The SmarK Rant for WWE Battleground 2016
(I literally remember NOTHING about this show from last year. Apparently it happened, though!)
Apologies in advance for formatting problems, as for various reasons I’m doing this one on my backup-backup-backup Ubuntu-formatted netbook because it was the only computer I had charged and I’m pressed for time tonight. (I’ve tried a million different “lite” Linux distributions on my Acer netbook looking for something that approximates Windows enough to comfortably resurrect it from the recycle pile, but it’s just too difficult to comfortably type on and I always end up going back to my Surface for taking notes on stuff. I have WAY too many useless pieces of technology, I know.)
Live from Washington, DC
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Byron Saxton & JBL.
Charlotte & Dana Brooke v. Sasha Banks & Bayley
Bayley gets an ungodly pop for her entrance, so no worries about people not knowing her here. Kind of funny that NXT has done all the heavy lifting and clearly they just need to put her out there now without rewriting the character or whatever. (#FamousLastWords) The heels attack and double-team Bayley to start, but Bayley puts Charlotte down with the elbow out of the corner and Sasha comes in with a sloppy headscissors. The heels get the heat on Sasha for a bit and Bayley gets the quick hot tag and runs wild, but Dana cuts her off in the corner with an ugly bump off the top. I really hope Bayley INTENDED to whiplash her neck on the top rope there. Bayley is face in peril, like she was born to play, and it’s hot tag Sasha again as this whips along at a very pleasant pace. Sasha with the double knees on Charlotte for two, and a flying bodypress gets two, but Charlotte comes back with the neckbreaker for two. She goes for the figure-four, but Sasha reverses to the Bank Statement and Dana has to save. Everyone brawls outside the ring. Charlotte heads back in to finish Banks, but another Bank Statement does her in at 8:08 to set up Summerslam. Fun, simple, heated tag match. Dana was useless as always, but didn’t hurt the match at all. ***1/2
The Wyatt Family v. The New Day
Even the lengthy video package can’t make this feud make sense. Speaking of which, did this REALLY need a 10 minute video recap to set up a meaningless six man? Also, the New Day are definitely not the longest reigning tag champions “of all time” unless Demolition ceased to exist. They’re the longest since 2002 when the Smackdown version was created, but I don’t know why the lineage of the WWF World tag titles is now gone. (And of course enough people bitched about that very thing, and soon enough the title got stretched out to beat Demolition as well.) Also, Bray apparently has white guy dreads now and he’s looking really lean since the injury. (Man, did THAT sure change! The Orton feud must have sapped whatever will he had to maintain the weight loss.) Hopefully the Dave Matthews Band concert was good. (I guess if you’re stoned enough their music might not sound like hot garbage.) Strowman lays out Kofi to start and the Wyatts pound on him for a bit. Bray with the senton for two and Bran Slowhand does whatever he’s doing in there, but Kofi gets the tag to Big E. Big splash for the Vintner, but Rowan gets a rollup for two and everyone brawls to the floor. Bray tries to finish Kofi with Sister Abigail, but Xavier breaks it up and runs wild on him because he’s not afraid any longer. Considering Steve Lombardi is scarier than Wyatt as of late, that can’t be too tough to overcome. Sadly, he runs into Sister Abigail and gets pinned at 8:59. You know, to set up the tag title match we’re not getting? Exciting finish, but I don’t get the point of any of it. **1/2 (That whole thing went NOWHERE.)
US title: Rusev v. Zack Ryder
Zack, the ultimate pandering twit, is in all red white and blue because he’s suddenly about AMERICA. Ryder gets some jobber offense before Rusev casually swats him down on a dropkick attempt and then pounds the hell out of him. Spinkick gets two as JBL actually references Harry Truman’s wife watching Capitol Sports wrestling on Thursdays. WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?! Rusev controls on the mat and cuts off the Broski Boot, but Ryder reverses a suplex into a neckbreaker for two. They fight to the floor and Rusev beats him up out there, but Ryder gets a nice dropkick off the railing to fight back. Back in, the Rough Ryder sets up a flying elbow, but Rusev gets his knees up and finishes the poor fool at 7:00. Entertaining enough, but mostly a squash. *1/2 Rusev wants a further beating, but Mojo Rawley saves to the sound of crickets.
(at this point, I switch back to my wonderful regular Sony Vaio and nearly lose the damn rant because the file wouldn’t transfer properly, but thankfully I make a Ricky Morton-like comeback and get it working again, which had me freaking out because I’m enjoying the show at this point and don’t want to just abandon it.)
Meanwhile, Seth Rollins meets with Stephanie and Mick Foley for some more talking to fill out a show that’s already too long.
Sami Zayn v. Kevin Owens
Both guys have new red variations on their gear, because it’s apparently a RAW solidarity thing, even though no one else on the show has special gear to show how much they love RAW. Really it just makes them look like a couple of dorks. They quickly fight to the floor and Sami gains control out there, and back into the ring for a leg lariat that gets two. Owens drops him on the top rope to cut him off and follows with the Cannonball for two. Owens controls and mocks the crowd, then boots him down for two. We go to CHINLOCK CITY, but Sami comes back with the Michinoku driver for two and they fight to the floor again. Sami tries a springboard moonsault that goes really horrible for him and he may have injured his arm again. Back in, Blue Thunder Bomb gets two, and they fight to the top, but Zayn misses a bodypress and gets superkicked for two. KO with a Crossface, but Sami makes the ropes to break. Owens with a pair of clotheslines in the corner, but Sami fights back with the exploder and Owens bails to escape. Sami hits a brainbuster on the apron, but both guys beat the count back in. They do the big slugfest spot and Sami tries to hit him with the corner DDT, but Owens blocks with a superkick. Cannonball smashes Sami’s head into the post, and the frog splash gets two. Sami blocks the powerbomb and gets the tornado DDT off that, but walks into another superkick, then fires off a pair of half-nelson suplexes for two. Owens counters the Helluva kick with the powerbomb, but Zayn gets his foot on the ropes to break. Owens demands he stay down and slaps him around to punctuate it, but Zayn fires back with suplexes into the corner and hits the Helluva Kick this time, then holds him up and hits a second one for the pin at 18:33, just to make sure. The only real criticism I can offer is that they went with too many false finishes because the kicking out of finisher stuff gets overused as it is, but otherwise it was a hell of a match with a whole bunch of times that I would have bought as the ending. ****1/4
Natalya v. Becky Lynch
Nattie bails a few times to start but gets a cheapshot on the knee to take over. And we get a LONG heat segment on the knee. Finally Becky makes the comeback and tries the armbar, but Natalya counters into the Sharpshooter, which Becky quickly escapes. Becky with a missile dropkick for two, but Nattie clips the knee again and finishes with the Sharpshooter at 8:55. They tried, but this was in a death spot after that last match. Nattie as a heel is really dull again. **
Meanwhile, Shane and Daniel Bryan give a peptalk to Dean Ambrose (“Of all the guys the Shield beat up, you were always my favorite!”)
Intercontinental title: The Miz v. Darren Young
I don’t feel like this is going to help the show any. Young controls on the mat for a bit, but Maryse distracts him and Miz takes over with a chinlock. And then we get an even longer headlock and a thrilling backslide battle that gets two for Young. Young makes the comeback with his generic offense and suplexes Miz on the apron for two. Was there no agents there to say “We already used that spot tonight”? Miz escapes the chickenwing and takes a walk, but Backlund stares him back into the ring and we get a bizarre showdown between Backlund and Maryse as Bob snaps and I guess everyone is DQ’d or counted out at 8:38. Apparently Young is snapping now, ala Bob. Lucky him. This feud is hot steaming death. –* (What even HAPPENED to Darren Young? He hasn’t been on TV in months!)
John Cena & Enzo & Big Cass v. AJ Styles & Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
Note to Enzo: There’s four movies in the Scream series. Enzo’s promo is just out of control long on a show already running way over time. These things really need to get down to 2 hours, and not bloated out to 3.5 hours by adding more matches and promos. Enzo & Cass control the Club with double-teams to start and Cass tosses them around, but Enzo quickly gets caught in the heel corner and worked over. Byron Saxton lets us know that the Club are the kinds of people to violate No Trespassing signs, and the other announcers are so awestruck by this idiotic description that they’re struck silent for about 20 seconds. Anderson with a sleeper on Enzo, but it’s hot tag Cena and he quickly destroys Styles before walking into a Pele kick. Cena as a hot tag guy in a team is a role he was born to play, and one that could probably lengthen his career by many years. Everyone hits their finishes in the “everyone hits their finishes” portion of the match, and Cena teases the countout before beating it back in at 9. I’m getting really sick of that spot already. Back in, Styles Clash on Cena gets two, and the Magic Killer on Cass follows. So we end up with Gallows against Enzo and that builds for a while before Gallows casually gets rid of him with a superkick. OK then. Cena brings AJ off the top with an FU for the pin at 14:27 to end it. So I guess that’s it for Cena and AJ? Cena and Styles were barely involved at all, and it was just a normal tag match and then a bunch of messy highspots. Really disappointing and just felt like even more time filler. **1/2
The Highlight Reel, with guest Randy Orton. Because this show needs to be even LONGER, and with more promos! They jibber jabber back and forth and we actually stop to watch a promo for Brock Lesnar. By the way, Orton’s on Smackdown and Brock is on RAW, so we’re already ignoring the split before it gets started. And after a long (LONNNNNG) back-and-forth, Orton hits the RKO mostly outta nowhere on Jericho to end the segment. Orton did a “No enhancement needed” cheapshot at Brock here, which is hilarious considering that they had to CHANGE THE WELLNESS POLICY to keep Orton from getting fired for repeated offenses. (Well, Brock sure got his revenge for that one.)
WWE title: Dean Ambrose v. Seth Rollins v. Roman Reigns
Three-way brawl to start and Reigns slugs it out with Ambrose with Rollins on the floor, but Rollins gets rid of Reigns. He beats on Ambrose in the corner, but Reigns saves and Dean hits them both with a dive off the top. They brawl on the floor and Reigns dumps Rollins into the crowd. Back in the ring, Ambrose with the flying elbow on Reigns for two, but Rollins flies in with a frog splash for two. Reigns powers out of a Pedigree and hits Dean with the superman punch, but everyone hits the big moves and they’re all out. Finally Rollins and Ambrose team up on Reigns for the big pop, sending him to the floor for a pair of dives and then powerbombing him through the announce table. And then Rollins turns on Ambrose with a chair to the back again. Back in the ring, Ambrose counters out of the buckle bomb, but Rollins gets the superplex into Falcon Arrow for two. Roman reappears to powerbomb Ambrose and Rollins in succession. Ambrose ducks the superman punch and backslides Roman for two, but another superman punch puts him on the floor. Rollins with the Pedigree on Roman for two, but a second one is blocked, so Rollins goes with the buckle bomb instead, which Reigns no-sells and hits the superman punch, only to walk into Dirty Deeds and get pinned at 18:00. Man, they must be PISSED at Reigns. Good main event, although Reigns is so hated that his presence in these things is really starting to hurt the matches. ***1/2 It just feels the crowd is waiting for him to get lost and have the “real” stars wrestle. Glad to see they’re still running with Ambrose for the time being, so we’ll likely see Rollins get HHH’d into being World champion tomorrow. (Thankfully not, although Ambrose of course didn’t exactly set the world on fire as champion.)
Good show, although one that was overly long, just like last month. They easily could have cut three matches out of this and had a barnburner. As it is, I’d give it a thumbs up because it exceeded expectations, but the only thing I’d go out of my way to watch is Zayn v. Owens. The rest was good for what it was, but not worth sitting through 200 minutes of this PPV.