John: Welcome to the TJR WWE SummerSlam preview. It is the 32nd year of SummerSlam in the month of August and it’s a show that WWE likes to promote as the “biggest party of the summer.” It was also called “The Summerfest” by Jeremy Piven on Raw ten years ago. He’s a huge fan, I’m sure.
There are currently ten matches advertised with a two-hour Kickoff Show at 5pmET/2pmPT and then the main show starts at 7pmET/4pmPT with an expected run time of about four hours (or more?). As I say every month, when it comes to WWE shows, you never really know how long it will last. As always, you can watch the show live on Sunday night on WWE Network or catch it on demand any time you want.
It’s a weird lineup because several big names are not on the card right now. Guys like Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Andrade, The Miz (who was on Jimmy Kimmel Live this week promoting SummerSlam even though he isn’t in a match) and all tag teams are currently off the show. They have three sets of tag team titles, yet none of them are in matches. In fact, the current advertised card of ten matches are all singles matches. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad show. It’s just weird booking. Since they have two hours on the Kickoff Show and they haven’t announced anything for it yet, I’m sure there will be some random matches added. For this preview, all we can do on this Friday morning is talk about the ten matches that are currently advertised.
Joining me for the preview are Mike Holland and Matthew J. Douglas.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE. The banner up top is courtesy of our friend Melo Man.)
Cruiserweight Championship: Drew Gulak (c) vs. Oney Lorcan
Mike: Given recent history, you'd expect this cruiser affair to be destined for the Kickoff Show, and that's not entirely a bad thing: Removing them from the confines of the generally-bloated main card does allow for some very solid competition. It's all about exposure, though, and as I and others have lamented often in this preview space, the majority of the 205 guys just don't get enough of it by half. That leads to matches such as this, where an unfortunate amount of the partially-seated crowd might not know what the heck is going on.
I am a fan of the matchup myself, mainly because there has been a dearth of new challengers in many of the title scenes. When WWE "did away" with the automatic rematch clause for champions those many moons ago, one could be forgiven for thinking you'd get less of the stale stuff. I enjoyed Lorcan's team with Danny Burch and I expect his striking style to be greatly augmented and balanced by Gulak's always-solid mat work. Therefore, this should be a very good match that can potentially be elevated to great. Hopefully there are eyeballs enough to care. It's a coin flip to me, but I'd keep it on Drew.
Winner (and STILL Cruiserweight Champion): Drew Gulak
Matthew: It’s always interesting to find out what the 205 offering for these shows will be when I open up the card to write my previews. I don’t watch the program so it’s always a surprise for me. I feel bad for consistently not watching 205 Live and keeping up to date with what’s happening on that brand. Not bad enough to watch (I only have so much time), but I definitely feel bad about it, because there are great matches and wrestlers on that show that I only really pay attention to at these PPVs. Like all 205 PPV offerings, I’m sure this match will be pretty rad.
Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Drew Gulak (because he’s the obvious choice in my uneducated opinion)
John: They will have a good match, but as I said in my 205 Live Review this week, the problem with these matches is they don't build to the PPV matches that well. Lorcan got this title shot because he won a Six-Pack Challenge on Tuesday. There's no storyline. They need to do a better job of using the 205 Live show to build to the PPV because nearly every month it's the same thing where they don't have much of a story. Gulak should retain while Lorcan will impress because he's a good worker, but neither guy is going to get much of a reaction.
Winner: Drew Gulak
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Ember Moon
Mike: Considering the mantra of some fresh matches, we have Ember Moon getting a championship opportunity against Bayley, providing a much-needed break from the Bliss/Cross/Bayley Bermuda Triangle of oddness that seems to be leading to nothing much besides rampant speculation about Sasha Banks. I am a fan of Moon, both with what I've seen of her in the ring and particularly her unique persona, but the lead-up for this one just puzzles me a bit. It's generally challenging to book a face/face match without a major hook, and this is why. Moon beats Bayley to get the opportunity and then goes back to looking very average. It’s not the way I'd pencil it in if I wanted to increase momentum for the challenger.
It's always possible there is an Ember heel turn waiting around the corner, but I'm not positive about it. Bayley has done an adequate job as champ without really having a feud she can totally sink her teeth into, and I'm not sure this is going to change that sad fact. I don't think Moon has gotten the camera time she deserves since departing NXT, and my call is a surprising victory for the challenger. Then post match hugs.
