5 Things We Learnt From WWE Battleground 2017
Adding a sixth: the Punjabi Prison is pointless for live audiences.
The final PPV before the upcoming dual branded SummerSlam is now officially in the books and it was underwhelming, to say the least. With unwelcomed surprise returns, a lack of high-quality matches and some strange finishes, Battleground won’t be going into the history books for any positive reasons.
However, despite the lack of quality on the show, there were several talking points heading into SmackDown Live this week and the overall picture for SummerSlam; so let’s take a look at five of them.
5. John Cena defends America
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Both John Cena and Rusev made their PPV returns at Battleground in the classic American Patriot vs Anti-American storyline and they put on a decent match with a predictable outcome. A flag match is never going to be amazing as the stipulation itself tends to only lead to one storyline narrative with lots of slow climbing to retrieve the flag and a slow build to place it for victory; which is exactly what they did.
Of course, Cena was triumphant for America on his return and this likely ends this feud as Cena will move on to surely feature in one of SummerSlam’s main event spots. However, where this leaves Rusev is anybody’s guess; without Lana by his side anymore the former United States Champion is in a desperate need for some new direction after months on the shelf.
4. SummerSlam Match Set
We now have our first confirmed match for SummerSlam booked in and ready to go following Battleground’s Five-way Elimination match, as a veteran wrestler, Natalya, earned her spot on the card to face Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
Whilst the elimination match itself wasn’t anything spectacular, the potential match quality between Naomi and Natalya could be very high. Natalya has consistently set the bar for women’s wrestling long before the current women’s evolution took place and with Naomi being one of the most athletic superstars on the roster if they can get the story right heading into it; the match could be special.
3. Controversial Championship Change
After going through a good period of not passing around Championships, it appears that WWE is leaning back to passing belts back and forth simply for the purpose of having a title change with Kevin Owens regaining his United States Championship just weeks after losing it at a house show.
Whilst seeing KO pick up the gold isn’t a major issue as his current ‘Face of America’ gimmick is very entertaining and works better when he holds the gold, the manner in which he won the match was very confusing. With AJ Styles having locked in a crossface submission, Owens reversed the move for a pinfall victory, yet AJ’s shoulders were not both on the mat, leading to many fans questioning the decision.
Considering the fact WWE decided not to show any replays of the decision could be a sign that it was simply a mistake and AJ’s shoulders were meant to be down, but it is a situation that should be addressed on SmackDown this week to clear things up.
2. New Day Makes History
In what was undoubtedly the match of the night to kick off Battleground, New Day made history by becoming the first tag team to win both the Raw and SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships after defeating The Usos.
The match itself was incredibly competitive, with New Day switching things up and having Xavier Woods wrestle instead of Big E (which is always refreshing) the match was very fast-paced with several believable nearfalls from both teams keeping the fans on the edge of their seats.
Wood picked up the victory for his side, marking the first time in his career that the UpUpDownDown host has won a championship by scoring the pin, and he did so in style with an incredible aerial leap from one side of the ring to the other. Hopefully, now this can lead to a rematch at SummerSlam, perhaps with a stipulation as the chemistry these teams have both in-ring and on the microphone is fantastic.
1. A ‘Great’ return?
The Punjabi Prison stipulation made its return at Battleground for only the third time in history and just like the previous encounters inside the bamboo structure, this one also failed to set the WWE Universe alight. Running at nearly 30 minutes, the main event felt like it dragged on for far too long with the rules of the match confusing and with the way they used the door system being predictable, it led to another very average Jinder Mahal main event match.
While everyone involved certainly worked hard with Randy Orton showing the wounds of the battle after the match, the live audience fell silent for large parts (likely because they couldn’t see the action) and it certainly hurt the match itself. Even though seeing Orton throw the Singh Brothers around like ragdolls is incredibly entertaining and the table bump was an incredibly insane and dangerous spot to take the finish of the match is all that people are talking about.
The return of the Great Khali, something that nobody has been asking for, saw the former World Heavyweight Champion cost Orton his chance to win the WWE Championship before celebrating the victory with Mahal.
It seems that Khali is now set for a run back with the company, despite the fact he is now in his mid 40s and was never a particularly entertaining wrestler in the first place. Mahal’s faction has now grown again with the Singh Brothers and Khali by his side, but with a third victory, it seems his feud with Orton has now (hopefully) drawn to a close and the WWE Champion should gain a new opponent heading into SummerSlam, who will now have Khali to deal with as well.