SummerSlam has long been one of WWE's top pay-per-views each year, but this year, the stakes are even higher as the event marks its milestone 25th installment.
WWE has been slowly building to this event, teasing confrontation between Brock Lesnar and COO Triple H. Other matches have come together well, too, in recent weeks.
On Sunday, SummerSlam emanates from its recently perennial home in Los Angeles. Here's a look at the card and predictions from Ring Posts' Arda Ocal and Adam Testa.
United States Championship
Santino Marella (c) vs. Antonio Cesaro
Arda: I desperately, desperately, want to see Antonio Cesaro win the US title. Not because I don't like Santino, but because nothing was done with him as champion except for Alberto Del Rio beatdowns. Cesaro wins the gold and exchanges the U.S. title for the European title - because Cesaro is, after all, "Very European!"
Prediction: Antonio Cesaro
Adam: I've fantasy booked the same scenario as Arda, with Cesaro bringing back the European Championship, but this doesn't seem to be the time. I don't buy reports that management isn't high on Cesaro, but I think that he will win the title in a more meaningful manner than a YouTube pre-show. Sadly, I see Marella's reign continuing past Sunday.
Prediction: Santino Marella
The Miz (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
Arda: I like the idea of former world champions vying for the IC title consistently. Christian, Miz and now Rey Mysterio -- it builds interest and prestige to the title. At the end of the day, however, it's title defenses that will make us have continued interest. If the champion doesn't defend the gold regularly, we will forget about it and complain every now and then about how good the title used to be. Miz wins this one and (hopefully) welcomes other challenges.
Prediction: The Miz
Adam: The Miz just won the belt after an absence from television to film a movie. Mysterio pinned the champ cleanly in non-title action. Booking logic says that Miz gets his win back here. Rey and Miz work well together, so I wouldn't mind seeing a rubber match at the next pay-per-view, but like Arda said, Miz needs other challengers and frequent defenses to make his reign and the title mean anything.
Prediction: The Miz
Tag Team Championship
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (c) vs. Titus O'Neil and Darren Young
Arda: The tag division was starting to gain momentum, but then AW got fired by WWE. I really hope this doesn't derail the ascension of the Prime Time Players, who have been entertaining on TV recently. I'd like them to carry the titles and have a series of babyface tag teams come out of the woodwork to challenge them on a monthly basis on pay-per-view, building their matches on TV weekly. Young and O'Neil are charismatic and hold my interest during tag team matches, so I'm intrigued to see where this will go.
Prediction: Titus O'Neil and Darren Young
Adam: Like Arda said, the firing of AW throws a wrinkle into perception of this match. The other factor will be the presence of Primo and Epico, who have been in a relentless rivalry with O'Neil and Young. I'm predicting shenanigans from the Colons cause this match to have a dirty finish and leads to a three-way tag match down the road. The Prime Time Players will eventually win the belts, but now is not the time.
Prediction: Kofi Kingston and R-Truth
Kane vs. Daniel Bryan
Arda: Kane losing a match at this point in his caree really doesn't hurt him, no matter who it is against. He could lose to Alex Riley three weeks in a row on RAW and one chokeslam later, he's back to the Kane we all know and love. He's a WWE lifer who, in this match, can be used to elevate Daniel Bryan. I'd like to see Bryan win. Kane may not tap out to the Yes (No) Lock, but he will still get the victory and move on to greener pastures.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan
Adam: I sincerely want D-Bry to pick up a much needed pay-per-view victory, but I just don't feel it happening Sunday. There's still a question mark on if Charlie Sheen will be involved. Was he just blowing smoke up everyone's backsides when he challenged Bryan? I wouldn't be surprised to see Sheen show up, cost Bryan the match and set something in the motion for the future. Maybe the Bryan-Sheen angle will be a slow burn to WrestleMania, but knowing Sheen, you never know what he'll be doing by that point.
Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler
Arda: The fans will win in this match; it's my sleeper pick to steal the show. Dolph Ziggler is a bumping machine who always has a new trick up his sleeve. Chris Jericho is a master ring general who can have a great match with anyone. Put the two together and expect a fantastic matchup on pay-per-view. If this is Jericho's last match with WWE, I say Dolph get's the "duke" -- maybe Jericho wins and Dolph wins the rematch on RAW before Jericho's departure to tour with Fozzy. Either way, Dolph ends up stronger out of the situation. One "what if scenario" to ponder: What if Jericho left WWE and stole Dolph's Money in the Bank briefcase? Jericho is in possession of the case, which means Dolph can't cash in. This would leave a built-in rivalry for when Jericho returns in the new year. (I'm guessing on that last fact.)
Prediction: Chris Jericho
Adam: I think these two will definitely steal the show. The build-up has been good, though I thought it faltered with the Piper's Pit segment on Raw. Nonetheless, these two are both fantastic workers and will put on a must-see show. Jericho is leaving, and this time it's not speculation, it's confirmed fact. Given that, I think he's going to finish this run the way he started it: putting over newer talent.
Prediction: Dolph Ziggler
World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus (c) vs. ???
(Answers submitted prior to Smackdown.)
Arda: I feel that the "bump on the road" that we are seeing in the Alberto Del Rio vs. Sheamus world title match was to create a social media topic. "Should Del Rio get a title shot? Tout us your response!" In the end, I think Del Rio gets his title match back, beats Sheamus and captures the WHC - hopefully for a long, healthy title reign. Del Rio's attention to detail in his matches is terrific, and out of any WWE superstar, I enjoy his work the most right now.
Prediction: Alberto Del Rio
Adam: While I have read Smackdown spoilers, I will refrain from giving anything away in regards to this story, which will be explored more in depth in my Smackdown recap. In the end, though, I think Sheamus will retain the title and eventually move on to have a rivalry with Randy Orton, whom I predict will be the next world champion.
CM Punk (c) vs. John Cena vs. Big Show
Arda: I still like the idea of CM Punk holding the championship for a long time. What I look forward to most out of this scenario is a definitive answer from CM Punk in terms of "black hat" and "white hat." By the end of SummerAlam, I'd like to know which side of the fence he is on or if he will continue to tow the line. Right now, he is showing traditional signs of villain and hero, despite many labeling him as a villain after RAW 1,000. Beyond good/bad affiliation, I'd like Punk to continue his ascent into true main event status, where he could main event a pay-per-view with someone other than John Cena and have it not seem out of place. A loss for Show or Cena in this match doesn't hurt either of them.
Prediction: CM Punk
Adam: Like Arda, I, too, am a fan of the current direction that Punk's character has taken. He's not a clear-cut heel or villain; he's simply CM Punk. I think taking the belt off Punk now would a bad move. Punk's campaign to be Raw's top star has a lot more potential than him chasing the title at this point. I have some worry that they'll pull the switch and put the belt back on Cena, as it's been a "long" time since he's held the top gold, but I hope they pull the right move and keep the champ's reign alive.
Prediction: CM Punk
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
Arda: I don't see any other outcome here other than an emphatic victory for Brock Lesnar. If he does, in fact, have more appearances left and will be around until WrestleMania 29, I don't see the benefit in a loss to Triple H, who likely will have less of an on-air role after SummerSlam than Brock will. Unlike with John Cena, who is the face of WWE and a case could be made as to why he should have defeated Lesnar at Extreme Rules, I see no logical reason why Triple H should win other than personal preference. Lesnar wins convincingly.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Adam: This match still has me questioning the thinking. If Lesnar was coming back for limited dates, why put him against an established veteran working a part-time schedule? Lesnar could have been used to put over a younger star, but instead, he's been paired against the already-perceived top guy in John Cena and the boss in Triple H. After this match, both are likely to disappear for several months, so I have a hard time getting too invested in it. There's more value in a Lesnar victory than a Triple H one, though, so that's my pick.
Prediction: Brock LesnarCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun