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Bleacher Report featured columnists Michael Cahill, Brandon Galvin, Mike Chiari and Donald Wood give the lowdown on all things going on in the wrestling world.
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Predicting John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam
WWE went all out in its go-home build for the WWE Championship match between John Cena and Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam. Both Cena and Bryan got plenty of promo time on Raw as they addressed each other on a special edition of Miz TV.
Cena delivered a strong promo in his own right, but Bryan shined brightly as he echoed the Internet wrestling community's sentiments by telling Cena that he is a real wrestler and saying that he didn't deserve his respect. After such a red-hot segment, their match is essentially guaranteed to impress.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Who Will Win?
In addition to the fantastic build, WWE threw another wrinkle into the match, as Triple H will serve as the special guest referee. While a special referee certainly wasn't necessary since the match itself is going to be fantastic anyway, it does help in terms of unpredictability.
With Vince McMahon out to get Bryan, Randy Orton lurking with the Money in the Bank briefcase in tow and The Game somehow involved as well, Cena, Bryan and Orton seemingly all have an equal chance to exit the Staples Center in Los Angeles with the WWE Championship in their possession.
On top of that, Cena vs. Bryan undoubtedly has match-of-the-year potential. It's reminiscent of Cena vs. CM Punk from Money in the Bank 2011 in that a win could launch Bryan into the upper echelon of the business.
Also, McMahon tried to do everything in his power to prevent Punk from winning the WWE Championship since he was set to leave the company. The circumstances are different this time around, as Vince simply doesn't view Bryan as title material. Whatever the case, all the pieces are in place for something very special.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
While the RRR panelists seem to believe that they have this one figured out, the creative team could very well pull off a swerve. That is a big part of the allure surrounding this match, as anything can happen.
With that said, Orton's constant involvement in the storyline points to him cashing in successfully. The best possible result would be for Bryan to defeat Cena, only for Orton to cash in. This could lead to a triple threat between the trio at Night of Champions, or it could just create a Bryan vs. Orton feud if Cena's injury is as bad as has been speculated.
The manner in which Orton might cash in is up for debate, but I'm still in favor of McMahon having The Shield attack Cena and Bryan so that Orton can cash in successfully. Not only would this make Orton Vince's handpicked champion, but it would also give The Shield some direction. No matter how it goes down, though, the WWE will have an extremely hot angle on its hands moving forward.
Rumor Mill: Cena Possibly Taking Time Off After SummerSlam (F4WOnline via WrestlingInc.com)
Predicting CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam
Cena vs. Bryan seems like a good bet to main event SummerSlam, but CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar is basically on the same level. There is no title on the line, but this has been one of the most entertaining feuds in recent memory.
The physical confrontations between Punk and Lesnar have been great, but the verbal battle between Punk and Paul Heyman has been even better. Punk will be taking on opponents from all fronts on Sunday, and that definitely adds to the intrigue.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Who Will Win?
One of the big complaints regarding WrestleMania a few months ago was the predictability of the main event matches.
The creative team has done a fantastic job of making things far less obvious for this huge event, though, as very few of the bouts can be called with confidence. Lesnar is definitely favored from both a kayfabe and realistic standpoint, but Punk could just as easily win, and it wouldn't disrupt the flow of the storyline in the least.
The fact that Punk got the better of Lesnar on Raw seems to point toward a Lesnar victory, though. Lesnar had destroyed Punk on a couple of prior occasions, but Punk outsmarted him on Monday as he attacked from behind with a camera.
Punk also hit him with a chair, and he very nearly got his hands on Heyman, but Curtis Axel intervened. Punk hit Axel with a GTS and stood tall as Raw came to a close. The fans would love to see Punk finally get proper revenge on Heyman for screwing him over at Money in the Bank, though, so a Punk victory is still a possibility.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Although it wouldn't be wise to count out Punk completely, the RRR panel also agreed that Lesnar will come away from SummerSlam with a win. Lesnar will almost certainly take some time off following the match since he is only a part-time competitor. And while that could be viewed as a point in Punk's favor, the opposite is likely true.
