WWE Battleground 2016 Reaction
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
In many ways, Battleground personified the end of the modern era in WWE as we knew it.
With the last quarrels left to settle before the official WWE Brand Split took place, this marked the final time Raw and SmackDown superstars would appear in the same ring together.
The same rule was also in play for the main event, which put The Shield’s former members in an anticipated triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the first and last time.
Washington D.C. was primed for a long night and came to life when they needed to, but with nothing truly groundbreaking outside of a Sami Zayn-Kevin Owens classic, a notable Women’s Division debut and Randy Orton’s return, this Battleground left us with a slight case of trenchfoot, ready for the new era to truly take over already.
The Pre-Show Breakdown
– You can’t get any more “pre-show” than a match between The Usos and Breezango. With neither team high on the tag team totem pole, it was met with muffled enthusiasm from the crowd at the most, but allowed the teams to do their thing. We found that their chemistry was actually pretty evident, all things considered. The Usos continued to fly, wear bright colors and do superkicks while Breezango finally began to click as a team. The crowd was heavily against The Usos (perhaps by association to Roman Reigns) and that reaction was what made the finish so slick, as Tyler Breeze countered a frog splash into a package pin for the three-count. The crowd was so happy in fact, that they Fandangoed all over the premises. Not a bad match, but again, you could see why it was pre-show material.
– The opening video was in line with the show’s promotional images and teasers – superstars who raised “battle” flags that bore their likenesses. The narrator glossed over some matches, where we knew we’d see battle wars (Owens-Zayn), a collision of coalitions (the six-man tag between John Cena/Enzo Amore/Big Cass and The Club) and the biggie Shield triple-threat reunion. Oh, we were ready.
– To start with the women’s tag match between Sasha Banks/Bayley and WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte/Dana Brooke wasn’t a bad idea. Everybody knew this would be Bayley’s debut as Banks’ mystery partner after all the teases to it and it finally gave us the chance to relish her on the main roster, if only for a “one-match appearance” as described by commentary. The place came unglued when Bayley’s music erupted and they reacted well to all her signature moves. The heels got some nice heat with the opening bell attack. There were a few cringe-worthy moments, like when Banks nearly botched a huracanrana on Charlotte. Luckily, the novelty of Bayley’s presence and Banks getting her revenge on Charlotte with a Bank Statement to win the match kept it from overstaying its welcome. The finish also gave us evidence that Banks would likely get a shot at Charlotte’s Title in the near future. The post-match hug from Banks/Bayley and the teases that led to it were well-done and made sense for everyone that followed these ladies from NXT, where they didn’t begin as the best of friends.
– We originally groaned with the idea of a six-man tag between WWE World Tag Team Champions The New Day and Bray Wyatt/Erick Rowan/Braun Strowman but better-than-average mic work from Wyatt and an internal storyline of Xavier Woods almost being brainwashed worked in its favor. Of course, the whole thing will forever be tainted with the “Wyatt Family Compound” segment, that in of itself wasn’t bad, but came too close to TNA’s “The Final Deletion” for comfort. Still, the “Positivity Vs. Fear” theme was good enough for a hopefully one-off match, since Wyatt was headed for SmackDown and his buddies for Raw. ND’s pre-match promo bragged about how they were now the longest-reigning WWE World Tag Team Champions in WWE history and Big E dropped a Bone Crusher reference in there. Besides that, nothing great, especially since these belts weren’t even on the line for drama that would’ve helped. The slow pace did no favors and only picked up a little towards the middle, once Woods got cheered for “facing his fears,” but even his big heart couldn’t win everybody over. The finish left us confused since Wyatt pinned Woods. Wouldn’t that put him in line for a Tag Title shot, similar to what we saw in the previous match? All you have to do is pin a Champion in a non-Title match, correct? We’d be interested to see how that gets followed up on. In a rare sentence, this would’ve actually made more sense had ND won.
