The Slobber-Knocking Wrestling Corner Issue #2: Del Rio Fired, Steen Hired, And SummerSlam Preview And Predictions

By Jeremy Konrad

WOW! Thank you guys and gals for the great feedback and response to the first column, it really blew me away.  It was so nice to see that there are so many wrestling fans around these parts. And you are very vocal as well! Here are my takeaways from the responses I got:

-I gave the WWE a bunch of free advertising for the Network. And you didn't like that. I promise, I will keep the shilling to a minimum.

-Since the column went up a couple days late, some of the news was "outdated." I am going to do my best to get this thing out by Tuesday/Wednesday every week.

-You guys really, and I mean really, hate John Cena.

-While you all have opinions on WWE, you also care quite a bit about TNA, ROH, and NJPW, and you want to hear about them. This has been my plan all along, but for the first column (and yes, this one) don't expect a lot from those other companies. But that is because SummerSlam is only 1 day away! Also, there was quite a bit of big WWE-related news this week. Next week I swear I will throw in some ROH, but this week the focus is on the big dog.

WWE-Summerslam-PPV-Logo

Ahh, SummerSlam. The first wrestling card I have vivid memories of watching was SummerSlam 1991. I was a wide-eyed seven year old, rooting as hard as I could for Bret Hart to beat Mr. Perfect (he did), frightened of the Legion of Doom (still kinda am), and cheering on the Hulkster and Warrior to beat the evil Sgt.Slaughter and whoever that General guy was with him (they did). My little seven year old self had no idea what was going on behind the scenes, but even if I did I would not have cared. Since then, this and the Royal Rumble are my two favorite cards every year.

This one is my signifier that fall is right around the corner, and summer is over. And they, in my opinion, stacked it this year pretty well. Let's dig into the card, shall we? (Note: dirtsheets have leaked what is believed to be the match order and lengths already, but I am going to ignore that. Also: this is the card as I have seen it as of 2:29 am on Saturday morning, so if it has changed at all, well, sorry I guess.) For each match I will state who I think should win, and who I think will win. Let's do this!

Bray Wyatt Vs. Chris Jericho (Wyatt Family banned from ringside)

I am not really feeling this feud. When it started, I was excited; I am a big fan of Bray, and Jericho is in my Top 5 of all-time. Two of the best on the mic, both with great in-ring abilities, this should be a slam-dunk. So why does it not feel important? I will tell you why: they put Bray Wyatt in the ring for most of the year with John Cena. Besides a very freaky ending to their cage match at Extreme Rules, Bray lost every big match he had with Cena. It killed ALL the momentum he had built up in the previous 6 months. Bray was pinning Daniel Bryan clean in January. The Wyatts were beating The Shield.

What was the point of feeding him to Cena like that? It is kind of hard to buy into the whole "Destroyer of Worlds"/cult leader character if he never gets the victory. Come to think of it, none of the Wyatts really seem to be setting the world on fire as of late. Harper and Rowan have had some barnburners with The Usos, but also keep coming up short. These guys need to start winning if they want to hold onto a shred of the momentum they had going for them. I have faith that Chris Jericho will get a great match out of Bray here, and after they finally let these great personalities loose on Mondays Raw, there is a little more excitement with this match. It was exactly what they should have been doing the whole time, give them a mic and let them loose. Jericho comes back and puts over everyone, he has nothing left to prove. I think Bray gets a much needed win here.

Should Win: Bray Wyatt

Will Win: Bray Wyatt

Jack Swagger Vs. Rusev (Flag Match)

Man, Jack Swagger is really over right now. Don't let the flag-waving gimmick fool you either: he has been over for a while.  I was a big Real Americans fan. I thought Swagger and Cesaro were a great team. I was a little pissed when they went their separate ways and Swagger kept the music and "We, the people" catchphrase, but it works for him. And Zeb Colter is a perfect match with him. If only he could stop smoking weed, or injuring people. Things like this keep him from getting a really serious push. The build for this one has been pretty generic so far. Rusev is a monster, he has been running through the undercard like it's nothing. The guy is huge, but impressively athletic for his size. He could take a loss here and not really affect his mystique honestly.  The USA-is-better-than-X-country thing does not do anything for me, and I think the feud continues next month at Night of the Champions, so I will go with my gut here.

Should Win: Rusev

Will Win: Jack Swagger

Dolph Ziggler Vs. The Miz (Intercontinental Championship)

I love Dolph Ziggler, I think the guy is one of the more talented guys on the WWE roster and it is a damn shame that he tends to let his mouth get him in trouble backstage. He could be huge. Remember how nuts the crowd went when he cashed in on Alberto Del Rio? I got goosebumps watching that when it happened, and again just now. He is still getting huge pops every week. He finally seems to be getting out of whoever's doghouse he was in, and hopefully he can build up that momentum again. I'm just not sure if it starts here, unfortunately. For whatever reason, the WWE seems to have a lot invested in The Miz-goes-Hollywood angle at the moment. I know, The Marine 764 is coming out soon, and he is starring in it again (the first man to do back-to-back Marine movies!), but I would LOVE to see the title put on Dolph here. Like most of the card, I think it continues to Night of the Champions next month, and Ziggy has a better shot there.

