The Motor City is set to play host to WWE’s annual summertime epic in the form of SummerSlam at Ford Field on Saturday. 30 years after Auburn Hills hosted the sixth SummerSlam, WWE returns to eastern Michigan for the 36th edition of the annual premium live event.
While it’s easy to see that much has changed in the 30 years between Michigan SummerSlams, it’s worth noting that there is one clear similarity: the Anoa’i family at the top of the card.
Thirty years after Yokozuna (real name: Rodney Anoa’i) defended his WWE Championship against Lex Luger, Roman Reigns (Joseph Anoa’i) will defend his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Jey Uso (Joshua Fatu).
Yokozuna, a cousin of both Reigns and Uso, retained his title after a count-out loss against Luger. Reigns’ championship fate, though, may not follow his bloodline’s from 30 years prior.
Reigns has been on top of WWE as champion for nearly 1,100 days, besting every challenger that has come his way, including a shocking victory over Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania in April. Now, though, his run may finally come to an end.
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“The Bloodline” story has been one of the best in WWE’s rich history, spanning the three years since Reigns returned to WWE in his current incarnation at SummerSlam 2020. Through all the twists and turns, the family dynamic between Reigns and Jey and Jimmy Uso has been the glue holding the storyline together. Even though we’ve already seen Jey challenge for the title unsuccessfully, he now seems primed to score a victory over Reigns.
Reigns suffered his first pinfall loss since December 2019 at July’s Money in the Bank, when Jey scored the victory in the “Bloodline Civil War” matchup, which pit the Uso brothers against Reigns and Solo Sikoa (another Anoa’i family member). It was a clear sign Reigns’ historic championship reign could be short on time.
Where the Universal title storyline goes after the match is the wildcard of the event, but there is a distinct possibility that Damian Priest, the current Money in the Bank contract holder, could cash in on the winner.
Prediction: Jey Uso def. Roman Reigns (C) to win Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
World Heavyweight Championship: Seth Rollins (C) vs. Finn Balor
There is also the distinct possibility Priest could cash in on the winner of this match.
Finn Balor hasn’t had any luck challenging for a major championship since having to forfeit the Universal Championship after becoming its inaugural winner in 2016. That luck, or lack thereof, extended to Money in the Bank, where Balor was defeated by Rollins. However at SummerSlam, the betting odds suggest that Balor is the favourite to win, with rumours circling of Rollins needing time off to deal with injuries. And so, Balor will finally capture his elusive, second major championship… if only briefly.
Meanwhile, Priest’s stock has skyrocketed of late. With some observable tension between Balor and Priest within their Judgement Day stable, there is a possibility, perhaps even a strong likelihood, that Priest could cash in his MITB contract on Balor in the moments after the match, should Balor win. But even if Balor loses again, Priest could still cash in on Rollins and stretch the storyline with Balor.
Prediction: Finn Balor def. Seth Rollins (C) to win World Heavyweight Championship
WWE Women’s Championship: Asuka (C) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Bianca Belair
Since SummerSlam is in Detroit, I’ll lean on former Red Wings teams to help tee up each of the wrestlers in the Women’s Championship match.
Asuka, the reigning champ, is a juggernaut with aspirations of retaining the title, much like the 1997-98 Wings, who were on a quest to win back-to-back championships and went on to do just that with a roster stacked with all-stars and future Hall of Famers.
Bianca Belair is the former champion looking to return to the mountaintop, an echo of the 2008-09 Red Wings team that looked to hang on to glory with a loaded roster that did indeed find itself back in championship contention, but failed in its quest to repeat. The same fate may await Belair.
Charlotte Flair is the 2001-02 Red Wings. Detroit had gone three seasons without a Cup at that time, which seemed like an eternity considering how strong the roster was. Charlotte has gone a whole four months without gold wrapping around her waist. A storied original six franchise, with multiple previous Stanley Cup wins, and one of the longest tenured WWE wrestlers, with 14 previous titles to her name — the parallels continue. The ’01-02 Wings strolled through the regular season en route to a Stanley Cup win, recapturing glory in the process. Does the same fortune await Charlotte?
Prediction: Asuka (C) def. Belair and Flair to retain WWE Women’s Championship
Intercontinental Championship: Gunther (C) vs Drew McIntyre
When Gunther steps into the ring on Saturday, he will have held the Intercontinental Championship for 422 days. That is the second longest IC title reign of all-time, behind only
Honky Tonk Man’s 454 days. While McIntyre certainly deserves an IC reign himself, there’s no sense in stopping now.
Prediction: Gunther (C) def. Drew McIntyre to retain Intercontinental Championship
Singles match: Cody Rhodes vs Brock Lesnar
A rubber match in the Motor City. How fitting.
After suffering an excruciating loss to Reigns at WrestleMania earlier in the year, Cody Rhodes has gone on to split a pair of matchups against Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar has been having a great time beating the wheels off Rhodes on a week-to-week basis. Logic tells wrestling fans that Rhodes will work from underneath as the ultimate underdog to finally, once and for all, defeat Lesnar, putting an end to his bully tactics in the process. In addition to the on-screen story, there’s also the fact that Rhodes is the wrestler who has the longer-term value. He’ll eventually challenge for the world title again, and a victory over Lesnar would elevate his stock in that future quest.
But, having said all that, pro wrestling and logic do not always go hand-in-hand and this could all go extremely sideways.
Prediction: Cody Rhodes def. Brock Lesnar
Singles match: Ricochet vs Logan Paul
Remember when Ricochet and Logan Paul did this during the Royal Rumble?
They’ll be looking to duplicate and elevate that spot at SummerSlam. It’s great to see Ricochet getting such a big spot on a major show. However, with Paul having come out on the losing end in each of his last four matches, it feels like he’s due for a win.
Prediction: Logan Paul def. Ricochet
Singles match: Ronda Rousey vs Shanya Baszler
Shayna Baszler is a star-in-waiting and has been for as long as she’s been a member of the WWE main roster. What better way to finally cement her status as a future championship-holder than to knock out her pal Ronda Rousey?
It’s rumoured that Rousey is on her way out of WWE, and it would be one of the most questionable booking decisions in recent memory if she buried a full-time, longer-term wrestler as she exits.
Prediction: Shayna Baszler def. Ronda Rousey