After a strong start to his stint as Mr. Money in the Bank, this week was the first indications of Sheamus suffering from the drop in form that usually follows that accolade. On both RAW and SmackDown the Irishman was on the losing end of tag team battles, being pinned by Ryback on Monday and disqualified on Thursday. And these losses were compounded at Battleground, as Sheamus suffered a loss to rival Randy Orton.
The Lucha Dragons were unfortunately only stepping stones on SmackDown for a fellow tag team, instead of pushing towards the title picture themselves. Kalisto & Sin Cara could not overcome the New Day as they headed into their Tag Team Championship match with the Prime Time Players.
After losing the NXT Championship a few weeks earlier, Kevin Owens was unable to replace that gold at Battleground. The prizefighter was on a mission to cement himself as better than John Cena, walking out of a triple threat match with Rusev and Cesaro, only to return to destroy Cena when he faced Rusev for the US title. Then, when his own opportunity came, in spite of a typically brilliant performance, Owens could not best Cena.
Misfortune befell the Giant this week, as his chance to become Intercontinental Champion was snatched away from him due to events out of his control. On RAW, due to the pesky antics of the Miz, Big Show alongside Sheamus suffered defeat in a tag team match with Ryback and Randy Orton. Teaming with the Irishman reaped no more benefits on SmackDown, as they lost to Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. He did get the chance to unleash some frustration at Battleground, shutting Miz’s mouth with a knockout punch.
The Bella Empire was rocked like never before on RAW, as Stephanie McMahon brought competition against their dominance. Challenged by two new trios of established stars and NXT upstarts, Nikki, Brie and Alicia Fox were trapped in submissions and retreating at the end of the segment. Then at Battleground, Brie Bella competed in a triple threat against Charlotte and Sasha Banks, and was forced to tap out to the Nature Girl.
Battleground turned for Brock Lesnar with the flip of the lights, as he went from the cusp of the WWE Championship to left laying by a ghost of his past. Lesnar showed his dominance again at RAW, as at the contract signing he injured Kane and chased away Seth Rollins. With Rollins alone in their title clash, Lesnar suplexed him to a bruised pulp. But, before he could pin the champ’s lifeless body to the mat, the lights turned out and the Undertaker appeared, dropping the Beast with two Tombstone Piledrivers to close the show.
Once again, the power of positivity by the optimistic trio was incapable of pushing them to success, as the New Day’s clashes with the Prime Time Players ended much like the rest of this past month – in failure. A six-man tag on RAW against them and Mark Henry ended in defeat, before they could build some momentum with a victory over the Lucha Dragons. But, with the tag titles at stake at Battleground, the New Day were decidedly second-best.
With Bray Wyatt prying into his head, Roman Reigns took the fight to the Eater of Worlds on RAW. Attacking Wyatt during his entrance and beating him around ringside, Reigns then endured an assault from behind in the middle of his SmackDown tag team clash by his rival. Reigns came out of that unscathed, but more outside interference proved the decisive factor in their anticipated Battleground, as Luke Harper’s presence secured his defeat.
Neville became the target of Stardust’s determination to eliminate the heroes of WWE on RAW this week, with mixed consequences for the Man Gravity Forgot. On RAW, clutching the tights kept Neville grounded to the mat, but the Brit responded with a victory of his own on SmackDown. However, a backstage mugging by Stardust following this defeat left Neville laying, and this feud far from over.
The crown was the prize at stake this week, as R-Truth looked to make his stake for King of the Ring official. The self-professed ‘King What’s Up?’ built strong momentum heading into Battleground’s Kick-Off show, beating King Barrett on RAW, and then Bo Dallas on Main Event. However, this form was brought to a shuddering halt at the PPV courtesy of a Bullhammer, as he proved to be pauper rather than prince.
The Lunatic Fringe was left with the weekend off as he failed to earn a spot onto the Battleground card, and the remainder of his week wasn’t exactly thrilling either. On RAW, an intended match with Bray Wyatt was cut short by the presence of Roman Reigns. Then on SmackDown, he teamed with Reigns to face Sheamus and Big Show which ended in a disqualification victory.
Stardust burst back onto the scene on RAW this week, and made the supposed heroes of WWE his targets to eliminate. Thus, Neville was the ideal first victim of this objective, as the Man Gravity Forgot was brought down to earth by the Prince of Dark Matter. And whilst Stardust tasted defeat on SmackDown in a rematch, the swift backstage attack showed his aim is far from being complete.
After a few weeks of playing fodder to Ryback and the Big Show, Mark Henry found success as part on a unit on RAW. When the Prime Time Players competed with all three New Day members, the World’s Strongest Man evened the battle lines. And with the support of his confident partners, they were celebrating at the conclusion.
