As a service to fans who have a general interest in the WWE but might not have watched a match since WrestleMania, we're happy to provide this FAQ as a guide to SummerSlam 2019, scheduled for Sunday at Scotiabank Place in Toronto.
Q. Where is the bar set for this SummerSlam?
We regret to inform you that The Bar is not on this card. Or any card, really, since Cesaro took a giant swing into singles matches.
Q. No, like, how does it compare to the best SummerSlam of all time?
As our own Sean Coyle noted, the greatest SummerSlam of them all was in 2002, which was an absolutely stacked card with fantastic storylines (Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels, for one) and great in-ring work. You'll note a lot has changed since then: In 2002, Brock Lesnar was trying to win a title in the main event; 17 years later, Brock Lesnar is trying not to lose a title in the main event. See, it's totally different.
Q. C'mon, don't be so cynical. It's not like the WWE is relying on things from 17 years ago to get heat for SummerSlam, right?
Q. Say what?
Yes, 52-year-old Bill Goldberg, last seen struggling to lift The Undertaker after a concussion in a Super ShowDown match in Saudi Arabia in June, was the surprise opponent announced for Ziggler after The Miz -- seemingly his original foe for SummerSlam -- tricked him into signing a Goldberg match contract to close out Monday Night Raw this week. There was a little letdown at first when the clever ruse didn't result in Ziggler battling Shawn Michaels, who was in the ring for the contract signing. But the crowd popped when Goldberg's music hit. And since he's wrestling one of the best in-ring sellers this side of HBK, maybe the match actually will be passable.
Q. Any other nostalgia acts on the card?
WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus wrestles for the fourth time since 2011 after getting called out by Charlotte Flair -- in a match that seems to exist solely so the partisan crowd at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto has a Canadian Attitude Era icon to cheer on.
Q. What are the other women's matches on the card?
Bayley drops, errrrrr, defends the SmackDown women's title against Ember Moon, who has an awesome finishing move in The Eclipse and is seeking her first title on the main roster. Meanwhile, Raw women's champion Becky Lynch faces another Canadian darling, Hart family descendant Natalya, in a match in which the winner will be determined only by submission. Which is a heck of a curveball stipulation for two wrestlers who [checks notes] primarily win via submission.
Q. Any more Canadians on the card?
Kevin Owens, the pride of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec, continues his seemingly endless feud with Shane McMahon. This time, Owens is the anti-hero acting as the voice of the masses, and the stipulation is that if Owens loses this match, he'll be forced to quit the WWE.
Q. And if Shane loses?
Then Owens will have defeated a 49-year-old non-wrestler. Again. (But seriously, this would be a great opportunity to have Owens lose, "quit" the WWE and then honor the late Dusty Rhodes' "Midnight Rider" gimmick by donning a mask and returning as a wrestler who is very much obviously Kevin Owens to continue the feud. All you'd need is a name. We hear "El Generico" is available.)
Q. Is there any match that will be, like, the complete opposite of having to watch an instantly winded Shane McMahon work again?
Let me introduce you to AJ Styles vs. Ricochet for the United States championship. Their match at Extreme Rules was a solid yet not show-stopping affair, but it offered the potential for what Styles and the former NXT phenom could accomplish together in the ring. As was the case in that first match, we can expect copious interference from The O.C., the horribly renamed (don't call them Bullet) Club faction Styles has renewed with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows.
(Sorry, it's not really The O.C. without the presence of Summer Roberts and at least one member of the Cohen family.)
Expect an athletic spot-fest before the inevitable "O.C." chicanery, which will probably be counterbalanced by a run-in from The New Day (sans Kofi), with whom Ricochet teamed against these Not-Bullet Clubbers (NBC?) on Raw and who are front and center on the digital advertising for the show but don't have a match. You do the math.
Q. So what's Kofi Kingston up to?
The WWE champion since WrestleMania, Kofi has a match with Randy Orton, who is being sold as yet another behind-the-scenes anchor who kept Kingston from ever winning the title previously. In full disclosure, I've never been the biggest Orton fan. Maybe it's a touch of Diamond Dallas Page derangement syndrome, in that I literally don't care about anything in the match outside of when and how the finishing move will be applied. But I will say that I appreciate Orton's functionality 17 years (there's that number again) after his WWE debut.
