SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to WWE Thunderdome!
That’s right. Not only is Sunday the second biggest show of the year for WWE, but it’s taking place in the company’s state of the art, virtual fan environment. While an incredibly obnoxious and cheesy name, Thunderdome is the out of the box concept and ledge jump that I’ve suggested WWE take since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March. That said, my emotions around the idea are immensely intrigued, concerned, defensive, and positive all rolled into one. Such is life with ledge jumping, I guess.
The same can be said for Summerslam. Intrigued, concerned, defensive, yet positive are all viable emotions to be had around the card. On paper, the show is strong with matches that have showcased impactful storytelling.
Yes, some of the storytelling is nauseating (Montez Ford being poisoned) but there was a clear attempt to build a show rooted in issues between stars as opposed to matches happening without context. Seeing those matches play out is the intriguing part. The concerning part? How will these match finishes be booked? Like WrestleMania, Summerslam is a big enough show where there are expectations of a lack of nonsense. Past 2020 WWE PPV’s like Extreme Rules, Backlash, and Money In The Bank were all to the contrary. Time will tell on Summerslam.
Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?
Braun Strowman vs. The Fiend – WWE Universal Championship
The hype videos and the promo packages are more entertaining than the actual feud itself. That tells you something. Too much of this program has felt forced and overacted and the result is a comic book-esque story that hasn’t gripped its audience. Strowman taking a clean loss derails whatever sort of momentum he has left and same with the Fiend. How about door number 3 though? Oh, hello Otis. Let’s go with that.
Asuka vs. Sasha Banks – WWE Raw Women’s Championship
I’ve liked the rivalry between Asuka and Sasha Banks throughout the summer. WWE has milked this feud for all that its worth and staged some nonsensical finishes to do so. This one has to go down clean. Whether Asuka pins Sasha or Sasha pins Asuka, it needs to be definitive. From an artistic match perspective, both women deserve it. The audience deserves it too. After many back and forth takes, I’m looking for Asuka to regain the title here and thus light a true, albeit, small spark to ignite Banks vs. Bayley.
Asuka vs. Bayley – WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
This match essentially lives within the Asuka vs. Sasha Banks narrative. The babyface Asuka will overcome in her first match, but then lose due to the dastardly heel antics on behalf of Bayley. As a WKPWP caller said this week – this Bayley win will give her a talking point over Sasha Banks that could lead to their inevitable collision.
Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins – Street Fight
Dominik can’t win this match. Seth Rollins is too big of a star and too important to Raw as a lead heel to lose a match like this to a rookie. The strength of the feud though is rooted in the fact that WWE has made you believe that maybe he will. Dominik has looked the part of an underdog, but has shown enough fire to make people wonder. That’s a good hook and effective booking. Like Asuka vs. Banks, yes, the road to this match has been convoluted with eyeballs flying about amongst other silly nonsense. They brought it to a simple and serious place, though. For that, its intriguing and a main point of interest on the show.
Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville – Hair vs. Hair Match
I nominate Sonya Deville as the most improved player in 2020 for WWE. She’s developed quite a promo, but more importantly, she’s taken a character without direction and made a direction for it based on how she worked it. That’s what stars do. Interest and intrigue in this match is rooted in Deville’s growth. Rose has played her part well, but Sonya has driven the ship. If I’m betting, she’s the one walking out without hair on Sunday.
Street Profits vs. Andrade & Angel Garza – WWE Raw Tag Team Championship
Well, at least the tag team division has a storyline, right? That’s the best I can do here. Not only was the “poison Montez Ford” angle contrived and out of step with where the cadence of the story was, the payoff happened and then puffed into thin air in a matter of minutes. The good? The tag team titles are getting time on Raw. The bad? The time they are getting lives in silliness rather than competition for championships. It’s something, but not enough. Still, the Street Profits appear to be the face of that division and deservedly so given their charisma and ability in the ring. If WWE can put them in a serious environment, they can shine even more. Look for them to retain the titles in a clean and definitive way.
MVP vs. Apollo Crews – WWE United States Championship
It’s been simple, but effective. Crews plays the confident babyface well and has the perfect foil to match up against in MVP. Both are elevating their status within the company due to the rivalry as well. It’s been about the championship for the most part and in turn, the United States title feels more important than it has in months. Check, check, and check. The conversation between MVP and Cedric Alexander on Raw wasn’t an accident. Alexander turning heel on Crews boosts his act and helps MVP’s Hurt Business stable with their credibility. The stars have aligned for the turn to go down on Sunday with Alexander costing Apollo the championship.
Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre – WWE Championship
Here is the match of the night. Makes sense too as this feud has been built from the ground up in a logical and impactful way. Both of Monday Night Raw’s top stars are colliding with big stakes on the line as the main event of a premiere show. That’s the successful pro wrestling formula at play. Drew McIntyre needs a centerpiece win for his reign as WWE Champion. He’ll get that here, but with Payback looming, this won’t be his last match with Randy Orton.
NOW CHECK OUT HEYDORN’S PREVIOUS TAKE: Get to the point with Retribution