September 28, 2023

It’s time for one of the flagship events on the WWE calendar. Typically considered just behind WrestleMania in terms of popularity, SummerSlam is set to be the biggest match card of the summer months with five title matches on deck for Nashville on Saturday night.

The biggest match of all pits a pair of old rivals against each other once again. Undisputed universal champion Roman Reigns puts his pair of titles on the line against Brock Lesnar in a Las Man Standing Match in the main event. Reigns unified the titles by beating Lesnar in the main event at WrestleMania.

The card also sees the return of the celebrity factor. Logan Paul is back when he takes on The Miz in singles action. The two teamed together to beat The Mysterios at WrestleMania before Miz turned on his partner. Plus, SmackDown commentator and former NFL punter Pat McAfee returns to action when he takes on Happy Corbin. McAfee debuted in style at WrestleMania when he beat Theory in singles action before losing to Vince McMahon.

Let’s take a closer look at who our CBS Sports experts predict will come out on top at WWE SummerSlam, which begins Saturday at 8 p.m. ET from Nissan Stadium in Nashville and streams live on Peacock following a kickoff show one hour earlier.  

2022 WWE SummerSlam predictions

Undisputed WWE universal championship — Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (Last Man Standing)

In giving Reigns a run as champion that has lasted for nearly 700 days, WWE has slowly backed themselves into a corner. Reigns has dispatched of basically every quality contender, leading the promotion to return to the well of Reigns vs. Lesnar despite it being a pairing that is very much stale. It’s hard to see Lesnar getting the win here as it only serves to reset for another clash between the pair. With The Usos and Paul Heyman around, there are plenty of easy outs to aid Reigns in keeping Lesnar down for the 10-count. As for Theory and his threat of cashing in the Money in the Bank contract after the match, The Usos can likely run interference to allow Theory to keep the briefcase around as a storytelling device a bit longer. Pick: Roman Reigns retains

SmackDown women’s championship — Liv Morgan (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

While there are plenty of chances for WWE to make major missteps with winners on the card, having Rousey end Morgan’s reign and regain the title may be the biggest one. Rousey’s return to WWE has mostly been a dud while Morgan has a strong fanbase that was delighted by her winning her first championship. The reaction to a Rousey win here would be awful and Morgan needs some time to really see how she can operate as a world champion. That doesn’t mean a Rousey win isn’t possible, just that it should not happen and hopefully WWE sees that. Pick: Liv Morgan retains

Raw women’s championship — Bianca Belair (c) vs. Becky Lynch

Another potential misstep would be having Lynch beat Belair on the same stage as their infamous 27-second match. Lynch returned last year at SummerSlam and beat Belair with such speed that it caused significant backlash. Having Belair beat Lynch at WrestleMania to become champion once again was something of a make-good on that mistake, but allowing her to retain at SummerSlam would help in removing that stain from Belair’s resume. Pick: Bianca Belair retains

Pat McAfee vs. Happy Corbin

Corbin has not won a pay-per-view match since December 2019. That isn’t likely to change when he faces off with McAfee. WWE has done a good job of protecting McAfee as a special attraction who wrestles on rare occasions but surprises with his competency and athleticism. Corbin has cemented himself as a heel who can be slotted in for programs against anyone, lose the blowoff match and then move right on to the next without really gaining or losing any momentum. That makes him a perfect opponent for McAfee to defeat. Pick: Pat McAfee wins

Undisputed WWE tag team championship — The Usos (c) vs. The Street Profits (special guest referee Jeff Jarrett)

The Usos are so closely tied to Reigns that it makes it hard to pick against them before the “perfect moment” comes along. Such a big part of Reigns’ presentation is the dominance of The Bloodline as they hold all of the top men’s championships. The introduction of Jarrett as the referee could tilt things in the favor of the Profits, but Jarrett could just as easily cheat in favor of The Usos. Either way, someone is getting hit with a guitar. It’s just too hard to see The Usos losing the belts before WWE is ready to start having Reigns’ empire crumble around him. However things work out, the match should be great. Pick: The Usos retain

United States championship — Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Theory

WWE has invested a lot of time into Theory, giving him tons of screen time, a run with the United States title and winning Money in the Bank. They also have done an interesting job of having him stumble often enough that the idea of his SummerSlam plan to regain his title before cashing in the Money in the Bank contract later in the night completely blowing up in his face is very much in play. Lashley is a big player who can elevate the secondary belt in an era where the top champion is almost never on TV and it seems there’s too much value in that to take the belt off of him so quickly. Pick: Bobby Lashley retains

Logan Paul vs. The Miz

WWE loves nothing if not putting celebrities over standard talent. That’s almost certainly the case with Paul vs. Miz. After Miz turned on Paul once the pair beat The Mysterios at WrestleMania, it was obvious we’d eventually get a one-on-one match on a big stage. Once Paul signed a deal with WWE, it guaranteed it. WWE isn’t likely to have Paul lose his first match as a contracted talent and The Miz is as bulletproof as Corbin in his ability to take a loss but maintain his standing in the promotion. Pick: Logan Paul wins

The Mysterios vs. The Judgement Day (No Disqualifications)

Under normal circumstances, The Judgement Day would be favored here. They’re a group WWE is pushing as a big deal with Finn Balor, Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley all slotted into strong roles. Removing disqualifications changes things, however, especially with vignettes airing over the past month suggesting the return of Edge. Balor, Priest and Ripley turned on Edge after he brought them into the group and his return helping The Mysterios get a win in a match where his involvement is within the boundaries of the rules makes a lot of sense. Pick: The Mysterios win and Edge returns

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