WWE SummerSlam 2016
August 21, 2016
Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

Carmella & Becky Lynch & Naomi vs. Natalya & Eva Marie & Alexa Bliss

(Note: Previews were written before the announcement of Eva Marie’s suspension.)

Jeff Hawkins: If this is anything but Eva Marie arriving late and stealing a win, this whole bit will be for naught. This could land anywhere between overdeliver and absolute garbage, but the WrestleMania match was a pleasant surprise so I’m not too down on this. The division needs star power even with capable workers on top. I’m sure we will be reminded that Nattie is a Hart. Prediction: Natalya & Eva Marie & Alexa Bliss

Sean Flynn: This is a pre-show match most likely. The only reason to watch it is to be amazed at how they have poor Becky Lynch slumming it in this match. I have literally nothing else to say about this match. This match is McDonalds. Reviewing McDonalds is like Yelping about the Sun. Prediction: Natalya & Eva Marie & Alexa Bliss

Kelly Harrass: This will be the moment we all look back on in twenty years and think, “this was the start of a new era.” The era of All Red Everything. If you thought Nikki Bella was a superworker, just wait until you see what Eva Marie brings to the table. I’m very excited for Eva’s Hayabusa tribute when she wins the match with a Phoenix Splash. Prediction: Natalya, Eva Marie, & Alexa Bliss

First Match in Best of Seven Series
Cesaro vs. Sheamus

Jeff Hawkins: Why in the hell do we need a “Best of Seven” when there are no stakes, no real blood feud, and one guy has beaten the other twice this month? Why are we *STARTING* it on the second biggest PPV of the year (maybe third behind Rumble). Here’s the other problem, I don’t see the matches being “different” given that the WWE likes their paint-by-numbers “people come to see you play the hits” style. WWE logic says Cesaro’s won the last two, old school booking logic says the heel goes up by a couple. It will be “fine” as a series, but it feels like the point is to take two guys, have them tread water and waste time, but that upward mobility for one guy is the endgame. Prediction: Sheamus

Sean Flynn: I give credit to WWE for doing the exact same thing they always do, but acknowledging it this time and acting as if that makes it special. Every feud is a best of seven series. The fact that there’s nothing promised the winner makes the whole thing seem like an exercise in time wasting. The matches will be good, and since this won’t have commercials to time out this might be a notch better than the others. This match is lunch at a solid sandwich joint. You’ll enjoy it while it’s happening, but if someone asks you the next day what you had for lunch you’ll have to think hard for a moment to remember. Prediction: Sheamus

Kelly Harrass: I usually hate when wrestlers in WWE are placed into feuds where they wrestle each other endlessly (Ziggler and Corbin know what I’m talking about), but I’m oddly okay with this best of seven series. Sheamus is at his best when he’s working with someone that will beat the hell out of him and that’s absolutely what he’s getting with Cesaro. While I won’t go as far as to say that this will be a show stealer, I do think that it will be very good at worst. Look for Sheamus to get an early lead in the series so Cesaro has to fight his way back. Prediction: Sheamus

WWE United States Championship
Rusev © vs. Roman Reigns

Jeff Hawkins: Going on feel, my gut instinct screams that despite this being for the U.S. Title, Roman is still the guy they want on top? Again, they can’t decide on what hero he’s going to be so he’s going to be all of them: wisecracker, suave ladies’ man, badass, etc. I’m trying to figure out if Vince thinks Lana even has honor marrying “a man like that.” WWE math says if you won on the go home show, you lose on the PPV. I’m tempted to say this is the “shocker” and Roman gets the title. It will drive the crowd nuts, they’ll pot down the boos, and Vince will give a middle finger to the hostile crowd. Prediction: Roman Reigns

