This Sunday night in Tampa, Florida it's WWE Battleground. It's an eight match card including the pre-show.
What's noticeable about the Battleground lineup is that the midcard is much stronger than it has been for the last couple of PPVs that have seemed like one or two match lineups. At least this time around we've got matches like Jericho/Wyatt, Ambrose/Rollins and Usos/Wyatt Family that should all be very good with the potential to be excellent depending on the time they are given. The battle royal could be good although they have done too many battle royals in the last few months. The main event isn't as strong as Money in the Bank was, but they could surprise us.
With SummerSlam around the corner, it wouldn't be surprising if several of these matches are repeated at that show. This one is about building to that one, which is why some fans don't see it as being that important. It could still have some great matches.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of my friend Steve Melo.)
Kickoff Show: Cameron vs. Naomi
This match is the result of Cameron turning into an egotistical jerk (I could have used another word that starts with a b) while Naomi hasn't really said much. They had a pull apart brawl to set this one up because they need storylines for Total Divas. Naomi is clearly the better of these two in terms of being able to wrestle. She's pretty good. Cameron looks lost out there even after two years of training. She looks out of place a lot of the time. Give the win to the woman that does the flying ass as a finishing move. That's Naomi, in case you weren't sure.
Intercontinental Title Battle Royal: Cesaro, Bo Dallas, US Champion Sheamus, Fandango, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, The Great Khali, Rob Van Dam, Dolph Ziggler, Big E, Ryback, Curtis Axel, Alberto Del Rio, Sin Cara, Zack Ryder, Heath Slater, Titus O'Neil, Diego, R-Truth, Xavier Woods
There are 20 men announced for it. Damien Sandow and Adam Rose were originally in it, but both of them were removed so they could be a part of some angle on the show. This is such a tough match to call because there are so many choices that make sense. They could go with a former champion like Dolph Ziggler or Kofi Kingston just because they are popular guys. Sheamus and The Miz are also solid choices although I think they're going to have a feud after this is over, which means they might eliminate each other near the end. Cesaro is probably the favorite although I don't think he really needs it.
My pick is Bo Dallas. It would be an awesome way to elevate him. He's got the kind of character where he wins matches, but he's yet to have a real feud. If he won this match by eliminating nobody until the final one or two people at the end it would be the kind of cheap win that would fit his character. Dallas has also done promos ripping on injured guys like Daniel Bryan and Bad News Barrett. If he holds the title for a few months and Barrett comes back as a face there's a feud right there. All you have to do is Bolieve!
Winner: Bo Dallas
Divas Title: AJ Lee vs. Paige
It's a win for AJ Lee. Giving her a three week title reign wouldn't accomplish anything. The story will be that AJ Lee is able to find a way to win the match (maybe with a rollup reversal of some kind) and when it's over Paige will snap. That heel turn by Paige will either take place after the match or Monday on Raw. Then they can have another match at SummerSlam where Paige can get the title back as a heel. It should be good if they get around 10 minutes although most divas matches at PPVs get about 7 minutes. Either way I'm looking forward to it.
Winner: AJ Lee
Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) vs. Rusev (w/Lana)
This feud has to make WWE officials happy because it has really worked so far. While both wrestlers deserve a lot of praise, Zeb Colter and Lana have been phenomenal as well. There were reports that Rusev was going to face Big Show possibly at SummerSlam and that may still happen, but I hope not. They can get two major matches out of this feud even if Rusev wins here like I expect.
Rusev continues to impress me. He's pretty good in the ring for a guy that's bigger and not that experienced. He has so much untapped potential. Swagger's going to have a good match with him. It will be hard hitting, the crowd will be loud during all of it and it should make for a really fun atmosphere. Rusev wins after 10 minutes in what will be his most competitive matchup so far. Hopefully we get to see it again.
Tag Team Titles: The Usos vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan (2/3 Falls)
When they had the match at Money in the Bank three weeks ago most people thought the champs would lose, but I picked them to retain and they did. The reason is because the Wyatt Family really don't need gold to stay over. Their characters will be successful with or without the titles. They've had so many matches together and they are generally pretty good. Since it's 2/3 Falls they'll likely tie it up 1-1 and then have a hot finish after 20 minutes. While I am a huge fan of The Usos as the faces of the tag division, my feeling is that they're dropping the gold here because they wouldn't have done the match otherwise.