Winner (and NEW Smackdown Women's Champion): Ember Moon
Matthew: I’ve liked Bayley as Smackdown Women’s Champion a lot. I also really like the decision to have her face Ember Moon on this show. It should be a cool match, with two awesome performers. I just feel like they have gotten their ability to tell a compelling story heading into this match undercut. So much of the TV time has been focused on Charlotte and Trish, and Becky and Natalya (all deserving of the TV time by the way), I just wish they could have spared a little more time to add a little spice to this match.
I am hoping for something cool to happen in or after this match at the PPV. Maybe the return of a certain former tag team partner of Bayley’s to set up a feud?
Winner and Still Smackdown Women’s Champion: Bayley (because she’s been doing a great job as Champion and there are a couple of money feud possibilities for her down the line)
John: This is the worst match among the Raw/Smackdown matches in terms of how it has been built up. Moon won a tag team match with Bayley to set up the title match. That’s a weak way to set up a challenge. They followed that up with each woman hitting their finishing move on the other in back to back weeks. That’s pretty much it in terms of a story since it’s a face vs. face match. They will work hard and have some cool moments, but I doubt the crowd will care that much.
I expect Bayley to retain the title and feud with Charlotte Flair because with Smackdown on Fox coming in less than two months, chances are good that the title may be back on Flair soon. A Sasha Banks return or even Shayna Baszler from NXT are possibilities as Bayley rivals as well.
Finn Balor vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Mike: The Bray Wyatt rollercoaster continues. I don't know that anyone has experienced as many creative highs and lows as the former Family head, who seems to gain tremendous momentum with vignettes and special appearances only to have all that buzz fizzle with less-than-memorable feuds and haunted house trickery. While I (like most) have enjoyed the Firefly Fun House segments every week, I can't help but feel it's a road to nowhere and I won't get fooled again. (Yeah, I'm mixing my music metaphors with Talking Heads AND Who references. Apologies.)
Wyatt's Fiend character appears to exist to beat down legends and mess with the lighting techs. It works, as much as anything WWE throws out there works, and I admit I'm intrigued by the idea of him using famous moves of those he "eliminates." Some of it looks like he fell asleep during an AHS marathon, but let's not get picky. It's fairly fresh and I appreciate that. Balor is scheduled for time off as we know and the most telling aspect of this is he is not being advertised for his Demon persona. That should be a strong indicator of who's getting the win here.
Winner: "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt
Matthew: The outcome of this match is all but spoiled. With Finn taking some time off after this show (good for him by the way… taking time to recharge is very important especially in this industry I would think) there is no suspense on who is coming out on top here. I also expect it to be in pretty dominant fashion as well. The excitement for this match is seeing The Fiend in action. We’ve seen him in spots, but getting a real look at how Bray is going to wrestle with that new mask is of interest to me for sure. Also, I’m hoping for some new mannerisms and style from him. If he just wrestles like standard Bray Wyatt, I’ll be disappointed.
Winner: The Fiend (because he needs to be put over strong on this big show)
John: This will be a definite win for Wyatt, who is back to being a key figure on WWE programming after not doing much in the last year. I have mentioned this previously, but it’s worth bringing up again. The last televised match that Wyatt had was on August 13, 2018. Nearly one year later, he is back this time as “The Fiend” with a scary looking mask on his face. Balor is there to make Wyatt look good and Balor is going to be off for about two months because as we have reported in the past, he asked for a break and WWE granted it to him.
There are some logic issues with this match because there’s never an explanation given as to why Balor isn’t in “Demon” gear considering he wins every match with that look. If you win every match as Demon Balor, then shouldn’t be that your look every PPV match? It’s just a case of WWE assuming that we, the audience, are idiots and they believe that we don’t think about that stuff. Maybe long term there will be The Fiend vs. Demon. For now, it’s just The Fiend vs. Finn and that’s going to mean an easy win for Wyatt.
Winner: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Bill Goldberg vs. Dolph Ziggler
Mike: WWE starts its slide back into time warp territory with a match that you never knew you wanted, because, well, you probably didn't. Fresh off his international stinker against The Undertaker (and yeah, it really was THAT bad), Goldberg makes his return against Dolph Ziggler in a surprise match at Slam. It appeared that Ziggy was going to square off against Miz for the umpteenth time, but instead, we got this as a way to inject some name recognition onto the card. I don't hate it, but Goldberg matches in general do very little for me. I thought the storyline of him coming back for his son was rather solid, but it rings false when they trot him out as a retro ambassador over and over again. I might love my first car, but I don't want to get in it now.
This is an obvious way to exorcise the recent demons for Billy Boy, serving up Dolph as cannon fodder in what I expect to be a barely competitive match. Ziggler can't be surprised by anything at this point when he shows up to work, and a lot of it reads like his stand up routines. Hopefully Goldberg makes it past the locker room door sans injury.
Matthew: I’m trying to imagine a world in which I care about this match or its outcome and I’m drawing a blank. Man, Ziggler needs something new.
Winner: Goldberg (because is there any question to the outcome here?)
John: This will probably be a two-minute squash win for Goldberg. Anything more than that is too long. He doesn’t need to take his time out there because when he did that with The Undertaker at Super Showdown, it was one of the worst matches of the year. This will suck for Ziggler, but he’s a heel that gets consistent promo time, so he’ll get over it and lose more matches as the year moves on.
Trish Stratus vs. Charlotte Flair
Mike: On the flip side of what was just discussed, this is a matchup featuring one active roster member and one legend of the ring that I'm fairly pumped to see. Trish is always a welcome sight, and the idea of her doing battle with the self-proclaimed "queen" of WWE's women's division is more than fine with me. The concept has been better than the execution so far, unfortunately, and the juiciness of this budding rivalry has played out much better on social media than in actual promo work. I feel like Trish is understandably struggling a tad with presentation after not being around a while, and Charlotte has an unfortunate tendency to go through the motions when it comes to mic work at times. Just because you're A Flair doesn't mean you're THE Flair. No matter what pops says.
As to the outcome, I have mixed feelings. Trish is obviously hugely over in Canada and that could factor in. I think Charlotte could absorb a loss here and be just fine. Given that I don't see Trish wrestling with regularity, though, I don't know that that very nice moment is worth it in the end. Competitive but ultimately status quo.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
Matthew: This match is pretty cool. I think they’ve done a nice job at building up to it on TV and have actually got me pretty excited to see it play out on Sunday. That’s hard, particularly when the outcome is as certain as I believe this one is.
That being said, we are getting to see one of the biggest women’s wrestling icons who still looks great, wrestle a women’s wrestling icon in the making. It’s not often we get these generational “dream matches” with both competitors being physically capable of living up to expectations. This match might be able to do that. I’m really hoping that it does!
Winner: Charlotte Flair (because we have to see the star of today go over, but I am rooting for my Canadian sister Trish!)
John: I’m intrigued by this match because they have done a pretty good job of pushing Flair as an egotistical heel while Stratus is motivated to prove she still has something left in what is likely her last match. At 42 years old, Trish isn’t that old in wrestling considering some men on this show are the same age or older. It makes sense that WWE would want Trish to have one more match in her hometown of Toronto and in having that last match, it might as well be a “Dream Match” against Charlotte Flair. You can certainly make the claim that they are two of the best women’s stars in WWE history even with Flair in her prime and only on the main roster for four years.
What I expect is for Stratus to look impressive early, get plenty of offense in, a couple of good nearfalls and then Flair will wear her down leading to the Figure Eight submission win. After the match, I would not have Flair shake her hand. Flair is a heel. She needs to be cocky and not show sportsmanship. Let Trish soak up the cheers, she can hug her kids at ringside and that will probably be the end of her in-ring career. Then again, this is WWE, so the phrase “never say never” has some truth to it. It wouldn't shock me if Trish and Lita team up for a Women's Tag Team Title match in the future. As mentioned earlier, I think Flair will be back in the Smackdown Women's Title picture after this.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
United States Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Ricochet
Mike: We've had quite a bit of AJ Styles and Ricochet lately, haven't we? I don't want anyone to read that as a complaint, because their matches have all been pretty good, but I think there's a bit of interest erosion here. Their "no-frills" match at Extreme Rules was predictably solid, but didn't get the best crowd reaction. This rematch amounts to the same thing, with no special stipulation or solid hook (ladder?) to get people excited about the possibilities. Great wrestlers don't need toys to make it work, but I can't help but admit to feeling a bit blah about hitting repeat and going about your business.
