Rob Van Dam vs. Dean Ambrose (C)
This match takes place on the pre-show at 7:30 on Youtube. RVD looks to do RVD things, and Ambrose looks to cement his legacy as U.S. Champion. The belt is definitely lacking prestige and has done nothing but gather dust on previous champions' shoulders. Ambrose looks to re-energize the U.S. title scene and place importance on what should be an important achievement. He is young and hungry, eager to prove his mettle as a singles' wrestler in the WWE.
On the flip side, you have RVD- who since coming back has done his usual move-set, gotten the crowd motivated behind him as a plucky face. Nothing has changed- not any of his moves, not his character or any of his motivations. At this stage in his career he is just an enhancement talent; he does not need the win or the belt to get over with the crowd. Losing to Ambrose cleanly will only make the belt and Ambrose look all the more impressive. RVD will sell the bulldog drive like a figurative champ, and Ambrose will move on to bigger and better things. I do not think the Shield need to get involved here, as it would weaken Ambrose's win.
Winner and STILL United States Champion: Dean Ambrose
*Rumors are swirling that RVD, Mark Henry and Big Show will take on the Shield right after this match, making it all the more likely the Shield will try to do a run-in. That match could go either way. Either the Shield get back on track, or the faces get a show-opening win. Never go against the men in black. BELIEVE in the Shield! ( Although I'd rather just see Rollins and Reign defend the belts against Show and Henry.)
Winners: The Shield
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
This match stems from the two divas' involvement in E!'s Total Divas. So yeah- it's totally a deep, complex and intriguing feud. Ok, I'll turn off my sarcasm machine. This is really just a chance to shoehorn the show into Summerslam (it happens to run against the PPV at 10 p.m.- ironically the two Bellas competing with their respective boyfriends for ratings). I would not be surprised to see Eva Marie, JoJo, Nikki Bella, and the Funkadactyls get involved after a failed attempt at "Twin Magic". WWE might pull the switch-a-roo and have it become one big women's television match to bring more attention to the show. As much as I like my wrestling, that many attractive women on my screen is never a bad thing.
Winners: Every warm-blooded American male
Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn vs. Big E. Langston and A.J.
Because it makes sense to have your Divas Champion not defend her belt at Summerslam. Not. This match was thrown together recently, likely because the company is losing faith in Ziggler as a face, and Big E. is sill very green. You'd think the best seller in the business could make one of the morre power-based guys in the company look like a million bucks, but WWE felt a need to throw the women in this match, too. While you can't have Kaitlyn challenge AJ for the title (she's lost around 4,897 times to her), you could have had a women's triple threat (Kaitlyn vs. Layla vs. AJ). I see Ziggler and Kaitlyn regaining some steam with either her spear or his Zig Zag.
Winners: Dolph and Kaitlyn
Cody vs. Damien Sandow
While I see no need for Sandow to lose his briefcase, to have it on the line here would make for a more intriguing match. Regardless, it will be a heck of a match and could quietly steal the show. Sandow has really grown as a performer in the last calendar year or so, and shows he can be a top heel in time. Rhodes is a solid worker in the ring and has his own type of charisma. The basis for this feud is very thin, as Rhodes comes off looking like a bitter person and sore sport. He is mad that Sandow won the MITB briefcase fair and square. The faces' logic in WWE these days is mind-boggling, but c'est la WWE.
I see a ten minute match with Rhodes going over. While Sandow winning makes sense (he needs to look strong as a MITB winner), WWE loves to weaken their MITB winners (Hi, Dolph). If Sandow loses, it could set up a cash-in later in the show following the Del Rio/Christian match, but that is a pure guess.
Winner: Cody Rhodes
Kane vs. Bray Wyatt (Ring of Fire Match)
This has quietly been one of the better feuds over the last month heading into Summerslam. Kane is a great, veteran wrestler who can help guide the younger up-and-comers. This is similar to RVD/Ambrose (with way more gimmick than flash), as Kane will put over the younger Wyatt. The Wyatt family debuted with a TON of fanfare, and tonight will kick off the start of a bright future for the trio. It won't be long or a classic by any means, but it will progress the Wyatts while giving Kane a reason to take some time off. At his age, he could use it to re-charge, or even retire. He has peaked as a performer with Team Hell No likely his last prominent storyline in WWE. Follow the buzzards, Kane.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar
The build-up to this match has been nothing short of phenomenal. We already knew Punk and Heyman could go on the mic, so it's no surprise. But it still rules to watch them banter back and forth. The line of this feud goes to (of all people) Brock Lesnar: "Say something stupid, Paul." This match will likely follow the classic big man/little man schematic. Lesnar is this unstoppable beast and Punk is the smaller, gritty, never-say-die hero who never underestimates himself. This has helped Punk get out of the funk he was in since returning at Payback in June.
Rumors lately have Lesnar not returning again until Wrestlemania in New Orleans, so I suspect he will win here. He'll need the win to build off once he returns, and Punk will be left trying to figure out the puzzle that is Brock Lesnar. Although your casual fan must wonder why Lesnar leaves at the end of the summer, only to appear in the spring again. Hibernation at its finest.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
World Heavyweight Championship:
Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (C)
This match is one step above the Natalya and Brie in terms of development or intrigue factor. Alberto's latest title run has been nothing but disastrous, as he struggles to gain any sort of traction as a legitimate main eventer (heel or face). Time after time, WWE puts their eggs in ADR's basket, and he gives them no reason to believe in him. Yet, here we are at Summerslam with Del Rio as champ. Also, he is without his trusty longtime friend and personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez. Otherwise known as the one thing that separated him from every other superstar. Some compare ADR to a Spanish John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) circa 2004. He was a rich Texan who rubbed his wealth in everyone's faces, arriving via limousine at every show. JBL reigned as WWE champion until being dethroned by John Cena at Wrestlemania 21. The difference between the two is JBL knew how to manipulate the crowd, attract real heel heat and not "X-Pac" heat. ADR on the other hand goes for typical, bland bad gyuy heat. He doesn't know how to put the crowd in the palm of his hand like The Rock, Steve Austin. Heck, even Mark Henry or Edge are light years ahead of ADR in the promo department.
His opponent for the evening is the always reliable Christian. Not in regards to his recent healthy history. but as a company guy so to speak. He never gets in trouble, and he has a following of fans from his Edge and Christian days. He is still able to go in the ring, and honestly I could see these two having a great match despite the feud's lack of substance. I see Christian being rewarded for his constant reliability and a chance to add some juice to the end of a great career.
Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Christian
WWE Title Match: Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena (C)
Finally we arrive at the match everyone is paying to see. The crafty and cunning cult favorite, Daniel Bryan versus the dynastic John Cena. Their segment from RAW was an incredible way to get people to want to buy the show. Even crappy-face Miz couldn't ruin this segment. (By the way, MizTV can end. They could have done this segment in the ring with no couches or fancy-dressed stammering happy-go-lucky douchebag interrupting them.) But one man could ruin it, and did. His name? HHH.
When HHH came out, in his head he had to be thinking, "Wait are Bryan and Cena having a hell of a go-home segment? WELL BY GOLLY LET ME COME OUT AND STAND BETWEEN THEM WHILE ORTON RANDOMLY STANDS AT THE TOP OF THE RAMP BECAUSE MONEY."
The other person who has to inject himself in this feud? None other than Vince McMahon. His role, along with Stephanie's and HHH's has been overdone, and hurt not only the feud, but the WWE in general. We don't need them to take up 3-5 segments a show. Having McMahon doubt Bryan is fine, but harping on it is a whole different thing. He's small, he says he is a wrestler- get over it.
Their need to be involved has me remembering the summer of 2011- the summer of Punk. CM Punk gave one of the most intriguing, genuine promos of all time and made Cena the heel by default. It also helped the match was in Chicago. But who had to be involved? HHH. Towards the end of that summer, he and his buddy, Kevin Nash decided Punk shouldn't be champion anymore. And that was that.
Fast forward to summer 2013. Cena has been typical Cena, but during Monday's RAW, he was passionate and on point. He, along with Bryan, made this match a must-watch in that segment alone. Their "feud" had been dragging, as there was no tension or obvious conflict. The lines were drawn when Cena admitted that he did not respect Bryan. It's the wrestler versus the superstar. Bryan conveyed his struggle and desire to be the best wrestler alive, and Cena was able to let Bryan and the audience know how he is always game to defend his title.
I see Bryan winning this match, no matter how much Cena throws at him or what Vince and HHH do. Recent rumors suggest HHH will pull a heel turn or be a major factor in the outcome of the match, leading to a bigger picture feud ending at 'Mania. I don't think this match needed a special ref of any kind. All it needs is two wrestlers fighting for the ultimate prize: the WWE Title.
Bryan winning would cement him as a main eventer, but one other thing could cement him as a legend: beating another top tier WWE star. I propose that Orton should come out and cash in his briefcase, hit an RKO. The crowd thinks it's over, but low and behold- Bryan kicks out and taps out the Viper to end the show. This would bring back visions of Jericho downing Rock and Austin in the same night back in 2001.
Don't overbook it, Vince. Just have faith in your current product and wrestlers to bring in the eyeballs and the money. K.I.S.S: Keep it simple, stupid. Or you can kiss the momentum Bryan has been working on all summer good-bye.
Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron.