Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Battleground 2014
Posted by Jack Bramma on 08.15.2014
The Wyatts and The Usos need 2 out of 3 falls to settle the tag straps, Chris Jericho wants revenge on Bray Wyatt for spoiling his return, and John Cena has to defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a Fatal 4-Way match against Randy Orton, Kane, and Roman Reigns.
• Scheduled Card:
1. Two-out-of-Three Falls Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship: The Wyatts vs. The Usos (c).
2. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose.
3. WWE Diva’s Championship: Paige vs. AJ Lee (c).
4. Rusev vs. Jack Swagger.
5. Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt.
6. Battle Royal for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship.
7. Fatal 4-Way for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. Kane vs. Roman Reigns vs. John Cena (c).
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• Opening package celebrates Cena’s MITB victory as a signature moment of rising to the occasion, but the Authority waits in the wings, waiting him for to fall. Trips lays down the gauntlet and tells Cena that it doesn’t have to be this way, but Cena says he’ll go it the hardway which means a fatal four way against Orton, Kane, and Reigns who Triple H let into the match for reasons yet to be explained. CENA CAN LOSE THE BELT WITHOUT GETTING PINNED, DONCHA YA KNOW?!
• Two-out-of-Three Falls Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship: The Wyatts vs. The Usos (c). The Usos won tag gold from the NAO back in March and have been riding high, relatively speaking at least, ever since defeating the Real Americans, Rybaxel, Los Matadores, The Rhodes Brothers, 3MB, though they still were unable to get over the hump of a Evolution megateam of Batista and Orton back in April that ultimately went nowhere. The Usos though mostly settled into second and third fiddles in Cena’s feud with the Wyatts. Things were calm on the tag belts front for the feud until Harper and Rowan pinned them a few times on Main Event and RAW back in late May and early June. The Wyatts got their shot at the gold at MITB but came up short. Yet another clean pin of the champs on RAW in Montreal, so we’re having one more go at it on PPV to settle the score once and for all.
• I’m sure I’m the only one who gives a damn, but The Wyatts’ tag music was much better as a creepy harmonica than as Damien leading into a standard rock song.
• We get replays of the match from Montreal and it turns out the wrong Uso was pinned and thus the match still counts. Still, nice follow up on the rules and continuity. King: “I’m glad to see that Harper dressed up for the occasion: he put on his cleanest dirty shirt.” Says the guy who used to wear a robe with no undershirt and now wears Ed Hardy shirts. ANYWAY, let’s get rolling. Jey and Rowan to start. Jey goes to the smack and knocks off the sheep mask. Rowan sells disbelief only to club him down with a shoulderblock. Rowan goes to the patented headbutts and CLUBBINGBLOWS as the crowd chants for Uso. Having made his point, he tags in Harper. Harper chokes and goes for the LARIATO but gets dropkicked to the floor. Rowan tries to cheat but gets cut off and the Usos are cooking early. The Wyatts regroup on the floor near a fan who points at them one at a time and tells each one separately that he sucks. Back in, Harper and Jey go at it. Harper gets him in the corner for the chokes and fish hooks. Jey tries a charge but gets thrown to the floor. Jey sells the hell out of it and takes a breather. Back in, he gets suplexed and booted down. Rowan tags in for the usual. Bodyslam gets 1, 2, only 2. Rowan puts him through the paces of this neck wrench. Jey avoids a backdrop but gets booted down for another 2 count. Harper in and drops a knee right on his face nicely for another 2 count. Gator roll and Harper gets top position with a chinlock. Jey suplexes his way free and Harper tries blocking the tag by grabbing his foot but no dice. Jimmy in but runs into the BOOT OF FEAR for 1, 2, 3 to put the Usos down 1-0 at 4:44.
• That was a VICIOUS big boot and totally believable as a pinfall. Jimmy staggers to his feet in time for Ho Train. He covers again for 1, 2, kickout. Rowan in for a splash and a 2 count. He elbows him on the noggin a few more times and goes to the Slaughter knuckle sandwich and Cole picks up on that. Good stuff. Jimmy elbows free and goes to the breadbasket. He tries a scoop but the back gives and Rowan falls on top for 1, 2, no. Tag to Harper for the Andre spot. Harper: “AAYEAYEAYAAYAEAYEYEAYA-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Well said. Harper clubs him with a few Euro uppercuts. Jimmy tries fighting back with uppercuts but Harper just gets pissed and starts paintbrushing the fuck out of him and throws him down into the mat. After flipping out of a suplex, Jimmy tags out and Jay’s back in. Jey with a quick School boy for 1, 2, shoulder up, 3 to tie it at 1-1 at 8:11.
