SummerSlam is supposed to be The Biggest Party of the Summer. It is effectively WWE’s second most important show of the year (though, arguably, Royal Rumble meets or exceeds that) following WrestleMania. So why does it typically feel so blah?
WrestleVotes tweeted out today that WWE officials “don’t really like the SummerSlam card” that they, themselves, have put together.
In the most WWE of ways, I had a source tell me this morning “they really don’t like the SummerSlam card”
“They” being the people who put it together. Um, what?!
— WrestleVotes (@WrestleVotes) July 19, 2022
Imagine that. You have a scripted product where you can make the decisions to plan out feuds and storylines and matches months in advance, yet here you are, two weeks before the event, and you aren’t happy with how it is coming together. Guess who is to blame.
With that in mind, it got me thinking. If WWE hired me today to join Creative and fix this problem, how would I?
Your hands are tied for most of the card. There is only one more episode of Raw and two more of SmackDown to correct this, as I’m not fond of making grand sweeping changes on Twitter posts or announcing adjustments on The Bump.
What could I realistically do to spice things up and make this a more interesting event? Here’s my pitch.
What Makes A Wrestling Show Interesting?
Identifying you have a problem to begin with is the first step toward fixing it. Stage 2 is strategizing potential solutions. That means we need to ask ourselves what would make any pay-per-view interesting to watch? What elements are worth getting excited about?
- Something New – WWE refuses to dig itself out of this rut of endless rematches. Every week, we get the same thing copied and pasted. Nearly every match on this card is something we’ve seen before, recently, multiple times. Fans want to see something different.
- Spontaneity / Unpredictability – Fans want to go into a show not knowing what will happen. If it is predictable, why bother watching it? There has to be some sort of unknown factor.
- Featured Attractions – Big names. Marquee stars. WWE has some of them here, but a refusal to invest in making new stars means much of the lineup is B-tier compared to different eras.
- Gimmicks – If you can’t have the names draw, have the concepts draw. Royal Rumble doesn’t get viewers because it has the absolute best 30 people. Fans watch because they want to see the Royal Rumble match. SummerSlam has no specific draw of this kind in and of itself.
- Stakes – Titles on the line. Outcomes that matter. It can’t be a show where it seems as though everything will roll over, the repeat matches will continue and it’ll all be for nothing.
- Momentum – Simply put, WWE has to put on a better show for the television product and each special event. When fans watch Raw and SmackDown and enjoy it, they will want to watch the pay-per-view. If the product is awful, why would they think the special show is actually going to be anything special?
- Perceived Value – You go to a restaurant because you hear the food is good or see a picture that is enticing. You’ll likely watch a movie based on the trailer. Wrestling is the same. If the matches on the card look like they’ll be fun to watch, you’re more likely to want to watch it. We know the in-ring quality for most WWE Superstars. Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch won’t have a bad match.
With those in mind, let’s try to come up with some ideas of improving this card.
A Theory on Some Tweaks
Why is Dolph Ziggler feuding with Theory while Lashley is just not really appearing? Let’s fix that problem. Theory comes out on Raw, says he doesn’t want to be beaten up going into cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase, so he wants his United States Championship match tonight instead. He fights Lashley on Raw, wherein Ziggler costs him the match. Then, surprise, Adam Pearce announces that Theory vs. Ziggler has been booked for SummerSlam. Not only has Theory not gotten his wish of not having a match at SummerSlam, he’s also squandered his opportunity to win back the US title.
Ziggler vs. Theory isn’t the biggest match you can put on, but it is at least something we haven’t seen before. Meanwhile, Lashley needs a new challenger. More on that, later.
But you want to add stakes and gimmicks and such to make it more interesting than just a match for the sake of having a match. Make it so the Money in the Bank briefcase is on the line. Ziggler’s defended that briefcase multiple times when he had it and he successfully cashed in. Let’s put some element of danger in here. In fact, let’s have Ziggler involved in the Reigns and Lesnar confrontation to come. Theory can interrupt to gloat about how he’ll cash in, only for Ziggler to attack him, then put Lesnar and Reigns on notice that once he gets the briefcase, they’ll have HIM to worry about.
The New United States Championship Challenger for SummerSlam
Throughout Raw, some people can be shown suggesting they should get the title shot Theory was supposed to have. Pearce announces a battle royal or Six-Pack Challenge or something to crown who will fight Lashley at SummerSlam.
Some of those options could be Mustafa Ali, Otis, Kevin Owens, Ezekiel, maybe even Veer Mahaan. I’d love to see someone from NXT UK randomly thrown in here, or an NXT call-up, as that would get people talking the most.
However, I’d be really pitching T-Bar wins this and starts to get the push he deserves. He can come up short in the match if you want to keep the belt on Lashley, but it should be a “champion retained by the skin of his teeth” scenario and we should keep pushing T-Bar after that. Give him a feud with Owens and such. Let’s make him a star. You can’t get new stars without pushing people.
Maybe we can revisit the NXT UK idea for Clash at the Castle and have someone like Dave Mastiff fight Lashley at that show.
The Usos vs. The Street Profits
As I grew up in the New Generation Era and didn’t watch as much late WCW, and nearly no TNA, I’m more of a Jeff Jarrett fan than a lot of other people who watched his worse years. But I can admit that while I’m interested to see Double J, his inclusion as a special guest referee doesn’t really do all that much.
The Usos and The Street Profits will have a banger match. They’re talented as hell. We know that. Perceived value is already there for match quality. But let’s make this a 2-out-of-3 Falls match. That way, you can play into the referee angle with the questionable calls, up the tension during the match and have both teams walk out looking good since the score can be 2-1.
Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
I’m assuming one of the matches we’ll get added to this card is Drew McIntyre against Sheamus for the No. 1 contender’s spot, since they’ve avoided doing that on SmackDown. That has stakes, but we all know McIntyre will win. We’ve seen it before, plenty times. What can we do to make it better?
Add another gimmick. That’s the simplest answer. You can get into overkill, but if you ask someone if McIntyre vs. Sheamus by itself will be more interesting than if it had a stipulation, you’ll get your answer.
We have a Last Man Standing match already, so we can’t do a Street Fight or Falls Count Anywhere. 2-out-of-3 Falls is off the table, too. No ladder match, as that makes no sense and we just had Money in the Bank. Obviously, we’re not going Buried Alive or Iron Man or whatever.
A steel cage is the best option. Ridge Holland and Butch make it an unfair fight. Lock them out.
Adding Superstars to the SummerSlam Marquee
Logan Paul against The Miz by itself is bigger than if it were a tag team match, true. But considering their association with this feud, why is this not Logan Paul and AJ Styles against The Miz and Tommaso Ciampa?
Again, you can’t make a new star without using them well. Ciampa can’t be a sidelined act and then gain any traction. Plus, you get Styles on the lineup and he can hold down the fort in this match so Paul can be protected better.
You also save Paul vs. The Miz solo for either Clash at the Castle or Crown Jewel, preferably with some sort of No Disqualification gimmick.
Let’s not stop there, though. This awful feud with The Mysterios and Judgment Day should be where Edge comes in. He should want payback, right? He’s teamed with Rey Mysterio and won tag titles in the past. Edge and Rey against Finn Balor and Damian Priest sounds like more of an upgrade than The Mysterios against Balor and Priest to me. What else is Edge going to do?
I wish Belair and Lynch could be spiced up with more challengers, but WWE screwed that opportunity up. Like Reigns/Lesnar, the story is too much about just those two. You can’t simply add more people and have it make any sense. But I’d be harping on how this should open the show and we should NEVER book these two against each other for at least a solid 2 years. I don’t want to see any more of Belair against Lynch.
There isn’t much more room left to add more matches. This already puts us at 11.
SummerSlam 2022 Adjusted Card Lineup
With this in mind, here is my updated card for SummerSlam, given only 2 episodes of SmackDown and 1 episode of Raw to work with:
- Undisputed WWE Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar — possible MITB cash-in teased.
- Pat McAfee vs. Happy Corbin
- United States Championship Match: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. T-Bar
- Money in the Bank Briefcase on the Line: Theory (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
- Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship 2-Out-of-3 Falls Match: The Usos (c) vs. The Street Profits—special guest referee Jeff Jarrett
- SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Liv Morgan (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
- Riddle vs. Seth Rollins
- Logan Paul and AJ Styles vs. The Miz and Tommaso Ciampa
- Steel Cage No. 1 Contender’s Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
- Edge and Rey Mysterio vs. Damian Priest and Finn Balor
- Raw Women’s Championship Match: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Becky Lynch
Could it be better? Of course. But that requires time. WWE should be thinking of events several months in advance. Storylines need to progress naturally, instead of being dragged out and then rushed. Right now, WWE should know half the card for Survivor Series, the main attractions for Day 1 and Royal Rumble (along with who will win) and where at least the world titles and some other marquee matches should be in mind for WrestleMania.
I’m doubtful WWE even thinks enough in advance to finish an episode of Raw by the time it starts, these days. Thus, here we are, a week or so away from SummerSlam, and they don’t like the card they came up with.
How would you improve the SummerSlam 2022 card? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!