WWE SummerSlam 2017 Matches: Booking Decisions That Must Be Made at PPV

Kevin Berge@TheBerge_Featured ColumnistAugust 19, 2017

WWE SummerSlam 2017 Matches: Booking Decisions That Must Be Made at PPV

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    Credit: WWE.com

    SummerSlam is one of the biggest nights of the year for WWE, defined by clashes between present and future stars all looking to make their mark. This year will be no different, with important matches all over the card that could change the course of the promotion in both the short and long term.

    WWE has been dominated by the effect of booking decisions this year. Despite wrestlers all putting in their best efforts on big stages, the bookers have been the difference between great and terrible shows. It will be once more up to them to make the right decisions at WWE SummerSlam 2017, when the best of both brands clash.

    Among those hoping not to be hurt by booking on Sunday are Big Cass and Baron Corbin, who are both heading into bouts with legendary veterans that could make or break their respective careers. Championships will also be hanging in the balance, with Naomi fending off threats from all sides and Samoa Joe looking to take the next step in WWE by toppling the Beast Incarnate while taking Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman out of contention.

    While some matches could go either way, certain decisions need to be made to help the company and its rising talent succeed. While it is not a certainty that all the right moves will occur, these are the important booking choices that must come to pass to allow Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live to continue to grow down the line and improve as products.

Big Cass Must Defeat Big Show Clean

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    Big Cass looks to be one of the biggest star-making projects on Monday Night Raw, with Cass getting frequent mic time and main event spotlights on Raw. That should make it obvious he will win at SummerSlam against Big Show, but WWE has never taken the simple approach.

    If someone important backstage wants Cass to pay his dues, he could fall at SummerSlam, but it would be a terrible decision, particularly given he would be losing to Show, who is in the midst of his last run in WWE and is nursing a kayfabe broken hand. This should be the first major win of Cass' singles career to solidify him as a rising star and give him more heat than ever.

    Enzo Amore will be watching from above the ring in a shark cage, so there should be no shenanigans involved. Cass can dominate Show and prove himself the future of big men in WWE, joining Strowman near the top of the brand. Cass will lose along the way to the top—whether he makes it or not—but this is not the time or place for him to fall.

Naomi Must Remain SmackDown Live Women's Champion

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The threats around Naomi are constantly moving, with Natalya facing her for the SmackDown Live Women's Championship on Sunday and Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella waiting for an opportunity to steal the title. Either could walk out with the championship come SummerSlam, but it is not the right time to unseat Naomi.

    WWE has a bad habit of moving around a championship from wrestler to wrestler, with no one holding a title for too long. While Naomi has been champion for around 140 days, it does not feel like that. She has spent so much time waiting for challengers to emerge that she has not had a defining feud.

    If she loses to Natalya or Carmella cashes in on her just as the division is finding focus, it would make Naomi's reign feel like a holdover from her feud with Alexa Bliss half a year back. She needs to be given a chance to put on quality singles matches as the women around her grow into their characters.

    Having Carmella be the one to dethrone Naomi makes the most sense, but she can still build up heat and improve in the ring before becoming champ. The briefcase is helping make Carmella a star while Naomi is building her own legacy as champion. Neither needs a change yet.

Finn Balor Must Not Lose as The Demon

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    Finn Balor lost definitively to Bray Wyatt on the most recent edition of Raw. Given this rivalry has only just gotten off the ground and that Balor is one of the top babyfaces of the brand, it was a surprising move. The loss was important, though, as the Irishman promised he would bring The Demon to their next clash after Wyatt dumped acidic liquid on him.

    A staple of Balor's NXT TakeOver appearances, The Demon has not been seen often on the main roster. The one time he donned the paint for a WWE match, he defeated Seth Rollins at SummerSlam 2016 to become WWE universal champion. It is an important and protected aspect of his character.

    Even if the plan is for Wyatt to win his feud with Balor in order to move up to a Universal Championship match down the line, Balor cannot lose on Sunday as The Demon. The gimmick should be his trump card and help him achieve victories against even the most dangerous of opponents. If Balor loses in his second main-roster outing donning the war paint, the importance of The Demon will be lost.

Baron Corbin Must Avenge His Loss with a Victory over John Cena

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Baron Corbin was outright embarrassed on Tuesday, when he became only the third Mr. Money in the Bank to fail his cash-in attempt, with John Cena distracting him long enough to be rolled up by champion Jinder Mahal. It was a unique moment, but it could end up defining Corbin's career in the worst way.

    The Lone Wolf can only bounce back by gaining a defining victory. Even though losing to Cena is far from career-damaging on its own, Corbin cannot lose two major matches in a row in the same week. If there is any plan for him to be a major star on SmackDown Live—which seemed a certainty a few weeks ago—he must defeat Cena, even if it takes heavily dirty tactics.

    The Leader of the Cenation is expected to switch brands as WWE's "free agent" and has already been advertised for an appearance on the Monday Night Raw after SummerSlam. Cena can take a loss, as he did to Shinsuke Nakamura on August 1.

    It is possible the perception of Corbin as a top star has changed and that he will lose on Sunday. That would be a shame given the time and effort spent grooming him for the role. A loss to Cena would crush any chances The Lone Wolf has of headlining in the coming months or even years, solidifying his status as a loser when the lights are on brightest.

Samoa Joe Must Become WWE Universal Champion

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    Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship reign is a divisive issue that is arguably hurting WWE. Lesnar returned to WWE recently and has frequently appeared since, but it was not long ago that Monday Night Raw was without its world champion for two months. Even when Lesnar is appearing on TV, he still doesn't appear often at house shows, making Raw events less appealing.

    If anyone is going to walk out of SummerSlam as the new universal champion, it has to be Samoa Joe. It is likely WWE has no plans to take the title off Lesnar, but moving the belt on to an full-time performer would fix many issues for Raw. Joe is an experienced veteran who has only been in WWE for a short time but stolen the show repeatedly.

    By having Joe win at SummerSlam, he would solidify his main event status and make sure Raw had a regularly appearing universal champion. Plus, The Samoan Submission Machine has frequently been portrayed as an opportunist, and a Fatal 4-Way win would suit him perfectly, allowing him to steal the title from Lesnar without defeating him. This would set up a future clash between the pair when Lesnar returns from his self-imposed exile.

    SummerSlam is a time for major moments, and the expected results for this event would lack the excitement of such an important show. A win for Joe would not only make sure SummerSlam was remembered long after it was over but would also help reshape WWE for the better with a wrestler more than ready to take up the challenge.

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