The WWE title goes to Smackdown Live as Dean Ambrose won the battle of The Shield in the main event at WWE Battleground on Sunday night in Washington D.C.
As a matter of fact, none of the three titles on the line changed hands. Here’s a breakdown of the action and the grades for the performances.
In an entertaining pre-show match, Tyler Breeze and Fandango defeated the uncrowned kings of the pay-per-view precursor. The two teams worked together nicely and the finish was sweet.
Jimmy Uso went for the Uso Splash on Breeze, but after being partially impeded by Fandango, the finisher was reversed.
Breeze got his knees up and rolled the maneuver into a pin that resulted in the three count. Is it me or is this tag team starting to look like a poor man’s Midnight Express EXPR -0.84%? Too soon?
We’re still early in the push, but I like what I’m seeing.
Match Grade: B-
It’s Bayley and a “W”
To no one’s surprise, Bayley was tabbed as Sasha Banks’ partner for her tag-team match against WWE Women’s champion Charlotte and Dana Brooke. It should have been Nia Jax, but I digress.
The match was a fairly short program, but it featured some nice action. Bayley looked a little tentative, but Sasha worked one of her best matches since being called up from NXT.
After a scramble, Sasha got the victory when she forced Charlotte to submit to the Bank Statement:
After the match, the two enemies turned partners hugged it out to celebrate the win
Bayley wasn’t drafted, so it would appear she’s not going to come up to either Raw or Smackdown just yet.
Match Grade: C+
Xavier Was Weird, Then He Wasn’t, Then He Got Smashed
The New Day came to the ring with some relatively weak mic work, but it was fine considering they were headed for a match with the Wyatt Family.
Kofi Kingston was taking a beatdown from all three members of the Wyatt Family, but the ultimate confrontation in the match was between Xavier Woods and Bray Wyatt.
Woods did the whole, I’m-scared-of-Bray thing before snapping out of it and going on a rampage.
Woods had it going for about 45 seconds before Braun Strowman halted him with a throat grab.
Big E would hit his ring-to-apron tackle to break the hold, but as Woods turned around, Wyatt went all spider on him.
Woods ran right into a Sister Abigail and was pinned. This win was bitter sweet since the brand draft has effectively split up the Wyatt Family.
It was an awesome, but poorly utilized gimmick. Let’s see what’s next for each man.
Match Grade: B-
Rusev Bends Ryder Walks Away From Mojo
Zack Ryder worked a decent, but slow match. We knew there was no way he’d take the U.S. title from Rusev. Ryder hit the Broski Boot and the Rough Ryder, but it wasn’t enough.
Rusev reversed an elbow from the top rope, landed a kick to the back of the neck and cinched in the Accolade . Ryder tried to push through the move, but Rusev sat back deep into it and Ryder had to tap.
Ryder’s tag-team partner and recent Smackdown draft pick Mojo Rawley came to his partner’s rescue as the Bulgarian Brute was set to do more damage:
Rusev walked away from the confrontation, but Rawley has had his very energetic introduction to the primetime.
Match Grade: C-
Seth Talking Trash
“I’m the best. I’m so good.” Blah, blah, blah.
that pretty much sums up Seth Rollins’ mic work in his segment with Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon. If he weren’t telling the truth, it might have been annoying.
He did predict that people would begin naming babies after him. A kid name Rollins Mazique would be pretty odd. I’ll pass.
Segment Grade: C
Zayn vs. Owens: The Final Chapter
I’ll be honest, I was getting a little bored with the Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens rivalry, but this match was great.
If you saw both of these men wrestle before they got to WWE, you know they have a plethora of moves at their disposal. In this match, they used a good number of them.
Multiple exploder suplexes, brain busters on the apron and more were deployed. We also saw the drama, dialog and posturing necessary to tell a story with a match:
In the end, Zayn won after landing his second Heluva kick. Great stuff.
Match Grade: A-
If Natty Defeats Becky And No One Cares, Does it Make a Sound?
While watching this match with my son, he said: “it’s so quiet in that arena, it sounds like they’re in a business meeting.” That’s not good.
