Looking at the WWE following Battleground
There were several rumors heading into the Battleground pay-per-view and the event provided some very intriguing scenarios leading to SummerSlam. The WWE has a conference call in a few weeks to inform stock holders and release the current number of Network subscribers, which seems to be the determining factor of the company’s success for investors. While the Network puts the WWE to task to provide a continuously solid product to keep fans from cancelling, it could also lead to angles being rushed, which might be the case for SummerSlam next month.
The show opened with Randy Orton vs. Sheamus and it was a decent match, but nothing too spectacular. Battleground took place in Orton’s hometown of St. Louis, MO and that’s probably why he won the match, but it almost downgrades Sheamus, who won the Money in the Bank contract last month. Sheamus winning the shot at the title seemed like a random choice to begin with and he hasn’t really been given a push or a meaningful storyline to build upon it.
Jobbing on PPV doesn’t exactly set the stage for Sheamus to cash in and enter the main event picture again. Orton, who still has star power, seems to have plateaued in his career, in terms of popularity and there doesn’t seem to be a lot the WWE can do from a booking prospective because he already wrestled most of the roster.
The tag title match followed and it was another decent match, but nothing that hasn’t been seen on Raw recently. That being said, it’s good to see the focus on the tag division and most of the teams involved are entertaining. While somewhat limited in the ring, Titus O’Neil has done well in recent months and Xavier Woods is entertaining for The New Day.
When Bray Wyatt began the feud with Roman Reigns, I assumed that it was another example of Wyatt being used to get someone else over, but surprisingly, he won the match with the assistance of Luke Harper. Wyatt’s promo skills and character have kept him strong, despite the lack of push, but at some point, he should get some wins, considering that in some ways, he was used as a glorified enhancement talent. Wyatt is one of the most over competitors on the WWE roster and he has the in ring ability to be a main event star, but he needs to be booked in a position to elevate his name value.
There are rumors that Sting will return to join Ambrose and Reigns to wrestle the Wyatt Family, which is somewhat of a random pairing, but the Stinger’s involvement could boost everyone else in the match, which is smart booking. It’s a good decision to have Harper realign himself with Wyatt, mostly because he hasn’t been established outside of the Wyatt family and it really adds to the gimmick.
The US title match was solid, but not quite on par with the two previous Owens/Cena matches and the finish caused some debate on Twitter. While the feud with John Cena put Kevin Owens on the map to the main stream audience, Owens tapping out seems somewhat counter productive, but it doesn’t exactly halt his momentum depending on what he does next on Raw. The danger is there have been certain competitors with potential that were derailed after a feud with Cena, such as The Nexus storyline was eventually just used to feed him opponents. Rusev is probably the most recent example because he hasn’t done a lot since WrestleMania, but hopefully the WWE will book Owens in a decent feud because he has the skills to be a star for the WWE.
The Diva’s triple threat match was solid and the recent introduction of the NXT women provides something fresh to Raw. The key to this seems to be mixing the NXT divas into the women’s division on Raw without some of them getting lost in the shuffle, which could be the case with nine diva’s involved in the storyline. The current NXT women’s champion, Sasha Banks, has all the skills to be a major star for the WWE and it will be interesting to see how she’s booked in the next few months. Becky Lynch is solid in the ring and will be a solid addition to the Raw roster if she’s given the chance to showcase her skills.
Charlotte won the match at the pay-per-view and she will probably get more of an initial push because she’s Ric Flair’s daughter, which is somewhat understandable. While she’s athletic, Charlotte isn’t exactly as polished in the ring as the other NXT divas and it might take a few months for her to become established on Raw.
The WWE title match was what most fans expected it to be, Lesnar suplexed Rollins out of his shoes and for his role, Rollins took good bumps to make the challenger look strong; which was pivotal to the finish. As mentioned earlier, the WWE Network puts the pressure on the company to deliver a solid product that will keep a significant portion of the audience subscribed to the service, but the return of The Undertaker might be an example of the WWE rushing an angle to spike numbers prior to the report to share holders.
The Undertaker/Lesnar rematch deserves a Wrestlemania match, which could be where it eventually ends up, but at this point, it seems like the WWE rushed it, considering Lesnar had just turned babyface before the match with Rollins. The finish worked well because there was logic with The Undertaker getting revenge for Paul Heyman bragging about the streak and it also allowed Rollins to keep the title without Lesnar actually losing the match. It amazes me that some fans complained on Twitter that the WWE tried to book The Undertaker as a heel, which wasn’t the case. In some rare cases, there are certain matches that have enough star power and anticipation that there doesn’t necessarily need to be a heel/babyface dynamic.
The storyline is already in place, Paul Heyman bragged about Lesnar ending the streak and The Undertaker returned to avenge the loss. It sets the stage to be promoted as an epic clash of two of the biggest stars on the WWE roster and the stare down at Battleground, as well as the brawl on Raw proved that the match doesn’t need Lesnar to turn heel to make it work. It was also key for The Undertaker to mentioned in the promo on Raw that every streak eventually comes to an end because it allows for there to be a progression in his career instead of the end of the streak being considered the unofficial end of his WWE run. It’s been said many times, in terms of longevity and being relevant, The Undertaker is in a league of his own and anyone that complains about the Brock Lesnar/Undertaker rematch is probably looking for something to criticized with the product.
-Jim LaMotta (@jimlamotta)
image via WWE
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