July 21, 2014 by Joey Keogh
After several weeks of decent build-up, WWE spectacularly dropped the ball on last week’s Raw, when it suddenly became obvious that the ending to Battleground was going to be the predictable, snorefest to which we’ve become so sadly accustomed – John Cena wins again, and everyone is really angry about it. Little did we know that this wouldn’t be the only downer in what turned out to be a dreadfully dull, annoyingly cliched PPV that pandered to everyone but the fans. Opening with an especially terrible pre-show, the expert panel discuss absolutely nothing of interest before the commencement of the two non-matches, one of which ended with the participants being distracted by dancing women – funnily enough, it was the other match that was a Divas bout, but it sucked just as much, if not more. Alex Riley used his five minutes in the spotlight to talk way too much and Renee Young looked as though she’d rather be anywhere else. There were several, shitty Cena promos followed by one, rather good Shield one which was scored so beautifully it almost brought a tear to the eye.
Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos -v- Erick Rowan & Luke Harper of The Wyatt Family
Funny how, what turns out to be the best match of the entire show – and arguably one of the strongest on the card – is the one chosen to jerk the curtain tonight. First off, the Wyatts deserve better than the stupid singing kid and the Kid Rock knock-off swamp music, but alas this is to be their entrance music for the foreseeable future, unless they are accompanied by Papa Bray, of course. Considering this is a two out of three falls match, it has the potential to be a bit repetitive but thankfully the action is absolutely non-stop, with great spot after great spot after great spot and more near falls than even super-geek Michael Cole can keep count of – so much so that the two pins take their sweet time happening. It’s predictably rough and nasty, which is what we’ve come to expect after past match-ups, along with weeks of fantastic build-up (even after the non-event on last week’s Raw). Harper does some pretty cool, suitably swamp-themed gator rolls at one point that are fun, while Rowan utilises his massive elbows and fists as usual. The Wyatts get the first fall, The Usos the second, with the redneck brothers dominating throughout. The Usos give as good as they get, though, and their resilience is truly remarkable. The commentary is predictably rubbish, and they’re still trying to make “Uso crazy” happen, but no matter, the match doesn’t need any extra attention so it doesn’t suffer as a result – quite the opposite. A hot tag leads to Jimmy flying out of the ring to tackle both Wyatts at once, culminating in a near fall that Harper counters with a crazy ensigury. A sitting powerbomb sets up another near fall, this time for the Wyatts, as a second hot tag for Jey leads to a splash after which he pins Rowan. Shockingly, this is the first time someone has tapped out after falling victim to this move which is mental, though not as much as the stunning double superplex that follows – the spot of the match, if not the night. Two, very tough clotheslines follow but an Uso intervenes to stop the Wyatts taking the victory, and following a pretty cool double splash – which the audience boos the hell out of – The Usos take the win, thereby retaining the title.
Winners: The Usos (not even mad, that was amazing)
What follows next will go down in history as the moment Battleground turned to absolute shit – although the next match is decent, for what it is – as we get the same Shield promo again, followed by Seth Rollins cutting another backstage, with the work experience kid who always looks super nervous (is this his first PPV?), during which he is interrupted by a furious Dean Ambrose, who can’t wait another minute for their match, which is then swiftly cancelled by Triple H. It’s announced on Twitter, because WWE is hip, y’all. The most-anticipated match of the night isn’t happening – so, if you paid for this shit, you should demand your money back from Vince post haste.
Divas Championship Match: AJ Lee -v- Paige
As excited as most of us are to see an actual match between these two, tonight’s is still ludicrously short – especially considering another one was just cut, supposedly, on the spot. The commentators show absolutely zero interest by not calling anything – and there are some great spots too, which is sad – and instead choosing to bicker throughout about whether it matters what people say on Twitter about them. Is tonight’s show sponsored by Twitter as well as Mountain Dew or..? After some annoying Punk chants, the crowd quickly takes note of the good work being done in the ring and swaps between screaming their approval for either AJ or Paige, depending on who’s dominating at the time. In the midst of totally destroying her supposed idol/frenemy, Paige pleads with AJ to “come on” – a moment which is followed up by some crazy clotheslines and great submission holds. A sunset flip by Paige kind of goes wrong, but AJ regains her composure long enough to administer the Black Widow, which her opponent counters with the Paige Turner. There are a number of great near falls, but ultimately AJ wins, somewhat surprisingly, with a rather cool spinning wizard. Annoyingly, Paige cries the whole way up the ramp even though she’s meant to be a cool, tough heel – way to sell a chick who won the title on her first appearance at Raw, WWE.
