John: It's time for the first of two WWE PPVs in the month of October as Battleground takes place this Sunday night from Buffalo, New York. To say that anticipation for this event is a little low would be an understatement. There's not that much excitement in the air when it comes to this event. The WWE product was hot in the summer, but things have cooled off considerably since SummerSlam. Is it because John Cena's not around? I don't think that's the reason.
I think there's very little attention being placed on the midcard and the two main babyface characters (Daniel Bryan & CM Punk) are in feuds that seem like they will never end. How many Heyman guys will Punk have to go through? Bryan won the WWE Title at SummerSlam and Night of Champions yet he's not holding the gold, so I think fans are frustrated that no matter what happens things will always change. I know it's part of the story, but at some point you have to let the babyfaces get some kind of revenge or momentum because otherwise heel Triple H & Stephanie are going to cause viewers to turn off the show. Last month's event had every title on the line, yet none of them changed hands except for the WWE Title that became vacant.
Now that I've got that out of the way, I apologize in advance for not writing as much as usual in this preview. This has been one of the busiest weeks of my life and I didn't have the time to write that much.
Joining me for the preview are TJRWrestling's Andrew Johnson and Christian Michael.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.)
Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow (Kickoff Match)
Christian: These two guys could actually have an entertaining feud but instead WWE just throws these two against each other out of nowhere and on the preshow no less. I can’t honestly say I remember one thing that Damien Sandow has done since winning Money in the Bank. That’s because instead of building him to be a legit heir to the World Heavyweight Championship they have made him lose every single match he’s had.
Then there’s Dolph Ziggler who apparently pissed in Triple H’s Corn Flakes because he’s like the only babyface that ever loses on WWE TV. Six months ago after WrestleMania you would have thought Dolph was on his way to being a main event player. Nowadays he’s doing jobs on Superstars. SUPERSTARS people!!
I wish both these guys were booked better and had bigger roles on TV but that’s not the case. So who do you pick when it is the movable object vs. the resistible force? Umm, I don’t know guys. I’m going to flip a coin. Heads it’s Sandow. Tails it’s Ziggler.
Winner: Damien Sandow
Andrew: Okay, I'm going to be pretty forthright about this whole PPV; I have little to no interest in this whole thing. I don't understand the need for two PPV's in October. For some reason WrestleMania has to take place during the first week of April, so since there's a huge gap between shows earlier in the year, they need to round out the twelve at some point. That's why shows like Battleground aka Bragging Rights aka Over the Limit aka Breaking Point or whatever exist. They're also kind of filler PPV's that don't really accomplish that much, and are just kind of thrown together because of reasons.
That's essentially my thoughts on this match. There's no why, just a why not.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
John: What a waste of talent. I'm talking about both guys. They should be doing more. The other thing is they've had no interaction to build this up at all, so it comes across as just another match in the WWE midcard that is full of lazy booking these days. Sandow's been buried more than any Money in the Bank briefcase holder in history and that's saying something because WWE tends to do that often. I'll pick Ziggler to win just because it's better for a babyface to win an opener especially when there really isn't anything on the line for either guy.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Intercontinental Championship: Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth
Christian: I could see a scenario play out where CM Punk costs Curtis Axel the match but seriously, R-Truth? There is not one WWE Superstar out there that I care about his matches less than R-Truth. Yes, The Great Khali included.
Winner: Curtis Axel
Winner: Curtis Axel
John: Axel hasn't had a feud for his championship since he won it. This one was thrown together within the last week. Truth's just a veteran wrestler for Axel to beat. The crowd knows Truth isn't a main player anymore and he barely gets a reaction for anything he does. What's up? Not his career. Axel wins in about seven minutes. The crowd will be dead for it too.
Winner: Curtis Axel
Bray Wyatt vs. Kofi Kingston
Christian: Ever wonder how WWE creates a storyline for a PPV? Well, I will tell you. Have Wrestler A have a match. After Wrestler A’s match, Wrestler B comes down and cackles at him on the ramp. Match booked. Exhilarating, I know. After the Wyatt Family entrance, I’m probably going to go finish my birthday cake.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Andrew: Look, I get that this was hastily put together. I also am fully aware that Kofi Kingston might not be the best opponent for Bray Wyatt. From what I can tell so far, Kofi isn't really a guy that can pull off a good sell when it comes to Bray's offense. Kofi is cartoonish in a way that it looks painful but not really, and that's usually fine for me. But, Bray Wyatt is such an unmitigated bad ass that when his opponent bumps, I want them to look like they're getting murdered. Long story short, Kofi Kingston would not be my first choice of Bray Wyatt opponents.
