Consider WWE Battleground 2014 the prologue for SummerSlam.
Several of the pay-per-views rivalries are only in their early stages. The Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho feuds are among those that promise to feature rematches come August.
The second-ever Battleground is certain to anoint the next man to hold the Intercontinental Championship. It feels almost as certain that John Cena will retain his title.
It won't be difficult to surpass last year's disappointing show. However, WWE's hopes are higher than that. The company looks to draw in new WWE Network subscribers with this latest event.
Who will leave the Tampa Bay Times Forum carrying new gold? Who will satiate their hunger for vengeance?
A recent interview and the latest backstage reports give fans a number of potential glimpses into how Battleground will unfold.
News, Potential Spoilers
Not surprisingly, it sounds as if Rollins and Ambrose are headed for a sustained rivalry that will go far past Battleground.
About Rollins, Ambrose told CBS local affiliate Matt Dollof: "I think me and him are going to be at each other's throats and tearing it up and having spectacular matches for years and years down the line, but you're going to get to see the first ones this Sunday." He was speaking in character, but perhaps revealing WWE's plans for this rivalry.
After all the animosity that's been built up between them, one match is surely not enough. WWE can milk drama from these two former partners' hatred for far longer.
Ambrose's words suggest that's exactly what will happen.
Look for The Miz and Sheamus, who have just recently begun butting heads, to keep fighting past Battleground too.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestleZone) The Miz and Sheamus are set to feud long-term, the story centering around The Miz trying to avoid getting kicked in his so-called "moneymaker." That likely means that neither will win the Battleground Battle Royal. Instead, they are destined to eliminate each other, too focused on rage to seek a win.
Another report may hint on how the Battle Royal ends for Cesaro
Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t PWMania) reports that the Swiss Superstar is still in line for a big push as a babyface, but it won't happen right away. It appears that WWE looks to focus on Roman Reigns first before elevating Cesaro.
Is winning the IC title considered too much of a push for now? Or will that be his placeholder spot until it's his time to soar toward the top?
There are a lot more questions surrounding the fight for the vacant IC title than there are about what will happen in Battleground's main event.
Betting money on anyone but Cena in the Fatal 4-Way isn't wise. It appears that he and Brock Lesnar are destined to collide at SummerSlam.
In June, PWInsider's Dave Scherer shared an email from WWE featuring Lesnar and Cena side-by-side on a SummerSlam poster. The email notes, "We have an early sneak peek at SummerSlam's poster, which seems to pit John Cena against the man that brought down the streak, Brock Lesnar."
If that wasn't enough of a hint of what's to come, take a look at the following video on Vimeo in which a TV ad promotes Cena vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam.
That's going to be a physical, star-studded rematch of Extreme Rules 2012. Knowing that is the direction WWE is headed, though, ruins the suspense of Cena's title defense.
- Naomi vs. Cameron (Pre-show)
- The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family (2-out-of-3 Falls match for Tag Team Championship)
- Battleground Battle Royal (Intercontinental Championship)
- Paige vs. AJ Lee (Divas Championship)
- Rusev vs. Jack Swagger
- Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
- Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
- John Cena vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
Cameron Kicks off Battleground With a Win
Naomi, meanwhile, was pushed to the little-watched Superstars, scoring a win against Rosa Mendes.
Although Naomi is the better athlete, it feels as if WWE wants to push Cameron more. With Alicia Fox's tantrum gimmick fading lately, that sets the stage for Cameron to be the division's angry, unstable female.
She can kick-start that story by trouncing her former partner.
The Tag Titles Headed for the Swamp
The Usos looked great in successfully defending their titles at Money in the Bank. Their time is up now, though.
Of the previous 10 champs in tag title history, only four teams have held onto the belts as long as The Usos have. The Shield, Air Boom and Kofi Kingston and R-Truth's reigns all ended around the 140-day mark.
The Usos' reign will be at that same length come Sunday.
WWE was smart to delay Luke Harper and Erick Rowan winning in order to prolong this feud, but it's the bruisers' time now.
Stardust and Goldust are on the rise and would make sense as tag team challengers at SummerSlam thanks to their star power and momentum. Having heel champs to chase makes that scenario more logical.
Cesaro Wins His Second Battle Royal of 2014
Sheamus and The Miz's feud will likely be the reason neither of them win the Battle Royal. Rivals who step into this type of match are often too focused on each other to outlast the entire field.
Their rivalry would also have a title (the United States Championship) at the heart of it. Having The Miz carry the IC champ during their battles is overkill.
Dolph Ziggler and Fandango's issues with each other will likely have them follow the same path that Sheamus and The Miz do.
Rob Van Dam would be an odd choice as champion after already winning the IC title six times. This is more likely a match and championship WWE uses to boost someone newer, someone whose name isn't as established as Van Dam's.
Most of the other competitors, from Titus O'Neil to Zack Ryder, are filler.
Cesaro enters as the favorite. David Shoemaker (The Masked Man) thinks so as well, writing on Grantland that Cesaro has the best chance to win before listing Ziggler, Bo Dallas, The Miz and Sheamus as the next likely candidates.
Kofi Kingston and Big E have sent Cesaro on a losing streak lately. What's important to note about those matches is that The King of Swing has shown off a ferocious side of himself. He's taken to post-match beatdowns and chair-throwing.
That's likely a preview of a tweak of his gimmick, something that would be easy to highlight during Cesaro's first reign as IC champ.
AJ just won the title in an impromptu match back on June 30. Having her give it right back to Paige, especially with how little attention this match has received, is highly unlikely.
Count on WWE leading into SummerSlam, making this a warm-up match of sorts.
Championship and challenger are being surprisingly civil to each other as of late. Look for that to fade after things get nasty during this bout.
Paige's heel turn begins with her frustration over a loss. AJ over-celebrating her win won't help Paige's attitude either.
Rusev's Rise Continues
Rusev's biggest test awaits him. He's steamrolled his competition save for an interrupted match against Reigns and two less one-sided clashes with Big E.
This is his latest step up the ladder. His momentum is at its highest with this current feud and how passionately fans have gotten behind Swagger.
Count on Rusev charging ahead. The story feels as if it's meant to elevate the powerhouse.
Jim Ross agrees. He wrote on his blog: "The USA/Russia angle is so simplistic that it can't help but work and likely will provide Rusev with a victory this Sunday in Tampa at Battleground."
Wyatt Has to Wait for Victory
A no-contest, a wrestling match devolving into a brawl that the referee can't control or Wyatt simply ignoring the rules as he seeks to hurt Jericho. Those are all likely scenarios as WWE looks to build toward a bigger, more high-profile second clash.
Wyatt getting a win here would be great for him. For him to defeat Jericho at SummerSlam, though, would be a far bigger prize.
Their story has been rushed along thanks to there only being three weeks between Money in the Bank and Battleground. Delaying the climax to the narrative allows WWE to inject much more hype.
Ambrose Wins Round 1
As Ambrose said in the aforementioned interview, this is likely to be a lengthy feud.
You don't settle this much bad blood in one go. If WWE is smart, it will keep this going until Hell in a Cell and have the two former friends end their feud inside the steel structure that gives that event its name.
Look for Ambrose to get a win here much like Cody Rhodes defeated Damien Sandow last year in a similar story. That would give the betrayed brawler momentum going forward. Rollins, on the other hand, will still have his briefcase and his association with Triple H to keep the spotlight on him.
Should Ambrose win, Rollins and The Authority will find a way to make him leave the arena regretting that victory.
Ambrose winning gives the fans the satisfaction of him getting some revenge, but an ambush following the bout leaves them wanting to see this battle play out again, at SummerSlam and beyond.
This has the best shot of being the match of the night thanks to how intense things have become between the former brothers-in-arms.
The Champ is Still Here
Unless there is a swerve of major proportions, Cena is walking out of the ring with his title.
Kane has been a henchman, not a top villain as of late. Fans just saw Orton as champ for months. It's early to crown Reigns.
Count on WWE instead having him feud with The Authority, engaging in a series of bouts against Kane, Orton and Triple H. It's through that path that he can work his way up to world champ status.
Cena has a date with Lesnar as fans have known since that SummerSlam poster leaked and especially now that the video advertising the two major stars colliding has emerged.
In this B/R Team Stream video, ProWrestling.Net's Jason Powell offers his own take on how these matches will play out.
The leaked info mentioned earlier makes the main event the most predictable bout of the night. The others offer far more intrigue.
The three men who once formed The Shield, The Wyatt Family, Cesaro and Paige could all make Battleground a landmark event for them. Even if Cena's win seems inevitable, Battleground brims with promise.
WWE just has to make it a momentous show of its own, not just a ho-hum bridge from Money in the Bank to SummerSlam.