By Jason Powell
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WWE Battleground 2016 Kickoff Show
Aired live on WWE Network and social media
Washington, D.C. at Verizon Center
-Shots aired from inside and outside the Verizon Center while Renee Young introduced the show. Young, and panel members Booker T, Jerry Lawler, and Corey Graves were set up at a desk on the floor of the arena. Lawler mentioned that Graves was headed to Raw. Lawler told Graves to watch out for Michael Cole, joking that when Cole is patting him on the back, he’s sticking the knife in. They hyped the WWE Network and Lawler noted that it costs roughly 35 cents per day.
-Tom Phillips checked in from the Social Media Lounge and hyped that general managers Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan would be joining him to answer social media questions.
-The hosts hyped the Battleground main event, then set up a video package for the AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson vs. John Cena, Enzo Amore, and Karl Anderson (who has a hot Asian wife) match. Lawler told a joke about how Enzo’s first job was at Hooters, but he couldn’t even pronounce the name. He said Enzo asked patrons if they wanted to see a couple of haters.
-After a New Day vs. Wyatt Family video aired, the panel discussed their match and feud. They spoke about Xavier Woods’ mindset. Graves said he has known Woods for years, but what he sees from him now is fear. Lawler said this is the last time New Day has to face the Wyatts due to the brand split. Graves spoke about how it could be the downfall of the Wyatts, and he also spoke about the potential for Braun Strowman now that he’s flying solo on Raw. Booker predicted “Wyatt Day” wins and then laughed at his own joke.
-Backstage, Andrea D’Marco interviewed Zack Ryder, who spoke about being the underdog. He said his dad thinks he’s going to win, but his mom isn’t so sure. He said he likes when people doubt him and that the last time they did, he left WrestleMania as the Intercontinental Champion.
Powell’s POV: I assure you that fans have doubted Ryder since WrestleMania. Anyway, D’Marco was fine in that she basically kept a straight face and looked like she actually cared about what Ryder was saying. She has been with the company since late April.
-The hosts spoke about Sasha Banks and her mystery partner. Renee said it might be Nikki Bella because she’s been at the WWE Performance Center. Booker said trust him because he’s an insider and knows “all of this stuff.” Lawler responded by saying, “Lita?”
Powell’s POV: This probably means we can cross Nikki and Lita off the list.
-A Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn video package aired.
-Cesaro joined the pre-show panel on the stage and sat in Graves’s spot. He said the fans are in for a big treat, and it makes it tough for him to sit on the sideline while they blow the roof off the place. Cesaro said both men cost him the Intercontinental Title on multiple occasions. Cesaro said he came back and was on a roll and has Miz beaten, but they cost him the match “because they just fight all the time.”
-Cesaro spoke about what he said after the draft. He said he said what so many people wanted to say. He said he would give anything to be in the ring and not on the mic. Young cut off his rambling to get a prediction. Cesaro picked Owens to win. Lawler also picked Owens, and Booker picked Zayn.
Powell’s POV: Was Cesaro intentionally bad on the mic to play into whatever they have going with him or did he just have a worse night than usual?
-Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan answered fan questions read by Tom Phillips. They were asked what they feel will be the biggest change. Bryan said he and Shane want the emphasis on the talent. Foley joked that Bryan stole his answer. Foley said he intends to give the ball to whoever is hot and let them run it.
-Foley and Bryan were asked what Hall of Famer they would pick for their brand. Foley admitted it was a strange choice, but he said he would go with his mentor Terry Funk. He said Funk loves to give advice and would watch every match on the card. Bryan said Funk is a great answer. Bryan picked his own mentor, Shawn Michaels, and said he thinks he could still go.
-Foley and Bryan were asked what they will do to revitalize the brand. Foley said he’s looking forward to the interactions between the talent both male and female. Foley said he wants to put the emphasis on the in-ring action. He said he knows they have to tell their stories over a three-hour period, so that can be difficult, but he thinks he can help the superstars tell those stories. Bryan spoke about how they have different things in mind and some will work and some will not, but he wouldn’t reveal those ideas here.
Powell’s POV: There wasn’t much in the way of new ground being covered, but it was still the best social media lounge segment on a Kickoff show.
-The focus shifted to the Miz vs. Darren Young match. They showed footage of Bob Backlund and Young doing squats together. Young said Miz wasn’t taking things quite as seriously. Maryrse was shown putting makeup on Miz’s face.
-Graves said he’s pulling for Young because he wants the Intercontinental Title on Raw. Lawler and Booker both picked Miz to win.
-The hosts hyped Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton for SummerSlam, and Orton’s appearance on The Highlight Reel for Battleground.
-Mauro Ranallo and Byron Saxton checked in on commentary. Mauro noted that it was their swan song as a duo due to the brand split.
1. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango. Greg Hamilton was the ring announcer. Jey sold for the heels, then Jimmy took a hot tag and worked over both opponents. Fandango came and got a near fall. Jey was unable to put away Fandango with a cross body block, and Ranallo said frustration was setting in for the brothers. Fandango cleared Jimmy from the ring. It was superkick party time for the Uso Brothers. One of the Usos went for a top rope splash, but Breeze put his knees up and immediately went with an inside cradle for the win…
Tyler Breeze and Fandango beat The Usos in 5:30.
Powell’s POV: A nice match. This was so much better than the nonsense we saw with the sunburn silliness last month. Breeze and Fandango get their first meaningful win, but the story might be more about the Usos becoming frustrated and turning heel.
Young set up a video package on the The Shield for the Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns main event of Battleground.
Join me on the main page for live coverage of WWE Battleground.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...