The Intercontinental Champion currently finds himself on the shelf after being forced off of Battleground with an injury. This was disappointing for the powerhouse, as Ryback began the week in strong fashion with a tag team triumph over Sheamus and Big Show alongside Randy Orton. But, he was unable to defend his title at the PPV, and his near future remains unconfirmed.
The WWE Champion was a beneficiary of circumstances out of his control at Battleground, as he went toe-to-toe with the Beast and survived. Seth Rollins was unable to damage Brock Lesnar on RAW during the contract signing, as he saw Kane left with a broken ankle, but defiantly stated he would conquer the Conqueror. Rollins gave a good account of himself in the ring, but was suplexed to the point of exhaustion. Yet, the emergence of the Undertaker from the shadows saw him escape with his title reign still intact.
With a revolution running through the Divas division through Stephanie McMahon, Naomi and Tamina did not wish to be left behind, and they were not disappointed. They added the NXT Women’s Champion to their ranks, with Sasha Banks swaggering her way fittingly into their trio. Banks was then thrust into Battleground for a triple threat match with Charlotte and Brie Bella, and in spite of an awesome performance, could only watch the Nature Girl secure the win.
This renaissance shows no sign of stopping for Cesaro, as the Swiss Superman’s transition from the tag team division into singles competition continues to flourish. However, he had to endure some trauma on RAW, as he, Kevin Owens and Rusev produced a classic match for the right to challenge John Cena for the US title. That night the Bulgarian Brute was victorious, but when the European grapplers collided again on SmackDown, Cesaro became the first man to pin Rusev on television.
The Game of Thrones concluded once and for all at Battleground, as King Barrett batted away the pretender to his crown. The Brit started off the week playing catch up, as he fell to defeat to R-Truth to continue this kingly contest. Prior to the clash for kingship, Barrett bested Jack Swagger on SmackDown, and then on the Kick-Off show finally sent Truth crashing to a loss, securing his title for the foreseeable future.
An event normally saved in the build up to WrestleMania, the Undertaker sent the WWE Universe into hysterics when he returned at Battleground. Although many had rumored this was to take place, nobody was aware what role he would play. But it became clear by the closing moments of the event, as the lights went out, the gong was heard, and the Deadman confronted a stunned Brock Lesnar. A low blow, chokeslam and two Tombstone Piledrivers followed, as the Phenom made vengeance the key behind his return to the ring.
A family reunited at Battleground, as Bray Wyatt called on his cult personality for his battle with Roman Reigns. On RAW the Eater of Worlds was for once caught unprepared, as Reigns attacked during his entrance and beat him around the arena. When Wyatt attempted to return the favor on SmackDown, his rival managed to escape relatively unscathed. That wasn’t the case come the PPV, as Luke Harper returned to Wyatt’s side, and helped the New Face of Fear triumph over Reigns.
Whilst many worried about the future of Rusev going forward after his ill-fated feud with John Cena, the Super Athlete demonstrated on RAW and SmackDown this week that he isn’t going anywhere soon. The Bulgarian Brute came out on top of an intense triple threat match on Monday, besting both Cesaro and Kevin Owens. This earned him a US title shot against Cena, which he won, but only by disqualification thanks to Owens. Rusev produced another classic with Cesaro on SmackDown, although this time it was to end in loss.
The Viper has had Sheamus firmly in his sights ever since the Irishman captured the Money in the Bank briefcase, and proved to be too quick for the Celtic Warrior. On RAW, Randy Orton teamed with Ryback in a winning effort against Sheamus and Big Show, building strong momentum heading into Battleground. In his hometown of St Louis, Orton again pulled out an RKO at the pivotal moment to secure a victory.
The Champ is still here after Battleground, and again illustrated why he is the face that runs the place. John Cena came out on RAW offering opportunity with his US Championship open challenge, and was met by three hungry challengers. When Rusev fought his way to compete, Cena was arguably fortunate Kevin Owens interfered to save his title for the PPV. But, in another awesome collision between Cena and Owens, the veteran ended up on top.
Paige has been at the forefront of a revolution that had previously failed to pick up steam against the collective of Team Bella, but that changed on RAW. Stephanie McMahon backed her cause in the interest of bringing competition to the Divas division, and brought the Anti-Diva much needed support in the form of Charlotte and Becky Lynch from NXT. And their cause in this upcoming war got off in style at Battleground, as Charlotte overcame Brie Bella and Sasha Banks in a triple threat match.
For years they have professed how they are worth millions of dollars, and now the Prime Time Players have that gold they aren’t letting it go. Titus O’Neil and Darren Young recruited some veteran help from Mark Henry on RAW as they once again toppled the New Day trio. They followed this up with a victory on Main Event over the Ascension, as they continue to prove who the dominant tag team currently is. And the biggest proof of that statement came at Battleground, as with the pressure on they held onto their Tag Team Championships, besting the New Day.
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