Sean Flynn: VInce McMahon is known to hate a few things. He hates people who display having a life beyond WWE. He hates people who disrupt his stories. He hates women. He hates happiness. He hates people not loving Roman Reigns. He hates people who think Roman isn’t cool. You know what would make him really cool? If his sheer Romanity was enough to make a hot blonde woman leave her hirsute foreign groom for an awesome American badass. Lana refuses Rusev asking her for some sort of interference, Roman does his thing, gets the title and the girl. This match is balut eggs and poorly prepped tripe. Some masochists will try and convince you they loved it, but you know they’re insane as you run to the bathroom trying not to wretch too much along the way. Prediction: Roman Reigns

Kelly Harrass: Bear with me for a second while I explain my strange barrier to entry with this match. Remember that time in the early 2000s when Coors was obsessed with twins? That’s literally all I can think about when it comes to this match. You’ve got Orton vs. Lesnar, two world title matches, AND TWINS. Setting all that aside, this match has a strange build with Roman doing his best impression of the Rock while he acts like a dick to the happily married couple. All signs point to Roman winning this match, but maybe that’s a good thing. Think back to last year when John Cena had an awful feud against Rusev for the US Title. What happened after? Cena became a super worker that put in match of the night performances on a regular basis. Maybe history will repeat itself and this could be the beginning of Roman become as great as Vince wants him to be. It’s not likely, but it could happen. Prediction: Roman Reigns

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens

Jeff Hawkins: Team Canada ended the confrontation on RAW on top, Big Cass is someone they want to build. Enzo sells, Cass gets the hot tag. Jericho and Owens can take a loss and remain a team and move on to the New Day while Enzo and Cass go after the Club. This one seems open and shut to me. Prediction: Enzo & Cass

Sean Flynn: I love everyone in this match. I would likely enjoy it more if they just all came to ring, talked for 15 minutes, played a spirited game of rock, paper, scissors to decide the winner, and all went to the back still yapping away. But alas there will be wrestling. That’s okay, most of the people in this match never shut up even when the grapples commence. Since Titus O’Neil is no longer receiving the hottest tags in the world, that honor will now go to Big Cass as he waits for Enzo to do a diving desperation tag after getting stomped for 10 minutes. If it goes any other way the writing staff should be locked in a room with nothing but old Rock n Roll Express matches until they figure their stuff out. This match is pizza delivery from your favorite place. As long as they send what they’re supposed to send, you know it’s going to taste familiar and real good. Prediction: Enzo & Cass

Kelly Harrass: Until this feud, I never knew how much I needed the Jericho/Owens tag team in my life. From a promo perspective, this has easily been the most entertaining feud on Raw. For as much as I love the Jericho/Owens team, I’m expecting to see them implode and lose the match to the established team of Enzo and Cass. While I don’t think the match will be as good as the build has been, I expect Jericho and Owens to carry this match to being pretty decent. Enzo and Cass will pick up a win on their way to challenge for the tag titles at the next PPV. Prediction: Enzo and Cass

WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day © vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Jeff Hawkins: The New Day broke the record. It’s been established they’re not as good a team without Big E. We could see a surprise return, but I highly doubt it. I think Xavier fights valiantly but eventually falls. Anderson and Gallows hopefully move away from testicle humor and become killers again, and the New Day either gets a much needed edge or go into a pure comedy program for a cool down with Jericho/Owens. Prediction: Anderson/Gallows

Sean Flynn: Serious Club against New Day buckling down without Big E there for backup could be an excellent match, possibly a show stealer. This is Xavier’s chance to show everyone he’s not just the comic relief of the team, and I’m expecting him to go balls out to make a name for himself. So much depends on the direction for Big E this fall. I’m going to cross fingers and hope the plan is for Big E to stay part of New Day, but the tag team becomes Woods/Kingston for the future because Xavier needs to prove he can get the belts back on his own. I have very high expectations for this match, even if I’m not quite sure how it will satisfy me. This match is Omakase, as I’m sitting down at the sushi bar and telling the man with the big knife to make me happy, whatever he thinks will do that is fine by me. Prediction: Anderson/Gallows

Kelly Harrass: I think this is where we’ll finally see the end of the New Day’s reign as tag champs. The team passed the point of needing the titles a long time ago and a team like Gallows and Anderson could really benefit from having those belts. The hardcore fans know who they are, but to the general fan, they’re still just the friends of AJ Styles that broke Big E’s dick. New Day won’t be coming into the match at full strength so they lose nothing with this loss and Guns and Gallows gain legitimacy in the eyes of regular WWE fans. To do anything else would be a major mistake. Prediction: Gallows and Anderson

John Cena vs. AJ Styles

Jeff Hawkins: I love this feud. I love heel AJ Styles, and it’s more than made up for the misstep of not giving him the win at WrestleMania. I think AJ needs the win here to establish him as more than “the guy that just feuds with John Cena.” John Cena has some irons in the fire and won’t be working as many dates, AJ and perhaps the Club take him out for a while and Cena has a ready made revenge story for when he gets back. This sets up AJ to be in the top feud for the title or with Randy Orton. A tainted win is good, a clean win would be great, but AJ Styles really needs this one in my opinion. Prediction: AJ Styles

Follow our SummerSlam Weekend coverage at voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/summerslam-weekend-2016 & join the discussion at voicesofwrestling.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=56

Sean Flynn: Big Match John against a world-class wrestler is about as sure a bet for a great PPV match as anything this side of Okada/Tanahashi. We know the match is going to be great. When feuding with John Cena, the other guy gets one win. After that all victories are of the sneak attack, promo beatdown, backstage assault, post-match stomping variety. I’m expecting that here. Finishers will be kicked out of, and Cena will bust out something rare like the Super AA at the end. Then the new tag champs come out and help beat Cena up to give him some time off for other things and give him a clean start on Smackdown. And AJ sets his eyes on the WWE Openweight Champion of the Omniverse. This match is pure Michelin starred dining. This is heading to Yountville and letting Thomas Keller hook you up with French Laundry refined perfection. Keep your snowflake stomach empty before this match, because you’ll be full when it’s done. Prediction: John Cena

Kelly Harrass: I’m really looking forward to this match, but I’m hoping that this will be the end of the feud. Let AJ Styles get a huge win here. Let him win cleanly and then move on to something else. Cena doesn’t need this win, but I would argue that AJ does. They say that the road to success in WWE runs through Cena and it’s time for Styles to blow past that toll booth. On a show with a bunch of other matches that should deliver from a workrate perspective, I would expect these two to want to impress. Prediction: AJ Styles

WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Miz © vs. Apollo Crews

Jeff Hawkins: They’ve built this…oh wait they haven’t at all. Miz cheats to retain. Prediction: The Miz

Sean Flynn: Miz is the best on-screen character in the company. The world is beginning to notice this. Keep the belt on him until he reaches Honky Tonk Man reign length. He’s so perfect at being the Miz that he makes it look too easy sometimes. Apollo Crews seems like a very nice man with a lot of athletic gifts. I’m sure he really wants that title and will try his best to get it. Maybe. Who knows, and not to be mean, but who cares? I don’t want to live in a world where Miz loses this match. This match is the salad bar at a Brazilian steakhouse. You’re there for meat, and even if the salad bar is objectively good, it’s still just about irrelevant to the experience. Prediction: The Miz

Kelly Harrass: I don’t entirely understand why, but I’m loving the Miz’s IC title run. Right now he’s being the kind of heel that I love, he’s truly hateable. Apollo Crews still has yet to progress past being the guy with a winning smile and sadly this feud hasn’t done anything to help with that. Crews is more of a placeholder than anything just to give Miz something to do this month. Don’t be shocked to see this on the pre-show. Prediction: The Miz

WWE Women’s Championship
Sasha Banks © vs. Charlotte

Jeff Hawkins: The feud with the most heat on this card. Charlotte got real boos! I suspect we get an attempt for Brooke to interfere or distract (despite being banned) and Sasha sees through it. I expect Sasha to try and top the RAW title switch, and Charlotte will be game for that as well. I’d love for this to be the talk of SummerSlam. Prediction: Sasha Banks

