Time was a funny and fickle thing. Sometimes there was never enough of it, and other times it stretched out endlessly.  - J. Lynn.

If there was one topic that kept running through my head during and after last night’s Battleground, it was time, and not just because the ‘event’ ended 15 minutes “early”.  To be honest, it didn’t end early, plenty of WWE events end well before 11 o’clock, this one just ended suddenly.

All of the problems I saw people having with the matches, with the results, with EVERYTHING have to do with time.  So, let’s take some time today and try to sort things out.

You don’t live longer. It just seems longer.

In this 24/7 world of social media, our perception of time has become skewed.  It feels like it has been FOREVER since we had a Sunday Night WWE event, when in reality, its been 5 weeks.  When we check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Glorknorble (is that how you spell it?) dozens of times each day, it makes it feel like certain things have been going on FOREVER!

This has caused a lot of problems with select members of the wrestle-watching community, as the warped view of time alters our reality.

“R-Truth and King Barrett are ALWAYS wrestling each other!”

Not true - While they fought at Battleground and at the 2 RAW’s previously (which is a little much, I grant you), they’ve only had 7 televised matches against each other since Wrestlemania.  With the predilection WWE has for cookie-cutter booking at times, 7 matches in 4 months is really not so bad, until you count the multitudes of chatter that take place about every match.  That’s when it seems like forever.

People have made the same claims about Sheamus and Randy Orton, and this points to another fault in our perception of time - The years blur together.  I did a very cursory ProFightDB search and found that Orton and Sheamus have had 20 singles matches against each other, stretching all the way back to 2010.  4 and a half years, 20 matches.  Not the end of the world.

Look, if people want to take issue with WWE booking, specifically the way there is a tiered grouping of talents in this promotion, all whom spend their time battling each other and often no one else, there’s a lot of weight behind that argument.  However, let’s calm down with regards to these “neverending” feuds that, in all reality, really just got started.

Just because it feels like forever doesn’t mean it has been so.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Since I rejoined the WWE Universe with the inception of the Network, one of the loudest criticisms has been the lack of a long-term plan, booking wise.  Last year, I attributed that to the surprise departure of CM Punk and the unfortunate injury to Daniel Bryan (and I still think I was right in doing so) - Suddenly the main event tier became much shallower, and WWE had to think on its feet, working week to week instead of month to month.  This is why The Shield broke up when it did, this is why Brock Lesnar became a Champion instead of a featured attraction - I submit we can trace all of that to the improvisations WWE had to do creatively.

Was it the best course of action?  Likely not.  Was it avoidable?  Likely so..  Did they do the best they could?  Probably, given the set of circumstances and 70 year old obstacles..  Did we have reason to Be Heard with our displeasure?  Definitely.

 Since Wrestlemania 31, however, I think WWE has collected itself, formed some long-term plans, and is moving forward with them quite nicely.  It is US, in fact, that are behind the proverbial 8 ball.

Up until the moment Kevin Owens tapped out last night, the vast majority of us believed John Cena to be a candidate for WWE MVP for 2015.  His US title reign was a masterstroke, executed to near perfection.  The “John Cena Sucks” chants were now being done ironically, for the most part, the same way we jeered for Kurt Angle, while still loving everything he did.

But when Kevin Owens submits. . . EVERYONE LOSES THEIR MINDS!

Now WWE is terrible, Owens is being buried, and John Cena has an inappropriate relationship with his maternal parent.  Can we be that easily swayed?   Has WWE earned no benefit of the doubt from the last 6 months?

Have a little faith that there is a long-term plan for John Cena and Kevin Owens.  This will certainly not be the end of their feud - We’re heading into Summer Slam with Owens / Cena IV, perhaps even with Cesaro and/or Rusev thrown in for good measure.  If August ends with Owens (or Cesaro, really) holding the United States title, having defeated John Cena to get it, a lot of you aren’t even going to remember your vitriolic response to what happened at Battleground.

