Oh hey, looks like there’s a WWE PPV this weekend. Wait, there’s a TakeOver too? What show is it? SUMMERSLAM?! The second biggest show of the year is on Sunday and this is how they built the card? Yes, despite a lackluster build, a lackluster card and…well, a lackluster year for the biggest wrestling promotion in the world, we’re staring down the barrel of another SummerSlam and there isn’t a whole lot to be excited about. There are definitely a few points of interest in there, though, as we will get our first look at The Fiend, and Ember Moon looks to break through the Horsewoman-shaped ceiling of the women’s division. Still, with a card comprised mostly of rematches and one novelty match that is so easy to call it may as well be
Jenny Mike Jones Sir Mix-A-Lot your mom (who loves and misses you. Please give her a ring, she just wants to say hi.). We asked our panel of experts how it was all going to go down at the biggest party of the summer and here’s what they had to say.
Drew Gulak (c) vs. Oney Lorcan for the Cruiserweight Championship
Drew Gulak won the Cruiserweight title at Stomping Grounds and has held onto the purple strap with a vise-like grip ever since. Sadly, barring a great exhibition with Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, he has been a bit of an absentee champion of late. Without a story to provide a worthy challenger, Drake Maverick booked a 6-pack challenge to name an opponent for the Drewserweight championship, which Oney Lorcan won. Can Lorcan make the most of his opportunity and win his first title in WWE? Or will the reign of Gulak continue?
Brian: 205 Live has become one of the most consistent, story and match-driven shows under the WWE umbrella. Oney Lorcan is a great brawler and will match up well with Gulak’s brutal mat technique. This will be a very different Cruiserweight match with none of the high-flying of an Alexander or Ali. Hopefully the Toronto crowd will give it the reaction it deserves.
Winner: The Ruler of the Gulaxy
Loser: The first guy in the crowd to chant “BORING”
Jason: Gulak’s too new to the title and Oney’s too ill-developed as a challenger for a change here. This should be a good match though! Lorcan’s always been an underrated performer, so it’ll be cool to see him get a chance to prove it against the best guy currently in the division — even if it is in the pre-show.
Winner: Gew Drulak
Loser: The audience that doesn’t get there early enough to see this one
JJ: This is the match I’m quite possibly the most excited for. 205 guys always feel like they have something to prove and due to that their matches are usually one of, if not the best on the card. Oney is a stiff worker and Drew is a submission specialist that isn’t afraid to bleed. Really looking forward to watching these guys beat the absolute sh*t out of each other. I’m rooting for my hometown hero to bring home the gold.
Winner: Oney Lorcan
Jay: If anyone can manage to tweet me (@JBarrettWrites) what either Gulak’s or Lorcan’s finish are (without looking them up!) – I will promise to watch this match. If not, I’ll leave it to languish on the pre-show. If WWE doesn’t really care about the Cruiserweights, why should I?
AJ Styles (c) vs. Ricochet for the United States Championship
AJ Styles had lost his mojo since coming to Monday nights in the Superstar Shake-up (remember when separate brands were a thing?), and it was up to his buddies Gallows and Anderson to help the Phenomenal One get his groove back. Unfortunately for the newly called up Ricochet, he (and his nascent US Title reign) were just the thing a heel AJ needed to reestablish himself and The Club as the most dangerous force on the red brand. Can Ricochet overcome the odds and reclaim his hard-won title, or will The OC keep the gold at the expense of the up-and-comer?
Brian: For those of us internet wrestling nerds who really like to tweet about “workrate” and such, this is our match. Ricochet has STAR written all over him (probably in that pec tat) and AJ Styles is a wonderful foil to showcase the kid’s moveset. With all the emphasis being placed on The OC recently and their feud with The New Day, I’m not sure I see AJ losing the US Title right now, but I’m also not sure what happens to Ricochet if he loses. I think AJ loses the title after New Day saves Ricochet from the dastardly Good Brothers and moves on to feuding with Rollins for the Universal Championship as the brand split becomes more set in stone this October. That’s a lot of threads that can be pulled here. And it will be MOTN, hands down.
