People in the wrestling world refer to WrestleMania as “The Grand-daddy of Them All”. I like to think of WrestleMania instead as the Godfather of them all, the Don Vito Corleone, if you will. Of course, Don Corleone had three sons. WWE has four big PPV events.
You have the Royal Rumble, or Sonny Corleone. It’s wild. It’s unpredictable. It’s pure, unadulterated chaos.
Then you have Survivor Series, or Fredo Corleone. It’s the one people usually forget about, and it’s not nearly as fun as the other ones, but you have to keep it around because it’s been there from the beginning.
Then there’s SummerSlam. Michael Corleone. The youngest of the bunch. Not as iconic as WrestleMania, but just as good in many ways. SummerSlam doesn’t need a bunch of stipulations to draw attention to it – it’s WrestleMania Lite, the so-called biggest party of the summer.
Perhaps that’s why this year’s SummerSlam card so closely resembles WrestleMania 34’s. Same main event. There’s an A.J. Styles dream match. Ronda Rousey has a big match. We might even get a performance from Elias, if we’re lucky.
Almost every match after the pre-show is for a championship, save for Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz and Finn Balor vs. Constable Baron Corbin. You can tell which one of those is designed to be a concession break.
Let’s try to predict how this year’s event will shake out.
- Finn Balor vs. Constable Baron Corbin: While I’m talking about it, let’s just get this one out of the way. This feud has been highlighted by Corbin making short jokes at Balor’s expense and Balor smiling at Corbin. This match is better suited to be a joke battle, but is shaping up to just be a joke instead. To appease the crowd, Balor will probably get the win, but everyone will miss the outcome because they’ll be in the bathroom.
Winner: Finn Balor and masochists everywhere who get off on boredom.
- Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz: Now THIS is a non-title match we can all get behind. This feud has been simmering for eight years, and now fans can finally watch these two WWE megastars clash. There’s nobody better in the ring than Bryan (except maybe Seth Rollins), and there’s nobody better on the mic than Miz. That’s not selling Miz short in the ring, either. His matches with Rollins were show-stealers each time they squared off. Bryan simply hasn’t lost since returning from injury, which means an upset could be in order to keep this rivalry going, assuming of course that Bryan re-signs his contract with WWE. This feud is red-hot, and the crowd should be into it all the way through.
Winner: The Miz, and it will be controversial.
- Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Jeff Hardy for the United States Championship: It’s been rough for Jeff Hardy recently, taking outright abuse from Nakamura and Randy Orton these last few weeks. Hardy lost his United States Championship in a squash match and has been Smackdown’s whipping boy ever since, only regaining some positive momentum this past week. Of course, that means Hardy will lose here. Nakamura and Orton may have a rivalry brewing already, and Hardy looks more wounded every time he’s in the ring. Orton may not appear due to the recent backstage controversy surrounding him, but the shot of him literally lurking in the shadows on last week’s episode of Smackdown seems to have foreshadowed some involvement from the Apex Predator.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura, retaining his United States Championship.
- Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte in a triple threat match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: This might be the hardest match to call all night. If Carmella wasn’t going to drop the title to Charlotte a few months ago, I see no reason why it would happen here. However, Charlotte thrives as a heel, and costing her friend Becky Lynch the title while bolstering her already impressive resume is an intriguing possibility. Then there’s the chance that Becky Lynch finally regains her spot at the top of Smackdown’s mountaintop, which would be the biggest upset and earn a huge pop from the crowd. Or Carmella could retain and continue a championship reign that has been money since the end of her feud with Asuka. With no clue where this one will go, I’m just going out on a limb here.
Winner: Charlotte, becoming the new Smackdown Women’s Champion and starting a feud with Becky Lynch in the process.
- The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The New Day for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships: In another match that’s tough to call, it just feels like it’s time for The Bludgeon Brothers to drop the belts. They’ve been fighting against The New Day for months, often exhibiting extreme brutality (see: Xavier Woods, WWE Fastlane) without garnering much interest beyond the fact that they’re large and frightening. Perhaps that’s all they need. The New Day, on the other hand, has been floating around Smackdown’s tag division for what feels like eternity, capturing the belts occasionally while mostly feuding with The Usos. WWE needs to decide whether they want The New Day to return to being the dominant force they were during their historic title run, or explore the possibility of sending each man on their own singles path. I don’t think WWE is ready for the latter just yet.
Winner: The New Day, becoming the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
- Braun Strowman (h) vs. Kevin Owens for the Money in the Bank briefcase: The (h) stands for holder, which makes Braun Strowman’s status on Raw sound significantly less prestigious. Strowman terrorizing Owens was always going to lead somewhere, and unfortunately, it looks like it’s leading towards Strowman losing his guaranteed title match. Owens has been unbelievably entertaining during this feud, while Strowman has lost a considerable amount of steam. I don’t think it makes much sense for Owens to win here, for the record. That will just keep Strowman and Owens’ feud alive… unless…. I’ll get to that later.
Winner: Kevin Owens wins by disqualification and becomes the new Mr. Money in the Bank.
- Dolph Ziggler w/ Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Seth Rollins w/ Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship: A blonde, a scotsman, a guy who seems to be enamored with arson, and a man without eyebrows walk into an Intercontinental title match. The blonde says, “You can’t beat me, arson man. My scottish friend here is a psychopath!” The man enamored with arson replies, “Oh yeah? Well, check out this guy without eyebrows! He’s a lunatic!” The man without eyebrows nods before betraying his friend and costing him the Intercontinental Championship, ending Rollins’ feud with Ziggler and starting a new one between the former Shield brethren.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler retains the Intercontinental Championship thanks to Dean Ambrose.
- Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship: In a real-life fight, this ends in five seconds. However, Bliss is one of the craftiest heels we’ve ever seen in women’s wrestling, and it might be too soon for Rousey to capture the title. On the other hand, Rousey has already been unsuccessful in a title match, and her exit from UFC left her with a losing reputation. Bliss has held the championship for almost the entirety of her Raw tenure. It’s time to unleash Ronda Rousey as a dominant force and capitalize on her drawing power, especially with the prospect of Brock Lesnar likely losing his title.
Winner: Ronda Rousey, becoming the new Raw Women’s Champion.
- A.J. Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship: A.J. Styles has been WWE Champion for over 300 days, and Samoa Joe has never held a title since getting called up from NXT. Samoa Joe has also cut numerous promos calling other superstars failures, and lost most of the matches following those promos. Joe needs a win here, and A.J. Styles can drop the title and still look just fine. This should be a phenomenal match, no pun intended.
Winner: Samoa Joe, becoming the new WWE Champion.
- Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship: Okay, so Brock can’t win here, right? Wrong. Vince McMahon is very intrigued with the possibility of Brock Lesnar being WWE Universal Champion while fighting Daniel Cormier for his UFC Heavyweight Championship. Every time it seems like Lesnar is guaranteed to lose, he wins, surprising everyone, then infuriating everyone for refusing to show up for several months. WWE has conditioned us to know that deep down, Brock won’t lose. So he will.
Winner: Roman Reigns, becoming the new Universal Champion and maybe even getting cheered for.
- Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal Championship: You know it’s coming.
Winner: Kevin Owens, cashing in to become the new Universal Champion.
Pre-Show Bonus: Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega defeat Rusev & Lana, Cedric Alexander defeats Drew Gulag to retain the Cruiserweight Championship, The B-Team defeats The Revival to retain the Raw Tag Team Championships.