With SummerSlam looming, WWE quietly has put together one of the stronger cards for a small pay-per-view event in recent memory with Sunday's Battleground.
While it seems like many of these feuds and matches were built to set up SummerSlam, there’s no reason why they couldn’t shine Sunday and also build for August. There are four matches — Usos vs. Harper and Rowan, Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins, and AJ vs. Paige — that have the potential to be show-stealers. The others are, at worst, average pay-per-view matches. The one match likely to be a bit of a clunker, Cameron vs. Naomi, was put on the preshow. All in all, Battleground has the potential to be a truly memorable show.
Preshow: Cameron vs. Naomi
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There’s not much to say about this match. Naomi actually has looked pretty strong the past few weeks, and I assume this breakup will allow Naomi to really get a singles push. Meanwhile, without the Funkadactyls gimmick, Cameron may find herself struggling for TV time, particularly if WWE starts to call up some more of the Divas from NXT. I can’t see this becoming a long-term feud, and so it’s a safe bet that the Diva with more potential will win.
Jack Swagger vs. Rusev
This match is interesting for one big reason or, more precisely, one big question: How is WWE going to react to the Malaysian Airlines crash when it comes to Lana and Rusev? Russia and Vladimir Putin are major hot-button issues right now, and praise for him, even from a heel, could reflect badly on the company. We’ve seen issues hot enough that WWE has needed to pull the plug — just look at Muhammad Hassan after the London bombings. So it’s not inconceivable that WWE would get somewhat gun-shy with Rusev after Thursday.
However, while I do expect some aspects of his gimmick to change, I don’t expect them to pull the plug altogether. I think there’s a way to tone down the pro-Russia aspect of his gimmick while still keeping the anti-American and generic "foreign monster" part of it. And because of that, I don’t think he will lose on Sunday. Both wrestlers are going to be ones to keep an eye on after Battleground, though, as we don’t know whether Swagger will continue as a face or revert back to heel after this feud.
The Usos vs. Harper and Rowan for the WWE Tag Team Titles in a two-out-of-three falls match
These two teams have had some fantastic matches over the past few months, and if this is going to be the end of the feud, it's a shame. It’s impressive how much chemistry these teams have had with each other, and it has shown in the matches, with each match building on the previous one. And despite feuding for the better part of three months, they haven’t felt stale at all. While I didn’t feel quite right about a title change last month, I think now might be the right time. The Wyatts are starting to regroup, and giving Harper and Rowan a run with the titles could lend some credibility to the group. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a long run with the belts, but any run could give them an extra push. My main concern with Harper and Rowan winning was that the Usos were really the only face tag team, but if Goldust and Stardust get a push, there could be a feud there as well. So if they’re going to pull the trigger on Harper and Rowan, now feels like the right time.
Winner: Harper and Rowan
Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho
This feud has been pretty good so far, and I don’t expect to end it here. Under normal circumstances, I could see Jericho getting the win. However, there are a couple of factors in play here. For one, Wyatt hasn’t won cleanly at a pay-per-view since February, at Elimination Chamber. Unlike others, I don’t believe Cena “buried” Wyatt. Quite the opposite: I think that feud actually elevated Wyatt somewhat. But they can’t have the guy losing forever if they want him to remain credible. There’s also the fact that Jericho really doesn’t need to go 50-50 with Wyatt. He hasn’t had a meaningful win in years, and because he’s Chris Jericho, he still retains his status. So this feud shouldn’t be viewed through a standard storyline lens. I think Wyatt wins, and it wouldn’t shock me if he won somewhat cleanly.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
AJ vs. Paige for the WWE Divas Title
Here’s another feud that I can’t see ending here, or at least I hope it won’t. Since Paige came out after WrestleMania, and even before for some fans, people have been waiting for this match. After AJ debuted, I threw out the idea of the two just passing the title back and forth through the fall. I still think that would be an interesting idea, and maybe they’ll get to it down the line. I think this match will be more about storyline than a simple match, though. Paige is a natural heel. You’ve seen it come out now and then during her main roster run, and it really came out in some of the vicious moves she used in the match against AJ. A face doesn’t unleash those head butts like Paige does. So I think this is the match that solidifies her as a heel. Granted, you could combine my previous idea with her turning heel and have her cheat to win. But I think the simpler move is to have her be disqualified and unleash a vicious assault on AJ. It continues the feud and allows Paige to unleash her more dangerous side.
Battle Royal for the Intercontinental Title
I think there are three contenders in this match. The first is a bit of a long shot: The Miz. WWE seems to want to push him, especially with "The Marine 4" coming out in the near future. His new character tweak has potential, and allows Miz to truly bring out the arrogant side that got him over in the first place. A run with the IC title could help him regain some credibility. But, as I said, him winning feels like a long shot at this point, though it wouldn’t shock me to see him get a run soon.