Live tonight from the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, FL, WWE presents the "Battleground" pay per view. The lead-up to SummerSlam starts tonight, and the card is solid. The following matches are scheduled to go down:
Cameron vs. Naomi
Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho
The Usos (c) vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan; WWE Tag Team Championship, best 2 out of 3 falls rules
AJ (c) vs. Paige; WWE Divas Championship
Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) vs. Rusev (w/Lana)
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Intercontinental Championship Battle Royale - featuring Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Rob Van Dam, Dolph Ziggler, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Fandango, Sin Cara, Xavier Woods, Zack Ryder, The Miz, Titus O'Neil, Cesaro, Bo Dallas, Big E, R-Truth, Heath Slater, The Great Khali, Diego, and Kofi Kingston. Bad News Barrett will be on hand to present the new title holder his belt.
John Cena (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Kane vs. Randy Orton; WWE World Heavyweight Championship under Fatal Four Way Rules
Pre-Show, airing on WWE Network:
Renee Young hypes the show and introduces Booker T, Alex Riley, and Christian for the panel. Renee tells us that Cameron and Naomi will settle their differences tonight in the ring in our pre-show match. Booker calls it the "shucky ducky quack quack moment of the night." He says he really wants to see the fatal four way WWE World Heavyweight Championship match tonight though. They emphasize that John Cena will not have to be pinned to lose the title.
Renee feeds it to the announce team, and Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler say that Cena retains, while JBL thinks Randy Orton will win. Action in the ring now!
Match #1 - Fandango vs. Adam Rose
Fandango comes out alone, and the announcers recap the story that left Fandango without a woman on his arm. Rose makes his entrance next, with Layla and Summer Rae being a part of the party crowd.
Fandango starts off fast with Rose, but Layla and Summer start leading the party crowd around the ring. The women slap him when he comes out to meet them. Back in the ring, Rose hits a spinebuster, a corner clothesline, and the Party Foul to get the win. JBL rants about "F-Troop" (a classic show from the '60's) as Rose and the party crowd celebrates.
Winner - Adam Rose
Meh, who cares? It was some more story closure for Fandango, Summer and Layla. Thank God they added this 86 second match!
Back with Renee Young, she says we're edging closer to a historic pay per view. She feeds it into a hype package for the match between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Back live, Renee hypes that they will face off for the first time tonight. She asks Christian for his experience about facing Edge in a similar situation. Christian says that there's a drive to prove one as the best, and that was his motivation when he and Edge split.
She moves to Bray Wyatt vs. Jericho, saying that Jericho has fallen into the Wyatt web. She says he looks to squash Wyatt tonight and feeds it to a video recap of their feud. Back with the panel, Riley says that Wyatt looks for the biggest reactions he can get. Renee points out that the Usos will face the Wyatts (Harper and Rowan) in a two out of three falls match and sends it to Tom Phillips.
The Usos cut a promo, saying that one brother will get one pin and the other will get the other. There's a momentary joke in there where one says he's better looking than the other. He says that tonight they will bring their A game.
Match #2 - Cameron vs. Naomi
Cameron looks like a schoolgirl and she has a case with her to check herself out as she comes to the ring. Cole hypes up that AJ and Paige will face off as "frenemies" tonight. Naomi mounts a comeback with "some malice" behind that. She hits a Thesz press and puts the boots to Cameron at the ropes. Cameron rolls outside, then tries to escape.
Naomi goes and retrieves her, but gets tossed into the barrier. Back in the ring there's some trash talking, with Cameron slapping Naomi. She runs Naomi into the ropes, then rolls her up with a schoolgirl pin to grab the victory. Cameron escapes the ring and Naomi argues about her tights being pulled, which they replay and find it's true.
Winner - Cameron
This was bad. The live crowd wasn't all that interested.
With the panel, they pick winners for the Battle Royale and the Fatal Four Way. The panelists all pick against John Cena, picking Orton and Reigns. Renee feeds it to a video package highlighting the story that got them to the Fatal Four Way match.
"Battleground" Pay Per View, Live on WWE Network from the Tampa Bay Times Arena, Tampa, FL
We get a video package of John Cena claiming the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Payback, and the story that set up the main event tonight with the Fatal Four Way title defense. They emphasize that Cena does not have to be pinned to lose, and they close with Triple H saying "there's always a plan B."
Pyro in the arena as Cole welcomes us in for the night. Right on to the first main card match.
Match #1 - The Usos (c) vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan; WWE Tag Team Championship in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match
The Usos get their entrance first, with Cole pointing out that the Usos want to end it tonight. Harper and Rowan enter to their mashup of generic rock and roll to an arena full of cellphone lights. They recap how Harper and Rowan got this shot tonight.
As we get started, Jey slaps Rowan's mask off his face. Rowan returns the favor and takes charge of the match.
Jey hits a belly to back suplex on Harper and gets the hot tag to Jimmy. He takes a big boot from Harper and that's enough for the first fall.
Harper and Rowan take the first fall, 1-0
Harper keeps up the offense in the second fall. Rowan tags in and uses a vise hold to control Jimmy as Jey fights to his feet on the apron. Jimmy gets to his feet but Rowan stays between him and the corner. Harper and Rowan continue to control the match with frequent tags. Harper tries to throw a belly to back move but Jimmy lands on his feet and tags to Jey. Jey hits a move and it's even.
The Usos take fall #2 , 1-1
After the fall the Wyatts gang up on Jey. Rowan hits a fallaway slam and covers for two. JBL puts over that Harper and Rowan have been dominating but with a quick pinfall the Usos have a chance. The heels keep it up, with Harper getting a near fall for two. Strike exchange between Harper and Uso, then Rowan tags in to keep the offense up. He tries for a big boot in the corner but gets hung up.
Tag to the fresh Uso. He hits dives on Harper and Rowan outside the ring. Harper isn't sure where he is and takes a cross body from Uso for a good near fall. Ensugiri from Uso followed by the butt splash in the corner. Harper gets back to his feet and turns the tables, then tries a sit-out powerbomb but it's countered. Another good near fall for the Usos out of that sequence.
Harper hits another big boot that sends Jimmy to the floor. Harper pauses then hits a big dive out onto the floor. A bit later, Jey goes up top but gets slowed by Harper. Rowan fights with Jey in the corner, and Jimmy gets back involved to tag himself back in. Rowan slams their heads together then hits a double suplex on both brothers to get a good near fall.
Jimmy hits a superkick on Harper, and he no-sells to hit his big clothesline. Harper has the fall but Jimmy breaks things up. In the end, Usos hit a double superkick, then a double splash on Harper to get the third fall and win.
Winner - The Usos, 2 falls to 1 to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
That was a really good tag match, especially the third fall. Opened the show with a really, really hot match. I thought the first falls were a bit quick, but the third fall well made up for all of it. A lot of very believable near falls in that third fall really made the match suspenseful. I thought maybe this was possibly going to lead to a title change but it looks like the Usos will keep the titles until the Ascension comes along at this point.
They hype up the next match, which is Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins. They run the same video package they used in the pre-show as a part of that hype. Backstage, Tom Phillips interviews Seth Rollins. He says it's a historic night, and tonight he will finish Dean Ambrose off once and for all. He calls Ambrose a cockroach, and he can't seem to get rid of him. Tonight, Ambrose gets squashed. Before he does that, he says he wants to answer the question Ambrose posed him before he curb stomped him - and says the answer is no, that isn't all he has. He says Ambrose knows what Rollins is capable of and will get all he is capable of. He says after he finishes off Ambrose, he will be glued to the Fatal Four Way.
Ambrose attacks Rollins from behind and roughs him up. Officials and agents try to break things up, and they eventually do. Triple H yells to kick Ambrose out of the building and not let him back in the building. Triple H checks on Rollins, saying no one is going to screw "this" up. Back out at the announce position, JBL defends Triple H for throwing him out, but Cole and Lawler say that they should have let them fight.
