After Battleground, WWE’s newest pay-per-view, went off the air last night, outrage appeared to be the general consensus of emotion across the unwashed mass community of wrestling fans due to the finish, or lack thereof, to the show’s main event. For those who are still unaware, or have already blocked it from their memory, the last match pitted Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton against each other for the vacant WWE Championship. We figured we would get some kind of screwy finish (not that I was the only one thinking this, but I wrote so in my predictions piece last week), but regardless, we were to assume that there would be a winner. We didn’t count on them having the Big Show interfere, knock everyone out, and basically close the night with no ending to the match. What the hell? No, seriously, what the hell?!
First, let me get the rant portion of this column out of the way. For something as major as the finish to a pay-per-view, this obviously had to be a Vince McMahon decision to end it this way. Listen, I love Vince, and respect him for everything he’s done. But that man has to have some set of stones if he thinks in any way possible that this is an acceptable way to end a show that people are paying a lot of money for. I wouldn’t want it, but I’d at least understand if they used the ending to a Raw, which is a free show, like this. But to end a pay-per-view? UNACCEPTABLE…all caps.
Now that that’s done, let me pose a question. Was this WWE’s most meaningless PPV ever in terms of character development and story progression? I generally hate to speak in hyperbole, and I’m sure there was plenty in the mid-late 2000’s, but I can’t think of one off the top of my head. Let’s run this night down for a moment.
One of the main reasons why this event was pointless was because half…seriously, half, of the show was thrown together as last minute filler. The pre-show featured Dolph Ziggler facing Damien Sandow for no apparent reason, announced one week prior. Curtis Axel against R-Truth was added after Raw just for the sake of giving Axel someone to beat, like it matters. We got Kofi Kingston versus Bray Wyatt, again out of left field, announced as late as Smackdown. And then as if there wasn’t enough matches with no story, feud, or build to it, the Real Americans vs. Santino Marella and the Great Khali was announced like the day before the event. This show had so much filler that the Great f’ing Khali had a match. Again, there was no rhyme or reason for any of these matches happening whatsoever and none of them progressed any stories or enhanced character development for any of the talent involved. Just a complete waste of time.
Then we have two matches where, although they were actually announced ahead of time, had no real build-up to make us care either. I have no issue with AJ Lee versus Brie Bella happening at all, but the result was as simple as the champ going over with nothing to help Brie along the way. It’s not that this should never happen, but compounded with the rest of the card, it would have been nice for something to come out of this match.
Let’s talk about Rob Van Dam against Alberto Del Rio. I do appreciate them making this a hardcore match so ADR wouldn’t put me to sleep, but again, the champ goes over and we move along. Was their line of thinking that having Del Rio defeat Van Dam in a hardcore contest would somehow make us believe in him more as World Heavyweight Champion? Because I think that ship has long sailed. RVD is no better after this match (which I suppose is fine since he is leaving again for the time being), but more importantly, I don’t feel like Del Rio is any stronger for it.
As for the matches that actually were built in the weeks leading up to Battleground, there was only one glimmer of light, which was Cody Rhodes and Goldust facing off against Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns of the Shield. Great feel, great match, great story told, great finish, and great progression. This was the equivalent of getting spanked like 7-1, but having one highlight reel, moonshot home run.
As big of a CM Punk fan as I am, I was a surprised by him going over in this match. Not for him getting the win, but the fashion in which he did so. As in, he pinned Ryback, the heels walked away, and we’ll see you tomorrow night. What? This outcome would have made complete sense if Punk would have absolutely decimated Ryback in the process or afterward, essentially leaving no one left standing between him and Paul Heyman, with this month being the final chapter of this feud until he “gets his hands on him”. Not that I’m crazy about this whole storyline, but I’ll give Punk and Heyman the benefit of the doubt that there is more moving forward. As far as the PPV is concerned, however, the guys showed up, Punk won, everyone left, and these characters are in no different standing than they were heading into the night. I’m perplexed.
Finally, we come to the main event. So Triple H stripped Daniel Bryan the Raw after Night of Champions last month because he was “caught” in cahoots with referee Scott Armstrong for cheating in the match. The title was held in a state of abeyance and Armstrong was 86ed. A rematch was set for Battleground to crown a new champion. Everyone (okay, not everyone…some of us streamed) plunked down a lot of money to see this…and as I said earlier, they had the Big Show come out and take a dump all over it and each and every one of us. He reluctantly knocked out Bryan, Armstrong ran down out of nowhere, unfired, to count the three, and got knocked out for his efforts, Orton got in Show’s face and then he got KO’ed. The night ends with everyone downed and no new champ. I suppose those of us who flew to London to watch, as M2J would say, got what we paid for.
We can go on and on about how frustrating this is from an “I just watched this entire show for that??” standpoint. But from a storyline standpoint that they just forced me to invest a month into? This is where Battleground reaches its apex in pointlessness. So since the night after the last pay-per-view, there has been no WWE champion. We build up to a show that will crown a new champ. And now heading into Raw tonight, there is still no champion. I don’t know what they have in store in a few hours from now. If they are smart and don’t want to continue to eat a crap sandwich from fans, they’ll give us a new champ on free television. But at the time being, the past month of WWE programming, which was very heavily geared toward this match, was a complete and utter waste of time. I suppose it can be said that the Big Show angle progressed, kind of, sort of. But Bryan and Orton are in the same exact boat they were in leading up to Battleground. Why even have that show?
Seriously, aside from the Rhodes’, is any one superstar or diva, storyline or angle, in any different shape after Battleground than before? I certainly don’t think so. The whole point of these things from a storyline standpoint is to answer all of our current questions with more questions for the future. The only question I have coming out of Battleground is why the hell I wasted three hours watching that.