Photo Credit: eonline.com
Summerslam 2015 will take place tonight (7:00 pm ET) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Summerslam is WWE’s second biggest pay-per-view (behind Wrestlemania), and this year’s card is loaded: Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker pick up where they left off in their historic rivalry; John Cena battles Seth Rollins once again for a winner-takes-all, champion vs. champion match; the WWE Divas finally get a chance to shine; and actor Stephen Amell will actually be competing in a WWE ring.
Yesterday, I provided previews and predictions for the five must-see matchups at Summerslam. Today, I’ll examine the other exciting bouts on the card and select the winners.
6) Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper vs. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose
Wyatt and Harper vs. Reigns and Ambrose feels like an impromptu tag team match on Smackdown (cue Teddy Long’s music). The problem is it’s happening at the second pay-per-view of the year, Summerslam.
There’s no doubt these four men will put on an entertaining match, but I was very much looking forward to a Bray Wyatt-Roman Reigns showdown. The two have been feuding for months, with Wyatt threatening Reigns’ daughter at one point (which has been completely forgotten about). Wyatt seemed like he had a particular interest in taking out Reigns because Reigns is the dude getting a major push from WWE management. He’s the chosen one—the next John Cena. Wyatt isn’t happy about that.
I was expecting Wyatt to come out and say that the fans don’t like Reigns (many don’t). Wyatt’s got the followers and the mic skills unlike Reigns. Plus, he’s super creepy and unpredictable, which is much more captivating than Reigns’ tiresome “two moves of doom” (a.k.a. the spear and Superman punch)
My ultimate dream was for Wyatt and Reigns to culminate their rivalry in a one-on-one match at Summerslam, and for there to be a double turn. In other words, Wyatt would become a good guy and Reigns a bad guy. It definitely worked too. Perhaps Wyatt’s barbs about Reigns’ lack of fan support finally gets to Reigns, so he decides to turn on the WWE universe. In the process, Wyatt embraces the forsaken fans and becomes their savior.
A double turn, which is rarely executed in the WWE, would have freshened Reigns and Wyatt’s characters so much and given each superstar infinite possibilities of who to face and where to go next. Instead, we have a tag team match with two other guys that didn’t have anything else to do at Summerslam.
It’s the Wyatt family vs. The Shield, minus a member from each side. To me, this isn’t a Summerslam match. Dean Ambrose deserves his own rivalry. There have been rumblings that Sting could make an appearance, which would certainly add excitement value to the contest. But don’t count on it.
Prediction: Wyatt and Harper win with outside interference from ex-Wyatt family member Erik Rowan (who’s been on the shelf with an injury).
7) Stephen Amell and Neville vs. Stardust and King Barrett
It’s always interesting when you have a non-wrestler step into a WWE ring to fight, and that’s exactly what’s going on in this matchup. Amell, who plays Oliver Green (a.k.a. the Green Arrow) on The CW’s hit show Arrow, is a professed lifelong WWE fan and will make his in-ring debut at Summerslam.
The tag match came about when Amell and WWE superstar Stardust engaged in a social media war that later turned physical. On Raw this past week, Amell attacked Stardust and the tag match was announced.
The WWE actually has a really interesting storyline going here. Neville, Amell’s partner, is the most exciting high-flyer in the company today. He’s known as “the man gravity forgot” and he proves it with his frequent daredevil off-the-top-rope leaps. His finishing move, which involves him doing a crazy flip off the top turnbuckle and onto his opponent is called The Red Arrow. Amell’s character is known as the Green Arrow, so it’s easy to see why they’re being paired together.
On the other side, Stardust is a bizarre, extraterrestrial character. You could almost pluck him straight out of a comic book (not Compton). He dresses in a gold and black jumpsuit, dons some freaky-looking face paint, and wears yellowish-red contacts lenses. He’s a perfect foil for not just Neville (who’s like a high-flying superhero himself), but also for Amell. Stardust needed a tag team partner and WWE needed to justify making Bad News Barrett King of the Ring, so they through Barrett into the matchup.
Prediction: Neville and Amell, the resident heroes, will go over Stardust and King Barrett.
