2018 WWE SummerSlam predictions, matches, card, start time, location, preview

WWE will present the 2018 edition of its second-biggest pay-per-view of the year, SummerSlam, on Sunday night live from Barclays Center. The tremendous 13-match card features nine titles being defended as well as the Money in the Bank briefcase controlled by Braun Strowman. Both Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey will be in action with Lesnar looking to continue his dominant universal title reign, while Rousey hopes to win her first championship since joining WWE last spring.

WWE SummerSlam begins live at 7 p.m. ET with a two-hour kickoff show that starts at 5 p.m. The event is expected to run past 11 p.m., giving it a total run time of beyond six hours. CBS Sports will be with you the entire way Sunday with live coverage of SummerSlam, including highlights, results, grades and analysis during the entire event.

For now, let's take a look at our predictions and picks ahead of the big night from our CBS Sports experts.

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WWE SummerSlam 2018 predictions

Rusev & Lana vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas & Zelina Vega (Kickoff Show)

Brian Campbell: If WWE is looking for a fun babyface pop for the SummerSlam kickoff show, a run-in from Aiden English to actually help Rusev & Lana to victory would provide just that. Rusev remains insanely over and Almas' heel persona could certainly absorb a defeat in such manner, even early in his main roster launch. Happy Rusev Day to everyone reading this prediction. Pick: Rusev & Lana win

Jack Jorgensen / Adam Silverstein: At this point, the company sees Rusev & Lana as characters that can be rehabilitated quickly, no matter the outcome in their feuds/matches -- which is both a good and bad thing. It's becoming increasingly clear throughout the past few weeks that WWE may have some big plans in place for Almas & Vega; this point was clearly evidenced by the random match with AJ Styles on SmackDown a few weeks ago. Almas & Vega get the win, and I think their roles on SmackDown in the coming weeks become more prominent. Pick: Andrade "Cien" Almas & Zelina Vega win


Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Drew Gulak (Kickoff Show)

AS: I've been one of Alexander's biggest supporters for quite some time, and I'm thrilled that he's gotten an extended run with the cruiserweight title. But let's be honest. While the matches have been fantastic, he's not necessarily getting over in any meaningful way. Plus, his title reign has already been four months long. With Alexander already having run the gamut in terms of title contenders, it makes sense for him to drop the strap to a much-improved Gulak and chase once again. Pick: Drew Gulak wins the title

BC / JJ: If Alexander has accomplished one thing since becoming cruiserweight champ and helping raise the profile of 205 Live, it's that he's on the short list of the company's most exciting workers. That ability to get a great match out of just about everyone he shares the ring with is reason enough to keep the title on him until an eventual lengthy feud against rising stud Buddy Murphy. Pick: Cedric Alexander retains the title


Raw Tag Team Championship: The B-Team (c) vs. The Revival (Kickoff Show)

BC / AS: It feels a bit too early in this B-Team experiment to see them give up the straps so quickly. Both Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel deserve credit for telling such a fun story about lovable losers who catch a string of luck to go unbeaten. While The Revival would certainly make a strong long-term Raw championship team, there's more B-Team story to be told. Pick: The B-Team retain the titles

JJ: The mini-story of the B-Team running with the belts was fun, but an actual tag team run with the titles is needed. And no one fits that bill more than Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson. They get their first big championship win on one of the biggest shows of the year, and hopefully that marks the beginning of a tag team resurgence on Raw that has been desperately needed for a long time. Pick: The Revival win the titles


Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin

JJ / BC / AS: With each man owning a clean victory over the other, Balor gets the final clean win to hopefully bring an end to this feud. And no, I don't think we get the Demon King in Brooklyn, as many are speculating. Pick: Finn Balor wins


SmackDown Tag Team Championship: Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. New Day

AS / BC: I've made it quite clear on our podcast that I am no fan of the Bludgeon Brothers. Not because I don't like their ability or in-ring style; it's just the gimmick is mind-numbingly bad, and they have almost been booked as too dominant. I still believe the Bludgeons are going nowhere, and SummerSlam is usually a show where the most over performers in the company get big moments. It makes all the sense in the world for the titles to change hands to New Day here with both The Bar and The Usos able to play the heel side in future rivalries. Pick: New Day wins the titles

JJ: I honestly did lean New Day here for a bit, but I'm not sold on the fact that WWE wants to give up on presenting the Bludgeon Brothers as dominant champs that simply can't be stopped just yet. New Day and their popularity earned the right to compete in a match at SummerSlam, but Harper & Rowan retain here as we continue to wonder who can bring their run to a halt. Pick: Bludgeon Brothers retain the titles


Braun Strowman (h) vs. Kevin Owens
Owens will win Strowman's Money in the Bank briefcase if he wins the match in any way

BC / AS / JJ: While it would certainly add an extra wrinkle of intrigue for the expected SummerSlam event of Brock Lesnar-Roman Reigns should Owens be victorious in securing the briefcase, very little good can come from stripping Strowman of this opportunity. After being elevated to the main event level following his feud with Reigns last year, Strowman's booking has been stuck in neutral for most of 2018. He's simply too over and talented not to be competing for Raw's top championship at this point so anything short would be a waste of what had been an incredible ascension for a single character. Pick: Braun Strowman retains the briefcase


United States Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Jeff Hardy

JJ / BC / AS: Given the reports of Hardy dealing with nagging injuries, it's difficult for me to believe they'll put a title back on him, even one of the mid-card variety. Randy Orton will cost him the victory here so they can move into that feud full time, while Nakamura receives a new U.S. title challenger. Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura retains the title


Intercontinental Championship: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Drew McIntyre and Dean Ambrose will both be ringside for the match

AS / BC / JJ: The return of Ambrose on Monday night was an exciting -- yet expected -- development. But while he evens up the sides by counterbalancing McIntyre, groupthink among fans it that Ambrose will turn heel on Rollins. That may -- and should -- happen eventually, but it does not need to go down Sunday night in Brooklyn. Instead, I could see Ambrose "accidentally" costing Rollins the title via disqualification, beginning the animosity between the two. Ziggler has been fantastic with the strap, and his rebirth with McIntyre by his side has been refreshing. No reason to stop that momentum now. Pick: Dolph Ziggler retains the title


Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz

AS / BC / JJ: A rivalry eight years in the making has been promoted as such by WWE, which has done a solid job with storylines and video packages underlining the importance of this match as a climax to the long-term feud between Bryan and Miz. Yet even though fans have waited so long -- particularly the last two years while Bryan was medically retired -- for this to happen, the payoff of Bryan beating Miz should not happen in their first matchup. I'm completely down for this being the first in a set of two or three matches between these rivals culminating at WrestleMania 35. Pick: The Miz wins


SmackDown Tag Team Championship: Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair

BC: If looking at this match from the standpoint of being a journalist or wannabe booker, there are certainly arguments to make as to why Carmella retaining or Flair adding yet another title reign to her growing resume makes sense. But the fan in me can't help from hoping Lynch finally get another crack at the title. Lynch is so good as a babyface getting others over that it's hard not to wonder whether WWE had spent the majority of the past year-plus building her into a female version of Ziggler. Yet it's ultimately why she's that good that makes her so deserving of being champion, whether that comes through pinning Carmella or turning heel on her BFF Flair. Pick: Becky Lynch wins the title

AS: WWE has done a fantastic job long-term booking Lynch since WrestleMania, having her continuously pick up victories in order to earn this opportunity ... only for Flair to suddenly return from surgery and earn her way back into the match. That tells me there is business between these two that must be played out, and a tag team match on Tuesday makes me wonder if they are considering linking them together along the lines of Sasha Banks and Bayley on Raw (in hopes of introducing a women's tag team title). That may seem like a stretch. What isn't a stretch is Carmella being a dastardly heel and a triple threat being a great opportunity for Lynch to take out Flair only for Carmella to push her off her friend and pick up the win. Pick: Carmella retains the title

JJ: Flair will regain the title in this one, likely by stealing the victory from Lynch in a heelish manner. From that point, let the build to a title match -- and hopefully a full-blown turn from Flair -- between the best friends at Evolution begin. Pick: Charlotte Flair wins the title


Raw Women's Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

AS / BC / JJ: Any result other than Rousey walking out of SummerSlam with the women's title would be ridiculous. Everything has been setup perfectly here. Bliss cashed in her MITB briefcase to ruin Rousey's title win over Nia Jax a few months ago. Rousey was suspended from Raw for a month and returned to a raucous ovation. With seven months to go until WrestleMania 35, Rousey could have an extended reign and go over a number of big-time names before losing the strap at 'Mania and taking a planned break to have her first child. The time is now to make the move and put the strap on Rousey, who has already proven to be a natural. Plus, Bliss can dislocate her elbow, which is an amazing sell for Rousey's armbar. Pick: Ronda Rousey wins the title


WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe

BC / JJ: Samoa Joe's use of diabolical psychology has been brilliant throughout the build. Getting Styles to worry more about whether he actually is a poor father and husband has seemed to affect him worse than any generic physical attack could've accomplished. The fact that Styles hasn't been able to deliver any form of legitimate retribution on SmackDown does lead one to believe his comeuppance will come at SummerSlam. Styles was born to be a long-reigning WWE champion and there's no reason to cut what has already been a long reign short. Pick: AJ Styles retains the title

AS: There is every reason in the world to believe Styles will retain the title at SummerSlam, but it does make one wonder who exactly he would wind up dropping it to if not Joe. The only other legitimate heel contenders on the brand would be Randy Orton and The Miz. Orton is currently involved in a storyline with Hardy and Nakamura, while Miz could indeed be elevated to the main event with a win over Bryan but would not get the opportunity to win the title at one of the "bigger" shows until January. Styles has held the title for nearly 300 days, and it's time for a change. Joe would be a more-than-capable champion, and Styles could always win it back in a couple of months. Plus, imagine if Joe takes the title into Survivor Series against Strowman or Roman Reigns. Hoo-boy. Pick: Samoa Joe wins the title


Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns

AS: There is nothing more I want in this world than for Reigns to beat Lesnar clean, 1-2-3 in the middle of the ring to win the universal championship. From there, I don't care what happens. There can be an hour-long celebration, a cash-in by Strowman, a cash-in by Owens, whatever. But the only way we can finally end our long, international nightmare of the Reigns-Lesnar feud is with Reigns going over clean. And that is why it will not happen. I would love to predict it, but Vince McMahon has now shown us on two occasions that he is going to try and swerve us fans who are all assuming a Reigns victory. Therefore, my prediction stands as Lesnar beating Reigns and taking the title into a celebration Monday night on Raw ... where Strowman cashes in and takes the title. Pick: Brock Lesnar retains the title

BC: What's the only way to fix the likely (and unwanted) scenario of SummerSlam ending under chorus of boos as Roman Reigns celebrates winning the universal championship? Give the fans a wining babyface they actually want. That name is Strowman via successful cash-in of his briefcase. This wouldn't be the first time WWE has teased the potential for giant swerves (Paul Heyman turning on Lesnar to join Reigns) only for a safer booking outcome to take place. In this case, going with Strowman is safe, telegraphed and a guarantee for a happy audience. Should Braun turn the main event into a triple threat right away, that's even better. Pick: Braun Strowman cashes in and wins the title

JJ: Not to sound like a broken record here in 2018, but after over three years, the visual of Reigns pinning Lesnar 1-2-3 will finally come to fruition. Now whether Roman walks out of Brooklyn with that universal title is a different story altogether -- and you all know what I'm talking about. Pick: Roman Reigns wins the title

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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