I’ve dusted off a copy of Ride of the Valkyries. I’ve primed my pointing fingers. My voice is nice and ready for shouting “YES!!” over and over again. Tonight isn’t just SummerSlam, tonight is the night when Daniel Bryan finally proves what so many of us have known all along. He is WWE Championship material, whether Vince cares to admit it or not. Am I hyped for tonight? YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!!
I’ve got a great feeling about this year’s SummerSlam. Looking up and down the card there is so much potentially great stuff crammed in there that I honestly can’t wait to sit down and watch this show, which barely ever happens. Over the last few weeks we’ve had great stuff from Sandow & Rhodes, RVD has been brilliant since his return, it looks like the burial of The Shield is done and dusted, Bray Wyatt and his family have been IMMENSE, Dolph continues to make his bid for the main event, and of course there’s the wonderful Daniel Bryan. Oh, and there’s the small matter of seeing which one is better, the “Best” or the “Beast”? SummerSlam looks like the kind of card that’s got a little something for everyone, so let’s just jump straight in to the preview and see what we’ve got to look forward to…
United States Championship Match
Dean Ambrose© vs. Rob Van Dam
The (kind of) tradition of strong pre-show matches looks set to continue this show and I’ll be honest, WWE have won me over with these new pre-shows. I know I used to laugh about how it was strictly the domain of The Miz, but the last 3 or 4 of these pre-show matches have been so great that now the Pre-Show is too good for Miz. He can just keep his spot interviewing Total Divas stars, or presenting SummerSlam, or whatever the hell it is he does nowadays.
Oh and the subject of Pre-Shows, we better not be getting any of that Josh Matthews nonsense this time round. The only person I want to see easing me into SummerSlam is the lovely, lovely, lovely Renee Young. Seriously, we need more Renee on WWE TV. She’s so good at what she does (and yes, I’ve kinda got a soft spot for her) so why not let her do it more?
Onto the match itself though, how great has RVD been since his return? There’s one in the eye for all those guys who said Van Dam had nothing to offer and was well past it! Suck a lemon, losers! I know I complain about new guys not being given a chance, but what they’ve done with Van Dam is pretty much the perfect use of a seasoned veteran. Let him pop the crowds, put on a display, but ultimately work towards putting the new guys over. He’s out Jerichoed Jericho by not being all “I’m here to put the young guys over” about it interviews too. Good on you Van Dam, if you’re gonna keep putting in these kind of performances I’m gonna keep on being glad you came back.
Thankfully it looks like we’ve got past all the rumoured backstage heat on The Shield, so I’m looking forward to the business of them getting their momentum back. If the last week is anything to go by, it looks like everything is forgotten and Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose are picking up right where they left off. Running through everything in sight. The funny thing is, lots of folks saw it as a step down to pit them against The Usos, when in reality the only thing that happened there was a phenomenal Pre-Show match and Jimmy & Jey Uso proving they were more than capable of hanging with the big boys. Not so much a step down for The Shield, more a big step up for The Usos if you ask me.
I’m actually expecting a lot from this match. I know I’ve set myself up for a fall with this before (Kane vs. Ambrose didn’t exactly set the world on fire…PUNTASTIC!), but I’ve got a feeling Ambrose and RVD are gonna have a great chemistry together in the ring. I’m not even exactly sure why, it’s just a gut feeling.
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
I still haven’t watched an episode of Total Divas yet. I just can’t bring myself to do it. Even seeing that stupid Eva Marie woman in the stilted, wooden segments she’s been a part of on Raw has already filled my hump of hate for that show. So colour me unimpressed that this match has made it onto the PPV through the merits of a reality show.
On the upside it is Brie Bella in the match, and not Nicki so we stand a chance of seeing some half decent work between her and Nattie. Surely I can’t be the only person to notice Brie upping her game over the last few weeks? Or has everyone else been too busy looking at Nicki’s new boobs?
Natalya continues to be undersold in every conceivable way, but I can’t see much changing about that anytime soon, regardless of how much some of us want to see her being given something serious to work with. I suppose at least she’s not lumbered with the flatulence gimmick anymore, that has to count for something, right?
There’s not a lot I can say about this really, the entire match is built around a show I haven’t even watched to further promote a show I haven’t even watched, so I have no real investment in this one
Who I want to win: Nattie. Even though it’s pretty much certainly not happening.
