Two controversial figures collide when Roman Reigns challenges Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WWE SummerSlam.
The Biggest Event of the Summer will certainly live up to that grand moniker, with a two-hour pre-show and four-hour main card on Sunday.
AJ Styles puts the WWE Championship on the line against his perennial rival Samoa Joe at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss faces the daunting challenge of UFC Hall of Famer Ronda Rousey to see who will rule Monday nights
Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch’s friendship will be tested as they try to take Carmella’s SmackDown Women’s Championship in a triple threat.
Meanwhile the likes of Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, The Miz and The New Day will be in action.
Here is a match-by-match breakdown of the show.
Mixed tag team match
Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas and Zelina Vega
Former NXT Champion Andrade Almas has been in fine fettle since graduating from WWE’s developmental division – particularly in a great match with AJ Styles – and now his valet Zelina Vega has got in on the action, defeating Lana twice. The Ravishing Russian and her husband Rusev are SmackDown’s current power couple but that may be only temporary thanks to the tranquilo twosome. This should be a fun opener to the Kickoff pre-show.
Predicted winners: Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega
Singles match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Drew Gulak
Drew Gulak is a great technical wrestler with far more personality than some fans initially thought. Due to his style he is an interesting opponent for the high flying, natural entertainer Cedric Alexander. Gulak defeated Mustafa Ali, Hideo Itami and TJP in a fatal four-way match to earn the right to challenge the Cruiserweight Champion, but will likely come up short here as 205 Live needs continuity at this stage and a long build to a new heel champion.
Predicted winner: Cedric Alexander
Tag team match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship
The B-Team (c) vs. The Revival
The B-Team have exceeded all expectations as a comedy duo since splitting from The Miz and their popularity with fans led to them dethroning Raw Tag Team Champions Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt at Extreme Rules. The following evening Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas successfully defended the gold in a triple threat match against Hardy and Wyatt plus The Revival, who performed a Shatter Machine on Bray, only for Axel to throw Scott Dawson to ringside and cover him for the win. The top guys of NXT have floundered on the main roster and for all their ability, it’s hard to see them defeating the team of the moment.
Predicted winners: The B-Team
Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
Huge fan favourite Daniel Bryan clashes with his bitter enemy The Miz in a singles match that could well steal the show, given the quality of their encounters on the recent WWE UK tour. Many thought this dream match would never happen, after concussion problems forced Bryan to quit the ring in February 2016. But more than two years later, a contest worthy of WrestleMania will take place between two masters of their craft, who should have the audience eating out of the palm of their hands. No one in WWE is more popular than Bryan or able to elicit sympathy like he can when suffering a beating or fighting to overcome the odds, while The Miz stands alone when it comes to infuriating fans with his brash character and nefarious tactics.
The hatred dates back to the first season of NXT, when Mix was the ‘pro’ for ‘rookie’ Bryan. Since then they have duelled physically and verbally, including in a classic segment of Talking Smack in August 2014, when Bryan criticised The Miz for his wrestling ability and he in turn berated the then general manager of SmackDown for retiring. This hopefully is the start of a long programme so Miz could snatch the win.
Predicted winner: The Miz
Finn Bálor vs. Baron Corbin
In contrast to Bryan versus Miz, this match has generated little interest, despite Finn Bálor leading Baron Corbin to his best main roster showing to date when he defeated him at Extreme Rules last month. A few weeks later, a rematch between the two was scheduled on Raw, with Constable Corbin – designated commissioner Stephanie McMahon’s eyes and ears on Monday nights – defeating Bálor. Corbin is slowly improving but yet to truly shine in this new authority role – his awkwardness on the microphone being one issue – and Bálor needs to defeat him here and move back up the card to the main event scene where he belongs.
Predicted winner: Finn Balor
Tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The New Day
This should be one hell of a tag team match – the monstrous Harper and Rowan clashing with the most successful and versatile WWE faction this millennium. The New Day’s Big E and Xavier Woods faced Cesaro and Sheamus in the final of a tournament arranged by SmackDown general manager Paige to earn the right to challenge The Bludgeon Brothers for their titles, but what a prize that is. The former Wyatt Family members have laid waste to all in their path thanks to their combination of brute force and deceptive speed and agility. Expect world class action delivered at a breathtaking pace, with the two big men proving an insurmountable hurdle for whoever represents the lovable trio of Big E, Woods and Kofi Kingston.
Predicted winners : The Bludgeon Brothers
Singles match for the WWE United States Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Jeff Hardy
After months of failing to dethrone WWE Champion AJ Styles in a feud that failed to live up to lofty expectations, Shinsuke Nakamura finally captured singles gold on the main roster by defeating Jeff Hardy for the United States Championship at Extreme Rules. He did so with a Kinshasa after a pre-match, trademark low blow. But the Charismatic Enigma also suffered the indignity of a brutal ambush by the returning Randy Orton, who is thankfully working as a heel once more, which has always been his strong suit. A rematch between the two for the title was scheduled for the following SmackDown with Hardy winning by disqualification after he was attacked by Orton again. Jeff has revealed he is nursing a longstanding back injury at present, so don’t expect him to triumph here, especially with Orton likely to get involved.
Predicted winner : Shinsuke Nakamura
Singles match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Dolph Ziggler (c) (with Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins (with Dean Ambrose)
Dolph Ziggler won the Intercontinental Championship from Seth Rollins on Raw on June 18 with the assistance of his new henchman Drew McIntyre, who has played a key role in him retaining the title ever since. In the main event of Extreme Rules he defeated Rollins 5–4 in sudden death overtime of a 30-minute Iron Man match, thanks again to interference from the Scotsman. It was a great match and both men left everything they had in the ring, but a disrespectful crowd in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ruined the contest as they spent much of the bout counting down the time.
Hopefully fans in Brooklyn will be more appreciative of the action unfolding before them. Their interest should be piqued by the return of Dean Ambrose, whose presence at ringside will mean the numbers game is no longer in Dolph’s favour. Dean has returned from a nine-month spell on the sidelines following a serious triceps tendon injury with a new look, which includes shaved hair and a far more muscular physique. Some have suggested this indicates he is set to turn on his former partner in The Shield, but that may be a while off yet. However, don’t be surprised if he costs Rollins victory, even inadvertently.
Predicted winner: Dolph Ziggler
Singles match for the Money in the Bank contract
Braun Strowman (MITB holder) vs. Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens is going all out to try and snatch Braun Strowman’s Money in the Bank (MITB) contract, knowing that a win by any means, including count-out or disqualification, will earn him the coveted briefcase. It would be revenge for KO who has spent most of the summer either being chased and beat down by Braun or soaring through the air after being thrown from great heights by the behemoth. En route to winning the MITB ladder match in June, Strowman hurled the Canadian off a giant ladder through tables below, then at Extreme Rules in July he shoved him off a 20ft cage and crashing into an announce table. A battered and bruised Owens nevertheless won the steel cage match, as he was the first person to have both of his feet touch the floor. The wily heel Owens is a much better fit as a MITB briefcase holder than the rampaging Mr Monster in the Bank, who doesn’t need it as a plot device to become Universal Champion. KO has also put his body through hell to make this feud a success and he could be rewarded this evening with a massive victory and even a potential cash-in later in the show.
Predicted winner: Kevin Owens
Triple threat match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair
Best friends Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair will collide when they both challenge Carmella in a triple threat match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship. There is no doubting Carmella’s ability to irritate and infuriate a crowd, nor the enthusiasm with which she portrays her heel character. The Princess of Staten Island’s title reign has seen her thwart the likes of Charlotte and Asuka by devious means, most notably with the help of James Ellsworth. But when the bell rings she is not yet capable of producing the calibre of performance between the ropes we have come to expect from a women’s champion. Hopefully tonight she will drop the title to Flair, who will show no hesitation in backstabbing Lynch to earn the win, thereby setting up a long-awaited feud between the two most talented ladies on Tuesday nights, the seemingly forgotten Asuka aside.
