John: This Sunday night in Los Angeles, California it's WWE SummerSlam. It's an eight match card that has been set for weeks now with a huge matchup in the main event slot.
The main event match between WWE Champion John Cena and Brock Lesnar is one of the most anticipated matches of the year. Even though they were on television at the same time once in the last four weeks and they didn't even make physical contact, it's been built up well thanks to video packages as well as strong promos from Paul Heyman and John Cena. There was also Brock Lesnar saying this: "I'm going to leave him in a pile of blood and urine and vomit"
The rest of the card features three rematches from last month's Battleground PPV (four if you count Rollins/Ambrose that was advertised last month) and most of the matches have been built up well. It's disappointing that the tag team champion Usos are forgotten for this PPV and so is US Champion Sheamus, but they'll probably be in action for next month's Night of Champions since the whole concept of that show is that the champions will appear on it.
Normally WWE announces something for the Kickoff Show well in advance. Not this month. They posted on WWE.com that it will be Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam. Since WWE didn't care to actually promote it or build up an angle of any kind, there's no point in previewing it. Hopefully Cesaro wins because he's younger and better, but they might want to start it off with a babyface win.
Joining me for the preview is Andrew Johnson of TJRWresting.com. Christian Michael couldn't join us this month due to work commitments, but he should be back for Night of Champions.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.)
Intercontinental Title: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
Andrew: Lewis Black once did a bit about candy corn. The gist of it is that every Halloween he eats candy corn, realizes how terrible it is, but the next Halloween he forgets how terrible it is and the cycle begins anew. The Intercontinental Title is my version of candy corn.
It's my own fault really. I don't know why I think WWE is ever going to finally drop the bullshit and start taking IC title feuds seriously. Once or twice a year they'll shine the constantly moving spotlight on the belt and make me feel like it's going to be important, but then I suddenly realize the belt is on The Miz and Dolph Ziggler (a guy who has spoiled more of his own big moments than the f**king Buffalo Bills) is the challenger and I feel stupid for ever thinking it will be a meaningful part of the company again.
I dunno. Maybe it'll have a long term importance again. And maybe Miz will win a goddamn SAG award.
Winner: The Miz
John: I think The Miz has done a really good job as a heel. He's much more natural in the role. That doesn't mean he must be a jerk in real life. It just means it's probably harder for him to portray a babyface on television, which is common for a lot of people. Being a heel is a lot more fun. The same can be said about Ziggler, who was better as a heel although he does have some of the momentum back that he lost in the past.
It would be a surprise if Miz lost. His "Hollywood" character is new and so is his IC Title reign, so keep the gold on him for a little while longer to continue to portray him as a star. This match is a good choice for a competitive 12 minute opener.
Winner: The Miz
Flag Match: Rusev vs. Jack Swagger
Andrew: I'm not gonna lie. I'm probably more excited for this match than I am pretty much anything else on the card. I don't know if it's some latent post-Hulkamania patriotism in my subconscious or if it's just the fact that it's HOSS FIGHT, but I'm down as hell for this match. Flag matches are traditionally not very good, but if Swagger and Rusev continue the theme of beat the living hell out of each other but with the added bonus of flags, it should be good.
Winner: Jack Swagger
John: This will be a very physical match. It would be better if it wasn't a Flag Match because generally they're pretty bad, but they've worked together enough to make it interesting. Rusev losing isn't something that should happen very often if WWE wants to make him a serious heel monster. However, losing in a match where a guy has to grab a flag really won't hurt him too much. The crowd will be strong in their support for Swagger and even as a non-American I think it will be a cool moment to see Swagger get the win. I think it's going to happen.
Winner: Jack Swagger
Divas Title: AJ Lee vs. Paige
Andrew: I used to be really into this feud, but I think a mixture of apathy and WWE's ability to tread water like f**king otters, but I'm kind of checked out. The match will undoubtedly be good, but I feel like it needs something else. I guess AJ wins so she can drop it to Charlotte whenever she's called up. Or Bayley. OH GOD LET IT BE BAYLEY I HAVE SO MANY WONDERFUL THINGS I WANT TO WRITE ABOUT BAYLEY.
Winner: AJ Lee
John: The heel turn of Paige has been enjoyable to watch. She seems much more natural in that role than when she was a pandering babyfaces. Her offense looks better as a heel, her mannerisms are just right and her promos are better to watch when she's talking about hurting poor AJ Lee. In the case of AJ, she's not that interesting as a face. As a heel she was this crazy chick involved in major angles and then she became a dominant champion, but as a face she's fallen victim to WWE's poor writers that don't know how to make faces interesting. Having AJ lose to Eva Marie of all people was ridiculous too. Distraction or not, it was dumb.
Since this match is Paige's second televised rematch after losing the Divas Title there's a chance she could win the gold (or silver) title back, so I'm going to go with her. There aren't a lot of heels for AJ to feud with. If Paige wins she could defend against a number of faces like Natalya or the Bella Twins. Hopefully the crowd is into the match and isn't chanting "CM Punk" at AJ Lee all match long like some crowds do. There will be a new champion in a match that gets between 7-10 minutes.
Winner and New Divas Champion: Paige
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
Andrew: Here's a hard pill to swallow: Bray Wyatt has never meant less than he does right now.
I love Bray Wyatt, or more accurately I love the idea of Bray Wyatt. I think he's arguably one of the greatest creations the WWE has had in a long, long time. But then Cena took notice, thought out loud "How can I ruin this beautiful thing" and then DID THAT over and over until everything Bray Wyatt says or does became meaningless. Jericho is trying to make Bray seem important again, but when you beat the guy convincingly and prove that he's powerless you probably shouldn't worry about the creepy cult leader anymore because you've already made him look like a goober.
Wyatt should've wrecked Jericho last month, but it didn't happen. This has the same trajectory that Cena/Wyatt did, so expect a creepy kid named Johnny singing songs under a spotlight or something equally stupid.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
John: The stipulation for this one is no Luke Harper or Erick Rowan at ringside. There are a lot of reasons to be disappointed in how Wyatt has been booked since WrestleMania. He should have won there, but he didn't. When he beat Cena it wasn't clean at all. Then he lost decisively. They followed that up by having him lose to Jericho at Battleground as the announcers called it an upset even though Jericho's one of the most successful performers ever and Wyatt's only been on the main roster for a year. How is it an upset? Oh right, because the commentary sucks. Wyatt should have won at Battleground. He should win here. It should be a decisive win too. No cheap stuff. Just dominate the match, hit some signature moves at the end and get a clean victory.
There will probably be a rematch at Night of Champions since Jericho is booked for that show and it would be 1-1 in their series after this match. That one will probably have a stipulation. This one is a regular match that Wyatt will win. It's the biggest lock of the night.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Lumberjack Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Andrew: Lumberjack matches are dumb. Zero times out of infinity has this stipulation been used for anything besides a chance to get the lower card guys on the card or to somehow give The Great Khali a pre-WrestleMania win. However, I have faith in Rollins and Ambrose, and if anyone can make a lumberjack match worth watching it's these two creative lunatics.
I don't think this is the end of the feud, but Ambrose is reportedly taking time off to shoot WWE's version of Die Hard so he needs to lose here. Rollins will get a decisive win, maybe lock Dean in crate and ship it off to WWE Studios, and then Rollins can try to cash-in his briefcase on Brock Lesnar only to realize Brock only works odd month Mondays and has to kick rocks till Lesnar decides to annihilate him.
Winner: Seth Rollins
John: The Lumberjack stipulation was disappointing as soon as I read about it. They're doing it so that they can tell the story that Rollins can't run away. It guarantees that Ambrose can get his hands on him. Of course, if he wanted to ensure that he could kick his ass then he would have picked a Steel Cage match instead. I get the feeling that they didn't want to do that because they wanted to keep things simple and not let them "steal the show" so to speak.
This is another match that will likely have a rematch in the near future. Since Ambrose is going to film the WWE film "Lockdown" at the end of the month, he may be out for about six weeks or so. If that's the case he could go over here and then get injured by Rollins on Raw, which would lead to that other match. However, I'm going with a Rollins win thanks to some help from a Lumberjack or something else that leads to a cheap finish.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella
Andrew: This match should end with a pedigree and Stephanie saying "YES" over and over atop Brie's conquered corpse. Stephanie should wear a shirt that says "EAT, SLEEP, DRIVE KIDS TO SOCCER, REPEAT".
Winner: Brie Bella (Because I never get anything I want.)
John: This feud isn't as good as Stephanie McMahon probably thinks it is. The feud has also received more television time than any feud at SummerSlam, but it has been enjoyable at times. Stephanie's done a great job as a heel boss. However, she's also been overexposed. That angle they did on Raw where they said that Daniel Bryan had a mistress and then had nobody say she was a liar was so disappointing. It wasn't a good idea. Then they did the arrest angle again, which is typical of WWE overdoing things. When Stephanie got arrested it was entertaining. When Brie got arrested it was just a bad wresting angle.
The match should have a hot crowd for the majority of it. I don't know if Brie's going to get huge reactions when she's in the ring because we haven't seen her in a match in many months. It's not like Stephanie is an experienced wrestler either, so there could be some points where it's really flat. The end result will either be a heel turn by Nikki on her sister or maybe somebody comes out to help Stephanie win. If Stephanie wins clean that would be a mistake. My hope is that the story ends here with Brie getting her revenge on evil Stephanie and it's a win for Brie.
Winner: Brie Bella
Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton
Andrew: Ever since the end of The Shield I've been slowly cooling on Reigns, so him having a mediocre wrestling match with Randy Orton is just the thing to put my disinterest in him over the edge. I don't understand how Vince can get bored with Bo Dallas and still think Roman Reigns' Superman Punch is worth 20 minutes of television time a week.
Winner: Roman Reigns
John: Since Reigns is in the beginning stages of a "Superman push" that's going to see him win pretty much every match he's in it would be a major surprise to see Orton win here. Reigns didn't win at Money in the Bank or Battleground, so that's another reason to expect a victory. They might have another match at the next PPV. Triple H will probably return to the ring for a match against Reigns too because Hunter likes working with the babyfaces on the rise, which is fine.
They should get around 10-15 minutes and they've been working together at house shows for months now so they should have developed good chemistry by now. If they do a DQ finish it means they'll have a rematch at Night of Champions. It would be better if it was a clean win for Reigns and they could still do a rematch by doing angles on television.
Winner: Roman Reigns
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
Andrew: I'm all-in for part-time wrestler Brock Lesnar being the WWE Champion, and if you'll allow me to fantasy book for a moment I'll tell you why.
Lesnar wins by destroying Cena by F5ing him on the steel steps as a call-back to their Extreme Rules match. Triple H is super stoked that Plan C worked out but he didn't count on Lesnar refusing to defend the title monthly because it's the most obvious thing ever and Hunter's foresight is garbage. Now he's stuck with the problem he had when injured Daniel Bryan was champion; a show without a champion who will do or say whatever he wants with the added bonus of Lesnar not giving a f**k about defending it at Hell in a Cell or Survivor Series or whatever and only coming out of his Jimmy Johns cave for the big shows. So now Triple H has to find someone that will A) Be on TV every week and B) Can defeat the Leviathan. WWE stumbles toward the Royal Rumble where Lesnar finally defends against Cena and retains. Now Triple H is desperate so he's forced to back the only guy left who is guaranteed a shot against Lesnar; the winner of the Royal Rumble. And who wins the Rumble? Mr. Superman Punch himself Roman Reigns. The rest writes itself.
So yeah, I'm all-in.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
John: If Lesnar doesn't win the WWE Title on Sunday I'd be very surprised. Cena's got a career record of 4-6 at SummerSlam because this is the time of the year when he's usually putting people over. Since Lesnar beat The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30, which is one of the most shocking wins in wrestling history, it makes sense that he would beat Cena at SummerSlam too.
They'll probably get 20-25 minutes. If they do it will probably be a classic match because when they wrestled at Extreme Rules 2012 it was one of the most unique major matches in a long time. What made it work is that they wrestled a very physical style. I expect something similar this time too except Lesnar will probably be better than he was then. Also, with the WWE Title on the line on a big stage I think both guys will be ready for it. Don't be surprised if there's a "No Holds Barred" type of stipulation added either. Lesnar's better in matches like that.
Regarding Lesnar's schedule post SummerSlam and what WWE might do with a champion that only wrestles four months per year, let's see how it plays out. Paul Heyman's been doing interviews talking about how the WWE Championship should be defended less often to make it seem more prestigious, so that's probably what is going to happen. The days of defending it at every PPV might be over although Lesnar is booked for Night of Champions too. Let's see what happens. It's okay to not know everything in advance.
My expectations for this match are very high. I think it will be one of the best matches of the year. The hype for it is enormous? Can they live up to it? I hope so.
Winner and New WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Brock Lesnar
John: It's pretty simple. If the main event is great like I think then SummerSlam will be one of the best PPVs of the year because the undercard is strong enough. There isn't a second match that stands out as for sure the second best of the night, but if the booking is smart and the right matches aren't cut short then those of us paying $9.99 for WWE Network will be happy with our purchase. I don't expect an all-time great PPV, but I think it will be one of the best of this year.
I'll be writing about SummerSlam live on Sunday at 8pmET on TJRWrestling.com. There will be a full recap of everything that happened with the results and analysis of everything on the show. I'll post it at other sites on Monday.
Follow us on Twitter at the following places.
Andrew - @TheAEJohnson
John - @johnreport
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