It is difficult enough to attempt to forecast what may occur at SummerSlam 2018 two and a half months before that weekend arrives. After all, a lot can and will happen on Raw, SmackDown, in NXT and in developmental over that period of time. Men and women could suffer injuries that prevent them from performing at SummerSlam, and somebody could even be sidelined due to a setback for the rest of the year due to one wrong step or an unfortunate miscue inside of the ring. Thus, attempting to predict what Vince and Triple H might be thinking about as it pertains to post-SummerSlam plans is largely a guessing game.
There are some rumors floating around the Internet and social media platforms regarding what may happen at SummerSlam and on subsequent shows, and those stories could, if remotely accurate, give us all a little insight on what Vince and Triple H may want to do with different aspect of the roster post-SummerSlam. Vince, Triple H and writers have provided teases and hints about future storylines, but remember that plans often change in the company. For example, an entire card for a future NXT Takeover show could change in the blink of an eye of Vince decides to call multiple performers from the yellow brand to the main roster after SummerSlam.
20 Dean Ambrose Starts A Heel Run
Dean Ambrose going down to a triceps injury in December 2017 bummed fans out for multiple reasons, the main one probably being that the setback unofficially ended The Shield reunion they had been wanting to see for quite some time. The first idea that could come to the minds of both Triple H and Vince McMahon could be to pick up where they left off and have Ambrose get back together with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns to bring the Hounds of Justice back to Raw.
They could also go in a different direction and have Ambrose be the one who turns heel on his former teammates.
The Raw brand needs good workers to feud with babyface wrestlers, and Ambrose’s in-ring style is more suited for a heel than somebody who is meant to get cheered by fans.
If both McMahon and Triple H wanted to save a Shield reunion for 2019 rather than post-SummerSlam, they could decide to move Ambrose over to SmackDown to work with AJ Styles or Jeff Hardy. Whatever the case may be, having Ambrose turn heel post-SummerSlam could be the best thing for his gimmick unless the WWE wants to use The Shield for a Survivor Series encounter. Then again, that night could be when Ambrose turns.
19 A Batista Return?
This is our baby Sadie. She’s the happiest girl in the world and you’d have to convince me that there’s a sweeter soul on earth. We’re grateful for every second we’ve had with her and we’ll spend every second of her life trying to give her the happiness she’s given us. She’s the heart and soul of our family and we love her beyond words. #sealdog
While Batista has kept a busy schedule thanks to his acting career since leaving pro wrestling, he has stated that he wants to make a return to the WWE for one more run ahead of being inducted into the company’s Hall of Fame.
The summer months may not be the best time to showcase The Animal on Raw, but having him return in September or October ahead of the Survivor Series could make sense depending on what Triple H is doing, in storyline.
Batista has always worked better as a heel than a face, and he would fit right in with The Authority feuding with wrestlers such as Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Maybe we could even see the former world champion go back and forth with Braun Strowman. The best part about Triple H and Vince McMahon having Batista, who is never going to be the best wrestler on the planet, around at some point post-SummerSlam is that he won’t overstay his welcome and cause fans to get sick of him. He’ll drop pops, have whatever matches he wants and then say goodbye on his terms and at the time of his choosing. The Raw show certainly could use the star power following SummerSlam.
18 Aleister Black gets called up
One of the reasons Riddle comes to mind when one tries to think about post-SummerSlam plans Triple H might be thinking about is because Vince McMahon could, following one or two NXT Takeover shows, decide to call the current NXT Champion up to the main roster following the summer’s top event. Aleister Black is the top babyface in NXT, but he is one of several individuals who don’t need to “develop” any further. He’s great in the ring, he has a unique look and character, and he probably shouldn’t be cutting long-winded promos unless McMahon and others have different plans and ideas for his character.
Black could work as a babyface or a heel in the right setting, meaning he could immediately enter into an entertaining feud with any number of mid-card acts on Raw or SmackDown.
Black versus Jeff Hardy, Black versus Finn Balor, Black versus Sami Zayn and/or Kevin Owens and Black versus Randy Orton are some of the feuds McMahon could present to fans in the fall following SummerSlam.
If Black loses the title at any point between now and SummerSlam, anticipate hearing his theme song and seeing his awesome entrance on Raw or SmackDown after that pay-per-view.
