WWE SummerSlam 2016 airs this Sunday, August 21, live on WWE Network and pay-per-view. The “biggest party of the summer” features a massive card with every championship on the line, a new championship up for grabs and the long-awaited showdown between Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar.
Here’s the card as we know it:
1. WWE Championship Match: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
2. Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
3. WWE Universal Championship Match: Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
4. WWE Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day (c) vs. The Club
5. United States Championship Match: Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
6. WWE Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte
7. Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz (c) vs. Apollo Crews
8. AJ Styles vs. John Cena
9. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho
10. Best of 7 Series Match 1: Cesaro vs. Sheamus
11. Becky Lynch, Naomi and Carmella vs. Natalya and Alexa Bliss
As always, here’s what we think will happen in all … woof, eleven matches. Be sure to drop down into our comments section and let us know what you think will happen.
Becky Lynch, Naomi and Carmella vs. Natalya and Alexa Bliss
What Should Happen: This was originally supposed to feature Eva Marie on the heel side, but she got popped for having all in-the-red everything and is out for 30 days. That leaves us with a pretty lackluster pre-show tag, and I’ll accept two fantasy booking scenarios:
1. Bayley gets called up, fills in and spends 15 minutes doing all the in-ring work until she tags out and is immediately turned on, or
2. Someone (possibly Eva Marie herself) dresses up as a robot Eva Marie and wrestles in her place.
What Will Happen: Nothing guarantees victory in WWE more than being outnumbered, but with the uncertainty of the Eva Marie suspension and the general Wait, What of the Smackdown women’s division, who even knows? I’ll say Becky Lynch makes Alexa Bliss tap out to the Disarm-her, and that most of us miss this because we only tuned in to hour two of the two-damn-hour pre-show.
What Should Happen: Cesaro should already be up 2-0, and he should go up 3-0 here. No matter what happens, WWE should avoid having either Sheamus or Cesaro do an already not-very-timely homage to the Golden State Warriors being up 3-1 and blowing the entire thing.
What Will Happen: Man, only WWE thinks people want to see a best of 7 series between two guys who wrestled one-on-one matches with clean endings for only one of them two weeks in a row. Cesaro beat this guy twice in a row, why does he have to beat him four more times in a row? Are we competing for the Dolph Ziggler Cup?
Given what we’re working with, you’ve got to give this one to Sheamus. He’s been pretty routinely humiliated for the entirety of 2016, so if you’re encouraging fans to want to see him wrestle seven of the same match in a row, you’ve got to have him go over Cesaro here, and strong. No tights, no referee distractions, just a hard-fought match that ends with Sheamus on top. And I say this as a dude who straight-up hates Sheamus.
The good news is that the matches should be good, whether we’re arsed to care about them or not.
Justin Donaldson – Sheamus has to win this. There’s no reason for a Best of Seven series, unless Sheamus posts a victory against Cesaro sooner rather than later.
Scott Heisel – Best of seven? Yeesh. I’m tired of this feud after three weeks, and the series hasn’t even begun. I guess we’re gonna see variations of this match for the next seven weeks, so let’s start it off with a fart and give Sheamus the first win just to piss off Brooklyn. And who knows? Maybe they’ll end up creating a feud for the ages. I still look back fondly on the Booker T/Chris Benoit best-of-seven series, so there’s a chance there could be gold here.
Bill Hanstock – Oh good, a Best of Seven series. Because we’ve already seen it twice in two weeks. This is the ultimate “we don’t have any other ideas” slap in the face to both of these guys, and I guess a weird form of punishment for them continuing to have good matches against each other? Whatever. It’ll probably be the cooldown match between main events, like Cesaro vs. Owens was last year. I’ll pick Sheamus to win the first one, because it’s actually a BEST OF NINE series and Sheamus has already lost twice in a row.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho
What Should Happen: Enzo and Cass should get attacked on the stage while they’re trying to do their intro spiel, and Kevin Owens should Machine Gun Kelly Enzo Amore off the side of it. Then we should try to get through an entire 2-on-1 handicap match without Cass just mindlessly powering up and destroying everybody.
Note: I think Enzo and Cass are great, but if you’ve been reading the Best and Worst of Raw reports recently you know I kinda-sorta want them to fall off a cliff. Any way we can accomplish that is a positive.
What Will Happen: The obvious story here seems to be the intersection of Chris Jericho’s unsure wrestling schedule and Kevin Owens being the worst friend in the world, compounded by WEEKS of Owens talking about what a good friend he is. All signs point to Jericho getting pinned and losing the match for his team, followed by an apron powerbomb from Owens that takes Jericho out and refocuses Owens as a true, non-comedic threat.