Who I think will win: Brie. Most likely with some assistance from Nicki. Unless she’s busy fishing in the rain with John Cena (okay, I lied, I’ve watched one clip. Damnit).
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow
POLKA DOTS!! POLKA DOTS!! YES!! YES!! AMERICA!!
Don’t know what I’m on about? Then you’ve missed Cody Rhodes being absolutely fantastic on the JBL & Cole show over the last few weeks. Here, have a quick look (or, y’know, watch the whole lot or something. It’s worth a giggle):
Yep, I’m loving me some Cody Rhodes at the moment, and that’s not just based on his recent outstanding performance at MitB. Whether it’s when he was “Dashing”, or the supervillain-esque grotesque hiding behind his protective mask, Cody Rhodes has always been interesting to me when he’s been given something to do. In fact, if things continue the way they have between Sandow and Rhodes so far, then I’d go out on a limb and say this has been the best booked briefcase win for a good long while.
That’s not to lavish all the praise on Cody Rhodes, oh no. Sandow has more than upheld his side of things here beautifully, from his arrogance to offering to make Cody “guardian of the briefcase” to his stooge schtick with his dip in the Gulf of Mexico, Sandow continues to go from strength to strength in my eyes. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a guy with his gimmick so well locked in, you can just tell he takes absolute glee in the role he portrays. Both guys are essentially great “character actors” if you will (as far as that counts for wrestling anyways) which is what makes this so much fun to watch.
Watching the Rhodes Scholars implode in this feud has been great, both guys worked so well together in a team, that it makes perfect sense that they’d work just as well against each other. For once it looks like instead of being booked into oblivion, the briefcase winner actually has some thought and planning put into exactly what’s going happen to them once they’ve won the briefcase. That’s pretty exciting. Well, for me at least.
Who I want to win: Yikes. I’m not really bothered who wins, because I’m still big on both guys. I guess Cody getting a little retribution would be pretty sweet, but if Sandow sneaks a win I wouldn’t mind either.
Who I think will win: I’ve got a feeling Sandow’s gonna sneak the victory here and keep things moving along between the two guys. The idea of Cody hounding Sandow at every step, disrupting any cash in attempts, and just generally being a thorn in his side is something they could play out for a good long while to come. And y’know what? I’m totally cool with that.
Mixed Tag match
Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston & AJ Lee
Man, I was so hoping this was just gonna be Dolph vs. Big E and then Kaitlyn vs. AJ separately. I’m not liking the idea of the whole mixed tag match. I know that both feuds overlap heavily, but I just don’t feel like this is the kind of match that’s gonna help wrap things up here.
Maybe it’s because I just want Dolph to get back to chasing down Del Rio? But then I really want to see what Dolph and Big E could put together on a big PPV stage. As much as I love me some AJ and Kaitlyn, I’d much rather see the Divas Title defended in a singles match too. In fact, since this match really does nothing for me I’m gonna throw a bit of fantasy booking out instead.
So we know HBK is gonna be in attendance this evening, right? Well how about if Dolph loses, then we get a backstage skit later with Michaels finding an annoyed Ziggler backstage to offer him some sage-like advice. You know how Flair bestowed the Figure on The Miz (yeesh)? Well I’m guessing you’re seeing where I’m going here. Why not have Shawn pass Sweet Chin Music on to Ziggler? We keep saying they need something to replace the Zig Zag as his big finisher, so downgrade that to a setup move and let Dolph have the Superkick as his main move. It’d work for him, it’s a great move to be hit out of nowhere and it’d play nicely into Dolph’s show off character.
Yeah. That would be sweeeeeeet.
Who I want to win: Probably Big E and AJ, just in the hopes that my fantasy booking might happen.
Who I think will win: Hmmmm. Big E and AJ to get a sneaky victory I think.
Ring of Fire Match
Bray Wyatt vs. Kane
So hey to all you folks who don’t watch NXT. Do you finally see what all the fuss was about? When I mentioned Bray back in my “NXT brightest prospects” article, I picked him as my “one to watch” and he has not disappointed me yet. Right from their debut, The Wyatt Family have been a revelation in WWE, with all 3 men showing little to no trepidation about stepping out onto the big stage.
The dispatching of Kane on their first week, the destruction of Justin Gabriel and 3MB, R-Truth not being “the truth they seek”, just EVERYTHING about Bray and his family has been fantastically enthralling. Whoever is working with these guys on the production and promo content is doing just as fantastic a job as The Wyatts themselves. If you’ve been living under a rock for a while, check this out:
Just so much awesome.
So we all know Kane’s off soon to film See No Evil 2, so the smart money is on Kane being taken out by the Family tonight. There doesn’t appear to be too much to predict in this one, just more Wyatt Family awesomeness, which should continue to help them progress nicely. Add in some flames for WOW factor, the first real Bray Wyatt match since his call up, and this should be another strong match.
Who I want to win: Wyatts. All day, everyday.
Who I think will win: I’m pretty sure this is Kane heading off to be a big scary movie monster, so I’m feeling pretty confident he’s getting his a*s handed to him by The Wyatts tonight.
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Alberto Del Rio© vs. Christian
Can we please switch Del Rio back to his older entrance music now he’s an evil dick again? This jingly jangly version they tried to push him with as a good guy just flat out sucks. And give him the car back, damnit.
There’s not really much to say about this match, it’s just something to keep Del Rio ticking over for the time being. Not to detract from Christian, I’m still a fan of Captain Charisma, I just don’t see him winning the Championship in this match. He’s more just a right place, right time guy. A steady hand to put into a title match when your champ’s got nothing else going on. The fact a champion actually has nothing going on is an article for another time, let’s not get bogged down in that now.
I’m sure both guys are gonna have a perfectly competent match, I just have nothing invested in this. It’s hard to get hyped about this match when there’s some many other cool things happening, so I just can’t think of much to say about it. It’s there, it’s not gonna be awful, but it’s not as if it’s gonna be match of the night or anything.
Who I want to win: I’m not really bothered either way. It’d be a nice surprise if Christian pulled a victory out of the bag, but it’s pretty much certain that’s not gonna happen.
Who I think will win: Del Rio, because this a nothing title defence. They just need to get him on SummerSlam somehow to try and keep his heat up.
“The Best vs. The Beast”
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)
AAAARRRRRRGGGHHHHHH!! SO HYPED!! This is what I’ve wanted to happen for such a long time, and finally tonight it happens! The Best vs. The Beast! CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar! My favourite guy squaring off with my favourite a*s-kicking machine! I’m hyperventilating just thinking about it!
I’m also loving the way some people are comparing this to Wolverine taking on The Hulk. I honestly couldn’t think of a better comparison, it just sums up everything completely.
Brock is the bigger, stronger, more powerful man, but Punk just will not stay down. Brock says that size does matter (and let’s be honest who’d argue with him), whereas guys like Punk and Bryan have always proven that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. I’ll let Punk tell you himself:
This whole feud has been fairly obvious from the moment Paul Heyman joined forces with Punk, whilst still having Brock as a client. We all saw it coming a mile off, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome to have watched this play out over the last few months. Paul Heyman has been magnificent in his sheer pr*ckness, while Brock has looked back to his beastly best tossing Punk around for the last few weeks. Not to sell Punk short, everytime he’s been taken down and busted open, he comes right back swinging (mostly chairs and TV cameras).
This is a classic David vs. Goliath, Brawn vs. Brains, Hulk vs. Wolvie confrontation, and with the involvement of Heyman I’m gonna put a prediction out there that this is my match of the night.
Who I want to win: CM Punk. I love me some Brock, but Punk’s my guy!
Who I think will win: I think Punk’s gonna take it. Brock’s gonna beat the living p*ss out of him for the most of the match, but this is gonna come down to who wants it more and I think that’s gonna be Punk.
WWE Championship Match
John Cena© vs. Daniel Bryan
I’m gonna let you into a little production secret. This is the first part of the preview that I’m writing. That’s how excited I am about this match. I haven’t felt these kind of flutters since MitB 2011 and the ascendance of Punk (and funnily enough Daniel Bryan’s briefcase win). I’m genuinely not sure how this match is gonna turn out, which doesn’t happen too often. There’s a veritable plethora of ways they could end this match and send the booking going forwards, some of them potentially awesome, some of them potentially horrible, but the beauty of this match is I have no idea which one they’re gonna opt for. Even HUNTOR THE BERRIER pitching himself into his usual “look at me!!” role as special guest referee hasn’t taken the shine off this one for me.
