WWE Battleground 2014: Biggest X-Factors to Watch at Massive PPV

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2014

WWE Battleground 2014: Biggest X-Factors to Watch at Massive PPV

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    Credit: WWE.com

    On the June 30 episode of Raw, Real Americans Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter interrupted Rusev and Lana's bashing of the United States and ignited a rivalry between Swagger and Rusev that will culminate in a major match Sunday night at Battleground.

    By standing up for the country in the face of sure punishment at the hands of the "super athlete," Swagger endeared himself to fans for the first time in his career. His match with Rusev this weekend will be the first major televised bout in which he works as a babyface, meaning all eyes will be on the former World Heavyweight champion and the performance he delivers in that role.

    Fans have done their part to this point, reacting very strongly to Swagger's face turn and Colter's pro-American dialogue. They have been as much a part of the success of the angle as the performers themselves and deserve credit for it.

    When the bell rings Sunday night, however, it will be up to the men between the ropes to capitalize on the energy and the anticipation surrounding their match and deliver something worthy of it. Rusev is still plenty green, despite strong showings against Big E and Reigns recently, meaning it will be up to the veteran Swagger to get the most out of the match.

    A very good worker, Swagger has proved himself capable of working against Superstars of many styles. He has not, however, worked as a babyface in any match close to the magnitude of his bout with Rusev.

    How he adapts his ring work to match the recent change in attitude is not only worth watching, but it will also determine the success of the match.

Chemistry Between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The feud between Ambrose and Rollins is the hottest in all of WWE as the company enters Battleground Sunday night.

    Ambrose has been a thorn in former partner Rollins' side over the last month, preventing the turncoat from cashing in Money in the Bank on two separate occasions and attacking him from out of nowhere on several others. 

    As announced exclusively on WWE.com July 12, the two competitors will meet one-on-one in a huge singles contest at Battleground. One of the most anticipated bouts on the card, there will be a lot of pressure on the young stars to deliver a great match and back up the tremendous build to the showdown. Thus, the chemistry between them becomes one of the night's biggest X-factors.

    Both Ambrose and Rollins have delivered in their singles pushes to this point. They have wrestled some very good matches against the likes of Randy Orton, Kane, Dolph Ziggler and Cena, but they have not worked each other outside of house shows. That creates questions as to whether or not they have the chemistry necessary to deliver in one of the night's highest-profile matches.

    Their styles could not be more different. Ambrose is a brawler, relying on face rakes, eye gouges, open-hand slaps and other unconventional means to wear down his opponent. Rollins is a more dynamic worker, relying on explosive high spots and a dangerous Curb Stomp finisher to put his opponents away.

    How they mesh will determine the quality of their match.

    A great one will only fuel their pushes and intensify fan anticipation for a series of rematches. A disappointing one could cause management to take a step back and question whether the two competitors should be on the receiving end of such major pushes at this point in their singles careers.

    The track record of both Superstars seems to indicate that the former is the more likely scenario.

Roman Reigns

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    Credit: WWE.com

    There is no Superstar on the receiving end of a bigger push or brighter spotlight than Reigns entering Sunday's event.

    The second-generation performer and the breakout star of the summer, Reigns has taken center stage in the buildup to the Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Battleground.

    Incredibly over thanks to his quiet charisma, an explosive move set and a no-nonsense demeanor, Reigns is the complete opposite of the more traditional babyface Cena, who enters the show with the top prize in the industry and a target on his back.

    The interactions between Reigns and Cena have been interesting in that they seem to tease a match between the two that most did not expect to happen. Booking had previously hinted at a Reigns-Triple H or a Reigns-Orton match for SummerSlam, but recently, fan interest has been piqued by the hints of tension between the champion and Reigns.

    Speaking of Orton, the problems between him and Reigns go back to the wars between The Shield and Evolution. As the so-called "Face of WWE" and the personal lapdog of The Authority, Orton has constantly interjected himself in Reigns' business in an attempt to prevent him from achieving the success that Triple H and Stephanie do not want him to. An RKO on the July 12 episode of Friday Night SmackDown only served to heat up their already boiling feud.

