WWE Battleground kicks off tonight from the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida and while it seems to be that time of year with a little bit of a lull in the product it sounds like tonight’s event is going to start setting up some major plans for this year’s Summerslam. The card is filled out with eight announced matches, four of which have titles on the line, and a couple of big feuds ready to blow sky high. Time to look at the card, predictions and where each storyline may be headed after Battleground concludes.
Pre-Show Match: Naomi vs. Cameron
The Funkadactyls are officially split after Cameron went full ‘Total Diva’ recently and Naomi has had enough. The two have recently cost each other matches thanks to distractions or interference and they’ll open the show when they square off in a grudge match. Naomi is clearly the more talented performer in the ring and it’ll be interesting to see if this feud is just a one off or if we’ll see it continue after Battleground and possibly in to Summerslam. If the plan is to have this feud drag out a bit then I think the clear choice is to give Naomi the win and have Cameron become spiteful and want to prove she’s on the same level.
WWE Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. Luke Harper and Eric Rowan (2 out of 3 Falls)
This has been an absolutely great feud between two great tag teams. Despite seeming to wrestle on an almost weekly basis these two teams have stolen the show countless times with intense and dramatic matches every time. The Usos got the best of the Wyatts at Money in the Bank last month and Harper and Rowan are out for blood and gold. WWE wants to get this event started with a bang and these four men will tear the house down, especially with the addition of a 2 out of 3 falls stipulation. This match is a front runner for “show stealer” and I expect there to be more big spots, high risk moves and close calls than any of their previous encounters. It’s time for The Usos to drop the belts and chase after them to keep this feud alive. Winning the belts will not only give Harper and Rowan a huge win but legitimize their spot in the tag team division as a dominant force.
Winner and new Tag Team Champions: Luke Harper and Eric Rowan
Battle Royal for the Vacant Intercontinental Championship: Cesaro, Kofi Kingston, Rob Van Dam, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Big E, Bo Dallas, The Great Khali, Sin Cara, Fandango, Zack Ryder, Diego, Xavier Woods, Heath Slater, Titus O’Neil, R-Truth, Ryback and Curtis Axel
Since Bad News Barrett had to be stripped of his title due to his legit shoulder injury the Intercontinental Championship has had plenty of guys vying for it. This seems to be the fourth or fifth Battle Royal of the year and the participants seems almost identical from the past installments. The Miz is a dark horse to possibly claim the belt after having just returned but that seems like a bit of a “been there, done that” move for his character. I also don’t see Sheamus winning considering he’s already the United States Champion and he would be unable to hold both belts anyway. And I think we can all agree that about 14 other participants have no shot of winning either. That leaves a realistic four candidates, who I’m thinking will be Cesaro, RVD, Ziggler and Del Rio. Cesaro has snapped the past couple of weeks and absolutely destroyed people and who can forget his Battle Royal victory at Wrestlemania when he picked up and eliminated the Big Show in the most impressive feat of strength I’ve ever seen in pro wrestling. (Yes, better than Hogan slamming Andre) RVD seems to be more of a veteran presence than an actual champion at this point in his career and Del Rio has a bit of The Miz “been there, done that” feel. Fans absolutely love Ziggler but WWE has yet to let him shine due to his concussion history. I say it comes down to Ziggler and Cesaro in the end with Cesaro notching another moment on his already impressive year.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Cesaro
Rusev vs. Jack Swagger
This feud has given me a bit of nostalgia thanks to its late 80’s, early 90’s feel with a pro-American hero taking on an anti-American villain. While these two are no Hogan vs. an Iraqi supporting Sgt. Slaughter it has been a fun ride to watch Swagger and Colter go from heels to faces thanks to one confrontation with the Ravishing Russian and Bulgarian Brute. I fully expect a pro-Russian rant and Vladimir Putin sighting thanks to Lana (or one button away from the 2014 Debra McMichael as I like to think of her) and Zeb delivering a pro-American retort ending in “WE THE PEOPLE!” This match will certainly have the crowd in to it and hopefully these guys can have as good of chemistry in the ring as their managers have had on the mic. Rusev remains undefeated up to this point and he is being built as a monster heel, when he loses it will be a big deal. While I think this feud stretches in to Summerslam thanks to some anti-American tactics from Lana. Swagger will fall short for the time being but I expect a rematch at Summerslam to yield different results.
