WWE Battleground 2014: Final Picks and Predictions for All Matches on the Card

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2014

WWE Battleground 2014: Final Picks and Predictions for All Matches on the Card

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    World Wrestling Entertainment will present its Battleground pay-per-view this Sunday night, July 20, from the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.

    The show is headlined by a huge Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, as John Cena defends against Roman Reigns, Randy Orton and Kane. With the main event of SummerSlam in August hinging on which Superstar leaves the show with the top prize in the industry, all eyes will be on the champion and his three challengers as they battle for the right to carry gold.

    Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose will write the latest chapter in their story when they meet one-on-one in a much-anticipated bout. They have brawled around arenas across the country, inflicted tremendous pain and will now attempt to conform to the rules of a basic singles match while unleashing fury on each other.

    Chris Jericho will meet Bray Wyatt in their first televised bout in over a year. Will Wyatt be able to boost his unimpressive pay-per-view win-loss record in 2014 by knocking off the future Hall of Famer, or will Jericho ensure that his first appearance on a WWE Network live special is a successful one?

    Jack Swagger will represent the United States as he battles the massive Rusev, The Usos will attempt to retain their WWE Tag Team Championships for the second consecutive month, as they defend against Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in a Best 2-out-of-3 Falls match and AJ Lee defends the Divas Championship against Paige in what should be a very interesting Divas bout.

    With just over 24 hours until showtime, gear up for the huge WWE spectacular with a final look at each bout and every major prediction you need before Battleground hits the WWE Network airwaves.

WWE Kickoff: Naomi vs. Cameron

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    For two years, Naomi and Cameron served as the pompom-waving Funkadactyls. They accompanied Brodus Clay and Tensai to the ring for their matches and starred on E! Network's Total Divas. Together they were a great act that energized the crowd.

    Over the last month, the friendship they had forged has evaporated.

    Cameron's ego overwhelmed the relationship, resulting in a nasty breakup. The arrogant Diva would spend matches applying lip gloss and doing her nails while refusing to tag her partner. When she finally did, her cockiness got the best of her, resulting in a quick and decisive loss.

    Sunday night during the free Battleground Kickoff show, Naomi will get the opportunity to avenge the betrayal she suffered at the hands of her former partner.


    Prediction: Naomi

    Cameron needs the win more at this point. She does not have the skill that Naomi has to fall back on in the event that WWE Creative slips up and fails to capitalize on momentum coming out of the split.

    With that said, Naomi is the much better wrestler, and everyone knows it. The crowd does, management does and every man and woman in the locker room knows it, too. It is inconceivable, barring some screwy finish that would extend a program that most certainly does not need it, that Cameron could convincingly defeat her.

    As seen at last month's Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Naomi is Divas Championship material. Cameron may never be. When in doubt, bet on the sure thing.

    Hopefully, WWE Creative will as well.

Two-out-of-Three Falls: The Usos vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan

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    There is no denying the effect that The Usos and Luke Harper and Erick Rowan of the Wyatt Family have had on the quality of WWE programming thus far in 2014.

    They have been part of some of the best matches on Raw, SmackDown and pay-per-view since January and have recently torn the house down in some tremendous tag team bouts. Just three weeks ago at Money in the Bank, they kicked the show off with an outstanding old school-style bout that trilled the fans in Boston.

    Since then, the Wyatts have gotten the proverbial upper hand on the WWE tag team champions, using the loss they suffered that night to fuel their desire to capture the titles in the rematch this Sunday night. They scored a non-title victory and left the twin brothers lying in a heap after several brutal attacks.

    On the July 18 episode of SmackDown, Jimmy and Jey Uso hit the ring, preventing Harper and Rowan from joining Bray Wyatt and engaging in a three-on-one beatdown of Chris Jericho.

    With the potential of three falls to fill, the championship bout at Battleground should be the longest of the matches between the two teams to this point. With more time comes more opportunity to create a match different than any other between them, something that should benefit the bout and lead a legitimate Match of the Night contender.


    Prediction: Luke Harper and Erick Rowan

    It appeared as though the Money in the Bank event would be Harper and Rowan's crowning moment, the night they climbed atop the tag team mountain in WWE and captured the tag titles. The Usos' victory took many by surprise then but do not expect that to happen again this Sunday.

    Harper and Rowan are more than deserving of a championship run and with another babyface act in Goldust and Stardust waiting in the wings for a title feud, expect to see the heels capture the title, if only to freshen up what is a very talented tag team division.

Jack Swagger vs. Rusev

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    Rusev's domination of World Wrestling Entertainment since making his in-ring debut the night after WrestleMania XXX has been very impressive, but it was the mic work of Lana, coupled with the real life tension between Russia and the United States, that has helped fuel the character of late and make it one of the most despised in all of WWE.

    With every passing week and every dismantling victory, fans wondered when self-professed "Real Americans" Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter would stand up in the face of the Rusev onslaught.

