The summer of dream matches continues Sunday, Aug. 21, when Randy Orton returns to the ring to lock horns with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.
Despite being two perennial main eventers who trained side-by-side during their formative years at onetime WWE developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling, The Apex Predator and The Beast Incarnate have only competed against each other once before in a WWE ring. It happened in September 2002, when both were still WWE rookies. Lesnar, already a month into his reign as WWE Champion, took the victory that night.
The Viper and The Beast pull no punches as they prepare for a bout 15 years in the making.
Much has changed since that lone, fateful bout, of course. Lesnar has since emerged as a true world-beater and the conqueror of The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak, a fearless, 286-pound juggernaut who packs dynamite, and bad intentions, in his fists. One of the most dangerous men in combat-sports history, Lesnar remains the only individual to have ever captured the WWE Championship, UFC Championship and NCAA heavyweight wrestling championship.
The Viper, meanwhile, bears little resemblance to the gifted, if inexperienced, shaggy-haired Superstar who stood across the ring from Lesnar 14 years ago. Since his one and only match against The Beast, Orton has gone on to win an incredible 12 World Titles, establishing himself as one of the most decorated Superstars of his generation. Orton has also exhibited on more than one occasion a disconcerting ability to turn sinister at a moment’s notice. Such a dark, remorseless attitude may prove invaluable against a monster like Lesnar.
Adding further intrigue to the clash is that it is Orton’s first match since injuring his shoulder late last year. Having been out of action since November, Orton is assuredly interested in reasserting himself as WWE’s Apex Predator. There may be no better way to accomplish that goal than by taking down The Beast Incarnate. Yet, the question remains: Will Orton’s shoulder end up being a weakness against Lesnar?
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Finn Bálor vs. Seth Rollins to crown the first WWE Universal Champion
The new face of Raw will be decided Sunday, Aug. 21, at SummerSlam, when Finn Bálor and Seth Rollins compete to become the inaugural WWE Universal Champion.
The historic matchup — Bálor’s debut on WWE pay-per-view — was made official on July 25, the same night that Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon revealed plans to introduce the Universal Title. According to Raw management, the newly sanctioned championship will eventually outstrip SmackDown Live’s WWE Championship in importance.
Rollins, who was selected No. 1 overall in the WWE Brand Extension Draft, was entered into contention by Stephanie. The announcement came less than 24 hours after The Architect failed to win the WWE Championship from Dean Ambrose at WWE Battleground, though it was Roman Reigns — the other participant in the championship Triple Threat Match — that lost the deciding fall, not Rollins.
Will Rollins — the first NXT Champion in history, not to mention the Superstar whose first WWE World Heavyweight Title reign was ended by an injury, not a defeat — reassert himself as the backbone of Raw? Or will it be The Demon King — the longest-reigning NXT Champion in history, whose arrival in WWE was long-awaited and, some argue, long overdue — who makes history in Brooklyn?
Prediction: question is if the WWE are going to be pushing for the NXT star to kick of a new championship in the company or are they going with the same of Seth Rollins, I think that with a new title we need a new star, Bálor for the win
WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler
With the dawn of SmackDown Live’s New Era comes fresh beginnings and big opportunities, and nowhere is that truer than in the case of Dolph Ziggler, who is set to challenge WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam.
The Showoff qualified for the title match by winning a loaded No. 1 Contender’s Six-Pack Challenge on SmackDown Live July 26, overcoming an all-star field of John Cena, AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews. Before notching the massive win, Ziggler said he had “lost his way,” but vowed to not let opportunity slip through his hands again. On Sunday, Aug. 21, he will have his chance to back up his words.
As his WWE World Championship Match with Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam approaches, The Showoff reflects on his 10-year career, the obstacles he continues to face and what might be his “last chance” at glory.
A two-time World Champion in WWE — not to mention, the record-holder for most wins in the history of Kent State’s acclaimed wrestling program — Ziggler has emerged as one of the most resilient athletes in recent history.
Against WWE World Champion Ambrose, however, The Showoff faces a distinctly unorthodox brawler. Perpetual motion personified, Ambrose never backs down from a good fight, and the SummerSlam title bout against Ziggler is no different.
Will The Lunatic Fringe continue to reign supreme on SmackDown Live? Or will Ziggler’s revitalized outlook on life in WWE’s New Era prove to be unbeatable?
Prediction: Dean Ambrose
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
At SummerSlam, the WWE Universe will find out if John Cena is still the “Face that Runs the Place” or if AJ Styles is the new franchise of SmackDown Live.
In a rematch from their instant classic at WWE Money in the Bank, the Cenation leader will battle The Phenomenal One on Sunday, Aug. 21, live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Styles won that first encounter, a dream match some 15 years in the making, but only after Club allies Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson interfered.
Despite the underhanded way in which he attained victory, Styles has not let Cena forget the loss since. The Phenomenal One even insists that Cena’s time atop the WWE mountain is fading. The 15-time World Champion, on the other hand, is not eager to relinquish his hard-earned status, especially to Styles, whose pivotal win is clouded by Gallows & Anderson’s involvement.
The Leader of the Cenation and The Phenomenal One engage in a longstanding rivalry to find out who is “The Face that Runs the Place.”
Cena and Styles’ first showdown exceeded the considerable hype surrounding it, and there’s little reason to believe the SummerSlam rematch will be any different. What has changed since WWE Money in the Bank, however, is that The Club is no longer a unified force, divided by the Brand Extension Draft. Now that he’s going it alone on SmackDown Live, it remains to be seen what Styles will have in store when he faces the most dependable big-fight Superstar in modern history.
Will The Biggest Event of the Summer yield the new face of SmackDown Live? Or will Styles’ objective of becoming the blue brand’s franchise player be given an Attitude Adjustment?
Prediction: John Cena
U.S. Champion Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
The battle lines have been drawn, and Roman Reigns will be the latest Superstar to step to U.S. Champion Rusev in a fight for the star-spangled championship at SummerSlam, live Sunday, Aug. 21, only on the award-winning WWE Network.
Since regaining the United States Championship, Rusev has resumed his one-man reign of terror as though it never stopped. The Super Athlete has demolished all comers in both championship matches and otherwise, and left a trail of destruction in his wake that has claimed Superstars both big (Mark Henry) and small (Kalisto). Such a run has left the WWE Universe questioning whether anyone can thwart The Bulgarian Brute’s dominance and bring the U.S. Championship back to its homeland.
As The Super Athlete and The Ravishing Russian relive their wedding, The Big Dog gives a memorable toast to the newlyweds.
Reigns, on the other hand, is in win-now mode after a series of unfortunate twists knocked him off his post-WrestleMania perch and landed the WWE World Championship on Dean Ambrose’s SmackDown Live and not Reigns’ own Raw roster. Targeting the self-dubbed “unbeatable” Super Athlete isn’t just a way to get the ex-champion back to his winning ways; it’s a chance to once again establish himself among the Team Red elite. Winning one for America probably doesn’t hurt, either, and Reigns already obtained a mental edge over the champion by humiliating Rusev and his new bride, Lana, during their wedding toast on Raw.
Prediction: Roman Reigns
WWE Women’s Champion Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (Dana Brooke is barred from ringside)
After a remarkable back-and-forth duel on Raw that left the WWE Universe breathless and resulted in a new torchbearer for the Women’s division, WWE Women’s Champion Sasha Banks and Charlotte are set to do it all over again when they face off in a title rematch at SummerSlam.
This time, however, Dana Brooke will not be at ringside at all to lend moral (or physical) support to Charlotte. Thanks to Sasha’s win over Dana on the Aug. 8 Raw, Charlotte’s powerhouse pal will be barred from ringside during SummerSlam’s WWE Women’s Title Match.
The Boss was forced to use a more creative strategy for getting Dana ejected from ringside mid-match on July 25, the night she captured the WWE Women’s Title from Charlotte.
That astounding bout saw both women pull out all the stops, from Charlotte executing a moonsault to the floor, to Sasha stealing a page from her idol, Eddie Guerrero, to remove Dana from the proceedings. In an emotional post-match interview, Sasha fought back tears as she proudly claimed to be the one and only Boss in WWE.
The Boss attempts to dethrone Charlotte in this intense Raw title bout.
Adversaries since their days in NXT, Sasha and Charlotte have steadily pushed each other’s boundaries with pioneering matches that have redefined the Women’s division. At SummerSlam, however, Charlotte will find herself in the unfamiliar position of challenger. Will the self-proclaimed “Genetically Superior Athlete” — the daughter of “The Dirtiest Player in the Game” Ric Flair — resort to extremes to regain her title, especially now that she knows Dana will not be by her side? What would it take for Charlotte to separate Sasha from the treasured prize she’s fought her entire life to achieve?
Prediction: Sasha Banks
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. Gallows & Anderson
Intent on avenging their injured partner Big E, The New Day’s Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods have agreed to defend the WWE Tag Team Championship against Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson at SummerSlam, WWE.com has confirmed.
Gallows & Anderson, whose ambush of The New Day on the Aug. 1 edition of Raw left Big E out of action and suffering from a contusion, said they would face Kingston & Woods on one condition: that the champions put their titles on the line. With no other means of getting their hands on Big E’s assailants, Kingston & Woods have conceded to the challengers’ terms.
