WWE really loaded up the 30th edition of SummerSlam. Considering the main show lasts four hours preceded by a two-hour pre-show, the company had little choice but to pad out the card. With a whopping 13 matches signed for “The Biggest Party of the Summer”, a few bouts stand out more than the others. Here some of the scheduled contests that fans might remember the most from WWE’s second biggest pay-per-view.
Honorable Mention: The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) (w/Kofi Kingston) (c) vs. The Usos- WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
The New Day and the Uso's easily delivered the best match at the much maligned SmackDown exclusive Battleground pay-per-view. Unfortunately, the loaded SummerSlam card has relegated these two great teams to sharing time with two other matches along with Peter Rosenburg and the gang on the Kickoff Show. New Day and the Uso's probably won't receive as much time for their match as they did last month and depending on when the match takes place, they might not have that much crowd heat behind them either. These five men have produced some of the best segments on an otherwise slumping SmackDown show and deserve a better than what they will likely get. The workrate should entertain the fans filing into Barclays Center, but its placement and possible lack of reaction will likely hurt it.
Honorable Mention: Naomi (c) vs. Natalya- WWE SmackDown Women's Championship Match
This match gets an honorable mention for the potential post-match shenanigans more so than the match itself. Nothing against these two ladies, Natalya is one of the best workers on in the company and SmackDown Women's Champion Naomi is arguably the best athlete in the division, but their match received almost no build on television. Both women wrestled a few times leading up to SummerSlam but didn't get much mic time aside from a brief exchange on the SmackDown after Battleground. Much of the build centered around Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella and the possibility of her cashing in the briefcase (hopefully more successfully than Baron Corbin). The prospect of Carmella using her guaranteed title shot could divert the audience's attention away from the title match, causing them to wait for the finish and not care about anything before that. The match should be fine (and will probably have its time cut if the company's history with women's matches on big shows is any indication) but the likelihood of a cash-in will be the talking point.
Jinder Mahal (w/The Singh Brothers) (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura- WWE World Championship Match
Roughly three months ago, the thought of Jinder Mahal taking part in a main event of SmackDown, let alone a PPV was unfathomable. Yet here he is, the WWE World Champion in one of the most prominent matches of the second biggest WWE show of the year. Mahal has improved on the stick in recent weeks and after a couple of months is finally kind of starting to feel like a World Champion. His substandard main events still hold him back and he still needs to add more substance to his promos beyond the generic foreign heel talking points (for no other reason than to avoid cringe-worthy fan reactions like in the opening segment last Tuesday). This Sunday, Mahal has the biggest match of his career against one of the biggest stars from New Japan Pro Wrestling, Shinsuke Nakamura. The "King of Strong Style" has fallen short of both fans and journalists high expectations since his post-WrestleMania call-up, largely due to the booking (i.e. Vince McMahon thinking Nakamura is a Prince cosplayer) and below-average matches with Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. "The Lone Wolf's" failed cash-in attempt erases some suspense in the finish, but if Nakamura pulls a good match out of Mahal before the inevitable Singh Brothers interference, it should stick out on a show with solid but mundane undercard. A title change could make the bout even more memorable. Hopefully, the match doesn't stand out for all the wrong reasons (poor workrate, etc.). If nothing else, the entrances should be cool.
Sheamus and Cesaro (c) vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose- WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match
When Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins bumped fists in unison after disposing of Sheamus and Cesaro on the go-home edition of RAW, the crowd came unglued. Aside from the main event, this storyline got the best build of all the SummerSlam matches, setting the stage for what could be one of the best matches on the card. All four men are world class workers, and they should have no problem telling a great story in the ring. That said, this could be the first of several matches between these two teams, meaning they could hold some things back for future encounters on shows that could give them a brighter spotlight. Even if both duos restrain themselves for bouts down the line, they should still have one of the most memorable matches of the night.
Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe- Fatal-4-Way Match for the WWE Universal Championship, if Lesnar loses the title, he and Heyman will leave WWE
The fatal-four-way main event featuring the RAW brand's biggest behemoths feels worthy of its top billing. The bookers have effectively protected each wrestler, creating an air of unpredictability in regard to the result. Incumbent Universal Champion Brock Lesnar always comes across as a megastar; putting him on the marquee of any event instantly adds something to the show. That said, the three challengers also feel like larger than life stars. Samoa Joe has been nothing short of outstanding since entering the title picture last June; he has come across as a believable tough guy who can beat the best of the best. His brief but memorable performance at Great Balls of Fire against Lesnar helped wash away some early lackluster in-ring efforts as well. Since starting his monster push, Braun Strowman has awed fans with his feats of strength and his ability to survive attempts on his life. The greenest worker in the match, Strowman has exceeded the fans and critics wildest expectations in the ring, and can only get better with time. Ironically, the man McMahon envisions as his top star, Roman Reigns, possesses the least star power of the quartet. Even still, Vince's chosen one does not feel out of place trading blows with the others. All four men should produce a memorable, chaotic main event that leaves the fans yearning for one-on-one matches going forward. Provided the fans aren't burned out by the long run time (which would be a story in and of itself), Lesnar, Strowman, Reigns and Joe should be able to give the fans a fun championship match.