It’s pay-per-view/premium live event time once again, but this time it’s one of the big ones as WWE SummerSlam comes to you from Ford Field in Detroit, MI on Saturday, August 5 8e/5p. There are a quartet of events on the WWE’s calendar that are commonly referred to as the “Big Four”, with SummerSlam being one of them. In fact, historically, SummerSlam is usually treated as the second biggest show of the year for WWE, as it is situated perfectly between Wrestlemanias.

Because of that, the sheer number of significant matches and moments at “The Biggest Party of the Summer” is quite high. First taking place in 1988, every big name throughout the WWE’s dominance and prominence as a national federation has competed and had a signature moment at this event – from the Mega Powers of Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage teaming up for the first time, Bret Hart defending his WWF Championship against his brother Owen in a legendary cage match, Triple H winning the Intercontinental Championship against The Rock, the first ever TLC match, Brock Lesnar winning the WWE Championship months after his debut, Randy Orton’s first world title win, and who could forget Undertaker vs. Undertaker (me, I’d like to forget) – the list goes on.

This year is poised to have such a huge card, that some of the key matches that could’ve shown up seemingly got cut at the last minute. We could see a three-year title reign end against one’s own cousin, a three way match involving almost all the company’s biggest female stars, an implosion of a decades long friendship that could see two MMA legends kill each other, and possibly two Money in the Bank briefcase cash-ins.

While this show actually marks the one-year mark of Triple H fully taking over the creative direction of the company, it could mark the first show in a bit that doesn’t have or may not have influence from Vince McMahon. Vinny Mac reportedly had a pretty dire back surgery recently and won’t be anywhere near the event, but I also don’t put it past that guy to try and make a booking call or three.

What are some matches that were cut and why are people upset?

Technically speaking, every single wrestling card put together since the dawn of the profession comes with an asterisk at the bottom of the poster that says “card subject to change.” However, there are a pair of matches on this show specifically that had clear build and made sense to include on this show, but were seemingly cut at the last minute with the talent in question making their displeasure known with some vague tweeting (or X-ing or posting or whatever the hell Elias Musket has butchered it into). It is also unfortunate that both matches happen to be women’s matches.

Reportedly, this was all done for the simple reason of watching the time. With eight matches already on the card and Triple H adamant about every match getting a decent amount of time, it seems like some matches would eventually have to be left off in the end. Breaking it all down though, lots of the matches can’t really be moved too much due to contractual constraints – Brock Lesnar has select dates as part of his contract, Rhonda Rousey’s contract might be coming to an end and they’d like to use her one last time, The Bloodline story simply can’t be left off with what it is, Logan Paul also has special contract and appearance conditions, and they’re stuck with the battle royal because it’s sponsored.

Add that this might be the last huge event in the way of a record breaking Intercontinental Championship reign and the only other match that you could argue could get left off is the only other women’s match. Granted, they could still move the battle royal to the pre-show and free themselves up some time, but I’ve got no clue if the sponsorship says it must be on the main card or not.

Then again, you can argue that why build up these matches this way if you knew you had that much red tape tied to what will be on the show. The two contents in question are/were:

Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus 

These two are legitimately two of the best to ever do this and it can be argued that they’re #1 and #2 in a ranking of greatest female performers in WWE history. They’ve been at each other’s throats since just after Wrestlemania, and had a match already, but it was spoiled by interference from main roster newcomer Zoey Starks.

The two met again at Money in the Bank 2023 in the titular ladder match, but neither got what they wanted. Trish has been dodging Becky going into SummerSlam, but a Zoey Starks mess-up led to another meeting becoming official. With Trish disappointed in her protégé and seemingly dismissing her, it looked like the next clash between the two would be uninterrupted.

In the week leading into SummerSlam, though, it was announced that the match would be put off until RAW in Winnipeg two weeks after the big show. The booking in Trish’s home country looks to take the sting off the cancellation, but Big Time Becks has made her displeasure known and even Trish, who has never said anything negative about the WWE for over 20 years, made an Instagram comment vaguely asking people to keep speaking their displeasure at the match being cut.

