Superstars Ready to Be Pushed on the Road to WWE SummerSlam 2020
The Horror Show at Extreme Rules is done, thankfully, which means we can forget about it and WWE can move on to building hype for SummerSlam 2020.
The Biggest Party of the Summer may not feel as special this year without a raucous crowd, but it should still be prioritized as a major event. The last thing the WWE Universe needs is another throwaway gimmick show with a lack of direction.
In order to reach a point where SummerSlam feels like a legitimate special event, there needs to be advanced planning. WWE must determine which Superstars will be the focal points for the August 23 card and then schedule the forthcoming month to push them as much as possible.
Which Superstars are poised for their time in the spotlight? Let's take a look at some who are ready to be pushed on the road to SummerSlam.
The Champions and Obvious Major Players
It should go without saying that someone like Drew McIntyre has to be a prominent star of SummerSlam. He is the WWE champion, after all.
The same goes for Braun Strowman and his third match against Bray Wyatt. The Fiend had the last laugh in Sunday's Wyatt Swamp Fight, so The Monster Among Men has to settle the score once and for all.
Bayley and Sasha Banks are in too big of a position to be ignored at the moment, but how they're used will be explained with some of their potential opponents.
The same goes for Asuka. While her run with the Raw Women's Championship remains clouded until Monday's rematch against The Legit Boss, let's assume she'll retain and go from there.
AJ Styles skipped Extreme Rules, but he shouldn't be off the SummerSlam card. He's too good of a performer and too big of a name to not have a spot.
In theory, if someone's not mentioned specifically on this list but they're a top talent, it should be assumed they'll have a spot on the card. This is more about setting up challengers and some of the less obvious picks WWE should be paying attention to, rather than the guaranteed competitors.
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Robert Gunier of WrestlingInc), Vince McMahon changed the finish of Asuka vs. Sasha Banks at Extreme Rules in a last-minute decision.
In theory, the non-finish would get people to tune in to Raw to find out what the consequences would be.
It's the worst type of booking, though, as it means weeks of television was written to get fans to tune in to one show and then have to watch another to get some answers.
The story between Asuka and Banks has to be dropped, and Shayna Baszler has to step in and take charge. WWE interviewer Charly Caruso asked her if she has a vested interest in the upcoming title match during Extreme Rules, and The Queen of Spades said she's a shark swimming around, waiting for her prey.
With rumors that Kairi Sane is leaving WWE, the former NXT women's champion should take out her former rival.
This would serve multiple purposes. It would build on Baszler having lost the Mae Young Classic and NXT Women's Championships to Sane in the past, give The Pirate Princess an excuse to be written off television and send a message to Asuka.
After taking out the other Kabuki Warrior, The Queen of Spades would prove she's next in line for a title shot and not one to be messed with.
Asuka should head into SummerSlam as a strong champion but holding that belt on borrowed time until Baszler gets her opportunity.
Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott
Beyond the Sasha Banks-Asuka feud, The Golden Role Models will need something else to do.
For whatever reason, WWE refuses to pull the trigger on the Banks vs. Bayley feud, despite how its been building for over two years. With that in mind, we have to assume that implosion won't happen before SummerSlam.
There are no viable contenders to the SmackDown Women's Championship now that Bayley has seemingly gone through every competitor several times over the past year. And any rematch, especially against Nikki Cross or Alexa Bliss, would not feel special at all.
If WWE can't be bothered to do something with the SmackDown women's title, The Golden Role Models should at least be defending their Women's Tag Team Championships. In which case, the only option is for Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott to team up and go for the belts.
Morgan and Riott have been easing back into a partnership in recent weeks, despite the former's absence from television. Riott seems fully on board with being her friend again, and it's only a matter of time before the ex-Riott Squad teammates reunite.
These next few weeks should be spent with Morgan and Riott putting The IIconics behind them and earning a tag title shot for SummerSlam. Ideally, they can win those titles and WWE can finally split Banks and Bayley afterward.
Shelton Benjamin Along with Cedric Alexander, Ricochet And/or Mustafa Ali
For virtually his entire career, Shelton Benjamin has been referred to as one of the best pure athletes in WWE, yet he's rarely used.
His talents are going to waste on programs such as Main Event, so it was great to see he's now joined The Hurt Business with MVP and won the 24/7 Championship.
As great as R-Truth is, his comedy shtick goes much further if there are gaps between the bits. Since we've had weeks of him being chased around by Akira Tozawa and his ninjas, it would be a refreshing change for Benjamin to bring some legitimacy to the title.
The build to SummerSlam could showcase The Gold Standard's talents as he retains the title against Truth and others while getting deeper into a feud with the group that has been opposing The Hurt Business lately: Cedric Alexander, Ricochet and newest recruit Mustafa Ali.
Even if it ends up on the pre-show come August 23, Benjamin defending the 24/7 Championship against any of those three could be one of the best matches of the night.
Apollo Crews and Bobby Lashley
Since WWE couldn't follow through with the plans for Apollo Crews to face MVP at Extreme Rules, that match has to happen as soon as possible. Then, the remaining weeks leading up to SummerSlam should build to the inevitable follow-up.
The most logical way this plays out is that Crews defeats MVP and takes the new United States Championship belt for himself.
Then, on behalf of The Hurt Business leader, Bobby Lashley should be scheduled to fight Crews for the United States title at the pay-per-view.
WWE is going with the story that Lashley's Full Nelson is what prevented Crews from being able to compete at Sunday's pay-per-view. Naturally, the champ should want some revenge for that injury. The story writes itself.
Bar a medical reason, there's no reason why WWE couldn't set up Lashley to take the title from Crews on August 23.
This year particularly, WWE has thrown some random matches onto pay-per-views.
Major events no longer consist of just the biggest attractions. Several marquee matches have been bumped from PPVs and saved for television, such as Friday's Bar Fight between Sheamus and Jeff Hardy on SmackDown or the Unsanctioned match between Big Show vs. Randy Orton that aired on Monday's Raw.
With that in mind, there should be no hesitation in using someone as talented as Bianca Belair over the coming weeks and giving her a generic match on the SummerSlam card.
The former NXT star has been on the sidelines most of the time since her debut on Raw in April, but she is too good to be ignored like that and deserves to start picking up some steam.
Belair should win some matches and start a program with either Natalya or Nia Jax as one of three feuds in the Raw women's division.
In particular, a match against Nattie would be a great showcase for The EST's skills and give her a first win on a main roster PPV. It could even be the kickoff match if WWE doesn't want to invest lots of time in promoting it.
The bottom line is Belair has been ready for a push since she was in NXT, and WWE should stop sleeping on her.
Aleister Black should be doing much more than playing a supporting character in the Seth Rollins vs. Rey Mysterio rivalry. It seems WWE wrote him off with an arm injury this week, so it's doubtful he'll get a sudden surge and take charge of a prominent spot on Raw in the coming month.
SmackDown is a mess and there's no telling how WWE will manage to right that ship.
Otis has been missing for weeks, but he had been doing nothing with the Money in the Bank briefcase previously anyway. Assuming he's available, he needs to be used quickly by WWE or risk fading into obscurity.
Similarly, the Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville feud is losing massive steam the longer it's stretched out without substance.
Naomi deserves far better than the ridiculous karaoke spot she was put in on the July 10 edition of SmackDown and the lackluster feud with Lacey Evans. WWE doesn't even seem to be trying with those two or Dana Brooke.
John Morrison and The Miz are quality entertainment and shouldn't be tossed around by Braun Strowman. Let's give them an actual program with, say, Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak.
Also, it wouldn't hurt to see a push for Shorty G so he could earn an opportunity for the Intercontinental Championship. He and AJ Styles could tear the house down if they were given enough time.
Even during the ongoing pandemic when fewer Superstars are available, there's no shortage of talent at WWE's disposal. It's just a matter of the creative team dedicating the time and effort to setting them up for success.
Here's hoping these Superstars and many more will have a great trip on the road to SummerSlam and the WWE Universe will look back on a fun stretch of shows that led to an amazing pay-per-view.
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.