Doctor's Orders: The WWE Battleground Report (Preview and Review)
By The Doc
Jul 21, 2014 - 12:58:44 PM
The Snowman is a genius
Preview One Reason to Watch Each Match at WWE Battleground
Review The Battleground Report
QUESTION OF THE DAY (for Battleground): Were you happy with the way that Battleground went?
This will not be the full length review that I’d usually offer because, yet again, I had major problems with my Network feed throughout the first hour before changing the avenue through which I viewed the event and continuing on without issue.
The Usos defeated The Wyatt Family in 18-minutes (*** ½) (I will need to go back and watch this again from bell-to-bell because the part that I saw without interruption from WWE Network glitches was the first half, which was the weaker half. The initial 8-minutes were standard fare outside of the first fall. It’s rare you see a pin following a hot tag, so that was a nice change of pace that worked well to keep you guessing as the match progressed. In context, it turned out to be just fine, but it turned this into a tale of two matches; there were the first 8-minutes and the final 10. The latter was an exciting, fast-paced, near fall fest similar to what they produced last month. My colleague, Maverick, rated their Money in the Bank encounter as the mid-card MOTY to date, if I’m not mistaken. It was very good. So, too, was the bout last night. With a better first several minutes, this could have been great. As it was, the Usos again got the surprising win. I’m definitely up for seeing this continue on)
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose did not have their match) (n/a) (This was the big disappointment of the night. My former radio co-host, Super Chrisss, nailed it with his prediction. There was no match, but rather a series of segments and brawls. We’ll have to wait until Summerslam to see the hottest feud in the company lead to an actual wrestling match – or at least we better have to wait. If I paid PPV money to see this, then I would be outraged already, but doubly or triply so if they gave it away on Raw. Ambrose vs. Rollins was the #1 reason that I watched Battleground)
AJ defeated Paige in 7-minutes (*) (That was a flop, all things considered. They had 7-minutes to work with and they blew about three spots – not completely blown, mind you, but just enough to be justifiably critical. I expected better of these two. Hopefully with a better developed story and some house show work, they can deliver in the rematch)
Rusev defeated Jack Swagger via count-out in 10-minutes (** ½) (The finish, in particular, had me thoroughly invested in the result. The match, overall, was average, but the climactic sequence of Swagger trapping Rusev in the ankle lock for an extended period did well to build drama. Sadly, I think the situation in the real world hurt these guys. When it was just a wrestling storyline and not an attempt to capitalize on current events, it worked much better. Each WWE feud has a time frame where it works that you could equate to the sand in an hour glass. The news from last week poked a hole in the hour glass to accelerate how quickly it’s running out. The WWE will likely continue this storyline, but the moment it went from “patriotic fun” to “I’m not sure if I should react,” the fans seemed to check out to a degree)
Chris Jericho defeated Bray Wyatt in 15-minutes (***) (Calling this a mixed bag would not be unfair, if you ask me. They worked pretty well together, but there was something missing. I saw somebody suggest that they were just saving whatever they wanted to do for later, but I don’t know if I agree with that. This match came off to me as though they, for one, were merely ironing out the kinks in their chemistry and, secondly, just did not have enough of a developed story to make it any better than it was. The finish did not help. Jericho winning was probably the right call since he lost so much a year ago, but the pin came off as abrupt and ill-timed. It was a good match. Nothing more…yet)
The Miz won the IC title Battle Royal (*** ¼) (This nearly ended up being my pick for Match of the Night and may well end up my favorite bout from this show. The WWE flat out knows how to book Battle Royals. Once you weed out the irrelevant talents, they often get right down to the good stuff and leave us with something bordering on memorable. Last night was no exception. Cesaro and Kofi Kingston stole the show with their work together. I utterly abhor what they’re doing with Cesaro right now, but surely he reminded the WWE brass of why he deserves better. Dolph Ziggler had a standout performance, as well, until he and Sheamus began scrapping. He just needs to abandon the Fame-asser because it has been nothing but a recipe for blown spots for going on two years. The Miz victory could be seen from a mile away, but I like Miz and am curious to see if he can get his career turned around)
John Cena retained the title (***) (If I had even an ounce of emotional investment in the Fatal Fourway, I might’ve rated it much higher than I did. Frankly, it was entertaining as hell. Without the investment, though, I watched it like I do the Rocky movies that were on all of last weekend here in the States – with one eye on it and the other eye on something more interesting. Speaking of the Rocky franchise, it – like Cena – had a very long run, but they went on just a little too long with that character. We are in the Rocky V of the Cena Era right now. Like the 5th installment of Balboa’s tale, Cena is so uninteresting that it’s hard to care)
All in all…it was a decent show with several good matches, but the bait-and-switch for Ambrose-Rollins was a stinging blow to anyone that had tuned in predominantly to see them wrestle. Cena was always retaining, so if you’re tired of that act, you had to latch onto something else. Ambrose-Rollins was that “something else” for many (myself included). The mid-card delivered, overshadowing the top three feuds.
