My Thoughts on the Emerging Summerslam Card

This past RAW and Smackdown Live saw several developments that really begin to shape the card for Summerslam in just three weeks heading into the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn. Here […]

This past RAW and Smackdown Live saw several developments that really begin to shape the card for Summerslam in just three weeks heading into the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn. Here are my predictions on matches that would get booked and my thoughts on matches already in the card.

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. “The Bar” (Sheamus and Cesaro): Tag Team Championship Match

There is no doubt this is happening at Summerslam. The beat down by Sheamus and Cesaro on RAW cemented the fact that they’re having a match. I’m going out on a limb here to say that Rollins and Ambrose, the two thirds of the former Shield, are poised to take home the gold.

Sheamus and Cesaro have been solid tag team champions on a RAW brand that lately was bereft of tag teams (other than themselves and the Hardys) until The Revival returned. But Sheamus and Cesaro, undoubtedly one of the physically dominated and strongest tag teams since the APA, always seemed to be better when they were going after the tag team titles. The two men have shown that in 2017 putting together two previous primarily singles competitors into a tag team still works.

Which brings me to Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. If Sheamus and Cesaro could come together after having been booked into several matches in 2016 against each other, who is to say that Ambrose and Rollins, after having feuded for years ever since Rollins broke up the Shield, couldn’t find common ground once again? Summerslam is usually that mid point in the WWE’s calendar year when major title changes happen so it would be an ideal time for a tag team title shake up.

One final point of consideration is that should Ambrose and Rollins be successful at Summerslam in dethroning The Bar for the tag titles, Dean Ambrose would reach that elusive milestone of becoming a WWE Grand Slam Champion (WWE Championship, Intercontinental Championship and Tag Team Championship titleholder). Seth Rollins, already a former tag champion with Roman Reigns, would only need the IC title to also become a Grand Slam Champion. Ditto for Roman Reigns

I was originally envisioning Rollins going after the IC title at Summerslam, but recently events have changed and the only obvious conclusion is we are going to see….

Jason Jordan vs. The Miz: Intercontinental Championship Match

 

The Miz TV segment with Jason Jordan was obviously going to end in some physicality, they always do. They really booked Jordan to come off strong as he basically used one suplex to take down the Miz, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. So, it’s only natural that there will eventually be a confrontation between Jordan and the Miz over the IC title, most likely at Summerslam.

Let’s face it, there hasn’t been any real challenges to the Miz’s reign since Dean Ambrose, and as I stated earlier Ambrose isn’t really in contention again at this time. The question now is how would they book that match? If Jordan just gets a title shot, Miz could bring in the argument that he’s getting a shot at the ‘prestigious’ IC title ‘which I (the Miz) made relevant and famous’ because of Jordan’s dad being the RAW general manager, Kurt Angle, and once again we could see the Miz feuding with the General Manager he works for.

I would prefer to see the build up with Jason Jordan having to earn an Intercontinental title match, either by beating both members of the Miztourage in singles competition or in a handicap match. Or perhaps Jordan coming out on top in a Battle Royale to determine a Number One Contender for the Miz’s IC title at Summerslam?

But the key is not to make this as just pushing Jason Jordan too quickly because they’re looking to simply crown a new IC champion at Summerslam, again usually an event during the mid calendar year where a title change takes place. There is always that allure or perception of getting too big a push too early (mid 1990s Rock certainly saw that happen to him). But considering that both Jordan and his former tag partner, Chad Gable, were seen destined for individual success even when they were tag champions on NXT and Smackdown, that might provide enough of a cushion for fans to accept an eventual Jason Jordan run as the Intercontinental Champion.

Whether he wins the title at Summerslam, or the Miz uses shady tactics to retain, thereby setting up a rematch at the next RAW pay per view, the slide towards Jason Jordan becoming Intercontinental Champion seems inevitable.  

John Cena vs. Baron Corbin

 

This occurred after Smackdown Live this past week went off the air, but Baron Corbin came in after the John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match to attack Nakamura. Cena then made the save, putting Corbin through the announcers table with an Attitude Adjustment. With the way Corbin’s mean streak attitude is booked for his character, there is no doubt that the WWE is setting up a match between him and the 16 time WWE Champion.

