Last night, Buffalo was turned into a Raw is Warzone, as the WWE presented BATTLEGROUND. This is the first incarnation for the event, and based on the tepid response both in the arena and the wrestling media, probably the last.
For those who missed the Night of Champions review, the criteria for these is simply: “Did I get my money’s worth?” in terms of the individual matches and the PPV as a whole, using the tried and true “what was this trying to do, and how well did it succeed” rubric.
Each match is rated plus or minus on a sliding scale between 1 and -1, with matches worth multiple rewatches worth 1, a just-quite-PPV quality match being 0, and things that make me reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The higher the number, the better Bang For Your Buck on the PPV. We’ll (eventually) keep a running tally for each PPV, and a handy list of PPVs we review to give you (and us) a better idea of what we thought was worth the time to check out in terms of matches and PPVs. As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match average):
Like always, we’re going to be using what I said during the What’s the Worst That Could Happen preview to see how close I was to “predicting” what unfolded, and how it stacked up to my best hopes and worst fears. Enjoy!
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. RVD
What Nick Wants to Happen: A crowd that actually gives a shit about ADR, RVD continues his hot streak of “looking like he gives a shit during matches”, Damien Sandow or Del Rio leaves arena with title.
Because he’s an old-school foreign heel, and not so good with the (English) mouthwords (or at the very least has an accent people just automatically tune out), Alberto Del Rio needs faces who are incredibly over to make the crowd in the arena care about him, which subsequently makes him look good on TV. Thankfully for everyone, RVD is exactly that type of face. Allowing both of them to “explore the studio space” with the No DQ stipulation actually added a layer of interest to this because of Del Rio’s “shark monster” thing. The crowd popped huge for Ricardo’s work (as they should have) and the hardcore spots — especially the ***** Frog Splash — really helped add intrigue and excitement to what’s been a way-better-than-expected feud. This isn’t exactly the type of match that is worth the price of the PPV (see: Rhodes vs. the Shield), but if you are a fan of Del Rio (me), RVD (most other people) or reasonably hardcore wrestling would have been more than satisfied with this match. Although your mileage may vary, as a huge ADR mark, this was well worth the PPV buy.
Santino Marella and The Great Khali vs.
The Real Americans
Best Case Scenario: Antonio Cesaro finally makes up for the last few weeks of losses and embarrassment by giving Khali the Giant Swing, uses him to propel Santino up for Swiss Death, finishes match by Neutralizing both at the same time. Is immediately awarded WWE Championship.
This was exactly what anyone could want from this match in terms of a Best Case Scenario. Swagger looked good, Cesaro looked GREAT (pardon the pun) and will likely get a major push because of the Giant Swing. That said, paying to see Cesaro do this:
when he’s already done it several times, and to super enormous people means that this gets the dreaded Meh rating.
Match: +/- 0 | PPV: .8
Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel vs. R. Truth
What Nick Wants to Happen: A match where R. Truth’s offense looks believable, Paul Heyman praises Curtis after he wins handily.
I love Curtis Axel, and I think he’s doing a yeoman’s job with this title reign. This was what I wanted from the match, and it’s clear they are going to turn him face — likely with an actually creepy “Uncle Paul loves me the most!” thing opposite Ryback. I had no problem with this match. It was just a decent IC championship match for the sake of an IC championship match. But since you could pretty easily argue this should have been the pre-show free-for-all match, it’s only fair to rate accordingly.
Match: +.3 | PPV: 1.1
Divas Champion AJ Lee vs. Brie Bella
What Will Happen: Tamina helps AJ win, Stephanie comes out and restarts the match. Brie wins.
I enjoyed this match more than I thought I would. Would have preferred some Stephanie related shenanigans, but they made the decision to apparently keep them off the show — hopefully it was storyline-based and not an actual emergency or something — so this was the best you could get considering the circumstances.
Match: +.3 | PPV: +1.4
Rhodes Family vs. The Shield
What Nick Wants to Happen: Goldust carries the match, Cody comes in for the hottest tag ever, goes Super Mario on entire Better for Business Bureau.
