In a city well known for its divisions on red and blue party lines, WWE came to our nation’s capital with their own Battleground. With the 2016 draft in the rearview mirror, Washington DC was the first chance to see what each WWE brand would have to offer going forward. Much like the political conventions that currently air on television, WWE would have to make a case on why you should watch Monday and Tuesday nights. Did they do their job? Well, let’s find out.

The night started with the Kickoff which I thought was well done and featured way more than just your average video packages. Having Cesaro talk about Sami versus Kevin Owens was a great touch. The Q&A with the General Managers was really nothing special, though. As I’ve said in months past, they really need to utilize the kickoff special better especially with the brand only pay-per-views coming in the next few months. This will make or break the brand split.

As for the action on the kickoff show, The Blue Crew gave us a solid tag team match between Tyler Breeze and Fandango versus the Usos. I like that the tandem of Breeze and Fandango had matching gear for once making them look more cohesive as a unit. However, the psychology of the match was a little off and did not really put the Usos in that much danger. So when Tyler Breeze got the victory. But it didn’t feel earned. They just felt lucky. WWE has to be careful with doing this in a limited tag team division. It’s okay to do this once but they really need to break themselves of this habit.

That video package for the Shield was amazing. One of the greatest things that the company does is video packages.

The show proper kicked off with the Raw Women’s Tag Team Match as Sasha Banks introduces Bayley as her partner against Dana Brooke and Charlotte. The crowd in Washington DC goes crazy for the number one hugger and the heels take advantage from behind. Bayley and Sasha and of getting the win when The Boss locks in the Bank Statement on Charlotte to get a submission. While Sasha got her retribution, I felt the psychology of the match was a little backwards and didn’t do much for Bayley’s introduction. I would’ve switched the roles and made the one in peril for most of the match and Bayley would make the rescue. They did a couple false finishes like that but I they could have had the match structured around showcasing Bayley. But either way, this is just nitpicky. Good match overall and it appears Bayley is on Monday Night Raw.

Our first six-man tag team match of the evening was up next. It was the power of the positivity in The New Day now representing Raw against the now separated Wyatt Family. There really wasn’t much going into the feud anymore in my opinion. With Braun Stroman going to Raw and Wyatt/Rowan going to Smackdown this needed to be the showcase for all three faces of fear. And that’s exactly what this was. The Wyatt Family picked up the win after Xavier Woods snapped and fell prey to Sister Abigail. The New Day has reached a level where they can lose without devaluing themselves. I didn’t like the fact that Xavier seemed almost mesmerized again by Bray after the Compound Battle. All in all, though, the Wyatt family goes forward starting in a good spot.

But I do wish Big E would stop doing the dive to the outside through the middle rope. It definitely looks like he hurt himself landing on his head. Those three cannot afford an injury right now. They are on quite a roll a bigger one than any trio I’ve ever seen in wrestling history other than the Free Birds and the gimmick doesn’t work without all three members.

Up next, it was the first singles match on the card. The United States Title Match between Zack Ryder and The Bulgarian Brute Rusev. Overall I thought it was a really good match showcase the tenacity of Ryder. They did what they should’ve done. And this was the perfect introduction of Mojo Rawley. I hope this doesn’t mean a cross brand match at Summerslam between Mojo and the Bulgarian Brute. They need to keep those at a minimum. WWE is still advertising Lesnar versus Orton that needs to be the only cross brand match for the first six months of the draft. Otherwise, these will lose their specialness by the time the brands actually start running independently of one another. You want to keep the Rumble, Wrestlemania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series special.

We have a backstage segment with Seth Rollins, Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon talking about bringing the WWE Title back to Raw. Not much really going on here. It should be interesting to see how the and three interact with each other as the brand split goes on.

