I’m sitting here almost 24 hours removed from WWE’s Battleground and I’m struggling to remember what exactly happened on the show. Of course, I remember the outcome of the main event and the thrilling rubber match between John Cena and Kevin Owens, but the rest of the show just seemed a monotonous blur. Perhaps that’s indicative of how jaded and disillusioned I am with WWE lately, but very little of what the company puts out there seems to make much of an impression upon me at the moment.
There was yet another match between Wade Barrett and R-Truth over a fictitious crown, relegated to the pre-show because that’s where a feud nobody asked for in the first place belongs. Ron Killings has always been a hell of a hand in my opinion, but age and WWE’s insistence that he plays the buffoon character have slowed him down considerably. And as for Wade Barrett, the way he’s spinning his wheels at the moment is another poignant reminder that Steve Austin was a lighting-in-a-bottle aberration and that the King of the Ring title is usually a poisoned chalice for whomever wins it.
At some point during the night there was a match between Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns. Much like his mostly one-sided feud with Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt was inserted into a story with Roman Reigns for nebulous reasons (in other words, WWE creative couldn’t think of one). The match itself was decent enough, but the interference of Luke Harper means the feud must continue for at least another month. You can have big blowout brawls til the cows come home, but at the end of the day I’m not going to buy that these guys have a blood feud going if you don’t sell me something better than “Oh, I just didn’t want you winning Money in the Bank, dude.”
The ladies had a triple threat match to showcase the reinvigorated Divas division. I’m no great fan of NXT (shock and horror to some, I’m sure), but I will readily admit that the one saving grace of NXT has been the women. I’m not crazy about how the storyline came to be – Stephanie McMahon, who always manages to wear the most towering of high heels in any segment with another female so she can maintain her Amazonian taskmistress image, essentially press-gangs a bunch of Divas into three different teams and tells them to fight for “competition’s sake” – but whatever, there’s new blood in the division and the majority of them can work a good match if they’re given enough time and direction. Of the already established Divas, I hope Naomi isn’t lost in the shuffle here, because I truly believe she’s the most talented raw athlete of the bunch.
For the last five or six years, Randy Orton and Sheamus have had about 751 matches on television or pay-per-view. Last night was another one. I honestly can’t remember who won, that’s how much I care about watching these two fight each other.
The tag titles were also defended. I think both the Prime Time Players and the New Day are all solid in the ring, but I’m irritated that the tag team division has regressed somewhat when it seemed like it was on the verge of exploding into something as good as the 80’s heyday or even the late 90’s/early 2000’s Dudleyz/Hardys/Edge & Christian/APA era.
But then! Like a light in the dark there was John Cena against Kevin Owens for the US Title. Match of the night by a country mile (although the second match between the pair is still my favorite of the series) and a great way to further showcase what Kevin Owens can do in big money matches. There was, as expected, plenty of negativity online surrounding the outcome of the match, but I’m perfectly fine with it. Yes, there is a trollish part of me that simply enjoys watching the saltiness of the internet wrestling community overflow whenever Cena wins a match they don’t want him to, but from a fan’s perspective I’m happy with it because the continuity of a long reign coupled with the amazing matches during Cena’s run with the US Title is helping a once important belt held by the likes of Steamboat, Funk, Flair, Piper, Dusty, Rude, et al mean something again.
It’s also firmly establishing a true secondary title in the WWE again. Think back to the 80’s and early 90’s when the Intercontinental Title had the kind of prestige it did. More often than not the holder would go on to be a future World Champion. Not only that, but IC Title matches back in the day were often the showstealing matches on the card, which is what I’m seeing at the moment with the US Title. When someone finally takes the belt from Cena it’s going to (hopefully) be an epic moment, and even though their rivalry might be over for the time being, I think Kevin Owens may still end up being the one to capture it from Cena.
And then there was the main event.
I saw this from Sean Waltman (X-Pac) on Twitter last night.
Do you people do this shit during movies & everything else too? How do you enjoy anything. Just find something else if it sucks so bad.
— Sean Waltman (@TheRealXPac) July 20, 2015
On one hand, I can understand where he’s coming from. If you’re sitting there in the Twitter peanut gallery following along to any wrestling show while it’s live you’re going to end up seeing a mountain of negativity, vitriol, or if you’re following someone like me, dorky MST3k-style riffing on what’s happening in the ring. That said, the fans are putting hard earned dollars into the WWE for entertainment purposes, so they naturally have certain expectations going into the big events. One of those expectations is for definitive finishes to main event matches.
I’m okay with a schmozz finish or a no-contest for matches on Raw or Smackdown, but I can understand the frustrations of those Waltman accused of bitching about the surprise return of the Undertaker at the expense of a finish to a World Title match on a pay-per-view. I don’t see any reason why the Undertaker’s gong couldn’t have sounded, distracted Lesnar long enough for Rollins to get a quick roll-up, and then Taker appeared. The surprised crowd reaction aside, if you stop and think about it logically in kayfabe, Undertaker interfering the way he did is kind of a dick heel move. Is there any way Undertaker is going to work as a heel for the inevitable Summerslam match? Is Undertaker seeking revenge for what Heyman and Lesnar did to Kane? Is he working for the Authority? Are we going to see the Authority go all Ministry of Darkness now?
No, I seriously doubt it. And that drives me crazy, because Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, without changing much of anything about their characters, have turned into the hottest and most endearing babyface combination on the roster. Brock’s viking warrior feels-no-pain badassery is so over with the crowd right now I have to question why on earth you’d want to put him up against a beloved old warhorse like the Undertaker. Anything that calls into question Brock’s authority as the top babyface in the company has me shaking my head.
And that was it. Seth Rollins disappears into a black hole, Undertaker tombstones Brock, fade to black. I can totally understand why a fan would be a little cheesed off or at the least bemused about that ending.
At the end of the day, Battleground was another in a long series of underwhelming WWE supershows this year, most likely to be completely forgotten about in a few months apart from Taker’s return. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend checking out the Cena vs. Owens match and perhaps the last few minutes of the main event. The rest is entirely disposable. Thumbs down overall.