It’s been ten long years since the Punjabi Prison last loomed over a WWE ring, but at WWE Battleground, the top championship of the blue brand, SmackDown Live, will be defended inside such a structure. Current WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, the Modern Day Maharaja will do battle with his nemesis Randy Orton in one of the WWE’s most brutal of environments. Also on the card is a match between two of SmackDown Live’s recently returned superstars, John Cena and Rusev, with patriotism on the line. The winner of their match will need to climb the turnbuckles and retreive their countries’ flag from atop a pole, and plant it firmly up the ramp over the finish line. The grandest mystery of the year will also be solved, as The Fashion Police, Tyler Breeze and Fandango, learn who attacked Breeze and ransacked their office several months ago, while Tag Team gold, the United States Championship and a number one contender for the Women’s Championship will also each be decided.
+ The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (c) vs The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (w/ Big E) (WWE SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships): The New Day are a good tag team, but I don’t like that they are always presented as infalliable (the rap battle was the biggest problem here). The Usos, since “turning their backs” have been on fire and deserve more than just being the butt-monkeys of the New Day all the time. That said, the match was alright, and a good way to start the show, but I just want to see someone other than the New Day in the title scene
+ Shinsuke Nakamura vs Baron Corbin: at one point, JBL said something to the effect of “I don’t think Nakamura has faced anyone that hits harder than Corbin”, and let me just let you think about that for a second. Corbin’s banter to the crowd on point, as always, and Nakamura’s kicks brought gasps of aww from the audience. This match was going to be bad for the loser, no matter who it was, and considering the ending here I think the WWE knew it. Still, this was a passable match
– Jinder Mahal (c) vs Randy Orton (Punjabi Prison Match for the WWE Championship): this was absolutely horrible. The crowd didn’t care, it was hard to see past the “steel reinforced bamboo”, and I think both Mahal and Orton knew this was a bad match idea because neither seemed ‘switched on’ at all. Some crazy bumps from the Singh Brothers barely elicited a response, and a shocking return was worth barely more than a chuckle
– John Cena vs Rusev (Flag Match): it’s strange that Cena is playing the ‘nothing to lose’ character, since the last time we saw him properly he was getting engaged. And holy crap, who even cares, because this was the worst match on the show. So many logistic and suspension-of-disbelief moments made me cringe more than anything, and the entire “pro-USA, anti-Bulgaria” thing was hell to watch as a non-American. I felt nothing but embarassment for both Rusev and Cena, and everyone cheering this stupid match
– Sami Zayn vs Mike Kanellis w/ Maria Kanellis: I cannot fathom why they had these two have a match on SmackDown last week if they were just going to do a match here as well. Sami deserves more. Kanellis is okay in the ring, but people are here to see Maria. This was a time filler, and little more. Please don’t have these two feud any longer
– The Fashion Files: good comedy, stupid cliffhanger. I don’t think even I can stay on this hype train for much longer with no resolution.
– AJ Styles (c) vs Kevin Owens (WWE United States Championship): this was a technically sound match, but it just felt so lifeless. Nothing felt important, and every big move, when not a finisher, felt so devoid of meaning. It sounds pretentious, I know, but who cares how impressive a move is when you know it won’t win the match? Some ridiculous shenanigans left me more confused than anything. This was not good, and hopefully just a stop-gap before Nakamura can challenge for the title
– Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch vs Natalya vs Tamina vs Lana (Elimination Match) (Winner will face the WWE SmackDown Live Women’s Champion at SummerSlam): the frustrating eliminations were the main takeaway from this match, though admittedly the winner was unexpected. Lana is not good, Tamina is passable, and the other three are great, which more or less averaged out to an average match. Despite the Women’s Revolution, the WWE still can’t use their women properly
– Tye Dillinger vs Aiden English: imagine being Tye Dillinger: you get called up from a decade in developmental, debut in the Royal Rumble to thunderous chants of your personal catch phrase and never fail to elicit a response from the thousands of people in the audience at your show – so they put you in a five minute match with a literal joke character on the free pre-show to a pay per view. Whether this was a good match or not is irellevant, because it’s not like it will mean anything
> The Usos are more and more like New Japan’s Guerillas of Destiny all the time, and I really want to see them as a larger stable
Should you watch this event: This was not a good show. The show peaked in the first match, with the Tag Team Championships on the line, and then trudged through a pit of below average wrestling before the flag match dragged the show, and everyone watching it, into a river of shit. This was one of the worst shows I have watched all year. Do not bother watching this, at all.