This Sunday, July 19th, WWE Battleground emanates live from St. Louis’ Scottrade Center. Boasting two big time main event matches and a rumoured appearance by a seldom-seen Undertaker, it’s fair to say that this is anything but your run-of-the-mill B-level show.
Yet it isn’t only the card itself which promotes Battleground from another day at the office to an event well-worth paying attention to. With Summerslam merely weeks away now, what goes down this Sunday in the Scottrade Center is likely to have a significant impact on the WWE’s second biggest show of the year.
Let’s have a look at what’s scheduled to go down, shall we?
OK, so we might as well begin by stating the obvious: We’ve seen all this before, many times in fact. R-Truth vs. King Barrett – with the King of the Ring deeds apparently on the line- is unlikely to be any different from the handful of matches we’ve already seen from two of the company’s more entertaining midcard acts.
Still, for what it is, this should be a fun little pre-show scrap that serves its purpose well in warming up the St. Louis crowd and gearing us up for the main attraction.
Despite opportunity occasionally knocking on their door, both Truth and Barrett seemed forever destined to tread water in the midcard, but that’s not to say they can’t make the most of the hand they’ve been dealt, and your writer fully expects the two men to go out and have some fun this Sunday night.
If you’re looking for predictions, let’s be bold and give the nod to R-Truth, if only because the idea of the borderline insane rapper officially masquerading as royalty seems like it could be a blast.
In a story not too dissimilar from that of a certain Rocky Maivia, Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods have worked wonders in turning an outdated, irritating babyface schtick into one of the most enjoyable heel acts on the roster.
Sure, we may never see The New Day reach the dizzying heights of the aforementioned Rock, but, much as with our pre-show competitors, the trio are doing the best with what they’ve got, and it’s a riot.
On the flip side, you can’t help but feel as though the Prime Time Players combo of Darren Young and Titus O’Neil are merely babysitting the tag titles until the WWE braintrust decides exactly what to do with them.
Put the two together, and by all accounts we should have another fun match to kick off Battleground proper. Expect much shenanigans from the New Day trio, leading to an eventual win, though not the end of their rivalry with PTP.
Time for a personal confession that I may have made before, and will almost certainly make again somewhere down the line:
In all the time that I’ve been watching pro wrestling, I’ve never once understood the appeal of Randy Orton. Though some of you may be able to explain why he continues to be so hot, this cynical fan can’t help but find him boring, bland and a constant blight on the upper echelons of the WWE roster.
Personal rant aside, it is somewhat odd to see a man who has been a permanent fixture in the main event for so long now killing time in a feud with Sheamus that even The Viper’s most ardent supporters can’t be too thrilled with.
Credit where it’s due, Orton does have a certain talent about him, whilst Sheamus has always been entertaining no matter what role he’s placed into, yet this whole story feels almost as lifeless and uninspired as your typical Orton promo.
Whoever wins here, it’s doubtful we’ll have seen the last of these two butting heads, but if you’re looking for a prediction, let’s say Randy Orton, just because.
If any match on this card screams of two wrestlers being thrown together to keep them occupied, it’s this one. Say what you will about Reigns and Wyatt, both men have a strong upside and with a little creative forethought, this could well blossom into one of the hottest feuds of the year.
Indeed, with both men having just about regained their composure following high-profile losses at Wrestlemania 31, this feud could well be the platform for the two young Superstars to prove their worth every bit of the top caliber status the WWE office has thrust upon them. It could -nay, should, be a springboard back up to the top-tier, placing both the former Shield and Wyatt Family members on a level with Rollins and Lesnar, a status neither man seems to possess at this moment.
Alas, it’s so far felt like anything but the springboard it could well have been. Instead, it’s all been very much time-filler stuff. Sure, the story has been straight forward and compelling enough, but you’d maybe expect more, wouldn’t you?
Still, this match itself could well be the revival in fortunes this story seems to so sorely need. Give Roman and Bray the chance to cut loose and just beat the living bejebus out of each other, and there’s a good chance we could be onto a winner with this one.
Speaking of winners, your writer is taking an outside bet and putting his money on Wyatt to pick up the win. Though all evidence points to the contrary, it will certainly make this more compelling with Reigns does eventually get even with his tormentor.
Few stars have made such a monumental impact on the main roster quite like Kevin Owens, and his match with John Cena over the United States title has proven to be one of the most hotly anticipated on the entire card.
Second only to Rollins/Lesnar in terms of its main event appeal, it speaks volumes about the creative process and the talent of both champ and challenger that this has been one of the most captivating stories of the past few months, and there’s little doubt that it will continue to deliver when Cena and Owens meet for what may well be the last time.
Yet though the two could very well steal the show on their own efforts, this writer won’t be surprised to see a last-minute change of the script, with Cesaro thrown into the equation for one hell of a triple threat match.
In an impressive cameo role, Cesaro has done much to add something extra special to a Cena/Owens rivalry that was already one of the hottest things on WWE TV, so throwing him into the mix here not only makes sense from a storytelling standpoint, but also does much to freshen up a matchup we’ve seen several times already.
Not that Cesaro’s input should alter the outcome all that much. Having conveniently dropped the NXT championship only a few weeks ago, Owens is now more than capable of taking the once forgotten US title from Cena and carrying it with the same profile and prestige as his current adversary.
Expect nothing less than the inevitable here: Kevin Owens, your new US champion.
And so we come down to our main event, the defending champion Seth Rollins finally going one-on-one with the man he ‘stole’ the title from at Wrestlemania: Brock Lesnar.
Though Cena vs. Owens (vs. Cesaro?) has all the potential to be match of the night, this one shouldn’t be too far behind it in terms of compelling action, drama and excitement.
As champion, Rollins has already had his fair share of critics, if not for his performances, then at least for the way he’s been booked. To those critics, this writer says you’re probably missing the point.
Seth Rollins is not a heel champion in the vain of Triple H or even Lesnar himself. Seth Rollins is a heel champion in the fashion of Edge or Ric Flair at his most cowardly and conniving. This is a man who can deliver in the ring, but chooses not too, because he’s a slimy, weasel of a baddy, a guy who chooses to take the easy way out in order to hold on to his precious title by hook or by crook. It’s this characteristic that’s supposed to make us revile him, that separates him from the courageous, valiant babyfaces, that makes us want to cheer on anyone who can finally corner the coward and give him his comeuppance.
To that end, Rollins has been booked perfectly, and so too has this whole storyline. After relying on his Authority brethren for so long, the champion has grown too big for his proverbial boots, gradually alienated those who helped him reach the top, and must now go face-to-face with an unstoppable, untamable beast that so far no single human being has been able to stop.
It’s that as much as the promise of suplexes galore and plenty of violence that makes this main event one of the most anticipated headline bouts we’ve seen over the past few years, and by all accounts, it should be awesome.
Expect Lesnar to prevail here, though not without a second reign for Seth Rollins somewhere down the line.
With all that being said then, thanks for reading. See you Sunday night as the road to Summerslam really gets underway.
all images via WWE