WWE has some major matches scheduled for the 2016 edition of SummerSlam, taking place on August 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. But as is often the case, the way the card is shaping up with two weeks remaining until the pay-per-view, is not how it was originally drawn up when plans started being written down following WrestleMania in April.
The biggest catalyst for the change is obviously the WWE’s decision to resuscitate the brand extension, creating unique and separate rosters for both RAW and Smackdown Live. There is one major feud featuring superstars from both brands (Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton) with talk of developing cross-promotional programs for all the major pay-per-views moving forward. But too many will certainly dilute the brand-split concept, a pitfall the WWE fell into the last time around.
The other major audible the WWE made on the road to SummerSlam came as a result of Roman Reigns’ violation of the WWE Wellness Policy and subsequent suspension. Original plans called for Reigns and Seth Rollins to face off for a WWE Championship at SummerSlam with the other newly-created title being fought for on the Smackdown brand. Now, neither Reigns or Rollins have a championship around their waists, but not only that, Reigns isn’t even in one of the two heavyweight championship matches at SummerSlam. It does appear he’ll challenge for another belt, however.
The call was made at the last minute to put the WWE Championship on Dean Ambrose at Money In The Bank, and perhaps for him to retain at Battleground as well. His first post-brand split feud will come against Dolph Ziggler when he puts his title on the line at SummerSlam. Earlier this week, the Inquisitr reported that at present, Ziggler is viewed as nothing more than a transitional opponent for Ambrose, with expectations being that The Lunatic Fringe will retain and quickly move on to his next program.
The WWE has made changes yet again, this time to it’s main Smackdown feuds coming out of SummerSlam. According to Wrestling Inc, the top two angles on the blue brand will feature Randy Orton being paired up with Bray Wyatt, and Dean Ambrose defending his WWE World Championship against AJ Styles. This confirms that same Inquisitr report (linked above) that Styles would be entering the title picture at the conclusion of his rivalry with John Cena.
It’s no surprise that Orton would be moving on from Brock Lesnar, as there’s a good chance The Beast will either take another break following SummerSlam, or focus on another opponent exclusive to RAW. But it appears the WWE is holding off on an Orton-Styles program for now so that AJ can get a second crack at a world championship. There was even a groundswell of support for Styles to get the title shot at SummerSlam, but many WWE officials felt he had too much unfinished business with Cena.
It should be noted that John Cena’s name is not mentioned in either of these potential feuds, which are based primarily on Smackdown‘s advertised live event tour following SummerSlam. Cena, as noted, has drastically reduced his travel schedule, nearly eliminating any house show appearances altogether. But he’s also expected to take some time off to film the second season of American Grit, though we’ll have to wait and see if he’s able to pull double-duty.
An Orton-Wyatt program has been teased in the past, with the Wyatt Family being responsible for taking Orton out of action last fall when The Viper was required to go under the knife. Bray is on the fringe of anything significant for SummerSlam, having recently inserted himself into the business of Ambrose and Ziggler, but an ankle injury on this past week’s Smackdown might prevent that idea from going any further.
SummerSlam is expected to exceed four hours this year, and with that, a bigger card for the Brooklyn crowd. There are currently plans already in place for nine matches, with the possibility of adding a 10th in the form of a Darren Young and Titus O’Neil bout. That would leave Wyatt at the top of a list that includes Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, American Alpha, Cesaro, Sheamus, Braun Strowman and Alberto Del Rio among others, without a spot on the card.
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