WWE SummerSlam is traditionally one of the company’s premier live events.
One of the core four of the promotion dating back to its inception in 1988, it has the reputation of classic in-ring work from top stars and its fair share of surprises, beginning with Miss Elizabeth removing her skirt to aid the Mega Powers’ Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage to victory in that inaugural main event.
WWE still loves to pop its fans some 34 years later and spark conversation on social media, leading to a number of great surprises in recent memory
Just last year, Brock Lesnar returned following the main event of the broadcast.
Expecting WWE to use SummerSlam and the events that occur there, as a spark for its product entering a traditionally slow period for the company and an ode to the history of the extravaganza, here are six surprises to expect out of the 2022 card.
Theory Cashes In and Wins the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship
Just how sold on Theory is WWE?
Sold enough that his name will dominate social media on July 30 following a successful cash-in during the Last Man Standing match between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
See, by the very definition of the match, the winner is determined when one man can inflict enough damage on the other to ensure they stay down for a count of 10. What better way, then, for the sneaky-yet-cerebral Theory to leave Nashville with the top prize in the business than by cashing in, making the match a Triple Threat ala Seth Rollins in 2015, and winning when Lesnar and Reigns have beaten each other down and are unable to answer the referee’s call.
That finish would piss off an ample number of fans but considering WWE’s efforts to anoint the young star as the most hated Superstars in the company, it’s the perfect outcome and one the company will not resist.
Even if history suggests that over-pushing a young star will result in negative backlash from fans who want nothing to do with the next great star being shoved down their throats.
Right, babyface Randy Orton circa 2004?
Liv Morgan’s Fairy Tale Story Continues
Admit it: you fully expect Ronda Rousey to bulldoze Liv Morgan at SummerSlam and regain the SmackDown Women’s Championship, don’t you?
WWE Creative has a long history of booking just that finish, usually with Charlotte Flair substituted for The Baddest Woman on the Planet but regardless, the company cannot resist the urge to go back to the proven competitor at the expense of fresh, young potential stars.
For that reason alone, any fan should be skeptical about the company booking a clash of babyfaces for the SummerSlam premium live event.
Worry not come July 30, though.
Morgan will retain her title, either by defeating Rousey and necessitating a heel turn on the part of the UFC Hall of Famer or thanks to a returning Charlotte Flair, who interferes to draw a disqualification.
Either way, Morgan holds onto the title and remains in the championship picture for the foreseeable future. She will ultimately lose the title to one of the two, but she gets to hold onto it a bit longer. She continues her Cinderella story and create a connection with the audience strong enough that when she does drop it, fans will be in an uproar.
AJ Styles Will Not Make the Final Match Card
AJ Styles may be one of the most decorated, respected and beloved stars on the WWE roster but that means nothing when the writing team has nothing for him, as appears to be the case at this point.
The Phenomenal One has been wasted since wrapping up his feud with Edge and The Judgment Day back at WrestleMania Backlash. There has been a loose feud with The Miz and his hired hitman, Ciampa, but it has consistently felt like a placeholder for the resumption of The A-Lister’s feud with Logan Paul.
Styles could still possibly find himself booked for Nashville against Ciampa but no matter how attractive that match is on paper, it is absolutely an undercard program that is better served for the Kickoff Show than the main roster, which has its own fair share of underwritten and creatively bankrupt programs to highlight.
For a guy that has won multiple world titles and been widely recognized as one of, if not the greatest wrestler of his generation, Styles has been left in limbo despite a very real need for main event stars on Monday nights.
Hopefully, that trend comes to an end sooner rather than later, but it will not be in enough time to time to warrant his inclusion on what is already certain to be a jam-packed card.
Becky Lynch Ends Bianca Belair’s Dream for the Second Year in a Row
A year ago, Becky Lynch stormed back from maternity leave, hit the ring as Bianca Belair’s surprise opponent, and proceeded to humiliate The EST in 26 seconds, ending her reign as SmackDown Women’s champion and embarking on a heel turn that would bring about the advent of Big Time Becks.
This year, less than four months after defeating Lynch to finally regain championship gold, Belair will see history repeat itself. Lynch will capture the title and bounce back from what appeared to be a downfall of late.
If the plan is for Lynch to remain a heel on Monday nights, she can easily be the type around whom entire shows can be built. WWE programming has always been at its best when a babyface is chasing the heel champion and, beyond Belair, there are a wealth of other women who could challenge Big Time Becks for the gold.
Belair, conversely, has beaten every heel the brand has to offer. More than once, in most cases. While she is absolutely phenomenal and should remain right at the heart of the title picture, switching it back to Lynch and taking the focus off of that particular feud is the right call for the immediate future.
That particular finish would open up the possibility of a Lynch-Alexa Bliss program. Given the rich history between them, dating back to the latter’s first program and championship upon her call-up to the main roster, the potential for some great television certainly exists.
Riddle vs. Seth Rollins Steals the Show
There will be plenty to talk about in the wake of SummerSlam, what with the blockbuster main event, the dark cloud hanging overhead named “Theory,” in-ring appearances from Logan Paul and Pat McAffee, and a potential Match of the Year candidate in The Street Profits and The Usos.
There will be one match, though, that leaves fans buzzing and begging for more: the battle between Riddle and Seth Rollins.
The match has yet to be made official but WWE Creative is certainly trending in that direction. For the majority of the fans, it will be a throwaway match on a loaded premium live event card but others will recognize it as a dark horse contender for Match of the Year, thanks to the extraordinary performances from each competitor thus far in 2022.
The workhorses of the company from an in-ring perspective, Rollins and Riddle have also ranked high among the best in-ring performers in the industry.
It really should not be a surprise to anyone that a match between The Original Bro and The Visionary would be spectacular and the show-stealer but given its stature on the prospective card, and the number of higher-priority matches elsewhere on the lineup, it will be overlooked by many and potentially undervalued by even more.
Then, when the 15-20 minutes it is allotted are over, everyone with a cellphone nearby will hit up Twitter to discuss the Match of the Year candidate they just witnessed, somehow surprised by the notion of two of the most consistently excellent wrestlers on the roster just added another classic to the SummerSlam annals.
Undoubtedly, the result of being spoiled by their greatness too often.
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns Does Not Disappoint
Ask just about anyone if they truly feel as though the last handful of matches between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns have lived up to the hype and most will tell you an emphatic, “no.” Perhaps that is because they are tired of the match-up, or they dislike both competitors. Maybe it is because their first encounter was an epic example of dramatic storytelling capped off by the greatest Money in the Bank cash-in in WWE history.
Or, hear me out: the matches just were not very good.
For whatever reason, Lesnar and Reigns settled into an uber-repetitive routine of throwing high-impact signature moves and finishers at each other, almost from the opening bell, to diminishing returns.
A pairing that once had fans red-hot at the notion of them squaring off has cooled off to Fries-ian levels.
Expect that to change in Nashville.
Lesnar and Reigns have certainly heard the criticisms and negativity, especially after the so-called “Biggest Match of All Time” at WrestleMania in April was overshadowed by far better, more entertaining segments on the two-day extravaganza.
They are fully aware of the frustration fans have experienced following the latest evidence of WWE’s overreliance on the match and will show up, and show out in a match that finally lives up to the hype.
Just in time for that prediction way back at the start of this article to come true and ruin all of it.
Because…why the hell not?