This is it, this is THE chance for one of my all-time favourite guys. I’ve watched Bryan Danielson work his way through the Indies for years, detaching retinas (well, his own), tearing the house down and just generally being all kinds of awesome. I sat in the crowd at Coventry in 2006 for Noah’s European Navigation and chanted “Best in the World” at him until I literally had no voice left, even when he told us that only Americans deserve to hear The Final Countdown. I marked out like a little girl being spat on by Justin Bieber at Bryan turning up on the first season of NXT. I squealed with delight when the Nexus attacked and Bryan choked the living daylights out of Justin Roberts. I squealed even louder when he returned from his “firing” to help fight back against the Nexus, and you don’t even want to know how loud I got during his MitB win and subsequent cash in. And now look at him, main event of one of WWE’s big 4 PPVs and pretty much universally praised and adored by the WWE Universe. I couldn’t be happier.
I’ve spent months now talking about how Daniel Bryan is on the run of his life and it just keeps getting better. Look at the segment on this past Raw with Bryan calling Cena out on his bullsh*t, then telling him he’s not a wrestler so he doesn’t deserve the respect that comes with being slapped in the face by a peer. Awesome. And I know that word gets overused, but it really was awesome. Cena getting all het up while Bryan just stands there smiling. Even when Cena snaps and slaps Bryan himself, his reaction was priceless. “You want it? You don’t deserve it!” was just a thing of utter brilliance.
Obviously we’re gonna get some kind of shenanigans going down in this match, Vince and Trippers (and possibly his sledgeshovel) are involved so it’s gonna get screwy out there. The good thing is that there’s a way to have this main event explode into maximum shenanigans and still keep everyone looking great heading out the other side of SummerSlam. Well , in my opinion at least.
If Vince gave me the book for this match (yeah, right) I think we could turn this into what is essentially Daniel Bryan’s “Road to WrestleMania” story. Cena’s got an injured elbow, right? It’s been reported in all the dirt sheets and the general consensus is that he’s gonna have to take time off for surgery. Well if it’s been reported everywhere and Bryan knows this, why not have him pinpoint the injury throughout the match? D-Bry’s spent the last few weeks ripping Cena for not being a wrestler, so it stands to reason that a wrestler like Bryan would go straight for the kill on an injured body part?
So this is where it gets into the realms of implausibility. I’d have Bryan make Cena tap. Imagine the reaction if Daniel Bryan is the first person in 10 years to make John Cena quit during a match? Especially if commentary play on that fact while Bryan is applying submission after submission to the wounded arm of Cena. But then that’s me applying logic to wrestling again when we all know logic doesn’t really exist in the Pro Wrestling world.
So Bryan gets the hard fought victory (or is about to) when suddenly “I hear voices in my head…” Orton appears. With Vince and Brad Maddox in a referee shirt. Orton hits the ring, RKOs Cena, Bryan, AND Hunter, before handing his briefcase to Maddox for a quick pin and an easy win, all Vince McMahon approved.
So straight away you can have Cena out with his arm injury, but you’ve given Bryan something to go after with a potential Orton feud. Or you could have Vince pull some shenanigans to screw Bryan out of his rightful title rematch. Which then means the only way Bryan is gonna get his shot is by winning the Rumble. Again Vince gets involved and skews the draw so Bryan ends up as the number one entrant, only to outlast everyone and win the damn thing. From there it’s onto WrestleMania to face whoever for the title (I wouldn’t be against it being Orton) and bona fide main event status.
I know it probably won’t happen, but wouldn’t it be great if it did? Especially because I’m gonna be at Mania next year, so I’d get to see it in person!
Who I want to win: Daniel Bryan. So very, very, very much. And then Orton can cash in if he likes, I just want Bryan to beat Cena first.
Who I think will win: Well you’ve got to imagine Orton’s gonna be the big winner here. It’s weird, my head is telling me “Cena wins LOL”, but my heart says Bryan. I’m gonna go with my heart.
So there you have it. SummerSlam is on it’s way and I’m starting to get a little bit excited. If you want to kill some time, the TWO Community Podcast crew will be LIVE! at 9pm GMT with their build up to the big event (I may even call in myself), or you can let me know your own thoughts on what’s going to happen tonight in the comment box below.
I’ll leave you this time with Daniel Bryan’s appearance at the SummerSlam press conference:
Daniel Bryan telling us that it’s about time we got rid of “Superstars” and “Entertainers” and get back to wrestling? YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!!