So I guess this match is off the card now? And I can only assume that "this" means Rollins is going to cash in after the fatal four way.
Match #2 - AJ (c) vs. Paige; WWE Divas Championship
They run a video package that highlights AJ losing to Paige the night after Wrestlemania as Paige enters, then as AJ enters they run the highlights of AJ returning and claiming the title back from Paige. Paige hits a kick early for two, then smiles and attacks again.
Paige stays the aggressor, and fans chant for each woman. Paige gets another near fall and says 'AJ, come on." The announcers wonder whether she is encouraging AJ to do better or what.
Paige hits a sunset flip powerbomb off the ropes for two. She looks upset. AJ tries to get the Black Widow hold on but Paige is able to counter by flipping her over her shoulder. Paige hits the Paige Turner for a near fall. Paige looks frustrated now and tries to go for the PTO but AJ counters. She hits the Shining Wizard to retain the championship. Paige walks away, holding her jaw, as AJ celebrates in the ring and the commentary team runs highlights.
Winner - AJ to retain the WWE Divas Championship
Solid but not red hot. There's still a confusing dynamic with the story underlaying this so it hurt the match a little bit. Still, they can go to another match when Paige attacks AJ out of nowhere and the clean loss hurt no one here.
We get a SummerSlam commercial.
They run highlights of what happened on Raw between Orton and Kane, with Orton hitting the RKO. Backstage, Randy Orton is looking for Kane. Kane tells Orton he made an unwise decision. Orton says he thought about things and he's wrong. He asks Kane if there isn't something he needs to say, and Kane says that the Devils Favorite Demon means never saying sorry. Orton tells Kane the goal tonight is to not let Cena or Reigns win the title tonight. Kane assures Orton that the winner is standing right here.
Cole sends it back to the panel for some comments. They discuss the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match and reiterate their picks for the winner. Renee feeds it to a recap of the angle between Lana and Rusev and Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger.
Match #3 - Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter)
Lilian Garcia introduces Lana and Rusev. They come to the ring and Lana tries to cut a promo. She criticizes the propaganda machine, saying that we are blaming Russia for "current events" but are war mongering in the Middle East. She says Americans should be ashamed of ourselves, jamming western civilization and democracy down peoples' throats. She calls Americans leaderless, saying they make fun of Obama unlike Vladmir Putin. She says Putin takes responsibility and stands for what he believes in. She says Rusev will crush each and every one of you tonight, and will crush Jack Swagger.
Swagger makes his entrance to probably the biggest pop he's ever gotten in his career. He says "I think we've heard enough out of you Boris and Natasha" only to get slapped. Swagger and Rusev start striking at each other, and Swagger sends him over the top to the outside. Swagger does the "We the People" thing in the ring as Lana and Rusev regroup on the floor.
Swagger goes for the Patriot Lock early trying to end it quickly, but Rusev rolls out of the way.
It's all Rusev right early on. He locks on a nerve hold that Swagger breaks, but Rusev kicks him in the hamstrings and hits a clothesline. Cole says that Triple H has tweeted that Ambrose will not be returning to Battleground tonight. Swagger stomps on Rusev's foot, but gets dumped outside to the floor by a back body drop. Colter encourages Swagger to fight on.
Swagger takes right on the apron and Colter yells at him to "get him." Swagger starts to fire up, dropping Rusev across the ropes and landing a series of right hands. He hits the Swagger Bomb. Rusev starts to throw hands and fight back, but Swagger hits a slam for two. Swagger gets tossed over the ropes but lands on the apron. Rusev kicks him and Swagger lands on the mat.
Rusev keys up his kick, but Swagger catches him and locks on the Patriot Lock. Rusev tries to scrape to the ropes, but Swagger drags him to the middle of the ring. A second effort gets Rusev to the ropes to break it. Out on the floor, Swagger locks him into the Patriot Lock again. Rusev reverses and Swagger goes head first into the ring post. Rusev is able to barely hobble into the ring to beat the count at the last second, while Swagger is out on the floor. Colter checks on Swagger as Lana and Rusev celebrate in the ring. After, Rusev goes out and gets Swagger then locks him in the Accolade. Officials finally get him to break it up and he and Lana leave.