Women’s World Championship

Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Raquel Rodriguez 

While Becky and Trish are two of the biggest female stars in WWE, it is undeniable that the hottest female star in the company this year has been Rhea Ripley. Coming off of a bell-to-bell win in the Royal Rumble, Rhea would go on to defeat Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania to become champion in what is, statistically, the best women’s match in WWE history. It came within an eyelash of getting the vaulted 5-star rating from wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, getting a 4 ¾ star rating (though the wrestling nerds here at The Beat all agree it should’ve gotten the full 5). She’s also become the most followed personality in the company on social media by a good margin, as she has not only seduced Rey Mysterio’s son Dominik, but a multitude of fans across the gender spectrum.

Raquel Rodriguez is one-half of the current WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions alongside Liv Morgan. The two had to vacate their titles earlier this year due to a Morgan shoulder injury, only to regain them at Money in the Bank 2023 when Shayna Baszler turned on her best bud Rhonda Rousey. However, Rhea would victimize Liv and re-injure that shoulder, which incensed Raquel and set up a potential Champion vs. Champion clash. However, Rhea would injure Raquel herself leading into SummerSlam, giving an excuse to hold that match off.

Rhea has retweeted and shared a couple of posts from fans upset she has been left off the card and that the company should book their women better.

All that considered, I’m back to once again do the thing where I stop and try to explain just what’s happening in pro wrestling, who will be fighting, why you should care, and all the precious narrative threads that bind all these unique characters together. Hope you like long reads of exposition because that’s what’s coming up right about now.




Tribal Combat for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

The Tribal Chief Roman Reigns (c) vs. “Main Event” Jey Uso

TL; DR// A one-on-one match three years in the making as a Shakesperian king looks the man fated to defeat him in the eyes – and he sees the burning gaze of his own cousin, now a fully realized character that the deeds of the evil king himself created and pumped to the max with protagonist juice.

How Did We Get Here? For our preview of WWE Money in the Bank 2023, we went over the absolute odyssey that has been The Bloodline story, which has been brewing for almost three whole years and is, in my opinion, the best production of Macbeth ever captured on film not done by Akira Kurosawa. And like the Shakesperian epic, the end comes when a paranoid king knows his time with the crown is coming to an end…maybe.

But yes, for three years, Jey Uso has been psychologically tortured by his cousin, who has held onto that Universal Championship since 2020. Roman Reigns has been so dominant that the last time he was ever pinned was in December of 2019…until last month at Money in the Bank 2023 when The Usos finally turned and got their match against Roman and Jey became the first person in three-and-a-half years to pin the Tribal Chief. This echoes back to Roman’s first year on the main roster, where the first person who ever pinned him in WWE was…wait for it…Jey Uso.

As one half of one of the greatest tag teams of all time, Jey didn’t really have an identifier coming into the Bloodline storyline, but has been arguably the protagonist of the entire ordeal, having been the first man Roman forced to ACKNOWLEDGE HIM as the Tribal Chief and become Roman’s servant against his will. In the weeks following Money in the Bank, The Usos held a trial for Roman, where the champion feigned wanting to hand over his crown before teaming with Solo Sikoa (Jey’s younger brother) to put Jey’s twin brother and tag partner, Jimmy Uso, through a table and to a hospital.

After challenging his cousin for the Universal Championship, Jey had to wait for Roman to accept, which he did – with a few new caveats. Not only would their match be for the title Roman’s held for more than 1,000 days, but it would be for the right to be the Anoa’i family Tribal Chief. It would also be done under “Tribal Combat” rules, a match that so far we know is more or less just a match with No Disqualifications. However, since it is no DQ, this fully allows both men to bring swords and rapiers to round out my Shakesperian analogy.

And, to be real, as much as I’m sure everyone in my life is tired of me screaming “PROTAGONIST JEY USO” at the top of my lungs for three years and just how full circle it would be to see him end his cousin’s reign of terror, I still don’t know if Jey wins. Having gotten the elusive pinfall against his cousin last month and considering the character growth he’s undergone, Jey could lose here and easily still have a secure spot as a man to be taken seriously and finally live up to the name he was almost jokingly called at the beginning of The Bloodline – “Main Event” Jey Uso. Rest assured, no matter the outcome, expect this contest to go on last and be combat theater at its most premier and dramatic and take up no less than 45 minutes, entrances and shenanigans included.