What Will Happen: Cody wins, Dusty gets “hurt” by The Shield, Dustin takes a spear so big that it knocks the paint off his face.
This turned out exactly how we thought and how we wanted. This was as good as match as you are going to see on any show. There are times when wrestling translates directly the place where the feels are located. It was clear from everyone’s reaction that this was a bigger deal for the Rhodes family than just a television angle. The Shield continue to tell a vibrant, interesting story every time they are in the ring, and working with a pro like Goldust and a guy who can go like Cody was a perfect compliment to their styles. I don’t know what else to say without gushing. So, here’s Dusty giving the Bionic Elbow to Dean Ambrose:
Match: 1.0 | PPV: 2.4
Kofi Kingston vs. Bray Wyatt
What Will Happen: Bray Wyatt has difficulty against Kofi because Kingston is the first guy you face in WWE 2k14 career mode after your debut storyline, but ultimately beats him after Kofi isn’t valiant enough to overcome interference from the rest of the Family.
Considering the gimmick right now with the Bray Wyatt character is that they “all will fall”, starting with the first guy on the trail to a mid-card belt — and maybe the guy you face to win it — Transitional Mid-Card Champion Kofi Kingston, there was literally no way that the match was ending any other way. I’m okay with the idea that we still have to pay to see someone like Bray Wyatt wrestle to a clean finish. There were moments of art, and the intrigue it puts on someone like Kingston, who is as white bread as it gets is also worth paying to see. If you the type of person who wants Kofi to seem like he’s worth anything, that shit costs (a nominal amount of) money.
Match:.4 | PPV: 2.8
CM Punk vs. Ryback
Worst Case Scenario: CM Punk wins, gets his hands on Heyman, faces Randy Orton for title at next month’s PPV.
Since this was 1/3 as bad as the worst case scenario, it’s hard to say this was a bad ending, but I’m not sure where it takes us other than saying (to some people) that CM Punk is harder to beat than R. Truth. Something no one has ever argued ever. The argument, I suppose, is that CM Punk blatantly cheated to beat Ryback. He’ll likely fall back on “doing whatever it takes to get to Paul Heyman” (all in Chicago-shouty voice), and Ryback will get to say CM Punk cheated and lied about it, and that’s what boo-wees do. Since this is nominally a main event match, and Punk went over and people pay to see Punk go over, even if it’s just against Ryback, then it’s worth at least half of what the Rhodes-Shield match was.
Match: +.5 | PPV: 3.3
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton for WWE Title
What Nick Wants to Happen: Daniel Bryan does Daniel Bryan things, Randy Orton does Patrick Bateman things, finish does Dusty things.
There are going to be a lot of people who complain about this ending, and an equal amount of people who think the people complaining about the ending don’t understand how wrestling works. I may agree more with the latter group than the former, but I definitely see where the people complaining are coming from. I thought it was a well done match with a clever ending highlighted by Brad Maddox’s “Rigging the Daniel Bryan-Randy Orton match blew up in his face” face. Other people saw a way to hold the belt in abeyance until John Cena comes back or they can move the storyline forward. Most of these people are cynics, or Triple H haters. And you know what? They are TOTALLY justified. This company has never done what’s best for business, so not exactly embracing them saying it after making you spend 60 dollars twice to have Daniel Bryan not go over, and no one gets the title to boot, ignores on some level that, if done right, this will be one of the better storylines of the last few years. And sometimes, you have pay for some eggs to be cracked before the omelette is made.
This PPV was as mediocre as everyone expected it to be, easily the least good PPV we’ve reviewed. But since there wasn’t a bad match, and it was a stacked card, it also had the most overall “value”. There were probably two matches that are debatable from our rankings — the Del Rio and Bryan matches — so, this may be also the lowest one we’ve had overall as well in terms of value. Outside of the brilliant Rhodes match, there was nothing particularly worth paying for unless you are already a fan of the product and the principles involved. Hopefully this is just a matter of them not wanting to shoot their wad before Hell in a Cell. Hopefully.
PPV: 4.1 | Match Avg: .4555 (.46 if you’re nasty)