Pro Wrestling

10 Controversial Events In WWE Battleground History Source:

WWE Battleground hasn’t been a Pay Per View for very long, as it only debuted in 2013, initially as an October PPV, before being shuffled into its current spot in July. However, even in its brief existence, a lot of crazy stuff has already gone down at Battleground shows, much of it not well-received by wrestling fans. Somehow, this minor PPV that is only expected to bridge the gap between the much more high-profile Money in the Bank and SummerSlam shows has been a lightning rod for controversy, as you’ll see from the following examples.

10. The Divas Revolution Stumbles Out Of The Gate

Down in NXT, WWE’s developmental program had been hard at work training up a crop of female wrestlers, several of whom banded together with the goal of making women’s wrestling in WWE a legitimate part of the show, and not just a place for pretty faces who couldn’t actually wrestle. The division took off, with the women’s matches often the highlight of NXT, and eventually, the main roster took notice. Just before Battleground in 2015, Stephanie McMahon decreed that a “Divas Revolution” was beginning, and introduced Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks to the WWE audience. Then, all the active Divas on the roster were assigned to three-person stables and WWE patted itself on the back for a job well done. Except, they’d forgotten to give any of the debuting women actual characters, presumably figuring that everyone already knew them from NXT (even though the NXT audience is only a fraction of the weekly Raw viewership). Then they failed to actually announce any match for Battleground, eventually inserting a Triple Threat involving one member of each faction as an impromptu match while the PPV was airing. This began the trend of WWE horribly botching their so-called “Divas Revolution”, turning it from an alleged slogan of strength into a derogatory phrase among wrestling fans. Source:

9. Chris Jericho Beats Bray Wyatt

At WrestleMania XXX, Bray Wyatt faced John Cena in what was seen as Wyatt’s ascension to the main event. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out great for Wyatt in that feud, as he lost several matches convincingly while only beating Cena a single time in what was seen as a ridiculous finish involving a creepy singing child. However, in WWE’s eyes, Wyatt was now a main event talent, emphasized by his participation in a Money in the Bank match for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Title the month after the Cena feud ended. While Wyatt was not victorious in that match, it wasn’t seen as a concern, as his character had never been particularly interested in winning titles. However, people grew fairly concerned the next month, when Bray entered into a feud with Chris Jericho, who had just returned in a part-time role, and was seemingly being set up to put over Wyatt. That is, until Jericho defeated Bray Wyatt cleanly at Battleground, a result that mystified an entire audience who were already unsettled at how badly Wyatt had been made to look during the Cena feud. Wyatt’s inability to defeat even the semi-retired Jericho was seen as a significant blow to the character, who would flounder for months afterwards, losing almost every important match he was a part of, and quickly plummeting out of the main event scene. Source:

8. The Roman Reigns Failure Tour Begins

After the shocking Shield breakup following Payback, the main event push of Roman Reigns began in earnest, and with it came a string of failures. First, he was unable to win the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Title at Money in the Bank, and then, for some reason, he was given another shot at Battleground, in a Fatal Four-Way involving Kane, Randy Orton, and the champion, John Cena. At this point, fans started to hear the old Sesame Street song “One of these things just doesn’t belong here”, especially when Reigns once again failed to win the title. For someone who many already knew was being set up as a massive singles star for the company, it was inexplicable why he was being placed in situations where he clearly wasn’t going to win so early into his push. Many careers have been sunk due to the perception that they simply couldn’t win the big match, and two months into his singles career, Reigns had already failed twice on the big stage. It’s unclear how WWE planned to remedy things, however, as after a mediocre SummerSlam match with Randy Orton, Reigns was forced to have major surgery, and sat out the rest of the year. Source:

7. Wade Barrett Gets Bad News

In 2014, Wade Barrett had finally found the character that was going to make him a huge star in pro wrestling. Standing atop a comically huge podium, with gavel in tow, “Bad News” Barrett delivered all sorts of statements towards the audience and WWE Superstars that was intended to incite them towards anger. Barrett was so good in this role, with his promos showing excellent comic timing, that crowds actually started getting behind the acerbic Brit, and after winning the Intercontinental Title, it looked like his career, which had been marred by many obstacles in the past, would finally get on track. Unfortunately, Barrett suffered a shoulder injury that looked to keep him on the shelf for months, and was forced to vacated the Intercontinental title just before Battleground, where he presented it to the winner of a battle royal at the PPV, who turned out to be The Miz. To make matters worse, when Barrett eventually returned, his “Bad News” persona did not come back with him, and rumors swirled that WWE had neutered his gimmick because they thought he was getting the wrong type of reaction as a heel. Barrett would spend the rest of his WWE career as a glorified jobber, never again reaching the heights he had before, with Battleground 2014 the last appearance of his most popular gimmick. Source:

6. Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins Doesn’t Happen

In the wake of the Shield breakup, Dean Ambrose went on a crusade against his former friend Seth Rollins (meanwhile, Roman Reigns seemed oddly okay with the whole thing, probably because he was getting World title shots now). After Rollins stole the Money in the Bank briefcase away with the help of Kane, Ambrose dedicated his life to preventing Rollins from ever being in a position to cash in, attacking Rollins every chance he got, from a variety of unusual locations. This was supposed to culminate in a match at Battleground, but during the show, Ambrose attacked Rollins backstage, and Triple H called the match off, banning Ambrose from the building. This disappointed many viewers, as Ambrose vs Rollins had been one of the most anticipated matches on the show, and one that WWE had advertised heavily. The entire thing was seen as the worst kind of bait-and-switch booking and a transparent attempt to delay the match until the much larger SummerSlam PPV, which is exactly what happened. Source:

5. John Cena “Buries” Kevin Owens

Despite the fact that he is undoubtedly a great wrestler and carried WWE for many years, John Cena gets a lot of deserved flak for the way his feuds with up-and-coming young Superstars have gone in recent years. In 2014, he faced Bray Wyatt in a series of matches intended to establish Wyatt as a threat, but saw Cena win the majority of their matches convincingly instead. In 2015, Cena feuded with the undefeated US Champion Rusev, and after Rusev earned an extremely tainted win in their first encounter, Cena would convincingly beat the Bulgarian Brute in three straight PPV matches, sending Rusev’s career spiraling downwards. While Cena would then earn some respect with his US Open Challenge, the fact that it led to Cena decisively defeating every challenger was not lost on some people. Then, Kevin Owens made his debut, and actually beat Cena cleanly in his first WWE match. Cena would even the score at Money in the Bank, and a rubber match was set for Battleground, this time with Cena’s US Title on the line. The conventional wisdom was that Cena should probably drop the belt to Owens, creating a massive heel star in the process and getting Cena away from the midcard title scene, since he didn’t need it anyway. Instead, Cena defeated Owens yet again, then moved on to face Seth Rollins in a “Title vs Title” match at SummerSlam, which derailed the entire theoretical concept of the US Open Challenge (since Rollins, who was already WWE Champion, won the US Title and denied fans a real payoff) and also left Owens floating aimlessly in the midcard. Source:

4. Randy Orton vs Daniel Bryan Has No Finish

After Randy Orton (with the help of Triple H) stole away the WWE World Heavyweight Title from Daniel Bryan in 2013, WWE went to ridiculous lengths in order to not put the title back on Bryan. In their first match at Night of Champions, Bryan appeared to win the title back, but it was revealed on Raw that a crooked referee had intentionally fast-counted the pin, allowing The Authority to strip Bryan of the title and declare it vacant. This classic example of the hated “Dusty Finish” had fans on edge headed into Battleground, where Orton and Bryan would face off again. Unfortunately, WWE decided to do something even dumber, as Big Show, goaded by The Authority into working for them, interfered in the match and knocked out both Bryan and Orton, ending the match and the show on an incredibly sour note. Fans initially believed that WWE was stretching the feud so that Bryan could win the title back at WrestleMania, but they were dead wrong, and after losing a third match inside Hell in a Cell (after special referee Shawn Michaels turned on Bryan for no real reason), Bryan was completely shuffled out of the title picture. This, of course, led to the largest fan revolt in WWE history, which would actually see WWE change their plans and have Bryan get his moment of glory at WrestleMania XXX. Source:

3. Brock Lesnar Nearly Kills Someone

After Seth Rollins stole away the WWE World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania 31, by cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase during the match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, the writing was on the wall for when Lesnar would seek revenge and try to regain the title that, technically, he did not lose (as Rollins pinned Reigns to win the title). Lesnar was actually suspended indefinitely the day after WrestleMania, when Rollins refused to give him a rematch, sending the Beast on a destructive rampage. However, as part of some weird plan to “test” Rollins, The Authority reinstated Lesnar so that he could have his rematch at Battleground. And when Lesnar returned, he made an immediate impact by destroying a car that Rollins had bought for his security team with a pair of actual fireaxes, then ripped the door off the car and threw it in a visually impressive display of strength. It was also very nearly a terrible situation for WWE, as the door flew into the crowd and struck a young fan, setting them up for a potentially damaging lawsuit. Fortunately, the fan was not seriously injured, and things were quickly resolved. And then Lesnar lost the WWE Title match at Battleground when The Undertaker interfered, as the Dead Man had apparently decided he was now ready to be angry about Lesnar ending the Streak a year and a half ago (despite having wrestled another match since then, at the most recent WrestleMania). Source:

2. Roman Reigns Gets Suspended

In 2016, WWE was determined to make Roman Reigns the top face in the promotion, no matter what. To that end, Reigns finally got his big win in the main event of WrestleMania, defeating Triple H to regain the title in a moment that was not well-received by the live crowd. Reigns held the title until Money in the Bank, when he was shockingly unseated by a returning Seth Rollins, who then lost it to Dean Ambrose only minutes later, thanks to Ambrose cashing in the briefcase he’d won earlier in the evening. A Triple Threat match between the three former Shield members was an obvious next step, and was set for the Battleground PPV. Unfortunately, the day after the match was announced on Raw, WWE revealed that Roman Reigns had been suspended 30 days for his first Wellness Policy violation. However, Battleground was more than 30 days away, so Reigns retained his spot in the main event, which raised a few eyebrows. To make matters worse, it was discovered that WWE had been aware of Reigns’ violation before setting up the Triple Threat match, which led to serious questions as to why Reigns’ failure, one which has sunk other wrestlers’ careers in the past, didn’t even cost him a spot in the WWE Title match on the next Pay Per View. Source:

1. Lana References Malaysian Flight 17

In 2014, a passenger plane, Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, was shot down by pro-Russian sympathizers in the Ukraine, over the border between the two countries, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard. It was the deadliest incident involving an airplane being shot down in history, and escalated unrest between Russia and the Ukraine, as well as the rest of the world. The reason why this applies to WWE is because, at the Battleground PPV that year, Lana, who plays a Russian valet of Bulgarian wrestler Rusev, cut a promo which talked about “recent world events” and blamed them on the United States and praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was under fire for his actions in relation to the incident. For obvious reasons, many people assumed she was referring to Malaysian Flight 17, causing a public backlash against WWE. An official statement from WWE claimed that Lana was in no way referring to the crash, but many in the media felt the apology was without merit (as WWE did not apologize for the remarks, instead apologizing “if people were offended”), saying that WWE would have to be incredibly dumb not to see the parallels that could have been drawn. Source:
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.