The re-emergence of Gallows and Anderson and their obtaining of some gold can be seen as WWE keeping them away from AEW since WWE has given them new contracts, but that hand already feels overplayed. I read it as them correctly diagnosing that heel AJ works better as the head of a faction, and that faction having multiple championships makes it that much better, both in terms of storyline and legitimacy. Ricochet could absolutely win the belt back here, but I can't see WWE having the head of the group take the loss so early in its build.
Winner (and STILL United States Champion): AJ Styles
Matthew: This match is going to be so effin’ rad. I truly believe that these two can do something incredible if given the time. I’m also pretty excited about this match because it’s one of the few on this card that feels unpredictable. I’m not sure at all where I lean as far as the outcome. If Seth were going be Champion coming out of this, I could totally see AJ losing the United States Championship so that he could chase Seth and the Universal Title. But if Brock is the Champ, I’m not sure I see a heel AJ with The OC backing him up chasing after that belt as a real option and can see him keeping the U.S. Title to keep the O.C. dripping in Gold.
I’m sure there will be some outside interference in this one. I could see The Street Profits evening the odds a little to make their official jump to the main roster and set up a Tag feud between them and Gallows/Anderson.
It really all comes down to what would be the most compelling TV going forward, and I have to say that an OC vs The Bloodline (Usos and Roman) feud with The Bloodline chasing all the titles, would be pretty rad.
Winner and Still United States Champion: AJ Styles (because I think he’s going to elevate that belt for a while… but this is the match I’m the least certain about)
John: The build for this match was good for a while, but then in the last two weeks it has been pushed aside. We have seen them wrestle a few times leading into the heel turn from Styles as well as the title change, so it’s not that fresh. What I’m hoping for is that they get the opportunity to have that 20-minute show stealing match that I know they are capable of. Ricochet has main event potential, but what WWE needs to do is give him the chance to show off his full arsenal of moves in a long match against a more established wrestler like Styles. If this only goes 12-minutes with Gallows and Anderson cheating to help Styles win then I’ll be disappointed. There is absolutely no reason why this match shouldn’t go over 20 minutes.
I really hope this is a classic match that “steals the show” as they love to say in wrestling. I’m picking Styles to retain just because it’s more interesting to watch with a heel champion. However, if Styles loses and goes after the Universal Championship, that would be fine too. If Ricochet wins it back, they can book him as a fighting babyface champion for the rest of the year and maybe he’ll get that bigger push early next year.
Winner: AJ Styles
Raw Women’s Championship Submission Match: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Natalya
Mike: There is a lot to like here, not the least of which is Natalya getting a title opportunity in front of Canada's faithful. That hometown hero angle is a touch overused, but it always gets brownie points with me as easy build. I also like the breakdown of the friendship between Nattie and Becky, and everyone has told the story well going into this. My issue is the submission codicil, because it feels tacked on to me. Was this match going to end some other way? Doubtful.
Like her or not, things have felt a bit helter skelter since Ronda Rousey took time off. She provided a built-in energy that is frankly missed right now, and this match is a stark reminder of that. I have no earthly idea when she will return to wreak vengeance upon Bex, but it's gotta be coming and now is as good a time as any. Natalya has done a great job, but even with the home field advantage I don't see her walking out with Lynch's gold. I imagine this to be an elaborate setup for what is to come later. Nattie losing and aligning with her old friend RR is the play here.
Winner (and STILL Raw Women's Champion): Becky Lynch
Matthew: These two have done a pretty stellar job building up to this match. They have brought intensity and drama to this that looking at the match on paper, I’m not sure most would have expected to be there. This feels heated and personal which is a testament to the work these two women have done to make sure that this match doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, which it certainly could have.
Given the quality of the two performers participating in this match, I expect a high quality Championship bout that is worthy of a big four PPV. I’m sure Natalya will be extra motivated to show out in front of the Canadian crowd. I expect a great brawl, some good submission wrestling and most importantly an entertaining show for the viewers. Anything less would be disappointing from these two.
