It’s time to gear up for the biggest party of the summer (at least in the WWE’s world) because the 31st SummerSlam is here. That means that I’m also here, with some predictions, explications, and even some fantasy booking to boot.
Last month I picked 7 out of 11 correctly, which puts my overall prediction percentage since WrestleMania 34 at 59.6 percent. I’m so close to getting out of the F category. Will I rise up and take that D this month? Wait… that didn’t sound quite right. Will my average improve? Let’s find out…
Mixed-Tag Match – Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega (KickOff Show)
Almas and Vega have been getting the upper hand in this feud at every turn. So it would seem logical for the face team to finally deliver some comeuppance to the heels. This, however, is not so simply put. While the faces are in need of revenge, Almas and Vega are in need of advancing up the card. I’m not just saying this as an Almas mark (for whom I am indeed a mark, dating back to his original heel turn in NXT) but as someone looking at WWE’s history.
Historically, WWE has tried to have a strong hispanic character on television, starting with Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio around 2002. The UPN network, which ran SmackDown at the time, had developed a strong viewing audience in the hispanic demographic. So, being the businessman that he is, Vince decided to capitalize on that trend. By the time Rey began slowing down during his original run in WWE, the company had brought in Alberto Del Rio to fill that void (and Sin Cara, but we know how well that worked). Since Del Rio’s first departure from the company, WWE has yet to find that one breakout star with hispanic heritage despite several attempts, including bringing in a new Sin Cara, calling up Kalisto from NXT, and even bringing Del Rio back for a brief return. But I believe (and I believe WWE believes) they have that next big star for that demographic in Andrade Cien Almas.
So, after that drawn out explanation, I’m going to pick Almas and Vega for the win. They need to move up towards the upper-mid card soon and they will have a hard time doing so if they take a loss here. On the flipside, I think Rusev and Lana could survive this if their loss involves Aiden English turning on them. That way, we can pivot into a Rusev/English feud where Rusev can get his win and revenge, then try to regain some of the Rusev Day momentum he’s lost recently.
Winner – Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega
Raw Tag Team Championship – The B-Team (c) vs. The Revival (KickOff Show)
This one is a hard one to pick, simply because there wasn’t really any build to this match-up. Sure, they had their little mini-program that involved Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy, but that didn’t do much for these two teams in terms of going head to head. So, let’s look at both teams and figure out which one makes the most sense in terms of walking out of the Barclays Center as champs.
The Revival have been booked so weird recently. They were used randomly over the first part of the year, before suddenly showing up on the June 25th Raw where they defeated Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley. Then they went away for a few weeks, showed back up on Raw and beat Hardy and Wyatt which essentially has led to this match. The rollercoaster booking of this team since their call-up from NXT has been frustrating to watch. A win here could possibly put them back on the right track and give WWE a team, around which they can rebuild their tag division (which I say a lot, because WWE never actually tries to rebuild their tag division).
The B-Team has become the latest focal point of the Raw tag division and they seem to be connecting with fans a lot better than Wyatt and Hardy were after they won the titles. Their gimmick pretty much relies on them remaining undefeated via fluke wins and other shenanigans. Once they lose (especially if that loss sees them drop the titles) then there’s not much else WWE will be able to do with them (or rather, not much else WWE will be willing to do with them). I see this team eventually dropping the titles and become the next Heath Slater and Rhyno, where they’re randomly seen outside of meaningless comedy segments.
This match is a great example of WWE’s tag team problems. They never actually build tag teams up, because they seemingly don’t know how to book tag teams unless they’re the champs or the contenders. I mean, just look at the Authors of Pain. Since being called up from NXT on April 9th, they’ve only had 7 matches on Raw, the most recent being a loss in a six-man tag with Mojo Rawley. Titus Worldwide hasn’t won a tag match on Raw since February. Over on SmackDown, Sanity has become after thoughts already. The Usos and The Bar have each had only four tag matches on SmackDown since WrestleMania. And so on and so on. It’s sad how little WWE does with their tag teams. In fact, with rumors and talk of WWE maybe doing an all-women’s weekly show, I think they should instead do an all tag team show, since they’re the one division neglected the most on the main roster.
But, anyway, I’m picking The B-Team to retain, simply because I don’t think WWE is willing to start telling a new Tag story just yet.
Prediction: The B-Team
Cruiserweight Championship – Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Drew Gulak (KickOff Show)
Okay, I’ve been a little more long-winded than I’d like to be on these picks, so I’ll try to keep this one short.
Drew Gulak has been slowly building his character even back before Enzo left the company. I see the hard work he’s put in and I think he will be cruiserweight champ sooner rather than later. The question is whether it will happen here.
Cedric Alexander has been absolutely killing it between the ropes on Tuesday nights. He is such a solid worker to be the foundation of the brand. It’s hard to take the title off of someone that has worked so hard to help the brand basically reinvent itself after losing Enzo with the title. I’d still like to see 205 Live move away from the SmackDown tapings and maybe run in smaller venues (or Full Sail) so that the crowd will be more alive for the work these guys are putting out.
