The thrill of a challenger triumphing against a champion won't happen until the final contest of WWE SummerSlam 2014.
The Miz and AJ Lee are in line to retain their titles thanks to WWE thrusting them into the spotlight and the arc of their current stories. Intercontinental Championship history favors The Miz while the recent flux of the Divas Championship suggests a more sustained title reign is ahead.
It's Brock Lesnar who is the safest bet to leave the Staples Center with gold in hand.
SummerSlam's main event will be Lesnar's first action since marring The Undertaker's perfect WrestleMania record. That's bad news for John Cena fans hoping to see him carry on as champ. The bigger, more exciting move is for Lesnar to follow up his last win with another.
The Usos and Sheamus, meanwhile, aren't on the SummerSlam card and have no clear contender charging at them. They may retain their belts by simply being inactive.
They can watch on, like the fans, as two champs survive and one falls victim to a hulking brute.
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz
Carrying the IC title has put a renewed focus on The Miz and highlighted his new Hollywood persona. Count on that continuing.
It's been less than two months since he returned to WWE with an elevated sense of self-worth. Losing to Dolph Ziggler would stall the momentum that he's just begun to build. The Miz has been the center of the story.
The cameras pointed at him after his run-in with Ziggler on August 1, for example.
The Showoff is only his first challenger anyway. According to WWE.com, Intercontinental Championship history suggests the majority of titleholders remain champions for at least two months. Of the last 10 IC title reigns, only two have lasted less than that.
This match should be a means to display Miz's weasel ways and get more heat on him in the process.
Ziggler's recent record in title bouts points to him losing as well. WWE has mostly asked him to elevate others as of late, as seen by the number of defeats he's had against midcard champs in the last year:
|Dolph Ziggler's Recent Title Matches|
|Night of Champions 2013||Dean Ambrose||United States||Loss via pinfall|
|SmackDown-Sept. 27, 2013||Dean Ambrose||United States||No-contest|
|Main Event-Oct. 6, 2013||Dean Ambrose||United States||Loss via pinfall|
|Raw-Nov. 11, 2013||Curtis Axel||Intercontinental||Loss via pinfall|
|Main Event-March 25, 2014||Big E||Intercontinental||Loss via pinfall|
|Raw-June 23, 2014||Bad News Barrett||Intercontinental||Loss via pinfall|
|Battleground Battle Royal||Battle Royal field||Intercontinental||Last man eliminated|
That's not a track record that inspires confidence.
The safe bet is that Ziggler puts on a stellar show only to fail in the end, as has been his pattern. It's Miz's time to be in the spotlight for now.
Divas Championship: AJ Lee
Paige and AJ's rivalry has the makings of something that will stretch well past the summer.
The animosity between them is just picking up. It was after their first title bout at Battleground that Paige went from a friend hesitant to compete with the champ to a full-on heel.
She attacked AJ after their tag match on July 21 and then pushed her off the entrance ramp on the August 1 edition of SmackDown.
Those feel like the early chapters of an extended story. AJ has yet to get much revenge. It's likely that the bad blood between them will escalate far more before she does or the climax of this narrative arrives.
That could mean Paige overcoming AJ at Night of Champions or later, but SummerSlam wouldn't be the right time.
Besides, the Divas title has changed hands too quickly and easily between these Divas so far, with a pair of short, impromptu matches crowning new champions.
WWE can mine a lot more drama from the next time the title changes hands. To do that, though, the company can't hurry things along and have Paige become the division's queen again just yet.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar
A championship change is imminent at the top.
Cena won't be able to hold back The Beast Incarnate in SummerSlam's biggest match. The momentum born from breaking The Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania will be too much for Cena to overcome.
If WWE has Lesnar lose his first match after doing the impossible at this year's WrestleMania, it will cheapen that feat. That would be like Doomsday defeating Superman only to lose to Green Lantern in the next battle.
It makes the most sense to make full use of Lesnar's surprise win. That means cleanly beating the man who doesn't suffer that fate often.
Portraying Lesnar as an unstoppable force who bullies his way to the mountaintop is a far more compelling story than him falling to Cena again.
Lesnar has yet to win the world title since returning in 2012. It's hard to paint him as the baddest man on the roster if he doesn't accomplish that at some point.
The biggest drawback to the powerhouse becoming champ would be that he's on a part-time schedule. While it's certainly an issue, it's not an insurmountable problem, as Bleacher Report's own Big Nasty notes in the following video:
A Cena win would jab a knife into everything WWE built with Lesnar this year. It's the least exciting option and one that the company won't go with.
Lesnar is too hot not to carry around the WWE title for the foreseeable future.
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