17 Major Heel Turn In SD Women's Division
No offense to Carmella, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Billie Kay or Peyton Royce, but the SmackDown women’s division could use a heel who is a great worker and who is a believable threat to babyfaces such as Charlotte and Becky Lynch. The WWE has already done the heel thing with Charlotte, and she could be in line to feud with none other than Ronda Rousey in 2019. The first person that comes to mind may be Asuka. Triple H somewhat tried to turn Asuka heel in NXT, but those fans had zero interest in booing The Empress of Tomorrow regardless of if she took shortcuts during matches or acted like a heel in promos.
Vince McMahon could portray Asuka as somebody who knows she can dominate anybody on the SmackDown roster, but who lost her way due to caring about what the fans and others around her thought about her.
It’s classic pro wrestling booking for turning somebody from babyface to heel, but it would be effective in this instance.
A heel Asuka destroying Carmella, Lana and Naomi would make all of them more sympathetic, and it would give the main roster a heel like what NXT has in Shayna Baszler. A Superstar Shake-up could give a heel Asuka different faces to feud with post-SummerSlam.
16 Authors of Pain dominate Raw
In early June, Wrestling Observer creator and editor Dave Meltzer tweeted that the reason the tag team the Authors of Pain have disappeared since being added to Raw from NXT is because Vince McMahon and others within the WWE do not wish to “lump them in with the non-pushed teams.” In other words, the WWE has nothing creative to do with the Authors in the final weeks of the spring. History tells us that will change and soon. McMahon will probably get sick of the WOKEN Universe gimmick, and the Authors are two huge guys who improved as workers during their time in NXT. They deserve to be one of the top tag teams on the main roster.
McMahon may believe that crowning them as Tag Team Champions at SummerSlam would be the best way to catapult them to the top of the division.
From there, the sky could be the limit for the Authors. There currently isn’t a tag team that can hang with them per WWE storylines. McMahon may believe that keeping the belts on the Authors post-SummerSlam up through the end of 2018 is the best course of action, especially if Triple H has suitable contenders to their throne waiting down in NXT.
15 New Day Splits
If we could make Triple H and Vince McMahon be honest about it, they’d probably admit that the trio of Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods were not meant to get as over as they have using the New Day gimmick. You may find it hard to believe that New Day has been around for roughly four years. That’s forever in the pro wrestling industry and the WWE Universe. Credit to those three for getting more out of this stable than anybody could have guessed when it first made its debut, but all good things must come to an end at some point.
Specifically, for the purposes of this piece, either McMahon or Triple should, in theory, want to try and turn Big E into a massive superstar as either a babyface or a heel.
He has everything the company could want in a powerhouse who can work with anybody on the roster, and he needs to get away from the goofy comedy if there are any post-SummerSlam plans for him to be in a title picture.
It also should be noted that Woods has dramatically improved as a wrestler over the years. He will probably never be a world champion, but he could hold the United States title at some point after SummerSlam.
14 Drew McIntyre Pushed To The Main Event Picture
Drew McIntyre serves as a reminder to anybody and everybody currently struggling on the WWE main roster that it sometimes makes sense to leave the company and try to make it as a star away from the promotion. That is exactly what McIntyre did at a time when the WWE had relegated him to the 3MB trio, and that may have been the best decision of his career. Once the WWE brought him back and had him go to NXT, it was obvious that Triple H saw a superstar and a potential world champion in the man once deemed to be the “Chosen One” of none other than Vince McMahon.
McIntyre joined Raw alongside Dolph Ziggler earlier this year, but you don’t have to work for the company to see that McIntyre and not Ziggler is the MVP of the team. If McIntyre is given the chance to work as a singles star post-SummerSlam, McMahon could elevate him directly into the main-event picture of Raw. That would work out well if McMahon and Triple H agreed that the time had come for a babyface to hold the Universal Championship. McIntyre’s look, athleticism and talent on the microphone could make him one of the top heels on the main roster with the right booking.
13 Sheamus vs. Cesaro
It would not take much sleuthing or Googling to learn that Vince McMahon has not been keen on pushing Cesaro as a main-event wrestler even though Cesaro has all of the tools to become one of the top stars in the promotion. Cesaro has the size and look supposedly desired by McMahon as it pertains to the acts he wants to carry titles and represent the company. The wrestler is undeniably good in the ring and on the microphone. It just doesn’t make sense, but it is what it is.
Cesaro has been with Sheamus in the tag team The Bar for quite some time, and McMahon may even put the SmackDown Tag Titles on them down the road.
Post-SummerSlam, though, these two are going to need something new to do, and it seems logical that they would re-enter a feud with each other before going their separate ways on the blue brand.
Maybe Paige could, as SmackDown General Manager, decide that the two should have another best-of-seven series. It isn’t an original idea for these two athletes, but at least it would give the performers something other than a bland tag team feud, and it would give fans entertaining matches on television before they were both relegated to the mid-card portion of the roster. It would also allow the feud to come full circle, given their alliance started because of a series of matches.
12 Buddy Murphy to the main roster
It was reported in early 2018 that Triple H had taken creative control over the cruiserweight division and the 205 Live show that airs every Tuesday night on the WWE Network. Not surprisingly to those of us who have watched NXT under Triple H’s direction, 205 Live has vastly improved, to the point that some may say that it is currently the best of the four weekly programs the WWE offers to fans. Buddy Murphy, the former NXT Tag Team Champion who was added to the cruiserweight division, has been excellent on 205 Live, so much so that he may be the breakout WWE wrestler of 2018, to date.
One of the main points with the Murphy character has been that remaining at the proper weight to compete in the cruiserweight division has been a struggle for him.
Assuming the plan is not for him to win the purple championship ahead of SummerSlam, Triple H may be thinking about trying to convince Vince McMahon to push the athlete as a mid-card act on either Raw or SmackDown.
The Murphy character may not be your favorite, but the guy could have some tremendous matches with Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, Finn Balor and others. Triple H could also put him in a new team.
11 Finn Balor Turns Heel
There may be something behind the notion that Vince McMahon does not want to push Finn Balor and that the boss believes that Balor is not over. We all should remember, though, that the original plan, after Balor was called up from NXT to the main roster, was for the Demon to carry the Universal Championship. We’ll never know how long he was scheduled to remain atop the Raw roster as the champion, though, as an injury ended his reign almost immediately after it began. Balor is no worse of a wrestler than he was when he won the belt.
His character just needs a spark and something fresh. McMahon might be thinking about turning Balor heel, either at SummerSlam or post-SummerSlam.
This would give Balor new opponents and feuds on both Raw and SmackDown, and it could even lead to McMahon putting the former NXT Champion into a different faction or, dare we say, Club.
Some fans may not like the idea of McMahon turning Balor heel, especially since the wrestler has introduced his “Balor Club is for Everyone” merchandise. This booking decision, if McMahon is considering it, may be what is best for all involved in the long run, and it may get Balor more over.
10 Velveteen Dream Joins The Main Roster
We are not all that sure that Triple H, Vince McMahon or anybody within the WWE expected the Velveteen Dream to get as over as he has since his re-debut in NXT. Dream is a top-tier athlete, no doubt about it, but fans easily could have turned on the gimmick despite how well he plays it on television and at house shows. The guy is a fan-favorite, regardless of how Triple H presents him, and the King of Kings might be thinking about turning Dream babyface post-SummerSlam and after the eccentric performer is finishing feuding with Ricochet.
He may not be given the chance to do so, though, if McMahon gets his hands on the wrestler by calling him up from NXT to either Raw or SmackDown post-SummerSlam. Dream still needs to improve in developmental, but this would not be the first time that McMahon called somebody up early after getting a good look at him. The Dream feuding with a WOKEN Matt Hardy would be hilarious, and Hardy could help him continue to develop his in-ring skills. On the other hand, McMahon could send Dream over to SmackDown so he can wrestle guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Randy Orton. Unless an NXT title reign is scheduled, Dream may be on the main roster before the fall.
9 Bayley finally turns
As of the middle of June 2018, you may be convinced that Vince McMahon does not even know that Bayley is still on the main roster and involved in a feud with Sasha Banks that may not actually have a finish in mind. Even McMahon, as stubborn as he (allegedly) can be regarding some performers, has to realize that Bayley is no longer all that over as a babyface even though her character possessed so much charm and likability while in NXT. One of the things McMahon might be thinking about could be to turn Bayley and not Sasha heel post-SummerSlam.
Bayley performed as a heel in the past outside of the WWE, and the WWE could tell an interesting story about why she betrayed her former friend and also the fans.
Making Bayley a heel would give that gimmick a much-needed change, and it would give the wrestler new feuds. A heel Bayley could work with former Ultimate Fighting Championship title-holder Ronda Rousey and help the Rowdy one improve in the ring. Rumors continue to swirl that the WWE may want Rousey to main-event a WrestleMania, maybe even at next year’s show. As good as Rousey looked in her debut, she still needs work. Bayley could help here.
8 Lana rules as SmackDown Women’s Champion
Before you think about reacting to this by closing the window and ignoring the rest of the piece, remember that Vince McMahon is not actually writing this. Rather, we are just trying to get inside of Vince’s head and guess what he might be thinking for the SmackDown women’s division post-SummerSlam. You don’t have to be a marketing guru to understand why McMahon would want to put a Women’s Title on Lana. The beautiful blond who may no longer be the Ravishing Russian (her accent comes and goes on a weekly basis these days) has cover-model good looks, she has experience working as an actress and she is over as a babyface, whether some viewers want to admit that last point or not.
The so-called women’s revolution on the WWE main roster has not gone as many fans hoped and envisioned. Those people probably wouldn’t be surprised to see Lana have a championship reign post-SummerSlam even though she is far from the best wrestler in that division. Triple H being able to work with her in developmental and NXT would probably be the better direction to go for her character, but Vince probably can’t help himself unless somebody is able to change his mind.
7 The Revival Finally Get Pushed
It has to be admitted that this is as much wishful thinking as it is a suggestion of what Triple H might be thinking about post-SummerSlam. It is clear that Triple H has been high on The Revival over the years. The duo of Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson won the NXT Tag Team Championships on multiple occasions, and they recently appeared back on the developmental brand at house shows. McMahon, obviously, doesn’t feel the same way, as The Revival have never been presented as real championship contenders outside of their first few matches on the Raw brand.
Triple H may try to change Vince’s mind regarding the act, as both Raw and SmackDown need better tag teams.
The Game could also request that he gets control of The Revival gimmick back for either NXT or 205 Live (depending on what the WWE wants us to believe about how much they weigh).
This team is too talented to be squandered by McMahon or anybody else. Triple H must realize this, or else he would not have cared about having them go back down to NXT. Look for Triple H to try to get his hands on them, especially if a rumor about the cruiserweight division turns out to be true (more on that later).
6 Drew McIntyre turns on Dolph Ziggler
If you’re finding it difficult to believe that Vince McMahon is actually going to do anything significant with the Dolph Ziggler character, you aren’t alone. In previous years, McMahon has gone hot and cold with pushing Ziggler, and there is no reason to believe that is going to change and that McMahon is going to put the Universal Championship on Ziggler post-SummerSlam. Drew McIntyre, formerly presented as the “Chosen One” during his first run in the WWE, found new life and a lot of success outside of the promotion, and the organization brought him back, in part, so he could carry the NXT Championship for a time.
McIntyre can be a top heel on either Raw or SmackDown, and he looks the part even more than he did before he and the WWE originally parted ways.
McMahon might be thinking about having McIntyre turn on Ziggler post-SummerSlam as a way to start a new program for the two and also cement McIntyre as a heel who doesn’t need a partner or a mouthpiece.
This storyline wouldn’t do much to get Ziggler over, but it could help elevate McIntyre heading into 2019. Watching Ziggler take all kinds of crazy and wacky bumps for McIntyre would be fun.
5 Andrade "Cien" Almas Wins US Title
The original idea was for Triple H to use Andrade "Cien" Almas as a top babyface in NXT, but a lot of things went against that plan. It wasn’t the right time for Almas to play that role on that roster, and his character didn’t click with viewers or with fans who attended tapings and house shows. Turning Almas heel and linking him with Zelina Vega was the best thing that could have happened for his WWE career. Almas is more over now than he was during his days as a face, and he is a better worker and character. Vega, meanwhile, is the perfect mouthpiece, in storyline, for Almas.
Several different heels are ahead of Almas on the roster in June, and that will probably remain the case up through SummerSlam as Vince McMahon and writers attempt to push him in front of viewers who may not have seen him in NXT. Post-SummerSlam could be the right time to pull the trigger on making Almas a top-tier heel and somebody who could carry the United States Championship or even challenge for the WWE title depending on what McMahon and the WWE intend to do with Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles between now and SummerSlam.
