This Sunday brings us just the second Battleground PPV ever in the history of mankind. If that’s not a fact worth getting excited about, then I’m not sure what is
If truth be told, last year’s Battleground PPV was the absolute epitome of the term “damp squib”. It massively failed to deliver, and yours truly recalls a couple of high profile wrestling reporters declaring the PPV as being on a level of that of most house shows. That isn’t a complement, kids.
I think it’s fair to say that its positioning on the calendar makes it a difficult PPV to sell. Coming just 3 weeks after Money in the Bank – which always provides an entertaining stuntfest – and with the Summerslam extravaganza on the immediate horizon, it’s hard to perceive the PPV as little more than a stop-gap.
Let’s try our best to remain optimistic here though as WWE has done a pleasing job in setting up the PPV so far (aside from the obvious outcome of the main event), and it’s also Chris Jericho’s forst PPV outing in months, so that’s rather splendid.
A whopping 8 bouts have been confirmed as I type this, thusly 8 match predictions ye shall receive…
PRE SHOW BOUT
Cameron v Naomi
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. At a time when WWE’s financial woes are well documented and the WWE Network is little more than a money pit for the company, you’d assume they’d be seeking to appease fans’ needs more so that ever in an attempt to steer the ship towards greener pastures…
So it is completely and utterly unfathomable to me that anyone would think that this match will act as an incentive to make fans pay for the PPV that follows. Jeez… I’d pay extra for this bout NOT to feature on the card in any way, shape or form. Surely the silence that greets these two during all their TV appearances is a big enough clue that the wrestling audiences have about as much interest in this as they do in, say, Michael Gove being sacked as the UK Education Secretary. You feel me?
I’m willing to admit that Naomi is a decent enough wrestler by WWE Diva standards… But Cameron has about as much wrestling talent as my grandmother… Only I think my grandmother could probably put on a better match than her after being giving 10 minutes of training. Putting her on a PPV event is simply insulting to the audience (Cameron that is. Not my grandmother. She should be on every PPV).
Naomi has to win, because if she doesn’t every wrestler up in Heaven will shed a tear and it will rain for 7 months.
Jack Swagger v Rusev
Can Jack Swagger be a fully-fledged babyface despite his manager and mouthpiece being a massively outspoken racist? I certainly hope so! It’s been a while since WWE has done anything overly controversial – a racist babyface could be just the ticket!
Hats off to WWE, they’ve done a superb job in the build for this match – and Jack Swagger is undoubtedly currently receiving the biggest crowd pops of his career… And all he’s done is a spout a catchphrase now and then inbetween Zeb Colter’s monologues! Meanwhile, Lana is barely audible on TV due to the volume of ‘USA’ chants.
I’m expecting this to be Rusev’s longest bout to date, but still fully expect a clean victory for the Russian brick sh*thouse. Swagger is surely just another stepping stone until Rusev starts battling with the big boys. I’d say a match with Sheamus at Summerslam for the US Title is very likely indeed.
DIVAS TITLE MATCH
AJ Lee (c) v Paige
Despite these two already trading the Divas Yitle twice, this is the first PPV outing for the duo – the first of which will surely be many.
A lot of people are predicting a slow heel turn from Paige as she grows frustrating in being unable to regain the gold from AJ… and I am totally predicting the same.
Whether that heel turn comes before Summerslam or not, I’m not sure… But I pick AJ to retain here and their uneasy friendship to grow even uneasier in the aftermath.
Pick: AJ retains
IC TITLE BATTLE ROYAL
Fandango, RVD, Dolph Ziggler, Great Khali, The Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, Alberto Del Rio, Bo Dallas, R-Truth, Ryback, Xavier Woods, Curtis Axel, Zack Ryder, Big E, Titus O’Neill, Kofi Kingston, Sin Cara, Heath Slater, Diego
PPV outings for Zack Ryder AND Heath Slater??! What a momentuous occasion for the underdogs of the WWE roster!
I’m a little disheartened to see a winner for the vacant IC Title strap being decided by a battle royal. We’ve seen plenty in the last few months – one for Dean Ambrose’s US Title (that Sheamus won); one for a spot in MITB (which Roman Reigns won); and, of course, the Andre the Giant memorial at Wrestlemania (which Cesaro won).
My main issue with there being another one is that battle royals just aren’t entertaining matches. We get 10-15 minutes of guys looking lost in the ring and throwing weak offence at whoever stumbles past them as they await their cue to be tossed out. Then when we get to the last 6 or 7 contenders, the action switches to highly choreographered spots that often makes those eliminated look that the dumbest idiots imaginable (“Don’t charge at him at full pace whilst he’s leaning on the ropes! He’s gonna duck, dumbass! Haven’t you ever seen any other battle royal ever in the history of pro-wrestling?!”).
A fatal four way match looking something like Ziggler v Miz v Cesaro v RVD would have made for a much better PPV match for the vacant title I reckon. But WWE likely (definitely?) doesn’t care what I reckon, so alas it is what it is.
