Man, what a difference a second half a show makes. I was all set to proclaim WWE Battleground the unexpected best WWE event of the year after a strong series of opening matches and then the bottom dropped out followed by the unlikely return of a WWE legend that will likely do more harm than good. Let’s break it all down.
Live from St Louis, MO
Sheamus vs. Randy Orton
Nothing that’s happened since last show has convinced me that making Sheamus aka The Celtic Warrior aka Mr. Money in the Bank was a good move. Just like when Randy Orton won it back in 2013, there are certain guys bigger than the gimmick and it’s best used to signal a new player is about to enter the main event level. Sheamus is already there so his win accomplishes little.
Orton, a St. Charles, MO. resident, gets the hometown hero greeting and he is amped to be performing in front of his fellow Missourians. I’m probably ridiculously anal about this, but I’ve always found it annoying when guys wear the same color tights. Not like distinguishing between Mr. No Tan and Mr. Super Tan will be a problem, but still.
Cole points out that Sheamus has a nose ring, which can’t possibly end well in wrestling. Don’t know what’s got him so fired up tonight, but Orton really looks like the super mega ultra big deal the WWE had been making him out to be since he first arrived in the promotion in 2002. Orton appears firmly in his prime right now and it’s kinda weird there’s so little direction for him at this point in his career.
Hard to remember the fans ever being this pumped for Orton. Sheamus hits The Brogue Kick, but doesn’t get the win because only two finishers in this promotion are allowed to pin anyone the first time they’re hit. Hint: one is in this match and the other is from a more Authoritative part-time member of the active roster.
Sheamus gets in the Cloverleaf, but Orton claws away to get to the rope to force the break and hits RKO(OuttaNowhere!!) for the win.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 The crowd was really into this match and made it seem much more important than a low-build, opening match on the show. It was surprisingly entertaining and well put together with lots of counters to show their experience battling one another and both guys displayed a solid amount of intensity. Great start.
Eva Marie’s ‘sister’ is distracting me behind the commentators. With all the ripe storylines currently going on in ‘Total Divas,’ why isn’t she involved in this revamped Divas Division angle? Speaking of, we take a look back at Stephanie McMahon stealing Paige and Naomi’s thunder by introducing the NXT Divas: Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks to the main roster.
The Amazon Wonder Woman Stephanie McMahon and they both seem amazed at the height difference. This was probably the most literal display of how much more important Stephanie is than some silly Divas division. The three Diva teams will have a rep for a three-way later on tonight.
WWE Tag Team Title match: New Day vs. Prime Time Players
PTP and New Day are both over with the fans. The tag division needs some work so it doesn’t have this familiar storyline of new team fights champs, beats champs, loses rematches, rinse and repeat. Are there any other teams out there besides The Ascension and The Lucha Dragons? There’s plenty of midcard guys doing nothing that would benefit from a tag team run.
Of these five, I wonder who has best chance of being champ one day? My money’s on Titus as he has an off the charts intensity, the fans are responding well to him and Vince McMahon is aware of his existence.
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) April 16, 2015
Kofi hits a DDT, which by default since Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts or Arn Anderson doesn’t do it, cannot possibly get the three-count. We get a nice number of heat segments so it’s not the typical faces get advantage, heels get advantage, finish. The unpredictability was appreciated. After it breaks down, Titus hits the Clash of Titus for the win.
Rating: 3 out of 5. Good, basic tag team action. Nothing out of this world, but smartly paced and booked. If WWE lets this play out, the PTP could become legitimate champions and not just placeholders until the next hot act (or The Usos/Tyson Kidd & Cesaro return from the injured list).
Paige chats in the locker room with Charlotte and Becky Lynch. More than any other Diva, Paige is going to have to work hard not to get lost in the shuffle as she’s no longer the shiny new toy on the Divas division. Being paired with 2/3 of the new arrivals doesn’t help her in terms of giving her fresh opponents that can keep up with her either.
Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt
We get a better video package than the build-up to this feud has been. Can’t help but shake the thought that this feud would have made a lot of money in the 1980s. If only they had kept Bray remotely strong since his feud with Cena
Nice touch with Bray’s name appearing as fireflies.In a cool non-jaded moment, this lady almost passed out as Roman gave her a fist bump. This crowd is an anti-smark crowd as they’re not trying to take over anything and hijack the show to be above the matches. They’re active and really contributing to a fun mood so far.
Wyatt is frustrating at times to watch. He’ll do something out of character for a heel like doing the 10 punches in the corner then do something smart like asking for a countout after hitting a spike DDT on the apron to protect the move. Reigns was more impassioned than normal and had more of his heel fire, which is what connected with the fans in the first place.
With HD and better camera zooms, the WWE production team needs to to do a better job not catching the wrestlers calling spots as it’s been noticeably bad the last few shows.
