WWE SummerSlam has traditionally been among the best shows of the year since its inception in 1988, and all signs point toward the 2014 version being spectacular as well.
Headlined by the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between John Cena and Brock Lesnar, SummerSlam boasts a deep card that should provide plenty of entertainment from start to finish. SummerSlam has also become known for providing some pretty big surprises over the years, so there could be some swerves on the horizon.
WWE is well aware that SummerSlam has to be good in order to entice WWE Network subscribers to renew their subscriptions and to draw in new subscribers as well. On paper, this event has all the makings of a top-flight pay-per-view.
Along with vital viewing information every fan must know, here are the latest predictions for all eight matches on the SummerSlam card.
Where: Staples Center in Los Angeles
When: Sunday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. ET (Kickoff Show begins at 7:30 p.m. ET)
Watch: WWE Network (subscription required)
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
In what is being billed as the biggest fight of the summer, Cena will attempt to defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Lesnar. Although the leader of the Cenation prevailed over the Beast Incarnate at Extreme Rules 2012, it is difficult to imagine lightning striking twice.
Among those who fully expect Lesnar to leave SummerSlam as world champion is his advocate, Paul Heyman, who recently discussed the match on Ring Rust Radio (h/t Wrestling Inc):
I don't need to hype SummerSlam to those who understand the dominance that prevails in the universe that has been conquered by Brock Lesnar. I think the people who need to be sold on this pay-per-view are John Cena fans, to which I offer this very quick sales pitch. If you are a fan of John Cena, and if you are there is no accounting for taste, this is your last opportunity to see him.
Although some fans may be concerned about a part-time star holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, even more are likely tired of seeing Cena as champion. On the heels of ending The Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania XXX, Lesnar absolutely must and will win Sunday in order to maintain his momentum.
Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon
Perhaps the most personal feud in wrestling right now is between Brie Bella and WWE principal owner Stephanie McMahon. The two have been at odds for months, as Stephanie and The Authority previously made life miserable for Brie's husband, Daniel Bryan.
Things hated up when Brie quit and slapped Steph at Payback. Brie eventually got her job back after she had Stephanie arrested for assaulting her. Ever since that point, Stephanie has done everything in her power to hold Brie down.
Brie will win this match and get some measure of revenge, but Stephanie will get her licks in as well. A McMahon never enters a match without a plan, so she will most definitely have someone in her back pocket.
It is anyone's guess who that person may be, but perhaps a returning Kharma attacks Brie for her own personal retribution. Brie would win by disqualification, but the rivalry would be far from over.
Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton
Roman Reigns has quickly developed into one of WWE's top stars, but he has yet to compete in a singles match on pay-per-view. That will change Sunday when he locks horns with "The Viper" Randy Orton. The two combatants have been rivals since The Shield and Evolution did battle; however, things have heated up in recent weeks.
With Orton feeling as though Reigns robbed him of his title opportunity by attacking him, he has gone to great lengths in order to eradicate Reigns from WWE.
While Orton will look to do precisely that at SummerSlam, this match has all the makings of a showcase for Reigns. The powerhouse is an early favorite to win the Royal Rumble and then perhaps take the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.
He needs to build credibility and beat some established guys in order to reach that point, and taking down Orton will be a big step in that regard.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Which SummerSlam match are you most excited for?
Although it can be argued that their feud has lost some heat since Battleground, there is no doubt that Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are two of the best Superstars WWE has to offer. The Lunatic Fringe has been all over Rollins since he decided to spurn The Shield in favor of The Authority, and things will finally come to a head Sunday.
Since Rollins has often retreated when confronted by Ambrose, the unstable star decided to make this a Lumberjack match so that his high-flying opponent can't escape. That would seem to favor Ambrose on the surface, but The Authority always has a plan.
Someone is bound to go rogue and help Rollins. Since Kane is no longer serving in the heavy role for The Authority, perhaps someone with no direction such as Sheamus will step up and assume that position.
Rollins needs the win more than Ambrose at this point as Mr. Money in the Bank, and a loss won't make Ambrose look weak provided Rollins gets some help.
AJ Lee vs. Paige
The long-running rivalry between Divas champion AJ Lee and Paige will continue Sunday as AJ tries to defeat her passive-aggressive "frenemy" once again. Paige has interfered in AJ's matches and distracted her in recent weeks, and she seems to be in the champ's head.
Even AJ herself has admitted that the 21-year-old Diva from England is the next great women's wrestler, but she is unwilling to surrender her title:
Finally met my match. @RealPaigeWWE is definitely next in line to the throne. But it's gonna be a while before I'm done being queen.— A.J. (@WWEAJLee) July 21, 2014
This match could go either way, but it has all the makings of a great in-ring affair. They had solid chemistry together at Battleground and will look to build upon that at SummerSlam.
Since AJ and Paige have already traded the title once, it is likely that AJ will retain and extend her reign even further.
Jack Swagger vs. Rusev
Patriotism has pulsed through the WWE Universe over the past couple months due to Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter, but Rusev and Lana have set out to prove that Russia is a superior nation to the United States. In order to settle the debate, Swagger and Rusev will square off in a Flag match.
Rusev beat Swagger by count-out at Battleground, but the Real American is on a roll. Because of that, Colter seems extremely confident in his protege's ability to come out on top:
While Rusev has lost a couple matches, he has yet to lose by pinfall or submission. That streak will remain intact no matter what happens Sunday since the object of the match is to grab the opponent's flag.
Since Rusev doesn't have to take the fall per se, Swagger will nab the stars and stripes and wave it high in the air, much to the delight of the live audience.
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
While Chris Jericho currently holds the advantage over Bray Wyatt after beating him at Battleground, the leader of the Wyatt Family has been persistent. Wyatt has attacked Jericho on several occasions and insisted that Y2J is not a savior to the WWE Universe.
As refreshing as it was to see Jericho get a big win at the last pay-per-view, this particular match is all about Wyatt. He lost his last feud against Cena and needs to prevail in this one in order to regain his momentum. That starts at SummerSlam and will probably end with another win at Night of Champions.
The true point of intrigue in this match is Wyatt's in-ring performance. He was lacking in that regard at Battleground and has yet to prove that he can consistently have good outings. If he impresses from a wrestling standpoint in addition to coming away with the win Sunday, it will be huge for him moving forward.
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
Intercontinental champion The Miz is coming home to his adopted city of Los Angeles in hopes of retaining his title against Dolph Ziggler. Miz has taken on a Hollywood persona that has gotten under the fans' skin, and they are hoping he gets his comeuppance Sunday at the hands of The Showoff.
Ziggler is a former IC champion who's lost his way for much of the past year, but he appears to be back on the ascent. He put on a fantastic performance in the Battleground Battle Royal for the title before the sneaky Miz stole the victory.
DZ is looking to get back at him at SummerSlam, and he had some pointed words for The Miz leading up to SummerSlam:
Ziggler is going to win the title eventually, whether it happens at SummerSlam or Night of Champions. Since The Miz losing in L.A. would pack the most punch, though, Ziggler will become Intercontinental champion for the second time in his career Sunday.
Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro
In what is a late addition to the card, Rob Van Dam will face Cesaro in a pre-show Kickoff match at SummerSlam. Although there isn't much behind this bout since the two Superstars aren't currently feuding, it is worth being excited about.
RVD and Cesaro are two of WWE's best in-ring workers, and they have had some great encounters in the past. Both men should be doing more from a storyline perspective, but it is smart on WWE's part to get them on the card.
For whatever reason, RVD and Cesaro have essentially been used as enhancement talent over the past several weeks. Neither guy necessarily has an advantage over the other, but Van Dam will likely come out on top simply to get the fans involved early with a face victory.
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