Photo Credit: fansnotexperts.com
8) The Prime Time Players (WWE Tag Team Champions) vs. New Day vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores
The fatal four-way for the WWE Tag Team Championship will either tear the house down or be a time filler. I wish the belts were still on the New Day, who’ve been by far the most over tag team this year. They are legitimately annoying and people hate them (chanting “New. Day sucks, New. Day sucks”). In other words, they’re just what you want in a heel tag team.
Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E Langston (the members of the New Day, left to right above) were assembled because WWE had nothing for them to do. It was a classic example of WWE putting guys of the same color together, and providing them with a stereotypically black gimmick. Woods, Kingston, and Big E were billed as babyface (a.k.a. good guys) happy-go-lucky gospel preachers who always promoted positivity. Fans booed the stable right off the bat. But the New Day embraced the hate and turned heel, allowing them to create a very successful bad guy tag team.
It’s glaring how often WWE align wrestlers of similar races and ethnicities. Look at the other tag teams in the match: The Prime Time Players are Titus O’Neil and Darren Young, two black men; Los Matadores are Diego and Fernando, both from Puerto Rico (playing Spanish bullfighters); and finally, the Lucha Dragons are made up of Kalisto and Sin Cara, both Mexican Americans. Why are there hardly ever any mix-raced tag teams? While WWE has done a decent job shedding some of its sexism over the past couple of years, racial undertones certainly still exist.
Racial issues aside, I expect this match to be fun. It’ll definitely showcase the WWE tag team division, which has been running a bit thin since the Usos (former Tag Team champs) got hurt and the Rhodes brothers split.
Prediction: I want desperately for New Day to win since they’re three of the best heels in WWE today, but The Prime Time Players will retain. They’re gradually picking up steam and connect well with the crowd, which WWE can capitalize on at least for a little while.
9) Sheamus vs. Randy Orton
I don’t want to call this a “throw-away” match since the superstars involved in it know what they’re doing in the ring. But that’s kind of what is. Even though Orton was seconds away from winning the World Heavyweight Championship two weeks ago, he doesn’t have much going on. So WWE had Sheamus (a guy who also needed an opponent for Summerslam) interfere in the match and cost Orton the title.
Orton vs. Sheamus in what is sure to be a physical contest. The only problem is that this match has happened many times before. Listen to the abuse these two received from the crowd when they were in the ring together a couple years ago (starting around 3:40). Orton vs. Sheamus not a fresh match, but it will be competitive.
Prediction: Orton wins via pinfall. Sheamus’ mohawk and beard braids lose.
10) Ryback (Intercontinental Champion) vs. Big Show vs. The Miz
There’s been a ton of build towards this triple threat match over the last couple of months. It’s too bad Ryback has been hurt for so much of it, especially since he’s the newest, most intriguing superstar of the three. In fact, Big Show is so stale that fans aren’t chanting he sucks (like they do to John Cena), but that he should “please retire.” Ouch.
Wondering what a guy named “Big Show” actually looks like? Well, he’s seven feet tall, 450 pounds, and has a knuckle the size of a softball. When he first became a professional wrestler and for many years following, he was a major attraction for his sheer size and surprising agility as a giant. Nowadays, fans crave ring technicians and high-flyers. Show does not fit into either of those categories, which of course isn’t a fault of his own. Also, the fact that he constantly turns face to heel and heel to face makes it difficult to take him seriously (which again, isn’t his fault).
The Miz, a former Real World cast member, is about as annoying you’d expect him to be. He plays a stuck up, Hollywood movie star whose big mouth frequently gets him into trouble. The two big guys, Big Show and Ryback, have prayed on the Miz whenever they’ve been able to get their hands on him.
The defending champion Ryback just returned to action after a nasty staph infection. The “Bug Guy” has done a nice job throughout his career of demonstrating why he’s not just a meat-head (here’s what he looks like). He’s a power-house whose in-ring abilities and storytelling has much improved since first debuting.
While I’m excited to see Miz get destroyed by Ryback and Show, the match will be nowhere nearly as exciting as Ziggler-Rusev or Cesaro-Owens. Show and Ryback are limited by their enormous size and Miz just doesn’t have that “it” factor in the ring. Yes, the three have the potential to put on an entertaining match, but you could probably use the fifteen minutes as a snack and/or bathroom break.
Prediction: Ryback retains the Intercontinental Championship.