SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Summerslam, WWE’s second biggest event of the year, will take place August 21, 2021 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Besides the usual places you can watch Summerslam, this year it will air live in select theaters. As what befits what WWE wants to be its second WrestleMania, several legends will appear on the card with the likes of Bill Goldberg and John Cena challenging for the WWE Championship and WWE Universal Championship respectively. Edge will also face of against Seth Rollins and Bianca Belair and Sasha banks will no doubt try to outperform their lauded WrestleMania match. As of note, I write this prior to the go-home edition of Smackdown, so things may happen on that show not reflected here. Since WWE’s storytelling has been pretty formulaic lately, I doubt that anything would happen to radically alter the plans for Summerslam. It’s not like C.M. Punk will be re-debuting on Friday or anything…
Roman Reigns (c) vs. John Cena – WWE Universal Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: After taking time off from his busy Hollywood schedule, John Cena returns to try to put Roman Reigns in his place by capturing the WWE Universal Championship.
After successfully retaining his championship at Money in the Bank, Roman Reigns declared that now everyone has no choice but to acknowledge him considering he had beaten everybody of note. Cue John Cena’s music, spoiling the moment for Reigns. On the next nights Raw, Cena explained himself. He was there to put Reigns in his place and challenged him for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam. On the following Smackdown, Reigns officially refused but was then confronted by Finn Balor who took the opportunity to challenge Reigns for the title he never lost.
Seeing this as a way he could avoid having to face Cena, Reigns accepted the challenge. On the following Smackdown, during the contract signing, a down on his luck Baron Corbin attacked Balor as he was about sign the contract. Corbin attempted to sign the contract in Balor’s place. Cena stopped Corbin and signed the contract instead. Paul Heyman, Reign’s consultant, complained to management that the contract should be non-binding, but Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville ratified it overriding Heyman’s protest.
With the match officially on, Cena and Reigns verbally jousted. Cena admitted that Reigns may very well physically beat him badly, but that he had built his brand on endurance and that all he needs is a one-two-three.
Friday’s Smackdown prediction: They will have another face to face, only this time blows will be exchanged.
Prediction and analysis: Reigns is going to win unless someone is REALLY unhappy with Ric Flair and thus give John Cena his record-breaking title win.
Bianca Belair (c) vs. Sasha Banks – WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks renew hostilities as Sasha attempts to regain the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship from the woman who took it from her in the first place.
Both Carmela and Zelina Vega came out to challenge Bianca Belair for her championship and teamed up to attack her. Sasha Banks, who had been absent from television since losing her title to Belair at WrestleMania, come out and made the save. Banks unexpectedly hugged Belair, presumably having warmed up to her after spending time at the Espys where they were awarded the Espy for Best Women’s Match to Ever Main Event Night One of WWE’s WrestleMania (or something like that, I forget the actual name of the award). Together, Banks and Belair teamed up against Carmella and Vega.
In a move surprising only the likes of Byron Saxon and Jimmy Smith, Banks attacked Belair. (Fortunately, the match had Pat McAfee in commentary, and he wasn’t as gullible as the Raw crew or our Smackdown women’s champion). Banks claimed that she came back because she was upset the Belair was getting all of the publicity for winning the Espy and never thanked her and so challenged for the title. Belair accepted. At the contract signing, Carmella and Vega showed up at Bank’s behest and attacked Belair and the three women left Belair laying.
Friday’s Smackdown prediction: Belair wrestles Vega and/or Carmella in some fashion with Banks watching at ringside.
Prediction and analysis: I can see Banks winning this and the two have a rubber match at the next PPV. I don’t see any strong heels or babyfaces next except for Toni Storm or a returning Becky Lynch — making even more of a case for Banks winning.
A.J. Styles & Omos (c) vs. Randy Orton & Riddle – WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: After picking apart Randy Orton and Riddle while the two were separate, now the champions AJ Styles and Omos must contend with a reunified RK-Bro.
Riddle and Randy Orton teamed up since Orton appreciated Riddle’s “stuff”. (Weed… it’s a reference to smoking weed). Randy Orton disappeared from television for unspecified reasons. Meanwhile, AJ Styles and Riddle had several run ins which of course meant involvement from Style’s partner, Omos. When Orton returned to Raw, Riddle tried to reform their team RK-Bro, but Orton wasn’t interested. Orton kept pushing Riddle away, leaving him high and dry against Styles and Omos. (Note: I was not intending that to be a weed pun but what the Hell). When it came time for Orton to face the two, he demanded to go at it alone, but the pair proved to be too much. Riddle, despite the abuse received at the hands of Orton (including receiving an RKO) came back to make the save. Impressed by Riddle’s selfless loyalty, Orton finally agreed to reform RK-Bro. Riddle then challenged Styles and Omos for the Raw Tag Team Championship.
Prediction and analysis: What is probably the best story on Raw should get a happy ending (or at least a happy next chapter since this can go on for a while as WWE feuds are wont to do). I’m going with RK-Bro for the feel-good win.
