World Wrestling Entertainment's Battleground pay-per-view has come and gone, and in its wake, it has left more questions than answers.
While the buzz coming out of the show may be negative, for reasons that have nothing to do with the in-ring work of the Superstars involved, fans cannot say that nothing happened at this month's first (of two) major events.
Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton competed for the vacant WWE Championship in a match that was building toward being one of the better main-event matches of the year.
It was a hard-fought contest that may have started slow, but had the fans inside Buffalo's First Niagara Center in its closing moments.
Then Big Show's music played, and, well, we will get to that in a moment.
With Hell in a Cell only three weeks away, it was clear that what happened between Bryan and Orton at Sunday's Battleground would directly affect the card for that show.
How it would do so was a mystery.
What was not a mystery, however, was the fact that Bryan and Orton have tremendous in-ring chemistry.
Would they be able to deliver a rematch befitting of their near-classic at September's Night of Champions?
Here is a look back at what went down in the WWE title match at Battleground.
A big pop and thousands of “Yes!” chants accompanied Daniel Bryan, as he made his way to the ring.
A lockup started the match, and Bryan took Orton over. Orton backed Bryan into the corner and gave him a rare clean break.
Another side headlock before Orton reversed and took Bryan down with a shoulder block.
Orton teased a test of strength before delivering a boot to the midsection and taking Bryan over with a another side headlock. A dropkick from Bryan was the first impact maneuver of the match.
Bryan targeted the left arm of his opponent, but Orton grabbed him around the neck and delivered his signature backbreaker.
Orton wore Bryan down, using the laces of his boot to rake the face, then took his turn targeting the left arm of his opponent. Bryan countered a third attempt by Orton to damage the arm and whipped him into the ropes. Bryan delivered a knee to the midsection and took control.
In the corner, Bryan landed a series of kicks, then leg-whipped Orton and applied a leg submission that closely resembled an Indian Leg Lock.
He released the hold and sat Orton on the top rope. "The Viper" shoved Bryan and crotched him on the top rope. He delivered a clothesline from the middle rope, knocking Bryan off the top rope and to the mat.
Orton attacked with a series of punches in the corner, followed by an illegal choke using his boot.
A big clothesline in the corner continued Orton’s attempt to wear down his smaller opponent.
A charge into the corner by Orton was met with a big boot, but Randy caught Bryan coming out with a snap powerslam.
Orton applied a chinlock and Bryan fought out. As he came off the ropes, Orton caught him with a knee to the midsection. A suplex across the top rope followed, as WWE’s resident "Apex Predator" turned his attention to the midsection of his opponent, methodically picking him apart.
After fending off Orton’s assault, Bryan scaled the ropes and moonsaulted over the charging Orton. As Bryan hit the ropes, Randy grabbed him and dumps him over the ropes.
Bryan held on and took Orton out of the ring with a head scissors. A suicide dive followed as Bryan gained the momentum.
After a flurry of offense outside the ring, Bryan rolled his opponent into the squared circle and climbed the ropes. He launched himself off the top with a dropkick, but Orton caught him and delivered a powerbomb for a count of two.
Orton applied a rare Boston Crab, working on both the back and midsection at the same time. Bryan fought to make it to the ropes, but the ever-aware Orton pulled him back to the center of the ring.
Bryan countered out and rolled him up for two. Seconds pass before Bryan grabs hold of Orton and tries for the Yes Lock.
Outside the ring, Orton sent Bryan into the steel steps, then the Spanish announce table, and, finally, the ring post.
Orton covered a prone Bryan for two, just barely beating the referee’s count back into the squared circle moments earlier.
Randy sat Bryan on the top rope and appeared poised to execute the superplex. Bryan fought him off with hard rights, but was crotched on the top for his efforts.
This time, Orton delivered the superplex, a move made famous by his father, but only keeps his opponent’s shoulders down for a count of two.
The Superstars traded uppercuts to a mix of “yes” and “no” chants from the audience. Orton ended the exchange with a boot to the midsection. He tried for one final uppercut, but Bryan caught him and delivered a backslide for a quick two count.