Winner: The One and Only
Loser: Whoever follows this match
Jason: It’s 2003 all over again, because I’m fairly certain that we’ll be seeing a lot of “The OC” in the coming months. As such, unless AJ is going to go after the Universal title soon (spoilers, he won’t Brock is holding onto that belt ‘til AT LEAST Survivor Series), he’ll probably be wearing the star spangled trap for the foreseeable future. I anticipate some shenanigans from the Good Brothers, but this is one mountain I just don’t see Ricochet climbing. Should be a good match, though.
Winner: The Phenomenal One
Loser: Ricochet’s early push
JJ: It feels weird to say this, but WWE has actually done a good job booking The OC so far. Awful faction name aside, these are three of the best guys in the business and I’m stoked to see them together (even if it should have happened three years ago). AJ Styles will be in any conversation for best wrestler in the world and Ricochet is one of the most gifted high flyers alive. I feel like everyone assumes AJ will rely on the Good Brothers to run interference, but he’s never struck me as a sh*thead heel. He’s so good that he doesn’t need people doing his dirty work for him. If this match is given time, it could easily steal the show.
Winner: AJ Styles
Jay: The OC has legs and it seems to have rejuvenated Styles, Gallows, and Anderson and Paul Heyman’s Raw has been booked pretty logically and consistently. As such – it makes the most sense for Styles to retain his title.
Winner: AJ Styles
Bayley (c) vs. Ember Moon for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
After besting the looming specter of Charlotte Flair, Bayley can essentially call her own shots — which is precisely what she did when she named Ember Moon as her opponent for the SmackDown Women’s title. Was this Bayley picking a cast-off from the undercard in order to set up an easy win, or is Moon the injection of new blood that the women’s title scene so desperately needs?
Brian: I love both Bayley and Ember Moon, but I’m having a hard time with the face vs. face feuds right now. Ember has the best finishing move in WWE, but is missing that extra X-factor to put her in the same league as Becky, Charlotte, and even Bayley. A win here could help, but I think a super strong showing and coming up just short, but winning the respect of the fans and the champ would work as well. That or a sudden chair shot to a Bayley Buddy on the way in.
Winner: The OG of Hug Life
Loser: Everyone who doesn’t enjoy watching Ember play D&D
Jason: First thing’s first: I’m glad that Ember Moon is getting the chance to shine at a major PPV. She’s an underutilized talent, and really should be in title contention more often. That being said, there’s no way she wins here. She’s an internet darling lamb being led to slaughter at the altar of the NXT Horsewomen, and she deserves better. I like Bayley as much as anyone, but she works best in the chase, and is typically a boring champion. Unfortunately, we’re probably stuck with the Hugger at the top of SmackDown’s women’s division for now. At least until the Fox deal goes through.
Winner: It’s Bayley!
Loser: Switch playing ninja werewolves
JJ: Ember Moon is a very talented wrestler, but the only build for this match has been Bayley feeling benevolent enough to give the new kid a chance. While I’m looking forward to the wrestling here, my only actually hope for the outcome is the appearance of Sasha Banks. If she shows up and smacks Bayley in the mouth I’ll be happy, because it’s sure starting to feel stale with the Hugger.
Jay: This is one is hard to pick. Bayley has been doing great as the champ but Ember Moon has shown a major upside with her mean streak. It would be premature for Ember to take it here as this feud still has a ways to go. I can easily forsee a Dusty finish, but Bayley is going to keep the belt.
Finn Balor vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Following the collapse of his short lived tag team with Matt Hardy, Bray Wyatt spent some time reflecting on his career and where he sees it heading. What emerged was the Firefly Funhouse, a children’s television show where a newly sanitized Wyatt stifles his internal demons by working out his issues with puppets representing the flaws that defined his earlier runs and character quirks. Unfortunately, his new friends (whose friendship will never ever end) can’t tame his main demon — The Fiend! For his debut match, The Fiend has targeted a man who knows a little something about demons, Finn Balor. Will the Fiend feast on the Extraordinary man’s soul, or will Finn Balor spoil Bray Wyatt’s return?
