Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?

Battleground 2016
Date: July 24, 2016
Location: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
Commentators: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, Byron Saxton

This is an interesting show as the Draft has made what was just a pit stop before Summerslam into a nearly meaningless show which happens to have something that could have been a co-main event of Wrestlemania. Other than that we have some nothing midcard matches, six man tags where two of the teams will be split starting tomorrow and a mystery partner. You might call this a mixed bag. Let’s get to it.

Pre-Show: Usos vs. Breezango

Just a thrown together match. Jimmy hits a backbreaker on Fandango to start before it’s quickly off to Breeze. Some double teaming lets Breeze snap Jey’s throat across the top rope and we hit the chinlock. A few kicks to the face/head drop Breezango and it’s off to Jimmy via the hot tag.

Everything breaks down and it’s a series of kicks to put Breeze on the floor. Tyler comes back in to save Fandango from an electric chair, only to have Jey cross body both of them. The Superfly Splash gets two on Tyler before another superkick puts Fandango outside. A running superkick looks to set up the Superfly Splash again but Breeze gets his knees up, allowing him to grab a small package for the pin at 5:28.

Rating: C+. This was a very fast paced match and above all else the right team won. The Usos don’t need to win matches like this one while Breezango needs to get some wins under their belts to actually become an important team. I still like Breezango and they’re a great example of making something out of nothing. Why can that almost never happen otherwise?

The opening video shows everyone holding their flags before going to a package on the Shield imploding to set up this match.

Charlotte/Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks/???

So Sasha has been going for Charlotte’s title but keeps having to deal with Dana, hence bringing in a mystery partner. The mystery partner is…..Bayley, in one of the worst kept secrets in a long time. Like, since Tuesday. The place goes insane for Bayley so that’s certainly the solid debut.

Charlotte and Dana jump them from behind before the bell and Bayley is sent into the barricade. We get the official start with Charlotte hammering away in the corner until Bayley gets in the jumping middle rope elbow. It’s off to Sasha who botches a hurricanrana before Charlotte sends her into the middle buckle.

Dana’s chinlock doesn’t go anywhere so it’s off to Bayley who is taken down just as quickly. Bayley and Dana collide as JBL talks about this being a one off appearance for Bayley on the main roster. I really, really can’t imagine that’s true. Sasha comes in off the tag and everything breaks down with Charlotte hitting Natural Selection for two on Banks. Dana saves the Bank Statement but Bayley takes her to the floor, setting up the second Bank Statement to make Charlotte tap at 7:24.

Rating: C+. This was much more about the crowd reaction than anything else and that worked like a charm. What won’t work like a charm is having Bayley just go back to NXT at this point. Is there any real reason to not have her on the main roster full time at this point? She can do the build to Takeover and still do this stuff just fine but for some reason they want to just have this be a one off. Maybe it’s to keep Sasha hot, but then again maybe they should have thought of that THREE MONTHS AGO WHEN SHE WAS THE HOTTEST THING IN THE DIVISION AND WE DIDN’T DO THE WAY TOO LONG NATALYA FEUD.

Sasha and Bayley hug post match.

We recap the Wyatt Family vs. New Day. The Wyatts returned with Bray’s face turn completely forgotten and went after New Day and their power of positivity message. Bray got in Xavier Woods’ head and started to psych him out but with the Wyatts being split by the Draft, most of that has been dropped.

Wyatt Family vs. New Day

Before the match, New Day says they’re just not scared. Woods and Strowman start but it’s off to Bray to really scare Xavier. Actually make that Kofi, who dropkicks Wyatt while Woods is frozen in the corner. Rowan comes in with a slam and grabs a head vice before Bray drops his running backsplash. A clothesline turns Kofi inside out and Woods has to drop down to the floor in fear. Kofi gets away from Braun and makes the hot tag to Big E. as everything breaks down.

Braun gets kicked to the floor and taken down by a Kofi dive (less than a year ago Dean Ambrose’s dive bounced off of him). Woods saves Kofi from Sister Abigail but it’s time for the big psychic staredown. It takes Kofi coming in off the top to wake Woods up and he goes off on Bray with a running forearm and right hands in the corner. A top rope splash crushes Bray and a superkick (SHOT!) puts Erick on the floor. Big E. spears Rowan off the apron but Bray’s spider walk freaks Woods out and sets up Sister Abigail for the pin at 8:50.

