Dave: I have loved the build for the show and am really looking forward to it. This is the best job that WWE has done in quite a while.
Mike: In many ways, the build for this show has been FAR superior to what they gave us going into Wrestlemania.
Richard: This is one of the few shows that WWE has given us where they have focused on every match on the card instead of just the top of the card. Some of the promos and video packages have been the best the company has done in years.
WWE Champion John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan, with HHH as the referee
Dave: This is the million dollar question bout. Will John Cena run through Bryan? Will HHH turn? Will Randy Orton cash in his title shot? Honestly, any of those things could happen but what should happen is this. Cena and Bryan do a long, great, draining match. Bryan slaps on the Yes Lock and wins the Title. Both men are drained when Orton comes out and cashes in. He immediately hits the RKO and takes a second before making the cover. That is JUST long enough for Bryan to kick out at 2 99/100. Then they go another ten minutes or so and Bryan locks on the Yes Lock again, beating both men. Cena stays at ringside to watch and after Bryan beats Orton, Cena presents the Title belt to Bryan. Then, you have made Bryan. They should stay far, far away from outthinking this and do exactly what makes perfect sense.
Mike: Daniel Bryan should win here. There was a lot of concern this week among wrestlers that HHH being added was going to be a repeat of HHH cutting the momentum out from CM Punk post-Summerslam 2011. I would have to hope that WWE sees what a mistake that was and this isn't the case. The Bryan phenomenon is a really unique thing because it's something the fans created organically and refused to let die, even when WWE tried to book him into silly situations or slide the "Yes" chant over to AJ. They love him because he's their underdog and they know how hard he works. Cena is the perfect foil for him here since Cena represents the sports-entertainment side of wrestling and Bryan represents the sport in its truest form. I expect they will get a lot of time and the match will be very good, even with Cena's injury. To me, it should be about HHH and Cena endorsing Bryan at the end and letting him have what can be a really awesome moment in the sun. They can run all their turns and angles and potential cash-ins on Monday before a larger audience - Summerslam should be about Bryan's ascension, nothing else.
Richard: Even without the Cena injury, I think Bryan should win this match and stand tall at the end of the match with everyone in the crowd (including Mike) yesing with him. I hope the McInfluence that was teased on Friday will be a red herring and just a way to raise the blood pressure of people who are afraid that this will make some Jeff Jarrett title defenses in TNA point a to point b matches. I think this match will elevate both men and maybe some of the Cena haters will appreciate him more if John is able to fight through some of Bryanâ€™s submission holds. With the elbow an issue, I would love to see Bryan use the crossface chicken wing to get Cena to tap out. The presence of Randy Orton will be felt, but I hope one of two things happen: 1) he does not cash in and just teases Bryan with it, or 2) he cashes in and Bryan retains the title by outwrestling Orton and not having Orton slip on a banana peel to give Bryan the victory. They can also play up the fact that Bryan returned from his Nexus banishment at SummerSlam in 2010.
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar
Dave: The only way Punk should lose here is if he gets too obsessed with Paul Heyman and he leaves himself vulnerable. Other than that, he should win. Losses don't hurt Brock at all and with Cena potentially being out injured with the elbow, they need a strong Punk.
Mike: I wouldn't be shocked if they do the deal where Punk goes completely out of control during an insane brawl and gets himself DQ'd. This will be the slobber-knocker, as JR says, with a lot of real hard-hitting physicality. I can see Punk getting the win, but my gut is Lesnar goes over to set up rematches, possibly for Hell in A Cell. I do expect we see Punk get his hands on Heyman, only to see it slip through his fingers. I don't see the chase being over here.
Richard: I think Lesnar wins this match to set up the final chapter at Hell in a Cell where Punk finally gets the win and gets his hands on Paul Heyman as a result of the stipulation for HIAC. This will be a great brawl and that should benefit Lesnar more than Punk. If the obsession with Heyman costs Punk the match, I hope it isnâ€™t a major factor, but enough to get them to the next step in the story. The promos, videos, and brawls leading to this match have been spectacular and almost gives this match a main event feel.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian
Dave: ADR has lost so many matches recently that it would be criminal for him to lose again here. With that said, I would not be shocked in the least for Ricardo Rodriguez to get involved cost ADR his Title.
Mike: The way they presented Christian this week on TV, you almost feel like this is his "Gold watch" moment and a nod to him for all the hard work he's put in. I really enjoy his work, but he hasn't had any momentum in a long time. I suspect we'll have a solid match and Del Rio wins.
Richard: Using the Inverse of Final Show Before PPV Theory, Del Rio should win this match because Christian has been outsmarting Del Rio. They had a great match on Smackdown last week, but I still donâ€™t know why they put a PPV quality match on free TV 9 days before their PPV match. They have good chemistry in the ring and this should be a good match. I think Ricardo returns during the match and we find out that Ricardo â€˜took one for the teamâ€™ and he costs Christian the match and helps Del Rio retain the title.
Kane vs. Bray Wyatt (Ring of Fire Match)
Dave: This should be a lot of fun. I love that Wyatt has not been scared at all going into this. It's nice that WWE hasn't been portraying heels as being cowards the way that they used to. Anyway, Bray needs to go over here. It's way to soon to have him lose and beating Kane at his own game is a great way to build up his character.
Mike: Wyatt has to win here. I'm very curious to see how WWE uses the fire as a prop considering they can't do anything extremely violent under PG rules. My guess is there's a lot of teases of guys being whipped into it, etc. If they play it right, it can be a really unique landscape for a match. I am with Dave in that Wyatt has to get the win here. Perhaps it will be the storyline exit for Kane to go film "See No Evil 2."
Richard: I hope this match starts off with Wyatt and Kane going back and forth with the laughs of Pure Evil. They have done a great job building Wyatt for this match and I think he will get the victory. The tease of the fire adds a different component to the match and I hope the way Wyatt and Kane deal with on Sunday and beyond are as good as the way MVP did when he was in the Inferno Match with Kane.
Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston & Divas Champion AJ Lee
Dave: I see the faces going over here, maybe due to Big E and AJ having another awkward moment.
Mike: Ziggler has a lot of momentum and the audience loves him. In a lot of ways, he deserves to be a more higher profile position on the card, but here, at least he can be spotlighted. Langston is really really much better than he's been allowed to show, so I am hoping they give this time and allow him to show what he can do on the big stage. The women have had one really great match and a few OK ones, so if they limit what they do to some hot sequences spotlighting how much they hate each other, this could be a lot of fun. AJ has gotten over on Kaitlyn a bunch, so to me, it should be the other way around to set up more title matches. Dolph and Kaitlyn over.
Richard: I hope they allow the men and women to wrestle each other based on the history of these four. You want AJ to do something to Ziggler and you want Kaitlyn to get back at Langston for what he did to her with the secret admirer deal. If Langston and AJ win, it looks like we may have to wait for November for the annual â€˜We have Dolph Ziggler and he is pretty good so we need to push him for a whileâ€™ period.
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow
Dave: On the one hand, Damien should win since Cody has been abusing him. On the other, I like the push of Cody. If they wanted to get real tricky, they could have the World Title match go first, have Christian win the way I mentioned above, then have Damien cash in and win, then make this for the World Title and have Cody win. That would be really cool.
Mike: I don't think they would bounce things around that much. The reality is that it's the first match in the feud, so it makes the most sense for Sandow to get bounced around like a pinball and then steal the win through nefarious means so set up some additional angst going into the rematches.
Richard: I am really looking forward to this match because I think this could be the time that Cody gets to move to the next level since he definitely deserves it. Cody needs to get into Sandowâ€™s head and he could do that by bringing out the original briefcase or by doing some of Sandowâ€™s moves. I wouldnâ€™t mind Daveâ€™s prediction, but I think a Cody title reign could backfire into a Swagger or Sabin-esque reign. I wonder how many times Lawler and Cole will say that Sandow screwed Cody to get the briefcase at Money in the Bank while JBL reminds them that anyone would do that to a friend.
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
Dave: Brie is just not very good. Natty is getting used finally. She should go over here.
Mike: I expect this will be very short and be more about promoting the E! show then anything else. If Menounos is there, Natalya wins. If not, it's all Bella time.
Richard: In an ideal world of WWE, this match starts at 9:59 PM Eastern, right before Total Divas airs. Natalya should win this match because she is the better wrestler. Maybe this match will break down into a seven Diva schmozz to hype future episodes of Total Divas that do not conflict with pay per views. I think Brieâ€™s other half will give us the better wrestling performance on the PPV. I doubt that Brie will show us what she showed the MizTV audience in this match.
United States Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Rob Van Dam (Kickoff Match)
Dave: This is a great way to kick off the show. It will make people watch and I bet it leads to some impulse buys. I could see the other Shield members running in and Mark Henry and Big Show making the save. It wouldn't shock me if it leads to a six match right then and there.
Mike: The lay of the land with the pre-game show of late has been to put on really good, athletic matches with some awesome near falls. I am going to expect the same here. My gut is RVD is about to win when the Shield causes a DQ, leading to Henry and Show hitting the scene and setting up a six man during the actual PPV - I would actually run this at the end of the pre-show and open the PPV with the six man, hoping to lure people into wanting to order immediately with a cliffhanger.
Richard: I hope we can get an Ambrose promo before the match where he reminds Van Dam that he might have pinned him on Smackdown, but it took a knockout punch from Big Show to do it and in this match it is one-on-one. The last few months have had really good Kickoff Show matches and they have been given a lot of time. I wouldnâ€™t be surprised to see a DQ, but I donâ€™t know if I want to see a Six Man Tag Match come out of it. However, if they do, I hope they add the stipulation that if a member of the Shield is beaten in the match (or is disqualified [if they donâ€™t make it a No DQ Match]) they lose their title to the person who pinned them. I like Mikeâ€™s idea of the cliffhanger. I hope we get an Ambrose win because it would fit in with the idea of the Shieldâ€™s promo where they criticized the people who keep coming back. If there are shenanigans, give us a tag title match on the show instead.