• The Wyatts ain’t exactly geniuses but they have enough fingers, toes, and teeth between them to know that 2 ain’t 3, so they put the boots to Jey for his unnatural counting ways. Harper doesn’t want a DQ though, so he smacks Rowan back to their corner. Then, he makes a legal tag and brings in Rowan for the Snap Ab Suplex. Awesome character stuff there. He hooks the leg for 1, 2, 2 ½. Rowan busts out his fifth different choke of the match and brings Harper back in for a slingshot into the ropes. Cover on Jey gets another nearfall. Rowan takes his time whiffing on a harpoon, so Harper tags in and shitcans himself whiffing on a Liu Kang kick. Hot tag to Jimmy who planchas to the floor on Harper. Rowan tries to sneak him, so he gets dumped out for his trouble and splashed as well. Jimmy takes a bit too long setting up the barricade run and dive on Harper but hits it anyway. Back in, Jimmy heads up top for a crossbody on Harper for 1, 2, 2.99. Jimmy goes to the superkicks. Harper blocks one but Jimmy spins around into an enzuigiri. He follows up with the Runaway Samoan Semi. Harper no sells for a Ho Train. He wants the New Jersey Naptime but Jimmy lands on his feet. Jimmy counters back with Whisper in the Wind for 1, 2, 2.999. Crowd is now really getting into the nearfalls. Jimmy wants a superkick but Harper blocks to set up a facewash in the corner that sends Jimmy reeling to the floor. Harper then gives a look into the camera and it’s official – he’s taken over the best in-ring facial expressions mantle from Mark Henry. I don’t know if there’s a single wrestler right now who gets every fiber of his character with every mannerism and tic the way that Luke Harper does. Bray, of course, is a master at this as well which is one of the reasons it’s a shame they don’t win much.
• ANYWAY, Harper gathers a head of steam for his TOPE SUICIDA. Harper is feeling it and he wants another dive on Jey but Jimmy cuts him off with a SUPERKICK! SCHOOL BOY! ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT’IM! Harper comes right back with New Jersey Naptime. 1, 2, 2.99999999999999999. Harper shakes the cobwebs free and tags in Rowan who promptly whiffs on a splash. Harper tries one as well but gets crotched. Jimmy in with the SUPERFLY SPLASH! 1, 2, KICKOUT! Jey can’t believe it, so he wants another splash. Harper grabs his foot long enough for Rowan to cut him off. They jockey for position and Jimmy joins them up top. Rowan takes over with a coconut and preps the DOUBLE SUPERPLEX! Delayed cover gets 1, 2, 2.999999999999. Match is going crazy now and shifting into another MOTYC gear. U-SO-U-SO-U-SO says the crowd. The Wyatts want the double ChokeSlam but Jey jumps them from behind long enough to break it up. He gets dumped out and Harper avoids a roll up for a WYATT SUPERKICK! He says it’s over and wants the LARIATO! NO! SUPERKICK! NO SELL! DISCUS LARIATO HOMICIDA! 1, 2, BROKEN UP! Jey gets dumped out again. Both Usos get on the same page and lay him out with a double superkick. Another for Rowan and now the DOUBLE SPLASH ON HARPER! 1, 2, 3 to retain the straps at 18:49.
• Great match. It’s the usual Wyatts-Usos match with a booking upgrade and a few more false finishes thrown in to spice it up. There’s almost no heat (something the entire division could benefit from – if the crispness to some of the high spots is a tad delayed and takes a bit too long to set up. But what does make it very good is the 2/3 falls stip. Both teams have wrestled each other a dozen times this year and each guy has been pinned in the feud at least a few times by now, so picking a winner really is a crapshoot. But when you add in both teams losing to a big boot and a roll up inside of 10 minutes, you have the highest drama possible for that final fall. Both teams had to try multiple times for their signature stuff and even then, it still didn’t guarantee a victory as we had kickouts galore from signature moves and finishers. Just a great match. ****1/4
• Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose. The Shield were, for lack of a better word, unstoppable after EC. They squashed the Attitude old timers at Mania and then beat Evolution two straight in dominant fashion. That is, until Rollins sold out or bought in, depending upon your sources, and turned on his comrades with the aid of a steel chair. I thought this would net Rollins a spot in Evolution, but instead he seems to be his own man in the Authority stable and Evolution was disbanded. Reigns moved on to spiking Vickie Guerrero’s coffee and the WWEHW strap picture, but Ambrose was pissed and has made his life’s mission to take out Rollins ever since. These two butted heads in the MITB match. Ambrose was within fingertips of winning, but Kane and a shoulder injury stopped him. Since then, Ambrose has been nursing said shoulder but still stopping every single Rollins’ attempted cash-in on the road to Battleground. Here is the Oscar-nominated short produced by the WWE covering these events.
• We’re joined in the back with Rollins talking about how he’s finally going to finish off Ambrose tonight just like he destroyed The Shield. He’s like a cockroach that just won’t go away, but tonight, he gets squashed. After that, he just may cash in at the end of the night. BUT WAIT! IT’S AMBROSE! Ambrose starts kicking his ass and drops a light on his head.
• Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose. Triple H appears to break up the brawl along with security. He demands that Ambrose get thrown out of the building and bars him from entering. JBL: “You send a rabid dog to the pound.” So much for that. The boys continue to analyze the situation and somehow King and Cole are dumb enough to let JBL’s corporate apologist get the high ground.
• JBL: “Ambrose’s stupid own self caused Ambrose not to have this match right now. You can blame Dean Ambrose because we don’t have a match right now… He couldn’t wait a few more minutes.”
King: “NONONO! TRIPLE H IS OVERREACTING! WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE IF THE MATCH STARTS BACK THERE OR STARTS UP HERE?!”
King: “THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO FIGHT TONIGHT, ANYWAY!”
JBL: “Because in here, it’s certified. You have a referee, you have a match. That’s not a match. That’s a lunatic out of control.”
