I now understand the idea of having too much of a good thing.
My favorite food is steak, and when I’m told “If you had steak every day, you would grow to hate it.” I didn’t believe it. I mocked the sheer idea of it. You can change up enough things to make it good each time.
But I was wrong. And I know I’m wrong thanks to wrestling.
Since I last chimed in at Wrestlemania 33, wrestling is so hard to keep up with, I feel bloated and overwhelmed. There’s been a “Superstar Shakeup” that saw half the roster (and championships) go on two separate shows: Raw and Smackdown Live. And with that, there’s two pay-per-view events to follow each month. Then there’s NXT, the development system that has arguably the best wrestling in the entire company.
And with Summerslam coming up Sunday, it’s not just Summerslam. There’s an NXT PPV Saturday. There’s Summerslam itself. Then there’s Raw Monday. Then Smackdown Live Tuesday. That’s upwards of 13 hours of wrestling in four days.
Just looking at that schedule gives me anxiety.
So at the risk of not overwhelming myself with something I love to the point I want to watch a “Top Chef” marathon on Hulu and eat a salad, here’s a look at some of the key matches of the Summerslam card.
Big Show vs. Big Cass
I wish I was big
Part of me wishes this movie would be for the right to use the “Big” prefix. Just so one of these wrestlers would be known as either Show or Cass.
Really, this rivalry hasn’t revolved around Big Show at all. He’s a fill-in for Enzo Amore, Big Cass’ former tag-team partner. Cass saw Enzo as dead weight (there was one point where he pretty much was dead weight) and ran his mouth constantly. So, how does Enzo fight off these accusations? By running his mouth and having Big Show fight his battles.
Why modern-day WWE insists that bad-guy behavior is for good guys, I’ll never understand.
So, Big Show is roped into Enzo’s battle while Enzo will literally be roped up. Actually, he’ll be hoisted over the ring in a shark cage as two 7-footers do battle. Worst prize ever.
This whole thing doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it has gotten a lot of screen time on TV. I pray that’s not the case on Sunday.
Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks (WWE Raw Women’s Championship match)
An emergency match we should have had in the first place
So this match was supposed to be a title defense for our diminutive 5-foot-oh champion against lovable loser Bayley. However, Bayley relinquished her title shot following a real-life shoulder injury. At this point, WWE remembered that Sasha Banks is one of their best wrestlers, regardless of gender, and put her in the match.
WHY WERE WE NOT DOING THIS TO BEGIN WITH?
Alexa Bliss is one of the few wrestlers, regardless of gender, who can draw actual hatred from fans. And despite the best efforts with Bayley, Sasha Banks is arguably the most loved women’s wrestler on either show. So…
WHY WERE WE NOT DOING THIS TO BEGIN WITH?
Sasha’s matches are typically good-to-great, if because she goes all-out and you fear for her safety. Everyone’s best comes out against Sasha Banks, so this ought to be a solid match if given the time.
Cesaro and Sheamus (C) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship match)
Quit toying with my emotions, guys
Does it count as nostalgia when something happened three years ago?
In WWE time, yes.
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins (along with Roman Reigns) were once in The Shield, one of the most badass stables the WWE has ever had. And when Rollins took a steel chair to Ambrose and Reigns to begin a singles push, all three guys have gone on to be world champions.
Hell, I own a Shield shirt.
Since the breakup, The Shield card has been teased constantly.
The three had a match against one another in July 2016. But the reunion hadn’t been used yet.
Until now. Because Ambrose and Rollins have nothing to do while Reigns competes in every PPV main event.
After weeks and weeks of “will they or won’t they,”
JD and Elliott finally get together Ambrose and Rollins fist-bump and will reunite against the antagonistic team of Cesaro and Sheamus.
I can’t wait for Ambrose and Rollins to win and make me feel the feelings I had in… 2014.
AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens. Shane McMahon as special referee (WWE United States Championship match)
The best wrestler alive vs. The New Face of America (from Canada)
Another working title was “Angry American mom (AJ Styles and his soccer mom haircut) vs. Angry Canadian Dad (Kevin Owens). Guest starring angry rich son (Shane McMahon).”
