NEW YORK, USA – August is on its way to a close and for professional wrestling fans, that can only mean one thing: it’s time for WWE’s SummerSlam. What was once just the company’s biggest party of the summer has now, thanks to NXT, slowly expanded into the second important sports entertainment pilgrimage of the year.
The two shows are wildly different from each other on paper and in execution, but if there’s one thing that’s common between both brands, it’s the fact that the WWE is absolutely stacked and overflowing when it comes to its roster. Over the past couple of years the biggest pro wrestling company in the world has hoarded the globe’s best (and under-the-radar) talents, and the locker room bursting at the seams means that there won’t always be space to feature everyone.
Most of the time it’s terrible for fans who love their independent wrestling darlings, but looking at the bigger picture it might be better for everyone. The wrestlers people tend to love are the workhorses who make their money being the best in the ring, and not always having them as the focus of shows can mean they’re forced to slow down and preserve themselves somehow. Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration performance at live events and the WWE’s brutal touring schedule, but hey, it’s still taking it easy. And when the top guys eventually have to be pulled aside (for one reason or another, usually due to injury) the others can have their chance to shine.
But enough about that – you signed up for predictions, didn’t you? Let’s tackle these shows one at a time:
NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III
As usual, the WWE’s developmental brand likes to keep it simple and strong. Now more than ever NXT is buoyed by the international talents Triple H has signed over the years instead of the actual farm-league guys they’re supposed to build.
Only the Authors of Pain are truly homegrown. NXT’s problem now is what you see on a Takeover card betrays the true depth of the roster, and while the minimalistic approach to booking is nice, it doesn’t maximize the talent they have. The NXT Championship match could have easily been a triple threat match, there are other people who could be involved, and so on.
Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Cien Almas (with Zelina Vega)
This match was set up at the last minute, without much alarm, simply because Gargano was back and his former partner Tommaso Ciampa was not (thanks to an injury), and Almas needed something to do after being in limbo. I could see them going into a feud over the fall while Gargano waits for his partner, so this one goes to El Idolo.
Winner: Andrade Cien Almas
Aleister Black vs Hideo Itami
The low-key match to look out for in this whole card, Black vs. Itami should be a wonderful strikefest. It’s a good thing they finally brought in better opponents for Black to showcase his skills instead of the quick squashes that started Baron Corbin’s career. Itami’s currently in a deliberate downward spiral to feed his character, so expect Black to take this one.
Winner: Aleister Black
SANitY (Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain, with Eric Young and Nikki Cross) vs. The Authors of Pain (with Paul Ellering) (c) for the NXT Tag Team Championship
Here’s the thing—the Authors of Pain are such a great tag team, even though people don’t quite realize it. The problem is they’ve been champs of a lame-duck tag division. Gutting #DIY and losing Australian imports TM61, as well as losing American Alpha and the Revival over the past year means NXT needed to work faster to rebuild the scene, and they just haven’t. Without everyone else, the Authors of Pain suddenly have their possibilities limited, and now something has to change in order for things to remain interesting. SANitY is going to win this, as they’re bigger heels than the Authors at this point.
Winner: SANitY (new NXT Tag Team Champions)
Ember Moon vs Asuka (c) for the NXT Women’s Championship
There are problems with the women’s division as well. Asuka has built up quite the undefeated streak, but NXT hasn’t built up an equal contender that’s compelling enough to break that streak. Ember Moon could very well win here, but if she doesn’t, I wouldn’t be surprised if Asuka keeps the title so whoever wins the Mae Young Classic (happening the week after) could challenge her for it.
Winner: Ember Moon (new NXT Women’s Champion)
Drew McIntyre vs Bobby Roode (c) for the NXT Championship
Roderick Strong, who had been feuding with Roode since NXT Takeover: Chicago, should have been in this match, and it still boggles me until now why he just isn’t. Now Drew McIntyre could very well win this match and ride a wave of support, as Roode also needs something different after being champion for quite a while. It’s the Strong wrinkle that makes me think it’s not going to happen just yet; if anything, the best course would be to build toward a triple threat at the next Takeover and have the title change hands there.
Winner: Bobby Roode
If you want to know how ridiculously stacked the WWE locker room is, know that this show has 13 matches on the card, preshow bouts included. It’s the same as this year’s WrestleMania, and you know how much of a slog that was to go through. The only difference is that there won’t be as much spectacle at SummerSlam as there will be at WrestleMania, so I’m hoping we get a leaner show despite the volume. I hope it doesn’t clock in at 7 hours again, but I can tell you that it will be packed from top to bottom.
Kickoff match: The Hardy Boyz and Jason Jordan vs The Miz and the Miztourage (Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas) (with Maryse)
The “everyone gets on the show” match, expect the face team to win here in order for Jordan to get a shot at Miz’s Intercontinental Championship.
Winner: The Hardy Boyz and Jason Jordan
Kickoff match: Neville vs. Akira Tozawa (c) (with Titus O’Neil) for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Akira Tozawa won the championship on this week’s episode of RAW, and it would’ve been a welcome TV development if it happened way before the go-home episode. Instead it just looks desperate and last-ditch, and now they’re kind of cramming new character developments for Neville here. Tozawa retains, because how can he not retain?