• Yes, that’s right. King thinks wrestlers should be allowed to start matches – not no DQ matches or falls count anywhere matches, mind you, but ALL matches – by jumping someone backstage. Moving on.
• WWE Diva’s Championship: Paige vs. AJ Lee (c). AJ was champ for almost a year after retaining again at Mania XXX. The next night, she was challenged by NXT newcomer Paige to a title defense. AJ accepted and promptly lost and took a hiatus. Paige successfully defended her title for months, only for AJ to return and return the favor with an unannounced title challenge. Paige lost and has been peeved ever since and looking to get her title back.
• They shake hands as JBL and Cole argue about who reads Twitter and its credibility. Paige takes her into the ropes for a break and she mocks the ref as she releases. AJ returns the favor for another break. Paige takes her down with a knee. King: “ONTHEWWENETWORKYOUGETOVER2000HOURSOFPROGRAMMING!” Thanks for that. Paige sends her off but AJ uses the wheelbarrow roll up for 1, 2, 2 ½. Paige counters to her own roll up also for a 2 count. AJ with a kick but she runs into a superkick from Paige. Cover gets 1, 2, no. A headbutt from Paige and she tosses AJ into the corner for more punishment. Cole: “AJ HELD THE TITLE A RECORD 295 DAYS!” JBL: “Moolah held the women’s title, right?” King: “Moolah held the women’s title as long as there’s been daylight.” JBL: “When the Dead Sea was just sick.” ANYWAY, Paige boots AJ down in the corner and scoops her up for a slam. Cover gets another nearfall. Paige walks AJ over to the ropes and conveniently enough, AJ just so happened to lay down on the ropes so Paige could knee her a bit. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Paige goes to the chinlock as the boys argue about BFF and whether or not, the Earth is flat. AJ tries to elbow free or something and Paige casually kind of throws her down. Yeah. BACKTOTHECHINLOCK!
• Paige switches to an anchor hold as, gasp, the CROWD is trying to fire them up. The announcers are at a BBQ trading war stories, the wrestlers are in resthold mode, and the crowd is actively trying to turn things around. Not recognizing that was one of their boats and/or helicopter, Paige decides to stay in the hold. AJ rolls though only to eat a clothesline. Paige checks her hair and THEN covers for 1, 2, no. This sucks. Paige picks her up and spins her around so AJ can DDT her. Double KO spot at 4 minutes in. Paige fires up and tries to Spear her to the floor, but they’re too far away from the ropes and she’s going too slow, so they hug over to the ropes and then tumble out in an AWFUL spot. Paige up first and tosses AJ into the apron. Back in, Paige heads up top but AJ cuts her off. Paige blocks and counters into an MDK bomb for 1, 2, 2 ½. Time for the second boat as the crowd starts up the dueling chants. AJ kicks her off and tries a crossbody but Paige catches her. Paige wants a Black Hole Slam but AJ counters into the Black Widow. Paige fights it though and hiptosses her out. Paige Turner gets 1, 2, 2.99. Paige wants the PTO but AJ counters to a roll up. No dice so AJ lays her out with the Shining Wizard. Cover gets 1, 2, 3 to retain at 7:16.
• That was a match. Everything after the MDK bomb is serviceable and the early going with 1000 nearfalls is fine, but the middle is the drizzling shits and the commentary is worse. ½*
• Next up, Orton is in the back looking for Kane in his Joel Schumacher batcave. Unfortunately, Orton never turns his back to the camera and thus he doesn’t see Kane lurking in the shadows behind him. Orton’s all SORRY ABOUT THE RKO LAST MONDAY, BRO, PUT ‘ER THERE! Kane no sells dap and apologies. Orton switches strategies to say that at least, they can agree that Cena and Reigns aren’t leaving the building as champ. Kane agrees and promises that after tonight, the champ will be one of them standing right there. Also, unfortunately, the camera doesn’t pan back far enough to catch Cena in its view. Then for some reason, Kane exits his lair, leaving Orton to stand quizzically in his domicile.
• It’s time for the analyst table of Booka, who drifts closer and closer to Larry Z territory everyday, A-Ry, and Christian. Renee wants predictions for the 4-way. Riley’s got Reigns. Riley: “There’s a phrase we got in the WWE: ‘It’s his time.’” Thanks for that. Christian, on the other hand, picks the guy with all the momentum, Roman Reigns, even though he lost at MITB and Cena won. Book goes with Orton.
• We get a recap of the Swagger-Rusev détente as we’re in full on stall mode. 3 talking segments in a row and that’s not even including the promo and brawl to avoid a match earlier.
• Rusev vs. Jack Swagger. Rusev has been undefeated, peaking lately going 2-0 against Big E at Payback and MITB. He’s gotten more and more Russian and less and less Bulgarian as the weeks have gone on, getting the medal, political asylum, and flag of Russia. The night after Mania XXX, Cesaro broke off from Swagger to go it his own with Heyman to become the King of Swing. Swagger looked to get Jannetty-ed as he rode it out with Zeb but then went nowhere fast losing in the IC title tournament and then losing a triple threat against Cesaro and RVD. He followed that up by not getting booked for Payback and losing in the MITB loser’s ladder match. An odd but effective face-turn seemed to right his ship as the crowd has gotten behind Swagger for the first time in years.