Rating: B. Well that happened. I have no idea what the point is in having these guys win unless they’re either splitting up the New Day (stupid) or having…..actually that’s it for their options. I mean, there’s always the chance that this loss means nothing and they’ll just have New Day go on like it’s nothing, which is probably the direction they’re going with for the sake of stupidity.

US Title: Rusev vs. Zack Ryder

Rusev is defending after Ryder won a few matches (ignore the clean loss to Sheamus in two minutes of course) and challenged for the title. Lana, now in a tiara, introduces the champ. Ryder is in red, white and blue to really hammer this home. Rusev throws him into the corner to start but Ryder comes back with a middle rope dropkick….which completely misses.

A low superkick drops Ryder and it’s time for heavy right hands. Ryder elbows out of a waistlock and fires off some forearms in the corner. A neckbreaker stuns the champ as we’re firmly in the false hope portion of the match. Rusev knocks him to the floor but Ryder hits a dropkick off the barricade. Back in and the Rough Ryder sets up the Elbro but Rusev gets the knees up. The jumping superkick and the Accolade put Ryder away at 7:03.

Rating: D+. Zack Ryder loses to Rusev because that’s what Zack Ryder does. Ryder is getting better at losing to Rusev as he finally broke five minutes against him. I really don’t think anyone believed this was going to happen and there was no reason to assume anything else. Ryder isn’t going to beat someone like Rusev and it’s foolish to think he would.

Post match the beating continues until Mojo Rawley debuts to make the save, thereby setting up nothing at all since he’s on Smackdown while Rusev is on Raw.

Seth Rollins comes in to see Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon (GET SETH AWAY FROM HER! NOW!) and the bosses tell him to bring the title back to Raw. Rollins isn’t worried because he’s just that awesome and promises that there will be a bunch of Rollins babies in about nine months.

We recap Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens who are fighting because they’re Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. They’ve hated each other for years now and they still are, though this was supposed to be the final fight until the Draft put them on the same show, negating the purposes of the idea.

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

Zayn’s attempted Helluva Kick sends Owens to the floor and they immediately start the brawl. Back in and Owens sends him into the corner for two off the Cannonball. Owens even stomps on Sami’s hand as we hit the OLE chants. We hit the chinlock with Owens mocking the SAMI chants because he’s just that awesome. Back up and the Michinoku Driver gets two on Owens but he’s able to break up the flip dive before Sami can dive.

Instead Sami tries the slingshot moonsault but slips up and lands shoulder first on the apron. The shoulder is fine enough for Owens to work it over so you know he’s ok. The Blue Thunder Bomb gets two back inside so I’m going to assume Sami is fine. Owens can’t get a superplex so he settles for a superkick and Crossface. Sami finally crawls over to the rope and grabs the exploder into the corner. He gets caught on top though and has to escape a Death Valley Driver on the apron, meaning it’s the closest thing we’ll see to the BRAINBUSTAHHHHHHH in WWE.

Owens beats the count by a few seconds and they slug it out to dueling chants. The diving DDT is broken up and Owens hits a Cannonball with Sami still draped over the bottom rope. I love it when they tweak moves like that. The Bullfrog splash gets two on Sami but he counters the Pop Up Powerbomb into the tornado DDT. Yet another Helluva Kick is countered with another superkick as they keep countering each others’ big moves due to being so familiar with one another.

Sami escapes another powerbomb attempt and hits back to back half and half suplexes for two and a standing ovation. The Pop Up Powerbomb connects but Sami gets his foot on the ropes. Owens starts slapping him as Sami says bring it, setting up another exploder into the corner. The Helluva Kick sends Owens falling into Sami’s arms, setting up a second Helluva Kick for the clean pin at 18:26.

Rating: A. Can we just give these two the match of the night honors whenever they’re on the card? There’s such a chemistry here and I’d love to see them as partners who can’t stand each other. Owens is almost being turned face by sheer force of the crowd but it’s almost impossible to go against someone as loveable as Sami. Either way, great match with a great story and outstanding action to go with it.

