Pro Wrestling

15 Reasons Why WWE Battleground Was Better Than Anyone Expected Source:

Thanks to the WWE Draft taking place days earlier, and the “New Era” that is the revived Brand Extension officially kicking off the very next day, there was a definite sense that whatever happened at WWE’s Battleground Pay Per View didn’t really matter. Half the midcard titles weren’t on the line, and those that were seemed in little danger of changing hands. Matches were booked featuring wrestlers that were now on separate brands, meaning that feuds probably wouldn’t continue past the show. And the main event was largely seen as a means to an end of splitting the WWE World Heavyweight Title in two, so that each brand could have their own World Champion again. But a funny thing happened on the way to Battleground being irrelevant: the performers put on an incredible show, featuring great wrestling, entertaining promos, and, to the surprise of many, WWE actually made some very good decisions when it came to the booking. Maybe Battleground didn’t matter, but that didn’t stop it from also being a pretty good show. Here, let us explain.

15. Building New Stars Due To Lack Of Options

So, here’s the problem with Smackdown’s tag team division. They have no title to fight for, so they’ll have to introduce one, and to do that, they’ll need to have at least two credible teams face off against each other. Unfortunately, Smackdown’s tag team division consists of American Alpha, who are great but unproven on the main roster, The Usos, and a bunch of teams that don’t win. The good news is, WWE does have the ingredients to make things better, and they started down that path at Battleground by having Breezango, two solid workers who might as well be the poster boys for “Creative has nothing for you”, defeat The Usos, who aren’t going to be any more or less over no matter whether they win or lose, and have the credibility of being a long-running, established team with a championship pedigree. That’s exactly the sort of thing that has to happen to make new stars in the brand split, and in this instance at least, WWE made the absolute right call. Source:

14. Hug Life

We’re probably not the most unbiased when it comes to Bayley, as the little rant we went on when she wasn’t drafted shows, but there was literally no other possible choice for Sasha Banks’ mystery partner that the crowd wouldn’t have immediately crapped all over. They could have sent out some sort of super-team composed of Trish Stratus, Lita, and the 1996 version of Sunny, and the fans still would have chanted “Heyyyyy we want some Bayley”. Give WWE credit for making the right move here, and for explaining why we probably won’t see Bayley again on the main roster until after NXT TakeOver: Back II Brooklyn (so as not to completely give away the result of her match with Asuka, which, let’s face it, most of us already know). And if you still haven’t figured out why Bayley is going to be a huge deal when she hits the main roster full time (although the massive crowd pop should have clued you in), just watch this pure expression of unadulterated joy. Source:

There’s just something about Bayley that makes even the most cynical person in the room smile uncontrollably. The fact that there’s a character in wrestling that has a gimmick that is literally about smiling, being unironically happy and hugging everyone because they just want to be everybody’s friend, and it’s been wholeheartedly embraced by the fandom at large, is incredible. The fact that she’s also an incredible wrestler is almost inconsequential. That’s the power of Bayley. Source:

13. Don’t Forget About The Boss

While Bayley’s time will come for real in the near future, right now it’s about The Boss, who pretty much has to take the WWE Women’s Title from Charlotte at SummerSlam, in a match that almost certainly will be incredible and will hopefully feature a minimum of Dana Brooke (oh, you can add “made Dana Brooke look halfway competent” to the list of accolades for Bayley). The opening of the match at Battleground was all about the WWE Universe at large falling in love with Bayley, but the match itself was all about Sasha showing why she is the real dominant female in WWE, finishing up with a clean submission victory over the champ. Fortunately for Sasha, Raw drafted a strong lineup of challengers once Sasha reaches the top, and since The Boss character works as both a face and a heel, there are lots of options going forward (even if, as we suspect, Bayley ends up on Smackdown to prop up the much weaker lineup there). Source:

12. Ending A Story In The Middle

Despite the extremely poorly executed idea that was New Day visiting the Wyatt Compound, there was still the potential for a good feud that could have actually revived the Wyatt Family as a threat, which is something they’ll have to be on a Smackdown roster with plenty of opportunities for career advancement. The whole idea of Xavier Woods being strangely affected by Bray was actually interested, and worked into the story of the Battleground match fairly well, as Kofi and Big E were forced to take bigger risks and absorb more punishment while Xavier fought his mental battle. And then, even after Woods temporarily shook off Bray’s control, the Wyatt Family still won, which in theory would make them top contenders for the WWE Tag Team titles. Except The New Day (and Braun Strowman) are on Raw now, and Bray and Erick Rowan are over on Smackdown, which means the feud, for all intents and purposes, is over, without actually getting a satisfying conclusion. On the bright side, Wyatt and Rowan can probably translate that victory into a renewed push on the blue brand, but we absolutely hate it when we don’t get to see how something ends. Source:

13. How Many Apollo Creeds Have To Die?

It’s kind of funny that Rusev has dropped his entire pro-Russian gimmick and moved into one where we’re supposed to be jealous because he’s both an incredible athlete and also engaged to Lana (who has apparently gone full Princess Mode at this point), but his recent feuds have involved him facing a series of guys literally draped in the red, white, and blue of the American Flag, because “plucky American goes after evil foreign stereotype” is apparently the only feud WWE knows how to write when they have a bad guy from another country. The thing is, aside from John Cena, Rusev has literally run through every silly American who decided to try and re-start the Cold War, to the point that it’s getting silly. Once you’re down to Titus O’Neil and Zack Ryder as the bastions of the American Way, you’ve pretty much run out of ways to make this story interesting. Rusev has killed more than his share of Apollo Creeds at this point, WWE really needs to start thinking about deciding on a Rocky who might actually dethrone him. Before the draft we’d have suggested Apollo Crews, just to be ironic, but since he’s on Smackdown, how about someone who can’t possibly make a Rusev feud about the USA (because he’s Canadian), ostensible #2 babyface on Raw, Sami Zayn? Source:

12. Get Hype, Bro

So, if you’re unaware, that was Mojo Rawley making the post-match save for Ryder, which oddly consisted of him running to the ring so he could stand a foot away from Rusev and yell at him, to the increasing befuddlement of the Bulgarian Brute. Mojo’s gimmick is that he comes pre-hyped, at a level that usually would result in someone failing a Wellness test, and is so enthusiastic that Zack Ryder, of all people, thinks Mojo comes on a little strong. It should probably come as no shock that Mojo’s a former NFL player who is good friends with infamous New England Patriots tight end and walking party bus Rob Gronkowski, and if that friendship doesn’t play into WWE’s future plans for the Hype Bros, we’d be absolutely shocked. The good news is, the team of Mojo and Ryder gives Smackdown another tag team (although how Ryder’s recently re-signed former partner Curt Hawkins might view things could be interesting), and while Mojo definitely isn’t the best wrestler in the world, his massive hype levels do manage to excite crowds to somewhat ridiculous levels (seriously, we’re pretty sure you can get an all-natural contact high from being in the same arena as him), so he should do well on the main roster. Source:

11. Where “This Is Awesome” Chants Are Entirely Appropriate

In many ways, WWE massively fumbled the ball on promoting what is supposedly going to be the final Kevin Owens-Sami Zayn match (although since they’re on the same brand, we’re not going to be able to hold them to that). However, once the match started, that didn’t really matter, because we’d be hard-pressed to find two wrestlers in the current era of wrestling who work better together than Owens and Zayn. It makes sense, after all, because they really have been fighting each other in one form or another for over a decade, but seeing it in action is like watching the absolute best form of wrestling, when it stops being an obviously choreographed fight and starts becoming something far more fluid and natural, almost like dancing with a partner that you trust implicitly. It also underlined the fact that these two need to stop fighting each other for their own safety, because in their enthusiasm for stealing the show, they nearly killed themselves a half-dozen times. It probably won’t end up in serious talks when Match of the Year awards start getting handed out, but we’ve never seen any match, ever, receive a standing ovation from the live audience in the middle of the match, until we saw Zayn-Owens at Battleground. That has to mean something. Source:

10. The Forgotten Women

We’re curious if Becky Lynch and Natalya were just happy to be on the actual Pay Per View card when their match seemed destined for the pre-show, or if they would have preferred that given that they had to follow Zayn-Owens, which basically exhausted the crowd’s emotions so much that it certainly felt like they all took a short nap afterwards. Faced with a thankless task, Becky and Natalya put on a solid match that got fairly stiff by the end, and while Becky losing won’t exactly sit well with a lot of people, we can see why it happened. Much like the Smackdown tag division, the women of the blue brand have no title to fight for, and at this point, Becky and Natalya are probably the most prominent females on the show, which, sadly, is no comparison to the stacked Women’s roster found on Raw. In order to build up the rest of the women, who consist of people that haven’t been on TV, NXT callups, and Eva Marie, Becky’s probably going to eat more than a few losses in the upcoming weeks, while Natalya rules the division as a heel, mostly because it will be easier to build up faces to challenge her. Source:

9. Why You Shouldn’t Listen To Crazy Old Men

So, in a finish that confused us, and likely the live audience and a large portion of people watching, Darren Young failed to win the Intercontinental title when the match just kind of ended due to outside shenanigans. But more importantly, it appears that along with Bob Backlund’s Crossface Chickenwing finisher, Young might have absorbed more than a little bit of ol’ Bob’s insanity, as well. For anyone who was watching way back in 1994, Backlund, who had been a quiet and respectable face character for literally decades, “snapped” and began putting random people in the Chickenwing, staring at his hands afterwards as if they had acted of their own accord. While we’re going to wait and see if Young has the actual talent to pull a similar character off, it is an interesting direction for his character to go, given that the safer and easier route would have been to have Young simply live off nostalgia pops from crowds who still appreciate Backlund’s character. If done well, this could actually get Young to a higher level than simply making him “Great Again”, but we still have a certain amount of concern that the ultimate payoff from cribbing Trump’s campaign slogan could be turning Young into a parody of Trump and his particular brand of insanity. Source:

8. There’s Something About Enzo

The fact that one of the biggest stars on the WWE roster right now is a guy who wear overalls covered in stencils from the mudflaps of 18-wheelers and poop emojis is something we still can’t really wrap our heads around, but the undeniable truth is that at Battleground, with John Cena standing literally five feet away, Enzo Amore assumed the mantle of Best Talker In WWE right now. For all that he is a Certified G and a Bonafide Stud, it’s Enzo’s ability to seamlessly weave words with an artistry we’ve never seen that you really can’t teach. While Big Cass may have the height advantage that will take him far in WWE, sleeping on Enzo’s chances of becoming a big star would be a mistake, the sort of mistake that you’d find on his list of life lessons that he spoke of in greater detail at Battleground. Probably our favorite part was watching Cena in the background, literally absorbing Enzo’s promo along with everyone else, even leaning in to make sure he heard every word. And when Cena raised Enzo’s arm in victory after the promo, it was a tacit acknowledgement from one of the best of all time that a torch of some sort had been passed. Source:

7. The Club, Having Already Lost, Loses Again

Seriously, was it even necessary to have a match after Enzo spent ten minutes verbally stomping The Club beforehand? Trying to come back from that early deficit would have been an impossible dream for even the most clutch athletes in history. This was a baseball game where the home team scores 9 runs in the bottom of the first innning, or Kobe putting up 81 on the Raptors that one time. You just aren’t going to win that game no matter what you do, so The Club was never going to be up to the task. The good news is, the result set up all sorts of intriguing possibilities going forward. The most obvious one, of course, is that Cena pinned AJ Styles, technically evening their series at 1 apiece, and with The Club relegated to Raw, it’s a fair bet we’ll get a straight one-on-one match at Summerslam. Speaking of Gallows and Anderson, it’s true that they could make a decent go of it as a tag team, and we were spared a messy break-up angle that would likely have forced AJ Styles back into a face role again. However, the guy who created the original version of what’s now known as The Club just got drafted fifth overall by Raw, and while he didn’t make his presence felt at Battleground, we can’t help but feel like The Club might seek out some new leadership after what they could potentially perceive as Styles failing to come through at Battleground. Source;

6. Something About Pots And Kettles

Honestly, the whole Randy Orton interview segment with Chris Jericho really didn’t need to happen. The show was already running long, the crowd was saving what energy they had remaining for booing Roman Reigns in the main event, and frankly, it was a Raw segment on a Pay Per View and everyone knew it. It probably doesn’t help that no matter how much WWE tries to promote the match as “Fourteen years in the making”, we’re pretty sure almost nobody was salivating at the through of a Lesnar-Orton match at SummerSlam in the first place, a situation which has only gotten worse for WWE thanks to Lesnar’s very public drug test failures in the fallout from UFC 200. Oh, and Orton tried to make a “steroids” burn on Brock, which probably would have been better not coming from a guy who has only evaded his third Wellness strike due to a hastily invented loophole. Sending Orton out to cut a long promo, even with Chris Jericho there to provide backup and act as a proxy for Lesnar, was a recipe for boredom, and it’s one we’ve seen far too many times in the past. Edgy, silent Randy Orton hitting RKO’s #OuttaNowhere is a great character. Randy Orton cutting a promo in which he attempts to look relaxed, make witty jokes, and pretend he cares about the WWE audience is like that time on Star Trek: The Next Generation where Data tried to learn about expressing human emotions: stilted, unbelievable, and more than a little unnerving. Source:

5. Doing A Big Thing Badly

So, just like Money in the Bank, at this point we’re ten minutes before the nominal end of the Pay Per View and we haven’t even started the main event, thanks to each McMahon, Mick Foley, and Daniel Bryan all getting their own individual entrances so they could sit ringside and add absolutely nothing to the match. It’s not that we didn’t expect it, but there’s something so supremely arrogant about taking a highly anticipated match like the first Triple Threat match between the former members of the Shield (for all the flaws involved, you can’t away the fact that people have wanted this since the day Rollins planted a chair in the backs of Reigns and Ambrose), and making it all about the authority figures of Raw and Smackdown and their battle for supremacy. Cesaro put it best in his post-Draft promo, the major story of WWE shouldn’t be about the Commissioners and General Managers, it should be about the wrestlers and what they do in the ring. The Shield Triple Threat sold itself without adding all sorts of extra bodies, and WWE should have recognized that fact. We’ll have plenty of opportunity to watch authority figures squabble, the main event of Battleground did not need to be one of those times. Source:

4. The Scourge Of The Overrun

To us, it’s inconceivable that a three-hour Pay Per View with a one-hour pre-show, which spent an entire segment forcing Randy Orton to cut a lengthy promo about a guy who isn’t even going to be around until SummerSlam could possibly run fifteen minutes over, but just like Money in the Bank, that’s what happened. In what has become a standard “give us an inch and we’ll take 15 extra minutes” mentality, WWE has apparently decided that the freedom that comes with no longer caring about what Pay Per View providers think thanks to the Network now being massively profitable means that Pay Per Views should have an overrun just like Raw. At times, an overrun is a great thing, like when last year’s NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn show unexpectedly ran for an extra half hour so that all the great matches could get more time. However, when you’re actively scripting every single Raw, Pay Per View, and (presumably, now that it’s also live) Smackdown to go past the advertised end time, especially when you’re also blatantly running filler segments to pad out the show, all you’re doing is artificially making shows longer, without bothering to make them more interesting. Source:

3. The Non-Triumphant Return Of Roman Reigns

We should once again state for the record that we still don’t agree with Roman Reigns getting to come back from a 30-day suspension and immediately main event a Pay Per View. With that said, the match at Battleground seemed almost like it went down just like the entire build, which is to say that Reigns’ presence was largely irrelevant, and it probably would have gone exactly the same without him there. Armed with the knowledge that he wasn’t going to win going in, it seemed like Reigns actively faded into the background, only emerging to hit a few big spots, then getting pinned as we all knew he would. Maybe it was the patchy beard and what appeared to be some slight “chunkiness” that clearly came along with his unexpected month off, but the Reigns we saw at Battleground actually looked like a guy who had stopped caring, which makes us wonder just how much bad news he got from those in charge when he came back. We fully expect him to continue facing Seth Rollins for whatever World title ends up being created for Raw, but can he find his motivation knowing that WWE might no longer be willing to back him to the hilt anymore? Source:

2. Dean Deserves This

In having Dean Ambrose pin Roman Reigns and extend a WWE Title reign that almost everyone thought would reach an inevitable end at Battleground, WWE made the right decision to reward Ambrose for his excellent work. No, Dean Ambrose probably isn’t going to be the guy who carries WWE into a new boom period (although there’s always a chance), but he is a guy who deserves to be WWE Champion, and one who did all the right things while holding the belt over the last month. He carried himself like a main eventer, cut great serious promos, and connected with the WWE audience in a way that a WWE Champion hasn’t in a long time. He even worked double duty on house shows to make up for Roman Reigns’ suspension, and it’s good to see loyalty and hard work rewarded, even if it will take more than a month-long reign to make us truly believe that WWE is behind the Lunatic. Ambrose has earned every chance to show what he can do as Champion, and the good news is, on Smackdown, with his former Shield brethren on Raw, he’ll more than likely get those chances. Source:

1. Where Do We Go From Here?

So, here we are. With the end of the Battleground Pay Per View, WWE officially re-enters the Brand Extension, and it’s a life of single-brand Pay Per Views, attempted re-creations of the Monday Night Wars, and incredible possibilities of massive successes or humongous disasters going forward. New titles will have to be introduced, almost certainly as early as the first Raw after Battleground, and a gaggle of Superstars will hopefully find new gimmicks, new storylines, and hopefully new pushes in the weeks ahead. We’ve got a handful of newly minted NXT graduates on the roster, and several more to come very shortly, as well as any number of former WWE Superstars who could potentially make comebacks now that there are roster spots to fill. For better or worse, it’s a brave new world for WWE going forward, and while the outcome of the matches of Battleground mostly won’t matter now that the majority of the wrestlers involved are on different brands from each other, it was nice for that era to end with what was actually a fairly entertaining Pay Per View in which WWE made some surprisingly smart decisions. 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.