RAW Deal: Hello, Brooklyn 2016
It’s time for the biggest party of the summer once again, and at the rate things are going, SummerSlam is going to be the real thing to watch out for.
WrestleMania is still the top act on the calendar, but SummerSlam weekend has been emerging as a serious wrestling tour de force for the past couple of years. It’s where the WWE dares to go where they normally wouldn’t—or used to—with WrestleMania, and it’s been earning its place as a must-see event.
When you have a Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler for world championships, main events you never even thought were possible (at least, as far as Balor and Ziggler are concerned) this time at SummerSlam last year—and this is the height of optimism when it comes to the WWE—you know you have to train your eyes on this show.
And that’s not even the end of it—tomorrow Manila time, we’ll be getting the second NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, and the main event features a man who was in a completely different promotion at the beginning of the year, and a man who was once the face of the WWE’s competition. I’ve been saying this a lot, but really, what a time it is to be alive.
Let’s see what we have here this year:
Kickoff: Cesaro vs Sheamus in Round 1 in a Best of 7 Series
Most playoff series are usually for something—championships, really—but strangely, this hard-hitting series between Cesaro and Sheamus made just last Monday night on RAW isn’t really for anything. At least, not yet. I’m still holding out hope that Mick Foley’s going to make this for something important somewhere in the middle of this series, perhaps next week on RAW. Meanwhile, Cesaro needs to open strong on Sunday.
Kickoff: Sami Zayn and Neville vs the Dudley Boyz
This is your perfunctory “everyone needs to do something at the big show” match. There’s really no reason why Sami Zayn and Neville are going up against the Dudley Boyz, but you can be sure that the veterans are scheduled to put over the young’ns here, especially that Neville has come back from an injury.
Winner: Sami Zayn and Neville
Kickoff: American Alpha, the Hype Bros, and the Usos vs Breezango, The Ascension, and the Vaudevillains in a 12-man tag match
This is another obligatory “everyone on the card” match, but at least this one makes more sense, as the American Alpha’s arrival on SmackDown has thrown the entire tag team division on the show (the championshipless division, might I add) in quite the loop. There’s no way the face team is losing this one, though, but I do hope this leads to the establishment of a championship. It’s nice to write stories that don’t anchor on a title, but you will still need that prop to create some legitimacy around here.
Winner: The good guys
Carmella, Becky Lynch, and Naomi vs Natalya, Alexa Bliss, and ??? in a six-woman tag match
The heel team was supposed to be rounded out by Eva Marie, but due to her unfortunate Wellness Policy violation (which she claims was due to a technicality), but now I’ve got absolutely no clue as to who it could be. There are literally no other heel women on SmackDown other than Maryse, and there’s no reason for her to jump in, so… either they borrow someone from RAW (if that’s the case, my guess is Alicia Fox or Nia Jax) or they call someone up from NXT (the worse option, as other than Asuka and Bayley, there are no women down at NXT that are well-known or ready to appear on a big PPV). That alone gives the face team a great chance to win.
Unless, of course, Nikki Bella decides to return at SummerSlam on the SmackDown brand, where boyfriend John Cena so happens to be on as well. Then everything gets thrown out of the window.
Winner: The good girls
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens
I want to see this feud go on just a little longer, and normally, when you want a rivalry to go longer, you more often than not let the heel win first so that the babyface gets a reason to chase his win back. But Enzo and Cass need it more here, and I have a feeling Team Canadads will find an entertaining way to demand a rematch.
Winner: Enzo and Cass
The New Day vs The Club for the WWE Tag Team Championship
With the way Big E has been taken out of the championship match (for one reason or another) and the odds being made even, it looks like the long reign of the New Day is finally coming to an end. It’s all well and good, as the tag team championship scene does need a shakeup no matter how entertaining the New Day are (and it’s for their own good, as well). I just wish that the Club would be beating the full New Day, but then again I remember that they’re the heels in this story, and not faces that have to conquer the odds. Big E being taken out will be a good reason for them to come after the rematch (aside from it being contractually obligated) but let’s keep the champs away from the belts for a while.
