Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of July 21
The Usos outdid their previous piece de resistance, successfully defending the tag team titles in what was WWE's best match of the week.
Their stellar performance against The Wyatt Family at Battleground joins Dolph Ziggler's non-title win and Xavier Woods' metamorphosis as the most satisfying offerings to come out of a WWE ring as July nears its end. A strong hint of a future SummerSlam match and a bout that never was delivered the opposite sensation.
A disappointing pay-per-view opened with one of the year's most exciting tag team matches before trailing off.
The future beyond that event promises an underwhelming match with plenty of hype and a new group being the path to relevancy for a few struggling midcarders.
Best: The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family (Battleground)
The Usos and The Wyatt Family continue to surpass their best work together. Each time that they collide, the drama is heightened, and the crowd has more reason to howl in approval.
At Battleground, it seemed destined that Luke Harper and Erick Rowan would finally dethrone The Usos. The bruisers scored an early fall in their 2-out-of-3 Falls match and looked well on their way to a second, overpowering the twin brothers for much of the bout.
The action went from displays of brute force to The Usos' speedy, high-flying offense wowing the crowd.
The tag division's two top teams further separated themselves from their peers. No other duos are producing show-stealing performances like this.
The Usos retained by scoring two consecutive falls. It took a double superplex and a couple of splashes to keep The Wyatt Family down. The rest of the WWE roster must have groaned when this clash was over, thinking there was no way they would be able to top that.
WWE's options for The Usos moving forward are limited.
The company can either hope that yet another collision between these rivals will entertain despite how familiar fans are with their battles now, or it can have the champs face some other squad. There isn't likely to be an opponent who can create this kind of electricity with them, though.
Worst: No Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose at Battleground
One of Battleground's most anticipated matchups never happened.
Triple H tossed Dean Ambrose out of the arena for attacking Seth Rollins backstage. Ambrose managed to worm his way back in to attack his rival a few more times, but there was no actual match.
Rather than deliver on the hype that preceded this, WWE essentially told its fans to wait until SummerSlam.
That's one certain way to make feel Battleground like a show worth skipping. How cheated must fans who ordered the pay-per-view have felt to have one of the event's potential classics simply be tabled?
Had WWE decided to stall the showdown by not booking it until SummerSlam, that would have been fine. The Ambrose and Rollins' brawls could have happened as a surprise bonus and not an unfulfilling substitute to what fans were expecting.
Instead, the decision to forego Rollins vs. Ambrose jammed a needle into the show's energy early on. Battleground never recovered.
Best: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler (Raw)
It's confounding that WWE continually has its midcard champs lose, but The Miz and Dolph Ziggler made sure that the latest non-title loss was a thriller.
The last two men in the Battleground Battle Royal met again on Monday's Raw. Given ample ring time, they composed the best match of the night.
The Miz looked to weaken Ziggler's leg to set up the figure-four leglock. The Showoff battled on, though. He gutted it out and eventually rattled The Miz's head against the mat before scoring a three-count.
A speedy, smooth match had the Miami fans cheering for much of it. The volume of near-falls, Ziggler's frustration and focus beaming from his face, and The Miz's "don't hit my face" antics made for an entertaining round of in-ring action.
Ziggler added to his collection of great showings while competing on the lower end of the card. The Miz may have found the ideal rival to make his Intercontinental Championship reign a memorable one.
Worst: On the Road to Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon at SummerSlam
WWE has been highly attentive to the story of Stephanie McMahon punishing Nikki Bella for her sister's transgressions. The energy of that narrative exploded on Monday's Raw with one of the night's better segments.
McMahon slapping Brie (who was in attendance as a paying customer) led to her getting arrested.
As much momentum as this angle has, where it's headed is a surefire letdown. Should this end up leading to McMahon vs. Brie, a turned Nikki battling Brie or Brie vs. one of the Divas aligned with McMahon at SummerSlam, it's not going to justify all this buildup.
Brie is nowhere near the top of the Divas division in terms of in-ring ability.
McMahon is a fantastic talker and actor. She's no great wrestler, though.
Instead of focusing this much storytelling power on AJ Lee, Paige or Natalya, WWE is choosing to get fans pumped for a bout that has little potential. McMahon vs. Brie would be brimming with emotion, but it's doubtful that it will deliver.
The brevity of Brie's greatest hits collection so far tells us as much.
Best: New Stable Forms
Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston and Big E went from directionless to getting folks talking in a single moment.
On Monday's Raw, Kingston and Big E bickered after a loss to Ryback and Curtis Axel. Woods, dressed in a red and white getup, showed a new fiery attitude. He looked to embolden his allies by telling them that it was now their time.
There was no mention of race, but there seemed to be a Nation of Domination vibe to his rhetoric.
A night later, Woods accompanied Kingston and Big E to the ring on Tuesday's Main Event. His presence inspired added aggressiveness and focus.
This burgeoning faction gives Woods a lift and inserts him into a role that is far more compelling than his previous one. What we have seen of Kingston and Big E's character shift is intriguing as well. This angry version of Kingston entices the crowd to pay attention.
There's a bright future ahead for this trio as they could go from the roster's also-rans to a powerful stable clashing with the likes of The Authority and The Wyatt Family.