Battleground is all done, and it’s on to Brand Split land. Battleground has been a throwaway show since it’s inception; would this year be any different? Let’s see:
Women’s Tag Team Match: Charlotte and Dana Brooke vs Sasha Banks and ???
OK, they went for the easy play here with Bayley as the mystery partner.
The crowd popped real good for her as she came down the aisle; I don’t think she’s going to have a problem translating to the main roster. Charlotte and Dana played the heel really well the whole time. Good opener; everyone got some work in for the time they got (just over 7 minutes). Banks got the submission on Charlotte, which will obviously be used to help set up their Summerslam match.
New Day vs The Wyatt Family
The last match for the Wyatt Family as constituted, as Bray and Erick Rowan are going to Smackdown and Braun Strowman is on RAW. Let me tell you, you cannot appreciate just how freaking huge Braun Strowman is until you see him in person. I mean, Big E is no shrimp and Strowman makes him look small. The big plot behind this match was Xavier Woods being shook at the prospect of fighting the Wyatts, and they played on it here. Late in the match Woods finally overcame his jitters and went after Bray, but got caught with Sister Abigail for the win. The Wyatts were in need of some kind of win here, so them getting the duke makes sense. Match was good and they got a lot in for the eight and a half minutes they had.
U.S. Title Match: Rusev (champ) vs Zack Ryder
Much better match than anyone was expecting here. Ryder got in a lot of good offense, including a flying dropkick off the top of the barricade outside. No one picked Ryder to win of course, but he did well enough to put some suspense into the match here. Rusev ultimately locked in the accolade for the submission win.
Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
One word: WOW. Match of the night, maybe match of the year. I didn’t think they could top their match from Payback but they blew that away here. So many great spots from both guys, topped by Sami hitting a suplex on the ring apron. To pick up a guy like Owens and nail that on such a small platform is just crazy. The ‘fight forever’ neverending beef between the two former friends works great as a theme and they sold the animosity as part of the action just great, often just throwing technique out of the window and going to slaps and fisticuffs. The finish was revenge at it’s best, with Sami hitting a heluva kick, refusing to let Kevin drop, then hitting him again for the win. Both guys are way over and while Kevin got good heel heat both guys got dueling chants at different parts of the match, and at one point we all just stood up and applauded. Great match.
Natalya vs Becky Lynch
I felt sorry for the ladies here. The crowd needed a cool off after the Zayn-Owens thriller, and the result was this match not getting much of a reaction. The match itself was good, although I was not expecting a clean submission win for Nattie given that this was their first match after a bunch of run-ins on each other. I don’t know if this means they’re done or what…I guess we’ll find out Tuesday.
Intercontinental Title Match: The Miz (champ) vs Darren Young
This was the only stinker on the show. Some ok work leading up to a FUBAR, WTF double DQ finish. Bathroom break match and nothing else.
John Cena, Enzo, and Cas vs The Club (AJ Styles, Gallows, and Anderson)
This was the fun, fan service match of the night. It was worth it just for Enzo and Cas’s pre-match monologue/smack talk. Those guys are WAY over. Enzo kicked it up a notch and the crown loved it, while Cas added a little bit to his usual short and simple part and pulled it off well. Good back and forth match, everybody got involved. Cena has got to enjoy these kinds of nights where he can leave a lot of the work to the other guys. Gallows and Anderson are very under the radar type workers. You start off not thinking much of them and then they pull out something crazy. Cena and company got the win, as expected. Perfect match to warm the crowd back up for the main event but not tire them out, either.
Main Event: WWE Title Match – Dean Ambrose (champ) vs Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns
I wasn’t sure what to expect here. Roman looked a little rusty, which makes sense seeing as he was out 30 days. He also looked like he’d been eating, too. The crowd absolutely crushed him for the whole match, only letting up when he did something cool. (That’s the big tell for the smart fans – booing Roman because that’s the cool thing to do, forgetting about it when he does something good, then going right back to it because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You smart fans aren’t that smart, ok? We’re on to you?) Hat’s off to Seth Rollins; he’s not letting up one bit after coming back. He’s hitting his springboard moves, flips, and even the power bombs like the one that blew out his knee last year. Lots of cool three way spots throughout, and some real crowd popping stuff. Very good match; Dean and Seth did most of the work here, though. Dean retained the title hitting Dirty Deeds on Roman after the final cool three way sequence of the match.
Excellent show, way better than expected going in. Only one real stinker on the show (Miz-Young), everybody worked well, and we got a match for the ages with Owens and Zayn. I saw some people complaining on Twitter in the weeks leading up that the SHIELD triple threat was too big a deal to waste on a throwaway show like Battleground. My answer to that is that the only way to not have throwaway shows is to have big matches on the shows outside the big four (Rumble, ‘Mania, Summerslam, Survivor Series). The show was worth the price of admission and the crowd was great all night. Glad to have been there.