Friday's WWE SmackDown appears to be building toward Battleground indirectly.
Ryback, CM Punk, Rob Van Dam and Daniel Bryan aren't scheduled for action and the other Superstars booked for that rapidly approaching pay-per-view face different opponents.
Randy Orton takes on a man he recently put out of action while Alberto Del Rio battles one of the babyfaces involved in the 11-on-3 handicap from Monday's Raw. Elsewhere, the Divas champ continues to take on the cast of Total Divas and the tag team division gets highlighted.
Without giving away the results, here are the matches fans can expect to see on Friday's SmackDown.
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler
The United States Championship is on the line as Ziggler takes on the man he pinned on Sept. 16.
Ambrose has held the title for over 130 days and looks to keep that reign going against the athletic Ziggler. Title matches on TV are always welcome, especially when they feature two wrestlers as fun to watch as these two.
One has to assume that Ambrose defending the U.S. title here frees him up for a different match at Battleground. Ambrose can take on some of the rebelling fan favorites with The Shield at his side or play a part in a match involving Cody Rhodes and Goldust.
The Real Americans vs. The Prime Time Players
This tag team feud looks to be resuming. With The Usos being the current No. 1 contenders for The Shield's tag team championships, The Prime Time Players and The Real Americans can go back to battling each other.
Much of Titus O'Neil and Darren Young's recent momentum was at the expense of Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro.
Can The Prime Time Players pick right back up and kick Zeb Colter's crew around, or will The Real Americans make a case to be the next challengers for the tag team titles?
Alberto Del Rio vs. R-Truth
For the second straight week, R-Truth takes on Del Rio in a non-title match.
It's a strange choice to have Del Rio keep beating up on R-Truth as a warm-up to his bout with Rob Van Dam. Wouldn't defeating more impressive names be the better way to have Del Rio look strong going into that championship match at Battleground?
Regardless, R-Truth and Del Rio have shown surprisingly good chemistry together and look to put on another good performance on Friday.
Bray Wyatt vs. Zack Ryder
Ryder fans can rejoice but only momentarily. The self-proclaimed Internet champ gets an increasingly rare shot to shine on SmackDown.
The problem is that he faces a man likely to dominate him.
Wyatt has had little chance to devour prey since debuting and Ryder might turn out to be his next meal. "Long Island Iced-Z" comes in as the underdog, a huge upset available for the taking.
AJ Lee vs. Cameron
The Divas champ has recently stepped into the ring against the women from Total Divas (excluding Jo-Jo Offerman and Eva Marie). It's Natalya who looks to be her next challenger, so expect this bout or any segments surrounding it to include her.
WWE has little time left to build for a Natalya vs. AJ match at Battleground if that's the direction the company ends up going.
Cameron, however, may impress enough here to be considered for the challenger role.
Santino Marella vs. Heath Slater
The comic relief of the evening pits the goofy Santino against 3MB's Slater.
Expect shenanigans aplenty. Any quality wrestling that arises from these two comedy characters will be an unexpected bonus.
Randy Orton vs. The Miz
The beating that Orton doled out to Miz last Monday clearly didn't get the job done.
Miz was back this week on Raw, walking stiffly but looking pretty good for someone with an upper thoracic injury and a pinched nerve. Miz should have revenge on his mind as he challenges "The Viper" once more.
Orton, gearing up for a WWE title bout at Battleground, should be extremely focused and dangerous.
If Miz's parents are planning to show up for this event, they are setting up themselves up to watch their son get mauled again.
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