4 Rey Mysterio Rumors Resurface
Once Rey Mysterio showed up unannounced to compete in the 2018 Royal Rumble, it became apparent that he and the company were destined to work together for longer than one night. Rumors suggested that Mysterio was going to work at WrestleMania 34, but an injury sidelined him and made him unavailable for that show. According to multiple reports, Mysterio has accepted bookings from other promotions through the summer months, meaning he may not be able to wrestle at SummerSlam. However, once he's done All In, in the fall, that may open up a WWE return.
If Triple H, who reportedly negotiated with Mysterio earlier this year, is able to convince the former World Champion to come back post-SummerSlam, we could once again see the masked superstar on either Raw or SmackDown in the fall.
While we wouldn’t mind seeing Mysterio carry the Cruiserweight Championship as a way to elevate that division and the 205 Show, both Triple H and Vince McMahon probably have bigger plans for him. Maybe we will finally see Mysterio and John Cena face each other at one of the biggest pay-per-view events of the year, such as the Survivor Series. Mysterio versus AJ Styles and Mysterio versus Shinsuke Nakamura are a pair of dream matches most believed would never occur in the WWE.
3 Bobby Lashley Heel Turn
We have to imagine that Bobby Lashley probably did not expect that he would be feuding with Sami Zayn over horrible segments and fake sisters when he agreed to make the move from Impact Wrestling to the WWE. While it is understandable that Vince McMahon would like to use somebody who looks like Lashley as a babyface, the mixed martial artist got over as a killer and a heel who won the World Championship with Impact. That is how he should be presented, and that is where his character should go post-SummerSlam.
If rumors about Brock Lesnar exiting the WWE for a period of time are accurate, Lashley would fit in as the perfect replacement. He could take smaller opponents to his version of Suplex City, and the promotion could give him a submission move as a finisher. Perhaps turning Lashley heel post-SummerSlam is the way for McMahon to get to a future bout between Lashley and Lesnar at next year’s WrestleMania if The Beast isn’t too busy defending a title in a different promotion. What’s ironic about the storyline involving Lashley on Raw in the middle of June is that Zayn would actually be a great manager and mouthpiece for the big man who could be a monster heel.
2 Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT title
The feud between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa in NXT is the best thing the WWE has going for it in 2018. Because Triple H uses logical booking and does not try to swerve fans just to do it, logic suggests that Ciampa is going to get a win back in this storyline, potentially after EC3 gets involved in the contest between the former D.I.Y. teammates. If the plan is to separate Gargano and Ciampa for a couple of months, Ciampa could turn his eyes toward the NXT Championship.
Ciampa being the man to dethrone the previously mentioned Aleister Black could make him that much more hated among fans who often cheer any talented wrestler regardless of his gimmick, and he would know how to prevent his “Sicilian Psychopath” character from being viewed as a babyface in any way. Once Gargano is finished with EC3, he could want to settle the score with Ciampa once and for all, this time with the gold on the line. A trilogy of epic and heated contests would cement this as the best WWE feud of 2018. It could also give fans the visual of Johnny Wrestling and Mrs. Johnny Wrestling holding NXT Championships at the same time post-SummerSlam.
1 Seth Rollins, Universal Championship reign
Despite the reactions that Roman Reigns continues to get during episodes of Raw and at house shows other than when he is aligned with one or both members of The Shield, Vince McMahon is reportedly still keen on pushing the Big Dog as his top babyface. That might not mean Reigns is winning the Universal Championship from Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Per rumors that surfaced in early June, McMahon might be thinking about having Elias win the Intercontinental Championship from Rollins in June or July, which would free The Kingslayer for a run at the brand’s top title.
If Lesnar is looking to make a return to the UFC for one last huge payday and a Heavyweight Championship bout, Rollins could go over at the top show of the summer.
Universal Championship reigns have not been all that short, minus when a champion has suffered a major injury, so McMahon may have Rollins carry that title post-SummerSlam all the way past Survival Series and into the Royal Rumble. The Architect deserves that honor. He has been the MVP of the Raw show and maybe even of the entire main roster this year. This wouldn’t do any favors for Reigns getting over as a babyface, but McMahon can worry about that later.