Friday, August 12, 2011

WWE SummerSlam Preview

Hello everyone. Welcome back for my SummerSlam Preview. SummerSlam (or SummerFest, that's never going to get old) is considered the culmination of the WWE's summer. But this year, it looks nowhere close to that. With only 4 matches announced so far, the card is left with a bit of uncertainty headed into the show. My guess is that at least 1, maybe two more matches take place on the show. I would say you can expect any combination of the following:

Alberto del Rio, Miz, R-Truth vs Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio, John Morrison
United States Championship: Dolph Ziggler vs Alex Riley
Intercontinental Championship: Ezekiel Jackson vs Cody Rhodes
Daniel Bryan vs Wade Barrett

With the card as is, including a performance by C-Lo Green, this card is pretty much a one match show. Sure Randy Orton/Christian will be good, but you can bet your ass off that the WWE is hoping John Cena/C.M. Punk sells this PPV alone. There's not as much intrigue as their MITB match had but there is still enough there, especially now with Triple H as referee, that it might hook in a few more buys. It's a big gamble for the WWE because it shows that they want to rely strongly on their main eventers to sell a PPV, but it also weakens their mid-card in the process. They need to hope that this does not effect their business in the long run.

But either way, on to the Preview!

Divas Championship: Kelly Kelly (c) vs Beth Phoenix

C.M. Punk apparently has a lot of pull now, and this may be proof of it. His real life girlfriend, Beth Phoenix, is finally getting a program for the Divas Title. She turned heel two weeks ago on RAW, attacking Kelly Kelly after she won a Divas Battle Royal to become the #1 Contender to the Divas Title. She said the days of the barbie doll divas running around atop the Divas Division are over. This past week on RAW Beth beat Eve and told her the same thing. No more booty shaking, no more stink faces. Now come on Beth, can we at least still keep the booty shaking?

From a physical standpoint, it's obvious Kelly is no match for Beth. But there are also no other strong faces on the divas side for Beth to face at this point. Gail Kim has apparently asked for her release, and Natalya just turned heel on Smackdown. So it looks like we may be in for a month or so program with Beth and Kelly. Beth dominates Kelly the whole match, but Kelly sneaks in a role up at some point to pick up the upset victory. The two face again at Night of Champions.

WINNER: Kelly Kelly

Sheamus vs Mark Henry

I still give credit to the WWE for getting me interested in Mark Henry again. Now, I give them credit for getting me interested in Sheamus again. Henry tore through Kane and Big Show and seems to be an unstoppable force on Smackdown. The only problem was that Randy Orton and Christian are in a very long World Title program on Smackdown, so he can't be inserted into the Title picture quite yet.

Enter Sheamus. Sheamus was stuck with nothing on Smackdown until he was turned face. I like the move. I thought that the WWE had to turn either Sheamus or Wade Barrett face, as they were basically the same type of character. I originally would have picked Barrett, but now I'm kind of happy they picked Sheamus. The more I see of Barrett, the more I like him better as the cocky English heel. Sheamus also seems to be enjoying his face turn. It's added a bit of kick to his stale character.

This program started when Sheamus decided to stand up to Henry on Smackdown. GM Teddy Long couldn't find anyone to fight Henry until Sheamus decided to step up. Last week on Smackdown, Sheamus saved Kozlov from a post match beating from Henry (too bad he couldn't save him from his release). Both men look dominant headed into their match this Sunday. It's really tough to pick a winner here. Sheamus is a freshly turned  face and a loss here might kill his momentum. Henry is being pushed as a monster heel and a loss here might derail his push. I think Henry could take the loss here and would be less effected than Sheamus would be. I'm picking the Celtic Warrior here.

WINNER: Sheamus

World Heavyweight Championship: Christian (c) vs Randy Orton: No Holds Barred

So is this match the blow-off? I thought for sure it would be, but now I think we still might get another match out of these two. No Holds Barred means anything goes. I thought there might have been a ladder match here to finish this thing, but No Holds Barred fits the storyline better. Orton works best when he is in his crazy, out of control mode. He also is better when he's chasing title rather than holding it. It's also nice to see Christian holding the title for more than two days, or five in WWE TV Land.

The No Holds Barred stipulation was put into place by new WWE COO Triple H. Obviously, this type of match "favors" Orton. He snapped at MITB and showed his out of control side. But Christian got the better of Orton last week when he scored a pinfall victory over Orton in a tag match. Orton looked strong on the go home show of Smackdown this Friday, pinning the Great Khali. I don't know if the WWE wants to play hot and cold with their Championship titles again, so it will be interesting to see what happens here. As I said before, Orton is better when he is chasing the World Title, not holding it.

