For over a decade WWE has dubbed SummerSlam the biggest party of the summer.
This year, Sportsnet will add to the branding of the 35th annual premium live event by christening it, “the biggest profits of the summer.”
With the knowledge that Vince McMahon is no longer behind the creative decisions at WWE — meaning match outcomes could actually be decidedly different than in the past.
Here is Sportsnet’s betting guide to SummerSlam 2022 taking place Saturday in Nashville.
WWE Undisputed Universal championship
Roman Reigns (C) (-600)
Brock Lesnar (+350)
We’re getting to a stage where future matches between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar should come with a roman numeral to indicate the legacy of the rivalry. SummerSlam 2022 brings us Reigns vs. Lesnar VII, with Reigns leading the head to series 3-2 (with one match turning into a triple threat, which both lost).
Reigns vs. Lesnar V plus Reigns vs. Lesnar II = Reigns vs. Lesnar VII: Lesnar’s Revenge!
Originally, SummerSlam wasn’t supposed to feature another edition of the Reigns vs. Lesnar rivalry, but rather Randy Orton in the main event championship spot. A back injury has sidelined Orton for, likely, the rest of the calendar year.
Lesnar is WWE’s ace in the hole, in terms of his drawing power and ability to contribute to memorable and entertaining matches. His promo on Raw three weeks before SummerSlam where he called Reigns a “hog” that was waiting to be slaughtered was both eye-rolling and believable at the same time because Lesnar seems like the kind of human being who may just be capable of convincing another human that he would indeed slaughter them like farm livestock.
There is even reason to suggest Lesnar may be able to unseat Reigns based on the unveiling of a new Brock Lesnar action figure at this year’s ComicCon. At the annual event, a new special edition figure of Lesnar was premiered featuring the two championship belts that Reigns currently possesses.
While it’s fun to think WWE may have spoiled their main event by letting the cat out of the bag early, it’s very unlikely to actually be the case. Instead, Reigns is almost assuredly to continue to reign and carry the WWE Undisputed Universal championship through to, at least, WrestleMania next year. In fact, his line has gone from -400 one week out of SummerSlam to -600 on Wednesday.
If you’re looking for some sort of assurance that Reigns will indeed continue to hold the top prize in the game until April 2023 in Los Angeles, you can bet on the main event of ‘Mania right now, fictitious though it may be. It’s rumoured that Reigns will defend his championship against his real-life cousin, and WWE legend, The Rock, who will have no movie productions scheduled around that time and will be looking to promote the recently re-launched XFL, of which he is an owner.
All that is to say, there isn’t a lot of value in Lesnar unless you think WWE will apply some shock tactics by way of taking the straps off Reigns for a short period before he regains them (and with the new regime in place behind the scenes, it does feel like anything may be possible). It doesn’t seem likely, though, just based on the strength of Reigns’ current championship run, which is continuing to be etched into the annals of WWE history as one of the greatest of all time.
Prediction: Reigns (-600) wins
Raw women’s championship
Bianca Belair (C) (-500)
Becky Lynch (+300)
On a card that features several matches seemingly strung together at the last minute thanks to a litany of injuries throughout the roster, Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch is justifiably in the right spot, close to top-billing.
The two women will culminate a year-long rivalry with a rematch of their encounter from last year’s SummerSlam when a returning Lynch defeated Belair for the SmackDown women’s championship in a matter of seconds after it was announced that Sasha Banks wouldn’t be competing in a scheduled matchup against Belair due to injury.
Lynch’s win was met with absolute bewilderment by wrestling fans, as it appeared that Belair, a future stalwart within the company, was cast aside after months of building her into a superstar. But in a nice bit of long-term storytelling (which WWE regularly doesn’t get credit for), Belair got her win back. At this year’s WrestleMania, Belair defeated Lynch for the Raw women’s championship in what was one of the best matches of the weekend.
Now cemented as a premier star within WWE, Belair looks to complete the comeback story one year after it commenced.
