Battleground (2017) – Punjabi Prison Returns

Battleground 2017 PosterBattleground (2017) was a SmackDown brand event that took place on July 23, 2017, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was the fifth event under the Battleground chronology. I’ve been VERY bad at blogging in general and more specifically doing my PPV recaps. This is the first recap I’ve done since WrestleMania 33 back in April but honestly that’s cause I really haven’t been watching them. Summer has been busy as usual and with the fact that there were several PPVs on the same nights as Cavaliers playoff games WWE just wasn’t my priority. I’m hoping that now that summer is winding down I’ll get back on my monthly PPV schedule.

Marko came over to watch this one which always makes for a good time. Sadly our response coming out of the show was, “Well… Summerslam has to be better than that. Right?” Let’s hope so. I didn’t watch it but a quick perusal of Wikipedia tells me that Aiden English defeated Tye Dillinger on the pre show. Meh.

Let’s get into it. (All photos courtesy WWE.com) 

Battleground 2017 - New Day vs UsosThe New Day Defeated The Usos For The WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship

I haven’t been watching much wrestling since WrestleMania and I’ve been watching even less SmackDown so I didn’t know the build to this match. That said, the in ring product was great here. The Usos were outstanding as heels, someplace I’d like them to stay. I’ve sort of soured on the New Day schtick over the years so the fact that they’re on SmackDown doesn’t bother me in the slightest. They’re still pretty outstanding in the ring and this was a great way to start of the show in front of what began a pretty hot crowd in Philadelphia. Sadly, most of the rest of the card failed to live up to the high bar that these teams set in a nearly 14 minute kickoff match.

Battleground 2017 - Corbin vs NakamuraShinsuke Nakamura Defeated Baron Corbin

Gotta be honest here… I’m not a fan of Nakamura. I know wrestling nerds across the land are screaming through their screens reading this but I just don’t get him. I have a feeling that most of this is the poor booking the WWE has saddled him with but a match against Boring… er… Baron Corbin isn’t going to change my outlook any time soon. For what this was it was decent as in retrospect it’s pretty clear what WWE was trying to do. They gave Nakamura a win while maintaining Corbin’s push. OK I get it, but ending a stiff 12+ minute contest with a DQ always seems like a cop out to me… especially on PPV.

Battleground 2017 - Women's 5-WayNatalya Defeated Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Lana, and Tamina – 5-Way Elimination Match

Following a stiff match that ends on a DQ with a elimination match with some faulty storytelling probably wasn’t the best move but I’m not sure where else this match would sit on the card, especially when we take into account what was to come. Was sort of surprised to see Natalya get the win here but again I didn’t have the benefit of the back story leading in so maybe it makes total sense. I would have much preferred to see Charlotte win here as I think she’d make a better SummerSlam opponent for Naomi. Lana is coming along as an in ring performer but she’s really got to get her shit together when it comes to the design of a match. You simply can’t have her making mental mistakes like her preventing Natalya from eliminating Flair. That just makes her look stupid and I don’t think that’s what they’re going for with her character. Luckily this was over pretty quickly for a 5-way match in just about 11 minutes. Sadly, the women’s division on SmackDown is returning to the “bathroom match” status for me.

Battleground 2017 - Owens vs StylesKevin Owens Defeated AJ Styles For The WWE United States Championship

This was pretty outstanding in the ring, though I’m not quite sure why they’re playing flip flop with the US Title. Styles just recently won the title (in a non televised house show no less) so seeing Owens get a rematch makes sense but I fail to see how him winning the title back does. These guys are both money in the ring and when they get together it shouldn’t shock anyone that they put on a good match. This wasn’t as good as when Styles and Cena went at it at the Royal Rumble but it was pretty damn good. It clocked in just shy of 18 minutes and I think I’d give it Match of the Night honors.

