We’re rapidly approaching “Summerslam 2014” and I find it interesting that we were in a very similar place last year at this time. Look at the top of the card: Brock Lesnar is being brought in as a conquering monster to deal with someone who has caused a heel trouble and John Cena is defending the WWE Championship in a match that he has almost no realistic chance of winning. While a whole year has passed, a lot of things have stayed the same but there are some very notable differences. Let’s look at the year between Summerslams.
The main change over the last year is of course the rise and then loss of Daniel Bryan. At this time last year, it was obvious that Bryan was going to be the next star as immediately as “Summerslam”. He had taken over the entire company and brought the fans along with him for the ride of their lives. However, a neck injury has stopped him from staying on the level he reached with his performance for the ages at “Summerslam”.
This time, we have Roman Reigns, who is pretty clearly destined to become the next top guy, but is still several months away from reaching that spot. The fans are accepting him, but there isn’t the same superstar pop that Bryan received. I’m not saying that Reigns isn’t going to be a top star because he certainly is, but the fans haven’t warmed up to him anywhere close to what they did with Bryan. Reigns is starting to come into his own though.
Another interesting point is that we’re reaching the end of the first year of the Authority. They formed the night after Summerslam last year with Randy Orton as their top star and the Shield as their enforcers. This time however, they don’t have a top guy, but they still have Orton as a solid force and Seth Rollins as Mr. Money in the Bank. It’s been a good year for the group overall, but they haven’t done much of anything to separate themselves from the rest of the pack of heel bosses.
One other thing the Authority has going for it at the moment is Stephanie McMahon and her feud with Brie Bella. This is what closed the latest episode of “Monday Night Raw” and for the life of me I can’t accept this idea. McMahon may be one of the best heels in the WWE right now, but she isn’t a big star right now.
The other part of this story is her opponent and the story behind her. Bella is a beautiful woman and the husband of a big star, but at the end of the day she’s nothing more than Brie Bella: another Diva that most of the fans don’t care and could leave tomorrow with few people drawing the slightest bit of interest. Other than being married to Daniel Bryan, there really isn’t much to care about with Bella. She’s just another Diva in a roster full of them.
Bella vs. McMahon isn’t a major match at Summerslam even though it’s being treated like one. In theory this is because it involves McMahon, but it isn’t even the third biggest match on the card. Lesnar vs. Cena, the obvious Reigns vs. Randy Orton match, Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho and in theory Rusev vs. Jack Swagger will all be bigger and more interesting matches. Instead of building to any of these things though, we get Bella vs. McMahon to close the show with three weeks left until “Summerslam”? That doesn’t hold up.
There is some other interesting stuff that has filled in the previous year. Wyatt has risen and fallen back down to about where he was last year in his debut match (last year against a former World Champion who is there to make Wyatt look good. Sound familiar?). He hasn’t lost all of his momentum, but a big win is almost required at this point to help fix his push. There isn’t much for him to gain from a win, but he needs it to keep from falling through the floor.
Last year at “Summerslam”, Orton was lurking in the background with the Money in the Bank briefcase. This year he’s more prominent but seems to be there as a hurdle for Reigns to clear before he goes on to the real feud with HHH and the eventual World Title showdown at “Wrestlemania XXXI.” Orton is still a big deal this year, but he isn’t likely winning this time around.
Finally there’s Lesnar, who is second only to Cena as far as being in nearly the same spot on the card. He’s in one of the most prominent spots on the card and has a good chance of winning his major match. This time however he’s fighting for the WWE Championship and is fighting for his own revenge instead of Paul Heyman’s. He’s moved up on the card from co-main event to undisputed main event and is still a good candidate for having the match of the night.
Overall a lot has changed in the last year, but it seems like we’ve come back to where we were last year at the top of the card: Cena defending and looking very unlikely to retain his title. It really is amazing how the injury to a single person can change everything. Instead of having Bryan face the monster Lesnar, it’s Cena taking his spot in what seems to be a one sided match. That’s not to say it won’t be great, but it’s certainly different.
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