Calling the Shots: SummerSlam 2014

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Calling the Shots is back to cover the 2014 edition of WWE’s second-biggest show: SummerSlam. Taking place in sold-out arena in L.A., the WWE is undoubtedly looking to make a big impact this month, especially considering that it’s re-subscription time for the oft-shilled WWE Network. Hopefully the show delivers on all accounts.

So, without further ado here are my predictions for SummerSlam 2014:

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The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler

A natural show opener since Ziggler gives WWE events a heat overload every time he walks to the ring. There’s no denying that the people love them some Dolph Ziggler, and it’s easy to see why. He’s an entertaining performer and is always the best person in the ring. He makes whoever he wrestles with look WAY better than they really are. Which just goes to show why he’s going up against The Miz, who is far and away one of the least exciting individual’s still on the roster. Not necessarily bad, just uninteresting. The brass is probably hoping that Ziggler will make The Miz look amazing and legitimize him as a champion. Also, there’s always more money in a chase (let’s not forget just how long it took Daniel Bryant to win the WWE Championship last year), so as much as everyone may hate to admit it, The Miz is probably walking out with the gold. He needs it more and one month is too short of a time to have the belt (otherwise they would have just given it to Ziggler at Battlegrounds).

What I think will happen: Due to some underhanded means, The Miz will either win or be disqualified and therefore will retain the Intercontinental Championship.

What I hope will happen: Honestly, I’d love to see Ziggler get a chance with the belt but it doesn’t really add up, so I’m just going to hope that Ziggler pulls the Miz along and puts on a great show.

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Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt

The last showing between Jericho and Wyatt was a bit of a bust, so here’s hoping that these two talents manage to turn it around for the much bigger SummerSlam production. Honestly, the pieces are all in place so there’s a ton of potential to be a show stealer here. As far as the story is concerned, it’s likely that this is the middle-point in the Jericho-Wyatt feud, and since Jericho got the first win it’s likely that Bray gets this one so that we go 1-and-1 into the final confrontation. Otherwise, creative would be burying Bray (One of their best talents and probably the best overall character on staff these days) for the always-entertaining-but-typically-part-time Jericho. Bray gets this one for sure.

What I think will happen: Bray will finally get the opportunity to show that he doesn’t need Harper and Rowan to win (both have been denied access to the arena).

What I hope happens: Because I didn’t get it last time, I still hope that Bray spider-walks out of the Walls of Jericho submission. Because that would look awesome.

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Jack Swagger vs. Rusev

I can almost guarantee that I’m going two for two on this storyline. WWE creative spent far too much time and effort giving Swagger a babyface boost to have him get run over twice, especially at the second-biggest show of the year. Again, this is pure-80’s wrestling and Swagger is playing Hulk Hogan. No contest, Swagger walks home with this one, and we finally get some payoff from this whole Rusev/Swagger angle.

What I think will happen: Swagger puts an end to Rusev’s winning streak.

What I hope happens: Swagger comes out to “I am a Real American” dressed in Hogan’s red and yellow tights.

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Paige vs. AJ Lee

I can’t help but feel bad for these two. They are two of the more talented female wrestlers on the roster but they and are stuck in a low-profile storyline with little input and even less t.v. time to build it up. Combine that with creative bull-dozing Paige’s character and you’ve got a match that no one wants to be a part of, especially considering how much of a snoozefest their Battlegrounds match was. That being said, with Paige’s heel-turn she might be given another chance at the belt here, and she still needs it more than AJ does. So I think Paige will take the belt on this one.

What I think will happen: Paige gets the win and the belt back so she can try a heel-run with it.

What I hope happens: That these two hit their stride and have a good enough match to make up for their lackluster display at Battlegrounds.

