WWE SummerSlam 2014: GSM's Pick, Preview and Potential for Each Match
On Sunday, August 17, WWE will present its 27th annual SummerSlam pay-per-view event live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. ET.
Next to WrestleMania, SummerSlam is one of WWE's premier PPVs of the year, so it comes as no surprise that Sunday's show has a stacked card. If recent SummerSlam events are any indication, then this year's installment should be nothing short of stellar.
The main event will see John Cena defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Brock Lesnar in a battle for the ages. Will history repeat itself with Cena slaying The Beast once again, or will Lesnar avenge his loss to the champ and take home the gold?
In exchange for not pressing charges against her, Brie Bella goaded Stephanie McMahon into facing her at SummerSlam, to which Stephanie hesitantly accepted. What lengths will Stephanie go to in order to ensure she doesn't come up short to the wife of Daniel Bryan?
After months of waiting, Dean Ambrose will finally get his chance to go one-on-one with his archrival Seth Rollins. With Superstars surrounding the ring in a Lumberjack match, how will Rollins be able to escape the beating coming to him from The Lunatic Fringe?
Here, I will provide my personal preview, prediction and potential of every match on the advertised card.
Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro (Kickoff Match)
Since parting ways with Paul Heyman, Cesaro has found himself in the middle of a slump. He has lost far more matches than he's won in recent months despite having strong showings against the likes of John Cena, Dean Ambrose and Jack Swagger. Despite being on the verge of a big babyface turn prior to WrestleMania 30, Cesaro has been directionless as of late and is struggling to make it back to where he was earlier in the year.
Rob Van Dam is in a similar situation. He still has quite a bit of fanfare, but he too has been losing consistently these last few months. He hasn't done anything of note since his feud with Bad News Barrett over the Intercontinental Championship in June and is coming off an injury that sidelined him from action for approximately one month. RVD and Cesaro have history together from this past spring, but aside from that, there's no real storyline to this match.
It's a shame how WWE has wasted the talent of both Cesaro and RVD these last few months. RVD isn't world-title caliber at this point in his career, but he could at least win a match every once in a while. As for Cesaro, I thoroughly believe WWE knows what it has when it comes to his potential and is simply waiting to give him something to do until after SummerSlam. Either way, Cesaro should go over here, though it's a lose-lose situation either way.
RVD and Cesaro have lacked in-ring chemistry in the past, so I'm not confident that their SummerSlam match will be all that good. Here's hoping they put together a decent enough match that will set the stage for the rest of the night.
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship)
At WWE Battleground, Dolph Ziggler came close to capturing the vacant Intercontinental Championship when he eliminated United States Champion Sheamus from the Battle Royal. However, Ziggler was blindsided by The Miz, who threw the bleached-blond star over the top rope to claim the prestigious prize.
The next night on Raw, Ziggler scored a non-title victory over Miz, earning an opportunity to contend for the gold at SummerSlam. In subsequent weeks, Ziggler has come close to getting his hands on Miz's "money-maker," but has come up short each time. Can the same be said for his championship aspirations come Sunday?
While Miz hasn't been booked as a particularly strong champion in the last month, I have been thoroughly enjoying the rivalry between these two. They have great chemistry together, both inside and outside the ring. It's the first time a feud over the Intercontinental Championship has actually meant something, making their match mean that much more.
Although Ziggler has been winning more frequently as of late, I wouldn't mistake that as WWE trying to push him again. It's possible that is the intention, but it's looking like Miz will walk out as champion. It's still too early to take the title off him, and Ziggler can stay in chase mode going into Night of Champions.
Say what you will about Miz, but his in-ring work has improved immensely these last few years, and his various matches with Ziggler dating back to 2012 are proof of that. Ziggler's talent inside the squared circle speaks for itself, so I have no doubt they'll have another awesome (no pun intended) encounter. Look for this match to serve as the opener to kick off the pay-per-view on a high note.
Jack Swagger vs. Rusev (Flag Match)
After months of plowing through the likes of R-Truth, Kofi Kingston and Big E, Rusev deemed himself unstoppable but was soon met with a new challenge in the form of Jack Swagger. Coming to the aid of America, Swagger and Zeb Colter embraced the WWE Universe and have attempted to put an end to Rusev's reign of terror.
While Swagger's last two matches with Rusev have ended in controversy, their Flag match at SummerSlam will ensure that there will be one definitive winner. Will Rusev succumb to defeat for the first time in his career at the biggest party of the summer?
