Enemies look to deceive and conquer each other as the first-ever WWE Battleground 2013 undergoes its genesis.
Alberto Del Rio fights to continue his title reign, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan lock horns with the vacant WWE Championship on the line, while CM Punk seeks revenge and Cody Rhodes and Goldust seek redemption.
The first of two October pay-per-views comes to you on Sunday Oct. 6. The First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y. plays host to an event where WWE fans will be curious to see which heroes rise and which villains cut down their opposition.
With predictions and potential spoilers derived from backstage reports, here's a look at Battleground before the first blow is struck.
Rumors circulating about Superstars' contracts may give us a peek into what happens on Sunday.
In terms of storyline, Goldust will have to beat Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins will the help of his brother to get a job with WWE. In reality, it appears "The Bizarre One" already has a gig with the company.
As reported by Wrestling Observer, via WrestlingInc.com, Goldust "has signed a short-term deal" with WWE.
That points to the Rhodes family coming out on top against The Shield and Goldust sticking around for a short run. If the reported contract stretches into April, fans may finally get to see the anticipated matchup of Cody vs. his brother at WrestleMania.
Another Superstar's lack of contract is a sign that he'll walk out of Battleground without the championship he's fighting for.
Rob Van Dam's contract is said to be of the 90-day variety, nearing its end now and per PWInsider, via WrestleZone.com, "It is expected RVD will be taking time off in October, either after the new Battleground event, or after the Hell in a Cell pay per view."
If Van Dam is exiting right after Battleground, that's another reason to bet on Del Rio in that matchup. If it's not until after Hell in a Cell, it's conceivable that Van Dam would go on a short world title run.
- Damien Sandow vs. Dolph Ziggler
- Bray Wyatt vs. Kofi Kingston
- Brie Bella vs. AJ Lee (Divas Championship)
- Ryback vs. CM Punk
- Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth (Intercontinental Championship)
- The Shield vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust
- Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam (World Heavyweight Championship)
- Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton (WWE Championship)
The recent recipe for making a Superstar look good and to give a man momentum when needed is to pit him against Ziggler. Few Superstars make others look as powerful as Ziggler can.
Wyatt experienced that phenomenon recently on the Sept. 9 episode of Raw.
Sandow is in need of what Ziggler provides, to make him look more like a threat to the world champ and challenger competing later that night. He, like Ziggler, has seen his loss column overflow as of late and "The Intellectual Savior" looks primed to change that trend.
Kingston gets the unenviable task of playing the sheep that the hungry wolf devours.
Wyatt is need of a win to maintain momentum and to further create the aura of his destructive power. An easy, one-side victory over the high-flyer will do just that.
This is a way to build Wyatt up for something bigger.
Expect Kingston to experience Sister Abigail's Kiss firsthand and have both Erick Rowan and Luke Harper swoop in to continue the onslaught.
Brie's most important role in the coming weeks will be as the woman at Bryan's side. She offers an emotional boost to that feud as someone Orton can threaten and someone Bryan must protect.
She doesn't need the Divas Championship to do that.
WWE's lack of focus on the storyline heading into this bout hints at AJ retaining, and her taking on Natalya in the future, who she's been butting heads with lately. Hopefully, it later means that AJ brags about beating the entire Divas division and in walks Paige from NXT, offering a new, compelling threat.
The latest Paul Heyman guy goes after Punk and eventually "The Best in the World" has to win against one of them.
He lost to Brock Lesnar and, thanks to Ryback, to Curtis Axel and Heyman at Night of Champions. The suffering has gone on long enough. It's time for the cathartic moment where Punk earns a victory and whips Heyman like an S&M enthusiast.
This feud with Heyman and his proxies has stretched from July to October and ends here so that Punk can move on to take on bigger prey.
Even if Axel didn't have Heyman in his corner, for who trickery and deception are specialties, he'd be the favorite here.
R-Truth rarely wins and is not a consistent figure on WWE TV. Axel appears to be in a higher spot with WWE having just feuded with Punk and defeating Chris Jericho.
Axel has fought off Kofi Kingston, Jericho, Wade Barrett and The Miz since becoming Intercontinental champion. For R-Truth to do what those men couldn't do would be a shock.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust
Betting against The Shield is normally not the wise thing to do, but too much is riding on this for the Rhodes brothers to lose here.
The best thing for business would be for the fan favorites to earn their jobs back and run head first into a feud with the McMahons. Hell in a Cell is right around the corner, but so is Survivor Series.
There's a chance for a highly entertaining elimination tag match to happen at that pay-per-view should the Rhodes family succeed at Battleground. Should they lose, WWE would have to delay inserting the two hot Superstars into the mix until a loophole allows them back despite being banned.
Alberto Del Rio
Sandow may be lurking and Van Dam's kicks may be deadly, but Del Rio should remain champion once more.
Van Dam's aforementioned contract situation is one reason to lean toward the champ retaining, as is the possibility of Ricardo Rodriguez turning on Van Dam and reuniting with Del Rio.
WWE may see the uncomfortable fit that is the pairing of Rodriguez and Van Dam and long to hear him announce Del Rio's name as spectacularly as he once did. Del Rio and his personal ring announcer were such a fantastic fit that it has to at least be a temptation to return to that alliance.
It's like when Virgil left "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase; it just didn't feel right afterward.
Del Rio could bribe, coerce or trick Rodriguez to come back into his camp. The stipulation of this match also hints at Del Rio winning.
WWE has played up Van Dam's experience in hardcore matches, citing his ECW experience for example. This is likely just misdirection. Building up one man as having a home-field advantage in a certain type of match is an easy way to shock the audience when the other wrestler wins.
It's the same tactic WWE used for John Cena's TLC match against Edge at Unforgiven 2006.
Bryan has won the WWE Championship on two consecutive pay-per-views. Could WWE really continue that pattern at Battleground?
This story is too large, too complicated to end already. Big Show, Triple H and any number of interferers will affect this bout. WWE is more likely building toward a climax between Bryan and Orton at Hell in a Cell.
With that pay-per-view being so close to Battleground, don't expect a new set of WWE Championship contenders. Orton wins here by hook or by crook and Bryan's quest continues.