Match for the vacant WWE Championship
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
Two months ago at SummerSlam, Daniel Bryan won the WWE title for the first time ever by defeating wounded warrior John Cena in an epic war. But what should have been a magical moment, almost instantly turned into a living nightmare when special guest referee Triple H did what he felt was best for business by drilling Bryan into the mat with a Pedigree, allowing his handpicked successor Randy Orton to cash in his Money In The Bank briefcase and steal the belt with ease.
At least at Night Of Champions, Bryan got to leave with the belt when he knocked Orton out cold with his Busaiku knee. The suspicious fast count by referee Steve Armstrong was superfluous. Bryan was the rightful champion, as Orton would never have kicked out if the official had counted at his usual pace.
The Road to Battleground
Predictably, Triple H wanted to get to the bottom of his official's mistake the next night on Raw. Armstrong had no explanation and without too much grilling from the WWE COO shocked Daniel Bryan by blurting out: "The gig is up. They’re on to us."
Hunter then read them both the riot act, stripped him of the WWE title and demanded Bryan give him the belt back, who refused to do as he was told. Eventually, they had a tug of war over the strap, which ended when Randy Orton planted Bryan with the RKO, allowing HHH to regain possession of his championship.
Orton was pissed that Triple H didn't give him the belt back, but he got cuckolded by Stephanie McMahon for his troubles, who bluntly told him that his performance at Night Of Champions wasn't up to snuff. Steph clearly wanted to see the return of the Viper, as she openly wondered what had happened to the sick bastard who handcuffed her husband and gave her a draping DDT in front of his face. She finished off her diatribe by telling him that unless that Randy Orton returned, they'd have to find a new face of the WWE.
Later on in the night, Triple H fired Steve Armstrong, but offered him a really generous severance package and promised to look after him. Hmm, nothing shady going on there...
We also got a glimpse of Orton's old vicious streak in a match with The Miz, as the former Legend Killer hit a draping DDT off the barricade in front of his parents and then injured Miz's thorax by putting his throat in a steel chair and hitting a running knee drop into the metal.
At the end of Raw, Bryan was quadruple teamed by Randy Orton and The Shield, but was saved by all the mid level babyfaces on the roster (Justin Gabriel, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Titus O’Neil, Darren Young, The Usos and Rob Van Dam), who had become sick and tired of his mistreatment at the hands of WWE management.
On September 18th, in an exclusive interview with Michael Cole for WWE.com Triple H officially made the rematch between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton for the held up WWE title at the Battleground pay-per-view.
On the September 20th Smackdown, Vickie Guerrero urged Daniel Bryan to come clean about the conspiracy with Scott Armstrong, but he continued to profess his innocence, while Randy Orton blamed himself for falling foul of such a heinous plot, as he thought the company wanted him to be like goodie two shoes John Cena, so he locked away The Viper and played by the rules, but now he feels free to show his true colors and be his old self once again.
On the September 23rd Monday Night Raw, Triple H and Stephanie rounded up all the troublemakers and tried to turn them all against Daniel Bryan. When that didn't work, they booked the ten men with Bryan for a three-on-eleven elimination handicap match against The Shield.
Before that happened though, Randy Orton softened up Rob Van Dam to make him easy pickings for The Shield by destroying him with a back suplex on the barricade, throwing him into the steel steps and hitting a top rope draping DDT. He then told Brie Bella that was only a fraction of what he’s going to do to Bryan, she should upgrade to a real man and that her goat faced little troll of a boyfriend would never win the WWE title ever again.
Before the main event, Daniel Bryan mocked the idea that he was in a fast count conspiracy with Steve Armstrong when he'd already knocked out Orton cold and noted how weird it was that Hunter fired Armstrong, then paid him a lot of money.
Unsurprisingly, given the huge odds in their favor, the babyfaces won the handicap match, but not before The Shield had eliminated RVD, Kofi Kingston, Titus O'Neil, Darren Young, Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder.
On the September 27th Smackdown, Randy Orton initially lost to The Miz, who was in no shape to perform after the beating he suffered at The Viper's hands eleven days earlier, by disqualification, as he kept beating on him when he was hurt and could no longer continue. However, heartless Triple H restarted the bout as a no DQ match and Orton clinically used the steps, a steel chair and the guard rail to his advantage before finishing him off with an RKO in the middle of the ring.
On the go-home Raw, Randy Orton intimidated Daniel Bryan's girlfriend Brie Bella again, telling her that she needed to schedule their upcoming marriage before Sunday night, as her little fiancé wouldn't be able to make it down the aisle after the Battleground pay-per-view because he won’t be able to walk anymore.
The show closed with what was supposed to be a face to face debate between the Battleground headliners, but turned into a one-sided burial of Daniel Bryan by Randy Orton, who called him a "small, weak, goat faced troll" (which Bryan said he might be) and how Brie should be sleeping with a stud like himself not a "barnyard animal". Bryan then attacked Orton, but The Viper quickly got the better of it and smashed Bryan through a table with the RKO right in front of his girlfriend.
The main event of the go-home Smackdown saw The Big Show defeat The Shield & Randy Orton via DQ when The Viper cut off the giant's comeback with a chair shot. Inevitably, Daniel Bryan and The Usos made the save before Show was too badly beaten down by the pack of wolves.
What's at stake?
Clearly, both men crave the WWE championship, but also to be the face of the company into 2014. Randy Orton wants to prove to the McMahon-Levesques that he still has his killer instinct and that he's their man to stop a grotesque hobbit from being their flagship bearer. Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan will want revenge for the arrogant, misogynistic Viper bullying his fiancé Brie Bella and beating him up in front of her. We will surely see fire from the American Dragon's belly tonight! Is this enough to combat Orton's vicious venom? Will Bryan's hot temper cause him to make a mistake and be the victim of another Triple H orchestrated screwjob? Find out here tonight Cagesiders by following our live WWE Battleground coverage!