The final PPV stop before this years SummerSlam took place last night as SmackDown Live produced Battleground, a show that on paper had plenty of potential but ultimately fell short; leaving fans disappointed. Even though there were several poor booking decisions and a surprise return that most WWE fans were not seeking, the show also had plenty of positives as WWE heads into its second biggest show of the year.
New Day makes history
In what was easily the match of the night, the opener saw new SmackDown Tag Team Champions were crowned as New Day created history by winning both the Raw and SmackDown titles and whilst it is a shame to see The Usos impressive run be brought to an end, it also means this entertaining feud should continue.
The match itself was incredibly entertaining, fast paced and action packed from the opening minutes with both teams showing their experience and proving why they are two of the best teams in recent WWE history. Being paced brilliantly, the bout moved from methodical tag team wrestling to both teams hitting their signature moves and unique spots that had the audience on the edge of their seats which should hopefully lead to another clash at SummerSlam; upping the rivalry even further.
The curious case of Shinsuke Nakamura
Since being brought to the main roster, the booking of former NXT Champion, Shinsuke Nakamura has been questionable, to say the least. Instead of portraying him as a rock star that has a unique move set that sets him apart from the entire roster, he has been toned down, stuck in pointless feuds with his matches failing to live up to their potential.
This was the case again at Battleground with Nakamura and Baron Corbin simply not working well together despite both men's best efforts and the fact that they brought a sense of strong style to the match. The fact that the live crowd were deflated from the exhilarating opening match didn't help as they weren't invested in any of this one, but the booking of the finish again did not portray Nakamura the way he should be.
Whilst he won the match by disqualification after a low blow from Corbin, the post match attack left the King of Strong Style laying in a heap, looking weak. Of course, WWE does need to keep Corbin strong given the fact he is Mr. Money in the Bank, but considering the fact he is very unlikely to be cashing in anytime soon, one defeat wouldn't have hurt him. Instead, the result left fans puzzled about the future of Nakamura, with most casual fans likely to be struggling to grasp the hype behind him.
SummerSlam match set
The first official SummerSlam match was set during Battleground as Natalya became the number one contender to Naomi's Women's Championship by picking up a major victory in the elimination five-way. Whilst she wasn't the expected choice, with most fans expecting to see Charlotte earn the SummerSlam spot, choosing Natalya is a smart decision that she has more than earned.
The veteran wrestler has been one of WWE's greatest ever female wrestlers and a marquee match at SummerSlam for the Women's Championship is something she more than deserves and the match quality should be high. The only problem is that WWE has invested very little into her character as of late so now it will be crucial that they book Natalya correctly leading into this match to make her appear as a genuine threat.
The new face of America (again)
One of the surprise decisions on the show saw Kevin Owens regain the United States Championship in a match that was good but didn't quite meet the expectations most had for two wrestlers of their ability. The decision for KO to once again become US Champion was a surprise given that he just dropped the belt at a live show, making AJ Styles' run rather pointless.
But it was the finish of the match that left most fans confused when the bell rang, after a pointless referee bump that served no real purpose in the matches finish, Owen's reversed a submission to gain a pinfall victory, yet Styles' shoulders were not on the mat and the silence in the arena spoke a thousand words of confusion. No replays being shown likely state that this wasn't meant to happen, yet the way it ended regardless of that potential botch just left fans feeling let down by this dream match up, for a second time on PPV.
John Cena defends America
Ah, the flag match, a stipulation that is always going to restrict athletes from putting on their best match and is always going to be based on national pride. This match was everything that was expected, nothing special, but nothing terrible either.
The whole feud is simply something to pass the time for John Cena until he moves on to bigger and better things at SummerSlam, yet it leaves Rusev in a very weak position immediately following his return, leaving question marks about where he stands within the blue brand's rankings.
The power of love is not enough
Battleground saw the in-ring PPV debut of Mike Kanellis as he went one on one with Sami Zayn in a losing effort against the Underdog of the Underground. This match was fine and there can be no complaints about it, but it also was nothing special, a common theme for the show. Having Kanellis lose was slightly surprising given that he is a new star on SmackDown and normally WWE like to protect newer wrestlers, but hopefully this is just the start of a build for him as that gimmick has good potential.
A Punjabi nightmare
Where do you begin with Battleground's main event? The slowness, the fact that the Punjabi Prison is not a good stipulation or the return of the Great Khali? There were so many problems with this match it is difficult to pick a starting point, but the stipulation itself is where we shall begin. It just isn't exciting, at all. The live crowd can barely see what is happening in the ring which takes them out of the action, the first section in the smaller cage is simply two men stopping each other from entering a door, and everyone knows door four will be the one used; it just isn't good.
The pacing of this entire bout was just incredibly slow with very little wrestling taking place, and the excitement levels only picked up when Randy Orton was throwing the Singh Brothers about like rag dolls. The tag team took an incredible beating from Orton and deserve a lot of credit for their role in this entire feud as they have been fantastic, with the table bump at Battleground being an example of the sacrifices they have made to get Jinder Mahal over.
Both Orton and Mahal were clearly trying to tell a story and can't be faulted for their efforts, but the fan investment just isn't there and that was obvious from the silence in the crowd. Then we had the ending, with the Great Khali making his return to the company (seemingly we can't have a Punjabi Prison without him) as he cost Orton the match, helping Mahal pick up the victory. Whilst this is no doubt being done to help boost the fan base in India, Khali is not somebody that should be dominating television time, or being made to appear as a monster again given the way he was booked towards the end of his WWE career. With SummerSlam on the horizon, it is concerning to think he will play a major part in the WWE Championship feud; very concerning.
Overall, this was not one of WWE's best PPV outings with only the tag team match standing out as something you needed to see, as that really was a great match. The rest of the show was incredibly bland and forgettable and just lacked a real excitement factor leaving WWE with a lot of work to do ahead of SummerSlam as far as the blue brand's contributions are concerned.
Star(s) of the night- New Day/The Usos
Match of the Night- New Day vs The Usos