Friday, July 18, 2014

Follow Me Into The Jungle: Battleground Preview and Predictions

This feud won't end at Battleground, but it'll get hotter
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WWE’s seventh pay-per-view/special event of the year, Battleground, is coming up this Sunday. The show fills a weird spot this year in WWE’s event calendar, bridging the summer shows into Summerslam and ostensibly the fall season, so there’s a lot riding on its back. With massive stock losses after WrestleMania and the injury two high-profile champions, WWE has been struggling to quickly build heat for storylines that maybe wouldn’t have such a strong focus (or exist at all) if there was stronger ground right now, and the future of the WWE may live and die on the reaction to the outcome of Battleground.

I’ll be honest with you, I think that this might be the strongest card of the four post-Network “special events”. Sure, WrestleMania and some of the biggest iconic moments but none of those have really stuck, and Extreme Rules and Payback had two of my favorite matches WWE has done this year (both of the Shield/Evolution matches). After the safe-and-easy events of Money In The Bank, WWE really needed another standout semi-experimental card to get the fire back up in time for Summerslam, and I think they almost have that here. So without further adieu, here is your 2014 Battleground match card and predictions.

PRE-SHOW: Naomi vs Cameron

A Divas match going to the pre-show is huge, maybe bigger than a lot of people are giving it credit. The pre-show has traditionally been a sampler match to get people on the fence about purchasing the pay-per-view (or in this case, subscribing to the Network) to buy in, replacing the standard non-televised dark match. While I think that the concept has been more hit than miss, it has had a few stand-out matches since WWE has started doing this, like the stellar Usos/Shield tag match from last year’s Money In The Bank, and this year’s Four-Way Elimination Tag Team Title Scramble that concluded with the dissolution of The Real Americans as a tag team. I don’t think the pre-show slot has gone to any female wrestler in the company until now.

So WWE pitting two women who have been working together for the past few years against each other in a grudge match and using that to sell the show? It’s a big deal, and its two competitors are no slouches in the ring.

While I think Naomi can work circles around Cameron, the latter has shown some skill when it matters. If anyone is a good showcase for Naomi, probably the third best woman wrestling on the main roster right now, it’ll be her former partner. I wish there was more of a build-up to this match other than a few catfight segments, but breaking away from a tag team is exactly what Naomi needs right now at a time where the future of the Divas division is right on the horizon. She’s going to get her best competition yet.

MY PREDICTION: Naomi wins. This is kind of a no-brainer for the company right now, as Naomi is arguably the best person on Total Divas and a strong face turn and push for her would be good not just for her character in ring but her “reality” on the show. Naomi hasn’t really had much chance to shine other than a couple decent matches against former Divas Champion Paige and current Divas champion AJ Lee but the glimpses we’ve gotten of her really giving it her all have really impressed me. It’s only a matter of time before she has the Butterfly belt around her waist.

RUMORED MATCH: Damien Sandow vs. Adam Rose

Oh boy. This is a match that hasn’t been officially announced yet, but several commentators online have picked up on the fact that both Sandow and Rose have been pulled from the Intercontinental Championship Battle Royal that evening and might be set to face each other during the event.

I don’t see this getting any more than the “death slot” match, which is disappointing to say the least. Sandow has taken his recent repackaging as “crazy man who wears thematic costumes” in stride and remains one of the most entertaining things about the regular WWE programming. Rose may have a weak gimmick but he still has the same fire he had in the ring as he did as Leo Kruger — when he gets the chance to show it. Nevertheless, I don’t have much faith in this match being a showcase of either man’s talents, which is truly a shame.

MY PREDICTION: Damien Sandow wins. Just purely on the fact that Sandow has lost the last couple of times these two have come face to face, I could see him getting a rub and maybe getting out of the slump here. I’m just bummed we won’t get Greatest Intercontinental Champion Ever Honky Tonk Sandow.


