modern WWE where we’re going to experience two huge stars battle it out for the first time ever. That seems so bizarre given that both men started their main roster runs in 2002 during the early days of the Ruthless Aggression Era. Brock Lesnar would split from the company two years later to try other, less authentic sports. In that two year time period, he and the then-Legend Killer never cross paths on account of them being on separate rosters the entire time. Brock would stay gone for eight years, returning when the brand split was obsolete (but still not bothering to step foot at Smackdown’s patio) and understandably faced off with stars the caliber of Triple H, John Cena, and Undertaker. But Orton has always eluded him. Until now. And after weeks of show-crashing and trash talk, the two former OVW will finally meet in the center of the ring for an epic confrontation.
Who I Want to Win: Randy Orton. Keep the Beast down with 27 RKO’s if he has to. Team Orton!
Who Will Win: Brock Lesnar. As long as he stays away from the steel steps, I have no reason to believe Brock Lesnar won’t win.