With SummerSlam 2016 quickly approaching, the card is almost set. Six matches have already been made official for WWE’s second biggest pay-per-view of the year, and it isn’t hard to predict a few other matches that will soon be added to the card.
The results of SummerSlam will set the wheels in motion for the direction that WWE goes in for the rest of 2016, and even though it’s more than seven months away, the WrestleMania 33 match card will be indirectly affected by the results. While the likes of The Undertaker and Triple H won’t have matches, the card itself might be even better than that of WrestleMania 32.
Let’s fantasy book the top matches at SummerSlam and pick which wrestlers should win at Barclays Center on Aug. 21.
As the face of WWE, John Cena almost always comes out on top at the end of his feuds. While he’s lost single matches to the likes of Rusev, Kevin Owens and Bray Wyatt in recent years, he ended up beating each opponent multiple times. Styles defeated Cena at Money in the Bank, but the 15-time world champ evened things up at Battleground by winning a tag team match against The Club. If history repeats itself, Cena is going over at SummerSlam.
But Styles has the potential to be a top WWE superstar for years to come, and defeating Cena at WWE’s second biggest show of the year would only improve the chances of that happening. Cena will remain SmackDown’s No.1 draw, no matter the result, but Styles has already lost three PPV matches this year, and he needs wins in order to increase his popularity.
Lesnar is a significant favorite to defeat Randy Orton at SummerSlam, but it shouldn’t matter whom the former UFC champion is facing. Lesnar should win every WWE match in which he partakes, except for extreme circumstances. Lesnar’s appeal is based on the realism that he brings to each match, and it wouldn’t make sense for any wrestler to defeat him clean.
Orton is an established star, and he’ll be fine with a loss to Lesnar. He’s gotten over well with the crowd since his return, and there is no shame in losing to the wrestler that broke The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. Allowing Lesnar to keep winning will make it that much more impactful when he finally does suffer a clean loss when the time is right.
Prior to the brand split, Ziggler wasn’t anywhere near the WWE Championship conversation. He didn’t even have a match at Battleground, and he had done nothing of significance since WrestleMania 32. But now that he’ll be fighting Dean Ambrose for the company’s No.1 title, WWE has a chance to make Ziggler a bigger star than he ever has been during his decade-long run.
Ambrose is maybe the most popular babyface in WWE at the moment, and he could remain so with a loss at SummerSlam. Ziggler has always been a fan favorite with loads of potential, but he’s never received the push that many believe he's deserved. After becoming the No.1 contender and cutting a terrific promo on the most recent episode of "SmackDown," WWE can create another top star in Ziggler. That won’t happen, however, if he loses and immediately falls back down the card.
The first ever WWE Universal Championship match is likely to be the main event of SummerSlam. Rollins will face Finn Balor, and either wrestler would be a smart choice as the first one to hold the title. But it might make a little more sense to put the belt on Rollins, who is probably the best performer in WWE today.
Balor has yet to fight on a WWE PPV, and it might be smart to establish him among the casual fans before making him “Monday Night Raw’s” top champion. Rollins could defeat Balor and be in for another long run with the world title.
Sasha’s first title win would have been more impactful had it come at SummerSlam and not on Raw, but now that she has the Women’s Championship, she shouldn’t lose it in her first defense. Charlotte held the belt for long enough, and it’s hard to believe she’ll win it back against Sasha at Barclays Center.
Charlotte had a lengthy title run, dating back to last September, and she’s established herself as the best female heel in WWE. Sasha is very popular among WWE fans, but she is just scratching the surface, considering she hasn’t been on WWE TV for very long. Keeping her as the champ and giving her another big win over Charlotte will help Sasha reach her potential and grow in popularity.
Rusev has quietly been one of WWE’s best performers since he debuted two years ago. He’s never main evented a PPV, but he continues to get better as one of the best heels on the roster. The United States Championship doesn’t have the same prestige that it did when Cena held it, but Rusev is continuing to make it seem more important.
It looks like Roman Reigns will challenge Rusev for the U.S. Title at SummerSlam, and he could very well win the belt for the first time. But making Reigns a babyface U.S. Champ isn’t likely to get him over with the fans, at least not yet. If WWE isn’t going to turn Reigns heel, which it appears they should do, they should make him chase the belt, considering Rusev is one of the few heels that could potentially help Reigns get sympathy from the fans.