Bonus points if Owens spends most of the match yelling triumphantly about Sami Zayn not even being on the card.
Bill Hanstock – Enzo and Cass need to be on the card, but they’re a great example of how being the hottest act on the card means you’re probably not going to need that win. I think Owens and Jericho find a way to neutralize Cass and gang up on Enzo for the win. Hopefully, they can murder Enzo without having to do icky concussion callbacks, but I’m like a scuba diver: I’m not holding my breath how you doin.
Ross Bentley – Y2KO (I refuse to call them anything else) are wonderful, but their purpose here is to get Big Cass and Enzo over, as I don’t see them actually sticking around as a tag team post-SummerSlam. They are just too big of jerks to actually get along, and a miscommunication between them will cause The Realest Guys to squeak out a victory here.
David D. – Enzo cuts a promo for the ages and nobody remembers if the match is good or not. Either way Jericho and Owens do the honors for the NXT upstarts. Let’s talk about this other thing: Sami Zayn got rewarded for having a five star match with Owens by not getting booked for SummerSlam. Life isn’t fair.
Scott Heisel – JeriKO works so well together, I kind of hope they steamroll Enzo & Cass in front of their hometown crowd. I mean, a loss to Enzo & Cass does nothing to halt their popularity, but a loss to Jericho and KO likely means the end of their tag team. I’m officially on Team Canada for this one.
Justin Donaldson – I think Owens and Jericho are going to take this. Enzo and Cass will get their big SummerSlam moment when the crowd goes nuts for their pre-match spiel. They don’t need to win the match.
Joe Starr – Big Cass kicks Jericho’s head off of his body and we move closer to our inevitable Big Cass: Main Eventer future. I for one welcome our seven foot tall overlord, and you can’t teach that.
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
What Should Happen: John Cena should break the trend of giving new and upcoming stars one victory over him, then beating them several times in a row. Cena already pinned Styles once at Battleground, so the formula says he needs to pin him again here, and again at the next pay-per-view to confirm. Don’t do that. Give Styles a win, and have Cena actually show a little perspective and humility for once. Grumpy old man John Cena losing a step is compelling as hell, and better for everyone than another 10 years of unstoppable super-humanity.
What Will Happen: Cena wins. I hate to be pessimistic like that — or admit that saying John Cena wins constitutes pessimism — but it’s what makes sense. The match should be great, though, if they go for ANYTHING other than Cena selling a beatdown and popping up to hit an Attitude Adjustment.
We need United States Championship Cena back pronto. Free-floating John Cena without any clear goals of championship aspirations is disconcerting.
Bill Hanstock – John Cena is showing us what happens when Superman starts becoming fallible. He loses to Styles once again, this time with no Club shenanigans at all. Cena will probably be taking more time off soon and Styles needs to be in the world title scene in a big, bad way. Ambrose as world champ is right around the corner. This is going to be the next major step that gets us to that point.
Ross Bentley – Big Match John will do what’s right here and lose to AJ Styles in what in my mind is the second most anticipated match from the show (after Charlotte/Sasha). Their first singles match was good, but with more in-ring chemistry now after working the live events, I think this one will be even better, and Styles should get the win to further elevate him towards the WWE Championship.
David D. – AJ Styles pinned John Cena two months ago, so by rule he’s got to lose to Cena three straight times. (See: Rusev and Bray Wyatt.) So Cena pins Styles clean as a whistle and wins again on Smackdown because why not.
Scott Heisel – #BeatUpJohnCena 4EVER. Styles gets the win on the second-grandest stage of ’em all and goes on to challenge Dean Ambrose for the WWE Championship.
Justin Donaldson – This goes against all logic, but I’m going to pick AJ Styles. There’s absolutely no reason for Cena to win this match. At this point, he’s become less of a wrestler and more of a morning show host. But there’s every reason for AJ Styles to win this.
Joe Starr – I’m not completely sure why this is happening again, but sure let’s do it. AJ Styles takes the win to move on to a Dean Ambrose feud, and John Cena tags with Apollo Crews for a while, because we need to get Apollo’s charisma rating up and that’s the best way to do it in TEW.
Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz (c) vs. Apollo Crews
What Should Happen: Is this not on the pre-show?
Apollo Crews is probably the best wrestler to lace up a pair of boots without anyone caring about it ever. Even his big SummerSlam championship feud is being built up during commercial breaks.
I say you’ve got to use Crews to build up Miz. Miz still has more of an upside and probably a thousand times the character, and the Intercontinental Championship is one of those things you’d (in theory) only have change hands when it mattered or got people excited. Who’s gonna be excited if Apollo Crews wins the IC title? You? You’re lying. You’re lying to your computer’s face.
What Will Happen: I could see WWE giving Crews a surprise IC title win here and THEN building him up around it, which could work. Still though, my brain says Miz pulls off a cheap victory in a match we’ve forgotten happened by the end of the show.
Bill Hanstock – Apollo Crews is just happy to be here! Boy, just imagine the non-reaction Crews would get from winning the title at SummerSlam in his first real high-profile match. Now imagine Maryse and Miz use evil, self-absorbed antics to screw Crews out of that title, which gives Crews a personal grudge to chase Miz and steal his title. That second option seems a whole lot better, doesn’t it?
Ross Bentley – Crews has been the definition of vanilla after his NXT call-up and it’s obvious he wasn’t ready. With that said, he’s in a good spot now on the blue brand, and I’m picking him to win the title here. I think the company sees $$ in him in the future, but he needs to refine his character. Hopefully an IC title reign will allow him to do that.
David D. – This is tough. I want Crews to get a run at the title, but Miz has been so incredible as of late that I want him to keep it. Maybe he doesn’t actually need it. I don’t know. My gut says Crews wins.
Scott Heisel – Crews has had zero character development since debuting after WrestleMania, which normally would mean he’s cannon fodder in a match like this. But part of me thinks they’re gonna pull the trigger on him and hope the belt elevates him in the eyes of the fans, as nothing else has really done it yet. Plus, if Smackdown is really going to be the “new generation” show that’s more about sports than entertainment, there are worse choices for an IC champ than an NXT callup who knows how to work.
Justin Donaldson – Miz is going to find a way to hang onto the belt. That’s less of a prediction and more of a hope. I’m not ready for this title run to end.
Joe Starr – Suck it, Apollo Crews. Miz and his commedia dell’arte mask are unstoppable.
WWE Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte
What Should Happen: Sasha Banks and Charlotte should tear it the hell up like they do, Sasha should get her first high-profile WWE Women’s Championship defense on a major WWE PPV, and whoever’s challenging her next should make their presence felt when it’s over. I’m okay with sneaking Bayley in here, too, even if it’s just her sitting in the front row, waving and then puffing up to Sasha at the end. I’m okay with it being Asuka, too, but I’m not gonna get greedy.
What Will Happen: I’m really looking forward to this. Sasha and Charlotte are in a great position to steal the show again, and the one thing the Women’s Championship needs more than anything is a series of great matches. The Raw match was a start. WrestleMania should’ve been the start. Sasha was the key to both of those, so let’s just keep that going. If Charlotte wins, I’m flipping a table.
Bill Hanstock – It’s the Boss’ world, we’re just living in it. Charlotte loses this one and moves on to something else for a while, then we get Sasha in a nice, fresh feud. Becky and Natalya are on the other show now, so Sasha is free to feud with … I dunno, Nia Jax or something. Whatever keeps the wheels spinning until Bayley gets called up. (On Monday, I mean. Bayley is getting called up on Monday.)
Ross Bentley – Switching the Women’s title on Raw after the draft was great in the moment because it got everyone talking, but it definitely lowered the stakes for this rematch as Banks will almost assuredly retain cleanly. The two questions I have will be: 1.) Will they be given over 20 minutes, and: 2.) If yes, will they be able to top their Raw match? I will say yes to both counts, although the finish is not in question.
David D. – This should be another bang up match. They’ve never had anything remotely close to even a mediocre match and this should be great. Sasha wins and Bayley re-debuts after to challenge Sasha.
Scott Heisel – It’s a bummer this title change wasn’t held until SummerSlam, as that would’ve made the crowd go absolutely nuclear. But they’ll cheer just as loudly for Sasha retaining, which is undoubtedly what’s going to happen here.
Justin Donaldson – I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick Charlotte. These two are going to be wrestling each other forever, or until Nikki Bella comes back. They need to do something to keep the feud fresh. I think putting the belt back on Charlotte is the thing.
Joe Starr – The Boss takes it and her and Enzo kiss, I guess?
United States Championship Match: Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
What Should Happen: RUSEV CRUSH.
What Will Happen: Is there any way we get out of this without United States Champion Roman Reigns? If we do it by disqualification or count-out or something dumb, is there any way to get Rusev out of this angle with the championship?
As much as I want that, I don’t think it’s happening. I think the point of all this is to get a belt on all three members of The Shield — Roman with the US title, Seth with the Universal and Dean with the WWE Championship. Like Styles/Cena, it’s a match that could be spectacular in spite of its very very tired and obvious conclusion.
That said, they DID just have a long, competitive match on Raw with Roman coming out on top, so maybe Rusev just starts the match in his tank and drives over the dude? I’d be pretty excited about that. Roman’s wearing a vest, he’ll be fine.
Bill Hanstock – It’s totally possible that Reigns is still being punished enough to lose this match. But I’m thinking he’ll win the United States Championship here. I’m also thinking this could just end up being the best damn match on the card. As long as these two monsters wallop the hell out of each other, I’ll be happy.
Ross Bentley – As much as we all love Rusev and think he is the greatest, Reigns isn’t losing this match. A heel turn would have been ideal, but a move into the mid-card after his suspension is the second best thing to rebuild Roman back up as a top guy, and I believe he will get a long run with the U.S. title here. This could low-key be a match of the night contender as well, as these two have great chemistry and could really take it to each other.
David D. – The lights go dark and, when they come back on, Rusev is wearing Roman’s vest. Roman is nowhere to be seen and everyone pretends like nothing happened. Rusev wins thanks to a bit of cheating and everyone tweets WOW ROMAN IS STILL BEING BURIED.
Scott Heisel – My prediction: Brooklyn boos Roman Reigns out of obligation. Also, I don’t think he’s out of WWE’s doghouse just yet — I’m gonna say Lana interferes, which will cost Rusev the match but keep the title on him.
Justin Donaldson – Who cares? I just watched this match. I have no interest in watching it again. Congratulations, WWE, you’ve got me uninterested in Rusev again. Why does Roman Reigns hate love?
Joe Starr – Macho Man defends the honor of Miss Elizabeth against the dastardly Ric Flair. Wait. Macho Man and Liz are the heels? I don’t understand. Roman wins this and my heart breaks into a thousand little matchkas.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day (c) vs. The Club
What Should Happen: “How’s Big E’s NUTS?”
I honestly believe The New Day need a refresher more than anyone in the company. They’ve gone from the worst part of the show to the undisputed BEST part of the show, and now they’re easing back into the worst. Pandering butthole-themed New Day isn’t as good as trolling butthole New Day, and they’ve never had compelling foils. The Usos? The Dudley Boyz? Even Enzo and Cass made the feud about sexing a trombone. The Wyatt Family feud was them making a B-movie together and then totally forgetting about it. I’d love to see the Club absolutely wreck them and give them something to do.
Sadly, this will just be about balls.
What Will Happen: The logical booking here is that Big E shows up near the end, hits one of The Club in the balls with something and gives his team the win. New Day seems to keep winning and holding the championships without really doing anything, so is that gonna continue here?
I’m going to pick The Club to win here, but my prediction is only about a 60-40. It feels like they’ve been hitting the “New Day has held the belts THIS long” point a little too hard, and you always know a title change is coming when a long-time champion starts pointing out how long it’s been.
Bill Hanstock – The New Day has to lose sometime. It might as well be to the Club, so we can stop pussyfooting around and let him actually be the badasses they’re supposed to be for a chance. And maybe them winning means Bálor also wins and then we have the Bálor Club rule Raw for a while. Right? Nah, probably not.
Ross Bentley – The Club really needs something to legitimize them with AJ Styles gone, and with The New Day having been champs for a year, it’s time to make the switch. New Day haven’t had any real consequences to their actions in recent months, and they might need to actually lose the straps to regain that edge that we want to see from them. I’m not sure exactly how Anderson and Gallows will do as champions, but they’re in the right place at the right time here.
David D. – If my main event prediction holds true, then I see The Club winning. New Day has been champs for a year and it’s time to move them on to something bigger. I’m not sure what that is, but they sort of need to get their characters to the next gear.
Scott Heisel – The New Day has to lose here, right? Don’t get me wrong: I love the trio as much as the next neckbeard, but at the risk of being abused in the comments section, the schtick has kinda worn a little thin. I won’t go so far as to say they’ve fully jumped the shark yet (though that Sonny Boy promo was downright awful), but an important loss on a big stage would do wonders to help add a new dimension to their characters. I mean, we’ve already got real, actual Booty-Os. What more do we need? The Club takes it
Justin Donaldson – The Club probably should have won the belts three months ago, but instead they’ll win them here. New Day have been great champs, but those belts need to start moving around.
