Daily Archives: July 18, 2015

Your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE Battleground 2015!

In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to Preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead.

So consider this your “so of course” predictions for WWE WARGAwait that’s not it…


Battleground. All the promos last week were all “I’ll see you at Battleground” and not “I’ll see you at the Battleground” which would be more thematically correct. But I suppose it’s better than nothing. A lot of PPVs these days are just named after the main event of the show. Elimination Chamber, Hell in a Cell, even “Survivor Series.” I suppose this one could be titled “WWE Lots of Suplexes!” or “WWE In Memoriam of Seth Rollins’ lower neck.”

So WWE has a weird history of July PPVs. They never could settle on what to do with the show that used to be wedged in between King of the Ring and SummerSlam. Now it’s just wedged in between Last month’s almost-commercial free Raw and next month’s almost-commercial free Raw. In the “In Your House” days you had shows like International Incident with a big tag match to close it out, saving Vader vs Michaels for SummerSlam. There was Canadian Stampede in 1997, which might just be the best WWF show of the New Generation Era, and is certainly the best four-match show ever. But still, it ended with a tag match, and saved the big stuff for SummerSlam, as did the 98 show, which ended in…a tag match. 1999 ended the “In Your House” monickers and debuted Fully Loaded as the July show (98’s show was subtitled that as well). It featured Austin vs Undertaker, which by this point was like Randy Orton vs Sheamus; nothing new under the sun. 2000 had Rock and Chris Binwho? in a title match at a time when Chris was still new in the company and basically a glorified midcarder. 2001 brought about the one-and-done InVasion PPV and let’s just move right on ahead instead of dwelling on that fiasco. Vengeance took over in 2003 and 2004, and served as basically the “No Way Out” of SummerSlam; any last minute title changes or setups to next month’s big show were handled here. The Great American Bash returned in name only for the next five years and did nothing of any interest in any of them. Finally, in 2010 the WWE found it’s groove with the Money in the Bank show that took place in July until last year, when MITB moved to June and July again found itself the odd man out.

So here we are at Battleground, the PPV which began in 2013 as the single worst WWE PPV ever in terms of buys (these are the days before the WWE Network). Technically WWECW’s December to Dismember was worse but that doesn’t count. It’s the Indiana Jones IV of PPVs. Battleground then moved from October to July and has continued not making a name for itself as a PPV that no one cares about, right in the spot on the calender when everyone is over the WrestleMania high and waiting on the SummerSlam hype to kick in.

We’re knee deep in the apathy here, folks.

Let’s just get on with the show. As per WWE’s custom lately, there are only six matches (not counting the preshow depth and dispair that is King Barrett vs King Troof) to be featured on this three hour show, and only two of them will go more than fifteen minutes. Gotta make room for all those Mountain Dew ads. One of those six matches is in jeopardy, actually, and there’s potentially a last minute match going to be added. So who knows if this card is even accurate. It’s 11:36pm on Wednesday night as I type, and Vince has probably changed his mind six times in the twenty seconds its taken me to type this sentence.

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Alright, alright. Here’s the preview…


This match takes place under “please kill me” rules, where the winner of the match is awarded a match with the loser on the next night’s Raw. The loser of that match has to fight the winner the next week on Raw. You wanna know why ratings are tanking across the board, even with a hot Kevin Owens, a returning Brock Lesnar, some killer US title matches and Divas crawling to relevance? Because everything I just mentioned takes up like one hour of Raw every week. Owens and the US title is like 30 minutes, Lesnar and Heyman cut a promo for like 20 minutes, and the Divas get like 10 minutes to do their thing (five minutes of which is the actual match). That’s it. The other TWO GRUELING HOURS are spent with the same eight guys have the same four one-on-one matches over and over and over and over.

The amount of time I got for that is exactly “aint nobody.”

So here are Barrett and Truth, together again for like the one hundredth time in as many days. It’s like Sheamus vs Randy Orton it’s been seen so many times. What should happen? Both guys should sit across from each other in the ring and play a game of chess, pausing only to mean mug each other before shouting “check” where appropriate. Honestly anything would better than yet another meaningless five minute Barrett vs Truth match. For real, this is what wikipedia wrote about the match:

At Elimination Chamber, R-Truth eliminated King Barrett during the Elimination Chamber match for the Intercontinental Championship. On the Money in the Bank pre-show, Truth defeated Barrett. In the following weeks, Truth mocked Barrett, wearing his royal crown and cape. On the July 6 episode of Raw, Barrett defeated Truth. On the July 13 episode of Raw, Truth defeated Barrett. It was then announced that Truth would face Barrett on the Battleground Kickoff show, with Barrett’s King of the Ring crown on the line.

The wheels on the bus go…

What should happen for real? Barrett should win because he remains a wasted talent, with tremendous upside, a great look, good moveset, and talent on the mic. R-Truth hasn’t mattered since Clinton was President. Barrett should win, go after the IC title and try to rebuild his once promising career. Truth should just disappear.




So there’s this one guy that WWE wants to make us believe is relevant but hasn’t mattered since WrestleMania this year. And there’s this other guy that WWE wants to make us believe is relevant but hasn’t mattered since WrestleMania last year. And now they’re fighting. I’m so excited.

Near as I can tell this is a repeat of the Wyatt vs Ryback one-off feud that I’m pretty sure happened but I could be wrong, I could be just remembering a mushroom-induced dream. I dunno. I had a lot of mushrooms at this Japanese steak house the other day…

Anywho this is just the sort of match that Bray Wyatt needs. He’s almost universally expected to lose this match and a win against WWE’s most recent golden boy would begin a return to the level he was before Cena buried him ten feet under Titan Towers. On the other hand Reigns needs this one too. His spot on the card is nowhere near as high as it was earlier this year and a big loss to a big opponent might make it harder to build him up in a natural way later this year. Matches where both guys need the win behind the scenes and on camera usually make for some compelling action, so hopefully that happens here. At the same time Wyatt has been so poorly booked it’s hard to take him seriously. Reigns is being booked fine now but he was so overbooked in the first half of the year that now it seems like WWE has cooled on him, when really they’re just treating him the way they should have been from the beginning. Perception is reality so this one might not be the big fight WWE wants it to be; the crowd might check out halfway through this, especially if its slotted to go over 15 minutes.

What should happen? Wyatt should win and (continuing with the theme of the night) chase the IC title. It would give his character some focus and an actual, attainable goal, since lately he’s been a guy who wins matches that don’t matter and loses the ones that do. WWE would do well to take a page out of NXT’s playbook and let there be a clean loss for Reigns here. NXT has shown, time and again, that a hard fought match with a clean finish often times helps the loser. It’s WWE’s love of cheap finishes and instant “get the heat back” moments that have contributed to the malaise of the fans right now. Let Reigns and Wyatt have big hard-hitting match and then Reigns can get caught in a Sister Abagail for a sudden (but clean) loss.




This is one of those things that annoys me. Last month The Prime Time Players won the tag titles when everyone expected the finally-popular New Day to retain. It had taken months for the three man feel good gospel heel act to catch on, but it finally did and as soon as it reached its peak WWE snatched their titles away in a five-minute nothing match. It felt like a loss just to throw off the people expecting something else. But Vince never does that… Fast forward one month later and we’re set for a rematch on a card that will likely have the room on it for this match to go at least ten minutes. Would it have killed WWE to let the cheating, villainous New Day cheat to win last month and then set up a redemption rematch here where PTP can finally win the belts? What’s the point of the sudden change last month? Unless they plan on swapping the titles right back to New Day (which makes even less sense), they’re going to have the team with more upside lose twice in a row. It’s baffling. Not that I mind PTP with the belts, necessarily (they’re more popular now than they’ve ever been, and have improved tremendously in the ring), but the logic of their win escapes me.

What should happen? New Day should go ahead and cheat to win the titles back. Why not? It’ll give the heels heat and the babyfaces sympathy. Right now the tag division is kind of in shambles with a lot of guys out with injury. These two are pretty much it, other than the Lucha Dragons that everyone has just forgotten existed, because WWE is so creatively limited they can’t have two babyface people or teams getting a push in the same division. Give New Day the win and maybe let’s do a 2/3 Falls Match at SummerSlam to blow off the feud and maybe pave way for the return of the Usos to the division. That’s makes the most sense as a way to fix a bad situation.





Is this match even going to happen? If it does, will the audience even make a sound? Without a Divas match, this match pretty much has to be the match that all the lowbrow fans use to go to the bathroom during.

If you missed the news, a few weeks ago Ryback decided to try and be a flashy wrestler. He started doing more top rope moves and planchas and such like. The problem is, Ryback has always been an injury prone fellow. Even when his moveset consisted of a clothesline and one suplex, he still managed to occasionally sprain, tear, pull, twist and otherwise injury one body part or another. In hindsight, he probably shouldn’t have tried adding top rope splashes to his arsenal. He’s out for a while, but since the injury happened so suddenly, there’s no word on what WWE will do. They could scrap the whole match…

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Or they could go with Big Show vs Miz for either the number one contendership when Ryback returns, or just have Ryback vacate the title and have the match between Show and Miz be for the vacant championship.

At this point, the IC title is cursed worse than Superman. It’s been a career killer ever since the beautiful white belt made its comeback. Which means I hope it goes to Big Show. Either way, it’s nice that Ryback got his first singles title and all, but the disparity of importance and fan-interest between the IC and US titles is laughable. Of all the ideas being floated around about what to do with it, my favorite is to let John Cena try and rehab it. That can start post-Summerslam. Until then let Miz win and then beat Ryback at SummerSlam. He can drop it to Cena at Night of Champions. The worst thing that can happen is to let injured and injury prone (both to himself and others) Ryback continue his reign of meh with the title.




This is weird. There’s no scheduled Divas match booked for the show. Now, it could be that they’re planning something but didn’t advertise it due to all the stuff that went down on the gohome show Monday night. Since (A) no one watches Smackdown, and (B) no one cares about the WWE Divas, the top brass probably assumed they didn’t need to scramble to announce something for Battleground. Time permitting, though, we might get something.

If they do have a little somethin-somethin in the works what should it be? How about Nikki coming out to say that she’s not intimidated by the new entrants to the Divas division. That brings out Sasha who challenges her for a title match right then and there. Five minutes and a roll up later and Sasha becomes Divas champion. This gives The Boss (admittedly, my favorite Pro Wrestler right now) a little extra something to hold on to as right now she’s the odd man out of the trio of trios that formed Monday night. Paige has the other two ladies and together they are the fan favorites. The Bellas/Fox team is clearly the pure heel group and the one everyone hates because they are the old guard. Poor Sasha is stuck in the tweener group with Tamina and Naomi. That’s too much dead weight that one Boss deserves. Give her the Divas title and let her be the focal point. You also put the title on the best women’s “sports entertainer” in a generation. From there you continue building and rebuilding the Divas division into something more like NXT: Where women have actual brains, feud for actual “wrestling” reasons and compete in full-fledged matches. It might take a year to condition the wider audience to accept it, but you gotta start somewhere.




Holy crap you guys. Jushin Thunder Liger is going to be at the next NXT Takever! I just saw the news as I was writing this. This is big. Not only because he’s a bonafide legend in wrestling, who can still go in the ring, but also because this sets a precedent wherein future guys, whether they be from New Japan Pro Wrestling or other promotions that WWE isn’t afraid of competing with, can come to NXT for a one-off match just to generate a little free interest in the event. Maybe, just maybe, this may signal a deal has been reached with NJPW, leading to perhaps an invasion or even just an influx of talent. This is huge. It’s great to be a WWE NXT fan.

Meanwhile Randy Orton and Sheamus are wrestling for what is, according to the interwebs, the fourteenth time on PPV (and there’s no telling how many times they went at it on Raw or Smackdown).

What should happen? Everyone watching live should switch over on the WWENetwork to Superbrawl II and watch Liger vs Pillman tear the house down. By the time it’s over, you can switch back to the live stream of Battleground. By then Orton will be in his final resthold and Sheamus should ready to mount a comeback and win against a “name” opponent that doesn’t have nearly the storyline reason or logical purpose for beating the Money in the Bank holder. After all the MITB guy is the person WWE wants us to look at as a credible World champion. Obviously he should go over a go-nowhere Randy Orton.


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Oh thank heavens a match that matters. The so-called rubber match between Cena and Owens seems destined to impress, based on the performance of both in their previous two matches, and on their performances with others on Raw in the weeks in between those matches. Before the return of Heyman and Lesnar, the Owens/Cena portion of Raw was the only thing keeping it from feeling like that scene in A Clockwork Orange. You know the one. This one.

The addition of Cesaro is more than perfect. He’s provided a little extra oomph to help prevent this feud from spinning its wheels, it’s given Cena some of his very best TV matches ever, and it’s given the Swiss Superman (typically one of WWE’s most criminally underused guys) something to do every Monday night. He’s not an official factor in this match, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t have a role to play in the finish. As much as he’s been used, it makes perfect sense for this not to be the rubber match blow off of the Cena/Owens feud.

A triple threat at SummerSlam would be outstanding, not just from a storytelling perspective, but my gosh can you imagine the match those three could have? Just look at the match between Cesaro, Owens and Rusev on Raw, and remember that Owens bailed halfway through. Now put Owens back in, give him motivation to win, and replace Rusev with “John Cena in the midst of a career renaissance” and you baby you got a stew goin. I’m getting tingles just thinking about it. If you need to, you can transition Cena away from the US belt…maybe have him claim the IC title (which he’s never held) and try to resurrect that one the way he did the US title. That would leave Owens and Cesaro to tear the house down for the next few PPV’s, keeping both of those superstars busy. It all makes too much sense.