Who would have thought three months ago that Swagger would be one of the hottest acts in the company at the moment? I've been really impressed how he and Colter have gotten themselves over with the fans over the last two months, and the key now is to maintain that momentum after their feud with Rusev runs its course.
It's obvious that WWE officials are high on Rusev and his potential, so a win for him here wouldn't be out of the question. However, while the rules of the Flag match have yet to be officially disclosed by WWE, I assume Rusev can lose without being pinned or submitted. Thus, I have Swagger emerging victorious here with Rusev looking good enough in defeat that he won't lose anything.
The brawls between Swagger and Rusev since June have been awesome, but their match at Battleground was less than stellar. They've built enough interest in their feud that the in-ring action doesn't have to be excellent, but both guys are good enough wrestlers that I'm sure they can have a decent match. Anything-on-a-pole matches don't excite me in the slightest, but Swagger and Rusev will manage to make the most of it.
AJ Lee vs. Paige (Divas Championship)
One night removed from WrestleMania 30, Paige arrived on Raw and sent shock waves throughout the WWE Universe when she defeated AJ Lee to win the Divas Championship. AJ disappeared from WWE TV shortly thereafter, only to return on the June 30 Raw and regain the gold from Paige. While the two remained friends for a period of time, not long after that Paige turned on AJ, setting up their rematch for the Divas Championship at SummerSlam.
Aside from Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella, AJ Lee vs. Paige has without a doubt been one of the best feuds in the Divas division in years. Both ladies have been playing their parts perfectly, and here's the kicker: The fans actually care!
That's rare with any Divas title feud, and it's great to see that there's a lot of excitement surrounding this match. Now that Paige has been clearly established as the heel, it would be wise to put the belt back on her here and put AJ in chase mode. It'll keep the feud going a bit longer and breathe new life into it.
Their first match at Battleground (I don't count their one-minute matches from Raw) was good for what it was, but we all know that they are capable of so much more. With so much heat on this feud, I'm sure they'll live up to the expectations and deliver a great match.
The only issue they might run into is not getting enough time. Hopefully, they aren't put in that position and will be given enough time to shine.
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
On the June 30 edition of Raw, Chris Jericho made his highly anticipated return to WWE, only to be ambushed by The Wyatt Family. Bray Wyatt explained his actions by claiming that Jericho was no savior and that he would be the latest hero he'd destroy.
Despite defeating Wyatt at Battleground, Jericho has still been a victim of various attacks from the bearded clan in recent weeks. However, with wins over Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, Jericho has ensured that he'll have Wyatt all to himself when they meet again at SummerSlam.
It's still mind-boggling to me as to why some fans were up in arms over the decision to have Jericho go over at Battleground. As Wyatt has stated, Jericho may have won the battle, but the war is far from over.
The end game of this feud is Wyatt standing tall, so a win over Jericho here, especially without any help from Harper or Rowan, will even the odds. A rubber match at Night of Champions is also possible.
It was rather surprising that the match between Jericho and Wyatt at Battleground left a lot to be desired, but there's a good chance they were holding back for this bout. I'm not guaranteeing that this match will be exponentially better than their first encounter, but at least the expectations for this contest won't be as high as they were the first time, so it will be easy to meet or exceed them.
Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton
Roman Reigns has been a thorn in The Authority's side since the start of the year, even dating back to when he was still with The Shield. While his focus remains on Triple H, Reigns has been sidetracked in recent months with Randy Orton, who has made sure that he will not be overlooked.
Orton sent a powerful message to Reigns on the July 28 Raw, laying him out with multiple RKOs on the commentating table. Reigns will look to seek vengeance over Orton at SummerSlam when they finally met in singles competition.
Reigns vs. Orton has been a much better feud than I ever anticipated it would be. Reigns has been improving on his own, and Orton has been showing a sadistic side of his character that hasn't been seen in ages.
I was initially disappointed we wouldn't be getting Reigns vs. Triple H on this show, but it appears the WWE is saving that for Night of Champions or perhaps even later. With that said, it would be smart to keep Reigns looking strong going into that marquee matchup, so it's only logical that he emerges victorious in this bout.
