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First Niagara Center – Buffalo, New York – Sunday, October 6, 2013
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, and JBL are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Battleground Hardcore Rules Match for the World Heavyweight Championship – Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam
Del Rio has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is his fourth defense. RVD has Ricardo Rodriguez in his corner. I have no idea what makes a “Battleground Hardcore Rules” match any different than a regular Hardcore Rules match. Del Rio attacks right away and they are on the floor within 30 seconds. RVD hits a moonsault off the barricade. Back to the ring RVD brings a chair and hits a slingshot DDT right on said chair for a two-count. Del Rio recovers from that pretty quickly and hits a Backstabber for two. He strikes with a steel chair, and keeps RVD on the mat. RVD fights back with a spin kick and he goes to the floor to get a ladder. RVD hits the thrust kick from the top rope, and then whips Del Rio into the ladder in the corner. Del Rio crashes hard to the floor. Back in the ring RVD gets a two-count. RVD goes for the monkey flip but Del Rio avoids it and hits an enziguiri. The Champ is back in control and he brings in a trash can to beat on his challenger with. Del Rio goes to the top rope with the trash can and RVD kicks it right back into his face! RVD picks up the pace and unloads with a flurry of offense. He slams Del Rio on the ladder and hits a split-legged moonsault for a two-count. RVD goes for Rolling Thunder on the ladder but Del Rio moves out of the way. Ouch. Del Rio puts on the Cross Armbreaker and Rodriguez comes in the ring to break it up with the bucket he carries for some reason. RVD rolls Del Rio up for two, and then Del Rio dumps RVD to the floor. Del Rio yells at Rodriguez, and the ring announcer finally stands up for himself and fights back. OF course he doesn’t get too far with that and Del Rio beats him down. The distraction allows RVD to baseball slide the ladder onto Del Rio, and he follows with a Five-Star Frog Splash off the apron, crushing Del Rio under the force of the ladder. Back in the ring RVD covers for two. RVD tries the Van Terminator but Del Rio is able to avoid it. Del Rio hits a drop toehold onto the chair. He Pillmanizes RVD’s arm and then puts on the Cross Armbreaker with the chair and RVD taps out at 16:03. That was a lot of back and forth moves with not much story, but they worked in some cool spots and Del Rio went over super clean and I appreciate that.
MATCH #2: Santino Marella & The Great Khali vs. The Real Americans
Santino and Khali are accompanied by Hornswoggle, while Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro have Zeb Colter in their corner. Swagger and Santino start the match. They wrestle on the mat for a bit and Swagger takes the early advantage. Santino fights back and takes out the Cobra pretty early and Swagger bails to the floor. Back in the ring the Real Americans are able to isolate Santino and wear him down with their swank double-team moves. After several minutes a tag is made and Khali comes in a house afire. Khali hits Cesaro with the big chop to the head and Swagger has to break up the pin. Swagger gets knocked to the floor with another Khali chop and Santino takes him out with a house show dive. Cesaro recovers and goes low on Khali, putting him on his back in the center of the ring. That leaves the giant in perfect position for the Cesaro Swing! The crowd pops huge for it, and Cesaro gets the pin at 7:06. That seemed more like a match meant for Main Event, but the whole point was to put Cesaro over and I’m all for that, so this match gets a pass.
MATCH #3: Intercontinental Championship Match – Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth
Axel has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is his fifth defense. He has Paul Heyman in his corner. They start off aggressively and Truth takes the first control. Truth unloads on Axel and sends him to the floor with a clothesline. He hits Axel with a clothesline off the apron and brings him back in th ering for a two-count. Axel is able to position Truth outside the ring so he can kick him back into the barricade. Axel then rams Truth into the barricade again and the Champ is in control. Back in the ring Axel gets two. Axel continues to wear Truth down, hitting a nice dropkick for two. Truth fights back and scores a victory roll for a two-count. He hits the Corkscrew scissors kick and scores a near-fall. Truth hits the Truth Conviction for another two-count. He tries the What’s Up but Axel hangs on to the ropes and Truth hits the back of his head on the mat. Axel hits Snake Eyes and then finishes Truth off with the Axehole at 7:39. That was another TV-level match that somehow ended up on pay-per-view. It wasn’t even bad, it’s just hard to believe that this is the same belt that Randy Savage fought Ricky Steamboat over.
