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August 20, 2015

WWE SummerSlam preview: Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker battle one final time for ultimate supremacy

Wrestling WWE
081915_summerslam_WWE Summerslam/WWE

Bock Lesnar and The Undertaker headline SummerSlam.

For the first time since 2002, WWE is returning to New York to throw its biggest party of the summer. Last emanating from the East Coast in 2007, SummerSlam takes place in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center on Sunday night. The event has become even bigger than the Royal Rumble in terms of being right behind WrestleMania in importance, and this year, we’re in for four long hours of WWE entertainment for the first time ever at SummerSlam!

WWE certainly has given this year’s SummerSlam a heavy push with star power and matches with a big feel to them. The only title not on the line is the Divas Championship, but we’re getting a three team elimination match that could be one of the best overall matches on the card.

I’m pumped and you should be, too. Even the matches that seem uninteresting to me should wind up being good, so I have no complaints.

I’ll also have a review up on Sunday morning of the NXT Takeover: Brooklyn show that takes place in the same venue as SummerSlam the night prior. It’s headlined by an NXT Championship Ladder Match between challenger, Kevin Owens, and champion, Finn Balor. That promises to be a great match.

Here are my predictions of what’ll go down on Sunday night at the Barclays Center:

Dolph Ziggler w/ Lana vs. Rusev w/ Summer Rae

Here’s a match I was actually looking forward to seeing one month ago, but having Ziggler out for the majority of this feud has really stalled any momentum Rusev has regained since his character was assassinated by John Cena months ago. Even with Ziggler’s telegraphed return on Monday night, it still wasn’t enough to get me interested in how this match pans out.

I think the two superstars will put on a good match and I hope it tells a good story. Rusev needs this win more than Ziggler, because WWE really needs to give him a legitimate winning streak to get him back on track. Ziggler’s always going to be somewhere in the midcard, and I don’t think he’s got much ahead of him after this feud. Which might actually be reason enough for McMahon to give him the win.

But, I don’t see it.

Your winner: Rusev

Stardust and King Barrett vs. Neville and Stephen Amell

I don’t think there’s anyone out there who doesn’t think Amell pins Stardust on Sunday night, and that’s exactly what I predict to happen. Should Amell gain the win? Probably not. I mean, he’s not a wrestler and when celebrities look good against wrestlers, it often makes the industry look bad. But Amell looks pretty athletic and I thought it was fine that he attacked Stardust two weeks ago on Raw and looked pretty impressive in doing so. I think Amell will try some sort of high-flying maneuver like his partner, Neville, specializes in, and we’ll say this match was better than it had every right of being.

Your winners: Neville and Stephen Amell

Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Championship Match

Prime Time Players (c) vs. The New Day vs. Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores

Let’s forget for a moment that The New Day defeated both Los Matadores and the Lucha Dragons because that’s what WWE wants us to do. It’s really something when WWE gives losing teams the chance at redemption by giving them title matches, but that’s what we have here. So I’ll say right off the bat if the Lucha Dragons or Los Matadores walk away from this match with the WWE Tag Team Titles, I’ll probably rip portions of my hair out.

The New Day, despite losing their Tag Team Titles to the Prime Time Players a couple months ago, have remained one of the most entertaining teams and, really, segments, in all WWE television broadcasts. They’re getting better and better in their role, and it’s time to put the championships back on them so they can really show us what they’re made of. None of the other teams are as over as they are, and I would love to see a legitimate feud that results in multiple Tag Team Title changes between The New Day and Prime Time Players. Both teams are great, but Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods are edging out Titus O’Neil and Darren Young right now in terms of reaction. Put the belts back on them.

Your winners and NEW WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day

Randy Orton vs. Sheamus

I thought this match was a joke, but, nope, it’s official. Back at Battleground in July, these two faced each other and Orton came out the victor. I would imagine Sheamus goes over in this match, but the way WWE books their wrestlers that have already won something, it doesn’t look good for the Celtic Warrior. As the Money in the Bank briefcase holder, Sheamus has been booked more to lose than win, and I just can’t understand why. I don’t think anyone can. But, since Orton gained the win over him last month and I don’t see the MITB winner losing twice to the same superstar at back-to-back special events, I think Sheamus secures the win here.

