WASHINGTON – Taking my seat at the Verizon Center in Washington DC Sunday night, I had little to no expectations for the show. Having not watched the main WWE product in months, even just hearing the results bored me. The wrestling boom that had been going on for the past four or five years since the WWE incarnation of the Summer of Punk has passed the company by for what feels like millions of miles ago.
Getting out of my seat, I left with one of my best WWE live experiences.
Battleground delivered a refreshingly fun show and the Washington DC crowd rewarded the matches handsomely with cheers, standing ovations, and general enthusiasm that you fail to see week in and week out on Raw and SmackDown. Aside from your standard fare of dueling support for John Cena and disdain for Roman Reigns, the crowd was particularly captivated by another classic chapter in the tales of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn and Mr. Smack-talker Skywalker himself, Enzo Amore. No one will ever mistake Amore for a Daniel Bryan or a Ric Flair, but his off-the-charts charisma and ability to capture an audience is all the more remarkable when you consider his rather limited ring ability. Amore has that lighting in a bottle persona that could really replicate the same lovable underdog feeling they had with the recently retired Bryan if they play their cards right down the line. And that seven-foot tall fella ain’t half bad, either.
Also in the final hour of the show, Randy Orton and Chris Jericho delighted the District crowd in an edition of the Highlight Reel that ended with an RKO out of nowhere that brought many to their feet in support of Orton, who has the unenviable task of returning to the ring after nine months away at SummerSlam against Brock Lesnar.
The main event still managed to keep the crowd electric despite little doubt as to what the result would be. Reigns, Rollins, and Ambrose brought their best to the ring and thrilled with throwback spots to their days in The Shield. While the beloved Ambrose retained, Reigns continues to show that the company will be in great hands in the future for someone who can work a great match and get the crowd roaring one way or another. With the right guidance, the transition if Cena should ever slow down will not be too rough for “The Guy.”
In other odds and ends, Bayley was “rookie ” of the night with her performance and reaction from the crowd. The big show clearly didn’t get to the recent NXT call-up as she looked in step with Banks for the most complete women’s division wrestler. Becky Lynch and Natalya had a fine match for the ladies as well, but them and an IC title match between The Miz and Darren Young had the misfortune of following Zayn vs. Owens as the cool-down matches before the main events. Finally, Breezango and The Usos kicking off the show with one of the interactive matches of the night was a pleasant surprise.
The DC metropolitan area is starved for a quality local wrestling scene and big shows coming to the area often bring out the extremes, with most of that being the most intense apathy as of late. Battleground managed to hit all the right notes though and brought out the best in a crowd that hopefully translated well to broadcast.
While it wasn’t perfect, Battleground serves as an example of how much an audience can contribute to a wrestling show. It may seem rare these days, but few atmospheres in sports or entertainment can capture that high of a big-time WWE live event firing on all cylinders. When both parties can be given something to work with, you get some plain fun shows like Battleground.
Hopefully WWE and their live audiences can catch each other on the same wavelength more often as we roll into SummerSlam season.
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- Countdown to WWE BattlegroundNolan Howell can be reached at email@example.com for any questions or comments.