As we’ve already taken care of the superstars missing from the SummerSlam 2017 card (click here for part 1 Raw and part 2 SmackDown), it’s time for us to look on the more optimistic side of things by examining which wrestlers will not only participate, but shine the brightest of the bunch.
Whether it’s in a scripted or non-kayfabe sense by factoring in everything from wins and losses, how much of an emphasis they’re given on the show, their momentum for the next TV episode, match performances and everything between, here’s my shortlist for who I think will be stealing the show at SummerSlam.
Call me a skeptic, call me a pessimist, call me a conspiracy theorist or call me all sorts of terrible names for various reasons (I probably deserve them) but for the life of me, I just have no faith that WWE is going to take the title off Brock Lesnar.
I’m desperately hoping that I’m wrong about this, as I want any of the three challengers to take the belt away from him so as to avoid having Lesnar retain it and barely show up for months just to drop it to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania—something I have less than zero interest seeing and having such a prominent focus wasted on when it could be applicable to two better matches.
For my money, I’d love to see Reigns or Samoa Joe walking away with the belt, as I think Strowman should defeat Lesnar at WrestleMania, but so much emphasis is being put on the possibility of Lesnar dropping the title that I think it’s typical WWE bait and switch with them getting us to talk by dangling a carrot and then yanking it away.
My guess is Lesnar doesn’t dominate the match, but he retains in the end, so Paul Heyman can gloat that he conquered arguably the three biggest challenges to his title reign on the current roster in the very same match, and that he’s going to take a break for a while so a new contender can emerge.
Blah. Give me Joe winning the belt and beating Lesnar in a rematch at No Mercy instead.
AJ Styles / Kevin Owens / Shane McMahon
The three men in the United States Championship match are going to share equal footing when it comes to spotlight, as the complexities of their segment revolve entirely on the dynamic of Shane McMahon being the special guest referee.
Without that element, this is just another Owens vs. Styles match that we’ve seen at least a half dozen of, if not more, so that’s nothing special (despite the two of them being two of the best performers in the entire company).
I’d go so far as to say that Shane McMahon should get the ultimate spot on this list rather than Owens or Styles, but I can’t quite justify that all the way as he’s not winning the title in any capacity, whereas there’s a chance for either Owens or Styles to leave with the belt and that will be very important going forward.
It seems clear to me after this week’s SmackDown that there’s changes coming to the rosters and the plans that looked to be in motion several weeks back. With Corbin losing his cash in, Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jinder Mahal being for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam and so forth, I’m more convinced than ever that the United States Championship is going to be extremely important for the rest of 2017 as something that helps counteract the systemic problems of the WWE Championship scene.
Whoever leaves with the title in this match will not only be a major focal point as far as storyline goes, but he’ll also leave having one of the best matches of the night and being a huge part of SmackDown’s next few months.
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
The more I think about it, the more I’m willing to bite that we’ll see Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as tag team champions by the end of SummerSlam, although I’m still at least somewhat hesitant about the idea.
What’s interesting, though, is that I think if we don’t see them win the titles, the former Shield brethren will still end up being one of the biggest focal points of the night, as I have a feeling if they lose the match, one of the two will turn heel—specifically Dean Ambrose.
The Lunatic Fringe has been a babyface for quite some time and a heel turn could freshen him up with him still maintaining the basics of his character, minus the goofball undertones. He could snap and start a feud with Rollins before moving on to someone else in the future (Finn Balor? Someone who moves over in the rumored Superstar Shake-Up that may happen?)
But as I said, that’s just option B, as option A consists of them dethroning Sheamus and Cesaro to become the new Raw tag team champions, which is a feat in and of itself that would boost them rather high up on the totem pole for most important people of the night.
Yes, there are plenty of other men and women who will win their respective matches and be focal points to a certain extent, but these are the top few who I think will make the biggest splash overall. Originally, Jason Jordan was on my list, but with the Intercontinental Championship title shot I was predicting turning into a six-man tag team match, that rules out any importance for him, so we’re down to just four main names above the rest.
Those are my picks, but who do you think will end up being the primary focal points? Drop your predictions in the comments below!