As I type this, we’re only a few hours removed from Money In The Bank, and people are still buzzing.
It was a hot night of action in front of an equally hot crowd. We had two title changes (counting one on the pre-show), two Money In The Bank winners, dominant “World Champions” continuing to make history, and a surprise return that blew the roof off of the arena. Early buzz is that this week’s episodes of WWE television are going to be very newsworthy, as well, with us now on the road to SummerSlam.
SummerSlam, of course, is the company’s second-biggest show of the year, and a time where WWE likes to pull out all the stops if at all possible. This is an exciting time of year for anyone that is a fan of WWE. Hell, with everything that has been happening in the world over the last year-and-a-half, this is an exciting time for all wrestling fans, regardless of what company’s flag you’re flying.
Sitting here, thinking about the next five or so weeks, has all kinds of ideas popping into my head. I figured this would be a good time to capitalize on the buzz that is being built up and talk about SummerSlam. There are ten things that I feel we need to get out of the event. These aren’t predictions or anything along those lines. Simply things I think we need to get out of the show to make it every bit of the super duper extravaganza that is rumored to be this year. As usual with these columns of mine, the entries are in no particular order.
With all that out of the way, let’s get down with the get down, shall we?
A Spotlight On The Midcard Champions: Apollo Crews and Sheamus won the Intercontinental and United States Titles, respectively, on the same night… night two of WrestleMania 37, on April 11th. That was a little more than three months ago. In that time frame, Crews has defended the Intercontinental Title four times, but none in the last seven weeks. He hasn’t appeared on a pay-per-view at all since WrestleMania. Sheamus has defended the United States Title once since winning it, and that was a week ago, after having the title for almost three months exactly. At least Sheamus had a match at WrestleMania Backlash, even though it wasn’t a title defense.
Sheamus’ situation isn’t as bad. He missed a chunk of time with a broken nose, which played into his “disappearing” act. On top of that, his schtick recently has basically been trying to avoid defending the title by attacking people like Humberto Carrillo. Apollo has been damn near forgotten. It has been over a month since he has been on the winning end of a match, and we’re coming up on two months since the last time he won a singles match. That is unacceptable for someone who, in kayfabe, is supposed to be one of the top members of the Smackdown roster.
We need a United States Title defense at SummerSlam, and we also need an Intercontinental Title defense. Not only that, but they need to be big-time matches. No offense to Humberto Carrillo, but defending against someone like him isn’t a big-time match. To me, it doesn’t matter if they’re singles matches or something along the lines of a Triple Threat, etc. They just need to be as I said… big-time matches.
Bobby Lashley Not Getting Dragged Down By Goldberg: Look, I don’t care if you like or dislike Goldberg in 2021. The facts are that he has put on some absolute stinkers since returning to WWE in 2016. This is a man who is in tremendous physical shape, but he’s also almost 55 years old now and wasn’t exactly known as an in-ring technician when he was in his wrestling prime. It’s bound to happen.
If you’ve been following the news about Goldberg’s contract, you might already know how this match is going to go. I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler, as the contract news has been reported on numerous occasions, so I’ll mention it here. He’s under contract for two matches a year, and he had a match at the Royal Rumble this year. So… unless you think he’s winning the WWE Title and then not defending it for at least the next four-plus months, he’s not winning this one. That’s not my concern here, though.
Lashley has looked so good over the last few months. He is on the roll of his career, looking like the unstoppable monster that he should be booked as. If he steps into the ring with Goldberg and the match ends up being something along the lines of Goldberg’s match with The Undertaker at Super Showdown 2019, what does that do for Lashley and his legacy? He’s not a rookie in the business, but he doesn’t have anywhere near the career that The Undertaker had. Taker was able to have that asstastic match and not have the average fan look at him as some sort of doofus. He could show up on Smackdown this week, and the crowd would lose their minds.
Let’s hope we get a short and painless one, going bell-to-bell in under five minutes, with both men beating the hell out of each other the whole time. No botches, no ugly moments… just a Lashley win so that we can move on and get to Goldberg’s next random appearance at some point in 2022.
The Two Biggest Women’s Matches WWE Can Deliver Pre-Draft: I had this entry ready to go before the ending of this week’s episode of Raw, but goshdarnit, I’m keeping it here, even though that ending threw a bit of a wrench into these plans.
For SummerSlam to be as big as it has been promised to be, the focus on the women needs to be there, and it needs to be prominent. I’m a big fan of Nikki Cross, and I think the current Nikki A.S.H. gimmick has potential to get crazy over with the younger members of the WWE Universe. I just don’t think she’s the right choice to head into the company’s second-biggest show of the year as the Raw Women’s Champion. The ending of Raw seems like a hot-shotted moment to show how wild and crazy these times are, giving us a big surprise.
