This Sunday, WWE continues the rich, storied history of Battleground! A show full of classic matches and moments that started long ago in 2013, the Battleground PPV set the wrestling world on fire by having a show end with Big Show punching everyone. I couldn’t find the exact buyrates, but I think it was somewhere around 14 total buys. It was a pretty lousy show, but it did have one incredible moment with the Rhodes Brothers winning the tag team belts.
The good news is that on paper, this years installment doesn’t look like it will suffer the same fate as last year. With eight matches advertised, seven of them all parts of ongoing feuds, there is the potential for quite a few great matches. I’m happy to see so many announced, as the last couple of shows seemed to suffer from ECW PPV syndrome – announce just a few matches and then fill the rest of the show with unadvertised stuff. That can be good or bad – last months show seemed to showcase the bad with Adam Rose vs. Damien Sandow and quite a bit of backstage footage and recaps and we will probably not have time for that stuff here.
So, let’s get into things and see what’s on the card and what I think will happen.
Kickoff Match: Naomi vs. Cameron
I like to think that WWE booked this as the kick off knowing that I would be writing the preview, given my vast knowledge of all things divas division. Boy, do these two hate each other or what?
Why? I’m not sure. Which one is the babyface? I can’t remember. Does the winner retain the rights of using pompoms when coming to the ring? Does the loser have to adopt a last name? Do either of them have a finisher? I honestly do not know.
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My Prediction: Cameron wins, Ben Morse gives it 4 stars.
Jack Swagger vs. Rusev
I’m going with this one now because I think it would be a good show opener, as it could really get the crowd going early.
Let’s rewind back to WrestleMania for a second: If someone told you that by July, the Real Americans would be broken up and ONE of them would be one of the hottest babyfaces in the company while the other would seem to be meandering around as an aimless heel, which one would you think is Cesaro? Then if that person told you the hot babyface would be SWAGGER, would your response be to spit in their face for being a liar, or slap them in the mouth for being an idiot? (Fun Fact: Chad Campbell did BOTH to me when we met at the Royal Rumble, for those very same reasons!)
Even as a Jack Swagger fan, I’m as surprised by this as anyone, but standing up to Rusev to defend the United States of America is definitely working with the fanbase. I would go as far as to say this feud is currently the second hottest in the entire company behind Rollins-Ambrose, based solely on crowd reactions.
THAT super hot crowd element is why I think this could be tricky: I doubt the plan for Rusev was to build him up to get Jack Swagger over as a babyface, and I don’t think they expected Swagger to get the fans behind him this much-so what do they do? Can either guy afford to take a loss and sustain the responses they’ve been getting? Maybe not, so do they extend the feud into Summerslam? If so, how do they end this match? Despite the crowd going wild for him, I really do NOT see Swagger being the one to give Rusev his first loss-but do you have Swagger lose cleanly both times? I’m really not sure, but my gut says they keep it going and give Rusev a win, but not a decisive one like he has gotten in virtually all of his matches so far. Look for Rusev to tap out in the middle of the ring while the ref is distracted (or unconscious, perhaps from watching the kick off match) before Rusev gets the victory. Probably the best thing they can do for both guys here, and I’d like to see them keep it going.
Prediction: Rusev wins, Hacksaw Duggan gives the match negative 5 2X4’s.
Swagger has been getting hot reactions, but someone who may even be more loved by the crowd is in this next match.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Kudos to WWE for staying patient and not having these two in a singles match on Raw. This match is another one that seems ready made for SummerSlam and we are getting it a month early, which makes me think that whatever happens, it won’t be the end of the story for these two.
I’ll be honest here and say that I still think the Shield breakup made no sense and truly think it wasn’t planned well in advance, but was done in response to Daniel Bryan being gone. A lot of it doesn’t make sense – Rollins never gave a legitimate reason for doing it and they fell back on the lame “I only owe MYSELF an explanation”. The fact that Reigns and Ambrose have little to no interaction anymore is also strange too….and yet, all three guys are so good that it doesn’t really matter, does it?
I do have a concern with each of the guys in this match though: With Rollins, he has already started to blend into the Authority group as just another member, and being “just another” anything is not good in wrestling. A breakout match here could go a long way in helping prevent that. For Ambrose, the guy has been simply phenomenal on the mic, and his in ring work is good enough….but I’m worried they may be going the “scrappy fighter who tries his best, but still loses” route with him. Here’s the problem with that – ultimately nobody roots for a loser. He’s GOT to win sometimes and can’t be on the receiving end of a beatdown every week. I think he’ll get a win in this feud….just not at this show.
Prediction: Rollins via Authority-ference.
One more non-title match to get to.
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
Jericho’s return was a really nice surprise for me, and it gives Wyatt a much needed feud. As has been discussed on “The Main Event”-a truly terrific podcast involving 3 of the greatest minds in all of fandom and Andrew Riche-the company seems to have spent the last few months trying to regroup from the Daniel Bryan surgery and delayed recovery, which has left several key guys in a treading water type position.