• Pre-match, Lana’s got the stick. She tells the fans to can it and then ruffles some feathers by saying it’s not Putin’s fault for Ukraine. It’s the Americans with all of their “war-mongoling.” Not exactly Slaughter in 1991. She iterates that Putin’s a real leader and Obama is a WUSS! Rusev finishes off with the usual, though my Russian is a bit rusty and non-existent. Íûíåøíåé ãåîïîëèòè÷åñêîé êëèìàò ñëèøêîì ÊÎÌÏËÅÊÑ ÄËß ÝÒÈÕ Ñàìî ÂÌÅØÀÒÅËÜÑÒÂÀ! Ìû, êàê ëèäåðû ìèðîâîãî äîëæíû îáúåäèíèòüñÿ äëÿ äèïëîìàòèè è ïîïûòàòüñÿ ðåøèòü ýòó ïðîáëåìó, êàê è âñå êîíôëèêòû, ìèðíûì ïóòåì! Godspeed, äÿäÿ Ñýì!
• BUT WAIT! IT’S MORE PROMO TIME! For those of you keeping count, out of the last EIGHT segments on the PPV, SEVEN have been something other than a match. Zeb repeats his Rocky and Bullwinkle bit, but as if sensing the time for talking is done, Lana waffles him to end the PPV’s détente.
• Swagger and Rusev get at it and Swagger clears the ring, while still wearing his track jacket. WETHEPEOPLE! LET’SGOSWAGGER! Rusev runs in but Swagger ducks under for the AnkleLock and Rusev bails out. USAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSA! Back in, Rusev goes to work in the corner and then yells some more Sputnik: “Ïîæàëóéñòà, êòî-íèáóäü ïîãîâîðèòü ñ ýòèì ÷åëîâåêîì è ñêàçàòü åìó, ÆÅËÀÞ âåñòè ïåðåãîâîðû î ìèðå ÑÐÎÊÈ! ß ñäàìñÿ ìèðíî!” He pounds him down some more before Swagger comes back with the rights. Surprisingly, Swagger is easily taller than Rusev and might match him in weight, though not in hoss-ness. Swagger avoids a charge and drops down into the AnkleLock again. Again, Rusev bails out. On the floor, Swagger brings the fight to him and tosses him into the apron. Back in, Swagger hits a Ho Train and goes to the knees. Swagger with a head of steam but Rusev cuts hi moff with a Ho Train of his own. Snap ab suplex follows and Rusev goes to the soccer kicks. Russev with a headbutt to the solar plexus and Rusev locks in the NERVE HOLD! YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Swagger tries to power out but no go as Rusev pounds him down and goes back to the hold. WETHEPEOPLE!
• Fans are all about lifeboats tonight. Rusev, awesomely, uses Swagger’s strap to whip him as he tries to force a release and then goes back to work. Rusev now with some MT kicks and more eye gouging and then the DOUBLE NERVE HOLD! Swagger shakes it off with the power of the Hulkamaniacs and stomps Rusev’s foot in a cool spot. He runs in but gets dumped out by Rusev. Zeb tries to help him regroup only for Rusev to knock him back off the apron. Again and more of the same. Zeb tries some more tough love and Swagger comes back with a Stun Gun and burrito. Running knee in the corner and a FOOT TO THE FACE. Swagger’s fired up. WETHEPEOPLE! VaderBomb gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Rusev comes back with haymakers but Swagger dumps him with a T-Bone for 1, 2, kickout. Rusev avoids a charge but kicks the taste out of Swagger’s mouth. Rusev calls for the superkick but Swagger catches the foot. ANKLELOCK! He reaches for the ropes but Swagger pulls him back to the middle to a pop. Rusev lunges one more time and makes the ropes. He bails out to the floor to regroup. On the floor, Swagger clips the knee and reapplies the AnkleLock. Rusev uses the stairs to counter and post Swagger. Awesome sell job by Swagger as he’s out cold and loses by countout at 9:54.
• Post-match, Rusev sells the ankle nicely but follows Lana’s orders and boots Swagger in the spine and locks in the Camel Clutch. Of course, Swagger is unconscious, so no tap.
• Decent power match with both guys selling their way into a good show. Also, the strategy was more about a simple move not working once, so each guy had to try getting on the apron or kicking the other guy several times before it worked. It also kept both guys relying on their managers for support and advice like, ya know, a manager should be doing. Hardly a masterpiece, but possibly Rusev is settling nicely in as a solid worker. **1/2
• Meanwhile, Stardust is in the back for more yakking on a PPV. He’s joined by Goldust. They are looking for the cosmic key but can’t find it yet. Cody is really sinking his teeth into the role, but this could fall flat on its face if the WWE aren’t careful.
• Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose. Earlier tonight, of course, Ambrose jumped Rollins in the back. Refs and Trips broke it up and Ambrose was barred from the building. Rollins is back out for MOARPROMO! C’MON BABY! He’s here to accept his forfeit victory. Ref makes his decision and Rollins takes it at 0:00. Rollins was working the crowd, but with a no-show like that, it was like Ambrose wasn’t even there. ¼*
• Post-match, BUT WAIT! Ambrose is back out and he trashes Rollins into the barricade. He tosses him into the crowd and they brawl for a bit. Rollins goes for the SELLOUT HAMMER off the barricade but Ambrose snapmares him through the table. Officials are out to break it up once more. Again, Triple H is out and bars Ambrose again. I’m all in for some effective bait and switching as one of my favorite matches ever is Rude-Sting at Clash XVII. But this is just going on too long.
• Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt. Since beating DB out of his flock and using the Family to take out The Shield at EC, Bray has been following buzzards of his own. He went 1-2 against Cena in the spring with his only victory being in arguably the worst high-profile match of the year where he needed interference from a child to win a cage match. He almost lost at MITB for the world strap, but times they-a-changin’. A few weeks back, we were promised the return of a legend, a star, a former WWE champ. It turned out that was none other than Movie star, Moneymaker Miz and his Aviators. Jericho though upstaged him and beat him in his first match back. Unfortunately, it was Y2J who needed saving from The Wyatts who beat him down a few weeks in a row to set this up.
• Bray is joined by the family, which is something I’m not crazy about given they were in a grueling tag match earlier and LOST. Just to be a dick, Jericho knocks over the rocking chair. Bray’s sporting a black eye from when Flair mistook him for Blackjack Mulligan in MSG. LOCKUP! They tussle into the corner before Chioda demands a break. Another lockup and Bray goes to the CLUBBINGBLOWS and uppercuts. Jericho comes back with chops but Bray no sells so they smack it out and Bray wins that one. Bray goes to the chokes. Jericho takes him down with a few rights and a back elbow. Jericho repays the favor with some choking of his own. Into the corner for more chops. Bray comes barreling out of the corner for a LARIATO. Bray sends him off for a back elbow of his own. Few minutes in and they are basically just trading and repaying perfunctory strikes. Crowd goes dueling chants going as Jericho blocks a suplex and wants the WoJ. The Wyatts distract and Bray capitalizes by taking down Jericho. Bray hits a Batista kick and goes to the neck wrench. Jericho punches his way free and avoids a backdrop and dropkicks Bray down. Jericho hits the double jump dropkick and sends Bray to the floor. Slow pace so far but the crowd perks up for a Jericho high spot. He goes up top for a splash to the floor on the whole family. Back in, Harper tries to trip up Jericho and Chioda ejects them for a whole bunch of nothing. Bray waffles Jericho from behind and he eats it into a camera man just like at EC 2012.
• ANYWAY, Bray puts the boots to him and brings in Jericho. He covers for 1, 2, no. Jericho avoids a charge and Bray eats turnbuckle. Its time for the shoulderblocks and burritos but Bray ties a shitcan. Jericho avoids and flies off the top with a C’MONBABY HAMMER. He wants a bulldog but Bray ducks behind for a gutbuster variation. He covers for 1, 2, kickout. Jericho tries to fire up but runs into another clothesline. Bray want the senton but Jericho gets the knees up. Jericho hits an enzuigiri and covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. Jericho heads up top and the crowd just isn’t feeling it. Bray cuts him off and they jockey for position. Bray bridges off the top rope and drops down into a jawbreaker. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Jericho gets the boot up in the corner and hits the bulldog but still the crowd is just kind of there waiting for them to kick it into 3rd gear. Transitions have been less than terrific thus far. Lionsault but Bray gets the knees up. Spider-Walk gets the biggest pop of the match. Book End gets 1, 2, 2.99. Bray brings him into the corner for the Ho Train and starts talking trash. Bray senses the end is near but Jericho cuts him off and then rolls Bray up into the bottom turnbuckle in either a new spot or a botch. I’m going with botch, but they were so close to the corner and you’d have to be wacked to miss the ring by that much, that it almost HAS to be a spot. Jericho double jumps to the apron in another Gomer spot so Bray can just cut him off for an apron DDT. 1, 2, kickout. Bray fires up and wants Sister Abigail but Jericho now, of course, rolls him up for the Walls. Bray fights him off and catches him for the running crossbody which really is a fantastic false finish. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Jericho hits the Codebreaker for 1, 2, 3(?!) and takes it apparently at 14:58.
• Match desperately needed another gear and better transitions to make a dent (in the expectations, at least). It’s like they have a collection of spots laid out – the interference, the interference again, the ejection, the splash to the floor, the Lionsault counter, the senton counter, etc. – but it’s all bricks and no mortar. They’re not laying their way from spot to spot like a Sabu match, but the transitions are kind of generic and uninspired. It’s not a bad match, but Bray has shown himself more than capable of getting up for big matches and performing this year. He has his character down and just needs the right set of circumstances to put on a classic. Jericho, on the other hand, is obviously game as well, but has only had a handful of matches since coming back this time and his last couple of runs – outside of a few matches with Punk and Ziggler – lit no one’s world on fire. You’re not missing much. **3/4
• Meanwhile, Rollins is being escorted to his car by the Harris Twins' doppelgangers. Seth, still in his gear, says he's got it from here and doesn't need their help. Seth's sixth architect sense starts tingling and tells him something is afoot. Just like Orton though, he faces the camera and misses Ambrose getting out of the trunk of his car(!) and attacking him from behind. Rollins ditches his bags but gets free and burns out to escape.
• Battle Royal for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship. The IC belt got some renewed interest after Ultimate Warrior's untimely passing. In his honor, WWE held a tournament to determine Big E's number 1 contender. Garnering clean wins over RVD, Sheamus, and of course Big E, Barrett rose to the occasion and became number 1 contender and eventually IC champ. Barrett stayed relatively hot defeating RVD again at the next PPV. But after that, he hit the skids, budget cuts cost him his podium, and Swagger cost him a healthy shoulder. In response, WWE set up this battle royal to crown a new IC champ. Participants are as follows: Big E, ADR, Cesaro, R-Truth, Ryback, Curtis Axel, Zack Ryder, Titus O'Neil, Damien Sandow, Heath Slater, Diego, Sin Cara, Xavier Woods, Great Khali, Kofi Kingston, Bo Dallas, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and Sheamus.
• Pre-match, Barrett joins us and he's got the stick. He's got some bad news and JBL knew it. The new champ will be like retiring to Florida: it's delaying the inevitable where they meet their demise because of a Bull Hammer. My favorite part is that Barrett just implied he's the Grim Reaper and he murders all of the old people in Florida, leading them to their maker.
• Everybody holds their ground at the bell as Khali realizes he's the target of the numbers game. Ryback holds court and tells everyone to get him. Khali fights them all off with Brain Chops. Xavier and Ryder are dumped out by Khali promptly. Titus tackles Khali to end the flurry. Sheamus follows up with the Pump Kick and the rest of the ring joins in to dump out Khali. Cesaro tries to sneak Ziggler in the melee but Ziggler hangs on. Sheamus and Big E brawl over to the ropes. Bo and Sin Cara try to settle their differences and Sin Cara tries a springboard and gets tossed out. Ziggler is still fighting off elimination and Stun Guns Ryback back to the corner. RybAxel puts their collective might together to go after Kofi and Titus. Cesaro goes back to working on Ziggler as that looks to be the lynchpin for the entire match. Truth tries to dump out ADR, while Diego eats a series of Euro uppercuts. Big E can't get Bo over the top and Ziggler almost wipes out going for a Stinger Splash but he hangs on. Truth is tossed out by Axel, while Miz regroups on the floor but is not eliminated. Axel is tossed from behind by Sandow and Ryback is all NO MAN LEFT BEHIND and goes after Sandow before abandoning brotherhood to instead pair off with Kofi. Diego tries my favorite strategy on Sandow, the shitcan INTO the top rope that chokes him. Diego gets it right the second time and Sandow is gone. Sheamus and ADR continue their feud from 2012 while Ryback drops Diego to the floor. Ryback chokes Cesaro for a spell as things slow down a bit because the ring has cleared some. Ryback jumps Ziggler from behind and now everyone's down selling.
• Ryback scoops up ADR and slams him into the ropes as well. It's the stoppable force meeting the moveable object as Sheamus and Ryback square off in the middle of the ring. Ryback takes everything, whiffs on a powerbomb, and then gets Pump Kicked to the floor very obsequiously. High times for the former undefeated monster. Miz races to escape camera range but fails again. He races in the ring to try and dump Sheamus from behind but fails as well. Dolph hits the Zig Zag on Miz who careens under the ropes to the floor again. Bo and Heath Slater brawl over who has a better history with Wade Barrett as the Rampage-esque black-on-black crime continues between Titus and Kofi. Dolph teases another elimination but Big E saves him. Sheamus feeds in to Titus's backbreaker and snap ab suplex combo. URAURAURAURAURAURA! Of course, Bo sneaks him and he's gone in one of those spots I hate. As soon as a guy gets something going with the crowd (especially a heel), he simply has to look like a buffoon; hence, why Cesaro has lost 9000 matches after hitting the Big Swing. Bo's celebration is classic at least. Cesaro LARIATO's him down and pairs off with Kofi. Kofi goes for Trouble in Paradise but Cesaro ducks and tries to backdrop him to the floor. Kofi hangs on like a sunset flip, while Cesaro is on the apron. Kofi escapes and tries a clothesline but Cesaro blocks by grabbing the hair. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
• Kofi comes back with the Bluechipper dropkick. They get out of the way for ADR/Ziggler to show their stuff. ADR heads the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker but Ziggler cuts him off with a dropkick. In a very odd sequence, Sheamus, Big E, and Kofi team up for a 3-on-1 on Heath Slater. Meanwhile, ADR gets the armbar on Dolph through the ropes. He goes for the superkick homicida but Dolph avoids and drops him across the top rope to dump him out. Miz sneaks in to try and shitcan Dolph out but no go. Big E waffles him down with a Ho Train and again Miz sells to the floor through the ropes. Cesaro goes to the jabs on Big E as Cole plays up their “great rivalry.” Thanks for that. Big E with a press slam but Cesaro escapes to belly to belly suplex E to the floor and he backdrops Kofi to the apron. Cesaro winds up to finish the job but Kofi jumps back to avoid and LANDS ON BIG E'S SHOULDERS! OH MY! WHAT A MANEUVER! Kofi uses the leverage to pull Cesaro to the apron. Cesaro, though is a Swiss super soldier and suplexes him back in and avoids a charge with a BOOT OF FEAR! Kofi tries a monkey flip but no dice and he gets hung up in the ropes. Cesaro picks him up again and SUPLEXES HIM OUT! ALL HAIL CESARO! Of course, Heath sneaks Cesaro and shitcans him admittedly to a pop, but that's the second time for that stupid spot.
