WWE Battleground HITS:
The Usos vs. The Wyatts: Although I feel this match suffer slightly from the 2-out-of-3 falls format, down the stretch you won’t find any better tag team wrestling anywhere on this planet. Both teams once again brought their A-game, delivering incredible action, and believable near falls. As I said, the format was my only question. It was difficult to believe, given the history of these teams, that a fall would take place in the first 6-8 minutes of the match, and then again about 2-3 minutes later (and as those who attended the Pay Per View with me will tell you, I predicted the exact manor of both of the first two pinfalls). But, looking beyond that, this was an excellent match, and another highlight in an already vast collection of matches between these two teams.
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt: A minor hit. Certainly not the barn-burning match I had anticipated between these two, but it became clear early in the match that they were holding back for what will eventually become a PPV-series of matches, each one likely topping the last. Well wrestled, although, arguably the wrong man won.
Intercontinental Battle Royal: Surprisingly, an excellent battle royal and a sensible finish. Those who were left in the final 4 were all believable contenders, and the Miz’ dirty win over Dolph Ziggler launches them into an easy program that I can get behind. Highlights included Bo Dallas’ antics, Kofi Kingston’s always-inventive near elimination, and literally everything that Dolph Ziggler did.
Fatal-4-Way Main Event (Cena/Reigns/Kane/Orton): I think it was a foregone conclusion as to who was going to win this match. However, looking beyond that, there was some good action down the stretch, and another star-making performance for Roman Reigns. Without doubting the eventual outcome of this match, it was difficult to become emotionally invested in what was happening, however where Fatal-4 Way matches can often become clunky, this match did not, and each wrestler was spotlighted appropriately. Another minor hit.
WWE Battleground MISSES:
Overall Show: The first “dud” PPV of 2014. A mostly missable affair. With the benefit of an immediate replay available on WWE Network, you can go out of your way to catch the above hits, and fast-forward through the rest without missing anything. Most storylines stayed stagnant, and for the most part, the wrong person won each match. WWE has had an incredible string of PPVs since the beginning of 2014….it just happens that this wasn’t one of them. It happens.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins: If you had told me that I would be putting this match in my MISSES column last week, I wouldn’t have believed you. That said, colour me disappointed that WWE went with the bait-and-switch approach, promising this match, and not delivering. WWE Battleground is the story of angles that were overshot too quickly. Jericho/Wyatt should have been held off until SummerSlam (each could have had matches with other people, invoking interference from one, or the other, or both, and accomplished more than they got out of the match they had). The same cane be said about this match, and for that matter AJ Lee and Paige. Rollins and Ambrose will light the remainder of 2014 on fire. But this was a sour start to what will eventually become something great. The backstage scene, post-forfeit, was particularly bad. Rollins went from ultra-confident heel, to personally sending the security away, and immediately turning into chicken-shit heel. Why send the security away if you’re so afraid. And thank god WWE happened to send a camera man to follow Rollins to his vehicle as he was planning to leave the arena, or we would have missed the whole thing. It was B-movie bad.
AJ Lee vs. Paige: Again, another match I’m disappointed to have to put in my misses column. This match suffered from poor pre-match development, and then poor in-match execution. The pre-match development ranks, personally, amongst some of the most confusing things I’ve ever seen. I mean, I understand what they were attempting to accomplish, but their execution seemed as though they were proceeding in spite of what they were attempting to accomplish. And then these two just didn’t click in the ring as I hoped they would. Perhaps it was a bit of rust on AJ’s part, having come off a 3-month lay-off. Or, again, maybe they were saving themselves for a later match (perhaps SummerSlam). But that begs the question, why have the match in the first place? AJ Lee could have wrestled in a different contest, and had her match thrown out due to Paige’s interference (feigning an attempt to help, but “accidentally” costing AJ the match instead), and by doing that accomplished much more than they did here. As I have said in the past, I often wonder if WWE Creative has forgotten storytelling basics. These are easy things to do that more things forward in a much more linear fashion than some of the things they chose to do instead. Disappointing, to say the least.
Rusev vs. Jack Swagger: Another case of the wrong person winning the match. They’re turned Jack Swagger babyface, and garnished him, arguably, the biggest reactions of his career. First stop? A loss to Rusev, who wouldn’t have been damaged losing to the All-American Hero on a Pay Per View, then getting his heat back the following night with a dastardly attack on RAW. Again, storytelling basics. Where does Jack Swagger go from here? Re-packaged, and immediately made to look like he can’t get the job done. Smooth move, WWE.