Sean Flynn: The biggest pop of the match, and possibly of the night, is going to be heard when Bayley appears to stop Dana Brooke interference. At least that’s what I’m hoping, because the women’s division needs some more quality players right now to mix things up. These two know each other well enough that I’d be surprised and disappointed if they didn’t put on a good show. This match is a reimagined entree at a favorite restaurant. It looks good on the menu, and you know that the kitchen puts out a lot of good dishes, but every so often they just have an off night , and the steak is overcooked and the duck liver mousse is too grainy. Hoping that Sasha mousses like a Boss. Prediction: Sasha Banks

Kelly Harrass: A few weeks ago Sasha Banks finally pulled out that match we all knew she was capable of on the main roster and hopefully we’ll get a repeat of that here. If only she could stop saying “boss” every other word. The one downside to this match is that it is almost guaranteed that Sasha will retain the title, taking away a bit of drama from the match. Either way, this should be a great match if they give it the time that it needs. Prediction: Sasha Banks

WWE World Championship
Dean Ambrose © vs. Dolph Ziggler

Jeff Hawkins: I am in the camp that the Stone Cold Podcast with Dean Ambrose may have done more damage to Ambrose’s long term prospects as “championship material” than one would think. I’m loving this Dolph Ziggler, even if he’s a bit histrionic on his intense promos, it’s still great he’s a serious character concerned about winning rather than “stealing the show.” Dean is losing the title sooner or later, the heels are strong with AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt probably needing a run with the title, if not Randy Orton. This is one where I’m going against conventional wisdom. I think they have something to explore here with a rebuilt Dolph Ziggler and they want to take a test drive. Prediction: Dolph Ziggler

Sean Flynn: The way these two have interacted thus far gives me the sense that whatever happens at Summerslam is the beginning, not the culmination, for the Maturation of Zigger story. And for the Dean Gets Serious story. I’m being optimistic that one benefit of the brand split will be writers being able to spend more time crafting angles that last more than a few weeks. The match should be frenetic with Dolph wrestling with something huge to prove, and Dean desperate to back up his words. All signs seem to point, in my mind at least, to Dean pulling out a win with some sort of cagey veteran move, leaving Dolph to figure out where he goes from here, and Dean becoming even more morally ambiguous. This match, McMahon willing, is the amuse bouche of this feud. One perfectly composed bite, bringing joy in the moment, and whispering of greater delights to come. Prediction: Dean Ambrose

Kelly Harrass: This is easily the best feud in the company right now. First off, you’ve got fired up and out to prove himself Dolph Ziggler. He’s bringing a fire that he’s never had before to his promos and he feels real. Then there’s the more serious champion version of Dean Ambrose. He isn’t the rodeo clown anymore. In his promos, Ambrose has felt like a grimey heel veteran. He’s been a dirty and vaguely threatening dick to Ziggler in almost all of their interactions. I love it! They’re both doing some of their best promo work in this feud and I don’t doubt that they’ll put on a great match. As much as I would like to see Ziggler get the title, I don’t think that it’s time to take the belt away from Ambrose yet. Also, if it’s handled correctly, I think a story following the progression of Ziggler’s character trying to rebuild after getting serious about his career and then suffering a major loss could be very interesting. Prediction: Dean Ambrose

WWE Universal Championship
Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins

Jeff Hawkins: “The Demon King” needed to be saved for this entrance. After strapping the rocket to Finn Balor to make a splash for the relaunch, they’ve given him a video package and an entrance. That doesn’t scream “champion of the flagship” to me. You make your star by talking. They’re not letting him talk…yet. Much like AJ Styles, I think this is another “audition” for more spotlight. I think this is another chase, and it opens with Seth Rollins winning. Prediction: Seth Rollins

Sean Flynn: Did you know that Finn Balor’s alter ego is called the Demon King? I hadn’t heard anything about that. Seems like an interesting factoid to know about this match. I don’t really know how you introduce that character, display him on Raw, and then have it not lead to Balor winning the title. We all know that nothing in wrestling is permanent, but it would take a hell of an effort to remove the loser label from him if he does not get the belt. These two seem like they should work very well together, with the only danger being not living up to absurdly high expectations. This match is waiting in line for two hours to try the hippest new spot in the city. There’s no reason to believe it won’t be as awesome as everyone says, but you can’t truly know until you get in and give it a try. And if it even just turns out to be okay or good, it still ends up being disappointing. Prediction: Finn “Demon King” Balor