Winner: AJ Lee (also retaining, but again it’s okay)
Next, we get a predictably boring backstage promo with Randy Orton and Kane, during which the camera does not stray below Orton’s waist because, as we all know, he has an aversion to wearing pants. There are rumours swirling that these two are being set up for a feud, which would suck and be boring as fuck. It may be that WWE have no idea what to do with either of them once Cena is set up to fight Lesnar at Summerslam but even so, there are better guys on the roster who deserve a shot ahead of these two – we’ve seen it all before and it’s had its day, so give us something new, already! Elsewhere, the panel still sucks and Riley is backing Roman Reigns for tonight so he’s definitely going to lose.
Jack Swagger -v- Rusev
The pre-match promos go on way too long for this one, and the references to Russia are a little insensitive given what that country – and indeed Putin himself – are currently accused of doing. It’s also unclear why the great Zeb Colter isn’t allowed to talk more during these setups, as it would certainly provide more depth to what is already a confusingly biased feud. Swagger dominates the match from the outset, but as it to be expected, he doesn’t win as Rusev knows only how to squash – er, crush, sorry. He goes for the Patriot Lock early on but his opponent rolls out for a quick pep talk with Lana. Although their weights are well-matched – Rusev and Swagger, not Rusev and Lana because clearly she’d destroy him – this is a pretty dull bout, with the crowd nodding off almost immediately in spite of a disturbingly rousing “USA!” chant to kick things off. When Swagger catches Rusev in the Patriot Lock for a second time, he tries desperately to reach the ropes but is dragged back, only to make it, free himself and get stuck in it again. However, Rusev wins by count-out after disabling his opponent outside the ring.
Winner: Rusev (he squashes his opponents like the great Vladimir Putin – too soon?)
Backstage, Goldust and Stardust are keeping busy by being weird in their full ring gear and make-up, in spite of the fact that neither of them have a match tonight. Rollins enters the arena next, brandishing his briefcase and demanding to be declared victorious by forfeit. The crowd momentarily awake from their collective slumber to boo the hell out of him, but their anger turns to elation as Ambrose attacks Rollins on the ramp and chucks him into the barricade. Their brawl spills over into the crowd as Ambrose tosses his hoodie aside before throwing Rollins through the Spanish announce table. Both are eventually dragged off each other by Triple H and his heavies – one of whom is The Shield‘s trainer Joey Mercury, who can’t hide what a proud mentor he is right now – before Rollins’ arm is finally held aloft by the boss safely at top of the ramp.
Chris Jericho -v- Bray Wyatt
Although this feud seemed overly rushed – Jericho was back about ten seconds before Bray showed up to air his grievances – tonight’s match had the potential to be great. Unfortunately, given the disappointment of the Rollins/Ambrose non-event, it’s kind of buried by a crowd who no longer give a shit how the rest of the show goes (and rightly so). The other Wyatt disciples are relegated to watching ringside, and are later banished after trying to interfere, which would usually get a major reaction but tonight barely causes a ripple. Jericho manages to leap out and tackle all three at once though, which is pretty cool, even if we have seen this same spot in several different guises previously. He also delivers a great ensigury, which leads to a near fall, but a couple of botches – of the same move, no less – mean the match is a little unsteady on its feet, as are the competitors. It’s sad, considering Bray has the best poster for this PPV and he barely even gets to showcase his talents tonight. The end comes when Jericho utilises a code-breaker.
Winner: Chris Jericho (maybe this will turn into a proper feud now?)
Rollins is making a quick getaway in the parking lot when he uses those famous last words “I don’t need security” to banish the heavies who have been enlisted to accompany him to his car. It’s a totally classic horror movie setup, made even more brilliant by Ambrose emerging from the trunk of a car, before brawling with his former brother on the hood. Rollins eventually screeches off, leaving Ambrose to limp after him, like a crusty old villain. It’s awesome, but it doesn’t make up for earlier and is still a total tease of what could’ve been.
Battle Royal for the Intercontinental Championship
There are a load of jobbers in this match, as per usual, including seemingly the only surviving Matador, and Xavier Woods, who apparently has music now. Bad News Barrett kicks things off with some bad news – “I knew it!” JBL squeals – about how winning is like being an old couple, retiring here in Tampa, because by doing so, one is just delaying the inevitable – a bullhammer from him. It’s unclear whether Barrett intends to kick the shit out of elderlies while he’s on leave, but let’s face it, we’ll all probably still love him regardless. From the outset, they’re teasing that favourite-to-win Ziggler – who hasn’t a hope in hell, bless him – is going to be turfed out immediately, but of course he lasts until the final two. Kofi hits his usual spots by barely managing to remain in by the skin of his boots/dreads/fingertips while everyone else gets eliminated fairly easily, with the exception of the “inspirational” Bo Dallas. A spinning backbreaker by ADR to Ziggler is sold as though his spine has snapped – a cross-armbreaker on the top rope has a similar effect, leading Ziggler to writhe in pain like a champ as ADR glowers smugly over him. The Miz is a part of this because he’s back now so deal with it. He keeps rolling out like a pussy and then disappears for ages, causing a sense of dread to descend on the arena as everyone collectively thinks the same thing – not him, anyone but him. Kofi lands on Big E‘s shoulders on the outside, before getting himself back in and then thrown out swiftly after while the biggest surprise of the match comes with Heath Slater eliminating Cesaro. Sheamo quickly disposes of him by Brogue kicking him out. Ziggler then eliminates poor Bo – no victory lap for him tonight, then – leading him and Sheamo to duke it out for a bit before he chucks the Irish brawler out. The Miz then reappears and wins it.
Winner: The Miz (really? him?)
Main Event: Fatal Fourway for the World Heavyweight Championship: John Cena -v- Roman Reigns -v- Randy Orton -v- Kane
Nobody cares about anyone but Reigns tonight, which is fitting considering he’s boasting some new, cyberpunk-style ring gear. There was speculation that Rollins would turn up to cash in, or maybe Lesnar would intervene, but the Main Event goes off without a hitch, ending the PPV in dull, un-involving fashion. Twitter says that Battleground constitutes WWE turning heel, because everyone the fans love is being ruined – Ambrose, Rollins, Reigns, Ziggler – while all the idiots are being placed centre-stage (really? The goddamn Miz?) As Reigns enters, some poor woman tries to sheepishly hide her pro-Rollins sign, which is cute, while mid-match, another in the third or fourth row loses her shit because Cena pauses to take a breath or pin someone or do, you know, anything. Sadly, this feels like the same, boring Main Event to which we’ve been subjected on Raw for the past few weeks, and considering its denouement is annoyingly obvious, it’s almost sickening to see how hard Reigns is trying here. A tower of death is pretty impressive, as is a half-crab by Orton to Cena, after which he and Reigns double-team the Viper with simultaneous submission holds. An STF on Orton looks a bit half-hearted and, when it finally boils down to Reigns v Cena – which should be the match up of the night – there’s more of a ripple than a wave from the crowd. The two trade blows after staring each other out for a bit, before Reigns goes for the pin only to be interrupted by Kane, leading Reigns to spear him. He then takes out both Orton and Kane on the outside, with a series of awesome blows, before spearing Orton through the barricade. There are a shit tonne of near falls as Kane is pinned, Cena is choke-slammed and then Reigns falls victim too, but ultimately, we all know where this is going – it just sucks that it takes its sweet time getting there and none of is engaging.
Winner: John Cena (no twist, no gimmicks, the champ is here)
All things considered, this was a pretty rubbish PPV – in fact, it played more like a bad episode of Raw then an actual show for which people paid good money. It started off strong, before slapping us in the face with its own smugness and stupidity – it’s understandable that Rollins/Ambrose would be bumped to Summerslam, but given how highly-anticipated their match up was, couldn’t we at least have had a little bit of fighting before, perhaps, it all ended abruptly in a DQ and a stern talking-to for Loony Mc Crazy Eyes?
Of course Cena was going to win, but did poor Reigns have to suffer too? Couldn’t they have had some room to breathe and spar for a bit, without those other two intervening? And why is Rusev just being given an endless parade of Superstars to squash? How are we ever supposed to care about someone who wins so bloody easily? The Divas match was surprisingly good, but it still needed more time, and the fact that so long was spent on promos detailing how Cena didn’t even need to be pinned to lose – enough of that already, we get it – it’s a huge insult to the two best ladies on the roster that they were given comparatively little time in which to show off their considerable chops.
Bray v Jericho had potential, but there wasn’t enough build-up for it and neither man was really on his game tonight, so the whole thing fell kind of flat. However, theirs is a feud that may have some weight behind it and ultimately Bray has to win because Jericho has a band to think about but, for the moment, it’s a bit dull and rambling – what does Jericho represent that Bray hates so much? Clean hair? As for The Miz winning the Intercontinental Championship, well, apparently there was a worse person to hold it than Sheamo – who knew!? Hopefully he fucks off back to Hollywood soon so we don’t have to put up with him too much longer, but this sucks beyond belief because not only did Ziggler not get it, but now this idiot has even more cause to be smug in spite of his obvious lack of talent.
Sadly, Battleground lived up to its terrible name and, with the news that Cena will not be on Raw this week, in spite of his win, we can only assume it’s going to be a bit rough from now on. Maybe this is all part of a greater plan, but that hasn’t ever seemed less likely than during his poor excuse for a PPV.