It’s Summerslam Sunday! The Biggest Party of the Summer! The Summer’s Hottest Thrill Ride! The Showcase of the Summer! Whatever tagline they slapped onto it, Summerslam is one of the big four WWE events of the year. But despite this being a major pay-per-view with a storied history, I have to admit that I’m a bit underwhelmed by the card. While it’s loaded with matches, there are only really a few bouts that excite me. Even matches with big name superstars, like John Cena vs. Baron Corbin and Randy Orton vs. Rusev, seemed too haphazardly thrown together just so these guys have a match at Summerslam to really be excited about them. But here are a few matches to watch for; some of which may have flown under the radar.
Cruiserweight Championship Match
Akira Tozawa (champion) vs. Neville
205 Live hasn’t gotten the most attention since its debut, but Neville has developed his character exponentially in the past year. By turning heel and building his “King of the Cruiserweights” gimmick greater and greater each week, things finally went south for the former Man that Gravity Forgot. Akira Tozawa, who has been riding with the Titus Brand faction as of late, knocked the King from his lavender cruiserweight throne, succeeding Neville as champ on Raw. What a lot of people didn’t see was Neville’s backlash on the following 205 Live. Donning bags under his eyes and looking like he hadn’t slept in weeks, Neville appeared like he had been driven insane by the loss. We may be seeing the rise of the Mad King, Neville on tonight’s Summerslam Kickoff Show.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match
Cesaro & Sheamus (champions) vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins
This is mostly going to be fun for nostalgia purposes. Just seeing the Shield doing some classic Shield stuff is going to make this match interesting. These are all solid workers, but the feud itself just feels like a catalyst for a full Shield reunion, which may be building for Survivor Series. This also leads me to think that Roman Reigns will lose in the main event, since he should be available to join them following Summerslam.
RAW Women’s Championship Match
Alexa Bliss (champion) vs. Sasha Banks
Even though Sasha is basically just filling in because Bayley was injured there is some real life animosity between these two. Reportedly, Banks and Bliss aren’t very fond of each other backstage, with Sasha accusing Alexa of being a fake wrestling fan. Seems a little petty...but I’ll take it. There’s probably a bit more to that story than meets the eye, but for now, whatever real life gripe they have could result in some aggressive in-ring work and some stiff shots.
United States Championship Match
AJ Styles (champion) vs. Kevin Owens
Styles and Owens have been going back and forth with this championship ad nauseum, and while their feud is fun, it’s bordering on growing stale. Summerslam is as good a place as any to wrap this up. Even though it may feel like they’ve wrestled enough and not exactly having the 5-star matches that fans may expected these two to have, they might have been saving the big one for the biggest party of the Summer (which is Summerslam, apparently). So expect two of the best in the world to have a fitting climax to their rivalry in what could and should be the match of the night.
“The Demon” Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
I’ll admit, I’m mostly excited about the entrances. These two will put on a great match, of course, but the real attraction to this one is the resurgence of Finn’s “Demon” persona. Sure, it may be overdramatic, but they did a good job of keeping it special. The Demon hasn’t been seen since last year’s WrestleMania when Finn was injured while becoming the first ever Universal Champion. I only wish they didn’t advertise it. Everyone could kind of assume he would wear the makeup for Summerslam, but I guess there may be some VERY new fans who are unaware of it. Expect some creativity in this spoooooooky feud.
WWE Championship Match
Jinder Mahal (champion) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
I didn’t see this one coming. I figured they would want John Cena challenging for the title in this one, but they seemingly have enough faith in Shinsuke that it looks like this might be his time to win the big one. With his unsurpassed charisma, it would be great to see Shinsuke win this and see what he can do as champion. This is also unprecedented because it’s the first Japanese superstar vs. Indian superstar (Yes, I know Jinder’s from Canada) main event to the best of my knowledge. WWE’s global expansion is becoming more and more evident with this main event.
Brock Lesnar (champion) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe
If you were ever a fan of the Godzilla series, the Rampage video games, or anything Kaiju, you’ll be fan of this match. This is more or less promoted as a monster movie matchup. The Beast Incarnate, The Big Dog, The Monster Among Men, and The Destroyer. It’s going to be a heavy-hitting showdown of titans. The outcome of this match is especially curious, because the title changing hands could mean that Brock Lesnar leaves the company to pursue another UFC match (against Jon Jones, perhaps?). Of course, that could all just be some Paul Heyman misdirection, as he teased it once again on Raw.
Considering the outcome of last night’s NXT TakeOver, we could see one or two surprise guests as well. Both the Authors of Pain and Bobby Roode dropped their titles last night, which means a callup to the main roster is in the works. Either of them could even show up at Summerslam. There are plenty of matches that could use spicing up with some interference by these dominant (now former) NXT champions. So, be ready for anything to happen at Summerslam.
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke