WWE returns tonight – Sunday 24th July – with yet another special event in Battleground, live from the Verizon Centre in Washington D.C.
In a week that saw the launch of Smackdown Live and the return of Roman Reigns, the question remains who will win the Triple Threat match between the three former Shield members?
Are Sami Zayn and Kevin Owen truly destined to fight forever, or will Washington be the end of their long rivalry? And more importantly – to some – who has Sasha Banks managed to get as her a tag-team partner?
The New Day vs. The Wyatt Family
Arguably the biggest anticlimax so far – no stipulation, no titles on the line, no real story – and on top of that the Wyatts have been split and New Day are as popular as ever; the outcome is pretty clear. The Wyatts pick up the win. Bray needs momentum as he enters the world of Smackdown Live; as does Braun Strowman with his lone draft pick to Raw. Either of these two needs to get the pin; over a Kofi Kingston.
Pick: The Wyatts
Natalya vs. Becky Lynch
It is really nice to see a second women’s feud and one that should be able to deliver pretty solidly in the ring too. Both Becky and Natalya have made the most of their fairly marginal screen time, and are equally the right two ladies to be the mainstays on Smackdown as Alexa and Carmella find their feet. In order for Becky to come out on top in the long run – and if they are wanting to keep this feud going until Summerslam – then Natalya picks up the win. Nine times out of ten there is no continuation if the babyface is triumphant in the first match. Give Natayla a true heel, dirty finish – feet on the ropes or a handful of tights – and allow Becky to win the war, not the battle.
Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks & TBA
There isn’t much envy here for the person who is Sasha Banks’ partner, because if they aren’t Bayley then they are not going to be well received by many of the fans. Whether the partner is Bayley, Paige, or some random female Superstar picked from catering (or someone fully healed from neck surgery maybe?); Sasha needs a win to prove herself worthy of a championship match at Summerslam. She needs to pin Charlotte for the three.
Pick: Sasha and the mystery partner.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
With both of these men on the same brand, maybe they are truly destined to #FightForever. And maybe that isn’t a bad thing. These matches are always good and this one should be no exception. Kevin Owen is arguably in the better spot out of the two, as Zayn continues to solidify himself among the casual audience. However, regardless of how much it appears the company favours Owens the most out of these two Superstars, based upon how he got the last victory, and in win/loss ratio terms of feuds gives the win to Sami Zayn.
Pick: Sami Zayn
The Miz vs. Darren Young
This one comes down to how committed WWE is to the Darren Young experiment. His first two weeks back in front of a live audience hasn’t done much with getting the crowd on his side, even with Bob Backlund by his side (this may be partly down to the fact that without Backlund there isn’t much of a ‘gimmick’). However, unless we see Zack Ryder beat Rusev – which is probably a slim to none chance of happening – there is no way that the Miz loses the Intercontinental Title to Raw.
Pick: The Miz.
Rusev vs. Zack Ryder
With both midcard title feuds being made up of feuds between guys on opposing brands, both matches have an all or nothing vibe to them. Again, if WWE wants to flip both secondary titles have to result in changes. However, Zack Ryder does not seem the right guy to stop Rusev’s building momentum based upon his own drive. Even more so if you consider the draft of Mojo Rawley to Smackdown and the (possible) impending reformation of the Hype Bros. The current landscape for the US title makes it feel strong; easy win for the current champ.
The Club vs. John Cena & Enzo & Big Cass
Tonight will be the final time both these heels and faces in this match will be together and with the next likely feud off the back of this slight turn in the road being Cena and Styles II at Summerslam a six-man is an easy way to ensure that neither of the main guys eats the pin.
Following on from how Enzo accidently hit John and led to the finish in the 12-man tag on Raw, most likely the outcome would be a member of The Club taking the pinfall – Karl Anderson – probably from Big Cass to keep aspects neutral between Styles and Cena.
Pick: Cena, Enzo and Big Cass.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns
With much speculation – and little confirmation – around the introduction of a second world title, the huge interest that is already revolving around this match has only heightened. For many, not having the World Title on the flagship show makes this match easy to predict. Surely, Vinnie Mac will want to main prize of his company on Raw. But if you’re going to do it, then do it properly. Throw all caution to the wind. John Cena isn’t enough to get Smackdown Live up and off the ground, the Champ (and no, it’s not you John, so lay the catchphrase to rest) needs to be present. And that man is, Dean Ambrose. For this reason, the ending comes naturally.
Pick: Dean Ambrose