Joe Starr – My original prediction would have been ‘Luke Gallows just kicks everyone in their faces a ton and then Undertaker is like, “Hey, take my motorcycle, you’re a cool guy,” but the Club has been spending way too much time in doctor costumes for my liking. New Day all day.
WWE Universal Championship Match: Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
What Should Happen: This should headline the show, The Club should show up and help Finn Balor win, and SummerSlam should go off the air with a Lucha Underground Mil Muertes/Disciples of Death heel faction pose where everybody’s got title belts. Seth Rollins should finally, finally be the babyface we’re begging him to shut the f*ck up and be, and we should spend now until WrestleMania building up the rematch.
Can we have Jon Stewart join the group too? He can be Catrina.
What Will Happen: Rollins wins, because he’s the First everything. Gotta get the belts on those Shield guys!
The Balor scenario is a dreamy one, but he did just show up, and as much as they love him are they gonna make him their first champion of something with only a few weeks of live main roster TV experience?
This will either be one of the best matches of the year or a self-indulgent boring spamming of cool moves, with very little in-between. Keeping my fingers crossed for the former. Also keeping them crossed for Seth Rollins in Crossfit Jesus body-paint.
Bill Hanstock – Boy, I sure want Bálor to win this! But I really don’t think he will. Rollins winning probably makes more sense, storyline-wise, but I like Brandon’s thinking that him missing out on being the FIRST at something will just bend him even more out of shape. I’m thinking that IF Bálor wins, he drops the title on Raw the next night, so let’s just say Rollins wins here and cut out the middle man.
Ross Bentley – I’m rolling with Balor here. If you’re gonna go with the megapush, you’ve got to see it to its completion. Plus, Raw needs that top babyface if they’re no longer giving Reigns that spot. Rollins can go just about anywhere and doesn’t always need to be in the title picture, so I think Balor gets a legitimate reign and defends against guys like Jericho and Owens, while Seth does something else for a while before coming back for the belt around WrestleMania season.
David D. – Sure, Finn has been a bit shaky on the mic and his celtic history video was bizarre and lame. But when he comes out in that Demon paint, it won’t matter. He’ll be the next big star. I don’t think they have Demon Finn lose his first match. Finn wins and there’s an outside shot he wins thanks to the Bullet Club reunion where they all have belts to end the show.
Scott Heisel – Dodgy title name aside, this match is basically going to be the best non-CWC match to grace WWE programing the entire month of August. It seems insane to have Balor lose his first PPV match, especially if he is going to be unveiling the “demon king” persona for the first time (which seems super-f*cking-early to do so, but I’m not the booker). Do we really live in a world where Fergal Devitt is going to be the heavyweight champion of Monday Night Raw? I say yes (and I also say 2016 is one weird-as-hell year for pro wrestling, and let’s keep it going).
Justin Donaldson – This is so difficult. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, but my mind is still a jumble of wrestling logic. I’m just going to say Balor and give no reason behind it whatsoever.
Joe Starr – Well, if THE DEMON KANG doesn’t go over and win the Universal Championship, you’ve screwed Balor’s first major feud and you’ve wrecked his unkillable Demon gimmick. So since they launched him into the main event with no safety net and not a lot of room for error…Balor?
Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
What Should Happen: Brock Lesnar eats Randy Orton for breakfast.
What Will Happen: It’ll be interesting to see if Orton goes over Lesnar here as a Roman Reigns-esque punishment for embarrassing everybody with drug test failures. By “interesting” I of course mean “impossible.”
As cool as Lesnar’s Suplex City act is, I’d like to see him throw it back a little and wrestle an actual good match against Orton. Orton is either hot fire or the most boring dude in the world, so I hope they’ve actually gotten together and said, “what would motivate you try really hard and make this great?” Because yo, it could be great.
I’ll pick Lesnar for the win, because it feels dumb to ever pick against him. Give me Orton hitting an RKO 3 seconds into the match, followed by Lesnar kicking out at one and immediately trapping him in a Kimura. Let’s go full tilt.
Bill Hanstock – F5 reversed into an RKO for a nearfall. That’s what this whole damn thing is about, or else why are we even here? These two have either an epic match or an epic-SEEMING match (like Triple H matches at WrestleMania for the past several years), and Lesnar gets the win. Then he leaves until Royal Rumble. Let the circle be unbroken.
