Did anyone else feel like the card for Battleground was way ahead of the build?
It seemed like SummerSlam on paper: Brock Lesnar in the main event, the rubber match for the hottest feud of the year between John Cena and Kevin Owens, the first singles meeting of Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt since splitting from their respective factions, and the first match of the Divas' revolution.
This was an epic line-up for a "B-Level" event following months of original cards. This says to me that SummerSlam is going to be something extra special this year; despite either plenty of rematches or short builds. In the meantime, did Battleground live up to expectations?
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From the get go... yes. If the opening matches had taken place at a major event like SummerSlam or similar; it would be in conversations for the best event in years.
Randy Orton and Sheamus came out of the blocks in explosive fashion; particularly Orton who had the hometown crowd in the palm of his hand. Though he doesn't have much direction at the moment, within the ring he is doing some of the best work of his career.
His psychology is on point, keeping the crowd on their toes from start to finish and still always finding the one moment they don't expect the RKO to pull out the best finisher on TV right now.
The following tag match was notable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Xavier Woods on the outside was equal parts hilarious and annoying. It was enjoyable whilst also satisfying for him to get his comeuppance.
Secondly, Titus O'Neill is the hottest "hot tag" in wrestling. While rough around the edges, he is great to watch. He is perfectly placed in the Tag Team division right now, and hopefully WWE learned from last time that he will need plenty of time to develop before breaking into the singles scene.
The next match was a homerun in every sense. Bray Wyatt is always most absorbing when his riddling attacks make sense. "Anyone but you" is a cryptic manifestation of how many fans feel about Reigns.
He has looked like the Chosen One (Sorry Drew McIntyre) since his debut, so having that frustration aired on screen is a smart move. Saying that, how much does he need to improve; how many more outstanding matches does he need to have before he is accepted?
Michael Cole had a great stat. Since Money in the Bank, Roman hasn't won a match cleanly. That trend continued after this stellar matchup. Both guys were physical and creative, and the finish made sense.
Call me a cynic, but as of late I have been keeping count of how many finishers are getting kicked out of. The number has been far too high for a number of years. This devalues the finisher, and makes other moves redundant.
The only way to create a false finish seems to be to kick out of multiple finishers which takes the excitement and psychology away. For me, that was the most pleasing aspect of this match. The hard hitting approach created false finishers out of clotheslines and punches.
That is because they both did such a great job of selling. They each worked hard to make the other guy look good without compromising their own value. It was tremendous. And the return of Luke Harper; hopefully to be followed by Erick Rowan is a welcome sight.
Wyatt need not rely on them, but having them as followers adds to his mystique. And now Roman will have an interesting motive moving forward: he needs to pull himself out of his first losing streak. Great booking, great match. Home. Run.
Without trying to sound sadistic; it was refreshing to see a Divas match where the combatants came out looking like they'd been in a fight! This was the first taste of the revolution.
The women benefitted from more time, but mostly from more meaning on the match. More of the same please. Let's sit back and enjoy the build of the division and the new rivalries moving forward.
Let me take back the cynic comment. Finshers, finishers, finishers. Owens Vs Cena was a good match. I like both guys. But it gave me nothing new. The match built to the big spot of Owens kicking out of the top rope AA. After two other AA's. For me it wasn't exciting.
I don't know if anyone just felt like they had become disconnected from the story. Neither guy could generate sympathy because they were both invincible to anything the either guy did. Even with the outrageous powerbomb bump Cena took from the top rope.
Suddenly they got the go home signal and had to wrap it up. At least it made sense that Owens tapped out; because that was just about the first time Cena has made any contact with his STF. Sigh.
Put Cesaro in this spot and get Owens into a fresh feud and I suspect I'll have a different opinion. I really hope RAW doesn't involve Cena coming out victorious and Owens interrupting either his promo or his US Open Challenge. I'd rather see Cena versus Orton.
Just a side note: I really like how WWE is playing out the NXT influx. The group invasion angle has been done with the Alliance, ECW, the Nexus and, while exciting at first, the resolution of these has always been lacklustre.
The buzz around the invading army (like The Outsiders in WCW) cannot be recreated, but the way the fresh talent is leaking onto the main roster to put pressure on the established names is sure to keep fans tuning in.
Finally: The Main Event. Right off the bat; the Champion should not come out first. I don't care who the competitors are, the Champ should be out last. If you want to have Lesnar stalking the ring then let him choose to exit and give Rollins the platform after his entrance just to play mind games. But that would be nitpicking.
This match will be remembered for one thing. The shocking return of the Undertaker. His appearance this far out from 'Mania makes me think whatever angle he will have with Lesnar will be cut short by an interference that builds to Texas next year. Sting anyone?
The match itself was the usual Lesnar shtick. It was disappointing that Rollins wasn't allowed to do much more than take bumps.
This could and should have been a better bout with Brock taking on someone crafty and agile, and not another power wrestler. The devaluation of Rollins continues. If my review is pass-fail, it gets a pass; but more work is needed.
How this all leads to SummerSlam is now very unpredictable; and I suppose that's a good thing. I'll be sure to tune in to RAW to see the fallout from an excellent overall Battleground.