RAW Deal: Pre-SummerSlam Predictions
MINNEAPOLIS—In only a few days, we’ll be watching the biggest show of the summer (literally; at four hours long, it’s as long as WrestleMania, and that’s never been done before) and here’s what I think is gonna go down.
Kickoff Match Pick: The Prime Time Players (c) vs. Los Matadores vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. The New Day in a Fatal Four-Way Tag Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships
If anything’s gonna get bumped down to the pre-show kickoff hour, it’s going to be this match. Same thing happened at WrestleMania, and while you may think of it as a demotion, just consider it as them getting more time and space to let loose. They won’t have a lot to contend for minutes with as they would if the match was on the main card.
That said, I think this match is the best way to let The New Day win the championship belts without diminishing the strength of the current champions. Xavier Woods, Big E, and Kofi Kingston have proven week in and week out why they’re one of the most entertaining acts on the card, and even though I’m a Prime Time Players fan, I feel it would help the division a lot more if the biggest heat magnets are the prey. Any contender would instantly look good going after them.
Kickoff Match Pick: Ryback (c) vs. The Miz vs. Big Show in a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
If the kickoff show is getting a second match—likely because it would still leave eight matches in a four-hour card, much like what happened at ‘Mania—my best guess is that this is the second-most expendable match. They’ve done everything they can for it, but the momentum of this storyline just has been limping along, thanks to Ryback’s staph infection.
Meanwhile, look for Ryback to retain. I don’t mind the idea of Ryback as Intercontinental Champion; he just needs to move on past this feud so he can find a contender that would legitimize his reign.
Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro
Assuming this gets at least ten minutes, expect this match to be a sleeper hit (I’m thinking the real match of the night goes to Cena/Rollins). I feel that it would do a lot better for this match to have some real stakes, but since it’s the first time the two are meeting at such a big stage, they can probably save that for later, when Randy Orton and/or Sheamus can get involved. I like Kevin Owens winning here in a way that doesn’t compromise Cesaro’s ever-growing heat. Trust me, you’ll want to see more of this feud.
Stephen Amell and Neville vs. Stardust and King Barrett
The match you need to watch just for the pure fun—and the amazing character work that’s going into this. If you don’t believe me, watch this week’s Stardust promo, featuring Barrett:
A lot of people—including myself, an Arrow fan—like Amell’s involvement in the ring because the guy really is conditioned almost like a pro wrestler. Obviously, Neville and the rest will carry the load, but you can expect Amell to get in some good spots. Amell and Neville, unlike other celebrity guests, aren’t a bad team to put over. Plus you know they won’t let Stardust and Barrett go home without getting their heat back.
Dolph Ziggler (with Lana) vs. Rusev (with Summer Rae)
I wanted this to be the other kickoff match, but they’ve been putting a lot more work into this over the past couple of months for it to be bumped down. Rusev’s been getting the upper hand the entire feud, so even though I don’t like the idea, I foresee Dolph Ziggler winning on Sunday. This would allow Rusev to continue whining and prolong the feud (even though both men totally need to move on), which should be culminating in a mixed tag team match with Lana finally involved. And if the endgame is Rusev and Lana finally getting back together, then I won’t mind it one bit. (Big if, though.)
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus
Awardee of the Most Pointless Feud of the Summer. Randy Orton wins, because that’s what happens to Mssrs. Money in the Bank before they successfully cash in. (More on that later.)
The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield
For all the rumors of this being a possible six-man tag match with the likes of Sting aiding the Shield and a new member being added to the Wyatt Family, looks like we’re just getting a plain old tag team match. This is my other pick for sleeper hit of the evening, if Harper and Reigns’s slobberknocker this week is any indication:
The big discussion going into the matchup is who, between Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, will turn on the other. I like the idea of the Wyatts going over in this match—I don’t see this being the end of the feud, especially with Erick Rowan’s pending return—but I don’t think we’ll see a turn from the Shield happen yet. Maybe it could happen next month, or maybe it could happen on RAW the next night.
Team Bella vs. Team B.A.D. vs. Team PCB in a Three-Team Elimination Match
I’ve railed on and on about how the #DivaRevolution hasn’t been a satisfactory narrative, and soon enough the crowd will start to catch on. SummerSlam won’t be the night it does, though. If history is any indication (and it is) this match is gonna be a barnburner, more so because almost everyone in this match aren’t slouches, and even more so because it’s an elimination match.
But because we don’t know the stakes all three teams will be playing for, it’s pretty hard to predict the winner. Why couldn’t it have had an easy stipulation, like if Team PCB (worst name ever) or B.A.D. win, they get a four-way match with Nikki for the Divas title? You know what, I’m just going to call Team Bella the winner. Because who cares?
WWE U.S. Champion John Cena vs. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins in a Winner Takes All Match
I know I have explained and defended John Cena incessantly on this column space, but I want you to know one thing: Seth Rollins needs to win.
The torch just needs to be passed, and there isn’t a better moment to pass it than in this match. Everything is there, the stars are aligning, and the time is right. Rollins called Cena the “villain who holds the WWE Universe hostage,” and that isn’t a hate-filled statement more than it is a subtle wink and nod to the fans who hate Cena’s overexposure (at the hands of Vince McMahon).
It’s time to be consistent with building new stars, and that has to continue with Cena losing honorably (or dishonorably, if Rollins’s character calls for it). I’m just terrified, however, of Vince being in panic mode; it’s still possible that Cena wins here, despite Cena’s recent losing SummerSlam record. It’s him who needs to see, most of all, that he needs to take a huge risk here.
What happens, though, if they go for a cop-out? What if no one wins, effecting no change to the status quo? Or what happens if someone wins, only to be jumped by Sheamus? Well, they also need to realize that this is the corner they’ve backed themselves into, and the crowd will not accept any less. The last hour will be interesting to watch unfold.
But I do think, in my heart of hearts, despite it being more optimism than realism, that Seth Rollins is winning. Sheamus cashing in is another story.
Brock Lesnar vs. the Undertaker
The discussion of who’s the face and who’s the heel in this feud no longer matters. Everyone who’s applied common sense has accepted that this match is personal, and each character is motivated by their own internal emotions.
That said, who should win? Undertaker is polarizing the fanbase: marks want Undertaker to win, while there are some “smart” marks who want Lesnar to win just because they feel Undertaker is not the wrestler he once was.
I think this is another passing-of-the-torch moment, albeit one that is less necessary than Cena/Rollins. It’s a moment we have because it’s a moment the WWE needed. I believe who should win largely depends on the kind of match both men can physically have—or rather, the kind of match Undertaker can still have. If it isn’t a repeat of the awkward WrestleMania XXX match where Undertaker was a mere rag doll Lesnar threw around, then Lesnar should win. But if it’s something closer to Undertaker’s matches with Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and CM Punk, then I don’t mind Undertaker winning to lead to a rubber match.
But there’s a simpler theory: the WWE would be giant idiots if they didn’t capitalize on Brock Lesnar’s monster fame. Let this match be Undertaker’s retirement match as a big-time wrestler. If Lesnar loses, I have a feeling that the WWE might have another Royal Rumble 2014 situation on their hands. It’s less likely because Undertaker is not as hateable as Batista, but it’s possible.
We’ve got a SummerSlam and NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn viewing party at Skinny Mike’s Sports Bar in Bonifacio Global City! NXT is showing this Sunday, August 23 at 9 am, while SummerSlam is showing on Monday morning; 6 am for the preshow, and 7 am for the main show. Like the WrestleMania viewing party, admission is free! Skinny Mike’s is also bringing their P15-peso buffalo wings promo just for you wrestling fans! If you want to experience watching a huge wrestling show with other fans, this is the place to be for the biggest show of the summer!
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 Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person (and voice of PWR) Raf Camus! On their latest episode, they talk to Juan Direction’s Brian Wilson about his wrestling fandom, and his quest to reinvent the Filipino action movie! Listen to it here!