Predicting Who Will Hold WWE Championships at WWE SummerSlam 2019
There is no offseason for WWE, so while the first quarter of the year wrapped up at WrestleMania 35 on April 7, the company is full steam ahead on the path to the next biggest point in the year: SummerSlam 2019.
In the months leading up to August 11, there will be plenty of opportunities on Raw and SmackDown and at events such as Money in the Bank and Extreme Rules for the champions to be dethroned.
By the time SummerSlam comes along, WWE's landscape could look drastically different. In fact, that could happen as soon as the upcoming Superstar Shake-up, which will have major ramifications as to which Superstars are in contention for titles.
While the oven is still hot from WrestleMania and before everything gets thrown for a loop in the Superstar Shake-up, let's look into our crystal ball and throw out some bold predictions about which Superstars will be holding the main roster's belts come The Biggest Party of the Summer.
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston
Over the past five years, title reigns for the WWE Championship have ranged from as long as 371 days to as short as a few minutes, such as when Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins lost the belt almost as soon as they won it because of Money in the Bank cash-ins.
Dating back to Brock Lesnar's win at SummerSlam 2014, the average length of a title reign has been just shy of 105 days.
For Kofi Kingston to reach SummerSlam as champion, his reign will be at 126 days long. That is above average, but it isn't out of the realm of possibility.
There are many pros and cons to a Kingston title reign that make this particularly difficult to figure out.
Will Kingston prove himself worthy of the investment, or will WWE revert to considering him as not being on that level? He ascended to the mountaintop at WrestleMania, but can he sustain that success?
How long did WWE originally want Daniel Bryan to hold the title? Was it long enough that WWE will want to revisit it, meaning this title reign for Kingston is just a pit stop?
No challenger has been established for the new champion, as he feuded with The Bar on the post-WrestleMania TV shows, likely as a placeholder until the Superstar Shake-up sorts out who will be on SmackDown Live.
There's always a chance someone like Andrade is given a shot or the title falls back to a stalwart like Randy Orton. But for now, the WWE Universe has embraced Kingston as champion with so much hype that it may well keep his momentum going until SummerSlam rolls along.
At that big event, the temptation to crown a new champion could be too much for WWE to ignore.
Universal Championship: Drew McIntyre
The Superstar Shake-up has the potential to upset the hierarchy on Monday Night Raw by removing wrestlers like Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley and even Finn Balor from the equation, but if advertisements are to be trusted, we may already know WWE's plans.
Promotional material for Extreme Rules features Baron Corbin against Roman Reigns along with Seth Rollins defending the Universal Championship against Drew McIntyre.
The card is always subject to change, but quite often, these spoilers at least hint at how WWE values certain people. McIntyre fighting for the title means he will still be considered a top guy on Raw.
With Reigns healthy and back in the swing of things—particularly as someone who is receiving more cheers than he has in years—there will undoubtedly be far too strong of a temptation for WWE to resist ranking him higher than Rollins in the grand scheme of things.
Rollins is likely only holding the title because Reigns had to relinquish it and plans for WrestleMania consequently changed. So there may not be any glue holding his run intact. In the next few months, there's a strong chance he drops the title to a heel who can lose it to Reigns by Survivor Series.
Corbin will be a stepping stone. It's doubtful Sami Zayn will get that big of a boost. Likewise, it's hard to imagine Bray Wyatt will have enough momentum upon his return to be champion again.
Lars Sullivan is a major threat, as he could be built as the monster Reigns needs to take out, but it's questionable whether WWE would trust him with that much responsibility so soon after his main-roster debut.
McIntyre is the real deal, as he could win the gold at Extreme Rules in July to set up a rematch between the two at SummerSlam and a run that ends with Reigns at Survivor Series or TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.
Raw and SmackDown Women's Championships: Becky Lynch
Far too much time and effort was put into crowning Becky Lynch as The Man heading into WrestleMania to throw that all away just a few months later.
Barring any kind of horrible misfortune such as an injury, backing Lynch to retain these titles until at least SummerSlam is one of the safest bets on this list.
It's important to note, though, that WWE has yet to clarify her status as dual champion. Will she be forced to defend both titles at the same time against challengers like Lacey Evans, or will each match be for one belt at a time?
This calls into question something like the Money in the Bank contract. Once that is in play, if someone were to successfully cash in and defeat The Man, would she get a choice of which title to take? Would Lynch have to declare which title is on the line before the bell rings? Or would that woman become the new dual champion?
Becky Two Belts already has too much of a ring to it for her to not be a champion for SummerSlam, yet holding both may be too much to ask for.
Since no indication has been made that there can be a split, we have to assume it's both or nothing. In that scenario, let's go all-in on The Lass Kicker.
Intercontinental and United States Championships: Too Many Variables
The Intercontinental and United States Championship are practically interchangeable, and there are a wide variety of Superstars on both Raw and SmackDown who could contend for the belts.
Sometimes, WWE positions main event talent to hold the midcard belts to up their prestige and give those Superstars something to do. Other times, a lower-midcarder takes a step up and wins the title to progress up the ladder.
That opens the field to practically everybody, which is made even harder to narrow down with the Superstar Shake-up looming, particularly as those titles aren't tied to a specific brand.
