World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) SummerSlam 2023 is now upon us, and it has the potential to be the biggest in the history of the show.
SummerSlam has always been an integral part of the company since its inception in 1988, but now the annual show holds more weight, becoming the summer's version of WrestleMania. It has become a show where big storyline blowoffs occur, personal vendettas are settled, and underdogs can win the biggest prize.
This year the show has the potential to be the highest attended in the event's history since 1992.
That year the show took place in the United Kingdom in London at Wembley Stadium in front of a reported 80,355 fans. The show was headlined by arguably the show's greatest performer, Bret “The Hitman” Hart defending the Intercontinental title against the hometown star, The British Bulldog.
With this year's SummerSlam taking place at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, the attendance record may be usurped this weekend.
The last show at Ford Field was WrestleMania 23 in 2007, which featured the infamous match that included Donald Trump and Vince McMahon. At the time, it earned a record-setting 1.2 million PPV buyrate.
The attendance for that night was 80,103, which at the time made it the second largest attended WrestleMania since WrestleMania III, where Hulk Hogan and Andre, The Giant, faced off in the main event.
With the PPV market for WWE being changed completely with the advent of the WWE Network and its subsequent move to the streaming platform Peacock, the way success is measured has taken a turn for the company.
This year's SummerSlam 2023 will be unique in that it will have four main events and an undercard that should make the show one of the best of the year.
Logan Paul vs. Ricochet
A matchup between two of the company's best high-flyers and risk-takers should leave an impression to get the festivities for the show started if you put on first. Paul and Richochet have had two memorable high spots at this year's Royal Rumble and last month's Money in the Bank ladder match.
Look for them to attempt to one-up their previous encounters with a unique spot that will be the highlight of the match.
How much of a story they tell will be up in the air (pun intended ha). This one should be short and sweet, similar to Owen Hart vs. the 1-2-3 Kid at King of the Ring 1994. The match lasted less than five minutes but was the best of the show.
Ronda Rousey vs. Shayne Baszler
This SummerSlam 2023 match could be the final one in Ronda Rousey's current run with the company. Since her extremely hot introduction in 2018, Rousey has become one of the more disliked characters. Any goodwill she has had with fans seems to have been lost, with more wanting to see her gone.
The match with Baszler, who is also a former mixed martial artist, will be in a MMA rules match. Matches of this sort have been done before, most famously at SummerSlam 1998 when Owen Hart took on Ken Shamrock in a Lion's Den match. Look for Rousey to lose here in what will be the best match of her latest run.
Prediction: Shayne Bazsler to win
Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes
This feud initially came out of nowhere when Brock Lesnar attacked Cody Rhodes the night after WrestleMania 39. The two had a match at Backlash in Puerto Rico earlier this year, where Rhodes eked out a victory.
This should be the blowoff for this rivalry.
Although there isn't any set stipulation for the match, this one could be the most violent of their matches ending with Rhodes on top to move on to other opponents as he works his way back to the world title picture. Maybe at the end of the night, he'll be attacked by another returning star?
Prediction: Cody Rhodes to win
SummerSlam 2023 Battle Royal
Who doesn't love a good old fashion battle royal? These types of matches on major shows are a chance for those that don't have a singles match to shine. Battle Royals can sometimes be hit or miss, but the final participants usually dictate whether it will be memorable.
The obvious predictions for a winner include LA Knight or Chad Gable, but sometimes an unforeseen competitor can come out on top to swerve the fans. As long as this match is given enough time where a story can be told, it should be fun.
Intercontinental Championship: Gunther (champion) vs. Drew McIntyre
Gunther has been on a streak of delivering classic after classic title matches. The Intercontinental hasn't had this much meaning since the 1990s. He is close to breaking the Honky Tonk Man's record for longest reigning Intercontinental champion. However, the length of the reign, while significant, is less important than what you do with the title.
Over a year-long period between 1991 and 1992 over two reigns, Bret Hart had one of the best runs with the title by having only stellar matches.
Thus far, Gunther's match quality and the amount of time he has held the title already have solidified him as one of the greatest to hold the Intercontinental title. With McIntyre having his first match back since WrestleMania, this could be the night that Gunther finally loses the gold.
Win or lose for Gunther; this SummerSlam 2023 match should be on the same level as the match with Sheamus at Clash at the Castle or the triple threat match at WrestleMania. Look for Gunther vs. McIntyre to steal the show.
Women's Championship: Asuka (champion) vs. Bianca Belair vs. Charlott Flair
Bianca Belair's 420-day title reign as the Raw women's champion was the longest of any iteration of the title. That came to a surprising end at the hands of Asuka in late May, and with a returning Charlotte Flair shortly thereafter, we have the story behind this match.
Asuka is special. She works well with everybody and can be counted on to have a good match at any time. During her time with the company, she has been more than reliable and should have an extended reign. But, she could be more of a stepping stone or transitional champion setting up a bigger feud.
During her tenure as champion, Belair produced outstanding matches consistently on the big stage with Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Asuka. We have yet to see Belair and Flair have a one-on-one match together on a major show, but this may end up being a great preview of what that will look like.
It's hard to say who will come out on top at SummerSlam 2023. WWE enjoys subverting the expectations of fans and has had title changes take place on nondescript shows instead of the big ones. Possibly, Asuka walks away with the title but loses it sooner than later.
Prediction: Asuka to win
World Heavyweight Championship: Seth Rollins (champion) vs. Finn Balor
Two things can be true at the same time. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor can have a great match as they have several times in the past, and it could be for what amounts to be a participation trophy of a world title.
There shouldn't be more than one world champion. A secondary title just one notch below the world title already exists; that's what the Intercontinental title is for. However, the titles themselves don't matter as much as the story behind the competitors who wear them.
The match between Rollins and Balor is a rematch seven years in the making. At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, at SummerSlam in 2016, the two met for the inaugural WWE Universal championship.
Balor walked away with a victory and an injury that forced him to relinquish the title. He has been in the world title scene less often since then.
Now, with another new world title on the line, some retribution will be at hand by Balor. There is a possibility that some interference from Balor's faction, The Judgement Day, could occur. But the current inner turmoil between Balor and fellow member Damian Priest may end with the usage of Priest's Money in the Bank briefcase to get a title shot.
With Rollins' title reign having just begun this past May, he will likely leave the ring at SummerSlam 2023 with the title still around his waist.
Undisputed Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (champion) vs. Jey Uso
The culmination of the Bloodline soap opera-style storyline is in its final chapters and is three years in the making, starting in 2020. It has been the one consistent upstanding story that has been a part of the WWE over the last few years. The “Tribal Chief” version of Roman Reigns has proven to be a success, and combining that with his real-life Anoa'i wrestling family has been beneficial for everyone involved.
With every rise must come a fall. There have been cracks all throughout the year foreshadowing the downfall of Roman Reigns. The Sami Zyan turn at the Royal Rumble and the Uso's leaving the Bloodline shortly after WrestleMania. From a story perspective, it makes sense for Jey Uso to be the one to dethrone his cousin at SummerSlam 2023. The story began with him and should end with him.
However, if Jey Uso were to win, likely, he wouldn't be more than a transitional champion. It wouldn't feel big enough. The end of Roman Reigns is leading to something bigger. Maybe the return of The Rock?
In a Tribal Combat match, it should be more brutal and violent than most WWE matches, but look for Reigns to continue his time as champion.
2023 has been a year of high quality for the WWE, notable since Vince McMahon has not been all-in with the company of late. They have put on almost nothing but consistent shows, from WrestleMania to Backlash in Puerto Rico and Money in the Bank. SummerSlam 2023 should be no different continuing that trend.