wrestling / Columns

The 8 Ball: 8 Predictions For Summerslam

July 28, 2016 | Posted by Samuel Hayward
Image Credit: WWE

The Brand Extension is officially underway, with both Raw and Smackdown finally airing live with separate rosters, and now, thanks to the announcement on Monday, separate world champions. With Battleground behind us, the stage is beginning to be set for SummerSlam on August 21.

Presently, we have three matches announced; Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton, Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor, and Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler. With one week of set up and almost a month to go before the biggest show of the summer arrives, anything can happen with fresh storylines being developed for both shows. Here are 8 of my predictions for WWE SummerSlam.

Number Eight – Cruiserweight Showcase: The Cruiserweight Classic has succeeded in impressing and bringing a new element to WWE Programming on the Network. The Code of Honour has been utilised, the referee making opponents shake hands before every match. A UFC feel has been adopted as well, each match ending with both men standing beside the referee as the victor’s hand is raised. Overall, the entire tournament has enjoyed an element of realism and gravitas that is usually lacking in WWE’s shows.

It has been announced that Raw will have its own Cruiserweight division to help fill the three-hour timeslot, a video airing last Monday to help promote its arrival. In the wake of this, several of the competitors from the Network’s tournament have been approached to join the full time roster, with offers being extended to men like TJ Perkins and Cedric Alexander, and with others having allegedly already agreed deals, such as Kota Ibushi and Gran Metallik, the division is already looking promising as a strong part of the red team.

Add to these names the few members of the roster who are already seasoned in WWE’s style of professional wrestling. With Neville returning from his injury, he would be a fantastic individual to spearhead this division, helping younger competitors develop in the brand. This could also give him the opportunity to establish himself in the eyes of Vince McMahon and the Creative Team as the asset we all know him to be.

We should expect to see some degree of multi-person spot fest this summer from whichever wrestlers get signed to the company. It would serve as a great way to promote not only Raw, but the WWE Network, with the Quarter-Finals of the CC still to come the week following SummerSlam.

Number Seven – Banks Retains the Belt: WWE pulled the trigger on the women’s title change earlier than most anticipated, with Banks capturing the gold in extraordinary fashion last Monday from Charlotte after a 17-minute-long match. With the expectancy that The Nature Girl would drop the belt at SummerSlam, this came as a wonderful surprise for the first Raw since the Brand Extension hit, which made the show feel more important and, when compared to the sluggish introduction of the women given by Smackdown, made Monday Nights feel like the place to be to watch women’s wrestling within the company.

The expectancy is of course for Charlotte to invoke her rematch clause with the bout scheduled to take place at our next PPV. With Banks so fresh into her first title reign, and the former champ coming off a collective 309 days as both Diva’s and Women’s Champion, it’s unlikely that Banks will lost in this contest.

Additionally, this isn’t so much of a prediction as wishful thinking, but I really Ric Flair to in the Legit Boss’ corner at ringside, to counteract any cheating that could occur from Dana Brooke and gain some vengeance on his daughter for sending him away. That would be so satisfying to me.

Number Six – Lesnar Beats Orton: Come on, is anybody really going to make the argument that Orton beats Lesnar at SummerSlam? Okay, to play devil’s advocate, and say that somehow, someway, the 20 suplexes to Suplex City lose to the one RKO outta nowhere to ‘Viperville’, and Orton stands tall at the end of the match. What happens then?

Both men have been absent from WWE’s programming for a while now, Orton out for 9 months and Lesnar gone since WrestleMania. But since Lesnar is a part-time wrestler by nature, you get used to these long gaps between his appearances and whenever he is advertised for Raw or a PPV, everybody gets excited and wonders who he’s going to destroy next. The reason that that appeal is there is because he generally does destroy his opponents. He’s a monster who looks legitimately dangerous for other superstars to be in the ring with. This only continues if he stays that way, continuing his warpath through the company undisturbed until the time comes for him to do the favours for a younger star and skyrocket them to the top of the ladder.

Conversely, Orton’s tenure in the company is one of longevity. He started at the bottom around the same time as The Beast, but when Lesnar left the company after WrestleMania XX, Orton stayed and continued to develop until he won world title after world title after world title. In all that time, he began to grow a bit stale. Yes, he was still a tremendous worker and an important cog in the WWE Machine, but his moveset developed their own 5 moves of doom to rival Cena’s, so much so we hear Michael Cole scream ‘vintage’ every time we see a snap slam or a rope hung DDT. His character became slightly monotonous, and his storylines had no real motivation behind them. It felt like The Viper was just going through the motions for a while.

