wrestling / Columns

411’s WWE SummerSlam Preview

July 30, 2022 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
WWE SummerSlam 2022 - Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar Image Credit: WWE

Hello 411 guys, gals, enbies, and everyone else! Welcome to 411’s WWE SummerSlam preview! I’m Jeremy Thomas as always, and WWE is back with its biggest show of the summer — which, as it turns out, is taking place in a truly historic month for WWE. I’m not going to belabor the situation you all know about, but the regime change in the company has thrown some intrigue into Saturday’s PPV. SummerSlam may not be the biggest-looking card on paper, but we have potential for some impressive matches and the shift to a new creative head in the company for the first time in — well, ever — has us all wondering if anything will change. (My expectation, for the record, is that some things will but not as much as some think.) Anyway, we have eight matches on the card and only so much time for me to babble on here, so without further ado let’s get right to it!

WWE United States Championship Match
Bobby Lashley vs. Theory

Image Credit: WWE

First up, we have the WWE United States Championship on the line as Bobby Lashley defends against the man he beat for the title, Theory. SummerSlam will be an interesting PPV for Theory, as he may be the person most affected by the regime change. Theory was a personal project of McMahon’s both on screen and off, SummerSlam will test whether the company still has that level of confidence in him that Vince did, while other stars are more established and are less likely to be significantly affected.

Now, how Theory’s fate ends up being perceived after SummerSlam doesn’t rest entirely on this match. After all, he has that Money in the Bank briefcase he keeps claiming that he’s going to cash in. You could easily make the point that this match is just to get Theory and Lashley on the card while setting up something for the possible cash-in; by the same token, if WWE wants to hold off on Theory’s cash-in, having him get “injured” by Lashley here is a way to write out the cash-in opportunity and tread water with Theory to figure out where they want him to go next. Either way, Lashley is unfortunately the least interesting thing about this match. I don’t see a lot of value in hot-shotting the title back to Theory no matter what they do with his briefcase, which makes a retention by the champion a fairly easy pick here.

WINNER: Bobby Lashley (STILL WWE United States Champion)

No Disqualification Match
The Mysterios vs. The Judgment Day

Image Credit: WWE

While The Judgment Day’s storyline had a lot going for it when it started, it’s hard not to argue that things have stalled out a bit. That’s not on the group; it was more a matter of circumstances when Rhea Ripley was put out due to injury, which left Finn Balor and Damian Priest in a little bit of a holding pattern. That’s led into this feud with Rey and Dominik Mysterio, where the group tried to recruit Dominik by painting Rey as a bad father. Dominik would eventually give in, but it was apparently too late at that point.

Had this match been a typical tag team match, I honestly would be leaning in a different direction than I am. A regular tag match makes sense to have the heels go over, either by Dominik turning on his dad or by Ripley cheating to win. However, we also know that a certain Rated-R Superstar is close to a return and was reportedly set to appear on Raw before last minute plans changed. No DQ makes for a situation where the babyfaces can have help and the rule-breaking aspect is mitigated. While I previously would have guessed Dominik breaking bad and joining the group which leads to Edge returning to make the save and Edge/Rey vs. the stable, the stipulation has me leaning toward Ripley getting involved and Edge coming out to even the odds, letting Team Mysterio get the win. Hopefully this doesn’t hurt Judgment Day too much as I think they have a good thing going, but we’ll have to see on that.

WINNER: The Mysterios

Pat McAfee vs. Happy Corbin

Image Credit: WWE

Each month, Happy Corbin seems to end up in my least-anticipated PPV match of the card. And that’s not even Corbin’s fault anymore. I think Happy has been doing some of the best work in his career in 2022, but it’s hard to take him seriously at this point and his feuds have been slapdash at best. The only reason I really cared about Corbin vs. Madcap Moss was because I wanted to see where both guys were going to go after it, and I honestly don’t even have that for this match.

That’s not a patch on either man. Like I said, Corbin’s really done some more inspired work as of late and McAfee is always a delight; his joy at getting in the ring is infectious and he always turns out fun matches. I’ve just been lukewarm on how this whole rivalry has unfolded and while I expect an enjoyable enough effort here, I’m simply not that invested. While McAfee is billed as a special attraction due to his crossover status, it’s important to note that Corbin hasn’t won a PPV match since TLC 2019 in December of that year. (Of note, he beat Roman Reigns at that show. My, how things change.) I think that it’s time for that to change so that he has at least something going on, and McAfee is the perfect guy to give Corbin the win without hurting their regular talent.

