Tonight on Sunday August, 23rd 2020, WWE presents its 33rd annual SummerSlam event (available on the WWE Network at 7:00 PM ET (Preshow at 5:00 PM ET) live from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. This broadcast features the new WWE Thunderdome which includes projections on the ceiling, nearly 1,000 LED screens, lasers, smoke, pyro, and drones will be used to capture new camera angles. Fans can register for virtual seats for the event at www.WWEThunderDome.com. If accepted, they will be broadcast on one of the numerous LED boards surrounding the ring and their audio will be used on the program as well.
In addition to major changes to the production elements of this year’s SummerSlam, the tagline for this year’s event is: “You’ll never see it coming.” implying some sort of surprise will happen at this year’s event. WWE has debuted two new elements to their programming to shake things up recently: Shane McMahon’s RAW Underground (a more MMA-based style competition held in a guarded room backstage) and RETRIBUTION (a masked group that is protesting WWE by destroying property). Could the identities of RETRIBUTION’s members be revealed at SummerSlam? Could WWE lure Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns back to action anytime soon? Daniel Cormier keeps expressing interest in WWE, but they have yet to show any public interest in the UFC legend. The company reported that they saved a lot of money by not having to tour and other budget cuts & furloughs that were implemented last quarter, so they should have plenty of cash to spend on whatever they want.
This year’s SummerSlam has eight matches scheduled with a “No Disqualification Loser Leaves WWE” match between Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, a “Street Fight” featuring Dominik Mysterio’s in-ring debut, and the Universal Title match will be “Falls Count Anywhere” to add some variety to the card. Asuka will also be the first Superstar to have two scheduled championship matches on the same card in SummerSlam history. Below is a preview of the scheduled card and predictions based on recent booking. In the comments please share your predictions and thoughts on the show and your favorite SummerSlam memories besides Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog for the IC Title in 1992 in Wembley Stadium.
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton
In spite of having the entirety of his reign occur during the audience-less COVID era shows, Drew McIntyre continues to grow as WWE Champion. McIntyre’s promos feel more and more natural every week and his comfort level was high during his promo on this past week’s RAW as he managed to slip in a “tear in my eye” reference when talking about Orton’s assault on Ric Flair. McIntyre’s title defenses have been excellent and dynamic in spite of his size but the most exciting Superstar on WWE television for the past five months has been Randy Orton.
Randy Orton’s work in and outside of the ring in 2020 has made him the most must-watch Superstar on WWE programming. His feud with Edge was the hottest feud going into WrestleMania. Orton delivered an even better performance in “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” positioning him as the number one contender for the WWE Championship. Orton brought back his famous punt as a new weapon to threaten the reign of Drew McIntyre. Orton has taken out Christian, The Big Show, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels with his punt already.
As amazing as Orton has been, Drew McIntyre feels like the pick to win here. Before his demise on RAW, Shawn Michaels spent an entire backstage segment in a two-shot telling Drew McIntyre how much he loves him. WWE isn’t going to bail on a guy that they spend this much time building up. It’s possible that Orton and McIntyre can continue their feud after SummerSlam with a better and more personal angle than “I don’t like you because you keep injuring people I look up to.”
The in-ring story of this match should all be about the punt and its danger versus the Claymore. Every WWE fan knows that Randy Orton’s most effective maneuver is the RKO, but his current fascination with his punt will likely be his downfall. Whoever can stay focussed will win this match and Drew McIntyre has shown the discipline it takes to defeat Randy Orton at SummerSlam. RETRIBUTION teased some involvement in the match by interfering with McIntyre’s promo. If RETRIBUTION isn’t involved with the final moments of SummerSlam, it will be even harder to take them seriously as a force in WWE.
