Tuesday, October 8, 2013

WWE Battleground '13

1. Battleground Kickoff pre-show match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow - 3
2. World Heavyweight Championship Battleground Hardcore Rules match: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Rob Van Dam - 6
3. Santino Marella and The Great Khali vs. The Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger) - 4
4. Intercontinental Championship Match: Curtis Axel (c) vs. R-Truth - 3
5. Divas Championship Match: AJ Lee (c) vs. Brie Bella - 4
6. Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Shield (Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) - 7
7. Bray Wyatt vs. Kofi Kingston - 4
8. CM Punk vs. Ryback - 3
9. WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton - 6

Battleground is WWE's newest PPV show replacing Over the Limit which had a short run of three years, all featuring John Cena main events (surely you didn't forget that barnburner versus John Laurinaitis from 2012, right?). I have my own qualms and reservations, not so much in regard to its build, just the overall theme and package. Didn't seem like they put a lot of thought into the design or leitmotif. And I'm a broken record here but it also bums me out they create this new, identity-less PPV when they own the rights to Fall Brawl (and hence the most sorely missed match in wrestling War Games).

Pre-show match was rather unlike your last dentist's visit: quick and painless. Opener was good, physical of course, you've got RVD, plus it was hardcore rules, so lots of ladders, chairs, etc. came into play. Plenty of nasty bumps to cringe at. Tag match was a late addition but earned an extra point for the fantastic finish as Antonio got the massive Khali up in the Giant Swing. Minor quibble but it seems weird to cover a guy after that to secure a pin and would seem cooler if the opponent actually tapped mid-swing. Axel's title defense fell fairly flat. He's been racking up some wins over lower-card talent but the crowd's not buying into him as a star yet.

Women's match was pretty good. Some nice sequences they'd cleared practiced with mentor Finlay but most of it came off smoothly. Finish was flat (a reoccurring theme -- more on that later) as Lee's bodyguard Tamina attacked Brie's twin sister causing a distraction which led to a deflating roll-up finish. Tag match next had plenty of TV build leading up to it and while "7" may be just a touch high I needed to award it some recognition for the hot finish. They laid out a good sequence at the end, including Dusty busting out a Bionic Elbow on Dean Ambrose's skull, Goldust flying into the frame like Sky Lynx wiping out Reigns, then Cody hit the Cross Rhodes to a humungous crowd pop to get the win and as a result secure the Rhodes' jobs.

Bray Wyatt and Koji had what felt largely like a SmackDown! snack break match where you're trying to get your sandwich and corn chips plated before the commercial break ends and rush back into the living room only to find that on. It had a few slick moments and wasn't bad. Wyatt's need some opposition to have more dramatic potential. Right now the acts is entering tedium. And am I the only one troubled by the parallels between Bray and Waylon Mercy? Right down to the white slacks and bad Hawaiian shirts. Punk match was pretty insipid. Kind of clunky and dull. For a feud with a lot of personal heat you'd think Punk would want to annihilate Ryback but you wouldn't guess that by what transpired. Really didn't like the finish. Ref got distracted after catching Paul Heyman at ringside with a kendo stick and Punk capitalized on the divertissement and did a weak low-blow for the win. After the match Punk just leaned against the ropes looking gassed. Main event went 25 min. and was uniformly solid. A bit more measured and less energetic than the earlier entries in their series. It had a few nice moments, nothing too surprising though, but went off the rails at the end before it could clear the gap and become truly compelling. Big Show came out, KO'd Daniel, had remorse, KO'd a 2nd referee who'd came out, then KO'd an upset Orton, and so on. Match ended in a no-contest essentially rendering this a commercial for the free Raw show the following night.

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