Most Anticipated Matchups at SummerSlam 2014

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2014

Most Anticipated Matchups at SummerSlam 2014

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    World Wrestling Entertainment rolls into Staples Center in Los Angeles for SummerSlam on August 17, and the card the company has crafted is one of the best in recent memory.

    With so many compelling stories and so much energy and emotion surrounding the matches, there is a measurable excitement and anticipation for the event.

    Some fans are intrigued by Brock Lesnar and John Cena's second match in as many years. Will the Beast Incarnate end Cena's title reign, or will the champ put down the "one behind the one in 21-1?"

    What type of performance will Stephanie McMahon turn in when she steps foot inside the squared circle for the first time in over a decade? How will Brie Bella respond to a pressure-packed situation in what will be her biggest match to date?

    Will Roman Reigns perform up to the level of his opponent, Randy Orton, as he continues to climb the ladder in WWE? What about former Shield teammates Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins? Can they capitalize on a phenomenal build with an equally great match?

    Fans are eager to get the answers to these and many more questions surrounding this year's summertime spectacular.

    In preparation of this weekend's festivities, here's a look at the five most anticipated matches on the SummerSlam 2014 card!

5. Divas Championship Match: AJ Lee vs. Paige

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    No two Divas have garnered the type of attention that AJ Lee and Paige have over the last year. One dominated the main roster while the other rose to prominence in NXT, but both did so while carrying championships that cemented them as the best in their fields.

    When Paige debuted the night after WrestleMania XXX and upset AJ for the Divas title, many believed she would become the face of women's wrestling in WWE. She struggled, however, as any hint of the Anti-Diva character that made her such a success in NXT was stripped away.

    AJ's return from a brief hiatus presented the young Brit with the opportunity to turn heel, and she has thrived in the role thus far.

    At SummerSlam, Paige will challenge AJ for the second consecutive month. After a disappointing match at last month's mediocre Battleground pay-per-view, many are hoping the two immensely talented young women deliver the match they are capable of.

    As two of the very best female workers on the roster, fans are counting on them to rejuvenate the Divas division and carry it well into the future. With two strong submission finishers and arsenals learned from working in Indy promotions across the country, not to mention looks and personae that set them apart from the more traditional model types WWE tends to hire, the potential is there for Paige and AJ to be the standard-bearers for women's wrestling in North America.

    The outcome of the match is unimportant. No matter who leaves Los Angeles with the Divas Championship in her possession, there is a much larger story left to tell. SummerSlam is but the latest chapter.

4. WWE World Heavyweight Title Match: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar

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    The main event of the August 17 spectacular is a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match pitting John Cena against Brock Lesnar in a rematch of their critically acclaimed Extreme Rules 2012 bout.

    Lesnar is coming off the biggest win of his or any career. At WrestleMania XXX, he defeated The Undertaker, ending the latter's historic undefeated streak and establishing himself as the most dangerous man in wrestling.

    Now, with the top prize in the sport in his sights, Lesnar has promised to tear Cena limb from limb. "It won't be pretty," he warned his opponent and fans during a video package on the August 4 episode of Monday Night Raw.

    Cena, on the other hand, is fresh off a WWE World Heavyweight Championship victory at Money in the Bank and a successful title defense over Kane, Randy Orton and Roman Reigns at Battleground. He is riding a tidal wave of momentum that Lesnar would relish the opportunity to halt.

    Cena is the unquestioned face of WWE, the company's one legitimate full-time draw. He has stuck with the company through thick and thin and is a hero to fans across the globe. Lesnar is a mainstream star courtesy of his success in UFC and one of the rare stars to return to the industry much better off than he he was without it.

    Despite the fact that the company presented the match just two short years ago, it is sure to be a big draw. It features two bona fide stars, both of whom have been to the top of the industry. Fans will pay their hard-earned money to see the match, because more often than not Cena and Lesnar deliver.

    The outcome is the biggest mystery surrounding the match. Will WWE go all-in with Lesnar, sacrificing house-show title matches and months of championship-centered storylines to put the strap on the Beast Incarnate, or is Sunday night another opportunity for Cena to overcome the odds and successfully retain his title?

    One outcome would immediately freshen up the top of the card. The other would see perpetual workhorse Cena continue to deliver quality main events and keep the title an active part of the company.

3. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton

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    The return of the vicious, vile, ruthless "Viper" has made Randy Orton as dangerous as he has ever been entering SummerSlam. For him to get back into WWE World Heavyweight Championship contention he must defeat the one man no one has been able to stop: Roman Reigns.