There are benefits for both men if you examine both sides of the coin. John Cena can play up his ‘free agent’ gimmick by continuing to look for competition, who better than to go up against Cena than someone like Corbin who has been on a warpath as of late. Baron Corbin needs to be booked into more good storylines since becoming Mr. Money in the Bank. Another consideration is this would be something new. Whereas we’ve seen John Cena vs. Rusev (no offense to the Bulgarian Brute), and while Cena and Corbin may have had one match on Smackdown Live before, fans have yet to see a prolonged feud between Cena and the Lone Wolf.

A confrontation at Summerslam would either end in a Cena victory, followed up by a vicious Corbin beatdown. Or Corbin could end up winning somehow underhandedly, while still coming up strong. Either way, the way the match gets booked would determine what Corbin might end up doing with his nice blue briefcase at the conclusion of Summerslam. Which brings me to…

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jinder Mahal: WWE Championship

It would appear the long awaited push for Nakamura on the main roster has finally come to fruition with a championship opportunity at Summerslam. Ironic, as Nakamura’s former NXT compatriot, Finn Balor, became the first ever Universal Championship at last year’s event. Either Nakamura comes out with the championship, or Baron Corbin cashes in his Money in the Bank contract and becomes the new WWE Champion. I would prefer the former scenario because the WWE has invested quite a lot in booking Nakamura as a dominant competitor ever since he started with the company all the way back to his NXT days.

What would make this an interesting booking is the dynamics of Jinder Mahal not facing an American opponent for the WWE title, as Shinsuke is obviously not an American. During his promo on Smackdown Live, Jinder said he neither cared whether he faced another ‘American’ or a ‘man from Japan’. Usually, we have Jinder Mahal saying how great India is and how it has surpassed America; it’s basically the same playbook that would have fans chanting ‘USA, USA’ a lot.

But India vs. Japan? I’m not sure if I can picture Jinder insulting Nakamura over his Japanese heritage; WWE has in the last decade and a half made great strides to move away from stereotyping Japanese competitors from the days of the English dubbed Kaientai. To have Jinder feud with Nakamura the way he did with Randy Orton over the superiority of India over America (but sub in Japan over the USA) not only seems counterproductive, it doesn’t make much sense.

It would be best to try to stick to a tried and tested playbook of extremely popular babyface (Nakamura) against a very clear cut heel in the form of Mahal. Fans will cheer for Nakamura no matter what, and it seems the experimental title reign for Mahal as a way to push the WWE into the Indian market has run its course.

AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens: United States Championship

I’m expecting another classic in this pay per view rubber match. What is noticeable is of all the matches they’ve had, the only real, clean pinfall conclusion was at Madison Square Garden when AJ pinned Owens clean, on a RAW Live event no less.

During their first encounter at Backlash, Owens retained the US title by countout when AJ got his leg caught in the announcer’s table outside the ring. Then at Battleground, Owens managed to regain the title by countering Styles in a roll up pin that to me looked as though both men’s shoulders were down on the mat. And of course this past Smackdown was the infamous three count by a referee with one eye while Owens kicked out at two.

So in really only the encounter at MSG, neither man has actually cleanly beaten the other. And now their rematch at Summerslam is going to be one of those gimmicky matches with a special guest referee, in this case Smackdown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon. For those of you who haven’t seen a match with a guest referee in ages, I can tell you from precedence that they usually do not end like a normal match. Typically, the referee is a supporting character in a wrestling match that is designed to tell a story; the referee acts as the rule keeper and the one who counts the three on the mat, and they never get more attention than the competitors themselves.

Now that you’ve inserted someone who people are going to notice, like Shane McMahon, and you’ve got a powderkeg on your hands, especially with someone with a vitriolic personality like Kevin Owens. I wouldn’t be surprised if Shane McMahon finally decided to hit back one of ‘his’ talent, most likely Owens, which would set up a future confrontation. To be frank, I’m leaning towards AJ Styles retaining the US Championship, but the combustible elements involved are numerous enough for me to be sitting on the fence as to a definitive result for this match at this time.

I only have this to say about the Fatal 4 Way match for the Universal Championship. Considering that Heyman said if Brock Lesnar didn’t leave Summerslam still the Universal Champion, I’m going to go on a limb and say Lesnar is walking out as the winner as his contract isn’t due to expire until next year. Nevertheless, with a 3 time WWE Champion (Roman Reigns) and three super heavyweights in the same ring, this match is indeed, as Jim Ross puts it, going to be a ‘Slobber Knocker’.