Summerslam is only 10 days away, and things are heating up as we inch closer towards WWE’s Biggest Party of the Summer. While the match card hasn’t been finalized yet, there are 10 bouts already on the show, so let’s take a look at the confirmed matches and speculate on what else could be added.
Make sure to check back on the site next Friday for our official preview & predictions post for both Summerslam and TakeOver Brooklyn III.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
I’m not as well versed on Smackdown feuds as I am with Raw, but WWE aren’t exactly the Coen Brothers when it comes to telling stories so I’m pretty sure I can figure things out. 2017 has been a frustrating year for Rusev. He missed WrestleMania due to a shoulder injury, got separated from Lana and when he finally debuted on Smackdown, he got thrown into a USA themed feud with John Cena that he obviously lost.
You’d think that’d be enough awfulness for one year, but now he’s slotted against Randy Orton, the man with less momentum than a nailed down piece of wood. Orton started the year off strong with a Royal Rumble win and a World title win at WrestleMania, but everything post Mania has been awful. He was in the House of Horrors match & has lost to Jinder Mahal three pay per views in a row. Even though he inexplicably got a clean non title win over Mahal on Tuesday, he’s still tanking.
In a perfect world, this would be a spot to give Rusev a win at a major pay per view over someone with name value, but we do not live in a perfect world. RKO out of somewhere will win it for Orton.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
If you’ve been following the story of Bray Wyatt, you know all his storylines have three acts. Act 1. Start a feud by teleporting in and costing someone a match. Act 2. build up that feud with teleportation/spooky dark room promos. Act 3. Lose the match at a pay per view. We’re all the way though act 1 and almost through act 2, so the only thing left for Wyatt to do is lose to Balor at Summerslam. I really hope I’m wrong, but Balor hasn’t done much since returning from injury, and he wasn’t even on the GBOF card. Wyatt beat Rollins at that show, which was nice, but his track record causes me to believe he’s going to lose to Balor at the more important PPV.
This one could go either way, but I’m leaning towards Balor.
Big Cass vs. Big Show (Enzo Amore will be suspended in a shark cage above the ring)
Dear lord please let this be the blow off match. The Enzo & Cass feud has been going in circles for what feels like forever, and adding Big Show into the mix hasn’t exactly been refreshing. I’ve read a few articles that think this has been a long con between Enzo & Cass and they’ll turn on the Big Show, but that’d be a hell of a lot of work for a mediocre result. I wouldn’t mind Enzo/Cass teaming back up as heels to add some depth to the tag division, but there’s no way WWE is doing that. Enzo in a shark cage means there’s a 1,000% chance he’s dropping something into the ring that’s meant for Big Show, but will end up Big Cass’s hands when the referee is knocked out or sleeping or trying to hang himself from boredom.
Big Cass by default.
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
With Cena presumably fading into the Hollywood sunset this fall, this should be a spotlight win for Baron Corbin. I know this argument comes up every time Cena fights a younger guy in a big match, but John literally gains nothing with a win here, while Corbin could gain so much. He already has the MITB briefcase, and assuming Nakamura wins the title (which I’ll get to later) giving Corbin a win over Cena would make him that much more dangerous as he chases Nak.
It doesn’t even need to be a clean win. Have him kick Cena in the dick, set him on fire, whatever. WWE baby faces will never be as popular as they want them to be unless they have a legitimate heel to oppose them. If Corbin beats Cena at Summerslam, he’ll be on his way to being a true threat to whoever is holding the title.
Baron Corbin, NO RAGRETS
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Akira Tozawa
In my Raw review’s I’ve said that I’d be interested in pretty much anyone else challenging Neville for the Cruiserweight title. I don’t understand the appeal of having guys like Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, Gran Metalik & Mustafa Ali waste away on 205 Live & Main Event while Tozawa is given a title shot. At the least this should be a multi man match, but since it’s one on one, all I want is for Neville to rip Tozawa’s arm off and beat Titus O’Neil with it.
Neville should win convincingly.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: New Day (C) vs. The Uso’s
New Day & The Uso’s have been having a very under the radar feud on Smackdown, and this is one of the matches I’m most excited for. As solid as Xavier Woods was at Battleground, the best wrestling version of New Day is always Big E & Kofi, so I’m glad to see they’ll be defending the straps. The Uso’s picked up a decisive win on Tuesday over Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger, and New Day also showed some much needed aggression in their post match attack. You get the sense that these two teams really dislike each other, which is an element that’s missing from a lot of modern day feuds. If they’re given as much time as they were at Battleground, this could turn into a classic.
This is a toss up for me, but if I HAD to choose, I’m going Uso’s.
Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Naomi (C) vs. Natalya
It’s refreshing to see the Women’s title defended in a one on one match at a major pay per view. I understand the mindset of wanting to get as much people on the card as possible, but the title feels more important when there’s a standout challenger. It’s also nice to see Natalya given a title match at a major pay per view, and as the senior member of the Women’s division I think she and Naomi are going to put on a hell of a match. Summerslam is slated for 4 hours (plus a 2 hour pre show) so there’s no reason to not give each match the time it needs to tell a story. Similar to Mahal/Nakamura, the result of this match may not matter as Carmella should be lurking in the background with her MITB briefcase.
Naomi retains after a hard fought match, and Carmella capitalizes and cashes in.
WWE United States Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens (Shane McMahon as special guest referee)
Whenever you put AJ Styles and Kevin Owens together they have a chance to do something special, so my only request for this match is to let them do what they do best, which is wrestle and tell a story. I know that’s a lot to ask when Shane McMahon is the special guest referee, but this is a different Shane O Mac than the one we saw ref matches in the late 90s & early 2000s.
The general consensus is that this will lead to KO vs. Shane somewhere down the line (since we’ve already seen Shane vs. AJ) but again, all I want is for these two to wrestle their asses off. Leave the shenanigans for another day. This match doesn’t need AJ getting his foot stuck in the announce table or a confusing ending based on shoulder placement. You have two of the best wrestlers in the world in a title match at your second biggest pay per view. Let them work their magic.
I’m very into workhorse mid card champion AJ Styles, so I’m going with AJ.
WWE Championship Match: Jinder Mahal (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This is the match I’m most nervous about. While it’s great to see a fresh face as champion, Jinder Mahal’s title reign hasn’t been great. While a lot of that has to do with him only fighting Randy Orton, you also have to remember who Jinder Mahal was before this run. He was the third best member in 3MB during his former run and his most noteworthy moment during his last run on Raw was hitting Finn Balor too hard in the head. Just because he’s champion doesn’t mean he’s magically going to turn into AJ Styles in the ring.
Nakamura has also had some growing pains since debuting on the main roster. He’s had subpar matches with Ziggler, KO & Corbin, all of whom are capable of much more, especially against Nak. If Nakamura can’t have good to great matches with those three, is he capable of doing it with Jinder Mahal? Are we in for another bad match with Singh Brother interference? I always skew positive when it comes to pro wrestling, but this match doesn’t have a lot going for it.
Nakamura should win this match. Even if you have the Singh Brothers interfere, Nakamura is clearly the star of this match, and he should be able to overcome the odds and Kinshasa Jinder to win the belt. While Corbin could always cash in his MITB briefcase post match, don’t forget about John Cena. I can picture a scenario where Corbin beats Cena, and then Cena stops a possible cash in on new champion Nakamura, someone who Cena has already shown has earned his respect.
Fatal 4 Way Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe
The biggest compliment I can give this match is that no result would surprise me. If Lesnar wins and retains the title somehow, it would make sense because he’s Brock Lesnar. If Samoa Joe or Strowman win, you’re giving them their first major title win at your second biggest pay per view. If Rollins & Ambrose win the tag titles earlier in the night and help Reigns win the Universal title in the main event I’ll probably lose consciousness.
The biggest stipulation is the announcement that if Lesnar loses, he’ll leave WWE. It’s no secret that he wants back in the UFC, and it’s tough to train for that and appear for WWE at the same time. As awesome as Brock is, he’s always better in small doses, and he doesn’t need the title. He can show up and murder everyone every 6 months or so until he’s 60. If his heart is set on returning to the UFC, let him do it and then welcome him back with open arms if he wants to return.
My heart is set on Samoa Joe winning here, so that’s who I’m going with. Lesnar leaves temporarily, Strowman & Reigns become de facto number one contenders and Joe gets a title he almost over deserves.
There are already 10 confirmed matches, but that will immediately change to 12 after Monday’s Raw. Alexa Bliss will defend her Women’s title against the winner of Sasha Banks/Nia Jax & I’d expect Rollins & Ambrose vs. Cesaro & Sheamus for the Raw tag belts to be announced as well. Goldust teased ‘an unveiling’ last Monday, so he should be on the card in some capacity. Miz vs. Jason Jordan? Hardy’s vs. The Club? Fashion Files? The sky is the limit for a 6 hour wrestling show, so make sure to check back next week for our official preview post.
During her match with Nia Jax on the July 31 edition of Raw, Bayley suffered an injury to her right shoulder.
The former Raw Women’s Champion was evaluated by medical personnel, but the official diagnosis was inconclusive due to the amount of swelling involved. Bayley has been told to rest the shoulder until next week, at which point doctors are hopeful that the swelling will have sufficiently gone down so that she may be reevaluated and a firm verdict can be reached.
“Everything just tensed up around it,” Bayley told WWE.com shortly after her match on Monday night. “I’ve never had an injury like this before, so I can’t really know what it is. I guess we’re gonna see.”
Dr. Chris Amann told WWE.com, “We’ve determined the injury is shoulder-related, and she will be going under further diagnostic testing later this week to determine the extent of the injury and also establish a timetable for recovery.” – WWE
If you scroll to the 45 second mark in the above video, you can see Nia attempt to throw Bayley out of the ring. Bayley stopped short and landed awkwardly on her shoulder, and I wrote in my Raw review that Bayley either got really good at selling or she was legitimately hurt, and that my money would be on the latter. Turns out it was the latter, although the extent of the injury is unknown. Summerslam is still two and a half weeks away, so if the injury isn’t serious she could still face Alexa Bliss for the Women’s title. If it is serious, Nia Jax or Sasha Banks would be the likely secondary options.
On January 12, 1992 Shawn Michaels pulled off one of the best executed heel turns in pro wrestling history. Michaels and Marty Jannetty, up to that point known as The Rockers, were one of the most athletic and exciting tag teams of the late 80s and early 90s. They wrestled in the NWA, AWA & eventually the WWF, where they would split up and go their separate ways. That split was solidified on air during Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake’s “Barbershop” segment, where Michaels would throw his former friend and partner through the barbershop window:
Most people know how the story went from there: Shawn Michaels went on to have a hall of fame career, while Marty Jannetty became the symbol of the weakest link in any future tag team breakup storyline. That brings us to last night, where Big Cass officially turned on his friend and partner Enzo Amore:
While this segment wasn’t on par with the Michaels/Jannetty turn, it was still well done and unlike most storylines in WWE, it’s been building up for awhile. Enzo Amore has been mysteriously attacked for weeks, but the story has been playing out for much longer than that. All it takes is one look at Enzo & Cass to see who the star of the team is, especially since they’ve debuted on RAW. They were Full Sail darlings in NXT, but once they debuted on RAW, Enzo was portrayed as the weakest link that could only skate by when Cass was there to help him. Week after week Enzo would get pummeled, and Cass would either make the save, or they would lose their match.
I’ve read a few internet comments on the heel turn that thought it wasn’t the best timing, but once you do a little bit of research, their win/loss record is staggering, and not in a good way. Per profightdb.com, Enzo & Cass have won 4 televised matches this year. Four! I know wins and losses aren’t the only measuring stick in pro wrestling, but this isn’t exactly The Shield breaking up in their prime. Enzo is entertaining on the microphone and they have their catchphrases, but I don’t think that’s enough in WWE. Were they fun? Sometimes, but I need more than the same catchphrase and dance moves out of wrestlers I’m going to root for consistently.
As good as Cass’s promo was, the true test for him is going to be what comes next. Shawn Michaels turned that barbershop window segment into a hall of fame career. Can Cass do the same thing? I hope so.
Samoa Joe Is The #1 Contender To Brock Lesnar’s Universal Title & Their Feud Is Off To A Great Start #WWE
Samoa Joe won the Fatal Five Way at Extreme Rules, and it was the best possible outcome coming out of that match. I was hoping Joe would win because he vs. Lesnar was the most intriguing match up, and I got my wish. Monday night on RAW, Samoa Joe wasted no time in putting Brock Lesnar on notice. After a great promo by Joe, Paul Heyman came out as he always does to advocate for Brock Lesnar, hype up Lesnar’s opponent while also explaining why that opponent has no chance against his Beast. Joe took everything in stride until Heyman tried to leave the ring. That’s when Joe calmly and sadistically explained to Paul what was about to happen to him and that he wants Paul to explain to Brock how it feels to get choked out. I loved that Joe did this without the use of a microphone, as this was something intimate he only wanted Heyman to hear.
Later in the episode Heyman is getting checked on by trainers when Brock Lesnar calls, and we find out that Brock will be at RAW next week to meet Joe head on. Joe knew what he was doing when he choked out Heyman, but it takes a special type of man to willingly call out Brock Lesnar like that. We haven’t seen Brock since the RAW after Mania, and I hope he comes back next week and we get some fireworks before…Greats Balls of Fire. Still don’t understand how they landed on that name, but if it’s being headlined by a fresh, ready to murder Brock Lesnar versus Samoa Joe, I’m in.