Nobody is complaining too much about Reigns and Wyatt, and not just because Luke Harper came back and Bray got the victory.  Though that certainly helped.  People seem to understand there’s a long term plan here.  This will likely continue into Summer Slam (AmbReigns vs. Wyatt and Harper, perhaps?), Reigns improves every single time he’s NOT being asked to carry the company, and life is good.

As for the main event, well I can understand if that’s a little harder to comprehend.  As the NAIpod gang discussed on the post-show last night (which I still haven’t finished - I was too busy trying to find Bill from Boston’s Twitter handle so I can be his new best friend), the arrival of the Undertaker is a curious thing.  It’s difficult to theorize a way to book another Lesnar / Taker match, long-term.

Still, here’s what I do know.  Kane has shown an increasing protection of his family over the last few weeks, and then Lesnar took him out, and now “suddenly” Taker is back..  I’m not sure this has as much to do with Wrestlemania 30 as it has to do with Big Brother arriving to stand up for Little Brother.

Oh, and making Summer Slam a must-see event.  That helps, too.

Jason is right - If Taker was THAT upset about the streak ending, he’d have done something about it at this year’s Wrestlemania.  This seems more personal.

Could we see a reunited Brothers of Destruction taking on Brock Lesnar?  What does it do for the Lesnar mythos if he can defeat not just The Undertaker, but Kane as well at Summer Slam?

As for Seth Rollins, things seem to be wide open for him heading into our next Event.  He still has unfinished business with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, and right now the WHC picture is wide open.

Hmm, this has me thinking.  It might not be the long term plan for WWE, but what if we saw . . .

Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt for the World Heavyweight Championship

I don’t know about you, but in my mind, I see that match and think

It’s about TIME.

The Teacher:  Alright, Doc, before we go into great detail, give me your overall thoughts on Battleground in ten words or less.

Doc Manson: Solid matches, with few surprises. I want Ambrose v. Rollins.

T:  I think the vast majority of WWE fans echo your sentiments completely.  Continuing to tease the Ambrose and Rollins match is causing us to salivate with anticipation.  Their sequences throughout the night had a very “Attitude Era” feel to them, especially Rollins searching for Dean in the parking lot only to have him emerge from the trunk.  Good stuff.

DM: This. This so much.

T:  Can the best match on the card be the one that never took place?  Is that even possible?

DM: I don’t even know. I was feeling pretty let down by the removal of the match from the card, but I don’t think that I can be that upset over something which gives so much.

T:  We’re obviously going to see these two go for broke at SummerSlam in some sort of gimmick match.  Steel cage, Last Man Standing, maybe even a chain match.  I don’t care.  We talked on a previous post about the slow burn and whether or not it still exists.  We might not be able to call this a slow burn (more like a raging inferno), but WWE continues to build anticipation like crazy for this match.

DM: Putting on my tin foil hat for a moment, any credence to the rumors? Is Rollins hurt?

T:  Hmm, you know, I didn’t think of that possibility, but it would give an explanation to why last night happened the way it did.  Injury or not, Ambrose and Rollins came close to stealing the show, although they had some competition in that vein from some unlikely sources.

I went back and read your Lab Works where you gave some advice to Cesaro.  In hindsight, you should have mentioned to him that he should watch out for Heath Slater.  It wasn’t a 450 splash off El Torito’s shoulders, but Slater had an impressive moment last night.  Thoughts?

DM: Cesaro got distracted by trying to steal the entire show with his back and forth with Kofi Kingston. He took his eyes off the prize, and it cost him. Slater got lucky. I can only wonder if this results in a rivalry destined to transcend the ages. Cesaro v. Slater starts on RAW tonight!

T:  I doubt it will make a ton of history, but I have to imagine that match is happening.  Not sure if continuing to beat down talent at a much lower caliber will do a whole lot for Cesaro’s standing in the WWE, but there has to be some repercussions for what happened last night.

I’ll admit, I was purely and happily entertained by the Battle Royal from start to finish.  While Bo Dallas didn’t make my prediction come true, the Miz did use the strategy I suggested last week, sneakily worming his way to the IC title.  Did that sit well with you, Doc?

