5. Cody Rhodes & Goldust (w/ Dusty Rhodes) vs. The Shield (Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns, w/ Dean Ambrose), 2013
As I mentioned above, the inaugural Battleground was pretty bad. But out of all the muck on the card, one match stood out above all the rest. The Shield vs. The Rhodes Brothers was the best of the night without question. It had story, passion, good wrestling – everything the rest of the show lacked.
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The Shield had been dominating WWE for months. Dean Ambrose held the United States Championship, while Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns were the WWE Tag Team Champions. For several weeks, the trio had been doing the dirty work for evil authority figure Triple H.
Cody Rhodes, though, was opposed to how Triple H was conducting business, and spoke out. He was subsequently fired after losing a match to Randy Orton. This led to the return of Cody’s half brother Goldust, who lobbied for Cody to be reinstated. That plan failed, when Goldust also lost to Orton. Finally, Cody and Goldust’s father, Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, got his boys one last chance – but he had to put his job as NXT trainer on the line.
So at Battleground, this non title tag team match had more on the line than any championship. It wasn’t the greatest match of all time, but compared to everything else on the night it seemed like Steamboat/Flair.Dusty was at ringside to support his children, and kept things fair by hitting Ambrose with the Bionic Elbow. Cody hit the Cross Rhodes on Rollins not long after, and he and Goldust both returned to WWE with the victory.
Not long after, The Rhodes Brothers would win the titles from The Shield. But at Battleground, family honor and pride was the prize.