With the WWE Draft having already split the WWE roster down the middle, Battleground was set to showcase confrontations between competitors that may not be seen for quite some time as many get shipped off to opposite brands. It was a night that lived up to the hype and kept solid action going the entire time.
Battleground Kickoff Show
The Usos vs. BreeZango
With roughly zero story or build, this kickoff show match to get the crowd pumped up proved to be a fairly decent contest. The Usos have fallen through the cracks in recent weeks due to an influx of other tag teams, while BreeZango has taken a silly one-off team and turned it into a comedic pair of arrogant self-centered jerks that is always fun to watch. These four put on a very solid, and enjoyable, match, but in the end BreeZango came out on top as Tyler Breeze countered a splash by raising his knees and quickly pulled Jimmy Uso into an inside cradle to pick up the pinfall victory.
BreeZango def. The Usos by Pinfall
Match Rating: 3 Stars
Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks & ???
The night started with a mystery as Charlotte and Dana Brooke came out first to open the show with their tag team match against Sasha Banks. There was plenty of trolling by Sasha to throw everyone off the trail, but in the end the obvious choice set the crowd on fire, because IT’S BAYLEY! The crowd lost it, and the former NXT Women’s Champion finally began flirting with the possibility of a main roster appearance. Though Bayley later stated she has not been called up yet, this was a great preview.
This near-reunion of the Four Horsewomen, missing Becky and (for some god-awful reason) including Dana Brooke, turned out to be a great contest. Charlotte and Dana took control early as they ambushed both opponents before they could finish out Bayley’s entrance. They quickly isolated Bayley in the center of the ring and began a 2-on-1 assault on her with Sasha down on the outside.
The match itself was a great group of highlights from three of the best female competitors in the industry, and a step in the right direction by Dana Brooke. Near the end, Sasha was able to hit the Backstabber and lock in the Bank Statement for the second time that night. With nowhere to go, Charlotte was forced to tap out, giving Sasha a strong submission win over the current WWE Women’s Champion.
Sasha Banks & Bayley def. Charlotte & Dana Brooke by Submission
Match Rating: 3.5/5
The New Day vs. The Wyatt Family
Next up it was time for The New Day to try and use the Power of Positivity to counter the fear-mongering mystery of The Wyatt Family. Before the match, New Day did what they do and got the crowd excited for the match. Again, Xavier Woods was the voice of reason as he made it clear that The New Day must take the challenge seriously in order to survive.
Despite a few brief moments, the Wyatts dominated the early part of the match. Braun showed some decent big-man work, and looked much less sloppy and green than he did in the past. It seems like the work he’s surely been doing since his premature debut is paying off. After Big E managed to get the quick tag to relieve Kofi, Big E went after Erick Rowan and showed off the undeniable strength he has. Meanwhile, Kofi was later able to hit a big dive over the top rope to take out Braun Strowman. Shortly after, Bray managed to get Kofi in position for Sister Abigail.
Xavier Woods pulled Kofi out of harm’s way, but was suddenly immobilized by fear as he locked eyes with Bray. Kofi tried a missile dropkick, but Bray countered with a uranage while Woods was still in shock. Woods finally broke out of the trance and went heavy on Bray, conquering his fear and going all out. He got a brief upperhand, but unfortunately a spiderwalk by Bray froze Xavier just long enough to be hit shortly after with Sister Abigail as Bray picked up the win for The Wyatt Family.
The Wyatt Family def. The New Day by Pinfall
Match Rating: 3.75/5
United States Championship Match
Rusev (c) vs. Zack Ryder
The leader of the Zack Pack, The Woo Nation, and whatever other ridiculous name for his fans you can come up with, got some new ‘MURICA-themed gear for his attempt at defeating The Bulgarian Brute for the US Championship. Meanwhile, Lana channeled Princess Anastasia with a stunning ensemble, as always. Rusev took control early on in the match, but Zack Ryder showed a lot more fight than he would have a few years ago.
Rusev focused on brute force, which is really a pretty solid plan for someone like him. He kept it up until Ryder was able to counter a suplex with a strong neckbreaker to put Zack back in the fight. Ryder hit a Broski Boot, but Rusev kicked out and quickly retreated to the outside. After a brief exchange on the outside, Zack had the upper hand back in the ring and hit the Rough Ryder.
Zack went to the top and went for the El-Bro Drop, but Rusev got his knees up and Zack’s arm went right into them. Rusev locked on the Accolade shortly thereafter. Zack tried to fight out of it, but Rusev leaned back and wrapped his legs, leaving Ryder no choice but to tap out and give Rusev the submission victory. Rusev continued the assault after the match, but only seconds later the save was made by none other than Mojo Rawley and Rusev retreated up the ramp.
Rusev def. Zack Ryder by Submission
Match Rating: 2.75/5
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
You know that song that never ends? How it goes on about how it’s the song that never ends? That’s this feud. It’s the feud that never ends. It goes on and on about how it’s the feud that never ends. Could that change at Battleground? Both men seemed determined to make it end, as they aimed to make this the final chapter in the story of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Both men seemed determined to bring every single bit they had to the table in this match, and boy did they.
As the match opened, Zayn immediately went for the Helluva Kick the second the bell rang, but Owens ducked out of the ring to avoid it. Zayn headed to the outside, and the action got intense in short order as both went barreling into the barricades on different occasions. With every hit, you could feel the emotion and intensity of the match. Sami even hit Owens with a brainbuster onto the apron at one point, which looked terrifying. Zayn went for his tornado DDT through the ropes, but caught a superkick in the face from Owens instead.
After a frog splash, Owens thought he had it in the bag, but Zayn kicked out. If you watched Sami Zayn take on Shinsuke Nakamura at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, you might remember those “Fight forever!” chants. Well, they came back in full force during this match and it was much deserved. (Editor’s Note: If you haven’t watched Nakamura vs. Zayn, GO WATCH IT.) After some more back and forth, Owens hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb, but Zayn got his foot on the rope just in time.
This proved to be the true culmination of the hatred both men have for each other. They did just about everything they could short of actually murdering each other in the center of the ring. Without going overboard, I can honestly say that this match put itself on the shortlist for Match of the Year. It’s hard to say it would be the top one, but it definitely belongs in the conversation. Just go watch it. Trust me. After nearly 20 minutes of near falls, cringe-worthy power moves, and quick sleek counters, it was Sami Zayn who was able to come out on top. It took an exploder suplex in the corner, a half and half suplex in the center of the ring, and two consecutive Helluva Kicks, but Sami Zayn pinned Kevin Owens.
Sami Zayn def. Kevin Owens by Pinfall
Match Rating: 4.5/5 (Match of the Night)
Natalya vs. Becky Lynch
Sure, it would’ve been nice for the WWE Women’s Championship to be defended at Battleground. Let’s take a second and acknowledge how great this match was for even happening though. Two women got a mid-card spot on a PPV to have a singles match without the WWE Women’s Championship on the line or any odd stipulation. There was no massive ringside presence by other women. This was just Becky and Nattie going one on one, and they took their spot seriously.
Natalya took control early and showed the submission expertise and toughness that makes her such a fearsome opponent. Not only that, she finally looked like the only female graduate of the infamous Hart Dungeon for the first time in quite a long while. Nattie seemed to tweak her leg or ankle early, as she was clearly favoring her left leg for quite a while and walking mostly on the ball of that foot.
She didn’t let it slow her down though, so it’s unclear how severe the possible injury could be. Nattie isolated Becky’s legs throughout the match and, after several attempts, was able to get another Sharpshooter locked in to pick up the submission win over Becky. Natalya also showed more charisma and depth as a heel than she’s ever shown as a face, giving her a big boost going into the New Era as SmackDown’s veteran female competitor.
Natalya def. Becky Lynch by Submission
Match Rating: 3.75/5
Intercontinental Championship Match
The Miz (c) w/ Maryse vs. Darren Young w/ Bob Backlund
The Miz and Maryse came out wearing masquerade masks, and I can’t resist pointing out that the nose on Miz’s mask was…a bit phallic. That’s all I’ll say about that. Early on, Darren showed that his work with Bob Backlund is definitely taking effect as he showed more amateur wrestling styled skill than he has in the past. Darren got some momentum but has he got on the turnbuckle, a quick distraction by Maryse allowed Miz to knock Darren to the outside. Miz quickly took control by tossing Young into the barricade and slamming him into the ring apron.
Miz maintained control as he began to wear down Miz for the next few minutes, but he couldn’t keep it. Darren eventually got some momentum and hit a huge belly to back suplex as he dropped Miz back-first onto the edge of the ring apron. He got fired up and looked as if he was about to go for the Crossface Chickenwing, but Miz slipped out and then exited the ring as if he was going to take a countout loss to retain his championship.
Bob Backlund kept Miz from leaving, and Darren was able to drag him back into the ring. Maryse promptly slapped Backlund on the outside. As Backlund got back up, Maryse started screaming that he had pushed her and dropped to the ground to fake it. He ripped his shirt off, just because he’s a crazy old man. Miz jumped out and bought into what Maryse had said and promptly shoved Backlund to the ground to protect Maryse. Darren Young went nuts at the attack on his coach and got out of the ring and locked Miz in the Crossface Chickenwing. When he refused to release the hold on the outside, the referee threw the match out as a double disqualification.
The Miz retained against Darren Young as a result of a Double Disqualification
Match Rating: 3.25/5
The Club (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, & Karl Anderson) vs. Enzo Amore, Big Cass, & John Cena
Before the match got underway, Enzo took to the microphone to be the Smacktalker Skywalker of Battleground. I’ll just let his words speak for him. “Right here, you are looking at the Mount Rushmore of Certified G’s. But hey, I’m a little smarter than your average bear, ay-uh Boo-Boo. I know there’s only three of us, but we got John Cena. Therefore, that makes 4G. We are well connected, how you doin’.” That’s just a brief glimpse at some classic Enzo wisdom.