Your winner: Sheamus

Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper

For the past few weeks, announcers and Dean Ambrose ad nauseum have talked about his relationship with Roman Reigns and the brotherhood they both share. Does this mean an Ambrose heel turn is in the works?

For most of the internet wrestling community, it does. Would that be a good thing for Ambrose? Honestly, it would be better for him character-wise than toiling away in the midcard with no direction at all, which is where he currently is. WWE won’t put him in the World Title picture, he’s out of the Intercontinental Title picture, so a relatively elongated feud with Reigns would be some damn good television.

Then again, it just seems like Bray Wyatt’s feud with Reigns is just getting started. Could Ambrose join Wyatt? I doubt it, as there would be no smart way to try and sell that to the audience given the feud the two had at the end of 2014. Besides, Wyatt still needs some heat and obliterating the brotherhood between Reigns and Ambrose would be a good caveat for him and Harper.

Your winners: Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper

Triple Threat Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Ryback (c) vs. The Miz vs. Big Show

When this match was supposed to happen at Battleground, I thought both Ryback and Big Show would get involved with each other as the main story of the match and The Miz would somehow escape with a pinfall over one or the other and regain the Intercontinental Title.

I don’t think that’s going to happen this time around. Ryback was sidelined with a nasty staph infection in his knee and just recently returned, so I think WWE will keep the belt on him a little while longer to show what he can do as a fighting champion. I don’t think it’s time to take the title off him, and, really, Show nor Miz do much for me as a champion at this point.

Your winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: Ryback

Three Team Elimination Divas Match

Nikki and Brie Bella/Alicia Fox vs. Paige/Charlotte/Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks/Naomi/Tamina

There are a few people out there who aren’t a fan of this match simply because the Divas Championship isn’t being defended at this event. Here’s some reaction by myself: WHO CARES!? The entire point of this Divas revolution is to introduce the masses to these awesome Divas who just got called up to NXT, and for the audience to really get into them and buy them as legitimate Divas. Now, I understand Nikki not defending the Divas Championship rubs people the wrong way, and, sure, I wish she would have at least had a title defense on a Raw or SmackDown recently, but that’s not what this match should be about.

This match should be about building the characters of the new Divas faces in the division. Why are we supposed to be emotionally invested in this match? We know Charlotte is Ric Flair’s daughter. Cool. What do we know about Becky Lynch? What about current NXT Women’s Champion, Sasha Banks? The unfortunate answer is next to nothing. This match is hopefully the launching point for these Divas to really connect to the audience instead of coming out every week, having great matches, and leaving. Why should we hate Banks when she’s giving us great matches? Give us a reason to hate her. All we know right now is that she came up at the same time as Charlotte and Becky Lynch. We need to know why these women don’t like each other to get emotionally invested.

Make it happen soon, WWE. The revolution actually needs to start now. By the way, if a woman gets pinned or submits, her entire team is eliminated.

Your winners: Paige/Charlotte/Becky

Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro

These two wrestlers have ascended quickly into the high midcard at the same time, and, unfortunately, one of them has to lose.

Well, maybe. This match is probably the hardest for me to predict because I don’t want to see either guy lose, nor should they. Cesaro, who’s the product of great timing due to the unfortunate injury to his tag team partner, Tyson Kidd, has been booked solidly the last month and a half. Owens, who just was made to look like a fool by Cena – again – also has rebounded somewhat, despite being a chicken---- heel, and pissing off a bunch of fans.

That’s right, Owens is actually being a good heel! Rare nowadays since so many heels want to appear cool and not look like an idiot, which is really what heels in pro wrestling should portray. But, who loses this match? It’s a tough call. Should Owens lose, it would be his third consecutive loss at a special event, and any momentum he’s picked off is effectively gone. Cesaro is on his way up, so a loss might not hurt him as much, but it could possibly stall his momentum depending on how WWE books him after SummerSlam.

