Powell's WWE Battleground Hit List: John Cena vs. Roman Reigns vs. Kane vs. Randy Orton in a Fatal Four-Way, The Uso Brothers vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in a best of three falls match, Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho, Rusev vs. Jack Swagger
By Jason Powell
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WWE Battleground Hits
The Uso Brothers vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan: The big negative is that the first two falls came too early in the match. We've seen these teams have wars so it felt really odd to see a pin less than five minutes int the match and the second just over eight minutes in. Once we got through those falls the match lived up to expectations. These teams work so well together and this got the show off to a hot start. There were some excellent near falls that had the live crowd fooled. I was surprised to see the Uso Brothers go over if only because Ryback and Curtis Axel are the only other heel team in the division and no one is going to take them as serious threats to the titles. Will they turn the oddball Stardust and Goldust team? Will they go back on the hype that this was the end of the feud by having Harper and Rowan take the titles tonight?
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose: I feel bad for any fan who paid the full pay-per-view price in order to specifically see this match. It was easier for me as a WWE Network subscriber to shrug off the lack of a match while assuming that we'll see them wrestle at SummerSlam, which falls inside the initial signup six-month window. Furthermore, the pull apart brawls were very well done. I liked the way Rollins was still trying to get at Ambrose and calling for more at the very end of the second brawl. It established that Rollins isn't just another chickenshit heel who wanted to run away rather than fight his nemesis. The match looked good on paper, but the build for the match felt flat. The brawling breathed new life into their program and left me more anxious to see them meet at SummerSlam.
John Cena vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane: A minor Hit for a solid yet unspectacular main event. The tough live crowd did these guys no favors. Granted, there was no reason for fans to believe any near falls that involved teases for Orton or Kane winning, but I couldn't believe how flat they were for Cena and Reigns facing off. The match was laid out in a way that teased the first Cena and Reigns encounter a couple of times, yet when it finally happened the crowd just sat there. I guess that's better than when Kane and Orton had their squabble and the live crowd suddenly chanted for Daniel Bryan. The finish of the match was no surprise with Cena vs. Brock Lesnar expected to occur at SummerSlam. There was so much talk about Plan B and Plan C that I was actually surprised when nothing happened after Cena went over.
Pre-Show: The two match approach led to a pair of throwaway matches that included a whopping four minutes and thirty seconds of combined match time, but if nothing else it made the pre-show move faster. The less I have to hear of the panel making mostly absurd predictions and having forced debates the better.
WWE Battleground Misses
Overall show: A minor Miss. This was below average when you compare this to the other pay-per-view events we've seen from WWE in 2014. I viewed this as a show that would set up SummerSlam with several rematches and that's what we got. Still, the tough live crowd combined with some matches that didn't live up to expectations and a surprising number of botched spots in various matches made for a flat show.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in the parking lot: As much as I liked the pull apart brawls inside the building, this segment was just too much. First, the camera was conveniently following Rollins as he told the bald security guys that he no longer needed their services. He suddenly went from being confident to horror movie paranoid. I was actually waiting for Ambrose to open the luggage that Rollins left behind and discover the Money in the Bank briefcase. It would have been a fun twist if he took the approach that while he can't cash in that contract, neither can Rollins as long as it's in his possession. That would be one way Ambrose could force him into a match at SummerSlam.
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt: A minor Miss. The match simply did not live up to expectations. I don't know if it was ring rust for Jericho, a lack of familiarity with one another, or not having a hot crowd to feed off of, but this just wasn't the hot match that I expected it to be. I felt bad for the wrestlers as they both had to yell lines or pose for the crowd at various points with the goal of getting them engaged. If you read my preview and predictions, then you know I wasn't shocked to see Jericho go over. Granted, I went with Wyatt, but I acknowledged the possibility of Jericho winning the first of what I assume will be a three match series. With all three Wyatt Family members losing, I hope something happens on tonight's Raw where Wyatt rallies the troops.
A.J. Lee vs. Paige: The storytelling continues to be distracting as the fans seem puzzled by which woman they are supposed to cheer for. It would have been great if there was a split crowd reaction, but the fans just kind of sat back and waited for something to happen. It is worth noting that the women were put in a tough spot as the opening match was so hot and the crowd was teased with the Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins match. It felt like the crowd was left feeling letdown by the thought of not seeing Ambrose vs. Rollins. I hope we get to the part where the babyface/heel lines are drawn clearly by the time they presumably have a rematch at SummerSlam.
Rusev vs. Jack Swagger: Not bad, but the live crowd did this no favors. I was not surprised to hear Lana stick with the pro Vladimir Putin theme despite the plane situation. They did a good job of labeling it "current events" rather than directly referencing the plane being shot down. There has been some negative mainstream reaction to her promo so it will be interesting to see where it goes from here. The crowd was much flatter than the reaction was during the build to this match. The finish was clearly done to create the need for another match between the two. I expected that to happen, yet I didn't like how cheesy it was to see Rusev use his legs to pull Swagger into the ring post. That spot always looks corny. WWE hasn't done themselves any favors by using the head into the ring post spot as a setup for commercial breaks during television matches. I would love to think that this is the start of that spot meaning something again, but I doubt that's the case.
Intercontinental Title Battle Royal: It was a typical battle royal with a couple of clunkier than usual Kofi Kingston elimination teases, too many cases of Dolph Ziggler skinning the cat, and a winner that killed the crowd. WWE is trying to breath life into The Miz, but I don't feel that winning the secondary title means nearly as much as it once did. It could be a step in the right direction for Miz. The company simply has to resist the urge to have him become the latest secondary champion to lose more non-title matches than he wins title matches.
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