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Predicting the match order at WWE Battleground 2016

It's one thing to predict the winners and losers at WWE's Battleground 2016, but how about taking a guess at the match order on that card?

WWE has announced 8 different matches and one talking segment for Battleground 2016, excluding the pre-show match of Breezango versus Usos.

Here is my subjective view of how important each of these 9 segments rank on the Battleground 2016 card, ordered from most important to least important:

  1. Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins
  2. Cena, Enzo, Big Cass vs Styles, Gallows, Anderson
  3. Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel with Randy Orton
  4. Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
  5. New Day vs Wyatt Family
  6. Charlotte and Dana vs Sasha and Mystery Partner
  7. Becky Lynch vs Natalya
  8. The Miz vs Darren Young
  9. Rusev vs Zack Ryder

It is important to come up with a list like this to get an idea of which matches are going to be placed in the key spots on the card or take up the most time, and which matches might end up in the cool-down spots or be given the least amount of time.

The Shield triple threat match is by far the most important fight on the card and is guaranteed to be the main event of Battleground 2016.

John Cena’s 6-man tag team match ranks as the next most important match due to the prominence of the feud between Cena and Styles. After that, the Highlight Reel ranks ahead of the remaining matches because it is essentially the starting point of the Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton program.

The next 3 matches are pretty close in importance and are probably interchangeable. I’m dropping Charlotte’s match to the bottom of that pile because her segments on television with Sasha just don’t feel as important as the Wyatt Compound segment or the personal hatred between Zayn and Owens.

The final 3 matches are also interchangeable and are all potential cool-down matches. I am ranking Becky’s match ahead of the two championship matches because I feel that her feud with Natalya has more development behind it. After that, the sudden push of Darren Young and fresh presence of Bob Backlund make that match feel a little more exciting than Zack Ryder’s match.

Segment Timing

To help take a stab at this, I sifted through the data on pay-per-view (PPV) match times that I have been recording since 2013. I looked through the data to find all of the 3-hour events that were also comprised of 9 different segments. I only found 4 different events that fit this criteria.

Right away this indicates a strong likelihood that one of these 9 segments will be moved to the pre-show, or perhaps this PPV is going to last longer than 3 hours. Considering that last month’s Money in the Bank 2016 did indeed stretch well past 3 hours in length, perhaps it will happen again at Battleground 2016.

With that said, it’s still worth taking a look at the timing breakdown of the 9 segments on each of the 4 events that actually did fit this criteria.

Here is how the segments were arranged on each card, with "1" representing the longest segment on the card, and higher numbers like "8" or "9" representing the shortest segments on the card. The left side of each line is the beginning of the card, culminating with the rightmost entry which is the main event segment.

  • Event 1: 6-4-8-3-7-2-5-9-1
  • Event 2: 4-9-7-5-2-6-3-8-1
  • Event 3: 3-6-9-8-5-4-2-7-1
  • Event 4: 3-4-6-5-8-7-9-1-2

And here is a similar treatment for the average and median times for those segments across all 4 events.

  • Average: 3-8-9-6-5-4-2-7-1
  • Median: 3-5-9-4-7-6-2-8-1

One thing that stands out is that 3 of these 4 events had a cool-down segment right before the main event. Event 4 was the only card that consecutively stacked up two really important matches to end the night.

It’s also interesting to see that Segment 3 ranks in 9th place for the average and median. As far as the individual events were concerned, Segment 3 never ranked higher than 6th place for total time allocated.

As for the remaining segments, you can mostly find examples of events where each one ranked among the longest or shortest segments of the night. Even Segment 7, which ranks as the 2nd longest on average, ended up in 9th place on Event 4.

Segment 2 is the only other slot (besides Segment 3) that never had a top 3 finish.

Segment 1 looks relatively stable, with several finishes in the 3rd and 4th place range, and nothing lower than 6th.

Battleground 2016 Segment Order

I’ll start off by patting myself on the back and slotting The Shield triple threat into the main event segment. That’s the kind of bold analysis that you might not see anywhere else but right here on Cageside Seats.

After that it’s time to focus on the opening match of the night. The first match is usually one of the medium-level attractions of the night that won’t require a dedicated video package beforehand to hype it up. The goal here is to usually get the crowd fired up either through a high work rate match or with a charismatic personality like Enzo Amore.

There are 3 matches that fit the bill here - New Day’s match, Zayn’s match, or Charlotte’s match.

It’s not easy to make a decision, so I’ll try to identify the match that is least likely to receive one of those dedicated video packages.

