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411’s WWE SummerSlam 2023 Preview

August 5, 2023 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
WWE SummerSlam Cody Rhodes vs Brock Lesnar Image Credit: WWE

Hello 411 guys, gals, enbies, and everyone else! Welcome to 411’s WWE SummerSlam preview! Jeremy Thomas here, and WWE presents its big summer extravaganza on Saturday. WWE has been building a solid set of storylines as it heads into Detroit including Roman Reigns battling “Main Event” Jey Uso in the latest stage of the Bloodline feud, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins’ longstanding issues with each other, Cody Rhodes trying to put the Beast down once and for all and others. Tonight’s show has a lot of potential behind it and hopefully WWE can continue the momentum it’s been carrying for the last several months. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get right down to it!

Slim Jim SummerSlam Battle Royal

Image Credit: WWE

Kicking things off with our preview is the SummerSlam Battle Royal presented by Slim Jim. Every big show has to have that “get everyone we weren’t able to fit in regular matches on the card” match I guess, so here we are. At the time of this writing, we only have six competitors confirmed in LA Knight, Sheamus, Tommaso Ciampa, Shinsuke Nakamura, Otis, and Chad Gable. I would venture to say that if they haven’t already announced you, you’re either a major surprise or you’re not winning this.

Eschewing that chance of a surprise, I think it’s pretty clear who has to win this. Ciampa, Nakamura, Otis, and Gable don’t have any reason from a storyline or push perspective. And the Sheamus’ group could probably use a win, but the Celtic Warrior loses nothing by not winning a battle royal. Meanwhile, LA Knight is the guy that the audience is going to be clamoring for. A victory here would give Knight a SummerSlam win and provide a free pop from the crowd; there’s pretty much no downside here. Battle royals are what they are, especially when you haven’t announced over half the field, but at least this will give Knight his moment.


MMA Rules Match
Ronda Rousey vs. Shayna Baszler

Image Credit: WWE

The Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler tag team didn’t last as long as most of us expected, but if it’s leading to Baszler getting a big SummerSlam win moment than I’m fine with that. The Queen of Spades turned on her tag team partner at Money in the Bank, costing them the Women’s World Tag Team Championships because she had a long-simmering resentment against her fellow MMA Horsewoman for getting the easy path in WWE. That’s led to some real momentum behind Baszler, who has been doing the best work in her career to date. The funny part here is that Baszler is taking the heel route in her character, but the fans have wanted her to get a push for so long (and dislike Rousey so much) that she is getting the babyface reaction.

Rousey is believed to be on her way out for the time being, and even if that’s not the case I think she would be putting over Baszler here. The entire feud seemed custom-built to get Baszler into a singles run with some heat on her, and beating Rousey puts her in the position of potentially challenging for the singles titles and looking like a threat. The MMA Rules stipulation is an X-factor here; of course both of these two have the right skillset, but WWE does not have a good track record when it comes to presenting other combat sports in the context of a pro wrestling environment. Either way, expect Baszler to come out of this victorious and Rousey to at least take some time off for now.

WINNER: Shayna Baszler

Ricochet vs. Logan Paul

Image Credit: WWE

At this point, if there’s one of the major WWE PPVs about to air we can probably expect Logan Paul to be featured on the card. And I can’t disagree with that notion. There’s been a lot said about how Paul has proven himself as a performer in the ring and it’s true, so using him in the “part-time special attraction” slot makes a lot of sense. And while I wouldn’t have expected him to face Ricochet on a show like SummerSlam, I can’t say I’m upset by it. It’s nice to see Ric getting a high-profile match on one of the big shows where he would normally be competing in (and not winning) the battle royal.

This feud stems from their big move at the Royal Rumble and animosity coming out of that, which is as good an excuse for this match as anything really. Paul and Ricochet are both viral moment makers in their own right, and I would be legitimately shocked if this match didn’t create a moment that is used in highlight reels going forward. The match is expected to open the show so that Paul can make it to his brother’s fight against Nate Diaz in Dallas later in the night, and while a Ricochet win would do huge things for him, he’s benefiting by being in the high-profile match already. It’s hard for me to see a situation where Paul doesn’t ultimately get his first win since last year’s SummerSlam.

WINNER: Logan Paul

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
Gunther vs. Drew McIntyre

Image Credit: WWE

It’s nice to see Drew McIntyre back on WWE TV after a bit of time off. And bringing him in to face Gunther for the Intercontinental Title is not exactly a bad way to get him back in the mix. McIntyre and Gunther have had some fantastic interactions in the ring, including the triple threat for the IC Title alongside Sheamus at WrestleMania 39 which is still in the running for match of the year. There’s no doubt that these two are going to deliver a (literally) hard-hitting match that has every chance to steal the show on what is a pretty impressive card from top to bottom.

All that being said, it’s inconceivable to me that WWE would take the title off of Gunther right now. The Imperium leader is just 34 days as of this writing away from breaking the Honky Tonk Man’s 35-year record IC Title reign, and while there might be some value in a storyline where McIntyre stops Gunther just short of the record it does Gunther much more good to set the new record than it would McIntyre to stop him from doing so. With Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci in the mix, there’s an easy way to have Gunther win without McIntyre losing any of his shine. This should be an extremely physical and very enjoyable match, with Gunther holding onto his title once the bell rings.

WINNER: Gunther (STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion)

WWE Women’s Championship Match
Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Bianca Belair

Image Credit: WWE

While most of the SummerSlam matches are fairly easy to predict, I’m not as sold on the surety of the Women’s Championship match. That’s not to say that I want Asuka to lose the title or that Flair or Bianca need the title run, but there’s at least more of an even keel here than most of the other matches. The most frustrating thing about this particular feud has been how Asuka’s more or less been a second fiddle in her own title feud as Belair and Flair have been largely targeting each other. That’s led to a largely listless feud here as Bianca teases turning heel and Charlotte does her Charlotte thing to collective shrugs.

None of that means this match won’t be good. All three women are great in the ring, and they should be able to play off each other quite nicely. The way that Flair and Belair have been focused on each other sets things up rather nicely for the Empress of Tomorrow to use their tunnel vision and retain her title. But I’m also going out on a limb here and saying that IYO SKY cashes in after the match to win the title. The women’s division on Smackdown is a bit stagnant, even just a few months after the draft, and SummerSlam is exactly the place for a big moment like this to happen. (It also doesn’t hurt that SummerSlam is where Damage CTRL debuted.) This would shake things up in the division, boost SKY as a star and set a new direction for the Women’s Championship going forward, while also providing a big title change that WWE can use to sell the momentousness of SummerSlam in the coming weeks.

WINNER: IYO SKY (NEW WWE Women’s Champion)

Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar

Image Credit: WWE

Cody Rhodes has been trying to put away Brock Lesnar since after WrestleMania, and now seems like the right time to do it. The Cody vs. Brock feud pretty much felt like a post-WrestleMania to SummerSlam feud from the jump, and this rubber match is very much the culmination of the rivalry between these two for now. Cody has been booked far better than others who have had these short-term feuds against Brock have, and he is staying on very solid ground as he tries to maintain his momentum on the way to completing the story. (Take a drink on the Cody Rhodes drinking game for that phrase’s use.)

Cody got the first win against Brock at WWE Backlash, then lost to him courtesy of a “broken arm” at Night of Champions. I love that they didn’t put any stipulation on this match, because it doesn’t need it. All we need is for Rhodes and Lesnar to go in there, beat the living shit out of each other, and end the rivalry for now. Rhodes has been taking beatings from Brock in the lead-up to this match and that sets Cody up as having to slay the Beast, which seems like it has to be the endgame. Brock’s going to take his months off until the road to WrestleMania, and the storyline is very much one where Rhodes needs to get past this obstacle and prove himself as worthy of going after the title. I would be legitimately shocked if anything other than Rhodes getting the win happens here.

WINNER: Cody Rhodes

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bálor

Image Credit: WWE

I can absolutely see an argument for Finn Balor winning the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam. Seth Rollins’ initial reign as champion is now over three months and feels like it’s been a very solid inaugural title run. In addition, the Judgment Day is on fire right now with just about everything clicking. You have Rhea Ripley as a dominant World Women’s Champion, Dirty Dom holding onto the NXT North American Title, and Damian Priest as Senor Money in the Bank. Balor is the only member of the group without some kind of accolade, and it would be poetic if he reclaimed a top title WWE over Rollins considering how much the story has been built around their past.

And yet, I am skeptical that it’s going to happen. I do think it would be best from a storyline perspective, but while 70+ days as champion is a solid run, WWE could keep the title on Rollins to establish it further. Seth is still incredibly over with the fans and he’s adding a lot of shine to the title, while Judgment Day all holding championships does seem a little bit too much like trying to replicate The Bloodline’s success, even if the stable dynamics are obviously quite different. Rollins and Balor will no doubt deliver here, but I have a strong inkling that Rollins retains and that will bring the bubbling tensions within the Judgment Day back up. My hope is that whatever storyline they have going it doesn’t derail the Judgment Day, which has been a wonderful vehicle for elevating all four of the members. Regardless, I could be very much wrong here but I’m going with the Freakin’ One to come out on top here.

WINNER: Seth Rollins (STILL World Heavyweight Champion)

Undisputed WWE Universal Championship Tribal Combat
Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso

Image Credit: WWE

How much more can we say about how great the Bloodline storyline has been? It is a testament to the latest arc that there’s even a shadow of doubt as to whether Roman Reigns will retain the title here. That said, it is only a shadow of doubt and it’s not enough to convince me. Jey Uso’s challenging Reigns has been a real full-circle moment for Main Event Jey, and he has not dropped the ball in any way. Of course it’s expected that this match is going to be fantastic, with plenty of drama that the crowd will be ridiculously into. I expect WWE to book this match in a way that we’ll be believing Jey is going to get the pin multiple times.

That said, the Tribal Combat stipulation (No DQ, no count-out) kind of sells that Reigns is going to win here. Sure, Jimmy Uso could come down and outsmart Reigns and company by getting involved and costing Reigns his title, but the advantage is clearly with Reigns and company. While Roman is at the point where he can lose the title at any time and it will be okay, I do think he’s holding it all the way to WrestleMania so they can have the Cody vs. Reigns rematch. That means that something will happen here to cost Jey the win. My only concern is that this storyline has been such a behemoth that Jey and Jimmy are now kind of inextricable from the Bloodline and if the stable doesn’t end, I don’t know where they go. It would seem very odd if Jey loses and then goes off to feud with Gunther for the IC Title or something like that; by the same token, are they going to be able to keep repeating permutations of this all the way to WrestleMania and have it maintain its momentum? We’ll see, but for now I think it’s hard to say Uso dethrones Roman here.

WINNER: Roman Reigns (STILL Undisputed WWE Universal Champion)

And that’s all we have for WWE SummerSlam! WWE has a very strong show booked here, and there’s every potential for this show to deliver in a big, big way. Thank you as always for reading and remember that we will have live coverage of the show courtesy of Scott Slimmer right here on 411mania.com. I’m taking off before WWE decides that they need to cut another match and Asuka looks for someone to spit mist at…

Image Courtesy of WWE

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WWE Summerslam, Jeremy Thomas