What's Next for AJ Styles, Asuka, More SmackDown Stars After WWE Extreme Rules?

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2018

Credit: WWE.com

There's no rest for the WWE roster, as the end of every pay-per-view leads directly into the beginning of the build to the next show.

With Extreme Rules 2018 in the bag, our sights are now set on SummerSlam, coming our way August 19 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

After this week's edition of Monday Night Raw, some matches are already formulating for the red brand's side of the card, but there's still room for speculation on the SmackDown end before tonight's episode.

What will some of the major Superstars like AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan and Carmella end up doing for the biggest party of the summer?

So far, all we know for sure is that Shinsuke Nakamura will continue his feud with Jeff Hardy, after having stolen the United States Championship from The Charismatic Enigma at Extreme Rules.

Hardy will be invoking his rematch clause and attempting to recapture the title, but his fans shouldn't hold their breath on that.

As Nakamura is dealing with fewer injuries, has momentum on his side and holds the champion's advantage, it's safe to say he'll retain the title.

Since Randy Orton made his return and inserted himself in the feud between the two, The Viper will undoubtedly make his presence known again and continue to build toward a match against Nakamura for SummerSlam.

With regards to the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, Kane's legitimate injury coincides with his storyline one, effectively removing Team Hell No from the running for the titles going forward.

This means The Bludgeon Brothers will either be seeking new challengers or will be pushed aside in favor of filling the card with other matches.

Both scenarios are possible, given WWE's recent booking strategies for these co-branded events, but as SummerSlam is one of the big four shows, it's more likely Harper and Rowan will find opponents in some fashion.

Since Sanity was victorious against The New Day in the kickoff, they should be considered the top team eligible for a shot at the belts. However, WWE rarely books heel vs. heel matches, so an alternative could have the insertion of a babyface team or two to even the odds.

Given the roster, it isn't a stretch to imagine The Bludgeon Brothers facing Sanity, The New Day and The Usos in a Fatal 4-Way match to get as many people on the card and give the champions an opportunity to retain without pinning a member of the Sanity stable.

That exclusion of Team Hell No from the tag title picture doesn't mean there will be no Daniel Bryan, though.

On the contrary, he should be a guarantee for some kind of spotlight match, as he's one of SmackDown's MVPs.

The most obvious go-to prediction is that he will rekindle his feud with The Miz, as those two have never stopped butting heads and have recently been interacting quite a bit.

This is a feud fans have been clamoring to see for years, as the two have remained adversaries even during Bryan's retirement from in-ring competition. It should be one of the most important matches on the card, even without a title on the line or stipulation attached to it.

The SmackDown Women's Championship is still around Carmella's waist, as she managed to upset Asuka for the second time with some help from James Ellsworth.

This does not bode well for The Empress of Tomorrow, who can realistically be written off as a priority going forward. If WWE wanted to rebuild her credibility following her loss at WrestleMania, this string of failures is not the way to do it.

Asuka will likely sit out SummerSlam in favor of a new challenger to Carmella. While Naomi could fill the spot, she hasn't been given the push Becky Lynch has received in recent weeks.

After scoring several victories and being made to look strong, Lynch is on the upswing and should be the perfect person to not only oppose Carmella but possibly even take the title from her.

She and Ellsworth have history, she's arguably the most popular babyface in SmackDown's women's division, and it's been a while since she's had a title reign, so putting the belt on her would feel like a nice change of pace.

Finally, WWE champion AJ Styles remains the top dog on the blue brand, retaining his title against a game Rusev who just couldn't pull it off.

That loss could lead to a split and a feud between The Bulgarian Brute and his operatic partner, Aiden English, as a means to keep the ball rolling and give Rusev something to do over the course of the next few weeks.

Styles, meanwhile, will need to move on to someone else, and there's no bigger looming threat than Samoa Joe.

The Destroyer hasn't been able to show off how destructive he can be on the main roster, for whatever reason. SummerSlam is the best chance to turn that around and allow him to be used to his full potential.

Since he and Styles have worked together many times in the past, they have a familiarity and chemistry that could lead to a fantastic fight in August where Joe is crowned the new WWE champion, winning his first title on the main roster and his first world championship in WWE.

It's time Styles dropped the title, as he's about to surpass Shawn Michaels for the 13th most combined days as champion in only two title runs. That's impressive and well-deserved, but it wouldn't hurt for a change of scenery with Joe sitting atop the mountain for a bit.

All of this speculation could be confirmed on Tuesday night's SmackDown, as we start to unravel WWE's plans for SummerSlam.

In the meantime, tell us what you think will unfold by keeping the discussion going in the comments section below. Drop your predictions on what you think will happen with the SmackDown roster for SummerSlam 2018!

Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.