With WWE just days away from putting its "minor" lead-up pay-per-views in the rear view, it's time to look ahead to SummerSlam as the summer's biggest feuds are set to begin.
After a six-year run in Los Angeles at the Staples Center from 2009-14, the second-biggest PPV on the calendar for WWE will emanate from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, for the third straight year on Sunday, Aug. 20. Expect it to once again be a four-hour event with a one-hour kickoff show and a post-PPV show.
Although the July 23 Battleground card (SmackDown brand) still has to play out, it's never too early to play fantasy booker and put together the most action-packed card possible while still retaining a sense of reality.
Considering last year's SummerSlam show featured nine matches on the main card and three more on the kickoff show, let's follow the same structure.
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2017 WWE SummerSlam match card predictions
All matches below are predictions at this time. No matches have been made for SummerSlam.
Universal Championship -- Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe: As much as I'd prefer this being a triple threat (and don't tend to prefer adding extra members to marquee title matches), Joe's work of late has been just too strong to keep him out of the title picture. These four men have been part of WWE's best stretches of booking in recent months, giving Raw an electric element that WWE's flagship show has been woefully inconsistent in sparking. All four men are physical and capable of bringing in elements of cartoonish violence (using props like ambulance and gurneys) without sacrificing from the shoot elements of a real fight. Multi-person matches have also brought out the best of Lesnar in recent years (WrestleMania 31, 2015 Royal Rumble) that it's no stretch to imagine this one becoming a classic.
WWE Championship -- Jinder Mahal (c) vs. John Cena: This one feels like a no-brainer, especially with Cena's timely July 4th return (and his Captain America attitude opposite Rusev). Mahal's build has been strong enough and dependent upon enough subtle xenophobic undertones that he might play the perfect foil opposite Cena's quest to break Ric Flair's record of 16 world title reigns. Only, he won't get the chance. Wait a second? Is that … is that Baron Corbin's music? Yes it is. Talk about a great showcase for Corbin to cash in his Money in the Bank contract and kick start a main event feud with Cena.
Raw Women's Championship -- Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks: Major PPVs like SummerSlam are always the best platforms for a long-deserving babyface to finally hoist the title once again. That's the position Banks will find herself in for this match, involving the top two females on the Raw roster who have already showcased how good their in-ring chemistry is. Add a stipulation of physicality in this one (Last Woman Standing? Street Fight?) to remove Bliss' options for escaping with her title, and you have the making of a great match between two elite forces.
SmackDown Women's Championship -- Naomi (c) vs. Charlotte: It's not a stretch to say that Charlotte's run on Tuesday night's following the Superstar Shakeup has watered her down. You can blame that on the lackadaisical booking of the Welcoming Committee angle. But Charlotte can return to glory here with another title victory.
United States Championship -- AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: Simply put -- this has to happen, and it has to happen now. Styles gaining a surprising title victory over Kevin Owens in a Madison Square Garden house show only seemed to speed up the process. There was no bigger pop during June's Money in the Bank match than the sequence when Styles and Nakamura, former rivals in Japan, squared off and traded heavy strikes. The fans have been vocal in their want for this feud, so it's time for WWE to deliver.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt: Having moved on from Seth Rollins in a brand-repairing feud that actually saw him win a pay-per-view match (twice, in fact), Wyatt's character is in a really good place at the moment. He's also the perfect foil to summon the return of Balor's "Demon King" alter ego. The potential for a fun program, built upon spiritual warfare and Wyatt's toying Balor's "Jekyl & Hyde" persona, is off the charts. While it isn't likely that a title will be at stake, adding a spooky stipulation of some kind (just please, no House of Horrors) could liven things up.
Raw Tag Team Championship -- Sheamus & Cesaro (c) vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins: What? A Shield reunion? It's too early to tell exactly which direction WWE is headed with bringing cautious foes Ambrose and Rollins into the same storyline. But there's just as much money to be had in pairing them up and putting the tag titles on them as there is breaking them apart shortly after in a bootleg "Mega Powers explode" storyline. Ambrose's caution in ever trusting Rollins again would be the center point of it, only it would push him in the other direction -- toward his own heel turn. Get some of that.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship -- The Usos (c) vs. The New Day: With American Alpha seemingly broken up, these are the best two teams WWE has to offer from an in-ring perspective. Both teams have also built strong chemistry on the microphone since the start of their feud (including a rap battle which overachieved). Whether or not the titles change hands at Battleground, a feud like this needs to see a proper ending at a card like SummerSlam.
Shane McMahon vs. Rusev: This feud has been simmering for months thanks to constant tweeting and video messages from Rusev. It also centers upon the reality that SmackDown hasn't done much at all with Rusev despite him being medically cleared. Rusev appeared to escalate matters with a recent tweet which played upon the real-life helicopter crash McMahon was recently involved in. That seems like as good of a reason as any to turn this beef into a real match. Shane-O-Mac proved at WrestleMania against AJ Styles that he can still bring it.
Intercontinental Championship -- The Miz (c) vs. Jason Jordan (Kickoff Show): To make the recently well-built Kurt Angle reveal on Raw really pop, Jordan will need to get a massive push right off the start. Sending him into a program with a great talker in Miz seems like the right formula, especially if the plans are for Jordan to be a babyface.
Cruiserweight Championship -- Neville (c) vs. Cedric Alexander (Kickoff Show): Similar to the catchphrase, there is simply no one on WWE's 205 Live roster who is on the "Neville level." But Alexander is pretty close and the idea of these two facing off, from an athletic standpoint, creates true five-star match potential. Neville's current feud with Akira Tozawa just doesn't have the same juice as his prior program with Austin Aries. Alexander might be the only cruiserweight capable of believably lifting the title.
The Hardy Boyz vs. The Revival in a tables match (Kickoff Show): A simple grudge match could be escalated to something much more important should WWE continue the tease that Matt and Jeff are on the verge of reigniting their "Broken Universe" from their TNA run in 2016.