Summer Slam Preview

Saturday, August 16 5:06pm
Ryan Bucki, host of The Pencil

In addition to our weekly podcast I wanted to take time when we are not recording and share with you my thoughts regarding certain events in the world of professional wrestling.  Our one hour show, The Pencil, is fantastic, but at times we don’t get to get into as much detail as we’d like regarding the “hot topics” of the week.  Obviously this week’s hot topic is Sunday’s pay-per-view Summer Slam.  Although Travis and I made our picks on the first episode we didn’t give any explanation to why. This column is to dissect the match from my point-of-view, using my 11-years in the business as my basis for credibility.  So here we go.

Sunday’s Summer Slam is the second biggest pay-per-view for the WWE.  If you were to compare the WWE pay-per-views to the award shows Wrestle Mania is the Oscars and Summer Slam is the Golden Globes.  It is that big and that important to not only the WWE but to professional wrestling as a whole.  Some of the biggest matches in wrestling history occurred at various Summer Slams. Bret Hart was a participant in two of my favorite matches ever that took place at Summer Slam.  In 1991 he faced Mr. Perfect and the next year he faced The British Bulldog.  Classics.  Stone Cold broke his neck at Summer Slam.  The first ever TLC match also took place here. There is a lot of merit to this event, and I know the WWE will live up to the hype on Sunday.

Match: The WWE Divas Championship Match – AJ Lee (champion) vs. Paige
Honestly the Divas division has lacked that physicality that we were used too back during the Attitude Era.  The days of Trish Stratus, Lita, Jaqueline, Victoria, and Chyna all gave solid matches.  Hell Chyna was such a physical specimen she faced Y2J for the IC title.  The WWE went through a stage of “pretty girls” who couldn’t tell a wrist watch from a wrist lock (yes I just used an old timers saying).  They changed the name of the WWE Women’s Championship to the WWE Divas Title.  They have Total Divas on the E! Network. They are making whatever money they can off of the ladies in the WWE.  However, lately the women matches have been getting a lot better.  AJ Lee, Paige, Alicia Fox, Naomi, and Natalya are all solid workers who have put on good matches.  This is why I am very excited about this match. Paige is 21-years old.  YOUNG, but the girl can work.  AJ is a former “indie” worker like myself as is Paige.  I fully expect this to be the best ladies match of the night although more people are wrapped into the Bella vs. McMahon match-up. I for one hope these two get decent time and show us that they can be beautiful, but they can kick some ass as well!
Prediction: AJ Lee over clean
Stars: *** (out of 5)

Match: Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns
Roman is getting the push that everyone expected. He is also in the ring with, in my estimation, the best wrestler in the WWE right now.  I say that as in the overall package.  Randy is the real deal.  His mannerisms in the ring, his skills on the mic, and his fluidity in his moves just make me so happy to be involved in this business. The years of mentorship from Triple H have paid off.  It is a big compliment to be used as a “stepping stone” to launch someone’s career.  William Regal told me at my WWE tryout that Roman is the next big thing. He said he will be the next Rock.  Now whether that happens or not remains to be scene but I like Roman. As a person outside of the ropes he is a big sweetheart. He treated me with respect and was very approachable.  His character in the ring is someone fans can grab onto. Fans want Roman over. They need Roman over.  This Sunday he does go over on Randy Orton. I fully expect this to be one of the best matches on the show.
Prediction: Roman Reigns over clean
Stars: ***1/2

Match:  Intercontinental Championship Match – The Miz (champion) vs. Dolph Ziggler
This match is going to be the biggest question mark of the night for me.  I know a lot of people don’t like The Miz. They don’t think he can wrestle.  I will vouch to say that he can wrestle a helluva lot better than he is given credit for.  Should he have main evented a WrestleMania?  Probably not but he is a great IC champion.  These two boys are workhorses.  They go back to their days in Cleveland. The Miz was a reality star on the Real World but what a lot of people don’t know is he worked in the East coast indies for years before getting signed by WWE. Dolph’s story goes back to the Spirit Squad as he was then known as Nicky (his real name is Nick Nemeth). I know my co-host Travis thinks Dolph is the best right now.  I think in the mid-card region he is exactly right.  Dolph works his ass off. He tries hard. He is good. I think at times he tends to oversell. He tends to take bumps that are unnecessary.  People may think they look cool but to me they look unrealistic and unnecessary.  I hate the way Dolph sells a submission move.  It makes him seem weak. He needs to work more snug, not stiff, but snug. Stone Cold recently called him out for this same thing on Twitter. I hope Dolph showcases it this Sunday.  I mentioned on the podcast that I like Dolph’s chances in the match. I think in hindsight I may have been wrong. The Miz bills himself from Hollywood now (or at least he states he owns Hollywood).  I think this match has potential to be the best of the night.  Yes, I said it.  The best of the night. However I think it will fall short of those expectations. With that being said I think this will be highly entertaining with numerous false finishes.
Prediction: Dolph over clean
Stars: ***

Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Y2J
I love the storyline between these two.  I loved the promos. I loved Wyatt calling into the Chris Jericho podcast.  Hell, I love Chris Jericho’s podcast. I just am not sold on Y2J’s work as of late. When he takes leave from the WWE to go on tour or whatever and comes back he comes back as essentially the same Y2J every time. I think Bray Wyatt, along with Roman Reigns, is the future of the WWE.  I just don’t have a lot of faith in this match and I really hope they prove me wrong. I wasn’t a fan of their last match last month.  I just don’t see fans as interested in this match-up as they were for Wyatt vs. Cena.  Maybe the build-up is weighing on my faith in this being a great match.  Like I said I hope it is a good match.  I hope somehow on this night Bray sets his sights on his next target to move on to build something for Survivor Series. We shall see.
Prediction: Wyatt over dirty (outside help, Wyatt family somehow even though they are banned)
Stars: **1/2

Match: Flag on a Pole Match – Jack Swagger vs. Rusev
This feud has been my favorite to watch. As some of you may know Zeb Colter, Dutch Mantell, is a huge patriot.  He wants to get into politics once his run in the WWE has come to a conclusion. Rusev is really from Bulgaria.  Lana is really from Russia.  The heat that Rusev generates with the help of Lana is old-school heat that you don’t see anymore.  The fans have always been on the side of “We The People” and it is exciting.  Technically this match won’t be much.  But physically I think it will be the second most physical match on the show.  I am very excited for this match.
Prediction: Swagger over
Stars: ***

Match: Lumberjack Match – Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
Hey indie guys! These two cut their teeth on the indie scene, Dean out on the East coast and Seth throughout the Midwest. Both of these guys have distinct styles that will be awesome on Sunday.  I think true fans of technical wrestling will enjoy this.  The thing that WWE did though was make the story so damn intriguing that it drew in casual wrestling fans that don’t care about the technical aspect of the match. They billed this right from the start.  This is the match I am most looking forward to because I love great wrestling. I fully expect this to be great wrestling.  This Summer Slam should help catapult both of these two into the future.  I think the Lumberjacks being around the ring will make it an interesting twist but The Authority has their way in almost everything. Remember there’s always a plan B…or C.
Prediction: Rollins over
Stars: ****

Match: Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella
Intriguing storyline ruined by the “cheating” scandal. Okay, maybe not ruined but it was dumb.  They didn’t need it.  But I think since they used it we can see a Daniel Bryan sighting in this match.  My initial thought on this match was this feud has been accumulating for a LONG time.  So it would make sense to bring it to a close on Sunday and have Brie go over and the truth come out about the cheating scandal. Here’s a twist for you: Nikki turns on Brie. If this happens it will shock almost everyone. It will be entertaining and Team Nikki vs. Team Brie at Survivor Series could be a bigtime match for the ladies of the WWE. I will stick to my guns though with my prediction.  This will not be much of a match, but more of a catfight.
Prediction: Brie over Stephanie clean
Stars: *

Match: WWE Championship Match – John Cena (champion) vs. Brock Lesnar
Okay first off I love John Cena.  I hate the internet community that hates on him and thinks he cannot wrestle.  Do you think it’s any coinicidence that some of the best matches Cesaro has had involved John Cena?  The CM Punk vs. John Cena MITB match from two years ago?  Cena can work. He is top two for sure in that promotion.  I picked Orton over John slightly because of his in-ring ability but Cena can grab our emotions and toy with them as well.  Lesnar is just a damn beast.  He legitimately scares me.  He is a badass.  He killed the Big Show with chairs. He ended the Undertakers undefeated streak at WM30 (yes I was stunned like everyone else and I was there live).  If Cena would to win Cena would solidify himself as the greatest WWE champion of all-time.  Hell, he might be already.  I just think with the part-time contract of Lesnar and Lesnar’s cross sports draw it is too big of an opportunity to pass up. This match will be a fight.  This is why WWE billed it this way. This will not be a wrestling match.  This is a fight. This will be the most physical match of the card. It will be highly entertaining and intriguing.  Brock kicks out of two attitude adjustments. Cena will kick out of at least one F5. Heyman will try to get involved.  It has all the elements to really captivate this live audience. At the end of the day Vince wants us all to remember the finish.  The finish is simple. We will have a new WWE Champion walking out of The Staples Center on Sunday night.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar over somewhat dirty (sets up a rematch)
Stars: ***

There you have it. My rundown of the biggest party of the summer.  Whether you agree or disagree with my predictions I hope we can all agree on this: this pay-per-view will be one you do not want to miss.  Summer Slam is special to the WWE, to the workers, and to those who love this business.  WWE is now global on the WWE network.  This is their first PPV since WWE Network went global.  You can bet your life savings (you’re the $9.99 you invested on the network) that this PPV will exceed all expectations!

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