Sure, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and since his injury, criticisers who come to realise just how talented Orton was and how important he was to the WWE Programming, but now that he’s back we can expect him to stick around and rebuild any lost momentum by taking a beating from Brock. Weird to think, but Lesnar actually needs the win more than Orton does.

You can make the argument that WWE want to punish Lesnar for his drug violations, which sullied his UFC 200 victory, but if they wanted to do that they’d just suspend him too and they’ve already released a statement saying no such thing will happen. It makes no sense for Lesnar to fall to an RKO. Suplexes all round and a F5 before the inevitable 3 count.

Number Five – New Tag Team Champions: The record has officially been broken. The New Day has cemented themselves in history forever as the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions (at least this incarnation of the belts anyway). This incredible trio will no doubt be remembered as one of the greatest groups of their generation, a team that revitalised a dying division by leading it back into the forefront of WWE’s Programming. And now we have several fresh new teams ready to bring the fight and try and take the gold. And I daresay one of them is going to do it at SummerSlam.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson need to regain some serious momentum. They had such high expectations for greatness thrust upon them when they arrived. People clamoured as this team that had dominated New Japan Pro Wreslting, would finally arrive onto the grand stage and join their former Bullet Club teammate, AJ Styles. And then they were fed to Roman Reigns and made to look like they had a hard time beating The Usos.

Giving them the belts and allowing them to be the team that ends The New Day’s glorious reign can garner them some serious heat and make them look like the wrecking crew they should be. On top of that, the division is primed right now for a heel tag team to stand at the top. All of the best and most over tag teams in the division are faces, giving a heel team a lot of feuds to play with over the belts. When they finish feuding with The New Day, they can face off against Enzo + Cass on Raw, or new main roster call-ups American Alpha on Smackdown.

Having Gallows and Anderson hold the gold is necessary at this point. The New Day have proven so entertaining that they don’t need the belts to get over.

Number Four – Cena Wins the Rubber Match: I want to start this point by establishing that I really, REALLY, don’t want this to happen. If this were a perfect world, AJ Styles would conclusively beat Cena without The Club to back him up and prove that he can stand on his own two feet at the top. The problem is, WWE’s track record with Big Match John speaks for itself. It’s really sad to say, but Styles beating Cena at SummerSlam is not going to happen.

If you don’t know what I mean when I talk about Cena’s track record, here’s a list of names you should google with ‘vs John Cena’ at the end; The Miz, The Nexus, Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk, Bray Wyatt, Kevin Owens, Rusev. There’s a reason Styles has been referring to Cena’s shovel so frequently in their verbal sparring. Occassionally, someone will pick up a win against The Doctor of Thugonomics which could be used to propel them to a higher level. Instead, WWE see fit to bury them by having Cena then proceed to beat them again and again and again so that they learn their place in the midcard.

Don’t get me misconstrued, Cena is one hell of a worker, and has phenomenal matches with several different members of the roster, all of the above names included. Although there may be genuine attempts to put people over, the story stifles this by always allowing Big Match John to get the last laugh. It’s just what he does, he overcomes the odds and wins the fight in the last chapter.

At the end of this, I don’t doubt that the next Tuesday after SummerSlam, Cena will go on the mic and talk about how much respect he has for Styles and how well he fought and how much he deserves to stand in the main event. But it won’t undo the loss The Phenomenal one will suffer on that PPV.

Number Three – Hollywood vs Hype Bros: This prediction is a bit of a wild card, as there’s a lot of directions for the Intercontinental Champion to go now that Darren Young is on Raw and he is on Smackdown. There are several different opponents available for him to spar with, from Apollo Crews to Baron Corbin to Kalisto to the returning Shelton Benjamin. I’m going out on a limb and picking Zack Ryder. Now since he’s in a tag team with Mojo Rawley at this point, some of you might argue that it doesn’t make sense for him to keep focus in singles feuds, but I feel this one should happen for sentimental reasons.

Ryder held that title for all of one day. He unhooked it from above him on the Grandest Stage of them All, the record-setting attendants screamed in celebration for him. And all of one day later, the belt was gone and The Miz stood triumphant. Why has Ryder not allowed this injustice to light a fire in him? Sure, he’s had a stronger midcard presence, losing his rematch for the belt, represent USA on Independence Day, challenging Rusev at Battleground, but he never really got the closure he deserved with The Hollywood A-Lister on a PPV for the belt.