Ross Bentley – If Lesnar never got caught after his big UFC 200 win, he goes over here no question. Now, though, I’m not so sure. Orton will be fine if he loses here, but if he wins, he has the potential to catapult to once again being one of the top stars in the company. It’s really a toss-up, but I’ll stick with the safe pick of Lesnar, although I do think it will be a very competitive match. Hopefully Brock has put the work in ahead of time to make it truly special.
David D. – Brock murders Orton. I’ve been looking forward to this match for a long time, and really would have preferred to see Orton face Brock at Mania 31 instead of Roman. But bygones are bygones. I actually recently watched their Smackdown match from the Heyman era and it was great. Clearly they’re different guys now, but there’s a chemistry there that should still work.
Scott Heisel – Honestly, this match seemed a lot more of a toss-up before Brock got pinged for doping in UFC, but now that some of the sheen has come off his armor, a loss actually seems not only possible but plausible. Given the lack of true star power on Smackdown right now, Orton needs to win this to remind people tune in on Tuesdays. (Plus, if the Goldberg rumors are true, Brock’s post-SummerSlam dance card is already full.) An F5 into an RKO for the 1-2-3? Sure, that works.
Justin Donaldson – Lesnar all the way. I can’t think of anyone at this point who could believably beat Lesnar. I hope it’s at least a competitive match, and not just a bunch of suplexes and an RKO.
Joe Starr – Damn you, my Randy Orton soft spot. I mean, it won’t happen, but I’m picking Randy. He’s tricked me into liking him again.
WWE Championship Match: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
What Should Happen: One of these two guys should figure out how to make a wrestling move look like it’s supposed to hurt before Sunday.
What Will Happen: Is anybody picking Ziggler here? Why would Dolph Ziggler be the champion? This guy was feuding over being hit in the nuts by Baron Corbin a few months ago. I don’t care how red-faced he gets while he’s screaming about how good he is, he’s classically got the momentum of a parked car on a steep-ass hill (despite the past few weeks of good TV) and 100% of his offense is him flailing his body while lurching at his opponent. It’s like wrestling an excited Kermit the Frog.
Ambrose retains in a good match that probably should’ve been the main event of a watchable Smackdown.
Bill Hanstock – It’s the battle of lightest-hitting offense in the company! You know Ziggler is going out there trying to STEAL THE SHOW. You know he’s HERE TO SHOW THE WORLD, he’s HERE TO SHOW THE WORLD (C’MONNNNN) that he still has value as a main eventer. He’s gonna TRY harder than anyone else on the whole dang card, but that’s not going to translate to a world title run. Ambrose retains and probably transitions into a feud with AJ Styles. Ziggler gets back in a program with Corbin, because that’s just sort of a thing that’s going to keep happening.
Ross Bentley – It is still so weird that this match is actually happening. I don’t think this will actually main event the show, so there’s a potential there for a wonky finish of some kind involving Bray Wyatt (not that they couldn’t do it if it was the main event, it’s just less likely). It seems entirely possible Wyatt takes out both men setting up a three-way at Battlebackgroundlash or whatever the first Smackdown PPV is. I’m going to pick Ambrose to retain, though, because I still think that Ziggler heel turn is coming, and this is the next step in that process.
David D. – We have a match that’s good, but less good than we expect because we somehow think Dolph Ziggler is a great wrestler despite the fact he’s never had a classic singles match. HOW’S THAT FOR A HOT TAKE. Dean wins clean before moving on to a long-term feud.
Scott Heisel – Just a month ago, the idea of Dolph Ziggler as the WWE Champion seemed completely inconceivable. Yet here we are, with Dolph a surprisingly legitimized contender via some good, solid storytelling on Smackdown. While it’s great to see the guy being taken seriously by the writer’s room again, that isn’t gonna stop Deano from retaining.
Justin Donaldson – I think Ambrose has a long reign ahead of him. I love Dolph Ziggler, but I don’t see him winning the belt. But I do see a heel turn for him after the match.
Joe Starr – Props to both of these gentlemen for what has been a pretty fantastic build. Ziggler’s “I came in as a male cheerleader, bro” promo was fantastic, and Dean is finally doing Dean stuff instead of squirting people with ketchup. Ambrose wins a hard fought match, we get a ‘thank you, Ziggler’ chant (or, god help us a ‘digggggg we want some zigggler’ chant) and then Bray Wyatt teleports in and does a Bray Wyatt thing to someone.