The 2014 edition of the Battleground pay-per-view is in the can, and the consensus across the Internet Wrestling Community is that it was a poor night.
However, the in-ring action on the show was uniformly pretty good. The Usos and The Wyatts put on an incredible, unpredictable tag team match to open the show, and the Fatal 4-Way main event was an enthralling way to reach a climax, even if there was little to no chance of a title change.
The reason Battleground felt like such an unsatisfactory event was not a result of the wrestling action. It was almost entirely due to some strange booking decisions by WWE Creative in terms of match finishes.
Going into last night’s event, fans were under no illusions that Battleground was an opening chapter rather than a final curtain for many of its feuds. While it’s possible that The Usos and The Wyatts will not meet again at SummerSlam, we certainly haven’t seen the last of Paige vs. AJ Lee or Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho.
Battleground was a preliminary PPV for the biggest spectacle of the summer, and, as a result, it would’ve been wrong for every match to have an epic, final feel. Despite this, it feels as if Creative resorted to lazy booking in order to keep rivalries going.
For instance, the bait and switch involving the Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins match is certainly the kind of thing that would upset anyone who had paid the full price to order the PPV. The anticipation for the match was at fever pitch. Although the segments between the two stars were excellent, it still felt like a bit of a cheat that we never got to see the men square off in the ring.
The lack of room for matches to build was also a problem. Both the AJ Lee vs. Paige bout and the battle between Bray Wyatt and Chris Jericho felt anticlimactic as the two performers in each case had not been given enough time prior to the event to work together and develop their rivalries.
The latter contest in particular had a huge anticlimax of a finish, with the single finisher ending more fitting of a SmackDown main event than a marquee PPV bout.
Both feuds will almost certainly yield more satisfying matches at SummerSlam.
As well as the need to further ongoing feuds, Battleground also had to set up the championship picture across the company going into SummerSlam. Unfortunately, this led to some disappointing match finishes.
The Battle Royal for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship was an excellent match. The WWE has done a great job of building the match in recent weeks, ensuring that there were several subplots that helped to make it better than the average Battle Royal. The clash between Cesaro and Kofi Kingston was the perfect example of this.
However, the only aspect of the match that will be remembered in the coming weeks is the finish.
After a titanic final battle between Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler, the Show-Off dumped the Celtic Warrior over the top rope for the apparent victory. His joy was cut short when The Miz, who had rolled under the bottom rope, reappeared to eliminate Ziggler and win the title.
The victory for Miz looks set to lay the groundwork for a title unification match at SummerSlam as a culmination of his current feud with U.S. champion Sheamus. It makes sense from a storyline point of view, but it robbed a great Battle Royal of a truly satisfying match finish.
The same was true of the Fatal 4-Way main event match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It was inevitable that John Cena was going to leave victorious in order to set up an enormous clash with Brock Lesnar for the belts at SummerSlam.
This did nothing to hurt the quality of the match itself, which was a hugely entertaining bout. The dynamic between Authority stooges Kane and Randy Orton was interesting throughout, and it was excellent to see Roman Reigns go on a real tear in the latter stages of the battle.
The spectre of the Cena victory, though, and the lack of any Rollins or Lesnar shenanigans afterward meant that the match ended on a sour note.
Battleground 2014 is being called the worst PPV of the year by many people, despite the fact that it really delivered in terms of the in-ring product. Separating the matches from the finishes, though, shows that the disappointing edges of the event were mostly due to the need to prepare for the future and not due to the competitors.
For fans of wrestling as an athletic spectacle, Battleground was a solid evening.