Friday, December 16, 2016
Entering the fall of 2013, the WWE was in the midst of a WWE Championship controversy. After Daniel Bryan won the belt at SummerSlam, Randy Orton cashed in Money in the Bank on him. Bryan beat Orton for the title at Night of Champions, but there were some fishy circumstances there, so the title entered this show in abeyance. This was the first Battleground Pay-Per-View in history.
Kudos to the opening video package for doing a good job of hyping a card that isn’t very good.
The pairing of Ricardo Rodriguez and Rob Van Dam was certainly a strange one. Even Ricardo’s announcement of RVD comes off as a poor version of what he used to do for Del Rio. Commentary mentions that this is the perfect chance for Damien Sandow to cash in Money in the Bank, but he worked the Kickoff show and hurt his knee. The first big spots come from RVD, who hits a moonsault off the guardrail and a DDT on the chair. Well damn, where do you go after the DDT? Both guys get in offense following this until RVD brings a ladder into play. Del Rio is sent into it an RVD follows in with a heel kick. Del Rio comes back with an enziguri. The ladder falls on RVD and Del Rio double stomps it onto him. There’s a point where Del Rio leaps from the top with a garbage can and gets it dropkicked back into himself, but it looks weak because of how Del Rio jumped. You could tell he had no offensive plan. RVD misses Rolling Thunder on a ladder, hurting him greatly. When the champ applies the Cross Armbreaker, Rodriguez attacks with a bucket. Del Rio kicks the hell out of him for it. In a cool spot, RVD does the Five Star Frog Splash from the apron onto a ladder onto Del Rio. The fans clearly chant “we want tables” so when RV grabs a chair, Jerry Lawler says “they’re chanting we want chairs.” Idiot. RVD misses the Van Terminator and Del Rio delivers a big kick of his own. He gets RVD’s arm caught in a chair and stomps on it before applying the Cross Armbreaker with it still wrapped up. RVD submits.
Okay, well that was better than I remembered or expected. It was mostly just a bunch of spots, but at least the spots are pretty big and brutal, and Alberto Del Rio finishing things with the Cross Armbreaker in the chair was great.
Zeb Colter and his Real Americans cut a promo backstage on Santino Marella and the Great Khali.
What is this doing on a Pay-Per-View? Santino plays the comedy role, failing on a nip up and bringing out the Cobra. Swagger runs from it but Hornswoggle gets the mini-Cobra. I swear none of these are sexual references. Swagger rips it up, causing the commentators to actually laugh. Commentary is horrible throughout this whole thing. The Real Americans work some nice double team moves at least. Tag to Khali, who comes in as hot as he possibly can. It ends up being Cesaro and Khali alone and Cesaro swings him to the delight of everyone. He pins a dizzy Khali for the win.
Outside of seeing Cesaro swing Khali, there was literally no point to this match. It wasn’t good, but the Real Americans did their best to try and make it watchable. I bumped the score up slightly due to the ridiculous feat of strength.
They go through some uninspired back and forth in the early goings. R-Truth is popular, but the crowd doesn’t really care about his win/loss record and it shows here. Axel uses a spinebuster into the guardrail, which is pretty cool, to get in control. Axel is a solid hand but he’s a charisma void. The pairing with Heyman could have been better if he was booked better during the run. The fans are so bored that they chant for “JBL”. Axel wins with the Axehole or whatever he called his finisher at the time.
This is one of those matches that technically isn’t very bad, but it had no heat and an absolutely dead crowd. They were bore throughout and they had every right to be as the match was just dull.
AJ Lee is sporting pigtails tonight, making this one of my favorite looks she’s ever had. Brie slaps AJ and sends her outside but Tamina stops her from capitalizing. Despite this, Brie stays in control inside until AJ kicks her in the knee and sends her into the ring post from the apron. It looks surprisingly vicious. AJ now works Brie over for a while, focusing on the arm. I appreciate that since it makes sense given her finisher and it’s not just working the arm for the sake of it. Brie goes into her comeback, complete with “COOME OON” shout, which is always grating. Tamina chokes Nikki outside, distracting Brie and allowing AJ to roll her up and retain.
To the people who feel that the Bella Twins haven’t improved, I’d like to point to this match. Brie Bella looked lost at times and if you watch something that she did in 2014 or 2015, you’ll see a better performer. Here, she struggled and AJ Lee wasn’t much better.
The Rhodes Family cuts a promo before the next match and it’s pretty great.
