Monday, July 24, 2017

WWE Battleground Review

WWE Battleground
July 23rd, 2017 | Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Kickoff Match: Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger
I wish this feud had more TV time. Aiden English is great in his singing role, while Tye Dillinger is the perfect guy for these Kickoff matches. The crowd loves him. Their Kickoff match at Backlash was nowhere near as good as this. They had some strong back and forth throughout this, with a crowd that was hotter than expected. English mocked Tye’s “ten” taunt after countering the Tye Breaker into a DDT. Tye fired up, but was hit with a Flatliner as English picked up a surprising win at 9:41. Like the crowd, this was better than expected. Two solid hands, having a solid match in front of a good audience, without overdoing anything. I hope both guys go on to do more. [***]

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (c) vs. The New Day w/ Big E
Putting Xavier Woods in there with Kofi Kingston instead of Big E was a great move. I do like what Big E brings to the table, with Woods and Kofi are capable of going full throttle with the Usos. This match moved at a wild pace and was the best straight tag I’ve seen all year outside of British Strong Style vs. The South Pacific Power Trip. Kofi took a sick powerbomb outside and was out of it for most of the match. That left Xavier in big trouble, but he was resilient and survived the best the Usos threw at him. One of the best spots of the year in ANY COMPANY came when Woods did his rope walk elbow, only to get caught with a masterfully timed superkick. It was the best superkick since HBK made Shelton Benjamin a Pez dispenser. Yes, I’m including all people who do superkicks. Unfortunately, once that didn’t end it and a superfly splash didn’t either, New Day winning was rather clear. Trouble in Paradise and the Woods elbow gave us new champions at 13:46. I’d have preferred if the Usos retained, but I can’t be upset after that match. Fantastic work from both teams, having their best match against each other. Awesome pace, great tag team wrestling and hot near falls. I loved it. [****¼]

Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
The WWE kind of booked themselves into a corner here. Nakamura can’t lose yet and Corbin shouldn’t either, though that never stopped them before with MITB holders. Corbin was in full dick mode, talking smack to Nakamura and the fans at every opportunity. It was weird for commentary to spend time hyping Corbin’s striking ability, when that isn’t his strong suit. It’s Nakamura’s. Their strike exchange didn’t look good, which hurt that build. Nothing about this match made Nakamura look like the star he should look like. It felt like Corbin killed time, Nakamura sold a bit and then we got a cheap finish where Corbin kicked Nakamura in the balls, giving us a DQ at 12:22. Nakamura is now 2-2 in lackluster singles PPV matches. The finish protected both somewhat. This felt like something I’d see as the first hour main event on Smackdown. [**¼]

Number One Contender’s Fatal Five Way Elimination Match: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Lana vs. Natalya vs. Tamina
Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi joined commentary for this and added next to nothing. She sounded uncomfortable. This went almost exactly the way you’d expect. It reminded me of the Six Pack Challenge at Backlash, but a lot worse. I enjoyed Lana and Tamina teaming up, as well as Lana’s personal vendetta in wanting to be the one to eliminate Charlotte. Lana nearly beating Becky Lynch was great too, before Becky countered into the Dis-Arm-Her. Tamina saved her, only to get eliminated herself by Becky. Then Becky made Lana tap about 15 seconds later, only to get rolled up by Natalya ten seconds later. Charlotte and Natalya had an alright back and forth, highlighted by a Charlotte powerbomb. Natalya got knees up on a moonsault and slammed Charlotte into the buckles to win at 10:55. It wasn’t terrible, but the rapid fire elimination stuff is a terrible move and I hate that they always do it to the women. It all felt rushed and didn’t give viewers enough time to get invested in much. Also, Natalya is a bad choice as her vs. Naomi sounds incredibly dull at the second biggest show of the year. [**]

WWE United States Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Owens beat AJ via countout at Backlash before AJ took the US Title from him at an MSG house show. They went through some early exchanges, feeling like two guys who knew each other and didn’t want to make the first mistake. The slow start made sense, but wasn’t executed as well as it could’ve been. That’s unexpected, because these are two of the best in the business. The crowd was flat, which is unusual for Philadelphia. When commentary wasn’t talking, it was either silent, or you could hear random conversations from uninterested fans. It picked up late and seemed to be heading towards something bigger. Instead, they went a different route. We got a ref bump and the two began trading submissions. As the referee stirred, they moved into a weird cradle position for about five seconds before the referee started his slow count. He made it to three and Owens won his third US Title at 17:44. What the hell was that? That was one of the flattest finishes in recent memory, which is saying something. The referee had his timing wrong or something, because they were down for so long that it made AJ look like a chump. Just let them wrestle without this bullshit. AJ’s worst PPV match since coming to WWE and their worst match together. [**¾]