Bray Wyatt may be the one more affected than anyone by all of this. The Cena feud ended in May, and Wyatt spent all of June and early July essentially just being another guy in the ladder match. I have to wonder if the original plans were for Bryan to come out of the putrid Kane feud for a return match against Wyatt in June. It would make sense, given their history and Wyatt holding a clean pinfall win over the former champ.
With all of that thrown out the window, Wyatt has stayed involved in the show without really DOING anything-until Chris Jericho came back. This definitely seems like a feud that will extend past this show, and I’m kind of surprised they’re even having the match here. Jericho stole the spotlight from Miz on his big return, so I think maybe having Miz vs. Jericho here, with Wyatt costing Jericho the match may be a better way to play out, but instead we’re going right into it.
I want to say Wyatt wins here, as I think Jericho’s return will be short and he’ll be used to make Wyatt (and maybe someone else after this program ends) look good-but I can’t shake this nagging thought that WWE does feuds differently now, and the babyface wins the first match. I don’t think it should happen, but I kind of feel like Jericho takes this one, so Bray can get the win at SummerSlam.
Prediction: Jericho wins, shenanigans ensue to keep the feud going.
Speaking of the Wyatt family….
Tag Team Championship: The Usos (Champions) vs. The Wyatt Family (Challengers), 2 out of 3 falls
If I were to rank my top performers on a weekly basis, Luke Harper would either be #1 on my list or #2 behind Dean Ambrose. The guy is just gold every week and I love that they give him time to shine. The Usos are firing on all cylinders as well, and these 4 together have incredible chemistry. I’m thinking this will be the match of the night, especially given the stipulations that will allow it to get quite a bit of time.
But who wins? Well, I’ve been on the Wyatt bandwagon for a while now, thinking they would get the belts at MITB, then in a rematch on Raw, so I’m going to keep picking them until it happens. The 2 out of 3 falls stip seems to really be there for a title switch, too. You can have the Usos lose the belts and still get a pinfall victory. Here’s hoping we see Rowan and Harper hold some gold.
Prediction: The Wyatt Family win the gold, sheep mask sales go up 800%
Awesome! Another divas match!
Divas Title Match: AJ (Champion) vs. Paige (Challenger)
AJ was one of a few surprise returns a few weeks back, giving Paige a taste of her own medicine with a shocking title switch. It’s nice to see AJ back and Paige simply didn’t seem to be cutting it as the plucky underdog who takes a beating the entire match. Not really sure where they are headed here as both ladies would be better off as heels, but if they are given more than a couple minutes, they could probably put together a nice match at least. I think it’s too early to take the belt off AJ, so maybe Paige finally snaps and turns evil – which she needs to be anyway.
Prediction: AJ wins, Paige turns heel, Nikki Bella wears a baseball hat
You’re crazy if you think I’m going to list everyone in the next match. OK, I probably will.
Battle Royal for the vacant Intercontinental Title
Poor, poor Bad News Barrett. I wonder if he looks at himself in the mirror every morning and says to himself, “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news!” then weeps silently as he brushes his teeth. The GOOD NEWS for Bad News fans? He will be here, and presenting the title to the winner of this match, which makes me wonder if he’s ready to go and will just bull hammer whoever it is to set up a Summerslam match. But who is going to win? Well, let’s start eliminating guys.
No chance to win: Khali, Ryback, Axel, Diego, R-Truth, Xavier Woods, Heath Slater, Titus O’Neil, Sin Cara, Zack Ryder, Damien Sandow
Just like that, we’re down to 10!
Busy feuding with someone else: Sheamus, The Miz, Fandango, Dolph Ziggler
In the match just to do a crazy over the top rope spot: Kofi Kingston
Big enough names to win, but not doing anything: Rob Van Dam, Alberto Del Rio
That leaves us with 3 guys: Big E, Bo Dallas and Cesaro.
I don’t think Big E gets the belt back again, as his last run was less than impressive. Cesaro is a fine choice, but he’s riding a losing streak (though one could argue that WWE likes to have guys lose before giving them a belt for some stupid reason) and seems to actually have some beef with Big E, which leaves us with one choice.
Do you BO-lieve in miracles? The news that Bad News is presenting the winner with the belt makes this seem even more probable: The fans love Barrett, and what better way to officially turn him than hammering Bo Dallas? Sorry to Scott, but I think this is happening.
Prediction: Bo Dallas wins and gets laid out by Barrett, earning #BNB the biggest pop of the night.
And now it’s time for the main event, featuring a weaker version of the Core Four!
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: John Cena (Champion) vs. Roman Reigns vs. THEDEMONKane vs. Randy Orton, Fatal Four Way
Most people are assuming that Brock’s return is imminent and this is a perfectly fine way to get us there. My only real complaint with this match is HHH just placing Reigns in it. Why were they so against him getting a title shot at MITB, only to freely give him one at the next show? Other than that, Reigns has been positioned as the dominant one here, even more than Cena, so I’m expecting HHH to get involved and cost him the match, and Cena gets the win over Kane.
It’s hard to really drum up interest for this match when everyone knows what is coming next, and I don’t think these guys have what it takes to steal the show, but it won’t be outright bad at least. Maybe an average finish to what could be a really good show.
Prediction: Cena wins, Reigns looks great, Brock looms large.
There you have it! Enjoy Battleground!