Divas Championship: A.J. Lee vs. Paige
These two have had an interesting lead up to their match as they have both been civil to each other. Instead of trash talking or interference they have used compliments and praise. I don’t expect it to last when the bell rings as we’ll see this rivalry truly come out. This match has all the makings of a rematch at Summerslam and I have no reason to believe that after just winning the title and returning to action that A.J. Lee is going to drop the title back to Paige.
Winner and still Champion: A.J. Lee
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
Jericho made a surprising return to WWE a few weeks ago and was met almost immediately by WWE’s rising stars, Bray Wyatt. These two are great on the mic and seem to have a real chemistry together. Again, this seems like another match destined for a rematch at Summerslam thanks to the short three week gap between Money in the Bank and Battleground. This may be the hardest match to call of the night because it can really go either way. However, my guess is we’ll be seeing some outside interference when the match nears its end and the rematch at Summerslam will see a stipulation added.
Winner by disqualification: Chris Jericho
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
This is the match I’m most excited to see on the card and for good reason. These two former friends have been on a collision course for over a month and a half but haven’t squared off one on one. That all changes tonight and it should be a hell of a showdown. Ambrose is the lone wolf who is out for blood and vengeance and Rollins is the man who put an end to the greatest faction since the Four Horsemen with a few emphatic chair shots to his two running mates. Rollins has the upper hand due to his association with the Authority and has all the potential to have Randy Orton, Kane or Triple H himself come out and distract or beat down Ambrose.
It sounds like a broken record but this is a feud that will not be a one and done at Battleground. This feud has all the makings of a long term program and I won’t be surprised in the slightest if this is just the first of a series of matches between these two guys. If this feud makes it all the way to October and culminates in a Hell in a Cell match I will be thrilled. I think Ambrose gets the win but doesn’t have much to celebrate after a post-match beat down by the Authority. Ambrose wins the battle but the war is just beginning in this one.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: John Cena vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane (Fatal Four Way)
This match outcome seems almost determined already based on segments between Triple H, Stephanie and Paul Heyman with talk of “Plans B & C”. Cena just won his 15th championship at the Money in the Bank event and I can’t imagine any reason why he would lose it three weeks later barring an unforeseen injury. Plus, if you’ve kept an eye on the dirt sheets you know of some very spoiler heavy promos for Summerslam advertising Cena as champion. The finish of this match should be pretty interesting considering Cena is not expected to be on Raw this Monday due to filming obligations for a new Judd Apatow movie he’ll be a part of. I see no way that Kane or Orton have any chance of getting a win and while Reigns is clearly over big time with the crowd it would be ill-timed to put the belt on him especially when WWE could have just put the belt on him at Money in the Bank. Cena gets the win but expect some extra-curricular activity after this match. Whether that’s “Plan B”, which I think would be Seth Rollins attempting to cash in his briefcase or “Plan C”, which has all the makings of Brock Lesnar making his return. The champ will still be here by night’s end but his health and well-being may be in jeopardy.
Winner and still Champion: John Cena
And that’s the Battleground preview and predictions. What do you guys think? What are your predictions and how do you see tonight’s event playing out? Where do you think we're headed as Summerslam approaches? And why do I have a sneaking suspicion that with NXT headquarters not too far from tonight's event that we may seem some new talent make an appearance? Voice your opinion and predictions in the comments section below.
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Tags: A.J. Lee, Alberto Del Rio, Andre the Giant, Battleground, Big E, Bo Dallas, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Cameron, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, Curtis Axel, Dean Ambrose, Diego, Divas Championship, Dolph Ziggler, Eric Rowan, Fandango, Heath Slater, Hell in a Cell, Hulk Hogan, Intercontinetal Championship, Jack Swagger, John Cena, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Lana, Luke Harper, Money in the Bank, Naomi, Paige, Paul Heyman, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Rob Van Dam, Roman Reigns, Rusev, RVD, Ryback, Seth Rollins, Sgt. Slaughter, Sheamus, Sin Cara, Stephanie McMahon, Summerslam, Tag Team Championship, The Big Show, The Four Horsemen, The Funkadactyls, The Great Khali, The Miz, The Usos, Titus O'Neil, Triple H, United States Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania, WWE, Xavier Woods, Zack Ryder, Zeb Colter