If the Usos retain, don't be surprised if The Ascension debuts Monday on Raw to attack them and lead to a huge tag match at SummerSlam. My pick is Rowan/Harper because they could feud with Goldust & Stardust right away. There's nothing wrong with building up other teams. It's great for the tag division.
Winners: Luke Harper & Erick Rowan Win The Tag Team Titles 2-1
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
It's a match that a lot of us are looking forward to because we haven't seen them go at it in singles on the main roster. They had a feud in FCW, but that's not something that most fans have seen. They've also been wrestling each other at house shows for the past two months. Their chemistry should be great. I expect them to get 10 to 15 minutes and for the crowd to be really into it. These two are part of WWE's very bright future. It's just the beginning for them.
My prediction is that Rollins will realize he can't beat Ambrose, so he'll hit Ambrose with the Money in the Bank briefcase in front of the ref for the DQ finish. The fans will hate it, but it's all about building to another match at SummerSlam that could be a Street Fight, No DQ, Last Man Standing or something with no rules. This feud is going two or three PPVs for sure. It's not going to end here, which is fine with me.
Winner: Dean Ambrose via DQ
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
It's a match I'm looking forward to a lot. I saw their match in NXT last year and it was solid, but Wyatt's improved a lot since then. The build for this one has been solid, which is no surprise considering they're both such great talkers. It does seem similar to the Wyatt/Cena build in a lot ways too.
Wyatt could really use a win here. It's not going to end the feud since they are penciled in for SummerSlam as well, but he can still win in a cheap manner to keep it going for him. Jericho doesn't win major matches as much as he used to because he knows as well as anybody how important it is to put over the younger guys and that's what he came back for. Wyatt lost the feud to Cena. He could use this win and at SummerSlam too. This finish can be cheap. That one at SummerSlam can be more decisive.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
WWE World Heavyweight Title Fatal 4-Way: John Cena vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane
It's a win for Cena. Anything else would have to be considered a major surprise. There's some speculation that they might have Cena lose the title because he's filming a movie, which will apparently cause him to miss Raw on Monday. If you really think WWE would have him drop the WWE Title after three weeks you're really overthinking it. Missing one show is not a big deal. As long as he's there for most of the other weeks leading up to it then he should be the WWE Champion. It's not the right time to put it on Reigns. Keep building it up, have him win the Royal Rumble and the WWE Title at WrestleMania 31. The other two don't make sense. Keep it on Cena.
It's hard to imagine Reigns getting pinned. Reigns would move on to a SummerSlam match against either Orton or Triple H. They could even do it as a triple threat to stack the deck against Reigns and then he would somehow emerge victorious. The point is that the involvement of Reigns is to further the storyline of him against Triple H. I really doubt he's leaving as the WWE Champion.
The action should be really good because the three veterans have been in so many big matches like this one although they've all worked with each other so much over the years that it feels stale too. They will make Reigns look strong and the crowd will be behind Reigns for everything he does. Cena will get the win by pinning Kane or possibly Orton in a match that should last about 20 minutes.
Winner: John Cena
After the win, Triple H will be furious at ringside and he'll call out Seth Rollins to try to cash in on a tired Cena. Dean Ambrose will come after him to prevent that from happening, so Cena will leave the show as WWE Champion. The next night on Raw, Brock Lesnar will be introduced with Paul Heyman as "Plan C" and will be named Cena's opponent for SummerSlam. Since Cena isn't supposed to be on Raw, they can save the big face to face showdown for the week after that. There's plenty of time to build it up.
It has the potential to be a really good show in terms of the in-ring action. What hurts Battleground is that it's leading up to SummerSlam, which is seen as the really major show. The average fan doesn't think of Battleground as a big deal even though it has the potential to be excellent if the midcard matches deliver like we think they should.
I'll be writing about Battleground live on Sunday at 8pmET on TJRWrestling.com. There will be a full recap of everything that happened with the results and analysis of everything on the show. I'll post it at other sites on Monday.
Thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org