This column is a monthly feature that looks ahead to WWE's next pay-per-view offering. The questions are from me. The answers are obviously from me.
This is different from the PPV preview that we do before the events because those are predictions of matches after seeing all of the television leading up to it. The questions in this column are about the build up to the event as we head to SummerSlam on August 18th.
I usually do this column on a Thursday, but I didn't have time before so it's coming at you on a Sunday night. Life was busy. I'm sorry for being late.
Here's a look at the lineup. There are six matches announced. Here they are from WWE.com.
WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian
Kane vs. Bray Wyatt (Ring of Fire Match)
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow
Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston & Divas Champion AJ Lee
Will any more matches be added? It's possible. Rob Van Dam vs. Antonio Cesaro is a rumor at this point. No Randy Orton match right now, but I expect him to be involved. More on that in the Q&A, so let's get to it.
1. Who will leave SummerSlam as WWE Champion?
I think it will either be Daniel Bryan or Money in the Bank holder Randy Orton. It's hard to make an official pick without watching the last Raw before SummerSlam because typically the last Raw is a show that can provide us with some info using the "lose or get attacked on TV, win on PPV" theory. I think the way WWE has been teasing us would suggest that Orton is the one that will leave with the title because that's who Vince McMahon (as a heel character) wants to be the WWE Champion since he's said he doesn't want Cena or Bryan.
Right now, a week before SummerSlam, I think Randy Orton will leave SummerSlam as the WWE Champion after successfully cashing in the briefcase on Daniel Bryan. I could change my mind, but that's my pick for now.
It's weird that Cena is going into the match as WWE Champion, yet most people think it will be either Orton or Bryan that walks out with the gold. If Cena leaves with the title it would definitely be disappointing, but it also wouldn't surprise me that much either. Why? Because it's John Cena. He wins a lot.
2. If it was up to you, who would leave SummerSlam as WWE Champion?
Daniel Bryan. I've written about it a few times before. I would book Bryan in a 20 minute match against John Cena that Bryan wins via tap out. That's right - Cena would tap out. It's not something he has done since he's been a top babyface in WWE. It would be a huge deal. Immediately following that grueling matchup, I would have Randy Orton come out. He would try to beat Bryan in his tired state, but would ultimately fail as Bryan would counter the RKO into a small package for the victory.
By doing that, Bryan would beat Cena and Orton in the same night similar to Chris Jericho beating Steve Austin and The Rock in the same night 12 years ago (different circumstances - same idea). It would be a huge accomplishment for him. Orton could turn heel possibly the next night on Raw or at a later date. I think it's more important for Bryan to leave SummerSlam as the WWE Champion than it is for Orton to cash in to turn heel. Let Bryan have his big moment there.
That's what *I* would do. I want SummerSlam 2013 to be remembered as the night when Daniel Bryan ascended the ladder to become the guy or one of the top guys. I'm not saying that's what I think WWE will do. For that answer, see the first question.
3. Will Vince McMahon or Triple H factor into the WWE Championship match?
I think it's certainly possible. I hope not, though. It seems to me like Vince is the role of the evil, heel owner that he's been known for and Hunter is in the babyface role. If they did something where they argued at ringside, Bryan ended up winning and then Hunter gave him a Pedigree after the match to set up the Orton cash-in, that would be huge heel heat for Hunter.
Trust me I don't want it to happen, but if you are going to turn Triple H into a heel owner type of character this is the perfect setting to screw Bryan out of the title. If you look at the current roster there are a lack of true top heels right now. Hunter turning heel here makes sense. There's the obvious tie-in with Shawn Michaels too since he's the one that trained Bryan. Not saying Michaels would wrestle, but it would add to the story.
4. How many booking ideas have you seen/heard for the WWE Championship match?
About 47 scenarios. I'm joking, sort of. I think what makes the WWE Title situation so interesting is all of the interesting possibilities that could come as a result of this match. You have Cena vs. Bryan, which on its own is a big deal. Who wins out of that? Then, will Orton cash in during the match, after the match? Will Orton successfully cash in or will he fail? Then as my question up above suggests, will Triple H or Vince McMahon get involved in some way?
Trust me, I read all the emails, posts on Facebook and tweets all the time. There are so many people throwing so many different scenarios out there. I don't know what will happen and I absolutely LOVE that. I don't want to know. I like being surprised. As long as it makes sense booking wise I'm fine with whatever happens. If it's a stupid finish that doesn't make a lot of sense then I'll voice my displeasure with it. Generally speaking I've liked most of the major WWE storylines in the past three months. I hope the smart booking continues.
Remember two years ago when CM Punk had all that momentum and then Triple H ended up beating him a match? That was pointless. It wasn't a clean loss, but it was unnecessary. I didn't like it happening in the first place. There was no reason for Punk to lose especially since he didn't get his win back either.
Those are four questions about the WWE Title match. I may touch on it a bit later too. Can you tell I'm excited?
5. Who will win the CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar match?
I hope CM Punk does. If this was the first match in a series of two or three matches then I'd be all for a Lesnar win. However, we don't know Lesnar's schedule. If it's similar to his schedule last year then he's only going to work three PPV matches within a year meaning he's already done Extreme Rules and now SummerSlam. If he does one more then it's going to be WrestleMania. I really doubt that match would be against Punk with potential opponents like The Rock or The Undertaker out there. I hope Punk wins this match. I think he will. I wouldn't be angered if he lost, but I would have a hard time understanding why they would put Lesnar over.
By the way, Lesnar's video promo that aired on Smackdown was excellent.
It's not a typical wrestler promo where a guy is raising his voice to make a point. Lesnar keeps the same tone the entire time. That's what I love about it.
6. Will CM Punk hit Paul Heyman with the GTS at SummerSlam?
It seems likely. That would generate a huge pop. Don't do that spot on television before SummerSlam. Save it for the pay-per-view and make it a big deal. The crowd will absolutely love it. There's not much more to say. I think it should happen and it will happen.
7. Should WWE add a stipulation to Punk vs. Lesnar?
I think so. Lesnar's matches are better if he can brawl outside the ring and his opponents can use weapons to weaken him. If it's a straight up wrestling match it could suffer a bit. I also think a stipulation would help to differentiate it from the Bryan/Cena match, which looks to be a regular wrestling match.
The stipulation I think would fit is a No Holds Barred type of match. Yes, Lesnar's been in many of those matches in the past, but I think it's because they fit his character so well. If Punk is able to beat the big bully in a match where weapons are allowed it would make Punk's victory all the more impressive.
8. Was it a smart move to have Christian defeat Alberto Del Rio in a long non-title match on SmackDown?
I don't think it was a bright move although I thought it was a very good match. The negative of doing Christian/Del Rio is that it's happening next Sunday. I guess WWE's thinking is that nobody is going to order SummerSlam just for that match, so they decided to give it away for free.
What I think they should have done was make it a tag while also involving the Rhodes teaming with Christian and Sandow teaming with Del Rio. You could still have Christian pin Del Rio like he did, but at least then you're not giving away the singles match on television. I think sometimes WWE gives away too many big singles matches on television when they could get the same points across while doing tag matches.
9. Could Ricardo Rodriguez show up to cost Alberto Del Rio the World Title?
A week ago I would have said yes. Now I say no. After Christian beat Del Rio clean on Smackdown I think it's less likely that Christian will leave with the World Title. I thought it would have been a finish that made a lot of sense because Del Rio kicked Rodriguez to the curb, but now I'm not sold on that idea.
10. What can we expect out of the Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow match?
I think they'll have a competitive match that goes between 10-13 minutes. The babyface turn of Rhodes has had its high points (throwing the briefcase in the Gulf of Mexico) and low points (boring segment on Raw last week), but as a fan of both guys I'm optimistic that they will have an entertaining feud.
I'm leaning towards picking Rhodes at this point. Sandow has the briefcase, so that means the creative team would be more likely to book him to lose matches because if he cashes it in then he gets all his momentum back. It also sets up rivalries because then the person that beat them a week earlier can ask for a title shot and it sort of makes sense. That's just how WWE books things. If it was me, I'd book somebody strong before they cash in because when they do cash in that makes them look like a legit star instead of some lucky guy who cashed in at the right time.
11. Any chance that Damien Sandow will cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase at SummerSlam?
There's always a chance, but I would say no to that because I think Sandow cashing in on the same night where Orton may cash in would take some of the lustre away from the World Title that already has lost value in the last couple of years.
For those that have asked, as of right now the briefcase is not on the line in the Sandow/Rhodes match. I don't think it should be anyway. Sandow won it. He shouldn't have to defend it. That defeats the purpose of winning it in the first place.
12. Is it a mistake to not have a storyline for Rob Van Dam at SummerSlam?
I think it is. And it's not because I'm a huge RVD fan. I like him, but he's not a favorite either. The reason I think it's a mistake is because RVD has come in so hot since Money in the Bank last month and the crowd reacts positively to everything he does that it makes me wonder why they wouldn't have more of a plan for him. I'm not saying put him in the World Title match to make it a three way or anything like that. I just think with such a loaded heel roster that they could have paired up somebody with him.
As previously mentioned, there's a rumor that he'll face Antonio Cesaro possibly on the pre-show. Why couldn't they have built up a rivalry on television the last few weeks? It would have been nice to see.
13. Will Bray Wyatt get the victory over Kane?
Yes he will. There's really no need for Kane to go over. He's over 20 years older than Wyatt (46 to 26 in case you care), he's established as a WWE Legend and whether he wins or loses he's always going to be somebody that's perceived as a top guy by WWE fans.
I'm not sure how the crowd is going to react to the match as they compete inside a "Ring of Fire" although I hope that Wyatt is booed. I realize he has a cool character that smart fans like, but he's a heel. Boo him. It will help his career. I get the feeling that he may get cheers especially after he leaves the ring as the victor.
14. Is it a big deal that WWE is calling the Kane vs. Bray Wyatt matchup a "Ring of Fire Match" rather than an Inferno Match?
I don't think it's a big deal. I've seen some people complain about it, but it's such a minor thing to me. Yes, Kane has wrestled in some Inferno matches in the past. That's what most of us know it as. That doesn't mean they have to keep the name. As long as it's the same concept I think those that are complaining about it will be fine with it. Perhaps it's something new. Maybe only the turnbuckles will be on fire? It sounds like the whole ring will be, but until I see it I'm not entirely sure.
15. The mixed tag match should lead to a win for Ziggler & Kaitlyn, right?
I think so. Langston beat Ziggler on Raw, so it makes sense for the faces to get the win here. What's surprising to me is Ziggler & Kaitlyn haven't made out in front of AJ Lee to piss her off some more. That seems like a possibility. I hope Ziggler moves back into his role as a top contender for a major championship because his World Title reign wasn't booked that well. Ziggler should have had a bigger role at WrestleMania 29 and he should have had a bigger role at SummerSlam too.
The Kaitlyn/AJ story has been going on too long now. It's time for them to put Natalya in there as AJ's challenger.
16. Will there be any kind of match involving The Shield and Mark Henry?
I think it's very possible. There have been rumors for the last month that Big Show was set to return as a babyface that helped Mark Henry from an attack by The Shield and that would lead to Henry & Show taking on The Shield in a 2 on 3 handicap match. Of course the problem with that is that Show hasn't returned from his hip injury that required surgery and we don't know if he's going to be ready for SummerSlam. They could set it up on Raw and Smackdown this week with Big Show in the ring delivering a promo talking about where he's been. The Shield could attack, Henry could make the save and then help Big Show to his feet. Raw GM Brad Maddox could make the tag match right there. It's easy to do.
If Big Show is not cleared to compete then you can go back to the six man tag they've done on TV with Henry teaming up with The Usos against The Shield one more time. It was a great match before. It can be again. I just think it's important to get The Shield's three guys and Mark Henry on the SummerSlam card. They all deserve it.
17. What's the most intriguing storyline heading into SummerSlam?
I'll answer that question with a question: Can Daniel Bryan win the WWE Championship? That's the biggest story.
The Punk/Lesnar match is going to be a lot of fun and I like how they have built it up, but I think D-Bry's quest to be WWE Champion is the best story going in WWE today. If Bryan does win the WWE Championship, the intriguing question becomes whether Randy Orton uses his Money in the Bank briefcase to cash in at SummerSlam? Can't wait until Sunday. I'm excited to see what happens.
18. How many title changes do you think there will be?
Just one - the WWE Championship. I don't think Cena leaves as WWE Champion. Whether it's Bryan or Orton, somebody is walking out of SummerSlam with the title.
The only other scheduled title match at SummerSlam is Alberto Del Rio defending the World Title against Christian. As I said earlier, I thought that Ricardo Rodriguez would cost Del Rio the World Title. I'm not so sure now.
I think it's a shame that Curtis Axel isn't scheduled to defend his Intercontinental Title. It was supposed to be a big deal when he won it, but at this point he's become just another guy.
19. What match will be the best?
I'm going with Cena vs. Bryan as the best with Punk vs. Lesnar as a serious threat to it. While I think matches like Christian vs. Del Rio and Rhodes vs. Sandow can be very good if everything goes right, I doubt they will get as much time as the other two matches.
I think Cena/Bryan and Punk/Lesnar will each go longer than 20 minutes with Cena/Bryan possibly going 30 minutes. I'm expecting classics out of both matches, really. Is it unfair of me to expect so much? Nope. I have faith in their talent.
20. How excited are you about SummerSlam on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being low, 10 being high)?
I'm going with a 9 out of 10. It's definitely the most anticipated WWE PPV for me this year. The last time I would have said 9 out of 10 was Money in the Bank 2011. There wasn't a show in 2012 that had me this excited for an event.
I think the Cena/Bryan and Punk/Lesnar matches alone are worth the price of admission or in this case the price of a pay-per-view purchase. Add in the fact that Randy Orton's lurking with that Money in the Bank briefcase and it interests me even more.
That was fun to write. I hope you enjoyed it. Next week, likely Saturday morning after Smackdown has aired, we'll post our regular WWE PPV preview for SummerSlam. Then next Sunday I'll be writing about SummerSlam live at TJRWrestling.com and posting on other sites later. Before that I'll also write the Raw Deal on Monday night or Tuesday morning. I may have another post during the week too. It's SummerSlam week for some. It's heavy writing week for me. Bring it on.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me using any of the methods below.