Edge vs. Seth Rollins
Story in a nutshell: A petty Seth Rollins cost Edge his shot to win the WWE Universal title, a shot Rollins believed should’ve gone to him, and now Edge wants his revenge.
Sometime after his loss to Roman Reigns in a triple threat match at WrestleMania, Edge returned to Smackdown and demanded to get the one-one one title shot he earned by winning the Royal Rumble. Seeing no more attractive opponent for Reigns for Money in the Bank, Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville agreed to make the match. Seth Rollins was upset that he was passed over for the opportunity but was given a spot in the Money in the Bank Ladder match instead. Failing to win the briefcase, a spiteful Rollins interfered in Edge’s match with Reigns, costing Edge the match.
Ever since, the two went back and forth with Edge accusing Rollins of being a mini-Edge and Rollins accusing Edge of being and old washed-up has been taking a roster spot that belong to more talented wrestlers. They also drew on their history when years ago Rollins had the opportunity to cripple Edge and Rollins lamented not finishing the job. Rollins promised to rectify that “mistake”.
Friday’s Smackdown prediction: There are many ways they can take things on the go-home show. I’m thinking they’ll have a one-on-one via satellite type of thing, but one ambushing the other is another possibility. This feud feels like its build is mostly complete, so a final promo from both men I think is all that is needed.
Prediction and analysis: Edge has lost his last two big matches, albeit one with the aforementioned shenanigans that led to this match, so he should win this one. The problem is that the next PPV is Extreme Rules, which is ripe for a chair match between the two so whoever is the winner of this match is a moot point. Still, I give Edge the edge.
Nikki A.S.H. (c) vs. Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair – WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: After Nikki A.S.H. successfully cashed the Money in the Bank contract on a Charlotte Flair who had just lost to Rhea Ripley via disqualification, Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville agreed that the only fair thing to do was to have a triple threat match at SummerSlam.
At Money in the Bank, Nikki A.S.H. captured the Money in the Bank briefcase and Charlotte Flair defeated erstwhile champion Rhea Ripley for the title. On the following Raw, Ripley demanded and was granted her rematch. Flair got herself purposely disqualified which meant she would retain her belt. Ripley took out her frustrations on Flair, laying her out. Nikki took advantage of the situation and cashed in the Money in the Bank contract and pinned Flair to become the new champion.
Both Flair and Ripley claimed to Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville that they should be the next challenger. Ripley for defeating then-champion Flair. Flair for the unfair way she lost the title. Pearce and Deville agree that they both had a strong claim as challengers and made the match a triple threat at SummerSlam. In the weeks since, the underdog Nikki has wrestled, and been dismantled by, both Flair and Ripley, with only one win coming during a hardcore match against Flair where it could be said (and it was by Flair) that Nikki won by a fluke.
Prediction and analysis: Nikki has been demeaned, degraded, and damaged by repeatedly losing, CLEANLY mind you, to her two challengers. The ONLY next chapter in this story that makes sense is for Nikki to overcome her two unlikeable opponents, ergo hoisting them on their own petard. Furthermore, the champion usually retains in a multi-man match unless said match is designed to get the belt off a champion you want to protect by not having the champion involved in the finish. Flair pins/submits Nikki.
Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Bill Goldberg – WWE Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: After claiming that there were no more worthy challengers to his title, Bobby Lashley was blindsided by the sudden arrival of Bill Goldberg who promptly challenged Lashley for the WWE Championship.
After destroying his challenger Kofi Kingston at Money in the Bank, Bobby Lashley held and open challenge on Raw. A returning Keith Lee was the one to challenge him. This being (near) Lee’s hometown, things did not go well for him and he too was easily dispatched by Lashley. Then Bill Goldberg came out and proclaimed, “I’m next”, officially challenging Lashley.
Lashley refused to acknowledge the challenge until Goldberg got in his face. After Goldberg left the ring, MVP began taunting Goldberg’s son who was in attendance ringside. Goldberg returned and speared MVP leaving behind a furious Lashley. Lashley swore that he would hurt and retire Goldberg. Meanwhile Goldberg said he was doing this so his son can see who he used to be (which, correct me if I’m wrong, was the reason he gave when he first came back years ago).
Prediction and analysis: Lashley wins unless the plan is to give Goldberg the belt for him to disappear with it until he shows up again for the rumored Saudi Arabia show later this year. I also expect for Goldberg’s kid to have a spot in the match — likely punching MVP or something.
Sheamus (c) vs. Damien Priest – WWE United States Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: After defending a fallen Humberto Carrillo from Sheamus, Damien Priest defeated Sheamus in a non-title match to earn a shot at Sheamus’s title.
After winning the US title, Sheamus began picking fights with wrestlers he thought weren’t threats to him like Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo with the idea that Damien Priest would be the one to eventually stand up to the big bad bully. Unfortunately, Sheamus had his nose (accidentally) broken by Carrillo during a match, so Sheamus was out for a while. When Sheamus came back, Carrillo got a shot at the title but ultimately lost. Sheamus continued punishing Carrillo after the match until Priest made the save setting up a non-title match. Priest won, earning this title shot.
During the time Sheamus was out, Priest would rekindle his WrestleMania feud with John Morrison who had an injured Miz in his corner. This involved drip sticks and lots of moisture puns and is likely to have no bearing on this match, but I bring it up for the sake of completeness just in case Miz (who had continued selling the injury even after being cleared) and Morrison interfere.
Prediction and analysis: I think the idea is to give Priest the US title and see what he can do with it. It seems that Priest is on the Lashley fast track up the card. He’s been protected like few others. If things go well for him, by Rumble time he’s going to be on the short list of possible winners.
Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal
Story in a nutshell: Slighted by Drew when he didn’t give Jinder his time, Jinder Mahal and his goons prevented Drew McIntyre from winning the Money in the Bank ladder match and now Drew and his sword, Angela, are out for revenge.
Jinder Mahal was upset that he was not in contention to get into the Money in the Bank match. He felt that Drew McIntyre, his former tag team partner, took a spot meant for him. He also complained about Drew McIntyre ignoring his texts. Mahal and his two goons Shanky and Veer attacked Drew after the match and stole his family sword that he uses as part of his entrance and later destroyed it. It was later revealed that the stolen sword was a replica and Drew still has the real one. As payback, Drew destroyed Jinder’s motorcycle. At Money in the Bank, during the eponymous ladder match, Jinder and his lackeys took Drew out of the match.
Incensed that his only glimmer of a hope at getting another chance at the World Championship (as he is barred from challenging Lashley again through normal means) was stolen from him, Drew murdered a chair with Shanky’s body and did his best to murder a second one. Drew would then proceed to wrestle Veer and Shanky over the next few weeks, threatening them at times with his sword that he named “Angela” after his late mother (who, according to Drew himself, was apparently a bitch). Drew would eventually defeat both flunkies in a handicap match that resulted in them being barred from ringside for this match.
Prediction and analysis: How the mighty have fallen. It hurt me deep down to have to write this entry. Still, Drew is making the best of a bad situation. Drew cannot, in any way, shape, or form, afford to lose this match. I can only hope this is a one-and-done and that I won’t be revisiting this match come Extreme Rules.
Alexa Bliss vs. Eva Marie (or possibly Doudrop knowing what Eva Marie’s gimmick is)
Story in a nutshell: Seeing something in Doudrop, Alexa Bliss invited her to her Playground, only Eva Marie came with her and picked a fight with the evil doll Lilly and now needs to deal with Bliss.
Having a thing for dolls, Alexa Bliss invited Eva Marie’s puppet, Doudrop onto the set of her Playground. Eva Marie came with and disrespected the Playground, Bliss, and Bliss’s evil doll, Lilly. In return, Bliss began showing up to Doudrop and Eva Marie’s matches. Eva in return staged attacks on Bliss and Lilly, oblivious to the threat they pose (in storyline). After Bliss defeated Doudrop in a match when Lilly winked at her (don’t ask), Eva Marie decided that she had to handle things herself.
Prediction and analysis: Eva Marie breaks a nail and sends Doudrop to face Bliss in her stead. I think we get happy Bliss for this match, and she loses to Doudrop setting up a match with Bliss’s evil half. Eva Marie might also be in store for some supernatural stuff if she tries going after Lilly while the match goes on.
Jey & Jimmy Uso (c) vs. Rey & Dominik Mysterio – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: It’s brothers versus father and son when Rey Mysterio and his son, Dominik Mysterio attempt to win back the tag team titles from the team that took the titles from them, Jey and Jimmy Uso.
Then champions Rey and Dominik Mysterio lost their titles to Jey and Jimmy Uso on the Money in the Bank pre-show when Jey illegally used his feet to give Jimmy added leverage so Jimmy could pin Dominik. A singles match between Jimmy and Dominik ended in the same way. The following week, the tables were turned when Dominik helped Rey pin Jimmy for the win. Along the way, Dominik has presented himself cocky and a bit overconfident and Rey has presented himself as slightly patronizing and a bit too obsessed with winning back the titles.
Friday’s Smackdown prediction: I don’t think there is anything that can happen on Smackdown that can make this feud any more interesting… or interesting at all, short of out-right telegraphing a split between Rey and Dominik.
Prediction and analysis: If the idea is to set the Mysterios at odds with each other, miscommunication leading to them losing to the Usos is the next logical step in the story. Then you have Street Profits waiting in the wings for the Usos.
Possible added matches: There are a couple of wrestlers with stories developing on Smackdown absent from the announced card so far that might make it onto Summerslam or the pre-show. First off, Shinsuke Nakamura, who just won the WWE Intercontinental Championship from Apollo Crews. Crews might get a rematch (Shinsuke wins) or they might pivot to Crews’s heavy, Azeez (in which case Azeez wins). Also, Baron Corbin stole the Money in the Bank briefcase from Big E, so they might have a match too (which I assume Big E wins although with Extreme Rules right around the corner I can see a ladder match or something in the future.)