A rivalry that started in May’s “Backlash” PPV, Styles and Owens traded the title three different times in July. And with Styles’ athleticism and Owens’ gift of gab, this has become the top rivalry on Smackdown Live. But, for as good of wrestlers as these two are, they haven’t had that great match together yet. Hopefully this can be the time.
However, we got a special referee in Smackdown Live General Manager Shane McMahon, who has argued with Owens for at least a month now. As good as this match can be, there’s some chicanery bound to happen thanks to McMahon’s involvement.
But there’s potential for something amazing.
Jinder Mahal (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship match)
Holy (REDACTED), something different!
At Wrestlemania, Jinder Mahal was on ESPN for being attacked by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski during the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Shinsuke Nakamura wasn’t even on the card as he wrestled Bobby Roode in the main event of NXT Takeover: Orlando.
Now, they’re wrestling for the biggest title in pro wrestling. And that’s pretty damn rad.
Since shocking the world by winning the WWE Championship against Randy Orton in May, Mahal hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. All his title defenses involve interference, so he doesn’t look very strong.
But he’s a throwback to a classic ’80s bad guy. He gets people to boo him because he’s Indian (in actuality, he’s Indian-Canadian) and xenophobia is unfortunately still a real thing. He’s gone from being a pudgy mid-card wrestler to a ripped main-eventer that any beer gut in the crowd will despise. This is where I remind everyone that WWE has a drug-testing policy, so I give the man the benefit of the doubt.
Shinsuke Nakamura, he’s much harder to define. He’s a wrestling icon from Japan. English isn’t his first language (he does speak it relatively well). By normal WWE standards, he’s going nowhere fast.
But, Nakamura has this strange physical charisma whenever he’s on screen. He’s part Freddy Mercury in Eddie Murphy’s “Raw” red leather pants. And he has entrance music akin to a “Final Fantasy” game that the crowd is SUPER into. As you can see from his main-roster debut, he got a violinist over:
I don’t know how this match will end, but I like what it represents: Something different. I’ve had John Cena and Randy Orton on my TV for a decade-plus. It’s hard to decipher the direction this is going, and that’s why I’m into this.
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman (Fatal 4-way for the WWE Universal Championship)
Alien vs. Predator vs. Freddy vs. Jason
All we need is a Terminator. However, Kenny Omega is signed with New Japan Pro Wrestling, so this mammoth foursome will do.
This match can go two ways. Either it’ll be a hodge-podge where it’s littered with too many key characters and stories like “Spider-Man 3” or “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Or we’ll watch four hosses beat the (REDACTED) out of each other.
Considering Brock Lesnar is in this fight, we’re getting the latter.
A month ago, we got a Lesnar/Samoa Joe title match where the two wailed on each other for about 10 minutes. You add Roman Reigns, who thrives in these matches because he gets to play to his strength: Power moves.
Then there’s our wild card: Braun Strowman. If this were the ’80s, he would be the murderous backwoods monster in a slasher movie. That’s not far from his wrestling character. THE DUDE FLIPPED AN AMBULANCE!
(Note: Yes, wrestling is fake. I know this. The visual is awesome. Shut up.)
Often, I want my wrestling to be like an AMC TV show with rich plot and a long run time. In this case, I want to watch monsters mindlessly fight each other to near death.
With as much wrestling as fans are going to see over the weekend, something simple to close out the show sounds like a damn fun time.
Full Summerslam card (Subject to change):
- Akira Tozawa (C) vs. Neville (WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
- The New Day (C) vs. The Usos (WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship)
- Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman (WWE Universal Championship match)
- Naomi (C) vs. Natalya (WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship match)
- Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks (WWE Raw Women’s Championship match)
- Jinder Mahal (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship match)
- AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens (WWE United States Championship match. Shane McMahon as special guest referee)
- Randy Orton vs. Rusev
- Big Show vs. Big Cass (Enzo Amore in a shark cage above the ring)
- Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
- John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
- Cesaro and Sheamus (C) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship match)