Winner - Rusev by count-out
The lead-up segments to this match got a better reaction than this match did. This was probably the weakest way possible to get to the rematch, and I expected some sort of bullshit finish to get there. The trainer was lame with how he handled Swagger too.
Backstage, Stardust cuts a promo of nonsense, saying that it's so close but it's so far away. Goldust joins him, and they talk some more nonsense and talk about hearing their names and such. Stardust blows some confetti stars for some reason. This was a lame segment.
Seth Rollins' music hits, and he heads out to the ring. They recap the brawl between Ambrose and Rollins backstage and Ambrose being ejected from the building at Triple H's request.
Match #4 - Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
Justin Roberts introduces Rollins and he gets "you sold out" chants. He says that since his opponent has irresponsibly been ejected from the building, he has come out to accept his victory via forfeit. He says he wants to be announced the winner and his hand raised. Rollins demands his hand raised and he be announced. JBL applauds Triple H's decision and blames it on Dean Ambrose. Cole says that Rollins will celebrate that no matter what.
Rollins leaves through the crowd, and he gets attacked by Dean Ambrose. He drags Rollins back to ringside and flips him onto the Spanish announce table and assaults him. Security and referees rush out and grab Ambrose and escort him away from the ringside area. Ambrose jumps back in and the brawl continues. Triple H makes his way out to the ring too to help break things up. The brawl continues the whole way back to the stage position until finally security hauls Ambrose away. Triple H holds up Rollins' arm and he says he's the winner.
Logical continuation of the Ambrose/Rollins story to get them to SummerSlam. The fight was hot, and it should allow story advancement there.
The announcers hype up the Jericho/Wyatt match, which is next. They run a video package to build their story.
Match #5 - Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) vs. Chris Jericho
Wyatt makes his entrance to a mild pop and a sea of cellphone lights. Wyatt paces ringside for a few moments, then Jericho makes his entrance to a nice reaction. He plays to the fans as the announcers discuss why Wyatt targeted Jericho. Jericho pushes over Wyatt's rocking chair during his entrance.
Early on, Harper grabs Jericho's leg. The official has had enough and ejects Harper and Rowan. Wyatt tries to go for a move, but something was wrong with it They get back up and repeat that spot. A bit later, Jericho tries to fire up the fans from the ropes. Wyatt cuts him off up there and tries to get a superplex, but Jericho fights him off. Wyatt recovers and hits a jawjacker with Jericho's legs over the ropes. Wyatt poses, and the crowd reacts a little to it. Jericho comes back with a bulldog.
Jericho starts to fire up, trying to go for the Lionsault. Wyatt gets the knees up, and both men are down. Wyatt pops up into the spider pose and the announcers are incredulous. He plants Jericho for a two count and keeps up the offense. He talks to Jericho in the corner, but Jericho ducks his next move. Wyatt hits his head on the buckle and Jericho gets two out of it.
Wyatt hits a move on Jericho on the apron and covers. He has to reposition himself though and that allows Jericho to recover. Wyatt poses in the corner upside down, then tries to set up Sister Abigail. Jericho counters and tries for Walls of Jericho. Wyatt comes back with punches to break it and crashes into Jericho off the ropes for two. In the end, Jericho hits the Codebreaker and gets the clean win.
Winner - Chris Jericho
The atmosphere was bad, and the crowd just watched rather than getting behind anyone. The match didn't click either. It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't what we thought it might be. I imagine they will face off at SummerSlam and it will be better. Jericho winning isn't a shocker, because when this is over Wyatt should be going over strong.
Backstage, security is escorting Rollins. He thanks them and tells them he doesn't need security now. They exit and Rollins continues on, but looks around cautiously. Ambrose emerges from a trunk of a car and hits Rollins with a tire iron. They fight for a while, then Ambrose drives off, nearly hitting Rollins' luggage in the process.
