WWE SummerSlam 2017 Match Card and Predictions
Despite WWE's best efforts SummerSlam might turn out just fine.
Whatever WWE were trying with their go-home week before one of the biggest events of their calendar, it’s made SummerSlam 2017 a touch more confusing than it should be.
Giving away two matches on RAW in Neville/Tozawa and Balor/Wyatt before scheduling both for a PPV rematch six days later doesn’t make much sense on paper, and it didn’t make much sense on screen either.
Tozawa deserves a run with the title, but it makes infinitely more sense to wrap up this feud on a much bigger stage. Balor was pinned clean by Wyatt before being goaded into becoming the Demon King for Sunday’s return bout.
While the Balor/Wyatt thing still isn’t clear (what exactly are they fighting over again?) it does deserve better.
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The following night, Baron Corbin absolutely destroyed my already-penned prediction that he would trade his briefcase for a title shot minutes after Nakamura beats Mahal. His unsuccessful cash-in on SmackDown Live was quite the surprise.
Not only did Corbin become the third unsuccessful casher-inner but he did so lacking in any grace; rolled up by Mahal and made to look like an absolute loser.
Thankfully nothing else is going to change from now until showtime, but does it set a precedent for what could be an unpredictable SummerSlam.
It’s a stacked card that offers feud resolutions, enough potential for any number of title changes and enough big match atmosphere befitting of one of WWE’s ‘Big Four’ PPVs.
So, before they make any more crazy decisions up in Stamford, let’s take a look at what we can expect.
Universal Championship Match
Brock Lesnar (c) vs Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe vs Braun Strowman
WWE have played their hand quite well when it comes to the current status of Brock Lesnar. Talk has intensified regarding rumours that he won’t be renewing his contract with Vinny Mac’s Muscle Shack and a mild war of words with UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones has taken root.
WWE have used this uncertainty and the gabble and hiss of internet geese to throw fans a bone of uncertainty. As Paul Heyman stated on the August 8th broadcast of RAW: if Brock doesn’t retain, both he and Heyman will leave WWE.
The stipulation may have had even more impact were every fan and their dog not to know that in reality Brock wouldn’t care either way, but it adds weight to a main event that already bristles with unpredictability. For once, Lesnar looks outnumbered and outgunned.
Feasibly any of the four competitors could carry and hold the title well. Victory for Reigns or Strowman could see their already great feud stretch into title bouts together. Joe as Universal Champion may bring about at least a rematch with Lesnar, or the promise of new feuds with the likes of Bálor, Rollins and more.
Lesnar will be defending his title one day shy of a year after its inaugural champion was crowned. Losing your new title’s first champion 24 hours later due to injury proved a rocky start and a title retention, seemingly against the odds, may bring some much-needed prestige. The fans may also regard Lesnar as a fighting champion again.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar. Expect Reigns and Strowman to exit the match through the back or become otherwise incapacitated.
WWE Championship Match
Jinder Mahal (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Once you get that time machine working, take a trip back six months and tell a wrestling fan that half a year later that Shinsuke Nakamura is in a world title bout with Jinder Mahal. Oh, and Jinder’s champion too.
Provided you weren’t arrested and tortured for witchcraft or heresy or whatever it is they charge time travellers with, you’d forgive the laughter your ominous prophecy might invoke. Yet here we are and it’s real.
Mahal as World Champion has divided fans somewhat. Some call him the worst champion of all time (obviously wrong) while others think they’re so smart for pointing out that Mahal’s reign coincides with a commercial push for WWE in India. That’s how businesses work. It’s kind of their thing.
Some contend that the champion’s tactics and victories, inspired by heavy interference and lots of shenanigans, including slapping one of his opponent’s elderly father which is a fun way to go about things, doesn’t make him a credible threat.
Settle down, nerds. It’s not about the interference and hectic finishes themselves, but it’s about the extent to which Mahal and his associates will go make sure he keeps that title. Painting Mahal as a desperate champion who will do anything to keep the gold around his waist makes it worth fighting for. There’s your prestige.
Since the original prediction of Corbin cashing in is now null and void, the bout looks a better prospect in the absence of any surprises.
Jinder has been a decent champion but Nakamura is hot and has a range of exciting prospects when it comes to defending it.
Prediction: Nakamura. Giant Gonzalez and Mantaur look on in silence.
Smackdown Women’s Championship Match
Naomi (c) vs Natalya
One bout that could be the sleeper hit of the show. Natalya has more than proved her worth over the years but faces a stern challenge in Naomi, whose star within the company is shining as bright as her customised belt.
The lack of Corbin cash-in at SummerSlam leaves the door wide open for Carmella to be rushing down the aisle with her metal briefcase in tow. You heard it here first.
Prediction: Carmella by cashing in. Or maybe they’ll somehow let Ellsworth win it by accident.
RAW Women’s Championship Match
Alexa Bliss (c) vs Sasha Banks
A long-running feud with some apparent in real life tension, Bliss vs Banks is probably the best combination RAW has to offer right now.
A lame count out finish at their first encounter in July should be bettered here and a Bliss win would be a better outcome. It just feels like the presence and character of Sasha is a little fatigued and could do with some time away.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss.
Cruiserweight Championship Match
Neville vs Akira Tozawa
Akira Tozawa got the win and title he deserved by beating Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship, but it was six days too early.
