Previously at “Money in the Bank“…Ambrose won the Money in the Bank contract and successfully cashed it in on Seth Rollins, who had just won the belt from Roman Reigns. Other than perhaps Natalya turning heel on Becky, little else of importance happened.
RAW (6/20/2016)– This was a very good episode of RAW, continuing intriguing stories, establishing new programs and delivering good matches and segments throughout the majority of the running-time. Paige returns to the spotlight, but I’m already sick of her again because of her overuse of the “This is my House!” line. Nevertheless, her title shot (passable match) was only designed to set up Sasha Banks returning. The Wyatt Family returns and has a brief-but-intense verbal spat with the New Day, which can either be disastrous or awesome. The Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn program somehow intensifies and I’m curious what the next chapter will be. A.J Styles continues to get legit heel heat and part of this is because he’s not coming across as cool in his taunts. Finally, the Shield will share the ring once more at the next PPV, as Ambrose will defend his belt in a Triple Threat Match. The Main Event- Rollins Vs Reigns- was exciting and the finish worked perfectly within the context of the match. Ambrose on commentary worked as well, as he seemed so eager to get in on the action. I wonder how this will play out on TV though, as Roman Reigns is (in real life) suspended for a wellness policy violation. I enjoyed most of what this show offered and am excited for what comes next.
RAW (6/27/2016)– Seth Rollins immediately brings up the (real life) suspension of Roman Reigns, which really surprised me. Ambrose shows up, but things are really shaken up when AJ Styles appears to join in the banter and put himself over. Naturally, Cena will come out and want in the “Battleground” WWE Championship bout. Stephanie is forced to clear things up, pitting Cena against Rollins and Ambrose against Styles, with the stipulation being if Cena or Styles wins, they can be added to the Title scene. I really liked these stakes and I’m really excited to see these matches- which were good, even if the finishes were insanely predictable. The Miz/Kane match had an awful ending that made Kane look terrible, as if he was down for a 9-count from a basic move. I really liked the Highlight Reel segment with Owens and Zayn, as the animosity once again felt very real. The Bray Wyatt/New Day segment was odd, but interesting in its own way. The show was pretty good overall, although when it got bad, it got BAD.
RAW (7/4/2016)– The show starts off with a bizarre fourth of July celebration, where heels partied with the faces, and this leads to a 4th (of July) wall breaking foodfight. The United States championship is defended against Titus O’Neil in a predictable, sluggish match. Seth Rollins has a competitive and exciting bout with Dolph Ziggler, who seemed more passionate than he has been within the past year. I liked the Cena/Styles segment, where both men cut good promos and Cena formed an alliance with Enzo and Cass. The New Day deliver a strange hybrid of funny and annoying with their comedic promo, while I noticed WWE is giving more mic time to Rowan. This would be cool, except it’s hard to take him seriously when he won the record for ‘shortest match ever’ in his opponents favor at “Wrestlemania” just a few months ago…I do like how Xavier Woods is taking them seriously and seems afraid, giving the New Day some new material to work with. The Main Event was baffling, as heels and faces worked on Team USA and the Multi-national Alliance, although that was hardly the biggest problem. There were a few things I liked, such as Owens looking ultra aggressive and even attacking his teammate Sami Zayn. I also appreciated the respect shown between Swagger and Cesaro, a reminder of their history as tag team partners. But so much of the talent was wasted, as Kalisto, Bubba and especially Crews had virtually nothing to do. Kane gets disqualified for using a chair on someone who had already been disqualified and whom had just attacked him with said chair? Huh? Cesaro turns on his own team, even though he’s still intended to be the good guy and loses in a hilarious manner. I guess Ryder being the victor was interesting, but I’d rather the likes of Crews get that rub. This was a strange show and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.
RAW (7/11/2016)– Was it just me or were the commentators making a lot of mistakes during this broadcast? Darren Young won the battle royale to become the #1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship, but it’s a hollow victory because the competition eliminated themselves and Young did very little. Both Seth Rollins and Ambrose shine in their dueling promos, with the faux-interview of Reigns being pretty funny. The New Day/Wyatt Family segment was really, really stupid though, arguably upstaging the good stuff.
RAW (7/18/2016)– This was a mostly good show, which accomplished most of its ambitions, providing good- to even great- matches, funny segments, strong promos and I even liked the story developments (Daniel Bryan and Mic Foley are GM’s). I had one…ONE…major complaint. Stephanie McMahon got on my nerves in the worst way possible, because she kept trying to steal the spotlight and it really undermined everybody she interacted with. At one point she mocks Bryan about his pandering, but he throws back a funny retort (she wouldn’t know because she’s never been popular), yet it’s deflated when she points out that she was once popular with the fans. She’s constantly taking the piss out of everyone, interrupting them and eventually I just wished she’d go away. Otherwise, this was a really good episode. Oh yeah, the finish was lame to an otherwise exceptional main event, as apparently it was overridden between RAW and Smackdown.
SMACKDOWN (7/19/2016)– The draft finally happens and I disagreed with a lot of the decisions, such as splitting up the Club and the Wyatt Family. The banter between Stephanie and Shane got annoying, while the matches were fine but underwhelming, so I can’t say I was a fan of this episode…BUT at least it felt important, which is what Smackdown needs.
- The Usos Vs Breezango: Usos
- Charlotte and Dana Brooke Vs Sasha and Mystery Partner: Sasha/partner.
- The New Day Vs the Wyatt Family: New Day
- Sami Zayn Vs Kevin Owens: Owens
- Cena, Enzo, Cass Vs the Club: Cena, Enzo, Cass
- Becky Lynch Vs Natalya: Becky Lynch
- The Miz Vs Darren Young: Miz
- Rusev Vs Zack Ryder: Rusev
- Ambrose Vs Roman Reigns Vs Rollins: Um…Roman Reigns.
