Another month, another WWE pay-per-view event. Not that I’m complaining, though… well, actually I am. I wouldn’t have an issue with so many WWE events if every one of them were of top quality. However, that’s not been the case, especially for the Smackdown brand. The last two the blue brand had put out weren’t terrible, just incredibly lackluster. Nothing to write home about. And when I heard that the main event for Battleground would be another match between Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal, I welled up in tears of boredom. Add any stipulation you want, including that weird Punjabi Prison match, I don’t think anyone cares about the feud anymore.
But the Punjabi Prison match isn’t the only one in the pay-per-view. There are other bouts to be held. Let’s hope they’re much better than the disappointment the main event will be. Yes, I’m calling it; the main event will be a bust.
Still, let’s go see what else Battleground has to offer, shall we?
Match #1: The New Day vs. The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Champions
Wait, why is Xavier Woods in the match and not Big E? Usually, when Woods is in the match, The New Day don’t do so well. Uh oh!
The match started off quickly with The New Day attacking the Usos early but the latter immediately put the stop to it and started dominating Xavier Woods for the majority of the match. Woods did eventually make the tag to Kofi Kingston for the quick comeback but even the extremely hot and ready Kingston couldn’t keep up the momentum! It looked like curtains for The New Day. See? That’s what happens when you don’t put in Big E, New Day!
But somehow, Woods managed to make another comeback, even after getting hit by a wicked superkick after jumping off the top rope! And he did it without any interference from Big E! The action really picked up at this point with lots of exciting near falls and really hard hitting action. It was a grueling match and a really fast paced one at that!
The finish came after Kofi Kingston managed to kick out of an Uso superkick into Samoan Splash combination, which I don’t agree with; I’ll get to that later. Anyway, the Usos then climbed opposite turnbuckles to deliver some high flying attack but Woods snuck in from the outside to toss one of the Usos to the floor. This bought Kingston enough time to recover and dodge the other Uso’s splash. The New Day then the downed Uso with a Trouble in Paradise and some kind of coast-to-coast elbow drop for the pinfall victory and to become the Smackdown Tag Team Champions!
This match was pretty fantastic, with the action moving at a really nice clip. I will say that I’m not a fan whenever someone manages to kick out of a tag team finisher, in this case, it was the Usos big splash on Kingston. It just seems weird and the WWE is seriously overusing the kickouts from finishers. Even with that caveat, I still think this was an excellent match.
Rating: 8.0 of 10.0 Kofi Kinston kicking out of an Uso big splash.
Match #2: Shinusuke Nakamura vs Baron Corbin
Wow. The WWE really has no idea to use Shinusuke Nakamura, don’t they? I get the strategy, though, even though is a poorly developed strategy. Shinusuke Nakamura should be extremely hot and popular right now. He gained a lot of fans while he was at NXT but it does seem that the WWE can’t figure out how to properly tap into that success when they transferred him to the main roster of Smackdown. I guess they’re thinking that, by pitting The King of Strong Style against Baron Corbin, some of the former’s charisma will rub off on Baron Corbin.
It’s not going to work if they have to work in a match as lame as this, though!
It honestly looked like Nakamura was easing up on the strike as to not hurt Corbin while The Lone Wolf looked incredibly slow but not methodical. Oh, and the bear hugs! God, they looked incredibly lame and didn’t add any drama to the match at all. Nice attempt at selling the move, announce team. But I wasn’t buying it.
The finish didn’t do any favors for anyone as well. Essentially, Nakamura was dominating Corbin and The Artist set up for the Kinshasa knee strike but The Lone Wolf refused to get up. Nakamura then attempted to pick up his foe only to eat a low blow in full view of the referee. This led to a disqualification victory for Shinusuke Nakamura. But Corbin didn’t care as he hit Nakamura with End of Days to add injury to injury.
The biggest problem between the match didn’t seem to be the actual wrestling as both of them were doing the things they normally do during a match. The issue is the chemistry between the two as their two styles don’t mesh well with each other. The low blow just made Baron Corbin look like a douche, whichI guess is the point? But it didn’t make him look like a future champion in the least.
Rating: 5.0 of 10 low blows to Nakamura’s groin and career
Match #3: Becky Lynch vs Charlotte vs Tamina vs Natalya vs Lana in a Fatal Five-way Elimination match for the #1 Contender’s spot for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
This should have been a good match as every women in the match, besides Lana, can wrestle and hit hard. So, who was featured in the match the longest? The one who can’t wrestle all that well, obviously! And to add to the misery, the current Smackdown Women’s Champion, Naomi, was on commentary… where she really didn’t comment all that much on the match. Groan.
The match started with a mad scramble with Lana and Tamina essentially dominating the other women that tried to get in the ring. I didn’t like that Tamina felt like a lackey to Lana as she would help the Ravishing Russian several times. I guess it was a great way to give Lana some actual in-ring experience without giving her a singles match to show how green she is. It still showed, by the way.
Even when Lana wasn’t in the ring, the match just didn’t flow well. The pacing was spastic and disjointed. Even the wrestlers who could really wrestle, like Charlotte, Natalya and Becky Lynch, weren’t given enough time to show their stuff. Instead, they decided to just clear out the ring with rapid fire eliminations instead of trying to add drama to the bout.
The finish left Natalya and Charlotte left in the ring. There was a neat spot where Charlotte picked up Nattie, displaying that she isn’t just athletic. Charlotte’s incredibly powerful, too! However, it didn’t have that much impact as it took her such a long time to lift her opponent off the floor. Not Cesaro impressive but impressive enough. Charlotte then tried to win with a moonsault but Natalya counters by bringing up her knees. Nattie then slams The Queen’s head into the bottom turnbuckle to eliminate Charlotte and to become the #1 Contender to Naomi’s Smackdown Women’s belt.
This was painful to watch at times because of Lana’s in-ring performance. I will sort of ease up on criticizing it though because, at least she has some personality she can rely on to make things interesting. However, there was just no drama or build up to the finish. If they spread out the eliminations better, I think that would ratchet up the excitement. But they didn’t so boo. And Naomi sucks on commentary.
Rating: 5.0 of 10 Naomis not speaking while on commentary
Match #4: AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens for the United States Championship
It’s AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens, two incredibly gifted performers in the ring. I was definitely expecting an incredibly match and, while it was great in its own right, I somehow was expecting a lot more.
If the things that happened in this match were done by, say, Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder, I would say this was an excellent match with both men pulling out all the stops. The problem is it’s not Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder; it’s AJ Styles and Kevin Owens. My expectations for the match is incredibly high because these two are involved. The match was decent enough and both The Phenomenal One and The Prizefighter did some fun spots but it just wasn’t as blood pumping as I would’ve wanted. Call me spoiled but I expected better from these two.
But what made this match utter bollocks (yes, I said “bollocks”) was the utter crap finish. They tried to be creative but it just left me scratching my head in befuddlement. Styles attempted a Styles Clash but Owens reversed it by… throwing his opponent into the referee? Styles managed to lock in the Calf Crusher while the official was still knocked out. This allowed Owens enough time to reverse the move and lock in a crossface submission but the ref was still dazed! Styles then recovered and rolled through to apply his own crossface on Owens.
However, The New Face of America shifted his weight and got Styles’ shoulders on the mat, giving him the pinfall victory and to become the United States Champion once again. What a crock! They didn’t really do anything with the referee being knocked out as both Styles and Owens continued on with the match as normal! I guess this is setting up for another match between the two, possible with a submission only stipulation. I still really wanted more but I guess they’re gonna wait for Summerslam first?
Rating: 6.5 of 10 saving their best stuff for Summerslam
Match #5: John Cena vs Rusev in a Flag Match
Because we all know the greatest for of the United States of America is… Bulgaria?
Okay, the premise of the match is utterly ridiculous as this bout between John Cena and Rusev just came out of nowhere but I can see why the WWE would think this would be a hype match. I mean, patriotism and all. But the resulting action was the opposite of hype. The match was boring and just moved at an incredibly slow pace. It felt like the match went on forever! The moves didn’t have all that much impact because of how uninspired the match was. That’s not a great way to show patriotism, WWE!
The finish was supposed to be something big but had all the impact of being smacked across the face by a goosedown pillow being thrown at you by an infant. After Rusev knocked Cena out with the USA’s very on flagpole stand and an Accolade, Rusev tried to plant the most evilest country’s flag, Bulgaria, on his side. Cena, being unwilling to see Bulgaria get its flag raised, stops Rusev, tosses him through the tables The Bulgarian Brute set up earlier and then planted ‘Murica’s flag on his side.
Maybe it’s because I don’t live in the USA but that does mean I’m extremely objective and my objective review to this was this match was terrible. It wasn’t fun and there was no drama at all. What makes it more disappointing is that Cena and Rusev could’ve done a whole lot more but instead just played the tired old “I’m so beat up so I gotta crawl and slowly walk because I’m so hurt” schtick that may work for ladder and cage matches. But it sure doesn’t work for flag matches.
