Well, it’s a new era in WWE. Let’s see if I remember how to ride this bicycle.
WWE Battleground 2016 HITS:
Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins – While not the match of the night, this match was a satisfactory way to end an excellent pay-per-view. I think its a bit of a shame that the magnitude of this match had to take somewhat of a back seat to the General Manager drama, but it was a well-paced triple threat match that the right person won. Dean Ambrose can now move to Smackdown with the championship, while Reigns and Rollins can continue their feud on Monday Night RAW. Reigns looked refreshed, and I dug his newfound, believable intensity in his return from his 30 day suspension.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens – This was my match of the night. It was ridiculously good, and an easy contender in the match of the year conversation. Having shared the locker room with both of these guys, in a personal level, it’s really cool to see them succeed at this level. I don’t know either man personally, but can relate to their struggle to get to where they’re at, and show the world what they’re capable of doing. This was an excellent display of exactly that. Fast paced, hard hitting, and 100% believable near falls down the stretch. The untold story here was that this was the first time Sami Zayn has defeated Kevin Owens in a one-on-one match in WWE. This should be treated as a breakout moment for the underdog from the underground.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Charlotte and Dana Brooks – My second favourite match of the night. Bayley’s debut was fun, and she received a hero’s welcome from the Washington, DC crowd. I hope this is a permanent call-up, but I guess time will tell. Dana Brooke improves with each outing, which is something I can’t say I was confident in her doing when she was called up from NXT a few months ago. I can happily say, so far, I’ve been wrong. Sasha Banks had a huge spotlight shone on her and Charlotte continued to prove why she was the right choice to lead the new Women’s Division. I’m looking forward to the Banks/Charlotte feud continuing until, and likely coming to an end at this year’s SummerSlam in New York City.
Rusev vs. Zack Ryder – Both Zack Ryder and Rusev have enjoyed career resurgences in 2016. Rusev floundered for the tail-end of 2015 and Ryder has floundered since 2013, or earlier. This year has told the story of how important they can both be to the roster. Zack Ryder has infectious charisma, and an incredible drive to prove he’s worthy of his spot. Rusev is a great monster, and I’m happy to see that they’ve gone that direction with his character again. Rusev is most effective when he is less talk, more smash. That’s what we got here. Ryder played to the hearts of the people against the unstoppable beast, and gave people a reason to believe he had a chance to walk away with the United States Championship. With a Rusev win, and a Mojo Rawley debut, it puts both men in the right direction for the remainder of 2016. Mojo and Zack work well together as a team, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do going forward.
The New Day vs. The Wyatt Family – Colour me surprised that the Wyatt Family won, given that effective immediately they are on split brands. However, this was an excellent match, telling the story of Xavier Woods finally overcoming his fear of Bray Wyatt, only to realize his fears were entirely justified. Bray Wyatt has also enjoyed a renewed push in the right direction with his character, and the brand split will only help the focus on how important he is to the future of Smackdown Live.
John Cena, Enzo and Big Cass vs. AJ Styles and The Club – Enzo gets the nod for most entertaining talking segment of the night. His opening promo was simply magic, and had the crowd eating up every single word. I loved the rub that Cena gave Enzo and Cass by allowing them the ring for the majority of the match to hit their signature spots, and soak in the crowd adulation. The Club and AJ Styles are going their separate ways due to the brand split, but I have a feeling we will only see the Club get stronger on Monday Night RAW (perhaps the addition of Finn Balor, or maybe even Brock Lesnar?) They have readjusted well to the WWE style of wrestling, and WWE Battleground was proof they have great staying power in WWE.
Overall Pay-Per-View – An excellent Pay Per View to kick off the new era in WWE. Very little to “complain” about, and what I’ll mention in my misses are minor gripes. There was a wonderful feeling of freshness to everything that happened throughout the show, and I find myself really looking forward to seeing how the landscape continues to change on this week’s episode of Monday Night RAW. Further, many people who have felt stagnant over the past several months, due to over-saturation, felt fresh as new directions were forged, and the old guard was let down. My hope is that this continues over the next several months as WWE settles into their newest business model, and we continue to get re-energized and re-invigorated Pay-Per-View outings.
WWE Battleground MISSES:
The Highlight Reel w/ Randy Orton – My complaint was the length, and lack of direction in this segment. It felt like they said in 20 minutes what could have easily been summed up in 5 minutes. Randy Orton got his shot in at Brock Lesnar’s failed USADA drug tests, and Jericho got to lead the crowd in his routine, but it just felt like this would have been better served on an episode of Monday Night RAW, and not during a PPV event.
Darren Young vs. The Miz – I want to like this pairing between Darren Young and Bob Backlund, but Backlund is almost too over the top for Darren Young. It just doesn’t feel like a natural pairing, no matter how close they are behind the scenes. Also, I was legitimately concerned for Bob Backlund’s health following his two bumps at ringside. The second one especially seemed to knock him literally senseless, and left me more concerned with his health than the direction they were trying to take in the match. I love Bob Backlund, and I’m okay with him in small doses if it is better for his overall health, given his age.