On the other hand, I'm getting a Bray Wyatt match on a PPV, so who the f**k am I to complain.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
John: There was no effort put into this story. If the match gets changed to Wyatt, Rowan & Harper vs. The Usos & Kingston as rumors then the heels will win. If it's a singles match then the heel Wyatt will win. I think it's silly that they have had nothing for the Wyatt Family to do for months now. Once they took out Kane (so he could go film See No Evil 2) that was it. Nothing else? The job of the creative team is to think of things in a creative way. Do your job. It will be a five minute clean win for Wyatt.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Divas Championship: AJ Lee vs. Brie Bella
Christian: Brie Bella is suddenly a babyface and a damsel in distress. I know some people are against man on woman violence but how awesome would it be if Randy Orton came out and dropped an RKO on Brie to cost her this match? I mean, wow, what heat would be on Orton for the main event. I doubt that happens but I can’t see Brie winning the title just yet. I don’t think AJ will retain clean because they’ll probably want to keep the rivalry going another PPV.
Winner: Brie Bella wins via Count Out
Andrew: The writing is seemingly on the wall when it comes to the future of the Divas title. It's likely the title itself is going to become a centerpiece of the "Total Divas" program, and that's fine I guess because it's kind of a terrible title so it might as well be featured on the show that shares it's namesake.
Here's a suggested plan for next season: Drop the increasingly horrible Natalya (forever, make her disappear until she understands how to interact with other human beings normally) replace her with AJ, have Sara Del Rey come on and tell them all how terrible they are and constantly call them on their shit. Then have her beat Curtis Axel for the Intercontinental Championship because A) She is better than him and B) It would f**king rule.
Winner: Brie Bella
John: I don't want to see a title change because I write all the time that AJ deserves a really long reign as champion, but I think Brie's going to win it. They are really pushing Brie hard as a babyface even though she never did an official. I guess all the Total Divas became babyfaces when AJ did her promo ripping on them last month. The fans don't really have a reason to root for Brie other than that she's engaged to Daniel Bryan, which makes her sympathetic...I think. I'd like it better if they built the title change up more, but that's asking for a lot considering how WWE barely puts effort in for the divas.
Winner: Brie Bella - New Divas Champion
Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns
Christian: This could be a sleeper for match of the night. The question becomes is it too soon for Cody to get his job back? I’d sat probably not but I think they should give it more time. I think it would be huge for WWE to do Cody, Bryan, Show, Ziggler and Goldust vs. Triple H, The Shield and Randy Orton as the Main Event of Survivor Series in a Survivor Series Elimination Match. If Ambrose runs in and causes a DQ they can do this match again at Hell in a Cell in the Cell where Cody and Goldust could win and then lead to the big Survivor Series match. I know that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon said all the Rhodes Boys had to do was win and they would get their jobs back but since they won by DQ they could rescind their agreement because they are heels and heels lie.
Winners: Cody Rhodes and Goldust win via Disqualification
I have a pretty well documented raging Cody Rhodes boner, but I have also always had an affinity for the characters of Dustin Runnels, whether they be gold guy getting beat up by homophobic faux chicano, or monster outside the window who realizes how ridiculous he looks his first night out. My uncle who was a big influence on my love of wrestling adored Dusty Rhodes, and often spoke of how he wined and dined with kings and queens but also ate garbage food in alleys. The Rhodes Family has had a major impact on my wrestling fandom, and watching them finally get recognized for being so amazing has been...well amazing.
I tend to get wax poetic about the Rhodes clan, so I'm going to keep this brief: I want them to keep getting the exposure they are, and the best way to do it is for some Rhodes on Rhodes violence. Maybe Goldust and Dusty turn on Cody to secure their futures. Maybe Cody does so on his own. I don't care how it happens, but as long as this ends with Goldust vs Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania, I will be forever joyous. The story isn't done by a long shot, and the McMahon-Helmsley's tend to lie, so I think shenanigans will take place. But, officially, your winners will be...
