The WWE has set the stage for four marquee matches at this Sunday’s SummerSlam event, any of which could headline the show, though there’s yet to be an announcement as to which match will actually be the main event. John Cena and AJ Styles probably won’t close the night, but their compelling storyline certainly provides an argument.
Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler might not have even sniffed the conversation, but they’re competing for the incumbent WWE World Championship which elevates their feud considerably. Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton face off in a match billed as 15 years in the making. And then there’s the match that few even saw as conceivable as recently as a month ago. Finn Balor made his WWE debut on July 25 and now finds himself in a program with Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship at the second-biggest pay-per-view of the year.
A week prior, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley made Rollins and Roman Reigns the first and sixth picks, respectively, in the WWE Draft. Those two went to RAW while Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan and Smackdown Live made Ambrose the second overall pick. When Ambrose beat Rollins and Reigns in the main event at Battleground five days later, the WWE World Championship went with him to Tuesday nights and RAW was left without a top title.
The flagship show had the WWE Women’s Championship, the WWE Tag Team Championships and the United States Championship, while the blue brand possessed the WWE World Championship and the WWE Intercontinental Championship. The difference between the two brands was that while RAW was in a hurry to create a new world title, Smackdown was in no rush to even things up by adding tag team or women’s gold.
In fact, Daniel Bryan simultaneously defended Smackdown‘s plan and criticized RAW‘s decision in multiple interviews, including WWE-produced Talking Smack, a recap show with the GM immediately following Smackdown Live every Tuesday night. Bryan said that RAW was too hasty in creating the new WWE Universal Championship and jokingly said he’ll take his time in introducing Smackdown‘s new “Inter-Species” or “Milky Way” championships.
To be fair, a world title is more important to RAW than a woman’s championship or tag team titles are to Smackdown at the moment. The blue brand is considered inferior in those divisions coming out of the WWE Draft and will need to work on building up new stars before introducing championships. It is worth noting that the belts are on their way, it’s just a matter of when they’ll arrive on television.
Joey Styles was released from the WWE last week, with some believing it was a result of Styles’ criticism of the company’s decision to name their new title the WWE Universal Championship, as well as Vince McMahon’s infatuation with Roman Reigns. In regards to the Universal Title, Styles basically said the same thing as Bryan and what many others were thinking, but because it was an unsanctioned shoot-type interview, it didn’t help his case.
However, according to Daily Wrestling News, Bryan and Styles aren’t the only ones who have been critical of the decision to name the new belt the Universal Championship. There has been a lot of internal criticism within WWE over the name of the title which will be exclusive to RAW once the match between Rollins and Balor is over.
When they made their announcement, Foley and Stephanie declared that the new WWE Championship would be named after the WWE Universe, but even that moniker has rubbed people the wrong way. It’s been one of many buzz words used in the age of social media where a large portion of fans would rather just be called fans. The WWE has a penchant of changing their mind on the fly, so it’ll be interesting to see if the name sticks, or the backlash causes them to rethink it. There’s less than a week remaining before the first-ever Universal Champion is crowned. Will it be Seth Rollins or Finn Balor?
[Image via WWE]