It’s the final pay-per-view before SummerSlam and with there only being a month to set-up “the biggest party of the summer,” you can be sure that the results of Battleground will have some implication on this. Looking at the match card heading in, we have some decent matches, as despite a few feeling uninspiring, with the worry of whether the Punjabi Prison match will fall on its face, there is plenty of potential.
WARNING! There will be spoilers beyond this point.
The kickoff show saw a rematch from the Backlash pre-show, as Aiden English squared off against Tye Dillinger. Despite being a fan of Dillinger, enjoying their prior match for what it was, I honestly had no expectations for this one, seeing it as a throwaway match. Though the match was far from bad, it was at the same time rather lackluster, feeling inferior to their prior bout. What the match did allow, was both superstars to show their worth, as despite English picking up the win following a full-nelson release suplex, we did get plenty of offense from Dillinger.
(5.5 / 10)
Opening proceedings on the main card, we saw The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)(w/Big E) once again challenge The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, in a rematch from Money in the Bank. The fact that Woods was replacing Big E this time around allowed for a much fresher contest, as despite the chemistry not being to the same level, the flow of the match benefited due to it. Unlike their previous match, however, it was The Usos that dominated for the majority, taking Kingston out early on and focusing on Woods. This may have lead to plenty of near falls for The Usos, but when all was said and done it was The New Day leaving as new SmackDown Tag Team Champions, with Woods pinning Jimmy following Trouble in Paradise and a diving elbow drop.
(8.5 / 10)
Next up we saw Shinsuke Nakamura go one on one against Mr. Money in the Bank, Baron Corbin, with their rivalry springing from Corbin‘s attack on Nakamura prior to the Money in the Bank ladder match. Despite Nakamura getting in some strong knee strikes, it was Corbin that would take control of the majority of the match, hitting The King of Strong Style with repetitive body shots and a Deep Six. Nakamura would, however, turn things around near the end, lead to Corbin losing via disqualification after a vicious low blow (countering an exploder suplex). After the match, Corbin would attack Nakamura with his Money in the Bank briefcase, hitting an End of Days after this.
(7 / 10)
The third match on the card saw Becky Lynch, Tamina, Natalya, Lana and Charlotte Flair fight in a fatal five-way elimination match to determine the #1 Contender for the SmackDown Women’s Championship come SummerSlam. Despite not generally being a fan of these kind of matches, seeing them as often messy, this proved rather enjoyable. Following some back and forth action, which saw Lana and Tamina team-up and plenty of near falls, it was Tamina that was first eliminated, submitting to Lynch‘s Dis-arm-her. This would be followed by two quick falls as Lana also tapped to the Dis-arm-her, with Natalya pinning Lynch with a roll-up. This would lead to a short back and forth contest between Charlotte and Natalya, with the Queen of Harts eventually picking up the win after whipping Charlotte‘s head into the bottom turnbuckle.
(6.5 / 10)
The second title match of the night saw Kevin Owens look to regain the United States Championship from AJ Styles (who won the title in a live event a couple weeks back at Madison Square Garden). Having loved their prior meeting at Backlash, as well as their rivalry in general, I was eager to see another epic contest, with the match as a whole being generally good. Giving us some slow back and forth action, both men would get the upper hand at one point or another. During this the referee would inadvertently be knocked out, with both men exchanging submission holds during this. This would eventually lead to Owens reversing a crossface into a pinning combination, with the groggy referee counting the 1, 2, 3. It should however be added, that it looked as if Styles right shoulder was up, something that may be addressed on SmackDown Live this Tuesday.
(7.5 / 10)
Next up was the Flag match, with Rusev taking on John Cena in a contest where the winning superstar must grab their respective flag (which is in their opponent’s corner) and plant it in the ground at the top of the entrance ramp. Now if I’m being honest, I wasn’t overly enthused about this match, as despite both superstars having tremendous talent, I was fearful that the gimmick would ruin the flow of the match. The early portion of the match would be rather scrappy, as both wrestlers scrambled for their respective flags. This would lead to Rusev getting the upper hand, dominating Cena with a series of high impact moves. Cena would, however, turn things around, with both competitors retrieving their respective flags. This lead to yet another scrappy piece of action, with it taking an Attitude Adjustment through two tables to incapacitate Rusev enough to allow Cena to plant the American flag in his pedestal.
(6.5 / 10)
In between this and the penultimate match we got a special edition of Fashion X Files, where they teased that The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) were behind trashing Breezango’s (Tyler Breeze and Fandango) office. This would prove false, as both members were attacked by mysterious culprit(s).
This would lead us directly into the penultimate match on the card, as Mike Kanellis (w/Maria Kanellis) took on Sami Zayn in the former’s pay-per-view debut. Having gotten a disappointing bout involving the two last week on SmackDown Live, I was hopeful that this would make up for that. Though this almost came to pass, the lack of ring time did prevent the match from reaching its full potential. During the time we did get, there was plenty of back and forth action, with Maria getting involved at a couple of choice moments, teasing a repeat of their last bout. When all was said and done, Zayn did manage to pick up the win, pinning Kanellis following a Helluva Kick.
(6 / 10)
The main event was the third ever Punjabi Prison match (the first in ten years), as Randy Orton once again looked to regain the WWE Championship from Jinder Mahal. Despite the previous two Punjabi Prison matches being less than stellar, it is a concept that I personally am a fan of, with there being a lot of potential if worked right. The early portion of this match was very back and forth, with Mahal quickly asking for the first door (of four) to be opened (each door can only be opened once for 60 seconds). This would continue, with each superstar gaining a minor advantage here and there, with it taking the final door for Mahal to escape the first structure (getting help from The Singh Brothers (Sunil and Samir) following an RKO). This would see Orton left to scale the inner structure, as Mahal ascended the outer. This lead to a battle on the outer structure, with The Singh Brothers helping to take out Orton. Though Orton made a valiant attempt at overcoming the odds (including shoving Samir from the outside of the second structure through an announce table), the surprise return of The Great Khali would prove too much, with the giant choking Orton from the outside of the outer structure as Mahal escaped.
(7 / 10)
Battleground was generally a solid pay-per-view for WWE, as despite some questionable finishes and the slow pacing of a few matches, the talent shined. The Punjabi Prison match also managed to entertain, as despite falling prisoner to the flaws in it’s stipulation, The Singh Brothers turned this into a fun and exciting contest.