Winner and Still Raw Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch (because Becky is on a roll and I expect them to keep it going for a while)
John: This should be a good technical wrestling match between two women that know eachother well. A submission match is harder than a regular match because fans know that the Disarmher or the Sharpshooter are going to end this match, so there won’t be as much excitement for other submission attempts. At least it's better than Lacey Evans challenging for the title again when she was clearly not ready for it.
As a Canadian that lives two hours west of Toronto, it’s weird how much WWE is trying to say Toronto is Natalya’s hometown when she’s from Calgary, which is really far away. Yes, Canadian wrestling fans love anybody that is from our country, but I don’t see the crowd going against Becky much at all. Both women are still faces although Natalya has been more heelish in the last few weeks. I think that’s by design because while WWE will book Lynch as a tough, confident woman, they don’t want her acting like a heel ever. With Natalya, they know
I feel like Lynch’s title reign will continue. I can see her next feud being against a returning Sasha Banks, maybe Shayna Baszler gets called up or perhaps Ronda Rousey will make her return soon…if she’s not pregnant. I feel like the purpose of this match is to have Lynch face off against a good technical wrestler, but I don’t see Lynch losing the title in what should be an entertaining 10-15 minute match.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon
(Note: Per the stipulation, if Owens loses, then he quits WWE.)
Mike: And if Shane wins, we riot? This match to me is a lot of why WWE's creative is struggling right now. I get that Shane has the ability to pencil himself onto any card anywhere, but consistently putting yourself forward at the expense of your talent is regrettable to say the least. Is anyone tuning into SummerSlam to watch Shane-O-Mac? I rest my case. In addition, while Kevin Owens going on a crusade and turning popular opinion into very solid mic work is always appreciated, him incorporating the Stunner into his repertoire just blows the been-there-done-that McMahon vs. Austin overtones into epic proportions. They did it a lot better the first time round, as per usual.
I would love to say that the outcome of this match is obvious since we all know KO isn't quitting WWE, but that would decry decades of viewership and a lifetime of common sense. The stipulation is meaningless, and is a blatant attempt to add some juice to something that ultimately is filler personified. I would love to tell you there's no chance Owens loses, quits (again) and returns (again), but how could I? I'm left with the fervent hope that Shane takes a long vacation.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Matthew: I’m sick of all the Shane McMahon stuff. Like not sick of it in the way they want me to be. I’m not mad at the heel authority figure that keeps stacking the odds against our babyface heroes (by the way, figure out some new tropes), I’m annoyed by how much he’s on these shows and it actively makes me less interested in watching. Which apparently is the new way of getting heat. Here’s the thing though, getting heat should make me more inclined to watch. It’s supposed to make me more excited to check out the show and see what happens next. Shane doesn’t get that from me. Neither does Baron Corbin. If a character could disappear from TV for weeks without explanation, and nobody bats an eye, he isn’t getting the right heat!
I digress. Good guy Kevin Owens is pretty fun. I dig the promos and the fire he’s had of late and while I think there is something missing there, like another level that he can get up to, I feel generally positive about the character and his outlook. I don’t think he’s quitting (or at least I hope we don’t have to go through one of those angles).
Winner: Kevin Owens (because I can’t do another quitting/firing angle that doesn’t end up meaning anything… I just can’t)
John: I think in terms of TV time, this match has had the most TV time of anything on the show. It’s nice to have the last name “McMahon” in WWE isn’t it? I really liked the go-home segment on Smackdown where Shane got the advantage on Owens and delivered an ass-kicking that put Owens down. They needed to do that since Owens hit Shane with the Stunner several times over the last month.
This should be a win for Owens, but I have been wrong on many Shane matches this year because I think he should lose way more than he has. I’ll pick Owens, but I’m not that confident about it because if they do the angle where Owens loses and quits, he can get more fan support in wanting him to come back. Am I rambling and overthinking all of this? Probably. Just give KO the win.
Winner: Kevin Owens
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Randy Orton
Mike: I think Kofi's championship run has been a blessing and a curse for him, and it's tied into his New Day persona: It's really fun to be the champ that throws pancakes into the crowd, but you're still the champ throwing pancakes into the crowd. The feuds with Ziggler and Samoa Joe have in my mind been the equivalent of Little Mac shucking and jiving his way through the likes of Glass Joe and Soda Popinski in order to get to the big dance. In order for Kingston to be seen as a really good champion, he's working his way through Heel 101 in an attempt to get AP credit. Has it been successful? You decide.