Cole says Sami has exorcized his demons by beating Owens. Those must be quick rise demons as he pinned Owens about a month ago on Raw in a singles match.

Pre-show recap.

Natalya vs. Becky Lynch

Fallout from Natalya vs. Charlotte when Natalya turned on Becky. Natalya tries to bail to start but she’s just suckering Becky in and scoring with a dropkick. It’s already time to go after the knee with a side leg lock but she has to get out of a quick Disarm-Her. A stomp onto the leg sets up another leglock and Natalya gets in a quick nipup. An enziguri with the good leg gives Becky a breather before the Bexploder gets two. Becky gets two more off a missile dropkick but it bangs up the leg, setting up the Sharpshooter for the submission at 9:00.

Rating: C-. I wasn’t feeling this one, especially after the classic beforehand. Natalya winning is fine and they did a good story with the leg and such but it’s still just a match with a pretty lame story. I have no idea what they’re going to do with the women on Smackdown but PLEASE don’t bring in a second title at this point, especially with how much the talent falls off after these two.

Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan give Dean Ambrose a pep talk.

Intercontinental Title: Darren Young vs. The Miz

Young is challenging after winning a battle royal. He also has Bob Backlund in his corner in an attempt to make Young great again. Ignore the lack of preceding greatness. Young wrestles him down to the mat before getting two off a neckbreaker. Miz shoves him off the top to take over and then grabs a headlock.

Miz’s corner clothesline is cut off with another clothesline. The Crossface Chickenwing sends Miz bailing to the floor but Backlund won’t let him leave. Maryse slaps Backlund and they both go down, only to have Backlund rip his shirt off. Miz goes after Backlund so Young grabs a cobra clutch on the floor as the bell rings (I think for a DQ?) at 8:40.

Rating: D. Well that happened and we can add another entry to the list of things that seem to be setting up a rematch but there’s no logical way to have the rematch happen under the current rules because HAHA DRAFT. Young shouldn’t have won the title here and it wouldn’t have made sense for him to, though the Backlund thing has some more mileage in it, especially if it gives Young a personality.

Young chokes Miz out and looks at his hands ala Backlund in 1994.

We recap Cena/Amore/Cass vs. the Club. Cena was tired of getting beaten down by the trio so Enzo and Big Cass came out to help him, setting this up. Again though, the Club was split up so this doesn’t exactly have the same meaning.

The Club vs. John Cena/Enzo Amore/Big Cass

Enzo says his team is 4G and they’re very well connected. He keeps going on a rant with life advise (always lie on your resume and never make eye contact with someone while eating a banana) and also suggests a good dentist and therapist. Cena is dying in the corner listening to this and Cass tells the crowd to give it up for Enzo after that performance. Cass insults AJ’s haircut and suggests that he make a lunch like a soccer mom (“Make sure to cut the crust off.”). Then he can take the kids to Raw and remember the time they took a beating in Washington D.C.

Enzo and AJ start things off and we hit the SOCCER MOM chants. That earns Enzo a dropkick to the face so it’s off to Cass to face Anderson. We get the standard Cass throws Enzo at people spot as Cena isn’t sure what to think. Cass tosses Styles out as well before slamming Enzo onto Anderson, leaving Cena wondering why he can’t get a tag. Things settle down to Gallows working on Enzo with his heavy offense. Anderson comes in with a bicycle kick to the head (Karl: “HI YAH!”) to set up a chinlock.

The beating continues until Gallows misses a splash, setting up the hot tag to Cena. A very quick AA attempt on Styles is countered into a Pele as everything breaks down. Gallows hits a chokebomb on Cass before Cena and Luke play pass the Enzo, only to have AJ hit the forearm on Gallows by mistake. The AA gets two on AJ with Karl making the save, setting up a spinebuster onto the table.

Cena dives back in at nine and the Styles Clash gets another near fall with Cass making the save. The Club takes out Cass so Enzo volunteers to fight them himself. Karl is sent into the post but Gallows kicks Enzo in the face, only to have Cena come back in and take Luke out. Styles comes back in but gets caught in a super AA for the pin at 14:23.

