7.16.2014

WWE Battleground: Predictions for Every Match

Photo courtesy WWE.com
Battleground may well be the most "minor" Pay-Per-View (or "special event" on the WWE Network) of 2014, but the 'E has stacked the card (in refreshingly unusual haste, no less) with matches that could render this coming Sunday one of the better outings of the year depending on the ever-important coalescence of performance and creative.

Hit the jump to find out how things could quite probably unfold at the pre-SummerSlam extravaganza.


Photo courtesy WWE.com
Battleground Kick-Off Show: Cameron vs. Naomi
The seemingly long overdue feud between the incredibly talented Naomi and her BFF sidekick Cameron is finally coming to a head at Battleground's Kick-Off show. If this tweet from Naomi nearly 1 1/2 years ago in response to a friend and I throwing Cameron under the bus is any indication, there's a drive in these performers to set themselves apart from one another, and this is their opportunity.
Naomi may have been given somewhat of a head start with an impressive Divas Championship match against Paige at Money in the Bank, but Cameron - AKA TheBomb.com - has been allowed to make most of the moves since what with her burgeoning image-obsessed gimmick and newly debuted singles theme music.
Much as I'd like to deny it (and have tried and given up in several now-deleted versions of this paragraph), it would seem the consistently underwhelming Cameron is receiving a push nearly equal to that of Naomi, and this feud is merely the obligatory farewell to their partnership, a la (most recently) Titus O'Neil and Darren Young at Elimination Chamber. Maybe there's some potential there I'm not yet seeing (outside the way Cameron is owning her new gimmick, that is), and I can't say I'm not open to it, but shoot, if Eva Marie can remain on television on a relatively consistent basis just through being one of the more attention-grabbing characters on "Total Divas" (for better or for worse), then Cameron should presumably have no trouble holding her weekly spots, as well.
All that blabbed, Naomi is beyond a shadow of a doubt the more talented of the two here, and - like the aforementioned Prime Time Players split - I can't imagine this rivalry will last much more than a month. My money's on Naomi emerging victorious after an uneven bout.

Winner: Naomi, via modified falling inverted DDT.


Photo courtesy WWE.com
Jack Swagger vs. Rusev
If you had told me one month ago that at WWE Battleground Jack Swagger would be the superstar I'm cheering for the most, I would have busted a gut. All that changed the Raw after Money in the Bank, when the forceful Real Americans theme interrupted another politically charged duo I've been supporting - the Bulgarian Brute (who is "now residing in Moscow") Rusev and the Ravishing Russian Lana.
Swagger nor "Dirty" Dutch Mantel (Zeb Colter) have ever played babyface, but with their turn they've become the hottest thing going in sports entertainment. With Zeb as the ever-reliable mouthpiece, Swagger resorts to his usual schtick plus a thousand-yard stare that has been incredibly effective in building anticipation to this tried-and-true patriot vs. patriot showdown. I can feel the excitement reverberating in me as I type this.
One hitch in the build-up here was WWE taking an excursion to Canada for a week. Swagger is not permitted across the border what with his widely-reported legal issues from last year, and besides the uber-American act is not exactly pop fodder for a Canadian crowd. To make matters worse, the company pulled the trigger way too soon on Rusev vs. Roman Reigns (a match hotly anticipated simply based on the finale of a Money in the Bank qualifying Battle Royal). Reigns is much, much further up the chain than Swagger at this point, and pitting him in a singles match against the practically insurmountable Rusev took a lot of steam out of Swagger's chances at Battleground.
Still, this is my most anticipated match of the night. I don't even really think Swagger needs to change his act much to pull off a babyface performance. The crowd is overwhelmingly on the Bigg Hoss' side for the first time ever. If Big E couldn't break the Accolade at Money in the Bank and Roman Reigns couldn't maintain the upper hand on SmackDown, however, The All-American American's odds aren't looking their best. Rematch at SummerSlam? Please?