With Xavier Woods barred from ringside, Kofi Kingston & Big E take on Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson.
It was evident even before medical personnel assisted Big E out of Atlanta’s Philips Arena on Aug. 1 that Gallows & Anderson had the WWE Tag Team Champions in their crosshairs. One week prior to the attack, the black-clad brawlers blindsided The New Day during a celebration to commemorate the champions’ record-breaking title reign.
Gallows & Anderson have yet to win the WWE Tag Team Championship since arriving in WWE, but to say they are a decorated alliance would be an understatement. While competing for New Japan Pro Wrestling, the battle-hardened pair held the IWGP Tag Team Titles three times, and in 2013 they won the organization’s annual tag team tournament, the G1 Tag League.
Yet, it’s quite possible The New Day that show up at SummerSlam will not be the skipping, cheerful pillars of positivity that Kingston & Woods are typically thought to be. Big E’s injury has the remaining New Day members seeing red; will Kofi & Xavier make Gallows & Anderson pay dearly?
Prediction: The New Day
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens
Enzo Amore & Big Cass may have won the hearts of the WWE Universe, but at SummerSlam, the smooth-talking, hard-hitting duo must face a couple of unabashed haters: Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens.
Newly aligned, the outspoken Canadian contingent known as “Jeri-KO” has not taken warmly to The New Era’s fastest-rising tandem. The bad feelings began on the Aug. 1 edition of Raw, as Jericho found himself engaged in a battle of wits – and later fisticuffs – with Enzo when both Superstars took part in a Mixed Tag Team Match that also involved WWE Women’s Champion Sasha Banks and Charlotte. Once the contest was over, The Greatest in the World at What He Does sought to give Amore a post-match drubbing, only for Big Cass to run interference.
The prospect of facing Enzo & Cass 2-on-1 left Jericho in need of backup. Though Jimmin Marvinlunder, purportedly the toughest guy west of Winnipeg, was the first name to spring to Jericho’s mind, Owens was the first Superstar to come to his side, drawing the battle lines for SummerSlam’s newly announced Tag Team Match.
WWE’s resident “Certified G” takes on “The Best in the World at What He Does” in this Raw collision.
The bout became official on the Aug. 8 Raw, after Jericho eked out a disqualification win over Amore as a result of Big Cass’ interference. Of course, the actions of the 7-foot Superstar came just second after Owens opted to get involved in the contest himself. While Jericho was still recovering from a big boot Cass threw his way, Owens celebrated his ally’s victory and accepted the 7-footer’s challenge to a Tag Match at The Biggest Event of the Summer.
Will the experience edge of Owens & Jericho be too much for young lions Enzo & Cass to handle? Or can The Realest Guys in the Room — whose stomping grounds are not far away from SummerSlam’s host venue, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center — make their homecoming a triumphant one?
Prediction: Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens
Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews has quickly emerged as one of The New Era’s most dynamic Superstars, but at SummerSlam he will have his chance to garner more than just bragging rights when he challenges Intercontinental Champion The Miz for the title.
Crews moved into the position of No. 1 contender after prevailing in a New Era Triple Threat Match against fellow young lions Baron Corbin and Kalisto on the Aug. 2 episode of SmackDown Live. The A-Lister then wasted no time setting a personal tone to the SummerSlam showdown, attacking Crews after his big triumph.
While The Miz is intent on preserving his Intercontinental Title reign (the fifth of his storied career), Crews is focused on gaining his first championship. With jump-out-of-the-building leaping ability, scary strength and plenty of fighting spirit, it’s little wonder the boulder-shouldered Superstar from Stone Mountain, Ga., finds himself in the title hunt this early in his WWE career.
Get an up-close and personal look at Intercontinental Champion The Miz’s No. 1 contender on the road to SummerSlam.
Yet, can Crews’ raw, physical gifts match up to whatever game-plan the veteran Miz devises for Aug. 21? With the rule-bending Maryse by his side, The A-Lister is almost as resourceful as he is cocky, and he has managed to keep hold of the Intercontinental Championship since April, surviving run-ins with the likes of Cesaro, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.
Will Hollywood’s favorite couple stay golden following The Biggest Event of the Summer? Or will Crews capture the prestigious Intercontinental Title — an achievement that would signal a breakthrough for the rising star of WWE’s New Era?
Been a fan of the WWE since 2000, watched a few from the early years online, wasn’t a fan of where the “Powers that be” were taking the company but it has gotten better with the brand split, I thought that it was a format that worked