DM: Miz gotta do what Miz gotta do. He made the situation work for him. Good thing no one in the ring was watching the Titantron, because the camera crew gave away Miz’s strategy about halfway through the match up. Regardless, Miz play it smart and safe, and walked away with the gold.

I can only wonder if the Miz and Sheamus continue to feud? If so, title unification may not yet be out of the realm of possibility.

T:  While I completely oppose unifying the gold, it looks more and more likely that you’re right.  I’d rather see Miz and Ziggler in a battle of the beautiful, but I don’t know if Ziggler gets that kind of push.

OK, let’s go back to the beginning.  Uso’s and Wyatt’s made it hard for the rest of the card to compete.  That was quite the 2 out of 3 falls match to open Battleground.

DM: A real slow opening, but again that’s just showing the brains of the competitors. They knew that they were in for a long match and had to conserve their energies. A lot of great back and forth, and the Usos really surprised me by sticking it out and retaining their titles once more.

I’m not sure where this leaves the tag division as a whole, however. The Usos have vanquished the Wyatt Family and seemingly should be looking forward to a fresh challenge, but I’m not sure what other teams exist with… well, exist at all. Ryback and Axel? Maybe?

T:  Based on the response I’ve seen on Twitter, most people expect Uso’s and Wyatt’s to tangle once more at SummerSlam, perhaps in a steel cage.  Because, you know, every Samoan wrestler needs to Superfly off a steel cage once in their careers.

You’re forgetting a team.  Hold on, I need to take a very deep breath.  Be ready to hiss.

DM: I’m drawing a complete blank here.

T:  How dare you forget the names of. . . . Goldust and Stardust!  The Dust Brothers!

DM: We’re just on different wavelengths. I wasn’t forgetting the Dust Brothers, I just don’t see them as being the ideal opponents for the Usos. If the Wyatts had picked up the titles, I’d be the first one suggesting that the Dust brothers be in the tag title picture.

T:  Woe to the poor tag team division.  Last night’s match called to mind battles between teams like Demolition and The Rockers, The Road Warriors vs. The Rock and Roll Express.  You’re right, though.  Outside of the Uso’s and Wyatt’s, there’s just not that much out there.

It was a bad night for the Wyatt Family all around, and Chris Jericho picked up a rather sudden victory over Bray.  I’m not sure what to make of that match, Doc.  What is your analysis?

DM: Jericho is simply the best in the world at what he does. Bray Wyatt underestimated Jericho. After Wyatt’s ongoing feud with Cena, I don’t think he expect Jericho to be the same caliber of performer. Wyatt didn’t bring his A-game and he paid the price.

T:  Is it just me, or is SummerSlam shaping up to be Battleground: Part 2?  A lot of these feuds are going to continue next month.  I expect Bray and Jericho will battle once more come August 17th.

DM: Absolutely. A lot of the top level feuds seem to be spinning their tires right now.

T:  Speaking of which, I doubt that’s the last we’ll see of AJ Lee and Paige in the ring.  I expected Paige to snap.  I was sure that Paige would snap.  She even had the cocky entrance, which made it a mathematical certainty that Paige would snap.  Yet there she was, walking to the back in shame, lightly clapping for AJ’s victory.  There has to be more to this feud.

DM: We’ll just have to find out more tonight. I hope Paige finds some fire in her, otherwise maybe she just isn’t ready for “The Show” quite yet.

It’s just a poor build for a new talent. Sure, she came in and immediately picked up the Diva’s title, but that entire reign booked her as a weak talent and now it is clear that she only went over on AJ because Ms. Lee had an off night. Ever since Paige debuted, it seems that the overarching story is that, just like every other diva, she just can’t hang in the mix against AJ Lee. Ho-hum.

T:  We’ve seen a couple of those cases (poor builds for new stars) in the last few months.  I wrote about Adam Rose and Bo Dallas earlier, though I made the argument that Bo’s character had time to develop in NXT, which is why he is so successful.  Adam Rose is now pre-show material, which means he’s not even on Zack Ryder’s level.  That’s saying something.

Rusev and Jack Swagger happened pretty much as I expected, though a count-out victory is in no means a show of dominance for Rusev.  With each new opponent, the Bulgarian continues to find more and more difficulty in defeating them.  His undefeated streak is in jeopardy right now.

DM: A good, solid fight.

I’m still amazed by the current iteration of Jack Swagger. This guy is super popular right now and, in my mind, literally did zero to get where he is today. His promos are all handled by Zeb Colter. The “We the People” chant got over with the crowd, in my view, largely after Cesaro joined the group. Even the current feud, where Swagger is representing America, is only working because of the immense heat generated by Lana and Rusev. Swagger owes one hundred percent of his current success to the people around him.

T:  Historically speaking, it’s not an uncommon occurrence for wrestlers to “fall into” success.  One could argue that Bret Hart only became World Champion in 1992 because Ric Flair wanted to go back to WCW and Hulk Hogan was too busy being a movie star.  As soon as Hogan came back at Wrestlemania IX, Bret lost to Yokozuna and then Hulk took back his title.

Lesson:  Opportunity can sometimes occur by being in the right place at the right time.  Let’s see if Swagger makes the most of his good fortune.

DM: Hey, how about that main event? Any surprises for you?

T:  The only surprise was that there were no surprises, which sadly, wasn’t very surprising at all.   One of those nights where I could have skipped the main event and not missed much of anything.  Everyone had their time to shine, Cena retained his title, and I expect Brock Lesnar on my TV by 8:08 PM.

DM: You’re right. Not much to say. Plan C is going to bring the pain, and soon.

T:  We’ll be back tomorrow to dissect RAW and the direction WWE points us to as we head towards SummerSlam.  For Doc Manson, I’m The Teacher.  Class dismissed.

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.

The Teacher:  Well, Doc, I have to tell you; this is shaping up to be a pretty good show all the way around.  Looking over the matches as they stand today (Thursday), there is only one that I could absolutely care less about, and that one is likely going to be on the pre-show, which I won’t be watching anyway.  I’m excited for Sunday night!

Doc Manson: Good to be here, Teach. How’s it going, internet? I think you’ve pretty much laid out the big picture. I’m expecting a good show. All of the matches have something to catch my interest, with a few highlights with potential for match of night. In my mind, Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose could be one hell of a match up, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the Intercontinental Battle Royal turns out.

Starting at the bottom of the card, how are you digging the build to Rusev vs. Jack Swagger?

T:  I think, for the first time since his debut some months ago, Rusev has a PPV match that he might not completely dominate.  Jack Swagger has looked like someone who can match The Pride of Russia’s intensity and ground game.  While I don’t see Swagger coming out on top Sunday night, I do think he’ll push Rusev to a point we haven’t seen yet.  Your thoughts?

DM: Man, this is the first time since his debut some years ago that I am excited by the prospect of seeing Jack Swagger on a PPV. This guys has the looks, he has the athletic ability. You’re right in that he is going to be able to push Rusev in a physical manner that he has only encountered once before, when Rusev faced off against Big E. Not to steal anyone’s lines, but this one is going to be a slobberknocker, folks.

I don’t see Swagger winning the match, but the audience has been behind him and Zeb Colter in a big, bad way. No matter what happens, I think this rivalry lasts until SummerSlam.

T: Two quick points before we move on.  Number one: I think people starting liking Swagger more as soon as he stopped opening his mouth so wide on television.  When he smiles and jaws with the crowd, he looks like a doofus.  Now, he just looks mean.

Two:  I think this Sunday, Swagger breaks out of The Accolade.

OK, let’s move on to our Diva’s championship match.  I still can’t make heads or tails out of the storyline leading into it, but Paige and AJ Lee face off this Sunday.  Where do you see this one going, Doc?

DM: Can’t make heads or tails out of it? Finally, let me take you to school, Teach. It’s simple, Paige won the Diva’s title, AJ won it back. Paige wants that title so bad, she can taste it. So far, these two ladies have been civil to each other, but when they meet inside the squared circle and that gold is on the line, we are going to see one hell of a fight. Both AJ and Paige can bring it between the ropes, and they both want to walk into SummerSlam with a title to defend.

