WWE Battleground 2017
July 23, 2017
Wells Fargo Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

  • Barry Hess: Voices of Wrestling columnist; he lives 20 minutes from the Wells Fargo Center but will be watching Battleground from his couch because he’s got a damn wedding to pay for. Follow him on Twitter @BFHess171
  • Andrew Sinclair: He’s here. No, not Bray Wyatt, just that bloke who keeps writing columns about his deep emotional attachment to wrestlers. Follow on Twitter @AMSinclair97 for lukewarm takes on politics, sport and the graps.
  • Lee Malone: Voices of Wrestling’s OTT expert, writer of WWE previews and father of The Undertakers youngest fan. @Malone_713 on Twitter for all things wrestling and Manchester United.
  • August Baker: Contributor to Voices of Wrestling, pretend something clever is written here and follow along on Twitter @augustbaker12

Pre-show
Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English

Barry Hess: Yea, I got nothing here. Oddly enough, that’s probably what Vince thinks as well. Prediction: Tye Dillinger

Andrew Sinclair: What a way to start the show. This match feels symptomatic of much current WWE – on one side you have Tye, who’s lost all momentum since his main roster call-up, and on the other you’ve got English, a complete nothing character who’s the epitome of Just A Guy. Their match at Backlash was inoffensive, this will probably be the same. Prediction: Tye Dillinger

Lee Malone : I can only presume this match is happening on the pre show because their match on the Backlash pre show was so well received. Tye will enter to a smattering of ten chants, we will get some ten chants in the match and Tye will win and leave to some ten chants. Prediction: Tye Dillinger

August Baker: When I went to an NXT Live event, Tye Dillinger was the most over person there. “Ten” chants rang out through the arena all night, in every match, every time someone stepped out of the ring. I wonder if Tye misses that? Prediction: Tye Dillinger

WWE United States Championship
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens

Barry Hess: I try not to let my expectations get too out of control for most shows, but my bar is set pretty high for this one. If these two performers decide to go out and give a match of the year-worthy performance they will easily do so. I’m curious to see the Summer Slam path each of these two characters take. One would think they’re both moving on to something else by then, which will certainly come into play here in terms of a finish. Neither man has earned a clean victory over the other on the ppv stage. I feel like that trend will continue. Prediction: Kevin Owens

Andrew Sinclair: Match of the Night by a country mile. AJ winning the strap at a house show, albeit an MSG house show, was surprising but it doesn’t change my pick here. I feel like Owens is stagnating and given the options available right now, AJ as champ makes more sense. It’ll give him something to do and they can attempt to reestablish the belt in the way they did with the Miz and the IC belt last year. This should be excellent. Prediction: AJ Styles

Lee Malone: This feud has been underwhelming so far but on any given night these two are capable of having a MOTY contender. I think given that they should get plenty of time and that both men probably feel they have something to prove heading into SummerSlam this should be something special. AJ you would expect will have a big time match in the works at SummerSlam whereas Owens may get the lost in the shuffle so I see no need for AJ to lose the title. Prediction: AJ Styles

August Baker: If AJ can’t be WWE Champion, I guess United States Champion will do. While I’m excited about this match, I can’t help but think it would be better as the main event over the WWE title. With Summerslam around the corner, and neither guy having a clear direction, a rematch then wouldn’t surprise me. If this has another screwy ending, a stipulation might be in the cards for Summerslam, and really give them the chance to steal the show. Prediction: AJ Styles

Mike Kanellis vs Sami Zayn

Barry Hess: I can see how the love gimmick would look like a great way to generate heat on paper or in discussions within the writer’s room, I honestly can. But the bottom line is, when performed, it’s lackluster and boring. Sami Zayn’s character continues to be an odd combination of Woody Allen and Steve Urkel…which doesn’t look good on paper or my television screen. This match feels like it should be on the pre show. Prediction: Sami Zayn

