SummerSlam is only days away, and with a well-developed card featuring several hotly anticipated matches, it looks set to be an excellent night of wrestling.
With several feuds likely to finish at the event, several stars will have their night end with their back flat on the mat, but some of those wrestlers will do much to demonstrate their worth even in a losing performance.
One such grappler is Randy Orton, a mainstay of the main event scene who has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent months. Ever since his reign as the world heavyweight champion came to an end, his character work and in-ring performances have been among the finest in the company—The Viper is the best that he has been in years.
We're seeing Orton transfer into the now-familiar role of a veteran facing off against up-and-comers rising up the roster, his first target being ex-Shield member Roman Reigns. Tipped to be the next Cena, it's no secret that Reigns is on his way to the top, but Orton could be about to play a crucial role in facilitating Roman's reign.
Many would point to Orton's feud with Mick Foley back in 2004 as a star-making period for The Viper, with their No Holds Barred match at Backlash being a particularly vital moment for his career.
While the hardcore nature of that match was necessary to demonstrate Orton's toughness, all Reigns really needs to prove at present is that he's able to perform in a one-on-one encounter. Orton is an ideal opponent to this end, much like Foley was the perfect partner for a Hardcore match.
Reigns will likely pick up the win to maintain his momentum, but we should see Orton excel in his new role by making his opponent look like the star he seems destined to become. SummerSlam will be a test for both Reigns and Orton, but it's one that both men will be able to pass.
Speaking of veterans making the stars of tomorrow look great, it's perhaps worth mentioning the man who has done more for his successors than most others, Chris Jericho.
With The Wyatt Family banned from ringside, his one-on-one confrontation with Bray Wyatt has the makings of a great contest. Their solid match last month at Battleground and a bout on NXT in 2013 showed plenty of promise, but their SummerSlam encounter should be the best we've seen from the pair thus far. Hopefully, it'll be a win for Wyatt.
The ongoing issue between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins is perhaps the hottest feud in WWE at present, and their match at SummerSlam looks poised to steal the show. The risky strategy of denying fans a real match at Battleground seems to have paid off, only serving to raise anticipation for their eventual collision.
At present, the outcome of this one seems too close to call, but it seems obvious that the two are going to tear it up on Sunday night. Whichever man chalks up a loss seems sure to find that tempered by the fact that they took part in one of the best matches on the card.
Who else will pick up a loss but look great doing so at SummerSlam? Conversely, who do you think will win without seeing much of a benefit? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.