NOTE: Today we introduce the first of what we hope are many preview pieces featuring one of Canada’s best sports broadcasters, James Cybulski, and our own Jan Murphy. The duo will break down the SummerSlam matches and offer their picks. Enjoy.
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus
James: I feel like WWE missed the mark when the viral videos started surfacing with all the RKO’s in random events all over the world. I like Sheamus’ updated look but his character is stale — not ideal for the guy positioned to be the No. 1 contender. Fella gets the win and when you’re the holder of the Money In The Bank briefcase, you need to be winning more than you lose.
Jan: Oh how the mighty have fallen. Orton, it has been said (and I agree wholeheartedly), is the mould from which wrestlers should be cast. And just last year, he was the WWE World Heavyweight champ (albeit his run was similar to Rollins in that he seemed weak at times). For some reason, however, he’s all but out of the title hunt right now, facing an opponent who I don’t feel is coming off as a great threat to cash in Money In the Bank in Sheamus. The winner here gets a good bump, while the loser likely starts a new program. Since Sheamus’s program is simple — linger and wait to cash in — I’ll take him. Begrudgingly. Any kind of a cash-in attempt would certainly add some intrigue to the evening.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev
James: Rusev has fallen off big time since WrestleMania. He gets a high-profile win here, but my thinking is the seeds will be planted for a mixed tag match adding Lana and Summer Rae into the equation.
Jan: Rusev needs to get rolling again. Following his first loss at Mania, an injury and a shift away from Lana as his manager, his once red-hot momentum is all but gone. Ziggler is coming off an injury himself and could absorb the loss a little easier. Take Rusev.
Bray Wyatt/Luke Harper vs. Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose
James: This feels like that a scene from the old Canadian TV show You Can’t Do That On Television with the Introduction of The Opposites. Maybe that’s too old school a reference, but my point is this: Can we not just turn Roman Reigns heel already? After weathering the storm from the Rumble to Mania — and proving his mettle, I might add — the guy is lost, it seems. People want to boo Reigns and he’d be perfect as a Triple H guy. Ambrose would be a sensational heel, too. Then you’ve got Wyatt who walks to the ring with every camera phone on him. How’s he a bad guy?! Unless the besties break up, I’m calling for a Reigns and Ambrose win here.
Jan: I think James breaks it down perfectly, but the outcome is flawed. I see Reigns’ heel turn happening immediately, perhaps during this match. Will he defect to the Wyatts? Will he simply turn on his opponent and walk away? I’m feeling an unresolved outcome as far as victors, but the fans are the real winners here, as a heel Reigns could be very badass indeed. Take Wyatt/Harper.
Neville and Stephen Amell vs. Stardust and Wade Barrett
James: A celebrity isn’t jobbing … especially to King Barrett. The Green and Red Arrow win.
Jan: Yawn. Celebs are OK, at best, at WrestleMania. I can’t say I care for them at SummerSlam too. That said, I’ll take the celeb, too.
WWE Tag Title Fatal 4 Way
James: Sigh. I miss the Usos. And Tyson Kidd. Heck, I miss the Killer Bees. I’m going with Kofi, Xavier and Big E. After all, New .. Day rocks!
Jan: Hard to argue with James. He is, after all, where I get my sports highlights every morning. New Day FTW.
Team Bella vs. Team BAD vs. Team PCB
James: Anyone but the Bellas — even though I dig on Alicia Fox. Charlotte seems to be getting the push so I’ll go with her squad here. My only complaint is that they are trying to get too many ladies over here. Feels a little oversaturated. Time to get more singles’ feuds with these divas.
Jan: With such a great and loaded card for SummerSlam, it does feel like a throwaway match when you throw so many women into one match. Paige can do no wrong in my books, so bet on her.
Ryback vs. Miz vs. Big Show
James: Think Andre The Giant would’ve had all this mystique if he was on TV every week losing to everyone? Anyone remember when The Miz headlined WrestleMania? Ryback wins and continues to trend upwards.
Jan: How do you even follow that? Exactly what no one will be saying following this match. Ryback in a cake walk.
Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens
James: This could be the one to steal the show. I love watching Cesaro work. His recent match with Cena was as good a televised match you’ll see. He’s due to take the next step up the ladder, but not yet. Owens has stalled since his feud with Cena and in order to continue his rise as a top villain could use a big win. Owens comes up with that W here.
Jan: Owens has been every bit as good as advertised since getting the call to the main roster. Anything but a win here would be a big setback after main eventing shows with Cena just months ago. Cesaro is a great talent, but I’m just not convinced he’ll ever propel himself to the main-event picture. I’m taking Owens. A loss would surely send him all the way back to NXT.
John Cena vs. Seth Rollins
James: Full props to Cena, who has been lights out in 2015. He’s had plenty of standout matches on Raw this year and this should be a fantastic one with Rollins, who has been a sensational heel champion. My only complaint is that I’d like to see Rollins booked a little tougher on occasion. Love the weasel element he brings, but just a little more dominance because he’s the champ. Cena has made the U.S. title mean something again and it will continue to mean something when Rollins adds to his trophy case. Makes more sense for Rollins to come away with a win here and continuing an MVP season.
Jan: Unbelievably, an accidental knee from Rollins would shatter Cena’s nose and add an even more compelling element to this match. Even with Cena absent, Rollins carried and built up this feud alone. I’m with James on the Cena bandwagon. He’s been putting over the future talent of this company for a number of years now and continues to outwork everyone around him. But unlike James, I see Cena joining the ranks of the immortals by matching Ric Flair’s 16 world titles and snatching away Rollins’ title, even if briefly. Take Cena, and let the chants begin, louder than ever. Let’s go Cena … Cena sucks!
Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker
James: Love the build to this. Feels like a good old-fashioned stiff bout looming this weekend. It’s hard to imagine Lesnar coming up short in three straight major events (I’m not including his win over Kofi at Beast In The East) even against the Undertaker. Lesnar is too valuable a commodity these days to have him losing, unless there’s a plan in place for a trilogy. Conventional wisdom says Brock wins.
Jan: Tremendous build foe what should be an old-fashioned slobber knocker. Brock is the best thing the WWE has to offer right now and if indeed Taker is back to make a final run to retirement in his home state of Texas at WrestleMania, what better way than by a win over Lesnar? This is a tough one to call. I feel like Brock shouldn’t lose, as his incredible run since breaking Taker’s streak at WrestleMania two years ago has been executed flawlessly and I’d hate to see that end, but at the same time, to restore the aura of invicibility The Undertaker once possessed, he needs a win. I’m taking Taker to shift the balance of power back to the middle. For all the marbles at Mania?
James Cybulski is the co-host of Sportsnet Central AM weekday mornings from 5 a.m. to noon. The award-winning broadcaster has covered it all in sports, but his favourite moment might be sitting down with Ricky Steamboat.
Jan Murphy is the news and features editor at The Kingston Whig-Standard and the co-creator of Chinlock.com.