WWE Battleground is on Sunday and the card is looking unusually strong for a modern “PPV three weeks after a PPV” scenario. They saved a marquee match-up that people have been itching to see for this show and did a nice job of building around it. Though I still find myself jaded with the main-event scene with no end in sight, I’m looking forward to exercising the “no additional fee” clause in my WWE Network contract this weekend. Here is one reason for you to watch each match:
John Cena defends the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns, Kane, and Randy Orton - Reason to watch: A swerve
Ever since John Cena won the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank, I’ve seen the word “placeholder” thrown his way. The general thought-process is that he’s just keeping the belt warm for Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. I’m not entirely certain of that just yet, but I am quite positive that Cena has sucked all the energy out of the main-event scene for yours truly. His presence as WWE Champion brings about feelings of indifference comparable to those conjured by the Randy Orton vs. Batista match that we were originally going to get at WrestleMania XXX. Sunday’s Fatal Fourway match for the title is, thus, a drab affair void of any real emotional connection. It’s too soon for Roman Reigns to become champion, so it would be a foolish move on WWE’s part if it hotshotted the strap to him. Though I’d rather spend three hours trying to come up with a nickname for Reigns than watch Cena repeat his tired “The Champ” act for the 15th time, Roman simply needs to be protected and built-up properly these next several months. There’s no other viable option to win the belt in this match. Kane is an example of why I think there should be an age restriction on wrestlers (with a clause for the top draws). Randy Orton would have been a great segue to the next Daniel Bryan title victory, but currently has no business holding the #1 belt. So, that leaves us with my official prediction of Cena predictably winning.
I do have one idea that could spice up the title scene for Summerslam and logically get the belt off of Cena beforehand, though. What if, after the predictable win has come and gone on Sunday, Brock comes out to make a statement and destroys Cena? Then, after Brock leaves, Rollins comes out and successfully cashes in the Money in the Bank contract. There is a massive logic gap in Brock winning the title in August and holding it until April. We know he doesn’t want to work many dates. History proves it, both personally (he’s a recluse) and professionally (see 2012 to the present). Would WWE have Brock win it and then lose it? That would be stupid. You don’t have to be in the wrestling industry to know wrestling. “Brock shouldn’t lose another match until Reigns beats him at Mania 31,” states wrestling booking 101. WWE needs a different reason for Brock vs. Cena at Summerslam than the title. Put the championship on the line in the Shield triple threat. Ambrose beats Rollins earlier in the night at Battleground, Reigns gets screwed over during the title match, and Rollins wins the title. Summerslam gets its marquee match-up (Cena vs. Brock) and a fresh match that diehard fans want to see.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins - Reason to watch: Potential for the 2014 Match of the Year candidate on PPV streak to continue
All I can say is, “Thank God for Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins.” Rollins has turned out to be a great heel and Ambrose has quickly developed promise as a breakout babyface. This match could be all kinds of awesome. If it were not for this match, this card would be hugely lacking in the intrigue department. It would be a stacked football team with no quarterback; a basketball team full of really good role players but no star. The track record for booking Money in the Bank contract holders has been shoddy throughout the history of the gimmick, with the exception of Edge in 2005. My hope is that they plan to study the Rated R Superstar’s blueprint instead of everyone else’s when deciding on a creative direction for Rollins, but Seth could easily take a loss to Ambrose and nobody would bat an eyelash. The result for Sunday is a genuine toss up if you’re playing Doc’s odds. Ambrose has foiled Rollins repeatedly since Money in the Bank, suggesting he’ll lose at the PPV. All the while, this is a story that seems to have legs. They could stretch this series out for multiple special events, including Summerslam.
If I base my prediction on my swerve scenario from above, then Rollins needs to lose to better set-up his surprise cash-in. That’s as formulaic for Money in the Bank as its contract holder jobbing like crazy; right before winning the title for the ultimate high, the holder suffers a loss to create the “down and out” perception. However, I think that the combination of WWE wanting to build-up Rollins and Cena being the babyface victor of the night’s last match will lead to the heel picking up the win. Rollins over Ambrose is my call. Could be a classic.
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt - Reason to watch: Re-establishment
Bray Wyatt had the “whole world in his hands” when he was feuding with the Golden Boy, but since his storyline with Cena ended six weeks ago, Bray has found himself a bit lost in the shuffle. His role in the WWE title in the Bank Ladder match last month was not pronounced and he appeared to be directionless. Enter Y2J. Jericho still has a relevant name in the business and beyond. The fact that WWE brought him back to battle Wyatt is a good sign. We’ve yet to flesh out the details of what the true issues will be between these two moving forward, but both are in need of a really good performance. Jericho had a pretty tame 2013 by his standards. Feuding with Fandango and a watered down Ryback negated, in my opinion, his stellar match with CM Punk, leaving the first ever Undisputed Champion on the brink of losing some of the credibility that he’s supposed to bring with him upon returning. 2013 is easily forgettable when viewing his overall track record, but it would behoove Jericho to give a showstealing effort at Battleground and simultaneously better establish the talking points of why the audience is supposed to care about Y2J vs. Wyatt.
This is a story barely out of the pre-production stage. I expect the match on Sunday to get this sucker in full swing. I’m curious to see how Wyatt works it. He did a great job adjusting the nuances of his character between the Daniel Bryan and John Cena feuds and I want to see him do it again with Y2J. Quality is a given, one would assume. There should be a few tone-setters earlier on in the night that provide extra motivation for these guys to up the ante. Wyatt wins, though it wouldn’t surprise me if Jericho picked up the victory given the booking, thus far.
The Usos defend the WWE Tag Team Championships against Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in a Two-out-of-Three Falls match - Reason to watch: Unpredictability
The theme for this match was accidental, but important. The formula for all the mid-card championship divisions is to have the champions lose all the non-title matches and win the title matches. Yes, I strongly dislike it. In this case, though, it seems to have inadvertently created for an unpredictable Usos-Wyatts match. Last month, I was almost certain that Harper and Rowan were walking out of Money in the Bank with the Tag Team Championships, but I was wrong. WWE found a way to keep the straps on Jimmy and Jey without at all damaging the momentum of their opponents. Conventional wisdom again suggests a title change this month, but the last PPV’s finish leaves me with considerable doubt. This feud is going to continue for at least another few weeks, if for no other reason than the fact that there is not much else going on in the tag division, at the moment. A Wyatt win means a rematch via the clause, while an Usos win suggests opening the playbook to find an excuse for more title shots. Any and all of that seems plausible. I’m honestly not sure who will win, but my official prediction is for Harper and Rowan to become the new champs.
Battle Royal to determine a new Intercontinental Champion - Reason to watch: Possible unification of the IC and US titles
As time passes, the more I’m beginning to feel that it’d be addition by subtraction if the WWE did away with one of their mid-card titles. The US Championship was created, as was the World Heavyweight Championship, for the brand split. Without two separate entities in WWE, there’s no longer a need for the extra primary or secondary belt. My opinion on the matter changes frequently, but WWE has made it clear that they don’t intend to change their lousy booking habits for the mid-card titleholders. So, do we really need two poorly booked wrestlers whose careers are being tarnished (some irreparably) just to have two shiny belts? I’m thinking not. If Sheamus unifies the belts, at least we’ll know that the championship is on the shoulder of a wrestler that WWE tends to protect. Cesaro would seem the top candidate to win the strap if they didn’t go the route of unification – and, frankly, I’m not of the strong opinion that they will – but look at the absolute crap booking that he has received in recent weeks. The King of Swing has been given the losing streak gimmick, which has worked approximately ZERO times ever and usually just ends up completely affirming to the audience that the “loser” is a mid-carder with no upward mobility. Thanks to my unusual apathy toward the product right now, it seems to me that WWE are killing Cesaro’s push and neutering him in the process. Some guys never recover from this type of angle. Losing to virtual jobbers three weeks in a row!? What the hell? My guess is that it will lead to Cesaro becoming Intercontinental Champion, which sadly will only put him in another rotten booking position. I’ll be rooting for Sheamus. When the product turns you off, it’s the little things that grate on your nerves…
AJ Lee defends the Diva’s Championship against Paige - Reason to watch: This could be the best athletic exhibition between women on WWE PPV in a long time
It sure has been nice to have AJ back. Her absence was glaring these past few months. Not that her run toward Mania was special or anything, but she’s the only established character in the entire division. She has a better developed persona than most of the men on the roster. Paige has a following on the internet from those that saw her work in NXT, but she’s displayed little if any of the attributes that made her successful in developmental. The Total Divas cast, by and large, cannot act to save their respective lives. When it comes to the female wrestlers in WWE today, there’s AJ Lee, a massively wide gap, and then everyone else. From a storyline perspective, AJ vs. Paige is not much to see, yet. However, babyface matches are interesting for many reasons, among them being that they offer the chance for more of what Roddy Piper referred to prior to his match with Bret Hart at Mania VIII as a “contest.” Most WWE matches are storyline-heavy. AJ vs. Paige realistically could turn out to be a straight-up game of one-upmanship. If it is, look for the ladies to produce one of the most memorable women’s matches in years.
Jack Swagger vs. Rusev - Reason to watch: Legitimate heat
Rusev aka Atilla aka Ivan Drago has, thanks to his outstanding manager, gotten over big time. A few months down the road, beating Rusev is going to make some babyface look very good; of that much, I am now supremely confident. I’m hoping it’s Roman Reigns. I think Reigns would be well-served to catch a little cheap pop in honor of the USA by being the first man to pin Rusev. That’d be a nice transition into 2015 for Reigns. In the meantime, Rusev and Lana need to continue to draw the ire of the American fans. As critical as I’ve been of the gimmick, it has featured delightfully simple booking. The same could be said of Jack Swagger in the last few weeks. The All-American American is living proof of how effective Rusev/Lana have been. All it took for a heel pairing that had once headlined WrestleMania to turn face was interrupt the Russians. That’s it. Three weeks later, Swagger is a red hot protagonist. Based on the reactions that they’ve been getting on Raw, Rusev vs. Swagger should get one of the louder responses at Battleground. I’m looking forward to this match.
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