Next up, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn turned it up to 11 with a very physical match. There were some brutal spots using the apron that I hope they never do again because they look frightening. These guys have been battling for the last 15 years and it shows. They have a Steamboat/Flair quality to their matches. Sami gets the victory over his rival Kevin Owens but considering they’re both on the same brand that this is far from over. Especially since WWE just released a rivalry shirt for the two. I do hope you take a break for a while and let the feud breathe a little bit. Not saying the matches are not good. It just needs a break to really keep the fires hot in my opinion otherwise, fans will burn out from the characters that have no personal growth.

Natalya and Becky Lynch were next in a really no-win situation. It’s kind of ironic considering this was a situation that the Irish Lass Kicker talked about during WWE’s San Diego Comic Con panel this past Thursday. She wants the women not to be about cattiness but about being the best. They were really put in a role where they can’t win regardless. Not saying the work in the match was not solid. But it didn’t do any favors for the Smackdown women. Love the limb work however by Natalya. I think The Queen of Harts works so much better as a heel. Great back and forth but after the match before the crowd was just spent. I like the fact that Becky’s knee came into play in the finish and they really showed the toughness of Lynch by not instantly giving up in the Sharpshooter. I’m very interested to see what they do with the Women’s Division on Smackdown Live.

We get the obligatory segment with Daniel Bryan and Shane looking for Dean Ambrose talking about keeping the title on Smackdown. Fun back and forth.

The Intercontinental title match next. The Miz and Maryse come out wearing masks from Stanley Kubrick’s last film Eyes Wide Shut. A film that came out in 1999. Way to stay topical with the audience! I get the idea of them being a couple but you really want 14-year-olds googling that movie?
That is one of the most sexually charged and bizarre movies ever. The match itself was very much similar to the Miz’s movie reference. Bizarre and provocative. Not sure why Mister Backlund did what he did having a battle with his own shirt and suspenders. But it did lead to an interesting twist with Darren Young in which after applying The Cross Face Chicken Wing to the Miz on the outside, he stared at his hands. This was much in the same way Bob Backlund did it after snapping on Bret Hart following a WWE Superstars match in early 1994. I am very interested to see what’s next for all involved as they go on to their separate brands. I can see Darren attempting to go for The US Title given the patriotic “Make Darren Young Great Again” motto WWE has used with him. Maybe they will make Darren Young great again.

The six man featuring John Cena, Enzo and Big Cass versus The Club is next. And Enzo and Cass were on fire promo wise. Similarly so with this match everybody got featured and looked strong in the process. John Cena ended up getting the win with the Attitude Adjustment on AJ Styles. But it was really about everyone. And this gives all feuds fuel going forward both with Gallows and Anderson on Raw and AJ on Smackdown.

We see another promo for Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton at Summerslam. If you are a member of the WWE locker room you have to be scratching your head. The company just suspends one of the top guys for a failed test but Brock fails two and there are no repercussions. Some have theorized that WWE may be waiting for due process but honestly what message does that send to the locker room?

Next, we hear from his opponent Randy Orton on the Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho. Randy definitely looked happy to be there. After a nine-month layoff, I imagine so. I didn’t like the interplay between the two. It harkens back to Jericho’s return to WWE in 2007. Awkward. Both men tried but it didn’t come off well to me. It seemed like filler. I do like Randy Orton’s dig on Brock Lesnar. Because they had to acknowledge it somewhat. It’s Suplex City versus Viperville in the Big Apple at Summerslam,

Never thought I would hear an Ellen DeGeneres chant at a WWE show. You live long enough you’ll see everything.

WWE showed that awesome Shield video package again before the main event.

Overall I love how WWE presented this with superstars and general managers watching on. It made him feel more like a big fight feel. Even the announcers cheering for their perspective brands was a cool moment. The match itself was the Shield’s greatest hits. And that’s not to downplay the work done in this match. Everybody worked their ass off to put together a really fun main event. As to be expected Roman did the job and Dean Ambrose came out on top.

So all in all, how was WWE Battleground? It was solid with some psychological missteps in my opinion. But the true beginning happens tomorrow night for Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live on Tuesday. See you then.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.