Andrew Sinclair: Mike and Maria are here, YAY! Maria is good on the mic and a useful tool for Mike, as long as she stays away from the ring. Kanellis is perfectly average in the ring and is a heat magnet, so matching him up with Zayn in his first programme makes sense. Kanellis got the cheap win on Smackdown because of Maria, so I want to think that Zayn gets the win back here. That said, I can’t see Kanellis losing this soon after his debut. Prediction: Mike Kanellis

Lee Malone: Sami Zayn is a geek and never wins feuds and still remains popular for being Sami Zayn so pairing him with Mike Kanellis makes perfect sense. Kanellis is the very definition of average. Average wrestler, average talker, average look but he has a hot wife so WWE are going to get behind him. Maria will again distract Sami because he is a geek and Mike will take advantage.  Prediction: Mike Kanellis

August Baker: Mike Kanellis is a poor man’s version of the Miz. A very, very poor man’s version. A pauper’s version. A down-on-his-luck, train-hopping, spindle-carrying, grasping at empty alcohol bottles version of the Miz. Miz was able to take his “go away” heat and become a great heel. I don’t see Kanellis doing the same. I do see a quiet crowd get even quieter when Sami loses though. Prediction: Mike Kanellis

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin

Barry Hess: This match has me intensely curious. Curious to see how the clash in styles between The King of Strong Style and The King of Corbin Style affects the in-ring chemistry between the two. Curious if Corbin will throw a few well-aimed jabs across the New Japan bow. Curious if Nakamaura will bring his A-game or is in safe mode. Prediction:Shinsuke Nakamura

Andrew Sinclair: I think I’m completely fair in my assessment that Nakamura’s WWE run has underwhelmed. Since his first match with Sami Zayn, which seems an eternity ago, nothing has captivated me. A large part of that is the fact he’s been working underneath, which doesn’t suit his style, and this match won’t change that. Big Baron is obviously eating the fall, because you know, he’s got the briefcase and all, but I’m not too keen. Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Lee Malone: When Shinsuke signed with WWE and we all dared to dream that it might actually work out and be great and all the dream feuds and big time matches we could see were talked about, a Baron Corbin feud is not something anybody wanted. I am not expecting this to be good, in fact I think it will probably be bad and downright boring. Hopefully Shinsuke gets the win and moves on to somebody worthwhile. Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

August Baker: As an unabashed Nakamura mark, I look forward to all of his matches. But this one really stretches my desire to watch the King of Strong Style. I’m sorry, “The Artist.” The more times he fights a guy like Corbin, the more I wonder how WWE can miss the mark so badly. Nakamura is certainly proving he can have generic WWE-style matches with all manner of different people though, so if that’s the goal then well done. I desperately want Nakamura, like Owens and AJ, in the main event, but I don’t know if it’s going to happen. Prediction: Baron Corbin

WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s – Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Tamina vs. Lana

Barry Hess: The SmackDown Live Women’s Division has been the most bland division in all of WWE over the last several months. On one hand, the primary focus of the characters within the division has been the championship, which is great. On the other hand, there has been very little conflict beyond who has the title and who gets the next shot. The division has felt like it’s been in a holding pattern, but for what? The booking of this division has been inexcusable as of late. If this match gets some time I can see it being a decent showing, but the in-ring hasn’t been the problem. PredictionCharlotte Flair

Andrew Sinclair: Well I mean this is just lazy booking 101. Just when I thought they were doing so well with the women, they just shove them all in together. My attention is piqued by the fact it’s an elimination match, but it’s still not doing a lot for me. Lana is still very green, Tamina isn’t good at all and Charlotte isn’t a babyface, but who am I to question their booking logic. I’m sure Road Dogg knows exactly what he’s doing. A Charlotte win and a Becky heel turn would be ideal, but Tamina is going to win isn’t she? Prediction: Tamina

Lee Malone: I am with my colleague Andrew above. The Smackdown women’s division needs a shake up and a Becky heel turn would be perfect. She is never going to be the #1 face while Charlotte is on the same brand and Naomi needs a real challenge. People will shout that Carmella is the top heel and while she has been improving she just isn’t that good. Turn Becky and have a good wrestling heel for Charlotte and Naomi to take on.   Prediction: Becky Lynch

August Baker: With a group like this, an elimination match is far preferable than the chaos of a single fall match. Charlotte hasn’t impressed on Smackdown, and Becky is the star of the division. I don’t think a heel turn is in store for her, but who knows. This isn’t about who is liked best or who is the best wrestler, but rather who would make a suitable opponent for Naomi. After Naomi’s victories over Lana, it’s time for her to move up to the second-worst woman wrestler on the roster. Prediction: Tamina

Flag Match
John Cena vs. Rusev

Barry Hess:I’m so confused. This match should have taken place on the July 4th episode of SD Live when Cena made his return (if at all). Who does this match help? Prior to his injury Rusev certainly had enough cache to absorb losses, but this is his first ppv match since an extended injury. Losing to Cena (again) out of the gate is a non-starter. Likewise, Cena has already slayed this beast. What’s the point of slaying him again? The match itself will probably be fun, but I’d like a bit more than a fun match when either of these two competitors are involved. Prediction: John Cena

Andrew Sinclair: WHY? WHY? WHY? Why bring back Rusev like this – there were so so many options. Like, I don’t know, maybe use a bit of booking continuation and match him up with Jinder, his former tag partner. Try him as a face, now that Lana was off doing her own thing. Why bring Cena back and just use the ‘America, America’ schtick that we’ve seen over and over again? Why a flag match, they always suck? This match genuinely makes me want to tear my hair out. Cena will win because he’s Big Match John and Rusev will lose because he’s Rusev. SAD! Prediction: John Cena

Lee Malone: I feel like we have seen this all before and it was much better the first time. With the free agent John Cena story they pushed and Rusev being off tv for so long they had plenty of options for fresh, new directions for both men. Instead we get a re-run of All American Cena taking on the Bulgarian Brute who still wears the ring gear with the Russian colours on it. And flag matches are trash so it’s not even like we can expect a great match either. Prediction: John Cena

August Baker: All I can do is laugh at this. What a terrible idea. Unfortunately, if Cena has his All American Red White And Blue boxers on, then this is just a prelude to Cena taking on another evil foreigner at Summerslam. Sigh. What a waste. A waste of Cena. A waste of Rusev. A waste of patriotism. I hope this match is on during Game of Thrones so I can skip it without guilt. Prediction: John Cena





WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The Usos © vs. The New Day

Barry Hess: When New Day was brought to SD LIve I thought the decision to leave them off television for a few weeks was a good idea. Letting the audience miss them for a short while after their long run as Raw Tag Team champions would allow the act to freshen up somewhat before hopping into the blue brand’s tag title picture. Turns out I was wrong. I didn’t really miss New Day all that much at all and since they’ve been back I haven’t really been excited about the prospect of them winning the titles. I think this team has run it’s course. On the flip side, The Usos continue to be compelling heels. Nevertheless, I know where this program is headed. Prediction: The New Day

Andrew Sinclair: Turning the Usos heel is one of the best moves the company has made in 2017. Their old schtick was tired and boring, but they now both seem motivated and their promo work has been highly enjoyable. The New Day have been great foils for them, and this feud has been simple, effective and quite entertaining. The New Day win when the Usos can’t run away, but the Usos have had their number when it counts. Whichever way this goes though, the victors face the same problem – the Smackdown tag team division is a desolate wasteland. You’ve got the Colons and the Ascension, who never win and have no credibility, AA have, erm, parted ways, and the Fashion Police are entertaining but also lack credibility – is a Harper/Rowan reunion on the cards? Who knows, but the New Day take this. Prediction: The New Day