To make SummerSlam the biggest show possible, there are two women’s matches that need to be on the card. Two matches that are as big as women’s matches can be right now, prior to the rosters shifting around during the Draft. On Smackdown, it’s definitely Bianca Belair vs Sasha Banks in a WrestleMania rematch. With Sasha being away from WWE programming for the last few months, it makes the rematch considerably fresher in the minds of everyone than if they would’ve had another match or two, feuded with others for a month, and then had another match here. Raw, on the other hand, has one match that the world is waiting for…
Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch.
Now, with Charlotte dropping the Raw Women’s Title to Nikki to close out Raw, I am willing to make a bit of a change here. Ideally, we would still be getting Charlotte vs Becky at SummerSlam, but I think we can switch that up a bit. How about Nikki defending the title against Charlotte instead? Hell, make it a Triple Threat with Rhea Ripley included. That’s fine. Either way, the match needs to end with Charlotte as the champion. Then, it’s up to WWE if they want Becky to make her return right then and there, or on Raw two nights later.
Like I said, the ideal situation would be having Charlotte vs Becky, one-on-one, at SummerSlam. One could say that it doesn’t need the title, and while that would technically be true, it wouldn’t make any sense for either Becky or Charlotte. Becky’s going to make her big return and head straight into a secondary feud with someone she wasn’t even feuding with when she left? Charlotte’s just going to be like “Okay, Nikki, you do your thug thizzle with the title for a bit so I can handle some business over here and be right back” and then head into the aforementioned secondary feud? Before anybody says anything… yes, I’m aware of the term “secondary” being used here. It’s secondary because it isn’t for the title, not because it’ll get less attention. Of course a non-title Becky vs Charlotte feud is going to get more play than a title feud involving Nikki A.S.H. and any other woman on the Raw roster. Just roll with it. I’m trying to make a point here. That point being that Becky is coming back for the title she had to give up a year ago, and Charlotte may never be out of the title picture for the rest of her life.
Make it happen, Vince.
A Slightly Longer Show: Before anybody gets their tighty whities all bunched up, I’m not asking for a replay of WrestleMania 35, where the event itself clocked in at just under five-and-a-half hours, and seven-and-a-half hours when you count the pre-show. Hell no. Never again.
When I say we need a longer show, I mean more because we’ve been having some relatively short events (by WWE standards) in the era of COVID. Not all that long ago, if a WWE pay-per-view ended at the three-hour mark, you would immediately notice how “short” the show was. Now, it has become pretty regular for WWE pay-per-views to wrap things up around that mark. For SummerSlam to be great, there needs to be a little more time on the show, both for a couple extra matches to be added, and also for the wrestlers to get more time to work with.
I think there’s a good chance of it happening. Money In The Bank was the third-longest WWE pay-per-view of 2021, behind only the Royal Rumble and the first night of WrestleMania 37. With fans back in full effect, I would think WWE is more comfortable with having longer shows taking place. I don’t want SummerSlam to top the four-hour mark, but I think it should go beyond three-and-a-half.
Bro? Bro: In previous columns, I’ve been supportive of the AJ Styles and Omos pairing. The formula was simple… Styles handles the large majority of the matches, and Omos gets to come in for some highlight reel power moves… and it has been effective. In a normal situation, I would have no problem with their title reign continuing on. When I post this column, their reign will be sitting at 102 days, which amazingly enough is the second-longest reign in the five-year history of this era of the Raw Tag Team Titles. That’s not very long at all.
I just can’t help but feel like we should be getting a shift in the division right now. As good as the Styles and Omos formula has been, the story between Randy Orton and Riddle has been even better. Not only is Riddle red hot with his in-ring performances reaching another level in recent months, but him trying to win over the ever stoic Orton has been a lot of fun. When done right in wrestling, “odd couple” tag team stories are money. This is one of those times. Because it’s Randy Orton, it will inevitably fall apart and there will be a turn involved, but I want this story to evolve now. Having them as the new Raw Tag Team Champions would make for entertaining television.
Well, unless Randy Orton has disappeared off the face of the planet, that is. He’s been gone for a while now, and everyone seems to be mighty casual about it. Seems a little fishy.
A Main Event Classic: Roman Reigns. John Cena. Right now, it’s the biggest professional wrestling match you can have (spare me your bullshit takes). Chances are, we’ve already figured out the end result of the match, but that hasn’t stopped matches from being incredible in the past, and it shouldn’t stop this one, either.
There has been one televised singles match between these two, and that took place at 2017’s No Mercy pay-per-view. It was a match that saw Roman Reigns emerge victorious by pinfall. The match lasted 22:05, and I have the match rating at 4 stars, but I’ve seen it as high as 4.5 stars from other people. For obvious reasons, their SummerSlam match needs to top the No Mercy one in every way. I’m talking about a 30-minute Match Of The Year. Both men have shown they are more than capable enough of stepping up in big-time spots, and this is a huge spot.
Even if everybody is fully expecting Reigns to retain the title here, this has to be special. This is, more than likely, going to be the match we remember this show for. Normally, a 4-star match is pretty, pretty good. If we get a 4-star match to close SummerSlam out, though, it will feel like a major disappointment.
A Lava-Hot Crowd: You know… I think this one is a pretty easy thing to achieve. These crowds are all going to be very excited to have shows to attend, and SummerSlam is a big one. Add in the fact that it will be taking place inside of a domed stadium, where crowd noise has nowhere to escape, and this is going to be fun.
Get The Scottish Psychopath His “Moment”: You could argue that Drew McIntyre and Bayley are the WWE MVP’s of the pandemic era. McIntyre won the 2020 Royal Rumble in front of a rabid crowd, and would then be forced to have the biggest moment of his entire career in front of zero fans at WrestleMania 36. He would have a tremendous in-ring year, involved in several fantastic matches, and being the WWE Champion for 300 combined days over two reigns. The easy assumption to make was that Drew would be “rewarded” once WWE was performing in front of fans again. That night would be WrestleMania 37, where… Drew would lose to Bobby Lashley in the first match on the first night of the event. In his next match in front of live fans, Drew would be unsuccessful in trying to win the Money In The Bank briefcase.
Now, we come to SummerSlam. Is he competing for the WWE or Universal Titles? No. Is he going one-on-one in a marquee match against a huge part-time star? No. Is he competing for a midcard title? It doesn’t look like it. Tag Team Title? Doesn’t seem like that will be the case.
Instead, it looks like he’ll be facing his former 3MB stablemate, Jinder Mahal. The story makes sense. I won’t knock that. It just seems like Drew is freefalling down the card. At this rate, he’ll be pinned by Reginald in a pre-show match before this year’s Survivor Series event. The man didn’t even get to cut a big “rah-rah” promo in front of returning fans as the top face on Raw.
I don’t know what his “moment” should be. It’s a lot harder to have them when you aren’t in a position to win a title or compete in a match that gets all the attention. Maybe he can jump from the roof cables that are 160 feet off the ground and deliver the ultimate Claymore Kick, flying through the air like a Liu Kang Bicycle Kick (hopefully with similar turkey sounds), hitting Jinder, Veer, and Shanky at the same time. I don’t know! Something. Anything. He deserves that much.
A Good Set-Up For The Draft: Originally, this year’s WWE Draft was rumored to be taking place the week after SummerSlam, happening on the August 30th episode of Raw and the September 3rd episode of Smackdown. Then, out of nowhere, the dates of the Draft got pushed back a bit, either happening on the October 1st episode of Smackdown and the October 4th episode of Raw or the October 4th episode of Raw and the October 8th episode of Smackdown. That changes things a bit, but the main point remains the same… SummerSlam is the last “major” show before the Draft, and can set things up for at least the next year on both brands.
Earlier, I mentioned the biggest women’s matches that WWE can give us right now. That can potentially change after the Draft. What if Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair end up on the same show once the Draft is over? Sasha Banks and Rhea Ripley? Mia Yim and Doudrop? The possibilities are endless.
While it seems Extreme Rules will be the final pay-per-view before the Draft, SummerSlam could/should show us some potential directions that the company plans to go in. If Bobby Lashley is going to remain the WWE Champion, you have to think that either he and the Universal Champion will be switching brands, or that Drew McIntyre will be heading to Smackdown. New champions, new contenders, new feuds… everything that happens at SummerSlam could go a long way to giving us hints on what direction things might be going in for at least the next few months, if not the next year altogether.
Stop Spamming Matches On The Way To SummerSlam: This one is slightly different than the rest, but it’s still very important. We all know about WWE’s desire to repeat the same matches over and over again. That needs to stop, period, but it damn sure needs to stop leading up to big shows like this.
As an example, let’s say Apollo Crews is defending the Intercontinental Title against Finn Balor at SummerSlam. Cool beans. Good idea. If WWE wants to do that, here’s what we DON’T need to see…
- Balor defeats Crews by disqualification on this week’s episode of Smackdown
- Crews cheats to beat Balor on next week’s episode of Smackdown
- Balor defeats Commander Azeez by disqualification on the following episode of Smackdown, leading to a two-on-one beatdown on Balor
- Crews and Balor go to a double count-out on the next episode of Smackdown
- Balor and Wrestler A defeat Crews and Azeez on the following week’s episode of Smackdown, which is the go-home show for SummerSlam
- Crews vs Balor at SummerSlam the next night
- Crews vs Balor in a rematch on the next episode of Smackdown if Balor wins the title at SummerSlam
My head hurts just thinking about that kind of thing. Then my heart hurts because I know just how possible that type of scenario is. If SummerSlam is going to BE special, it has to FEEL special. It can’t FEEL special if we’ve seen damn near every match within the last month.