The match wasn’t really that bad. Becky was her normal stiff self, but Natalya has continued to thrive in her new heel persona.
I applaud the WWE bookers for tabbing her to win this match clean.
Natalya worked Becky’s legs and wound up winning by submission via Sharpshooter.
Match Grade: C+
Daniel Bryan Fires Up Dean Ambrose
Ahead of Dean Ambrose’s match with Rollins and Reigns, Smackdown commissioner Shane McMahon and general manager Daniel Bryan came to give the champion a pep talk.
Ambrose dropped this jewel of a line:
This was pretty solid.
Segment Grade: B-
Darren Young Is Good, but We’re Still Waiting on Great
The match between Darren Young and The Miz was basic, but I liked the direction Young’s character seems to be headed. The match ended in a double count out after Young slapped the crosssface chicken wing on The Miz outside the ring.
Young was coming to his mentor Bob Backlund’s rescue after he’d been smacked by Maryse and pushed down by The Miz.
After Young did his damage with the submission hold, he stared at his hands in apparent disbelief of what he was capable of doing.
Hopefully, this is leading up to a split-personality angle for Young.
He’s kind of bland in nature, so a maniacal side would work well for him.
Match Grade: C+
Enzo and Cass Blaze the Mic and Cena Gets the Pin to Beat The Club
In one of the longest pre-match mic sequences you’ll see, Enzo and Cass showed why they have such a bright future in the WWE. Trying to remember every cool one-liner Enzo dropped is like trying to recall all of our Shaquille O’Neal’s dunks in a game.
Here’s a good segment that illustrates how good Enzo was:
Big Cass was no slouch when he took the apparatus. He said AJ Styles had a soccer mom hair cut.
John Cena could do nothing but applaud:
All of that happened before the match got underway. The in-ring action wasn’t the best we’ve seen in a six-man tag match, but it was still entertaining. Here’s some of the better moments:
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows nailed a nicely executed Magic Killer on Big Cass, but it was John Cena hitting an Attitude Adjustment from the top rope on Styles to get the pin:
Match and Segment Grade: B+
The Viper is Back and He Brought His Mic Skills With Him
Randy Orton made his long-awaited return on a special episode of The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho and it was really good.
Jericho set the tone his with his tone and demeanor; If only he was still this good in the ring:
Orton was at first a milder and gentler version of himself, but he grew more nasty as the segment progressed. Jericho told him he was going to get destroyed in his battle with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.
In response, Orton dropped the line of the night when he said: “it takes 20 suplexes to get to Suplex City, but only one RKO to make it to Viper Ville…no enhancements needed.”
A collective “ohhhhhhhh” echoed through my family room and the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. Orton’s shot at Brock Lesnar’s recent PED violation in UFC competition was daring and well executed.
It almost seemed to catch Jericho off guard.
Not to be outdone, Jericho delivered a few messages/insults from Lesnar and he kept accenting each one with “Brock’s words, not mine.” When he called Orton a “stupid idiot,” you knew there would be an RKO in his future:
After a few funny dekes, Orton gave the crowd the RKO they craved and an excellent segment was done.
Segment Grade: A+
Ambrose Wins Battle of The Shield
The main event was almost as advertised. The three Shield members gave a great effort and there were tons of twists and turns. Roman Reigns worked a great match as usual, Rollins was his normal spectacular self and Ambrose was at his best.
Still, there was an intangible missing from the match that prevented it from being more memorable.
Here’s a few of the best moves:
He retained his title after breaking up Reigns’ pin attempt on Rollins following a spear.
Ambrose would hit Dirty Deeds on Reigns to secure the victory and the crowd went nuts.
The heads of the respective shows were ringside and Shane did an energetic victory lap to celebrate.
This was a fairly predictable finish as the WWE felt the need to legitimize Smackdown in its early stages, so keeping the title on the Blue brand makes sense.
That should open the door for Raw to get its own belt as early as tomorrow night’s episode of Raw. All in all, it was a fun show, but not a classic.
Match Grade: B+
Follow Brian "FranchisePlay" Mazique on Twitter @UniqueMazique and subscribe to his gaming YouTube channel: FranchisePlay Sports