Should Win: Dolph Ziggler

Will Win: The Miz

Paige Vs. AJ Lee (Diva's Championship)

Man, one thing I noticed from the comments and messages: you guys really do NOT like Paige. Why? I have really been enjoying this feud. Both are great in-ring performers, and while they both need a little work on the mic, they are definitely not the worst. Which one is crazier? I used to think AJ had the market cornered on crazy, but since she returned from marrying CM Punk, she seemed pretty normal. Paige turning heel was a great call, I think it really works for her. I think Paige is the better wrestler, and these two will be going at it for a while, but I see AJ retaining here. If nothing else, AJ need to win after losing twice this week (even if they were flukes) to Eve Marie, which should never happen to anybody.

Should win: AJ

Will Win: AJ

Roman Reigns Vs. Randy Orton

For me, this is the most pointless match on the card. Six weeks ago I thought they were building to Triple H/ Roman Reigns , and that would have rocked. I also thought they were building to Randy/Kane, and that would have been terrible, so at least they spared us that. This one just does not do it for me. I like that "mean" Randy is back, even though I do not think he will get as vicious as he used to. I just think Reigns is going non-stop to Wrestlemania season next year, and may not even lose between now and then. They have to be careful with him here; he has been having a lot of two-on-one matches lately and mowing through even those.  You know what I want: I want him to turn heel Rock-style, like Survivor Series 1998 Rock. How cool would that be? He would have crazy heat on him instantly. I have now decided that is what should happen: look out for a Reigns heel turn in 2015! (It won't happen.)

Should Win: Reigns

Will Win: Reigns

Dean Ambrose Vs. Seth Rollins (Lumberjack Match)

This should be the match of the night. For all those worrying about the Lumberjack angle, I say who cares. These guys are going to put on a clinic inside that ring. I want them inside that ring, the brawling outside would be nice, but in the ring is where they will shine. I am really high on both of these guys. Rollins is my favorite wrestler in WWE right now. The guy is fast, high-flying, technically sound, and deceptively strong. For me, I think he could get to CM Punk levels—the sky is the limit with him.

Dean Ambrose has the potential to be all of the best parts of Brian Pillman, mixed with the brawling nature of Stone Cold. Every generation of wrestling fans needs a loose cannon, and he is it. I am really torn on this one, clearly it continues after this to a match where Rollins puts up the Money in the Bank briefcase, so I am inclined to go with him here, but the build to the match leads me to believe Ambrose takes it. I am sure The Authority will stack the Lumberjacks in Seth's favor, and one (if not both) will jump onto all of the Lumberjacks and topple them all over at once in a spot, but neither one really NEEDS the win here, they can just go out and have a fantastic match, and I believe they will.

Should Win: Dean Ambrose

Will Win: Seth Rollins

Stephanie McMahon Vs. Brie Bella

This past Monday on Raw, I had to smile. In this PG era of WWE, I long sometimes for the scandalous days of the Attitude Era. I ate that stuff up as a kid. Remember this? I hated Triple H for years after that. I fell for it completely back then. So when they tried to pull a stunt with Daniel Bryan cheating on Brie Bella, I was all in. Yes, it was lame to introduce it this close to the match, yes they didn't need to do it at all, but I don't care. I loved it. And how awesome has Stephanie been these past couple months? She is the new Vince. She plays the heel role very well, when she was chanting "Yes" at Brie on Monday, I was fist-pumping. When she pedigreed the Bellas two weeks ago, she had X-Pac  heat on her.Like, fingers in the face and drink-throwing. Sigh, she will get her comeuppance though on Sunday. There is no way that Brie loses, right? Brie is decent in the ring, but giving her a live mic on television is not best for business. The only way I see Brie losing is if Nikki Bella turns on her, but that would mean we get weeks and months of Bella VS Bella matches, and while Nikki has improved in the ring, nobody really wants to see that, do they? It would be a cool moment though.

Should Win: Brie Bella

Will Win: Brie Bella

John Cena Vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE Championship)

Brock Lesnar will walk out of SummerSlam WWE Champion and it will be awesome. I have no problem at all with a part-timer having the belt, especially someone like Lesnar. He is a freak of nature. A mis-match for anyone he steps into the ring with. Him having the belt makes it special again. Even more so if he is not defending it every month. It makes the belt harder to attain, makes it more of a goal. It will make all of his title defenses that much more special. It gives the mid-card titles a chance to matter again, and push some more guys up the food chain a little bit. Sure, Reigns is coming on, Orton will be there, Bryan (hopefully) will be back soon, Rollins/Ambrose are lurking. But suddenly, the main event is wide open for any number of guys to step-up.

