The biggest event of the summer is finally here! Let’s say this about the WWE. When they say this will be the biggest SummerSlam in history, it’s not just hyperbole. We’re getting four sweltering hours of original content and in that time, they are squeezing in 10 matches, an Undertaker extended entrance featuring druids, torches and Gregorian chant music no doubt, John Stewart telling lame jokes that everyone will claim is genius afterwards, and a divas match that may go longer than six minutes. All in all, we’re in for a treat this weekend and that’s not even including the supercards NXT and ROH have in store for we fans. Of course, if you hate Undertaker and/or Druids, you may want to sign yourself up for an immediate coma.
Because we have so many matches to dive into and I’m sure you’ve already sat through the countless hours of WWE television leading up to this end-of-summer tradition, I’ll try to keep my commentary brief and by “brief” I mean “keep it to under 4,000 words.” You’re soul may belong to God and if you believe Paul Heyman, your “ass belongs to Brock Lesnar.” But for now, your eyes belong to me SUCKA! Let’s get started!
RANDY ORTON VS. SHEAMUS
We start out of the gates with a bitter rivalry that just won’t go away. These two did have a less than memorable, though pretty brutal match last month at Battleground that saw The Viper go over clean as a sheet against Mr. Money in The Bank. Just when things looked sufficiently concluded, Sheamus goes ahead and costs Orton a victory over Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on Raw last week. In a case study in “turnabouts fair play,” Orton delivered an RKO on the Celtic Warrior just before the bell rang in Sheamus’ only attempt to date to cash in his MITB briefcase that same night. Caught up yet Junior? I don’t expect too much different out of this rematch. These guys will work stiff, do their usual spots from White Noise to the DDTs, and we’ll move on. Every show needs that “token” Randy Orton match on the card and this one takes the cake. I think Sheamus gets his win back and we’ll see this again in another month. (Editor’s Note: Just copy and paste this paragraph in the next preview if that’s the case!) MCGINN’S PICK: SHEAMUS
RUSEV VS. DOLPH ZIGGLER
He’s back! Dolph Ziggler is back! Did you hear that pop when his music hit Monday night? I’m sure his reward will be a shot at the IC belt again or 20 consecutive more losses to Seth Rollins on TV but it did feel good for a few seconds. Plus Lana is so much hotter when she’s smiling than when she is getting stretched in an accolade by Summer Rae. We’re finally going to see a match with these two after several months of tease. Tough go for Rusev. Since losing to John Cena for the last time, he renounced Russia as his home, lost his girl, broke his foot, was embarrassed too many times to count and now gives dead fish as presents to his new squeeze, Summer. Dolph, who now locks lips with Lana in a way that looks a little too real if you ask me, is finally over his “crutch to the windpipe” injury and is now seeking some revenge of his own. I know I wouldn’t have had this as a SummerSlam pairing if we made predictions in January, but somehow this works and I look forward to seeing it. Unless they plan on rebuilding Rusev into the title picture, I see Dolph capitalizing on the hot return and sneaking out of Brooklyn with the win. This will be a tremendous contrast in styles and Ziggy will probably bump like crazy for the big guy. Also, this might have been as good a chance as any to use a mixed-tag stipulation but if it stays as a singles, I think this could have “hidden gem” material. MCGINN’S PICK: DOLPH ZIGGLER
KEVIN OWENS VS. CESARO
Two stars on the rise clash in the Barclays Center with so much more than just pride on the line. Kevin Owens and Cesaro have been on the warpath for weeks dating back to KO’s pursuit of the United States Championship. Cesaro has been quite outspoken about Owen’s lack of intestinal fortitude of late with the prizefighter constantly walking out on matches. As an aside, The Swiss Superman has definitely improved on the mic this year and it could lead him to bigger things down the road. Meanwhile, Owens has countered by listing his accomplishments in the company in a relatively short period of time. Among those accomplishments was a singles victory over John Cena at Elimination Chamber. While gold isn’t on the line on Sunday, the eyes and hearts of the brass in the back could be up for grabs for these two. Would it be so crazy to see one or both of them in the main event at next year’s SummerSlam? I think not! These two will steal the show. Owens definitely needs this more as his fall from borderline main eventer months ago has been dramatic. He is still in a good spot fighting the Ortons and Cenas of the world, but he needs a statement win here. Cesaro has shown he can lose and still be crazy over as the Cesaro Section continues to grow so I don’t think there will be any shame in him doing the favors Sunday against the former NXT Champ. MCGINN’S PICK: KEVIN OWENS
ARROW STAR STEPHEN AMELL & NEVILLE VS. STARDUST & KING BARRETT
