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Verizon Center – Washington, DC – Sunday, July 24, 2016
Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton are on commentary.
Sasha Banks & Bayley defeat Charlotte & Dana Brooke at 7:25. Bayley is a surprise partner here, and the crowd pops huge for her. Remember when that used to happen? Flair and Brooke attack before the bell to take the early advantage. They stick to the formula mostly, but the crowd is with them because the action is good. Bayley does her job keeping Brooke occupied while Banks hits the backstabber and then traps Flair in the Bank Statement to get the tap out win. Fun tag match to open the show, and a good win for Banks on her way to challenge for the title.
The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan & Braun Strowman) defeat The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) at 8:47. This is a totally meaningless match, as the New Day was drafted to RAW, along with Strowman, while Wyatt and Rowan are headed to SmackDown. Woods was the focus of the angle here, as it appeared he was profoundly scared of Wyatt. The Wyatt Family controls the early going, isolating Kingston in their half of the ring. Eventually, Kingston makes the hot tag to E, who throws everybody around with his prodigious power. Late in the match Woods conquers his fear and unleashes a flurry of offense. E almost kills himself with a dive through the ropes to take Strowman out. No matter, Wyatt catches Woods with Sister Abigail to get the pin. The Woods stuff was interesting and got a good pop, but other than that this was a TV match.
WWE United States Champion Rusev (w/ Lana) defeats Zack Ryder at 7:01 to retain the title. Rusev has been the Champion since 5.22.16, and this is his fifth defense. He pretty much dominates from the bell, keeping Ryder grounded. Ryder gets his token amount of offense but Rusev puts him away with The Accolade. I like Ryder (maybe not as much as the next guy if the next guy is Kevin Ford) but this was a random title shot that he had no chance of actually winning so no one cared. Rusev attacks Ryder after the bell, and Mojo Rawley comes out to make the save. Since Rawley is on SmackDown and Rusev is on RAW, that’s another event with zero meaning to it.
Sami Zayn defeats Kevin Owens at 18:22. These two have no issue going right at each other rand taking it to the floor. Zayn starts off hot but Owens withstands the early onslaught and goes on offense. Zayn fights back and legit almost breaks his neck trying moonsault to the floor, as he landed awkwardly on the apron. Even after that, they continue to fight on the apron and Zayn hits Owens with a nasty Brainbuster. The crowd chants for both men and just loves watching them fight. Both men use signature moves and counter each other frequently to really get the crowd on their feet. When Owens hits the Pop-Up Powerbomb, Zayn is able to get his foot on the bottom rope. Owens yells at Zayn to stay down while slapping him in the face. That just fires Zayn up, and he hits a pair of exploder suplexes. Zayn lands the Helluva Kick, and then one more for malice. That’s enough to get the pin. This is a hell of a match, as these two know each other so well they could probably work a great match with their eyes closed. They hit all their moves and had the crowd eating it up. Fight forever, indeed.
Natalya defeats Becky Lynch at 9:03. This match is happening because Natalya turned on Lynch after they lost a tag match last month at >Money in the Bank. Lynch controls early on, but Natalya fights back and attacks the knee. This goes on for a while, and Lynch is awesome enough to sell the leg work when it comes time for her comeback. Natalya cuts her off and locks on the Sharpshooter and Lynch reaches the ropes. The referee gets between the wrestlers and Natalya delivers a cheap shot to Lynch’s knee. Natalya cinches in the Sharpshooter again and Lynch has to tap out. This was perfectly solid stuff, and a nice clean win for Natalya for once.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz (w/ Maryse) and Darren Young (w/ Hall of Famer Bob Backlund) wrestled to a no-contest at 8:41. Miz has been the Champion since 4.4.16, and this is his sixth defense. The crowd is not the least bit interested in the Young/Backlund pairing. Miz gets distracted by Backlund on the outside of the ring, and Maryse comes over to slap the Hall of Famer. Backlund gets mad so Miz comes out to defend his wife. Young joins them and puts the Crossface Chicken Wing on, and the referee calls for the bell. No announcement is made so I guess it’s a no-contest. Terrible, heatless match with a powerfully stupid finish.
John Cena, Enzo Amore & Big Cass defeat The Club (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) at 14:30. It’s worth noting that Enzo and Cass are massively over here. It doesn’t take long for Enzo and Cass to take control of the match, without any help from Cena. The Club cuts Enzo off and he plays the face-in-peril for a while. When Cena gets the hot tag the referee completely loses control of the match. Everyone gets taken out except Styles and Cena. They battle on the ropes and Cena delivers an avalanche Attitude Adjustment to get the pin. Good solid tag team action here. It stuck to the tag team formula and everyone was over enough to keep it fun.
WWE Champion Dean Ambrose defeats Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins at 18:03 to retain the title. Ambrose has been the Champion since 6.19.16, and this is his third defense. I always thought they would save this three-way match for a bigger show, but I guess they really wanted to kick off the new brand extension with a bang. These three obviously know each other very well from their history in The Shield, so none of them are able to take a prolonged advantage in the early going. They fight inside and outside the ring, which they might a well since there are no countouts or disqualifications. Ambrose and Rollins are actually the first duo to work together, much to the delight of the Reigns-hating crowd. They take Reigns to the floor and double-powerbomb him through one of the announce tables! Rollins wastes no time then attacking Ambrose with a chair. They all make their way back to the ring, including Reigns, and the pace quickens as all three wrestlers start dishing out their big moves. Rollins catches Reigns with the Pedigree and covers but Reigns kicks out! Reigns comes back and hits Rollins with the Superman Punch and the Spear, but Ambrose cuts him off and hits Dirty Deeds to get the pin. This was a good three-way match with plenty of action and a nice clean finish. But they just weren’t able to pull off anything epic like the proper buildup would’ve created.
Outside of the secondary title matches, this is a solid pay-per-view, with Owens and Zayn stealing the show. The main event is very good but not great, and everything else falls just a shade or two below that. The show would’ve been even better without the unnecessary and lengthy Highlight Reel with Jericho and Orton. Still, it’s a show worth watching once.
Tags: Battleground, dean ambrose, Roman Reigns, seth rollins