This one is tough, but I’m picking Cedric to retain. I just don’t know if WWE will take the title off of him outside of 205 Live. I think Gulak may even win the title as soon as next Tuesday night, but for this show, I’m sticking with Cedric.
Prediction: Cedric Alexander
Finn Bálor vs. Baron Corbin
So at last month’s Extreme Rules I said that Finn would beat Corbin but that Corbin would “retaliate on Monday Night in some form or fashion either physically or via his power/influence on Raw.” Well, Corbin did just that by actually beating Finn in a match on the July 30th Raw. I know many freaked out over Finn losing to Corbin but I feel like this match will justify the loss.
My pick is Finn Bálor. Last month I said neither man could afford a loss, but I think with Corbin’s Constable character really starting to flesh out and gain legs and all those other great analogies, I think he can afford to lose here and both men move on to new feuds from here.
Prediction: Finn Bálor
Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
So this is the match we wanted when we first heard that Daniel Bryan had been cleared to compete. I think there may have been some better ways to get to this match over the past couple of months, but honestly it’s all worked out anyway so why complain?
As far as picking apart the match and really giving an analysis for where I think this match will go and what the fallout will be, I invision two paths. That makes sense, considering there are seemingly only two outcomes from any match, either person A wins or person B wins. But, it’s the story behind it that I’m talking about. So here are my two scenarios floating in my head:
Scenario A: Daniel Bryan wins, the feud ends (for now) here and both men move into different feuds moving forward.
Scenario B: The Miz wins, creating an interesting dynamic for Daniel Bryan’s character moving forward since he has said that Miz isn’t a good wrestler yet he just lost to him. In this scenario, I’d like to see Miz take the WWE Title eventually and have Daniel Bryan fight his way to becoming number one contender in time for WrestleMania. That’s right, under this scenario I envision Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz for the WWE Title at WrestleMania. I told you beforehand that I was doing some fantasy booking here.
Now, of course, this is all just stuff from my head, so it’s possible nothing even close to the above scenarios happens, but wouldn’t it be great if Scenario B was a thing?
That being said, I’m taking the safe option and picking Daniel Bryan. I know there’s all these rumors and innuendo (if you will) about Bryan not having signed a new deal with WWE and that possibly affecting the outcome of this match. I don’t believe a word of it, and so I’m not factoring that in here at all. I think WWE will have Bryan win here and then who knows whether it will actually be the end of the feud or not. So I guess I’m predicting that neither of my scenarios fully come to fruition.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan
Money in the Bank Contract Match – Braun Strowman (h) vs. Kevin Owens
Okay, I’m going to take my fantasy booker hat off for this one, because if I don’t I’ll end up going on some kind of journey where I describe to you how KO will win the briefcase here, interfere in the main event, and win the Universal Title with the help of his new manager Paul Heyman. I’m not going down that road… for both your sake and mine, dear reader. (For the record, there’s a zero percent chance that happens, but how fun would that be?)
I don’t see any shenanigans happening with the briefcase here. I think this match was really just designed to give Braun something to do while he (and the rest of us) waits on the Universal Title to be decided.
I’m picking Braun to retain here. Nothing much to dive into really. Like I said, this seems to be strictly intended to hold Braun over for the time being. Do I think he’ll cash in later in the night during the Universal Title match? I don’t think so.
Prediction: Braun Strowman
SmackDown Tag Team Championship – The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The New Day
Since I’ve already went on my tag team rant, I’ll refrain from repeating myself here (though I didn’t even mention how a certain couple of Good Brothers are being booked). This feud has been non-existent. There’s no heat and no real story behind the match at all. Which is why I think WWE will have the title change hands…
I’m picking New Day to win. I don’t know why, but I just get the feeling that the “creative” team (and I really have a hard time calling them creative sometimes) is getting bored with Harper and Rowan and will switch the titles just to change things up a bit. I could be wrong, and honestly I kind of hope I am wrong, but I just can’t ignore this gut feeling.
Prediction: The New Day
United States Championship – Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Jeff Hardy
Well… why do we have this match? WWE started a program between Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton, then did nothing with it on the go-home SmackDown. I realize Orton is under “investigation” by WWE for an alleged incident that was mentioned originally in 2012, but I’m honestly not sure if that’s why Orton didn’t show up on the actual show. I say “actual show” because Orton took part in a six-man tag dark match main event following 205 Live. This is why I’m unsure if Orton not being on TV had anything to do with the “investigation” mentioned before.
That being said, we are here with what we’ve got, and I just see no reason at all for the title to change hands here. If Hardy and Orton are going to continue their feud following SummerSlam, then there’s no need to have a title involved considering the high-profile of both men.
