Preview: WWE SummerSlam (8/19/18)

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Last Word on Pro Wrestling’s Brandon Gordon, previews and predicts the 2018 SummerSlam card.

Brooklyn – To many, one of the founding settings of hip hop. To many, Brooklyn is the home of some of the best in basketball. But for the 5th year in a row, SummerSlam is hosted in “The House That Jay-Z Built,” aka The Barclay Center. Considered the second most important pay per view in the WWE today, SummerSlam’s importance over the years has been a vital part of storylines post-Wrestlemania season. From Brother vs. Brother rivalries, to the emergence of future main eventers, SummerSlam has always been the proving group for wrestlers who are on the cusps of the main event and this one is no different.

Raw Tag Team Championship: The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) vs. The Revival (Dash & Dawson)

Photo: WWE

After a solid triple threat match that had the B-Team retain the Raw Tag Team Championships against The Revival and Deleters of Worlds, The Revival was left without a proper result (in their mind) due to the fact that neither member – Scott Dawson or Dash Wilder – were pinned, leaving the door open as the next challengers to the titles. Since, winning the titles The B-Team of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel have been on a roll as champions winning matches against the likes of the Deleters of Worlds and The Revival coming as the true cinderella story of 2018. With that being stated the question is, will it continue at SummerSlam.

As Raw continues to develop its tag division, the loveable losers that was The B-Team needs to keep this train going as a whole, with the likes of The Authors of Pain looking to complete the chapter and win the Raw Tag Team Championships as a whole. The Revival is a great tag team, however with the way their misfortunes has happen, it doesn’t make any sense to see that the WWE would take their blessing as the next team to hold the titles due to their health despite the fans reasoning for them to win. The B-Team is a team that could turn face, face off against AOP in the future and that could set the rivalry post-SummerSlam for these two teams to compete.

Prediction: The B-Team

Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas & Zelina Vega vs. Rusev & Lana

Photo: WWE

Since Rusev and Andrade “Cien” Almas faced off on the 24th of July edition of Smackdown Live, these factions of Rusev Day and “El Idolo” have been butting heads. Almas and Vega have been getting the best of Rusev Day and are trying to establish who is really the true power couple of Smackdown Live. The rare rivalry is nice to see between two of the managers and workers going at it against each other to see who is really the better of the two. Lana and Rusev have been together longer, racking up victories for Rusev as Rusev established himself as one of the feared and most reliable workers in the WWE today. However, Almas after an amazing Smackdown match against AJ Styles, really showed his stock and that his NXT Championship reign wasn’t a fluke by any means. Both teams could really use a win, due to the momentum that each of them severely lack. Despite that being the case, it makes the most sense to have Almas and Vega win the match. Almas needs direction. Almas getting the win could catapult him into a program with the likes of a Jeff Hardy, Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe or even AJ Styles for a mid card or heavyweight title shot. Almas and Vega together are gold and gold has been in their possession before and with Almas beating a former #1 contender for the WWE Championship, the possibilities are endless for this power couple.

Prediction: Zelina Vega & Andrade “Cien” Almas

WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander:

Photo: WWE

On the 24th of July Edition of 205 Live, Drew Gulak – in a match involving the likes of TJP, Mustafa Ali and Hideo Itami – went against all odds to prove that he is one of the better crusierweights, earning a #1 contender’s spot against champion, Cedric Alexander.

On paper, this match is one of contrasting styles. Gulak is based on technicality, the “Catch Point” style that made him famous as a founding member of the faction in EVOLVE versus Alexander a highflying and fast paced wrestler. Gulak is extremely methodical and aggressive, while Alexander is flashy, quick, and charismatic. The key is seeing which style will overshadow the other in competitive form. As for the winner, the way 205 Live is right now, Alexander is the strongest face in a really solid balance of faces and heels and they way they are building the show it seems like the next up will be Lio Rush. Gulak is phenomenal and part of the reason why 205 Live before Triple H took charge was a great show to watch, but at this point, it makes sense for Alexander to win and drop the title to a rising star and heel when Gulak may be a transitional in the end.

Prediction: Cedric Alexander to retain

Smackdown Live Tag Team Championships: The Bludgeon Bros. (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) vs. The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods)

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Since WrestleMania 34, The Bludgeon Bros. have been rather uneventful as Tag Champions on the Smackdown Live brand. After WrestleMania, they’ve had a few notable victories against the likes of Anderson & Gallows and Team Hell No, however, their matches weren’t anything to be excited for.

As for The New Day, they competed in the tournament to crown a new #1 contender that began on the July 24 episode of SmackDown Live, where New Day and The Bar of Sheamus and Cesaro advanced to the finals by defeating Sanity and The Usos, respectively. On the 7th of August edition of Smackdown Live, The New Day defeated The Bar in a stellar match to crown themselves the new #1 contender’s against the Bludgeon Bros at SummerSlam. 

The key for this match is and will always be with a New Day match is the third man, whether or not its Woods or Kingston, the third man always provide an advantage against any team. The New Day aren’t strangers to winning gold at SummerSlam, as the team won their tag team titles at the 2015 edition of the event, and in 2017 despite a loss, stole the show at the “Biggest Party of the Summer.” With the way that SDLive is more dominate on the heel side of tag teams, The New Day winning brings more rivalries and some fresh feuds for the division that is truly scorching right now coming off a solid tag team tournament that had fans talking.

Prediction: The New Day to win the Smackdown Tag Team titles

Finn Balor vs. Constable Corbin

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A rematch from the Extreme Rules event in which had Balor win, Baron Corbin has been since a thorn on the side of the Irishman getting his win back from him on the 30th of July edition of Raw. The following week, as Corbin faced off with Roman Reigns, Raw’s “Constable” took the fall after some interference from Balor, setting up these two for one more battle against each other.

Finn will be returning to Brooklyn undefeated at SummerSlam and TakeOver events. In 2015, we saw Balor defeat Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship, retaining the title in an epic ladder match at TakeOver: Brooklyn, while 2016 saw him crowned as the inaugural Universal Champion defeating Seth Rollins with a broken shoulder. Last year saw him defeat Bray Wyatt and in 2018, we shall see no different. Since Corbin plays the “constable” role, there is always something for him to do and he doesn’t hurt in the end if he takes a loss. Balor winning is needed for him to move forward into bigger in better things because it seems that the former Bullet Club leader is in limbo and a desperate need of a change of pace for his direction and character sake. Balor winning will put him in that spot maintaining his undefeated streak at TakeOver/SummerSlam events.

Prediction: Finn Balor

WWE United States Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Jeff Hardy

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In a dream match that actually lasted a lot less than what it actually was, Shinsuke Nakamura in quick fashion managed to win his first main roster title with a quick low blow at Extreme Rules. Since then, “The Charismatic Enigma” has been dealing with the distraction of Randy Orton on top of wanting to retain the United States Championship, while Nakamura have been parading around as the champion.

Will this match last longer than it did at Extreme Rules? Yes! The key is for Nakamura to slow the pace. When Hardy gets it going, it gets going to his favor and he could very well sneak a pinfall and steal a victory. However, Orton is another X-Factor. Since not being added to the match, or since he’s in a rivalry with Hardy this might just push the Hardy-Orton feud, while Nakamura continues as the United States Champion feuding with someone else who can come up via the mid card right now.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura retains the US Championship

The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan

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A rivalry that has been in the depths of WWE history since the inaugural NXT seasons. The Miz (back then), a five year pro in WWE, runner up from the Millionaire Tough Enough season, at the time a United States Champion and Money in the Bank winner as the mentor of the “American Dragon” and indy darling, Daniel Bryan. From the jump, getting Daniel Bryan to be a part of WWE was tough because Miz (and even Michael Cole) verbally buried him until Bryan finally stood up for himself. Throughout 2010, Miz and Bryan would butt heads as Bryan took not only the seventh and final spot of Team WWE at Summerslam, he would also take his United States Championship from Miz at that year’s Nigh of Champions pay per view ending the rivalry at first.

Fast forward to 2016, the WWE Draft. Bryan openly stated that he didn’t want The Miz but he wanted the title to bring to Smackdown Live, which caused more friction between the two. Miz would call out Bryan on the famed Talking Smack episode and shooting at the hip, exploiting Bryan’s condition leading to him walking away because at the time Bryan couldn’t wrestle leading to a premature retirement which wouldn’t last as Bryan wrestled and is an active member of the roster.

Since both went on their separate paths, The Miz has proven to be most watched and must see because of his killer promo ability and the way that he generates heat with the audience. Miz has been pushing buttons and with Bryan being able to wrestle once again, this match was inevitable since Bryan PERSONALLY asked for Miz to return to SDLive.

As for the match, this is too premature to end by having Daniel Bryan win. As much as it would be awesome to see the comeuppance that he gets for not only someone getting under his skin and mocking him, however, this rivalry needs to keep going for the sake of the brand’s side stories leading up to the next few pay per views. The Miz winning generates heat, puts Miz over and Daniel losing gives him an added edge as he seeks revenge for the way he lost.

Winner: The Miz

Smackdown Live Women’s Championship: Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte 

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Post-Money in the Bank, “The Irish Lass Kicker” Becky Lynch have been on a bit of a roll that was long overdue since the days when Lynch was the inaugural WWE Smackdown Live Women’s Champion, defeating the likes of The Iconics and the remaining members of the former Absolution. General Manager Paige declared on the 17th of July edition of Smackdown Live that if Lynch could defeat the current champion Carmella one-on-one, she would defend said title at SummerSlam. Lynch would go on to win the match solidifying her spot at SummerSlam. The following week, after Lynch was attacked by Carmella, this would see the grand return of Charlotte Flair for the first time in a few months after what was an injury keeping her sidelined. Paige then scheduled Carmella once again in an “If Challenger Wins, Challenger Gets Added” match, again to the match at SummerSlam, which Charlotte was able to do successfully.

Backstage in the aforementioned match, Lynch showed a great concern which hinted a potential heel turn for the “Lass Kicker.” It makes sense on paper, both Charlotte and Lynch are friends and there could be potential friction between the two entering into SummerSlam as it may cost both a chance of winning the title. At the point Carmella’s reign hasn’t been the most impressive and in this match, she is protected by two of the best workers in the game today in the women’s division. Mella unfortunately hasn’t had that marquee match that made fans and critics say “wow.” Her reign is uneventful and unfortunately suffering in mediocrity, despite what was supposed to be big victories against the likes of Charlotte Flair and Asuka twice. In this match, expect Lynch and Flair to do a lot of work and have Mella retain in a fashion that sneaks her way back to the top with Lynch taking the fall.

Prediction: Carmella retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Intercontinental Championship:  Dolph Ziggler (c) (w/ Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins (w/ Dean Ambrose)

Photo: WWE

Since losing the Intercontinental Championship to Dolph Ziggler on an episode of Raw, former champion Seth Rollins has been on a mission to regain the title. In their recent encounter at Extreme Rules, Ziggler escaped with an overtime victory of 5 falls to 4 in a 30 minute ironman match that would be desecrated by the fans trying to get over in the process. On the 23rd of July edition of Monday Night Raw, a rematch would be announced between the two and as it looks to possibly be the finale of this rivalry.

The key to this is whether or not outside interference comes into play. Drew McIntyre is always an X-factor in this match because he’s Dolph’s muscle. However, on this past Monday edition of Monday Night Raw, Rollins may have found his ace with the returning Dean Ambrose evening out the playing field for the match to actually be a fair one on paper. The chase on Rollins part had been real and has been filled with shenanigans and with the way things are it makes the most sense to finally pull the trigger to give Rollins the win.

Prediction: Seth Rollins Wins the Intercontinental Championship

Money in the Bank Briefcase: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens

Photo: WWE

After months of being bullied by Braun Strowman, which led to be one of the most awkward steel cage match endings in recent memory (which made Strowman look bad), Kevin Owens figured out an ace under his sleeve and that’s the assistance of Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon. On the 23rd of July edition of Raw, a rematch was declared with the stipulation that if Strowman loses in any way, pin fall (doubtful), submission (doubtful), count out (possibly) or disqualification (potentially) Owens would win Money in the Bank.

As Money in the Bank implications are on the line, this match seems (like their last encounter) one sided. One sided, it makes the most sense to have Owens win in the most sneakiest way, however WWEs 50-50 booking tells fans otherwise since Owens had won the last encounter (despite getting thrown nearly 20 feet off a steel cage), it would make the most sense under historical booking practices for Strowman to win in a convincing manner with their rivalry going to a close.

Winner: Braun Strowman

Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

Photo: WWE

Back at Money in the Bank in Chicago, Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax was on the verge of having one of the better matches of the evening that really surprised the Chicago crowd. Both truly came to play and they both were on until Alexa Bliss ruined their fun as she successfully cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase to hold the Raw Women’s title for a third time (5th time overall Women’s Champion). After the shenanigans of Money in the Bank, Rousey managed to get herself suspended after attack Raw General Manager Kurt Angle and Bliss, keeping her away from the ring until Extreme Rules. After a lackluster WrestleMania rematch between Bliss and Nia Jax, that had Bliss retain the title, it was made clear that Rousey was the rightful #1 contender for the Raw Women’s Championship.

This match on paper isn’t one to be impressed with and it isn’t because of Ronda. Ronda has proved to work well with anyone given to her so far and she’s only wrestled two matches (at the time of writing this). Rousey is a natural and if anyone could have a good match with Alexa Bliss, it is Rousey. It’s not that Alexa isn’t a great wrestler, it’s the fact that compared to her predecessors as champion (i.e. Sasha Banks, Bayley and Charlotte Flair), Bliss hasn’t really had a match that stood out, although this could very well be that match that could put her on the map. This should be an alright match that sees Rousey dominate, Mickie James and/or Alicia Fox potentially interfering but backfiring only to have Alexa win with shenanigans to protect Rousey once again since she hasn’t been pinned on television. The key of this match is either Mickie James/Alicia Fox or even Rousey’s ally and friend Natalya. Natalya could very well turn on Rousey giving Rousey a new rival before Rousey challenges for the title once more, potentially at WWE Evolution, where Rousey will have her crowning moment in Nassau a few miles from Barclays Center.

Prediction: Ronda Rousey via Disqualification

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe

After Extreme Rules, a successful AJ Styles retained the WWE Championship against very game competition in Rusev. With SummerSlam looming, Styles needed an opponent and Paige stated that she would announce it on the 24th of July edition of Smackdown, which was an open contract for anyone to sign – that would be a signature for the “Samoan Submission Machine,” Samoa Joe. The former Impact, ROH and NXT Champion, with a coquina clutch, solidified his place as the new #1 contender for the WWE Championship.

For a wrestling fan who is familiar with the past of both Samoa Joe and AJ Styles, this match happening in a WWE ring seems like a pipe dream. Let’s face it, if you watched early TNA Wrestling these two were the flag bearers, the stars, the draws that made you want more Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, going back to the days of watching TNA on Fox Sports Net. This even goes back to them in Ring of Honor, two champions in their own right ,and this match for the WWE Championship is an amazing sight to see. At the time of writing this, Styles is at 276+ days as champion. There were different routes they could’ve went with Styles as champion, but 200 days as champion shows fans and analysts alike that the WWE believes in “The Phenomenal One.”

Since SummerSlam started in 1988, the WWE Championship has only changed hands a total of five times at the event, with the last time being in 2014 as Brock Lesnar decimated John Cena for the title in the famous Suplex City match. Will this be the sixth time that it happens? Yes. Smackdown right now is in desperate need of a heel champion to make their brand interesting and Samoa Joe right now is the right man to do it. At 6’2″, 280 lbs., an excellent talker and wrestler, doesn’t need to cheat to win, and always ready to throw hands, Joe is a reliable all around superstar for a brand needing a monster heel to win the title once and for all. Styles’ reign has been solid, but at this point, with Joe losing where would he go next to challenge? Smackdown needs a heel champion and Joe winning makes the brand interesting for episodes to come.

Winner: Samoa Joe Wins the WWE Championship

WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns

Photo: WWE

For the third time in the WWE calendar year, the main event stands between “The Big Dog” vs. “The Beast Incarnate” going at it for the WWE Universal Championship at the second biggest show. At WrestleMania 34, Brock Lesnar would shockingly succeed in defending the championship in what was considered to be Roman Reign’s crowning moment. Fast forward to The Greatest Royal Rumble, in which in controversial fashion Lesnar retained the championship in a Steel Cage match which had Reigns having both of his feet hit the floor first, after a excellent Spear through the wall of the steel cage. Since the losses, Reigns has been in an awkward limbo with his championship aspirations looking bleak until after Extreme Rules and the following weeks on Raw having Reigns win a triple threat match and a rematch against Bobby Lashley to earn the right to face Lesnar one more time.

Since WrestleMania 31, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar have been in the ring with each other four times prior and all involving a world championship. Three of those matches saw Lesnar retain the title, despite all efforts from Reigns getting the Universal Championship. Reigns for the last two years have been chasing the “Big Red Belt” and it’s been a long and daunting journey not just for him, but for the fans, writers and analysts alike and at this point, it is finally time for Reigns to take the title from Lesnar and get the championship. However, Summerslam could give us curveballs letting the fans go home in a happier mood with either Braun Strowman or potentially fan favorite and indie darling Kevin Owens cash in during the match and either one of them leaving as champion. There’s a lot of grey area but this on paper is the most intriguing match because of where the WWE decide to go in their booking for the next eight months where they return back to the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan area for WrestleMania 35 in April.

Prediction Braun Strowman (or Kevin Owens) via Money in the Bank cash-in

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