The John Report: WWE Battleground 2013 Review
Buffalo, New York
October 7, 2013 (Twitter @johnreport)
I did not see it live. I'm writing about it on Monday morning without reading a lot about what happened. I'm not going to write about the pre-show although I saw that Dolph Ziggler beat Damien Sandow on the Kickoff show.
The start of the PPV saw a video package that focused on the main feuds of the show: Punk/Ryback, the Rhodes Family saga and of course the Bryan/Orton main event story. The announcers for the show are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield. The Spanish announcers are there too. I think their table was saying "don't break me." Maybe.
World Heavyweight Champions (Hardcore Rules): Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam (w/Ricardo Rodriguez)
While they were outside the ring, Van Dam hit a moonsault off the security wall onto a standing Del Rio. RVD grabbed a chair, jumped into the ring and dropped Del Rio with a DDT on the chair. They're doing spots like that one minute into a match? Del Rio hit a Back Stabber for two. Del Rio hit RVD in the back a couple of times with the steel chair. Spinning back kick by RVD after Del Rio wedged the chair between top and middle ropes. RVD grabbed a ladder to a big ovation. RVD threw Del Rio into the ladder in the corner of the ring, which led to Del Rio going over the top to the floor. They did a spot where RVD tried to attack near the ladder, but Del Rio moved and kicked RVD in the back of the head for a two count. Del Rio went for an attack with a garbage can off the top rope, but RVD dropkicked the can into Del Rio. Everybody saw that coming. I like that they showed the replay in slow motion. Good idea. RVD put Del Rio on the ladder sideways and hit the split legged moonsault for a nice two count. RVD took too long to set up Rolling Thunder on a ladder, which allowed Del Rio to move out of the way. He applied the Cross Armbreaker on RVD, so Ricardo attacked with a bucket to break the hold. Del Rio threw RVD out of the ring. Del Rio wanted the "steel" bucket, which led to Rodriguez hitting him again. No heel turn like I thought. Del Rio threw him into the security wall and then gave him a hard kick to the head. The babyface manager's heel tactics didn't work. It bought time for RVD as he hit a Five Star Frog Splash off the apron onto Del Rio, who had the ladder on his chest. That was unique. RVD grabbed the chair and wanted the Van Terminator (dropkick chair into Del Rio's face), but Del Rio moved. Del Rio did a drop toe hold that sent RVD face first on the chair. Del Rio hit a side kick as RVD's left arm was wrapped up in the chair. Del Rio applied the Cross Armbreaker while using the steel chair for assistance and RVD tapped out. The match went 16 minutes.
Winner via submission: Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: *** Good action in the match. Some spots were a bit too contrived or didn't work that well, but the effort was there. I liked the spots towards the end. The crowd was into most of it. It was well booked with an obvious winner. The finish made a lot of sense because RVD missed the Van Terminator, which ended up being his downfall. Del Rio capitalized and the finish was a very decisive win for the champion. I'm looking forward to the day when Del Rio loses the title because he's really not adding to it at this point. It's on him and that's fine, but it doesn't feel like a big deal at all. I'm not sure who his next feud will be with or who will take the title off him. I just hope it's soon because the crowd is losing interest in Del Rio holding that gold.
Backstage, Zeb Colter did a promo with Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro. He ripped the Buffalo crowd by saying he saw Canadians sneaking across the border. Heels lie. He trash talked Khali & Santino about their match coming up.
Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) vs. The Great Khali & Santino (w/Hornswoggle)
Nice "will you stop" sign in the crowd. Gorilla Monsoon reference right there. Swagger hit a shoulder block, Santino tried to do a kip up and couldn't pull it off. Santino hit the hip toss, but Swagger bailed to the floor. Hornswoggle had on a mini cobra, so Swagger ripped it up. The heels worked over Santino in their corner for a few minutes. Santino hit a back suplex on Swagger leading to the hot tag to Khali while Cesaro also tagged in. Khali hit some chops on Cesaro. Big chop to the head, but Swagger saved his partner. Santino hit a slingshot dive over the top onto Swagger. Cesaro hit the shoulder block to the knee. He did the Cesaro Swing to Khali! Then he pinned him after it. Odd move for a finish, but that was it after seven minutes.
Winners via pinfall: Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger
Analysis: * There's been a rumor about Cesaro's babyface turn, so this could be the reason for it. The crowd loves that Cesaro Swing spot. That was memorable. The rest of it was seven minutes of filler. Video of the Cesaro Swing is later in this column.
Intercontinental Championship: Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman) vs. R-Truth
What's up? This match with little build or heat. Seriously, the crowd didn't care. With Axel outside the ring, Truth hit a clothesline off the apron. Axel kicked Truth into the security wall outside the ring and then Axel drove him spine first into the security wall. In the ring, Axel hit a dropkick followed by a headlock. Truth came back with a jumping sidekick. Truth got a nearfall with a rollup. Axe kick by Truth for two and then a front suplex for two. Axel held on to the ropes to counter the Little Jimmy finisher and then Axel hit his neckbreaker into a face first slam for the win after seven minutes.
Winner via pinfall: Curtis Axel
Analysis: * It was very average. Not much to it. It's not that hard to create stories for the IC Title, yet WWE seems unable to build a proper story for Axel while he's holding the gold. The crowd didn't care. I can't say I blame them. If I wasn't writing about it I would have hit fast forward.
There was a clip from the Kickoff match where Ziggler hit the Zig Zag on Sandow. The story is Sandow hurt his knee, so that's why he couldn't cash in on Del Rio.
Divas Championship: AJ Lee (w/Tamina Snuka) vs. Brie Bella (w/Nikki)
Brie was aggressive early on as she hit a dropkick off the middle rope. AJ came back by tripping up Brie on the apron and then throwing her into the steel post. Good spot. AJ worked on the arm of Brie as Nikki (aka Boobs Bella) yelled "come on Brie" at ringside. Way to contribute. Nice armbreaker by AJ. The crowd didn't care. AJ continued to work on the left arm of Brie. AJ did her skipping in the ring to rile up the crowd, so Brie hit a dropkick to begin the comeback. Sloppy rollup attempt by Brie and then another dropkick. There's another dropkick. Brie loves dropkicks. Backbreaker by Brie for two. Tamina was choking Nikki at ringside, so Brie focused on that. That allowed AJ to get the rollup win using a handful of tights. It went about seven minutes.
Winner via pinfall: AJ Lee
Analysis: * It seems like the story is that AJ has been able to beat the girls from Total Divas, so what's next for her reign? There are definitely some free agent women out there that could be brought in. I'm not sure what the direction will be, but I'm glad AJ retained. I picked Brie to win although that's just because I figured they wanted to put Brie over. It's better for the division to have it on AJ long term. They just need to find the right rival for AJ and get some heat in a storyline because it would really help.
There was a long video package that focused on the Rhodes family saga against Triple H, Stephanie, Randy Orton and The Shield. The video was well done like usual.
The lovely Renee Young interviewed Dusty Rhodes, Goldust and Cody Rhodes. Dusty said family is at stake. He said it's about family and being together. No matter what happens, they're going to leave with their heads held up high. Goldust said they would expose the hounds of justice as the authority's puppets. Cody did a fired up promo talking about how he wanted to protect his family's future. Cody: "Tonight we are alive. Tonight we fight for our family."
Analysis: That was a very good pre-match promo. Each man got to speak and made their points well. I like that Cody ended it because he's the one that is going to benefit long term from this angle more than anybody.
The stipulations are that if Cody Rhodes and Goldust win the match then they get jobs with WWE. If they lose then they don't get a job and Dusty loses his job with NXT too.
Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins (w/Dean Ambrose) vs. Cody Rhodes & Goldust (w/Dusty Rhodes)
This is not for the tag titles. The Rhodes brothers entered to Dusty's theme song. The last couple of matches were pretty boring, but the crowd was fired up for this one. Rollins hit his corner spot where he drove Cody's face first into the middle turnbuckle. Rollins & Reigns made a lot of quick tags as they isolated Cody in their corner. There was a "we want Goldust" chant while the heels continued to work on Rhodes. Cody connected on a moonsault on Rollins, who was standing. Goldust tagged in for his team as he hit a clothesline on Reigns and the uppercut as well. I always thought Goldust threw some of the best punches in wrestling history. Goldust went up top and hit a cross body block for two. That was a cool spot. Reigns ducked a Goldust charge, which sent the man in gold outside the ring. Rollins and Reigns made a lot of quick tags as they worked over Goldust in their corner. It's the second babyface in peril sequence in the same match. Reigns hit a leaping clothesline for two. Rollins tagged in, but he was met with a snap powerslam by Goldust.
