SummerSlam preview: Packed card promises lots of high spots
It seemed an odd choice, ending the go-home SummerSlam Monday Night Raw with Rusev and Roman Reigns, when the pay-per-view has two world title-level matches and Randy Orton-Brock Lesnar ahead of the U.S. title clash in line.
The good news for Vince McMahon, who continues to want Reigns to be his next top face, is that fans didn’t boo him out of the building, which means the pairing with Rusev is working in that respect.
Rusev, for his part, is growing as a throwback foreign heel, and Lana is making us all pine for the days of the great seconds who can draw heat.
But that said, the U.S. title will have been decided long before the end of the night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The match of the night, on paper, will be Orton and Lesnar, and give WWE credit for making a match that was announced before any heat had been created between the two actually seem like a grudge match.
Lesnar, still making headlines in the wrong way for his failed PED test from his brief return to UFC last month, has been a rare fixture on WWE TV of late, helping with the sell.
And Orton, back from a long stint on the shelf with a shoulder injury, has quickly made himself compelling again, with his RKO outta nowhere on Lesnar during a lengthy Paul Heyman promo segment on Raw a couple of weeks ago reminding us of the wow factor that his signature move can bring to a show.
But Orton-Lesnar will likely be down card, with Dean Ambrose defending his WWE title against Dolph Ziggler, of late Mr. Pre-Show, now back on the top of the card, and the likely final match of the night being the Seth Rollins-Finn Balor tete-a-tete for the new WWE Universal Championship.
Expect Ambrose to retain, with the push he’s been getting lately continuing. The Rollins-Balor match is a bit unpredictable, as both guys have been getting nice pushes.
I’m leaning toward seeing Balor get the rub from a win over Rollins to help continue putting him over with WWE fans by putting a strap on him. Rollins doesn’t need a strap to be compelling, but if I had to bet, I’d put the money on Rollins, to balance out the top of the card on the two weekly shows, with Rollins the heel champ on Raw, and Ambrose the face champ on Smackdown.
We also get, as a bonus, the thrill of the chase with Balor, if Rollins wins the title through some sort of nefarious actions, as can be expected.
One other highlight match on this packed card: the likely last one in the series between John Cena and A.J. Styles. No title on the line here, and Cena usually wins the last match in the series, but if you follow the booking on Smackdown this week, which ended with Cena on top, then that would imply that the writers are about to end this one with Styles getting the final victory.
If that ends up being the case, then … Styles vs. Ambrose for the WWE title would be the logical next step for top of the card on Smackdown.
Further down card:
- The New Day vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson: The promos with Gallows and Anderson in lab coats conducting testing related to Big E’s ringpost-it is have been a highlight on Raw the past couple of weeks. The absence of Big E from the match could be a convenient excuse for a New Day loss that could then set up a rivalry between these teams.
- Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte: Banks was summoned to the announce table during Raw to provide commentary during a Charlotte match. Bad idea: she is terrible on commentary. Charlotte is her superior in the ring, is cut from the cloth of her father, the legendary Nature Boy Ric Flair, on the mic, and this quick title reign for Banks needs to be coming to an end this weekend.
- Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho: Owens and Jericho are too good in singles to be stuck in tag teams for too long a period of time, but their promo on Raw this week was so well-timed that you kind of want to see them hang around for a while. This one should be as entertaining on the walk up to the ring as it is when the bell sounds, if not more so.
Preview by Chris Graham