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Despite the fact that Battleground looked more like a glorified episode of Monday Night RAW heading into the event, the show ended up being a pretty good event. There were two very good wrestling matches on the show as well as some solid storyline development. It may not have been the most hyped event with the biggest matches, but it was an enjoyable show.
Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins: ****1/4
Good match that ended up with the right winner, this was a very good main event. I thought the ending to the show was interesting, where the focus became more on the fact that SmackDown had the championship and not that Ambrose retained. I wouldn't want to be Reigns or Rollins tomorrow standing in the ring across from an angry Stephanie McMahon.
Reigns returned to WWE television and was roundly booed by the WWE audience. It seemed like WWE noticeably muted the audience during his entrance, which is pathetic that they would silence their own fanbase, but it is almost predictable at this point. I don't know how many more signs WWE needs to let them know that Reigns cannot be the top babyface, at least not right now.
Rollins was a really good in this match, clearly the best worker in the ring and controlled the match when it seemed like it might by slipping away. He will be a worthy building block for RAW, but Ambrose ended up proving that he has the highest ceiling out of anyone in the match. He just has a certain charisma and attitude in and outside of the ring that allows him to connect with the audience in a way that nobody else on the roster currently has. He deserves a lengthy run as the babyface champion.
John Cena, Enzo and Cass vs The Club: ***1/2
A fun match for what has been a fun rivalry. Cena ended up pinning AJ clean, which naturally will lead to a big match at SummerSlam. Enzo and Cass will move onto RAW to feud with Anderson and Gallows, which should also be fun. The match was a little slow at the beginning, but as with most muti-man tags, once everything began to break down it ended up being really entertaining.
I think the real winner of this match was Enzo Amore. WWE management probably sees a greater future in Cass and they might be right, but it is hard to argue that Enzo has something truly special. Few can entertain the crowd like he can on the microphone, and his scrappy, terrier attitude tells a good story in the ring. In a promotion that loves the cookie-cutter look, Enzo is just so obviously different from everyone else on the roster that he immediately becomes someone to watch in the company.
Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens: ****1/4
One of the better matches WWE has had this year, Zayn and Owens have wrestled each other so many times that few matchups in WWE can rival their choreography in the ring. Some guys just get each other more than others, and it is hard to think that either of these men are going to find better opponents than one another. Both guys are incredibly creative in the ring, and despite one terrifying Asai moonsault, the match was pretty clean considering the degree of difficulty in some of their exchanges.
Zayn going over is interesting, especially because I think Owens is the better long term prospect (although Zayn is by no-means a mid-card talent). It would seem like there was something to both Zayn and Owens being drafted to RAW, and only a fool would think that this was truly their last encounter. It would make more sense than for Owens to lose and then attack Zayn out of jealousy than it would be for the other way around.
Zack Ryder vs Rusev: **1/2
The match was short but it wasn't bad by any means. As poorly as Ryder has been booked heading into Battleground, he still possess the charisma and character to be a sympathetic babyface; and perhaps no other wrestler in the industry with the exception of Brock Lesnar is more convincing when they are handing out a beating as Rusev. It was incredibly unlikely that Ryder would knock off Rusev, but both guys tried hard and did their best to tell a story in the match and they managed to do that despite the circumstances. Mojo showing up and helping Zack doesn't move the needle that much, but if he is going to run out and look like he just drank 10,000 Red Bulls than he is going to be capable in that role.
The New Day vs The Wyatt Family: ***
Not a bad match at all. The main storyline going into the match was that Xavier Woods greatly feared Bray Wyatt while the rest of his team were not afraid of them at all. That story unfolded well tonight with Woods finally facing his fear and going after Wyatt, albeit it wasn't enough and Wyatt got the pinfall over Woods, probably setting up a tag team title match at SummerSlam. In addition to the solid storytelling, it was wrestled at a nice pace and went back and forth well between all six men in the ring.
Darren Young vs The Miz: **1/4
Similar to the Becky/Natalya match in that there was nothing wrong with it, but it just didn't have the star power to follow Zayn and Owens. I did think the finish was pretty good. Young is still just getting back into the company and he isn't ready to be the Intercontinental Champion, but you also don't want to have him lose in his first PPV match back. Having Backlund go crazy and then have Young go equally crazy was a nice touch and it brings everyone to the next stage in the feud.
Any doubt that a large percentage of the fanbase doesn't know or care about NXT was destroyed by the huge pop that Bayley received for being the mystery partner. The speculation was such that anybody but Bayley would have been a major disappointment, and WWE delivered by giving the fans what they want. The match itself was just okay, it was short and it wasn't always very clean, but if the point of the match was to get Bayley over and to further the feud between Sasha and Charlotte, then it cannot be viewed as anything other than a major success.
Natalya vs Becky Lynch:**
There was nothing wrong with this match at all, but it really struggled going on right after the superb Owens vs Zayn match which took the crowd out of it. Natalya has potential as a heel, but one of the things that needs to happen is that she has to get some good promo time and deliver on telling a story in the ring. Natalya is the longest-tenured woman on the active roster, and she could sell having a lot of legitimate grievances, but we haven't seen a lot of that yet. If she can effectively tell a story in that manner than nobody will be silent during her matches.
There was also The Highlight Reel segment with Chris Jericho and Randy Orton. Jericho was his typical glib self, and I thought Orton did pretty well. I don't care that much for Orton pandering towards the audience; he is at his best when he is out there and laying waste to people, not all that different than Lesnar. He was a little bit un-Orton like when he first began talking, but as he began to converse with Jericho he was much better. Orton is capable of really challenging Brock, and WWE did a solid job building him here as a legit adversary for Lesnar.
Looking ahead to SummerSlam, WWE seems to have two big matches locked in, Cena and Styles and Orton and Lesnar. It will be interesting to see where they go from here with the WWE Championship, as the top two contenders for it are on RAW while the champion is on SmackDown. The title match will likely close SummerSlam, so it has to be pretty big, so WWE is going to have to come up with something huge to outshine the other two matches.