WWE SummerSlam 2020 is looking to avoid some of the booking mistakes that plagued The Horror Show at Extreme Rules last month.
Extreme Rules was widely panned, with Wrestling Inc saying it was “arguably the worst WWE PPV in history” due to its strange match outcomes and bizarre booking. WWE viewership for both Raw and SmackDown has unsurprisingly bottomed out since Extreme Rules, which was a major turnoff due to its nonsensical booking, like the outcome of Sasha Banks vs. Asuka, and its underwhelming cliffhanger endings, like the inconclusiveness of the Wyatt Swamp Fight between Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt.
With WWE coming off such a poorly executed pay-per-view, there is a lot of pressure on the company to turn things around at SummerSlam, which has a quality card highlighted by big matches like Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton and Asuka taking on Banks and Bayley in separate title matches but feels like another one of those shows that could once again be plagued by poor booking moves.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though, does it? Here are five smart booking decisions WWE must make at SummerSlam after a disastrous showing at Extreme Rules.
Dominik Mysterio Upsets Seth Rollins
Rey Mysterio appears to be sticking with WWE after all, and the company can utilize this opportunity to help create a new star.
Stepping in to defend the honor of his father at SummerSlam is Rey’s son Dominik, who will wrestle his first-ever televised match against Seth Rollins. While that’s a difficult situation for anyone to be in, even someone with the pedigree of Dominik, it’s also a great chance for WWE to solidify Dominik as one of the fastest-rising and most popular babyfaces on Raw. Though WWE’s audience-less Performance Center shows have made it difficult to ascertain exactly how over Dominik has gotten during this storyline, it’s clear that he’s been performing well in this role and developing into a likable and sympathetic fan favorite.
WWE, however, can take that one step further by having Dominik defeat Rollins in a true star-making moment. Vince McMahon has reportedly made it clear that he wants to establish new stars, and at SummerSlam, he can show his commitment to that philosophy by having Dominik pull off an upset for the ages against “The Monday Night Messiah.”
Mandy Rose Wins
For all the praise that stars like Randy Orton get for their tremendous heel work, let’s not forget the greatness of Sonya Deville, who is quickly establishing herself as one of WWE’s best villains.
Deville has been an overwhelming success story in 2020, transforming from overlooked tag team performer to a great all-around talent who’s been cutting some blistering promos and delivering in the ring as well. She was originally set to face her friend-turned-nemesis Mandy Rose in a highly anticipated Hair vs. Hair match, which would have marked the culmination of a rivalry that WWE has done a fantastic job of building up throughout the year. That match will now be a No DQ match in which the loser must leave WWE. Rose is on the verge of babyface super-stardom while Deville is cementing herself as one of only a few truly must-see antagonists in the entire company, presenting WWE with an interesting scenario here.
The logical outcome for their SummerSlam match is for Deville to finally get her comeuppance, losing the match and being forced to “leave” WWE as well. As any wrestling fan will tell you, these stipulations almost never stick, so a loss for Deville could give her some much-needed time off following her scary encounter with a crazed fan (and subsequent legal proceedings) and add yet another interesting dynamic to her already intriguing character for her (likely) comeback. That could potentially turn her into an even bigger heel if and when she does return, which is something that WWE’s women’s division desperately needs.
Not to mention that a Rose win would be the biggest of her career, setting her up for plenty of success as well.
Randy Orton Wins The WWE Championship
Pro wrestling doesn’t get any better right now than anything involving Randy Orton, who has been putting on a master class on how to be a top-level heel.
While many diehard fans wouldn’t normally advocate for an established veteran beating the up-and-coming star, the reality is that Orton has simply been too good in 2020 for WWE to miss the opportunity to make him a world champion again. Let’s look at it this way, too: McIntyre is 35 years old and has been on TV for more than a decade while Orton just turned 41, so it’s not like this is akin to Goldberg beating Bray Wyatt. In addition, there is an old adage in pro wrestling that says, “The money is in the chase,” meaning that it’s (almost) always better for a babyface challenger to be chasing a heel champion.
Considering those factors and the greatness that Orton has exemplified this year, WWE must capitalize on “The Viper” being such a great heel by putting a world title around his waist for the first time since 2017. That way, the previously strongly booked McIntyre can finally have a true obstacle to overcome, giving him some much needed babyface sympathy in the process (especially after lackluster feuds with stars like Dolph Ziggler), while Orton can take his rightful spot atop the red brand.
Likewise, McIntyre could win back the title when fans are in attendance and get the much-deserved moment that eluded him at WrestleMania 36.
Bayley Finally Loses
At SummerSlam, Sasha Banks will defend her Raw Women’s Championship against Asuka while Bayley will surprisingly put her SmackDown Women’s title on the line against, well, Asuka, too.
With Bayley vs. Banks long being WWE’s planned destination for the culmination of their ongoing partnership, there is this growing sense of anticipation that one or both stars will drop their singles title in order to pave the way for a seemingly inevitable breakup. Looking at the two stars, Bayley has gotten a far better shake as champion, having held the SmackDown Women’s Championship for more than 450 days across two reigns since May 2019, only going without the belt for a mere five days during a short-lived reign by Charlotte Flair.
Banks feels fresh as Raw’s Women’s Champion, and because Bayley’s done all she can as champion on SmackDown, the fact that she will face Asuka first at SummerSlam suggests she will lose the title to a much fresher Asuka. The ideal scenario is for Bayley to lose to Asuka before Banks retains later in the night, giving “The Empress of Tomorrow” another much deserved title reign while potentially setting the stage for growing tension between Banks and Bayley, igniting the slow build toward an eventual split between the two.
Then, perhaps at Payback, the duo can lose the WWE Tag Team Championship as well, leading to the eventual implosion of WWE’s most entertaining act.
“The Fiend” Destroys Braun Strowman
Speaking of Goldberg defeating Wyatt, WWE has a great opportunity here to rectify that massive booking mistake by having Wyatt completely destroy Braun Strowman at SummerSlam.
Despite all the bad booking that has plagued Wyatt’s “The Fiend” character since it firs appeared last year (the Hell in a Cell debacle, the loss to Goldberg, his loss at Money in the Bank, etc.), Wyatt still continues to prove why he’s such a phenomenal and captivating talent and a more suitable Universal Champion than Strowman. “The Monster Among Men” has, of course, really struggled as SmackDown’s top titleholder because, well, he simply hasn’t been that compelling, at least in part due to a lack of capable challengers.
The most legitimate of the bunch is Wyatt, who should get his second chance to be Universal Champion after WWE dropped the ball with his first run with the belt. While it is virtually impossible for fans to simply forget about the way Wyatt has been nearly ruined by bad creative, WWE can go a long way toward remedying this situation by having The Fiend dominate and decimate Strowman.
Strowman has been such an established star that he will quickly recover from such a bad loss, but by booking the bout in this way, it will help Wyatt regain the momentum he’s undoubtedly lost over the past six months. Just keep an eye on Alexa Bliss as the former Women’s Champion could play a big role in the outcome of this match and future direction of this storyline.