In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead.
Last time on SO OF COURSE/SMACKDOWN, the blue show continued the reign of terror that is Jinder Mahal, a champion who seemed improbable as a legit main-eventer, and then for a brief moment made everyone believe he could do it, and now everyone’s like “yeah..nah it’s not happening.” So he’s JBL on Smackdown, circa 2004-2005.
Meanwhile on the red show, this happened…
and also Kurt Angle has a love child
and it’s one of the members of American Alpha
but it’s not Chad Gable, the guy whose whole shtick is “weird(er) Kurt Angle,” because that’s too obvious I guess? No, the love child is Jason Jordan
That, the Fashion Files, Corbin pulling a Sandow, and the fall of grace that is Bayley is about it for WWE recently. And now we come to SummerSlam, which WWE has committed itself, in recent years, to turning into “second Mania” by hitching NXT Takeover to the event, and stretching the run-time to four hours for the main-show, plus an extra two hours for the pre-show with multiple matches thereon. All told the card features thirteen matches, the same as WrestleMania 33. I wasn’t at WrestleMania 33, but I was at WrestleMania 32; it featured twelve matches if you include the impromptu Rock vs Rowen match. Let’s not count that though; the show featured eleven matches with three of them happening on the pre-show. I remember being completely wiped out by the time the main-event rolled around, and I wasn’t the only one. Most audiences simply can’t sustain their excitement for the duration of a six-hour anything, much less pro wrestling. I mean, I’ve been watching this stuff since 1999 and even I need it in small doses. Six hours is just…
Here’s everyone’s facial expressions over the course of six hours of SummerSlam:
More is not better, but here we are, three hundred words into the article and we haven’t even touched on the card. So let’s see what’s cooking and discuss all the ways Vince can screw it up. THIS is your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE SUMMER SHOW THAT I’LL WATCH BEFORE AND AFTER GAME OF THRONES BUT NOT DURING BECAUSE JON’S LEADING A FELLOWSHIP OF THE WIGHTS BEYOND THE WALL AND THAT’S SIMPLY MORE COMPELLING AND DRAMATIC THAN BIG SHOW vs BIG CASS IN A “ENZO ON A POLE” MATCH I’M SORRY SLAM.
Any references to Game of Thrones
(and/or the A Song of Ice and Fire book series)
will include spoilers up to the most recently-aired episode of the show (“Eastwatch“)
and the most recent book
(A Dance with Dragons that will never end because Winds of Winter will never be finished).
THE HARDY BOYS & JASON JORDAN ANGLE(?) vs THE MIZ AND HIS MIZTOURAGE
What is it? It’s one of the most popular tag teams in history saddled to a bad booking decision that was done for shock value with no foresight whatsoever that fans have naturally turned on now that the shock has worn off…taking on one of the most effective heels in recent history and his merry band of not-Sandows who are just happy to still be collecting paychecks, including the son of Mr. Perfect and the son of…well, okay I.R.S. was a joke but “sentimental value” is a thing.
What’s it like? It’s like the Battle of the Bastards except Curtis Axel is not illegitimate; he’s just lacking in any of his father’s natural talents. What would bastards be called if WWE held to Game of Thrones rules for regional bastard names? Would he be Jason Ring? or Jason Carny? Maybe Jason Mark? No, everyone would just be named McMahon, because in the end he’s screwed us all.
What should happen? The Hardys should win with a twist of fate and swanton bomb while Jason Jordan lays on the outside, nursing an injury. After the match Jordan should pop up and celebrate like he got the victory single-handedly, starting a slow decent to madness while he comes to believe he has inherited all of Kurt’s natural wrestling ability. He’ll end up getting a one-on-one with Brock Lesnar, will attempt a moonsault and will break his neck.
SO OF COURSE…
AKIRA TOZAWA vs NEVILLE
What is it? It’s the rematch to the rematch that was last seen on Monday night and which has already featured the big title change the feud has been building toward…only now you can pay to watch it!
What’s it like? It’s like the hopefully-inevitable Cleganebowl, when Sandor and Gregor finally cross paths (and cross swords) again, this time to the death…except without any of the pants wetting that I will do should that ever happen. I guess it’s more like if Sandor and Gregor fought last week and Sandor defeated his older brother and then they fought again this week for no reason and Sandor…did it again. Everyone would laugh and say “how stupid: Why do the same thing over again?” It’s like that.
What should happen? Tozawa should have won the title on Sunday, so I can’t exactly say he shouldn’t retain it now. He should win and Neville should evolve to the next stage of his heel character. It’s tough to be a long-reigning heel champ and then lose your title. It can sort of define you and when you lose the belt you become purposeless. A lot of great heel champs have disappeared after dropping their belt so hopefully Neville is given the chance to tweak his character and evolve.
