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Ever since WWE launched the WWE Network, the idea of every PPV being a major show has slowly been dissipating. With the re-introduction of the brand split, new events are going to be brand exclusive, so as of today the world championship would not even be defended on each show. Battleground, the last official event to be held under the old roster construction, demonstrates this shift in major event promotion more than ever. With the exception of a couple of world championship matches, Battleground is being promoted heavily as a filler PPV waiting for SummerSlam. Three parts of the PPV, two matches and an interview segment, are major indicators that many of the "B" PPVs are no-more must-see than an episode of RAW or SmackDown.
John Cena vs AJ Styles has been a major feud for WWE, heavily promoted on both shows and outside of the WWE Championship match, the most important rivalry in the company. Styles got a victory over Cena at Money in the Bank thanks to interference by The Club. Normal WWE logic would indicate that Cena is going to get his victory back, and in the past that match would happen at Battleground which would set up a major grudge match at SummerSlam. Now, since PPV's (or as WWE likes to call them, Network Events) are not nearly as important, Battleground will not host a Cena vs Styles singles match. Instead, we get a multi-man tag match with Cena teaming up with Enzo and Cass to take on The Club, which is match that really belongs on an episode of RAW.
I don't hate the idea of Enzo and Cass teaming up with Cena and feuding with The Club. It takes the two teams and puts them in the spotlight without having them directly involved with the tag team champions, The New Day, allowing WWE to have two important tag team feuds at the same time, which is healthy for the division. The problem is that the multi-man tag match is such a far step down from a Styles vs Cena singles match it is pretty hard to get that excited about the tag team match. Unless Styles pins Cena clean (highly unlikely) nothing really important can come from the finish of this match; it is just going to be there as WWE tries to kill time until SummerSlam.
The same can be said for the Women's Championship, which will not be defended at Battleground. Instead, we will have another tag match, with Charlotte and Dana Brooke taking on Sasha Banks and a mystery partner. Like Cena vs Styles, Charlotte vs Banks is a match that fans really want to see, so WWE is going to kill sometime until SummerSlam, and event they feel actually matters, to have that match. Banks having a mystery partner does add a certain level of intrigue to the match, and if her partner ends up being Bayley or Asuka than the match will be memorable. However, wouldn't it seem more likely that the mystery partner is going to be one of the recently promoted women from NXT? Alexa Bliss or Nia Jax or god forbid Eva Marie just got promoted and what better way to make them look legit than putting them in a tag team match with the champion and number one contender? Either way it makes the most sense for Banks to get a pinfall on Charlotte, since she has beaten Brooke multiple times recently.
Randy Orton will be making his return to WWE television, doing an interview segment with Chris Jericho. Again, this seems like something that would be better suited for RAW and not a PPV, but alas here they are. Jericho has been terrific as a heel and he will get the most out of this segment, but I wouldn't bring Orton back to hype up his big match against Brock at SummerSlam and throw him into an interview segment, something that has never been a real strength of Orton's. Why not just have him beat Alberto Del Rio or Sheamus with an awesome RKO? I think that would be much more efficient in letting the fans know that Orton is back and ready for Lesnar. Alternatively, Orton could do a really good promo if they address Lesnar's recent failed tests, the promo could actually be very good, but we will have to see if WWE allows Jericho and Orton to go there.
The main event of the show is worthy of a PPV, it will be the hyped Shield Triple Threat Match, with Dean Ambrose defending against Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. This match has a ton of moving parts, with Reigns' suspension possibly being responsible for Ambrose's title reign, the draft splitting up the talent, and the main event of SummerSlam likely hanging in the balance. The triple threat match between the members of The Shield has been something rumored about for years and when they would finally meet in the main event over the WWE Championship, it would be a major moment in wrestling, possibly even the main event of WrestleMania. Instead, we are seeing it at what otherwise would be a complete throw-away PPV event, which seems very anti-climactic. Personally, it doesn't really matter that much to me; these guys are the future of the company and are going to be feuding forever over the next decade, whenever their first match is will not have that big of an effect on their overall feud. However, WWE certainly could have milked the "The Shield's going at it for the first time ever" for a bigger event.
I couldn't guess who is going to win this match. Ambrose has the championship and I've really liked his babyface promos as champion and he has had a pair of very good wrestling matches with Rollins this week. But he is on SmackDown, and if the WWE Draft taught us anything it was that RAW is the flagship show with the first overall draft pick and three picks for SmackDown's every two, so why would RAW have THE WWE Championship?
If I were to bet on anyone it would probably be Reigns. Reports are that Vince McMahon was furious that Reigns failed his drug test; but considering how much WWE has invested in Reigns he isn't going to be buried. It won't help with the fans that Reigns gets the title AGAIN, but WWE has blown through every stop sign in Reigns' push to the moon, so why would they stop now? Rollins offers the safest alternative for WWE, they can put the title on RAW without giving it back to Reigns, and give it to someone the fans respect. There is also the possibility of some sort of double-pinfall that could split the championships, with Ambrose getting one and either Rollins or Reigns getting the other. I think it would be a mistake to do another controversial finish after doing one on RAW on Monday, but it would be the easiest way to create two world championships again.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will have what is being billed as "the final match" between the two, which is pretty hard to believe. The feud between the two has been good, but a bit repetitive since it has mostly just been one guy jumping the other from behind. Owens went much later in the draft than Zayn, which was interesting and both guys are on the same show so it is likely they are going to go a bit further in the feud, maybe having a cage match or something at SummerSlam. I think Zayn wins the match, but Owens beats him down after the match and walks away from the ring as Zayn has to be carried out.
The Tag Team Championship will also not be on the line, as The Wyatt Family will have a six-man tag match against the champions, The New Day. This feud started out with Kofi and Big E not taking the Wyatt's seriously, but Xavier Woods being deathly afraid of the group. They had a meeting at The Wyatt Family's "compound", which really just looked like a rip-off of TNA's Final Deletion, that ended with the Wyatt's creeping out The New Day. The next week on RAW, The New Day appeared to be completely unaffected by the Wyatt's and goofed on them in promos, albeit they did look more scared the following night on SmackDown. It has been a strange feud that will likely go further, as I think the Wyatt's win this match and then challenge for the tag titles at SummerSlam.
The card is rounded out by two mid-card title feuds. First, Zack Ryder challenges Rusev for the United States Championship. Ryder has been made to look incompetent in recent weeks, getting squashed by Sheamus (who is currently doing NOTHING) and then beaten up by Rusev. It's unlikely he gets the championship. Darren Young fluked his way to the number one contenders spot for The Miz's Intercontinental Championship, although he has picked up some wins lately. WWE may have spoiled this match during the draft, as The Miz and Ambrose are the only champions who are on SmackDown and it seems like it would be a stretch to move the title to Young, who is on RAW, especially if Ambrose is going to lose the championship. Becky Lynch and Natalya will also have a match on the show, which could be very good.
Battleground does have a WWE Championship match that will have big ramifications on the future of the company, especially with the brand split. It also has a grudge match between Owens and Zayn that could be the best match on the show. But outside of that? Everything else seems forgettable and like it belongs on RAW. With WWE splitting the PPVs between brands now, it seems likely that we are going to get more of these shows, ones that are promoted like PPVs but in reality are not all that different from the average RAW or SmackDown, something as a fan I think is asking a lot. Now, to see all of your favorite wrestlers, WWE is asking fans to watch five hours of wrestling per week. Add in more PPVs that are going to look like this show, and WWE is asking a lot out of their hardcore fans.
Must Watch Matches:
Each week I will be recommending matches I have watched over the past week, complete with their original star rating.
Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins-WWE RAW 7/18/16-****1/4
Tomohiro Ishii vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan-NJPW G1 Climax Tag 1-****
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs SANADA-NJPW G1 Climax Tag 1-****1/4
Kazuchika Okada vs Noamichi Marufuji-NJPW G1 Climax Tag 1-****1/4
Kento Miyahara vs Kengo Mashimo-AJPW Dynamite Series Tag 1-****1/4
Cedric Alexander vs Tomaso Ciampa-EVOLVE 65-****