Tonight, the WWE returns to pay-par-view Summerslam, its annual summer spectacular. Here are the predictions for the show from the Between The Ropes staff members including Brian Fritz, Steve Muehlhausen Michael A. Wiseman and Marshall Bowen.
Kickoff Match: United States Championship Dean Ambrose vs. Rob Van Dam
Brian Fritz: It sure feels like The Shield is getting de-emphasized as of late and RVD has been getting a huge response from the crowd. That being said, I think Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins get involved here and cost Van Dam the match and set up something for the pay-per-view, possibly a six-man with Big Show and Mark Henry getting added to the mix.
Steve Muehlhausen: This match was made when Van Dam won a 20 man battle royal to earn the title opportunity. Hard to gauge what WWE is doing with Van Dam as he’s one of the most over guys in the company. Makes sense for Ambrose to retain.
Michael A. Wiseman: My gut instinct says Dean Ambrose should keep the title and continue his reign. However, WWE seems down on The Shield overall, and while it probably makes the most sense from a booking perspective to keep the title on Ambrose, I also see where WWE would want to elevate Rob Van Dam. So I think RVD ultimately wins here. The crowd is hot for him, and a title change will sell a few more Pay-Per-Views.
Marshall Bowen: This will be a really entertaining match to kick-off the night. Look for Ambrose to retain and carry the night into Night of Champions, but ultimately RVD will steal the show in this match.
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
Fritz: Total Divas is the hot thing the WWE is pushing right now which is why this match is happening. I’ll take Brie Bella cheating to win in what will hopefully be a short match.
Muehlhausen: This match it seemed like was going to be a tag match with Maria Menounos and Eva Marie involved, but that match was saved Axxess. This will be the filler match between one of the main events. Good to see Natalya n a PPV. Natalya should get the win here.
Wiseman: I can’t even pretend to be interested in this feud, honestly. Building your main Divas storyline for the second biggest show of the year WITHOUT your Divas champion just seems absurd. Furthermore, these two haven’t interacted AT ALL before this past week’s RAW. I’m giving Brie the victory here, just because she’s the star of Total Divas.
Bowen: Since this match seems to only exist to promote the Total Divas show on E I’m not even sure what the direction is for it. Either way Brie Bella wins.. or her sister wins… one of them will pin Natalya.
Fritz: While this feud has not been hot, I think there are big plans for both Sandow and Rhodes going forward and this has the potential for being the sleeper match of the night, especially if the crowd gets behind it. On the podcast, I got the sense that Rhodes would get the win but I’m changing my mind. I think Sandow pulls out a shady win here and will not cash in his briefcase on this night which would not mean much with what looks to be a big angle to close the show.
Muehlhausen: This feud when Sandow cost Rhodes the Money in the Bank briefcase at the MITB PPV last month. Been an interesting feud with both guys having their moments. Rhodes almost killed this feud on Raw by stating real no purpose of the feud. This could be the show stealer. Rhodes needs the win more than Sandow and going with Rhodes here.
Wiseman: Some people are down on this feud (and even Cody Rhodes), but I’m still loving it. These guys have told the right kind of story that makes pro wrestling fun. Rhodes getting the upper-hand for weeks on end makes me believe that Sandow walks away with the victory, but if WWE wants Sandow to cash in later in the night, he’ll probably take the three-count. If I had to guess, I’m going with Sandow.
Bowen: This has the potential to be the match of the night if these gentlemen play further into the aspect of the former tag team partners turned bitter enemies. This storyline had been done before, but when pulled off correctly has the potential to create great matches. Both of these men are capable of that. Look for Sandow to win to build on a potential MITB cash-in.
Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston and AJ Lee
Fritz: Dolph Ziggler means to much to be watered down in this feud. I didn’t like the breakup with him, Big E and AJ and thought they had a very good faction. But WWE pulled the trigger on the split once Ziggler suffered a concussion that took him off TV for a month. Ziggler was one of the hottest guys in the company earlier this year when he cashed in his Money in the Bank case and won the World Heavyweight Championship. Now he’s been shoehorned in this feud which may have been fine before it was expanded into a mixed tag. I think Ziggler and Kaitlyn win and hopefully the showoff can get back on track.