(Kickoff Match) The Usos Vs Breezango– This was a thing? Actually, this was a reasonably entertaining match, being better than most random kick-off bouts, even if I’m not sure of its context. Poor Usos. The mighty sure have fallen…
Charlotte and Dana Brooke Vs Sasha Banks and a Mystery Partner– I hate it when titles are not defended on PPV’s, although at least the mystery partner angle made this slightly more interesting. I’ve enjoyed this storyline though and the match was actually pretty good. Bayley is the mystery partner and Charlotte and Dana pulled off a pre-match ambush that kept Sasha and Bayley on the defensive throughout most of the match. It wasn’t anything exceptional, but it was paced nicely and everyone looked aggressive.
The New Day Vs The Wyatt Family– So the Tag Team Championships are NOT being defended either? Grrrrrrrrr…The two belts are not on the line for this supposedly important PPV…wow…I liked a lot of this story and how it surrounds the psychological warfare of the Wyatts, which seems to have had an effect on Xavier Woods. However, that Wyatt Compound segment was ridiculously stupid and sort of drained my enthusiasm. But once again, I found myself liking the match, which emphasized the dominance and violence of the Wyatt Family, and Xavier Wood’s character development as he faces his fears. Good storytelling and solid action, but where are the stakes?
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP: Rusev Vs Zack Ryder– I wasn’t even aware that Ryder was the #1 contender…Was there even a story here? Despite this, I did enjoy the match, even though it made Ryder look kind of stupid. It seemed like his bigger moves did more damage to him than Rusev and did he seriously not try to pin Rusev after landing his finisher? Nevertheless, Ryder got to show off more of his talents and I have to admit…I was emotionally invested when it looked like Ryder might break Rusev’s finishing submission hold.
Sami Zayn Vs Kevin Owens– Zayn and Owens have become my favorite wrestlers and I’ve loved how their feud has developed since it sparked in NXT, but there was a feeling of urgency surrounding this match as they might not be able to do it again depending on the draft…which lost some of its power once they were drafted to the same show…but this was still a compelling storyline and I was eagerly awaiting for this battle. This was an AWESOME bout, where both men kept the pacing as fast as possible, used stiff shots and explored their arsenal of moves. There was one ugly spot, but generally I was taken aback at the level of intensity in this match. There was also a strong story being told here, being told with convincing animosity, putting an exclamation mark on the conclusion of their war. Or it can be used to set up the next chapter! This is WWE storytelling at its finest!
Natalya Vs Becky Lynch– Ignoring the betrayal, hulu-RAW never seemed to bother covering this feud, so I can’t say I was emotionally invested. While I’m curious about the match for quality alone, the story seemed a little contrived. Were Natalya and Becky really friends? At least we saw Charlotte and Becky hanging out before the betrayal, and why did Natalya turn heel? It all seemed manipulative and out-of-character, although I guess it’s nice that the women are being given something to do outside of competing for the belt…which isn’t even being defended right now (Grrrr). The match was OK, being methodically paced and functioning as an acceptable cooldown match. I wasn’t crazy about Natalya’s heelish posturing, as she just did it too much. The ending was surprising though, even if I’m not sure I agree with it, .
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP: The Miz Vs Darren Young– I’m happy that Young is getting the opportunity and I like his pairing with Backlund, but the way he became the #1 contender did little to boost his credibility, so I can’t say I liked this storyline. The match was once again, fine as a breather for the show. I liked the ending, which actually made me curious about a rematch.
John Cena, Enzo and Big Cass Vs the Club– This was a good storyline, nicely continuing the Cena/Styles program, while the presence of Enzo and Cass adds a new layer of fun to it. The Club plays off each-other so well that I’m furious that the draft divided them. But for whatever reason, the match did absolutely nothing for me. On a technical level, it was fine, but this was the only time I felt drowsy throughout the PPV. This…instead of Becky and Natalya…This….instead of Miz and Young….This…instead of Rusev and Ryder…Maybe it was its placement on the card? Oddly, I was laughing my ass off at the pre-match promo delivered by Enzo and Cass, so I have no idea why I grew bored.
Highlight Reel: Chris Jericho interviews Randy Orton– This got progressively funnier, as even though it started off kind of forgettable, Randy Orton takes some effective digs at Jericho’s loss to Fandango and Lesnar’s current drug test failure controversy. I also laughed at Jericho’s ‘is it now?’ gag at the ‘RKO out of nowhere’ gimmick.
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Ambrose Vs Roman Reigns Vs Seth Rollins– Roman Reigns was suspended throughout the duration of this story, so Ambrose and Rollins carried the feud and it was pretty compelling, even though I’ve become burned out on this pairing. I thought this was an awesome match, balancing spots and storytelling. I loved how Rollins and Ambrose were forced to unite in order to take on Roman Reigns, looking uncomfortable and bitter about it in the process. Everyone looked good though, as Roman Reigns got to show off his power and even break out some unique moves, while Rollins continuously showed how surprisingly strong he is (while also boasting his usual strengths). Ambrose actually got to seem unpredictable, instead of the commentators just telling us how he is, but he also got to utilize his in-ring talents very effectively. The ending actually meant something too, feeling like a proper resolution to this Title scene.
OVERALL: “Battleground” began with an awkward card, filled with filler matches in place of Championship bouts, but the show ended up being really good. There were no bad matches, with even the lesser ones generally serving a purpose and the better ones being awesome. Most surpassed my expectations and the pacing was pretty consistent as well. I did feel a bit of lag during the middle block, but the PPV managed to recapture my interest and I ended the show eager for the following RAW.