Zayn and Owens have a ton of history together and have been feuding forever, so there is plenty of material for a video package. They also did receive one of these video packages the last time they fought on PPV at Payback 2016, so it would be strange to not get it this time in a match that has been hyped as the conclusion of their feud.

The Wyatt Compound segment lends itself very well to a dedicated video package. There is also the issue that the Wyatt family entrance doesn’t present an opportunity for commentator introductions at the start of the show. I guess they could do that during New Day’s entrance, but New Day sometimes starts their entrance promo on the ramp and continue talking all the way down the aisle. WWE wouldn’t interrupt them mid-promo to introduce the commentators.

That leaves Charlotte’s match, which I feel has the least juice to it right now of these 3 choices. If Sasha’s mystery partner happens to be a big name from NXT making her main roster debut, that might just be the perfect way to open the card and get the crowd hot.

So here is my currently constructed card:

  • Segment 1: Charlotte and Dana vs Sasha and Mystery Partner
  • Segment 2:
  • Segment 3:
  • Segment 4:
  • Segment 5:
  • Segment 6:
  • Segment 7:
  • Segment 8:
  • Segment 9: Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins

Segment 2 or Segment 3 will almost certainly contain one of the three least important matches of the night.

I think one of those cool-down matches will also end up in Segment 8, as is often the case. Considering that Becky versus Natalya is one of those potential cool-down matches, I think it could make sense to see them in Segment 8, so that the two women’s matches are kept apart from each other on the card.

By choosing a cool-down match for Segment 8, that means Cena is probably going to end up somewhere in Segment 6 or 7. I think it is a little dangerous to put Cena on earlier than that and risk having a dead crowd for the rest of the night. He should probably go in Segment 7.

I also think that WWE will want to keep New Day’s match far away from Cena’s match, considering that they are both 6-man tag team matches. Therefore I want to throw New Day into Segment 2 or 3, paired together with one of the least important matches of the night.

I am opening the night with a tag match, so I think it makes sense to put the New Day in Segment 3, with a singles match between those two tag matches.

Which unimportant mid-card championship match ends up in Segment 2? It’s basically a coin flip.

I’m not really sure what to do with the other singles mid-card championship match either, so I think WWE should just get it out of the way right after New Day’s match, before the crowd is exposed to the most exciting matches of the night. The match will have a better chance to keep the audience invested by putting in on before the heavy-hitting segments that feature stars like Owens, Orton, and Cena. Becky’s match is already biting that bullet, so they should try to avoid burying this one too.

So my currently constructed card is:

  • Segment 1: Charlotte and Dana vs Sasha and Mystery Partner
  • Segment 2: IC or US Title match
  • Segment 3: New Day vs Wyatt Family
  • Segment 4: IC or US Title match
  • Segment 5:
  • Segment 6:
  • Segment 7: Cena, Enzo, Big Cass vs Styles, Gallows, Anderson
  • Segment 8: Becky Lynch vs Natalya
  • Segment 9: Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins

Now it’s time to make those listed choices for Segments 2 and 4. Segment 2 seems like it is more fitting for the less important match, and in my view that would be Rusev versus Ryder. It’s not a given that Miz versus Young will end up being a nothing match, given the entertaining antics of Maryse and Backlund. But I don’t really see much upside in the Ryder versus Rusev match, and so it gets stuck in Segment 2.

Miz versus Young (in Segment 4) is not a high work rate match and will likely not get much time, so I think it makes sense to immediately follow it up with Zayn versus Owens in Segment 5, which can go 20 minutes to carry the middle of the show. Then the Highlight Reel talking segment can be used in Segment 6 for a change of pace right after Zayn’s lengthy match, as the crowd gets ready for John Cena.

Finalized card

So here is my final prediction for the match order at Battleground 2016, along with guesses on the bell-to-bell match times. The total match time on this show will probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of 95 minutes. It might even go beyond that number if this show stretches past 3 hours.

  • Segment 1: Charlotte and Dana vs Sasha and Mystery Partner (11 minutes)
  • Segment 2: Rusev vs Zack Ryder (7)
  • Segment 3: New Day vs Wyatt Family (14)
  • Segment 4: The Miz vs Darren Young (7)
  • Segment 5: Sami Zayn versus Kevin Owens (15)
  • Segment 6: Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel with Randy Orton
  • Segment 7: Cena, Enzo, Big Cass vs Styles, Gallows, Anderson (17)
  • Segment 8: Becky Lynch vs Natalya (8)
  • Segment 9: Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins (21)

That's my prediction for the match order at Battleground 2016. What's yours?

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