A real-life comic book is brought to the squared-circle when Neville battles his arch-nemesis, Stardust in one of the better mid-card builds we have seen from the WWE in years. But these two combatants won’t be doing it alone in this battle for the cosmos or whatever it is, as they each have employed their own trusty sidekicks. Stardust has appointed King Barrett who he renamed the “Cosmic King” in addition to presenting him with a futuristic new cape this past Monday night. Barrett helped Stardust sabotage an interview with Neville shortly after this match was announced. Neville though will have the services of the “Emerald Archer” as TV’s Stephen Amell, who had his own feud brewing with The Prince of Dark Matter over Twitter, will be making his WWE debut. Amell who stars in the popular CW show “Arrow” was a special guest of Triple H on Raw and finally got his hands on Stardust when he jumped the barricade to help his buddy Neville. Now the Green Arrow and the master of the Red Arrow will together fight evil and try to rid the darkness that has enveloped the WWE. Can these two heroes save the day? Be sure to join us next week. Same bat time, same bat channel! Wait, that’s the wrong comic? Whatever! Celebrity matches are made for good guys and truth and justice will prevail on Sunday. MCGINN’S PICK: STEPHEN AMELL & NEVILLE
WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP FATAL 4-WAY MATCH
The Prime Time Players (C) vs. The New Day vs. Los Matadores vs. The Lucha Dragons
Ugh, I’ll keep this short since I’m tired of writing about these teams. There was a time this year where people (okay, only me) were calling me the Nostradamus of the tag division. I nailed the pick of New Day beating Kidd and Cesaro when no one else thought it possible and was equally correct in my pick of the Prime Time Players winning a couple months ago. Now the division has been relegated to a bunch of multi-team clusters with everyone trading wins and losses. If you aren’t going for the belts, you aren’t even featured. Remember in 1988 when you had three legit tag matches that showed the layers of the division. The opener teams, the contenders and then the actual title match? Imagine if that card took place in 2015. The Bolsheviks, Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation and Demolition would be in some crazy four-Way and Rougeaus/Bulldogs would be saved for Smackdown. That match would be sick! This one? I feel like it’s been done. I think I’ll go New Day since they seem to be losing a ton lately and the odds are stacked against them. Outside-the-box pick: how about the Lucha Dragons? MCGINN’S PICK: THE NEW DAY
THREE TEAM ELIMINATION MATCH
Team Bella vs. PCB vs. Team B.A.D.
The Divas Revolution is upon us. This match is technically an elimination match though once one member of a team is eliminated, the entire team must head back to the dressing room area. When I heard that, I sort of lost some steam for this bout. I know it would take forever for as many as eight women to look up at the lights, but I was more intrigued by the matches that would come out of it. What if Charlotte was all alone to take out Team Bella by herself? What if we get Champion vs. Champion with Nikki and Sasha. Who is really the alpha female in these newly formed trios. I suppose the dynamic will be similar but I feel they already exhausted all the fresh matches on the free TV shows. Paige taps out to Sasha but Becky beats Tamina though Naomi bests Brie though Charlotte ousted Alicia, you get my drift. This is a good opportunity for them to establish Nikki’s next rival for the strap so team B.A.D. or team PCB should take home the winner’s purse. Somehow I want to pick the Bellas though because as I always say, the WWE just can’t help themselves when it comes to those twins. Gun to my head I say Charlotte pins Nikki and the artists formerly known as the “Submission Sorority” will celebrate into the night. MCGINN’S PICK: TEAM PCB
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP TRIPLE THREAT MATCH
Ryback (C) vs. Big Show vs. The Miz
Finally I can type this after missing out last month. Da Big Guy vs. The Big Show vs. The Big Mouth. It’s finally here. If I were allowed to write about this for Battleground, I would have said the following: Ryback is the new IC champ and needs a big win to establish himself as a strong titleholder and not just another midcard guy who loses all the time. He needs a signature victory and the image of him delivering shell shock to Big Show may do for him what the AA did for John Cena back in 2004. No, I don’t know why Miz is in there. He must have pictures of Vince or Triple H or both. In closing, Ryback wins and we could be looking at the first highlight in the rebirth of Da Big Guy. Feed Me More! So that’s how I felt then and I see no reason to change horses in midstream now. MCGINN’S PICK: RYBACK
BRAY WYATT & LUKE HARPER VS. ROMAN REIGNS & DEAN AMBROSE
Cue the late great Ray Combs because it’s time to play the feud! It will be sick and twisted family vs. family when the reformed Wyatt Family take on two former Shield brothers. Let me start by saying, I am in Camp Roman. I do believe he will someday make a fantastic WWE World Heavyweight Champion. I think he got derailed after Mania in order to rebuild his credentials to be the top face and champion of the company. I understand his path will not be easy and when he continues to win big matches and vanquish his enemies, the crowd who said “he just isn’t ready” will have no choice but to choke on their cheetos. I wasn’t crazy about him losing to Wyatt but I’m over it because Bray needs a bone thrown his way as well. Now we have a rehash of the old Shield/Wyatts wars here in Jersey. I have loved this dynamic of Ambrose calling himself family with Reigns. They have been together through so many wars and Reigns stuck with Dean during his trials with the Authority.
Now I have a crazy thought for this match that will likely get me mocked. I’ll say it here but do know I would have said it over the air if I actually worked with reliable podcast co-hosts. This bout is screaming for a heel turn. My bold prediction: Dean Ambrose joins the Wyatt Family. They haven’t recruited anyone in ages, who knows when Rowan is coming back, they have played up this family thing with the Shield guys but what if the lunatic finally snaps and joins the dark side. Now Reigns has what appears to be insurmountable odds on his way back up the mountain. What else can Dean do? He already had his title chance and fell short. Now he can keep Roman from reaching that goal. Anyone but you Roman. Isn’t that what Bray always says? Just a thought. Everyone needs a hot take now and then. Barring anything crazy, Reigns and Ambrose get revenge and the Wyatts continue to confuse us on their motivation. But this match definitely makes me wonder. MCGINN’S PICK: THE WYATTS (And Ambrose?)
CHAMPION VS. CHAMPION – WINNER TAKES ALL
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins vs. U.S. Champion John Cena
Champion vs. Champion. Title for Title. While this doesn’t have the same pizzazz as the Ultimate Challenge at WrestleMania VI, there is something special about two guys putting up the dukes for each other’s gold. This is such a hard match to call. If you are in the “Rollins title reign has sputtered out and change is needed” camp, SummerSlam is marquee enough of an event where you’d expect a major title change. Folks have been down on Future of WWE. They say he hasn’t really beaten anyone, he escapes more than triumphs and his promos just go on and on and on and on and on and on and on. I personally think that’s the point of the pain in the ass beatable heel champion but others see it differently. On the flip side, you have Cena. Certainly doesn’t need another title reign, he has 15 of them. Maybe if you subscribe to the school of thought that Sheamus will cash in MITB against a face champion, Cena winning would make sense. Though what in the world would Rollins do if he won the US title? Throw it in the trash? Unify both belts? It’s very perplexing. All the stuff with the nose breaking though has definitely turned up the gas on this program no doubt.
Cena basically hit a grand slam with his promo on Monday night with his Captain Morgan promo. Rollins has just become a Cena knock off. I enjoyed how John related Rollins’ success to Triple H who hitched his wagon onto Seth when he broke up The Shield. Will The Authority get involved? Here’s a few conspiracy theories to chew on. I highly doubt they will make a statue of Seth Rollins as he requested for winning this match so I can’t honestly pick Seth Rollins. But, they just made shirts for Cena saying he’s the 15x champion so logically it would seem impossible to pick John Cena. I feel like Vizzini from Princess Bride and his two goblets of wine. This is a cop out and I hate to do it but I think Cena wins but doesn’t get the title because I think there is still some life left in Rollins reign. MCGINN’S PICK: JOHN CENA BY DQ
BROCK LESNAR VS. THE UNDERTAKER
So here we go. The match that is “too big for WrestleMania.” Whether you agree with it or not, we all have to live with it. It’s puzzling that Undertaker could fight another man at this past WrestleMania and be in the same arena as Brock, yet chooses to make his move at Battleground of all places to exact revenge for his most infamous defeat. The brawl on Raw was amazing. Taker definitely found Doc Brown’s time machine and sent a past version of himself to deliver some haymakers to the Beast’s head that night. They are making us suspend an awful lot of reality though to believe that a man of his advanced years could hold his own and even win a street fight with a monster such as Lesnar. Particularly when you consider the beating he took just 15 months ago. Yet there is Undertaker, kicking guys where the sun don’t shine and dominating Brock like he’s Heath Slater.
If this is a fight, there is no chance Brock loses here. But this is a wrestling match and if they invoke the “Undertaker isn’t human” trope then perhaps he has an outside chance of slaying this beast. There is also heavy speculation that Sting could show up to set up Undertaker’s next WrestleMania victim. I’ve already had my crazy tin-foil hat theory for this pay-per-view so I’ll just play it safe here. Undertaker gives it a better effort than WrestleMania XXX because he won’t be concussed for most of this match. Brock will take more punishment than he has in his last few matches and takes all he can handle by the Dead Man. Taker makes one big mistake a la Shawn Michaels did against him in 2009 and Brock earns the win. Now Taker knows for certain who runs the yard and we fade to black. MCGINN’S PICK: BROCK LESNAR
So there you have it! Be sure to follow all the action and analysis of SummerSlam this week at Place to Be Nation. Get live commentary of the show by following us on Twitter @place2benation. For those that still read, we have countless SummerSlam themed articles for your enjoyment. You can also catch the PTBN Reaction Podcast featuring Will and the gang early next week! In addition, please subscribe to both the Place to Be Nation Podcast as well as the PWO-PTBN Podcast Network feeds on iTunes for continuous coverage of SummerSlam. Enjoy the show!