• Final Four (really five as Miz is still on the floor): Sheamus, Bo Dallas, Dolph Ziggler, and Heath Slater. Sheamus tries to up the asshole quotient by pulling the same strategy but Heath hangs on. It's time for the CLUBBINGBLOWBARRAGE! NO! HEATH BLOCKS! SLATERSLATERSLATER! Sheamus recovers and pump kicks him out. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! That's not boo that's BOOOOOOOOOOOO DALLAS who sneaks Sheamus and shitcans him... only to the apron. Sheamus tries to Cena up and dumps Dallas but Bo's a bo-liever and blocks. Sheamus will not be denied and hits the barrage anyway. Dolph finishes the job and dropkicks Dallas to the floor. Now, it's just Sheamus and Ziggler (and Hollywood Miz). Sheamus goes to the patented storytelling with hand gestures and points to each and then to the IC strap. Sheamus takes over with the power offense and wants the Finlay Roll but Dolph ducks behind. He whiffs on the Sleeper, so he clips the knee and Sheamus botches the Fame-asser. Sheamus tries a powerbomb and then they botch the sunset flip roll through. They stall with some strikes. Dolph ducks the Pump Kick and Sheamus tries a catapult but Dolph hangs on to the apron. Sheamus charges in as the crowd gets a mild LET'SGOZIGGLER chant going. Dolph baseball slides through his legs and clotheslines Sheamus but only one foot hit the ground. He tries a superkick but Sheamus gets him up in a fireman's carry. Dolph escapes to the ring and HITS THE SUPERKICK! SHEAMUS IS ELIMINATED! THE BOYHOOD DREAM HAS COME TRUE! BUT WAIT! MIZ IS BACK IN AND DUMPS OUT ZIGGLER! Miz is new IC champ at 14:04.
• You had the bare minimum and then some from a requisite battle royal: tall and big guys being favorites because of sheer size (Khali, Ryback, and Sheamus), other favorites because of booking and/or talent (Sheamus, Dolph, and Cesaro), other favorites because of cheap tactics and strategy (Bo and Miz), longshots because of fan support (Slater and Kofi), cool elimination teases (Dolph and Kofi), cheap heat (Miz and Bo), the hoss-hoss collision (Sheamus and Ryback), and several guys getting their stuff in to get the crowd going. The only minor problem stopping this from being better is that it doesn't have many built-in feuds that make an RR great, but that's a problem more of previous booking than anything going on in the ring this night. ***
• Fatal 4-Way for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. Kane vs. Roman Reigns vs. John Cena (c). After ousting Kane and defying the Authority again, DB appeared headed for a date with Lesnar at SS. Unfortunately, neck surgery put Dragon on the shelf indefinitely and after some politicking, he had to vacate the strap. The belt was held up in abeyance until MITB where the fate of the belt would be decided in a MITB ladder match. Cena overcame the odds again taking out H’s handpicked goons Orton and Kane and avoiding a late charge from the man in black, Roman Reigns. The night after MTIB, The Authority was all smiles and tried their best to get Cena to turn heel even announcing that he would be on the cover of WWE ’15 via an Ivan Drago-like poster the size of a house. H offered Cena the chance to join the Authority fold but Cena declined citing morality as a sticking point even if hustle, loyalty, and respect has its share of hard knocks. Triple H then told Cena he had to pay the price and that would be a match where he didn’t even have to get pinned to lose – a Fatal 4-Way against Orton, Kane, and Roman Reigns.
• At the intros, Reigns and Cena are in opposite corners, while Kane and Orton are in the same corner for a pretty cool visual laying out the battle lines. Kane and Reigns reignite their fiery rivalry that has netted Kane an impressive zero wins over the last couple of months, while Orton and Cena go at it on the other side. Cena shitcans out Orton just so Orton can reverse and send him into the stairs. Reigns mounts in the corner for the 10 pounches on Kane. Orton cuts him off only to get uppercutted into the opposite corner for more of the same. Kane takes down Reigns with a haymaker and now it’s 2-on-1 for the heels. They stack him up for some clotheslines in the corner. Cena tries to get in the ring and Kane trashes him into the barricade for his trouble. Reigns comes back with a flying clothesline off the top on both. Orton and Kane come right back with a double suplex as Cole and the crew painstakingly try to make Kane sound like a threat and it just isn’t flying at all. Cena slides back in to catch Orton with a snap suplex that he almost spins into an AngleSlam. Kane breaks up the cover while Reigns retreats to the floor to take a breather. Kane posts him and the crowd entertains themselves with FRUITYPEBBLES chants. Cena with another shitty execution on the bulldog to Orton. Kane cuts him off with a side slam. Kane holds Reigns at bay and that allows Orton to cover for 1, 2, no. The crowd gets the dueling Cena chants going which seems to fire him up. He no sells the Garvin stomp for an FU tease but Kane is back in to end the flurry. Kane and Orton are done messing around and pull out the big guns. THE DOUBLE CHOKE! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! CAN CENA SURVIVE?!
