@WWE’s ThunderDome, Amway Center, Orlando, Florida, August 23, 2020
The biggest party of the Summer takes place tonight as WWE celebrate SummerSlam in the confines of their new home for the rest of the year. Our King of the Ring, Andy Spoors, throws on a Hawaiian shirt and pours himself a piña colada to take us through an intriguing night of action…
Tina Turner may have been singing about a fictional structure in the barren wastelands of the Mad Max universe, but in a movie with character names like The Collector, Ironbar and Dr. Dealgood, you’d be excused for confusing it with a wrestling storyline. Thankfully WWE’s latest brainchild merely shares a name with the fighting pit Mel Gibson had to escape in 1985.
After a long residency at the Performance Center, the company has taken production levels to new heights. Fan cameras surround the ring like the world’s biggest Zoom meeting with lasers, drones, pyro and other special effects set to make the rest of WWE’s 2020 inside the ThunderDome as memorable as possible. Fans can apply to appear in the virtual crowd, as the company look to bring back the WWE Universe in some way.
It is a move that really should be applauded. The small confines of the PC robbed part of the grandeur that wrestling has always delivered. Backs against the wall and WWE will always take risks. Banging on plexi-glass or a visual banquet of effects? We know which we would prefer.
A curious tag line of “You’ll Never See It Coming” continues the recent run of somewhat bizarre statements attached to PPV names. At the very least, this promise seems to be one that can apply to a multitude of angles currently ongoing rather than shoehorned in.
Since WrestleMania, current WWE Champion Drew McIntyre has been robbed of the opportunity to celebrate in person with fans. In what should have been the biggest year of his career so far, the Scotsman has performed admirably to steer the ghost ship into calmer waters. His match against Randy Orton may not have been the most tantalising prospect, but some stellar heel work by Orton has made this into a must watch bout.
The return of his ‘Legend Killer’ persona and the systematic destruction of Edge, Christian, Big Show and Shawn Michaels combined with the heart-breaking betrayal of mentor Ric Flair, has seen Orton deliver some of his finest work in years. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think he could walk away with the Championship tonight. With WWE constantly reminding people you’ll never see it coming, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that the Nature Boy has laid a trap that McIntyre is walking straight into. Flair didn’t gain the title of “dirtiest player in the game” for nothing.
Following their Swamp match at Extreme Rules, The Fiend and Braun Strowman have been indulging themselves in a monstrous game of cat and mouse to gain a mental advantage. Using Alexa Bliss as a pawn in their rivalry has also breathed new life into her somewhat stalling pursuit of championships. Adding the stipulation of Falls Count Anywhere would suggest something big is on the cards as this rivalry looks to come to an end in what should be the pair’s rubber match.
Rey Mysterio’s son, Dominik, makes his first match appearance for WWE against the man responsible for a “gruesome eye injury” and Monday Night Messiah, Seth Rollins. No one can accuse Mysterio Jr of taking the easy road to get here. A vicious and hard to watch beating by Rollins and his stooge Murphy with kendo sticks, left some horrific looking welts that even seasoned pros might not have been so keen to take.
The smart money would be father and son celebrating a debut win, but once again if a twist in the tale is coming, don’t be surprised to see Dominick join his tormentors to set up a blood feud in the near future.
The WWE women’s division is currently dominated by just two Superstars in the shape of Bayley and Sasha Banks. Holding both the Raw and Smackdown Championships as well as the Women’s Tag Team belts, the ‘Golden Role Models’ seem to be developing some cracks in their united front as of late.
Both women will need to defeat Asuka if they are to keep hold of their respective titles, but a year’s worth of teases suggest SummerSlam could mark the end of their friendship. It would be somewhat fitting, five years on from their epic match at NXT Takeover in Brooklyn for the pair to once again reignite their feud.
Horrific events in the past week have seen Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose hit real life headlines, when a stalker entered the former’s house in a kidnapping attempt, threatening to decapitate Rose potentially due to their current storyline. It can’t be easy for either of these Superstars to think about something as trivial as a wrestling match when they have been subjected to a real-life horror movie.
Credit to both, as the ante was upped on Friday when their match was changed to a ‘Loser leaves WWE match’. Displaying ultimate professionalism, the result is immaterial and only the safety and wellbeing of both Superstars really matters.
One angle that could have an impact on all of the night’s matches is the emergence of anarchist group Retribution. Causing havoc on both Smackdown and Raw, the group have interrupted matches, beat up the audience, spray-painted logos, destroyed sets and cut power to broadcasts. The WWE Universe hasn’t been too impressed by the seemingly ANTIFA-inspired antics. Only a huge reveal will bring people on board, the curious rescheduling of next PPV, Payback, for a week’s-time suggest the company could be pulling the trigger sooner rather than later.
Full SummerSlam Card and predictions from the Rushonrock team:
‘The Monster’ Braun Strowman vs. ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt – Falls Count Anywhere Universal Championship Match
Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton – WWE Championship Match
The Street Profits vs. Andrade & Angel Garza – Raw Tag Team Championship Match
Reese: Street Profits
John: Street Profits
Andy: Street Profits
Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins — Street Fight
Andy: Mysterio (with a heel turn after)
Apollo Crews vs. MVP – United States Title Match
Sasha Banks vs. Asuka Raw Women’s Championship Match
Bayley vs. Asuka – SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville – No Disqualification Loser Leaves WWE Match
Photo credit: WWE