Winner: The Club (new Tag Team Champions)
Sasha Banks vs Charlotte for the WWE Women’s Championship
Yes, it’s infinitely strange how the big Sasha Banks moment that was supposed to be for SummerSlam ended up happening on a random episode of RAW. You can spin all the conspiracy theories you want, but it’s already happened, and all that’s left here to do is to make the reign as good as possible. Logic calls for Sasha to win and retain her title, but I have a nagging feeling that they’re setting her up to be the perennial chaser. It may happen or it may not, but if it does, I just don’t want you to be surprised.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Roman Reigns vs Rusev for the WWE United States Championship
Roman’s been made to look strong in this feud, which is a fine place for him as he takes a much-needed backseat from the RAW main event. Now that he’s in the backseat, however, it’s really time to give him a makeover, which hasn’t happened yet. I believe the ultimate punishment for his Wellness Policy violation is to keep stringing him along—make him look strong, but don’t get him anywhere close to being a champion again. Besides, Rusev deserves this spotlight more.
John Cena vs AJ Styles
This feud is winding down, due to Cena’s superstar schedule, but it’s still an important angle for AJ Styles. After winning the first bout back in June and losing to Cena and Enzo and Cass at Battleground, this SummerSlam match is Styles’s to lose (well, every feud with Cena is always his opponent’s to lose). The good thing Styles has going for him is that Cena loses a lot at SummerSlam (has been for the past few years) and, well, Styles does need this signature win if he’s going to be a top player in the WWE. Otherwise, he’d just be Goldberg.
Winner: AJ Styles
Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE Championship
Here’s the thing: Dolph Ziggler has no chance at winning.
But he’ll be winning even if he’s losing the title match, as it seems all Ziggler needed to be taken seriously is a serious run at the championship. Who knew? And it’s not just some robotic push to the title while other stars are preoccupied with other things, but they’ve given him actual momentum to make himself over. Granted, it’s one and a half years too late since Survivor Series 2014, but Ziggler has done enough to embrace this run and come across as a true contender—when he was just facing Baron Corbin in an endless series of bouts only a couple of months ago. You don’t need championship wins to make stars, even though it helps.
And for his sake, Dean Ambrose has also put enough work in to translate his persona into that of a true blue chipper. You can really tell the difference between now and a few months ago; then, Ambrose was a scrappy contender—he carried himself like an underdog—now, he’s believably transformed into a top star who seems like he’s been on top for years, when it hasn’t even been three months. Ambrose will have to change his style up sooner or later, but I can buy him as a magnetic anchor for the blue brand. He’ll have to stay this way, too, and it’ll take some nuclear heat from his Stone Cold Podcast appearance to knock him off the top.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship
That sensible part of your brain that keeps all the logic together will tell you that this is Seth Rollins’ title to lose. The other half, however, the one that gets all creative and imaginative, is making a compelling case for Finn Balor winning at SummerSlam.
But here’s why Finn Balor shouldn’t win the Universal Championship, no matter how great it sounds: Roman Reigns.
Believe it or not, there was once a time that the WWE Universe was nearly completely behind Roman Reigns. But as soon as it was clear he was being hotshotted to the top, one by one they decided to turn on him. They declared him as unready for the championship, but not because he was physically unprepared—rather, we were all emotionally unprepared for his rise. As fans, we all want to be witness to the struggle that forges true champions, and we can easily detect a push that’s all artificial.
Now, this isn’t to say that Balor isn’t ready—we all know he’ll carry his weight in making the showdown with Rollins a barnburner—but we want to accept him as the real deal organically. This also isn’t to say that people don’t love him—they do—but audiences are fickle, and they want to watch something burn at the right pace. Having Balor win now is only going to look clearly like the WWE is shoving him down our throats much like they did guys like Reigns and Cena. Let’s make the Demon King earn it a little more.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Randy Orton vs Brock Lesnar
It’s really, really easy to dismiss this as another glorified Brock Lesnar squash, but Randy Orton has way more of a fighting chance in this one than John Cena has. They’ve made Orton look really good, and canonically, Orton is better than Cena at facing Lesnar simply because he has no problems going to that deep, dark place Paul Heyman has proven Cena can’t go to.
That doesn’t automatically mean Orton is winning; just that it’s harder to count him out after we’ve seen what Lesnar did to Cena. I do want him to win, however, and I’m going to make that bold prediction here. I think it’s okay for Lesnar to lose now, as the Conqueror mystique has been slightly tarnished by the Undertaker feud from last year. There’s not much luster to dull at this point, and Lesnar can always recover quickly from a loss just because he’s Lesnar. When a younger star does beat him in the future, the shine from such a victory will always be there.
Of course, it’s very likely that Lesnar still wins.
Winner: Randy Orton
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 and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! This week, PWR Champion Jake de Leon makes his first guesting on the show since he won the championship at Wrevolution X, and Stan and Ro predict NXT Takeover and SummerSlam! – Rappler.com