WWE is treating this year’s SummerSlam like WrestleMania Part II and the card could be a huge pivot point for the company moving forward.
There is a storyline logical for part-timers John Cena, 44, and Goldberg, 54, to potentially leave as the Universal and WWE champions, respectively, and defeat two very protected champions in Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley. Established stars Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair could knock newer main-event faces and champions Bianca Belair and Nikki A.S.H. down a peg.
The Post’s Joseph Staszewski tries his hand at predicting how those matches and the rest on the SummerSlam card will go from Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium on Saturday (8 p.m., Peacock).
Alexa Bliss (with Lilly) over Eva Marie (with Doudrop)
Eva Marie hasn’t actually wrestled in a match since returning to WWE in June – instead, she’s having Doudrop (Piper Niven) do all the work for her and take credit for it. Will we see her wrestle for the first time here? Maybe. This has been a really silly build based around Bliss’ creepy and supernatural doll, Lilly, having it out for Eva Marie. Expect this match to accomplish two things: continue to get over Lilly as a threat and cause the fracture between Eva Marie and Doudrop to widen or break.
Drew McIntyre over Jinder Mahal
The feud between the former Three Man Band mates started over a bike and a sword. It ratcheted up as Mahal’s henchmen Veer and Shanky changed the numbers game, but they are barred from ringside after McIntyre won a handicap match on “Monday Night Raw” this week. This feud could have been so much deeper than McIntyre threatening to murder people with his sword in retribution. The Scotsman better win unless there are some unforeseen shenanigans.
RKO-Bro (Randy Orton, Riddle) over A.J. Styles and Omos (c) (Raw tag team championships)
RKO-Bro is the best story going on Raw right now, with Orton finally renewing the partnership this week. Getting Orton’s indecisiveness out of the way prior to the match means we are likely headed to a happy ending here. Eventually, Orton and Riddle can break up and feud, but RKO-Bro is too good to split just yet. Styles and the giant Omos have been champions since WrestleMania, but the three most dangerous letters in sports entertainment are the great equalizer here.
The Usos (c) over The Mysterios (SmackDown tag team championships)
Whether Roman Reigns retains his Universal championship or not, this gold needs to stay with The Bloodline. Rey and Dominik Mysterio have already had a tag title run – although a short one – so there is no need to revisit that at this time. By keeping the tag titles with the Usos, WWE either maintains their group’s dominance or makes Reigns deal with a reality where they are holding gold and he isn’t.
Edge over Seth Rollins
The Universal championship picture after Cena and Regins’ feud continues could be greatly impacted by this one. This feud dates back to 2014 when Rollins, in storyline, decided not to break Edge’s then-injured neck. His disgust for the WWE Hall of Famer hit new heights after he blamed Edge for his inability to get a shot at the Universal championship. Rollins-Reigns or Reigns-Finn Balor felt much more interesting than a rehash of Reigns-Edge. But Edge went to a darker place on Friday, reviving The Brood music and hitting Rollins with a bloodbath in the ring from above. Edge will win this match to give some legitimacy to the Brood angle, but it will ultimately lead to us getting the stop-at-nothing Seth Rollins needed for a proper feud with Reigns.
Damian Priest over Sheamus (c) (United States championship)
This match had a crawl of the build. Priest finally challenged Sheamus on Raw last week after objecting to his bullying and underhanded tactics with Humberto Carrillo and Ricochet. The broken nose Sheamus suffered early certainly took some of the steam out of his title reign. Priest is one of the NXT call-ups who have been handled well on the main roster – including his WrestleMania match with Bad Bunny. WWE is going to run with him here and give the U.S. championship a fresh face.
Nikki A.S.H. (c) over Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair (Raw women’s championship
Charlotte Flair can win any match she is placed in. That being said, WWE needs to see what it has in Nikki A.S.H. So ending her title reign now and the positivity around it could short circuit that chance. Ripley will likely take the pin here either way so Flair will continue to have title claims if she doesn’t win. She and Nikki can work a singles match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view in September. If Flair does win there, it could signal that Becky Lynch’s return could be more imminent.
Bianca Belair (c) over Sasha Banks (SmackDown women’s championship)
It’s going to be hard for these two to top the special match they gave us at WrestleMania, but certainly don’t put it past them. Banks put Belair over clean as a sheet in that one, but the story being built makes it hard to see that happening here. Carmella and Zelina Vega appeared to align themselves with Banks, which opens the door for The Boss to steal the title back. More likely, it leads to Belair overcoming greater and greater odds.
Goldberg over Bobby Lashley (c) (WWE Championship)
The inclusion of Goldberg’s son, Gage, is the game-changer here. Goldberg defending his son and showing him who Goldberg really is to win the WWE championship makes some storyline sense. Lashley taking everything the legend throws at him – Spear, Jack Hammer – before pummeling him to a defeat as Gage watches on would build even more heat around Lashley. It would hammer home just how refocused he is since losing to Xavier Woods and shedding the women and the partying. Instead, Gage will help Goldberg win somehow for the feel-good moment. We have seen Lashley been pinned recently so it won’t hurt him too much, especially if he wins the belt back on Raw the next night.
Roman Reigns (c) over John Cena (Universal championship)
It seems like a given that Cena is here to enhance Roman Reigns’ rise to the top of the company as the “Tribal Chief.” Reigns getting the win here would be the smart, long-term play. But WWE does love its headlines and its mainstream media attention and that’s much easier to get with a box office star such as Cena at the front of it. What better way to get attention than have the headline or push alert coming out of SummerSlam be: “John Cena defeats Roman Reigns for a record 17th world championship”
WWE already laid the groundwork for this with the promo between Cena and Reigns two weeks ago. Cena basically laid a potential match script out for us. Reigns beats the heck out of him for most of the match, can’t put him away and Cena finds a way to sneak out the 1-2-3 and the Universal Championship.
The company then decided to have Reigns remove some of that doubt he would retain when he said Friday that he would leave WWE if Cena beats him at SummerSlam. Could Reigns or Paul Heyman find a way to talk themselves out of that scenario in storyline should it happen? Sure. But it makes Reigns losing even more unlikely now.