WWE Battleground 2017
July 23 2017
We’re in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There were reports of discounted tickets going on sale for this show, which is strange considering the wrestling hotbed that is Philly not snatching up all them tickets. However the building is packed out and it doesn’t look like any kind of failure. Hosts are Tom “Tent Pole” Phillips, JBL and Byron Saxton.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The Usos (c) vs. The New Day
These two teams had a really good match at the last SD PPV but Usos took a count out loss. The New Day choose a unique pairing of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, leaving powerhouse Big E on the floor. It’s a strange choice as normally Big E is involved. Across the ring Jimmy Uso turns up sporting a hoodie. Who wrestles in a hoodie? It’s a dedication to selling merch but come on, man, it’s hot in that thing. The wrestling is really good throughout as all four guys are very talented and mesh well together. Having Xavier in there creates a different atmosphere and pace than the usual New Day matches and Xavier Woods does a good job of playing the role Kofi usually takes; the heat. Xavier tries a springboard and Jimmy catches him in mid-air, low too, with a superkick. My god, it’s a great spot. Harking back to Shelton Benjamin eating a mid-air superkick off Shawn Michaels on RAW all those years ago.
When they can’t put Xavier away, Kofi gets a hot tag, and the two smaller New Day members double team their way to victory in a hot opener. This was cute because Xavier Woods got the pinfall. He cannot be described as the weak link anymore. Big E looks thrilled when he celebrates with the new champs. Xavier’s springboard on the finish was spectacular too.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
I’m in the midst of the G1 and it’s very weird going from those shows to seeing Nakamura competing in WWE. Nakamura’s histrionics don’t work on Corbin, who shows maturity beyond his years. He also shows bearhugs from the early 1990s. Rule of thumb, in wrestling, is that if you do a bearhug in your match then you suck. Corbin doubles down and hooks it twice. You suck twice. It should set alarm bells ringing when you have a boring match with Shinsuke Nakamura. Shinsuke tries very hard to get Corbin’s offence over by overselling bumps but Corbin’s offence is inconsistent. He manages a cool lariat and Deep Six but there’s too much clobbering and rest holds in between. The match intrigues me the most when they’re trading, as Corbin tries to experiment with Strong Style. But he’s not a wrestling fan so he’s clueless as to how to engage Nakamura. With Corbin prone for the Kinshasa, the Baron finds a unique solution to escaping the beating; a low blow. He’s disqualified. Which means the feud must continue! This was bad. Corbin isn’t good enough.
Final Rating: **
SmackDown Women’s Championship #1 Contenders Match
Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Natalya Neidhart vs. Lana vs. Charlotte Flair
Philly pop Lana loudly, which is not what you want. Unless you want to see hugely inexperienced wrestlers in big spots. This is under elimination rules and the winner takes their title shot at SummerSlam. As with WrestleMania the match feels rushed but unlike ‘Mania it’s sloppy. Lana and Tamina are the worst culprits but nobody covers themselves in glory. Lana’s personality counts for a lot, which is for the best because her work is red reels. Absolutely rotten. The tension of the match revolves around Charlotte and how various people either want to eliminate her or clash with her in some fashion.
Tamina constantly saves Lana from embarrassment, as she’s constantly outwrestled by the likes of Becky Lynch. Speaking of Becky, she taps out Tamina with the Disarmer, leaving Lana on her own. Disarmer gets rid of her too. Nattie quickly dumps Becky by rolling her up with a handful of tights. Rapid fire eliminations! It fits into the rushed dynamic of the match. Charlotte vs. Natalya is decent as they’ve both got good submissions and can counter between them. Natalya gets the win by rolling Charlotte into the buckles. This was way too rushed and I’m not convinced Natalya is the right person to be challenging for the title at SummerSlam (especially when Becky Lynch is right there).
Final Rating: **1/2
WWE United States Championship
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens
AJ won the strap in MSG on a house show. I do like the odd house show title switch as it reminds us that anything can happen in wrestling. Too often house shows are forgettable and pointless. “This may be match of the night” chirps Byron. Oh, better than Cena vs. Rusev in a flag match and Jinder vs. Randy in a Punjabi Prison? You don’t say! Owens is gifted at stalling and wasting time, which is fine when he’s got a poor quality opponent. It means he can draw a tonne of heat without doing anything. However when you’ve got AJ Styles, the focus should probably be on the in-ring. Maybe Kevin just wanted to set himself apart from normal great Styles matches. Make his memorable. The result is a blizzard of chinlocks and time-wasting. It’s a pity because when they do go at it, in sequences, it’s tremendous. AJ deliberately makes his offence flashy by comparison to try and pop the crowd. This is Philly though. They love the heels. Is Owens deliberately doing as little as possible to ensure the crowd aren’t split? The match is given plenty of time but it delivers very little in it. The crowd sense this and get quieter as the match progresses.
They work in a cool ref bump to allow AJ to get the visual win with the Calk Killer only Owens doesn’t tap out, which is weird. Why not have him submit with the ref down? The lack of submission makes the ref bump pointless. AJ gets a crossface but Owens leans back in for the extremely flat finish. This was a disappointment throughout but the finish was especially calamitous.
