WWE's SummerSlam Plan Could Be a Disaster for Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2020


WWE is in for a world of hurt if the company does what it seemingly wants to do with Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, SummerSlam and Payback.

That may appear a little simplistic, but so is what looks to be WWE's idea of a good plan. 

If wrestling fans didn't notice, WWE's SummerSlam is this Sunday. It's had a muted build for what is supposed to be the second-biggest event of the year for the company. It feels like "just another pay-per-view" in the Payback sense. 

And funnily enough, WWE has that Payback event scheduled for the Sunday after SummerSlam. No two-or-three-week gap. It's slammed right up after the biggest non-Mania event of the year, which is a rarity for WWE. 

The reasoning? Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter says it hints at developments necessitating such a quick turnaround: 

Dave Meltzer @davemeltzerWON

Just an experiment to see how it works. They must have an idea for a hot angle coming off SummerSlam that they felt needed an immediate follow-up. That or, it was just an idea they are trying. https://t.co/1yLK6Z4xYv

And the mind quickly goes to McIntyre and Orton over anything else. WWE isn't going to completely upend the typical pay-per-view schedule because MVP beat Apollo Crews for the U.S. title. The company clearly isn't interested in breaking up the dynamic duo of Bayley and Sasha Banks, and Braun Strowman-Bray Wyatt is so ho-hum it probably couldn't even main event Payback itself. 

That leaves McIntyre-Orton. 

And presumably, the only outcome needing an immediate response on another pay-per-view is McIntyre dropping the belt to Orton. 

Which would be a disaster, of course. There's no point in letting McIntyre drop a title now. He's the big name WWE spent the entire Royal Rumble, WrestleMania and Brock Lesnar appearances building up to this run. He also never had his big moment in front of a live audience, which WWE still needs to have happen at some point down the road when stadiums are back to full capacity. 

Throwing the proverbial hands up in the air and having McIntyre lose the title now would make it all feel for naught and kill off any remaining momentum he might have. Orton's doing some of the best work of his career, but having him take Raw's top title out of the blue would feel shoehorned in just for the sake of having a title change hands. 

And fans aren't stupid. It would be a quick, cheap way for Orton to get his 16th title before presumably handing it right back to McIntyre. Or even worse, he'd take down McIntyre twice in a row. Maybe putting McIntyre back into chase mode because WWE hopes fully live audiences can return soon seems like a good idea, but not if it's done like this. 

To Orton's credit, it's not like he needs a title to be relevant and important right now. He's back to being a legend killer, and his feud with Edge is sure to resume as soon as the veteran can get back from his injury. That's a feud that doesn't need a tittle as it is, so why WWE would burn up McIntyre in the process is impossible to say. 

None of this is to suggest McIntyre needs the top title to be relevant, either. He's putting on memorable feuds and matches no matter who he's working with in the ring. But from a long-term outlook, WWE needs to keep building up the next generation of stars, not again passing on a red-hot performer to give a strap to someone like Orton. 

The only good way this can pan out is if some sort of interference causes the SummerSlam match to get called off, pushing it to headline Payback, where McIntyre retains. But even that feels like drawing things out in a desperate attempt to garner interest in what is usually a mediocre pay-per-view. It would also risk harming both guys and having WWE potentially look silly because one of its marquee matches on the second-biggest card of the year ended in a no contest. 

In short, there are ways to make a quick turnaround to another pay-per-view interesting. Crossing the fingers and hoping it doesn't derail a top budding star—in a company that has a brutal time actually making stars with staying power these days—isn't one of them. 

McIntyre doesn't need a gimmick or some innovative, risky new calendar schedule to work. That's why he looked so impressive squaring off with Lesnar—it felt authentic and didn't feel forced. A McIntyre-Orton feud can feel the same, provided it doesn't come with any silliness. 

Looping in any quirks besides a simple feud between two top dogs risks harming McIntyre to the point he might not be able to recover.