The WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be on the line this Sunday at Battleground as former Shield “brothers” have a triple threat match for the first time ever. Dean Ambrose, newly drafted to Smackdown, defends the title against Raw roster draftees Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in what should be an outstanding match.
Even though I’m excited to see this Shield triple threat match for the first time, there’s a part of me that wonders why would they do it for the first time ever at a low-level PPV like Battleground? A match like this should have been at WrestleMania. It really is a dream match that could have headlined the biggest show of the year.
The reason that WWE felt like they had to do the match now is because they split up the rosters on Tuesday’s Smackdown Live with Rollins and Reigns on Raw while Ambrose is on Smackdown. Due to the draft, this is the last time they can do the match unless they find a way to get them on the same show again.
Here’s a look at the three competitors in the WWE Title match at Battleground with a look at their percent chances of winning.
Roman Reigns – 5%
The build-up to the match has been unique due to Roman Reigns’ 30-day Wellness Policy violation on June 21. Those 30 days are up now, as Reigns returns to the ring first for a live event in Wildwood, New Jersey on Saturday night and then for Battleground in Washington, DC.
I apologize to my family, friends and fans for my mistake in violating WWE’s wellness policy. No excuses. I own it.
— Roman Reigns (@WWERomanReigns) June 21, 2016
With Reigns on the shelf, he wasn’t able to participate in promos with Dean or Seth. There have been no televised Reigns matches in the last month. The fact that he’s still in the match is a surprise to a lot of people because he failed a drug test, so why reward him with a WWE Title shot in the main event of a PPV? Apparently, they knew of the drug test before they announced this match too, so it shows that even though he failed a test, Vince McMahon still thinks highly of him.
I guess if there’s a positive out of the whole thing, it’s that he was able to rest up his body and mind after working a rigorous schedule the past few years. Plus, the crowd will likely be strongly against him, so it should make for an amazing atmosphere. It would be smart if he became a full-fledged heel after this. But when it comes to Roman, WWE has shown that they’d rather do what they want instead of going with what the people tell them to do.
I gave Reigns a five percent chance of winning just for the potential of WWE wanting to surprise us by having him win. However, it would set a bad precedent to the locker room to have him leave with the title. I doubt Reigns will win, but he will likely factor into the finish as the guy that takes the fall. That would make the most sense of all.
Dean Ambrose – 45%
The current WWE Champion has been on a roll over the last five weeks. He won the Money in the Bank briefcase on June 19 and later that night, he pinned Seth Rollins to win the WWE Championship for the first time in his career. This past week, he wrestled Rollins to a draw on Raw in a WWE Title match and then on Smackdown, Ambrose beat Rollins clean to keep the title.
As the top pick on Smackdown (second overall after Rollins), Ambrose is the “man” on the blue brand. There are veteran faces like John Cena and Randy Orton there too, but both of them are in the later stages of their career while Ambrose is in his prime. Keeping the WWE Title on him for a long time would be a good way to make fans think that Smackdown is just as important as Raw. If the WWE Champion is on Smackdown defending the title then that helps Smackdown. While WWE may say they want Smackdown to be equal to Raw, history suggests that they’ll usually favor Raw.
It would suck if Ambrose only had a five-week title reign because he’s an awesome performer that deserves a significant reign at some point in his career. The problem is that WWE has shown a propensity to do quick title changes in the past nine months.
Going back to last year’s Survivor Series in November, WWE went from Reigns winning the vacant title to Sheamus, back to Reigns, to Triple H, back to Reigns again at WrestleMania, then Rollins for a few minutes and Ambrose. That’s seven times in nine months. Not a good sign for Ambrose.
Seth Rollins – 50%
I think Rollins is the favorite in this match, even though he was pinned by Ambrose on Smackdown. Why would I think that when Ambrose is the champion? It’s because WWE wants their most important title on the flagship show, Raw. Going into the draft, my prediction for this match was to pick the guy that was on the Raw brand.
They also made Rollins the No. 1 overall draft pick, which shows that management has a lot of faith in him to help carry the company long term. I think he’s the best performer in WWE along with AJ Styles, but the difference is at 30 years of age, he is nine years younger than Styles.
It would be interesting to see what happens if Rollins did win the title. Does Ambrose get a rematch like most champions do? They could do it at SummerSlam, although if they really want to take the brand split seriously, then they won’t have a Raw guy wrestle a Smackdown guy so soon.
Who Will Win The WWE World Heavyweight Championship?
My prediction is that Seth Rollins is the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion by pinning Roman Reigns in what should be an outstanding match. He’ll take the title to the Raw brand.
It’s not an easy match to predict, due to outside variables such as the possibility of a second World Title in WWE. Ever since the brand extension was announced two months ago, the expectation was that the second major title would be introduced. The questions are which show will get the new title and when will it be introduced? Unfortunately for us, we don’t know those answers. That’s why we have to watch Battleground to see what WWE might do.