That said, AJ retains, and Paige gets a new outlook on life.

T: This likely ends with some sort of shady finish, leading to a rematch come August.  Your prediction fits in well there if Paige winds up getting frustrated and hitting AJ with a steel chair.

You don’t often see women wrestlers using steel chairs, come to think of it.

DM: Next up, the Usos vs. The Wyatt Family in a 2 out of 3 falls match. The Usos have been able to retain their titles so far in this feud, but I think their reign might soon be at an end.

T: To quote my favorite member of the Wyatt’s, “Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeahhhh!”  Besides the main event, I think this is the easiest one to call.  The Wyatt’s win the first fall, The Usos come back to win the second, and then Harper and Rowan take the titles. 

DM: Alternatively, Usos leave as tag champs, but drop the belts the next night of RAW. Not sure when or how, but the Wyatts taking those belts is going to fuel the entire tag team division for the foreseeable future.

T:  You say that like there is such thing as a tag team division right now, but perhaps that is a discussion for a later date.

Moving along in Sunday’s Battleground card, we come to the returning Ayatollah of Rock-and-Roll-ah, Chris Jericho battling the poster-child himself of Battleground, Bray Wyatt.

I don’t want to make it sound like this PPV is just going to be SummerSlam part 1, but I don’t see this feud ending come Sunday.

DM: That’s ok with me. I’ve been longing to see some good, multi-part feuds. Concerning the match in question, I don’t think there’s any question that Bray Wyatt picks up the victory over Jericho. When’s the last time Y2J won a match? Plus, you can’t tell me there isn’t some ring rust that is going to come into play here.

T:  At last, something we can argue about!  I think that for the exact reason you just mentioned, Chris Jericho is going to walk away with the W this Sunday.  He hasn’t won a match in quite some time, so Bray Wyatt isn’t going to pick up a huge amount of momentum by defeating him this quickly.
Jericho’s got decades of experience going for him, so he can more than accommodate being slightly behind the 8-Ball in the ring.

DM: You’re right, Jericho is a hell of a competitor. But you forgot about Bray’s ace in the hole; Harper and Rowan aren’t going to let Jericho sneak one over Daddy Wyatt.

T: One of these days, their interference is going to backfire.  Perhaps it will be at Battleground.

Since we’re already disagreeing, let’s keep it going.  I have to imagine you and I both have differing favorites for the Battle Royal to determine the new Intercontinental Champion.

DM: There’s twenty guys in there competing to be the next IC champ, but only one of ‘em gets to walk away with the title. You can’t just brute force your way through 20 guys, you need to have strategy. My pick goes to the guy that knows Battle Royals. Our next IC champion? The winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, Cesaro!

T:  Hey, didn’t you just write a blog entry in which you gave Cesaro some suggestions on how to do just that?  *cheap plug*

DM: Down at the Lab Works, I talked all about the last year of Cesaro’s career. His recent frustrations are about to work out in his favor.

T:  Well, that’s all fine and dandy for you.  While I would like to pick one of my favorites (and, coincidentally, the subject of my latest Classroom Chatter), The Miz, I can’t do it.

I just. . . .I just got to Bo-lieve!

DM: I can’t bo-lieve you would choose that guy to come out on top in this match. I know he’s undefeated right now, but no one really counts a loss in a Battle Royal in the books. Bo might want that title, but somehow I don’t think he’d know what to do with it once he got his little mitts on it.

T:  You said it yourself that strategy is a key to winning a Battle Royal.  I could easily see Bo Dallas concocting a plan to lead himself to victory.  It might involve himself begging, pleading and at one point hiding under the ring in the hopes that his opponents forget about him, but in the end, I’m saying Bo Dallas is your new Intercontinental Champion!

What role do you see Bad News Barrett playing at Battleground?  He’s supposed to be in attendance to crown the new IC Champion, but somehow I sense there will be more to it than that.