Rating: B. So that’s your setup for Cena vs. AJ II which probably should be for the Smackdown World Title if such a thing exists. Cena pinning AJ in a tag match is fine and sets things moving forward a bit more but the bigger thing here is Enzo and Cass looking like they’re on a much higher level than they were just a few weeks ago. These guys are looking like something important, which you never expect to see for people who debuted just three and a half months ago.

It’s time for the Highlight Reel with the returning Randy Orton. Randy really seems happy to be back and is definitely here as a face. He talks about being gone for nine months to get back to this point and he’s stuck here with this loser. Jericho says Orton being in this ring with him puts Orton on a different level. That makes Orton think he should drop Jericho with an RKO out of nowhere so Jericho sums up the last few months for him, including the tacks going into his back a little while ago.

Jericho offers the Gift of Jericho and Orton walks up to him, shaking Jericho up a bit. Orton says it was just to see the hair because it looks like Ellen DeGeneres’. We see a clip of Lesnar talking about hurting people but Orton is ready to go to Suplex City. See, it takes twenty suplexes to get there but it only takes one RKO to go to Viperville, NO ENHANCEMENT NEEDED. Even the crowd gasps at that one. Jericho suggests that Orton is in trouble and teases Orton about the RKO, which eventually hits, albeit not out of nowhere. This took WAY longer than it should have but that enhancement line was great.

We recap the Shield triple threat which is well over a few years in the making. The short version consists of Rollins returning from knee surgery and taking the title from Reigns, only to have Ambrose take it away that same night. This set up the triple threat but Reigns has been suspended for a month due to a Wellness violation.

WWE World Title: Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose

Ambrose is defending but before we can get going, here are all four authority figures (because there are four authority figures in WWE). We get the big match intros and the three way staredown before Rollins is knocked to the floor. Ambrose rolls Reigns up for two and eats a big clothesline for his efforts.

Rollins gets caught in a Samoan Drop but Ambrose takes them both down as they’re only just out of first gear. Roman is sent outside and we get Rollins vs. Ambrose for the third time this week. They head to the floor as well with Ambrose going into the steps and Roman going into the barricade. This is the rather dull part of the match where they haven’t cranked it up yet and there’s clearly at least another ten minutes in the match so we’re kind of stuck waiting.

All three wind up in the timekeeper’s area for a bit before Ambrose missile dropkicks Reigns for two. The standing elbow drop gets two but Rollins comes back in to break up the cover. Roman gets in a Superman Punch to Rollins but Ambrose runs him over to put all three down. Now it’s Reigns getting double teamed with both guys scoring off running dives to the floor. We see the locker rooms watching (I’m sure that’s completely authentic) as Reigns is powerbombed through the announcers’ table.

Back in and the Buckle Bomb is countered with a hurricanrana into the corner to put both guys down. Rollins is still able to run up the corner for the superplex into the falcon’s arrow for the first near fall. Reigns comes back in to break up a superplex on Rollins, setting up a sitout powerbomb for two on Seth. The champ ducks the Superman Punch but can’t hit Dirty Deeds, allowing the Punch to knock Dean outside. Rollins gets a very close fall off a Pedigree to Reigns, only to have the spear cut him in half. Ambrose scores with a quick Dirty Deeds to pin Reigns at 18:05.

Rating: B+. This started slowly but got a lot better as things went on. I’m really hoping that’s not it for the Reigns punishment as just losing in a pay per view main event isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world. Ambrose winning makes sense as Smackdown needs something to fight over and I’m sure Raw will still get their shots in the future. This would have been better served on a bigger stage but it really did need to happen.

JBL goes NUTS with a big rant about how great Smackdown is, completely forgetting how much he can’t stand Ambrose. The Smackdown locker room comes out because this allegedly means something.

Overall Rating: B+. As is so often the case anymore, strong wrestling by the younger guys brings these shows up a few notches. The main event was solid and you had a classic in the middle of the show plus a very fun moment in the opener. The midcard stuff really holds this back though as there’s a stretch in there of Natalya vs. Lynch which should have been on the pre-show to help keep this from ending at 11:15.

I’m fine with extra wrestling but there was really no need for the bonus tag when you could move something to the pre-show instead to free up some time. Still though, good stuff as WWE’s PPVs continue to be better than they have any right to be. Check out Zayn vs. Owens though, in case you somehow haven’t seen them fight before.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.

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