Kelly Harrass: I want to keep my expectation from getting too high, but I truly believe that this could be the best match of the night. The build of Balor was well done up until a point. He got a fantastic debut and looked good for the next couple weeks, but then they ruined it by showing off the Demon King before the show. I can’t see what the upside of burning that reveal on Raw could possibly be. All that being said, I think Balor will do fine on this big stage. The safe bet for this match is to go with Rollins as the champ, but what if they’d go a little nuts? What if Balor gets a little help from his best friend Karl Anderson and his partner Luke Gallows? Maybe Balor goes so far to win this title that he becomes the heel and Seth Rollins becomes the face that the fans want him to be. Balor is a great heel and all the fans want nothing more than to cheer Rollins so why now just go nuts and give it a shot? I doubt it will happen, but I would be excited to see it. Prediction: Finn Balor

Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton

Jeff Hawkins: Cena and Styles toplines Smackdown. It doesn’t need the title. Randy Orton doesn’t need the title. Randy Orton and AJ Styles can have a “Cena Jr.” type feud giving the show “starpower” while they subtly have others feud for the World Title. What does Brock Lesnar gain by winning this match? He’s already a bankable presence in that he’s never not interesting, especially with Paul Heyman as a mouthpiece. Lesnar has no real future program and this is generally his time to go away and be saved as a special attraction. I think it will be a fun match to watch, with the one possible damper being the chance that Orton gets legitimately hurt landing wrong on that shoulder. But the RKO comes out of nowhere more than once: once to tease, once to win. Prediction: Randy Orton

Sean Flynn: This match feels less a result of some sort of feud than someone looking at a list and determining which big-dollar vets haven’t done a turn with Brock yet. Randy Orton is always better in theory than in practice. He spends a week or two being this unstable Viper who could turn on anyone in the blink of an eye. Then he settles into being a sort of generic babyface/heel with an awesome finishing move. Then six months later he flips out and the process repeats until he gets hurt or goes to the papers. And the last time Brock was really interesting to me was during his feud with Rollins and the Authority. I miss him murdering Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble. These two will brawl and suplex and things will happen. I think WWE is double pissed at Brock for not only doing the UFC fight, but then getting popped for drugs because of it. We see what the suspension did to Roman’s push. I see Brock suffering a similar fate. But because he’s still so highly paid, he won’t go down to something as simple as the RKO. The ending of the show has Brock getting KO’d and Orton looking like the most dangerous man in WWE after hitting the Punt Kick on Lesnar. This match is chocolate cake after a big meal. Sure cake is good, and only a crazy person would say “no cake for me,” but after all the great things eaten already, the cake is overkill and feels uninspired in comparison. However, actual use of a cake in this match would make it multiple times more awesome. Prediction: Randy Orton

Kelly Harrass: When this match was announced, I was shocked at the logic that had to go into it. Putting the guy that is just coming off of shoulder and neck problems in a match with the Suplex City guy seems like a poor choice. That aside, I’m actually kind of looking forward to this. In recent months, I’ve become bored with Brock. His matches all feel the same and even Paul Heyman’s promos haven’t felt very inspired. Then Randy Orton came in and I’m more interested in him than I have been in years. I like the weird, jokey Orton that had the talk show segment with Chris Jericho. The RKO on Brock to close out Raw was cool as hell a couple of weeks back. Keeping these two apart since then has added a bit of a big fight feel to this match. I’m assuming that this will go on last and it feels like it belongs in that spot. There’s no reason for Orton not to win here. It gives him a strong win after being out for a while and then it sets him up for a future title challenge. But then again… I said the same thing about Brock’s match at WrestleMania against Dean Ambrose. Prediction: Randy Orton