The news of Paige announcing AJ Styles' SummerSlam opponent on next week's edition of SmackDown Live! was damning for an off-screen grieving Rusev, but tantalising for the remainder of the blue brand and a fanbase over-stuffed on contrived main event setups such as those used on Raw to likely give us a variant of Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns again.
The General Manager's edict wasn't pitched as the promise of a match-to-get-to-a-match or some bullsh*t 'Beat The Clock' backdoor, but an announcement befitting the scale of the show the company want SummerSlam to be. The August tradition won't ever replace Royal Rumble in the hearts and minds of the fanbase, but 'The Biggest Party Of The Summer' has been a huge financial boon for Vince McMahon since he took up residencies in both Los Angeles and Brooklyn at the turn of the decade.
NXT's now-familiar pre-pay-per-view TakeOver format began life in the New York suburb, bursting out of Full Sail University in 2015 with a Barclays Center supercard that wiped the floor with the following evening's main roster mess-about.
On that night, fans of the brand were spoiled with the developmental swan song of a vibrant Kevin Owens, the triumphant return of a Blue-Panted phenom and a jaw-dropping epic between Sasha Banks and Bayley that forever changed the trajectory of women's wrestling in North America. Events in the building have struggled to live up to that incredible standard since, but the shackles are off SummerSlam this year more than ever before, with a run-time calibrated to earn Network execs cash bonuses per-minutes watched. The odd emotional high along with another bloated earnings report might be nice for fans, too.
2015 was the last WWE SummerSlam without AJ Styles, in fact. Coincidentally, it was also the first 'Big Four' weekend to feature a man that could now be perfectly pitched to renew legendary old hostilities with him...
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