Written by: Kevin Pantoja
July 24th, 2016 | Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. | Attendance: 15,109
On the Kickoff Show, Breezango took on the Usos. Most people, myself included, figured the Usos would pick up a rather easy win. However, I was pleasantly surprised with not only the outcome, but the match itself. It was a fun little spring that saw Breezango pick up the win after Breeze pulled one of the Usos into a pinning combination. (**¾)
Bayley and Sasha Banks def. WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte and Dana Brooke in 7:23
Sasha Banks came out and had a huge grin before her mystery partner was announced, giving it away for me. Bayley got a massive pop, rivaling Sasha’s appearance at the Royal Rumble this year for biggest women’s pop. They looked genuinely happy to team up. The match was fun and saw both Sasha and Bayley get relative hot tags at different points. I totally understand that NXT needs to keep Bayley around to help sell tickets but the fact that she wasn’t drafted is a joke. Add in that apparently tonight was a one-off and its mind boggling. They’re sitting on a gold mine and wasting it. Originally I wanted Bayley to get the decision but as a one-off, Sasha making Charlotte tap out made more sense as it sets up their title match at SummerSlam. How horrible is it that Charlotte has been champion for almost a year? Anyway, really enjoyable way to start the show and I’ll never forget seeing Sasha and Bayley together. ***
The Wyatt Family def. the New Day in 8:47
While this feud hasn’t really engaged me, I thought they did very well here. Instantly, the Xavier Woods/Bray Wyatt stuff came into play. He was mesmerized by Bray and couldn’t even do any offense. For the first half or so, this match was kind of just there. It was good, but nothing special. Then Xavier and Bray came face to face. Xavier freezing up cost Kofi to get taken out and then he fired up. The crowd loved Xavier going nuts as he hit Bray, Rowan and even Stroman with everything. Big E went for his apron spear on Stroman, but nearly died by almost landing on his head. That kind of signaled a momentum shift as Bray put down Xavier with Sister Abigail. Another fun match that got the score bumped up for the really fun final few minutes. I only question what’s next since the New Day are staying together and the Wyatts are splitting. ***½
WWE United States Championship: Rusev (c) w/ Lana def. Zack Ryder in 7:01
Was this match great? No. Was it something you need to see? Not at all. However, it did the job it was supposed to. I assume Rusev has a bigger match planned for SummerSlam and Zack Ryder’s goal was to play the popular filler program for Rusev. Ryder came out decked out in red, white and blue but never really posed a major threat. Even when he hit the Rough Ryder and went up for the Elbro Drop, I didn’t believe he’d win. Rusev got the knees up on the elbow and made Ryder tap to the Accolade. He held the submission after and it led to a hilarious moment. HYPE! Mojo Rawley, making his main roster debut, ran out and stared down Rusev for attacking his friend and partner. Rusev, confused at who the hell Mojo was, calmly walked out before roasting him on Twitter. Seriously, the sight of Mojo of all people showing up at Battleground, with his theme music playing for way too long is one of the things that has made me laugh uncontrollably. Anyway, the match was fine. ***
Sami Zayn def. Kevin Owens in 18:21
I knew this would be spectacular. I loved their ROH feud (though some of the matches weren’t awesome) but everything they’ve done with the WWE has been great. I gave their Payback match ****¼ and this was much better. It started with the pre-match video package, which told their story perfectly. Zayn went for the Helluva Kick instantly, wanting to end his former friend. Owens wore him down and is the only guy I could watch do a chinlock and be very entertained. The referee asked Zayn if he gave up and after Zayn said no, Owens shouted “YES YOU DO!” A scary moment came when Zayn went for his usual springboard moonsault and landed on his injured shoulder. These two are so good that they worked it into the story. They had great callbacks to their past and some tremendous counters. I love that Zayn didn’t kick out of the popup powerbomb (we see way too many finisher kickouts) and instead got his foot on the ropes. Zayn finally hit the Helluva Kick and the look on his face before hitting it was perfect. You could tell that it was painful inside. After nailing it, he held a fallen Owens, debating whether or not to inflict more damage. He went for it and hit it a second time to finally exorcise his demons. A damn near perfect match and probably my WWE MOTY. Great wrestling, a hot crowd and excellent storytelling. As much as I love their feud and chemistry, they should have been drafted to different shows to really give this a final feeling. ****¾
Natalya def. Becky Lynch in 9:04
These poor girls had to follow Zayn and Owens. Bless them, they tried. The camera missed their third key moment (Bayley walking out and Owens superkicking Zayn once) when Becky did her kip up. I liked the match they worked since Becky is a great babyface and, while Natalya’s a HORRIBLE promo (especially as a heel) she does fine in the ring. She was cocky and dominant at times. The issue here was that the fans just didn’t give a damn. Becky nearly applied the Dis-Arm-Her at one point but it got next to no pop and I think they were just dead from the previous match. Natalya surprisingly won cleanly. Becky’s constant losing bothers me, but she is the underdog usually so it kind of works. Also, both girls are on Smackdown so I’m sure the program will continue. I just don’t think Becky tapping clean was good. Charlotte, the heel champion, has about one clean win this year. Natalya could have done something small to cheat and give a reason for a rematch. **¾
WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) w/ Maryse and Darren Young w/ Bob Backlund wrestled to a double countout in 8:41
Miz and Maryse came out with masks to represent Eyes Wide Shut. I don’t get the Darren Young/Bob Backlund pairing. It’s not only awkward, but it doesn’t make sense because Young was never great, so you can’t make him great again. Anyway, this was a really basic match where nothing really happened. It wasn’t horrible, but not noteworthy at all. Backlund was the star, going nuts after Maryse slapped him. His dead sell of both the slap and of Miz shoving him was awesome. Young snapped, like Backlund used to, at Miz shoving his mentor, and applied an awful looking chicken wing on him outside. I think both guys got counted out. Young got no reaction during his entrance and nobody cared about the finish. Plus, they’re on different shows, so this won’t continue. Why not do a definitive finish and if you couldn’t, then why book it at all? **
Colin Cassady, Enzo Amore and John Cena def. The Club in 14:30
Wrestling a multi-man tag in the semi-main event of a show in July? The Club was probably unsure if this was Battleground or the G1 Climax. Probably due to how many multi-man tags they’ve worked and partially due to the personalities involved, this was a lot of fun. Credit to Enzo and Cass, who brought an energy to this match that really helped it out. Cena looked overjoyed to sit back and let them do their thing. Enzo wanting to fight both Gallows and Anderson on his own was another standout moment. The crowd absolutely loves them. Seriously, Gallows and Anderson should take the titles from New Day at SummerSlam (giving New Day about a year) and then drop them to Enzo and Cass. Lots of action near the end before Cena got the win with a super Attitude Adjustment on AJ Styles. I would have not had AJ get pinned, but I guess it kind of evens them out so SummerSlam gives us a tiebreaker where Cena beats AJ.***½
There was a Highlight Reel segment here with Randy Orton. This should have been on the pre-show. It lasted a while, was mildly entertaining and made the show run way over. I don’t mind it running over, but do it for wrestling. I hate promos on Pay-Per-Views. Do it on the pre-show or save it for TV. Orton threw a shot at Fandango (saying he wouldn’t come back to face someone like him) and at Brock’s recent failed drug test issues before hitting the RKOOUTTANOWHERE!
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) def. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in 18:02
The commissioners and general managers were all at ringside for this. Roman Reigns has grown out his beard somewhat and clearly got the worst response. Reigns went right after Seth Rollins early, which made sense given all of the shots Rollins has thrown at him during his suspension. For the first half of the match, they all just did their stuff and traded offense and that was fine. Things picked up when Seth and Dean worked together to take out Roman. They failed to do a double powerbomb inside the ring, but then Dean took out Roman with a suicide dive, followed by Rollins with a big somersault. They cleared off the announce table and double powerbombed Reigns through it. Then, continuing to play off of their past, Seth whacked Dean in the back with a chair just like the night he broke up the Shield. It led to some fun back and forth between Rollins and Ambrose as always. When Reigns got back involved, he took a Pedigree, which he lost to at Money in the Bank, but kicked out. Seth nailed him with the Buckle Bomb but Reigns popped right out with a superman punch and Spear. Dean snuck in and nailed him with Dirty Deeds to retain the title and keep it on Smackdown. This really kicked into next gear when they brought out the callbacks and had a great final few minutes. The Smackdown roster, heels and faces, came out to celebrate with Dean, while Stephanie and Foley left in a bad mood. It was funny seeing the Usos, Roman’s cousins, holding a victorious Dean up. ****¼
Final Thoughts: Honestly, this was probably the best WWE Pay-Per-View all year long. Like last month, we were treated to two great matches (Zayn/Owens and the Shield triple threat), but the rest of the card also delivered. The pre-show was fun, Bayley’s debut and match were a blast, both six man tags were highly enjoyable, Nattie/Becky and the US Title were alright, plus we got the funny Mojo Rawley moment. Outside of the IC Title and Highlight Reel segments, everything is good. The main event lived up to expectations and Zayn/Owens was a MOTY candidate.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.