    Reigns has been a juggernaut in 2014, achieving tremendous success as part of The Shield and in singles competition. He has mixed it up with heavyweight champions such as John Cena, Kane and Mark Henry and pinned both Triple H and Batista in consecutive six-man tag bouts. But Orton has been the one man who has been a thorn in his side for months.

    If the son of WWE Hall of Famer Sika is to take the next big step toward the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, he must strike the Viper down on the second-biggest stage pro wrestling has to offer.

    Orton and Reigns have worked house-show main events across the country, so they are no stranger to each other. Couple those matches with their work together in multi-man tag bouts, and there is enough reason to believe that they should have considerable chemistry when they take to the ring for their hotly anticipated bout at SummerSlam.

    There is very little mystery surrounding the finish of this one. Reigns is clearly on the receiving end of a push that will ultimately end in his ascension to the top of the industry. Orton is an established star with great name value and a reputation for being one of the better workers in the industry. He makes the perfect opposition for Reigns, who will tear through him with a spear en route to his next major test.

2. Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon

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    In the Brie Bella-Stephanie McMahon feud, WWE has managed to craft a feud between two women in whom fans are legitimately interested.

    Two strong women, a layered story involving their male counterparts and some heated television segments have made for a great rivalry in which men, women and children have been able to emotionally invest.

    Stephanie is the evil, manipulative boss who seemingly gets great joy out of tormenting her employees. Brie, the target of many of her superior's games, stood up in the face of the principal owner of WWE and forced her into the match.

    Now, the beautiful raven-haired twin has the opportunity of a lifetime to not only defeat the all-powerful McMahon at her father's creation but to avenge every Superstar and Diva who had felt the brunt of The Authority's abuse of power.

    The match is historical in the sense that Stephanie does not regularly take to the ring to pay off storylines. For her to agree to do so indicates that she believes in the story being told and sees her return to the ring as the only suitable conclusion. How she performs in her first match in 11 years is the question.

    For Brie, the match is the biggest of her career. She has never and may never again be involved in a match as high-profile and under as much scrutiny as she will be at SummerSlam. A great performance will earn her a wealth of good will, but a poor one will only make the criticisms of her grow in volume.

    Like her husband at WrestleMania XXX, Brie will overcome The Authority and emerge victoriously on August 17. It will be the happy ending to all of the torment, frustration and heartache she endured in the weeks and months prior to the match. Stephanie will get her comeuppance and be forced to pick herself up, brush herself off and focus on rebuilding her ego on the following night's Raw.

1. Lumberjack Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins

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    The most anticipated match on the SummerSlam card is one fueled by hatred and betrayal.

    The moment Seth Rollins blasted Dean Ambrose in the back with a steel chair, he set in motion a rivalry that would span three months and feature some brawls that were reminiscent of the Attitude Era.

    Ambrose nearly foiled The Authority's plans to ensure that Rollins emerged from the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in June with the briefcase that guarantees a future WWE World Heavyweight Championship opportunity. While he may have been unsuccessful, Ambrose has since prevented Rollins from cashing in on several opportunities, something he vowed to do.

    Over the last two months, Ambrose has done everything in his power to punish Rollins. He has attacked from out of nowhere, cost him matches and has been a general thorn in his side. Unfortunately for him, Rollins always manages to escape. Worse yet, the numbers game continues to be detrimental to Ambrose's attempts to get revenge, as he has been left lying on several occasions by Rollins, Randy Orton and Kane.

    At SummerSlam, Rollins will have nowhere to go when he meets Ambrose in a Lumberjack match.

    Say what you will about the stipulation, but it plays into the story being told and should allow for a bunch of guys to make the show who otherwise would not. Ambrose will now have Rollins all to himself, something fans of the Lunatic Fringe have eagerly anticipated for weeks.

    The story between the two Superstars is so strong and the crowd so hot that their match, though not positioned as one of the main events, very much feels like the biggest on the card. While Roman Reigns may get there faster, both Ambrose and Rollins have futures as heavyweight champions in WWE.

    Ambrose winning would effectively end the program, and it feels like there is still so much more that they can do with one another. Why waste the blowoff now when a pay-per-view like Night of Champions or Hell in a Cell would allow them to have a brighter spotlight on them?

    Rollins winning, even through nefarious means, allows the story to continue and Ambrose to become even more determined to punish, pummel and maim his foe.