Winners: Cody Rhodes and Goldust
John: This is one of the three biggest matches on the show. There's actually build for a midcard feud! Crazy. Long term, this whole thing is going to benefit Cody Rhodes in a huge way. That's why I like it so much. My expectation is that the Rhodes Brothers win, which would mean Cody gets his job back and Goldust would be back too. I'm happy for Goldust. He's worked hard to get back to this level. Since it's a non-title match it also makes it more likely that The Shield will lose. I expect Dean Ambrose to try to interfere, it won't work and Dusty Rhodes may hit one of his bionic elbows on Reigns or Rollins leading to Cody hitting his finisher to win the match. If they don't win the match then this unrealistic story of Cody's firing will continue to not make sense.
Winners: Cody Rhodes & Goldust
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam (Battleground Hardcore Rules Match)
Christian: I didn’t care about this match last month and I certainly don’t care about it now. Especially since WWE booked themselves into a corner by giving Rob Van Dam this match and then burying him because he hasn’t signed a new deal. The Hardcore Rules should make this much more entertaining than the Night of Champions match but we won’t see a new champion on this night.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Andrew:Oh man, I hate to say this but ADR is really starting to wear on me. His wrestling is still top shelf, but he's basically a broken record. For the better part of 2013 Del Rio has been World Heavyweight Champion (as long as you ignore the failed Dolph Ziggler experiment) and the title run is losing steam fast. I don't think RVD is the man to win the belt, but they need to get it off Del Rio and do so quickly.
Oh, and if Ricardo doesn't turn on RVD, I'll eat my shoe.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
John: It's time for the Ricardo Rodriguez heel turn. I wanted to see it at Night of Champions, but it didn't happen. I think it's likely now that there's a Hardcore stipulation because he could hand Del Rio a weapon or attack RVD from behind with a weapon to cost him the match. The idea behind Hardcore Rules is to put Del Rio at a disadvantage because RVD is the one that is used to Hardcore matches while Del Rio is more of a technical wrestler. It will make it a better match than last month. I'm expecting the turn to happen, for RVD to go on a break for a few months and for Del Rio & Rodriguez to be together again. It would come "out of nowhere" if they did it here.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
CM Punk vs. Ryback
Christian: I know some people aren’t high on this match because of Ryback but I like the big guy. I think with the right guy you can get a good match out of him.
It’s a role reversal of sorts from last October when Punk was the heel WWE Champion and Heyman Guy and Ryback was the unstoppable babyface beast thrust into a role he wasn’t ready for because of injuries and lack of depth.
Now Punk is the babyface and Ryback is the Heyman Guy. Well, we think he is. We never heard his answer to Paul Heyman’s wacky proposal.
CM Punk hasn’t won a PPV match since Payback in June and that was his first PPV win since November. In other words, Punk is on a PPV losing streak. That’s rare to see for a top level WWE Superstar. I don’t know if he’ll break his losing streak at Battleground. Can you beat Ryback in his first PPV match at a Heyman Guy? I say no but WWE hasn’t exactly booked him the right way in the last year.
The real question is how much longer does Punk chase Heyman before he finally finishes him off and ends this feud? I don’t blame people that are getting tired of Punk’s chase but I think Ryback being inserted into the mix gives the story some extra legs.
Andrew: I don't really understand the motivation Punk has here. He wanted to get his hands on Heyman, and he did last month. But now he wants to get his hands on him again, because violence is all babyface characters know, and he wants to make Heyman suffer. What the hell else does he want to do to him? He already beat him senseless with a kendo stick. Short of lighting his house on fire and sending him flying through the sky like he were Grandma Custer, I don't think this is going to have the satisfying payoff it's intended to.
But it's not entirely pointless. Ryback having some direction for the first time in forever is good and it gives Punk something to do. I don't really know where it's going, but I'm interested. So that's something I guess.
