Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter
The scheduled main event for SummerSlam, and possibly WrestleMania, changed a few weeks ago.
The only question is what they did change to. It was confirmed to us that a few weeks ago, probably just before the Roman Reigns interview where he said he wanted a shot at the Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe winner, that plans for SummerSlam on 8/20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn changed from Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman as the main event to Lesnar vs. Reigns.
That is probably still the main event for the show, but there is an outside chance that will change since everyone realizes how strong Samoa Joe has gotten over in the Lesnar feud. Originally Joe’s role was to just be the guy to put Lesnar over to set up the bigger match. But it’s been hard not to notice how strong this program is getting over.
Lesnar vs. Reigns, with Reigns winning the title, had been planned as the main event for the 2018 WrestleMania in New Orleans from before this year’s WrestleMania. But if anything, Reigns has gone from the old John Cena position of being cheered wildly at most house shows but booed on television, to being booed heavily at most house shows.
The idea could be to pull the trigger on the Reigns title win early, so they would have the Universal champion as a regular on Raw television and house shows. Or it could be part of a story they want to tell where Reigns doesn’t win now and builds to a Mania win. But normally, WWE doesn’t put the planned Mania match on PPV before Mania. The most logical conclusion is that a Reigns win over Lesnar would lead to a Reigns vs. Cena WrestleMania main event, given the Cena “free agent” who can work on both shows gimmick was introduced at the same time the Lesnar vs. Strowman match was changed. If Lesnar loses the title, that nixes plans for Lesnar title defenses prior to next year’s Mania with both Seth Rollins and Finn Balor, both of which had been teased a few weeks ago. Lesnar vs. Strowman could be saved for Mania or Rumble.
In theory, although wins and losses leading to big matches isn’t always the way WWE books, that would change the Reigns vs. Strowman ambulance finish to a Reigns win. Strowman was planned to go over in that match to set up his title bout with Lesnar, and likely make that a way to set up Strowman as a contender for the title when Reigns won. Joe, with two wins over Reigns, is clearly being set up as a contender, but that would theoretically mean they’d have to protect him to a degree in the match with Lesnar.
Another interesting note is that Lesnar is being booked on some Smackdown house shows coming up, and Cena is being booked on some Raw house shows. The Cena thing has already been explained.
Otherwise, the Great Balls of Fire show on 7/9 in Dallas is being built up largely as expected, with Lesnar vs. Joe, Reigns vs. Strowman in the ambulance match, Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt, The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose for the IC title (where Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel are likely to get involved), Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Hardys for the tag titles (this is not yet announced, and there would likely be a stipulation involved), Balor vs. Elias Samson, Neville vs. Akira Tozawa for the cruiserweight title, Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks for the women’s title and unannounced possibilities of Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass and R-Truth vs. Goldust.
From storylines, it also appears that Bliss vs. Nia Jax is actually the big women’s match upcoming, so it’s likely for SummerSlam.
On the Smackdown side, the 7/23 PPV, Battleground, from Philadelphia will be headlined by Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton in a Punjabi Prison match. It’s a gimmick match used once before in a Great Khali vs. Batista title match, and a way to keep the program going and keep some interest in a third straight main event.
The Punjabi prison is basically a double high cage match made up bamboo sticks. To win, you have to escape the first high cage, and then climb up and escape the second high cage.
Nothing else has been announced for the show but it’s clear there will be a Usos vs. New Day tag team title match and a Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin match. Another thing teased is Mike Kanellis (Mike Bennett) vs. Sami Zayn. Kevin Owens will defend the U.S. title against the winner of a 7/4 Battle Royal. There was a tease of Owens with A.J. Styles, which would make sense. They had Nakamura pin Owens a few times on television so it appeared at one point that was the idea, and still could be down the line. Tyler Breeze & Fandango will likely face the real team that was messing up their mock police station.