Hot tag to Cody, who received a huge pop as he entered. Missile dropkick by Cody on Rollins and then an Alabama Slam. He knocked Reigns out of the ring and got a two count on Rollins. Rollins went to the top, so Cody countered it with the Muscle Buster that's most known by Samoa Joe in TNA. Reigns broke up the pinfall. Reigns knocked Goldust out of the ring, so Cody hit Reigns with a Disaster Kick and then a clothesline over the top. Rollins attacked Cody from behind while Ambrose was distracting Cody. Dusty hit Ambrose with a punch and then the bionic elbow knocked Ambrose down to a HUGE ovation. Awesome! Goldust attacked Reigns outside the ring. Rollins got a rollup for two. Cody countered a clothesline with the Cross Rhodes to another big reaction from the crowd. He covered for the pinfall after 14 minutes. The crowd loved that finish. It was perfect.
Winners via pinfall: Cody Rhodes & Goldust
Analysis: ***1/2 That was an excellent tag match that met my expectations. The story coming in made a lot of sense, it felt like a personal feud and that's why the crowd was so into the match. It's why stories are so important for these matches. There were too many matches on this show with barely any story. I liked that they were given a lot of time with both Cody and Goldust getting worked over for a long period of time. It built up to the finish well. The crowd was fired up when Cody made the hot tag and he did a great job of keeping up the intensity. Dusty's spot was fun, Goldust took out Reigns and Cody finished it off with the Cross Rhodes. That was the biggest reaction for anything Cody has done in his career. That's why I love this storyline. It's going to make Cody Rhodes a bigger star in the long run and I think that's great because he's somebody worth investing in. There could be a tag title feud out of this, but I'd prefer to see Cody receive a singles push out of it.
Post match, Dusty had tears of joy on his face as he entered the ring to hug his sons. Big ovation for that too. When they reached the top of the ramp, a lot of babyfaces on the roster showed up to hug the Rhodes family. There were mostly midcard faces there and also some agents like Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko and others.
Next PPV is Hell in a Cell on October 27. Three weeks away. I'm not sure why R-Truth is featured on the poster. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, though. Kofi Kingston was on the Night of Champions poster even though he was only in a match added on the night of that show.
The Battleground panel made up of Josh Mathews, The Miz, Titus O'Neil and Tensai talked about the show so far. Tensai pointed out no title changes yet, but said we would get a new WWE Champion.
Backstage, Brad Maddox was on the phone. Vickie Guerrero showed up. He told her that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon had to leave, so the show was up to him and Vickie. She said that it's all on Maddox. She left him to fend for himself.
Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) vs. Kofi Kingston
Wyatt used his power moves to keep Kingston grounded for the first few minutes. Rowan was wearing the sheep mask at ringside. Kingston countered a back suplex into a cross body block for a nearfall. Kingston jumped over the top rope, but was brought down quickly after a Wyatt slam. Kingston took down Wyatt with a slam of his own followed by an offensive flurry with clotheslines and the Boom Drop. Wyatt ducked out of the way of the Trouble in Paradise. They both ran the ropes and Wyatt destroyed him with the running cross body block. Love that spot. Wyatt crawled upside down on his hands, crab walk style. Kingston sent Wyatt to the floor and Kingston hit a perfect somersault dive over the top. Back in the ring, Kingston hit a top rope cross body block for two. Kingston was going for the SOS, but Wyatt countered with Sister Abigail to win the match after eight minutes.
Winner via pinfall: Bray Wyatt
Analysis: *1/2 It actually went longer than I thought. I figured five minutes would be enough. It's typical WWE booking of a new heel character against an established face. I assume Kane will be back around Survivor Series to get some revenge on Wyatt.
Post match, Rowan hit a backbreaker and Harper destroyed Kingston with a vicious clothesline. Wyatt did a promo saying there is no right and no wrong. He claimed there were just mannequins trying to force feed us by telling us about their idea of purity. One by one he's going to take them out. Follow the buzzards.
There was a replay of Cesaro's swing on Khali. There was even a slow motion replay of it. I'm still surprised that it was used as a finisher.
Video package for the Punk/Ryback match.