Flag Match: John Cena vs. Rusev
I hate everything about this feud. Rusev is only evil because he’s from another country. That’s hardly the best message to send, especially as a global company. This wasn’t just a typical Flag match, because you had to get your flag, take it up the ramp and place it on your country’s pedestal. But why? Rusev/Cena was solid in their first match in 2015. The second was lackluster and the final two were dire, because of stipulations like this. The guys did their standard stuff and kept cutting each other off from winning. They brawled by the entrance, reminding me of their shitty I Quit Match. Rusev trapped Cena in the Accolade, before taking his flag and looking to win. Cena fought back, escaped another Accolade and delivered an Attitude Adjustment through a table. He planted his flag and won in a ridiculous 21:10. In what world did this need to go over 20 minutes? It was a giant waste of time, with an outdated feud and stipulation. There was no drama or reason to care, the crowd was dead and the match was hokey. They went through the motions like this was a house show where they had to kill time and I didn’t like any of it. The worst WWE match since the House of Horrors. [DUD]

The Fashion Police looked to solve the case of who trashed their office. These segments have been great. The Ascension entered the office to say it was them the whole time. Tyler Breeze called it a disappointment like other season finales. Fandango claimed it couldn’t have been them because they were at an Eddie Money concert, which they denied. After they left, the lights went out and Breeze was jumped. Fandango was attacked as well, and dragged out of the office. So, no resolution. 

Mike Kanellis w/ Maria Kanellis vs. Sami Zayn
This has been a harmless little midcard feud. In their first match, Sami dominated until Maria got involved and helped her husband steal it. This wasn’t as one-sided, with a lot of back and forth early on. It was all average work, with nothing sticking out but nothing being bad. After getting worn down, Sami rallied when Mike stopped to kiss Maria. He hit a tope con hilo and looked for the corner exploder. Maria jumped in and we almost got a repeat of the Smackdown finish, but Sami escaped Mike’s grasp. He hit the exploder and Helluva Kick to win in 7:16. Nothing special here. Like the feud, it was harmless and didn’t go too long. [**½]

WWE Championship Punjabi Prison Match: Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Randy Orton
The explanation for this match sounds ridiculous. It’s not that hard to understand, but hearing the ring announcer go over it made it seem convoluted. The first half of this match saw them stay in the ring, which isn’t a good thing. Jinder’s offense isn’t interesting and Orton at a methodical pace is like watching paint dry. It was mostly a standard match, with almost no use of the cage except for trying to escape here and there. They took 10 minutes to get to the third exit door being locked, but it felt like 25. We got some dull “Let’s go Jinder” chants and a shot of a dejected Orton. Jinder escaped the final door because the Singh Brothers pulled him out after hiding under the ring. THE POINT OF CAGE MATCHES IS TO PREVENT INTERFERENCE! How does the WWE manage to have interference in almost every cage match. Orton made it over the first structure and moved to the second one to stop Jinder from escaping. I can’t complain about interference too much, since the Singh Brothers have been the best part of Orton/Jinder matches. They were again here, with Samir taking a wild bump off the cage through a table. It was one of the craziest and hardest bumps I’ve ever seen. In the end, just when Orton looked to have it won, the fucking Great Khali came out. He choked Orton and held him in place, while Jinder climbed over and out to retain at 27:38. Under no circumstances should Jinder be working 27 minute matches. Hell, unmotivated Orton shouldn’t either. The first half of this was dire, while the Singh Brothers made the back half watchable. It’s not a good sign when the Singh Brothers were the only highlights of this entire feud. There were a few entertaining bits, but it went far too long. [**]

Overall: 4.5/10. I think this was the worst Smackdown PPV since the brand split. The only match that you should spend your time on is the Usos/New Day stuff. Kanellis/Zayn and Tye/Aiden were both solid. Styles/Owens was a huge disappointment, as was Corbin/Nakamura. The women’s match was kind of just there. The Flag match was complete and utter shit and should be avoided at all costs. The main event went on for way too long and wasn’t very engaging. An easy skip outside of one match.