Battleground 2017 - Cena vs RusevJohn Cena Defeated Rusev – Flag Match

I think it’s safe to say that John Cena is getting toward the end of his career, but he’s not so close to the end where he’s going to be putting over a guy like Rusev in a flag match. This one was sort of convoluted as not only did you need to capture your flag (which is typically how you win these matches) but then you needed to march up the ramp and mount your flag to actually get a win. This made for a match that felt way longer than it should have been because we were treated to quite a bit of labored crawling up the ramp. That’s not to say we didn’t get some good stuff out of this 21 minute affair because we did. If there’s anything more ‘Murican than John Cena stopping  Rusev from planting his flag and then hitting his finisher off the podium that’s draped in Old Glory I’m not sure what it is.

Battleground 2017 - Zayne vs KanellisSami Zayn Defeated Mike Kanellis

Who the fuck is Mike Kanellis? Oh… he’s Maria’s husband. Um, OK. Let’s see. She used to be in the WWE, she’s hot and now they’re back as some sort of power couple? And he looks just like Samy Zayn which is sort of weird. And speaking of Samy Zayn he sort of looks like an in shape cab driver, which is to say he looks like an out of shape wrestler. This was just bad all the way around and I had a hard time caring in the slightest. It was over quickly in just over seven minute which was good, except that meant we were closer to the main event.

Battleground 2017 - Orton vs MahalJinder Mahal Defeated Randy Orton To Retain The WWE Championship – Punjabi Prison Match

Ahh… the Punjabi Prison match. This was only the third time in history that we got a match of this type and I’m hoping it’s the last. Its super difficult to see what’s going on and it’s got a bunch of convoluted rules that make it even more difficult to follow. Are the doors open? Are they closed? How do you win? Hell if I know.

There was some stiff stuff going on here but not nearly enough to save this from being a colossal disappointment. And speaking of colossal disappointments, this match also marked the return of  The Great Khali who is just really difficult to watch. I completely understand WWE is trying to be a global company and there’s billions of people in India but trotting this lurch out there isn’t the way to capture that audience.

Battleground 2017 - Samir FallOne of the few shining spots here occurred when one of the Singh brothers took a dive from the top of the cage. It’s not quite Mick Foley coming off the top of Hell in a Cell but it’s pretty damn impressive nonetheless. WWE is doing their champion no favors in making his title reign memorable here. I’ve got no problems with having a heel champion but he’s got to win on his own merits every now and then and the inclusion of Khali was just a huge miss for me. Oh… and let’s get rid of the Punjabi Prison concept for the foreseeable future as well while we’re at it.

Battleground 2017 - Great KhaliFinal Thoughts

This was a rough one to come back to after a long layoff. When I’m watching wrestling these days it’s primarily Raw and any of my SmackDown info I’m getting either from online recaps or from my buddy Bill at work. That said there were a couple of standout matches here with New Day getting a win in the opener and Owen recapturing the US title from Styles. Other than that you’ve got to search for “moments” in these matches that just sort of crawled along.

Mahal has the making of a great heel champion but WWE isn’t letting him stand on his own two feet at all and bringing back Khali to end a bad match with a worse finish really left a bad taste in my mouth. I had some relatively high hopes for the WWE Championship situation when John Cena looked to be in line for a SummerSlam title shot, but with Nakamura getting the shot against Mahal that’s got all the makings of a curtain jerker for SummerSlam. If that comes to pass, which I could certainly see happening, that will just further cement SmackDown in my mind as the far inferior brand to Raw. Perhaps they’re going to inject Baron Corbin and his Money in the Bank briefcase into that match though I’m not sure that makes it better in my mind.

Upcoming WWE PPV Schedule

Here’s a look at the PPV schedule through Survivor Series.

  • SummerSlam – 8.20.2017
  • No Mercy – 9.24.2017 (Raw)
  • Hell in a Cell – 10.8.2017 (SmackDown)
  • TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs – 10.22.2017 (Raw)
  • Survivor Series – 11.19.2017

Did you watch Battleground? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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