Final Rating: **3/4
John Cena vs. Rusev
I’m getting déjà vu. Why is Rusev been thrown back in with Cena after what the first time around did to the poor bastard? And a flag match? Who the hell books a Flag Match in 2017? It’s such an outdated concept. Cena is looking really bulky and for some reason he decides to start off with a bunch of headlocks. From there the match just goes through the motions. Both guys on autopilot. No drama. No excitement. Just endless mediocrity. Rusev pulls down the Bulgarian flag but apparently this match has different rules. He has to plant the flag on the stage. The lack of pins and submission are just weird. So Cena gets the Struggle Snuggle on and he taps so Cena lets him go. Matches with no rules are dumb. It doesn’t help that the match is a chore. A long-winded chore that makes no sense. After Rusev has been tortured and can’t walk he’s soon back on his feet like nothing happened. There’s too much fatigue selling, although I feel fatigue from just watching this nonsense. Instead of attempting to win the match they goof around on the stage. At one point Rusev erecting tables while Cena is lying incapacitated. Get the flag, you moron! The timing on so many of the big spots is off. Including Cena ‘jumping’ off the steps to the podium and Rusev ‘hitting’ him with the flag stand. Cena ends up chucking Rusev through the tables that Rusev set up (for no reason) and planting the flag for the USA! This was badly put together professional wrestling. It didn’t make any sense at all from start to finish. Once again Rusev comes away from a Cena feud looking like a useless buffoon. He never recovered from last time and now here he is, counting lights (and tables) on the stage while Cena salutes the Stars and Bars.
Final Rating: *3/4
Video Control takes us into the Fashion X Files, which reveal a series of mysterious occurrences regarding the Fashion pigs; Fandango and Tyler Breeze, in the style of the X-Files. The Ascension clear up the mystery by saying they were the bad guys all along because “we felt like it”. The lights go out and the Fashion Filth are once again assaulted by unknown assailants. The mystery continues! WWE are having a whale of a time with Fandango & Breeze and as a duo they’re killing it.
Mike Kanellis vs. Sami Zayn
How long before WWE split the Kanellises up and push Maria by herself? Let’s face it, the only reason Mike has a job is because he married someone who’s mega over. Mike, as a worker, is perfectly fine but not in any way outstanding. To have him skip over NXT, which is loaded with much better wrestlers, is surprising. The Power of Maria. Mike has a big picture of Maria on his ring jacket, which is cute and Maria, in turn, has a big picture of Maria on her ring jacket.
The match is fine but short and devoid of anything major. Sami does a dive. Maria gets in the ring. Mike still loses. It’s all done inside eight minutes. Nobody cares.
Final Rating: *1/2
Punjabi Prison Match
Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Randy Orton
Another Orton-Mahal match. The previous two have been mediocre. The Punjabi Prison was a terrible idea to begin with. It’s a massive, painful structure that does not make for a good spectacle. They built this monstrosity for the Great Khali and when he left WWE I thought we would never see this crappy gimmick again. The live crowd can’t see through all the bamboo. The door opening times gimmick is too complicated and the previous Punjabi Prison matches have stunk.
Look at the view the crowd has into this thing! You can’t see anything. It’s like a cage match only double because there are two cages. Only triple because the bars are so thick. The only good thing about not being able to see this match is that you can’t see how bad it is. The ‘door gimmick’ is so stupid. You only have 60 seconds to get out of a door and then it’s locked “forever”. This allows the lads to kill four minutes holding on to each other while the various doors are opened and then closed. The Prison itself is the only interesting part of the match. The lowering causing ripples of excitement throughout the building. The match itself is boring and awful. You could hear a pin drop, when the crowd isn’t aimlessly chanting for “CM Punk”; the general ‘we hate this, please stop it’ chant. The crowd end up chanting for Jinder because they hate Orton so much but it’s a tedious affair where both wrestlers and the company are to blame for putting on such a dreadful main event spectacle. The Bollywood Boyz provide an assist by running in. That makes it a three on one and Jinder, if he wasn’t so slow and terrible, should climb out and win.
The environment leaves Orton’s body scarred and damaged without looking impressive. It’s a major downside to having a dangerous environment that looks like shit. The boys get hurt and nobody cares. One of the Singh lads kills himself falling through the announce table. That’s what the Singh Brothers are for! Cannon fodder! The match continues unabated with no one mourning the Singh’s loss. Orton bleeds from multiple wounds and the boredom continues. It’s a bad match. The spots are fake as hell, with lame set ups and the weapons business is a joke. When the match can’t get any duller we get the triumphant return of the Great Khali. It gets a nice pop and Khali shaking Orton off the cage wall is frankly terrifying. Randy almost falls to his death.
I have the sudden realisation that I probably have a Khali vs. Orton match at some point in my future. In 2017. Urgh. Khali chokes Orton through the cage and Jinder escapes with the belt.
I am the tallest! I am champion now!
Final Rating: DUD
This show is balls.