WWE Battleground 2013: Superstars Who Delivered Strongest Performances
WWE Battleground will register as a historically forgettable and frustrating pay-per-view overall, but it wasn't without its share of strong individual performances.
There's almost always positives to take away from a three-hour WWE show given the amount of content that fills these offerings, and Battleground was no different.
The main event may have left fans with a bad taste in their mouths due to an inconclusive finish, but both Bryan and Orton submitted stellar in-ring efforts.
Battleground wasn't without its share of highlights, including a Rhodes-Shield match where all individuals involved played their parts perfectly. Had Triple H and Stephanie found this pay-per-view important enough to appear on, hopefully they would have added value to the match as well.
Strong performances will be graded upon crowd response and/or how well said performances advanced a particular storyline or character.
5. Antonio Cesaro
Antonio Cesaro may be on to something as WWE is finally allowing him to show off his big swing. Hopefully he doesn't become a one-trick pony as there are several hidden gems in this talented wrestlers' arsenal.
In fact, this isn't even his best swing.
Cesaro's swinging of the Great Khali was an impressive visual that brought life to an, at times, anemic Buffalo crowd.
It was so impressive, in fact, WWE aired a repeat performance of the finisher on Raw as Cesaro pinned the Great Khali for the second time in as many nights.
The move has been met with a babyface response rife with oohs, aahs, revolution counting and applause. Cesaro's Swing could be enough to act as a catalyst to turn him babyface, thus refreshing a character that mostly relies on Zeb Colter to get heat.
4. Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton
Bryan and Orton's match may not have been as strong as last month's contest, mainly due to the non-finish, but the two clearly have chemistry together. That chemistry was on display at Battleground.
Their brawling looks believable, and the very physical styles of Bryan and Orton give their matches a mixed martial arts feel.
With the addition of Shawn Michaels and a decisive Hell in a Cell, hopefully WWE has done enough damage control to this feud to restore interest.
As poorly as the Bryan-Orton-Corporation story has been told, it's not for a lack of in-ring effort by the two WWE championship contenders.
It wouldn't be surprising if Hell in a Cell's version of Bryan-Orton is the best match in this wrestling miniseries to date.
3. Bray Wyatt
WWE was wise to keep Bray Wyatt relevant by feeding him Kofi Kingston. The best spot of this match wasn't even a wrestling move, but rather a stunt that helped advance Wyatt's psychotic persona.
Wyatt's match against Kingston peaked when Wyatt performed his signature taunt in the corner, with the second-generation star hanging upside down from the corner.
Wyatt then crawled out of the corner like a spider, and Kingston sold this perfectly as if he were legitimately freaked out by the (kayfabe) mentally unstable talent.
Kingston's reaction helped break the monotony of in-ring competition just long enough to illustrate that this dude may be a few Camels short of a carton.
It's exactly how any level-headed wrestler would react if he legitimately felt that his opponent just wasn't right.
2. The Shield
All three collective members of The Shield deserve much praise for their efforts against the Rhodes family. Even Dean Ambrose's ringside antagonizing of Dusty Rhodes provided significant drama. The back-and-forth built to a Bionic Elbow that created one of the loudest pops of the night.
As always, Seth Rollins was brilliant in selling high-impact moves. The fact that he is usually The Shield member who takes the pinfalls seems like a testament to his ability to put over a finisher.
WWE has protected The Shield's mystique since the entity debuted in November of last year. Every loss comes off as a big deal, and this was no exception. The story of a well-oiled machine against a dysfunctional family could not have been told without the designed cohesiveness of The Shield.
1. The Rhodes Family
The Rhodes family was 100 percent in tune with their identity from their backstage vignette to the final bell, not that this was any thespian accomplishment. After all, the trio was simply playing themselves. Kind of.
Their pre-match promo emphasized a family that was far from perfect, but one that loved and supported one another in their times of need.
The backstory of the Rhodes family needing to win to secure employment immediately garnered support from the live crowd, and the Rhodes Dynasty ran with it.
WWE was smart to use Dusty Rhodes' theme song in a New York market with old-school values.
Goldust showed he still has plenty left in the tank, while Dusty Rhodes only added to the finish with a welcomed Bionic Elbow.
By match end, fans were white hot for the finish, which saw Rhodes score the deciding pinfall, and this was a direct result of pristine storytelling.