So ever since WrestleMania I’ve been saying the same thing about the main event scene: Book Rollins stronger, keep Lesnar away, give him the Rumble and set up Rollins vs Lesnar 1-on-1 for WrestleMania 32. That was my dream. So of cour..eh hem, SO OF COURSE they’re not doing that. OF COURSE they are just cutting right to the chase and giving us Rollins vs Lesnar as soon as possible. I can see why, though: Rollins is the perfect foil for Lesnar (which I wrote about in the days following Mania). He’s snotty, entitled, undeserving, cocky when he has an unfair advantage but weaselly when he doesn’t. Lesnar meanwhile is in your face, no nonsense, take no prisoners, never back down. He’s also legit become the baddest dude ever to step into the ring (sorry Steve Austin). A combination of physical intensity, booking and some memorable matches (squash or otherwise) has turned Lesnar into the single most compelling WWE superstar since 1998 Steve Austin, and the fact that he’s only seen a few times here and a few times there makes him all the more compelling.

You’re crazy if you think he’s winning the title on Sunday though. For multiple reasons it should not and likely will not (“likely” and not “certainly” because “Vince McMahon”) happen. For one thing, there’s no story to be told. He had a long run from SummerSlam to WrestleMania, ran through John Cena and “the next John Cena” before the title was stolen from him. While you can name a few compelling challengers for him, either heel or face, the entire concept has already been done, and too recently. Lesnar needs to be a mercenary special attraction for a while before finally regaining his title. It’ll make his eventual victory all the more meaningful. The money has always been in the chase too, though I wonder if WWE has forgotten that. Obviously Rollins isn’t getting a clean win over The Beast, so something will happen. Something big enough to justify a dirty finish to a rare-Lesnar match.

What should happen? Undertaker should return…

All the rumors in the past few days have been pointing to both he and Sting being featured at SummerSlam, and that Undertaker would be making an appearance at Battleground. I doubt he’s coming back to go after the IC title. Undertaker should return during the main event…

and attack Seth Rollins. Everyone is expecting Undertaker to return in order to attack Lesnar, and I’m sure there’s a pride-reason for Taker to want to. Their last match was one that Taker will forever be remembered for, and it sucked because he was concussed early on. Naturally he wants to prove he can still hang with the Suplexing monster. I’m sure Vince sees money in the match too, but I don’t know how excited people would be to see that rematch. I think people are going to be excited to see Taker at SummerSlam, but I don’t think people want to boo Lesnar. Sure the mentions by Heyman of Lesnar beating the streak received boos, but they were tepid compared to the cheers he’s been getting. Fans want to cheer for him. Why force him into a match with Undertaker where fans will have to root for the Dead Man to avenge his loss…which really doesn’t need avenging since he returned at WrestleMania this year and beat Bray Wyatt with no trouble.

On the other hand, a feud for the title, the tease of one last championship run, the chance to put Rollins in his place are all enticing prospects. You set up either a Triple Threat for SummerSlam (with Lesnar playing a tweener role, similar to how he played the WrestleMania crowd) or move Lesnar away to a single opponent and set up a Taker/Rollins one-on-one match that no one saw coming. That would be exciting to me.



Oh well. There’s always NXT.

Here’s to Sunday.

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Your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE Battleground 2015!

Batman: Arkham Knight – A fitting end to a trilogy

The story of Batman, a highly trained vigilante who wears a suit resembling a bat, may have begun in comic books, but it has since infiltrated every storytelling medium possible. Television shows, animated series, movies, and with Batman: Arkham Asylum, the story of Batman was legitimized in video game form. Arkham Asylum was gritty and dark and forced gamers to take Batman seriously. Much like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, the Arkham series of video games told a story of Batman that was intense and reminiscent of some of the stories comic book readers have grown to love about Batman. As a video game, the stories were told in a way that made them perhaps more memorable because of the player interaction with the narrative.


The Arkham series has been one of the most popular video games in history and certainly the most popular superhero video game series, and fans have been long awaiting the promised end to the Arkham trilogy. Batman: Arkham Knight is the promised end, and as the end of a trilogy, it pulls out all the stops. This is one of the most intense video games around, earning a “M” for Mature rating for some of its more disturbing moments. This is a game that takes the Batman narrative to some dark places, but it’s also a game where gameplay is important. This is about a Batman who has plenty of battles to fight, and knowing how to maneuver the Dark Knight in a fight is vitally important.