I actually really like the story behind this match. For its endless vault of wrestling, WWE does a piss-poor job at times when it comes to nodding to their own past. I get that a business where guys change characters more than their long johns can provide a bit of a challenge concerning continuity, but this is a largely untapped resource. Using past footage of Randy and Kofi to illustrate the perceived "blocking" of Kofi's rise to the top is very smart business and gives this match some added intrigue. Both guys now have added motivation and the fans are placed in the middle to come to their own conclusions. The result is one of the few encounters on the card that has a really meaty story to sink your teeth into.
I've heard all the buzz about WWE looking to dump Kofi as champ before the much-publicized move of Smackdown to Fox, but don't be so sure. There is no doubt that will be a very good story to tell, but he's got way more personality than Orton and I don't see them jumping ship on his tale just yet. Consider this another way to keep Kofi busy until that moment arrives.
Winner (and STILL WWE Champion): Kofi Kingston
Matthew: Maybe it’s because I’m a New Day shill, maybe it’s because the WWE’s video packages have gotten me locked in, but this match is the one I’m looking forward to most on the entire Summerslam card. I just love the history of it. Everything that happened with these two almost a decade ago, being drudged back up with Kofi on the run of his life. It just feels all to appropriate that this is the Championship match set for Summerslam. As good as Kofi has been since winning the title at Wrestlemania (and even before that to be honest), this is a mountain Kofi needs to climb to further legitimize his claim to the top spot on Smackdown Live!
Randy Orton has a legitimate claim to the title of Mr. Summerslam. He’s had many great moments at this show in his career, and that’s why even though Kofi is the Champ heading into this match, he still feels like he has something to prove and could even be considered a narrative underdog.
I don’t know what I expect from the match itself. Both guys are very good and I’m hoping they can put together a match that hits all the right notes. A match that is filled with emotion, that touches on their storied past, and of course is compelling television and storytelling. I have high hopes for this one and I have faith that they will deliver something pretty special and significant!
Winner and Still WWE Champion: Kofi Kingston (because I don’t see this magical ride ending just yet… that and I never pick against The New Day!)
John: The video packages they aired in the last two weeks on Smackdown (first for Orton, then for Kingston) were excellent. Orton has been on vacation according to his Instagram, so he’s gotten a chance to rest up before this big match. Orton really hasn’t been used that much this year, especially post WrestleMania. Giving him a title shot based on his history in the company is fine, but I feel like they could have done more to make us care about this match. Orton pinned Kofi in a tag team match, then that set up the challenge and here we are. This is about Kofi trying to avenge his losses to Orton a decade ago while Orton wants to prove that he can still be a top guy in WWE. It’s funny how Orton is only one year older than Kingston (Orton is 39 while Kingston is 38 next week), yet in terms of their status in the company, Orton is the established guy and Kingston is still new in this main eventer role.
I’ll pick Kingston to retain, but it wouldn’t surprise me that much if Orton won. I get the feeling that Kingston is going to lose the title either on the first Smackdown on Fox on October 4 because that way WWE’s Fox debut is memorable or he might lose the title before that. I don’t know when he’ll lose the title or to who, but it might be Orton. They will probably have a good match too. I’m interested to see how this one goes.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Mike: Should I care more? I should care more. The minute WWE had Brock cash in and claim the Universal Title at the end of Extreme Rules, I lost a lot of interest as a viewer. I will freely admit that this run with Rollins has been far less successful than the first, but Brock as champion is just a waste to me. I wouldn't even mind him being a part-time champion if the match quality was better. It just doesn't do it for me. In addition to that, we've seen this match very recently and it was just okay then. I think Rollins has done a good job telling the story of being a major underdog going into this, but a lot of that would have happened anyway, frankly. This whole thing just feels very washed out in my view.
I assume the logical thing to do is give Seth the title back, but I personally don't really see it. I don't think you put the belt back on Brock to have him drop it a few weeks later, no matter what the back story of the whole situation is. Lesnar has to be booked as a monster because he is one, so if you're going all in, it is what it is. It's just challenging for me to be bowled over about it.