MATCH #4: Divas Championship Match – AJ Lee vs. Brie Bella
AJ has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is her fourth defense. She has Tamina Snuka in her corner and Brie has her twin sister Nikki. Brie starts off with a slap to the face and she is all over the Champion. AJ goes to the floor and Tamina protects her. Back in the ring Brie continues to wear AJ down. Brie hits a dropkick from the second rope for a two-count. She ends up on the apron and AJ kicks her knee out, and then throws her into the ring post. Cool spot. Back in the ring AJ gets a two-count. AJ focuses on the arm and works on it for several minutes. Brie catches AJ with a dropkick and that creates some separation. She covers for a two-count, and then unleashes a flurry of offense. Brie looks poised to put AJ away but Tamina attacks Nikki and Brie gets distracted. AJ rolls Brie up for the win at 6:37. That was a nice little Divas match but the finish was pretty weak. Nikki isn’t some helpless dame, Brie should trust her sister to take care of herself.
MATCH #5: Rhodes’ Family Careers in Jeopardy – Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes & Goldust
The Rhodes Brothers have their father Dusty Rhodes in their corner, while the Tag Team Champions Rollins and Reigns have United States Champion Dean Ambrose with them. The titles are not on the line, but if Cody and Goldust win they are reinstated, and if the Shield wins then Dusty loses his job. Cody and Rollins start it off, and the Rhodes brothers are wrestling like they have something to prove and everything on the line. The Shield takes a powder and regroups on the floor. The two teams and their cornermen engage in a standoff on the floor but no punches are thrown. Back in the ring Reigns and Goldust do battle and it’s still Cody and Goldust in control. Rollins fights back with an STO into the corner on Cody, and then Reigns tags in. Reigns beats on Cody for several minutes until the younger Rhodes brother is able to connect with a moonsault. Goldust gets the hot tag and he is moving around the ring like a man half his age. He misses a cross body block and tumbles to the floor. Ambrose talks trash and Goldust barely makes it back to the ring before the 10-count. Rollins covers right away for a two-count. The Shield isolates Goldust and keeps him away from his younger brother. After much abuse Goldust is able to catch Rollins with a powerslam. Cody gets the hot tag and he’s more fired up than I’ve ever seen him. He hits Rollins with a huge Alabama Slam and knocks Reigns off the apron. Cody covers Rollins for a two-count. He hits Rollins with a Muscle Buster and Reigns has to break it up. The referee loses control of the match. Cody hits Reigns with the Disaster Kick and throws him to the floor. He knocks Ambrose off the apron and gets bulldozed from behind by Rollins. Meanwhile, Ambrose and Dusty get into a brawl at ringside, and The American Dream shows Ambrose who’s the boss. The crowd loves it. Goldust takes Reigns out on the floor and Rollins rolls Cody up for two. Seconds later Cody hits Rollins with Cross Rhodes to get the pin at 13:55! The crowd goes absolutely insane as the Rhodes family celebrates. See what happens when you build an actual storyline and give the wrestlers something to fight about and the fans something to care about? You get a great, memorable match like this one. The babyface locker room empties to congratulate the Rhodes family, even further making this seem like a big deal. I love all of this.
MATCH #6: Kofi Kingston vs. Bray Wyatt
Wyatt has his followers Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in his corner. Kingston is at a severe disadvantage right from the start, but he won’t let that deter him from fighting. He lands a couple of kicks and goes up top but Wyatt knocks him down. Wyatt beats on Kingston with his methodical offense while it sounds like the crowd is trying to chant for Kingston. Every time Kingston tries to put together some offense, Wyatt is able to counter him and keep on the advantage. Finally Kingston is able to hit a crucifix bomb (don’t think I’ve seen that before in WWE), and both men are down. Back to their feet Kingston unleashes his CONTROLLED FRENZY. You know Kofi is a jobber now because Cole won’t even call Controlled Frenzy anymore. Kingston hits the Boom Drop and goes for the Trouble in Paradise. Wyatt avoids it and launches himself at Kingston with ferocity. He does the little crab walk and Kingston looks alarmed. Even so Kingston is able to pull down the top rope and send Wyatt to the flor. Kingston follows with a beautiful tope to take out all three members of the Wyatt Family. Back in the ring Kingston hits a high cross body off the top rope for two. Kingston tries the SOS but Wyatt counters with Sister Abigail to get the win at 8:18. Kofi Kingston is the best Tito Santana since Tito Santana, but his matches lack drama because he never really has a shot at winning. This was a solid showing for Bray Wyatt, but nothing anyone will remember.
