WWE Insiders Pick SummerSlam 2017

By Chuck Carroll

The WWE SummerSlam card is humungous. As of this writing, 12 matches are crammed into pro wrestling’s second-biggest event of the year. Out of necessity, WWE has moved the start time of the pay-per-view up and expanded to a four-hour format. And that extra hour is in addition to a two-hour kickoff show, which will also feature at least one match. If this sounds familiar, it should. WWE similarly expanded WrestleMania in April to accommodate 13 matches, three of which were on the kickoff show.

Exactly where all of the matches will fall on the SummerSlam card is unclear, but we do know it might be in your best interest to consult with a psychic before making predictions. Is the Psychic Friends Network still around?

Brock Lesnar’s rumored interest in returning to UFC is playing out on WWE TV. Paul Heyman has stipulated that Lesnar will leave WWE if he loses the match. In reality, his contract runs through next year’s WrestleMania. So, it’s pretty much a lock that we’ll see him again on Monday nights in the future. But is that enough of a guarantee that he’ll walk out of the Barclays Center with the Universal Title around his waist? And of his three competitors — Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman — who is most likely to slay the Beast?

>>LISTEN: The Taz Show: Bodyslams & Beyond weekdays 7-9 a.m.

Another question to ponder: Is WWE is ready to pass the torch to Shinsuke Nakamura? It was a shock when Jinder Mahal captured the championship a few months back. Many are also surprised the reign of the Modern Day Maharaja has lasted this long. Given the company’s heavy expansion in India, though, it makes a lot of sense. Then again, WWE could also build its Japanese base substantially by giving the belt to the man who was arguably one of the biggest stars in the Asian country’s rich wrestling history.

I’ve invited Rolling Stone’s Aaron Oster and TV Insider’s Scott Fishman back to make their best guesses as to how everything will shake out. We’re all out to redeem ourselves from a dismal effort picking WWE Battleground. No one picked above .500 for the last pay-per-view, but Aaron did manage to slightly extend his overall lead (percentage-wise) for the year.

Chuck Carroll (@ChuckCarrollWLC) – Pro wrestling contributor, CBS Local Sports
Pick Record: 41-38

Aaron Oster (@TheAOster) – Pro wrestling contributor, Rolling Stone and Baltimore Sun; Host, Jobbing Out Podcast
Pick Record: 48-22 (Note: Did not pick Royal Rumble)

Scott Fishman (@smFISHMAN) – Pro wrestling contributor, Miami Herald, TV Insider and Channel Guide Magazine
Pick record: 48-31

Roman and Samoa Joe (R) battle during the WWE show at Zenith Arena on may 09, 2017 in Lille, France.

Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe (L-R) (Photo Credit: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

Universal Championship – Fatal 4-Way Match
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman

Chuck: As of this writing, the sportsbooks have Brock Lesnar as the favorite. As I stated above, a loss doesn’t necessarily preclude him from appearing in WWE again. I could see a scenario where Roman Reigns wins and he and Lesnar have a rematch at WrestleMania. But the more likely outcome is that Lesnar retains with Reigns then becoming the challenger at WrestleMania. Think about it. Reigns retires the man that snapped the Undertaker’s uncanny undefeated streak. Then, one year after retiring the Undertaker, Reigns also defeats Lesnar to cement himself as John Cena’s heir apparent. But SummerSlam belongs to Brooock Lesssnarrrr (done in best Paul Heyman voice). Pick: Brock Lesnar

Aaron: For all the problems up and down the card here, the one thing they’ve nailed was this match. They’ve created an incredibly compelling match, despite not really having a true babyface in this one. They’ve created a scenario where anyone could walk out with the title, and it would be hard to be surprised by it. And it should be a relatively unprecedented match: four athletic horses that can put on a show. I think there’s a compelling case to put the belt on Joe, as they’ve found the right opponent and right formula for him to ride the wave of momentum. However, at the end of the day, a match where a single competitor dethrones Brock is where the money is. Pick: Brock Lesnar

Scott: Even with rumors of Brock Lesnar and UFC, I believe the ‘Beast Incarnate’ isn’t done just yet. The seeds were planted for Braun Strowman and Lesnar at the end of Raw, and these two have the potential to build on that past SummerSlam. As much as I would enjoy seeing Samoa Joe win the gold in such a high-profile way, I am giving the edge to Lesnar, especially with the stipulation of if he loses then he leaves WWE. Pick: Brock Lesnar

