SummerSlam is WWE’s August classic, and many fans are already looking forward to the big event. Much like WrestleMania, the groundwork is being laid ahead of time for SummerSlam, and everything happening now could have major implications for the August 20 pay-per-view.
Both brands will be represented, as Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live will bring their heavy hitters to the forefront.
The competition between the programs ramps up during big events, and that should especially be true at SummerSlam. Top stars like AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, and Kevin Owens, will surely be ready to impress when the event goes live from Brooklyn, New York.
But how will those stars, and others, be booked for WWE’s summer showcase?
The Phenomenal One had a brush with greatness at Money in the Bank.
That greatness did not come in the form of the ladder match he worked in. Nor did it come from the briefcase that dangled just out of his reach. The greatness came when he faced off against Shinsuke Nakamura in the middle of the ring.
These two legendary stars’ greatness is apparent and has been for quite some time. Fans familiar with Styles and Nakamura’s runs in New Japan Pro Wrestling remember what it was like when the two men clashed.
They made magic together, and it’s only a matter of time until they do it in a WWE ring.
That time could come at SummerSlam, when each man will need a top opponent. AJ is not in WWE title contention, and Nakamura has been treading water since arriving on SmackDown Live in April. There may be no better moment than SummerSlam for them to tear the house down.
But what about WrestleMania 34?
What better night to present Styles versus Nakamura? The Showcase of the Immortals is the night when legends are made and top stars show off in front of the world. Styles’ match with Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 33 was perhaps not what many fans wanted. Nakamura has not yet competed at the event.
They have a stellar history together. Why not capitalize on that and wait until 2018?
But the match could still happen, even if they face off at SummerSlam first. No heel turn is needed, and rushed booking does not need to take over. Styles and Nakamura know what they can do together, and they should do it for the first time in a WWE ring at SummerSlam.
Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt will go to war at Great Balls of Fire.
The Man and The Eater of Worlds will collide on July 9, and that match could only be the start. Though Wyatt and Rollins didn’t appear to have any business together in the beginning, the two men are slowly but surely making the rivalry work.
Their paths will likely stay crossed until SummerSlam.
They seem to be just scratching the surface of what they can do together, so it will be interesting to see how WWE keeps them in the same space. Wyatt is not one to give in that easily, especially if he feels he’s gotten into the head of his opponent.
Rollins never backs down no matter how stacked the odds are against him. Both men are too stubborn and too full of pride to walk away.
If the company wants to keep the fans’ interest, then a gimmick match should probably happen at SummerSlam. Hell in a Cell would be a great option, though the pay-per-view of the same name is scheduled for October 22, so WWE may not want to book that match type.
Maybe an old-fashioned steel cage match would be enough to keep fans hooked. A Falls Count Anywhere, No Disqualification match could be a better option. Maybe the bout could be a Last Man Standing or possibly even a submission contest.
The question is, can Rollins and Wyatt maintain momentum coming out of GBOF?
If so, then it could be enough to keep them on the same page heading into SummerSlam. They’re both extremely talented, and they’ve both developed into top-notch storytellers. They will certainly give everything they have to get their match over on July 9, and the same would certainly be true of a contest at SummerSlam.
Kevin Owens may be the New Face of America, but he could be taken down by a man from out of nowhere.
Randy Orton is booked to face Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship at Battleground on July 23. Not only does the match supposedly favor Mahal because it will be held in a Punjabi Prison, but Orton is already fighting against the odds before the event even happens.
Orton is 0-2 against the WWE champion. If The Viper does not defeat Mahal, then he will likely move on to the next challenge. That means he will need someone else to feud with as WWE gets closer to SummerSlam.
There may be no better opponent than KO.
Owens is the United States champion, and his title is the only one in WWE’s rotation Orton has never held. That fact may not be at the forefront of storytelling now, but if the company brought it to light at the right moment, it could be enough to spark a new rivalry.
Owens versus Orton could be the match of the night at SummerSlam.
It’s a perfect pairing, mostly because of the role each man plays. Owens may be an entertaining heel, but he’s also vicious. He only cares about himself, and he will do whatever is necessary to win matches.
Orton happens to share that ideology despite the fact he’s a babyface. But as the months have gone by since WrestleMania 33, Orton has begun to come out of his shell.
He’s more approachable than he has been in the past. He looks more like a hero than he does a villain hiding behind applause. He’s more relaxed than he ever has been, and he seems comfortable in his role.
Fans would surely love to see that Randy Orton interrupt a gloating Owens in the middle of the ring.
Owens may lose the championship, which would add more fuel to the fire. He would be more outraged than ever, claiming WWE was out to get him and that he was constantly being targeted because of who he is and where he’s from.
He would dish out that vitriol and also direct it at Orton, who would be enjoying a run with the one title he’s never held. But it would all have to begin at SummerSlam.
Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe will have a major showdown at Great Balls of Fire, and it’s so big that one fight will probably not be enough.
That means the rivalry will continue past July 9 and could go into SummerSlam. If that happens, fans will be treated to a second war between two of the industry’s toughest men. Joe versus Lesnar has the potential to be the match of the year for 2017, and a second one could top the first.
But they may be joined by a third man at SummerSlam.
Roman Reigns has a Universal Championship shot, and he will get it on August 20 regardless of the winner of the title match at GBOF. Assuming Joe comes out of his contest with Lesnar on his feet and still looking good, there should be no reason why their heat has to end.
Joe will not go down without a fight—and could win.
Either way, a Triple Threat match at SummerSlam could be the best way to go. It keeps Joe in the title hunt, which is a good thing for him. It also keeps Lesnar and Reigns from having a one-on-one match until WrestleMania 34.
Fans may not be in love with the format, but the match would be a main event anywhere in the world.
Three of the company’s top heavyweights fighting over a championship that sorely needs some relevance that’s what would happen if Joe, Lesnar and Reigns came together. It’s a WrestleMania-caliber match, and it would be the headlining match at SummerSlam.
Fans want top stars in top matches with long-lasting ramifications, and that’s exactly what could happen with this booking.
John Cena is WWE’s resident superhero, and it’s a moniker he’s proudly worn for over a decade. Cena stands for what is right and never backs down from a fight. He battles with pride and power, both of which he has an endless supply of.
He’s the all-American man fans can always depend on. How convenient is it that the WWE champion is a heel of foreign descent?
It’s a time-honored card that’s been played for years in the business, and it almost always works. Jinder Mahal is the brash champion who is overly critical of a country he perhaps doesn’t understand. He’s cocky, and he always seems to know just how to upset the American audience.
This looks like a job for Super Cena.
Cena would not only cut a promo on Mahal; he would destroy him with it. In one spot, Cena could find a counter to every insult Mahal has ever laid on WWE, its fans and the United States. He may be the man that fans love to hate, but they also love him when he’s at his best.
He would be at his best when he verbally spars with Mahal. But what happens at SummerSlam?
It’s not a question of if Cena will break the record of 16 world titles he shares with Ric Flair but when. It’s a record WWE seems determined to give Cena outright, which means it will happen sooner or later. Considering Cena now wrestles on a part-time basis, it could well be the former.
What better way to spark SummerSlam than by booking Cena to land No.17? But what does that mean for The Modern Day Maharaja?
Mahal may be a short-term champion, but then again, he may not. No one seems to know where WWE is going with him or where he will end up by the time WrestleMania 34 comes around. But it seems illogical to build him up, give him consecutive wins over Randy Orton and then tear him down with one match against Cena.
Mahal could defeat Cena at SummerSlam.
If that happens, it will become clear WWE is serious about Mahal. But if Cena goes over, Mahal doesn’t necessarily have to fade away. It will be a delicate balance when it comes to the booking, which is something WWE fans are used to.
It looks set to be a very interesting summer.