Winner: CM Punk
John: I miss when CM Punk was having the best match on the show or very close to that. This is two PPVs in a row for him where it's just an average match. I guess we've been spoiled by his PPV performances this year. I actually think Ryback is a better performer as a heel because he plays the bully well, but his matches are routine. Plus, we saw this feud last year in different roles. I'm going with Ryback because of how their angle went on Raw with Punk getting the upper hand. Plus, it's not a smart move to align Ryback with Heyman only for him to lose his first match with the guy. The likely finish will be a scenario where Punk gets his hands on Heyman, which leads to Ryback hitting Punk from behind and finishing him off because Punk lost his focus again. It won't be the end of the feud, though. It will definitely continue.
For the Vacant WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
Christian: Ok, let’s cut to the chase here. Is Daniel Bryan going to win the WWE Championship for a third consecutive PPV? No. We all know the story so there’s no need to go into it more. This feud needs to end soon, like three weeks soon at Hell in a Cell. When we hit RAW on October 7th we still won’t have a WWE Champion. This match needs to be chaotic and with tons of interference. I know that people don’t like overbooked main events but this feud calls for it. This was in Miami you can lock these two in the Cell and let them beat the snot out of each other and then we have a new WWE Champion and that’s all she wrote for the Bryan/Orton WWE Title feud.
Winner: Match ends in a Double Disqualification
Andrew: I don't really know what to make of this. I feel like WWE is throwing us curve balls left and right when it comes to this feud and it's driving me nuts. You think Bryan is going to win, but then he loses. You think Show is going to knock Triple H's head off, he relents. You think Orton is going to break Bryan's skull, Bryan fights back. Your mind plays tricks on you, you play tricks back!
It's like you're unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting....
Winner: No Contest
John: My feeling is that Daniel Bryan will win here. If you asked me how to book this feud from SummerSlam I would have kept the WWE Title on Orton until at least Survivor Series. Instead they killed the momentum of the feud by having Bryan's faux title win at Night of Champions and now it's vacant. I'm not sure where they're going with this. Hopefully the match is great, so that we can forget about the booking mistakes (or perhaps call them decisions that confuse me) and just focus on how great these two are when they are in the ring together. They'll get 20 minutes. I expect a great match.
My idea for a finish involves Big Show. I think we might see a scenario where Triple H sends Show out to ringside to cause Bryan to lose only for Show to take a shot at Orton and cost him the match. That would hurt Bryan, though. If Bryan doesn't win clean it hurts him. He should win clean. Leave the Big Show/Orton angle for after the match. The reason I think the finish will involve Big Show is they have to do something to create a final Orton/Bryan match at Hell in a Cell where Bryan will win the feud as WWE Champion. I'm not sure about his feuds after that (let the rumors swirl), but that's how I see this situation playing out. I could be way wrong, of course. To end the night, Bryan celebrates with Brie - both of whom are new champions.
Winner: New WWE Champion Daniel Bryan
Christian: I know I picked a lot of “cop out” ending for these matches but with Night of Champions a few weeks ago and Hell in a Cell in three weeks this feels like a total throwaway PPV. It seems like this PPV is here just to keep things status quo before they blow off at Hell in a Cell.
Since "Breaking Bad" ended last week and "The Walking Dead" starts next week, this Sunday is a perfect Sunday to sit back and relax and watch a wrestlingPPV. The in ring action should be good but I don’t expect anything you’ll remember next week. Be sure to follow me on Twitter as I’ll be Tweeting thoughts about the PPV Sunday Night.
John: I have low expectations for Battleground. I think the main event could be a great match and I certainly hope it's better than their average match at Night of Champions. I just think this is a transitional type of PPV meaning that a lot of these stories are going to continue into Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series down the road. In other words, what happens here likely won't be that memorable or come across like a big deal because WWE hasn't done a great job in presenting this show as if it matters a lot.
It's a three match show. If Bryan/Orton, Punk/Ryback and Rhodes Brothers/Shield turn out to be great matches then the show will be considered a success. It's on the performers in that regard, but also up to creative to give them the time they need and come up with memorable finishes too.
I won't be watching Battleground live, so my review of the show will get posted on Monday before Raw at some point. It will likely be Monday afternoon.
On behalf of Andrew and Christian, thanks for reading.
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