RAW Deal: The pre-SummerSlam 2017 primer
NEW YORK, USA – Whether you saw it coming or not, this year’s SummerSlam is already right around the corner – and being the second SummerSlam of the post-Draft era means it’s going to be stacked as hell. There will be a lot of stories to keep track of just because the WWE roster is so deep. (We’re not even going into NXT yet.)
So I’ve decided that before I get into my predictions (we’ll save that for next week) I’ll help you out, especially those coming back to the WWE product or those not able to catch up with all 7 hours of weekly programming, by rounding up the most important storylines you need to know. SummerSlam is going to be around 6 or 7 hours long, just like WrestleMania was, just because the WWE can. I won’t blame you if you pick and choose which angles you’re going to really dive in for, so let me aid you in the spot selection.
We’re in for one hell of a Universal Championship match
There are 4 titanic forces battling for the biggest prize on the RAW brand, and there are severe implications on almost each result. The most obvious is that if we get a new champion in either Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, and Braun Strowman, current champ Brock Lesnar will be gone from the WWE. That would be a ploy for him to start training for his second UFC comeback, and throwing that little stipulation in makes this match a little more unpredictable than your usual Lesnar go-round.
What makes it even more palatable is that pretty much any of the 3 contenders would make for a better champion. Lesnar has done his job of lending credibility to the Universal Championship, which was last held by an absentee (and old) Goldberg and a star with an admittedly lower profile in Kevin Owens. Any of the 3 guys, even Roman Reigns, would be a good fit as it would mean that big events can finally be booked around the title – instead of the lack thereof. I’m not saying I’m tired of Lesnar, only that I’m ready for the title to be on the show again.
That’s not to mention the fun feuds we would be getting if we got a new champion. Not only would it extend all 3 men interacting with each other, but it would also finally open the championship up to the rest of the roster again, not just to those who could “believably hang” with Lesnar.
The WWE Championship match will be a huge test for 2 new stars
WWE Champion Jinder Mahal just went from 60 to 100 in a flash. From working the methodical (to a fault) Randy Orton, he’s suddenly facing off against the King of Strong Style, the Artist Known As Shinsuke Nakamura, for the title at SummerSlam.
I don’t think I need to tell you why this match is an important test for both men. Mahal is still finding his footing, as Orton may not have been the best guy to take him through an extended feud and make him seem exciting. Nakamura is finding his pacing as the WWE style of wrestling a match is constraining his natural intensity, one of the most important facets of his game. (He is the King of Strong Style after all.)
People may not realize this (because they’re probably frustrated with Mahal’s wrestling) but this matchup is highly favorable for both men. The Modern Day Maharaja has been trying to fit into the WWE style as well, but it’s clear that his game tends to favor intense striking over actual wrestling. Nakamura needs an opponent who can take what he dishes out. If whoever’s producing their match could just make sure they focus on striking and not too much wrestling, I’ve got some confidence that they can put something more than decent out. And if the past few weeks of SmackDown (not necessarily Battleground) have proven, the producers can hide what needs hiding.
What’s clear is if these two put out a clunker, we may see the end of – at least –Nakamura and whatever serious chance he might get on SmackDown. They would still need Mahal for India.
Can RAW rebound from their terrible luck with injuries?
Injuries to both former No. 1 contender to the RAW Women’s Championship Bayley and the Revival’s Scott Dawson have forced the Red Brand to adjust two of their matches for SummerSlam.
Instead of having two solid weeks to promote another Bayley vs Alexa Bliss match for the title, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax will go at it next week to determine who challenges Bliss at SummerSlam. We already know that this is Banks' to win, and it might be a blessing in disguise as the Universe (or rather, the more vocal members of it) really doesn’t like Bayley right now. It’s on them to make this match interesting again.
Meanwhile, the Revival were supposed to have a match with the Hardy Boyz, but that’s not happening now. The bigger problem lies with the tag team division on RAW, which is floundering from an imbalance between the faces and heels. At this point, only the Hardys are the established face team, barring the burgeoning reunion of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Champions Sheamus and Cesaro are stuck in a strange place as heels, considering they’re not exactly tweeners. At this point it might just be best to stick a lot of the teams into one big brawl for the titles, but they have one more week to figure out what to do with them.
Shane McMahon just upped the stakes for AJ Styles and Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens and AJ Styles will be going at it one last time for their beloved United States Championship at SummerSlam, which should cap off this ridiculously long feud. The reason this went for as long as it did was because of the strange, unplanned finish at Battleground that saw Styles’ shoulder stay up as the referee counted 3.
SmackDown doubled down on this by having AJ Styles retain the title also while Owens’s shoulder was up, which necessitated Shane McMahon coming in as special referee. It’s a nice bit of reactive, opportunistic booking that made the most of an awkward situation. Now the story hinges on McMahon’s history of being a not-so-impartial referee, and it rightfully removes the certainty that a babyface special referee would work against the villain. It’ll be fun to see how McMahon treats both men after taking their abuse.
Next week, predictions for both NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III and SummerSlam! Stay tuned! – Rappler.com
Looking for a way to watch SummerSlam because you don’t have the WWE Network and it’s no longer on cable TV? Check out this live viewing party on the morning of Monday, August 22, hosted by local wrestling blog Smark Henry! It’ll be at Skinny Mike’s Sports Bar in Bonifacio Global City, and you can get in for only P300, with a free drink included. Check out more details here.
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! This week, the boys open up their mailbag and answer questions listeners send in! Listen to it here!