Initially, Randy Orton and Rusev were considered key protagonists who would get involved in the storylines of Jinder Mahal and John Cena. Apparently, that is not the case following the Aug. 1 edition of WWE SmackDown.

Rather than complicate things, the Bulgarian Brute and the Viper will clash at SummerSlam 2017, a card that will serve more as an appetizer to the big matches set to take place at the Barclays Center in New York in a couple of weeks.

Rusev stands to benefit more

Rusev practically drew the ire of Orton after the former manhandled Chad Gable on SmackDown.

With claims that he is unbeatable, the Viper came out to contest that claim and even left the Russian a signature RKO for his gloat.

Hence, the stage has been set in what should benefit Rusev more than Orton. It is expected to be a brutal encounter, something Orton is no stranger to.

The former United States champion’s stock continues to dip and the creative team is still finding the right person to give the Bulgarian Brute a push. The feud with Cena hardly helped so the task is now up to Orton. Will it be a one-time match or a storyline that will carry on?

SummerSlam will only be the beginning

The next shows will try to build on the match so expect more brutal encounters – both official and impromptu.

Orton is a proven commodity so it is likely Rusev will be scoring more wins over the Legend Killer.

But the key here is not just about pins or submissions. It will be all about the color developing between the two, something Rusev has sorely been lacking. He fits the villain persona but somehow his efforts have been coming out short.

Hence, the challenge is not only on Rusev but for Orton as well. Orton is expected to carry this feud on his shoulders as he works with the hulking Bulgarian to hit a tune. Blood may be shed and the brutal confrontations are expected even after the final bell has sounded.

The feud will likely buy the WWE some time as well as the map out the next move for both Rusev and Orton.

Rusev has been hanging on a thin line while Orton just got booted out with yet another loss to Jinder Mahal. The Viper could, however, return to the scene, possibly against a new foe if Shinsuke Nakamura finds a way to defeat the Modern Day Maharaja.

Also, don’t count out a possible hand from Orton in the heavyweight matchup. He could intrude and cost Nakamura a win, to make sure he gets another chance to beat on Mahal. Conversely, he could cost the reigning champion the title and start a personal storyline, something that will quietly reel away Jinder from the heavyweight title picture.