Battleground is over with, and it was a pretty great show for the most part. We got some excellent matches, a surprising and crowd pleasing way to close the show, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens got to tear the house down, and we got the long awaited main roster debut of a long-time NXT favourite – that’s right, Mojo Rawley debuted. GET HYPED! Bayley was there too.
The Shield Triple Threat
This was a great main event with a surprising finish. Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose were fantastic together, they told an awesome story and the action was top notch. Reigns got the expected hateful reaction. It was intriguing that Dean Ambrose won by pinning Roman Reigns. Is this a sign that the great two-year Roman Reigns Experiment is over? Or at least coming to a close? The guy seems to have fallen so far in such a short amount of time. But anyway, he performed well here and so did Rollins and Ambrose. I usually hate when a match cuts away to people at ringside or backstage, but in this case, I really liked the added drama of seeing the GMs and commissioners and the rosters react to this match. It made it feel more important than your typical main event and they treated the WWE Championship like a really big deal. Bigger than it’s felt in a long time. Ambrose came out of this looking great and honestly, him winning was the right choice. He has been the weakest booked out of the three Shield members since the breakup, and so his booking needs the most care now. Not only does Ambrose feel like a legit champion now, SmackDown also feels less like a B show. This result, for the time being, not only elevated Ambrose and the title, but it also elevated SmackDown. They will likely introduce a new world title for Raw soon, and that’s fine, they just didn’t need this as badly as Ambrose and SmackDown did.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
I’ll be honest, I was getting a bit tired of the Zayn/Owens feud. Zayn has pretty much done nothing else since his main roster debut, and I’d like to see him move on somewhere else. Owens could also use someone new to work with. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed their feud, I think it’s been really good, but it’s been getting close to running its course. It’s a feud that I’d like to see them revisit again and again, but we need to see them do something else. This match though, was brilliant. I’m not sure if this actually will be their blow off match, but if it was, it was a damn fine blow off match. Zayn got a nice big win and I could see him moving on to challenge for the US title maybe. A major highlight and likely even a contender for Match of the Year.
I wasn’t getting my hopes up for Sasha Banks’s mystery partner. I was expecting Paige or perhaps Nikki Bella or Nia Jax, even though Bayley made the most sense. Fortunately we finally got Bayley on the main roster, and it was a great debut, even if it was a one night only thing. They put her in the opening match, she got a huge ovation from the crowd and performed in a decent tag opener. Even Dana Brooke wasn’t that bad here. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with Bayley, although it seems like she’ll be going back to NXT, at least until the next Takeover event is done with. It’ll be interesting to see if Bayley debuts full time on Raw with Sasha and Charlotte, or they send her to fill out the women’s division on SmackDown.
Cena, Enzo & Cass vs. The Club
A really fun six man tag, along with an excellent pre-match Enzo promo. Enzo is possibly the best talker WWE has right now. It doesn’t matter what he says, he has the crowd completely in the palm of his hand, even if what he’s saying doesn’t make any sense. Cena didn’t look particularly good in this match, and the closing spot looked a bit awkward, but that didn’t really hurt the match overall. I was expecting Gallows or Anderson to eat the pinfall, I’m surprised to see Styles pinned clean here, although I shouldn’t be. I’m hoping that this leads to a big win for Styles at SummerSlam. He needs it bad. With Ambrose still the WWE Champion, it will be interesting to see how Cena and Styles are positioned. One assumes that they have their rematch next month, but I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if both Styles and Cena became involved in the title picture.
US Title Match
Rusev and Ryder had a decent match. It wasn’t a barn burner or anything, but I thought it was fine. Ryder looked pretty good while also making Rusev look like a strong and dominant champion. Mojo Rawley’s main roster debut wasn’t anything to write home about. He got a mild pop, but nothing compared to the crowd’s reaction to Bayley. It’s not really his fault as I think he has very much been called up prematurely. But we’ll see what happens, it looks like the Hype Bros are going to be a thing on SmackDown going forward.
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
It sucked to be Becky and Nattie tonight. They put on a decent match together, but it followed Owens and Zayn, who tore the house down. So the crowd was of course pretty subdued for this match. Becky really needs a win, but it’s fine for Natalya to win this. She’s had a string of losses, and now that she’s a heel, she needs to be taken seriously. That won’t happen if Becky beats her in their first outing. Nattie and Becky are the two top women on SmackDown right now, so I’d expect this feud to continue for at least another month. It was a genuinely good match, even if it was put in the death spot. I honestly think they should’ve just done the Highlight Reel or the Young/Miz match here, but meh.
The Wyatt Family vs. The New Day
A perfectly fine six man tag match, although I was surprised at the finish. I thought with The Wyatts breaking up that The New Day would surely win. Instead Bray gets the pinfall over Xavier. It’s just an interesting result is all. Bray should be positioned high on SmackDown going forward. I was half expecting Strowman to go on a bit of a rampage here since he’ll be striking out on his own on Raw. I’m not sure how that’ll work out. The New Day are still the tag champs though. Big E also either needs to stop doing that spear through the ropes or start wearing a crash helmet to the ring.
The IC Title Match
The match itself was a snoozefest and felt like a TV match. A bland TV match. And then the result was just mind boggling. Maryse slaps Bob Backlund, then she falls over and pretends like he hit her, then Miz hits Backlund, and Darren Young puts Miz in the Crossface Chickenwing outside of the ring, and the match ends. They didn’t specify why the match ended, I assume it was either a count out or a DQ or a ref stoppage of some sort. Either way, it was a stupid ending to a bad match. This felt like they were setting them up for a rematch, but Darren Young is on Raw now while Miz is on SmackDown… A rematch is impossible. This was stupid and a waste of everyone’s time.
The Highlight Reel and Randy Orton returns
It was neat to see Randy Orton again after his 9 month absence, but I wasn’t a fan of this segment. I know I’m likely in the minority, as the crowd seemed to love Orton’s return. But I’m not a fan of babyface Orton – let alone smiling, positive, almost John Cena-esque Randy Orton. He seemed so out of character. Admittedly he had a few good lines, and the jab at Lesnar’s USADA violation was great. But this just felt so flat to me and it dragged. This felt like it should have been a TV segment rather than a pay-per-view segment. I was hoping we’d get something a bit more impactful for Orton’s return. I wanted to see an edgier, darker Orton, one that we could maybe believe will defeat Lesnar at SummerSlam. I’m not so sure that this crowd pleasing babyface Orton has a chance though.
All photos via WWE.com