CM Punk vs. Ryback (w/Paul Heyman)
Punk was aggressive early on as he hit a dive outside the ring and drove Ryback into the ring post. Ryback slammed Punk off the top rope as fans chanted "you can't wrestle" at him. Ryback took control of the action with some kicks and a chinlock. Punk tried to come back, but Ryback gave him an overhead belly to belly suplex. That's a good move for him to use. Another Punk comeback attempt was thwarted with a Ryback clothesline. Cole said the pace was perfect for Ryback - that's another way of saying it's a really slow paced match. Heyman yelled at Punk not to give up because he wanted Ryback to hurt him all long. Another long chinlock by Ryback. Punk fired back with forearm and elbow shots. Ryback missed a corner charge. Punk hit a jumping sidekick and swinging neckbreaker. Heyman grabbed the microphone as he said he was the best in the world. Heyman: "I pinned CM Punk with both hands tied behind my back." Punk was looking at him, so Ryback hit a clothesline to the back of the head. Huge powerbomb by Ryback only got a two count. Punk came back with a clothesline to knock Ryback down in the center of the ring. That set up the top rope flying elbow from Punk for a count of two. Punk hit a flying headscissors to counter a Powerbomb. Ryback came back with a powerslam for two. Ryback left Punk throat first on the ropes, so Heyman grabbed a kendo stick. The ref saw it and admonished him. While that was going on, Punk hit a back kick that was a low blow to Ryback. Ryback crumbled to the mat, Punk covered and got the pinfall win after 15 minutes. I thought he might pick up Ryback for a GTS, but the low blow was enough for the win.
Winner via pinfall: CM Punk
Analysis: **1/2 They obviously did that finish because they didn't want to beat either guy with a finisher. The problem is that a low blow finish for a babyface doesn't really generate a big reaction. It made the finish fall flat a bit. The story will be that Heyman accidentally cost Ryback the won and that Punk got the win despite hitting an illegal move. Punk had an incredible run of amazing PPV matches this year. This is the second PPV in a row where he had an average match. As good as he is, sometimes the opponents aren't the type of guys that can have a great match with somebody the caliber of Punk. This rivalry between Punk and Heyman looks like it will continue.
The Battleground panel talked about how Punk outsmarted Heyman. Miz, O'Neil and Tensai all picked Bryan to win the WWE Title.
There was a video package for the Bryan/Orton feud.
There was a power outage that stopped the show for a few minutes. Viewers at home didn't get to see anything. Fans in the arena had to wait it out. It came back on before the beginning of the match. Michael Cole explained it as a power outage, but they were now set for the match. Lawler joked that he blamed Heyman while JBL blamed the government shutdown. The WWE Championship was sitting on a stand in front of the announcers.
For the Vacant WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
The match started with about 25 minutes left in the show, so they worked at a slow pace early on. Bryan hit a nice dropkick early on and Orton hit his modified backbreaker. Bryan worked on Orton's arm earlier in the match and he was also working on Orton's knee. Orton regained control with a clothesline off the middle rope while Bryan was trapped on the top rope without anywhere to go. Snap powerslam by Orton got a him a two count. Nice "go Leafs go" sign in the crowd. Damn right. Started the year off at 3-0. Keep it going, boys. I need to put something in here while Orton does his chinlock. Bryan nearly got thrown over the top, but he held on via "skin the cat" and sent Orton outside. Bryan hit the Flying Goat dive outside the ring to take down Orton. Bryan hit a running dropkick outside the ring. In ring, Bryan wanted a flying attack, but Orton dropped him with a powerbomb. Boston Crab by Orton. Good to see a submission move like that out of Orton. He needs to sit down on it a bit more, though. Bryan was able to get a small package for two. Outside the ring, Orton threw Bryan into the steel steps. Orton drove Bryan's shoulder into the ring post, a suplex off the top of the security wall and another whip into the ring post. Back in the ring, Orton was in full control.
Orton hit a superplex that was good for a two count. They got up to their feet to trade uppercuts as the crowd chanted "yes" for every Bryan shot while the Orton ones drew a "no" reaction. Backslide by Bryan got two and so did a kick to the head. Orton was on the apron and he gave Bryan a suplex from inside the ring over the top to the floor. Orton cleared off the announce table and wanted a powerbomb, but Bryan escaped. Bryan threw Orton into the steel steps. Bryan broke the count by the ref. Bryan went to the top rope and hit a cross body block on Orton outside the ring. Bryan rolled Orton in, hit the flying headbutt and covered for the one...two...no. Great nearfall there even though he rarely wins with that move. Bryan hit four running dropkicks in the corner and then a fifth one while Orton was down. That sequence drew loud "yes" chants. Great energy shown by Bryan. Bryan connected on some kicks, but Orton caught him with an overhead suplex to slow down his momentum. Really good spot. Orton hit his patented (or vintage) DDT off the middle ropes. He wanted the RKO, but Bryan shoved him off. Orton rolled him up and Bryan was able to counter with the Yes Lock to a huge ovation. Orton tried to fight it off.
