Tonight is Battleground, the PPV lead-in to August’s Summerslam extravaganza. Our main event this evening is a Fatal Four Way for the WWE title, as John Cena defends against Randy Orton, Kane and Roman Reigns. If you asked 100 average wrestling fans who they thought was going to win this match, I’d wager at least 85-90% of them would say that John Cena will defend his title. Between the leaked promotional material for SummerSlam as well as Paul Heyman’s cryptic “Plan C”, all signs are pointing to John Cena and Brock Lesnar for the title next month.
But what if that’s just what WWE wants you to believe?
Perhaps. . . Actually, it’s almost a certainty that I am venturing much too far down the conspiracy theorist road, but let’s go down that road anyway. Consider it a thought experiment. Putting on my fantasy booker hat, here are the ways I can see six other wrestlers walking out of Battleground with the WWE title. As an extra challenge, I’ll even include how I’d follow tonight’s match up at SummerSlam.
Randy Orton - I think most would agree that The Viper is the most likely champion if Cena does not retain. Kane does his job as the Authority’s enforcer and Orton’s personal protector while Cena and Reigns spend much of the match battling each other (which also sets up their eventual showdown later on this year). Orton hits Reigns with an RKO and wins the title, all while Kane stands idly by.
This sets up a Reigns / Orton title match at SummerSlam. Cena and Lesnar still goes down, but let’s face it, they don’t actually NEED the title for that one, do they?
While most people would be momentarily thrilled Cena didn’t wind up the victor, Orton as champion isn’t going to win over most fans, especially if Kane is just a stooge the whole time.
They’d be more a fan of the winner being. . .
Kane - The teased dissension between Orton and The Big Red Monster all but disappears during the beginning of the match, as the two Authority members work very well together to take out their competition. In fact, just as in Orton’s supposed victory, Reigns gets an RKO. Orton turns to the crowd to pose, all but assured his title, only to turn around into a giant chokeslam from Kane, who pins both Orton and Reigns to win his fourth (and presumably his last) title.
The Authority is furious, forcing Kane to defend his belt against Orton at SummerSlam with his career on the line. While Kane beats Orton next month in a brutal match, Rollins cashes in his briefcase, winning the title. Triple H, saying Kane had to walk out of SummerSlam champion to still have a job, fires Kane the next night on RAW. This gives Glenn Jacobs more time to run his insurance company while still leaving an opening in case he is involved with an Undertaker match next April.
Roman Reigns - While a vast majority of the female WWE audience (and let’s face it, a good portion of the fellas) would be delighted to see Reigns win the title tonight, most Internet fans think its too soon. However, if Kane were to take John Cena out of the equation (or if Lesnar were to attack him), Reigns would have a much easier time facing Orton head on. In fact, if he’s going to win, he should win big. Orton hits him with the RKO, but Reigns immediately gets up, doing his muscle pumping and howling at the crowd. One giant spear later, and Reigns wins the belt.
The next night on RAW, Seth Rollins comes out with Triple H, declaring his intent to cash in at SummerSlam, after brutally taking out Dean Ambrose the night before. Reigns agrees, but before anything can be finalized, Ambrose appears on the TitanTron, holding up the actual contract. Rollins opens the briefcase to find it empty. Ambrose threatens to rip it up, light it on fire, even flush it down the toilet unless he is added to the match as well, forcing The Authority’s hand.
At SummerSlam, the three former Hounds of Justice battle in a Triple Threat match for the gold.
Seth Rollins - At Battleground, Rollins (with some help from Kane, Orton and perhaps a semi-truck) takes out Ambrose, leaving Rollins available to cash in without fear. Cena barely wins the Fatal Four Way and Rollins runs to the ring, actually starting the match. Despite Rollins best efforts, Cena seems poised to fight him off. . . Until Lesnar’s music hits.
Lesnar comes down and takes out Cena, choosing to walk away and let Rollins win the title.
On RAW, Reigns defeats Orton for the #1 contendership to the title. Ambrose, in a nearly psychotic rage from failing to keep Rollins away from the gold, begins to destroy the show. He invades matches, takes over commentary, even breaks into the production truck and begins messing with the video and audio feed. The only way to get him under control is to put him in the match as well, setting up the same Triple Threat match as before, only with a different champion.
OK, now we’ve covered the likely non-Cena champions. Now let’s think a little outside the box.
Brock Lesnar - Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins beat the holy hell out of each other at Battleground, leaving Rollins unable to cash in his briefcase. As Rollins is carted out on a stretcher, Triple H looks very worried, until he sees Paul Heyman smirking in a corner.
Cena wins the Fatal Four Way, Lesnar’s music hits, and one F-5 later, we have a new champion. Cena and Lesnar battle for the title at SummerSlam, but with Brock as champion.
Alright, alright, I suppose that’s not REALLY outside the box. You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!
Cesaro - Ambrose and Rollins still take each other out, Rollins is still on a stretcher, Triple H still looks worried, and Heyman still smirks in the corner. This time, though, Triple H takes the briefcase out of Rollins’ hands, saying “Sorry kid, but it’s best for business.” He then hands the briefcase to Heyman, who walks away, chuckling.
Cena wins the Fatal Four Way and turns to the entrance ramp, actually calling out Brock Lesnar. “Brock Lesnar, I know you’re back there. I know you have the MITB briefcase. I know you’re going to cash it in. Come on out, because the CHAMP. . . IS. . . HERE!”
Heyman walks out holding the briefcase, smiling. “John, you shouldn’t believe everything you see on the Internet. Who said anything about Brock Lesnar?”
Sirens hit, and Cesaro emerges, being handed the briefcase by his advocate.
“Oh my God,” says Michael Cole, “Plan C is. . . Cesaro?”
The referee comes down, the bell rings, and in shockingly quick fashion, Cesaro beats Cena. Cleanly. Just totally dismantles him; Giant Swing and everything. Cesaro is your new champion, and the Internet explodes.
On RAW, Cena comes out looking for a rematch, but Heyman says he has other things to worry about, which is when Lesnar makes his return. Meanwhile, Orton and Rollins are wildly upset that Triple H just handed Cesaro the title, so Triple H books them in a match that night to see who would face Cesaro next month. Orton wins (Ambrose just won’t give Seth a break), so Orton and Cesaro are your title match.
Thus, the top of the SummerSlam card is set. Cena / Lesnar, Cesaro / Orton, Ambrose / Rollins (in likely some sort of Last Man Standing or I Quit match).
Am I totally crazy? Maybe. Would people like it better than the inevitable Cena victory? Definitely.