Winner: Akira Tozawa
Kickoff match: The Usos vs. The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods, with Kofi Kingston) for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Of all the things you can bump down to the kickoff, it’s the tag title match that has been consistently delivering for SmackDown over the past couple of exclusive PPVs. Yes, the RAW tag title match is now bigger in name power, but nobody should have counted these guys out. This should have been Big Show vs. Big Cass. Anyway, the New Day should be retaining here, but I can see the Usos taking it back as Breezango is waiting in the wings for another deserved shot.
Winner: The New Day
Big Show vs. Big Cass, with Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a shark cage
Enzo Amore’s backstage shenanigans have gotten people sour on him, and the hoss fight isn’t exactly a good prospect for Cass. Let’s just get this over with.
Winner: Big Cass
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
The throwaway singles feud for two middling upper midcarders on SmackDown that’s too bland to be big but too big to be on the kickoff, Orton vs. Rusev is built on nothing at all. It’s on the creative SmackDown creative team to find something between these two to turn it up a notch, but right now I don’t care that much. And that’s bad because I love Rusev. And I do hope he wins.
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro and Sheamus (c) for the RAW Tag Team Championship
This story, which is one of the best going on RAW and in the WWE right now, is more about Ambrose trusting Rollins (who backstabbed them back in 2014) again than it is about the titles. The titles are only the icing on the cake, and it’s some damn good frosting. Cesaro and Sheamus have served us well, but I think it’s time for two other solid upper midcarders to win the titles, elevate them further, and start a rollicking new feud.
Winner: Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins (new RAW Tag Team Champions)
Natalya vs. Naomi (c) for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
The result of this match won’t be as important as what could possibly happen after, and I do think Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella is cashing in. The SmackDown women’s division is in a holding pattern after Natalya won the contendership, as better wrestlers like Charlotte and Becky Lynch are waiting in the wings.
Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss (c) for the RAW Women’s Championship
I also believe that it’s Banks’s time, and it’s her time to win the title on a big stage. The RAW women’s division has had a winding journey to get to SummerSlam, what with Bayley getting injured after winning the contendership, so at this point they might as well embrace it and give it to Banks to spark the feud further.
Winner: Sasha Banks (new RAW Women’s Champion)
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
So this match is just the return of the Demon Finn Balor, and they gave this match away on this week’s episode of RAW like the Cruiserweight Championship match. Same criticisms here: if they were going to do this on TV, they should’ve done so a while back and build up to the rematch at SummerSlam.
Winner: Finn Balor
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
For those who didn’t catch this week’s episode of SmackDown, Baron Corbin attempted to cash in… and failed. I’m not talking about he gave the briefcase to the referee and the match didn’t happen due to some interference, but he actually cashed it in, the bell rang, and he failed after he tried to take care of John Cena first from interfering and Jinder Mahal pinned him. It’s the third failed cash-in in Money in the Bank history, and other than the fact that we now know there will be no Money in the Bank shenanigans in the WWE Championship match.
This may indicate that there is some disfavor with Baron Corbin backstage, and the result of this match will be the ultimate test of that. Cena has historically lost a lot of big matches at SummerSlam than at WrestleMania, as he tends to elevate people more at this PPV. If Corbin doesn’t get the same treatment—as I originally thought Cena costing Corbin the briefcase was to catalyze their feud, which was booked only last week—we’ll know for sure.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles (c) with Shane McMahon as the special guest referee for the WWE United States Championship
This feud was extended far from how it was originally supposed to run, and in the end Styles is walking away with the win and opening himself up to exciting new challengers.
Winner: AJ Styles
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jinder Mahal (with the Singh Brothers) (c) for the WWE Championship
While the easy money is still with Jinder Mahal as WWE still has their upcoming tour of India next month, this is a real test for both men. Mahal had been bogged down by less-than-favorable producing and a tendency by Randy Orton to plod around in the ring, and Shinsuke Nakamura has been getting lukewarm reviews just because of how much of his original style he’s holding back. Nakamura should be a better opponent for Mahal, and they both need to go all-out in order for this match to really stand out. If they do, Nakamura’s spot on top of the SmackDown roster will be secured, and he’ll be winning this championship sooner than later.
Winner: Jinder Mahal
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs Samoa Joe vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) (c) in a fatal 4-way for the WWE Universal Championship
There are only two real possibilities to keep an eye on in this match: either Lesnar keeps his title, or he loses it. After that, if he’s losing the title, it’s only to two realistic options: Reigns and Samoa Joe. There’s a huge chance he’s retaining the title, but the whole deal with UFC also successfully muddies up the speculation. If he’s losing the championship, I would love for it to be Samoa Joe. But while RAW needs to have the championship back on a weekly basis, there’s a nagging feeling tugging at me that says he’s keeping the title. I would love to be proved wrong here.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Damn, guys. We finally got through all of that. 18 matches predicted. Who do you have? Leave your picks in the comments!
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