Here’s another match-up I’m incredibly lukewarm on. I’m one of the few people who actually likes Rusev beyond just his manager Lana being a pretty face. That dude has grown into his gimmick so well in the past two years, and his last two matches against Big E were really great. I even liked Swagger for a bit, until he injured Wade Barrett and put him out of commission at the worst time possible, right before Money In The Bank. I get that Swagger is supposed to be an all-American but I just don’t really see the reason for why he specifically is feuding with Rusev, let alone getting a face turn. It’s not Swagger that was over in the Real Americans; it was Zeb Colter and Cesaro.

Now Cesaro ditched him and Colter is spouting the same weird xenophobic schtick as before but now we are supposed to legitimately cheer for him because he’s going after an evil foreign man. I think it’s a waste of a team-up and they had a much better angle continuing the feud with Big E and executing a much better face turn for this gimmick.

MY PREDICTION: Rusev wins. It’s almost inevitable at this point, but what’ll happen after the match is what is important.

Rusev is going to hold the Accolade for too long, Swagger will be in pain, and Big E is going to run in and save the day. Yes, Big E, the man who had a brief feud with the Real Americans and continues to be a plague in former Real American Cesaro’s side, will rescue some he is ideologically opposed to because it’s the right thing to do. Colter sees the light, realizes that people that are different from him aren’t evil, and Big E and Swagger form an uneasy coalition to finally beat Rusev at Summerslam. Big E is the only man to almost break out of the Accolade twice, and we almost need to see that third time now, to see him overcome. He’s got to here or this angle really will have been squandered.

GRUDGE MATCH FROM HELL: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins

Now we’re getting to the meat and potatoes of the card. After The Coward Seth Rollins laid waste to Dean Ambrose on the RAW after Payback and then screwed him out of the Money In The Bank briefcase with the help of THE DEMON KANE™, we’ve been teased with a big Ambrose/Rollins bout. While I doubt this will be the blow-off for this feud, it’ll be exciting to see how far these two go in what will hopefully be the first of many matches. Ambrose and Rollins were dynamite when they were on the same side, and seeing both of those wrestling mentalities squaring off against each other in the ring will be exhilarating to say the least.

MY PREDICTION: DQ Finish, probably in Dean’s favor. Having someone getting a deciding pin, even in roll-up fashion, this early in the feud would probably kill any momentum the actual storyline would have (just look at the Cena/Wyatt feud post-Wrestlemania) so I doubt we’ll get a clean finish this early. However definitely expect to see Ambrose dominate the match for the most part, to keep Rollins looking like a weasel.

If I had to guess who would interfere in this match I’d say probably Kane, which seems to be all he’s been capable of doing lately. There’s also a possibility of some of Ambrose’s trademark crowd brawling drawing a count-out finish, but that’d seem like so much whimper rather than a bang.


I’ll be honest, out of all the matches announced for this card this is the one I’m the least excited for, just based on what could have been a great idea (The Wyatt Family taking the bronze and gold at Money In The Bank) being squandered. I’ll be curious to see how the match stipulation plays out but I’ll be honest with you, this might be the easiest prediction ever.

MY PREDICTION: The Wyatt Family wins the title, probably trucking the Usos 2 falls to nil. I just don’t see how we can get this far with the back and forth between The Usos and The Wyatts without the Wyatts going over when it matters. It matters here, it’s a big victory that’d bring some legitimacy to the faction, and goes well with my prediction for this next match.


This is a tough one, especially because I’ll be actually at the event and this is probably the one match I’m most excited for above all. I’m a big fan of Chris Jericho. Long boring story short he was one of the first wrestlers I ever took notice of when I started watching, and while it wasn’t until I was older that I really appreciated what he did in the ring, his mannerisms always stuck with me. I’ve been excited every time he’s come back, especially when he came back just in time to be at the event I’m going to be at. I even bought an old WCW Jericho shirt just special for Battleground.

However… Bray Wyatt may legitimately be one of my favorite guys working on WWE right now. I’m the biggest stan of Wyatt. I’ve weathered every criticism so far, that he’s boring or that he doesn’t really say anything or that he’s not that good in the ring, because when that music hits and the lights go out I still get goosepimples down my arm.