Less than amused, The Club was out not much later to try and pick up a win on their last night as a trio since AJ is going to SmackDown and Gallows & Anderson were drafted to Raw. When the match finally got underway, Enzo & Cass took control early and used effective teamwork to get the upperhand. Cass also used Enzo on several occasions as a human battering ram, including one time where even Cena threw Enzo at one of the members of The Club.
The Human Pinball was fired up all match long, and got plenty of shots in of his own, but The Club picked up plenty of offense too. As they always do, this six-man tag broke down into utter chaos on multiple occasions. Eventually, as others were neutralized on the outside, Cena managed to hit an Attitude Adjustment off the top rope on AJ Styles to pick up a clean victory heading into their New Era on SmackDown Live.
John Cena, Enzo Amore & Big Cass def. The Club (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, & Karl Anderson) by Pinfall
Match Rating: 4/5
Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel featuring Randy Orton
Chris Jericho came out and got plenty of boos as he tried to silence the crowd, but he quickly got on to the issue at hand and introduced Randy Orton for the first time in nine months. Orton burst out to a huge reaction, and looked as fired up as ever. The crowd was definitely on board, with tons of RKO chants, but the bickering started up right away. Chris Jericho kept going on about how Orton was lucky to even be in the ring with someone as good as him, but Orton just played into it. Orton even got the crowd going when he called Jericho’s haircut reminiscent of Ellen Degeneres.
Jericho then shifted to Brock Lesnar and they played a hype video about the devastation Lesnar can cause to build back up his reputation as “The Beast Incarnate.” Jericho even then said Orton must be scared of Lesnar to have not crossed paths over the last fourteen years. “What, twenty suplexes? Is that what it takes to get to Suplex City? Well it only takes one RKO to get to Viperville, no enhancement needed.” After some more bickering and some pretty pointed insults by Chris Jericho, a bunch of hype and a faked RKO led to the eventual RKO #outtanowhere on Jericho.
WWE Championship Match
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns
Main Event time! Before we got the participants, the commissioners and general managers of Raw and SmackDown came out to sit and ringside during the match. Understandable, considering the implications of which brand the WWE Championship ends up on. Not only that, but we finally are getting the full triple threat between all three former members of The Shield. Seth Rollins was out first, but Roman Reigns came out after to a familiar chorus of boos. Roman was sporting a return beard, which hopefully signals a different attitude for the failed babyface. The first chant at the beginning of the match was, fittingly, “Roman sucks!”
Roman took control first as he went after Rollins, who tried to retreat to the outside. He eventually ran into a clothesline from Ambrose that sent him to the outside. After some more back and forth, Rollins was down on the outside, and it became a brief one on one encounter between Ambrose and Reigns on the inside of the ring. Both men traded blows, and during that period it was clear who the crowd favored. Ambrose tried a running crossbody, but Reigns batted him down like a fly.
The match often devolved into chaos between all three men, and eventually poured to the outside of the ring. At one point, Dean and Seth hit consecutive dives to the outside onto Roman and sent him into the announce table. They then paid homage to their time as The Shield, as Dean lifted Roman onto Seth’s shoulders for a huge powerbomb through the announce table. This left Roman completely incapacitated on the outside for quite some time, but also gave him plenty of time to recover by himself.
Rollins also grabbed a chair seconds after the powerbomb and used it on Ambrose exactly the way he did when he stabbed him in the back and broke up The Shield. Despite a superplex rolling into a Falcon Arrow, Rollins was unable to get the better of Ambrose while Reigns was down on the outside. Reigns was eventually able to get back into the ring, but felt a Pedigree in short order. Reigns kicked out an eyelash shy of the three count. Shortly after, he countered an attack by Rollins with a Superman Punch and followed it up with a Spear. It looked to be enough, but Ambrose managed to break up the pin. Before Roman could recover, he was planted face-first with Dirty Deeds and Ambrose hooked the leg for the three count to retain the WWE Championship. Following the pinfall, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan began racing around the ring in celebration for the WWE Championship staying on SmackDown.
Match Rating: 4.25/5
Overall Battleground Rating: 8.5/10
There weren’t many glaring flaws throughout Battleground. This was actually one of the most complete PPVs WWE has had in quite some time. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn take match of the night, but the Main Event was a very close second as the fabled “Shield Triple Threat” lived up to expectations. While not every match was quite on the same level, it was an all-around enjoyable show with plenty of good action.
On top of that, almost all of the booking decisions made perfect sense. For quite some time, WWE has had good matches that were plagued by poor writing. Bad finishes, illogical endings, whatever you want to call it. WWE has had a knack for taking good things and crapping on them at the last second. That didn’t happen at Battleground. There was solid sense behind just about everything, and it gives a ton of momentum to both brands heading into the New Era of WWE.