>>MORE: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar
>>MORE: 14 Things You Didn’t Know About WWE Superstar Samoa Joe

WWE Championship
Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Chuck: Absent the Great Khali, I’m not seeing Mahal retaining here. Shinsuke Nakamura is red hot right now, and WWE is going to need a major title change at a pay-per-view of this caliber (assuming Lesnar wins). Had Baron Corbin not cashed in his Money In The Bank contract on SmackDown, it would have been plausible for Mahal to win and Corbin to then make his move. Instead, the Singh Brothers will get involved, but Nakamura will ignite the crowd. Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura

Aaron: Tuesday’s events with Baron Corbin losing the briefcase threw me for a loop. I thought for sure that Nakamura would win, and Corbin would cash in, creating the feud for the fall on SmackDown Live. Obviously that’s not happening. However, I’m sticking to my guns here. They would be insane to rush Nakamura into a title match with pretty much no build if they didn’t want him to come away with the title. Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura

Scott: SummerSlam is the prime spot for Nakamura to secure the WWE Championship and make history. The ‘King of Strong Style’ is undefeated, relatively speaking, since making his debut on SmackDown Live. I don’t want to believe that ends at SummerSlam. Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura

>>MORE: 13 Things You Didn’t Know About WWE Superstar Jinder Mahal

Kevin Owens celebrates his victory over Cesaro at the WWE SummerSlam 2015 at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on August 23, 2015 in New York City.

Kevin Owens (Photo Credit: JP Yim/Getty Images)

United States Championship (Shane McMahon guest referee)
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens

Chuck: You have to figure that Shane McMahon is going to get physical after being inadvertently taken out by Styles and Owens in successive weeks. Since Styles and McMahon have already had their feud, it’s pretty much a certainty that KO will land in the commissioner’s crosshairs. I could even see Shane O’Mac costing the new face of America the match. Either way, there’s a zero chance this one ends cleanly. Pick: AJ Styles

Aaron: Everything is pointing towards Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens as a match down the line. Even if he calls this one straight down the middle, Owens can blame Shane for the loss after this loss. Plus, if Nakamura does come out as champion, an Owens-Nakamura feud for the title would be pretty epic. Pick: AJ Styles

Scott: There is definitely the potential of a face turn for Kevin Owens in the future. At the same time, there is also the potential of a one-on-one match between Shane McMahon and Owens. This could be the catalyst for that. Look for some shenanigans in this one. Pick: AJ Styles

>>MORE: 14 Things You Didn’t Know About WWE’s Kevin Owens

Sheamus (L) faces Cesaro during the WWE show at Zenith Arena on May 10, 2017 in Lille, northern France.

Sheamus and Cesaro (L-R) (Photo Credit: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

Raw Tag Team Championship
Cesaro & Sheamus (c) vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins

Chuck: The Shield reunion has played out masterfully. Unlike so many storylines, WWE did not rush this and let it build and build. Every week there was a tease without a payoff until, finally, on Monday night Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins put their fists together. The pop was deafening, and there’s no way WWE’s brass didn’t hear it. The Shield run is on … for now. Pick: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins

Aaron: A Dean Ambrose heel turn is very much in play here, as I believe that’s where this is inevitably heading. The question is: Does it happen here, or down the line? I’ll give The Shield a little bit of a reunion before the turn though. The pop was deafening on Monday night, so milk a little bit out of that before they move into a feud with one another. Pick: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins

Scott: WWE has done a great job with the Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose story. The fans were clearly invested on Raw and in prior weeks. A run with the tag team titles would be a fun development. At the same time, the company could have Sheamus and Cesaro win because Ambrose and Rollins aren’t on the same page. I can visualize each scenario playing out, going to give the nod to new champions in Ambrose and Rollins. Pick: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins

Alexa Bliss gestures in the ring during the WWE show at Zenith Arena on may 09, 2017 in Lille, France.