Add his Hype Bros teammate to the mix for some kind of hilarious ringside interaction with Maryse, the two men could finally finish the feud that should have started after WrestleMania but never got off the ground. I’d pick Miz to retain the belt and then Hype Bros can move on to an actual tag team feud. If done right, this could be feel like a really sincere feud, with Ryder chasing his dream once again, citing his photo with Scott Hall, his dreams coming crashing down, and that fire that we’ve been wanting to see from the Long Island Iced-Z could finally be lit.

Number Two – Reigns Turns Heel: The reason this isn’t the number one prediction on this list is because of my lack of certainty that it will actually happen. It should have happened so many times already, why would they pick SummerSlam to do it over all of the other times that they could have?

But that’s exactly why they should do it, because after all this time, after the fans booed him out of Royal Rumble, after they booed him out of WrestleMania, after they cheered at his title loss to the heel Seth Rollins and cheered at his suspension, after they booed more thunderously than ever before at his return at Battleground, and he STILL didn’t turn heel, imagine what a fantastic swerve it would be to turn him here. Just when everyone starts to resign themselves to the Vince stubbornly keeping him face. It would be sensational. And at the biggest PPV of the summer as well, you couldn’t say it wasn’t on a grand stage.

Reigns has been punished a lot for what he did. He lost the belt clean. He was the man pinned at Battleground. He lost clean to Finn Balor on the same night the guy debuted from a developmental company. He’s no longer in Raw’s main event scene and he’s not in Raw’s main event for SummerSlam. Pull the trigger. Please. PLEASE pull the trigger.

There’s no better way to really build Balor as the biggest face of Monday Nights than to have Reigns screw him out of the belt by interfering in his match. Reigns becoming enraged at his position in the company after all of his hard work. Reigns becoming bitter at the fans for cheering his every loss. The straw that broke the camel’s back can absolutely be Balor beating him last Monday, can’t it?

Yes, it’s a long shot. But a guy can dream, can’t he?

Number One – Raw Beats Smackdown: After this week, they kind of already are. Raw has had a very promising start compared to Smackdown’s slow one, and looking back at all of the predictions I’ve made for the card, Raw just seems to be a gear ahead in the race.

Take a look at both show’s main events. Finn Balor has been cannonballed into stardom by beating the guy that won the main event of WrestleMania clean on his debut. Rollins right now is the biggest heel in the company, even if the fans cheer for him. The two of them will have a phenomenal match to crown an inaugural champion and, while I’m picking the Crossfit Jesus to take the belt, I could actually see this go either way.

On the blue team we have Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler. Six months ago if I told you this was for the Intercontinental Championship you would’ve accepted it. Had I told you the same match for the world title you would’ve laughed. But here it is. Fresh off jobbing to Baron Corbin in a battle of the ball shots, Ziggler has literally no momentum and, before this week, was pretty much an afterthought on the roster. The fans had resigned themselves to accepting that Ziggler just wouldn’t get the push that had been desired of him since he cashed in Money in the Bank to the thunderous ovations of Monday Night Raw all of three years ago.

And yet here he is, out of nowhere, pinning AJ Styles clean to become number one contender for the belt. I should point that I didn’t list this match in my predictions. Because I don’t consider it a prediction. Ambrose retaining is a flat out guarantee. If Ziggler wins this, I will be infuriated. Not at Ziggler, who is a workhorse of the company and does deserve better than what he’s been getting, but at WWE Creative, who have conjured this up out of nowhere. It makes no sense creatively to just have Ziggler walk out the SummerSlam with the belt over his shoulder.

Now let’s look at the women’s division. Banks vs Charlotte is stealing the show on Raw and building intrigue for their PPV rematch, whilst the series of one line introductions for Smackdown’s women leaves a lot to be excited for, with no real focus or intrigue. Now for the tag team division. We have for the red team the record-breaking New Day vs New Japan all-stars Gallows and Anderson. For the blue team, NXT call-ups American Alpha, who are exciting, vs… The Vaudevillains? Hype Bros? Anyone interesting? Short of bringing Charlie Haas back with Benjamin and having one of my tag team dream matches available, there’s fairly slim pickings for Smackdown to showcase on SummerSlam.

Worryingly as it may seem, Smackdown appears to be headed towards remaining the B-Team for a good while yet.

So what do you think? Let us know in the comments what you think is going to happen at the biggest show of the summer!