WWE Enters The 'Battleground' Against Itself
It is the 23rd of July and WWE Battleground is being broadcast live from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. WWE will go into battle with itself because it has no major competition and it is trying to deliver a great show with recycled gimmick matches from it's past. The WWE Championship will be defended in a 'Punjabi Prison' match for the first time in ten years. Much like the first one the concept was designed around it's Indian WWE Champion at the time The Great Khali. It has been revived because of the involvement of it's current Indian WWE Champion Jinder Mahal.
We also see a 'Flag On A Pole' match between John Cena (USA) and Rusev (Bulgaria). The objective is to grab your national flag from the pole, make your way to the podium and secure your flag on top of the podium. The last Flag Match was in 2003 when Rob Van Dam (USA) took on Sylvan Greiner (France).
The Usos v The New Day for the Smackdown Tag Titles
We see highlights from the battle rap on Smackdown live. WWE can have some memorable moments like this when the leash is loosened around the Superstars and they are allowed to break kayfabe. Some untouchable storylines were brought up including Kofi Kingston being a "fake" Jamacian and Jimmy Uso only being on Total Divas because of his partner Naomi. Who can forget the golden days of the John Cena Battle Raps when he wasn't a PG Superhero for the little kiddies.
The battle of the Super Teams begins at a fast pace. Xavier Woods uses a unique Face Crusher like move to nearly score the pin. Jey Uso uses their signature Samoan Drop used by past islander legends like The Rock and the Usos' father Rikishi. Jimmy hits Woods with a massive Flying Superkick but can't get the 3 count.
Midnight Hour comes crashing down on Jey Uso put is not enough to put him away. Kofi kicks out of a Big Splash but Jey can't kick out of a similar splash like move with an elbow included from Xavior Woods. He gets the pin and the victory!. New Tag Team Champions The New Day!. This was a great opening match, fast and exciting.
AJ Styles is shown warming up backstage.
Shinsuke Nakamura v Baron Corbin
Shinsuke's haunting entrance and music never fail to bring chills to the spine. In the storyline Baron took out Nakamura while entering the Money In The Bank Ladder Match. Corbin is a great choice as Mr. Money in the Bank and a future Champion but Shinsuke would also have made a great winner as well and might have benefited more from that storyline because of his language restraints.
A rare 'stare off' to start the match. The problem with two mega-stars facing off at a 'B' show like this is to not make the loser look weak. It will be a big challenge for the booking team. Nakamura slaps a submission move on Baron's arm but he manages to lift Shinsuke's whole body up with his one arm. Great show of strength.
Shinsuke is a master of kicks and rains plenty down on Corbin. The pace of this match is the complete opposite to the first match, quite slow. Baron hits a unique clothesline using momentum from being thrown outside the ring. A huge Deep Six can't keep the Japanese wrestler down. A low blow from Corbin is the booking team's easy out of a clean winner and a good way to continue the rivalry.
Corbin puts a beatdown on his opponent after the match using a shot to the gut with the 'Money' briefcase and an End Of Days finisher. An ok match but the average ending also contributes to mediocre moments in Pay Per View. WWE would benefit with more original finishes and less recycling which seems to be a major theme of this show.
Kevin Owens is shown backstage.
The Last 5 WWE Pay Per Views Rated
*Extreme Rules ☆☆☆
*NXT Chicago Takeover ☆☆☆
*Money In The Bank ☆☆☆
*Great Balls Of Fire ☆☆☆☆
Past WWE Battleground's
Ambrose v Rollins v Reigns (WWE Title)
Zayn v Owens
Lesnar v Rollins (WWE Title)
Cena v Owens (US Title)
Cena v Orton v Kane v Reigns (WWE Title)
Jericho v Wyatt
5 Way Elimination Match For The No.1 Contendership at Summerslam
This match contains Smackdown Live Divas Becky Lynch v Tamina v Natalya v Lana v Charlotte. Announcer JBL mentions one of WWE's current blacklister's Hulk Hogan (not by name but by his character in the 'Rocky' movies 'Thunder Lips'). Woman's Champion Naomi is on guest commentary and mentions that "Lana doesn't deserve to be in the match", did this just give away the outcome?.
Lana teams up with Tamina, probably a good move for a "green" wrestler. Charlotte and Lynch have a nice fast paced exchange. Lynch then has a very stiff back and forth with Natalya. The Sharpshooter from Natalya can't make Charlotte tap. Tamina takes a bullet to save Lana but both women are quickly eliminated by submission to Becky. Lynch is then eliminated by Natalya.
Natalya crushes Charlotte's kneck up against the bottom turnbuckle then rolls her up for the victory. So it will be Total Divas friends Naomi v Natalya at Summerslam. So yet again (much like the Natalya v Nikki Bella rivalry) we have to pretend these girls are enemies when on Total Divas they are clearly besties!. Strange.
AJ Styles v Kevin Owens For The US Championship
Will this be their classic match?. You know they have one in them. We are shown the rare moment when a title changes hands at a house show when AJ beat Kevin to capture the title 2 weeks ago (at New York's Madison Square Garden). Owens as usual gets a cheer although being a 'heel'. Kevin is announced as the "New Face Of America", this will be a very short gimmick if he is never the US Champ again.
Owens slows the pace down early having a breather on the outside of the ring. "AJ Styles" chants from the crowd. The action moves outside the ring thanks to Kevin's insistance on going outside to escape. They scrap for a short time then roll back into the ring.
Some stiff elbow raking to the face of AJ shortly before Kevin taunts the crowd, which he is very good at. A short and quick exchange before Kevin slows the pace again with his second Headlock. Another quick passage ends with an AJ Flying Forearm. Owens gets Face Planted but kicks out at 2. A countered Styles Clash is followed by a slick Fireman's Carry into a 450 Degrees Splash (This is why AJ is one of the greatest of all time).