What say you, ReaderLand? What needs to happen for you to feel that this year’s SummerSlam is as big an event as it can possibly be? You can mention specific matches that need to happen, or just list specific things. They can be things I’ve mentioned here, or some of your own. Either way, I want to hear from you. Hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Darby Allin vs Ethan Page: There was a lot of good stuff in the build for this match, with Page specifically shining on the mic. You knew the match was going to be a war, and that’s exactly what it was. I’m still not 100% sure how Darby is even alive. Not just because of this match, but his overall lack of fuck giving for his own body and wellbeing. It’s amazing to watch, really.
- Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair: This is about their match at Money In The Bank, not the rematch on Raw the next night. Both women worked their asses off here, grabbing the crowd and keeping them in the palms of their hands. It’s wild to see just how much in-ring chemistry these two have when you compare it to the lack of in-ring chemistry that Rhea has with Asuka.
- Nikki ASH: If you win Money In The Bank and then successfully cash your title shot in the next night to become the new Raw Women’s Champion, you’re going to make lists like this. There’s a ton of potential with this new gimmick, especially when it comes to connecting with the younger members of the WWE Universe.
- Men’s Money In The Bank Match: Nothing groundbreaking here, but nothing groundbreaking was needed. A great lineup of competitors led to a great car wreck of a match. As an added bonus, the right man won, popping the crowd like crazy. Now, we wait and see what happens with Big E as the briefcase holder. Something special could be a-brewing.
- Roman Reigns vs Edge: This was one of those matches where the outcome not being in question didn’t hurt the overall quality. I’ve seen some complaints that the match was too slow, but I’m not sure what those people were expecting. When was the last time either of these men was flying all over the ring like Ricochet or Rey Fenix? Roman’s character is all about taking his time and moving at the pace he wants to move at, and Edge is almost 48 years old. This was always going to be slower and more methodical, and it worked.
- John Cena’s Return: What. A. Pop.
- Kyle O’Reilly vs Austin Theory: If you don’t look at his win/loss record and just focus on how he’s booked to look against top competition, you can see big things in Austin Theory’s future. Those big things may come in NXT, or they may come on Raw or Smackdown, but they’re coming. His in-ring work has gotten so good and so clean, even just in the last few months.
- Keith Lee’s Return: It was really good to see him return to television after being gone for five months. There has been so much mystery as to why he was gone, and we still don’t have any answers. He’s back, though, and that’s what counts. As far as his return match itself… well… he’s back, and that’s what counts.
- Finn Balor’s Return To The Main Roster: After being in NXT for nearly two years, Balor made his return to the main roster, showing up on Smackdown. Being in NXT for that long means that everything he does on Smackdown (or Raw if he’s moved in the Draft) will feel fresher. He was doing really well in NXT, but Smackdown really needed the shot in the arm that his arrival can bring.
- CM Punk’s Return?: The man is apparently in talks to return to in-ring competition, with AEW looking like the frontrunners to gain his services. Say whatever you want about him, but there are few things in wrestling that are going to garner a bigger pop, and receive more attention, than CM Punk returning to wrestling. The only reason this is at the bottom of the rankings is that nothing is official yet.
This Week’s Playlist: “Trouble” by Damian Marley… “One More Cup Of Coffee” by Damian Marley… “Me Name Jr. Gong” by Damian Marley… “Educated Fools” by Damian Marley, Treach, Bounty Killer & Bunny Wailer… “It Was Written” by Damian Marley, Stephen Marley, Capleton & Drag-On… “Born To Be Wild” by Damian Marley… “There For You” by Damian Marley… “Welcome To Jamrock” by Damian Marley… “The Master Has Come Back” by Damian Marley… “Beautiful” by Damian Marley & Bobby Brown… “Road To Zion” by Damian Marley & Nas… “Khaki Suit” by Damian Marley, Bounty Killer & Eek-A-Mouse… “Caution” by Damian Marley… “As We Enter” by Nas & Damian Marley… “Bam” by Jay-Z & Damian Marley… “And You Be Loved” by Damian Marley… “Jump Around (25 Years Remix)” by DJ Muggs, Everlast, Damian Marley & Meyhem Lauren… “Medication (Remix)” by Damian Marley, Stephen Marley, Wiz Khalifa & Ty Dolla $ign… “Make It Bun Dem” by Damian Marley & Skrillex… “What Do You Say (Remix)” by Common, Damian Marley & PJ