Finn Balor and Samoa Joe may swap shows, or their possible contenders can shift around. Someone like Andrade would be a massive threat to Balor if he ends up on the same brand, but it's unlikely as a heel that he would beat another heel in Joe.
Sami Zayn came up short against Balor on Monday, yet he's a major contender for either title depending on where he lands. The same goes for Shinsuke Nakamura, Corbin, Wyatt, Sullivan, Rey Mysterio and so many more names.
If the rosters were to stay as they are, Joe could find himself losing to a babyface like Ali, but Braun Strowman from Raw has him in his sights, and even the Superstars don't know which brand they will be on until Tuesday night.
Ricochet and Aleister Black also have to be considered top picks.
If guesses have to be made, Zayn may dethrone Balor and Joe may lose to Kevin Owens. But there won't be any indication of whether this will be possible until SmackDown's conclusion.
Raw Tag Team Championships: Heavy Machinery
Starting with Braun Strowman and Nicholas winning the belts at WrestleMania 34, Raw's tag team titles have gone on a wild ride of terrible champions. Some were booked as total jokes, while others were just pushed aside as unimportant, proving WWE does not care about this division.
The Deleters of Worlds didn't work as a unit. The B-Team's gimmick was that they were losers. McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler only won the belts for a boost to their feud with The Shield. AOP was pushed aside, Bobby Roode and Chad Gable were nothing and The Revival failed to get entrances on most weeks.
Now, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, who had massive losing streaks instead of momentum, are the champions. Anything can happen, but it's a safe bet they won't still be champions come August.
A heel team like The Bar could take them out as quickly as the next episode of Raw, as could AOP once Akam returns from injury.
Eventually, though, Otis and Tucker of Heavy Machinery will catch CEO Vince McMahon on a good day, strike his funny bone in just the right way and, out of nowhere, the decision will be made to put the belts on them.
SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Hardy Boyz
Switching the belts from The Usos to The Hardy Boyz may have been just to spice things up, but it could be more of a long-term plan to give Matt and Jeff an extended run.
Working tag team matches will be much easier for the two, as they can split the difference for bumps and still wrestle high-profile PPV matches without crowding the singles championship scenes.
Tag team wrestling was their bread and butter for much of their careers, so having them together again is a treat rather than a demotion. If the fans are still enjoying it and they can hold up in the coming months, WWE may want to keep the titles on them for as long as possible.
At the very least, SummerSlam is a good time to readjust the roster and have new champions crowned, so perhaps by then, a team like The Undisputed Era can move up to the main roster and take out The Hardy Boyz to win the titles.
Women's Tag Team Championships: Asuka and Ember Moon
We may never know how far in advance The IIconics were planned to leave WrestleMania as women's tag team champions, but the title change was a shocker, as it seemed like a relatively safe retain in the works for The Boss 'n' Hug Connection.
With all sorts of speculation regarding Sasha Banks' possible wish to leave WWE and no evidence either in support of or to counter these suggestions, it's difficult to trust the former champions will get their titles back.
WWE may not have any solid plans in mind for where these belts are going, with the only tease so far being that Paige has a team she's looking to bring into the hunt. Their identity is also up for guessing.
Once Kairi Sane and Io Shirai join the main roster, The Sky Pirates will be in title contention, but that graduation to Raw or SmackDown seems to only be in the works for Sane.
Ruling out Banks and Bayley, as well as the short-lived team of Fabulous Glow and Superstars like The Bella Twins, who have claimed they are retired, there aren't many other options.
As a shot in the dark, perhaps WWE's intention is to pair Asuka with Ember Moon based on their work together in NXT. With Lynch as the top champion on both brands, neither stands a chance at taking the belts off her, but this would be a means to utilize them elsewhere in the division.
Tony Nese previously had a short stint as a babyface before it was swept under the rug as a failure and he reverted back to his heel tendencies.
His title reign is in its infancy, but since he wasn't even been able to get the hometown New York crowd to pop considerably for him, it's doubtful this run will end any differently.
If Nese continues to be unable to connect to the WWE Universe in a significant way, there will be two courses of action WWE could take.
First, he could turn heel and be set up to lose the title to a babyface. There aren't any strong faces on 205 Live, though, as Cedric Alexander, Akira Tozawa and Brian Kendrick already had their runs and Humberto Carrillo isn't wowing audiences.
Gentleman Jack Gallagher would be the best bet to take down a heel Nese, but that is only if the heel turn happens. If he stays a babyface, his three biggest challengers will be Mike Kanellis, Drew Gulak and Oney Lorcan.
Gulak edges the other two out in reliability, tenure and presentation.
He started with the Cruiserweight Classic as just another guy lost in the shuffle but has managed to reinvent himself twice. He developed and showcased a personality by becoming a highly entertaining comedic character, then turned it around and reestablished himself as a credible fighter.
Nese and Gulak have also had a partnership in the past, which may point to his being the preferred opponent Nese would choose to drop the title to when the time comes.
Look out for the possibility that Nese takes out someone like Ariya Daivari, moves on to Lorcan after he's done with Alexander and then loses the title to Gulak just before SummerSlam.
Sooner or later, WWE will realize how much of a standout Gulak is compared to his 205 Live peers and reward him for his efforts. It might as well happen now with him as the next in line.
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.