    That time came on the June 30 episode of Raw, and the crowd responded quite favorably. After six years spent as a heel, Swagger instantly became a babyface. More importantly, he instantly became one of the most over babyfaces on the roster, proving that something as simple as a patriotic angle still works in today's wrestling landscape.

    The promo work by Colter and Lana and the physical encounters between Swagger and Rusev have helped make their rivalry the hottest. As a result, their match at Battleground has become one of the most eagerly anticipated on the card. That anticipation brings with it a fair amount of pressure for Swagger and Rusev to deliver a match befitting of the hype and response.


    Prediction: Double count-out 

    This is one of the most difficult matches on Sunday's card to predict.

    Swagger and Colter have gotten over so strong as babyfaces that sacrificing that heat on a C-level event such as Battleground would be a mistake. At the same time, ending Rusev's undefeated streak via disqualification or count-out would be a disappointing way to conclude something fans are finally buying into.

    Thus, the most effective finish for Sunday's match would be a double count-out.

    Would it be satisfying? Absolutely not. But it would allow for the program to continue on for another match, leading to a much more high-profile match at SummerSlam. 

    The work of all of the talented people involved has earned them the right to continue their program. If the writing staff can continue to craft the quality of segments that it has to this point, crowds will continue to reward them with the loud, raucous responses that they have enjoyed thus far.

Divas Championship Match: AJ Lee vs. Paige

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    Just 24 hours after a successful Divas Championship defense at WrestleMania XXX, AJ Lee made the mistake of putting her title on the line in an impromptu match against NXT standout Paige. The Norwich, England, native upset AJ and captured the title.

    Paige would carry the gold over the next three months, knocking off established competitors such as Alicia Fox, Aksana and Naomi. At the same time, she struggled to make the impact that she did in NXT, thanks to WWE Creative's reluctance to expand upon the Anti-Diva character that helped make her one of the breakout stars in the company.

    By the time she took to the ring on the June 30 episode of Raw, there were plenty of questions surrounding where the young woman would go next. What would she do? Was there any chance that her character could be rehabbed enough to make people care?

    Then AJ returned, beat Paige for the title and ignited a story most expected would carry the Divas division in a post-WrestleMania WWE. 

    Rather than engaging in a heated rivalry right out of the gate, Paige and AJ began showing an awkward mutual respect for one another. With every compliment they directed at each other, however, it became more and more clear that the title loss affected Paige more than she was letting on. Behind every smile, there was a fury just waiting to be unleashed.

    Whether she finally unleashes that fury at Battleground remains to be seen, but sooner or later, AJ will pay for ending what should have been the greatest run of Paige's young career.


    Prediction: AJ Lee

    The entire story is built on Paige eventually snapping and attacking AJ. That cannot happen if she beats AJ, regains the Divas Championship and has her happy ending. There would be no emphasis for the breakdown.

    As a result, AJ will win Sunday night, retain the title and bring us one step closer to a Page heel turn.

Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt

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    Chris Jericho's return on June 30 took the wrestling world by surprise. A multimedia Superstar who had been touring with his band, Fozzy, and enjoyed success with his Talk is Jericho podcast, Jericho was seemingly having the time of his life away from the wrestling ring, so seeing him on Raw was certainly unexpected.

    When the Wyatt Family attacked the future Hall of Famer, fan interest was piqued. Unfortunately, WWE Creative has failed to follow up on that segment.

    Bray Wyatt has cut several promos in which he called Jericho out for promising never to leave but then doing exactly that. The problem is, Jericho never promised never to leave. That was The Rock. As a result, the excellent delivery and the conviction with which Wyatt cuts his promos have been wasted on disappointing material.

    With that said, Jericho and Wyatt had an incredible match in NXT in May 2013, proving that the chemistry for a show-stealing performance exists. With Wyatt improving tenfold since that match occurred well over a year ago, expectations should be high for the contest.


    Prediction: Bray Wyatt

    If Jericho wins the match, the story is over. The returning hero will have conquered the evil villain, and everyone would go home happy.

    For the story to continue, Wyatt has to win. The hero has to have motivation to continue going to war with someone as dangerous and unpredictable as the Wyatt Family leader. A win, even a tainted one, would help Wyatt improve a win-loss record that is anything but sparkling since WrestleMania.

    A loss for Jericho does nothing to hurt him, especially considering the 15 years of goodwill he has built with a WWE Universe that recognizes his greatness and respects his accomplishments. Putting over someone as talented as Wyatt, a star with the potential to lead WWE into the next decade, would only enhance Jericho's reputation and intensify that respect and admiration.

Intercontinental Championship Battle Royal

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    When Bad News Barrett defeated Big E to capture the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules in May, it appeared as though the company was serious about reestablishing the title as an important step toward the achieving heavyweight title success at the next level of competition.

    Unfortunately, questionable booking halted some of the momentum, while an unfortunate injury forced Barrett to vacate the title. He will be in Tampa to hand it over to the winner of Sunday's Intercontinental Championship Battle Royal.

