WWE Battleground marks the first pay-per-view in the post-WWE Draft era. But since its buildup began prior to this week’s draft, it will feature several inter-brand matches.
WWE Champion Dean Ambrose of SmackDown will face Raw’s Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in a triple threat match.
The Intercontinental and United States Championships will also be on the line Sunday. Here’s a look at the full match card for Battleground.
Sasha Banks and TBD vs. Charlotte and Dana Brooke
Sasha Banks is pretty much guaranteed to face Charlotte at SummerSlam, so having a title match one month in advance would be pointless. The title won’t change hands unless it happens on one of the year’s biggest PPVs, so another predictable “LOLCHARLOTTECHEATS” finish would’ve been inevitable.
Banks’ mystery partner is the most intriguing part of this matchup. Many speculate it will be Bayley and it should be. However, I’m starting to give up hope that she’ll ever be on the main roster after watching six other NXT women receive callups since her title win.
Either way, Banks and Banks’ partner face Charlotte and Brooke in what should further push a Banks-Charlotte feud to SummerSlam.
Winner: Sasha Banks and TBD
Sasha needs a win here. What kind of argument would she have if her and her mystery opponent lost to the champ and her protégé? Besides, it’s not like a Charlotte loss does much to hurt her title reign.
The New Day vs. The Wyatt Family
The Final Deletion The Wyatts-New Day compound brawl managed to confuse fans and garner criticism that WWE was taking ideas from TNA Wrestling. Also, Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan were drafted to SmackDown while large person Braun Strowman was selected by Raw. So not only has this feud managed to lose momentum in its buildup, but it doesn’t seem like the Wyatts will last past this match.
There are, however, still unanswered questions about Xavier Woods’ role in the feud and why the Wyatts seem to have so much power over him.
Winner: New Day
What would a win do for the Wyatts if the group is set to disband? It would’ve been easy to choose them over New Day had the draft taken place after Battleground, but with New Day continuing as a group on Raw, this match seems like an obvious win for the positive trio.
United States Championship: Rusev (c) (w/Lana) vs. Zack Ryder
Once again, this is a match that loses its luster because of the timing of the draft. Both Raw and SmackDown need midcard titles, so having two inter-promotional matches either guarantees both challengers win or both champions retain.
Aside from that, Zack Ryder has gotten more positive momentum during the past three weeks than he’s had at any point of his career besides his only United States title run and his sporadic WrestleMania 32 push.
Rusev is basically the same Bulgarian fighting machine he was during his first United States title reign. So other than the potential spoilers of rebranding, this has been a pretty good feud thus far.
I’ve learned not to get my hopes up with Ryder. WWE seems to tease his push every so often and even when it comes to fruition, it always ends in a letdown and burial. Of the two midcard title matches, this one seems less likely to have a title change.
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) (w/Maryse) vs. Darren Young (w/Bob Backlund)
Darren Young is over and it only took a Bob Backlund return to get him there. The Miz has continued to be a delusional self-proclaimed A-list star, a role he’s excelled in and now has his wife to add intrigue.
Winner: The Miz
This one is especially based on the draft results. Young seems more likely to pull off an upset than Ryder, which is saying something about how little faith I have in WWE to consistently push Ryder. But if the U.S. Championship stays on Raw, its unlikely that Young will take the Intercontinental Championship to the red brand as well, especially considering Daniel Bryan only drafted Miz for the title.
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
Becky Lynch and Natalya will compete in a women’s PPV match that doesn’t include Charlotte, her title or an unnecessary tag-team stipulation. Progress. Lynch and Natalya have engaged in an entertaining feud since the “Queen of Harts” turned heel at Money in the Bank and attacked the “Lass Kicker.” Both Superstars have jumped one another before, during and after each others’ matches and will finally compete in a sanctioned bout on Sunday.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Bryan made it clear that Lynch was going to be SmackDown’s top female competitor when he drafted her on Tuesday. Natalya is at the peak point of the remainder of her career. Her legacy is pretty much set as the veteran workhorse of the division, while Lynch has to grow as the blue brand’s top star.
John Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Club
“BEAT UP JOHN CENA!” That’s been The Club’s creed for the past few weeks. Fortunately, the 15-time champion has had backup from the “Realest Guys in the Room” Enzo and Cass. But really, this feud centers around Cena evening the score against AJ Styles and company after Anderson and Gallows’ interference led loss to a questionable loss to “The Phenomenal One” at Money in the Bank.
Winner: John Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass
Cena needs to get a victory against Styles to continue their feud until SummerSlam. This match provides that he does so without Styles losing much momentum heading into the PPV. Anderson will likely take the pin, as usual.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
Wrestling’s longest-running feud will likely continue past Battleground after both Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were drafted to Raw on Tuesday. Zayn was selected 11th overall while Owens was 18th. Surely this will make the “Prizefighter’s” hatred of his former best friend grow even more.
Winner: Kevin Owens
In the early stages of the duo’s main roster feud, it seemed like Zayn needed a win to stay on par with Owens. But now, claiming that they are “destined to do this forever” carries weight regardless of who looks stronger. Owens still seems like the superior competitor kayfabe-wise while Zayn owns the underdog persona. That will be further illustrated at Battleground.
WWE Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
Ambrose and Rollins have been carrying their WWE Championship feud during Reigns’ 30-day suspension. But that’s not surprising considering – like Owens and Zayn – the three men involved will be linked forever given their past alliance and feuds. But, once again, the draft presents an interesting dilemma. Either SmackDown gets its champion in Ambrose or Raw gets one in Rollins or Reigns.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
SmackDown is run by two babyfaces in Bryan and Shane McMahon. If there’s anyone more beloved than Shane, it’s the leader of the “Yes! Movement.” Stephanie McMahon’s heel persona will outweigh Mick Foley’s babyface pandering.
If there is a second world championship, only a heel would be able to accept it without doing anything. That would be Rollins, which eliminates him from winning on Sunday. Reigns would likely still be champion had he not failed his drug test, so it seems unlikely that he’ll be booked to win back the title immediately after returning from his suspension.
So whether it’s wishful thinking or by default, Ambrose seems likely to retain and have a lengthier reign than most expected.