WWE’s upcoming Battleground pay-per-view once looked like a super-show in the making. Unfortunately, a weak undercard and distracted bookers trying to plan a draft has caused fans to temper expectations some.
Nonetheless, the card is still one that should be worth the price of admission. A dream bout pitting all three former Shield members against one another and another entry in the saga of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are the show’s two most standout bouts.
The aforementioned brand split has added a level of intrigue to Battleground as well. As promised, some of the advertised matches could mark the last time we see a certain set of Superstars in the same ring. Braun Strowman will team with The Wyatt Family for one last time. AJ Styles will enjoy the backing of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson just once more. Curiously, Zayn and Owens may not be done writing the story of their rivalry.
All that said, let’s take a deeper look at Sunday’s card and rank the scheduled matches based on whether or not we at Today’s Powerbomb see them meeting, exceeding or falling short of expectation.
7T. Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Darren Young AND United States Championship: Rusev (c) vs. Zack Ryder
You call it a cop-out, I say it’s nonsensical to write the same thing twice. Look, the optimist out there might think the WWE is trying to expand its roster depth and elevate previously underutilized talent. The realist (guys in the room) recognizes that, like Titus O’Neil feuding with Rusev last month, the company is preserving its mid-card talent with the knowledge that they’ll need to take on bigger roles on their respective shows. Good for Young and Ryder for getting some high-profile PPV shine, but don’t expect it to last.
6. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
The build to this feud’s been a lot of fun. Natalya, frustrated after a handful of Women’s Championship losses, surprised many by turning heel. Her attack on Becky Lynch gave way to a feisty Lynch. It’s a simple build, but an effective one all the same. These two ring veterans will no doubt put on a good showing. The fact that they’re the two patriarchs of SmackDown Live’s women’s division though, means it could be just the first of many matchups between them.
5. Sasha Banks & Mystery Partner vs. Charlotte & Dana Brooke
This is a matchup that comes with an enormous X factor. If Sasha Banks’ mystery partner is who most fans hope it is (hint: she’s a hugger), then it could receive the sort of approval that would vault it a spot or two higher. If it isn’t Bayley, though, it wouldn’t be a stunner if fans, fairly or not, turned on this match.
From a logical standpoint, it would make sense for someone else to team up with Banks. The WWE did just add a trio of women from NXT and adding Bayley so soon might overshadow that. Someone like Nia Jax could benefit greatly from debuting in this match and giving the egotistical Charlotte her comeuppance. No matter who the partner is, the quartet of women involved should be good for a strong match. But, if it’s not Bayley, it might not hold fan interest.
4. The New Day vs. The Wyatt Family
This is a feud that, in some ways, has divided the WWE fanbase. Some have enjoyed the contrast of the happy-go-lucky New Day against the fearsome Wyatt Family. They enjoyed the breath of fresh air that was the New Day’s visit to the Wyatt Family compound. Others, however, have been turned off by the campy nature of the rivalry. They’re aghast that WWE would go so far as rip off something from TNA that, truthfully, only picked up steam because of its absurdity.
No matter which side you’re on, it’s hard to argue that this rivalry hasn’t captured the attention of wrestling fans. Whether they like it or not, that’s usually a good thing. From an in-ring perspective, this is most likely the first and last time these two factions square off. Both have been around for at least a few years now and it’s unlikely they’re both in tact when the next draft rolls around. For that reason alone, this is a match to look forward to.
3. John Cena, Enzo & Cass vs. The Club
This match ranks above its six-man tag team counterpart for a few reasons. For one, it’s the last time John Cena will share a ring with either tag team for some time to come. More importantly, it’s the last time The Club, as WWE fans know it now at least, will compete as a unit. But why overcomplicate things? The primary reason this match ranks highly is because it features six supremely talented Superstars.
Admittedly, one of the primary goals of this match is to prolong the Cena/Styles rivalry. Nonetheless, the WWE’s perfected the fast-paced, multi-man tag match and this should be another fun one. The moments between Cena and Styles will serve as a good teaser to SmackDown Live’s big-money feud. It’ll be interesting to see if The Club’s goodbye is harmonious or winds up heated.
2. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
OK, so the fact that Owens and Zayn both got drafted to Raw doesn’t drag the placement of this match down any. Much like the great rivalries of Triple H and Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit and The Rock and Stone Cold, one doesn’t ever tire of Owens against Zayn. All the same, this match could’ve well been the 1B of Battleground rather than a distinct second. The fact that these two could rematch again as soon as the next Raw has to bring it down some.
See, the lead-in to this showdown constantly reminded fans that it may be the last encounter. Zayn and Owens themselves said they wanted this match to end the rivalry. It’s a lot harder to believe it will if they’re sharing a locker room. One has to hope that this feud will, temporarily at least, revolve itself soon. Perhaps a “Loser Leaves Raw” match at SummerSlam would do the trick. But, for now, why fight it? Just sit back and enjoy some great wrestling.
1. WWE Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Roman Reign vs. Seth Rollins
Not much explanation should be required to express why this match takes the top spot. Ever since Seth Rollins double-crossed his former Shield teammates fans have been clamoring to see this three-way dance. Most would agree, though, that it was best fit to headline a WrestleMania.
Fortunately for fans, the WWE decided not to let the draft prolong this dream match any longer. With Dean Ambrose heading to SmackDown and away from Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, who knows when the next time these three will all be in the same ring? The intrigue of who will capture the gold as well as the fact that match is a legitimate Match of the Year contender makes it an easy choice for the top spot.