Predicted winner: Charlotte Flair
Singles match for the WWE Championship
AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe
Few matches are as hotly anticipated this evening as AJ Styles’ defence of the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe, his perennial rival from their TNA Wresting days. The Styles versus Nakamura feud may not have delivered the classic contests fans expected as a result of their seminal past encounter in New Japan Pro Wrestling, but surely AJ will have no such problems creating magic in the ring with Joe. They produced the greatest matches in TNA history and know each other inside out. Ever since graduating to the main roster, the former NXT Champion Joe has been marked as one to watch, despite a number of injury setbacks preventing him from building greater momentum. He has always been portrayed as a huge threat, even when facing the seemingly invincible Brock Lesnar, so make no bones about it, he could be the man to end Styles’ epic title reign. AJ has surpassed John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield as the longest WWE Champion exclusive to the SmackDown brand at 285 days. However, after what could be a match for the ages, he may not reach 286.
Predicted winner: Samoa Joe
Singles match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey has been nothing short of incredible in her brief WWE run so far, taking to sports entertainment like a duck to water and surpassing all expectations. The UFC Hall of Famer is a bona fide star the likes of which WWE has missed for so long – a genuine box office attraction due to her sheer athleticism, unheralded charisma and innate likeability. Her matches already feel like must-see events, thanks in part to her natural ability, the sense of danger she carries and a dose of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin-esque booking.
Standing in the way of her first championship in WWE is Alexa Bliss, who after retaining her Raw women’s title against Nia Jax at Extreme Rules, gloated that she had beaten every woman on Monday nights. That of course did not include Rousey, who Bliss attacked at Money in the Bank, thus costing her a championship match against Nia, and who had been suspended after taking out her frustration on Raw general manager Kurt Angle. The Baddest Woman on the Planet came out from the crowd and attacked Bliss and Mickie James, which led to Kurt caving in and making the match between them that fans wanted to see.
Many people expect Ronda to be crowned champion tonight and it’s hard to disagree with that assessment. However, the thrill is in the chase, so for now she may just be held back a little longer, with the cunning Bliss gaining a tainted win.
Predicted winner: Alexa Bliss
Singles match for the WWE Universal Championship
Brock Lesnar (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns
On the face of it, Brock Lesnar defending the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns for the umpteenth time is hardly inspiring. Yet WWE has spent the last few weeks teasing a potential split between Lesnar and his longstanding advocate, Paul Heyman, with some sensational acting from the former ECW owner making fans believe that perhaps just maybe the unthinkable could occur and the allies finally go their separate ways. However, on Raw this past week it all appeared to be a sham, when after offering his services to Reigns, the duplicitous Heyman blinded him with a can of pepper spray, serving him up to Lesnar for a brutal beatdown.
So is normal business resumed? Will Brock simply take Reigns to Suplex City one last time, only for Roman to survive a ludicrous amount of F5s and hit repeated spears and Superman punches, before eventually falling to the Beast Incarnate, as per most of their previous matches? Fans are tired of seeing the same old story, so we can only pray for something different on this occasion. The trouble is, much as most people want to see Lesnar drop the title and be replaced by an ever-present star who defends the title on a regular basis, very few observers hope the next champion will be Reigns, whose superhero babyface character has been rejected by audiences for three years and counting. The ideal scenario could be Lesnar just managing to defeat Roman, only to fall victim to a Money in the Bank cash-in…
Predicted winner: Brock Lesnar
WWE Mirror Exclusive interviews
1. Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas and Zelina Vega – Mixed tag team match
2. Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Drew Gulak – Singles match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
3. The B-Team (c) vs. The Revival – Tag team match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship
4. Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz – Singles match
5. Finn Bálor vs. Baron Corbin – Singles match
6. The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The New Day – Tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
7. Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Jeff Hardy – Singles match for the WWE United States Championship
8. Dolph Ziggler (c) (with Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins (with Dean Ambrose) – Singles match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
9. Braun Strowman (MITB holder) vs. Kevin Owens – Singles match for the Money in the Bank contract
10. Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair – Triple threat match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
11. AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe – Singles match for the WWE Championship
12. Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey – Singles match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
13. Brock Lesnar (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns – Singles match for the WWE Universal Championship
Watch WWE SummerSlam live on the WWE Network or on Sky Sports Box Office at midnight on Sunday, August 19.
You can follow all the action as it happens in the Mirror Sport WWE SummerSlam Live Blog .
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