If Cody Rhodes and Goldust win, they get their jobs back. Their opponents are the reigning Tag Team Champions, who have been pretty dominant in 2013. The fiery Rhodes brothers start hot, causing the Shield to regroup. They try to go after Dusty but Cody and Goldust go outside and it leads to a standoff. Dusty takes off his belt, looking to give a whipping and the Shield decide against it. Despite their fire, Cody and Goldust have to be careful to not get themselves disqualified. The Shield have weathered the storm and now have control over Cody Rhodes. Cody uses a picture perfect moonsault on Rollins to get himself free for the hot tag. He comes in hot and even busts out a top rope cross body for two. He makes the mistake of missing a regular cross body and falls outside. Cody gets off the apron to make sure that Ambrose doesn’t do anything to Goldust, which is a small thing but it is appreciated. The Shield now pick apart Goldust. He eventually makes the hot tag to Cody, who looks incredibly motivated. He uses some of Hardcore Holly’s old offense for two. Reigns comes in with his power but eats a Disaster Kick. He even knocks Ambrose off the apron. This leads to Dusty giving Dean a right hand and he brings the crowd to their feet with the Bionic Elbow. Cody kicks out of a rollup and hits the Cross Rhodes on Rollins to get their jobs back.
The match is really good, but it is taken over the top by the angle they had to work with and the emotion involved. The Authority had been winning each and every week, so seeing the good guys get one meant a lot. The Dusty involvement was great, the Shield worked like a well-oiled machine and the Rhodes family had to do everything in their power to win. The fact that the performances in 2013 by Cody Rhodes didn’t lead to a mega push is a travesty.
We go to the Pre-Show Panel for some nonsense. Then Brad Maddox asks Vickie Guerrero for help in making the show run smoothly but she laughs it off. I guess that she senses how mediocre this show has been so far.
At this point, Bray Wyatt had been on the main roster for about two months. He was about a month away from a legit feud with Daniel Bryan, so for now, this is pretty filler. Bray dominates the early goings, because he is clearly the guy they have bigger plans for. Kofi goes into his rally, getting the crowd somewhat into it but Bray just runs him over with a big body attack. There is a cool moment as Kofi leaps over the top and takes out all three Wyatt Family members. Back inside though, he falls victim to Sister Abigail.
Similar to most of this card, this screamed filler and would have worked better as a match on Raw or Smackdown. It was a prolonged squashed as the outcome was never in doubt.
Ryback uses his power, but hen Punk retaliates with kicks, he exits to talk strategy with Heyman. Heyman’s advice is “HE’S A BULLY! STAND UP TO THE BULLY!” Some “you can’t wrestle” chants as Ryback slams Punk all around the ring and into the post. Anytime it looks like Punk may rally, Ryback goes back to work on the mid-section. After what seems like forever, Punk starts his rally. Paul Heyman gets on the microphone to call himself the “best in the world” and brag about pinning CM Punk at Night of Champions. It works beautifully as Ryback attacks from behind. It goes back to the story of Punk trying to come back, but Ryback being ready for everything. From seemingly out of nowhere, Punk uses a low blow to score the pinfall.
Despite CM Punk being really popular, the crowd seemed to not care about this at all. Ryback’s dull wear down offense put them to sleep and even Punk’s rally attempts didn’t get much from the crowd. It was overly long and pretty boring.
The video package shows just how much potential this rivalry had. From the Authority being vicious to Orton finding his “inner Viper” to the underdog Bryan and even to the involvement of Brie Bella. Then it all disappeared toward the end of the year and only picked up because CM Punk walked out.
We get an extended feeling out process between the two men. Nothing really interesting happens until Orton goes all Nigel McGuinness with a lariat while Bryan is crotched on the top rope. Bryan skins the cat and uses a headscissors to bring Orton over to the outside but it looked pretty terribly. He followed with a much better looking suicide dive. Inside, Orton really starts to get more “Viper” like, focusing on picking apart Bryan. Outside, we nearly a table spot but Bryan sends Orton into the steel steps, then dives out onto him and then hits a flying headbutt for two. Bryan goes into a flurry of corner dropkicks that finally wakes the crowd up. Orton stops him and goes for the RKO but Bryan shoves him off. Orton rolls him up for two and Bryan’s kick out leads right into the Yes Lock. As Bryan has it applied, Big Show’s music hits and he runs out. He pulls the official out of the ring hard and looks disappointed in himself. Bryan questions him and gets knocked out. For those wondering, Show was doing the bidding of the Authority against his will at this time. Brad Maddox appears to send out the referee who was fired for the fast count he made during last month’s title match. Show pulls this ref out and hits him with the WMD. He gets in the ring and Orton scolds him, leading to him getting knocked out too.
Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton don’t really have bad matches together, but something about this one didn’t work, even before the dumb finish. It seemed to lack something that the other ones had. It’s like they knew they were working towards a no contest and didn’t put as much into this as they would their other matches. It picked up near the end, but not enough to save the score.
Overall: This show is pretty terrible. The opening World Heavyweight Title match is pretty good but everything else outside of the Shield/Rhodes tag match is either flat out bad or barely watchable. Even the Bryan/Orton match failed to deliver the ending a PPV this way is usually recipe for disaster. Go out of your way to see the emotional tag and avoid everything else. My next looks like it will be !