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WWE Battleground 2014 match card preview: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose

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Lunatic vs. Traitor

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins

The only person more psychotically motivated to destroy Seth Rollins than Dean Ambrose is the rest of the WWE Universe.  We'll all get a chance to get what we want tonight in Tampa.

The Road to Battleground

Over the course of a year and a half, fans of all stripes - casual and hardcore, "smart" and "it's still real to me, damnit" - had all decided that The Shield were the bee's knees.  Just when it seemed like we couldn't love the Hounds of Justice any more, when they seemed poised to rule over Raw and Smackdown with a benevolent-yet-iron fist after destroying Evolution and sending Batista off to Hollywood...this happened:

Seth Rollins association with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon's Authority made it difficult for Dean Ambrose to get his hands on the man who made him do this:

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But the Lunatic Fringe isn't just crazy, he's crazy with a cause.  So heading into Money in the Bank, he was going to make sure any of Hunter's plans for his Plan B went up in smoke.  Or whatever you can get for a gold briefcase at a Boston pawn shop.

Ambrose fought through everything The Authority threw at him, even popping his shoulder back into place (HE DOESN'T CARE), but he wasn't able to stop his nemesis from claiming the MitB contract.  And all credit to Rollins, he may have had a lot of help, but he also took a suplex from the top of a very tall ladder

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and still won the match.

Since then, Dean has refocused his anger into making sure that Rollins never use the briefcase for its intended purpose.  But after weeks of this happening:

The traitor and his allies and benefactors had had enough.  So on the last Monday night before their one-on-one showdown, Kane and Randy Orton surprised Ambrose backstage, setting him up for a devastating curb stomp by Rollins. It kept him out of the Raw main event, but Seth didn't fare much better in that match.  A knee "injury" forced him to the sidelines as the men who will be duking it out for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship took center stage.

They may not have gotten a chance to fully sell their first pay-per-view (PPV) showdown on the live show, but they made up with on Friday night.  First, with a war of words:

and then with a match that saw Dean Ambrose's tenacity in the face of adversity run smack into the power and numbers that Seth Rollins has access to as a member of The Authority:

The Architect will still have those benefits on his side come Sunday night.  The loose cannon's challenges have only mounted as a result of the beating he took on Friday.

Can we even hope for the justice we seek under such circumstances?

What's at Stake?

Our sense of what's right in the world, and that good triumphs over evil.

Back in the real world (as opposed to WWE's "real" world), there probably isn't a whole lot on the line.  This is the first of many PPV matches these men will have against one another, in this program and hopefully throughout long careers in Vince McMahon's employ.  A win or a loss for either guy just furthers the story.

Expectations are sky high for this to "steal the show", and if it were any other performers, we might worry that the pressure would get to them.  But despite their youth, Ambrose and Rollins are seasoned veterans.  And they also have a track record working against each other in Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW - the precursor to the current version of NXT).  Their FCW15 (a title defended in 15 minute matches where whichever man took the most pinfalls or submissions was declared the winner) feud was legendary, and provided them with plenty of practice working bouts with times similar to what they'll be asked to fill tonight at Battleground.

This bout should give us the rare combination of being fully invested in the hero defeating the villain within a match that could blow our socks off without any context at all.

See the first big chapter of what could be one of the biggest rivalries of the next decade plus on WWE Network - and be sure to mark out about it with your favorite pro wrestling web community, Cageside Seats!