Drew McIntyre via pinfall
WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Braun Strowman (c) vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt has been tormenting Braun Strowman ever since Strowman won the Universal Title from Goldberg, the man who ended Wyatt’s title reign. Wyatt initially faced Strowman at Money In The Bank as his “Firefly Funhouse” Bray Wyatt persona. Strowman squashed Wyatt in spite of Wyatt’s attempts at mind games. The two clashed again in a “Wyatt Swamp Fight” at The Horror Show At Extreme Rules. Wyatt appeared as the original incarnation of Bray Wyatt, the one who led Braun Strowman as a member of his Wyatt Family. Wyatt also has Alexa Bliss under his spell – Strowman’s former tag team partner in the Mixed Match Challenge and the only recorded object of Strowman’s affection. Bliss was used in the Swamp Fight to throw Strowman off his game. Strowman’s performance in the Swamp Fight and all of his behavior in the build to SummerSlam have shown that he is not mentally strong enough to defeat The Fiend’s mind games.
RETRIBUTION (teased in the WWE Championship feud on RAW) also made an appearance on SmackDown this past Friday, physically assaulting Braun Strowman during his face-off with The Fiend. WWE really wants us to keep them in mind for both title matches, so we will. Strowman has done the best he can stepping into the vacant spot left by Roman Reigns just days before WrestleMania 36. Wyatt has also used all of his creativity to make SmackDown as interesting as possible throughout the summer. Strowman just hasn’t been up to the task of being the champion of the wrestling show with the largest potential for viewership. A change needs to be made. Most WWE fans were perplexed that The Fiend lost the Universal Title to Goldberg after being the most dominant force in WWE for the previous six months. A win for The Fiend here will give Strowman some time to get refreshed and open things up for a more interesting SmackDown.
The Fiend via pinfall
WWE RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Asuka
Asuka was one of the most terrifying competitors in NXT history. Her run on RAW & SmackDown have been less dominant, but her in-ring work has been excellent. This summer, Asuka has finally been given an excellent story to sink her teeth into. Sasha & Bayley have tormented Asuka and put her in the most vulnerable position we’ve ever seen. Asuka (although has been a babyface in the past) now has more sympathy from the audience than she’s ever had. Remember that Banks won the RAW Women’s Championship from Asuka only through Bayley’s interference.
Asuka will go down in history for even attempting to win both championships in one show, but without a live crowd present and with her best friend Kairi Sane gone from the company, it’s even more unlikely that Asuka wins both titles. Banks will find a new way to cheat and retain here.
Sasha Banks via pinfall
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Bayley (c) vs. Asuka
Bayley and Asuka have had some excellent matches when they face each other and if this match is the second of the two, it will also be a banger. Asuka lost her RAW Women’s Championship to Sasha Banks because of Bayley’s interference. Bayley tortured Kairi Sane to the point that she cried out for Asuka’s help, forcing Asuka to choose between losing her title or her best friend’s well-being. Asuka is out for revenge against Bayley and SummerSlam will be the place that Asuka finally gets her revenge on Bayley. This won’t be the blowoff for the feud, but it will require things to step up. Is it time for Io Shirai to come to SmackDown?
Asuka via submission
WWE RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
The Street Profits (c) vs. Andrade and Angel Garza with Zelina Vega
The Street Profits have held the RAW Tag Team Championships for almost five months now. Their reign has produced some silly vignettes with The Viking Raiders, but it has been tremendously hampered by the lack of a live audience. It’s time for the Street Profits’ reign to end and the heel tag team of Andrade & Garza will be an excellent shakeup for a division that has Ricochet & Cedric Alexander chomping at the bit to wrestle on TV again. It’s unlikely that this will be the end of the feud as it was revealed on this past week’s RAW that Zelina Vega is the one who poisoned Montez Ford. The poisoning could also start a feud between Zelina Vega and Ford’s wife, Bianca Belair. This would allow the Street Profits to remain on TV without actively competing for the tag titles.
Angel Garza has been getting some great opportunities on TV, flirting with Demi Burnett from “The Bachelor” in multiple segments. Andrade and Garza can wrestle with anyone and both have a tremendous future ahead of themselves as singles performers, but RAW needs a marquee heel tag team and these two can fill that role with ease. Andrade & Garza have only brought the best out of their opponents, making it hard not to think of the possibilities of them feuding with other babyface teams on RAW like The Viking Raiders and Ricochet & Cedric Alexander.
