Although WWE SummerSlam 2019 should boast a star-studded card, it will be especially important for the event to deliver on August 11 in Toronto with the product being so polarizing at the moment.
It's no secret that WWE has had a tough time generating genuine fan interest for Raw, SmackDown Live and their pay-per-views for some time now. Although Stomping Grounds and Extreme Rules exceeded expectations, the two main brands have largely remained lifeless.
The SmackDown side of the SummerSlam card is bound to be entertaining with Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton rekindling their rivalry over the WWE Championship and SmackDown Women's champion Bayley and Ember Moon facing off for the first time ever. Raw's top matches could use some work, but either way, WWE will be facing unprecedented pressure to knock this show out of the park.
Up to this point, WWE hasn't done an amazing job of building excitement for the event, wasting a prime opportunity like Raw Reunion to get new eyes on the product. SummerSlam is less than two weeks away, and it doesn't feel any more special than it did coming off Extreme Rules.
In the past, the company has rested on their laurels and has quietly moved on from a lackluster installment of SummerSlam without addressing any of their issues. Even when NXT TakeOver the night before was clearly the superior show, WWE had no reason to do anything about it because they were aware their audience would always be there.
However, that's no longer the case with All Elite Wrestling bursting onto the wrestling scene earlier this year. All three of their major events so far have been exceptional, and All Out on August 31 just may be their biggest yet with what's on tap.
If WWE fails to hit a home run with SummerSlam, that may be the final straw for both fans and wrestlers.
Of course, fans can tune into both shows once AEW arrives on Wednesday nights on TNT this October since they won't be airing head-to-head. On the other hand, more wrestlers could follow in the footsteps of Jon Moxley by deciding to take their talent to the competition where there's a chance they'll be utilized better.
WWE must send the message that they are willing to make the most of who they have on their roster and not solely rely on bringing back legends for every one of their events. Brock Lesnar and Shane McMahon are already confirmed to be competing at SummerSlam, and with Trish Stratus and Goldberg also rumored to appear, it doesn't look like the company is striving to create new stars any time soon.
In addition to AEW breathing down their neck, WWE also announced earlier this summer that Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff will be running the WWE Creative teams for Raw and SmackDown, respectively, moving forward.
Despite how the feel of both brands hasn't changed drastically, the hope is that Heyman and Bischoff will inject new life into the product. That said, the buck still stops with Vince McMahon, and as long as he continues to get the final say on everything Creative-related, it's unlikely the quality of the shows will improve.
Assuming Heyman and Bischoff have been integrated into their roles by SummerSlam, it will be a bad look for WWE if the pay-per-view flops. They desperately need the event to be a success in order to convince the masses that better times are ahead.
Most importantly, the fall season is notoriously a dull period for the product every year. If you aren't enjoying Raw and SmackDown now, they are virtually guaranteed to get much, much worse in the next month or so if SummerSlam doesn't shake things up.
A hot SummerSlam show doesn't always translate to an exciting fall season, but if nothing else, it lays the groundwork for what we can expect in the remainder of the year. The annual August extravaganza has traditionally hosted some of the year's most memorable moments from the formation of The Authority to multiple Money in the Bank cash-ins, and this year's installment should be no exception.
It's safe to say that WWE hasn't put their best foot forward creatively in 2019, but if they wish to wage war with AEW, they need to book SummerSlam to be as monumental as possible.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.