DM: Bad News Barrett is injured, he’s going to be a non-factor on Sunday night. There will be bad blood brewing when he has to hand over his championship, and that will only fuel his eventual return.

What about Sheamus? Can the US champ unite the titles?

T:  Well, sure, I mean he “could” come out with the victory.  I just don’t like the idea of unifying all the belts.  I’m still of the belief that there should be two World champions.  WWE has too much talent to be minimizing gold.  Having only one ‘second-tier’ belt means that there will likely only be one or two contenders, so you wind up dealing with more and more overexposure.

Last point on this match.  Can you give me a scenario. . . Any scenario. . . Where Heath Slater wins the Intercontinental title?

DM: All of the other 19 competitors suffer simultaneous strokes.

T:  Yeahhh. . . I still don’t think he’d win.

OK, time for the match that is most likely to steal the Battleground show, Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins.   The one-time Shield brothers have been at each others’ throats since  Rollins became The Authority’s plan B.  Ambrose has seized every opportunity to stop “The Architect” from cashing in his MITB briefcase.  This Sunday, they face each other in singles competition.

What say you, Doctor?

DM: I want to see the biggest fight of the night. I already believe that Ambrose desperately wants to put Rollins in his place. This one ends up going all over the arena, and the only thing I know for sure is that Seth Rollins leaves the winner, but is in no condition to cash in his MITB briefcase later on in the night.

T: Funny you mention it going all over the arena, because I think there’s going to be some sort of stipulation added to this match.  Falls Count Anywhere would be my guess.

DM: Anything that let’s these two guys just beat the holy hell out of one another. I know Kane and Orton are tied up in the main event, but I wouldn’t discount the possibility of a run-in that enables Rollins to pick up the win.

T: I hate that I agree with you.  When will Dean Ambrose stop getting the shaft?  How did he irritate so many people that he seemingly can’t catch a break?  He is a gold mine waiting to be tapped into, and I don’t know what the WWE is waiting for!

OK, main event time.  I can’t help feeling like this is super anti-climatic.  Fatal Four Way for the WWE title.  Champion John Cena defends against Randy Orton, Kane and Roman Reigns.  On RAW last week, we heard not only of a possible plan B, but a mysterious plan C (though as we discussed on The RAW Response this week, we both know exactly what plan C will be).

Be bold, Doc.  Be daring.  Tell me who the NEW WWE Champion will be come Sunday.

DM: You say, be bold. You say, be daring. I say, John Cena wins!

If Plan C is Lesnar, and it’s going to be Lesnar vs. the current champ at SummerSlam, then John Cena HAS to be that current champion.

T: No doubt.  I can’t imagine another set of circumstances that result in anyone but Cena retaining his title.  Now, Roman Reigns is going to look good.  Very very good.  I imagine he’ll kick out of just about everybody’s finisher by the time the match is over.  But there’s no stopping Plan C from happening, most likely this coming Monday on RAW.

Before we bid our fans a fond farewell, Doctor Manson, answer me this.  You’ve said, rightfully so mind you, that Ambrose and Rollins will likely be the Match of the Night.  But, who will be your MVP?  What single superstar steals the spotlight on Sunday?

DM: I’ve examined the data, and the conclusions are clear: Heath Slater with the 450 Splash off of El Torito’s shoulders.

T:  Ummm. . . I think you’ve got the wrong set of figures, Doc.

DM: Hey, you’re right. This chart was upside down. The MVP of the night? Gotta be my boy, Cesaro. He’s going to be cleaning the ring with those other fools, and you can never count out the King of Swing.

T:  Good choice.  I’ll actually go ahead and make a bold prediction, taking Cesaro’s former partner and All-American American, Jack Swagger.  While he won’t be victorious, I think Swagger winds up becoming even more of a superstar through defeat.  He’ll dominate Rusev for most of the match, be the first WWE superstar to ever break out of The Accolade, and work his Oklahoman way into our hearts with his efforts.

There we are, folks.  The data has been compiled and the lesson has ended.

Enjoy Battleground this Sunday!

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