WWE – Battleground 2016 (Cert 15)
1 Disc Blu-ray / DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 192 minutes approx.
This was a curious show, largely because the decision was made to split the rosters into RAW and Smackdown like they did in 2002, only they did it five days before. This made it an “inter-brand” event which in theory sounds interesting, but inadvertently gave away some of the match results due to the assignment of the wrestlers to different rosters.
Nowhere was this more of a point of contention than in the main event for the WWE Title in which the long awaited Shield Triple Threat match took place. All three former members accomplished a unique feat when they each held the WWE title on the same night! At Money In The Bank, Roman Reigns dropped the belt to Seth Rollins who was then beaten by MITB winner Dean Ambrose cashing in his briefcase.
With Ambrose drafted to SD and Reigns and Rollins to RAW, where would the title go? Regular readers of my site will know I don’t like giving away match results or spoilers but the WWE have no such compunction, revealing all on the DVD cover! Tch!
Battleground took place on July 24th 2016 at the Verizon Centre in Washington, D.C before 13,500 fans. Your commentators once again are Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and JBL.
Onto the matches and as always no results spoilers but plenty of opinion.
Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks & Mystery Partner
So, the WWE will happily spoil the main event on the DVD cover yet they keep the Mystery Partner a surprise? Well, I won’t ruin the surprise either but suffice to say the WWE really had no choice but to go with this person – anyone else and they would have been booed out of the building.
Fun, well worked match with some scary bumps (surprisingly not involving Dana Botch) to kick things off although the real story was the reception Sasha’s partner and given her a chance to shine in front of the main roster audience.
The New Day vs. The Wyatt Family
The Wyatts were separated by the roster split so this was a sort of farewell match for the group. The story heading into this was Bray Wyatt apparently hypnotising Xavier Woods into being scared of him, with the finish of this match setting up a singles bout between the two but the split nullifies that. So what was the point? Welcome to McBooking!
They also tried to recreate the infamous TNA Final Deletion match with the New Day fighting the Wyatts on their family compound in a short film like scenario but with less success. Match was what it was, but would have been better had Luke Harper still not been out with an injury.
WWE US Title Match – Rusev (c) vs. Zack Ryder
The stop-start push for Ryder continues as he gets another chance to lose to Rusev on PPV, and he even wears a ridiculous USA themed jacket to celebrate his impending beating. This match came a few days before the real life wedding of Rusev and Lana. Perhaps Ryder being Rusev’s opponent was to avoid the groom being over-exerted prior to his nuptials?
In other words, this was TV level filler at best, not that anyone assumed Ryder had a chance of victory in the first place. Ryder’s Hype Bros partner Mojo Rawley made his main roster debut here but again the roster split meant any further interactions with Rusev were null and void.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
I bet both men have lost count of the amount of matches they have had against each other since their on-off feud has spanned many years and many promotions. This was billed as the “final chapter” but we all know what that means, which is just as well as they have incredible chemistry together.
As you would expect that absolutely tore the house down, despite a botch from Sami that could have been very nasty, and stole the show as they did a few months earlier at Payback. More importantly, they told a great story here today and the last few minutes saw these two bitter enemies being to hate the fact that they were fighting each other, giving this match an emotional attachment rarely seen in a world of big brawls and flippy spot fests.
Natalya vs. Becky Lynch
This came about after Natalya turned on Becky at MITB following their loss against Charlotte and Dana Botch. Ironically Nattie explained her actions as wanting to stand alone after attacking Becky who said the same thing in an interview!
The match, despite lacking the intensity and fire of a grudge match, was technically great and well fought, one of the better wrestling matches on the show, but having to follow the previous match put the ladies in a hard position to win the fans’ attention back. A shame as this deserved better.
WWE IC Title Match – The Miz (c) vs. Darren Young
Oh boy…. The gimmick behind this is a riff on Donald Trump’s Presidency campaign renamed “Make Darren Young Great Again” – even though he was never great to begin with. Bob Backlund is his life coach, having been bestowed the gift of the Crossface Chicken Wing to Young who earned this IC Title match by surviving a Battle Royale. Yup, he didn’t really win, he just wasn’t eliminated.
Nothing match with a dumb finish that not only makes no sense but saw Young apply the wrong submission hold! The only thing we learned from this is that Backlund hasn’t figured out he needs to take his braces off before trying to remove his shirt.
John Cena, Enzo & Big Cass vs. The Club (AJ Styles, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows)
Usual protracted mic work/catchphrase fest from Enzo and Cass prior to this match, while Cena stood aside as his role is basically to glom the heat from the newcomers, as is the established practice whenever someone new gets hot and Vince McSenile thinks it will help make Cena relevant again.
Solid work with AJ Styles bumping his backside off and out classing everyone else in the ring as usual. Despite the huge build up this feud is a little underwhelming since both teams will be separated by the brand split, and this doesn’t feel like the “all or nothing” type match it should, just a fun six man.
Highlight Reel with Randy Orton
Orton has been out with a shoulder injury for nine months and it was announced his first big match back would be against Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. That’s a bit like buying a recovering alcoholic a pint for his one year anniversary of sobriety. Aside from Jericho being on top obnoxious form and Orton’s cheeky “No enhancements needed” crack (aimed at Lesnar’s UFC drugs test failure, ironic because Orton has TWO WWE wellness Policy strikes again him) this was time wasting at its finest.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat Match – Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
As I stated earlier the WWE spoiled the result of this match on the cover of this release. Tch! If you look carefully before this match when they show the two lockers rooms, Sami Zayn is literally having a conversation with no-one in the RAW room, while Becky Lynch is sitting next to Cena wearing a Club T-shirt!!
The big story in the build up was Reigns being suspended for 30 days following a Wellness Policy violation, leaving Rollins and Ambrose to carry the feud. Naively Vince thought if Rollins ragged on Reigns for this in his absence the fans would be on Roman’s side when he returns; instead they chanted “Roman Sucks” as soon as the bell rings!
Decent match but the crowd were a bit burned out since the show was running long again (this bout started when most PPVs end) so they took while to get into it, but they enjoyed Reigns being double teamed. While the announcers would spend the match talking about which brand gets the title, the fans were really just into the Shield beating each other up.
The Brand Split didn’t help the booking of this show since the destinations of the drafted wrestlers featured pretty much dictated the results in some cases. This was the narrative of the show but it seems the fans didn’t know or care, just wanting to enjoy the action.
From that point of view this wasn’t the pivotal show it was intended to be, especially with some of the matches involving wrestlers who would be on the same roster afterwards, meaning nothing was actually going to change. Then again no-one took the roster split seriously in 2002 so they are hardly going to care in 2016.
The status quo was once again maintained booking wise, with no-one benefiting or moving up the ranks from their match wins, with the only possible exception being Sasha Banks’ mystery partner whose stock as a potential main roster star was all but confirmed.
Otherwise another WWE PPV to be filed in the folder marked “Solid but unspectacular”, save for Owens vs. Zayn with is well worth checking out and the feel good moment of the “Mystery Partner” in the opening match.
Best match – Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
Monday Night RAW – 27th June 2016 – The Highlight Reel with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Monday Night RAW – 4th July 2016 – John Cena Finds Backup In Certified G’s
Smackdown! LIVE – 19th July 2016 – WWE Title match – Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Rating – ***
Man In Black