2014 is the year of many rising stars in the WWE – Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Rusev and many more made their big splash this year, and for some, Battleground was the culmination of that. The World Heavyweight Championship was on the line in a fatal, four-way main event: Dean Ambrose finally got his hands on the scummy little Seth Rollins, and we crowned a new Intercontinental Champion, among other things. So, let’s have a look at the DVD!
As always, the menu is easy enough to navigate, making it easy to select which match you want to watch out of any on the card, or to choose to see the entire PPV from start to finish.
The event starts with a recap video package, which is a fantastic watch as always from the WWE production team, putting great emphasis on the fact that John Cena doesn’t have to be pinned to lose his championship tonight, and that Rollins is Mr Money in the Bank and could seize the championship away from Cena at any time. But enough about the World Championship, let’s get going with the tag team titles in our first match on the main card –
The Usos © VS The Wyatt Family in a 2 out of 3 falls match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
WWE opens the main show hot with a consistent fan favourite, the Usos. This is a match continuing the series between the two teams and their interesting and fantastic dynamic in matches together. The Wyatts have an air about them very different from any other team in the WWE right now. Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL are on commentary as usual. The 2 out of 3 falls stipulation is really underused in modern wrestling, and one only has to look at the Cesaro VS Zayn match in NXT to see how well it can be utilised: maybe this match being made was a result of the success of that one? In these 2 out of 3 falls matches, it’s more believable for there to be near falls off moves which wouldn’t normally end a match, as Harper proves by getting the first fall for the Wyatts with a big boot. These two teams really show ring psychology beyond their years at points. The Usos get the second fall with a rollup from the corner, which only increases the anger of the Wyatts. The Usos eventually win with a double body splash. Overall, then, this is a very tense, exciting, hard-hitting and well-paced match that probably ended up being the best match on the show. An excellent showing from both parties, elevating both teams as well as the tag team championships, and a fantastic match to start off the pay-per-view.
Following the celebration from the Usos, we see a vignette showing the storyline leading up to the Shield breakup and building hype for the Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose match later in the night. Again, WWE shows its fantastic video package production once more. It’s conceivable that WWE could produce a video package hyping up a match between Hornswoggle and a broom and make it seem compelling although, to be fair, the Ambrose/Rollins feud has been one of the most enjoyable feuds in recent years. Rollins cuts a promo on Ambrose, showing his true evolution in terms of charisma. Rollins has progressed a great deal from the days of his awkward, stuttering NXT promos. Ambrose jumps Rollins mid-promo and gets a few good hits in, but he eventually ends up getting thrown out by Triple H and his cronies, including Jamie Noble and… a bald Fit Finlay? The segment really shows how different Ambrose’s line of thinking is, a great show of character as Ambrose would rather fight Seth than have a match with his former buddy. It’s a somewhat flawed yet human line of thinking which is quite relatable.
AJ Lee © VS Paige for the WWE Diva’s Championship
And now from one group of crazies to another! We get a brief recap of English girl Paige winning the championship from AJ Lee in her debut match, and then AJ winning it back from Paige in her return match. CM Punk chants start the match, as usual. AJ and Paige are two of the best female wrestlers in WWE in recent years, with AJ Lee obviously taking a lot of cues from her husband, the aforementioned Mr Best in the World, while Paige has been brilliant since her debut at the age of 13 on the independent scenes. A second generation wrestler, Paige is the daughter of British wrestling mainstays Sweet Saraya and Ricky Knight. Unfortunately, AJ and Paige didn’t show much chemistry up to this point, but perhaps this could be seen as a step forward in their series and feud. Paige still seemed to be finding herself on the main roster, deviating quite a bit from her tried and trusted anti-diva persona in NXT, but thankfully, there were elements of a throwback to that. The two women had previously swapped roles as face and heel, with Paige now being the heel and AJ the face, and Paige really shows how better she fits the heel role. The match is close to being great, but unfortunately, a few spots look a little sloppy and fall short. The two women show a ton of a potential, however, and in a few months, they could really produce some stellar matches capable of making women’s wrestling respectable again. AJ wins with the Shining Wizard following a nice back and forth flurry. This feels like an encounter that could have really been so much better. Maybe that was due to time limitations, but at least the match was successful in that it made you want more, and led nicely up towards WWE’s big summer PPV for their rematch.
A video package airs showing Randy Orton betraying Kane on RAW. We cut to Orton backstage, who is in the creepy Mankind boiler room area calling for Kane. Orton works so much better as a heel, although the same couldn’t always be said for Kane. The segment shows the animosity between the members of the Authority, a much needed gesture to help prevent the main event from being skewed towards the heels. We then go to the panel for a lowdown on the main event, followed by a recap of the Rusev and Jack Swagger feud.
Rusev VS Jack Swagger
Rusev and Swagger have had a typical 80s wrestling feud – USA vs the “Dirty Commies”. WWE went back to classic heel heat techniques for this programme, utilising the instilled hate that America has for Russia as a hangover from the Cold War, yet Lana managed to keep it relevant to current events with her promo. Cue the Putin-tron! It has to be said, though, the Rusev gimmick is quite different to anything else WWE has done recently, probably since the days of Muhammad Hassan, showing shades of Rocky IV. Swagger makes a good all-American face, drawing more and more comparisons to his predecessor Kurt Angle, and as DDP says, that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing! Unfortunately we get a Zeb Colter promo cut short, but the action starts hard and fast, with the crowd solidly behind Swagger, which is a surprise to no-one. “USA! USA! We the people!” The two men really make a great match for each other, with hard-hitting holds, throws and strikes from both. Swagger and Rusev really turn out to have a much better match than many anticipated, with Rusev previously having shown signs of being fresh to the squared circle. In this match, however, his performance is very much up to his usual high calibre. Lana and Zeb really add to the match at ringside, with great facial expressions and body motions from both. After a brutal head bump to the ringpost, Rusev wins via count-out, continuing his undefeated streak, and yet keeping Swagger’s character somewhat strong.
Suddenly, we go backstage to see another compelling character, Stardust, the man formerly known as Cody Rhodes. Goldust and his brother continue to be hilarious and creepy, as both heels and faces.
Seth Rollins VS Dean Ambrose
The golden boy begins to make his way out to the ring. Mr Money the Bank, Seth Rollins, comes out for a match that we already know isn’t going to happen. A shame, but much like the AJ Lee and Paige match earlier on in the night, this has been as a build-up to a future encounter between the two. Seth garners some heel heat by accepting his victory via forfeit. Rollins shows a lot of the brilliance of 2009 Chris Jericho or CM Punk, both classic heels of their day, forcing the referee to raise his hand. With only one World Championship, WWE really has to work hard to make programmes seem important now, and this is a great way to do it – with pure, good old-fashioned hatred.
Ambrose manages to run back in and attacks Rollins, at least giving the fans a small taste of the violence between the two former Shield comrades before a couple of bald men in suits and referees pull away the “lunatic fringe”. It’s easy to compare Ambrose here to Steve Austin or Brian Pillman, but maybe in years to come we’ll be comparing new stars to Ambrose, who is quickly making a name for himself in segments such as these. One might feel cheated out of the match, but the ensuing brawl is pay-off enough for the time being. Months later, we still haven’t had the fair 1v1 Rollins VS Ambrose match as of yet. This is good booking from WWE, keeping everyone interested over quite a long period, which is something they have often failed to do in the past.
Chris Jericho VS Bray Wyatt
The return of Chris Jericho is shown in a video package, and how the feud between him and Bray Wyatt led up to this point. Y2J’s return was one that started out seeming really promising, with stellar promos from both men. Wyatt’s entrance follows, and it is probably the greatest entrance in modern wrestling, rivalling even The Undertaker‘s. Jericho has a close shot at beating Wyatt’s entrance with his LED jacket, but with the lights of the crowd, it doesn’t stand out as much as it might. Wyatt is another man from a large family of wrestlers, and he goes in hard on the veteran Jericho straight away, showing how far he’s come since his Husky Harris days. Harper and Rowan make their second appearance of the night, showing up at ringside, which in a way is almost a shame, since Bray seems like he should be able to beat Jericho by his own merits. Thankfully, the family gets ejected from the arena from the referee, and we finally get the one-on-one encounter that everyone has been waiting for. Jericho has seemed as though he’s been going through the motions in his recent matches, but there are flashes of brilliance in this particular encounter. Nevertheless, yet again, this match seems like it just fell short of being a classic. The match leads on to their rematch at Summerslam with Rowan and Harper banned from ringside. Jericho won the match at Battleground, which was a surprise to many, but with the rematch just around the corner, one can only hope that the ultimate match between the two men will be their best.
