This weekend is completely awesome for wrestling fans with the WWE Network. On Saturday we have the next incredible NXT event – NXT: BROOKLYN! Then, as if that wasn’t big enough, the next night is one of the “big four” WWE events, SUMMER SLAM! Since Saturday is my wife’s birthday, I won’t be live-tweeting the NXT show, but you can follow me Sunday on Twitter as I chat about Summer Slam! In the meantime, however, you can check out my thoughts on both shows!
NXT – TAKEOVER: BROOKLYN
APOLLO CREWS vs TYE DILLINGER
I’m a tad confused on the booking here. Tye Dillinger just debuted his brand new “Perfect 10” gimmick, which has gained a huge following online and has done really well at NXT house shows. Apollo Crews, formerly known as Uhah Nation on the indies, is making his debut, which means that he will win. So, Dillinger is essentially being fed to the new hot wrestler on the roster. I would much rather see Crews go up against a “jobber” or lower level NXT wrestler rather than someone who seemed primed for his own push. That being said, I’ve never seen Crews in action but I have heard so many good things about his in-ring work. We could see a swerve here, but I think it is safe to say that Apollo picks up the big win in his debut.
Prediction: APOLLO CREWS
SAMOA JOE vs BARON CORBIN
This is a no-win situation for NXT and so I’m really surprised that they booked this match. Samoa Joe is one of the hottest commodities in the promotion because of his incredible pre-NXT career, while Baron Corbin is one wrestler they clearly want to push. A loss for either man could be a setback for their push (just ask Bull Dempsey). That being said, I do like the idea that you have two seemingly unstoppable forces facing off here. I know that NXT officials are hot on Corbin, but I don’t think his gimmick is quite connecting. Rather than seeing him derail Samoa Joe’s rise to prominence, I’d rather see Corbin be a stepping stone for Joe’s eventual confrontation with the NXT Champion and then take a breather to be repackaged (perhaps with a valet that can make up for his lack of charisma). So, for this weekend, I’m picking Joe to show his dominance and get the crowd psyched en route to becoming #1 contender for the NXT Championship.
Prediction: JOE IS GONNA KILL YOU
TYLER BREEZE vs JUSHIN “THUNDER” LIGER
This match is the biggest surprise on the card as Japanese legend Jushin “Thunder” Liger has never wrestled in the WWE, so to have him make an appearance to wrestler Tyler Breeze is a really big deal. Towards the end of 2014, Breeze appeared to be the next star on the rise after Neville and Sami Zayn both got a shot at the championship, though to many his ascension was side-stepped in favor of Hideo Itami, Kevin Owens, and current NXT champion Finn Balor. Breeze has fallen a bit into obscurity in 2015, so this match is a huge moment for this future superstar. Liger’s energetic style should be a great fit against Breeze, so on a night filled with top-notch matches, this could be the show-stealer. The purpose of this match is clearly to put Breeze over, but he is going to have to work for it against one of the greatest wrestlers of the modern era. Breeze will pick up a huge career-making victory, but the real winner will be everyone watching this match.
Prediction: TYLER BREEZE
THE VAUDEVILLAINS vs TEAM BAM ©
NXT Tag Team Championship
While this Takeover has a fairly predictable lineup, this match is definitely the biggest wild card of the night as either team could win the match. The Vaudevillains have been on the cusp of being champions for several months now and definitely deserve the honor, but with a strong tag team division, I like Blake and Murphy as the sleazy champions squeaking out wins with the help of their devious valet Alexa Bliss. While the winner is completely up in the air, the other big question in this match is exactly how the Vaudevillains plan to neutralize Alexa, which has been a big part of this storyline in the last few weeks. I would assume we’ll see them gain a female ally, but whether it will be an existing star or a debuting woman is totally unclear. It will take a big personality to fit in with Gotch and English who are two of the best characters within the NXT system. With all of that in mind, I really don’t know which way this will go, but I’m leaning towards Team BAM keeping the titles by some nefarious deeds led by their devious valet.
Prediction: BLAKE AND MURPHY
BAYLEY vs SASHA BANKS ©
NXT Women’s Championship
The NXT Women have stolen the show over and over again at these Takeover events and this weekend could be no different as Bayley finally gets her 1-on-1 shot to become the new NXT Women’s Champion. Given that Sasha Banks is now one of the key players on the main roster I think that it is safe to say that she will be dropping the title to the ultimate fangirl, but don’t think that means these two will phone-in their efforts. These two have the ability to tear the house down and in front of NXT’s biggest crowd ever, I fully expect that they will. Sasha has now had her moment to “legitimize” herself as a superstar as part of the main roster; even though she remains on the NXT roster, this is now Bayley’s shot to steal that spotlight in front of NXT’s biggest audience (both live and likely on the network as well). I expect the hugger to shine here as she picks up a huge win. This could very easily be the match of the night and will certainly be the most heartfelt moment of the weekend as Bayley finally captures the title. Plus how cool is it that this is being billed as the co-main event with the NXT Championship match?!
