WWE Raw: The Battleground Go-Home
July 21, 2016 12:43 PM - Season 24, Episode 45 - Subscribe

Monday night saw a very unclear finish to a WWE Championship match, the reveal of the show GMs, an announcement that RAW was getting a Cruiserweight division, and John Cena trying to keep up with the kids on his lawn.

WWE Championship Match, Dean Ambrose (c) vs Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins - The Shield triple threat for the title is a dream match coming at seemingly the worst imaginable time. With the team split across shows starting next week, Reigns coming off a month long suspension the day of the match, and all rumors pointing towards dueling titles on RAW and SmackDown, and the fact that this is the hardly-hallowed Battleground PPV, it's hard to feel like this is all it could have been. Still, should be a hell of a match.

Cena with Enzo & Cass vs AJ Styles with The Club - 5 of the absolute hottest commodities in WWE right now, plus Cena. This should be a heck of a match as well, and considering the two singles competitors will both be on SmackDown afterwards and both tag teams will be on RAW afterwards, this could easy continue into two rivalries.

Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens - two guys with basically no history or chemistry are forced into a match no one wants to see. The only bright side is that even though they were both drafted to RAW, we've been assured this will be the last time we'll be forced to watch them fight.

Becky Lynch vs Natalya - A women's match on a PPV that's just a grudge match between friends turned enemies, with not title involved! Two capable wrestlers who may actually do a bunch of cool technical moves! Again, they'll be together on SmackDown two days later, so hard to say for sure if this is the end of the line for this rivalry.

Intercontinental Title Match, The Miz (c) vs Darren Young - The Miz has been on fire and is in the midst of a really long title run for recent times. Young is on the rise and was just bestowed a great new finishing move by Bob Backlund. Make the IC Title Picture Great Again!

United States Championship Match, Rusev (c) vs. Zack Ryder - is Long Island Iced Z (and his new entrance theme) in the midst of one of his all-too frequent upswings, and headed for another title reign? Or has he already topped out and is about to have the rug pulled out from under him as seems to happen every time the crowd starts to buy in?

"The Highlight Reel" with guest Randy Orton - good lord. Honestly this card seems kind of stacked, I'll be pissed as hell if this takes up any amount of minutes that could have been given to literally any of these matches. Is this really necessary on a PPV?

The New Day vs The Wyatt Family - The New Day made an ill-fated decision to show up at the Wyatt compound, and the Wyatts tried to Finally Delete The New Day with a pick ax. This is likely the blowoff the feud, given where everyone fell in the draft, but how do they top that crazy off campus fight?

Sasha Banks and Mystery Partner vs Charlotte and Dana Brooke - these women have had an excellent thing going, and this should be a great match if they're given time and freedom to do it. Also, Sasha and Charlotte will be on RAW together, so no reason to fret that the title's not on the line (yet). The Mystery Partner is pretty interesting, with Nia Jax, Carmella and Alexa Bliss all getting called up via the draft (and Bayley conspicuously not). Or Sasha could pull from old friends who got drafted to RAW like Paige, Summer Rae, or Alicia Fox.
posted by jermsplan (20 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
(I tried, Etrigan. You've set a high bar)

This PPV actually looks like a barn burner. I don't think I'd realized how many good matches are planned, it's actually kind of incredible. I'm looking forward to this as much as any PPV in a long time, though unless I've missed something and they've decided this will be a 4 hour affair I'm actually a little nervous they don't have time for all of this awesomeness. It's ok, not many of these fights actually got split by the draft, so no reason we can't see this as the "SummerSlam" kickoff, I guess.

There are plenty of nits I think you could pick regrading the draft and the order of some picks and whatever, but ultimately who cares, right? The rosters were set, and they essentially had to work backwards to create a draft that caused those rosters to come into being which made the most sense. I'm sure there was also some politics and egos that went into it. Honestly I'm laughing my ass off that Heath Slater, and only Slater is currently listed as "undrafted" despite RAW drafting BOTH Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. I guess Steph really wanted no part of Heath. I hope he shows up on both shows for a few weeks, trying to get signed as a free agent, ultimately jobbing to someone for about 2 months straight before maybe the rest of the #SocialOutcasts convince Foley to let him stay.

