The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of WrestlingINC.com or its staff.
Note: I chose Vince McMahon's picture for this article because Vince McMahon and Vince McMahon's wallet were the only real winners from this pay-per-view.
The WWE makes a majority of its income from a contingent of fans who will purchase their ppvs regardless of who is on the card and the buildup. Some of these places are bars and restaurants; others are just people who have all their friends come over to watch it every month. The fact is though, if the WWE has more ppv shows like Battleground, that market of fans is going to shrink.
The show was headlined by Randy Orton taking on Daniel Bryan for the vacated WWE Championship. Because of the booking leading up to the match, it was fairly obvious that the WWE would work in anything but a clean ending. However, while I expected a screwjob ending, I never expected that we wouldn't get an ending AT ALL.
Technically, the match between Bryan and Orton was pretty good. It started out kind of slow, but the action picked up as both men worked towards the finish. Both Orton and Bryan are really good at what they did, and they got a good reaction from the sometimes bored Buffalo crowd. As the action picked up and it looked like a good finish was coming up, the Big Show's music came out and everything went to hell.
On paper, I believe that the "Best For Business" storyline is a good idea, and that Bryan and Orton are capable workers in pulling it off. Conversely, I believe that the "Big Show Has No Money" storyline is a horrific idea. Now that the two have mixed, it has muddled up the good idea and has just created a mess of a storyline that I believe is going to hurt everyone that is involved in it.
I am a firm believer in that the main event for a ppv should end in a decision. It can be a screwjob finish, it could be a controversial ending, it could even end in a DQ, but it needs to be clear to the viewer what happened. With the exorbitant price ppvs cost these days, I think the WWE owes it to the viewer to give them something that they can react too, not just a confusing mishmash of nonsense. Big Show coming out and knocking out both Bryan and Orton, plus two referees, and then the ppv cutting out with Big Show in the ring and nobody having a clue what was going on, was something that is not going to make fans say "Wow, I can't believe what Big Show did." Instead, they are most likely going to say "Wait a minute, what the hell happened with the match?" And that is not good.
Moving on, Ryback vs CM Punk had an interesting finish to their match. Punk defeated Ryback when Heyman distracted the ref trying to give Ryback the advantage, and then Punk hit Ryback with a low blow to pick up the victory. It is pretty obvious that Ryback and Punk will meet again inside the Hell in a Cell later this month, but I thought the WWE made a mistake by having Ryback lose. Yeah, he did not lose cleanly, but wouldn't it have been better for Ryback's momentum to let him get a win over Punk?
The match itself was fairly boring. For the most part, Ryback dominated most of the match and frankly, the fans do not care that much about Ryback. It was not until Punk made his comeback did the crowd spark to life. Personally, I have not been a big fan of this feud, and extending it until at least Hell in a Cell is not really something that I am excited about.
In what was in my opinion the match of the night, Cody Rhodes and Goldust defeated Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, to get Dusty, Goldust and Cody's jobs back. In a ppv that saw a lot of criticism for lackluster build, the Rhodes family taking on The Shield was the one match that was booked very well, and it showed in not only the quality of the match, but in the reaction from the crowd. It was great to see Cody and Goldust get really over with the crowd, and it was a great boost to the continued face rise of Cody Rhodes.
It was also great to see Goldust get a prominent spot in the WWE. For the first half of his wrestling career, Goldust achieved a lot of success, but for the second half he was mostly an afterthought. Goldust probably does not have a lot of matches left on his odometer, so it was great to see him in the spotlight one more time.
Alberto Del Rio retained his World Heavyweight Championship in his match against Rob Van Dam. The match took place under hardcore rules, and I think it started the ppv off on a really good foot. The crowd was into it, and both RVD and ADR came out with some different stuff and not just the typical chair shots and kendo stick blows that the WWE usually rolls out in every no-disqualification match.
One problem I do have is that ADR was not really booked as the heel in this match. On the surface, Del Rio was the man who had to fight off an outsider who interfered in the match. Del Rio was the one who came up the creative finish and the man who overcame the odds and won fair and square. ADR has enough trouble getting heat as it is, he needs to pick up his victories as cheaply and as dastardly as possible.
After the WHC match, I felt that the WWE made a big mistake in trotting out three straight matches that the fans were not really invested in. Santino and Khali vs The Real Americans was a throw away match that was 99% a waste of time, the exception being Cesaro's impressive Giant Swing on Khali.
After that match came R-Truth vs Curtis Axel. The match was fairly boring with Axel going over cleanly. I feel like the WWE is getting into a rut where the IC and US titles are neglected until the last week before a ppv where a match is thrown together at the last minute. For those titles to matter at all, they need to have time and energy put into them to establish storylines that can contribute to the matches.
Lastly, AJ Lee defeated Brie Bella retaining the Diva's title in a very bland match with a dumb ending. Although I believe AJ is a very good champion, she lacks the challenger to push her and the Divas division to the next level. Trish Stratus had Lita, Manami Toyota had Kyoko Inoue, The Fabulous Moohla had Mae Young etc; AJ just seems to take on whoever the WWE thinks is worthy of a title shot. Eventually, they are going to need to find someone to push AJ (Paige?) or else she is going to lose all her momentum and stop being special.
After those three matches, I think a number was done on the crowd, and it was tough to recover from that. A lot of the momentum gained from the first match was lost in those three matches, and it hampered the show the rest of the way.
Bray Wyatt vs Kofi Kingston was a pretty cool match. Kofi got in some good offense which was good. Bray Wyatt should remain strong (which he did) but they made him seem a little bit more mortal, which gives the WWE a greater range of options in what they can do with his character. Wyatt doing the Exorcist spider walk was great spot and Kofi sold being creeped out really well.
The pre-show match was a decent contest, but it really was a lose-lose situation. Sandow is just being absolutely buried right now, and the WWE clearly has no plans for Dolph Ziggler. I don't know why the WWE likes to bury guys who hold the MITB briefcase, but I have to say I do not think it is a very successful strategy.
Overall, I think we are looking at the worst ppv of the year from the WWE. I was not a huge fan of Payback or Extreme Rules, but I just think the lack of buildup, and the terrible booking really slowed down an event that had some good matches on paper. Battleground was a throw away ppv, and frankly, I do not think there should ever be a "throw away ppv". Every major show that fans pay a lot of money to see should be presented with some good preparation and some real creative effort, and Battleground certainly lacked that.