SO OF COURSE…
THE NEW DAY vs THE USOS
What is it? It’s New Day and the Usos…again. If you’re keeping score that makes two rematches so far and we’re only on the third match.
What’s it like? It’s like when Dany flew Drogon over the carriages full of grain a few weeks ago and roasted the Lannister army just like in the Field of Fire, when Aegon the Conqueror flew his three dragons to the Reach to subdue that region of the continent. It’s a repeat, albeit with much less fire and burning and such.
What should happen? The New Day are fragile; WWE wants them to be as popular as they were at their peak, but they’ve dropped a few notches since then. This is their legacy run before they either break up or turn heel or do something new. The Usos are doing their best work which means instead of rewarding them, WWE will probably give them the loss knowing they can absorb it. What should happen is an Uso victory followed by a Breezango title win sometime down the line.
SO OF COURSE…
MAINSHOW BEFORE GAME OF THRONES
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
What is it? A match with nothing on the line, no purpose behind it, no feud to finish, no score to settle, nothing. It’s a fight with no point other than “well we gotta do something with Randy Orton and I guess Rusev…”
What’s it like? Dorne, season five.
What should happen? Rusev should crush. He’d make a great paper tiger for WWE Champion Nakamura this fall, to hold him over until the inevitable AJ Styles/Nakamura match at WrestleMania. Give Rusev the win over the previous WWE Champion and then two or three matches with Nak, just for a change of pace.
SO OF COURSE…
Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
What is it? It’s Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss…again. If you’re keeping score that makes three rematches so far and we’re only on the fifth match. Granted, at least this time the plan wasn’t supposed to be a rematch with Banks. It was supposed to be a rematch with Bayley. But whatever.
What’s it like? Arya vs the Waif. The mini-terminator with a bob-cut got the better of Arya over and over during the Stark girl’s training in the House of Black and White, but when it mattered most, Arya bounced back and won the final battle. It’s like that except the heel should go over.
What should happen? I never thought I’d love a diva more than Sasha Banks, but Alexa bliss is so great as champion and is such a stellar heel, I hope she holds the belt for the next six months and only loses it when Asuka kicks her face off.
SO OF COURSE…
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
What is it? A week ago it was a compelling match between a grizzled vet and a rising up and comer. The vet looked set to lay down for the new kid and help him on his way to getting his feet wet with a title run. Now? Corbin went full Sandow (you never go full Sandow) and lost his MITB cash-in attempt.
What’s it like? An in-over-his-head upstart looks like he has the game won, but makes a series of costly blunders and ends up in a buzzsaw against an opponent with years more experience? It’s the Red Wedding baby.
What should happen? I would normally never call for Cena to beat a rising talent at this point in his career, but Corbin apparently has major heat with the wrong people. There’s no reason to expect him to win so there’s no reason to predict it. Pro Wrestling is scripted; sometimes what “should” happen is trumped by what “obviously will” happen.
SO OF COURSE…
Finn Bálor vs. Bray Wyatt
What is it? It’s Finn Bálor vs Bray Wyatt…again. If you’re keeping score that makes four rematches out of seven matches so far. The last time these two fought was waaaay back literally days ago.
What’s it like? That mummers farce of a stage play Arya watched last season, where she watched a bunch of Romeo and Juliet wannabes play-acting the death of her father.
What should happen? This match was a dream of mine when Bálor was still in NXT and Wyatt was still relevant. I envisioned a WrestleMania match, a spectacle of entrances and theatrics that wowed everyone. Instead Bray Wyatt has gone from the next Undertaker to the next Kane to the next Jake Roberts to the next Papa Shango. Finn Bálor isn’t dead but he desperately needs a relevant program to give him some purpose. Give Bálor the win and move him on to something that doesn’t end in a punchline.
SO OF COURSE…
AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens
What is it? It’s AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens…again. If you’re keeping score that makes five rematches out of eight matches so far. These two have fought so many times in the past few months you’d think I’d be bored of it, but no: They’ve settled in and found a groove and are putting on better and better matches every time they go at it. Here’s to one more.
What’s it like? Anytime Bronn and Tyrion have screentime together. Just shooting the breeze, trading barbs, commenting on the absurdity of Westeros’ higher classes. They had many scenes together in the show and in the books and they were all delightful.
What should happen? Nakamura is going to need a WWE Title challenger. Owens would be juuuuust great. Obviously AJ Styles would be ideal, but I’m willing to wait for New Orleans. Give Owens a loss, reset him and rebuild him and then put him in a late-fall/early-winter program for the WWE Championship.