    WWE finds itself in the position to again reset and reestablish the title as more than just a prop for a talented midcard talent to carry around.

    This weekend's Battle Royal features several former WWE and World Heavyweight champions, all of whom would make an excellent choice to carry the title. 

    Current United States champion Sheamus would make history by becoming the first Superstar to simultaneously hold the U.S. and Intercontinental titles since Edge did it back in November 2001.

    For Dolph Ziggler, a win would mark the second time he has carried the coveted title.

    Alberto Del Rio, for all of his success in WWE, has never held the Intercontinental Championship. Winning it Sunday night could ignite a renewed push for a Superstar that, just one year ago, was considered one of the company's MVPs.

    Rob Van Dam has held the title on six different occasions, and while he most certainly does not need a seventh, it would give him something to do rather than floating aimlessly around the midcard.

    Superstars such as Cesaro, Kofi Kingston and Ryback are always threats, while newcomer Bo Dallas is one to watch.


    Prediction: The Miz

    The former WWE champion recently made his return to WWE after completing the filming of the latest WWE Studios picture The Marine 4, and he has adopted a new Hollywood movie-star gimmick.

    The element in which he is desperate to protect his "moneymaker" face will only help him garner heat the more it gets over with the audience, while his ring work, which has been fairly strong since returning, will only endear him to some of his harsh critics.

    With a budding rivalry against U.S. champion Sheamus, The Miz winning the Intercontinental Championship could potentially set up a title unification bout as early as SummerSlam.

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins

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    Seth Rollins' betrayal of The Shield former teammates Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns has not only been the emphasis for a push that has seen him acquire the Money in the Bank briefcase, it has also ignited one of the best rivalries in all of WWE between him and Ambrose.

    The former friends have engaged in some intense and aggressive brawls that have helped both get over, despite fears for their futures as singles competitors. Neither has been allowed to get lost in the shuffle and, now, they are poised to compete in one of the more prominent matches on Sunday's card.

    Ambrose has gotten over at a level few could have expected. There was no doubting his abilities on the mic or in the ring, but some questioned the decision to have him remain the babyface in the angle. Thus far, the unpredictable nature of the character, not to mention his unique style has helped set him apart from the other, more generic babyfaces on the roster.

    That he continues to fight, no matter how injured, only further endears him to the audience.

    Rollins, on the other hand, has filled the role of cowardly villain far better than could have been imagined. As the "golden boy" of The Authority, he has done an excellent job of earning the ire of both fans and associates, irritating both Randy Orton and Kane in recent weeks.

    With the Money in the Bank briefcase in his possession and the support of management behind him, Rollins may be champion far sooner than anyone could have expected.


    Prediction: Dean Ambrose via disqualification

    This feud is far from over, regardless of what happens Sunday night. It has clearly been set up to culminate in some sort of gimmick match, perhaps an Extreme Rules bout. Potentially damaging the heat of either Superstar by booking a definitive finish would be nonsensical.

    Vince McMahon understands this and is likely to book a finish that allows both men to maintain momentum, while making fans want to see another match between the two as soon as SummerSlam. Being that Battleground is essentially a placeholder until the biggest event of the summer, the company can get away with it.

WWE Title Match: John Cena vs. Roman Reigns vs. Kane vs. Randy Orton

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    At Money in the Bank, Cena captured his 15th heavyweight championship, much to the dismay of a WWE Universe that has grown tired of his act. Sunday night at Battleground, he will defend that title against The Authority's Randy Orton and Kane and breakout star Roman Reigns in a huge Fatal 4-Way main event.

    There has been noticeable tension between Cena and Reigns, who have had several heated staredowns in the weeks leading into the event. The crowd responses to the teased encounter between them have been phenomenal, proving that WWE could have a big-money match on its hand if it chooses to go in that direction.

    Over the last two weeks, the attention has turned toward the growing dissension within The Authority, most notably that involving Kane and Orton. It intensified Monday night when Orton dropped the Demon with an RKO, ensuring that the Big Red Monster will have plenty of anger to unleash when the two take to the ring for the Battleground main event.

    With one of the biggest shows of the year right around the corner, do not be surprised if the booking helps set up some of the highest-profile bouts on the SummerSlam card.


    Prediction: John Cena

    There are only two realistic choices to leave Tampa with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Reigns is as hot as any other babyface on the roster and has been accepted with open arms by a fanbase desperate for anything but the neon-wearing champion they have now. A win for him would be the culmination of a tremendous push over the last two months.

    The danger of rushing him into a situation he is not prepared for, however, is significant and could result in the irreparable damage.

    That brings us to the aforementioned neon-wearing champion, who is the unquestioned face of WWE and the company's resident "Superman." When faced with tremendous adversity, he always manages to come out with his head held high and his arm raised higher.

    With the timing not right for Reigns and no chance of Orton or Kane winning the gold, Cena should retain and enter SummerSlam with the top prize in professional wrestling for the second consecutive year.