Arkham Knight takes the stakes much higher than previous games, claiming at the beginning to be the story of how Batman died. If you haven’t play Arkham Asylum or Arkham City, the events that take place in those games now seem like the setup to the real story the Arkham series was meant to tell. Arkham Knight takes place one year after the events of Arkham City. That means one year after the Joker, Gotham’s most oppressive and insanity-driven villain, died. Without the Joker running the city’s criminal activities, the citizens of Gotham learn to live in hope that their city can be free of oppression and crime.

But the Joker was only Batman’s most formidable foe among many others, and Batman’s greatest villains decide to team up to end the Dark Knight once and for all. The Scarecrow, who seems an unlikely candidate among Batman’s villains, takes the lead in uniting Batman’s greatest enemies, including Two-Face, the Penguin, Harley Quinn, and the Riddler. On the night of Halloween, the Scarecrow succeeds in causing a mass evacuation of Gotham City’s residents by threatening to release a new and more powerful fear toxin. With only the city’s criminals and the Gotham City Police Department left, Scarecrow and company almost unlimited free reign over the city. Except for Batman, who is as committed as ever to the cause of protecting Gotham City.


As threatening as Batman’s enemies united can be, Scarecrow has an ace in his pocket in the form of the game’s most mysterious villain, the Arkham Knight. Arkham Knight looks like an amped-up militarized version of Batman himself, and he knows all of Batman’s tricks. In fact, he knows Batman so well that he poses more of a threat than any of the other villains. (SPOILER ALERT: the Arkham Knight is later revealed to be Jason Todd, who was once Robin and was tortured by the Joker and thought to be dead. This explains how he knows so much about Batman and why he’s in a position to defeat Batman.)

With Arkham Knight, it seems Rocksteady, the developers behind the game, were determined to layer on as much conflict as possible, and it doesn’t stop with the Arkham Knight, who seems to know every move Batman is likely to make. No, the conflict goes much deeper. So deep that it’s found inside of Batman himself. The Joker may have died at the end of Arkham City, but the Joker doesn’t allow himself to get killed without having a plan to keep himself in the game somehow. He doesn’t want the dance with Batman to end that easily. Batman and several others were injected with the Joker’s infected blood in Arkham Knight. This blood, combined with the Scarecrow’s fear toxin, is bringing the Joker’s consciousness to life in those who have his blood running through their veins.

This is an interesting plot twist as Batman has to battle not only his enemies on the outside, but his greatest enemy on the inside as the Joker fights for control of Batman’s mind and body. For fans who wondered how a Jokerless Batman game could be as good, given that the Joker definitively died in Arkham City, this was a pleasant surprise. Batman has a lot going against him, which makes Arkham Knight a game that feels weightier than games for which story isn’t as central a component.

As for gameplay, players will be excited about the ability to explore so much of Gotham City, even getting to fly over large portions of the city with Batman’s cape. Also exciting is the ability to switch between characters in Battle, utilizing the skills of Robin, Nightwing, or the Catwoman. The Batmobile is even a playable vehicle in this game, and it looks impressive, although it’s not without fault.

Both the gameplay and the storyline of Arkham Knight are intense. As the end of a trilogy, this game delivers in a way that is better than expected. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy created some fundamental moments in the Batman mythology for film, just as the Arkham series has done for gaming. Arkham Knight and the Arkham series will be remembered for a long time as one of the best and most innovative treatments of the Batman story.

Batman: Arkham Knight is currently available for Playstation 4 and Xbox One.

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Batman: Arkham Knight – A fitting end to a trilogy

WWE Spoilers: Final card for Battleground 2015


The third annual WWE Battleground will come to you, live on the WWE Network and select pay-per-view providers, this Sunday night, July 19, at 8/7c from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO (Randy Orton’s hometown). The WWE World Heavyweight Championship, United States Championship, and WWE Tag Team Championship will be defended at the event. Here is the final card for Battleground:

  • WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
  • United States Championship: John Cena (c) vs. Kevin Owens
  • Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt
  • Randy Orton vs. Sheamus
  • WWE Tag Team Championship: The Prime Time Players (c) vs. The New Day
  • Battle for the Crown: Kickoff Exclusive: R-Truth vs. King Barrett

The Battleground Kickoff will air exclusively on the WWE Network an hour before the pay-per-view at 7/6c and will feature the one-on-one match between R-Truth and King Barrett for control of the crown, as well as expert analysis from the Battleground Kickoff Panel.

What do you think of the final card for Battleground? Post your comments in the box below.

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WWE Spoilers: Final card for Battleground 2015