SO OF COURSE…
MAIN SHOW AFTER GAME OF THRONES
Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
What is it? It’s 2/3 of a Shield reunion, which makes me wonder…what music are they going to come out to? Are they just going to use Roman Reigns’ music? Are they going to come out separately? How stupid would that be. Oh gosh, that’s what they’re going to do isn’t it?
What’s it like? It’s like when Ned went against his better instincts and trusted Littlefinger, only to find a knife at his throat.
What should happen? Dean Ambrose should turn on Seth Rollins, go all-in as a heel and find some spark for the first time in a year or so. I’d have them play it straight and then win the titles and THEN have Dean attack Seth, making it an awkward situation where the champs hate each other. Maybe Seth would refuse to defend the titles in a rematch, so Dean competes 1-on-2 and wins by cheating, then when Seth has his own 1-on-2 match, Dean would interfere and cost them the title. Just a real jerk move like that. The feud should persist on and off forever, like HBK and Undertaker or Rock and Austin.
SO OF COURSE…
Big Show vs. Big Cass
What is it? It’s Big Show vs Big Cass…again. If you’re keeping score that makes six rematches out of ten matches so far. What makes this one so fresh, however, is the fact that Enzo will be suspended above the ring in a shark cage.
What’s it like? It’s like when Tyrion was in the jail cell at the Eyrie. Just this smart-mouthed little fella, placed in a precarious position high above the world, trying to smooth talk the giant into freeing him.
What should happen? Okay, so this isn’t an actual cage match. No one wins or loses if Enzo escapes. The object isn’t to set him free or carry him to a finish line or anything. He’s literally going to be just hanging out up there. If you believe the dirtsheets, Enzo is terrified of heights and this is a rib/punishment for his being a drama queen backstage. It wouldn’t be the first time that too much WWE airtime was devoted to Vince’s idiosyncratic madness. On the other hand WWE does have a ridiculous shark cage playset and this wouldn’t be the first time WWE devoted a huge chunk of screentime to something for the sole purpose of pushing a toy.
But forget about Enzo for a moment: Cass should win because Big Show should never win another PPV match again at this stage in his career. But let’s also not forget about Enzo, because I guarantee you the crowd won’t. He’ll be the only thing they have to look at with any charisma or entertainment value. Hopefully he can smuggle a mic into the cage and just commentate on the match MST3K style.
SO OF COURSE…
Naomi vs. Natalya
What is it? It’s Naomi vs Natalya…again. If you’re keeping score that makes seven rematches out of eleven matches so far. One quick google search will yield enough clips to show you all the moves that will be done in this match. Of all the women on SmackDown, they choose Natalya for SummerSlam? Becky Lynch is just going to chill out backstage?
What’s it like? It’s like when Brienne sparred with Arya while Littlefinger and Sansa watched with different feelings of angst. We’re Littlefinger and Sansa in this equation; watching the fight with angst.
What should happen? Naomi wins, Carmella teases a cash-in but doesn’t because Naomi sees it coming and Carmella’s not a moron Baron Corbin. Naomi keeps the belt another month or two, and drops it suddenly on Smackdown, thanks to a James Ellsworth sneak attack and Carmella cash-in, in time for a proper Carmella vs Naomi match at Survivor Series.
SO OF COURSE…
Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
What is it? It’s still Jinder, isn’t that enough? Oh wait, here’s Nakamura. Okay, it’s Nakamura winning the WWE Title. That’s pretty crazy. Give me a sub-one minute win and I’m happy.
What’s it like? It’s like when Janos Slynt tried to challenge Lord Commander Jon Snow’s authority. Slynt talked tough and bullied people in Kings Landing but when he was send to the Wall and mouthed off to John Snow…his cappa was straight-detated in a delightfully satisfying death scene.
What should happen? ding-ding-ding, kinshasa, one-two-three, let us never speak of Jinder again.
SO OF COURSE…
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman
What is it? It’s the four biggest guys on the Raw roster, zero of whom have any qualms about taking insane bumps, throwing hands for half an hour. It’s going to be bananas.
What’s it like? It’s the Battle of Blackwater; a bunch of guys you really want to see succeed, despite their being on opposite sides of the war. You’ve got Davos and Stannis (the mannis) on one side, you’ve got Tyrion on the other. You’ve got the wildcard Sandor Clegane…and there’s the one entitled little turd whose been anointed king that you hope against hope will take an arrow through the nostril.
What should happen? Lesnar going crazy, Joe trolling him with random headlocks, Strowman randomly throwing people into other people, and Roman getting lost on the way to the ring. Joe steals the title when Strowman cheap-shots Lesnar. Joe deserves the title. Joe needs the title. Give Joe the title.
SO OF COURSE…
Oh well, there’s always Game of Thrones!
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Here’s to Sunday.