Brian: Bray Wyatt is such a cool figure in WWE, reinventing himself and creating a truly creepy character in an era when this shouldn’t work. The Fiend is f-----g terrifying and I love it. I’m just not sure what an actual wrestling match will look like. What will The Fiend look like under the full lights? I see this being another beat down of Finn Balor, maybe even not being a real match, allowing for the Demon vs. Fiend match we need in October for what by all rights should be rebranded as Halloween Havoc.
Winner: Tom Savini and team for that amazing design work on the mask
Loser: Everyone who expects Balor to join The OC
Jason: Oh, Finn. My sweet Finn. You’re going to get your ass handed to you hard in this one. The good news is, Finn’s going to get to go on a lengthy honeymoon with his cute new wife(?). The …other good news is that The Fiend is going to start off with a signature win over a popular star. Yowie wowie! It’s actually win/win, which is pretty rare in WWE these days. Really looking forward to seeing how Bray’s new gimmick is reflected in-ring, so this is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Winner: The Fiend….also Finn’s relationship with Veronica Rodriguez…also the fans…
JJ: If the reports are to be believed, Finn is about to take two months off. If that isn’t reason enough for him to go out on his back, think about the insanity of Bray Wyatt/The Fiend losing his first match back after being built up for the past several months. But seriously, The Fiend is not only terrifying, but he’s one of the best characters WWE has going. It would be crazy, insane and beyond stupid for him to lose his first big match. Even WWE can’t screw this one up.
Winner: The Fiend
Jay: The Fiend. Balor is just kind of there and has not done anything of note since winning the IC title at Mania.
Winner: The Fiend
Charlotte Flair vs. Trish Stratus
Charlotte Flair is the most successful female wrestler WWE has ever had, and she knows it. Finding herself out of the title scene this close to a major PPV, the Queen realized the quickest way to a marquee match these days is to call out a living legend. Fortunately, this year’s SummerSlam just happens to be in Toronto, the hometown of Hall of Famer Trish Stratus, so Flair didn’t have to look too far for a dance partner. For her part, Trish…decided she could take a few bumps for a Big 4 payday, and the rest was history. Can the Queen topple the icon of the Attitude Era, or will Flair feel the Stratusfaction?
Brian: This match is both about giving Trish the credit she rightly deserves for lifting women’s wrestling in WWE out of the gutter as much as she could…I mean, being the start of the Women’s Evolution…and cementing Charlotte Flair as the greatest women’s champion in WWE history. Since we didn’t see any of her in the tag match on Monday, I’m not sure how much Trish can still bring to the table, but Charlotte is a hell of a wrestler and should carry a decent wrestling match with a ton of emotional investment. Adding in a Toronto crowd should really build Charlotte as the biggest heel in the division. With the need to build more main-event women, she can be a good foil for the Ember Moons and…there are others, right?
Winner: Charlotte Flair, First of Her Name
Loser: The incredibly thin women’s division
Jason: I like Trish Stratus. She’s an ireplacebly important figure in the development of women’s wrestling who shattered glass ceilings to pave the way for what would eventually become the women’s division we know today. That all being said, Charlotte is just an overall better performer in every way. She’s a better athlete, a better promo, and has a more nuanced character that works as both face and heel. Maybe it’s the heritage, maybe it’s just reflective of what was asked of both performers in their respective haydays, but Charlotte is the newer, better version of a division leading performer and should walk all over Trish. She won’t, because legends get a +5 to all stats (and if we’re giving Goldberg a chance to go out looking strong, Trish deserves it too) but Flair should absolutely come out on top in this one. Trish can go back to her family life and yoga business and Charlotte can get back into feuds with people who are more her speed.
Winner: The Queen
Loser: The women’s tag division, which didn’t even make the card
JJ: The only reason this match is happening is because Trish Stratus is from Toronto, the city that’s hosting SummerSlam. Even at the zenith of her abilities, Trish was never as good as Charlotte. And don’t mistake me, I love Trish. But Charlotte is a future first ballot Hall of Famer and will arguably be the greatest female performer in WWE history. So there’s no way I’m being sold on Trish, years past her prime, standing even a remote chance of beating Charlotte. I’m sure Charlotte will carry that match and make Trish look as good as she can. But really, what’s to be excited about here? Get Charlotte back where she belongs, in the main event.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
Jay: No way Charlotte doesn’t win. She hasn’t done much since Mania and they need to give her something to brag about and lord over the winner of the SD Women’s Championship match.
Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens (If Owens loses, he must quit WWE)
Shane McMahon has always wanted to be his dad, so why not recreate his father’s greatest feud by starting trouble with a working-class everyman wearing all black and using a modified Ace Crusher to beat up authority figures? While Kevin Owens is no Stone Cold, he is still a beloved badass reveling in his newfound tweener role — and like all badass chaotic good types, confidence shall be his downfall. KO is so confident that he can beat Shane in a fight (despite Shane sweeping The Miz AND Roman Reigns in singles matches during those feuds) that he’s put his career on the line. Can KO silence the scion of WWE, or will Shane shuffle a hardworking father of two into the unemployment line?
Brian: I know I’m supposed to be, but man am I in 100% agreement with KO on this one. Please take Shane off of my TV machine. He can always bring something to the table as a heel authority figure, or a support player in big moments, but he does nothing to build up new stars. KO has to come out of this one into something big. Maybe reignite the KO-Sami feud but flipped roles?
Winner: Drew McIntyre and all the heels trod upon by Shane’s existence
Loser: Literally no-one once it is over
Jason: For the love of god, just let it be Owens. Fun’s fun, but enough is enough. I don’t need a sweaty 50-year-old executive nearly dying on my screen every week and taking time away from real performers. That and we’ve seen the whole “rebel is fired but fights his way back” story a half dozen times at this point — including with KO himself. Let’s just mercifully move on from this nonsense, shall we?
Winner: Kevin Owens
Loser: Shane McMahon’s PPV hot streak
JJ: Please, for the love of god, get Shane McMahon off of my television. A 50 year old man should not be putting over himself at the expense of younger talent. WWE complains they can’t make new stars. Maybe, just maybe, Drew McIntyre and Elias shouldn’t be henchmen to Shane, perhaps it would make more sense if he were their manager. But no! No! That would be crazy talk. I don’t care about the story. I just want this to be over already.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Jay: Owens has gone through quite the reinvention by rehashing Austin’s gimmick. And considering that he’s using the same character and finisher that Stone Cold did back in the day — it’s a good bet that they will use the same booking tactics. As such, it makes more sense for Owens to lose here and go on a tear trying to get his job back. Remember, Austin’s angle, whether he won or lost, took the most complicated route through as it gave him something to rebel against and drive a zamboni through. I fully expect Shane to take it to enrage Owens even more.
Winner: Shane O’Mac
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Natalya for the Raw Women’s Championship (Submission match)
Becky Lynch is the most popular woman in WWE. So much so that she really doesn’t have any believable competition when it comes time to defend her title. Buuuuut the next PPV is in Canada and the creative team is in the midst of one of its laziest periods in recent memory, so WWE dusted off Natalya and pretended like her heritage as a (Neid)Hart makes her a fitting challenger for the woman that is literally on the cover on the company’s new video game. Will Becky keep rolling through these challengers until Ronda Rousey decides to show back up, or will Natalya manage to make the company’s golden child submit to her uncle’s move on the second biggest show of the year?
Brian: This one is an interesting choice for a setup. In her “home country,” Natalya the ostensible heel will try and defeat Becky Lynch, one of the most popular Superstars in the company via her most famous relative’s submission move. Can the Canadian crowd be counted upon to boo Nattie? I don’t see any upside to Nattie winning, especially with the recent announcement of Becks as co-cover for WWE 2K20. Becky’s got that title until Shayna Baszler comes to get revenge for Becky 2 Belts humiliating Ronda Rousey.
Winner: Nattie for being allowed anywhere near this match
Loser: Also Nattie
Jason: So far I feel like I’ve tried to be nice about every performer discussed on the card so far — but I’m not going to pretend with Natalya. She’s the dirt worst. She’s a terrible promo, a flat character with nothing going for her, and an overly rehearsed performer who looks like she’s counting dance steps every time she so much as throws a clothesline. She was thrown this match because SummerSlam is in Canada this year, but there is no chance in hell she takes that belt off of The Man on Sunday. And mercifully, she’ll recede back to the midcard never to bother us again…until the next Canadian PPV.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Loser: Honestly, I only see an upside to Nattie losing
JJ: As with Trish, the only reason Natalya is in this match is because she’s from Canada. I respect Natalya, but I don’t like her and I don’t think she is a very good wrestler. Recently, she compared her and Charlotte feuding to Bret and Austin, I’m fairly certain I spit my drink all over my monitor from the initial bout of uncontrollable laughter. Charlotte is an all time great. Becky is an all time great. Natalya is not. The last time Natty held the title was two years ago. God willing it’s the last time.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Jay: They clearly have been trying to reheat Becky after all the awkwardness with Rollins and the three months of blah with Lacey Evans. Natalya is that perfect foil that will give her a fight and help remind viewers just how awesome Becky can be when she’s got an obstacle to overcome.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship
After 11 years of toiling in the undercard, Kofi Kingston is finally the WWE Champ. Now that he’s top dog, Kof’s trying to make up for all of his mistakes in the past, and there’s none bigger than his 2009 feud with Randy Orton. Perceived at the time as Kingston’s ascent to the top of the card, Kofi’s loss at TLC 2009 actually seemed to cement the talented Ghanian superstar as little more than a “good hand.” Popular theory has it that Randy Orton had used his good standing with the company to keep Kofi down, and that was more than enough story to create this match. Will Orton prove that he has always been the superior wrestler, or will Kofi redeem himself for the failures of his past?
Brian: How many matches are on this card? This should be a good match and I’m super glad they’ve brought up the halted feud between Kofi and Randy from a number of years ago. “No Fs” Randy is best Randy, but he’s also a great opponent for the flamboyant Kingston. This won’t be MOTN or a clinic, but it will be a solid wrestling match with a good story, and Kofi further earning his spot as champ.
Winner: The Pancake Purveyor
Loser: Randy’s chances at beating HHH’s number of world titles
Jason: I gotta be honest, Randy Orton is in the midst of maybe my favorite era of his career…Actually, nah, it’s still Legend Killer Randy, but modern “over it” Randy is a close second. Barring the shoe-horned catchphrase about “the three deadliest letters in sports entertainment,” this is the best he’s ever been on the mic — and as an old pro, dude is capable of having a great match with almost anyone. It’s such a shame, then, that the Randy I like is running up against the smoldering coals of KofiMania. Kofi’s time with the belt may not run much longer, but he’s sure to get his win back from Randal Keith.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Loser: My (second) favorite version of Randy Orton
JJ: Who would have thought after nine years Randy Orton and Kofi Kingston would be back at it in a main event feud, but with Kofi as the WWE Champion and favorite to win. The history between these two has made for the best kind of nostalgia-fueled story and I’m really digging it. Orton is in the back end of his career and is clearly out of f*cks to give, but due to that he’s actually been a god damn delight to watch since he’s relaxed and having fun. It would leave a really bad taste in my mouth if this is how they decide to take the title off Kofi. The right way to end the chapter on these two is for Kofi to go out on top and win Orton’s respect.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Jay: There’s no upside to Randy winning the title here. This whole feud has been about Kofi proving his win wasn’t a fluke and exorcising a demon of his past. Randy winning here would be, to borrow a phrase from him, “STUPID!! STUPID!!!!” I do expect this match to steal the show, however.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Dolph Ziggler vs. Goldberg
Dolph Ziggler saw how Charlotte Flair earned a spot on the SummerSlam card and decided “it should’ve been me!” As such, he set out to start a feud with The Miz, which kinda morphed into a feud with Shawn Michaels. So naturally after starting smoke with both of these guys, and actually having a bout with The Miz announced for the SS card — BAM — Goldberg shows up. Yes, the world’s angriest grandpa is back in an attempt to erase the embarrassment of his terrible performance in that last Saudi Arabia show by knocking the chemical straightening agent out Dolph’s bleach-blond hair. Will Ziggler upset the Hall of Famer in his professional swan song, or will the thing that we all know is going to happen actually happen? (Spoiler alert: it will)
Brian: God, I both love and hate this match. Ziggy has been peppering the verboten word “wrestling” into his promos, giving some of the most fiery speeches of his career (stop me if you’ve heard this one), dropping Goldberg’s name as a disgrace to the profession. Cue the sparklers, boys. This one’s going to have to be a squash. Even with Ziggler carrying the sales job for the big man, it can’t last long. Cardio’s a b---h. Goldberg gets his mojo back after the bout with Taker at Blood Money III and can retire (again) in peace.