I think this program still has some legs to it, albeit not too much. It could be stretched to Hell in A Cell, as it would give the PPV a match that actually warrants the HIAC stipulation. No of course there is another PPV between SummerSlam and Hell in A Cell: Night of Champions. I would think maybe there would be a Championship Scramble Match at that PPV involving a handful of Smackdown stars. I think somehow, Christian picks up the win here. Edge hinted at making an appearance at SummerSlam, and he may very well appear here to help Christian pick up the win. If this program is still going to go on, Christian needs to win here. An Orton win does nothing to extend the program.

WINNER: Christian

Undisputed WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs C.M. Punk w/Triple H as Special Guest Referee

They should have just renamed this year's SummerSlam "Cena/Punk II" because this is the match the WWE is banking on selling this show. Now can they repeat the magic of their MITB match? No. That was a once in a lifetime match that will never be topped no matter how hard these two try. The Chicago crowd played a big part in that. The build played a big part in that. It's a bit disappointing that the WWE decided to do this match one month later, but if they were worried about PPV buys then this is the one match they know is guaranteed to deliver. You can't fault the WWE if they are using that mind set.

C.M. Punk has pretty much left off exactly where he was when he left MITB as WWE Champion. He might have lost a tad bit of steam, but that doesn't mean much yet. C.M. Punk remains one of the biggest boom or bust wrestlers the WWE has had in their hands in years. If handled properly, Punk could become the next big ant-authority megastar in the WWE. If handled poorly, he could get buried after having so much potential with him. Punk's return was great. I love "Cult of Personality" as his theme music. His return promo filled in any blanks and loopholes that his quick return might have brought up. It lead to a nice little exchange with Triple H. Then it lead to the obvious title unification match announcement at SummerSlam. This past Monday, C.M. Punk, John Cena, and Triple, hell even John Laurinaitis, pulled off an excellent contract signing. One of the best they've ever done. There were enough insider references that got the "oohs" from the adult male audience while also selling the actual match for the non-insider fan on Sunday. C.M. Punk planted the intrigue of a fix being involved to close the show with Triple H and John Cena standing together in the ring. It was a great sell job all around.

There are just as many open roads for this match as there was from the MITB match. They may not be as good, but there are still possibilities abound. I think it's pretty clear that they are trying to build towards a C.M. Punk/HHH program and match down the line. I don't know when that match would happen. I doubt it is something they could stretch to Wrestlemania. Maybe Hell in A Cell? It would help pop a buyrate for that PPV for sure. But at the same time, you also don't want C.M. Punk to lose and in the process lose all of his heat. I think even a screwjob finish would do that for Punk. Now of course, a screwjob finish with Cena's involvement could lead to the long awaited John Cena heel turn, but I still think that's highly unlikely even though Cena hinted at that this past Monday. A Cena win, especially a clean one, without a VERY strong follow-up would just symbolize a return to status quo in the WWE and might lose more viewers than ever. Triple H just plays a better heel than he does face, and nobody really cares about a strong face authority figure. A heel authority figure adds more conflict to the problem. There's also Alberto del Rio lingering in the background with the MITB briefcase. He could throw a whole new wrench into the puzzle. And of course, Rey Mysterio is getting his rematch the next night on RAW in his hometown of San Diego.

So how do we book this? Expect this match to go about 25 minutes. With entrances and match ending shenanigans it should go a total of about 40 minutes. Expect a lot of near falls and false finishes. Punk gets a near fall after hitting the GTS and gets in Triple H's face about it. Cena uses the distraction to hit the Attitude Adjustment on Punk but he only gets a two count, and he questions Triple H's count. Triple H turns his back to Cena so Punk shoves Cena into Triple H. Hunter doesn't know this, so he decks Cena, allowing Punk to hit another GTS and pick up the win. Hunter sees the replay of what happened and is not happy, so he Pedigree's Punk. Out comes Alberto del Rio with his MITB Briefcase and he cashes in to win the WWE Championship. The show closes with Triple H raising Del Rio's hand as the victor with both C.M. Punk and John Cena looking on in disgust.

This may be the best route possible for them to go. It opens a new chapter in this whole saga. It adds a new player to the mix in Alberto del Rio. It doesn't necessarily turn Triple H heel yet but it drops hints that he might. And like I said, it gives both John Cena and C.M. Punk reasons to demand a rematch. I know I said Del Rio was going to walk out with the WWE Title at MITB, but for some reason I feel stronger about him winning here than I did at MITB.

Match Winner: C.M. Punk
Who Ends the PPV WWE Champion: Alberto del Rio

There ya have it. I'll have my review of the show up on Monday.

Until next time,
Justin C
Follow me on Twitter: @JCWonka

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