– The first “Underdog Challenger Vs. Heel Champion” match of the night took place with the WWE United States Championship match between Champion Rusev and Zack Ryder. On one end, Rusev was close to his 2014 destroyer status and Ryder cooked up enough momentum to threaten to shake Rusev’s throne in believable fashion. Ryder even channeled “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Rocky Balboa with his fringed-up American attire. They tried to tell an in-ring story of how Ryder stood cautious with his moveset and they teased us a few times with Rough Ryder attempts and a bold attempt to get out of The Accolade, but this tale became the same as before – Rusev retains. Awfully disappointing since they could’ve worked up those near-falls a lot better. The only thing worth coming out of this with was the post-match angle where Ryder’s NXT tag team partner, Mojo Rawley made the save, for what we could assume was the next feud to stem for this and Rusev’s next challenger for the belt.
– The backstage segment with Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and General Manager Mick Foley and Seth Rollins gave us some main event hype while it played in line with Rollins’ almost comedic overconfidence, as he predicted statues built in his honor and a “Boom Of Rollins Babies” in the wake of his Title win to bring the belt to Raw. Yes folks, the Draft does play a part in all this. Who woulda thought?
– Ever since it spawned on NXT, the Zayn-Owens feud has always been about a tale of friendship and perceived betrayal on both ends. As they fought more, their matches got even better. Now we were at the stage where they needed to be a “final battle” of sorts and with the original idea that both men could be on different shows, that’s why we got this match… before we learned that both men were drafted to Raw. Well, this still needed to happen and both men really hate each other so they brawled a lot. That was the story headed in. Luckily, the caliber of talent here was unprecedented and they didn’t need a storyline to put on a killer match, they just went ahead and did it. This truly felt like two guys who hated each other and wanted to see the other literally unable to get up. A scary spot early on where Zayn put too much weight on the ropes on a backwards plancha and perhaps injured his shoulder/arm. Then again, Zayn sells very well, so this could’ve been that situation. Killer spots galore, here – another was a Zayn brainbuuster onto the apron that the crowd gasped for. They began to duel suplexes and kicks to the point our brains couldn’t contain the excitement. This was truly shaping to be a show-stealer, right to the finish almost out of an action movie, where Zayn worked his way back to take Owens down with a combination of exploder suplexes and two Helluva Kicks. The crowd was electric and Zayn’s victory here made more sense since it had to do with the storyline’s conclusion. Then again, with both guys on the same show and the high praise for it, who even knows if it’s truly over?
– The story of the Becky Lynch-Natalya feud stemmed back from Natalya’s original heel turn when she attacked Lynch and her continuous attacks afterwards, which were only met with revenge beatdowns from Lynch. There were little words if any, besides that Natalya was out for herself now. Hey, at least we had two separate storylines in the Women’s Division. We actually kind of looked forward to this, so you could imagine our disappointment when the match didn’t deliver to the expectations. Lynch’s strikes got over with the crowd, but it ended before it could kick into second gear. We did like that Natalya won with the Sharpshooter, but the bout wasn’t reminiscent of anything personal, certainly not a feud personified by brawls.
– The backstage segment with SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose provided more main event hype from the SmackDown perspective in that Bryan/Shane rooted for Ambrose (a SmackDown pick) to win and bring the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to SmackDown. There was a brief reference to the old days when Bryan said he always feared Ambrose out of The Shield trio the most and Ambrose laid down an old-school promo where he said “no stone would be left unturned” and The Shield would go to war.
– The second “Underdog Challenger Vs. Heel Champion” match of the night (and better of the two feuds) belonged to the WWE Intercontinental Championship match between Champion The Miz and Darren Young. The story here was Young’s “resurgence” with his “Life Coach” Bob Backlund as he looked to uncrown Miz, who has comfortable settled into a self-absorbed “Hollywood Star” gimmick. In the beginning, it was troublesome since Young wasn’t over, but over the last week, he got to stand up for himself and actually appeared to be a decent threat to Miz. The dynamic worked for most of the match, as Young showcased some of his amateur moves in the ring, but before the match could get going, it was ruined by the “Battle Of The Valets,” where Young basically locked Miz in the Crossface Chicken Wing on the outside after Miz shoved Backlund to the ground after he got worked up when Maryse tried to fake an injury from him. Being that the two were on separate shows now, this made little sense since there was no chance for a rematch. This had more potential, so we were disappointed with the result.