Orton delivered a dangerous suplex from the ring to the floor. He cleared the Spanish announce table and set Bryan up for a powerbomb, but Bryan fought out, delivered a series of kicks and sent Orton into the ring steps.
Bryan climbed the ropes and delivered a high cross-body block from the top rope to Orton, who was on the floor.
The crowd in Buffalo came to its feet as Bryan climbed the ropes and delivered the diving headbutt.
Orton shot his shoulder off the mat at two, preventing Bryan from claiming his third title in as many months.
Bryan backed Orton into the corner and delivered multiple dropkicks to the face as a loud “YES!” chant filled the arena.
He delivered several kicks to the chest of a kneeling Orton, but The Viper blocked the last one and caught Bryan with an exploder suplex.
Orton grabbed Bryan and pulled him through the top and middle ropes and delivered his trademark DDT. He mocked Bryan before calling for the RKO.
Bryan tossed Orton away and countered a rollup attempt with the Yes Lock. The third-generation Superstar tried desperately to fight the pain when Big Show’s music played.
The giant made his way to the ring and pulled the referee out of the ring. A single knockout punch later and Bryan was left unconscious in the squared circle.
Scott Armstrong made his way to the ring, channeling his inner Nick Patrick (look it up) and appeared ready to count Bryan out when Big Show’s conscious got the best of him.
He pulled Armstrong out of the ring and knocked him out.
Big Show climbed into the ring and came face-to-face with Orton. Enraged, Orton berated him and got knocked out for his trouble.
Big Show’s music played as Brad Maddox appeared at the top of the stage and looked absolutely flustered.
Big Show celebrated to close out the pay-per-view.
No, really. That was the “finish.”
It really is a shame that the finish to the match robbed fans who had paid hard-earned money for a WWE pay-per-view production, because the match that came before it was extraordinary with highlights sprinkled throughout.
Bryan and Orton's trading of uppercuts was an intense and vicious segment of the match that tested both the toughness and will of the two Superstars. With every crack of forearm to flesh, it became clear just how much the WWE title meant to them.
The teased powerbomb through the Spanish announce table by Orton, despite what many may think, was brilliant. With the blow-off to the feud upcoming at Hell in a Cell, there was no reason to deliver anything resembling a hardcore spot, especially when there is no chance of topping some of the higher impact maneuvers inside the cell in today's PG-rated WWE.
It teased that the Superstars could take it to that level, but did not actually deliver on it. That way, what they do to one another inside the cell looks more vicious and violent.
Those types of teases are acceptable, especially in the middle of a match.
Big Show's involvement late in the contest was a highlight, especially after most thought it would happen last month at Night of Champions. His knockout punch to Bryan worked because it continued to play up his ongoing angle with Triple H.
Scott Armstrong's arrival to the match was spectacular, given that everyone assumed he was in collusion with Triple H. Add to that Big Show's change of heart and the subsequent knockout of Armstrong and the booking of the main event was nearly perfect.
Then came the finish.
The main event of WWE Battleground was an outstanding match that continued to prove why Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton are considered two of the top workers in the industry. They built upon previous matches, with each competitor countering moves from the other that they had become familiar with throughout several matches and rematches.
They delivered crowd pleasing spots and built drama throughout the match.
Unfortunately, everything that happened in the match will be forever tainted by the fact that Vince McMahon's wrestling empire made a colossal mistake by taking its fans for granted and delivered a non-finish in the show-closer on pay-per-view.
Yes, the booking builds intrigue for Monday's Raw, and, longer term, for Hell in a Cell on October 27. But it also robs fans who paid hard-earned money, money some of them could barely afford to part with, for the promise of more than what they would see on any given episode of Raw or SmackDown.
Those fans were, undoubtedly, disappointed by what they witnessed.
Everyone from the crew members to Orton and Bryan, all of whom worked so very hard to deliver a quality product, deserve better than the finish that a handful of people inside a creative office devised.
More importantly, the paying customer deserves better.
It is fitting that the power inside the First Niagara Center went out just prior to the night's final bout.
As I think back to everything that happened surrounding the main event, I cannot help but think of how much more satisfying the match finish and the conclusion to the night's festivities would have been if the screen stayed black.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!