After a disappointing showing from Money in the Bank last month, the WWE stormed straight back onto good form with Battleground.
Far from being a B-PPV where the rubbish feuds are dumped and shot squarely in the back of the head, creative gave us a card befitting of a “big four” show, and from an in-ring perspective it was an excellent showing. It was so good, in fact, that it had the unfortunate task of casting further shade on last week’s WWE draft picks. Namely, some very promising feuds which developed plenty of intrigue and mileage Sunday are set to be cut short, and to deprive the WWE Universe of a lot of matches they’d like to see again.
The New Day and the Wyatt Family was the most obvious example here. Any seasoned wrestling fan will tell you that having The Wyatt Family going over The New Day was judicious booking, but very much a part of what should have been a long-term booking strategy. It showed weakened and demoralized uber-babyfaces getting themselves eviscerated by a force that was in dire need of being re-awakened.
The next, obvious choice would have been not only to show us how the babyfaces deal with this, but for them to ultimately either “get their heat back” in a rematch.
As we all know, with The New Day headed for Raw and Bray Wyatt SmackDown bound, that just ain’t gonna happen. That’s a crashing shame for any fan of wrestling, because both teams put on a barnstorming match that we are now likely never to see again, but from a storyline perspective it’s hard to see where The New Day is supposed to go from here.
Do they just carry on as though nothing ever happened? Because it would be difficult to see why The New Day are going to “fall” now that Bray Wyatt it at a safe distance. Wyatt being dispatched as a singles competitor is long overdue and will come as a much needed push for the cultist, at least, but his earlier torments and apocalyptic proclamations directed at The New Day are set to look a little overwhelming now that he is unable to finish what he started.
But to be insufferably “better than the booker” for a moment, let’s take a look at Darren Young and The Miz. The finish of their match was an absolute “vintage” display of long-term booking and developing intrigue.
The match ended with The Miz walking out, getting into a scuffle with Bob Backlund, and subsequently being torn to shreds courtesy of Darren Young and the crossface chicken-wing. It was classic unfinished business, which in any other rivalry would signify another PPV match with a more satisfying outcome. Except, The Miz is now home and dry on SmackDown, while Young is heading over to Raw.
There is nobody on the roster right now as inherently unlikable as The Miz. He is a sneaky, vainglorious heel who the fans want to see get his, or somehow escape intact by underhand means. Instead, he is getting an easy break from Darren Young’s freight train momentum. The Miz will undoubtedly find someone new to spar with on Raw, but what is left for Darren Young?
He could always go after Rusev, after all, the whole point of his return was that he’d start chasing gold immediately. But Rusev is somebody who ought not to be losing just yet, and neither is Young. Young could always find himself floating on the mid-card, and that will be great for him if he’s going to start racking up some victories. It does, sadly, take him down a few pegs and kills some of his momentum.
Then there’s the most catastrophic split of the whole brand extension: The Shield. As predicted, Roman Reigns was, for all the unfair mauling he gets from the crowd and in-ring prowess, the third wheel of that fight due to his absence. Raw has a top heel in Seth Rollins, but he is a thousand times more over than the intended babyface, Reigns. With Dean Ambrose in the fold, there was at least a firmer babyface, and this allowed creative to position Reigns as a middle-man tweener. Now, however, he is going to have to resume the roundly rejected top babyface spot, and it is a disaster waiting to happen (again!).
There was mileage in continuing a three-way feud with The Shield, or in a one-to-one feud between Rollins and Ambrose. In splitting The Shield the way that it has, the WWE has been left with the worst of both worlds.
And then there was the abrupt end to the rivalry between Zack Ryder and Rusev…
Actually, we can live with that.