WWE hit the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, for last night's (Sun., July 20, 2014) Battleground pay-per-view (PPV), and, well, this felt like one gigantic waste of everyone's time and energy. It's not that there weren't any redeeming qualities but this was basically an episode of Monday Night Raw.
Click here for complete results and the live blog. Now let's switch up the format a bit to recap and react to this event because I just can't even. We do the love/loathe thing here, so we'll run with that.
Let's make this last forever: There was strong condemnation from most fans that WWE pushed back the Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins match. As a consumer, when you make a purchase you expect to get what you paid for, so to that end I can understand the disdain. With that said, Ambrose worked his ass off to make up for it with an outstanding pull apart brawl, his usual insanity, and the fact that this man hid in the trunk of a car to attack Rollins as he was leaving the building. They also gave us a really strong video package for this feud, so by the time we actually do get to the singles match at SummerSlam, it's going to be amazing. That's always what they should have done, so let's give credit for recognizing that and making the change.
Let's start a Wyatt: The first two falls in the Usos vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan 2-out-of-3 Falls match were underwhelming to say the least but necessary to get to the thrilling conclusion in the third and deciding fall. What felt so very right about this was The Usos were made to give everything they had to win here. They were dominated early, losing the first fall, then stole one with some clever timing and efficiency, then had to throw everything AND the kitchen sink at The Wyatt Family to finally put them away. All the false finishes worked and when they finally did score the victory, it was on the last bit of offense they had left (double splash). This was great.
Never change, Kofi: The Intercontinental championship battle royal had its moments, but undoubtedly the best was Kofi Kingston once again finding a way to keep his streak of amazing elimination saves alive. This time he used the burly Big E, riding his shoulders back to the ring. He was dumped right after, sure, but this was fun.
Sloppiety slop sloppy; slop, slop, slop-a-roo: Every single match on this card, outside of The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family, featured sloppy work. Maybe that's to be expected with say, Paige and AJ Lee, if only because they haven't had a lot of time to work together and the story dictates an awkward approach. But when Chris Jericho and Bray Wyatt were so far off on their timing and execution that you could classify their match as "bad", there's an issue.
Stop ruining things: There was a point late in the Fatal 4-Way match when Roman Reigns had countered the Five Knuckle Shuffle into the Superman punch. He followed that with a spear and the crowd was hot in anticipation of a finish. We knew better, sure, but this was the one spot in this match they maybe could have sold you on Cena losing to Reigns. So what does he go and do? He doesn't even bother to act like he was just hit with a Superman punch and spear, instead lifting his head up and looking for Kane to make sure he was coming in to make the save. It totally killed what should have been the best false finish in the match for anyone watching at home.
Psychology: Speaking of ruining things, the wasted way too much time with Randy Orton in some dark backstage area searching for Kane so THE DEMON could show up spouting cheesy lines and acting like the worst "B" movie monster you could possibly find. What's baffling is the gist of the segment was that Kane was going to go into business for himself and Orton and was stupid to even approach him to ask for anything different. That's fine, but when they got to the actual match Kane was assisting Orton for half of it until Orton turned on him when he noticed Kane going for a pin and stuck his finger in his chest. That means they never needed that stupid segment earlier in the show. Which leads into the next issue.
Stalling, stalling, stalling: The lack of an Ambrose vs. Rollins match must have been a last second decision, right? Otherwise, how do we explain all the stalling? They started just fine with the first two matches but then they got into the interview with Seth, then the angle, then the Orton/Kane segment, then they went to the panel of analysts, then they trotted out Lana to talk for what felt like forever. The pacing here, at least earlier in the show, was downright brutal and there wasn't nearly enough straight wrestling matches.
Did they really just go there: Speaking of Lana and Rusev, they had Lana tell us that Americans should be ashamed for blaming Russia for recent current world events, which was WWE's way of referring to Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. This is deplorable. It was one thing to have CM Punk disrespecting Paul Bearer like one week after he died just to build to a match with Undertaker; Bearer was a worker and they could always lean on the idea that he would have been okay with it. Plus, his family signed off. This is different, for obvious reasons. There is no way to justify this, even if it was for a main event program as opposed to a lower mid-card feud, which is what this is and will always be.
SWERVE: As stated, the Intercontinental championship battle royal had its spots, namely Kofi Kingston doing the damn thing. But it also had oh so much wrong with it, including a few bad botches, sloppy work, and baffling booking. The worst, though, was the fact that the entire story was The Miz getting in and out of the match by climbing under the bottom rope or going through the second and third ropes so as to avoid elimination while just hanging out on the outside. This is the worst kind of psychology for a match like this because why wouldn't everyone just do that? That means the 18 other guys in the ring are all idiots for acting like it's a regular match. Why not just sit on the outside and wait for all the dumb shits in the ring to throw each other out before climbing in at the right moment and dumping king dipshit celebrating because he's too dumb to pay attention? Miz winning is fine because he'll be unbearable and he probably should have the title no one cares about but how they got there sucked.
- While WWE is cost cutting in such a major way, why did they go all out with pyro on this show? Wouldn't you want to save that for a bigger show, like the one coming up next month in Los Angeles?
- It's at least worth noting that it's entirely possible that much of the distaste for this show likely stems from hardcore interest in the Ambrose vs. Rollins match and WWE failing to deliver on it. Even with the angles we got, it felt like the worst kind of swerve.
- NERVE HOLD.
- Jack Swagger is not Big E, and that was a painful lesson to learn on this show. Like our man Scott Christ said, if we want a 1980s style feud between Swagger and Rusev, we should expect a 1980s style finish. Props to Rusev for selling the ankle so hard.
- Why was Alberto Del Rio booked strong leading into this PPV with multiple wins in a row on TV only for him to be tossed unceremoniously after hardly making any impact in the battle royal?
- Another issue with the Jericho-Wyatt match was the finish. This feud has been presented as some epic battle and they went home on one Codebreaker. That was that.
- Cesaro had the nice back-and-forth with Kofi Kingston but getting eliminated by Heath Slater is a really bad spot to be in right now. With Paul Heyman leaving him behind for the bigger, badder Brock Lesnar, it certainly looks like they just said "fuck it" with Cesaro and are moving on.
- Did Roman Reigns gas out by the end of the main event?
- If Cameron can't work and her entire appeal is going to be dependent on how aesthetically pleasing she is, why change her look the way they did? Now what's left?
- Good to see Summer and Layla slapping Fandango around. Bad to see them running with Adam Rose, who might be even more creepy than Fandango.
This was an episode of Monday Night Raw sold as a PPV. It was totally unnecessary to everything they're doing and had the WWE Network not been in existence, there would be no way to justify paying $60 for it. What's funny is Raw tonight is probably going to blow this show away.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?