SummerSlam will be Triple H’s first pay-per-view in total control of creative, so it will be a good early barometer for changes in WWE’s booking trends.
The card itself is one of maybe the least anticipated SummerSlams in a long time — with three of its bigger matches being ones we have seen three times or more already this year and a fresh contest between Seth Rollins and Riddle getting postponed. While hopefully a few chapters will be closing – especially Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar – we do get to see Logan Paul’s first singles match in WWE, Ronda Rousey and Liv Morgan in their first real match and Theory potentially cashing in his Money in the Bank contract.
You have to think Triple H and WWE will pull out all the stops to keep the hope of a fresh start and new beginning going, so expect the unexpected and some surprises — maybe a Bayley return — to help the show overachieve.
Here is how I expect it to all play out on Saturday (8 p.m., Peacock) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Potential Seth Rollins match
Rollins’ scheduled match was called off after WWE tweeted Wednesday that he injured Riddle during an attack on “Monday Night Raw” and the Original Bro wasn’t cleared to compete. Multiple reports then followed saying the injury was a storyline and Rollins and Riddle will meet at Clash in the Castle in September instead. This all gives off the feeling of Triple H wanting to create a signature moment or surprise of his own at SummerSlam – later responding with “I hear you!” on Twitter to a Rollins tweet lamenting he would not be on SummerSlam.
So if WWE is going to give Rollins a new opponent, likely the day of the show, who is big enough to make Triple H go in this direction? Only a few names come to mind: Johnny Gargano (who will be in Nashville anyway for the Starrcast convention), Bray Wyatt, Gable Steveson, Edge or NXT’s Bron Breakker. It will be interesting to see what happens, but it needs to deliver.
The Miz vs. Logan Paul
At first glance, this feels like a match Logan Paul has to win. He can’t lose his singles debut in WWE, right? Oh yes, he can. The Miz has both Tommaso Ciampa and potentially Maryse by his side to make sure he comes away victorious by some nefarious means. WWE is trying to get as much babyface sympathy on Paul, who reportedly wants to be booked as a good guy. The audience – especially at Madison Square Garden last week – had a different idea, but WWE won’t give up that easily. Brother Jake Paul’s next fight is Aug. 6 at Madison Square Garden. I wouldn’t be shocked if Jake or someone else gets involved in this storyline somehow down the road for a tag team match.
Pick: The Miz
Rey and Dominik Mysterio vs. Finn Balor and Damian Priest (The Judgement Day), No Disqualification
The Judgement Day hasn’t been treated as the same dominant group as it was before they kicked Edge out and that needs to change. The Rated-R Superstar’s return has been teased in vignettes and you’d have to expect it to happen in Nashville to create the biggest moment. The question is will it come after The Judgement Day continues to attack the Mysterios after defeating them or to get their heat back after losing? Does Dominik or Rey turn on each other? My gut says Edge returns after a Judgement Day win with help from Rhea Ripley and with Aalyah Mysterio potentially put in peril afterwards.
Pick: The Judgement Day
Pat McAfee vs. Happy Corbin
WWE has given this match a better build than some past ones with two full-time performers by playing off their backstory as former roommates with the Colts. McAfee defeated Theory at WrestleMania then lost to Vince McMahon. He is probably too over as a babyface to lose to a mid-card heel in Corbin unless they are running it back in Cardiff. I wonder if WWE can get some of their former Colts teammates to come back and play a role in helping McAfee win.
Pick: Pat McAfee
Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Theory (United States championship)
The way Theory has been treated lately he may never win again. I kid. If Theory is going to appear to at least be a threat to successfully cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase, then he can’t be the United States champion, too. More than likely, Dolph Ziggler helps make this a miserable night for young Theory, keeping Lashley from going over clean a second time as he did at Money in the Bank.
Pick: Bobby Lashley
Bianca Belair (c) vs. Becky Lynch (Raw women’s championship)
This should be the blow-off to this yearlong feud, a match that feels more like a fill-in after Rhea Ripley’s injury than something we need to see after the two just battled at WrestleMania. Nevertheless, Belair and Lynch are the cream of the crop in the women’s division right now and letting them bring this full circle after their 26-second match at SummerSlam isn’t a bad thing. Ripley returned this week on “Monday Night Raw.” WWE can restart her feud with Belair whenever they please, so that’s why it’s hard to see Lynch leaving with the belt.
Pick: Bianca Belair
Liv Morgan (c) vs. Ronda Rousey (SmackDown women’s championship)
This is by far the hardest match on the card to call and will reveal a lot about how the company views Morgan. My gut tells me this is just the beginning of her feud with Rousey as we get closer to a potential and much-needed heel turn for the “Baddest Women on the Planet.” To me, Rousey would need to take another loss, maybe by a roll-up or counter, to set her off enough in that direction. Rousey shook Morgan’s hand after her successful Money in the Bank cash-in. She won’t be doing so this time.
Pick: Liv Morgan
The Usos (c) vs. The Street Profits with special guest referee Jeff Jarrett (Undisputed WWE tag team championship)
The Usos and the Street Profits have wrestled straight tag matches six times over the past year with the current champions having never been pinned or submitted. The Street Profits “won” three times, twice by DQ and once by count-out in that span. So it feels like now or never for the Street Profits, especially after the controversy of the referee not seeing Montez Ford’s shoulder being up in The Usos’ win at Money in the Bank. Special guest referee Jeff Jarrett is there to make sure that doesn’t happen and he will – maybe with a guitar shot to someone when it’s all over too.
Pick: The Street Profits
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar, Last Man Standing match (Undisputed WWE Universal championship)
Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar get a chance to put a more fitting cap to their rivalry than we got a WrestleMania 38 in what is being billed as the last time we will see these two mega-stars square off. There is little to make one believe Reigns is losing here – that would mean they would logically have to fight yet again. Theory’s cash-in will either fail or be thwarted by Dolph Ziggler or Sami Zayn before a match becomes official. WWE needs Reigns and Drew McIntyre to headline Clash at the Castle in Cardiff in September, so the Tribal Chief is leaving with gold.
Pick: Roman Reigns