Often times it’s mentioned within pro wrestling circles that certain wrestlers don’t need a championship, meaning they are a big enough star to carry a program without the aid of the title. Lynch undoubtedly falls into that category, meaning a loss to Belair will do nothing to harm her standing within WWE, which also means her underdog status is justified. Belair, meanwhile, is in the process of still writing the early chapters of what could be an all-timer of a championship run. She’ll need new challengers and there are a few options out there (Rhea Ripley? Renewing a rivalry with a retuning Bayley?)
Belair was -250 to win the match a week ahead of SummerSlam but has since moved to an astronomical -500.
Prediction: Belair (-500) wins
SmackDown women’s championship
Liv Morgan (C) (-200)
Ronda Rousey (+150)
When Liv Morgan cashed in her Money in the Bank contract to capture the SmackDown women’s championship on the same night she won the contract, it turned into one of the greater feel-good stories of the year in pro wrestling. Morgan’s colleagues hopped onto Twitter to shower the new champ with heaps of praise, cementing Morgan’s status within the industry as one of the most likable in and outside the ring.
Fans were also thrilled for Morgan, who had been building a loyal following. It helped, too, that Morgan cashed in on Ronda Rousey, who many fans have soured on. Rousey remains a mega star based on name recognition alone, and her dedication to improving her craft has not wavered.
But the happy-go-lucky, smiling and waving edition of Rousey is not the one that brought her to the dance in the first place. She captured the “baddest woman on the planet” nickname not through some corporate machination, but through her real-life persona and athletic accomplishments. Rousey is a UFC legend, a status achieved by way of kicking ass and taking names, an attitude she has not showcased recently in WWE.
There is an opportunity for her to reassert that status by absolutely ragdolling Morgan in this championship match and then starting a new feud with someone such as Bayley or reopening her old rivalry with Charlotte Flair.
If Morgan is to retain her championship, there will have to be one hell of a story told surrounding Morgan beating what would be seemingly insurmountable odds if this were a UFC bout. However, Morgan has beaten the odds before, doing so to put the SmackDown title around her waist.
Will WWE run with the underdog story further? Is there enough momentum behind her to continue a run as champion? The betting markets think so. And there are so many fresh matchups WWE can run with after the program with Rousey is finished, including a returning Bayley, or perhaps Rhea Ripley, fresh off the injured list.
This line has remained the same in the week leading up to SummerSlam.
Prediction: Morgan (-200) wins
Tag team championship
The Usos (C) (-300)
The Street Profits (+200)
As WWE takes to Nissan Stadium in the heart of Nashville for SummerSlam, they’ll also be right in the heart of the former Continental Wrestling Association. And what better way to celebrate the history of wrestling in Tennessee than with one of the biggest stars to come out of the area? Let’s all spell his name together: J-E-double-F, J-A-double-R-E-double-T. That’s Double-J, Jeff Jarrett.
The former self-proclaimed greatest intercontinental champion of all-time has been inserted into this match as the special guest referee after the last matchup between these teams ended in controversy thanks to poor refereeing.
We reached out to former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas to see what sort of advice he would give Double-J ahead of this important matchup.
Many thanks to Korderas for that advice. We at Sportsnet will make sure Jarrett sees it before he dons the zebra colours.
As for the matchup, this feels like a fantastic opportunity to provide a massive pop for the hometown fans by way of giving the babyface Street Profits a win. The vision of this match surrounds the Usos attempting to cheat with Jarrett catching them each time, with the final time involving Jarrett catching them trying to use a guitar, given to them by honourary “Uce” Sami Zayn. This would lead to Jarrett confiscating the guitar and hitting Zayn with it before the Profits score the victory, which would be met with a huge crowd pop.
The betting line has remained the same in the week leading up to SummerSlam.
Prediction: Street Profits (+200) win
United States championship
Bobby Lashley (C) (-300)
Theory hasn’t had a whole lot of success in the ring lately. In fact, he is 0-6 since winning the Money in the Bank contract. Exacerbating his woes on the Monday Night Raw ahead of SummerSlam was Reigns declaring, “your daddy isn’t here anymore,” referencing McMahon’s retirement and the storyline that surrounded Theory being McMahon’s protégé.
