The 2020 version of the “Biggest party of the summer” will look much different than past Summer Slams. Without a fan presence it makes one wonder how the WWE will make one of its flagship pay-per-views stand out. WWE has moved the venue from the NXT performance center in Tampa to the Amway Arena in Orlando. It looks as if there will be some new technology used and maybe even a virtual presence in what WWE is terming the Thunder dome. We got to see a preview of it on Smackdown Friday Night and my first impression was a good one. WWE has found some of its rhythm here and come up with an interesting card with good stories. Like most things during this time in sports and entertainment under this climate, the 33rd SummerSlam will be like nothing we’ve seen before.
WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre© vs Randy Orton
Randy Orton has been a great performer his entire career however, his present day heel work during the pandemic is his best work to date. His story with Edge at WrestleMania was a launching point to Orton taking his game to new heights. Orton can get stale at times in the past but the brutal honesty in his promos have led him to his current spot on the card. Drew McIntyre has done the best he can since winning the title at Mania considering the circumstances. He didn’t get the new championship pop that guys have gotten in the past. His matches with Ziggler were excellent and his mic work has been solid. The injury to Edge in my estimation has led to bringing these two together. The intensity has been ramped up with Drew calling out Orton for always getting chances and opportunities. Orton brash confidence knows this happens because he was the “chosen one” a moniker that was stuck to McIntyre early on in his WWE career. The Monday Night Raw’s leading up to this match have raised the bar that much higher for Orton. He has revived his “legend killer” status with the defeating and post-match “punts” of legends such as Edge, Christian, and the Big Show. None of these have evoked the emotion from fans than his betrayal of the 71 year old Ric Flair. Orton cut a promo that was brutal bringing up Flairs past demons, tragedies, and near death experience. Flair rebutted with a heartfelt speech about those times and how much respect he had for Orton. Then just when you thought maybe it was going to be fine the Viper struck with a low blow to Flair and then a “punt” to his head. WWE story telling seems to really be focused on heel development right now. They want you to hate the bad guy which is a tough thing to do in this “Anti-Hero” climate we live in. Creative has turned up the dial and this is Randy at his best. Although Drew helped Flair two weeks ago and Shawn Michaels this past Monday, it still feels as if he is playing a bit part in an emotional storyline. Maybe that changes Sunday Night.
Prediction: McIntyre retains but it will be with interference from Andrade (Ric Flair’s future son in law, Michaels, Triple H, or possibly Charlotte Flair. Creative most likely wants to give McIntyre an opportunity to perform as champion in front of some live crowds.
Seth Rollins w/ Buddy Murphy vs Dominic Mysterio w/ Rey Mysterio
If we are talking about heels stirring up emotions in the fans we need to look no further than Seth Rollins. Rollins began his transformation as the “Monday Night Messiah” in reaction to the fans booing him during his title run. The savior persona has been ok but has never really found its footing until now. Rollins feud with Rey Mysterio has been intriguing (I still want to see Rey’s eye though) with the blow off coming at Extreme Rules. Dominic, Rey’s son, had a different plan for Rollins. In a desire to defend his father’s honor Dominic attacked Rollins with a kendo stick on Raw. Last week Rollins would get payback. Rollins and his disciple Buddy Murphy brutally beat Dominic with the kendo stick on his back, chest, and even his stomach. This left Dominic with welts all over his torso. Evoking Bully Ray from the Busted Open Podcast to say this was “one of the most brutal beatings he’s ever seen”. A strong quote from a man who wrestled in ECW and helped make TLC matches famous. The build for this match has been well done and nothing evokes emotion like a father and son relationship. Rey will be in his son’s corner in his first match, which will most likely be a no DQ match.
Prediction: Rollins will come out on top. It will be a well mapped out match and Dominic could really put himself on the map here. Rollins is building towards a title shot with Drew so a win here will likely set that up.
Raw Tag-Team Championship Match: Street Profits vs Garza & Andrade
These four superstars are a part of the future in the WWE. The Street Profits are highly entertaining and their in ring work is excellent. Andrade came from NXT where he was the champion and a dynamic performer. The language barrier has always been an obstacle of getting him over the top on the main rosters. Zelina Vega as Andrade’s manager and mouth piece has been the key to keeping Andrade relevant. Angel Garza has a chance to be a future main event guy in WWE with Eddie Guerrero like in ring skills and charisma. The build to this match has been short but effective. Bianca Belair has been included to combat Zelina Vega’s cheating heel tactics. The mystery about who poisoned Montez Fords drink is a little hokey. There should be a reveal of “who done it” which could branch off to another story. A match with this many athletes could turn out to steal the show at the end of the night.
Prediction: Street Profits retain the titles and the Garza and Andrade split. The combo of Garza and Andrade has been up and down. SummerSlam could be the boiling point for both competitors. Look for the reveal that poisoned Ford’s drink, Garza to get distracted by the ladies causing the loss, and the blame go all on Garza.
United States Championship Match: Apollo Crews vs MVP
WWE has taken this time of no fans and began to let Apollo Crews work on his mic and ring skills. He has become the US Champ and started an interesting story line feud with MVP. If there were fans in the building he probably wouldn’t have gotten the same chance because of the WWE Universes and creatives impatience. MVP has been the leader of the faction Hurt Business. He has been joined by Bobby Lashley and Shelton Benjamin to form essentially what is the Nation of Domination 2.0. Apollo Crews has been rejecting the advances to join MVP’s new group. These rejections have been met with many interferences and beat downs that have brought this match to fruition. MVP is excellent ring veteran to be a mouth piece for Benjamin and Lashley but also elevate Crews to another level.
Prediction: With both Lashley and Benjamin barred from ringside, we will likely be introduced to a new member of “Hurt Business”. My guess would be Cedric Alexander who was not selected by Crews to join the six-man tag team match on Raw this week. Alexander needs new life and a heel turn might be the jolt he needs. MVP recaptures the title.
A hair vs hair match: Mandy Rose vs Sonya Deville
A match like this could get inside a DeLorean, go back 20 or 30 years, and fit right in to any card. Mandy and Sonya have been on a collision course for quite some time. Sonya’s jealousy of Mandy boiled over on an episode of Raw when she attacked Mandy from behind and cut off some of her hair. Mandy of course made it work with a solid soccer mom cut. I have seen hair matches before but not too many that included the women. The loser of this match will be shaved bald and this will most likely put a bow (no pun intended) in this feud. Another stipulation added on Friday was loser leaves the WWE. This throws a wrench in my predication. All of this depends on what “leaving the WWE” really means. This is pro wrestling, so sometimes logic can get cloudy.
Prediction: Mandy comes out on top here. Sonya can pull off bald better than Mandy. We should see Sonya join the Raw underground segments with her extensive MMA background. Mandy might find herself a partner and get in tag team mix (think Dana Brooke) or be the manager for on screen boyfriend Otis. (Mandy getting attacked)
WWE Universe Championship Match: Braun Strowman© vs The Fiend Bray Wyatt
I have had mixed feeling with this rivalry from the start. There is an obvious back story with Braun being brought into the WWE by Bray in 2015 as a part of the Wyatt family. The swamp match from Extreme rules dragged on and was, for lack of a better term, boring. Bray has now returned to his Fiend persona, who besides a loss to Goldberg (which was nonsense) has been unstoppable. An added element to the rivalry has been the inclusion of Alexa Bliss, a longtime friend of Strowman. Shockingly, two weeks ago on Raw, she had Wyatt’s mandible claw applied to her in a very eerie controversial scene. WWE has stayed away, for the most part, of any intergender altercation since the attitude era. Braun, now with a freshly shaved head, has returned to a much more aggressive style which is counter from his happy monster gimmick. Both characters are portraying their evil sides so it should lead to a hard hitting slug fest by these two competitors.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt lost to Braun in their first matchup; Cape Fear Wyatt had a cinematic match which seemingly had no conclusion except to reintroduce the Fiend. In what should be the blow off to this rivalry The Fiend should come out on top? Expect Alexa to play a role in this match. Most likely she will make a full heel turn and become a much darker character aligned with The Fiend.
SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bayley© vs Asuka
Raw Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks© vs Asuka
This one preview is a package deal. These 3 women have been intertwined since Becky Lynch went out on maternity leave and vacated the title to Asuka. Bayley and Sasha are doing great work as heels with their anti-role model gimmick. I never thought Bayley would do well after shedding her squeaky clean image. She has definitely proven me wrong and pulled it off. Bayley has found a way to be aggressive both on the mic and in the ring with her quick wit and annoying delivery that makes you want to see her get beat up. The tension between Sasha and Bayley has been subtle. I think WWE was hoping they would have fans back for their split. Packed houses for events aren’t happing anytime soon so they might just have to bite the bullet. Bayley gets the first shot at Asuka when losing a beat the clock challenge match to Naomi. Sasha didn’t appear to be all upset by her friends defeat. Asuka has the task of defeating two of the top stars in the game on the same night with nobody in her corner. There will be many questions to be answered: does Shayna Baszler get involved, does Nia Jax get involved, will Sasha and Bayley split finally happen? Tune in Sunday and get your answers. (
Predications: Bayley keep her title here with help from Sasha. In the second match however Bayley will try a return the favor and screw up Sasha’s title defense. This event will lead to their split and what will be a feud that could last till WrestleMania 37.
Bonus Preview: NXT Takeover XXX
Takeover will air on Saturday the night before SummerSlam from the Amway arena. NXT’s big events consistently have the best in-ring action out of all three brands. This Saturday looks to be more of the same centered around 3 interesting matchups. The North American Championship, which was vacated by NXT Champion Keith Lee, will be on the line in a 5 man ladder match. If history shows us anything NXT does stipulation matches better than anybody. The match features three new guys to the title picture in Bronson Reed, Damian Priest, and Cameron Grimes. Two veterans NXT stars, Velveteen Dream and Johnny Gargano, round out the match up. With a versatile group of big guys and high flyers this should be the match of the night. I am going to go with a dark horse here and pick Bronson Reed.
Wrestling has always used outside of the industry athletes and celebrities to boost the brands profile. Pat McAfee, an all-pro NFL punter and sports radio host had a heated confrontation with former NXT Champ Adam Cole on his radio show during an interview last month. The debate was on whether it was a shoot or just material for an angle, but nonetheless Triple H and the NXT creative has ran with it. It will be interesting to see what McAfee can do in the ring vs. the longest reigning NXT Champion. Cole is a big time performer who is undersized but his ring ability outshines any deficiencies he may have in size. I am going to go with Adam Cole here but with interference from The Undisputed Era (Cole’s Faction). This should lead to possible return matches maybe even one inside a steel cage. McAfee is a good athlete and an even better trash talker which should lead to a highly entertaining match.
Last but certainly not least NXT Champion Limitless Keith Lee takes on Karrion Kross in what should be an aggressive brawl of a match. Kross has played mind games with Lee leading up to this match. Kross beat Lee’s, friend and fellow wrestler Dominic Dijakovic, senseless during a recent NXT episode. In a scene that was Rocky 4 like Dijakovic told Lee not to help him. Even I was thinking “throw in the towel; throw in the god damn towel!” During their contract signing Lee opened up the folder given to him and a fire ball flew out temporarily blinding the Limitless one. We are going to see a different side of Keith Lee at take over. He is going to morph from that cool power house to an aggressive freight train running down everything in his path. This is a tough call but I can see Lee dropping the title and having to build his confidence back up to face Kross again in a Rocky like story line.
Should be an action packed weekend of wrestling enjoy the show!