WWE is once again taking over Brooklyn, New York with the annual SummerSlam event this Sunday, and since the card seems to be finalized, it’s time to do another breakdown of predictions for which superstars are going to shine the brightest, win their matches and steal the show. Not everybody can be the standout performers, but this is the last cross-branded event until Survivor Series, so it should be a good indicator of who are the most important men and women on their respective rosters.
Which wrestlers will make a bigger name for themselves at this particular event? Let’s start breaking down the top couple of likely options.
Seth Rollins or Finn Balor
The cop out answer here is that it’s a guarantee whoever wins the Universal Championship will be the top star of the night and to leave it at that. But that’s no fun, is it? So which one of the two choices will get that distinction?
I keep changing my mind back and forth, as there are plenty of reasons to see both as the favorite. Finn Balor represents change, keeping things fresh, pushing the new era and doing something that would elicit a huge pop. Seth Rollins represents stability, he’s trustworthy to withhold the responsibilities as champion, and he’s something different in comparison to Dean Ambrose as a babyface figurehead of SmackDown.
On the one hand, it’s good to have Balor as the champion because the Rollins title reign might end up being too similar to what we’ve seen with his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship run, but on the other hand, fans tend to like watching the babyface chase for the title rather than defend it.
At the time of writing this article, I’m leaning more towards Balor winning, as he can feud with Rollins, Sheamus, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens, while there aren’t as many babyfaces to go up against Rollins outside of Cesaro, Sami Zayn and the retread of Roman Reigns, which people won’t be too receptive of.
Ever since Brock Lesnar was scheduled to fight for UFC, I’ve been harping on the concept that WWE needs to have Randy Orton defeat him in order to gain something positive out of it. Lesnar beating Mark Hunt and then losing to Orton would only make The Viper look stronger, and if Lesnar had lost and then beaten Orton, it would by proxy make him look weaker. Now that there’s a whole scandal about failing his drug tests, the idea of Lesnar winning makes sense less sense than before.
It’s kind of a shame, as Randy Orton is not the type of person who needs a win over Lesnar to help out his career—at least, nowhere near as much as a handful of other people. This spot would be better utilized for someone like Cesaro who could make something out of the bump. Still, Orton’s been missing in action for a long while and has been relatively stale for quite some time, so maybe defeating Lesnar will reinvigorate him and allow him to carry some extra momentum into the SmackDown brand post-draft.
I see no positives coming out of a win for Lesnar, and I can’t figure out a way to justify having him coming out on top other than “because he normally does.” That’s rather weak, as it’s only useful to build someone up if they can in turn put someone over. Lesnar has yet to do that since coming back, as he’s only properly lost to John Cena and Triple H, while being screwed out of matches with The Undertaker, Seth Rollins, etc. If Lesnar wins, he’s not going to be anything special in regards to the rest of the people on the card, as it’ll be just another win to ignore next week and not bring back up until he wrestles again at Survivor Series or later. If Randy Orton wins, though, he’ll be easily one of the most talked about performers on the show.
It may not be a popular opinion all across the board, but I’m still a big fan of Dolph Ziggler. Sure, he’s not in as good of a position as he once was, but that doesn’t mean it makes him a less entertaining performer in the ring, and I’ll argue that he should never have stopped being taken seriously to begin with.
That being said, I don’t have any faith at all that he’ll win his match against Dean Ambrose, so I have to give their spot to the champion. However, there’s a caveat: there’s great potential to many upswings to happen here for Ziggler. One in particular is that he may turn heel, and if that happens at SummerSlam itself, plenty more people will be talking about that rather than Ambrose merely retaining, but I’m inclined to believe a heel turn won’t happen until SmackDown.
Whatever renewed vigor may happen with Ziggler is up in the air, but if it all boils down to Ambrose still walking out with the championship, then that means he’ll be the victor who can hold his head high, carry momentum into the next event, and be viewed as the bigger star by the bulk of the audience as well as in a storyline sense. Ziggler can say that he tasted the main event again and wants more, but Ambrose will be able to shove it back in his face that he proved The Showoff wasn’t as good as he claimed to be.
Charlotte wasn’t dethroned of the Women’s Championship by Sasha Banks just to win it back at SummerSlam, particularly if we’ve been expecting Banks to win that belt for months. When it didn’t happen at WrestleMania, SummerSlam seemed like the most obvious pay-per-view for it to take place, and now that it happened on Raw, this is just a rematch to try to squeeze out anything else this feud might have.
Sasha is the it-girl and Charlotte winning the title again would be a catalyst for nothing but what we’ve already seen since she defeated Nikki Bella. Unless there is some grand master plot afoot with Bayley coming to the main roster or a Charlotte face turn or anything like that, I’d be utterly shocked to see anything happen here other than a solidification that Sasha Banks is THE woman in the company and will continue to be for a while.
John Cena and AJ Styles
Not a single card goes by without John Cena being one of the featured performers—it’s just how things work. When you factor in AJ Styles as well, these two are going to put on one hell of a show and try to steal as much of the spotlight as possible just to make sure they aren’t overlooked by the two primary title matches and Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton.
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