Muehlhausen: Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn vs Big E Langston and AJ Lee- It looked like these were going to get singles matches and WWE just seemed to throw this match together. Ziggler and Kaitlyn should win here and hopefully we see Ziggler back in the world title picture.
Wiseman: This storyline has fizzled out in the worst way possible. Ziggler has been an empty presence the last few weeks on TV, and Kaitlyn vs AJ has turned into an ongoing re-run. Plus, mixed tag matches are the worst of professional wrestling logic (making both people change in a tag-match completely defeats the purpose). Ziggler and Kaitlyn ultimately get the win here, and the divide between Big E and AJ grows a little deeper as a result.
Bowen: Anyone else feel like this should still be two singles matches, or am I the only one. There is a measured amount of unpredictability to this match because I don’t know if WWE knows where they are going storyline wise with these four. I think Big E and AJ take this only because somebody has to win.
Ring of Fire Match: Kane vs. Bray Wyatt
Fritz: Don’t try this at home! I’m been very vocal about not liking fire in matches because it is so uncontrollable. But it makes no sense that Bray Wyatt would be involved in a gimmick match for his first one-on-one bout in the WWE. I think there are bit plans for the Wyatt Family and with Kane off to shoot a movie soon, Bray Wyatt will get the win and hopefully a clean one to make him a player for bigger and better things.
Muehlhausen: This is just another fancy name for an inferno match. The segments have been solid as Wyatt is money on the mic. This is Wyatt’s debut match and all reports from NXT have been really positive. Kane is a seasoned veteran and this a big test for Wyatt in his debut. Match should be good. Wyatt has to go over.
Wiseman:Remember kids: the objective is NOT to light your opponent on fire… I think these two have had a pretty solid feud. I’m glad WWE built on Bray Wyatt’s hype in such a strong way by pairing him with a recognizable veteran. My prediction is they these two have a fun brawl, and Wyatt, who needs the victory more to establish his presence in WWE, comes away with the win.
Bowen: Kane was just announced as the lead for See No Evil 2, and Bray Wyatt is establishing himself and his family as top level heels. WHo do you think leaves this match with the win? Look for Wyatt to gain the victory in this new variation on the Inferno Match.
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian
Fritz: Even though Christian has been getting the better of Del Rio on television in the last few weeks, I could easily see him get the victory here. Del Rio as champion is still not getting big reactions and is not working for whatever reason. However, I think he is getting to retain the title and maybe get some help from Ricardo Rodriguez who, despite taking a beatdown from Del Rio a few weeks, still wants to be paired with the champ and proves his worth here by costing Christian the match.
Muehlhausen: Christian became the number one contender when he defeated Randy Orton and Rob Van Dam about three weeks on Smackdown. Del Rio has shined as heel, even getting rid of Ricardo Rodriguez. Christian has pinned Del Rio on a few occasions and it would make sense for Del Rio to win here. Think Rodriguez comes out and interferes and costs Del Rio the title.
Wiseman: I’d love to see Christian with the “big gold belt” one more time, but upper-WWE seems to have little confidence in his ability to carry the company. Because of that, I think Del Rio ultimately wins here. Since a Damien Sandow/Alberto Del Rio rivalry makes little-to-no sense, I highly doubt we’ll see “the savior of the masses” take his shot at SummerSlam. Also, that leather briefcase looks expensive. Doubt they’d make it just for him to give it up so soon.
Bowen: While Christian is building up quite the hot streak in the World Heavyweight Championship game, I just can’t help but feel that WWE won’t pull the trigger on him as champ again. Simply put, he’s the current hot babyface to challenge the heel champion, that the heel champion then conquers when it’s all on the line. Look for Del Rio to retain.
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar
Fritz: This match could get crazy and quickly. Anytime Lesnar is involved, you get the feeling that something special is going to happen. I know that “The Beast” likely won’t be on TV again until next year (unless he appears on Raw this Monday) but he needs the win here. I think Punk should be in control of the match late and then gets outside the ring to exact revenge on Paul Heyman, dropping him with the GPS to make the fans happy. But when he goes to finish off Lesnar, he gets met with a vicious F5 and Brock gets his win and then carries his best buddy to the back. They can easily do a rematch down the line at WrestleMania XXX, Extreme Rules or next year’s Summerslam.
Muehlhausen: This has been the best built up match for Summerslam. Very simple but very effective build up as Paul Heyman turned on Punk at last months MITB PPV. Punk wanted revenge on Heyman and Herman gets his muscle in Lesnar. This and the main event should be matches of the night. You know the match is going to be very physical with both guys having a lot to prove here. See Lesnar going over here and the feud continuing at some point.
Wiseman: Between this match and the WWE Championship match, the top of this card is stacked. Punk, Lesnar, and Heyman have put together one heck of a story, and I’m excited to see how it all plays out. I think Heyman gets involved. I’m hoping Curtis Axel stays very far away – this doesn’t need to feel overbooked. Brock Lesnar needs the win to keep up his appearances as “The Beast,” and CM Punk needs a reason to not feel satisfied with his vengeance against Heyman. Lesnar gets the 3-count, with a little help from his friend. Coming out of SummerSlam, Paul Heyman recruits some fresh blood in his vendetta against CM Punk, and Lesnar disappears until Wrestlemania season.
Bowen: This one is already my candidate for match of the night, purely because these two men know how to sell the story of this match, and the mouthpiece of Paul Heyman is there to wrap it all up nicely. I would really hate to have to follow this match, because it’s going to be brutal, barbaric, technical, and entertaining as all get out. Ultimately, look for Brock to win this one.
WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan with Triple H as special referee
Fritz: Everyone believes that something big is going to play out here and I agree. While this is out there, I just hope the WWE doesn’t change anything up just to try to swerve people or hold off a big angle until Raw or later since so many people are expecting a huge angle here involving Vince McMahon and Triple H that plays out until WrestleMania XXX. No matter what, I think Daniel Bryan wins this match and hopefully he wins it clean in the middle of the ring. While I would like to see Vince be the heel in the upcoming storyline, the plan seems to be the opposite and Triple H turning. So after the match, Bryan is celebrating wildly and Triple H lays him out with a Pedigree allowing Randy Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank case and stealing the WWE Championship.
Muehlhausen: Another simple buildup as WWE has built this up as the best wrestler against the biggest star currently in the WWE. The McMahons have been inserted into the picture with it seeming like Vince wanting neither Cena and Bryan to win while Triple H and Stephanie on the side of Bryan and Cena. Triple H will be the special guest referee. This should the best match of both guys’ career. They will be given 25-30 minutes to tell a really good story. This match will end with Bryan winning the title and the McMahons screwing Bryan and having Orton come out, cash in his MITB briefcase and screw Bryan out of the title and become the corporate champion or Bryan wins the title and thwarts off any cash in of Orton.
Wiseman: This match seemed a lot more exciting without the added Triple H element. That being said, Cena and Bryan have done their all to sell this match. Both men have given us that personal element, a reason why we should pull for them instead of their opponent, and a reason to think they might win. Cena’s elbow is banged up, so I don’t think he walks out with the championship. Instead, Triple H gives Bryan a controversial pin-count after a distraction from Vince, Orton, somebody, and then Vince brings out his “legitimate” champion in Randy Orton, who cashes in his MITB and walks out with the WWE Championship. This gives Vince heat, cements the Randy Orton heel turn, and sets up a great looking feud between Bryan and Orton for the biggest prize in all of sports entertainment.
Bowen: I’m gonna call this one in a slightly convoluted but completely plausible cause it’s WWE fashion, Bryan wins the main match with the help of Triple H as ref. Triple H then turns on Bryan, knocking him out and leaving him for Orton to cash in on. It might be the longest of long shots, but it would make for a more interesting finish then Cena just flat retaining.