I’m picking Shinsuke Nakamura to retain and finally move away from Jeff Hardy and into something new.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura
Intercontinental Championship – Dolph Ziggler (c) (w/ Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins (w/ Dean Ambrose)
This match should be another excellent outing for these two men, made even better by the fact that the match doesn’t involve a clock and they’re not around the ignorant masses that were present in Pittsburgh at Extreme Rules. I like the added ingredients here, with both men being seconded by their best pal. It changes the dynamic of the match and doesn’t make the match seem like a rehash of their other matches. This will be the seventh time in two months that these two have met in a televised match (including tag and handicap matches) yet this feud seems as red hot now as it’s ever been.
Also, I really missed Dean Ambrose. I didn’t realize how much I missed him until he came back this past Monday, but now I know, I missed him something awful. I think Ambrose will hold off McIntyre here to avoid any screwy finishes or interference. That being said, the winner is still a tough one to pick.
I’m going with Seth to regain the title. Dolph winning it back in June felt like a temporary thing, meant more to get McIntyre into the mix. I would like to see WWE do something outside the box by having all four men involved in this match compete in a fatal four way next month for the title. But, WWE never takes my suggestions.
Prediction: Seth Rollins
SmackDown Women’s Championship – Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair
I really wanted to see a one-on-one match between Carmella and Lynch, but having Charlotte added is kind of awesome too, so I won’t complain. I’ll admit I’m a little bummed out that R-Truth didn’t get a chance at making it a fatal four way though.
Be that as it may, this triple threat has a legitimate chance to be match of the night, especially in terms of in-ring work, as all three women are capable of putting together impressive outings. I’ve heard some criticism of Carmella from what used to be referred to as “internet fans” but who I now refer to simply as Wreddit fans, but I think most of that stems from frustrations held by said fans for how Asuka was booked against Mella. Regardless, she is more than capable of holding her own with the other two women in this match.
So, with that said, where does this match take us? Well, in short, this match probably takes us to Evolution on October 28. Yes, there are a pair of PPVs in-between SummerSlam and Evolution (Hell in a Cell and Super Show-Down) but I think plans for the all women’s show will be put into motion at SummerSlam.
That’s why I’m picking Charlotte. I think WWE would like to have Lynch vs. Charlotte be one of the marquee matches for Evolution. Sure, they could have Lynch win to create the same effect, but what if Becky turns heel during the run-up to Evolution and we get a nice personal issue between the two that can be settled with said Evolution match.
Prediction: Charlotte Flair
Raw Women’s Championship – Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
The Evolution PPV plays into this pick as well. WWE would love to have Rousey be in the main event of the first ever Women’s PPV. They could have her challenging once again for the title at that PPV, but wouldn’t it make more sense for her to just be champion?
I’m picking Rousey simply because of the Evolution PPV. My only problem with this is that I can’t think of who Rousey would face as a challenger at Evolution that could be considered a legitimate threat. But, if she wins the title at SummerSlam, then WWE has a couple of months to build a contender up. Or maybe call one up from NXT? Maybe a certain someone who is friends with Rousey? Hmm…
Prediction: Ronda Rousey
WWE Championship – AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe
This will be the first ever match-up to headline a TNA, ROH & WWE PPV/Supercard (each of which was for the respective brand’s world title). In 2003, Joe successfully defended the ROH World Title against Styles at War of the Wire. In 2010, AJ successfully defended the TNA World Title at Turning Point. And now, the rubber match, for the WWE Title.
That alone makes this match special. This match should be amazing, as we see these two old rivals face each other on WWE television for the first time ever. I feel like Joe is in a “now or never” stage of his career when it comes to winning the WWE Title. This could legitimately be his last title match in WWE. But at the same time, I feel like this reign of AJ Styles is special and I think WWE wants to make it reach the one year mark, which it will do just 80 days after SummerSlam.
I’m picking Styles to retain here. It’s a shame not being able to see Joe hold the title here, but I think Styles keeping the title is more in line with what WWE wants to do moving forward.
Prediction: AJ Styles
WWE Universal Championship – Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
What can I say about this match that hasn’t already been said? Especially by me in these monthly prediction pieces?
WWE has done a good job of making Brock seem like a dirty heel, but when push comes to shove, will the fans in Brooklyn embrace Roman or reject him once more? If he’s embraced, good. But if the fans boo the roof off the place when they see Reigns, then it won’t matter how affective WWE was at making fans boo Brock. A match where both men are booed would be an awful way to end (another) PPV.
But, that has nothing to do with who will win. I enjoyed the build to this match more than any of their other matches. I felt like it had the most consistent storytelling and was put together simply and very straightforward.
I’m picking Brock Lesnar to retain, by the way. I think all the constant talk about Lesnar going into UFC and walking out as both the Universal and WWE champion is real. I think Vince would love to see that happen and I think Dana White would like to see it happen too. I think the die hard MMA fans will soil themselves with rage if it happened, but the die hards will still keep ordering the PPVs… that’s how it is with wrestling too.
So, I think Brock will retain here and we’ll go another few months without a Universal Title match. I know, it’s not the most exciting out come in the world, but nothing too exciting will happen here.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar