By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Breezango def. The Usos (Kickoff Match)
The Usos are staler than month-old bread and Breezango have zero credibility, yet they still managed to produce a fun match. That should have come as no surprise given both tandems are excellent athletes and they had the advantage of being the first match of the night. Breezango going over was quite the shocker, but I'll take it. SmackDown's tag team division needs all the help it can get and wins such as this one will make Breezango more of a threat. Either way, these two teams should have a hell of a series of matches with the debuting American Alpha on the blue brand.
Sasha Banks and Bayley def. WWE Women's Champion Charlotte and Dana Brooke
Rumors had been running rampant for weeks as to whether Bayley would be named Banks' partner or not, and as "obvious" as a choice as it was, she was the only person the crowd would have been happy to see. She received a raucous reaction when she came out and that monumental moment was a long time coming for her. The match was highly enjoyable as a result of the chemistry the three of the Four Horsewomen have together and I liked Banks forcing Charlotte to tap out for the victory as it sets up a championship clash between the two for SummerSlam.
The Wyatt Family def. WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day
This wasn't quite the war we saw from the Wyatts and The Shield a few years back, but I thought it worked extremely effectively for the story they have been telling over the past month, especially when it came down to Xavier Woods and Bray Wyatt. That was storytelling at its finest right there. The final few minutes were fantastic and I was glad Wyatt finally scored a meaningful pay-per-view win, even though The Wyatt Family will now seemingly be going their separate ways.
United States Champion Rusev def. Zack Ryder
I was likely the only one holding out hope for an upset here, so I wasn't disappointed when Rusev ultimately won simply because the chances of Ryder winning were low to begin with. On the bright side, he had a nice little showing against Rusev, but he was just another opponent for Rusev before he drops the belt to someone more meaningful. Mojo Rawley coming to the aid of Ryder afterward made sense from a storyline standpoint given their partnership, but I hope that's all it was and we aren't on the verge of a Rawley vs. Rusev feud.
Sami Zayn def. Kevin Owens
This match had more of a methodical pace compared to their Payback outing back in May, but it was an exceptional match, nevertheless. With this apparently being the final face-off between them, they told a fitting story with both men attempting to inflict as much pain as possible on the other. Once they kicked it into the next gear, the nearfalls were extra suspenseful and the audience was very much engaged in the action. The drama throughout the bout was phenomenal and Zayn taking his sweet time putting Owens away with two Helluva Kicks was a tremendous touch. This may be the end of their ruthless rivalry for now, but look for these two to be battling over a world championship down the line, hopefully at WrestleMania.
Natalya def. Becky Lynch
While the crowd wasn't as hot for this match as they were for the previous matchups, I wouldn't at all say it was because of poor performances from either Natalya or Lynch. In fact, this was a very well-wrestled match from them, but without anything at stake and minimal storyline support (not to mention they had to follow Zayn vs. Owens), a lack of crowd engagement wasn't surprising whatsoever. The finish fell flat because I don't think the audience actually thought Lynch was going to submit, but regardless, good for Natalya for picking up her first singles win on pay-per-view in what feels like years.
Darren Young def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz by Count-out
First and foremost, that was WWE's official ruling of the match, according to their Twitter. I'm not even sure how that occurred if Young left the ring before the bell rang, but whatever. The match itself was fine for what it was, yet nothing spectacular. I assume the non-finish was done to keep the program alive, but it will be interesting to see how they go about doing that considering they're on separate brands. By the way, Bob Backlund was an absolute riot at ringside.
John Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass def. The Club
The fact Enzo and Cass received mic time before the bout but Cena didn't was truly a passing of the torch in my opinion. I wish that translated to the finish with either Enzo or Cass scoring the deciding pinfall, but I understood why Cena would since his feud with Styles will likely continue on SmackDown through SummerSlam. As for the match, it was very entertaining and both talented trios worked as well together as I expected them to.
Chris Jericho Hosted 'The Highlight Reel' with Randy Orton
I will argue with anyone who claims Orton is robotic and boring because while that may have been the case several years ago, he has started to show real personality since embarking on his latest face run in late 2014. He appeared to be more motivated than ever in this segment and had some of his best mic work in a long time (that "no enhancement needed" line was hysterical). Orton and Jericho always hit it out of the park whenever they cross paths and this segment was no exception. What a way to get me even more amped than I already was for Orton's upcoming SummerSlam match against Brock Lesnar.
WWE Champion Dean Ambrose def. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in a Triple Threat Match
There were a number of factors working against the match such as Reigns' absence over the past month, the presence of the authority figures at ringside and this long awaited contest transpiring on a B-pay-per-view. Despite all that, the three former Shield members pulled through and delivered a great match. Rollins and Ambrose working together to put Reigns through a table Shield style only for Rollins to lay out Ambrose with a chair in the same fashion he broke up the group to begin with was wonderful and only added to the excitement of the matchup. Just everything about the bout gelled so well and came together like a well-crafted masterpiece. Ambrose pinning Reigns clean to retain the title was perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the night, and I'm happy they're running with him as champion for a while longer (as long as they don't take the title off him as soon as Raw or SmackDown Live, that is).
For a B-level pay-per-view, Battleground was a hell of a show. From The Shield Triple Threat to Owens vs. Zayn to Bayley's main roster debut to two solid six-man tag team matches to a treat of a Highlight Reel, you really can't go wrong with this event. Sure, the midcard title matches were slightly disappointing, but everything else either met or exceeded my expectations. The road to SummerSlam is off to a hot start and I look forward to seeing how the card for the biggest blockbuster of the summer shapes up in the weeks to come.
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