– The six-man tag between The Club and Cena/Enzo/Cass was highlighted by Enzo’s pre-match mic antics, where he might’ve had his best promo yet with an electrified DC crowd and Cena was there as a spectator to it all. This was a smart way to continue the feud between AJ Styles-Cena with the story that Enzo/Cass joined Cena to fight against The Club from taking them down in the future. The action was good as you’d expect for the match, no more and no less. There were a lot of crowd-pleasing spots and many momentum changes towards the end, but it was a fine finish, especially in that the Attitude Adjustment on Styles was teased and then delivered. That tells us that maybe they are finished with this feud.
– After a nine month absence from a shoulder injury, the “Highlight Reel” segment with Chris Jericho and Orton served as his return to WWE cameras. It was what you’d think, as Orton soaked up the warm reception and Jericho did his usual heel thing where he referred to him as a “stupid idiot” and gave him “The Gift Of Jericho” as you know. Another goal here was hype for the Orton-Brock Lesnar SummerSlam match set to happen less than a month later. We all knew it’d end with an RKO on Jericho and it almost had to, but the buildup to it was nice, as Orton teased it many times and pulled Jericho in just enough to do it. The “#OuttaNowhere” t-shirt might take some getting used to, but it’s arguably his biggest tie to pop culture, so why not run with it?
– The triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship between Champion Ambrose, Rollins and Ambrose felt like the “end” as we seen all the authority figures at ringside for the spectacle too. As far as reactions, the crowd was hot for Ambrose and Rollins, while they booed Reigns to the extreme no matter what he did. The bout’s start felt uninspired since the trio didn’t play off the crowd much. Luckily, things turned a corner once they all traded blows even to the point where Ambrose/Rollins aligned to powerbomb Reigns through the announce table for a big pop and nice Shield reference. What eclipsed that was Rollins’ steel chair attack on Ambrose/Reigns to reference his infamous turn. The finish teases picked up the match towards the end and Ambrose winning gives SmackDown a boost with them getting the World Title. The design of the finish was interesting, since it saw Ambrose hit Reigns with Dirty Deeds after Reigns had Rollins pinned after a Superman Punch/Spear combo. Nevertheless, the draft era was officially upon us now with the conclusion, as the entire SmackDown locker room celebrated in the ring with Ambrose.
- Pre-Show – Breezango def. The Usos via pinfall
- Sasha Banks/Bayley def. Charlotte/Dana Brooke via submission
- Six-Man Tag – Bray Wyatt/Erick Rowan/Braun Strowman def. The New Day via pinfall
- WWE United States Championship – Rusev (Champion) (w/Lana) def. Zack Ryder via submission to retain
- Sami Zayn def. Kevin Owens via pinfall
- Natalya def. Becky Lynch via submission
- WWE Intercontinental Championship – The Miz (Champion) (w/Maryse) def. Darren Young (w/Bob Backlund) via DQ to retain
- Six-Man Tag – John Cena/Enzo Amore/Big Cass def. The Club via pinfall
- WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Triple-Threat – Dean Ambrose (Champion) def. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins via pinfall to retain
Posted on August 28, 2016, in WWE and tagged Bayley, Becky Lynch, Big Cass, Bob Backlund, Booker T, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Breezango, Byron Saxton, Charlotte, Chris Jericho, Corey Graves, Dana Brooke, Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, Dean Ambrose, Enzo Amore, Erick Rowan, JBL, Jerry Lawler, John Cena, Kevin Owens, Lana, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Michael Cole, Mick Foley, Mojo Rawley, Natalya, Randy Orton, Raw, Renee Young, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, Shane McMahon, SmackDown Live, Stephanie McMahon, The Club, The Miz, The New Day, The Usos, WWE Brand Split, Zack Ryder. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.