Winner: Goldberg’s son’s college fund
Loser: The Saudi Prince who paid for Goldberg vs. Taker
Jason: Spear, Jackhammer, back to a retirement that sticks.
Winner: Us for having both these guys off our screens for a while
Loser: Us for watching this.
JJ: Goldberg and The Undertaker humiliated themselves in Saudi Arabia. The Deadman was fed a match designed to correct that mistake. Now it’s Goldberg’s turn. That’s all this is. Ziggler will pull some cute heel nonsense and then receive a Jackhammer followed by a Spear.
Winner: Do we really need to tell you this? Goldberg (duh)
Jay: I don’t think this will be a squash. I see the match starting with Goldberg going for a spear and Ziggle countering it into a fameasser or a Zig-Zag. The match will end shortly thereafter but I think it will add fuel to Ziggler’s fire if he gets a few shots in. Goldberg will obviously win though.
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship
Brock Lesnar parlayed his Money in the Bank briefcase into his third Universal Title reign and destroyed Seth Rollins’ confidence, back and spleen in the process. Now that Seth has worked his way back into title contention, Brock has wasted little time in absolutely wrecking the Architect at every turn, leaving a shaken Rollins stoically avowing that he will indeed beat Brock Lesnar and become the Universal Champion again. Were Rollins’ words prophetic of his success on Sunday, or will Brock induct yet another performer into the population of Suplex City?
Brian: As with everything Brock since he opened up Orton and Cena hardway, I just don’t know what the purpose of “The Beast” having a belt he apparently does not care about is. Does having him as champ bring in more subscribers? More tickets sold? Why not have him as just an unbeatable legend that the young bucks (not those guys) of the company can try and take down, much like Taker before Brock ended The Streak? It’s ludicrous that one of the two major titles is off TV so much. Rollins has been brutalized and beaten and I don’t see any way he can win against Lesnar. It’s unfortunate, but them’s the facts. Lesnar disappears for three months while Heyman yells about him on TV a lot.
Winner: Brrrrrrrrrrock Lllllllesnar
Loser: Whatever credibility the Universal Title had (if any)
Jason: Oh yeah, Seth’s gonna get his lunch eaten by the Beast. Dude is broken and in a tailspin of his own creation, and he’s just not in a place where it would make sense to give him a “gutsy win” over Bork Laser. Hopefully Seth’s journey back to the midcard does something with the guy because he’s tremendously talented — he just needs to stay away from the candid interviews if he wants us to like him again. No amount of hanging out with the new kids in town is going to make you cool, Seth. Just chill out man — look what it’s done for Roman…besides the attempted vehicular manslaughter, I mean.
Winner: The mayor of Suplex City
Loser: Becky Lynch having to listen to Seth complain about the fans some more.
JJ: I love Seth Rollins but man, he has not been looking good these days and I don’t mean in a “oh my god he’s so beat up!” sort of way. I just don’t get what they’re trying to accomplish here. It made zero sense for Seth, being barely able to walk, to go after Brock on Raw. The following long-winded promo was awkward, boring and left the crowd completely uninterested. I really don’t see a way for Seth to come out on top here, and even worse, I really don’t care if he doesn’t manage to.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Jay: Rollins is going to win here. They’re doing the whole indomitable babyface thing that they wanted to do with Reigns, but people would receive Rollins’ win positively. More than that, Lesnar has nowhere else to go as Universal Champion. He has no viable contenders, no viable straightforward storyline to justify him keeping the title, and no reason to keep the title. No one wants to see more of Rollins and Lesnar after this and Lesnar needs to go away to refresh himself.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Additional Bet: Who’s leaving the show with the 24/7 title?
We all know they’ll do something with the damn thing, so who’s leaving Toronto with the strap?
Brian: I want to see someone accidentally win it. Let’s say Christian.
JJ: Jim “James” Sokolove
Jason: Give it to Bray Wyatt and have everyone be too scared to attack him for it.