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

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our reviewers:

Aiden English def. Tye Dillinger

Kelly Harrass: I listened to this match. It sounded okay. Two audio stars.

Sean Sedor: Aiden English has a new cape. There was a major accident at the NASCAR race in Indianapolis, so my attention was diverted from this one a little bit. It was so bad that they put out the red flag (which stops the race), so this thing is still going on. Anyway, from what I was able to see, this was your average, run-of-the-mill pre-show match. Wait….Aiden English….actually won?! Well that was a surprise. I guess you needed to give him a win at some point so he can have at least a little credibility. Knowing WWE’s booking, they’ll probably have a rematch on SmackDown Live, and Tye Dillinger will even things up. **1/2

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Titles
The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods with Big E) def. The Usos (c)

Kelly Harrass: I can’t remember the last time I pulled a complete 180 on a tag team like I have in the Usos since their heel turn. Their offense now is so much more nasty looking than it used to be. The powerbomb on the floor on Kofi looked like it hurt so bad. I loved it! The match as a whole was pretty good. It was perfect as an opener. The action was fast and exciting and the crowd got to see a title change. It was fun for everyone… except for Kofi. And Xavier took that superkick out of midair, that probably wasn’t fun. And the Usos lost the belts so they probably didn’t have a good time…. So yeah, this was fun if you were watching and not participating. A hot opener with a shenanigan free title change, it would have been hard to not like this one. ***3/4

Sean Sedor: This NASCAR race is still going on. That red flag lasted for AGES…..and then ANOTHER person crashed. Their car is up in flames. Will this insanity ever end?! Anyway, I was looking forward to this one, as these two teams had a really good match at Money In The Bank that ended in a Count Out. Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods are the duo representing The New Day (who are basically wearing the American Flag here) this time around. From what I was able to see, this match was great! Both of these teams are so awesome, so it was fantastic to see them have a title bout with a proper finish. The standout spot of the match was probably Xavier Woods getting superkicked out of mid-air. That was crazy. The New Day winning was no surprise, as we knew they would get the titles eventually. I can’t wait to go back and watch this in full, with no distractions. ***3/4

Shinsuke Nakamura def. Baron Corbin (via DQ)

Kelly Harrass: There’s nothing more that I love in my Nakamura matches than when he’s stuck in a bear hug. Wait, did I say love? Sorry, I meant absolutely despise. This was a nothing match that did nothing for me. It doesn’t help things that the commentary team kept talking about Corbin’s striking ability and his strikes look like trash. Nakamura did what he could, but even he couldn’t elevate the match. There was a strike exchange between the two that looked awful and really drove home the point that the commentary team should never talk about what a great striker Corbin is again. The match ended in a disqualification when Corbin hit Nak in the dick, thus making this match completely pointless.

Sean Sedor: So all hell is breaking loose in this NASCAR race. First, Jimmie Johnson blows his engine on a restart, takes the lead while his engine is blowing up, and then wrecks going three wide fighting for the lead. Then, they had two more wrecks on restarts, one of which occurred before they even got into Turn 1. I guess all of these world-class drivers forgot how to actually freaking drive, because they keep crashing. The silver lining is that this third red flag is giving me the chance to actually watch this match. This certainly wasn’t a stellar match (nothing is truly stellar when it comes to Baron Corbin), but it was relatively solid. There was some decent back & forth action here, and I think it would’ve been alright if it had a clean finish, but of course, we can’t have a brand split PPV in 2017 without a non-finish. Corbin hit a Toru Yano inspired low blow, giving Nakamura the win by DQ. Then, Corbin came out and attacked Nakamura, taking him out with the End Of Days. The match itself was fine for its spot on the card, but the ending sucked. Plus, when you take into consideration the finish and the post-match, Nakamura looked like a complete loser here. ***

#1 Contender’s Five-Way Elimination Match
Natalya def. Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Lana, & Tamina

Kelly Harrass: Who cares about this match, look at this tweet! There is so much to unpack in this picture that is truly worth a thousand words. New Jack is an incredible man. This picture brought me so much more joy than this match did. The closing moments were fine, but outside of that, I was not impressed. Lana is still bad and Tamina continues to be dead weight in this division. It was a perfectly average and inoffensive elimination match. **

Sean Sedor: Well, I’m happy to report that this NASCAR race is finally over, and Kasey Kahne won, which means he gets to kiss the bricks…literally (it’s an Indianapolis thing). For the record, this race at Indianapolis was six freaking hours long (rain delays, crashes, and red flags included). Anyway, the winner of this one gets a title shot at Naomi at (I think) SummerSlam. The story here was that Lana & Tamina kept working together in an attempt to eliminate everyone else. There were a couple of good teases where it looked like they were going to eliminate someone, but ultimately, they never did. Becky Lynch ended up tapping them both out in quick succession, but then she got rolled up by Natalya. After an entertaining closing stretch, Natalya ultimately won after sending Charlotte into the bottom turnbuckle. It sucks that the SmackDown women were (once again) in a multi-person match, but I thought this was good. They told a nice story with Lana & Tamina, and the final sequence between Natalya & Charlotte was fun. ***

WWE United States Title
Kevin Owens def. AJ Styles

Kelly Harrass: I don’t know why these two don’t mesh together, but something isn’t working. The match was solid, but it wasn’t what I want out of these two when it comes to the level of quality I expect from them. For the sake of full disclosure, my Network feed really started to work like trash during this match, so maybe I was just angry about that. The finish fell flat, but you’d never know because the crowd was so dead. Sorry guys, but this felt like your average midcard match. **1/2