Owens will be competing at Saturday night’s NXT Takeover event against Finn Balor in a NXT Championship Ladder Match, so it’s possible Owens enters this contest against Cesaro with some gold around his waist. I’m not sure who I want to win this match, but I think Owens needs a win more than Cesaro does. So I’m going to go with him.

Your winner: Kevin Owens

Title vs. Title

WWE World Heavyweight Championship vs. United States Championship

Seth Rollins (c-WWE) vs. John Cena (c-US)

I made the mistake of picking against John Cena the last two special events, and I’m not going to make the same mistake again. But first, hear me out.

Ever since Seth Rollins broke Cena’s nose on Raw a few weeks ago, we’ve heard Rollins gloat about it like he tried to do it on purpose, and we’ve not really heard from Cena. However, we saw Cena on Tough Enough last week with a new T-shirt that has 15 TIMES plastered on the back – the first time in a long, long time WWE has mentioned the number of World Titles Cena has won in WWE.

Get ready, WWE Universe. The 16th and record-tying reign of Ric Flair is just days away. While I would absolutely love to see Rollins walk out of SummerSlam with both the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the United States Championship, I’m not sure it does anything for him to have both belts, just to relinquish the United States title.

It means something for Cena to win the World Title for the 16th time. It’s a record-tying feat that could only serve a good purpose if Rollins beats the snot out of him after the match just to have Sheamus cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and steal the title away from Cena, making his 17th World Title reign, the record-breaker, in the immediate future. As for Rollins, he could always regain the championship down the road, because he hasn’t been booked that well as champion since March. It might serve him some good to stay out of the title picture for a few months while Cena and Sheamus feud, but I’m not sure many people would enjoy that.

What would happen if Cena wins Sunday is that ratings would go up for Monday’s Raw, and that’s pretty much all WWE cares about at this point. Cena as champion has always meant good numbers for Raw than when he’s not, and with the year he’s been having, I don’t think it’s the wrong move to have him win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship again, even if it’s from the prodigal son, Seth Rollins.

Your winner and NEW WWE World Heavyweight Champion and STILL United States Champion: John Cena

The video above includes what some of the WWE superstars said regarding the huge main event on Sunday night.

Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker

The story for this match leaves a lot to be desired in terms of why we need to be emotionally invested in this rematch that’s “too big for WrestleMania.” First off, hyping a match being “too big for WrestleMania” is ridiculous and I can’t believe Vince McMahon gave the okay to use that phrase to build up this match.

But, there’s no question the build to this match has been pretty damn good. Paul Heyman has really stepped up his promo game and sold this match as much as the brawl between the two behemoths on the July 20th episode of Monday Night Raw did. I was unimpressed with Taker leaving Lesnar laying in the ring – again – as Raw went off the air on Monday. At the same time, it really gave him some heat heading into Sunday, especially with the pro-Lesnar crowd turning on him.

Lesnar gets nothing out of this if he loses, and neither really does The Undertaker. I’m thinking Taker has one last match at next year’s WrestleMania, and then hangs his boots up for good. The rumor going around is that Taker going one-on-one with Sting is still a very good possibility, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Sting show up during the main event and somehow cost Taker the match.

The Vigilante will avenge the miscarriage of justice brought forth to Lesnar last month by taking down the cause of that injustice – the Reaper. It’d be a cool way to end SummerSlam, so that’s what I’m going with.

Your winner: Brock Lesnar

With SummerSlam expanding to four hours this year, I really expect WWE’s creative team and superstars to bust their ass to give us an A+ effort, especially considering they’ll have to follow NXT’s Takeover show from one night prior. This should be a great weekend for wrestling, so I hope you’re ready.

You can catch my SummerSlam review right here at The Philly Voice on Monday morning. And catch Vaughn Johnson and me on The Straight Shooters tonight at 6:30pm on Wildfire Radio. We’ll be talking SummerSlam odds, Ring of Honor in Philly Friday night, and so much more.