Match #6 - Intercontinental Championship Battle Royale for the Vacant IC title; Big E vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Zack Ryder vs. The Great Khali vs. Xavier Woods vs. Heath Slater vs. Ryback vs. Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth vs. Sin Cara vs. The Miz vs. Titus O'Neil vs. Bo Dallas vs. Damien Sandow vs. Diego vs. Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler
Each man gets his own entrance. Sandow is in Gilligan gear. Wade Barrett comes out after all the entrances with a microphone in hand and favoring his shoulder. He cuts a promo, saying that the winner of this match is like a retired couple moving to Florida - it will be great at first but when time runs out it will end badly. He says no matter who wins it will just be a matter of time til they meet their fate by a Bull Hammer from him.
Xavier Woods, Great Khali, and Sin Cara are all early exits over the top rope. Lots of clubbing, kicking, and punching going on as various men are eliminated throughout. Truth gets dumped by Rybaxel, then Axel gets sent out. Sandow gets dumped, then Ryback bounces Diego. Ryback and Sheamus show down, but Sheamus eliminates him. Titus roughs up Sheamus, then Dallas eliminates Titus and does a victory lap.
Cesaro cuts him off, then Kingston and Cesaro have an odd sequence where they tease elimination but it didn't work as a hot spot. A bit later though, in a really cool spot, Kofi lands on Big E's shoulders. He tries to eliminate Cesaro, but Cesaro suplexes him back in the ring. More battling at the ropes, but Cesaro eventually eliminates Kofi. Slater eliminates Cesaro afterward to a big reaction, and we're down to five.
Sheamus eliminates Slater right away, and it's down to four. Bo Dallas tries to dump Sheamus, but no luck. Sheamus delivers the Ten Beats of the Battern to Dallas, and Ziggler hits him with the Fameasser. Dallas is out. In the ring, it's down to Ziggler and Sheamus. They battle back and forth, teasing eliminations on each other. There's a rough Fameasser spot, and Sheamus tries a spot later where he goes for a power move but slips his grip. Ziggler clotheslines Sheamus, but only one foot hits the floor.
Ziggler tries a superkick, but Sheamus catches him. Moments later, Sheamus takes the superkick instead and gets eliminated. Ziggler relaxes at the ropes for a moment after the elimination, but Miz sneaks in and dumps him out. Miz celebrates in the ring and JBL puts over his strategy as being so incredibly smart for him to lay out and sneak in for the victory.
Winner - The Miz to become the new Intercontinental Champion
The crowd enjoyed the ending sequence with Sheamus and Ziggler, but died when Miz won. Notable is that RVD did not appear, which I figure is the reason Sandow was in this one.
They pimp the WWE Network and all that you can get on it.
A video package sets up the main event.
Match #7 - John Cena (c) vs. Kane vs. Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns; WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a Fatal Four Way
Orton comes out first, with JBL praising him. Kane is next and they talk about the Authority storyline underlying him and Orton working together to get the title back. Reigns is next, then Cena comes out last to a mixed reaction. He holds both belts up high as the announcers hype that he's the 15 time champion. Cole calls him the greatest champion in WWE history. Justin Roberts gives us the formal ring introductions.
We're off, and it's Kane pairing off with Reigns and Orton pairing off with Cena. Orton throws Cena to the stairs, while Reigns delivers ten corner punches to each Kane and then Orton. It breaks down to a handicap match with Kane and Orton teaming up on Reigns. Reigns is up to the task, hitting some offense on both men. Cena tries to get back in the match, but gets driven back to the barrier. Orton and Kane hit a double suplex, and Kane goes to the ropes to watch Cena as Orton covers.
Cena gets back in and hits Orton with a fisherman's suplex. He covers but Kane breaks it up. Kane and Orton team up on Cena, with Kane hitting a side slam then giving way to Orton to make the cover. More double teaming on Cena while Reigns sells outside. Orton and Kane continue to work on Cena while the announcers talk about how Kane has "gotten back in line" with the Authority's wishes.