The serious head scratcher for me was how you have the Cruiserweight Classic with Bryan Daniels on commentary, a Cruiserweight Division returning to RAW, and yet Daniels becomes the GM of SmackDown? Maybe you make him GM of SmackDown but let him show up and do guest commentary on Cruiserweight matches, thereby allowing him to pop both cities every week? Whatever, I'm sure all will be made clear to me in time.
posted by jermsplan at 12:51 PM on July 21, 2016

I will love Xavier and Enzo and basically everyone in that match forever just for "Pikachu." "How you doin'." "Charmander." "How you doin'." "Squirtle." "How you doin'." (or whatever fucking Pokemon they named I do not care and you can't make me because it fucking worked anyway).
posted by Etrigan at 3:44 PM on July 21, 2016

(writing these in between rides at HersheyPark, which is better than it really needs to be)

The draft was worse than bad -- it was boring. Cesaro presented some fire (as always), and will likely get punished for it (as always), but otherwise, bleah.

The awesome NXT reaction shots (find Nia Jax's, which has made me fall deeply in love with her) helped, but not enough and not in a timely fashion.
posted by Etrigan at 3:51 PM on July 21, 2016

I feel like the inherent problem with a draft being not-boring is that there needs to feel like there are winners and losers to create tension. With NXT call ups you can kind of feel that way, which is why those were the closest to exciting. For all the main roster people moving around, how much can you get excited or sad? Here's one guy who should be excited: Bray Wyatt. Unless Randy comes back uber-heel somehow, Bray looks like top heel on Smackdown. That's pretty good for him, given the show has Ambrose, AJ, Cena, Orton, Ziggler.
posted by jermsplan at 1:39 PM on July 22, 2016

I got a buck that says Raw opens with Kane announcing that he is proud to be asked but cannot run for Vice President due to his commitments to WWE.
posted by Etrigan at 6:44 PM on July 22, 2016

It'll also be nice to see what the feedback is like for Bray Wyatt after the week he spent programming the Republican National Convention.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:37 PM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

As a person who voted for Tim Kaine at both the Gubernatorial and Senatorial level but also owns a "World's Greatest Director Of Operations" mug, I am conflicted.

The Usos vs Breezango has been added as the preshow match (or maybe existed when I made this post and I missed it). For all the tag teams they have, the Usos. I swear to god. I'm really sorry if someone here really likes them, but I just can't handle any more of them at this point. Unless they interfere in the WWE Championship match, which I would be weirdly ok with.

I desperately want everyone to compete at Battleground in the generic Smackdown/RAW tshirts they all wore on Smackdown during the draft. I think that would be really interesting. Which made me wonder how often it would actually be Red vs Blue. So here we go:

Usos (SD) vs Breezango (SD)
Ambrose (SD) vs Reigns (R) vs Rollins (R)
Zayn (R) vs Owens (R)
Cena (SD) Amore/Cass (R) vs AJ (SD) Club (R)
Becky (SD) vs Natalya (SD)
Miz (SD) vs Young (R)
Rusev (R) vs Ryder (SD)
New Day (R) vs Bray (SD), Rowan (SD), Strowman (R)
Banks (R), Mystery (?) vs Charlotte (R), Dana (R)
Y2J (R) interviews Orton (SD)

I don't know what any of that means. I guess it's kind of awesome that 3 belts are in R vs SD matches, so they could play with us a big in terms of which/how many belts go to which show.
posted by jermsplan at 8:17 PM on July 23, 2016

Overwhelming booing of the usos and cheering of breezango during the pre show could be a bad sign for Reigns, depending on how he's booked.

Bayley as Sasha's partner is such a weird choice, considering 3 other NXT women were called up during the draft. Match was decent, but anyone who didn't know Bayley before the match is probably turning to their smark friends and saying "what was all the hype about? "
posted by jermsplan at 5:23 PM on July 24, 2016

That match ending Sister Abigail was awesome, looked like a guy ready to be top heel on his show. Xavier impresses me every time he's in the ring. I don't understand why he was relegated to horn player of the group for so long
posted by jermsplan at 5:42 PM on July 24, 2016

JBL also made a very explicit comment during the match that this was a one-time thing for Bayley, not a call-up. IDK if that's true or not but he made a point of saying it.