Wyatt’s been hurt a lot by how he’s been handled since coming up to the main roster, especially after the aborted Daniel Wyatt angle that then thrust him in the path of The John Cena Experience. I fully believe it’s not 100% on him. Any time he’s in the ring he gives it everything he has; he just hasn’t gotten the proper push. Jericho is a guy who has kind of made his name late in life as someone who puts everyone over, but frankly he’s in a position where that’s exactly what he should be doing. Almost anyone who criticizes him for putting Fandango over at WrestleMania kind of ignore that WWE had clearly been kind of building ‘Dango up to be something big and then just ran out of opponents to put him with immediately after the event. When they started positioning him for great things he took a Broski Boot to the skull that pushed him down to dance offs against Great Khali. Wyatt is in exactly the right position to use the Jericho Push to propel him to great things.

MY PREDICTION: DQ finish, setting up an angle that culminates with a retirement match for Jericho. Like I said, this is a tough one and could have gone either way. If Jericho won immediately we’d have another “Cena beating Wyatt at WrestleMania and then still feuded with him” situation, but I don’t think Wyatt completely trucking Jericho for three months of paid television works to boost him either. A DQ finish here, setting up a Wyatt win at SummerSlam one year after his debut and then having Bray retire Jericho at Night Of Champions might be exactly what Wyatt needs to rehab his image.

Why a retirement match, you ask? Let’s face it, Father Time is harsh on us all and Chris Jericho isn’t getting any younger. He’s clearly more into his music than wrestling nowadays, and according to the dirt sheets he’s only sticking around until Night Of Champions. They’ve already announced tour dates for the end of the year for Fozzy, so what perfect way to send him off than to officially retire. Maybe a Hall Of Fame spot for Wrestlemania 31, going in alongside the man he debuted against, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? Either way, legitimately sending a legend like Jericho out for good is exactly the kick in the pants Bray Wyatt needs to get back on the righteous path.

THE TOTALLY OVER-THE-TOP TWENTY MAN BATTLE ROYAL FOR THE VACATED INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP…MATCH: Alberto del Rio vs. Big E vs. Bo Dallas vs. Cesaro vs. Curtis Axel vs. Diego vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango vs. Heath Slater vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Rob van Dam vs. R-Truth vs. Ryback vs. Sheamus vs. Sin Cara vs. The Great Khali vs. The Miz vs. Titus O'Neil vs. Xavier Woods vs. Zack Ryder

*deep breath*

This match only came about because of Jack Swagger doing what Jack Swagger seems to do best - injuring dudes going higher up the card than him by botching the most basic of spots.

Last time it was a big boot to the dome that concussed then-World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler, causing The Show-Off’s title reign to come to an abrupt and unfair ending right when it was really getting started. This time it was an ill-timed barricade toss that separated the shoulder of then-Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett, causing the Bearer Of Bad News’s title reign to come to an abrupt and unfair ending right when it was really getting started. Next time it’ll be a time machine and he’ll go back and do an actual Heart Punch to a young Bruno Sammartino, blowing it up and causing his WWWF World Heavyweight Championship title reign to come to an abrupt and unfair ending right when it was really getting started.

But I digress. Title vacated, The Authority have decided to reassign the title to whoever can stay in the ring after everyone else is eliminated. The big announcement for this match is that Barrett himself will be there to present the title to the victor, leading me to speculate that this might also set up some angle for a future title rematch. There are the typical filler spots of course, but there’s a couple of guys I really think could do a lot with the title and could use the rub.

MY PREDICTIONS: It may be easier to just list off why I think these people could win and what I would do if I were booking them post-victory.

• Sheamus: He’s the current United States Champion, and trust me I think it’s really dumb he’s in this match. Now that he’s got a feud going with The Miz it’d make way more sense to have them fight over that title (since it’s already there) but I don’t get paid to write wrestling unfortunately.

They’ve teased the idea of Sheamus unifying the two titles, so that’s as good a reason as any to put another belt on him. I just hope he gives the new title a great name like the Inter-State Champion, ala Kurt Angle’s Euro-Continental title run.

As for what I’d do with Sheamus after he won: I dunno, 10 more matches between Sheamus and Alberto del Rio and The Miz with no ramifications whatsoever? Sheamus is a weird guy because he’s a current and former champion but somehow creative has no idea what to do with him and he doesn’t seem to have any drive to push new ideas forward. If he won I don’t see a good reason to bring Barrett back as wanting the title again, but there’s probably enough heat between the two that you could get a few good matches out of them before putting a belt back on Barrett.