WrestleMania weekend and the ensuing Raw and Smackdown’s are always a wild time in the WWE, but this year might take the cake as one of the craziest. TakeOver Orlando and WrestleMania 33 were both great shows, and the WWE followed that up with a wonderful Raw and a great Smackdown. Kurt Angle is the new GM of Raw, the Hardy’s are Raw Tag Team Champions and The Revival are now part of the Raw Tag Division. Smackdown refused to be outdone by Raw, so they brought up Tye Dillinger and Shinsuke Nakamura on last night’s show. While it remains to be seen if any of the recent call ups will switch brands during the ‘superstar shakeup’ next week, it’s good to know that they’ll be on the main roster going forward. Of the three call ups, I think The Revival have the chance to have the biggest impact. While Dillinger and Nakamura will be fan favorites and most likely move a ton of merchandise, The Revival have a chance to revitalize the Tag Team Division, and change main roster tag matches for the better.
Samoa Joe, the first ever two time NXT champion and all around angry Samoan, made his surprise debut on Monday’s Raw and took Seth Rollins to the wood shed. Unfortunately Rollins suffered a legitimate injury during the attack which could sideline him for awhile, but the good news is Samoa Joe is finally on Raw. It looks like Joe will be HHH’s henchman going forward, but if Rollins is forced to miss an extended amount of time, that would put he and HHH’s plans for WM in serious jeopardy. Hopefully Rollins is alright, and he and Joe can put on the five star match the whole world has been waiting for.
WWE had to deliver on the first night of the ‘new era Raw’, and that’s exactly what they did. The two big stories coming out of last night’s show were of course Finn Balor becoming the #1 contender for the new Universal title (on his first night on Raw) and Sasha Banks finally winning the Women’s Title in probably the best 1 on 1 main roster women’s match ever. If you thought Trish Stratus and Lita were studs in the ring, go back and watch Sasha and Charlotte blow away any of those matches, including the one that main evented a Raw. Beyond those two matches, we had two fatal four way matches, a new contender step up to New Day, Nia Jax and Braun Strowman assert their dominance and for the first time in a long time, a fresh feeling to a Monday Night Raw. The set was different, the announce table was put up towards the entrance ramp and announcers were in the ring before and after matches getting competitors reactions. I loved everything about last night’s show, and this should only be the beginning.
A couple random thoughts:
Finn Balor might’ve had the best wrestling debut in WWE history. Guys have had more memorable debuts, but as far as showing what you can do in the ring, I can’t remember a guy looking better. On the same night he turned 35, he made his Raw debut and beat Cesaro, Rusev, Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns. The last win against Reigns put him in the (Raw) main event at Summerslam where he’ll fight Seth Rollins for the brand new Universal Title. It just doesn’t get better than that. I hope that Stephanie sides with Rollins and HHH returns to side with Balor, and that Balor wins the title and HHH and Rollins go on to duke it out to see who is the true master of the pedigree.
While Balor had an incredible debut, my favorite moment was Banks winning the title. Her and Charlotte had the match of the night, and it’s so much fun watching these women get a chance to pull out all the stops and really deliver. Sasha is ‘the boss’ in every way possible, and Bayley needs to get up here ASAP so they can tear every single arena down.
My new favorite tweet:
— Brazzers (@Brazzers) July 26, 2016
Raw was live from Providence, RI last night and as always, the Average Nobodies were in attendance. It was a really solid show, with a fun opening segment, a great 12 man tag match in the middle and a fantastic title match to close the show. The main reason(s) the opening segment was so much fun is because Stephanie and Shane McMahon named their GM’s for Raw and Smackdown live. Leading up to the show, I had a feeling that the GM’s would be fan favorites, and the picks did not disappoint. First, Stephanie introduced Mick Foley as the new GM of Raw, and the building went nuts. Foley’s reaction paled in comparison to Shane’s pick though, as Daniel Bryan was introduced as the GM of Smackdown live. The last time Raw was in Providence, Daniel Bryan got one of the best crowd reactions I’ve ever been apart of live, so it’s not a surprise people went bonkers for him last night. As far as the actual picks for GM’s go, I couldn’t love them more. One of the most understated reasons NXT is so great is William Regal. He’s a fair, logical authority figure who enhances the product and has zero ego. As fun as Steph & HHH are at times, they do more to put down talents, whether it be verbally or physically, and let their ego get in the way of enhancing the show. With Foley and DB, WWE now has two authority figures who fans already have an invested relationship with, and who can relate to the wrestlers in a way that will make for compelling television. If the writing teams can get their acts together, this brand split could be one of the best things WWE has done in a long time. Smackdown Live should be must see TV, and I can’t wait to see who ends up where.