Next, we go to the parking lot, where Seth Rollins ditches his bodyguards, only to be jumped by Metal Gear Dean Ambrose, this time jumping out of a car boot! Ambrose beats on Rollins once again, who drives away in his car.
19-man battle royal for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship
Bad News Barrett had to vacate his Intercontinental Championship due to an arm injury, which gave us this match. A shame really, since Wade was such a fantastic champion and wrestler, but the storyline with The Miz and Dolph Ziggler that resulted from this match was well worth it. This also ended up being Alberto Del Rio’s last PPV match for WWE, with Del Rio only having one last match on TV before leaving the company. We got quite the A-List of competitors in this match, with a combination of former World Champions and… not so former World Champions. Either way, the competitors in this match only elevate the prestige of the somewhat fallen IC Title. After all the competitors enter the ring, former champ Barrett comes out, sling on one arm, mic in another. Barrett continues to be one of the most under-appreciated men on the mic, cutting a stellar promo, declaring that he will return to reclaim his gold.
A nice, very anime-esque spot opens the match, with The Great Khali jumping up like Goku, after everyone jumps the Punjabi Playboy. Battle royals are always a fun spectacle, and the competitors in this particular match make it especially so. Even Bo Dallas does a good job of following his brother’s loss, eliminating the powerhouse Titus O’Neil, with both men showing off their bold charisma. Cesaro and Kofi Kingston also make a good effort to steal the show with a great spot to the outside involving Big E and Kofi’s usual battle royal parkour escapism. Sheamus and Ziggler seem to be the only two men left out of this, with a sloppy powerbomb counter breaking up the otherwise great sequence between the two – a shame, since both men are usually gold in the ring. Ziggler eliminates Sheamus, but out of nowhere, the cowardly Hollywood heel Miz sneaks in and steals the Intercontinental Championship once again! The Hollywood gimmick is really what Miz needed, and this win elevated both him and the championship. The feud that resulted from this between Ziggler and Miz, as well as Damien Sandow’s new gimmick as Miz’s stunt double is quality, and this match was just the beginning of that. It’s good to have such an entertaining feud centred around a mid card championship again.
John Cena © VS Kane, Randy Orton and Roman Reigns in a fatal four way match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
It’s hype time for the main event! Again, it’s been said, but WWE does a great job of keeping everyone up to date on storylines and hyping all the competitors equally in video packages. All four guys make their entrance, and we get the big in-ring introductions which never fail to get audiences excited. The match starts off with Reigns showing early dominance, as most people expected, with the Kane and Orton teaming up to gang up on Reigns, keeping Cena on the outside. The commentary does a great job of continuing to show how important it is that Cena doesn’t have to be pinned to lose the gold. We even get to see Orton and Cena go at it, which is always good, but the action focuses quickly enough on the two faces, and especially on rising star Roman Reigns as he looks to take the top spot from Cena. Kane turns on Orton, as was expected, and the four men even do a show-stopping tower of doom spot, with Kane taking a massive superplex from the other three men. Reigns finally goes ape, with the crowd strongly behind him as he takes out all three, ending with a huge spear that sends Orton through the crowd barricade. Reigns almost has the match won at several points, really putting over the former Hound of Justice, but ultimately, it’s still Cena who walks out as the Champ. As per usual, the crowd give the West Newbury-native a mixed reaction, but Cena walks out with the gold still around his shoulders… for now.
Ultimately, Battleground 2014 was an enjoyable pay-per-view. Although certain parts were forgettable, the highs really, really, made up for the lows, making this well worth watching if only for a couple of matches. It also sets things up well for Summerslam and highlights the feuds that are still going on now. Also of note is the DVD extra of Miz reacting to his Intercontinental Championship win, a rather hilarious winning-an-Oscar-style speech. Battleground will be remembered as a PPV used to build up new stars, and that’s exactly what it did. A lot of emerging stars came out of this PPV looking a lot much brighter, but at the end of the day, this was just another paving stone on the road to the big PPV of the summer, albeit a fun, enjoyable one.
Battleground Kickoff Match
Adam Rose VS Fandango
Battleground Kickoff Match
Naomi VS Cameron
The Usos are turnt up!
John Cena reacts to Battleground
Home Video Exclusive
The Miz reflects on the Intercontinental Championship Battle Royal
All images (C) WWE.