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WWE SummerSlam is coming on Sunday, August 20, and fans are surely bracing for an epic night. SummerSlam is, of course, one of the company’s biggest events of the year, and everyone knows that WWE always delivers when it matters the most.
Perhaps “always” is too strong of a term, but the effort will most certainly be there.
That effort will come from the men and women booked for the summer classic, though only universal champion Brock Lesnar and SmackDown Live women’s champ Naomi have been mentioned for the card thus far. But fans can expect all of WWE’s heavy hitters for the night, as both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live will be represented.
However, their presence on the card will only matter if the storylines that get them there matter first.
Lesnar’s storyline in particular is still developing, as he will face a Samoan Superstar at SummerSlam. Of course, no one knows which Superstar that will be just yet. Maybe he will face both of them, which means the SummerSlam main event would be massive indeed.
Naomi will face one of five women from the blue brand, though no one knows who that opponent will be either. WWE could book just one, or perhaps more, to step into the ring against her on August 20.
The company has options and can go in several different directions with both titleholders. The same is true of every top talent who will compete that night. Though nothing is confirmed for any of those talents just yet, fans are surely beginning to see the groundwork being laid for what’s to come.
The proof is in the storylines.
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Naomi is waiting for her SummerSlam opponent.
That opponent will be determined at WWE Battleground on Sunday, July 23. Five women will step into the ring and battle for the right to challenge the champ on August 20. The 5-Way elimination match will feature Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Tamina, Natalya and Lana.
Conspicuous by her absence is Carmella.
The first-ever Ms. Money in the Bank will undoubtedly be on hand, though. She may even be at ringside that night. But whether she’s near the action or backstage, she will have the briefcase in her possession. That briefcase will be invaluable in the coming year, as it means she’s one three-count away from winning the gold.
But that three-count may not come until SummerSlam.
Carmella is the wild card in this storyline because of her guaranteed title shot. She doesn’t have to be booked against Naomi in order to cash in. She doesn’t have to be booked at all, for that matter. She only needs to be there.
Her presence alone is enough to keep fans guessing. Even if Naomi retains the SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam, she could lose it to Carmella 30 seconds after the fact. If Naomi, however, loses the belt during her match that night, the new champ could be in the middle of her celebration when Carmella charges the ring and steals the moment.
No one really knows how the crowd will react considering it will be the first time a female has cashed in a Money in the Bank briefcase. But history has shown that whenever the moment has happened on the men’s side, the reaction is typically huge.
Carmella has some serious heat with fans who love to hate her, and that means she’s getting over. She’s definitely the right Superstar to hold the title shot, and she may just be the next Superstar to hold the title.
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There’s no title involved in this storyline, but a main event spot could be.
That main event spot could belong to Big Colin Cassady, whose recent betrayal of Enzo Amore is still being felt by longtime fans of the duo. Big Cass wanted to make an impact as a future top player, and he did so at the expense of his former best friend.
He then went on to win his match with Amore at Great Balls of Fire. The feud that many anticipated would see Amore rise to new heights did not happen, at least for now.
Instead, Cass has found heat with The Big Show.
Show took issue with Cass’ treatment of Amore. More importantly, he took issue with Cass’ ego, which is currently out control. While the two men may face off on Monday Night Raw, that may not be the end for them.
Big Show is in the third act of his career, and fans know that. He’s put in 22 years and has done it all in the business. He’s a future Hall of Famer with nothing left to prove. But he’s not done yet, as he still has the ability to work with rising talent.
Show can help Cass now. The Giant is over with fans because they respect him, and that will help as he takes on Big Cass.
Big Cass needs to be molded and shaped into the kind of punishing big man WWE has historically always spotlighted. With the proper time and effort, he should be able to rise up and achieve his full potential as the next great monster heel.
But he will likely not get there without The Big Show.
Kane is not there. Braun Strowman is also a heel. It’s too soon to even mention Brock Lesnar in the same breath as Big Cass. Big Show is the only big man on call right now, which means he will be the one to work with Cassady and show him the way.
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When The Hardy Boyz returned to WWE, many fans were immediately reminded of the great tag team wars the brothers had seen in their previous runs.
A new war may be on the horizon.
The Revival recently made its presence known at the expense of Matt and Jeff. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder attacked The Hardyz on Monday Night Raw, where they left them for dead in the middle of the ring. Dash and Dawson wanted to make a statement, so that’s exactly what they did.
But they may have broken the brothers in the process.
Longtime fans of The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express now have a major reason to be happy. Matt and Jeff are the perfect opponents for Dash and Dawson, as both teams represent the old school and the old-school style.
The Revival could have fit in perfectly during the glory days of the National Wrestling Alliance. They’re a no-nonsense tag team that knows how to work and how to get over.
The Hardy Boyz are the veterans of the feud, but they still have something to prove to themselves. They have the perfect chance to do just that against The Revival. This rivalry may be in its infancy, but it definitely has the potential to impress.
The Raw Tag Team Championships may not be in the mix right now, but that could change by SummerSlam. If it does, then fans may see The Hardy Boyz and The Revival square off for the gold. Cesaro and Sheamus may be involved as well, and the same could be true of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows.
Those four teams would represent the best the red brand has to offer. But at the center of it all would be The Hardyz and The Revival. It’s a feud that must happen.
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The Modern Day Maharaja may have met his match.
John Cena’s part-time schedule has put him out of the spotlight for several months, but that has changed recently. Cena has indeed returned and will soon face Rusev at Battleground in a flag match. That patriotic stipulation will surely see the American flag be hoisted high in victory.
But Cena will likely not stop there.
It’s hard to imagine Cena will not pursue Jinder Mahal’s WWE Championship. Mahal’s anti-American sentiment has not fallen on deaf ears, and the champ may soon have to answer for what he’s said to the WWE Universe.
Who else but Cena could provide the day of reckoning?
Mahal has a Battleground match with Randy Orton, but if the title does not change hands, then Mahal will need a challenger for SummerSlam. But even as fans look forward to the possibility of Cena vs. Mahal, no one can forget The Lone Wolf.
Just as Carmella is the X-factor in the women’s division, so too is Baron Corbin in the men’s division. His rise on SmackDown Live was similar to that of Braun Strowman on Raw, and the two men seemed to be traveling parallel paths.
But Corbin has stalled somewhat recently, so his Money in the Bank win was a great shot in the arm for his career. Now he is one cash-in away from becoming the WWE champion, which puts him directly in the middle of a potential Cena and Mahal feud.
The unknown is exactly what fans love about a scenario like this. Orton is not guaranteed to regain the title, nor is Cena guaranteed to challenge Mahal for the title. However, despite what happens between the three Superstars, Corbin will always be just around the corner, waiting for his opportunity to shine.
This is indeed one of the most intriguing angles in WWE, and it could likely take center stage at SummerSlam.
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Brock Lesnar’s victory over Samoa Joe at Great Balls of Fire was not unexpected. But Joe’s loss after a single F-5 perhaps was.
The Destroyer lived up to his nickname at GBOF, as he took Lesnar down one brick at a time. He gave The Beast Incarnate everything he had and looked extremely impressive as he did. Indeed, Joe had really never looked better since coming to WWE.
He’s the real deal, and that’s undeniable now.
But the ink had barely dried on Joe’s loss in the record book when Roman Reigns inserted himself into the Universal title picture. The Big Dog is the top guy in WWE, of course, so it’s understandable that the company would want him back in championship contention.
Reigns vs. Lesnar may not be the match many fans want, but it may be the one they will get.
However, Joe cannot be forgotten here. If his No. 1 Contender’s match with Reigns ends without a clear winner, then both men could be booked to face Lesnar at SummerSlam. That’s the match fans want to see, as it gives Joe another chance, yet it does not appear that he’s being handed anything for free.
Joe has earned his way to the main event in WWE, and that’s where he belongs.
But just as the WWE faithful begin to speculate on this Triple Threat match, the Braun Strowman situation must be addressed.
Strowman defeated Reigns at Great Balls of Fire. Reigns may have attacked him after the fact and left him for dead, but his last pay-per-view appearance was indeed a loss. How could WWE ignore that and allow Reigns to simply step right past Strowman to the Universal Championship?
A Fatal 4-Way match may be in the cards for SummerSlam.
The company has options in regard to Lesnar’s title, and a straightforward one-on-one contest may not be the best of those options. As with other developing storylines, this one will perhaps take many twists and turns before the path to August 20 becomes clear.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeart Radio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com.