He's a credible contender on a roster that doesn't have nearly enough of them -- a wrestler that not only has the chops to beat a Kofi Kingston but the brand currency to credibly hold on to the belt for a run after that. Which makes this match much more intriguing than it otherwise would be during Kofi's run.
Q. Are there any other belts on the line?
Outside of the Universal championship, which we'll get to in a moment, there's a cruiserweight championship match, which likely will land on the pre-show, and potentially the 24/7 title.
Q. The 24-what-now?
You truly are a lapsed fan. The WWE 24/7 championship debuted in May. Think of it like the old Hardcore Championship but without two people beating each other over the head with baking sheets. It's a title that can be won by anyone, anywhere, at any time. At first, it was widely ridiculed as a stupid gimmick with an ugly belt. Quickly, it was embraced as the greatest source of comedy in the WWE this side of Paul Heyman.
So far, the belt has been held by Titus O'Neil, Robert Roode, Elias, Jinder Mahal, Drake Maverick, Heath Slater, Cedric Alexander, EC3, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco (!), Kelly Kelly, Candice Michelle, Alundra Blayze and "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. This week, Mike Kanellis won the title for the second time by pinning his pregnant wife, Maria, during a visit to their doctor, and then lost the title to R-Truth (who won it for the 11th time), who dressed up as a woman and distracted Kanellis by giving birth to a doll. (Wrestling!)
So far, the title hasn't been captured on a WWE PPV. But if you can win it in an OB-GYN office, where can't you win it?
Q. Clearly this is the weirdest thing happening in the WWE.
Clearly someone hasn't heard of the deranged children's television host who moonlights as a dreadlocked hell-beast wearing a "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" mask.
Q. Clearly we haven't.
"The Fiend" is the latest incarnation of Bray Wyatt, whom you might remember from such previous hits as "backwoods cult leader who projected images of maggots on the ring apron during a WrestleMania match." It's part of a rather successful reboot of his character; Bray became the cardigan-clad host of "Firefly Fun House," which answers the question: "What if Mr. Rogers had been directed by Dario Argento?" His alter ego, "The Fiend," is the aforementioned dreadlocked hell-beast who wears a rather spooky mask. The Fiend has been appearing on WWE TV shows and attacking everyone from Mick Foley to Kurt Angle to Finn Balor, the last of whom is his SummerSlam opponent. No matter how this sounds, trust us that it might be the best thing the WWE has done on television this year.
Q. We're going to have 'Fiend Wyatt' vs. 'Demon Balor,' aren't we?
C'mon. This is SummerSlam. That's a WrestleMania moment.
Q. Speaking of WrestleMania, we have Lesnar vs. Rollins again at SummerSlam?
Lesnar cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase at Extreme Rules and won the title back from Rollins, setting up a build to this rematch that has featured Rollins getting absolutely demolished by Lesnar on television on multiple occasions in an attempt to really, really, really cast him as the underdog after he beat Brock cleanly for the Universal title at WrestleMania. They might even go so far as to give him a limp! It's not enough that the WWE has made Rollins' IRL relationship with Becky Lynch a thing on WWE TV; now they have to borrow aesthetics from her WrestleMania build?
Q. Circling back to our original question, is this card going to clear the 2002 SummerSlam bar?
Honestly, on paper, it's a firecracker of a show. Matches with potential. Some nostalgic jolts. Not a ton of gimmick matches. And there could be more to come, what with Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross having a women's tag team title defense on the table against former champs (but forever champs in our hearts) The IIconics. And then there's the Roman Reigns mystery.
Q. Yeah, what's his deal?
OK, so Reigns was attacked by a forklift knocking over stacks of equipment backstage on Smackdown (and too bad it's not 1989, as Vince McMahon would have debuted NXT standout Keith Lee in a yellow singlet as the villainous Forklift to push the angle forward). Then, as Samoa Joe was stalking Reigns in the parking lot Monday on Raw, the car Reigns was driving was hit by another car. So we're left to wonder who is apparently trying to kill Roman Reigns that isn't already on this card. Drew McIntyre? Daniel Bryan? Someone else?
Q. Or is it possible that, like Internet fans, wheeled vehicles have decided they're also tired of Roman Reigns?
Anything is possible. Did you already forget we saw a title being won when a pregnant woman was pinned in an OB-GYN office, and then won again when a man dressed as a pregnant woman distracted the champion by giving birth to a plastic baby? (Again: Wrestling!) Enjoy SummerSlam, everyone!