In contrast to the Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view two weeks ago, tonight’s WWE Battleground had lackluster build-up surrounded by insufficient hype. Reports of poor ticket sales and slashed event prices swirled throughout the week leading up to the SmackDown exclusive pay-per-view. Frankly, the stale feuds and hollow storylines accompanying the SmackDown product as of late isn’t nearly enough to entice the majority of fans to shell out money or set time aside to tune in. Conversly, WWE is no stranger to abominable build-up preceeding great shows, and vice versa. Did Battleground 2017 speak to this trend? Welp I’m already a week behind in Game of Thrones, so why the hell not find out? Another week behind wouldn’t hurt.
Tonight’s game: Let’s take a shot of vodka every time we hear the word “Punjabi”!
The main card of the night began with my grandfather yelling out “who dressed that man!?” once Byron Saxton popped up on the screen.
The Usos (c) vs. The New Day (WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship)
The Uso’s have been on fire with their run since turning heel last September, displaying aggressive technical offense they weren’t able to show off as babyfaces. Xavier Woods, who has been used mostly as the mouthpiece of a group had an excellent performance – probably his best yet. Big props also go out to Kofi Kingston; this guy continues to pull out new move after new move over 10 years deep into his WWE tenure. I would love to see a competitive match between him and AJ Styles.
This match didn’t start heating up until about 6 minutes in or so, but once it got hot, it scorched. There was a sick Shelton Benjamin/Shawn Michaels-esque spot with Xavier going for an elbow drop on the fat Uso. Fatty Uso rolls out the way and Moderately Fit Uso comes out of nowhere hitting a mid-air superkick on Woods for a 2.7029 pin count. New Day returned soon afterward with a back-breaker into a top rope stomp right to the chest for another false finish. Too many close-falls can bring down a match. However, there were a number of false finishes in this match and ones that were done the right way – shocking, yet believable. Xavier hops onto the top rope and hits a giant springboard elbow from across the ring and gets the wins. I would’ve loved to see more heel Uso champs, but this was good stuff. Great chemistry. Great feud. Great match.
-The New Day wins via Trouble in Paradise/springboard elbow drop. B+
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
I was embarrassed before this even began. This match was a borefest, which is unfortunate since Shinsuke is one of the most exciting, electric superstars WWE has on their hands. The cold turkey contrast in pace between this and the previous tag match didn’t make this any less painful, either. Both men seemed unable to get on the same rhythm and looked as if they were phoning their efforts in. There was very little to deem notable here and the finish was the cherry on top of this shit sandwich of a match. WWE needs to get these two away from each other ASAP and put Nakamura in the ring with more experienced wrestlers who can keep up with and sell for him. I just hated a Nakamura match.
P.S.: Baron Corbin needs to be booked in a hair vs. hair match immediately and lose.
-Shinsuke Nakamura wins via disqualification (low blow). D+
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Tamina vs. Lana – Five-Way Elimination Match
Winner of this match goes on to face Naomi at SummerSlam for the Smackdown Woman’s Championship. After going over Charlotte clean on Smackdown 5 days ago, Becky Lynch has another strong outing here. Becky is at her best when she’s straight going for arms; Tamina and Lana both tapped out from back-to-back Disarmhers. Lana’s ringwork is garbage so god bless. By the way, did WWE ever explain why Tamina is helping out Lana [rhetorical question]? Natalya eliminates Becky with a roll-up and a fistful of shorts, leaving her and Charlotte as the final two. It’s no secret Charlotte and Natalya can go well together in the ring (See: WWE Roadblock 2016 only on the WWE Network for only $9.99 a month).
Impressive moment of this showdown came with Charlotte deadlifting Natalya up from the mat, transitioning into a sit-down powerbomb. With this spot, Charlotte showed her immense strength and Natty showed off dat thong and her poonjabi prison through her tights. Other than that, this match was pretty quick and basic. The trend of flat finishes continues here with Natty putting Charlotte away in weak, abrupt fashion.
Natalya wins via roll-up into the bottom turnbuckle. C
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens – (WWE United States Championship)
On paper, this should have been the match of the night. In actuality, this ended up being one of the better matches on the card. Having said that, this still came off as a disappointment. 3 quarters into the match, AJ goes for his signature Styles Clash. Unable to hit the move with a shoulder that had just been worked over, the move is reversed and Owens throws Styles straight into the referee. You all know what happens when the ref gets knocked out – time to trade submissions! Locked in the crossface, Owens rolls over, the referee crawls up with 5% health, and we have the slowest 3-count in the history of history. Both guys have done and are capable of doing much better. The slow count, the unnecessary ref bump, the weird look on everyone’s face – this entire ending was an awkward finish to an alright match. This was like jerking off to porn and busting when they cut to a close up to the guy’s face.
-Kevin Owens wins?? C+
John Cena vs. Rusev – Flag Match
This was awesome! The spot where Rusev fell off of the stairs was amazing. Both competitors walking toward their flag posts slower than Fred Sanford added the suspense. The match definitely didn’t go too long, either. I promise. Why are we booing Bulgaria again? This feud should’ve been left in 2014 and this match made me want to renounce my citizenship. Don’t watch this.
-Cena Wins Rusev Loses LOL. D
Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis
Basic match. Mike catching Maria’s kiss and using it to knock Sami out was pretty cool. Otherwise, Mike Kanellis is just OK. This power of love gimmick can evolve into much more than it currently is. Hopefully this fued is short and sweet with both men moving on. Extra points for Maria’s shorts.
-Sami Zayn wins with the Helluva Kick. C-
Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Randy Orton – Punjabi Prison Match
This match was twenty-eight minutes. TWENTY-EIGHT MINUTES. For a match that went on for so long, there sure was a lot of nothing happening. The crowd was actually pretty into this and, all things considered, it wasn’t a terrible match in terms of ringwork. It just went on for waaaaaay too long with little of interest taking place. One of the only positives out of the Orton and Mahal program is how stiff Randy handles the Singh Brothers. With both hanging on opposite ends of the cage, Randy knocks out of the Singh bros off and crashing into the announce table, which had to be an at least 15 feet fall. Maybe Randy really is racist. Every match between these two is pretty similar. Boring offense, Singh Brother fuckshit interference, nasty Singh brother bump. About 10 minutes or so after you fell asleep, Jinder’s music hits and out comes The Great Khali. Vince sure loves his big, untalented men. Khali interferes and gives Jinder the win.
Jinder Wins – D+
Overall, Battleground lived up to the hype. Too bad there wasn’t any hype to begin with. This was easily the worst PPV of year thus far, and I can’t tell whether an unusually tepid Philadelphia crowd diminished the show or was a product of crap quality. Regardless, the powers that be need to consider reevaluation of what their audience wants to see, and that does not include Cena and Rusev fighting with flags, Jinder Mahal as WWE champion, or Tyler Breeze in drag. Ok maybe Tyler Breeze in drag.
Overall rating: D+