Sunday evening the WWE was in Washington, D.C. for this year’s version of Battleground. I started watching the event late (at around 10:00) with my boys as we’d just gotten back from a weekend trip to Niagara Falls with the family. Mark and his family stayed an extra day at the Falls so once again we didn’t watch the event together. Believe it or not, it’s been since WrestleMania 32 that we’ve been with one another to watch the show… hoping we get to change that with next month’s Summer Slam. (EDIT: I was wrong, it was actually Payback in May). This was the last event prior to the brand split so the announcers were really hyping that up as well as some matches that we were seeing for “the last time”.
I made the mistake the last couple of months of watching the kickoff matches. They’re typically hot garbage so I didn’t bother for this show. In case you’re interested, Breezango defeated The Usos in a tag match in just over five minutes. With that said, let’s get on with the review.
(All photos courtesy WWE.com)
Sasha Banks and Bayley Defeated Charlotte and Dana Brooke
This was a nice way to kick off the show. Sasha reveals her mystery partner to be NXT’s Bayley who comes out to a HUGE pop. The match itself was just over seven minutes long but wasn’t anything spectacular. There were a couple of botched spots in there as well. Interesting to see Charlotte tap out to Sasha’s finisher here as you’d typically expect to see Dana Brooke take the loss. In retrospect it makes perfect sense (with Sasha capturing the Women’s Championship the next night on RAW) though I have to say I would have thought they were saving that match up for Summer Slam. Guessing we’ll get the rematch there.
The Wyatt Family Defeated The New Day
This was a weird one for me. The action in the ring was actually really good and better than most Wyatt matches that I can remember but the fact that the Wyatts and The New Day are going to be on separate shows moving forward left this one with an “unfinished” feeling. I have to say that Wyatt really impressed me here as did the Xavier Woods “trance” they gave us a glimpse of. There’s a lot there to be explored but with them on opposing shows I’m not sure how they’re going to do it. There was no title on the line here so it makes sense to give the Wyatt Family the win making them look strong. It’ll be interesting to see what direction they go with Bray Wyatt. I’ve been down on him in the past but dude can flat out work and he talks better than most in the business right now.
Rusev Defeated Zack Ryder To Retain The US Championship
When it comes to Rusev, the more patriotic his opponent’s ring gear, the worse they’re going to get their ass kicked. Ryder comes out looking like an American flag puked on him so you know how this one went. In a relatively short match that lasted just over seven minutes, Rusev was made to look like a monster… which is exactly what he should look like. My concern here is the competition that he’s facing. This month it was Ryder, last month it was Titus O’Neil and if the post match antics are any indication it looks like next month will be Mojo Rawley. Not taking anything away from those guys, but those are RAW matches at best. I’m happy to see them building Rusev as the brute that he is but at least on PPV, it’s time to feed him some better opposition.
Sami Zayn Defeated Kevin Owens
Ho-lee-shit. This… was… amazing. I’m not one to put star ratings on matches or talk about “Match of the Year” but if I was, this would be a five star Match of the Year candidate. This was billed as the blow off feud ender for these two. Honestly I didn’t think Battleground was the right stage for it but dammit if I wasn’t wrong. Both guys brought more than their “A” game and delivered a match that simply must be seen. Even if you don’t know their back story you felt just how much hatred there was between the pair. The false finishes were aplenty and really had me on the edge of my seat. I really didn’t know who was going to win, and candidly with a match of this caliber, I didn’t care. Zayn comes out looking like a million bucks having vanquished his foe and Owens won’t suffer at all from a loss like this. Clearly the match of the night even with the bigger names at the top of the card.
Natalya Defeated Becky Lynch
It sucks that any match had to follow Zayn vs. Owens on the card. It suck even worse that it was a women’s match with very little interest going in (at least in my eyes). Don’t get me wrong. I love Becky and I’m a fan of Natalya, but this heel turn she’s on is just plain silly. It doesn’t feel genuine and because of that I really can’t get behind it. The frustrating thing here is that the match was actually pretty good. It was announced as a submission match, but then wrestled as a regular match. Not sure what’s going on there but that small issue aside it was good for what it was – a straight forward wrestling match. In just shy of ten minutes they were able to tell a story, try and sell Natty as a heel and showed Becky as a gal that battled till the very end. I’m hoping this isn’t the end of this particular program but I worry that a women’s program that doesn’t include the title is going to get lost in the shuffle.
The Miz vs. Darren Young For The Intercontinental Championship – Double DQ
This was… weird. I don’t have a problem with Miz holding on to the title. In fact, I like that he’s managing to find ways to hang on to it. It’s a great way to make him a classic heel. They’re clearly building Darren Young’s character with his interaction with Bob Backlund but going the double DQ route is lazy booking in my opinion. In fact, I didn’t even REALLY know what the final decision was. Could have been a DQ, could have been a count out. Either way, the match ended with Maryse pretending Backlund hit her, Miz pretending to be pissed about it, us seeing too much skin from a 66 year old Bob Backlund and me not really caring about this. I’d guess we’ll see a rematch between Miz and Young somewhere down the line. I’m hoping Maryse and Backlund are no where to be found as they were just distractions here.
John Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass Defeated The Club
This was an interesting bit of booking that worked pretty well. In just shy of 15 minutes, the WWE managed to not only make a bonafide star out of Enzo but also managed to continue the John Cena vs AJ Styles feud without jamming it down our throats. Enzo was a star on the mic as he always is but he actually shined in the ring even more. There was a period when he was alone in the ring with Gallows and Anderson an rather than running he stood his ground against two much larger guys. It’s stuff like this that puts a guy over in a big way. I don’t want to see Enzo and Cass go their separate ways just yet, but I’m glad to see WWE planting the seeds for Enzo to be a legit singles wrestler one day. I’m not a big fan of tag team wrestling and I’m typically less of a fan of six-man matches but this was entertaining. Guessing we’ll see a continuation of Cena vs. Styles at Summer Slam as well as The Club vs. Enzo and Cass. Both matches intrigue me.
Randy Orton On The ‘Highlight Reel’
This was a waste of a segment and should have been on RAW. Anyone who’s ever watched wrestling for more than five minutes knew how this was going to turn out. The way they teased the “RKO outta nowhere” was cute and the fact that Jericho pointed it out makes me think the writers know that we know they know what they’re doing. But it didn’t make it any better. This went on WAY too long and was only saved by a little bit by Orton’s, “It only takes one RKO to get to Viperville. No enhancement needed,” comment. This is clearly in reference to Lesnar’s failed drug test after UFC 200. I’m mildly interested to see if they’ll actually have Orton defeat Lesnar at Summer Slam which is why this was on the show to begin with so I “spose” it did its job.
Dean Ambrose Defeated Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins To Retain The WWE Championship
In a “sport” where wins and losses really don’t matter I was thrilled with the result here. Having Ambrose retain the title gives credibility to him as competitor and as a champion. It also sets up Smackdown as a show that you HAVE to pay attention to as its got the World Champion on it. This was a pretty typical triple threat match with Ambrose and Reigns teaming up and working together against Rollins at the beginning and Rollins and Ambrose turning against Reigns to do the SHIELD power bomb toward the end. The ending seemed to sort of come out of no where but it was nice to not see a match end with the Roman spear the way so many have in the past. I could have done without so much RAW vs. Smackdown talk here but with the looming brand extension you can see why they went that route.
This was a solid show pretty much from top to bottom. The WWE is really going all in with the brand split and continued to sell the “uniqueness” of these matches. I’d be shocked if we didn’t get show specific PPVs moving forward. Not quit sure how I feel about that… time will tell. Jerking the curtain with a women’s match was a risk but one that paid off big time with Bayley’s entrance. The Wyatts looked strong going into the split as did Enzo, Cass and The Club. WWE continues to not know how to book their IC and US titles to make them important but they’re making strides. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens showed everyone just how awesome a match that doesn’t include a title could be. It was quit simply epic. The top title in the WWE is on Smackdown now leaving RAW without one. It should come as no surprise that they introduced a new title Monday night known as the WWE Universal Championship. With the brand split this was necessary to give the top tier guys on RAW a title to chase. Next month is Summer Slam and it’s one of the “big four” PPVs which means it’ll be more about the “spectacle” than the actual card itself. Though if we’re to believe WWE we’re in a “new era” so anything can happen. After the events of Monday and Tuesday we know we’re getting Balor vs. Rollins for the Universal Championship and Ziggler vs. Ambrose for the WWE Championship. Throw in Orton vs. Lesnar and you’ve got three solid matches on the way to a better than average card.
Did you watch Battleground? Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!