Prediction: IT’S BAYLEY!
KEVIN OWENS vs FINN BALOR ©
As excited as I am for this match and, believe me, I tremendously excited, I think the part that has me the most pumped is to see Finn Balor’s entrance in a huge arena. The last time we saw the Demon it was a bit understated due to the constraints of the arena in Japan, but now that NXT is running in a full sized arena for the first time on the WWE Network, I am beyond excited to see how this comes together. It should be crazy awesome. Speaking of crazy awesome, this match is going to be great. Owens has yet to have a bad match since joining WWE/NXT and Balor is arguably the best pure wrestler on the entire roster. This will be so effing great. Their first match was a ton of fun but with the pressure of how big this Takeover event is, I expect it to completely blow everyone away. I see this as the “exit” match for Kevin Owens as he becomes a full time member of the main roster, which means that Balor goes over in a hugely competitive and exciting ladder match. This is going to be a really fun weekend of wrestling and this match could easily be the best thing you’ll see.
Prediction: FINN BALOR
WWE SUMMER SLAM
DOLPH ZIGGLER vs RUSEV
I love Dolph Ziggler. He is one of my favorite wrestlers on the roster and I feel that it is a shame that he may never reach the heights that he deserves (and that the crowd in every arena in the country demands). That being said, he has zero chemistry with Lana and so it is really hard for me to get invested in the feud. Lana and Summer Rae have been great and Rusev has been his absolute best (Sad Rusev is so awesome), but Ziggler feels so incredibly strange and out of place here. Rusev and Ziggler will have a great match, but storytelling wise the combo of Dolph and Lana just doesn’t work for me. I really have no idea how this match will play out, though, because I just don’t know what the end game is here. Either way, Lana will be the most over and is most likely to get the bump from this match. I’m going to pick Rusev, but very tentatively. Also, seriously, why isn’t this a mixed tag match with Lana and Summer Rae also wrestling?
RANDY ORTON vs SHEAMUS
While one of my biggest complaints about Raw and Smackdown is that every match is part of a larger feud and so we don’t see much wrestling for the sake of wrestling (which means multiple segments pushing the same story). Not every match on TV needs to have big stakes. That being said, on a PPV, the culmination of a feud has to have some meat to it or it falls flat. The Orton and Sheamus feud, which is arguably a fight for the sake of a fight, but it really means absolutely nothing. They haven’t even established why these two don’t like each other, so to have them fighting AGAIN, it is hard to care. I think this could be a good solid hard-hitting match, but I don’t really see any reason to have it one more time. It needs something to be meaningful, but as of right now, I just don’t give a care. I’ll pick Sheamus, but whatever.
THE MIZ vs BIG SHOW vs RYBACK ©
After Ryback’s massive staph infection derailed this match from last month’s show, it looks like we will finally see these three men face off for Ryback’s Intercontinental Championship. The build-up to this has kept me amused, mostly because the Miz has been really great over the last few weeks. While I’d much rather see Miz versus Ryback in a feud (but the Big Show needs something to do?), I’m actually interested in seeing how this match will play out. I suspect that we’ll see the Miz be a weasel and try to avoid the two bigger men for most of the match in attempt to squeak out a win, which could be entertaining. This certainly won’t be the most exciting match, but booked well it could be fun to watch. With so many stops-and-starts on the Intercontinental Championship, I think we’ll see Ryback win here.
NEVILLE and STEPHEN AMELL vs STARDUST and KING BARRETT
Everything about this match has me excited. Neville is always exciting. Stardust is one of the most compelling characters in the WWE. I believe in King Barrett even if the books apparently do not. Arrow is one of my favorite TV shows and Stephen Amell is ridiculously athletic. Normally I lose all interest when a celebrity gets involved in a match, but in this case, I’m totally hooked. Even when I thought this would just be Neville vs Stardust with Amell at ringside I was on board, but with Amell showcasing a great amount of skill and the totally awesome “Lords of Darkness/Cosmic Kings” promo this week on Raw I could not be more excited. Any time a celebrity comes in, you know the good guys will win, but hopefully Stardust and Barrett will get some great moments here as I feel that they really need more chances to shine. I suspect we’ll see Amell get a big pin on Stardust after Neville hits the Red Arrow.
Prediction: TEAM ARROW
CESARO vs KEVIN OWENS
Match of the Night. Boom. ‘Nuff said.