Andrade & Angel Garza via pinfall
WWE US CHAMPIONSHIP
Apollo Crews (c) vs. MVP
Apollo Crews looks to put an end to his summer long feud with MVP & The Hurt Business in this rematch with MVP for the United States Championship. Crews picked up a major victory over Shelton Benjamin on this past week’s RAW forcing The Hurt Business to be barred from ringside at SummerSlam. This will be a perfect showcase for Crews to display himself as a pure babyface akin to Kofi Kingston’s position against Daniel Bryan leading up to WrestleMania 35.
It really feels like Lashley is being positioned to be the next opponent for Crews but MVP’s contributions to RAW should not be overlooked. MVP has been one of the most entertaining performers on RAW and he is still performing at a high level, bell-to-bell. Crews is one of those Superstars who continue to work to round out their game and it feels like he’s just starting to hit his stride. A quality title defense at SummerSlam will be an important building block for Apollo Crews’ legacy in WWE.
Apollo Crews via pinfall
LOSER LEAVES WWE MATCH
Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville
Former best friends and tag team partners in “Fire & Desire” have had one of the worst fallouts in WWE friendship history since Gargano & Ciampa’s feud in NXT. Sonya Deville’s need to control Mandy Rose has driven away everyone in her life. The match between these two was originally scheduled to be a hair match, but Deville now finds herself at a crossroads in her career in WWE: she cannot exist in the company as long as Mandy Rose is around. Deville raised the stakes on Friday by challenging Rose to change the stipulation for their match to be “Loser Leaves WWE”.
In real life, Sonya Deville’s home was invaded earlier this week by a man who admitted to police that he intended to kidnap her. Deville likely needs time off to rest her body and mind after this horrific violation of her personal life. This real life event is what likely changed the stipulation to this match, but the finish to the match was always going to be the same: Mandy Rose wins. Mandy Rose has stepped up in every segment she’s been featured in and WWE will give her more opportunities this fall as her story with Otis has been one of the bright spots of the summer. Deville taking a loss here will not deter her. When she comes back, she will be a force. Much like Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville has made the most of her opportunities on WWE television. Although her win/loss record may not reflect her growth, she is definitely ready for a program around one of the Women’s Championship titles. Hopefully we see Sonya Deville back on our televisions sooner than later.
Mandy Rose via pinfall
Seth Rollins vs. Dominik Mysterio
Dominik Mysterio’s initiation to the WWE has been the most sadistic and horrible welcome to a workplace in recorded history. Dominik drew the ire of Rollins & Murphy when he jumped out from the crowd wielding a kendo stick to attack Murphy & Rollins after they injured Aleister Black’s eye – simultaneously avenging the removal of his father’s eye at Extreme Rules. The next week on RAW, Dominik (wielding a kendo stick once again) came to the aid of Humberto Carrillo by neutralizing the threat of Buddy Murphy in Carrillo’s match with Rollins. After dispatching Carrillo, Rollins took Dominik’s kendo stick and gave Dominik the most brutal caning in RAW history. The photos of the damage to Dominik are haunting. This past week on RAW, Rey Mysterio returned with an eye patch sewn into his signature mask and announced that he’d be in Dominik’s corner at SummerSlam.
Seth Rollins is the most decorated WWE Superstar of the past 5 years and if this were a normal wrestling match, he would destroy Dominik Mysterio easily. However, this is a No DQ match and Rey Mysterio & Buddy Murphy will be on the outside, making this match feel a lot more like a low-key Tornado Tag Match. It’s a clever way to highlight Dominik’s strengths while hiding his weaknesses without losing a step in the storytelling of the match. Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio will be adding a new chapter to their legacies with this match in attempting to launch Dominik’s career.
We can argue about the eye for an eye match’s effectiveness in storytelling, but Rey & Seth put on a very entertaining wrestling match around an incredibly difficult stipulation. This bodes well for the quality of the match between Rollins and Dominik. SummerSlam will be a tremendous launching point for the career of Dominik Mysterio with Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy, and Rey Mysterio there to help make sure this match is incredible. Rey Mysterio is going to clear the way for Dominik to pick up a tremendous victory in his debut at SummerSlam.
Dominik Mysterio via pinfall