Strong Build for Reigns vs. Lesnar, and Morgan vs. Rousey
Welcome to the Cool Points.
Friday Night Smackdown might not be your favourite show these days, but the matches that have been booked for WWE SummerSlam in Nashville, TN are all deserving of their place on the card. Often, the complaint is that feuds haven’t had enough build or promotion, but that argument can’t be used this year. If your complaint is that we’ve seen these matches before, we have…and we haven’t, and I’m not going to hold it against them this year.
In Part 1, we’ll look at the men’s and women’s title matches from the Smackdown side of things.
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar- Last Man Standing
Much of the online discussion regarding Reigns vs. Lesnar, for the seventh time on PPV/PLE (Premium Live Event, ugh) has been rather negative. WWE is booking the biggest match they can, but it is certainly a pairing that has produced mixed results, despite their individual legacies as unstoppable monsters. Consider, though, the sports narrative here. Next Saturday, we will be witnessing the Game 7 of this series, the deciding match. Reigns comes in with 3 victories, Lesnar with 2, and Rollins with 1, when he cashed in his MITB briefcase at Wrestlemania 31. Not your typical sports narrative, I know, but hear me out.
Last Man Standing matches, in WWE, are not an overused stipulation. Typically, we see 1 or 2 a year, and they are usually tied/forced to a particular time of year, like TLC or Hell In A Cell. Thankfully, that’s not the case this time, and we actually have a good reason for a stipulation like this. Many good reasons.
The TKO Victory
There’s no 3 count or pinfall or submission this time. No excuses can be made by Reigns or Lesnar that the other got a quick win or a surprise win. 10 seconds in the world of WWE is a long time. A win by TKO, in a match stipulation these two have never wrestled before against one another, will provide some long-awaited finality to this feud.
Now, I know, some of you are chuckling because we thought that after Wrestlemania 38, too. All I can say is that this stipulation offers the opportunity for finality, and I hope WWE picks up on it. We finally have a match between these two where there is a clear cut face and heel, and both are mega stars in the WWE Universe. This is the perfect stipulation to end it once and for all. Even if there is interference.
Plenty of Interference
The Last Man Standing stipulation allows for plenty of interference, and there are a number of parties who will be involved in this match. That will make this a must-see match, just to see how it all plays out. The Bloodline can be expected to get involved; The Usos have helped Reigns win before, at Crown Jewel, and could easily do it again. I’m including honorary member Sami Zayn too. He has proven his allegiance to the Bloodline over the past few months. He may be angling for a championship opportunity of his own, but SummerSlam will be about protecting his interests. Expect him to attack Lesnar or Theory to help out.
The current MITB briefcase holder, Theory, has made it known to Paul Heyman and the rest of us that he will be looking for an opportunity to cash in at SummerSlam. It’s an ideal time because of the match stipulation that will likely see Reigns and Lesnar beat each other up to a pulp. Theory also has the option to join the match and make it a triple threat, thanks to the precedent Seth Rollins set at Wrestlemania 31. So Theory could repeat that formula and win the title that way.
Finally, there are two other guys that could get involved: Madcap Moss and Drew McIntyre. Moss was approached by Heyman last week to take out Theory in advance of SummerSlam. He failed to do that in the match, but Heyman planted the idea that Moss could headline a big show against Reigns, if he helped out. Moss, believe it or not, is on the rise on Smackdown and is getting a little more fan support after defeating Corbin at MITB. He might get more if he stopped Theory from cashing in, or if he countered Heyman’s proposal and helped Lesnar win instead.
Drew McIntyre will face whoever wins this match at Clash at the Castle in Cardiff, Wales, this September. It’s a first time PLE for Wales and it will be home turf for McIntyre to challenge for the Undisputed Universal Championship. McIntyre could hedge his bets on who he has a better chance defeating and get involved. That could include interfering on a Theory cash-in so that he can face Theory at Clash at the Castle. Seems to me that would be a much easier win for McIntyre than Reigns or Lesnar. Would that be a big enough draw for the Welsh and UK fans? Maybe not.
Prediction: Theory will attempt to cash in, but will be prevented from doing so. Reigns will get the final, decisive win, as WWE silently aims to keep Reigns as champion longer than Hulk Hogan’s 80’s reign. Lesnar will go back to his farm in Saskatchewan where he is happy as a deer in an apple orchard. I just think Theory needs more time to build this up and keep the MITB briefcase hanging over Reigns’ head. The longer he waits, the more suspense, and even in a world of short attention spans, the MITB briefcase draws attention, discussion, and prediction. All those things are good for business.
Liv Morgan (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
Liv Morgan has generated good will of her own after cashing in her MITB briefcase hours after winning it to defeat Ronda Rousey. At SummerSlam, we’ll see a proper match between the two with no advantages. The build for this match has been short, by circumstance, but appropriate. Natalya has played a key role in allowing Morgan and Rousey to showcase their skills prior to the bout.
It also effectively concludes Natalya’s claims that her opportunity to win the championship was trumped by Morgan. She lost both matches, and while she could interfere out of spite, I don’t foresee that as a deciding factor in the match.
Reasons to Win
Based on wrestling skill, fighting instinct and aggression, Rousey is the clear favourite. Her submission skills are dangerous and if Morgan gets caught in an armbar, this match should be over. Just looking at their wrestling styles over the years, Rousey is a clear favourite. She’s stronger and faster and in great shape after giving birth to a child only a year ago. (Note: Defined abs do not define great shape. Try talking to any mom who gave birth naturally or via c-section. Her body has created and nurtured a human life into the world. Give her a break.)
Morgan has been presented as an underdog, and a fan favourite who will give 110% and try to fight through whatever comes her way. She might have a little more support from the fans who seem quite split on Rousey these days. Against a super heel like Charlotte Flair, it’s much easier to cheer Rousey. With Morgan as an underdog, the “I’ve worked my whole life just to get to this moment” kind of attitude is very endearing. Rousey is a professional fighter who isn’t afraid to trash talk her opponents before, during, and after a fight. If she were to employ a few dirty tactics to try and win, I think the crowd would quickly turn and support Morgan.
If WWE is trying to determine if Morgan has staying power as a champion, that underdog card will be played over and over again in this match by the commentary team, and Morgan will need to endure a few submission attempts to somehow gut out a victory here.
Prediction: Liv Morgan will find a way to win, and Smackdown will try to run with Morgan as the champion going into the fall, and the new TV season in September.
Next week, we’ll look at the remainder of the Smackdown matches on the SummerSlam card including the Undisputed Tag Team Championship match, and Pat McAfee vs. Happy Corbin.
Here are a few questions to consider from today’s column:
Will Theory successfully cash in during the SummerSlam Last Man Standing match between Roman Reigns (c) and Brock Lesnar?
Should Liv Morgan be given a good run as champion, or would you prefer to see some title-switching between her and Rousey, and others?
Please join in the discussion below on those questions or anything else you’d like to share. You can also follow me on Twitter to keep the conversation going there.