It has been a month since WWE Battleground 2016, and the most notable thing to come out of that show was that Dean Ambrose retained the WWE Championship in a triple threat against his former comrades in The Shield. This left WWE Raw with no champion since Dean Ambrose was exclusive to SmackDown Live, so to resolve the issue Stephanie McMahon and her GM Mick Foley announced a WWE Universal Championship and through various machinations and matches Seth Rollins and Finn Balor became the top contenders for that title. So here we are at “The Biggest Party of the Summer” as WWE likes to call it, their unapologetic attempt to have a second event of the year as big as WrestleMania, and to make that point SummerSlam will be a SIX HOUR broadcast on WWE Network including the pre-show with over a dozen matches. Balor and Rollins is one of the marquee matches of that show and according to the latest odds “The Demon King” Balor is the favorite at -300, with Rollins a +220 underdog as the former WWE champion. This is the point where it’s worth reminding you that pro wrestling odds aren’t based on “wrestling” at all — this is SummerSlam, not the Summer Olympics. Balor is the favorite because Vince McMahon and the writers decided Raw needs a new superstar, and Balor is the guy they’ve handpicked to be one. Where does that leave Roman Reigns then, the guy who was previously “The Guy” on Raw? Well he’s feuding with Rusev over the United States Title, and since they need a long feud to try and rebuild Reigns as a fan favorite, he’s NOT the favorite to win here. Rusev is -285 to retain, with Reigns +205 as the underdog. The most likely scenario here is that he gets a visual pin but gets screwed due to Lana interfering. A less likely scenario which may intrigue bettors is that Reigns “wins” by Rusev purposefully getting himself disqualified when the momentum is going against him, because in WWE titles don’t change hands on a DQ. What about the aforementioned Dean Ambrose though? Well he’s facing Dolph Ziggler with his WWE Championship on the line, the most unlikely of candidates for a title shot in 2016. Not surprisingly the betting odds reflect that with Ambrose a heavy -900 favorite and Ziggler a +500 underdog. The scripted world of sports entertainment has actually played into that a bit, painting Ziggler as the wrestler who is driven to prove his previous (and brief) world championship reigns weren’t just a fluke. He’s not winning on Sunday though. A lot of people may be tuning in simply to see Brock Lesnar kick some ass against Randy Orton though, and after his UFC 200 match with Mark Hunt who could blame them? He’s -350 against Randy Orton at +250, and since he’s one of their most marketable stars it seems unlikely Orton can overcome the figurative and literal odds, even though it’s his first major match back since surgery. As always remember that these previews are for entertainment purposes only and that if you are going to wager please bet only what you can afford. Enjoy SummerSlam!
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