Prediction: KEVIN OWENS
LUCHA DRAGONS vs NEW DAY vs LOS MATADORES vs PRIME TIME PLAYERS ©
Tag Team Championship
I’ve really enjoyed this four-way feud as all 10 men in this match can really go in the ring and any combination of them will lead to an enjoyable match, plus both the New Day and Prime Time Players are killing it on their promos. The only downside is that the Los Matadores gimmick is so incredibly stupid. I really liked Primo and Epico when they were just two dudes that can go in the ring—no need for this cartoonish gimmick. That being said, this will be a really fun match full of great high spots from the flying wrestlers and high-impact hot tags from the big men. Three of the four teams would make credible champions, but with three good guy teams in the match, I’d like to see New Day pull out a surprise win with shenanigans as that immediately sets up three strong contenders for them to feud with in the coming months. I’d love to see them win here, feud with PTP for a while, then Lucha Dragons for a while, and continue winning through sneaky means until they finally meet their match with Enzo and Big Cass from NXT, who are the only team that can match them in terms of personality (and Cass is the only man big enough in tag wrestling to neutralize Big E). Fantasy booking aside, I think we’ll see New Day win back their titles on Sunday in what should be a highly entertaining match.
Prediction: THE NEW DAY
TEAM BAD vs TEAM PCB vs TEAM BELLA
I’ve been really torn on how to call this match because there are so many variables with nine women involved. The only thing that I am fairly certain of is the fact that Team Bella will not win and that Divas Champion Nikki Bella is likely to be the person to be pinned, as this match will likely setup the number one contender. Honestly, any of the six remaining Divas could easily pick up the win. I’d really like to see Sasha Banks pick up the win and to feud with Nikki as I feel their attitudes are the best foil for one another. However, I think for the first major feud of the so-called “Divas Revolution” we’ll see a clear face versus a clear heel, so a member of Team PCB will win. Of those three divas, the crowd seems most behind Becky Lynch, which is pretty surprising as her ascension was perhaps the fastest of the three former-NXT women on the main roster. To me the more natural choice is Charlotte, but in all honesty, I’m just happy to see women being given multiple segment storylines and matches.
Prediction: TEAM PCB
DEAN AMBROSE and ROMAN REIGNS vs THE WYATT FAMILY
I have had so much fun with this feud thanks to things. One, all four men have great in-ring chemistry (as we know from the Wyatts/Shield feud) and two, this feud has given Roman Reigns more personality than we have ever seen from him. Dean Ambrose has given Reigns so much to work with as his best friend/back-up that it has really elevated Reigns back onto the track that he should have been on last year leading to Wrestlemania. I think there is enough to work with here to keep this feud going for several more months, especially with the rumors of a third Wyatt Family member being added (in lieu of the injured Erick Rowan). I think we’ll see this go on for a few more months, prepping Reigns for a higher level. Because of that, I see Wyatt and Harper winning with some sort of shocker, whether it be a creepy twist or a new member.
Prediction: BRAY WYATT and LUKE HARPER
JOHN CENA © vs SETH ROLLINS ©
US Championship vs WWE World Championship
Champion versus Champion
This isn’t how I would book the WWE World Championship scene, but it is what it is. John Cena and his highly elevated United States Championship are on a roll lately, which makes this a perfect opportunity to “legitimize” Seth Rollins as the World Champion. No matter what happens here, Rollins has to come out looking tough, even if he loses—it would completely undo everything they have done to have him lose handily to Cena. The biggest problem with this match is putting both titles on one man—unless they vacate the lower title, it means they eventually have to lose while also being the champion. The long term plan technically either weakens the title that Cena has built up or weakens whichever man would conceivably walk away with the main title. Because of that, I see this match going down like this: Rollins dominates most of the match showing that he isn’t a weak champion and Cena does his classic ¾ match sell to make him look good, cue Super-Cena with a huge comeback and as he is on the verge of winning the title we get shenanigans and the match ends in a No Contest. It could be a DQ or a count-out, but neither man technically walks away the winner. That keeps the feud moving, possibly with Rollins costing Cena the US Title down the road, to set up the men feuding for a few more shows.
Prediction: NO CONTEST
BROCK LESNAR vs THE UNDERTAKER
When this match was first announced, I immediately started the document for my predictions and locked in Undertaker as the winner. After losing to Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XXX, it made perfect sense to me that Undertaker would pick up the win here. We want to see Undertaker redeem his loss. But then they started building the feud. Paul Heyman whipped the crowd behind Lesnar. Undertaker’s motivations seemed thin and his actions were purely heelish. Both culminated in Brock Lesnar as the a hugely over heroic figure in Minneapolis this past Monday, cut down a desperate low-blowing Undertaker. For the first time in years, we are seeing a villainous and desperate Undertaker. I think we’ll see this continue with Undertaker spiraling downward—he gets darker and more desperate—before making one final run for total redemption. Yes, this is total fanboy fantasy booking, but it is the only explanation that I can come up with for their booking. Even if they don’t go down that exact route, I see Lesnar winning here—Undertaker is on his way out and I think they need to have him chase something in his final run, which means losing here.
Prediction: BROCK LESNAR