By Kyle Jones
In 1988, Vince McMahon introduced SummerSlam to fill the gap between WrestleMania in the spring and Survivor Series in the fall. On Sunday, the 32nd edition of “the biggest party of the summer” will emanate from Toronto, and the card promises an interesting show to say the least.
After months of subpar programming and rapidly tumbling ratings, the appointments of Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff as executive directors of Raw and SmackDown Live respectively have seemed to put things back on the right track. However, there is still quite a bit to prove in the ratings department before the WWE’s broadcast deal with Fox kicks off in October. Combine this with the upstart threat of AEW and every pay-per-view becomes crucial for WWE.
So, let’s go match by match and see what we can expect from SummerSlam 2019 …
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Drew Gulak (c) v. Oney Lorcan
One day 205 Live will get the respect it deserves, but for now the cruiserweights will just have to keep putting on world-class matches on the pre-show (probably).
Lorcan’s been very active on Twitter lately with regard to this match, and he backed up his words by winning a six-pack challenge to earn this match. He’s on a roll, and employs a much more physical style of wrestling, in contrast to the usually high-flying spots of the cruiserweights.
I’m taking Lorcan over Gulak. His physicality will overpower Gulak and earn him the belt.
Goldberg v. Dolph Ziggler
Goldberg and Undertaker delivered us a steaming hot pile of garbage in Saudi Arabia at Super Showdown. This match is Goldberg’s way of making up for that catastrophe.
If this is anything more than a glorified squash match, I’ll be stunned. Goldberg’s winning this one.
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt v. Finn Balor
This will be Balor’s last match before he takes a brief vacation, but more important to this match’s conclusion is Balor’s undefeated streak when he assumes his demon persona. One would think that a monstrous opponent like “The Fiend” would mark the perfect occasion to bring out “The Demon,” but if history tells us anything it’s that WWE usually announces when Finn will assume his demon persona beforehand.
Because of the lack of “demon-ness” from Balor, I have no problem predicting Bray Wyatt as this match’s winner, but it should be a fun match between two great wrestlers.
Kevin Owens v. “The Best in the World” Shane McMahon: If Owens loses, he leaves WWE
In just a few short weeks, Owens has turned himself into one of the top babyfaces of WWE by using a tried and true formula: raging against the machine.
KO has raved against Shane McMahon with promos that contain just as much real criticism as kayfabe, employed Austin’s signature Stone Cold Stunner and has caused destruction to McMahon at every turn.
You’d be hard pressed to find a WWE fan who doesn’t want to see Shane get his tail kicked, and that’s exactly what will happen on Sunday. Kevin Owens is winning this one.
Charlotte Flair v. Trish Stratus
Being the match to decide the best women’s wrestler of all time, this one has all the potential to be great. With Stratus wrestling in her hometown of Toronto and Flair still at the top of her game, there’s not much more you could ask for in terms of match potential. Stratus has said this could even be her last match in WWE.
If the retirement rumors are true, this match will only go one way. It will be hard fought, but legends go out on their backs. Charlotte Flair will pick up a well-deserved win, but the “best ever” debate will undoubtedly continue.
United States Championship: AJ Styles (c) v. Ricochet
This could be the match of the night, if it’s given enough time. These two guys move fast and fly high. They’ve put on great matches together in the past, and this one shouldn’t be any different.
Expect a bit of interference from The Club, after a hard fought match where Ricochet looks to have the upper hand. The Club’s influence will swing things in Styles’ favor, and I see him retaining his title.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) v. Ember Moon
Of all the matches on the card, this one is what I’m least excited about. The build was half-baked, Ember Moon no longer feels like a legitimate threat and thus this match seems flat.
But don’t let that fool you. Both of these women are great competitors and this will be a high-quality match. Unfortunately for Moon, I can really only see Bayley emerging as the winner.
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) v. Natalya (Submission Match)
It’s the Disarm-her versus the Sharpshooter for the Raw Women’s Championship. Natalya is fighting in her home country and, despite The Man being one of the most universally loved wrestlers in the company right now, the graduate of the Hart Dungeon will be getting all the cheers.
That being said, the odds are severely stacked against Natalya, and I don’t think she’ll be able to overcome them. Lynch is one of the cover stars of the new WWE 2k20 and she’s one of the company’s biggest draws. As cool as it would be to see the hometown hero win, Becky is retaining her championship on Sunday.
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) v. Randy Orton
Kofi has had a great run as champion, and Orton has championship history. This is a match that could steal the show.
Kofi does a brilliant job of fighting when his back is against the wall, however Orton makes for a pretty insurmountable wall. I expect a physical, fast-paced match where neither wrestler truly gets the upper hand until the final three-count.
Orton will pull out all the stops, and Kofi will return in kind, but in the end I think Kofi will outlast The Viper and retain the WWE Championship, though don’t expect this feud to end any time soon.
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) v. Seth Rollins
Despite the WWE’s best efforts, Rollins hasn’t become the shining babyface he was supposed to be. In fact, he’s looked like a dweeb. This is the same match we saw open WrestleMania and while that went in Rollins’ favor, this match will not.
Rollins is going to Suplex City, and Brock Lesnar will retain.
And that’s the SummerSlam card. A few matches have great potential, and a few could fall really flat. We’ll just have to wait till Sunday to see which are which. There’s also the matter of solving Roman Reigns attempted murder, though if WWE was smart they’d extend that storyline a few more weeks. Either way, enjoy SummerSlam and, if you don’t like it, remember AEW will be on TNT before the end of the year.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org