The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of WrestlingINC.com or its staff.
WWE Battleground was quite the polarizing event—both in the build and the pay-per-view broadcast itself. I present to you two forms of reaction: my initial reaction (written Sunday night), followed by my thoughts following Monday's Raw. Then, some thoughts on TNA's apparent youth movement and more await you in today's B4B!
WWE Battleground: What'd you expect?
The majority of the Internet Wrestling Community left WWE Battleground with a sour taste in their mouths. I didn't. The reason for our differing opinions is simple: expectations.
Seriously, for those of you upset with the finish to Battleground, I ask one simple question. What'd you expect?
I can see the forest for the trees: this wasn't a major PPV, it wasn't even a transitional PPV. It was a "money-grab" PPV. While it's both the quote for the current WWE era and the name for the column, the phrase "best for business" really described why the WWE even had Battleground to begin with. Even if it draws a 12-month low buy rate, it's still profitable. By a decent margin, too.
As my pay-per-view predictions will show you, I fully expected a non-finish to the main event at Battleground. Why would the WWE crown their new champion at Battleground, when Hell In A Cell looms in the not-too-distant future? The Daniel Bryan-Randy Orton feud, at times marred with outside influences and interference, is tailor made to end at Hell In A Cell. And if we know Triple H, we know he has a certain affinity for the Cell structure, so he's going to want to end this feud inside of it.
On our post-PPV edition of the Greg DeMarco Show, cohost (and new DeMarcette) Heather Lynn described her feeling after the pay-per-view as "unsatisfied." She expected a new WWE Champion at the end of the pay-per-view. Many of you did as well. You know what your complaints would have been if Daniel Bryan ended the night as WWE Champion? "He's just going to get screwed on Raw!" You know what your reaction would have been if Randy Orton ended the night as WWE Champion? "We got screwed again! Why waste Bryan's build on this?" You know what you'll say when Daniel Bryan leaves Hell In A Cell as WWE Champion? "It took too damn long!"
The WWE simply cannot win with the hardcore, internet fan base.
Luckily for the WWE, that only comprises approximately 25% of the audience. We're forgetting about the WWE's biggest customer: the casual fan. I affectionately refer to them as "Cans" in my columns. The Cans are the luckiest fans. They watched Battleground just to be entertained. They loved the Big Show's involvement (as did the crowd, by the way). This a monthly trip to Hooters, or to hang out with the fellas (but not Sheamus). In October, they get two chances to fill up on wrestling—why waste them?
I've read so many "I knew this was going to happen" reactions to the finish to Battleground. Well if you knew it was going to happen, why are you mad? You knew it was going to happen!
Look, we all knew it was going to happen—some of us just chose to alter our expectations because of it. Thanks to that, we enjoyed WWE Battleground.
After seeing Monday's Raw, there's very little I can see to change about Battleground. But my Greg DeMarco Show cohost Patrick O'Dowd made a great point—actually he threw one of my oft used points in my face! I've long said that how you end a show goes a long way to the overall perception of the show. While it may have telegraphed the ending of Orton-Bryan a little (but we all knew it was going to happen, right?), put that match on second to last, with the Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. The Shield match going on last. It can be justified as either an important moment (potentially the last time we see any member of the Rhodes Family on WWE television) or yet another snafu by RAW General Manager Brad Maddox.
But with a Rhodes'-Shield main event, we get a satisfying ending—one that makes the viewers happy and excited for Hell In A Cell.
Is TNA Preparing for a Youth Movement?
Last Thursday's Impact Wrestling featured a desperate Dixie Carter dropping to her knees to beg Hulk Hogan to stay in TNA—the exact same thing that AJ Styles promised Dixie she'd do for him. Some are calling it a bit of "creative control" from The Hulkster himself, and they might be right. But in this instance, it worked. Dixie is putting herself on a pedestal, saying she's responsible for what success TNA has achieved.
But if she's truly going to be a heel, she needs to be a full-on chicken-you-know-what heel. And begging Hulk Hogan to stay accomplishes that. Sure, Hogan is likely to go on radio programs pretending that Dixie begged him to stay in real life. We all know the truth, and it shall set us free.
But TNA did accomplish some great things on Impact Wrestling. It was our second week in a row involving Kenny King, and we also got some character development for Chris Sabin and Velvet Sky, aka "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Elizabeth. For the record, this is TNA's second time ripping off Savage, and only slightly less blatant than Black Machismo.
But we also saw the next step in the process to build "Ethan," who we all now know is former WWE NXT winner Derrick Bateman (also known as Michael Hutter). Hutter has already shown more personality in one TNA promo than in his entire WWE run, and if the rumors are true—that he's the first of several young stars set to debut, than TNA is getting this right. Hutter is the right type of ex-WWE Superstar for TNA. Much like "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero, he represents "the one that got away," where he can go to TNA and shine. If TNA were smart, they'd bring back the former Trent Baretta, as well as sign a few very talented wrestlers from the indies. And if they really want to have AJ Styles lose at Bound For Glory, the right interference isn't from Aces & Eights—it's from a returning Matt Morgan.
While TNA isn't in a good place right now, they are a few moves away from resetting things in a way that can build some confidence from the hardcore internet fan base, one that is far more important to TNA than it is to WWE.
Unlike some of the WrestlingInc community commenting in Marc Middleton's Raw coverage, I rather enjoyed Raw, and this is becoming a trend for me. We saw a mini payoff as The Big Show knocked out Triple H, and Daniel Bryan got the last laugh despite being pinned by The Shield's Seth Rollins. If this puts plans in motion for an eventual Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H match, sign me up.
One rather random element of Raw was the introduction of John Cena as the next challenger to Alberto Del Rio's World Heavyweight Championship. I mean, c'mon, who has he beat to earn a damn title shot!?!? I kid, but there is one serious problem with this announcement: it's too soon.
John Cena had surgery (to remove what appeared to be a junior league football) from his elbow on August 20. WWE presents Hell In A Cell on October 27, just two months and one week after Cena's surgery. If you remember, John Cena's expected recovery time was 4-6 months...four months is the fast end of that timeframe!
John Cena being in the title picture isn't fresh, but that's not the concern. Either the WWE brass, John Cena himself, or both entities, are trading in 2-4 months of Cena in the ring now for quite possibly the last few years of his Hall of Fame career. He could reinjure his arm and be out for a year. Worse off, he could cause nerve damage that ends his career altogether. Ratings have proven that neither Daniel Bryan nor Randy Orton are the face of the WWE.
The WWE needs to find that face, and find him now. I actually believe he's there, but that's another Best For Business for another time!
- If AJ Lee is really out with a concussion, should the WWE Divas Championship be held in abeyance?
- I said last week that I was "in" after week one of Los Matadores and El Torito. Honestly, I can't say the same after week two. I already want to see something more, and I fear that this will get really old, really fast.
- If the WWE plays their cards right, The Cesaro Swing could accomplish for Antonio Cesaro what "YES! YES! YES!" accomplished for Daniel Bryan. While I don't see him as the face of the company, I do think that a big face run would likely lead to a heel run at the top. He's world championship material, that's for sure.
- The WWE did feel the need to give me reason to complain about Battleground after all! It's the fact that we two rematches, including a live in-person replay of Cesaro's giant swing on The Great Khali. No, those weren't signature moments on the pay-per-view, but they had no reason to cart them out the very next night. At least wait until Smackdown, or even next Monday's Raw.
- I'm almost glad the WWE didn't announce CM Punk vs. Ryback for Hell In A Cell. I don't care to see that rematch. It's time for Punk to get his hands on Paul Heyman, and if the WWE were smart they'd figure out a way to put those two in the Cell structure on October 27.
Over the weekend, Matt Hardy married Reby Sky in what appeared to be a beautiful North Carolina wedding surrounded by family and friends. Props to them, as they seem to be a very happy couple. I hope Hardy knows how lucky he is—not just because she's one of the hottest women on the planet (and one who is 11 years younger than him), but because he found someone willing to stick with him through "the dark times" of his substance abuse. She's likely more to credit for his recovery than we'll ever know, and hopefully it sticks. As a man who celebrated 14 years of marriage back in May, I can't wish anything but the best for the happy couple.
Watch out for news about The Greg DeMarco Show, soon to be presented exclusively at WrestlingInc.com. If you'd like to familiarize yourself with the show, myself, cohost Patrick O'Dowd, former WWE/NXT Diva (and current Shine Wrestling star) Su Yung and Florida based independent manager/announcer Heather Lynn, check out the WWE Battleground reaction show that aired live right after the PPV. Click here to listen. Coming to the show Sunday, October 13 is former WWE NXT talent, best-selling author (and Dolph Ziggler's brother) Briley Pierce!
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