MATCH #7: CM Punk vs. Ryback
Paul Heyman is in his client Ryback’s corner. Ryback shows off his power in the early going while the crowd chants for Punk. As soon as Punk starts to fire up Ryback takes a powder. Back in the ring Punk unloads with strikes and Ryback takes another breather. This time Punk follows him out with a suicide dive. Punk tries to leap off the barricade and Ryback catches him, but Punk slips out of that and shoves Ryback into the ring post. Back to the ring Punk hits a cross body from the top rope for two. Ryback cuts him off and starts going to work on the midsection. This goes on for quite some time. Eventually Punk fights back and builds momentum, sending Michael Cole into a Controlled Frenzy. Hey, if Kofi doesn’t get it someone should. Punk signals for the Go 2 Sleep and Heyman gets on the microphone to taunt Punk about how he beat him at Night of Champions, and that allows Ryback to take control. Ryback hits a huge powerbomb for two. He goes for another one but Punk slips out and kicks Ryback in the head. Punk just created some separation, so this is just a stellar match for Cole. Now Punk goes up top and hits Hail to the King for a near-fall. Punk goes for the knee in the corner and Ryback catches him, but Punk counters with a hurricanrana! Another series of reversals ends with Ryback hitting a powerslam for two. Heyman distracts the referee but it backfires when Punk kicks Ryback low and gets the pin at 14:47. Boy that just felt like it went on forever. These two have no chemistry as opponents, and knowing what we know now it’s obvious that Punk was phoning it in.
MATCH #8: Vacant WWE Championship Match – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
The title has been held in abeyance since 9.16.13, and this match is designed to settle the matter. Fans in Buffalo are big fans of Bryan, as fans everywhere seem to be. Bryan and Orton take it to the mat right away, which would seem to favor Bryan. Orton fights back with his striking game as the feeling out process continues. Bryan lands a dropkick and then goes to work on the arm. Orton cuts Bryan off with the Inverted headlock backbreaker. Momentum continues to shift as both men try to find the best strategy to establish dominance. Orton takes the first prolonged advantage, hitting the snap scoop powerslam for two. He keeps Bryan on the mat as much as possible and wears him down. Bryan is able to skin the cat and send Orton to the floor with a headscissors. He follows Orton out with a nice suicide dive. Bryan continues the assualt and tries a missile dropkick going back to the ring, but Orton catches him in a nice powerbomb. Orton cinches on a Boston Crab. Bryan counters to an inside cradle for two, and then goes for the Yes Lock but Orton reaches the ropes and rolls to the floor. Orton avoids a baseball slide and throws Bryan into the steel steps. He uses everything at ringside to beat on Bryan and then throws him back in the ring for a two-count. Orton hits a big superplex just like his daddy to get another near-fall. Both men are hurt and they rise to trade strikes. Bryan gets fired up by the crowd and executes a backslide for two. He drills Orton with a kick to the head for a two-count. They battle on the apron and Orton is able to suplex Bryan all the way to the floor. Orton tries to powerbomb Bryan through the announce table but Bryan slips out and unloads with kicks. Bryan throws Orton into the steel steps. He goes up top and wips Orton out with a huge cross body block. Back in the ring Bryan lands the diving headbutt but it only gets two! Bryan unloads with multiple IEDs right to Orton’s face and the crowd is going banana. He hits more kicks until Orton catches him in an exploder suplex. Orton hits the Rope-hung DDT and goes for the RKO but Bryan avoids it. Bryan tries a kick but Orton ducks and gets a rollup for two, and Bryan counters that into the Yes Lock! For some reason the Big Show’s music hits and he runs down to the ring. Show pulls the referee to the floor and Bryan is pissed. Bryan gets in Show’s face and gets knocked out with a right hand. Show looks distraught. RAW General Manager Brad Maddox brings out disgraced referee Scott Armstrong to count the pin, but Show pulls that referee out too and knocks him out! Show gets in the ring and knocks Orton out as well. No bell but Show’s music hits at about 24:00, and all the wrestlers and referees are knocked out so I guess it’s a no-contest. As usual between Orton and Bryan, the match was tremendous stuff, but that was just about the biggest f*#! you finish they could have booked. All for a stupid Big Show storyline that went nowhere and no one cared about. Excellent match but points definitely deducted for the finish.
Tags: Battleground, Big Show, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton