SummerSlam 2019 is upon us. This Sunday August 11th is the day. All of my predictions and my preferences for booking for each match are below. SummerSlam is shaping up to be a solid card. With better booking, it could've been a very good card.
Charlotte Flair vs Trish Stratus
Build Up – This is a “Returning Legend” match with Trish Stratus coming back to her native Canada for the home field advantage. Unfortunately, there was very little build up to this match beyond about a two week surprise return of Trish.
Prediction – It’s really hard to discern what direction the WWE will go in this match. Flair won't really be hurt by a loss – and it can’t be overlooked that Stratus could be used to pump up the crowd by giving her the win. The challenge for fans of women’s wrestling is even in her prime, Stratus would’ve been hard pressed to be imagined as much of a threat to Flair. Stratus paved the way for today’s female wrestlers, but she has never been the athlete that Flair is. She wasn’t athletic enough when she was younger – and certainly she’s not now at 42. Due to the temptation of looking for a way to get a big pop from the fans, Stratus wins.
My Booking Choice – Returning Legends should be used in one of two ways – either have them battle each other in a WWE approximation of the PGA Seniors Tour or have the Returning Legend lose to build up a current star. Flair should win.
Goldberg vs Dolph Ziggler
Build Up – Ziggler insulted Goldberg from out of the blue in a promos a few weeks back. The references were totally out of place and immediately stood out to the wrestling fans who pay close attention to promos (which can be a painful thing to do). Later on, when the Miz mocked Ziggler for not reading the fine print in the contract he signed, there were chants of Goldberg from the crowd even as Shawn Michaels stood in the ring next to the Miz to create a semi-swerve.
Prediction – Goldberg. Sadly for Ziggler, Goldberg still looks the part of a bad ass wrestler, so maybe Goldberg beating Ziggler to set up a longer running angle isn’t the worst thing (even to a non-Goldberg mark like myself). Ziggler’s only hope is a win via some sort of cheat (Drew McIntyre, anyone). Even if Ziggler wins, fans would expect Goldberg to beat down Ziggler in the post-match afterglow. Either way, win or lose, Ziggler’s getting beat up. What Vince McMahon fails to realize is by making the choice to feature yet another part-timer, this will further accentuate the weakness of the current roster in the eyes of the wrestling audience. This signaling of a weak roster is ironically timed perfectly for the upstart AEW promotion (going live with a weekly show on TNT beginning in October).
My Booking Choice – I am one of the few fans left who believe Ziggler can be more than WWE booking has allowed him to be. Ziggler could use a victory over Goldberg to build up momentum he hasn’t had in ages.
Finn Balor (Demon) vs Bray Wyatt (Fiend)
Build Up – Wyatt has been great on the Firefly Fun House clips over the last few months. This match is one that is a natural draw. The Demon Balor vs the Fiend has the potential to be a great matchup. Balor may possibly be the most underutilized wrestler in the WWE. He was injured after winning the Universal Title and has never been allowed to get close to a title win ever since. Wyatt is amazing on the mic, but fell into the trap of being a great heel at threatening a face, playing mind games with the face as his victim, putting on a great show in the ring with the face, and ultimately (and predictably) losing to the face. This pattern must be shattered. Sadly for both Samoa Joe and Drew McIntyre, they’re following Bray’s pattern way too closely for those who are fans of either wrestler.
Prediction – Wyatt
My Booking Choice – Wyatt. Balor has reportedly asked for some time off right after SummerSlam, so this one is easy to predict. With a break in his near future, Balor will be able to elevate his game for this match. It should be a very good match.
Kevin Owens vs Shane McMahon
Build Up – Kevin Owens was finally allowed to do a face turn when he rebelled against the endless TV time given to Vince McMahon’s son, Shane. This has been a great build up as Shane is good on the mic and Owens is an all-time great.
Prediction – Owens. I think even Vince McMahon has figured out that Shane has been overexposed (despite him being great on the mic) on television. There are rumblings of wrestlers harboring some genuine hard feelings due to Shane getting pushed above and beyond a multitude of wrestlers who deserve booking support. Shane needs a reduced role and this is a great way to do so. Fans are tiring of Shane, so I really hope there is no swerve coming.
My Booking Choice – Owens. He is one of the best wrestlers in the WWE, if not the world. Give this man a monster push and stand back and let him go crazy. His biggest challenge might be similar to that of Dusty Rhodes. Like Rhodes, Owens doesn’t really need a title to get over with wrestling fans.
AJ Styles vs Ricochet
Build Up – this has been fun. AJ’s flip to a heel was needed, his face character was getting a bit stale. Even better was the creation of a faction (the OC) by adding Gallows and Anderson to AJ's side. This makes more for Ricochet to overcome on his journey to raise himself above mid-card status. There is no doubt that Ricochet is an amazing talent. He’s a bit too flashy and acrobatic-spot-focused for my tastes, but there’s no doubt he has the stuff to mesmerize a huge segment of the fan base. The one thing Ricochet needs to work on are his mic skills, this feud gives him that opportunity.
Prediction – This match is a toss-up. Either way the match goes, I can see this being the beginning of a longer feud. Styles is my choice. More importantly, this could be the beginning of the OC terrorizing their peers (and Ricochet) at least until the Survivor Series.
My Booking Choice – Styles wins and signals the beginning of an extended Ricochet feud - along with the birth of a faction. It’s almost impossible to have too many factions and stables. Bring them back. The Four Horsemen and even the early stages of the nWo were fantastic – let Bischoff bring us more.
Bayley vs Ember Moon
Build Up – they lost me when Bayley got to pick her challenger. If it had been built as “I choose Ember because she sucks” by Bayley, then I might’ve paid more attention.
Prediction – Ember Moon. Bayley’s mishandling by the Creative team for the last year or so has made her deeply in need of a repackaging. Ember Moon should beat her and allow for this to happen.
My Booking Choice – Is a copy of my prediction. Wishful thinking maybe?
Becky Lynch vs Natalya
Build Up – this feud had some bizarre moments along the way. Becky was mad that Finley trained Natalya in wrestling methods to block Becky’s dreaded arm bar. Why would a face be mad that someone is working hard to win a match? Would a face attack someone helping train a friend from behind? Well this is the WWE, so who knows the answer. This event makes me wonder if we might be seeing a heel turn from Becky. Without Ronda Rousey (and the chase to dethrone her), Becky’s storylines have fallen flat and her motivation has been poorly framed. A heel turn would be much better than what we’ve seen with the Becky/Seth love story.
Prediction – Natalya isn’t going to be the champion, so my money is on Becky to win.
My Booking Choice – Becky wins and turns heel. Natalya can take a brutal beat down after the bell. This would be a great time to bring back Sasha Banks (if she’s willing to come back) or Rousey (if she’s ready to come back). Becky could be a heel against Sasha or a face against an angry Rousey. The division was crushed by Rousey in her title run and outside of Flair, Becky, and Rousey, there’s just not much there for Becky to battle. Could this be the right time for Shayna Baszler to come up from NXT to make a run at Becky or Flair?
Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton
Build Up – Kofi and Randy have a history over a decade in length to mine for stories. From reading and listening to folks who cover the WWE, it seems that Kofi and Randy actually get along well and have for years. To creatively make the story about Randy holding Kofi down and preventing him from moving up the card is a great move. Why they can’t come up with more great moves is maddening, though most likely it’s due to Vince continually getting in the way of a talented group of writers. Both Kofi and Randy had excellent promos to set up the match. Randy’s entitled by blood narrative versus Kofi’s fighting for every step up the ladder narrative was excellent.
Prediction – While Randy is clearly a wrestler that Vince trusts, I think Kofi has done well enough to keep the title. That said, this is nearly a toss-up.
My Booking Choice – Keep the title on Kofi and start working towards a huge title defense on the initial SmackDown on Fox. Kofi could defend against Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, or even Brock Lesnar. There are plenty of ways to get there. Randy as champion will be a temptation for Vince – it’s easy to put the title on an established star like Orton. Kofi is the riskier choice but he’s also got a higher ceiling with the underdog story that could be told to a larger television audience. Kofi wins and the table is set for a dynamic splash on Fox.
Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins
Build Up – They told an old WWE story - not that it happens much in real life. In the WWE, the heel beats the crap out of the face and then the next week the face stupidly shows up (while still wounded to boot) and gets beat up even worse. Rollins took some horrific looking bumps with a F5s landing on to a chair and on to a stretcher two weeks ago. Amazingly, creative chose to have him return while limping badly and barely able to carry a chair - only to be a beat up by an incredulous Lesnar. This was both painful to watch and made the “Architect” look like the Buffoon. It's never good for the Buffoon be your face champion. The WWE should really stop doing that to their faces. No one likes to cheer for a dummy. To make matters worse, Rollins has been booked in horrible fashion since WrestleMania. His victory over Lesnar was tainted by the low blows that made it possible. Then, he was shackled to a prolonged feud with Baron Corbin. Corbin’s lack of fan enthusiasm sucked down Rollins as well - and this was despite some decent matches. To make matters worse, Rollins had his behind-the-scenes romance with Becky Lynch jump on to television screens. This allowed fans to watch a variety of very awkward Becky and Seth moments. This demonstrates that just because two people have chemistry off the camera, it doesn’t guarantee they’ll have it on camera. Finally, Seth has gotten into some ugly Twitter exchanges as he’s trying to establish himself as the self-proclaimed locker room leader of the WWE. All in all, while Seth is an amazing wrestler, he’s struggling now for a variety of reasons.
Prediction – this is a 50/50 match. I am leaning ever so slightly to Rollins. My primary reason for this prediction is probably a poor reason to choose Rollins. What do you do with Rollins if he loses? That is problematic. Then again, lots of Creative decisions (please read Vince McMahon decisions) are pretty problematic.
My Booking Choice – Rollins wins. After that push Rollins with a metaphorical rocket strapped to his back. Focus on a Reigns versus Rollins WrestleMania collision next April. Transition Brock to the Giant/Monster Attraction role that Andre the Giant was used in for years. Brock is a part-time player, and that is fine, but not for the WWE Universal Champion. The belt needs to be in play more often than 3 to 4 times a year. Lesnar can still show up and beat the crap out of people, but just not with the title on the line. He is still capable of selling more tickets – let him do that for the 2 Saudi shows along with SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and WrestleMania. If he wants to work more, then agree upon a payment. Otherwise, Brock can show that limited appearances aren't necessarily a bad thing.
Match that Could Happen
Roman Reigns vs Rowan and/or Daniel Bryan
Not going to predict it unless the match is made official. Call me lazy.