Austin Theory, err … Theory (maybe he’ll get his full name back now that Vince is gone) has not looked good. Therefore, by WWE logic, he will cash in his MITB to win the WWE championship at SummerSlam. At least, that’s how things have traditionally been booked in WWE. But this is a new era without McMahon, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen.
One thing that seems certain, though, is that Bobby Lashley will defeat Theory to retain the United States championship.
Prediction: Lashley (-300) wins
Pat McAfee (-400)
Baron Corbin (+250)
In any career field, if you’re tasked with evaluating a new employee, you will eventually arrive at a point where you have to determine whether they are a fit for a role in the company or not. Simply put, you are trying to figure out if the person in question, “gets it.”
For example, this author worked on the Sportsnet newsroom floor cutting and voicing highlight packs when SN first fired Kyle Bukauskas. Kyle quickly transitioned to rinkside reporting for hockey games as it was clear to everyone in the newsroom that Bukauskas “got it” and continues to “get it.”
Also falling under the “gets it” category is Pat McAfee. From the first moment he stepped into NXT, it became clear the former NFL punter turned radio-show host just … got it. In the ring, outside the ring, behind an announce desk, interviewing talent, cutting promos, everything was fantastic. It seemingly culminated with a “match” against McMahon at WrestleMania, one of the most primetime spots possible within the world of pro wrestling. And what did McAfee do? Of course, he got it, but he also just straight up killed it.
McAfee carries that momentum into a SummerSlam match against Baron Corbin. The two have exchanged some fun promos back and forth en route to Nashville, with McAfee coining the phrase, “bum-ass Corbin” along the way, much to the delight of the fans. McAfee has done a tremendous job of simultaneously tearing down the virtues of Corbin while propping up his in-ring ability. There aren’t many who can do it as well as McAfee. There have also been some clever call-backs to the time McAfee and Corbin were briefly on the same NFL roster with the Indianapolis Colts.
There is plenty of meat on the bone for an entertaining match, with McAfee primed to provide a big pop for the crowd with a victory over the very-loathed Corbin.
McAfee’s line shifted from -300 a week before SummerSlam to -400 on Thursday.
Prediction: McAfee (-400) wins
Logan Paul (-2000)
The Miz (+700)
The Miz is the biggest underdog on the SummerSlam card. Logan Paul’s credibility within WWE circles appears to fall under two main categories: 1) I hate this guy, and; 2) I don’t care about this guy. This is despite his obvious aptitude for pro wrestling.
Having said that, sprinkle on the Miz because this feels like a match that will over-deliver when it has no business doing so and you might as well grab interest by betting the underdog.
Prediction: The Miz (+700) wins
Tag team match (no disqualification)
The Judgment Day (-200)
The Mysterios (+150)
The biggest intrigue surrounding this match is whether Edge will return to take revenge on Finn Balor and co. for booting him from his own stable almost two months ago. If you believe WWE will pull the creative trigger on that idea, then it’s worth sprinkling on the Mysterios to defeat Judgment Day at +150. However, Edge could also potentially return after the match to take revenge or he could just not return at all.
The choice is yours!
Prediction: The Judgment Day (-200) wins
Seth Rollins and Riddle were supposed to square off at SummerSlam after a short build on television. However, Riddle appears to have suffered a legitimate injury and the match has been removed from the card.
In the days leading up to SummerSlam, Rollins was listed as a -130 favourite over the underdog Riddle (-110), although only slightly.
Now the question is: Will someone replace Riddle? With Levesque now at the helm when it comes to talent and creative decisions, there is some reason to believe that he may be able to pull a rabbit out of his trunks to deliver a quality mystery opponent for Rollins, who is capable of delivering a quality match with anyone (plus there was a solid mystery opponent matchup against Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania this year, as well).
So who’s it going to be? Johnny Gargano, a former top star in Levesque’s NXT, is still said to be a free agent. Bray Wyatt remains on the sidelines. Perhaps someone from NXT will get an early call-up? If a mystery opponent does appear for Rollins at SummerSlam, that wrestler will undoubtedly be the heavy favourite, whomever it may be.
Join Kevin Michie for Sportsnet’s SummerSlam 2022 live blog on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET for analysis, reaction and match ratings.