The 33rd installment of WWE's SummerSlam pay-per-view takes place this Sunday, and given everything we know about the show it could one of the weirdest. The show will take place inside WWE's new ThunderDome setup at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando and is all but guaranteed to have a controversial finish thanks to WWE's odd decision to book the Payback pay-per-view for seven days later. The show is headlined by WWE Champion Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton and the (likely) finale in the trilogy between Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt over the WWE Universal Championship. Other matches include a Street Fight between Dominik Mysterio and Seth Rollins, two women's championship matches involving Asuka and a "Loser Leaves WWE" match between Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.
Once again, we've assembled ComicBook's team of wrestling writers to answer the biggest questions heading into the show, as well as offer up their predictions.
Who do you think will come out on top at SummerSlam? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
How Do You Feel About the ThunderDome?
Connor Casey: As dumb as the name is, I'm just glad WWE is getting out of the Performance Center and trying something new. The jury is still out on these virtual fan experiences, even in actual sports, but if it's able to simulate actual wrestling crowds again I'm all for it.
Ryan Droste: I am glad to see them thinking outside the box and trying something new. Even with the NXT "crowd," the Performance Center just hasn't been cutting it.
Evan Valentine: It's definitely a neat idea on paper and I look forward to seeing how its put into practice. I'm always a fan of breaking new ground with stuff like this.
Nick Valdez: I'm probably in the minority as I've been enjoying WWE's odd creative energy without the safety net of crowd response, and as long as this doesn't interfere with that I'm good with it. It'll be a neat idea, but also I'm not ready for virtual "WHAT" chants to interrupt promos again.prevnext
Does Payback Being Scheduled for Next Week Affect Your Anticipation for This Show?
Connor: It's like the Sword of Freaking Damocles. There's a lot to like about SummerSlam, but having a pay-per-view just seven days later all but guarantees there will be some sort of controversial finish to the whole thing. And whether that's a screwy finish with the WWE Championship match or (heaven forbid) Retribution showing up, I'm not looking forward to it. Hopefully the show is good enough to overcome all of that, even if Payback does wind up being a bunch of rematches.
Ryan: Yes. I hope that halfway through SummerSlam we don't realize that Payback is going to be the real show to look forward to. That happened once before during Survivor Series 1991 when it became clear that Tuesday In Texas, presented the next week, was really going be the must-see event.
Evan: Apparently set up as an "experiment to see if it works", I usually think spacing out WWE's Pay Per View events is the way to go and this is another of those wait and see scenarios. Personally, I wouldn't do it as I don't think a week is enough time to really dive into new story lines but we'll see!
Nick: It's honestly not a problem anymore without the venue changes backing it up. It'll feel like just another Raw or SmackDown episode, and WWE is probably feeling the same way. No idea what that means for the rest of the pay-per-view schedule going forward, so very interested in what kind of precedent this decision will set.prevnext
Is Giving Randy Orton His 14th Championship Reign the Right Call?
Connor: I'll say yes. On the one hand Drew has done fantastic work as WWE Champion despite everything he's had to put up with. But this just might be the most interesting Orton has ever been. Since the moment he RKO'd Edge after the Royal Rumble every time the man is onscreen he's compelling. Bringing back the Legend Killer gimmick was a stroke of genius. I'm fine with Orton winning, even if it means Drew has to chase him for a while.
One caveat — please don't have this lead to an Edge vs. Orton WWE Championship match. The company goes on and on about the need to create new stars, and a main event involving a 40-year-old and a 46-year-old isn't the answer.
Ryan: No, it would be the wrong call. I'm scared that they are going to do it out of a perceived lack of challengers for McIntyre at the moment or because they need to justify the name "Payback" next week with a rematch of some sort. Orton has been great lately, but he's a made guy. He doesn't need the title right now and his blow-off match with Edge is stlll awaiting him. McIntyre is still establishing himself.
Evan: I'd prefer if Drew held onto the belt a little bit longer but in all honesty, if there's a wrestler for him to lose it to, you could definitely do worse than Randy Orton.
Nick: Oh yeah! Orton is the strongest he's been in a long time, so it's hard not to love how much effort he's putting behind this amped up "Legend Killer" position. The only shame will be that it's at McIntyre's expense, and he never really got to have a strong footing for his debut championship run.prevnext
Is There Any Way to Salvage Braun vs. Bray?
Connor: Have The Fiend win, then act like everything that's happened since the moment Goldberg returned was all a dream.
Ryan: This storyline stinks. The Fiend has really nose-dived and Strowman's become a caricature. This one seems like one made for a Retribution interference because I'm not sure either guy should lose based on where they are at right now.
Evan: First step to the "FIEND FACTION"! My glorious idea of Bray Wyatt transforming Braun, John Cena, and Alexa Bliss into his underlings would capitalize on the bizarre alter ego and could act as this generation's NWO or Degeneration X with a supernatural flair.
Nick: Just let it end after this, please.prevnext
How Many Titles Does Asuka Have By The End Of The Night?
Connor: I am flat-out exhausted when it comes to trying to figure out when WWE is pulling the trigger on a Sasha vs. Bayley feud. I can see a bunch of different ways where the dominoes start falling on Sunday, all of which involve Asuka winning at least one of the titles. I'll say one, just don't ask me which.
Ryan: I'll say Asuka defeats Bayley, who has had the SmackDown Women's title for all but five days over the last 15 months. Sasha keeps the Raw title, reversing the friction we saw developing before when Bayley had a title and Sasha was jealous.
Evan: At this point, just give her everything and have an entire Pay Per View event that literally has Asuka defending each of her titles in a dozen matches. AsukaSlam or AsukaMania would be some winners!
Nick: Honestly, I hope it's zero. Bayley and Sasha have done such great work as the Golden Role Models that I was willing to sit with them as champs until at least the Royal Rumble (and their inevitable clash as Wrestlemania). It's just a shame that it has to be Asuka since she's the only established face Raw has left, yet at the same time it opens up future matches like Asuka v. Baszler. So my personal wish? Zero. What she might end up having? One at least.prevnext
Which Match Steals the Show?
Connor: I was going to say Apollo vs. MVP since I like that they've actually bothered to give Apollo a legitimate story. Unfortunately they decided to have Crews cleanly pin Porter earlier this week, so the intrigue there is kind of gone. I'll say Drew vs. Orton since both men have delivered on nearly every occasion this year.
Ryan: McIntyre and Orton.
Evan: I'm going to be the odd man out and say that Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman match will blow some minds, but I may be expecting far more than what might actually happen.
Nick: Looking at the full line up, I'm surprised to say that McIntyre and Orton will most likely be the one to deliver. McIntyre has been sure to put on some of his best work as the defending champ, and Orton is coming in hot. Going to be a ton of kicks flying around, and I'm really looking forward to it.prevnext
The Full Card
- WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton
- WWE Universal Championship: Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt (Falls Count Anywhere)
- Raw Women's Championship: Sasha Banks vs. Asuka
- SmackDown Women's Championship: Bayley vs. Asuka
- United States Championship: Apollo Crews vs. MVP
- Raw Tag Team Championships: The Street Profits vs. Andrade and Angel Garza
- Street Fight: Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins
- No Disqualification, Loser Leaves WWE: Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville