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#SummerSlam could be start of major shift in WWE’s landscape

#SummerSlam could be start of major shift in WWE’s landscape

August 21, 2020 | 1:37pm

WrestleMania is always seen as the transition point into a new year on the WWE calendar. This SummerSlam could have a similar effect.

WWE will unveil its ThunderDome setup at Amway Center in Orlando for SmackDown on Friday — with virtual fans on numerous LED boards — marking the end of its time doing shows at its Performance Center. If there is any time to shake up your storyline, champions and roster, now it is it. SummerSlam is set up for WWE to do just that.

One thing to look forward to is the possibility of multiple new champions and new faces of the company moving forward with the Payback pay-per-view just a week away. There have been SummerSlams with more marquee names and bigger box office matches, but WWE does have a chance to begin setting a new course with ratings needed a boost.

Here are five things to look for heading into SummerSlam:

Title roles

WWE champion Drew McIntyre and Universal champion Braun Strowman are in very different positions at SummerSlam, but both could very likely not be holding their belts when the night is over.

McIntrye, who has been a standout during the pandemic, is just starting his feud with Randy Orton — who has been a step ahead of the champ in every way so far. Orton is at his heel best right now as the “Legend Killer”. His attacks on Edge, Big Show, Christian, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels have brought out a rage and doubt in McIntyre that may cloud his judgment for the split-second Orton needs to hit the RKO and claim his 14 world championship.

Flair — the “Dirtiest Player in the Game” — could find himself in the middle of this. Remember he told Orton all he wanted was to see him break his world championship record. What if the low blow and punt kick he took was all a setup. Flair comes out looking like he wants to get retribution again Orton, only to help his former Evolution member move closer to his record of 16 titles. This probably won’t be the last time we see Orton vs. McIntyre either way. This has a chance to be a very good match with deep storytelling.

It should, however, be the final match between Strowman and Bray Wyatt as this is the trilogy fight of their feud with both of them having a win. Strowman came out with a new look and darker attitude last Friday on SmackDown — willing to press slam Alexa Bliss to draw “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt out,

Stroman’s story arc has clouded who is the babyface in this feud and made it harder to root for him. However, this new attitude at least opens up the possibility of Strowman defeating The Friend” — who lost his last match and the Universal title to Bill Goldberg. But The Fiend is where the money is — especially with WWE out of the PC and able to do more with his presentation

The Friend Zone

The top of the women’s division is centered around friendships. Some are still strong, some are budding and others are in tatters.

Asuka has a chance not only to win both the Raw and SmackDown women’s championships on the same night but potentially deliver a blow to the friendship of Bayley and Sasha Banks. This is the most intriguing story of SummerSlam because there are so many ways it can go.

Asuka, who is making her SummerSlam debut, can leave a double champ and the clear top women’s babyface in the company, one belt or none. No matter what, everything can continue without losing steam thanks to Shayna Baszler being in the mix. She could be the next challenger for the Raw women’s championship — after dealing with Nia Jax — and a potential tag partner with Asuka against Banks and Bayley for their titles at Payback. Asuka told The Post she is comfortable teaming with the former MMA star.

The only way the Banks-Bayley friendship doesn’t take a hit is if both leave as champion. Jealousy or mistrust could ensue if only one or none are still holding singles belts — especially if one costs the other the match. The Golden Role Models could also be devoid of all gold after Payback.

The other women’s match featured former friends turned enemies Mandy Rose facing Sonya Deville in a Hair vs. Hair match. Someone leave bald people! These two have delivered some of the most memorable promos and moments during the pandemic and this long-term story is getting a proper chance to conclude. Rose is already sporting short hair after Deville cut some off in a backstage attack. Both have a chance to leave bigger stars than they came in, but only one is leaving with a new look.

Son also rises

Seth Rollins and the Mysterio family have been feuding since May and it doesn’t feel like we are close to being done with this. The “Mondy Night Messiah” gets set to face Rey’s son Dominik in a street fight in his in-ring debut. Rey returning to “Raw” on Monday and will be in his son’s corner. This could lead to all kinds of shenanigans.

Dominik has already taken a vicious kendo-stick beatdown from Rollins. So we likely won’t see that again. The good guys need to start winning here after Rey “lost an eye” to Rollins to end their match at Extreme Rules. No matter how it ends, this feels like we are headed for a tag match between Rollins and his disciple Murphy vs. The Mysterios and maybe one more true wrestling match between Rey and Rollins.

Group stages

The masked group Retribution has been running amuck in WWE for the past few weeks, attacking the set, breaking Performance Center windows and disrupting the broadcast and backstage area. It’s hard to think they won’t have a role in SummerSlam, which has the tagline “You’ll never see it coming.” MVP, who will challenge Apollo Crew for this United States title has insinuated the champion could have a hand in the group.

Do we finally get the reveal of who the members of Retribution are? Does it have a leader? Will they finally state what their mission is, make demands of setup a cliffhanger angle for Raw? Something needs to happen beyond random attacks. SummerSlam feels like a good time to get that ball rolling.

More to come

SmackDown currently has just two matches on the SummerSlam card and the pre-show slot is not booked. So expect the blue brand to change that. Do we get a second meeting between A.J. Styles and Jeff Hardy for the Intercontinental champion or maybe Daniel Bryan returns to become the challenger?

SmackDown tag team champions Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura have an issue going with Lucha House Party. This feels like a prime candidate for the preshow with the Raw tag team title match with champions The Street Profits vs. Andrade and Angel Garza likely being the blowoff to a story that included the challenger’s manager Zelina Vega “poisoning” Montez Ford.

Also, Matt Riddle could finally get his crack at King Corbin or Big E could continue his singles push against new rival Sheamus.

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