WWE SummerSlam 2014: Most Intriguing Storylines to Track on Road to PPV
World Wrestling Entertainment will present one of its most prestigious pay-per-view events August 17 when SummerSlam rolls into the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The show, the annual summertime spectacular, ranks behind only WrestleMania in terms of importance and is traditionally one of the better shows of the year.
As announced on the July 21 episode of Raw, the event will be headlined by a huge WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between John Cena and new No. 1 contender Brock Lesnar.
The announcement already adds legitimacy to a card that is sure to be stacked thanks to a number of strong storylines that are unfolding on a weekly basis leading into the event.
With Roman Reigns dominating headlines, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins warring in arenas across the country and two programs featuring WWE Divas gaining prominence on Raw and SmackDown, there will be several feuds and stories for fans to sink their teeth into.
Preparations are underway for the huge extravaganza. Now, gear up for the show by taking a closer look at those stories and feuds that will captivate audiences on the road to SummerSlam.
Brock Lesnar's Return
The Beast is back!
On the July 21 episode of Raw, Brock Lesnar made his return to WWE for the first time in three months and made an immediate impact by becoming the new No. 1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The announcement set up a huge blockbuster main event for SummerSlam between two Superstars who have not shared the ring in over two years.
The last time Cena and Lesnar met, they delivered one of the most physically intense matches in recent WWE history. The Beast Incarnate pummeled the leader of the Cenation, leaving him bloodied and bruised.
The resiliency of Cena, however, proved to be the difference in the match. He dug down deep, pulled out one last-ditch effort and defeated Lesnar in a match of the year candidate.
This year, Lesnar is coming off of the biggest win of his career. He conquered what was once thought to be unconquerable when he ended The Undertaker's legendary undefeated streak at WrestleMania. He now has the opportunity to end Cena's latest run with the top prize in sports-entertainment and begin a reign of terror of his own.
With Paul Heyman carrying Lesnar's end of the hype for the bout, expect to see Heyman delve deeper into the fact that audiences are tired of the goody two-shoes Cena act and are ready to see an annihilator like Lesnar ascend to the top of WWE.
With nearly a month to go until SummerSlam on August 17, the marketing machine of WWE should be out in full force as the company treats the main event of that show like the monumental clash that it is.
The Rise of Roman Reigns
There are few Superstars who have made the type of impact in 2014 that Roman Reigns has.
Since The Shield disassembled in June, Reigns has skyrocketed to the top of WWE, becoming one of the top adversaries of the hated Authority. In the process, Reigns has established himself as the choice to succeed John Cena as the top babyface in all of professional wrestling.
At one point, it appeared as though Reigns was on a collision course with Triple H at the biggest show of the summer. The match was teased several times, including a few tense staredowns with the King of Kings. Over time, however, it looks like WWE Creative has opted to run with Reigns vs. Randy Orton instead.
Either match would benefit Reigns, who is still in need of that one singles victory that announces to the world that he is, in fact, the company's choice to rise to the top of the industry.
Reigns' performances have been extraordinary to this point.
What he lacks in experience as a singles star he makes up for with an explosive move set and the ability to hold the crowd in the palm of his hand. Reigns possesses subtle body language and an understated charisma that sets him apart from the more overt and over-the-top babyfaces on the roster.
His in-ring game will work itself out the more he competes against talented and experienced Superstars in high-profile bouts.
A Superstar who was all over the first SummerSlam promo that aired during the Battleground broadcast, Reigns will play a major role in the show, and his story entering the event will be one of the most prevalent on Raw and SmackDown.
What he does with the increased exposure he enjoys over the next month will indicate whether he can maintain the momentum he has built for himself to this point or if he stumbles and causes second-guessing within management.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
The Dean Ambrose-Seth Rollins storyline intensified at Battleground when their scheduled match was scrapped because Ambrose simply could not wait to get his hands on his former partner and punish him for all of the pain, suffering and torment that Ambrose has endured over the last two months.
Their brawls backstage, in the arena and in the parking lot were so well done that it was easier to forgive the fact that WWE blatantly baited and switched its fans.
A feud as personal and emotional as any in the company, Ambrose and Rollins cannot realistically be expected to contain their hatred for each other within the confines of a basic wrestling match. There is no way they could even stand to share the ring for a minute without Ambrose attempting to maim the man he once considered a brother.
As a result, a gimmick match of sorts is likely for SummerSlam, and the build to that match will be key in keeping the anticipation for said contest at a fever pitch.
While WWE Creative will, at some point, have to graduate past the repetitive brawls and book something else between the two in order to preserve freshness, the storyline is as hot as any right now, and the resulting match has every chance to be a legitimate show-stealer at SummerSlam.
The Wrath of Paige
At Battleground on July 20, AJ Lee successfully retained her Divas Championship by defeating Paige in a very competitive bout. The loss clearly affected Paige, but the second-generation wrestler refused to let it get to her. She allowed AJ to take center stage and celebrate her victory, then agreed to team with her the following night on Raw.
Paige and AJ defeated Natalya and Emma in a tag match when AJ tagged herself into the bout and forced a submission from Natalya via the Black Widow.
Having the glory stolen from her once again by the woman who ended her Divas Championship run four weeks earlier proved too much for Paige to deal with. After feigning admiration for her partner and embracing her with a big hug, the young Diva brutally and violently assaulted AJ.
The heel turn was exactly what Paige needed at this point in her main roster career. Her first few months in the company were a bumpy ride. She was an undefined character, and fans struggled to accept her as a result. Now, as a heel capable of such brutal actions, she will be able to make that all-important connection with the WWE Universe.
The reaction of the fans to the assault indicated that they see Paige as a much more believable heel than the smiling babyface she was portrayed as earlier. That she showed such tremendous aggression while beating AJ around ringside only helped enhance the effect of the heel turn.
Over the next months, fans will be exposed to a rivalry with the potential to revitalize the Divas division and lead to the greatest rivalry between two female competitors of this generation. Paige and AJ are talented enough to deliver revolutionary matches if given the opportunity. To do so, they will have to give fans a reason to care with a story they can easily invest themselves in.
WWE Creative took the correct first step by establishing a clear babyface and a clear heel on the July 21 episode of Raw. It will now be imperative that the story continues to evolve, leading to what could be the biggest match of either woman's career at SummerSlam.
Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon
The feud between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella was very much the result of The Authority's targeting of Bella's husband, Daniel Bryan.
The more McMahon became involved in the weekly tormenting of Bryan, the more she interacted with Bella. When Bryan was forced from the spotlight due to injury, McMahon and Bella took center stage.
McMahon toyed with the lives of both Bryan and Bella until the twin Diva simply could not take it any longer. Rather than sit back and watch as the boss took away everything that Bryan worked so hard to attain, she quit and put an exclamation on it by slapping Stephanie, much to the delight of the WWE Universe.
From that moment on, McMahon engaged in a personal vendetta against the other Bella Twin, Nikki. She booked the young woman in several Handicap matches, all of which ended with Nikki lying in a heap following a physically punishing contest.
On the July 21 episode of Raw, Brie sat at ringside but was almost immediately confronted by McMahon. They exchanged some words before McMahon slapped the raven-haired beauty, who was then dragged away by security.
She would get the last laugh, however, as McMahon was led out of the arena in handcuffs and taken to a Dade County prison.
Both segments received huge reactions from the crowd and indicated that the WWE Universe wants nothing more than to see the two women clash in a sanctioned match. With SummerSlam serving as one of the most important events of the year, there is no better setting for a contest between the two strong female characters than the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Expect the story to dominate WWE programming over the next month and for it to come to a head sometime before August 17.