World Heavyweight Championship

Seth “Freakin’” Rollins (c) vs. Finn Balor

TL; DR // Two men with a rivalry unresolved for seven years dripping in bitterness had their last meeting cut short, but now get to do it all over again with an opportunistic and deceptively tall Hot Topic manager looming in the background.

How Did We Get Here? At SummerSlam 2016, Seth Rollins tore Finn Balor’s shoulder in a world title match that Finn would win, but had to relinquish the belt as the injury was too severe. Since that night, Rollins’s career has skyrocketed, while Balor’s has been stagnant until the last year or so.

At Money in the Bank 2023, the two finally looked to settle their “better vs. bitter” differences, but the match never got out of second gear, was abruptly ended in ten minutes or so, and featured accidental interference from Balor’s own Judgment Day running mate and winner of the Men’s MITB Ladder Match, Damian Priest. This cost Balor his shot, but after weeks of Rollins refusing Balor’s rematch, it was made official with, really, not much other explanation.

This match has every chance to be the athletic masterpiece that their last meeting could have been, especially considering we are now at the same event, the same battleground if you will, where these two warriors first met and had their careers diverge. It does have the added element this time of MITB holder Damian Priest, who could in theory cash in that briefcase at any moment and take the World Heavyweight Championship – not that Balor would forgive him, though.

Balor has been seething, salivating for this chance and even though Balor and Priest agreed that Finn should have the first shot at the title, that doesn’t mean Priest won’t get involved; in fact, I’d be disappointed if he didn’t play a part in the finish somehow. But only after these two have left it all in the ring and put on a show-stealing performance, please.

WWE Women’s Championship

The Empress of Tomorrow Asuka (c) vs. The Queen Charlotte Flair vs. The EST Bianca Belair

TL;DR // A strategic murder clown defends her ill-gotten gold against the woman she took it from after a year long reign and a symbiote in the shape of a woman who has no identity if she isn’t physically bonded with a championship

How Did We Get Here? At Night of Champions in late May, Asuka used her craftiness and deviousness to end the lengthy reign of the powerful Bianca Belair and win what was then named the WWE Raw Women’s Championship. Two weeks later, following the WWE Draft and Asuka having been drafted away from Monday Night RAW, the Empress of Tomorrow was bestowed a new belt with a new old name, bringing back the belt’s original title (from 2016, not the original WWE Women’s Championship which is it’s own separate lineage).

That new title ceremony was crashed by one Charlotte Flair, who hadn’t been seen on TV since Wrestlemania 39 Night 1. When told to get in line for a title shot, Charlotte retorted that “I don’t need to stand in line. I am the line!” which actually goes a long way to describing everything about her character. Nonetheless, Asuka would defend her title against both Charlotte and Bianca individually, but both contests ended in disqualification after the two challengers inadvertently came to blows. To make things fair, both women were granted title shots against Asuka at SummerSlam.

This match features three of the company’s best female workers, but might actually involve even more. All three women have had several run-ins with the group Damage CTRL and current active members Iyo Sky and Bayley. Much like the World Heavyweight Championship situation above, this does add an extra layer to the contest because Iyo holds the Women’s MITB Briefcase and is constantly being egged on by Bayley to cash it in. Bonus layers for if she does cash in on Asuka, who once won tag team championships with Iyo’s sister in Japan before forming a stable with all three women as the Triple Tails.

In any case, expect this match to have some interesting chemistry, as Asuka and Bianca have had several matches already this year and do pretty well, while Charlotte and Asuka have faced each other multiple times before. Bianca and Charlotte, however, have not (at least not since Bianca became a main eventer) and as two of the biggest names in the company, that’s almost certainly intentional. Wouldn’t surprise me if the WWE uses this match to gauge interest in a future Charlotte/Biana 1-on-1 match that would be big enough on its own without a title at stake. Although if Charlotte doesn’t have a belt within a month of reappearing on television, she might be left crumpled on the ring canvas from lack of nutrients, so we’ll see.

The American Nightmare Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar

TL; DR// Just two guys bein’ dudes hoping their third match together gives a definite winner in a feud that has been about…uh…lemme see…anyone know why these guys are even fighting? Besides Brock being a metaphorical dragon that Cody has to slay to “finish his story?” No? Oh.

How Did We Get Here? The night after Wrestlemania 39 Night 2 and one of the most deflating ‘Mania endings ever, main event loser Cody Rhodes was attacked by Brock Lesnar, assumedly because Brock could. The two had a match at Backlash, where Rhodes outsmarted Lesnar and won by pinning Lesnar while Rhodes was stuck in a submission. At Night of Champions, the two had a rematch, where Lesnar locked in that same submission and made Rhodes pass out to even the score. Now they’re going at it a third time to break the tie and something something everyone has monsters to defeat in life.

That’s kind of it. Yes, these are two of the biggest names in the company and there are similarities between them like both men were prospects with terrific rookie years in the company and both at some point left WWE on bad terms and made even bigger names for themselves, but I still have no clue why they’re fighting. When big names clash, you oftentimes don’t have to necessarily have a story other than “wouldn’t it be cool if these two guys faced off”, the feel and chemistry between these two don’t feel like that.

Why did Lesnar turn on Rhodes, who was going to be his tag team partner? What was the reason for assaulting him? There’s been none, which has led to these two having their third match in what I assume is a trilogy in what feels like a “just because” feud to give both guys something to do. Rhodes’s character journey has been about “finishing the story” that his father, the late great Dusty Rhodes, couldn’t quite do and win the WWE Championship. If we’re talking conventional storytelling tropes, you don’t have a better example of a “dragon” than Brock Lesnar.

They’ll put on a solid match that will be more about storytelling in the ring and hopefully longer than their previous encounters to have enough time to tell that story.

MMA Rules Match

The Baddest Woman on the Planet Rhonda Rousey vs. The Queen of Spades Shayna Baszler

TL:DR// A woman who worked from the ground up to be taken seriously in wrestling is fed up with her more famous friend getting the red carpet treatment and resolves to kill her to get noticed by the Warhammer 40k movie casting director

How Did We Get Here? Rousey and Baszler are considered two of the “Four Horsewomen” of MMA, breaking glass ceilings about how women are perceived in combat sports. They’ve also been friends for many years and when Rhonda was preparing to make the jump to WWE, who else but Shayna was there to help get her friend ready.

After Rhonda resolved to bring the killer instinct back out of Shayna, the two won a big Wrestlemania tag team match this year before winning the Women’s Tag Team Championships a couple months later. They would then unify those belts with the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships and were slated to defend them against former champs Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez. In the middle of the match, Shayne inexplicably turned on Rhonda and cost them the belts and put their friendship in question.

In the weeks afterwards, Shayna would make her motivations clear and honestly incredibly sympathetic despite being presented as the bad guy. Shayna was tired of Rhonda getting handed everything while Shayna, who had grown to love the wrestling business, was scratching and clawing her way to doing anything in it but loved it. While Rhonda’s WWE debut overshadowed the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match and her first ever pro wrestling match saw her debut at Wrestlemania, you don’t have to look too hard to find footage of Shayna making her rounds in the indies in places like AIW and SHIMMER Women’s Athletes and having to fight the world for a WWE contract during the 2017 Mae Young Classic tournament.

But above all, Shayna thinks that Rhonda is just terrified and hurt at the idea that someone else could be a better Rhonda Rousey…than Rhonda Rousey herself. And for the most part, every word of Shayna’s promos have been full of truth. This is next to the bloom falling off the rose of Rhonda’s run in the company in general, having worn out her welcome with WWE fans for at least a year or two and it’s truly baffling how Shayna is supposed to come across as the bad guy here.

No matter the dynamic, this contest also has some backstage rumblings creeping into it, as reportedly Rousey’s WWE contract has a “hard out” and signs point to SummerSlam being that end date. It’s an unwritten wrestling rule that when you’re leaving the ring for a while, especially when leaving a promotion, to “go out on your back,” meaning to make someone else look good before you exit. A match between these two has been rumored for years and I can’t think of anyone Rhonda would love to put over more than one of her best friends before she leaves.

Not quite sure what MMA Rules are exactly for a wrestling match, but if these two could have something as hard-hitting as a strong style fight between two women not afraid in the least to beat the tar out of one another, it could give us something we haven’t ever seen on WWE television. Also being the woman to kill Rhonda Rousey would get lots of mainstream eyes on Shayna as she continues her campaign to get cast in the upcoming Warhammer 40k movie.

Logan Paul vs. Ricochet 

TL; DR// An annoying athletic influencer and a man who canceled his subscription to gravity face off after what should have been a viral moment went sour and is now about a man’s fiance

How Did We Get Here? At the Royal Rumble in January, Logan Paul was a surprise entrant in the namesake match. He had an incredibly athletic and cinematic moment that easily went viral when he collided mid-air with resident high-flier Ricochet in a scene straight out of an anime. Last month at Money in the Bank, the two were involved in the Men’s MITB Ladder match and came up short, but not before the two looked primed to make another viral moment…only for it to get botched a bit, so it didn’t have the intended effect.

To make up for this, the story pivoted to being more about the tension between the two stars since their Royal Rumble encounter and having Paul attack Ricochet backstage. The two met face-to-face to talk smack a couple times after the incident which why, why, why would you do that to poor Ricochet? You take a guy who has never been known to speak well on the stick and put him in a verbal joust with a guy who makes his money by talking and won’t shut up? It also does not help that Paul completely no-sold a repeat of what was Ricochet’s defining character moment in NXT.

In the last of those trash talks, Paul made it personal when he mentioned that when he wins, Ricochet’s real life fiance – WWE ring announcer Samantha Irvin – will have to declare him the better man herself.

Paul is, unfortunately, a big investment special attraction that has lost every big match he’s been in since his first in the company. And with all due respect to my boy Ricochet, he’s no Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins. I would be gooped, gagged, and gobsmacked if Paul doesn’t win.

WWE Intercontinental Championship

The Ring General Gunther (c) vs. Drew McIntyre

TL; DR// An Austrian brute and a Scottish warrior look to cave each other’s chests in with the longest reign in the title’s history possibly on the line

How Did We Get Here? Gunther has been Intercontinental Champion longer than all but three men who have held the belt, and he’s not far away from eclipsing a record reign that’s been around for as long as SummerSlam has been around. Less than 20 days separate Gunther from history. But he’s got a massive roadblock on his path to history and that’s a man he’s had many meetings with before in Drew McIntyre.

McIntyre made a shocking return to WWE in the aftermath of Gunther’s title match against Matt Riddle at Money in the Bank. It was shocking because we hadn’t seen McIntyre in months, he was reportedly nursing several injuries, and there were also rumblings that his contract status was unknown and that he could leave the company.

Among other meetings between the two in the ring, they were two-thirds of a 5 star match at Wrestlemania 39 this past April for this very championship. Sure, Gunther’s running buddies IMPERIUM will almost certainly cause a ruckus at ringside, but something tells me if they wanna catch hands, the 6’5” Scot will gladly oblige. This match is going to be PHYSICAL although it may be so in a different flavor than their ‘Mania encounter.

A passive part of the story this could tell is intimately tied to this event: The Honky Tonk Man holds the record for the longest Intercontinental Championship reign that Gunther is about to eclipse and that reign was ended in legendary fashion by the Ultimate Warrior at the very first SummerSlam ever. Could Drew McIntyre pull off another version of this over 30 years later?

20-Man Slim Jim SummerSlam Battle Royal

TL; DR// They need to appease sponsorship and find a way to squeeze a lot of bodies on the card while also giving LA Knight something notable to do.

How Did We Get Here? Contracts and bureaucratic obligations, bro. Granted, good on the company for using what I’m sure is a contractually binding sponsorship to get as many people on the show at one time, but if it isn’t on the pre-show, it might be the closest thing this loaded card has to a piss break match.

That and LA Knight, one of the most over guys in the company who has now finished in the top five of merchandise sellers the past two months, needs something notable to do at this big show, so you slip him here. The whole thing is also slightly easier to swallow given the relationship between wrestling and Slim Jim after the iconic Randy Savage ad campaign. If Knight doesn’t win, I’m assuming it’s because Vince McMahon’s mustache is doing that one Indiana Jones chest-ripping chant inches away from Triple H’s ailing heart.

That wraps up this round of regurgitations. If you enjoyed this or if this was helpful, then you can leave a PROTAGONIST JEY USO in the comments and I’ll add you to the Jey Uso prayer circle I’ll be leading during the main event.