    A well-timed chokeslam by Kane at Money in the Bank kept Reigns from capturing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

    Anytime a Superstar is on the receiving end of a push the likes of which Reigns is currently, there is incredible pressure on him to deliver a performance worthy of said push. It is no different for the man formerly known as the powerhouse of The Shield. All eyes will be on him as he competes in his second consecutive main event match.

    The centerpiece of the match, even more so than champion Cena, the success of the bout and the future of the industry rests on his massive shoulders. How he responds will not only influence the quality of the night's top-billed contest, but it will also dictate the course of WWE history.

Match Quality vs. Card Quality

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    Credit: WWE.com

    One look at the Battleground card reveals a show with great potential.

    The Fatal 4-Way match pitting WWE World Heavyweight champion Cena against Reigns, Orton and Kane is chocked full of talented Superstars. Three are perennial main event talents while the fourth has spent the last two years stealing nearly every show he has been part of as a member of The Shield.

    Ambrose and Rollins have a molten-hot feud entering Sunday's event, leading to one of the most anticipated bouts of the night.

    The Usos are one of the most consistently great acts in all of wrestling, and their Best 2-Out-Of-3 Falls match against Luke Harper and Erick Rowan for the WWE Tag Team Championship has every chance of stealing the show out from underneath the more heavily hyped bouts.

    Never underestimate Jericho's ability to deliver the best match of the night. His contest against Wyatt has "dark horse" written all over it.

    It is easy to look at the current card for Battleground and get excited. The lineup the company has crafted looks to be one of the better ones in recent months. Considering the C-level nature of the event itself, that was key to enticing fans to sign up to the WWE Network and purchase the pay-per-view by other means.

    Still, promising on paper and in actuality are two different things.

    WWE has put together some great cards in the past, only for lackluster performances from Superstars and WWE Creative alike to make for a disappointing product. For either of those to occur Sunday night would be devastating as WWE prepares to embark on the road to SummerSlam, the second-biggest event of the year.

Jack Swagger

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    Credit: WWE.com

    On the June 30 episode of Raw, Real Americans Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter interrupted Rusev and Lana's bashing of the United States and ignited a rivalry between Swagger and Rusev that will culminate in a major match Sunday night at Battleground.

    By standing up for the country in the face of sure punishment at the hands of the "super athlete," Swagger endeared himself to fans for the first time in his career. His match with Rusev this weekend will be the first major televised bout in which he works as a babyface, meaning all eyes will be on the former World Heavyweight champion and the performance he delivers in that role.

    Fans have done their part to this point, reacting very strongly to Swagger's face turn and Colter's pro-American dialogue. They have been as much a part of the success of the angle as the performers themselves and deserve credit for it.

    When the bell rings Sunday night, however, it will be up to the men between the ropes to capitalize on the energy and the anticipation surrounding their match and deliver something worthy of it. Rusev is still plenty green, despite strong showings against Big E and Reigns recently, meaning it will be up to the veteran Swagger to get the most out of the match.

    A very good worker, Swagger has proved himself capable of working against Superstars of many styles. He has not, however, worked as a babyface in any match close to the magnitude of his bout with Rusev.

    How he adapts his ring work to match the recent change in attitude is not only worth watching, but it will also determine the success of the match.

Brock Lesnar

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    Credit: WWE.com

    If recent history is any indication, Brock Lesnar will play a major role in this year's SummerSlam event.

    In years past, he has returned to the company to take part in matches with Triple H and CM Punk at the annual show. Coming off the biggest win in WrestleMania history, in which he conquered The Undertaker's undefeated streak, there will be even more interest in an appearance by the Beast Incarnate.

    Battleground is the final stop for WWE before the road to SummerSlam kicks into full gear, and there will be no better opportunity for the company to make a major splash on its WWE Network than to have Lesnar make his return and set up his main event bout for the biggest event of the summer.

    Whether that means attacking Cena, Reigns, Orton or another major Superstar remains to be seen, but Lesnar should absolutely be involved in a way that leaves fans intrigued and invested in seeing what he does next.

    If he even appears, whom he attacks or what he does will be the talk of the wrestling world coming out of the event.

    Otherwise, the company will waste the perfect opportunity to drum up some excitement for SummerSlam, an event that will be the last chance it has to make an impact on network subscribers before the first six-month subscription period comes to an end.