A huge Powerbomb from Styles to the challenger, who recovers quickly to roll outside and manages to clothesline Styles' legs from beneath him. A second attempt at the Styles Clash results in a counter which see's AJ knocking the referee senseless (by mistake of course!). An exchange of submissions fail to get tap-out's due to no official. A roll up by Owens just as the referee recovers scores a pinfall and Owens becomes the 3 time US Champion.
So Kevin's 'Next Face Of America' gimmick continues. This match was good, and slightly better than their first encounter but wasn't the classic we had hoped for.
The Singh brothers apologise backstage to Jinder Mahal for not being able to help him in the Punjabi Prison match (which means they probably will).
John Cena v Rusev In A Flag On A Pole Match
The first 'recycled' gimmick match of the evening is the Flag Match. In 1999 the McMahon/Helmsley faction pitted friends The Rock and Mankind in a 'Contract On A Pole' where the winner climbs the turnbuckle to retrieve the contract and the loser was fired. This is slightly different to the Flag Match but was quite memorable. The Rock prevailed but Mankind was re-hired a few weeks later to set up the memorable HHH v Mankind/Cactus Jack rivalry (which can be viewed on the WWE Network). The only difference in this match is the winner needs to not only retrieve the flag but walk it up the rampway and place it in the holder on their countries podium.
We have seen Rusev v Cena many times before, Cena was the one who stopped Rusev's undefeated streak at Wrestlemania 31. The storyline was very similar to this rushed together, recycled (there is that word again!) rivalry. USA v Bulgaria (wasn't it USA v Russia the first time around?).
The match itself began with both guys climbing the turnbuckle's and being stopped by the opposition. Rusev was the first to pull down his national flag but was stopped before he could leave the ring.
Cena hit his 2 signature moves the 'AA' and the 'STF' to finally retrieve the American Flag. The action then moves to the outside of the ring and closer to the podiums. A Fall Away Slam from Rusev on the entrance ramp allows him to set up some tables near the podiums, this alone has made the match much more interesting.
Rusev gives Cena a disrespectful "You Can't See Me" hand wave which angers John. He proceeds to throw him off the podium onto the floor. After Rusev recovers he manages to place the Cobra Clutch on Cena and nearly wins the match. An Attitude Adjustment is teased but Rusev counters. He can't counter a second time and takes a hard 'AA' on the tables and onto the floor. Cena plants the flag for the win. Rusev's bump was the only real highlight of this match.
Tonights "Fashion Files" is now called "The Fashion X-Files". The Ascension arrive to admit they were guilty the whole time (of attacking Breezango a long time ago) but they were not apparently. The lights go out and the comedy act is attacked again. The end of the segment is a Blair Witch/X Files like tribute with Fandango being dragged away by something we can not see because of a dark, knocked over camera angle.
Mike Kanellis v Sami Zayn
Mike and partner Maria enter with cheesy kissing gestures and "I love you's" to each other. Mike beat Sami in his Smackdown Live debut and you would think Zayn would get buried again tonight such is the way his career has been going.
A Suicide Dive and a Big Splash from the top rope from Sami are highlights early. He goes to hit The Exploder but Maria interferes. Sami hits the Helluva Kick for the 1...2...3 and the win. Is Mike's push over already, if so this was a 'Helluva' short run!. Good to see Sami get a rare victory but his career isn't back on track quite yet.
The Punjabi Prison Match For The WWE Championship
The Punjabi Prison is lowered to the sounds of daunting Indian music. Jinder Mahal must be a strong favourite to retain in his third major PPV match against Randy Orton. The very first Punjabi Prison match was suprisingly good thanks to a great performance from 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' star Batista against the unspectacular Indian giant The Great Kahli in 2007.
The rules to the match are exhausting knowing that it takes 60 seconds to lock each of the 4 doors (which will happen) as the competitors try to escape two bamboo cages to get the victory. Other matches with these time draining and boring rules include 'The Last Man Standing', 'The Strap Match' and TNA Wrestling's multi ruled match 'Lockdown'.
The early action is predictable with both men just blocking the other from escaping. Two doors have been locked quite quickly, two to go...and then the climbing and falling will begin. We get an early taste of this as Jinder tries to escape the first cage early. The third door is closed. This is one of those matches that would benefit from some outside interference right now, were are the Singh Brothers!. They show up around 2 minutes late, appearing from under the ring just after an RKO from Randy. The fourth door is closed and both men start to ascend up the first cage.
Randy knocks Jinder off the second cage but the Singh Brothers stop Orton from escaping. Randy shares a joke with some of the fans in the front row while Jinder is indisposed. Samir Singh manages to squeeze outside the second cage and is able to stop Randy near the top. Randy punches him once...twice, the third hit sends Samir flying from the top of the cage down onto the announcer's table for a huge bump, much like Shane McMahon's dive off the Hell In A Cell 2 years ago.
Randy has some visible wounds from some vicious Kendo Stick shots from earlier in the match. Jinder's music hits while Randy tries to escape but wait...Jinder and the Singh Brothers are already in the cage. So who is coming out? It's....The Great Khali!.
The Great Khali prevents Randy from climbing down the second cage and enables Jinder to escape and retain the WWE Championship. The appearance of The Great Khali was a great suprise and (even though as mentioned earlier he is quite an unspectacular wrestler) it's what WWE lacks alot lately. A guest/suprise appearance adds entertainment and unpredictability to a show and it has been lacking this for alot of years now.
Even with this fantastic suprise and major bump from Samir it couldn't really save the match or the PPV from being mediocre. Is WWE losing the Battle against itself?.