Cena mounts a bit of a comeback, getting Kane out of the picture and taking Orton down with the side slam. Cena loads the AA but dumps Orton outside instead. Reigns and Cena have a staredown moment, but Kane and Orton come back to the ring and it breaks down again. Kane plants Reigns in the ring and covers. That doesn't please Orton.
Orton rants at Kane, saying "what about what we talked about backstage. What did you cover for?" After some jawjacking, Kane delivers a shot to Orton. The fans were chanting "Yes!" and "Daniel Bryan!" through this sequence. A bit later, they hit this tower of doom spot with Orton at the top, Kane in the middle, and Cena and Reigns shoving them off the ropes.
Reigns and Cena square off again, but Kane sits up. They attack him and put the boots to Kane. Orton gets back in the ring and hits a sidewinder back breaker on Reigns, then hits Cena and Reigns with the hanging DDT. Orton covers Reigns but Kane breaks it up.
Reigns catches Orton with a half crab a bit later. Cena comes in and locks Orton in a half-STF. Kane breaks that whole thing up, then Cena applies the STF on Orton. It was a pretty sloppy STF, let me tell you. Cena hits Kane with the AA, and he rolls out. Reigns drags Orton out and throws him across the announce position. Cena and Reigns square off in the ring, to a better reaction than they got earlier but not like we've seen from Raw crowds.
After some punches Reigns hits a Samoan Drop. He raises his fist to cue the Superman punch, but Cena avoids it and hits a suplex. He tells Reigns he can't see him and tries for the Five Knuckle, but Reigns jumps up and levels him with the Superman Punch. Reigns hits a spear and covers but Kane breaks it up.
You could see Cena watching for Kane. Really obvious spot monitoring there. Cena is particularly bad about that...
Reigns goes off with a series of kicks, hitting Cena, Orton, and Kane with his running apron kicks. He spears Orton through the barricade, which draws a "holy shit" chant. Back in the ring, Reigns sets up for a spear but gets goozled by Kane. Reigns breaks the hold then hits the spear for a near fall that Cena breaks up. Reigns gets sent outside and Cena hits Kane with the AA. Reigns breaks the count up, then tries to get a cover but Cena breaks it up.
Cena and Reigns fire up on each other. Cena hits the AA on Reigns for two but Kane breaks it up. Orton is still selling at the barrier, and the other three in the ring are getting to their feet. Kane hits chokeslams on both Reigns and Cena, covering Reigns for two. Kane gets to his feet and calls for the tombstone, stalking Reigns. Reigns counters and hits a spear. Orton gets back into the match, hitting Reigns with the RKO. Cena hits Orton with the AA onto Kane, and covers to grab the win.
Winner - John Cena to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
After the match, Reigns sells at the announce position while Cena celebrates. The announcers recap the closing moments of the match. Cena exits the ring and salutes the fans by the entrance, then the camera focuses on Reigns looking up the ramp.
This was decent. You got the expected rush of near falls and fall break-ups that these matches normally get. It was handcuffed by the fact that you really couldn't buy in to anyone other than Cena winning this match. Also, it seems this crowd wasn't hot. If you were in this crowd, please, let us know. In my speakers, this crowd sounded really quiet.
Reigns looked good here, and really didn't lose momentum despite not winning. He had chances to shine and he made the most of them. I was also very happy that they didn't hot-potato any of the titles tonight. Triple H's fallback title plan must be taking place tomorrow night on Raw rather than at the event.
They did a lot to set up rematches, which is something I expected going into this show. The card looked really good on paper and was entertaining for the most part, but there were a lot of rough spots - more than I'm used to seeing from WWE. Lots of mistakes, missed spots, etc. happened tonight. I would think the SummerSlam rematches will be a lot better than what we got tonight, and will give us decisive finishes.
I'll have more to say on this show throughout the week, both in RingRap Audio and other outlets. Also, join me tomorrow night at 8PM EST for the live Raw recap as we capture all the fallout from Miami, along with an appearance by FloRida. Thanks for following along tonight.