7.21.2014

WWE Battleground: Quit Your Bitchin'

Photo courtesy WWE.com
Nearly everywhere I turn on the 'net today I see complaints about last night's WWE Battleground special. People are saying it was awful, and that we the fans deserve better. Now, I can't disagree it was far from the greatest wrestling event of the year, but there is no call for the ire being tossed its way by the vitriolic Internet Wrestling Community.

That combination is important - wrestling and storytelling. The WWE roster is loaded with incredible wrestling talent right now, to the point that it may have never been better. The storytelling keeps it all in motion, however, rendering the in-ring action all the more exciting. Not every scene can be a climax, and not every outcome can be what you wanted. Battleground is a midway point between two major specials, and it did a solid job of propelling its key stories forward without blowing many off before SummerSlam.

Saying "we deserve better" is forgetting what a hot streak the WWE has been on since WrestleMania. By all means, Payback several months ago should have been a middling show. It's not a gimmick event like Money in the Bank, and it's not one of the "Big Four" like the Royal Rumble, but Creative and the included roster rose to the occasion and delivered a memorable night of wrestling and storytelling. Much of the same can be said for Extreme Rules.

To be fair, WWE could stand to scale back their special event schedule in many cases. Three weeks is simply not enough time to prepare a legitimate marquee, even with longer episodes of Monday Night Raw and a multitude of other weekly in-ring shows. No one can predict factors like Daniel Bryan's neck surgery taking him out of action - we don't have to imagine those wild cards throw major plans out the window - but when booking these events so far in advance the company would do well to afford each event enough time to develop. Since the company isn't doing this consistently now, however, in some cases it just comes down to being a wise consumer. If you were truly excited by the three weeks of lead-up and shelled out $45+ for Battleground, I would be surprised if you didn't get what you wanted. If you wisely subscribe to the WWE Network, there's really not much complaining to be done. Even if the monthly rate eventually goes up as is rumored, it's still a mind-bogglingly excellent deal to be getting every special event live for such a low amount of money, not to mention everything else the Network offers.

Being satisfied with one relatively mediocre event should not suggest I am complacent with the low-priced Network potentially meaning less exciting events. On the contrary. In 2012 I could barely stomach the product. In 2013 it had higher highs but was difficult to stick with enthusiastically. This year, with the Network and the company trying their damnedest to sell it, I'm gung-ho for WWE and the great wrestling and storytelling they've been putting out. That I paid a $9.99 subscription fee to access Battleground just makes me that much less disappointed that the night wasn't WrestleMania Junior.

Sure, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins didn't have the sanctioned match that had been billed, but the two stars occupied three major segments of the show and made for some of the most entertaining moments. It's difficult to imagine being too upset about this, as we got to see the two go at it in multiple venues, we got to see the furthering of their story, and now the inevitable showdown between the two of them at SummerSlam is that much more anticipated.

Sure, Jack Swagger vs. Rusev was riddled with rest holds, but not everyone can be a cruiserweight flipping maniacally off the top rope. In fact, this was my most anticipated match of the night and I was satisfied with what I got. I'm even more excited that the feud does not appear to be over and that I might be getting what I really wanted - a rematch at SummerSlam.

And sure, John Cena may have won and Bray Wyatt may have lost. I am admittedly biased here as throughout 2014 Cena has made a fan of me, and Wyatt has lost me as each cryptic promo has turned out to mean less and less. You really can't be upset that these guys won and lost, respectively, though. Your guys can't always win. We were all 99% assured Cena would be taking this one home, anyway, and it seems clear the Wyatt/Jericho feud is far from over. Does it not make sense, after all, that a guy who has needed the help of his cronies for the majority of his wins wound up losing after said cronies were ejected from ringside? Trust me, Wyatt is not being "buried" with losses. His character plays a psychological game and his confidence on the microphone has had him constantly working with contemporary legends. He's fine. And besides, would you really have wanted Reigns' first big victory to have come from a throwaway Fatal Four Way?

And don't get me started on The Miz' victory. There were plenty of deserving individuals in the Intercontinental Battle Royal, but none with more legitimate momentum than The Miz, who seems to be in a do-or-die situation with this new Hollywood heel reinvention. He's 'doing', and proverbial 'death' does not seem imminent. The rest of the match brought the best entertainment of the night with Kofi's ever-inspiring anti-elimination creativity, some strong (if fleeting) underdog showings and more.

I understand some dissatisfaction with Battleground, but with the WWE Network as an economic option, a streak of four excellent specials in the rear view and SummerSlam on the horizon, it really doesn't make sense to complain about what was a suitable connect-the-dots piece leading to bigger things. So quit your bitchin'.

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