• Charles Robinsin forces a break to end the drama and the crowd is now chanting for ROMANREIGNS. More heel combos get another 2 count for Orton. Kane peels out so Reigns can post him and Cena takes over on Orton with the shoulderblocks and the ProtoBomb. He hits the 5KS and Orton feeds into the fireman’s carry but gets dumped to the floor to avoid an FU. Reigns is in and Cena and Reigns pause for the requisite staredown. Crowd is into it even though Cena sells it like he’s a mark for the moment himself. Striker would advise against such enthusiasm. Orton and Kane are back in to do what’s best for business and save that showdown for the RR. Cena gets tossed into the stairs and Reigns gets DDT’ed. Kane covers for 1, 2, kickout. Orton’s all I PIN PEOPLE, YOU GET PINNED! REMEMBER?! Kane pleads ignorance because he couldn’t hear him earlier due to poor batcave acoustics. Orton’s done with the words and shoves him a few times. Kane fires back with combustible rights and lefts in the corner. THE PUGILISM OF THE BIG MAN! Kane preps a superplex which Reigns and Cena break up for a Tower of Doom powerbomb/superplex combo. Now, it’s Cena/Reigns II but that’s interrupted by the Zombie situp. They put the boots to Kane but Orton sneaks Reigns for the neck/backbreaker. Orton drags Cena over and this the apron DDT on both. He covers Reigns for 1, 2, Kane breaks it up. The Authority implodes as Kane hits the big boot but Reigns breaks up the cover. Samoan drop on Kane for nothing as Orton breaks it up. Orton and Reigns slug it out to NOTHING and this is your Summerslam semi-main event. Orton drops down and pulls Reigns into the CANADIAN MAPLE LEAF! THOSE LANCE STORM TUTORIALS ARE PAYING OFF! Reigns escapes and puts him in a half crab. Cena joins him for a double submission with the CC. Kane, ever the buzzkill, breaks it up only to get FU-ed. Orton wants the neck/backbreaker on Cena but Cena counters to the STF. Orton reaches for the ropes so Cena pulls him back to the middle. This tease gets a mild boring chant from some near the front row. Orton almost taps but Reigns catches his hand and pulls him to the floor and throws him into the announce table. Orton takes the bump with relish, thus leaving Cena/Reigns III. Cena no sells a geek out for a slug it out. BOO/YEA ends with Reigns taking down Cena with a burrito. Corner clothesline but Cena avoids another for the STF. Reigns kicks him off and catches Cena with a Samoan drop. Reigns fires up for the Superman punch but Cena ducks for a ProtoBomb.
• He wants the 5KS again but Reigns is up first for the SUPERMAN PUNCH! That woke the crowd up. YESYESYESYESYESYES! SPEARSPEARSPEAR! ONE, TWO, BROKEN UP BY KANE! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-URN! Reigns takes down Kane with a few clotheslines and uppercuts and the Superman punch. Reigns races down ringside for THREE CONSECUTIVE LEAPING BATISTA KICKS ON CENA, ORTON, AND KANE! OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! SPEAR ON ORTON THROUGH THE BARRICADE! He wants the Spear on Kane but Kane goes for the goozle. Reigns overpowers for the SPEAR. 1, 2, broken up by Cena. Cena shitcans out Reigns to hit the FU on Kane. Pinfall attempt gets the same as before. Cena and Orton slug it out and Cena wins that with the FU. 1, 2, Kane breaks it up. It’s like this match has negative momentum with each successive pinfall being less and less convincing than the one before it. They’ve overstayed their welcome and should just stop trying 1000 nearfalls with no chance. On cue, Kane ChokeSlams Reigns and Cena and covers Reigns for 1, 2, kickout. Kane is red with anger and can’t believe he didn’t put Reigns away. Kane calls for the Tombstone but Reigns slides out for a Spear. Cover is broken up by Orton. Orton RKO’s Kane who then gets FU’ed by Cena onto Kane making it two months in a row for that finish. Cena covers Kane for 1, 2, 3 to retain at 18:15.
• About as boring and formulaic as you can get for a potentially exciting gimmick match. It’s not a problem of execution; it’s a problem of booking and match-ups. Each guy performed fine and the match was executed well-enough, but ¾ of the match has been around over a decade in roughly the same card position with the same gimmick with the same storyline with no end in sight. There SHOULD be lots of interesting collisions and exchanges in a match like this that you don’t see week in, week out on RAW. You don’t need flaming tables or moonsaults off a cage; you need intrigue and drama with cutoffs you don’t see coming and two wrestlers locking up who never do. But when Cena/Reigns wrestles some combination of Orton/Kane every week on TV, there is zero drama when Kane ChokeSlams Reign or Orton RKO’s Cena. The only remotely exciting stretches of this match involved Reigns’ hot tag, fire up with kicks and Spears for everyone and the Cena-Reigns showdowns but even they got less compelling they more they went to that well. If you substituted Reigns with Sheamus or Big Show or Jericho, the Earth might have stopped rotating on its axis due to the sheer predictability of every pump kick, KO punch, and Lionsault that was inevitably broken up and countered with an RKO or FU. Good but don’t expect anything you haven’t seen 100x outside of Reigns fleeting brushes with Cena. ***
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The 411: A giant commercial for Summerslam. I think everyone in existence knew that Cena was retaining because their money match after DB-Lesnar had to be Cena-Lesnar, but this was a dull way to get there. Rollins-Ambrose is bait and switched. Bray and Jericho had a half-way decent match and half of a good one. Probably 20-30 minutes of the PPV total is promos or non-match beatdowns. Watch the tag match and the IC battle royale and skip the rest.