This Sunday, the WWE hosts its 30th annual SummerSlam. Though ostensibly part of the company’s “big four” pay-per-view specials (and clearly the third best of them), the Biggest Party of the Summer™ has always felt a little aimless. It doesn’t have the pomp of WrestleMania or the gimmick matches of Survivor Series or the Royal Rumble, it’s just…like…a night of wrestling? I guess? This year’s event will once again emanate from the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, meaning it’s sure to have a lively and raucous crowd – and that’s a good thing considering the card leaves a lot to be desired. While there are some solid matchups and a great main event, there are a lot of holdover bouts that could just as easily run on free television. Nonetheless, SummerSlam is a major event so we here at AiPT! are here to tell you what you can expect.
Akira Tozawa (c) vs. Neville For the Cruiserweight Championship
Since returning from injury earlier this year, Neville has been in a career renaissance. The Man That Gravity Forgot won the Cruiserweight title in January and has remained undefeated (well…he hasn’t been pinned or submitted) ever since. That was until Monday, at least, as Akira Tozawa managed to pin the King of the Cruiserweights and take his title. Bafflingly, the WWE has decided to run the rematch only six days later, minus the intrigue and excitement of their first encounter.
Jason: I mean, Tozawa’s gotta retain, right? What’s the point of the title change if he loses it so quickly afterward? Dude’s great, but not at a level where he can take that kind of burial.
Winner: Akira Tozawa
Brian: I’d rather this not be on the card. Let it stay on Raw and 205 Live to avoid being buried by the other 35 matches on the card. Neville and Tozawa tore it up Monday in front of a nuclear hot crowd. Let it settle for a while.
Winner: Titus Brand
Nathaniel: Battle of the PWG favorites! The decision to switch the title so close to SummerSlam makes no sense. It makes so little sense that it is hard to imagine the title not going back to Neville.
New Day (c) vs. The Usos For the Smackdown Tag Championships
Since coming to Tuesday nights, the New Day have been on a beeline toward the Smackdown Tag titles. In the sole bright spot of last month’s abysmal Battleground PPV, the trio managed to win those belts in what was clearly the match of the night. Since then, each team has jumped their rivals en route to another potential MotN contender.
Jason: The Usos are my favorite team on the blue brand, but I can’t see them winning this. New Day walks out with the belts.
Winner: The New Day
Brian: Should New Day come out on top in this one, who will they feud with? Go on, name me another SDL tag team that matters. I’ll wait.
Winner: The Usos and whoever gets royalties on New Day merch
Nathaniel: If the rumors of a post-SummerSlam Superstar Shakeup are true, then there is only one direction that makes sense. Woken Hardys come over to feud with the Day of the New. Seems too soon for that, but a placeholder feud with Breezango sounds fun.
Winner: The New Day
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Drunk off his first victory in what feels like a year, my man Rusev decided to talk a considerable amount of shit and claim that, short of John Cena (and Sami Zayn… and most of the upper midcard of Raw), no one could beat him. This caught the attention of the Smackdown creative team who said “LOL OK” and sent Randy Orton out there.
Jason: I would absolutely LOVE for Rusev to win this thing clean, for Randy to be inspired to give a competitive performance, and the crowd not to go to the bathroom for RuRu’s return to greatness. Sadly, Orton’s coming off a string of embarrassing losses to once and future jobber, Jinder Mahal, so there’s no way Rusev’s walking away from this without eating the RKO.
Winner: (heavy sigh) Randy Orton.
Brian: If I thought Rusev had a chance in the current environment or if Randy gave a damn, I’d be excited about this. Orton has proven that he is amazing when he’s on, but he just keeps phoning it in as a face.
Winner: Orton. Loser: The Audience.
Nathaniel: It seems like the best idea is to have Rusev go over strong on his way to a World Championship program. So, of course, that will not be happening. Randy wins a decent match with an RKO out of nowhere.
Winner: Randy Orton
Big Cass vs. Big Show (with Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a shark cage)
Enzo Amore’s finishing move is having a 7-foot monster lay out his opponent. After Big Cass punted ‘Lil Scrappy Doo to the curb, Zo was forced to trade in for an older model in Big Show. Despite successfully fighting both of them off for weeks, Cass demanded that Amore be suspended above the ring in a shark cage in his PPV match with Show – a gimmick that has prevented the caged person from interfering in a match precisely never. Though he had been knocked out by the big man two weeks in a row, Cass aligned himself with the Club and broke Show’s hand to bring the KO punch out of the equation. I guess being younger, faster, having his buddy locked in a shark cage and having won all of their previous encounters wasn’t enough of an upper hand for the man from Queens.
Jason: Enzo’s totally dropping a chain into the ring, and I’d bet Cass grabs it to use on Show. He needs the win more, so smart money is on Cass.
Winner: Cass. And whoever owns the warehouse that is overstocked with unsold Crash Cage playsets.
Brian: Can they use Enzo as a weapon when they get him down? Will they have to raise him extra high so that Big and Big can’t reach the bottom of the cage?
Winner: The first commentator to make a Judy Bagwell reference (Graves, natch).
Nathaniel: Has a face ever been suspended above the ring? I am sure it has happened, but I cannot remember. How much will Enzo complain before being placed in the cage? The best part of someone being suspended above the ring is how they get tricked into the cage. Enzo will probably just cut a promo then walk right in. Botched Enzo interference leads to Show destroying him while he’s still locked in the cage.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
On the night of the Superstar Shakeup, Bray Wyatt appeared on the TitanTron to antagonize Finn Balor. He then forgot about it for three months before costing Balor a match against the Drifter. Not cool with losing to NXT’s Barry Horowitz, Balor started attacking the dreadlocked bayou wizard, culminating in this match…which was initially bumped to Raw where Bray went over clean then gave Finnzie a bloodbath after the fact. This led Balor to ask for his rematch at SummerSlam, one where he’ll once again don his demon paint.
Jason: Even though his return to the main roster has seen him take plenty of losses, there’s no way Demon Finn loses his comeback appearance. Bray will once again be the “Eater of Pins.”
Winner: Finn Balor
Brian: So we get the return of The Demon. I’m in. I’m not thrilled how quickly we got to the reappearance and the talk of “viscous red acidic fluid” or whatever, but who cares? Demon Finn will crawl down into the Barclay Center and fight someone who can make maggot gifs show up on the ring. Let’s do this.
Winner: The Demon (not the KISS one, the good one…you know, with the abs)
Nathaniel: Bray got the upper hand this past Monday by pouring BBQ sauce on Finn Balor, but Balor’s winning on Sunday.
Winner: Finn Balor
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens for the United States Championship with Shane McMahon as Special Guest Referee
Kevin Owens is the new face of America, but lost the US title in a flukey manner at a Madison Square Garden house show. He then won it back the next week at Battleground (also in a flukey manner) only to lose it again two days later on Smackdown. Because all three of these matches saw the refs become “incapacitated” in increasingly silly ways, American Dad* insisted that they have a special guest Referee. Because he’s somehow still a draw, Shane McMahon got the nod. Since then, both KO and AJ have laid out Shane with errant kicks, setting up the “who can you trust” dynamic that was not at all needed for this match. (*He’s actually a Canadian Dad)
Jason: Looks like they’re planning on KO vs. Shane at Survivor Series or Royal Rumble. The road starts now with a win for the “Champ that Runs the Camp” following a mild amount of Shenanigans.
Winner: AJ Styles.
Brian: KO has the distinction of being the only Canadian who appeared in front of a Canadian audience live on SDL two weeks ago and didn’t lose his match. He also didn’t use the “New Face of America” tron, but he was in Canada, so who knows. I think little Kev moves on after this one, letting AJ be a long-term champ.
Winner: AJ Stahhhhhhhles
Nathaniel: There are bigger things ahead for AJ. There has to be right? This is going to be the second match of the night where botched interference leads to a win. I just hope Shane does not overshadow watch should be a fun match.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Naomi (c) vs. Natalya for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
At Battleground (man, a lot happened that night? I just wish most of it wasn’t bad.) there was a fatal five-way match between almost the entire Smackdown women’s division to see who would face Naomi. Then we found out it was Natty. Since most of their program has centered around Natty’s issues with Money in the Bank holder Carmella, the direction is kind of telegraphed here.
Jason: It’s a shame Naomi is a spectator in her own title feud. I’m going to say Natty takes it only for Carmella to then use her MitB briefcase to head home with the title.
Winner: Natty, but new champ: Carmella.
Brian: I really, really want to like Natty as a Superstar. I like her as a person and in the ring as a technician, but she is just so dry. She’s like if the Gobi Desert was drinking white wine dry. I think at some point she deserves a run just for her longevity and her contributions as an artist in the ring.
Winner: Natalya and wrestling purists
Nathaniel: I agree with Jason. Natayla is getting the belt only to drop it immediately to Carmella.
Winner: Natayla wins the match; Carmella cashes in
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship
Bayley was meant to be in this match but the gods are cruel, and now she’s been booed out of the company…for a few months with a shoulder injury. Scrambling to fill the space, the Raw creative team threw together a couple of obvious matches that culminated in Sasha Banks earning her fallen friend’s spot.
Jason: This one all depends on what their post-SummerSlam plans are – by which I mean, which brand Asuka finds herself on. I’m going to call this for Bliss so her storyline with Nia Jax can have some kind of meaningful payoff.
Winner: Alexa Bliss.
Brian: I think we need to start looking at the Women’s division having multiple feuds at once gasp. Nia-Alexa is on the burner, as is Bayley-Sasha eventually. Who else is in the Raw division? Oh, yeah, Emma. I think that Alexa-Nia will happen between now and the Rumble and we’ll get something bigger (Asuka) leading into Mania.