Lee Malone : Who would have thought an Usos New Day feud would be one of the highlights of WWE TV in 2017, I certainly didn’t. The New Day were played out by WrestleMania and pretty much everyone was sick of them so Kofi’s injury has probably been a blessing in disguise. The Usos seemed like the least likely heels before they turned but since their turn they have been fantastic. If this feud were to end I fear neither team has any credible opponents so let’s just hope this feud continues for now. Prediction: The Usos

August Baker: I don’t care what Wale says, the Uso’s destroyed the New Day in their rap battle. And as we all know, if you lose a rap battle, you win the match. As noted above, there are no other real tag teams on Smackdown, so these two teams will keep feuding, so New Day needs a win. I’m assuming the Fashion Files are leading to the debut of a new heel team, which is another reason for the faces to have the belts. Prediction: The New Day

WWE Championship – Punjabi Prison
Jinder Mahal © vs. Randy Orton

Barry Hess: When it was announced that Battleground would be held in my hometown of Philadelphia I wasn’t really all that excited to be honest. I don’t attend many live shows because I’m partially deaf, which makes extended periods of time in loud spaces very disorienting and uncomfortable. Then the news about the return of the Punjabi Prison was announced and I immediately knew I needed to be there. When would I ever have the chance to see such a spectacle again? Alas, it was not in the cards thanks to a sobering combination of my upcoming wedding bills and my inherent fiscal responsibility. I hate being an adult.

As far as the match goes, once again I have high expectations (almost certainly too high). These two performers have decent chemistry and as long as Randy Orton remains engaged (I’m surprised he’s lasted this long if I’m being honest) this will be a lot of fun. Jinder needs to come out on top of this program if he’s to be taken seriously, which I hope is goal, but I feel like I know where this is going. Orton lost in his hometown and now it’s Mahal’s turn to lose in his match of choice. Hopefully I’m wrong, Prediction:Randy Orton

Andrew Sinclair: This is easily the best Punjabi Prison match ever and it hasn’t even started yet, so that’s something. The whole match concept seems so ridiculous though and to add to that, it’s aesthetically displeasing. Especially at distance. I never used to care about stuff like that, but my increasing media commitments and desire for CLICKZ has changed me. Anyway, I digress. Jinder has grown into the role of champion, I just wish he had more material than ‘You hate me because I’m rich, foreign and jacked’. Randy was entertaining at the start of the year but now he’s back to being Captain Chinlock. Their match at MITB was quite good, but I just want the feud to be over. Head says Jinder wins, so he can be vanquished by John Cena at Summerslam. Prediction: Jinder Mahal

Lee Malone: Forget what you hear on Twitter, Punjabi Prison is a confirmed draw. A long list of VOW staff offered to preview this show and Captain Kraetsch had to choose who got the chance to air their hot takes and do you think it was the chance to talk about Baron Corbin vs Shinsuke Nakamura that had us all hyped? Not a fucking chance! We all wanted in on the Punjabi Prison hype. This match could be an absolute mess and it would still be the best Punjabi Prison match ever so the bar is set real low for this one. Jinder has improved as champion and the Singh Brothers have shone in their roles and it is nice to see somebody different at the top of WWE cards, I just wish it was somebody better than Mahal. Orton as champion is played out and Jinder has a ready made feud with Captain USA John Cena so the smart money says Jinder remains atop the WWE tree for now.  Prediction: Jinder Mahal

August Baker: Like everyone else said, this will be the best Punjabi Prison match ever, simply by virtue of having two semi-competent wrestlers in it. It could be a 20 minute Orton headlock special and still be better. The Singh Brothers could Bollywood dance in the ring for the whole match and it would still be better. The Punjabi Prison certainly has a unique look, and if Jinder stays relevant, I’m okay with him using it as a signature match going forward. Staying relevant is going to be tricky though, as he’s got a date with Push-Killer Cena at Summerslam. Prediction: Jinder Mahal