Alexa Bliss (Photo Credit: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

Raw Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks

Chuck: Bayley’s injury has thrown this match for a loop. Kudos to WWE for scrambling to put it together as quickly as they did. The injury, in all likelihood, will also postpone Banks turning heel. They need a babyface champion after keeping the belt on Alexa for a while. The Boss takes this one and ushers in her glory days. Pick: Sasha Banks

Aaron: Sasha needs to win this match. She’s been thwarted time and time again since ending the feud with Charlotte, and at some point she has to overcome the nonsense if she’s going to continue to be at the top of the division. And with Bayley out, they need to solidify her as a true face who can be counted on. Obviously this wasn’t their original plan, but with the division in a current state, an Alexa win, even a dirty one, would be a mistake. Pick: Sasha Banks

Scott: With Bayley out, WWE may want to stretch out the feud between Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks. They could also go the route with Banks taking on Nia Jax. There might be more options at the moment with the ‘Five Feet of Fury.’ Pick: Alexa Bliss

Natalya lays on the mat outside the ring during WWE Smackdown at Acer Arena on June 15, 2008 in Sydney, Australia.

Natalya (Photo Credit: Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)

SmackDown Women’s Championship
Naomi (c) vs. Natalya

Chuck: The same Money In The Bank cash-in scenario is in play as my original idea to have Baron Corbin hand over his briefcase at SummerSlam. So, playing the role of Baron will be Carmella. I see Natalya winning and then immediately losing to Carmella. I will honestly feel bad for Natalya at that point. She deserves a title run. Pick: Natalya

Aaron: Since Corbin can no longer cash in a briefcase, I think the chances of a Carmella cash-in after this match just went way up. And if that happens, then Naomi will likely win the match. If they don’t want Carmella to cash in, then Natalya probably wins it, but I really think Carmella cashes in, maybe to a hometown pop? Either way, a heel walks out of Brooklyn with the title. Charlotte and Becky are waiting. Pick: Naomi

Scott: They are making it too obvious for Carmella do the predictable cash-in at SummerSlam, especially when Baron Corbin’s failed attempt happened just a few days ago. Plus, I am a Nattie fan and think she has earned one more run with the title. So, I might be letting that cloud my overall pick. Maybe Carmella and James Ellsworth even step in to help Nattie in the end. Pick: Natalya

SmackDown Tag Team Championship (Kickoff Match)
The New Day (c) vs. The Usos

Chuck: It won’t be a new day for The Usos. The New Day will exit the ring with the same titles they entered with. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this feud though and still laugh about their rap battle. I hope the Usos don’t fade back into oblivion. They are the most talented tag team on SmackDown right now. It makes me wonder whether they’ll be moved over to Raw if WWE opts for a fall roster shakeup. Maybe Cesaro and Sheamus then find their way over to the blue team? Pick: The New Day

Aaron: The New Day did not come over from Raw and get all the hype on their return, just to lost the title after a month. As great as The Usos are, and they are great, The New Day are still the guys who sell the merch and who are the top guys in the tag division. They gave The Usos the win on Tuesday to retain their credibility, but The New Day win here. Pick: The New Day

Scott: The Usos have had the number of New Day leading up to SummerSlam, so to me, it can only mean the challengers lose. The show will need its share of feel good victories. I believe New Day retaining is going to be one of them. Pick: The New Day

>>MORE: 13 Things You Didn’t Know About WWE Tag Team Champion Jey Uso

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Akira Tozawa (c) vs. Neville

Chuck: I just don’t know why this match occurred on Raw. It makes zero sense to me and, frankly, it’s not going to draw any extra attention to Sunday’s contest. I don’t want to call this a throwaway match, because a championship is on the line, but I will say it has been severely cheapened. Let’s hope they put on an incredible five-star performance. Pick: Akira Tozawa

Aaron: I’m honestly unsure what to make of this match, if it even happens. I like the idea of Tozawa winning it, as winning it on SummerSlam likely would have been buried. Doing it on Monday gives him the spotlight, as backwards as it initially seems. However, if they still have the match at SummerSlam, and Tozawa wins again, losing twice in six days deals a major blow to Neville’s credibility. It’s hard to see them giving the title right back to Neville though, so I’ll go with him. Pick: Akira Tozawa

Scott: Akira Tozawa surprised many when he won the Cruiserweight Championship on Raw. Losing the gold, pushed Neville over the edge into madness. I can see losing to Tozawa a second time pushing him further into the direction of the Mad King. I don’t want Neville to win back the title so quickly, as I think it tarnishes the Raw moment for Tozawa. Pick: Akira Tozawa

‘The Demon’ Finn Bálor vs. Bray Wyatt

Chuck: I wish WWE would have invested more time in this feud rather than have Finn Bálor work a brief program with Elias. The Monday night go-home segment between the two was pretty righteous though. It was pro wrestling’s version of Carrie. Now with ‘The Demon’ awakened in Bálor, the odds of him losing are minimal. Pick: Finn Bálor

Aaron: I was shocked by how cleanly Bray won on Monday. I get the storyline, but that was shockingly decisive. But The Demon is coming out to play on Sunday night. Finn Bálor isn’t losing with the return of The Demon (and we should all be grateful that it isn’t The Demon King). Pick: Finn Bálor

Scott: I don’t think WWE would bring out the Demon to have him lose. This is basically Clark Kent turning into Superman. A loss here would do some damage for Bálor, especially since the company made such a big deal about the Demon returning. Wyatt got his win on Raw, so Bálor will get it back at SummerSlam. Pick: Finn Bálor

John Cena enters the ring at the WWE SummerSlam 2015 at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on August 23, 2015 in New York City.

John Cena (Photo Credit: JP Yim/Getty Images)

John Cena vs. Baron Corbin

Chuck: Conventional wrestling wisdom will tell you that a man on his way out should lose his match. And with free agent John Cena apparently moving to Raw, he should do the honors here. Cena has been gracious in putting over Shinsuke Nakamura in recent weeks and doing the same here would give Corbin a nice rub. Plus, Corbin needs to reestablish himself as a threat after failing in his attempt to cash in his Money In The Bank contract. Pick: Baron Corbin

Aaron: Cena costing Corbin his briefcase on Tuesday could mean that Corbin wins here. However, I’m going another way with it. Cena wins, likely via DQ, and then Corbin annihilates him after the match. It would give Cena a reason to go away for a bit again, and potentially turns Corbin into a monster. Pick: John Cena

Scott: Baron Corbin losing the Money in the Bank briefcase on SmackDown Live was no doubt a big shock. Corbin has much to gain by defeating John Cena and coming back from such a devastating loss. The company is high on the ‘Lone Wolf,’ and a win over the leader of the CeNation puts him back in the game. I would expect some shenanigans here as well. Cena is also advertised for Raw shows in the immediate future. Pick: Baron Corbin

>>MORE: 16 Things You Didn’t Know About WWE Superstar John Cena

WWE Superstar Big Show is introduced during the WWE Smackdown Live Tour at Westridge Park Tennis Stadium on July 08, 2011 in Durban, South Africa.

Big Show (Photo Credit: Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Big Show vs. Big Cass (Enzo Amore suspended in a Shark Cage)

Chuck: WWE’s creative team deserves another pat on the back for this feud. Much like the Shield reunion, they took their time splitting Enzo and Big Cass. This appears to be the finale of the feud, and Big Cass has a rocket on him right now. It has been an eternity since a heel has received the type of reception he did on Monday night, and that’s exactly what WWE needs. And yes, Enzo will get involved here. Pick: Big Cass

Aaron: Is this the first ever match where the face manager gets locked in a cage? Unless this match changes due to Show’s broken hand, Big Cass needs to go over here. Let him win, and win cleanly. Pick: Big Cass

Scott: The Big Show is big on putting over emerging talent and doing the honors for the greater good. A victory for Cass definitely would go a long way moving forward if WWE really wants to give him a solid singles run. With Enzo involved, he can easily play a role in the proceedings from the shark cage for either side. Expect him to play a role in the finish. Pick: Big Cass

Randy Orton vs. Rusev

Chuck: Who needs this win more, Rusev or Randy Orton? Neither appear to be locks to get back in the title picture, so you can scratch that thought right now. Rusev has had his moments since his return, but doesn’t have that big win yet. He lost to John Cena at Battleground and could use a win here. I just don’t see that happening for the Bulgarian Brute here. Randy Orton gets this one. Pick: Randy Orton

Aaron: Rusev needs this win. Randy Orton doesn’t. They even had Orton get more attacks in during the feud. So why am I so concerned that they’re going to screw this up? I’ll go with Rusev, because all the logic screams Rusev, but this may be a match where logic doesn’t matter. Pick: Rusev

Scott: Randy Orton carries on after losing the WWE Championship and uses Rusev to rebound. I think WWE wants to keep RKO in the title hunt. I can also see them go to a disqualification or count out to set up another match between the two and keep both guys looking strong. Pick: Randy Orton

>>MORE: 14 Things You Didn’t Know About WWE Superstar Randy Orton

Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.

Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.

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