While the feud has been better than expected, I still feel that their match won't deliver. Past singles matches between Reigns and Orton haven't exactly lit the world on fire, so I don't have much hope that they'll be able to match the build their match has received thus far. Reigns is still limited in the ring, so the best-case scenario is that Orton carries him to a solid match.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (Lumberjack Match)
Working as a cohesive unit as part of The Shield for over a year-and-a-half, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins seemed to be near unstoppable. That was until Rollins turned his back on his Shield brethren on the June 2 edition of Raw, citing them as "dead weight" that was holding him back.
An extra layer was added to this rivalry later that month when Rollins captured the Money in the Bank briefcase, and he has been waiting for the opportune moment to cash in. Ambrose has struggled to get his hands on Rollins for the last two months but will finally get his chance to do so at SummerSlam when they collide in a Lumberjack match.
I've thoroughly enjoyed the rivalry between Rollins and Ambrose thus far and commend how well it's been built up. Since I don't expect this to be the end of the line for the feud, it could go either way.
Neither guy is in desperate need of a victory at the moment, so I'll be content with whoever wins. Since I expect this to be a heel-heavy show, I'll go with Ambrose here, especially considering the bad history of Money in the Bank briefcase holders when it comes to SummerSlam.
Ambrose and Rollins have yet to clash in an official one-on-one match, so this will definitely be interesting. If they cut out all the shenanigans, Ambrose and Rollins are capable of having a great match based on their tremendous in-ring skills alone. I still don't get why a Lumberjack match was chosen as the stipulation, but if any two competitors can make a Lumberjack match exciting, Ambrose and Rollins can.
Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon
Brie Bella and Stephanie McMahon have been at odds for the last year considering Brie's husband Daniel Bryan's storied history with Stephanie's husband, Triple H. However, the bad blood between them didn't intensify until the Payback pay-per-view in June when Brie "quit" WWE before Stephanie could fire her.
After Stephanie slapped Brie—a "fan," on an episode of Raw in July—the former Divas champion had Stephanie arrested. The next week, Brie agreed to have the charges dropped, but only if the former Women's champion would face her at SummerSlam. Stephanie reluctantly agreed, setting the stage for their SummerSlam encounter.
Honestly, this feud has been a lot better than I ever thought it would be. If you told me a year ago that Brie Bella and Stephanie McMahon would be in one of the headlining matches at SummerSlam, I would have called you crazy. Similar to Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, this is another one that could go either way.
Brie could easily get her vengeance over Stephanie by beating her here, but I feel it's too soon for that to happen. Stephanie is my pick to win, but only with help from an interfering individual. As awesome as it would be if it were a returning Kharma (I don't have money on it), it will more than likely be Triple H aiding her to victory.
Although this feud has been fun to watch these last few months, I never thought of it as being a five-star classic when they eventually face off. I'm not expecting that at all, but I am looking forward to them telling a solid story in the ring. Some interference from Triple H and even Nikki Bella can make this an entertaining and pleasantly surprising matchup.
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
After an eight-year absence from WWE, Brock Lesnar made his long-awaited comeback to the company the night after WrestleMania 28, laying out John Cena with an F-5. They clashed again at that month's Extreme Rules event, with Cena emerging victorious. Fast forward two years later, and the stakes are much higher than they were the first time around.
Lesnar is fresh off ending the undefeated streak of The Undertaker at WrestleMania, and Cena has been reigning as WWE world heavyweight champion for the last two months. Paul Heyman, Lesnar's advocate, has ensured victory for Lesnar at SummerSlam, but Cena is confident he has a strong grasp on the gold.
Who will come out of this blockbuster bout with the title in tow?
I realize there a few reasons why Cena could win here (Lesnar not being present at house shows, not regularly appearing on WWE TV, etc.), but none of them is a strong enough argument. Whether you like it or not, Lesnar conquered The Streak at WrestleMania. I didn't agree with the decision to end it, but if the WWE is going to go through with it, the company might as well book it accordingly.
It's possible an interim champion could be crowned in Lesnar's absence, but either way, there's no good reason why he should lose here. He must hold the title until WrestleMania 31, plain and simple.
Anyone who watched the Extreme Rules encounter between Cena and Lesnar knows how brutal of a matchup they're capable of having. While it won't be "anything goes" on Sunday night, they'll definitely push the envelope and take each other to the limit once again. The unpredictability and suspense over who will be walking out as champion will make this one of the most anticipated main event matches in recent memory. I, for one, couldn't be more excited for it.
Read more prediction pieces for past WWE pay-per-views here.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.
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