Let me be clear here: I prefer the Michaels/Hart/Austin title eras. I like the smaller, more technical guys much more than the Hogans or Cenas. But I love the idea of a monster like Lesnar capturing the belt and sitting on his throne while everyone else chases him. This match is going to be brutal, like their match at Extreme Rules was a couple years ago. Cena will deliver here, and really my only question is where does Cena go from here? Assuming he gets a rematch at Night of the Champions that he loses, then what? Even if he beats Lesnar (shudder) Sunday, what then? I laugh at all the people saying he needs to go heel to be interesting again, but maybe they are onto something.

There is just nothing else for the man to accomplish anymore. He never puts over any new talent, he has beaten everyone else in the main event picture right now over and over except for Reigns, but you can't put them into a program where he goes over Reigns every month. Cena is kinda stuck no matter what happens here, and I think that is just more evidence he loses and they finally start to move out of the Cena era. This match will kick ass, and I can't wait.

Should Win: Lesnar

Will Win: Lesnar

Lastly: I do not think there will be a cash-in at the end of the PPV. They want that image of Lesnar standing over a broken Cena with Paul Heyman rapping in the corner to be the last thing we see Sunday night.

Another interesting subplot on Sunday will not take place at the Staples Center, but at AAA's Triplemania. It is widely suspected that Alberto Del Rio will be making an appearance there, after his recent firing from WWE for slapping a social media manager backstage for allegedly using a racist slur. Look, I was never the biggest Del Rio fan, I happen to think he is a pretty good wrestler, even though his finisher is one of the worst looking holds I have ever seen. The man who may have made those remarks should also be fired, as they have no business being said in the workplace, but Del Rio just can't lose his cool like that. Both of them were wrong, and both should have been reprimanded accordingly.

This is not the first time Del Rio has been in a physical altercation(or even one around SummerSlam), and rumor has it he was not the friendliest or happiest guy backstage as of late, but you can't strike someone like that, no matter what they say to you. As for him being released, I don't really think it matters much. He will rule AAA, he gets to be in Mexico, and there is one less floundering mid-carder in the WWE now. He never really got over, and they moved away from the part of his character that was enjoyable: the cars, the villas, the smugness. I hope he is moving on to greener pastures.

Kevin Steen is now a WWE employee. It feels so weird to say that. Or see this picture. He is looking good there! This always happens though, they sign a fantastic indy guy, I get excited, and they screw them up by changing everything about that person and they suck. I hope this time is different. Between Steen, Kenta, and Prince Devitt, the WWE is making sure I keep paying my Network fee (Ha! Made it almost the whole column!) to keep watching NXT. Who else wants to see this on Thursday nights? I really hope that they do not mess with Steen at all, really. Looks like they already are taking a step in the right direction. He could do BIG things on the main roster, but I hope he stays down with the NXT boys and tears it up for a while first.

We did receive a couple Q&A questions! I will answer more later, but I wanted to include at least one:

1.  What the heck happened to Damien Sandow?  He actually had a good character, decent skills, but now he loses to Sin Cara every week?

2.  Am I the only one who feels that the WWE is force-feeding us Roman?  I mean he is interesting, but with him always winning in these two on one matches, and beating everyone, I feel like he is the quote unquote new John Cena.  Which is fine, but come on it's a little too much if you ask me.

3.  Is it just me or does it seem like the WWE is sweating whether or not people will cancel the network after SummerSlam.  If they had better pay per views, take the last two which were horrible, then they wouldn't have to worry about us not renewing.

-Benjamin

1. Damien Sandow is very talented. From everything I have heard and read, he ran his mouth to the wrong people and was getting buried. I would argue however that the gimmick he has going right now is helping him stay relevant. He is getting on Raw every week, building up heat, and eventually I think that creative will let him "snap" and he will be put into a decent sized mid-card feud. It makes me mad as well, but I think bright skies are ahead for Damien. No more losing to Sin Cara, that's like losing to Eve Marie.

2. As I said above, I think they have to be careful with Reigns, you don't want him to get to SuperCena levels quite yet. It takes all the drama out of his matches that way. Force-feeding may not be the word I'd use, but they do need to be careful.

3. Ahh, a Network question! I do think they WERE stressed about it, but with the Network rolling out in other countries now and a strong SummerSlam card, I think they will be ok. I thought Money in the Bank was great this year, and Battleground had its moments, but as a whole I think the product is pretty strong right now, with a few tweaks here or there to make it great again.

Again, thank you to everyone for your feedback and comments, both positive and negative. It means the world to me.

I will be live-tweeting SummerSlam on Sunday, join me for snarky comments and many stretches where I completely forget to tweet anything at all! Find me on Twitter @jeremyohio

Send me Q&A questions about anything! I do mean anything! Thoughts on SummerSlam, Kevin Steen, ROH, TNA, your hobbies—whatever floats your boat. Send everything to: awesome44060@yahoo.com.

Enjoy SummerSlam everyone!

Jeremy Konrad is the Senior Star Wars correspondent for Bleeding Cool. As you just read, he also likes to write about professional wrestling. Yell at him on Twitter like most people do @jeremyohio

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About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.
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