Sean Sedor: AJ Styles won the United States Title from Kevin Owens at a house show in Madison Square Garden a few weeks ago. For the most part, I thought this match was really good. Of course, that shouldn’t be a shock, considering who was involved. It wasn’t amazing, but it featured some good action throughout. I had a feeling that this match was on the road to be (potentially) great, but then the finish happened. The referee got knocked down after Owens tossed Styles into him. Then the two exchanges submissions as the referee started to recover. Around the time that he did, Owens countered a crossface into a pin, and had Styles pinned for a good six or seven seconds. It looked like a spot where Styles would kick out (just based on how long it took the referee to get to the cover), but then Owens did in fact get the pin. It was an incredibly flat and unsatisfying finish. I’m guessing these two match up again at SummerSlam, so here’s to hoping they have a great match with an actual finish that has no shenanigans or weird endings involved. ***1/2

Flag Match
John Cena def. Rusev

Kelly Harrass: The stipulation for this match is not good. Quite possibly the most absurd thing on this show is that this is the most convoluted stipulation match on the same show as a Punjabi Prison match. This is the point in the show where I’m beginning to think that we’ve all been tricked into watching a random house show. If you like needlessly long matches that have a lame story serviced by overly dramatic moments, this is one for you. All 20+ minutes of this match should have been given to the Fashion X-Files, which I am glad to see is not ending. *1/4

Sean Sedor: So John Cena challenged Rusev to an “old fashioned Flag Match”, but I don’t think a Flag Match in the 1980’s worked quite like this. You have the flags placed on tall poles on the turnbuckles, but to win, you have to remove your country’s flag and place it on the respective pedestal on the entrance stage. It’s completely wacky, but I will give them credit for making this whole presentation look visually nice (the flags visually displayed in the entrance way and on the pedestals themselves). As for the match itself, it went about exactly how I figured it would. They had a totally average match in the ring, they eventually retrieved their respective flags, brawled all over the entrance way, and as almost everyone predicted, John Cena emerged victorious. It was an absurd stipulation in execution, but the match wasn’t without its moments. The finish was cool, as Cena hit an Attitude Adjustment off one of the pedestals through two tables. I’m sure some people really hated this one, but it honestly didn’t bother me that much. ***

Sami Zayn def. Mike Kanellis (with Maria Kanellis)

Kelly Harrass: Why does Sami hate love? Or, more accurately, why does Vince McMahon hate love? Regardless of the answer, this match was the definition of average. Oddly enough, it was one of the better matches on the show. How sad is that? **

Sean Sedor: The tights that Mike Kanellis wore looked horrible….HORRIBLE. Also, his haircut was pure trash. If The Fashion Police hadn’t been attacked backstage (and Fandango presumably kidnapped), they should’ve arrested him on the spot. Anyway, this match was pretty average. I didn’t see their match from last Tuesday Night on SmackDown Live, but I’d be willing to bet that this was the exact same match. The only difference here was that the interference from Maria Kanellis didn’t lead to a victory for her husband. Zayn didn’t fall for their tricks this time, and got the win over Mike Kanellis after hitting the Helluva Kick. Nothing much else to say. It was a TV match on a PPV. **1/4

WWE Title – Punjabi Prison Match
Jinder Mahal def. Randy Orton

Kelly Harrass: I would have gone home when this match started if I was there live. That’s not a knock on the quality, it’s a knock on the visibility of the match. I had trouble seeing what was happening when watching at home, I can’t imagine how it was for fans in attendance. The match itself had two distinct halves. The first half in the inner structure was your typical plodding Orton match. Once they got into the outer structure, things picked up. That’s when the match started to have the brutality that was promised to us and actually had a sense of urgency. The Singh Brothers were, once again, the MVP’s of the match, bumping all over the place. Business really picked up when Great Khali emerged from the entranceway to keep Orton from escaping. As Khali choked Orton out, Jinder was able to escape and I can’t think of a better way for this match to have ended. This was a ridiculous match that deserved an equally ridiculous ending. If I was to compare this match to a typical WWE cage match, I think this would rank higher for me. WWE cage matches are usually pretty dumb, so might as well make it fun. This is nothing I’ll revisit again, but you can be sure that I’ll remember that ending. ***½

Sean Sedor: About a week ago, I was listening to the Review-A-Smackdown Podcast with Wai Ting & Alex Greenfield (who was in for usual co-host John Pollock). Apparently, in 2006, Greenfield (who was head writer at the time on SD) & Court Bauer originally wanted what eventually became the Punjabi Prison to be this FMW-style spectacle with explosions and such. Imagine if that actually came to fruition. We could be watching Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton in a match filled with explosions and other FMW influenced craziness. Alas, we have this gargantuan structure instead. This third edition of the Punjabi Prison Match….fascinating to say the least. They wrestled the first portion of the match in the inner cage like any other match, and didn’t actually use the cage as a weapon until several minutes in. Then The Singh Brothers showed up from underneath the ring because, of course, it wouldn’t be a WWE cage match without interference, which defeats the purpose of the stipulation. It essentially turned into a three-on-one handicap match from there, but we did get a few fun spots once they were out of the inner cage. Of course, The Singh Brothers bumped like madmen, with the highlight being one of them taking an insane fall from nearly the top of the out structure, to the floor, through one of the announcer’s tables. Orton then appeared to have the match won, but then The Great Khali showed, shaked Orton off the top of the outer cage, choked him, and allowed Mahal to win. Who would’ve predicted that Jinder Mahal & The Great Khali would be standing tall at the end of a WWE PPV in 2017? Pure insanity. The match itself was perfectly fine for what it was. It got much better once they got outside of the inner cage. At least the ending was memorable. ***1/4