When Lesnar leaves, Punk will need to have something on his plate. It's hard to imagine Punk's feud with Heyman ending on Sunday, so losing to Lesnar could prolong the process of Punk trying to get back at Heyman. It could also lead to a brief angle with Axel or perhaps even a new Heyman guy.
It may seem like a bold prediction, but having Rob Van Dam help Lesnar score the win at SummerSlam could be great for Punk moving forward. Axel hasn't done a particularly good job as Intercontinental Champion, so having Punk feud with him seems like a waste of Punk's talent.
A Punk vs. RVD feud would be fresh and exciting, however. RVD is the consummate Heyman guy, and while he is a face currently, it would be very easy for the creative team to turn him heel. Punk vs. Heyman seems like a long-term storyline, and a Lesnar win will prolong it.
Rumor Mill: Lesnar May Not Wrestle Again Until WrestleMania (F4WOnline via WrestlingInc.com)
Predicting Remaining SummerSlam Matches
While most fans who buy the SummerSlam pay-per-view will be doing so for the co-main events, there is a lot to like about the undercard as well.
Dean Ambrose will defend the United States Championship against Rob Van Dam, Cody Rhodes will take on Damien Sandow, Kane will face Bray Wyatt in a Ring of Fire match, Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn will do battle with Big E Langston and AJ Lee, and Alberto Del Rio will defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Christian.
Question on Everybody's Mind: How Will the Undercard Play Out?
The undercard may not pack as much star power as the SummerSlam main events, but there is a great mix of veteran and rising talent. The fans should be raucous before the pay-per-view even begins, as the Ambrose vs. RVD match will be the Kickoff bout.
Van Dam has been spectacular in the ring since returning at Money in the Bank, and Ambrose is one of the best young stars in the business. It's inevitable that they will have great in-ring chemistry, and they should be able to set the tone for a fantastic night.
Kane vs. Wyatt has a lot of fans excited as well due to the fact that it will be Wyatt's first WWE match. The Wyatt Family has taken the WWE by storm, and putting Kane in a Ring of Fire match will obviously lead to some interesting moments.
Sandow and Rhodes have taken center stage on SmackDown, and while the Money in the Bank briefcase won't be on the line, it should be a fun encounter.
There aren't many fans who have good things to say about Del Rio's run with the world title, but he often puts on solid matches, and that should be the case when he and Christian lock horns.
The mixed tag match isn't particularly exciting, but it will certainly be interesting to see what types of reactions Ziggler and AJ have.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Ambrose's United States Championship reign hasn't been as great as hoped, but he still deserves to pick up the win at SummerSlam. Since RVD has no reason to win the U.S. title, Ambrose will prevail.
Wyatt has gotten the better of Kane on most occasions during their feud thus far, but the WWE can't possibly have Wyatt lose his first match. Look for Wyatt to defeat Kane, which will result in the Wyatt Family abducting the Big Red Monster.
Sandow and Rhodes' feud has steadily grown since Sandow usurped Rhodes at Money in the Bank, and it has definitely helped both men gain notoriety. Sandow should get the win since he is in possession of Money in the Bank, but since the briefcase isn't on the line, all signs point to a Rhodes victory.
WWE is seemingly happy with Del Rio as world champion for some odd reason, but there isn't much more that can be done with him. Del Rio recently attacked Ricardo Rodriguez for costing him a match, so Ricardo will likely interfere on Sunday and help Christian win the belt.
There isn't a lot hanging in the balance when it comes to Ziggler and Kaitlyn against Big E and AJ, but the WWE is trying to build Ziggler up as a top face, so it would be senseless to have him lose at SummerSlam.
Rumor Mill: Wyatt Family Is Reportedly Triple H Project (Wrestling Observer via WrestlingInc.com)
RRR Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Michael Cahill: 380
2. Mike Chiari: 172.5
3. Brandon Galvin: 7.5
4. Donald Wood: -20
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