The early build to SummerSlam 2018 continued with this week’s episode of SmackDown Live and the first steps toward promoting the blue brand’s contributions to the card.
Piggybacking off the Monday Night Raw breakdown, we need to shift our focus over to the SmackDown LIVE roster and the storylines going on for that show.
Some things are guaranteed at this point and others are pure speculation, so for these extended projections, we’ll be examining all of the current feuds and the possible ways they could twist and turn to set up potential matches for SummerSlam 2018 in the best guesses we can make.
Before it’s all fully fleshed out, I invite everyone to sound off on which directions they think WWE will go so we can look back and see what we were right and wrong about in our predictions.
As far as SmackDown LIVE is concerned, this is what I see in my crystal ball for SummerSlam 2018…
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. TBD
As a random filler week, AJ Styles defeated Andrade “Cien” Almas in the opening match of this episode of SmackDown LIVE. More on Andrade “Cien” Almas later.
That most likely did nothing to advance any storylines or kickstart a new one, but that remains to be seen.
Instead, it was promoted that next week, Paige will have an announcement regarding the next challenger for AJ Styles at SummerSlam.
That is very vague—either on purpose, or because WWE doesn’t have a plan yet, and opted to waste this week and hope that they can get by and figure something out by the time next Tuesday comes along.
Will it involve Rusev, Andrade “Cien” Almas, or someone else on the roster? Will there be a new addition to the lineup from NXT? Will John Cena return and, for some reason, get another match against AJ Styles just for being John Cena?
I still think it’s Samoa Joe, but I’m going to toss out something just for the sake of discussion: what if it is The Undertaker?
He’s advertised for the Super Show-Down in October, and there have been plenty of rumors that he’ll be participating in SummerSlam, so why not go with a money match that has never happened?
That’s a long shot, so I wouldn’t put any faith in it. Instead, I’d expect an announcement of something like a Beat the Clock or a series of matches to determine who gets the title shot.
United States Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy failed to recapture the United States Championship in his attempt against Shinsuke Nakamura on SmackDown LIVE, using up his rematch clause.
Though he won the match, it was by disqualification, which is an iffy situation. In the past, WWE has used that as an excuse to give someone another title opportunity, but has also just ignored it.
Since Randy Orton made his presence known at Extreme Rules and also inserted himself into the mix here, attacking Jeff Hardy and leaving him in a pretty bad shape, it’s possible that he’s being written off television with this attack.
However, this heel turn for Randy Orton doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Shinsuke Nakamura, so it isn’t like this is building up to Randy Orton vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, but possibly a Triple Threat with Jeff Hardy being the babyface of the match.
If not that, then Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy could be a feud going forward, while Shinsuke Nakamura will need to start working with someone else. The only person I can see filling that spot is Rusev, but absolutely nothing of the sort was indicated on this episode.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch
After racking up several wins, Becky Lynch was the obvious choice for the next in line for a shot at the SmackDown LIVE women’s title.
Tuesday, Becky Lynch scored another victory over Mandy Rose, before cutting a promo about how she was coming for Carmella, who responded by asking Paige for another Mellabration for having beaten Asuka twice.
Paige’s response was to book a non-title match between Carmella and Becky Lynch next week. If Carmella wins, she gets another party. If Becky Lynch wins, she earns a title opportunity against Carmella at SummerSlam.
Keep in mind that if Ronda Rousey wins the Raw Women’s Championship at SummerSlam, and if Survivor Series features the same “champion versus champion” brand competition, it makes sense for Becky Lynch to go up against Ronda Rousey more so than Carmella, so this seems to be the start of the road to crowning a new SmackDown LIVE women’s champion.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. ???
As Team Hell No came up short at Extreme Rules, The Bludgeon Brothers are still the SmackDown tag team champions.
However, in typical WWE fashion, they were completely ignored on this show, as the company has always pushed the tag team division aside when there is a time shortage.
Given the roster, I can’t imagine there being too many options available to go with other than The Usos, The New Day, and SAnitY, as The Colons are a non-entity and The Bar have been on the sidelines.
There was a continuation of the feud between SAnitY and The New Day, with Eric Young getting a pin over Kofi Kingston, indicating that they aren’t done with each other.
Without being given any other kind of options, I’m thinking we’re down to two possibilities for SummerSlam:
1) There is a Triple Threat or Fatal 4-Way with The Bludgeon Brothers facing The New Day, SAnitY, and possibly The Usos
2) The Bludgeon Brothers don’t have anything going on for weeks and the tag titles are ignored and not represented on the card at all.
Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
With Kane injured, Team Hell No is on the backburner again. This prompted The Miz to cut a promo that he dubbed a “eulogy” for the duo, running down their failures and transitioning to a speech on how Daniel Bryan’s return to in-ring action from his injuries has been a “bust” so far.
Hearing enough, Daniel Bryan came to the ring and went on the attack, but The Miz was able to escape and run off.
Clearly, this issue between the two that has existed for the entirety of Daniel Bryan’s career in WWE is not over, and is more at the forefront now, setting up a match between the two at SummerSlam, unless the writers just want to remind everyone that this is still brewing and will go in a different direction.
More than likely, though, this indicates that Daniel Bryan and The Miz will face off in August at the Barclays Center.
Andrade “Cien” Almas
After defeating Sin Cara twice, Andrade “Cien” Almas decided to move on. Not only did he do that, he also moved up, facing AJ Styles.