Winner: Rusev, via Accolade submission


Photo courtesy WWE.com
Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho
Oh, boy. I say this as a big fan of Jericho's heyday, but is it possible to get excited about Y2J helping build new stars when it's so telegraphed he's just going to put them over at the end of the feud? Especially after last year's debacle with Fandango, Jericho is more a token of nostalgia anymore.
What's even less exciting is that Jericho is taking on Bray Wyatt, who seems to perpetually be in being-built-by-veterans mode. The guy definitely has something. Confidence on the mic and mostly good timing in the ring help from the audience perspective. Thing is, Wyatt's whole gimmick has made for bathroom break material ever since it became clear there is no intention of revealing exactly what it is he believes in. If The Shield hadn't been so damn good in the ring, their ambiguous definition of "justice" would have seen similar problems.
Wyatt's recent 3-month feud with John Cena was often mishandled, but when it hit it hit big, and proved more than anything that wins and losses don't mean much to the Wyatt character. I suppose this is not a bad thing, but it also makes me care even littler about who comes out on top in this newly ignited rivalry.
Maybe I shouldn't be so down on a match between two talented dudes - one of the best ever and another who's apparently got what it takes but seems hindered by his own mystique, not to mention a number of start-and-stop feuds in his first main roster year. The duo's first match was quite alright, after all (on NXT - don't believe JBL when he says these guys have never met in the ring before). I'm just not sure it really matters who takes this one, unless WWE has a surprise up their sleeve and reasoning for Wyatt's beef with Jericho's years-old "save us" bit will be brought to light in creative fashion. Sounds like this one should end in disqualification, maybe if/when Luke Harper and Erick Rowan come in for a violent assist.

Winner: Chris Jericho, via disqualification


Photo courtesy WWE.com
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
In a match I should be way more excited for considering how much I like both competitors, Ambrose will finally get his hands on Rollins in sanctioned fashion at Battleground. This could quite easily be the match of the night, considering the experience these two guys possess and the history they have with one another.
People have been whining about Ambrose getting the short end of the stick, but in my opinion he's been put in a position to take the company by storm with his dark and fervent backstage promos (reminiscent of Jake "The Snake" Roberts, to an extent), maniacal run-ins and in-ring resilience. Reigns' initially dubious departure to the World Title picture has proven a sensible boon to Ambrose's characterization as the "Lunatic Fringe" now appears competent enough to take on "The Architect" without the help of his former strongarm.
Meanwhile, Rollins - recently rumored to have suffered a knee injury on Raw but apparently just so good at selling even the referees believed him - has become one of the best current heels working as he is successfully avoiding "cool heel" territory. Characters like Bad News Barrett and Bray Wyatt get widely positive reactions despite being posited as villains. No matter how much we may like them, this potentially damages their various confrontations no matter how much we may admire their work ethic and entertainment value. Rollins has embraced portraying a scumbag, and that makes Ambrose's attacks on him that much more thrilling. I legitimately want to see Ambrose beat the hell out of his betrayer.
This angle holds potential longevity, and in my opinion shouldn't end until Ambrose finally gets the upper hand after having been screwed for several months. Expect Rollins to cheat - possibly with the help of The Authority, but preferably otherwise - before winning in a fashion that appears clean to the ref.

Winner: Seth Rollins, via Curbstomp


Photo courtesy WWE.com
AJ Lee (c) vs. Paige for the Divas Championship
AJ Lee's return three weeks ago was particularly shocking thanks to rumors she was in fact pregnant and not due back any time soon, if ever. Perhaps the most significant factor here, however, is that she returns an apparently true babyface (as most returning stars do, no matter how they went out) whereas previously she was a heel who simply got the sort of crowd attention "cool heels" discussed above receive (because she's good at what she does, not too bad on the eyes, and married to CM Punk).
As JBL says, turnabout's fair play, and Paige's championship run felt like it needed to come to an end, anyway. There seemed few places it could go without being redundant, save for someone like Summer Rae, Emma or an even newer NXT call-up like Bayley challenging (fat chance at this point).
It will be nice, I suppose, to see a legitimate matchup between these two competent performers, as their past two physical confrontations were over before they really got going.
I'm honestly not sure it matters much who comes out on top here, so I'll go ahead and say AJ Lee should retain because her angle is fresher at the moment, and Paige could use some main roster time away from the title picture (presuming this would mean she still gets regular TV time).
Things could get interesting and extend the feud if Paige's (feigned) sportsmanship gives way to being a sore loser at Battleground, and she flips out after her loss.

