WASHINGTON, D.C. — The main event of WWE
Battleground was two years in the making, one the WWE Universe had been waiting to see ever since Seth Rollins stabbed his Shield brethren Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose in the back.
The stakes could not have been higher, with the WWE Championship hanging in the balance less than 24 hours before a New Era of WWE began, with defending champion Ambrose heading to
SmackDown Live and Reigns and Rollins anchoring Monday Night Raw.
Despite the odds being stacked against
SmackDown Live and their top draft pick, the
determined Ambrose persevered against his
former Shield brothers, eventually hitting Reigns
with Dirty Deeds to retain his title and take it to
Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and her
Raw General Manager, Mick Foley, SmackDown
Live Commissioner Shane McMahon and his
General Manager, Daniel Bryan, all made their way to ringside to get the best view of the match that would shape the future of WWE and determine which brand got control of the WWE
The three former Shield brothers intensely stared each other down as the bell tolled, signaling the start of the bout WWE fans had been dreaming of.
Rollins tried to goad Reigns and Ambrose into
bumping fists, as they had for years after they
arrived in WWE. Instead, The Big Dog tackled
Rollins to the canvas, forcing The Architect to
retreat to the arena floor. With Rollins
incapacitated on the floor, Reigns and The Lunatic Fringe began trading blows, neither man able to gain the upper hand until Ambrose left his feet to try and take Reigns down. Instead, the WWE Champion bounced off his powerful friend’s chest.
Despite the pestering of Rollins, the persistent
Ambrose continued the attack on Reigns until The Architect succeededin neutralizing The Big Dog.
With Ambrose weakened from his exchange with
the hard-hitting Reigns, Rollins had the perfect
opportunity to inflict more damage on Ambrose,
and embarrass him with a few slaps to the face.
Though the WWE Champion dove onto his former
brothers at ringside, an emboldened Rollins soon grabbed him and recklessly hurled Ambrose into the unforgiving steel steps.
The action was fast and furious as they battled
around ringside and back into the ring. Ambrose
dashed across two commentary tables to launch himself at his challengers, then clobbered Reigns with a diving elbow, only for Rollins to fly back into the ring, crashing into Ambrose with a splash off the ropes.
Despite being the target of both of his former
Shield brethren’s attacks, Reigns still had enough in him to clock both of them with Superman Punches. The three battle-worn competitors collapsed to the mat after a particularly hard-hitting exchange, getting a brief respite from the war. However, the break did not last long, as Ambrose and Rollins dove onto a staggered Reigns on the arena floor.
Then, in a callback to their days as The Hounds of Justice, The Architect and The Lunatic Fringe powerbombed The Big Dog through the Spanish announcers’ table. However, any fond memories of The Shield were dissipated when Rollins bashed both the WWE Champion and Reigns with a steel chair as he did when he blew up The Shield.
Ambrose and Rollins fought back into the ring and to the top rope, where Rollins superplexed the champion to the canvas, then held on and floated through into a Falcon Arrow, but only got a two- count. They may have made a mistake in leaving Reigns in the remnants of the table, which gave The Big Dog enough time to recover and get his second wind. Reigns jumped right back into the battle and took Ambrose out, but turned around into a Pedigree from The Architect.
Reigns managed to kick out at the last second but Rollins stayed on the attack, tossing Reigns into the turnbuckles. But The Juggernaut bounced off and connected with a Superman Punch and Spear that would have won him the WWE Championship on any other night. However, the unstable Ambrose slid back into the squared circle and grabbed Reigns, planting him into the canvas with Dirty Deeds to retain his title and bring it to SmackDown Live on Tuesday nights.
As soon as the referee’s hand hit the mat for the
third time, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon
raced around the ring rejoicing, while Stephanie
McMahon and Mick Foley seethed, with sports-
entertainment’s top prize having just slipped
through their fingers. The party continued in the
ring, as the entire SmackDown Live roster joined
McMahon, Bryan and their champion, Ambrose, to celebrate SmackDown Live’s supremacy.
Though Ambrose’s victory makes the picture
clearer on Tuesday nights, it leaves plenty of
questions left to be asked for Monday Night Raw.
How will Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley react to not having WWE’s top prize on Raw?