Regardless of that baffling decision, the two put on a great match that drew in the crowd. All the more reason to have just waited and have them let loose on Sunday. Which they still will by virtue of this rematch, but it’s just not the same is it?
Tozawa will most likely retain and keep on running around 205 Live like the mad little thing he is. As for Neville, he needs to move on. Maybe the rumoured upcoming ‘Superstar Shake Up’ might provide a good platform for him.
RAW Tag Team Championship Match
Cesaro and Sheamus vs Dean Rollins and Seth Ambrose
The successful culmination of the fist bump will-they-won’t-they brouhaha between Rollins and Ambrose garnered maybe the biggest pop on RAW in 2017.
A Shield reunion (of sorts) is what fans have been after for some time and a title win for the former friends turned new friends might galvanise a tag team division which, like SmackDown’s, is lacking in joie de vivre.
Cesaro and Sheamus have turned out to be quite a double act in and out of the ring and a longer programme with their opponents might be just the ticket.
Prediction: Rollins and Ambrose. No more fist bumping though eh, lads?
United States Championship Match/Special Guest Referee: Shane McMahon
AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens
Of late this title really has had the hot potato treatment. Since Wrestlemania, Kevin Owens is a three-time holder, AJ Styles has won it twice and Chris Jericho picked it up a second time for a brief 48-hour reign at the end of April.
There’s a sense that both Owens and Styles have been kept on a leash during their feud. Instead of just being allowed to wrestle they’ve had one match after another mired in murky finishes. Remember when AJ lost by count out because he got his leg stuck in the announce table? Marvellous.
Now Shane has stepped in and although his recent history with Styles, and that great Mania match between the pair, will add a layer of intrigue, it’s something else we don’t strictly need. Shane’s longevity hasn’t affected his ability to hype or draw (the clue is in his theme song, people!) but some impartial refereeing is what this bout could do with.
Prediction: Kevin Owens. AJ Styles regains the following Tuesday.
Randy Orton vs Rusev
I mean, argh, who cares? Honestly? They could probably bump this to the preshow and it wouldn’t make a difference. They’re just making Rusev waltz blindly into people the fans know will beat him. He’s got Bray Wyatt Disease. He’s Bray Wyatt in oddly-sized underpants.
Orton is on auto-pilot as a performer and regards everything he sees and feels and touches in the ring and on television with the weary confusion of somebody just finding out that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration and that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively.
So what I’m saying is that I guess it’s all written in the stars.
Prediction: RKO outta inevitability!
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
The New Day vs The Usos
What does “Day One-ish” actually mean, the slogan embossed on the Usos’ merchandise? They’re late arrivals? Slow learners? They forgot to buy a calendar?
Whatever it means, it doesn’t detract from their good work since picking up the titles from American Alpha back in March. Sure, they dropped them last month to their upcoming opponents and will most likely lose again to end this feud, but they’ll be back.
While the New Day will retain, there won’t be much grazing for them to do on the fields of SmackDown’s tag team division. Breezango are doing better by not being in the ring, the Ascension descended a long time ago and not even American Alpha are a thing thanks to the awful Jason Jordan Is Kurt Angle’s Son storyline.
Prediction: New. Day. Wins.
Big Show vs Big Cass
The prospect of seeing Enzo Amore in a cage is too satisfying to resist. It’s like Custody Of Dominic On A Pole for the torture porn generation. Most fans are happy to see Enzo locked up as it is. If you think Mahal is a divisive character then you ain’t seen nothing yet.
His promo before the absolute kicking he took from Cass at Great Balls Of Fire was still spirited and showed an actually likeable side to this human manifestation of poodle-kind.
Poodle is the right word because he’s been treated like a pet in this storyline between Big Show and Cass. Show as protector, Cass as some mean-spirited want-away father who can’t seem to actually go away.
They shouldn’t have split the team in the first place. Far too early. Also the fans really hate Cass which isn’t very helpful.
Prediction: Big Cass via a Big Unclean Finish.
Finn Bálor vs Bray Wyatt
Presumably Bálor’s loss on RAW to the same opponent and the subsequent promise of the return of the Demon King means a victory for the Irishman on Sunday.
There doesn’t seem to have been much hype or much exploration invested into their conflict, but the two should still pull out an impressive match.
One stark absence from the SummerSlam card is Miz and his Intercontinental Championship. You have to wonder whether a Bálor/Miz setup would have worked better for everyone. Something to think about after the event at least.
Prediction: Bálor in about seven minutes. Cue the dramatic music.
John Cena vs Baron Corbin
BIG MATCH JOHN is back for some more middling-to-big match fun. Cena has been much in the habit of laying down for his contemporaries in recent times. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura have felt the benefit of defeating the 16-time world champion clean in the centre of the ring.
Unless he’s being groomed for a big push by some other means, Corbin’s entire trajectory has changed since flunking his Money In The Bank opportunity. A routine Cena win on the weekend would further erode his threat factor.
It all depends what WWE actually want to do with Corbin. I remain suspicious that they don’t actually know themselves.
Also can somebody please change Corbin’s Twitter password? His patter is terrible and he keeps getting owned so hard. The poor man keeps stepping into puddles all over the place.
Prediction: I’m actually not sure. Let’s go with Cena.