Live from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis and written in front of a live studio audience from my palatial one-bedroom place, it’s your Battleground preview. I hope I still have it in me to be your maestro of the special event warmup. It’s only been five weeks since my last outing and back in those days, they did one of these every two weeks. The rust factor is definitely in play but don’t tell that to the “E.” They seem to be trying to make this middle to bottom-tier PPV seem important with a little help from a questionable appearance by Brock Lesnar and several unpredictable matchups that will keep us guessing until Sunday night. Also a bit shocking is the number of notable omissions from this card that will no doubt set the stage for a number of filler segments and add-on matches just to add to the unpredictability.
In time, we will address what’s not scheduled to be on this card later but as long as I have your attention, let’s focus on what we do have to look forward to. Six matches, three titles on the line, one crown to control all and countless chicken wings to inhale so let’s get down to “bizness!”
BATTLE FOR THE CROWN KICKOFF MATCH
King Barrett (C) vs. R-Truth
For you fans of nostalgia, a contest to decide who controls the crown in the WWE is right up your alley. King of the Ring winner, King Barrett, will put his crown and cape on the line against his Kickoff show rival, R-Truth, who has taken to calling himself “King What’s Up.” Since steamrolling Truth in the King of the Ring semi-finals, Barrett has found that ruling the WWE is no easy feat. The self-proclaimed King has done everything in his power to make Bad News’ reign a living hell. He has made a mockery of this monarchy if you will. If you ask me – and seeing as though you are reading my preview you are – Barrett should just ditch the royal regalia altogether and never accept a secondary title again from the company. It hasn’t done him any favors as he loses all the time and gets stuck in Kickoff purgatory all the time. If the crown is meant to be a joke, why not give it to WWE’s resident court jester who specializes in warming up the audience and putting smiles on the kids’ faces. Truth has dominated the feud and deserves a run with this goofy gimmick that will no doubt get over if he’s allowed to be creative. Let Wade jump into something more serious and perhaps I won’t have to write about him going first moving forward. Win-win! MCGINN’S PICK: R-TRUTH
RANDY ORTON VS. SHEAMUS
Permission to treat this match as hostile? This match does absolutely nothing for me. I know I usually save this sort of talk for the Divas matches, but this matchup just screams snooze fest in my opinion. I know I’ll probably catch a Brogue Kick for saying such things but how many ways can these guys go at it and bore us to tears in one lifetime? I wasn’t a huge fan of Sheamus winning the Money in The Bank briefcase but I’m willing to see how that story plays out when he decides to cash in. Orton, meanwhile, has been so badly handled since his return in February, you almost forget he’s even there half the time. Besides beating Rollins at Mania, the best thing he did was step aside for a few months to allow Dean Ambrose to get some main event shine. Other than that, they seem to have missed the mark on his internet success with the #RKOoutofnowhere. On Sunday, these guys will likely beat the piss and vinegar out of one another, the guy you didn’t expect to win will come out on top, and not a soul in the world will speak of it the next morning. Since the briefcase doesn’t always translate into immediate victories, I’ll go with Orton because he needs it more. MCGINN’S PICK: RANDY ORTON
ROMAN REIGNS VS. BRAY WYATT
From one extreme to the other, I’m very much geeked to see this war. Unlike some of you out there that either loathe Roman Reigns because he doesn’t deserve it or think Wyatt is played out lamer than Forest Gump in those leg braces, I have enjoyed the build to this bout. I bought in after the initial shock of Wyatt screwing over Roman at Money in The Bank. Like most, I didn’t get it at first and got trollish online about it because I painted this great storyboard of Roman winning the case and returning the favor on his former Shield running-mate Seth Rollins. When that plan was scrapped and my anger subsided, Bray started those deliciously twisted promos singing “I’m a Little Tea Pot” and using Reign’s daughter as a way to get into his opponent’s head. Of course, once they realized that was perhaps a touch insensitive, they toned that creepiness down and just made this about Bray screwing Roman out of victories. You just just feel the hatred behind every punch delivered by the WWE’s future World Champion. He’s definitely shaken off grime and mange from his Royal Rumble experience. The kid is a star and his rebuild to the main events has been handled perfectly. Like it or not haters, Reigns is now or soon will be the man and next on his hit list is the New Face of Fear. MCGINN’S PICK: ROMAN REIGNS
WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
The Prime Time Players (C) vs. The New Day
Ahh yes. The tag team titles will be up for grabs when two of the greatest predictions I have ever made in these previews square off in St. Louis. It’s starting to get really cramped on The New Day bandwagon as several of the skeptics from months ago who thought they were jokes are now starting to come on board. They are clapping along and feeling the power even though yours truly has been saying for months how much these guys do indeed rock. On the flip side, it’s great to see the Prime Time Players finally get their due. It seems like the company just could never pull the trigger on those guys and even tried splitting them up even though they were over with the fans. Now together again, Titus and Darren have been a breath of fresh air to the division and excellent ambassadors for WWE with their countless appearances and charitable work. That being said, their title reign is as dead as disco. The New Day is back as a trio and they are downright unstoppable when they all work together for the greater good. This match has no other alternative but to be fun and energize the the fans. The claps will be infectious, the dog hollers will be palpable and we may see quite a few “Million Dollar” dances coming from Justin Rozzero’s man cave. But the titles are coming back home on Sunday where they belong. Now say it with me and clap along… New… Tag Champs! New… Tag Champs! MCGINN’S PICK: THE NEW DAY
Now it’s at this point, I wish to address what isn’t listed on the card for this show heading into the weekend. You could almost do a whole PPV around the following items and I wonder if it would draw more fans than the last TNA pay-per-view.
– A defense of the Intercontinental Championship. As you know, Ryback has a Staph infection and will miss action on Sunday. He was supposed to face Big Show and Miz in what was being dubbed “The Big Guy vs. The Big Show vs. The Big Mouth.” Tough break for our champion who seemed to be on the verge of further legitimizing the IC strap. Get well soon!
– No follow-up to the greatest Divas segment in WWE history. It’s true. When was the last time a lengthy segment on Raw involving the Divas elicited a “This is awesome” chant? (Bra and panties matches excluded.) The debuts of Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch could go down as one of the most historic events in women’s wrestling yet Heaven forbid we get a signed match with any of them on a Network special.
– No match involving Cesaro or Rusev. Oh boy! You have to imagine a rubber match with these two will be added sometime during the evening. These guys have been tearing it up of late! I was stunned Cesaro earned a pin over the Bulgarian Brute on Thursday and Rusev has looked like a killer grizzly bear since returning from injury. They both seemed primed for a run at whoever wins the U.S. title match but which one is going to survive these violent wars they have had of late.
– Also not scheduled to appear: Lana, Dolph Ziggler, Neville, Stardust, Mark Henry, Nailz, a Ring of Honor invasion, etc.
We might get to see Sting and Undertaker according to the rumor mill but I’ll believe that when I see it!
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
John Cena (C) vs. Kevin Owens
In one of the most anticipated United States Championship matches of all-time, John Cena defends America against our dominating neighbor from the North in the rubber match of their three-game series. Each man owns a victory over the other, but for Kevin Owens, he’s looking to finish what he started. This will be an absolute treat. When everyone else will wonder how they will top their previous two classics, these guys will simply say, “just watch!” They have incomparable chemistry and will no doubt pull everything out of their respective arsenals to cap this all off. Cena has done wonders for this title belt. A year ago, you couldn’t tell me who the U.S. Champion was without having to look it up. Now this strap is second from the top with a chance to be a match of the year candidate.
To recap, Owens drew first blood with his shocking triumph at Elimination Chamber. He proclaimed it was his time now and John Cena should just go away. At Money in The Bank, Cena pulled a rabbit out of his hat and picked up the W only to get powerbombed into the ring apron when he tried to validate KO’s in-ring efforts. All the while, Owens lost his NXT Championship in Japan to Finn Balor though that hasn’t stifled his appetite for gold one iota. He continues to show no remorse for his actions and remains defiant to the bitter end. I still can’t get that image of him stepping on the US title out of my head when he finally debuted on Raw. Now some will say he shouldn’t win the belt here because he’s fighting Balor again on an NXT special and it’d look peculiar for him to win a main roster championship only to lose to the “minor-league” title holder. It’s a pickle for sure, but before this pairing gets stale, I think it should end with an Owens title win. He has won and lost in non-title matches, but now is the time to solidify him up in the big leagues with a title win over the franchise. Figure out the NXT booking after that. Get Samoa Joe or Hideo Itami involved but don’t rob Owens of his moment in the sun because you painted yourself into a corner. All that aside, this match should be wrestled like it’s going to be an all-time classic and the 15-year “rookie” should wind up on top of the mountain. MCGINN’S PICK: KEVIN OWENS
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Seth Rollins (C) vs. Brock Lesnar
Oh my! How in the world do you call this one? Our reigning, defending, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins faces his toughest and most vicious challenge to date when he tangles with the Beast, Brock Lesnar. By right, no one would ever beat Brock in a fight. If Sampson never met Delilah and still had all his hair and strength, I still think he would find himself residing in Suplex City. They built this guy up so much, it almost doesn’t seem plausible that anyone could ever beat him. Undertaker? Conquered! John Cena? Dominated! Triple H? Concussed! Kofi Kingston? Well, he’s pretty much the same. So what possible chance does Seth Rollins have of defeating this monster unless he brings a small army with him? Slim and none!
Adding to the dilemma our champ faces this weekend is the lack of support provided by The Authority. Triple H wants his golden child to prove he belongs as champion or he wouldn’t have set this whole thing up in the first place. Kane, fresh off his Hawaiian vacation now can’t walk after Lesnar smashed his ankle with some steel stairs. J&J Security along with their shiny red sports car have been sent to the scrap heap. It would appear our beatable champion is about to get beat. But why here? Why now? How come Brock came back for Battleground and not wait to the more marquee event in Summerslam? What’s the hurry? And if he is to win here, are we to assume that he’ll hold the World title hostage for another eight months until WrestleMania? Somehow I don’t see Brock winning on a secondary show only to lose it a few weeks later to someone like Reigns. But is Lesnar only here for this show and then disappearing again? Not likely. Ugh, this is why this is so tough to call.
This may be a tad too simplistic but I don’t see this show being big enough for a major title change. I’m biased against Battleground what can I say. It just doesn’t happen. You wait until Mania or perhaps Summerslam. Sure there are exceptions (Eddie at No Way Out ’04) but I think they would want to make a bigger splash next month when more casual fans might be watching. I also think the deck is stacked so much against Rollins that it would almost seem too predictable to see a straight up victory for Lesnar. So maybe Hunter does protect his investment and finds a way to bail out Rollins by getting him DQ’ed. This could set up a No DQ match at Summerslam let’s say or maybe a different stipulation could be added to the mix. Maybe Big Show comes out since he has the evening free. Regardless of who it is, Rollins escapes with the title though now his time with the gold is officially borrowed moving forward. Lesnar can wipe out Show or whomever and still look like the Beast at the end of the night while we’re all making like Bill Belichick and “moving on to Brooklyn.” It may not be the greatest ending, but you don’t always need a home run when a double down the line or a bloop single can get the job done. MCGINN’S PICK: BROCK LESNAR BY DQ
So there you have it! Be sure to follow all the action and analysis of Battleground this week at Place to Be Nation. Get live commentary of the show by following us on Twitter @place2benation. You can also catch the PTBN Reaction Podcast featuring Will and the gang early next week! Be sure to subscribe to both the Place to Be Nation Podcast as well as the PWO-PTBN Podcast Network feeds on iTunes. Enjoy the show!