There are several guys involved here than can be considered genuine contenders (ADR, The Miz, Sheamus), but I see two likely winners for this one. My number 2 pick is Bo Dallas. He’s on a big winning streak (15 and Bo!) and he’s already getting big reactions from live audiences for his hilarious heel antics. Bad News Barrett is going to be on hand to give the title to the battle royal winner, and I can imagine a pretty funsome scenario where the ‘Bad News” gimmick clashes with the positivity of Bo’s “bo-lieve” speeches.
But instead, I’m picking Cesaro for the win. He’s already proved himself a dab hand in battle royals (who doesn’t love a bit of continuity?), and, a few weeks further down the line, I envision both guys in Paul Heyman’s mini-stable holding gold.
Since I scribbled that paragraph above, rumours have surfaced that Heyman and Cesaro’s relationship could be over, with Heyman focusing all of his managerial prowess on just Lesnar from here on out. I really hope that isn’t the case, as Cesaro benefits hugely from the Heyman rub – plus an abrupt, unexplained ending to their partnership would just be stupid. Be that as it may, I’m still picking Cesaro for the win. His TV losses of late would only serve to show him as a “beatable” champion, which WWE thinks adds excitement to future title matches. Honestly.
Chris Jericho v Bray Wyatt
Hip hip hooray! Chris Jericho is back again to save us! Though sadly, he’s only rumoured to be saving us for about 3 months. Baaaaaah, humbug!
Wrestling aficionados know the drill by now – the drill being Jericho returns to put others over and then bogs off again for another few months. And I don’t see any reason to expect any different here. Jericho has supposedly specifically asked to work a programme with Bray, and Y2J’s selfless intentions will be to elevate his opponent in a way that’s best for business (not pointlessly bury him like Super Cena did).
Jericho lost waaaaaay too many PPV bouts during his last run (against the likes of Sheamus, Ryback, CM Punk and, er, Fandango) thus I feel he needs to kick off his 2014 run with a win – just to remind us all that he genuinely is a big deal. I’ve no doubt whatsoever that Bray Wyatt will emerge victorious from the feud in the long run, but I foresee round 1 going to Jericho.
Pick: Chris Jericho
TAG TITLE MATCH: 2 out of 3 FALLS
The Usos (c) v The Wyatt Family
Hey, wait a minute… I remember this match from 3 weeks ago. And the week before that. And 2 weeks before that. And again a week before that. And again 2 weeks before. And twice the week before that. And a couple of times the month before that.
The tag team division isn’t massively shallow at the mo (Rybaxel, Rhodes Brothers, R-Truth & Xavier, Los Matadores etc), but for some reason, WWE is intent on repeating this match for the tag titles over and over again.
These four chaps unquestionably have great chemistry (which has to be expected by this point!), and I’ve no doubts this will be a mighty entertaining match as ever, but the feud really has to end here.
I think Harper and Rowan have to win now, otherwise they’ll just be left floundering and looking weak after blowing so many chances to claim the gold. Next I want to see the bearded behemoths battle Stardust and Goldust at Summerslam. Talk about a clash of characters.
Pick: The Wyatt Family take the gold
Dean Ambrose v Seth Rollins
I’d argue that Ambrose really needs the win here. Whilst Reigns has jumped straight into the main event scene with the big guns and Rollins has won the MITB briefcase and aligned himself with HHH, Ambrose has found himself on the end of a couple of major ass-kickings (one which kept him off RAW this week) and even suffered a clean loss on TV last week (against Orton) – something that neither of his ex-Shield buddies have had to endure yet.
Ambrose is still super-over (seriously, the crowd-pop for him at the MITB PPV was insane) but needs a big win to emphasise he’s on the same upwards trajectory as Rollins and Reigns.
These guys should get a good 15 minutes to weave their wrestling tale, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it earns the crown of ‘match of the night’. Come the bell, I’m predicting a hard fought victory for Ambrose.
Pick: Dean Ambrose
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE FATAL 4 WAY MATCH
John Cena (c) v Kane v Roman Reigns v Randy Orton
John Cena’s going to win. You know it, I know it, John knows it, Little Jimmy knows it… Even that weird old tramp lady who feeds the pigeons in Home Alone 2 knows it.
WWE has leaked that Cena will be facing Brock Lesnar at Summerslam so many times now that it’s a complete embarrassment. A lot of folk within that company really need to learn how embargoed material is supposed to be treated.
My one hope for this match is that Seth Rollins’ briefcase isn’t wasted. I’d hate to see him cash-in and then be thwarted by Cena courtesy of assistance from Reigns or Ambrose or anyone else he might have pissed off lately. When the company has a briefcase holder, it gives an edge to every main event title match – a buzz of uncertainty. It would be stupid to rob the programming of that ‘edge’ when Seth still has the option to hold on to his contract for 11 months yet. Wouldn’t you agree?
Pick: Super Cena retains
Those are my picks, jabronis. Please add your own below. I love it when you do.
Damien Sandow and Adam Rose have both reportedly been pulled from the battle royal and are thus rumoured to be featured in a match, although it’s yet to be confirmed. Should it occur, I think we can all safely pick the winner of that one. Can anyone remember the last time Sandow won a match?!
I’ll probably pass on watching the PPV. There’s not quite enough beef on the bone to tempt me into ordering. Plus I’m a vegetarian anyway. But Summerslam is nearly here, and hopefully Battleground can set temperatures soaring before the big event kicks off.
Over and out.