Winner (and STILL Universal Champion): Brock Lesnar
Matthew: This is a match that I wish I could get myself excited about… but I just can’t bring myself to care that much about it, because I don’t have much invested in either competitor personally. There isn’t a wealth of history to fall back on like in the WWE Title match. Not to mention it has the uphill battle of getting to care about a Brock Lesnar match. I know he’s good and that he’s supposedly good for business, but I have a hard time getting into his matches and what they mean for the WWE landscape writ large.
This match will likely be pretty great. Dramatic and compelling for many watching it. That said, either outcome leaves little to my imagination, and thus I’m failing to garner much enthusiasm for it.
Winner and Still Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar (because I don’t see them putting the belt on him for him to drop it so soon afterward)
John: I think this is going to be an excellent match that is going to surprise people that have low expectations going into this match. I feel like it’s going to be similar to the Lesnar match against Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series last year where Lesnar dominated for ten minutes, it appeared like the match was going to be done, then Bryan nearly won before Lesnar came back to win. In this match, I expect a different outcome. I’m picking Rollins to win.
Is it too soon for Lesnar to lose the Universal Championship after he just won it back last month? Nope. The key thing from Seth’s promo last week was when Rollins said that he guarantees to win the Universal Championship again. When WWE has a wrestler “guarantee” a victory it usually means they will win.
When it comes to Lesnar, I must mention Smackdown on Fox again. If he is not on the Smackdown on Fox debut show on October 4 then I would be surprised. I don’t know if he’ll be on both shows, but I assume he would only be on Smackdown at that point. If that is the case, then there’s no reason for him to hold this title for a long time.
Why did they even put the title back on Lesnar? It was probably done to set up this match and to put over Rollins in a big way. Rollins beating Lesnar at WrestleMania for the title and doing it at SummerSlam as well is going to make Rollins a bigger star. He can be the guy that has Lesnar’s number, the guy that Brock can’t seem to beat in a fair match and that’s going to help Seth’s legacy as a top guy. Remember when Lesnar was pushed heavily with the idea that he would put over Reigns for the title? Then WWE changed their mind in 2015 (Rollins won) and in 2018, Reigns did it at SummerSlam last year instead of WrestleMania, so Vince changed his plans twice. It hurt Reigns. This time, I think they figured out that having Rollins go over Lesnar again is going to help Seth’s status as a top guy.
I’m hoping for a great match and a unique finish that gets people talking in a way that reminds us of how fun pro wrestling can be. Then again, they could always do a ten-minute squash win by Lesnar. I really hope it’s not that, though.
Winner and New Universal Champion: Seth Rollins
The Match I'm Looking Forward To The Most
Mike: Styles/Ricochet is almost a certainty to be the best match on the card.
Matthew: Kofi and Randy!
John: It's Styles/Ricochet and they should put that match as the first or second match on the main card.
The Match I Care About The Least
Mike: I'd love to say Brock/Rollins, but too many worse options, so I’ll go with Goldberg/Ziggler.
John: Goldberg vs. Ziggler. I am not clamoring for more Goldberg matches.
Mike: Kingston/Orton makes a lot of sense for this.
Matthew: Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton.
John: I’ll go Styles/Ricochet, but Kingston/Orton is possible too.
Matthew: Goldberg annihilating Ziggler.
John: Goldberg over Ziggler in two minutes. Maybe less.
Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)
Mike: I appreciate some of the fresh-feeling matches, but I can't go higher than a 5.5. I feel like this is a WM Lite card, with nostalgia acts occupying too many slots and far too many straight-up singles matches without big stakes. If the mission is to make Slam feel like a big deal, I can't claim it's successful.
Matthew: Solid 6.5 I’m legitimately surprised by some of the names not on this show to be honest.
John: I’m going with a 7 out of 10 because I think they did a smart thing by not having a lot of matches on the show. Even if they add stuff, almost all these matches will get plenty of time. That should mean we will get a few matches around the four-star match level and that’s something worth getting excited about it. In order to get to that next level, they need to surprise us or do something that will get us talking in a positive way.
John: I’ll be back with a review of SummerSlam on TJRWrestling.net live on Sunday night, so check it out during the show or after it’s over.