• The Miz: The Awesome One has returned from filming The Marine 4: Moving Target and has gone “Hollywood”. I honestly can’t tell if this take on the Hollywood gimmick is a rib on those who have identified as such in the past or a legitimate thing that he’s trying to pull off. Good for him because it’s really working. Since he’s returned he’s cut two of probably my favorite promos he’s ever done and now he’s in a title match so why not put the title on him? He’s the Marine, dammit!

As for what I’d do with The Miz after winning: feud with Sheamus, maybe unify the titles in the future? He’s another guy like Sheamus who is such a company man he’ll always have a job with WWE but will never get an creative backing because he doesn’t have the spine to push for anything big. Although honestly, a feud between Miz and Barrett over this Intercontinental title might be cool.

• Cesaro: Big fan of Cesaro. He’s not doing much of anything right now except playing second fiddle to Paul Heyman’s client Brock Lesnar, who broke the Undertaker’s 21-match undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. You know, the Beast Incarnate?

Anyway, Cesaro. He really needs something to do right now, and if anyone deserves a title it’s him. He’s already proved himself great in battle royals when it counts, winning the inaugural Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 30. While the Intercontinental title might seem like a step down for a man who has had two WWE World Heavyweight Championship title shots this year, this secondary title might be the perfect springboard this Heyman Guy needs back to the top of the card where he probably belongs.

A feud with Barrett would be a no-brainer, but the more obvious bout would be against a certain client who is the 1-In-21-And-1. The setup is there, the disgruntled and jilted former partner of Heyman going against a dominating force, it’s just the stars that need to align.

• Dolph Ziggler: This is kind of an easy guy to slot in here. Big fan of Dolph and although I know he’ll probably never smell the main event scene again, but a decent run with the Intercontinental title could be a good runner-up prize for a guy who puts it all on the line, stealing the damn show and sometimes your girlfriend.

He and Barrett also had that crazy good match on Raw that one time. The one where Wade and Dolph talked about how great the match they were having was, during the match? You know, that one? Let’s do that five more times and call it a year.


This is another match I’m really excited for. Without going into great detail, I’m huge fans of Paige and Lee. I really hate the mirrored flash victories both had to beat each other for the title. I’m hoping for a good long match that gives us a good build for what could be the next Trish Stratus vs Lita. Both wrestlers have a different enough style that can lead to some interesting matches, and a good feud between these two at a time when the future of the Divas division has never been brighter could really elevate what has traditionally been a blindspot for WWE.

MY PREDICTION: AJ wins and retains the title. I’m hoping we get at least a 15 minute match. Honestly I think it was stupid to take the title of Paige, the better storyline is AJ failing where Paige succeeded and the ramifications of that, but you play with the hand you’re dealt.


This isn’t happening. This match is taking place in a dream, and I’m going to wake up soon, right? Ugh.

With christened Champion Daniel Bryan out with neck injuries, WWE scrambled to put the title on someone new, falling back onto tried and true John Cena. This lead to some sort of four way battle where newly minted babyface Roman Reigns is in this match despite The Authority hating him, and the storyline is apparently how The Authority (Orton, Kane and Rollins alongside Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) are at odds and may not even get along during this match and the aftermath.

And then there’s Paul Heyman’s threatened Option C, cashing in the X Division title for a shot at…whoops wrong company. Heyman’s Plan C is of course, the recent Conqueror Of The Streak Brock Lesnar. We know this because they’ve already leaked a Summerslam poster featuring Brock Lesnar and John Cena, and a trailer for SummerSlam featuring Brock Lesnar and John Cena. There are some people who believe that Plan C stands for CM Punk. Those people are fools.

This is just… a mismanaged cluster of a match. The outcome is so obvious it’s so insulting, but if they really went for the swerve of all swerves it wouldn’t really feel like it meant anything at all.

MY PREDICTION: Cena wins, I type while laughing out loud. Or Reigns wins, I type laughing out loud as well.

My dark horse is #thagawdrandyorton.