The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of WrestlingINC.com or its staff.
Almost everything about the WWE's upcoming Battleground pay-per-view seems forced. From the recycling of feuds and storylines to the rushed build-up of the show, Battleground has failed to generate the typical excitement that usually takes place on the days leading up to a WWE ppv.
I think the main issue with this is that Battleground seems like an unnecessary ppv event. It takes place only 21 days after Night of Champions, and only 21 days before Hell in a Cell. Three weeks after a ppv is not that much time to establish any significant build-up, so that is why we are seeing a lot of the same feuds from Night of Champions being set up for Battleground.
After winning the WWE Championship at Night of Champions, and then predictably being stripped of the title the following night on Raw, Daniel Bryan will try to regain the title against Randy Orton. The WWE Championship is currently vacated, but it might as well be around Randy Orton's waist, because the feud is being booked with Randy Orton playing the cocky veteran and Daniel Bryan unproven upstart.
The problem I have with this feud is that it is being built the same way as Night of Champions, but the events that took place at Night of Champions cause the build-up to Battleground make no sense. Randy Orton is claiming that Daniel Bryan can't beat him and that he does not what have it takes to be champion. However, Daniel Bryan BEAT Randy Orton at Night of Champions for the WWE Championship. So how can Orton say that Bryan cannot be champion when he clearly has already won the title from him, not to mention the victory over John Cena at Summerslam.
The WWE sort of foresaw this problem by having Bryan defeat Orton via fast count by the referee. However, I felt that they did a poor job executing the fast count storyline. Essentially, Triple H said that Armstrong messed up and fired the guy. Since HHH is a heel, it made it seem that Triple H was just bitter that his guy lost, and that even though Bryan won fair and square, he was going to be stripped of the title for some cock-and-bull excuse. That does not work if you are going to have Orton come out every week and declare that Bryan cannot win the WWE Championship. Instead, I think they should have had Bryan come out angry at Armstrong and surrender the title willingly, then the crowd can actually believe that Bryan may not be able to defeat Orton.
I think that Randy Orton comes out on top at Battleground, simply because they have invested too much in the "Best For Business" storyline with the McMahon family and Randy Orton to have Orton lose AGAIN to Bryan. It is obvious this match is going to be seen again at Hell in a Cell, and I think the safest and most logical way to get there is through Orton holding the WWE Championship.
Paul Heyman and CM Punk continue their long-running feud that started in July and has now stretched into October, with the addition of Ryback into the feud. The biggest criticism I have of this feud is that Ryback vs Punk is being booked the EXACT same way as Lesnar vs Punk was being booked. Punk is going to take on a big guy that Heyman employees, Punk gets laid out by the bigger man on Raw, but fans are given hope by Punk's fighting spirit and his pure hatred for Paul Heyman.
The main difference between Punk/Lesnar and Punk/Ryback is that Ryback is a vastly inferior performer to Brock Lesnar. While neither man is going to wow anybody on the microphone, Lesnar is a much, much better wrestler, and Brock has a fantastic understanding of in-ring psychology that Ryback has not even begun to learn.
So basically, we are getting a worse version of Punk vs Lesnar. Why would a fan want to pay money to see a second-rate version of something that they have already seen? It would be like going to see a Dark Knight sequel, only this time Robert Pattinson is playing the Joker.
Anyways, like Orton vs Bryan, I think this match extends to Hell in a Cell, so I think that Ryback will win, probably with interference from Heyman and Curtis Axel. At HIAC, we could see Ryback, Heyman and Axel vs Punk inside the Cell, with Punk getting an ally in the feud. (How crazy would it be to see Colt Cabana return to the WWE? Illogical I know, but imagine how brilliant it would be?)
In another rematch from Night of Champions, Alberto Del Rio will defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Rob Van Dam. The match is being booked as a Hardcore match, which has some fans excited that we may see some intense violence that we have not seen in a WWE ring in a long time. Frankly, I think that it will be a standard Extreme Rules match, with the typical chair shots to the back and the overuse of the Singapore Cane.
Rob Van Dam only has a few dates left on his current contract, so it is unlikely that he will capture the WHC. There is some speculation that Rob Van Dam could capture the title, only to lose it when Ricardo Rodriguez betrays him and aligns with Damien Sandow, who cashes in his MITB briefcase and wins the WHC.
I find this unlikely for two reasons. The first is that Damien Sandow has been booked terribly since he won the briefcase, and I know the WWE likes to book the MITB holders weakly, Sandow has been a joke and a jobber since he won it. Perhaps he can pick up a win on the preshow against Dolph Ziggler, but even then I think he needs a few more wins to boost his credibility. The second reason is that I find it unlikely that Ricardo Rodriguez would align himself with Damien Sandow. Sandow's best tool is his ability to draw heat from the crowd in promos before his match, with Ricardo involved, that ability is sort of nullified. I just see it as an awkward pairing that would not really benefit either party.
The Rhodes family vs The Shield is the match that I personally feel is the most exciting match on the card. The buildup has been really, really good for this one, and the WWE has done a really solid job at getting fan support behind Cody and Goldust. This is looking fantastic for Cody Rhodes, as after this feud he could very well be a top face for the company. The crowds interest in both the Rhodes family and The Shield is very high, which I think will make it the most entertaining match of the night.
Obviously, it looks like the Rhodes family is going to win this match, as it is important that Cody Rhodes gets his job back. I also could see this match being for the Tag Team Championship, with the Rhodes family coming out on top. This frees up the Shield to do more, while also allowing the Wyatt family to slide in and take the tag belts from a face team like the Rhodes family.
Once again, AJ Lee will wrestle an inferior opponent for her Diva's title. This time, Brie Bella, who is somehow now a face after the WWE dedicated a ton of time to making her and her sister heels. I really do not understand how the WWE expects us fans to cheer for Brie and cheer against AJ, outside of the fact that Brie is affiliated with Daniel Bryan. I do not see any reason to take the title off of AJ, so unless some disastrous booking takes place, AJ should retain her title.
Dolph Ziggler vs Damien Sandow which takes place on the pre-show, could be a really good match and is my sleeper pick for match of the night. I think that Dolph will come out on top, because the only person that is being booked worse than Dolph Ziggler is Damien Sandow.
Curtis Axel will retain the Intercontinental Championship in a match so meaningless it does not deserve to be on the ppv. The IC title is probably in the worst shape it has ever been in, and I do not think that Axel or Truth could do anything to save it.
As you can tell, I have pretty low expectations for Battleground. I see this ppv as basically a filler show to get us to the more important events like Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series. The WWE knows that there are people who will buy every ppv they produce, no matter how crappy they book it, so that is why they have ppvs like Battleground that really do not need to take place.