Winner: Little Miss Bliss
Nathaniel: I still think the plan is to turn Sasha heel. Bliss wins here. Sasha just sputters along until turning on Bayley when she returns.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
Cesaro and Sheamus (c) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins for the Raw Tag Team Championships
The match all about hesitant fisting. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins used to be super bros in The Shield, but Seth wanted to be in the main event and betrayed the team. Now bros no mo, Rollins feels bad for being a douche and is trying to make it up to Ambrose. Deano isn’t sure he can trust Crossfit Jesus and refuses to accept the man’s apology. After a few weeks of getting beat up by Sheamus and Cesaro, the Shield boys finally fisted on Monday, which earns them a shot at the tag titles for some reason.
Jason: As much as I like The Bar, it would be stupid to bet against the re-formed Shield unless they want to turn Dean heel. Since Raw is short on mid-card faces, it’s gonna be a bad night for Shesaro.
Winner: The Shield
Brian: They did the thing!
Winner: 2/3 of The Shield!
Nathaniel: Remember for how many years they teased a DX reunion? I bet we are getting that here. It also makes sense for Dean to string Rollins along for weeks before “accepting” his friendship then turning on him. The best heels are the ones that have a strong point. And who can blame Dean for not trusting Rollins then costing him the tag titles before Seth does something to him?
Winner: The Bar
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
John Cena is about to switch to the Raw Brand but wants to get in a little Super Cena run before he goes. Baron Corbin was Mr. Money in the bank until Tuesday where, after costing Cena a match against the WWE champ, the Lone Wolf cashed in his contract on a prone Jinder Mahal only for Cena to distract him long enough for a roll up loss to the Modern Day Maharaja. Now that he’s only the third person to fail to cash in a MitB contract successfully, Corbin’s out for revenge against Big Match John – who, coincidentally, was the first.
Jason: Despite the 11th hour fireworks for this feud, I still gotta throw my lot in with the 16 World Champ. Whether it’s by DQ or he just eats the super AA, Ol’ Barry C’s gonna to be counting the lights.
Winner: LOL CENA WINS
Brian: Poor Corbin. His sad tummy is even sadder after Sunday.
Nathaniel: If Cena does not squash Barry in under five minutes, I will be shocked.
Winner: John Cena
Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Title
Three months ago Jinder Mahal went from ashy to classy by defeating Randy Orton for the WWE Title. With the help of every ethnically Indian WWE superstar whose phone still works (sorry Tiger Ali Singh), Mahal has somehow managed to hold onto the belt. Shinsuke Nakamura beat (and nearly killed) John Cena a few weeks back, earning himself a shot at the title at SummerSlam. While Shinsuke is MILES above his competition, I think it’s pretty cool that this is the first time two Asian men (ethnically at least; Jinder is Canadian) have contested for this title at a major WWE show.
Jason: The Jinder Mahal experiment has run its course, it’s time for him to go back to the midcard. It’s Shinsuke’s time to shine.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Brian: This has been the weirdest set of circumstances to get us here. But we are finally going to see Jinder Mahal beat a major opponent. Oh, yeah, I said it. I know what the “right” play is, but after seeing the Singh brothers tweet about how they were greeted as heroes by Sikh kids in a temple in Toronto and with Mahal accompanying Arjun Singh Bhullar to the ring at UFC 215, taking the title off of the Maharaja could be a mis-step. After all, where does he go without the title? Are we going to see Mahal-Nakamura until the Rumble?
Nathaniel: The WWE already teased it at Money in the Bank. It was awesome in Japan. The ultimate goal is Nakamura – AJ. And to give it maximum effect, you have to have the WWE Championship at stake. Seems like it’s best to put the belt on Nak now and build for a championship series in early 2018.
Winner: Swagsuke YEAHOH!!!!!
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman for the Universal Title
Brock Lesnar is a shaved silverback gorilla who is both the Universal Champion and never actually on the show. Braun Strowman is a slightly shaved bear who is both a hyper violent monster and the top babyface in the company (though not by design). Roman Reigns is both the privileged, uber-face heir apparent to John Cena’s role as face of the company and the most hated man in wrestling. Samoa Joe is here to take the pin. While the three Raw regulars have been fighting each other over and over for the past several weeks, Brock has stuck to interview segments and absolutely destroying the Miztourage. In one such interview, Brock and his advocate Paul Heyman threatened to leave the company if he were to lose the title.
Jason: This is the hardest one to predict, as I think the smart move is to have the title on Raw every monday. That being said, never bet against Brock at SummerSlam. Bork Laser FTW.
Winner: Barack Lesnar.
Brian: I’m going to lose this one. I think Brock is heading to UFC and I think giving every member of The Shield a title would give Vince a hard-on like he hasn’t had since his little blue pill prescription ran out.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Nathaniel: Brock still has to put over Roman. But I honestly think it will be at Mania in a one on one match. I also think Brock is a master negotiator who is just leveraging the UFC against Vince. My gut tells me Joe is winning, but who would he beat? It makes more sense for Brock to pin Joe.
Winner: Brock Lesnar