By Chuck Carroll
The traditional WWE pay-per-view model continues to be eroded by the addition of super-sized live events in international markets. For fans, nothing could be better with year-round WrestleMania-caliber matches. For the company, it means increased opportunities to bolster subscriptions to the WWE Network at a time when growth has become relatively stagnant as well. Ticket and merchandise sales are also providing substantial windfalls.
The win-win scenario continues Saturday with WWE Super Show-Down from Melbourne, Australia, where Triple H and The Undertaker will square off in a match billed as being for “the last time ever.” Adding to the nostalgia, The Brothers of Destruction are reuniting, with Kane set to stand in his brother’s corner. Not to be outdone, Degeneration-X will ride one more time as Triple H will have “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels serving as his cornerman. All of this is rumored to be setting up HBK’s return to the ring following eight years of retirement. Naturally, it was a loss to The Undertaker that forced him to retire in the first place. That’s what the storyline was anyway.
Elsewhere on the card, WWE RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey will team up with The Bella Twins to take on The Riott Squad in a match pitting the biggest stars of the women’s division against a still up-and-coming group of misfits. Additionally, Becky Lynch will defend the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair.
WWE Champion AJ Styles and Samoa Joe will write the next chapter of their feud, which has been the most venomous we’ve seen in sports entertainment in years. And Daniel Bryan and The Miz are set to square off in another feud that has taken a personal turn.
If you want to watch live, you’ll need to set an alarm for this one. The show begins at 5 a.m. ET due to the time difference.
So how will this middle-of-the-night sports-entertainment extravaganza play out? Let’s take a stab at this.
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The Undertaker (with Kane) vs. Triple H (with Shawn Michaels)
Chuck: With this match heavily rumored to be setting up Shawn Michaels’ first match in eight years, it’s hard to see Triple H coming out on top. An Undertaker victory will add the necessary element of revenge needed to coax HBK into lacing up his boots again. Perhaps outside interference from Kane will do the trick. Pick: The Undertaker
Aaron: This is what we’ve been building for. The last time ever … even though a variation on this is probably happening next month in Saudi Arabia. But I digress. I think it’s very likely that we don’t get a real finish here. However, if we do, I’m using next month’s match as the decider. I can’t imagine DX reunites to lose. Thus, The Undertaker wins here so he’s not losing twice in a row. Pick: The Undertaker
The Shield vs. Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre
Chuck: This match will center around the internal turmoil of The Shield, so you can expect tension between the title-less Dean Ambrose and his belt-wearing brothers Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Whatever the friction, it won’t be enough to cost the faction a win here, though. Look for the fences to be mended (at least temporarily) before The Shield gets the win. Pick: The Shield
Aaron: Barring a turn by someone within The Shield, it’s hard to see them losing as a unit anytime soon. Since they’ve been teasing the Dean Ambrose turn so hard, it seems unlikely that he would turn, or at least that he would turn on Saturday morning. And since it really wouldn’t make sense to turn either of the other two, I’ll just follow the logic to say The Shield wins. Pick: The Shield
AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe
Chuck: AJ Styles and Samoa Joe continue to excel in what should turn out to be the feud of the year in WWE if not all of wrestling. The storylines are deeply personal, which is translating into instant classics in the ring, not only because of their decades-long history together, but because fans also feel invested in this one. It’s hard to see Joe winning the WWE Championship at a non-traditional pay-per-view, but stranger things have happened. The smarter play here is to continue his chase and let Styles come home with the gold. Pick: AJ Styles
Aaron: Samoa Joe should win this match. He’s been excellent in this feud, has never been hotter as a character, and deserves a run with the belt. So why am I so hesitant on believing it will happen? I go back to Hell in a Cell. Samoa Joe won the match, clearly. So why didn’t they put the belt on him at that point? It feels like they want him to be as credible as possible without actually winning. Thus, I think AJ Styles retains here. Pick: AJ Styles
Ronda Rousey & The Bella Twins vs. The Riott Squad
Chuck: This one will be interesting. Rumors of a title match between Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella at the all-women’s Evolution pay-per-view later this month have been persistent and even picked up steam this week. If that is the case, this would be the place for The Bellas to turn heel. The question is whether that turn will cost the potentially dysfunctional group the match or whether the twins will gang up on The Rowdy One during a victory celebration. I’m going with the latter. Pick: Ronda Rousey & The Bella Twins
Aaron: Ronda Rousey isn’t losing. I hope we see more of Ronda vs. Ruby Riott in this match, as their encounter on Monday night was excellent. I just wonder exactly how we get to the presumed Ronda Rousey/Nikki Bella match at Evolution. Will it just be a respect match after they win on Saturday, or will something happen to trigger it? Pick: Ronda Rousey & The Bella Twins
SmackDown Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Chuck: This feud isn’t ending anytime soon. Becky and Charlotte have been penciled in to continue their program through the end of the year. So a title change is unlikely here. But even if this was the blow-off match, it would be a huge mistake to take the belt off Becky given the white-hot run she’s on now. Pick: Becky Lynch
Aaron: It would be a mistake to take the belt off of Becky Lynch at this point. Not just a mistake, it would be a disaster. Whatever the plans were before, they need to see where Becky as a champ takes them. While I do think any boos Charlotte is getting right now is completely due to the love of Becky, if Charlotte won the title back, they could become genuinely anti-Charlotte. That’s not what the company wants. So for a number of reasons, they need to keep the belt where it is. Pick: Becky Lynch
John Cena & Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens & Elias
Chuck: Kevin Owens and Elias are coming off of an unforgettable segment Monday night. You know a promo worked when you have retired NBA legends and the entire city of Seattle sharpening their claws. I would love to see that momentum continue here. The wildcard is John Cena’s return to the ring. A win would provide a feel-good moment for CeNation, but it would also be a mistake, even if there aren’t long-term plans for Owens and Elias to work together. The smart play is to remember what WWE stands for. Pick: Kevin Owens & Elias
Aaron: Wasn’t it a pity that John Cena didn’t come out in Seattle? How amazing would it have been, after the Supersonic heat, if Cena had come out in a Supersonics throwback as he did back when he was the Dr. of Thuganomics? He would have received one of the biggest pops that we’ve heard in years in the WWE. Oh well. There’s no chance John Cena loses this match, so the result seems rather obvious. Pick: John Cena & Bobby Lashley
Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
Chuck: The line of this match has been interesting. Whereas lines on other matches have been a rollercoaster, this one has been steadily trending in one direction and that is a victory for Daniel Bryan. The odds of a “Yes Man” victory have nearly doubled since the match was announced. I think that’s probably right, although The Miz continues to do some of the best work of his career. The winner of this match is guaranteed a WWE Championship Match, but don’t expect for it to be immediate. Bryan should hold on to that at least until AJ Styles and Samoa Joe finish their program. Pick: Daniel Bryan
Aaron: If AJ Styles retains the title, it seems logical that a heel would become the #1 contender. There’s a very clear path towards WrestleMania if The Miz cheats to win again and goes to win the belt. Daniel Bryan winning the Royal Rumble would create the blood feud title match that everyone hopes for come WrestleMania season. Will they actually go that route? We’ll wait and see. But it’s there for them. Either way, The Miz needs a title shot, as he’s been deprived of one for far too long. Pick: The Miz
SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The New Day (c) vs. The Bar
Chuck: The tag division on SmackDown has grown as stale as day-old pancakes. WWE could theoretically try to freshen things up with a title change, but that likely won’t work, as The New Day only won the belts in August. I think they’re kind of in a holding pattern for now, so expect things to continue status quo. Pick: The New Day
Aaron: It doesn’t feel like the right time for The New Day to drop the titles. I wouldn’t mind if The Bar were the ones to eventually take the titles off of them, but I just don’t believe it happens here, both because of the length of time The New Day have carried the belts for in this reign, and the fact that I don’t know if WWE wants any titles to change hands at such an early time in the US. Pick: The New Day
Asuka & Naomi vs. The IIconics
Chuck: At first glance you’d think that the superior credentials of Asuka and Naomi would make them heavy favorites in this one. But you can’t overlook the fact that The IIconics are wrestling in their backyard. I’d be stunned if the Aussies didn’t pick up the win here. Pick: IIconics
Aaron: Seeing Asuka fall this far has been sad. Not that Naomi is bad by any stretch, but Asuka should be involved at the very top of the women’s division, and not in a random tag team. It makes me wonder if there’s a potential plan to turn her heel by turning on Naomi. It would be a good use for it. Doing it on Saturday would also allow the IIconics to get the win in their home country. Pick: IIconics
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Buddy Murphy
Chuck: We’re probably not going to see many titles changing hands on this show, but this match should be the exception. As of late week, oddsmakers saw this being the case as well. It also doesn’t hurt that Buddy Murphy is from Australia. Nothing beats a victory by the home team, right? Pick: Buddy Murphy
Aaron: Under normal circumstances, I would say Cedric Alexander absolutely retains here, for the reasons mentioned before about WWE maybe not wanting titles to change hands at such an early hour. However, Buddy Murphy winning in his home country would be a really cool moment. Do they want him to be treated as a conquering hero if he won though? He’s still a heel. And there are still challengers lining up for Cedric on 205 Live. Thus, I’ll say Cedric retains here. Pick: Cedric Alexander
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.