But I totally yelled and clapped and bounced on the couch for the entirety of Bayley's entrance. And the match itself was good! Really good!
posted by misskaz at 8:38 AM on July 25, 2016

You know what I love most about Sasha Banks? She looks like she's having fun when she needs to. Happy at Bayley's pop, happy at putting one over on Dana (despite the relative level of difficulty there), happy at winning the belt. She'll go in the ring, but when she isn't going, she is clearly just geeked out of her fucking gourd just to be there (while still knowing damn well that she deserves to be).
posted by Etrigan at 8:54 AM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I noticed during the new RAW intro that the last shot of a wrestler is Sasha and I thought "oh, Dang!", and by the end of the night she was Champ and I was like "Daaaaaaaaang!"

Alexa exuded confidence and was good as hell for the minute they gave her, and of all the women they kept cutting to during Eva Marie's entrance she was by far the most expressive and compelling character. Really impressed me with her first night in the big arena.

Between Battleground and RAW I absolutely love Reigns' new in-ring stuff. He had shown a hint of it prior to suspension, but he looked really solid with the heel-powerhouse moveset.

And Graves cracked me up when he called out Cole and said something like "Keep up with me Cole!". New kid on his first day, giving it to he voice of the WWE for over a decade. Sadly the SmackDown announce crew didn't impress me, which is crazy because Renallo has been so amazing. Hopefully the three of them just need a little time to gel.
posted by jermsplan at 1:02 PM on July 27, 2016

Alexa exuded confidence and was good as hell for the minute they gave her

I find that I often latch on to one small thing a wrestler has done to become a fan for life (Stunning Steve Austin had a leaping clothesline against Dustin Rhodes in a TV title match that, for some reason, I've remembered for 25 years -- and it missed). Alexa got me on her last (?) NXT match, when she said "Oh HELL no" right at the end.

Corey Graves must be pissed that he doesn't get to call Eva Marie matches anymore. That was some of the heeliest heel commentary since Heenan was in his heyday.

Sadly the SmackDown announce crew didn't impress me, which is crazy because Renallo has been so amazing.

He'll have the next big knee injury from carrying JBL and Otunga. I would legit pay an extra three bucks a month to get alternate commentary tracks with Ranallo and Graves.
posted by Etrigan at 1:26 PM on July 27, 2016

Etrigan, LOL at alternate commentary. I don't know about anyone else, I never watch anything but PPVs live (and even that's iffy, you may have noticed my liveblogging cut out after like 3 matches...so it goes). I've heard that part of why NXT commentary was as strong as it was is because it's not recorded live, anyone know if that's true? In any case, if they wanted to have the "Live Commentary" be the default track but then have an option for a post-production added track done the next day by Ranallo and Graves then that shit alone would be worth the 9.99. I'd also be ok with a track that has pumped up the volume on the inring noise, include crowd noise, and no commentary at all overtop.
posted by jermsplan at 6:59 AM on July 28, 2016

I've heard that part of why NXT commentary was as strong as it was is because it's not recorded live, anyone know if that's true?

As of a year ago, "While the commentary team is present for each NXT television taping at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, most of the dialogue is actually recorded in their post-production facility. The reason for this is so the commentary can be a little more up-to-date since it can be weeks between tapings; Cole is usually the one to assist with this as well."

On the other hand, I've noticed (especially in the last coupla weeks) that they're studiously avoiding talking about, for instance, Finn Balor being drafted to Raw.
posted by Etrigan at 7:26 AM on July 28, 2016

At the risk of becoming the guy who just posts about Sasha Banks, I'll point out that Mick Foley wrote a nice piece about the match last week.
posted by sporkwort at 9:23 AM on August 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I finally get my moment with the Boss, I simply say, "no one has ever worked harder, and no one has ever deserved it more."
posted by Etrigan at 9:50 AM on August 1, 2016

Rhyno had perhaps the best day ever in the world on Tuesday -- he won his primary for the Michigan State House and gored Heath Slater.

He does not stand a fart's chance in a hurricane in the general election -- the GOP candidate hasn't gotten within 30 points in recent memory.
posted by Etrigan at 10:41 AM on August 3, 2016

Aw, man, Mikey O'Shea (one of my favorite west coast indie guys) got zero offense and Mike Vega didn't get to play his Sasha Darevko shtick. Why is it that using full-on jobbers is the most exciting thing about the brand split so far?
posted by Etrigan at 7:31 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

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