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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Battleground 2015

It’s been a cool five weeks since Money in the Bank, and I’m just so glad that we got all of that time to build up to Battleground, because Lord knows we needed that. And in another pleasantly surprising turn of events, Battleground was actually a fun and solid PPV. While the triple threat Intercontinental Championship match was scrapped due to Ryback’s injury, we did get another triple threat match in its place—and I’d happily take this match any day of the week. We also got an enjoyable Tag Team Championship match, a great United States Championship match, a reunion, and one hell of a return. Let’s get to it!

Kickoff: King Barrett def. R-Truth to retain his King of the Ring crown.

Barrett and Truth had a relatively competitive match, going a little over nine minutes. It was nice to see both men get some shine, and since they were in the kickoff, they were going to have a little more leeway in terms of time constraints.

R-Truth got a little more offense than we’re normally used to seeing on TV, along with the usual comedy bits that he injects into his matches. Mercifully, though, King Barrett picked up the win and retained his status as the King of the Ring.

I used mercifully because there was a very real chance that R-Truth might just win against King Barrett. As the saying goes, you can never can tell. Now, as I’ve been campaigning for in my previous reviews, can we please let Barrett move on to a meaningful feud? What a waste of his run as King of the Ring.

Randy Orton def. Sheamus

I was glad that they got this match out of the way early on by making it the curtain-jerker. I still don’t know why these two are feuding other than the fact that Orton thinks Sheamus looks stupid and that Sheamus has attacked Orton in the past.

One of several Irish Curse backbreakers that Sheamus delivered to Randy Orton
Photo from WWE.com
The crowd was very much into the match since Orton was the hometown hero, and both men actually gave the audience a great showing. It’s not uncommon to see wrestlers give a little bit more whenever they’re booked for a PPV match, but when it came to Orton and Sheamus, you could tell they actually did not hold back in terms of their offense. Granted, it wasn’t a technical masterpiece nor a storytelling showcase. It was just two dudes who really hated each other and wanted to settle a score.

I predicted Sheamus to pick up the win since he needed it more to establish his credibility as Mr. Money in the Bank, but they let Randy win so he could get the hometown pop, which I don’t really have a problem with.

The Prime Time Players (c) def. The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.

I wasn’t surprised to see Big E and Kofi represent the New Day since that was the combo that won their team the Tag Team Championships in the past. Plus, with Xavier Woods having been pinned at Money in the Bank, you establish a bit of continuity with the New Day subtly keeping the weak link out of the match.

For his part, Woods brought his A-game at ringside again, never shutting up throughout the match. Xavier Woods is perfect in his role as part-wrestler, full-time mouthpiece of the New Day. He also looked like an annoying little troll when he’s perched on the steel steps, waiting to attack Darren Young. I’m all in on the New Day hype.

Titus O'Neil is about to give Kofi Kingston a high-five... to the chest!
Photo from WWE.com
The match itself was surprisingly a lot of fun. We mentioned on last week’s SGP Podcast that the PTP never really had the hot type of run that we expected out of them as Tag Team Championships, which was why we predicted them to drop the belts to the New Day. Fortunately for the PTP and their fans, they put on a great showing at Battleground, which I hope they can sustain as their title reign continues.

I actually wanted the New Day to win the titles back, but midway through the match, I found myself cheering hard for the PTP and even marking out when they retained their titles, which was a whole lot of fun!

Bray Wyatt def. Roman Reigns

I was expecting WWE to book Roman Reigns to win and look strong somehow, but I was pleasantly surprised that they did the opposite by having Bray Wyatt go over Reigns. The match didn’t exactly have a big fight feel to it, but you could tell that it had a grudge match feel to it given the personal nature of their feud.

Both guys took quite a few bumps on the apron, which was actually a recurring theme throughout the show. I have never taken a bump in my life, but I know that bumping on the apron hurts way more than your average bump, which is why I openly questioned it during the Smark Henry Battleground Live Blog.

The cult leader hits hard, eh, Roman?
Photo from WWE.com
I like seeing Reigns aggressive because it’s a style that fits his look. He started wrestling with a bit more physicality at WrestleMania Play Button, but he’s giving us a bit more of it since he started feuding with Wyatt, which is a good thing because it means Roman is finally evolving as a wrestler.

Luke Harper also made his presence felt during the match, superkicking Reigns from outside the ring while wearing a hoodie. Though if you looked close enough, you could tell that it was Harper under the hood while he kicked Roman. The superkick dazed Roman enough to be rolled into the ring for a hungry Wyatt to capitalize onto a Sister Abigail and the 3-count.

Reunited and it feels so good!
Photo from WWE.com
I love the Luke Harper character, and it made absolutely no sense when he and Erick Rowan were “set free” by Bray Wyatt. Prior to Rowan’s injury, he and Harper had reformed as a tag team, so now that Harper has realigned with Bray Wyatt, there is hope that one day, the Wyatt Family will be whole again. Get well soon, Rowan. Your family needs you.

Charlotte def. Brie Bella and Sasha Banks in a triple threat match.

Now this is a triple threat match I actually wanted to see!

Since the debuts of Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch on RAW, it should have been a given that they would appear at Battleground. Even if Ryback didn’t get injured and the Intercontinental Championship match would have pushed through, I’m pretty sure the Diva gang warfare storyline would have had a segment at least. Instead, what we got were two interviews—including one where we learned that Team BAD now stands for Beautiful and Dangerous, a clear upgrade over “Best At Dominating”—and a solid triple threat match.

This match marked the first PPV appearance of all three NXT call-ups, and none of them disappointed at all—even Becky Lynch who despite not wrestling at all, made an impression with her Steampunk look. Nikki Bella was the original representative of Team Bella in the match, but she eventually subbed out and nominated Brie to take her place before the bell rang.

The people of St. Louis, MO didn't know how to react to Brie's Daniel Bryan kicks. It was gloriously awkward.
Photo from WWE.com
The Divas got a little over eleven minutes in the match, which was enough time for them to focus on several plot points: (1) the ongoing Sasha-Charlotte rivalry, (2) Paige finally having legit help in Charlotte and Becky, (3) Team BAD and the Powerpuff Girls chomping at the bit to get at Team Bella, and most importantly (4) Team Bella now being vulnerable.

Sasha got a chance to remind the WWE Universe why she was the Boss throughout the match, especially when she locked in the Bank Statement on Charlotte, which Brie eventually broke up. In the end, Charlotte won the match with a Figure Eight on Brie, who tapped out in the middle of the ring.

I wouldn’t mind seeing more triple threat matches featuring different combinations of these girls, because we know that all of them can actually go in the ring. The best part is, with this many characters in the story, we can have so many combinations that will keep the story fresh for quite some time! I’m all in on this storyline, and you should be, too.

John Cena (c) def. Kevin Owens to retain the WWE United States Championship.

If I had to rank the Cena-Owens trilogy (so far) in terms of the order in which I enjoyed them, I’d rank Cena-Owens I (Elimination Chamber) first, Cena-Owens II (Money in the Bank) second, and the match they had today the least enjoyable, which isn’t to say that I did not have fun watching it. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the previous two. What I liked about Cena-Owens II was that both Cena and Owens brought something new that we didn’t get to see at Elimination Chamber, even if it did turn into an indy spotfest. I didn’t feel that way about the match they had this morning, which isn’t bad. It just wasn’t eye-popping enough, which I expected since this was supposed to be the rubber match.

I still thought it was a great match, with the overarching story for Kevin Owens being, “Finally, this is my time. This is MY championship. I can’t wait to get my hands on you!” whereas Cena’s was “I’ll have to dig waaaay deep to beat this son of a bitch.” For some reason, the match felt very much like the match I saw them have during the Singapore house show, except with a little less theatrics and a definitive finish.

The one new thing I did notice in this match was Owens going all the way with his Cena impersonation by mimicking Cena’s STF, and applying the hold more effectively than Cena does. I actually think this is a running joke now—Cena’s opponents execute the STF way better than Cena himself.

Ganito kasi, koya.
Photo from WWE.com
When Owens himself was locked into the STF, I actually thought he would fight out of it, forcing Cena into some desperate times. But Owens tapped out, which led Cena to do a fist pump out of pure joy and relief. I didn’t like the finish because I was expecting Owens to finally become the U.S. Champion, as was a very vocal section of the IWC. I wonder if they considered executing a double-turn in this match a la Bret/Austin from WrestleMania 13 or even ADR/Ziggler from Payback 2013. That would have been fun to watch, except we all know Cena isn’t turning heel and Kevin Owens is too good at his current role to turn right now.

I still think Owens should win the U.S. Championship from Cena, and I think he’ll be doing it at SummerSlam in a fatal four-way match that also features Rusev and Cesaro. They’d already done a good job of establishing Rusev and Cesaro’s roles in the story, and while neither man appeared at Battleground, I think both men have enough of a bone to pick with Kevin Owens and John Cena. This isn’t over just yet.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Brock Lesnar ended in a no contest.

In the words of our boy Rod Ralph Zantua from the SGP Community, si Undertaker ang tunay na Pabebe Girl. Wala siyang pakialam sa championship match niyo.

Brock Lesnar had all but squashed Seth Rollins, having hit 13 suplexes and an F-5 before he proceeded to cover the champ. 

Seth Rollins takes a one-way trip to Suplex City.
Photo from WWE.com
One count in, the familiar gong rang and darkness covered the ring. When the lights went back up, Brock was on his feet and he was face-to-face with the Undertaker, who made it look like it was 2004 all over again with his hair being in that awkward stage between short and long.

After a face-off in which Lesnar’s face evoked pure fear, Taker attacked Brock. They traded counters for a bit, until Taker eventually hit a chokeslam and a Tombstone. Not satisfied with just one, Undertaker hit another Tombstone Piledriver. What shocked me more was that Taker actually kicked Brock in the balls, something I haven’t seen him do since his Big Evil days.

Now, I have an issue with the match just being declared a no-contest due to Undertaker’s interference. It’s understandable that Seth Rollins conveniently wiggled out of the ring when the arena lights went dark. Then again, I thought that Seth would have at least been knocked out by that F-5, so he should have still been pinned under Brock’s built. But if Brock immediately stood up after realizing that the Undertaker was making his presence felt, then that would explain Rollins’ disappearance.

How about the referee, then? Couldn’t he have awarded Lesnar the win via DQ from outside the ring? I don’t understand why matches that end with run-ins or attacks from the manager/partner on the outside end in a disqualification, and yet the Undertaker’s own run-in ends the match in a no contest, as if he somehow transcends the rules. It makes sense in a weird way because the Undertaker has pretty much transcended the face/heel dichotomy at this point in his career, as has Brock Lesnar.

The Beast Incarnate we see today is still the same character, just with different circumstances. Whereas Brock Lesnar used to be the monster who destroyed everything in his path to conquer his prize (the Streak, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship), after losing the title, Lesnar became the monster who wants to avenge himself against the Authority. It just so happens that in the process of destroying the Authority, Paul Heyman took a shot at Kane and Lesnar himself took Kane out. That’s what made the Undertaker want to attack Brock Lesnar.

In the latest installment of the Lesnar-Taker feud, we see neither character take a particular side in the face/heel dichotomy because their personas have been fleshed out to an extent where being face or heel doesn’t matter anymore. Brock Lesnar feels royally screwed out of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship by both the Authority and by the Undertaker, while the Phenom has a personal vendetta against the Beast who decimated his brother. I personally can’t wait for RAW to see what happens next, mostly because I think WWE still has a bit of explaining to do as we all process what happened to end Battleground.

*****

This year’s Battleground was a lot of fun to watch, so fun that I found this PPV review pretty easy to write! I’ll give it a B+ rating, because while it was a good PPV, there were still some questions that were left unanswered leading to some generally flawed plot points. Otherwise, it’s a show worth watching, particularly for the Cena-Owens match, the Divas triple threat, the Tag Team Championship match, and Undertaker’s return… which is basically half the card. If you’re reading this before watching the show, make time for it tonight on FOX at 9:50 p.m. You’re welcome, FOX. Hit us up in the comments section to let us know what you think!

*****

Stan Sy is a radio DJ, an events host, a freelance writer, one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, and Smark Henry's official PPV reviewer. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. Every now and then, he dresses up in fancy suits to book matches as PWR's longest-tenured General Manager to date. Follow him on Twitter: @_stansy

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