WINNER: Happy Corbin

Logan Paul vs. The Miz

Image Credit: WWE

We all know Logan Paul needs to turn heel. I’m almost certain that WWE knows this as well. Paul is such a natural heel that I can’t imagine the company doesn’t see that turn to the dark side coming at some point. But by the same token, I understand why they didn’t want to turn Miz babyface. Good guy Miz is the least interesting Miz, and I have always enjoyed the asshole that Miz can be when he’s his best. That, of course, led to the necessity of Paul coming back as a babyface once he had signed with the company because he has to get revenge on Miz, and Miz is also a talent who can work with Paul and make him look solid.

This match has been all about getting WWE’s newest contracted celebrity in-ring exposure, and getting SummerSlam its celeb exposure. And I’m fine with that. It does mean that there’s not a lot of suspense about how this is going to go, though. Paul is returning to the ring as the wronged babyface, and Miz is a made man in WWE who can take losses without being hurt at all. Short of some strange situation where Paul turns heel here, this has to be about his getting payback on Miz and getting the big celebrity win moment, thus establishing him as a contracted star with some in-ring momentum. I don’t know that we’ll see Paul immediately after SummerSlam; it seems likely that he’ll ride off into the sunset while he trains for his next special attraction match. Either way, Paul’s win is the easiest prediction on this show.

WINNER: Logan Paul

Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship Match
The Usos vs. The Street Profits

Image Credit: WWE

With most of the PPVs during the Usos’ current title reign, I’ve explicitly tied their fortunes to that of Roman Reigns. I don’t think that’s been a controversial thing to do; the Bloodline rises and falls with Reigns after all, and whether I thought the team was going to win or not made a lot of sense to tie into how it affected Reigns’ match. This may be the first PPV in a long time where I don’t think I’m doing that. Don’t get me wrong; I think that everything I’ve said in past columns hold sway. A loss here would throw some intrigue into how Reigns’ match plays out, as it could put some cracks in the Bloodline’s foundation.

But this time, I don’t think that the Usos’ fates are riding on Reigns. Rather, I think that the challengers’ situation is more potentially impactful. The Street Profits are a staple of the tag team division, but that division is also a little stale at this point. WWE has run out of teams that can credibly challenge the Usos. And while the Profits are great as a team, they have lost too many times in the last year or so to the Usos that I can buy them winning. Meanwhile, the company has been teasing a split between Dawkins & Ford. If they’re going to do that split, now makes sense. There’s no real reason to take the titles off the Usos right now except to change things up, and I think this is where we finally have the Profits split — not a move I’m a fan of, but one that WWE has been hinting at too much to not do. I don’t know who will eventually take the titles off Jimmy and Jey, but it won’t be these guys and not now.

WINNER: The Usos (STILL Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions)

Raw Women’s Championship Match
Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch

Image Credit: WWE

Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch have come full circle in their rivalry in the clearest possible way. The two have been feuding on and off for roughly the past year since Lynch made her return at last year’s SummerSlam and shocked Belair to win the Raw Women’s Title, which led to Belair getting her win back at WrestleMania 38. Now we’re at the rubber match, just over eleven months from their first bout, in a match that seemed written in the stars since that surprising and much-criticized SummerSlam 2021 moment, and it goes without saying that this won’t be the quick squash win that we got the first time.

There is an argument to be made that Lynch might pick up the title here. That would add another chapter to the womens’ rivalry and would change things up at the top while putting their biggest women’s star in a triumphant moment at the PPV; it would also result in a major development coming out of the PPV in terms of status quo shaking up. But I also 100% think that’s not going to happen. I see no indication that this wasn’t the game plan for a while, and it would hurt Belair to again have her lose to Lynch on one of the biggest shows of the year, on the same PPV she lost in less than a minute just a year prior. A loss here plays into Lynch’s character of feeling aggrieved and losing it more and more with every defeat as well. I expect a very good match from these two, who can always deliver in the ring, but in the end I think Belair goes home triumphant.

WINNER: Bianca Belair (STILL Raw Women’s Champion)

Smackdown Women’s Championship Match
Liv Morgan vs. Ronda Rousey

Image Credit: WWE

Look, we get down on WWE for its booking decisions from time to time, and sometimes when even when they recognize someone’s star potential it takes a while for them to pull the trigger. But when they do pull the trigger on someone in time they deserve the credit. While it felt like the window nearly passed for Liv Morgan, WWE was able to pull it back and put the fan-favorite on a new level when she cashed in Money in the Bank and defeated Ronda Rousey to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank. Morgan had the fans so heavily behind her that the win marked a huge moment for the PPV and for Morgan’s career.

When it was initially reported that Rousey would be getting a rematch for the title at SummerSlam, there was good reason to be concerned that this was a one-month hotshot of the title to add some spice to this month’s show. Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case to me. Sure, WWE could do what they sometimes to and cut Morgan’s legs out from underneath her this early on but the fact that the fans have remained behind her and she’s held her own in the feud with Rousey so far definitely weighs in her favor. I’m very interested to see how Rousey and Morgan do when they have the time needed for a full match; there’s a lot of potential for this to feel special. I do think Morgan will end up with the win, but perhaps not in the strongest way. The fact that we have a babyface vs. babyface match here gives WWE prime ground to introduce a heel for some shenanigans and kick off a new feud for one of these two. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Charlotte Flair and with reports that she may be coming back soon, the timing is right for her to get revenge on Rousey for breaking her arm. That if nothing else should be enough for Morgan to retain and while I’d rather see her defeat Rousey cleanly, I’m more interested in seeing Morgan get the time she needs to develop as a champion so I’ll take it.

WINNER: Liv Morgan (STILL Smackdown Women’s Champion)

Undisputed WWE Universal Title Last Man Standing Match
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar

Image Credit: WWE

And now we get to the main event. To say that Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar have done this dance for a while now is an understatment. The two have faced off in one-on-one matches five times on PPV in the past four years; it’s the company’s go-to bout when they need a marquee match to sell a PPV on. And while most of us agree that this is a feud we’d like to see end for a good long while, it’s easy to see why WWE keeps going back to the well: it’s a built-in rivalry that always draws a lot of attention due to The Beast’s mainstream name value. That doesn’t make it any more exciting for those of us that follow wrestling regularly; in fact, it could be considered an core symptom of WWE’s inability to make more breakout stars. But it explains why we’re at this point. Again.

The bigger problem here to me is that WWE is kind of in a bing. Lesnar just isn’t the guy who should be ending Reigns’ 700-day title reign — especially as a part-timer — but Lesnar has lost to Reigns in their last three PPV matches (not including the Royal Rumble) to the point that another loss might make wrestling fans wonder why they should believe he can beat Reigns the next time outside of “It’s Brock Lesnar.” It puts WWE in a weird position for their biggest match of the summer, and not one that they likely relish being in. There are any number of shenanigans that WWE could run here, the most likely being that Seth Rollins finagles his way into the match since his match with Riddle is off and picks up the title. That’s absolutely a scenario I could see happening, but I don’t know if it will. Theory cashing in on Lesnar or Reigns after they win is possible, though he does not seem to be ready at all for that kind of title reigns. We know that Reigns and Lesnar deliver great matches against each other so that’s not a concern. There are a lot of X-factors here and if I were predicting wildly I would say Rollins gets in and wins somehow or (less ideally) takes the loss, but if it ends up being a one-on-one match I think WWE has more invested in Reigns moving on to face Drew McIntyre at Clash of the Castle and not Reigns.

WINNER: Roman Reigns (STILL Undisputed WWE Universal Champion)

And that’s all we have for WWE SummerSlam! It is a decent card on paper with the potential for some great matches, even if I think it lacks the luster of some other Summerslams. That all said, we know that WWE has been consistently overdelivering on their PPVs so I’m hopeful they can do the same here.Thanks once again for reading and remember that we will have live coverage of the show courtesy our own Scott Slimmer right here on 411mania.com. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go…in the meantime, let’s give Vince one more strut just for old time’s sake…

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WWE Summerslam, Jeremy Thomas