Summerslam weekend always seems to deliver, at least in recent years, and its thanks in large part to yet another strong NXT Takeover event.
According to sources, WWE will be bringing up Bobby Roode, who lost the NXT Championship at NXT: Takeover Brooklyn II to Drew McIntyre, within the next few months and will likely put him on the Smackdown brand.
As for SummerSlam, here are my predictions:
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman (Fatal 4-Way Match)
WWE has brilliantly utilized the back-and-forth between Brock Lesnar and UFC’s Jon Jones to fuel the fan imagination for what this match could hold in store.
Could Jones show up to confront Lesnar? Could Jones cost Lesnar the title? Those scenarios seem more steeped in fantasy than reality but the fact that fans are talking about the possibility is what’s of value.
WWE played this up by having Paul Heyman announce that if Lesnar loses he will leave WWE, further fueling speculation that the title will change hands at Summerslam.
It won’t, but there will be some significant moments in this match.
WWE may seem like that they are milking all they can out of Lesnar before his contract expires, and they are, but Lesnar is staying put until 2018 and for at least a bit of longer run with the Universal title.
Expect Braun Strowman to be booked strong in this match and a title match, or any match, without Roman Reigns looking like the greatest wrestler on the planet just wouldn’t fit the WWE mold.
But in the end, Lesnar stands tall with title in tact with or without a Jones appearance.
WWE Champion Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
For the star power that Shinsuke Nakamura brings, it seems Smackdown has bumbled his promotion to the main roster as it seems Nakamura, who has main event charisma, has been an after thoughts.
WWE has booked him as such, perhaps to protect him for moments such as this, but Jinder Mahal’s run as heel has been some of the best stuff happening on Smackdown as of late.
Sure, fans may not like it, but Mahal has been positioned for a long run with the belt and while Nakamura will pose a viable threat it’s hard to see WWE putting the strap on him this soon and taking Mahal’s title away from his at this point.
Expect this to end in DQ or countout to protect both men.
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
It’s been rumored that Baron Corbin is receiving some second guessing from WWE officials who thought that the latest Money in the Bank winner was destined for championship gold.
Corbin needs mic work, that’s a fact, but I don’t believe his current abilities, or lack there of, warrant a complete destruction of his build.
But, this is John Cena and WWE won’t have Cena taking an “L” at SummerSlam and would rather book him strong for a bigger, and more purposeful loss, at a later time.
A Corbin win does little until he is a bit more polished and pushed.
United States Champion AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens (Shane McMahon as special guest referee)
The United States Championship seems like it is again in purgatory among WWE titles.
When I was watching NXT: Takeover Brooklyn III last night I kept thinking that NXT would be perfect with a secondary title, such as a United States title. In NXT, that title would be meaningful and would be a tremendous “rub” for anyone who held it given the title’s lineage.
But despite WWE’s attempts to re-establish the United States title, it continues to fall to the wayside simply due to inconsistent booking.
It just seems to be a strap for someone who isn’t a champ, but should be.
That is exactly what the case is for Aj Styles’ run, which isn’t bad but the US title has been no compliment, simply a prop.
This match is more about building a Kevin Owens/Shane McMahon feud, for God knows why, than anything else.
Expect Styles to win, Owens to get pissed and brawl with McMahon.
Raw Tag Team Champions Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins
Cesaro and Sheamus have been the best tag team in WWE, bar none and they continue their dominance at SummerSlam.
WWE fans will love the mini Shield reunion, but it will be short lived as this is setting up for an Ambrose heel turn, a desperately needed heel turn at that.
This is the only way any of this booking makes sense and yes we have seen Ambrose/Rollins countless times, but this new wrinkle actually accomplishes something for a bigger picture.
Cesaro and Sheamus win.
Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
Alexa Bliss’ title run has been one of the pleasant surprises for the RAW brand, although it shouldn’t be.
Bliss is damn good in her role and has done some great work as champion. Banks, a former champ, needs some time away from gold as her recent title win(s) have meant little due to their frequency.
That’s why a Banks loss in a title match doesn’t hurt her.
In fact, Banks needs a heel turn and close friend Bayley desperately needs a Banks turn as well. Perhaps we see it in time for WrestleMania 34, but both Banks and Bayley should start their build towards a split.
As for Bliss, she is being booked for a match down the road against Nia Jax, who needs a lot more polishing before she take the strap, but isn’t as far away from that point as you may think.
Bliss wins. Banks slowly starts her heel turn.
SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi vs. Natalya
Has any SmackDown Women’s Championship run been less thrilling than Naomi’s?
I can’t recall one since the introduction of the title, but Naomi’s run has been forgettable. She is decent in the ring, but needs a good dance partner to make things interesting.
Naomi’s mic work is ok, but her charisma is lacking in that she isn’t really connecting with the audience.
Natalya will carry this match, as she seems to always do, and it may be time to give her a run with the title as a way to setup a new challenger in the future.
Maybe Asuka from NXT gets the strap at WrestleMania 34? But until then, this championship needs a solid run from a fresh face in the title picture, one who can set the bar with tremendous in ring work.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Randy Orton is again finding himself toiling in wonderland in regards to his booking. Heel? Face? Championship contender? Mid carder?
Orton is the jack of all trades and is the MVP of the SmackDown brand, the man can literally thrive in any spot without any real direction or purpose.
This feud does nothing for Orton and is more about giving Rusev a desperately needed win than anything else.
Orton is so damn good, a clean loss won’t even matter.
Big Show vs. Big Cass (with Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a Shark Cage)
Why do we care about this match at all?
This whole Enzo Amore angle is creepily tip-toeing into some sort of romantic angle with the “damsel in distress” (Amore) needing to be saved by the knight in shining armor (Big Show) from he evil monster (Cass).
Big Cass needs to make quick work of Big Show to have any of this matter even the slightest and to finally put this horrendous storyline, which should have been a one-off, to rest.
“The Demon” Finn Bálor vs. Bray Wyatt
It’s sad that this match is so far down the card, but it has the potential to steal the show if WWE allows Wyatt and Balor to “go”.
Sure, the buildup has been typical Bray Wyatt ramblings but the inclusion of Balor’s “Demon” persona is genius, especially since WWE has kept it under wraps for so long.
Perfect time to bring it out as it makes SummerSlam appear that much more important.
But unfortunately for Wyatt, this may be just another loss in a string of crippling ones throughout his oddly booked (or terriby) career.
If WWE is smart, they book this for a DQ finish and a brawl into some sort of magical abyss.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. The Usos (Kickoff Match)
The Hardy Boyz & Jason Jordan Vs. The Miz & The Miztourage (Kickoff Match)
This match was thrown together last minute to give these guys something to do and WWe loves to hawk it’s Hardy gear.
This can actually accomplish a lot as the Miztourage could benefit from a big win as much as the Hardy Boyz could benefit from another crushing loss.
The Hardy’s are being positioned to introduce a version of their ‘Broken’ gimmicks and this match helps build towards that.
Jason Jordan is of no significance in this match and the Kurt Angle/love child storyline seems dead out of the water.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Akira Tozawa vs. Neville (SummerSlam Kickoff Match)
Neville’s title loss should have been to Austin Aries, which would have helped draw more fans to the Cruiserweight division, but sadly Akira Tozawa, at no fault of his own, got the win.
It’s bad when you see a title loss doing absolutely nothing for anyone involved. It did nothing to Neville who was crushing it as champ and who’s title loss could have been bigger.
It did nothing for Tozawa who was slowly getting over but not ready for the title just yet.
It did nothing for WWE who lost Aries in the process.
Total loss and now the division continues to capture the audience’s attention.
WWE needs to do better.