Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Catch-Up: WWE Battleground

It was the first pay per view since the brand split, but was it any good, and was it worth my reviewing it a few weeks after it happened? That’s what I was hoping to find out by watching WWE’s Battleground, shown recently on Sky Box Office here in the UK.

The show began with Divas action as Women’s Champion Charlotte and Dana Brooke took on Sasha Banks and her mystery partner Bayley.

To say that Bayley was over with those in attendance would probably be a colossal understatement. The crowd went wild for her when she was revealed as Sasha’s mystery partner, and the anticipation of her debut on the big stage added a little drama to the proceedings.

As for the match it was once again proof that the women’s division is no longer filler material. The action was crisp and sharp throughout, with both Sasha and Bayley taking the punching bag treatment before the all hell breaking loose segment, a segment which gave us some great back and forth moments between Charlotte and Sasha until the Boss finally made the champion tap out to the bank statement. Nice work all round.

More tag team action followed, this time of the six man variety, as Tag Team Champions the New Day faced the Wyatt Family.

I really enjoyed this one. Not only did you have two teams at the top of their game but you also had the very interesting storyline between Bray Wyatt and Xavier Woods, and whether Woods would be able to conquer his fears.

Bray and his boys looked in top form throughout, and I couldn’t help but think that perhaps these three should have been drafted as a unit to Smackdown. The way they tried to take Kofi Kingston apart showed how good they were, and it’s just a shame that we’re probably not going to see these big guys together again.

As for the champs, Big E, Kingston, and especially Woods played their part to perfection. The moment when Woods saved Kingston and finally conquered his fear as he took on the Wyatts by himself was played out extremely well, and you couldn’t help but will him on, hoping he’d get the win.

Sadly that never happened. With all know what going on around them Wyatt finally managed to put Woods away with sister Abigail for the winning pin.

The first title match of the evening saw Zack Ryder challenge Lana’s guy Rusev for the United States title.

Even though Ryder’s had some success this year it was pretty obvious how this one was going to play out. Don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining, but you kind of knew who was going to come out on top in this one.

The performances certainly can’t be faulted here. Both champion and challenger played their parts well, and there were times when it looked like Ryder was going to get the upset win, but that all went out of the window when the big Bulgarian countered Ryder’s top rope elbow and locked in the accolade. Ryder fought back briefly, but it wasn’t long before the inevitable happened and Ryder tapped out to give Rusev the submission win.

Rusev’s work was far from done though, or so he thought, because when he tried to put an exclamation point onto the proceedings Ryder’s partner Mojo Rawley ran in for the save, and despite the newcomer’s urgings, if you can call them that, Rusev backed down from the fight as it were.

The big grudge match followed as Sami Zayn went up against his old rival Kevin Owens.

I read on Facebook recently that these two should have been drafted to different shows because we’ve seen them against each other so many times now. I couldn’t disagree more. These two have such great chemistry with each other I that I could watch their matches every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

This was a perfect example of their work together, a terrific piece of storytelling that you couldn’t take your eyes off for fear of missing something. Both combatants played their parts brilliantly, and if I keep going like this I’ll probably run out of ways to describe just how good this was.

It’s ending was as dramatic as you’ll get. With both men having given their all, Zayn finally connected with the helluva kick. But instead of going for the pin Zayn propped Owens back in the corner and connected with a second kick before finally covering his rival for the three count.

It was back to Divas action for the next match as Natalya took on Becky Lynch.

This was just what the doctor ordered, a spot of good old fashioned submission wrestling, and the fact that it came from the women’s division made it even cooler.

Nattie looked in top form, as if she was almost thriving in her new role as the vile heel as she worked over Becky’s legs in preparation for her weapon of choice. It wasn’t all one-way traffic though, and Becky put in her fair share of great work as well as she looked to put the Anvil’s baby girl away with the disarmer.

But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be for the Irish lass kicker, and after some somewhat cheeky tactics Nattie finally made Becky tap out to the vaunted sharpshooter.

It was back to title action for the next match as new Bob Backlund guy Darren Young challenged Maryse’s old man the Miz for the Intercontinental title.

I suppose you could say that this was an interesting one. The crowd were kind of dead for the most part as both challenger and champion went about their business, and although the action was well executed, things didn’t really get going until Miz decided to up sticks and head for the hills, with Backlund stopping him from going up the aisle.

Then, as the action went back into the ring Backlund sold like a devil after Maryse slapped him. The Canadian beauty then fell to the ground as Backlund tried to rip off his shirt. Miz then confronted the Hall of Famer before falling to Young’s chicken wing at ringside. The referee then called for the bell as several other officials came down to force Young to release the hold.

As for the actual result, Wikipedia lists it as a double disqualification.

The penultimate match saw John Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass take on A.J. Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows.

Billed as the first time/last time ever kind of match, which means it will probably happen again sometime, this one didn’t really get going for a while, mainly, in part, to the pre-match speeches from our beloved heels, and when it did eventually start it wasn’t until Amore got the hot tag after taking the punching bag treatment that things really got going.

Needless to say that all of those involved managed to get their big spots in, and we had numerous near falls that were broken up various parties. Eventually it came down to Cena and Styles, with Cena finally putting his man away with an AA from the second rope for the winning pin.

After Chris Jericho’s guest Randy Orton returned to the fold and told us how he was going to beat Brock Lesnar at Summerslam it was on to the main event as Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns challenged Dean Ambrose for the WWE title.

I think you could say that this was one of the most anticipated triple threat matches in recent memory, not just because of the recent brand split, but because of a certain former champion’s suspension.

The match itself was a pretty decent affair. As expected Reigns’ comeback wasn’t met with the greatest of enthusiasm, while Rollins and Ambrose had the opposite effect on the crowd. All three men put in a great effort, even taking us back to the good old days of the Shield at one point when Ambrose and Rollins power bombed Reigns through the Spanish guy’s table.

The best moments were definitely saved for the final stages though, especially the three-way segments in which everyone pulled off their big moves, which lead beautifully to the finish, beginning when Rollins took Reigns down with a turnbuckle bomb. Reigns immediately came back with a Superman punch and a spear. It was then that Ambrose came back in to take Reigns down with the dirty deeds DDT for the winning pin, giving the Smackdown brand the big win.

In conclusion – yeah yeah, I know what you’re going to say. Why bother reviewing a show that took place a month ago? Well, I have had a few other things to sort out over the past few weeks, so I didn’t get the time to watch this thing.

But I’m glad I took a look at this thing a few weeks removed from the event. It meant that I could form a decent opinion without remembering what other experts said. And you know what? This was an enjoyable show.

Every match delivered, for the most part anyway, with the impending brand split adding a little more tension to the proceedings, even though some may be fooled by those “last time ever” tags that were used a few times. After all, didn’t Cena and the Rock meet more than once?

Anyway, as for my match of the night no-prize there was only ever one real contender, so step forward Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to collect your award.

So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do, and that’s to give Battleground the thumbs up.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll get around to watching Summerslam in the next few weeks!

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