Bonus Prediction: On this week’s Smackdown, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan will announce an eight-man tournament to crown the new Smackdown World Champion culminating in a tournament final match at SummerSlam on Aug. 21. The finals of that tournament will see AJ Styles beat John Cena to become the champion on the Smackdown brand.
Predictions for the rest of WWE Battleground
Aside from the main event, there are seven other matches and a talk show segment announced for Battleground. Here are predictions for all of them.
John Cena, Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. The Club’s AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Interesting dynamic here in terms of rosters moving forward. Cena and Styles should continue their rivalry on Smackdown, while Enzo & Cass and Gallows & Anderson will be a part of Raw. I was surprised that they would split up The Club because they’re really good together.
Could Finn Balor, the former New Japan Bullet Club leader with a history with Gallows & Anderson, show up for this match? Possibly, but I think it’s better if he makes his main roster debut on Raw. Look for Cena to pin Gallows or Anderson here. Cena vs. Styles II seems like a lock for SummerSlam.
The Pick: John Cena, Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
They’re two of my favorites that have wrestled many times in the last few months. Their last singles match on PPV saw Owens win clean. Then a few weeks later on Raw, Zayn pinned him. They’ve also been a part of numerous multi-man matches in the past few months. Both guys are a part of the Raw brand, so they’ll continue to be at each other’s throats. In terms of a winner, I’m leaning towards Zayn because he hasn’t won a PPV match since going to the main roster in January. They need to put him over here to elevate him as a top face on Raw.
The Pick: Sami Zayn
The New Day (Xavier Woods, Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan & Braun Strowman)
It could go either way because the tag titles aren’t on the line and the Wyatt Family was broken up in the draft since Wyatt & Rowan were drafted to Smackdown while Strowman is headed to Raw. The New Day was kept together, so it would make sense to have them win. I just think WWE has to realize that Bray Wyatt needs some quality wins. Putting him over in this match would help him a lot while New Day wouldn’t be hurt by it because they’re not going to face this group again anyway. I’m not sure about it, but I’ll go with Wyatt pinning Kingston.
The Pick: The Wyatt Family
Sasha Banks & Mystery Partner vs. Charlotte & Dana Brooke
Banks and her mystery partner should win because then it sets up Banks to beat Charlotte for the Women’s Title at SummerSlam. It’s tough to predict who the partner may be, though. A lot of people want it to be Bayley because she should have been drafted from NXT, yet she wasn’t. Is that because she’s going to be a “free agent” signed in this spot? Maybe. I think Nia Jax is a possibility because she was drafted to Raw and they could debut her as a face. In a few months, when Banks is the face Women’s Champion, Jax could turn heel to feud with her later in the year. Works for me.
The Pick: Sasha Banks & Mystery Partner
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Darren Young (w/Bob Backlund)
It’s an easy match to call. Young has only been back on television for two weeks and they’re putting him in the IC Title picture. He was drafted to Raw while The Miz is on Smackdown. I doubt that WWE wants to put the title on Young when Miz is doing a great job carrying that title. Look for the crafty champion to retain by cheating.
The Pick: The Miz
United States Championship: Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Zack Ryder
Here’s another championship match that feels like an easy match to predict. Rusev shouldn’t have much of a problem beating Ryder. They can probably tell a good story with Ryder coming close to winning a couple of times, but Rusev has main event potential on the Raw roster. He should keep the US Title.
The Pick: Rusev
Randy Orton is a guest on Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel
Orton has been out of action since late last year due to major shoulder surgery. He’s facing Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, even though he’s a Smackdown guy and Lesnar is a Raw guy. This should be something simple where Jericho badgers him, questions if Orton is ready for Lesnar and it ends with Orton hitting his RKO finisher as a way to get the crowd to cheer. It’s simple but effective.
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
Like most women’s matches, it depends on time. If they get seven to 10 minutes, then it should be outstanding because they are two of the best in-ring performers in the women’s division. If it’s rushed and they have no time, then it’s tougher to succeed. I think Natalya is going to pick up the cheap heel win because they’re both on the Smackdown brand and there’s talk of debuting a second women’s title. If that’s the case, this feud would be the perfect spot for it.
The Pick: Natalya
The lineup feels weaker than Money in the Bank last month and Extreme Rules before that. Those shows were really good. With SummerSlam looming next month, this doesn’t feel like a “must see” card, even with the dream match main event.
I think Ambrose vs. Rollins vs. Reigns and Owens vs. Zayn have the potential to be outstanding matches that are among the best of the year. Both six-man tags should be pretty good, although we see so many tags on television that it’s not that appealing in this setting. There’s nothing else that sticks out as a bad match necessarily, but the lack of gimmick matches hurt too. It just seems a card full of normal matches without much thought put into them. Some stipulations could have helped.
You can watch WWE Battleground on WWE Network this Sunday, July 24 starting at 7 p.m. ET with the Kickoff Show and 8 p.m. ET with the three-hour live event. I’ll be back on Monday with a review of everything that happens.