Big Show's music started up. He pulled the referee out of the ring. Bryan was mad at him. Show gave Bryan the KO Punch as Bryan leaned his head over the middle rope. Show was nearly in tears. Remember they said Triple H & Stephanie left. Raw GM Brad Maddox sent referee Scott Armstrong to the ring to count the pinfall. He was fired by HHH three weeks ago, but here he is again. Armstrong went to count Orton's pin attempt. Show pulled Armstrong out and gave him the KO Punch. The crowd chanted "yes" for Show's actions. The story is that he was sent there to cost Bryan, but then Show realized he couldn't do it anymore. Show went into the ring to go face to face with Orton. Orton shoved him, so Show gave Orton the KO Punch to a huge ovation. Brad Maddox looked on in horror. Show's music ended as the match ended there with no result. The whole thing was about 23 minutes or so.
Match Result: No Contest
Analysis: ***1/2 If you give these guys over 20 minutes they're going to hit that three star level, but I think it's fair for us to expect more out of them in a PPV main event. It was still a very good match. I was hoping for something more memorable and spectacular. The main thing people are going to remember is the finish of the match, which left a sour taste in my mouth and I'm sure it did for most people reading this right now. The crowd didn't like it either based on reports from after the show. I can't say I blame them. When I was at Night of Champions last month we liked Bryan's win, but the fast count made it obvious that something was going to change the result. With this finish, the crowd was left wondering "what the hell" and some of them are probably angry that they spent their money on this.
Show was the only one left standing in the ring while he stared at Maddox, who was at the top of the ramp. Show celebrated his actions while the crowd cheered. Show was yelling "no more" in reference to him likely refusing to take orders going forward. That's how the show ended.
Analysis: There is no WWE Champion. The next PPV is Hell in a Cell in three weeks. I would assume the main event is Bryan vs. Orton once again because then the feud would be settled in arguably the most famous WWE gimmick match that there is. That's likely going to be the end of the feud and then they could put Orton in a feud with Show while I'm not sure who Bryan would be against. I thought Bryan would leave Battleground as WWE Champion. It didn't happen. Perhaps that's what we'll see at Hell in a Cell.
There's also a cliffhanger going into Raw because they wrote out Triple H & Stephanie during the show, so Raw will likely start with them addressing everything that happened. They could be furious with Brad Maddox, which could lead to a Vince McMahon return because Vince is the one that appointed Brad as the GM of Raw. As I mentioned, Show was likely ordered to go to the ring to cost Bryan the match by taking the ref out, which led to Armstrong being back. Instead, Show showed that he was sick of being told what to do and took out Armstrong as well as Orton. This match was part of a bigger story. I don't mind that part of it, but I think most fans want to see a resolution in terms of who is the WWE Champion. There was no resolution at Battleground. That could hurt Hell in a Cell because if somebody paid $55 to see this then who is to say they might pay it again in a month? If they're mad now they might be in three weeks too.
Five Stars of the Show
1. Daniel Bryan
2. Cody Rhodes
3. Randy Orton
5. Antonio Cesaro - Because of this.
I give it a 4.5 out of 10.
There were no title changes on the show as the heels continue to dominate the gold and the WWE Title is still vacant. In other words, if you missed this show you didn't miss a whole lot. It did not have a special feel to it at all.
Three matches reached the three star level, which is good. There wasn't that one match that clearly stood out. Several matches were pretty boring or meaningless without much story involved. That's what happens when you only have three weeks to build to a show.
The most newsworthy item was the win by the Rhodes Brothers over The Shield. It was the obvious finish, but that's fine. It was booked well and everybody worked hard. No complaints about what happened there.
In closing, it was the worst WWE PPV in a year that has been full of strong PPVs. I've reviewed them all as you can see below. This show and Night of Champions were both below average. I hope WWE can deliver better PPVs in their last three events of 2013.
Ranking the 2013 WWE Pay-Per-Views
Here's the order with the rankings on the 1-10 scale.
SummerSlam - 9
Payback - 8
Royal Rumble - 7.5
Extreme Rules - 6.5
WrestleMania 29 - 6
Battleground - 4.5
I'll be back on Tuesday around 1pmET with the Raw Deal review column. Have a great week. Thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org