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Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins

Oh the lumberjack match. Here we go. I can see how the match factors into the overall storyline (what with Ambrose and Rollins running all over the arenas previously) as this keeps the action in the ring and, supposedly, keeps outside interference to a minimum. But lumberjack matches have a poor history and, despite the talent in the ring, I worry that the stipulations of the match may hamper the overall product. Furthermore, why would Ambrose get anyone else involved? It just seems too easy for The Authority to interfere in the match because PART OF THE MATCH INVOLVES A DOZEN WRESTLERS AROUND THE RING! From a storytelling standpoint, I just feel like this doesn’t add up. But maybe that’s just me. I think that this is going to be another pull-the-rug-out match and Rollins will come out ahead.

What I think will happen: The Authority somehow intervenes and Rollins get the win.

What I hope happens: Honestly, I hope that I’m wrong and Ambrose gets the W.

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Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton

Here’s a throwaway match if I’ve ever seen one. Orton and Reigns’ feud is based on both not being the champ and not getting a shot at Cena. And that’s it. Other than that there is really no emotional context to their matchup. So this match is really just A) a reason to keep two top guys on the card, and B) Another chance for creative to put over Reigns and bury Orton, despite Orton being a far more talented performer in every way. Honestly, I really don’t get the appeal of Roman Reigns and I really don’t understand how he’s “the next John Cena.” But I’ve always preferred heels so maybe I’m just biased. Either way, with no stipulations or set ups this looks to be just a time waster. But Reigns will probably win, which is too bad.

What I think will happen: Orton will put on a great match and Reigns will hulk out and land a Superman punch for the win.

What I hope happens: Orton wins without Authority interference, because he doesn’t need it.

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Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon

I’ll say this for the McMahon’s: It’s always interesting when they get in the ring. Whether they nail the spot or fail miserably, there’s no denying that Vince and co. know how to put on a show and take the audience for a ride. Stephanie is no exception. She’s a former Women’s champion and is probably the most over heel in the company. The people love to hate her, and creative knows exactly how to use that to their advantage. My prediction is that Brie and Steph will put on a half-decent match (neither of the two are “the best in the business” after all) that will pull on the audience’s emotions to get over. As for a finish, I am predicting a McMahon win due to a heel-turn from Nikki Bella, resulting in a Bella-sisters feud. Other than Brie getting the win (so the fans can all cheer for a minute and then forget about it five minutes later), this is the most logical outcome for creative.

What I think will happen: Nikki Bella goes heel and helps Stephanie get the win.

What I hope happens: I have no higher aspirations for this match. It is what it is and likely won’t be a show stealer.

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John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar

Full-disclosure: I’m not a fan of either of these guys. I hate superstars who just run over everyone, and Cena and Brock have turned that into their modus operati. Furthermore, I see Cena as a guy who’s used too much and Lesnar as a guy that’s used too little. Putting them together doesn’t really make for a compelling narrative. That being said, this will probably be a decent match with both guys throwing each other around with abandon. Hopefully we’ll see some good spots that really highlight both talents. I think that Lesnar will get the win here and finally capitalize on his breaking of the Undertaker’s streak, going on to dominate the WWE for a few months before a new babyface (probably Reigns given how things are going) takes a shot at the Beast.

What I think will happen: Despite being a very expensive part-timer, Lesnar will get the win so that we can get a babyface-chase for the next few months.

What I hope happens: Ok, so this will sound a little conspiracy-theory, but I think that this is all leading up to a CM Punk return. Wait wait wait don’t stop reading, I’ve got a point here. So here’s my theory: CM Punk has outright said that he’ll never ever ever come back to the WWE. BUT, his rivalry with John Cena is a big part of the new WWE2K15 Showcase mode. That, combined with his continued participation in WWE productions (Paul Heyman’s documentary and WWE Countdown, for example), Punk’s unwillingness to work with the WWE seems somewhat compromised. So, with WWE2K15 coming out in October, I think that Lesnar will lay waste to all opponents until then, when Punk makes his comeback to challenge Lesnar for the belt and really sell the hell out of that game. Again, pure speculation but the evidence is starting to add up that “never ever ever” may not mean “forever” after all.

So there you have it: The sophomore edition of Calling the Shots. Check Chinlock next week to read the Aftermath column for SummerSlam 2014.