Despite not battling for consecutive shows, Wyatt is countering all of Reigns’ big moves including a sweet clothesline counter to the apron drop kick. This is a match you look at feeling optimistic about the future of the promotion.
As they’re battling on the outside, someone superkicks Reigns leading to Wyatt hitting Sister Abigail for the win. The hooded man reveals himself and it’s Luke Harper! Erik Rowan is on the injured list, but I’m already fantasy booking a 2015 Wyatt Family vs. Reigns/Ambrose feud.
JoJo interviews BAD: Beautiful And Dangerous (Sasha, Naomi and Tamina) Someone really needs to get poor JoJo a box or a podium.
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte vs.
Nikki Bella Brie Bella
Initially, Nikki prances around like she’s going to represent her team, but realizing the vast potential of being destroyed, she sends Brie in.
I’m not a big fan of three-way matches and this isn’t the best showcase for Charlotte and Sasha who are used to working with more competent wrestlers than Brie. Not surprisingly, the match is much better whenever Brie is recovering and Sasha and Charlotte can go at it one on one.
Brie gets enough token offense to have me concerned they’d try to have Brie when this thing, and the fans boo all of her moves and even start a small ‘Brie you suck’ chant. Brie nearly breaks her neck taking a dropkick from the apron as Alicia Foxx and Nikki botch catching her correctly. I hate to be that guy, but the difference between the WWE Divas and the NXT Divas is so major, the WWE would have been better off putting Becky with Team Bella so each team would have an elite level Diva.
Rating: 3 out of 5. Remember that time when the Bellas said they wanted the NXT Divas to be brought up to the main roster? Bwaha-hah.
US Title: Kevin Owens vs John Cena
Owens is so great at the little things that make his character special like his pre-match trash talk saying we’ve seen Cena’s act for 10 years, get out here.
JBL asks how often we’ve seen people kick out of Cena’s top rope leg drop. Better question: have we ever seen it win a match?
This match suffers a bit from being more of a collection of their greatest hits from their first two matches from Extreme Rules and Money in the Bank.There needs to be that sense of escalation and just finally making the third match for the U.S. title isn’t enough.
What’s somewhat hurt their series is the lack of non-finisher wins. You’d see that in Steamboat/Flair, Malenko/Guerrero but we’ve been conditioned that only a finisher will get the win. And normally 3 or 4 at that. So it’s hard to buy in that the first or second Pop Up Power Bomb and even a second rope Attitude Adjustment will get a win. Cena finally gets a hard fought win with the STF.
Rating: 4 out of 5. Where does Owens go from here? Back to NXT to take the title from Finn Balor? Not sure if giving him the title was the best move either, but losing two straight to Cena doesn’t help ditch the same loser status that’s been saddled with Wyatt and Rusev post-Cena series.
And now a very un-PC sensitive commercial for our Latino audiences hyping the next episode of ‘WWE Swerved.’ Love to hear how the Spanish broadcasters explain that one. Hey by the way, have I missed the featured Latino star appearing tonight? Have I mentioned how appreciative I am for Lucha Underground because I really, really appreciate Lucha Underground.
The Miz comes out to get knocked out by The Big Show in a time-killer. I’m so over The Miz and this goofy feud with The Big Show and Ryback. Credit to WWE for announcing Ryback would not be here tonight to defend the Intercontinental title before the show.
WWE Title: Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins
This match plays out exactly like it should. Brock battering Seth with suplexes and Seth running and fighting for dear life. By my count, Brock hit 16 suplexes and cleared one barrier (!) in dishing out some extreme punishment. Just as he hit the F5, the lights went out and The Undertaker returned and hit a pair of chokeslams and tombstones to get payback.
Rating: 3 out of 5. There was no false hope that Seth could beat Brock, but I hated how the champ became an afterthought to a guy who’s been a star in the promotion since 1990.
On one hand, this made perfect sense to by hook or by crook keep the belt on Rollins, but why did The Undertaker wait more than a year to finally get his revenge on Brock? From a storyline perspective this made no sense. Why not stop Brock from beating Cena at Summerslam last year? Why not interfere at the Royal Rumble to setup a rematch and take Brock’s title in the process? Or why not get in Brock’s face at Wrestlemania threatening to get payback when he least expects it?
This seemed like an odd time to bring back The Dead Man and a waste for Brock. He’s already beaten Undertaker’s Streak. There’s nothing to be gained from this SummerSlam matchup and I’m worried all that excellent build-up of Brock over the past two years is going to be wasted on giving Undertaker his win back.
And where does this leave Seth? Stay tuned for RAW!
Final Rating: 7.5 out of 10 The midcard matches were very solid while the top tier matches underwhelmed in different ways. This is still one of the better WWE shows of the year though and worth watching.