This past weekend the WWE hosted Battleground, a Smackdown Live exclusive show. As the, largely dismissive,
fallout continues, we take a look at the rights and wrongs of the show – *spoiler* it’s largely in the latter category.
It’s not often that this site looks back on a recent PPV. After all, we like, as we bill, a trip down memory lane.
We like to hark back to the Attitude Era, generally, or even further back. Even the Vince Russo booking or the dominance of Hulk Hogan doesn’t tend to cloud our judgement.
But today we are taking a step back from the aforementioned ‘trip down memory lane’ and today have a look at this past week’s WWE Battleground. It was a show that I had grave concerns about and, instead of the usual on the day fanfare, we ignored predictions in favour of a Sermon looking at recent Raw storylines.
So, let’s give the attention a WWE PPV should deserve and look at the rights and wrongs of Battleground. This won’t take long.
The tag titles match: This was excellent. I admit bias, I love tag team wrestling, but this was worthy of match of the night, in reality, on any WWE show this year. Flawless? Absolutely not, but this is solid 7/10 stuff.Do the New Day need the tag titles? Quite possibly not. But there are also very few acts at the moment quite as over as this trio of superstars.
Do the New Day need the tag titles? Quite possibly not. But there are also very few acts at the moment quite as over as this trio of superstars. The crowd laps up an act that writers on this site previously thought was wearing thin. Yip, we hold our hands up. New Day has benefitted from the brand split and there aren’t many you can say that about.
Yes, The Usos have been perhaps been as strong, if not stronger, than at any time in recent months but the decision to shift the titles onto the New Day proved to be one of the few highlights from this show. I hope that the WWE don’t book them to run roughshod over the tag team division in the same manner they did whilst WWE Champions. Fact of the matter is that there are fewer tag teams but there’s every chance of a reboot Luke Harper an Erick Rowan team – the destroyers of The Fashion Police anyone – and such a dominating heel tandem against the babyface champions could be good fun. Be interesting to see where the WWE goes with New Day as Smackdown Live tag champions, there’s still some work to do.
Another highlight, you ask. Errrr…the music when they lower down the Punjabi prison structure? Beyond that, I’m really out.
The rest was shit.
Ah, Nakamura vs. Corbin. Again, on Saturday, I questioned what, if any, chemistry these two would have. In the end, they would have the worst match I’ve seen Nakamura have. Frankly, since his promotion to the main roster, the WWE’s use of him as been abysmal. The King of Strongstyle has turned into ‘The Rockstar’ that has left fans scratching their heads and wondering what became of a superstar that so heavily dominated NXT. Was Corbin to blame? Not really. He’s green, there’s no doubt. But the WWE see something there and they are probably right. He has the look to be a star but not with Nakamura. Competitive matches don’t yet suit him. Have him destroy jobbers. Build him up that way. I don’t think he’s ready for lengthy encounters or for someone like Nakamura. Plus, unless the WWE persist with the ‘let’s have the MITB winner lose for a while then win the title’ shtick, they should really have Corbin look like a champ, or at least a main-eventer before he cashes in and wins the title. Just a thought… Also, the pop Nakamura gets, why not just strap a rocket to his back and go with a superstar the fans actually give a rat’s ass about?
The women’s match saw five women battle it out to be the number one contender for this year’s SummerSlam event. Whilst I have serious doubts that that event’s match will be a 1 vs. 1 bout – after all, Smackdown booking to date suggests a multi-woman match – I have more serious doubts that Natalya is the correct victor. Booked like a nonentity jobbers for months, the WWE has given us no reason to care about her yet are trying to place her as someone we should care about – more of this theme later. We don’t, really, care about her, sadly. Don’t be too surprised to see another multi-woman match feature on SummerSlam, probably the pre-show, with the entire division vying to become the latest women’s champ. Even fewer care. No wonder. Also, as I suggested on Saturday, why book so many quick falls rather than a 1-on-1 match? It makes no sense but shows the senselessness of the company booking at the moment. It’s going to be a recurring theme here. Also, what did having Naomi on commentary add to this? <answer: absolutely nothing>.
The next one up was AJ Styles defending his U.S. title against Kevin Owens. The title recently changed hands at a MSG house show and once again changed hands here. However, this is where the issue arises…the suggestion being that the finish here was a botch – something supported by Styles winning it back on Smackdown. So here’s what went down: We got a ref bump and the two began trading submissions. As the referee came too, the moved into a cradle position before the referee woke up and made it to three with a very slow count. So, basically, the referee was either out of position or had his timing wrong. This was terrible, Styles’ worst match since joining the WWE and the worst match between Owens and Styles.
John Cena vs. Rusev in a flag match. Uggghhhh. Waaaay back years ago, Rusev and Cena once had an entertaining match but ever since, as stipulations like this one got added, they got worse. This was the pits and two guys making their in-ring returns shouldn’t be a) given such an out of date stipulation, and b) more than twenty minutes to tell this “story.” Grim stuff.
Sami Zayn and Mike Kanellis was next. This entire programme has been largely uneventful yet despite Daniel Bryan once saying he enjoyed watching Mike on the indies, we were told here to believe he was a former store manager before being spotted by Maria Kanellis. There’s suspending belief and hoping we’re stupid. But in terms of the in-ring work, like the rest of their programme has been harmless. But this doesn’t need to be on a PPV. This is a TV feud. By all accounts the push of Maria and Mike may come to a shuddering halt soon. I’m not convinced many will miss it.
I often wonder if the redeeming thing about a Punjabi Prison match, either in person or on TV, is that you can’t really see the action. This 27-minute match…TWENTY-SEVEN MINUTES…did nothing to dispel that. A phoning it in Randy Orton against Jinder Mahal and his terrible offence isn’t something that should be stretched out that sort of a length of time. But the WWE duly persevered. This feud has been woeful. Just trash. This Sunday we’ll take a look at JinderMania but I’m bamboozled entirely how a heel Indian character will capture the Indian market and exactly what the beef between the USA and India is… Otherwise, why is he a heel. Also, why is Randy Orton the American savour here? God. This was an interference fest – although the Singh brothers have been the only actually interesting bit of this feud – and we got the return of the even less mobile Great Khali to cost Orton at the end and have Mahal retain. What the actual fuck, readers.
This was the worst Smackdown Live PPV since the brand split. Watch the tag titles match but, yeah, avoid the rest like the plague. Absolute dross.