Winner: AJ Lee via Black Widow submission


Photo courtesy WWE.com
The Usos (c) vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan 2-out-of-3 Falls Match for the Tag Team Championship
Harper & Rowan vs. the Usos is easily the feud that has produced the best matches on average over the past couple months, but it's time to bring it to a close. We don't want things to begin to feel stale. The only way to end this is with the big men taking the gold they so clearly deserve a turn with. All I can hope for in what is sure to be another excellent bout, if not the teams' best yet with one another, is that the first two falls don't come too quickly, making it essentially a regular match by a different name. I might suggest Jimmy and Jey winning the first fall, maddening their opponents who then come back with a vengeance to pick up falls 2 and 3.

Winners: Luke Harper & Erick Rowan, via Big Discus Clothesline


Photo courtesy WWE.com
Battle Royal for the vacant Intercontinental Championship
Another Battle Royal? Well, I'm okay with it. It gets a wealth of superstars not typically featured on to the card, it tends to be fun, and in this case plenty of time has been spent building multiple stories heading in. Plus, Bad News Barrett will be on hand to bestow the title upon the winner!
Cesaro would seem like the favorite due to his spectacular victory in the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania, however here he is entering yet another special event as merely "the dark horse" - he could reasonably win, but two other superstars are looking like more likely picks.
Sheamus has been talking about unifying his United States Championship with the Intercontinental Championship, and he probably wouldn't talk about it if plans weren't in place to make a unification happen. I will not be surprised if this happens - in fact I think fewer titles is a good idea, just as I supported the unification of the strangely separated World Titles - though I do not believe it will happen at Battleground.
I wasn't quite as hard on The Miz' face run as most seem to have been - I understood its practicality due to the performer's heavy charity and PR work, and even sympathized with him as he inexplicably sought midcard titles - but it certainly wasn't a resounding success. Miz is, of course, a natural heel, and one of the few currently who draws legitimate heel heat. I even used to hate the very idea of the Real World "star" making it big in WWE, but the dues Miz has paid and the smarminess he brings make him a perfect fit. The strength of his Hollywood heel rejuvenation and the momentum he's gained by going one-for-one in roll-up victories with the more strongly booked Sheamus put him in the best position to take home Intercontinental gold and move in to a unification program against the Celtic Warrior for SummerSlam.
Disclaimer: none of the above statements should imply in any way that I do not BOlieve.

Winner: The Miz, eliminating Sheamus


Photo courtesy WWE.com
John Cena (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
In what would be my least anticipated match were it not for Jericho/Wyatt, this Fatal Four Way could quite possibly be the worst match of the night. I went in to Payback with rock bottom hopes and that one blew me away, so I'm confident the included roster will take advantage of WWE's bookings and put on the best show they can despite Battleground being a lesser event. Very little in this main event, however, is prime to excite at the end of the night.
Kane - all due respect to his Hall of Fame career - is an utter bore the way he's used anymore, and even if he turns on The Authority (or at least dissents against Randy Orton) it will be a groan-worthy development just because it'll mean more Kane prominency.
Orton is an excellent workhorse, but his character is still sour from his latest title reign and the best thing at this point would be for him - not Kane - to go against The Authority (though I'm not sure how this would fit in with other projected storylines in the foreseeable future).
Roman Reigns brings the most interest to the match, as Triple H has apparently included him expecting his ego to clash with that of John Cena. Perhaps the inevitable Reigns/Cena confrontation on Sunday will bring momentary thrills, but it isn't sure to amount to much for the time being.
With other preferred prospects still developing, I honestly have no problem with Cena holding the title for now. In fact, as I have gone on record about in the past, it only makes sense for Cena to continue becoming champion from time to time simply due to who he is, and how important he is to the company. All that aside, as if we really needed the spoilers considering how obvious this development is, a poster and a commercial promoting Cena/Lesnar at SummerSlam have already leaked. Spoilers are always disappointing, although this one has really been in the bag for some time now.
As for Lesnar himself, don't expect him until the next night's Raw.

Winner: John Cena, via Attitude Adjustment to Randy Orton

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