Rating: 2.5 of 10 Bulgaria is the most evilest country, according to the WWE
Match #6: Sami Zayn vs Mike Kanellis (with his wife, Maria)
C’mon, Power of Love! I may like Sami Zayn but I like Maria and Mike Kanellis gimmick much more right now! It’s a cheesy and fun gimmick!
Unfortunately, the match itself wasn’t anything to really write home about. It actually felt like a waste of talent for all parties involved. Sami Zayn is an excellent wrestler and seller but he wasn’t really able to utilize these talents. Maria Kanellis did get involved but I felt there wasn’t all that much to do, which is a shame as Maria’s acting is just over-the-top wrestling fun. And Mike Kanellis, well, all he really got to do was punch and kick Zayn a whole lot. He didn’t really get to show of his in-ring skills. By the way, I really hate the commentators, especially JBL, for calling Mike Kanellis as “Maria’s husband.” It totally downplays Mike’s role in the match!
The finish was a weird mixed bag of illogical sequences. Sami Zayn managed to get the advantage and set up Mike (not Maria’s husband) for the Xploder Suplex into the turnbuckles. Maria slipped into the ring and got between them and the corner, preventing the attack. After Maria slipped out the ring, Mike (not Maria’s husband, JBL! He has a name!) tried to blindside Zayn but the latter managed to counter into the Xploder Suplex anyway, making Maria’s interference a moot point. Zayn then struck Mike (once again, NOT MARIA’S HUSBAND) with the Helluva Kick to get the pinfall victory.
This was a rather pedestrian match. The finish didn’t make a whole lot of sense because Maria’s interference didn’t really matter. Also, she could have done more, like get in between Zayn and her husband so that Zayn couldn’t do the Helluva Kick. Also, as much as I want to see Zayn actually win a match, this didn’t to Mike Kanellis (that’s his full name, JBL!) any favors by making him lose his second bout as a Smackdown wrestler.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 His name is Mike Kanellis, not Maria’s Husband!
Match #7: Randy Orton vs Jinder Mahal in a Punjabi Prison match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship
The question wasn’t if this was going to be a terrible match. The question was how terrible it was going to be. Apparently, the answer is “very.” Oh, and I gotta ask… isn’t this a rather “racist” match? I mean, the match was created because of The Great Khali. And now, another wrestler of Indian descent, Jinder Mahal, ressurects it?
I will say that the actual Punjabi Prison structure looked impressive. Not exactly an architectural masterpiece but they probably put a lot of work into constructing it. However, the way it’s made leads to one humongous flaw: you can’t see inside it if you’re in the live audience or watching it at home! It’s like trying to peer in a bamboo forest!
But maybe not being able to see what was happening in the Punjabi Prison may be a blessing in disguise because the match was just bad. There were moments of supposed violence, like when Orton tossed Mahal into the cage wall but it looked more like The Viper was just carefully leaning The Modern Day Maharaja into it, or when Mahal back body dropped Orton into the wall but, in reality, just gently shoved him into it. Also, I found it rather hilarious that the referees have to hold the cage doors open for 60 seconds because, by the 30 second mark, you can see the poor guys straining heavily to keep them yanked open.
Of course, since this is some kind of cage match, there’s no way that anyone can interfere, right? Well, no. That’s what makes this match even more stupid than it already is! Not only did the Singh brothers, where one of them plummeted from the top of the cage, leading to the only highlight of the match, come to help Jinder Mahal out, so did the originator of the Punjabi Prison match, The Great Khali! Who would even thought we would ever see the Punjabi Playboy in the WWE again?
The Great Khali’s entrance pretty much signaled the end of the match. As Orton climbed to the top of the cage and set one of his legs outside it, Khali, and I’m not kidding here, shook the cage wall so hard that Randy Orton flipped back into the cage. Khali then grabbed hold of Orton and this allowed Mahal enough time to climb out of the cage himself to retain the WWE Heavyweight Championship.
Terrible, terrible match. No offense to all the Indians watching this but I hope we never get another Punjabi Prison match. It was a mess that was hard to see… literally.
Rating: 3.5 of 10 returning Great Khalis
Overall Rating for WWE’s Battleground 2017:
Hooboy! This was a stinker in so many levels. With only one good match, The New Day vs The Usos, and one good but disappointing one, AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens, Battleground just plain sucked. I hope the WWE bans both the Flag Match and the Punjabi Prison match because of Battleground.
Rating: 4.0 of 10 terrible pay-per-views
What did you think of this year’s WWE Battleground show? Let me know in the comments section below!