Battleground 2017: The Worst Match I’ve Seen In At Least Ten Years

Battleground 2017
Date: July 23, 2017
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield, Byron Saxton

It’s time for another pay per view before we head on to Summerslam but tonight we have a Punjabi Prison match. Yeah they’re dusting this one off because the Smackdown World Champion is of Indian descent and this is some kind of a war themed pay per view. Other than that we have John Cena vs. Rusev in a flag match to keep up the same theme. Let’s get to it.

Kickoff Show: Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger

English sings before the match, dubbing himself the Beethoven of Baritone and the Drama King. It helps that he has one heck of a voice. English shoulders him down to start and does a quick curtsy. Dillinger comes right back with a series of very fast standing switches into an armdrag, good for a TEN. Back up and English sends him into the middle buckle before unloading with some right hands.

We come back from a break with Dillinger fighting out of a chinlock and hitting a running forearm. A spinebuster gives Tye two but he can’t hit the Tyebreaker. English gets two off a layout DDT (he lands on his stomach instead of falling backwards) and frustration is setting in. Aiden tries a Tyebreaker of his own but spends too much time giving Dillinger a ZERO, allowing Tye to slip out into a sunset flip for two. That’s fine with English though as he sends Aiden into the corner and grabs a dragon suplex which spins off into a faceplant for the pin at 9:45.

Rating: C. I had a feeling they might have English go over here as it’s fairly clear that Dillinger has already lost whatever steam he could have had coming into the main roster. English might not be much but he at least has a character, which is more than Dillinger has with a catchphrase. Dillinger will be fine for the short term but he needs something more and he needs it in a hurry.

The opening video shows wrestlers wearing war paint, which they’ve all earned. It transitions into Rusev running down America and Orton wanting his title back.

Tag Team Titles: New Day vs. Usos

New Day is challenging and clad in red, white and blue. You know, because WWE wants to do an AMERICA IS AWESOME show and chose freaking Battleground while also doing GREAT BALLS OF FIRE instead of Great AMERICAN Bash. Keep up the brilliance guys. Kofi dropkicks Jey at the bell and it’s off to Woods as the challengers hit some rapid fire kicks, followed by a middle rope elbow for two, all in the first thirty seconds. The champs take over on Woods in the corner with a variety of kicks and stomps, followed by Jey hitting the running Umaga attack (with JBL mentioning Umaga by name for a change).

Woods shoves Jey off the top though and hits a missile dropkick, allowing the hot tag to Kingston. Trouble in Paradise doesn’t work so both champs are sent outside with Kofi tagging Woods. The Usos able to catch the trust fall though and Kofi gets powerbombed on the floor. A wheelbarrow suplex is countered into a faceplant for two on Jimmy but the Honor Roll is broken up.

Woods eats a pop up Samoan drop for a close two and is able to get up top for the really far elbow. That’s fine with Jimmy though who slides over for a superkick to knock Woods out of the air (SWEET) for two. We hit a Tequila Sunrise into a long half crab until Woods gets over to the rope for the break.

Kofi remembers he’s alive and comes back in with a top rope double stomp to Jimmy while Woods holds him in a backbreaker (not the Midnight Hour Tom). The champs are right back with a superkick into the Superfly Splash for an even closer near fall. Woods is back up to shove Jey off the top, leaving Jimmy to eat Trouble in Paradise. Xavier adds the really long top rope elbow for the pin and the titles at 13:43.

Rating: B+. This was straight out of the old WCW Cruiserweight Title playbook: give two people some time and let them go nuts with high spots and hot near falls. The Usos weren’t doing anything with the belts and New Day, though not what they used to be, are still flat out more popular than anyone else in the promotion so this makes a good bit of sense. I’m not sure who they feud with but at least they’re back on top.

Recap of Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. Corbin attacked him at the start of the Money in the Bank ladder match and has done it multiple times since. Tonight it’s about revenge.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin

Nakamura’s pop is outstanding, even for a Philadelphia crowd. Corbin gets in his face to start but Nakamura calmly kicks him down, meaning it’s time for an early breather on the floor. They trade places with Nakamura making him wait for a bit, only to charge back in for a right hand to the jaw. We hit a bearhug of all things but Nakamura reverses into a triangle choke.

Corbin slips out of that as well and yells at the crowd before putting on the bearhug again. A chokeslam is broken up with a quick kick, followed by a spinning kick to the head. Corbin runs him over with an awesome clothesline but Nakamura knees the heck out of him to escape. Kinshasa is countered with Deep Six for two but a chokeslam is countered into a Backstabber. Nakamura loads up the reverse exploder but Corbin kicks him low for the DQ at 12:28.

Rating: C-. As usual, Nakamura continues to just kind of be there and that makes for some disappointing matches. The bearhug and ending really hold this one back too as Corbin didn’t exactly show off much here and Nakamura was exactly what he’s been doing in recent months. I hope he steps up at Summerslam because otherwise, I have no idea when he’s going to do so.

Baron goes to leave but hits Nakamura with the briefcase and adds End of Days to continue the feud.

Video on Naomi and the five potential challengers to set up the #1 contenders match.

Natalya vs. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Lana

Elimination rules and the winner gets Naomi, on commentary here, at Summerslam. Lana is knocked to the floor to start (probably not the worst idea) and everyone else brawls inside. Natalya tries a Sharpshooter on Tamina until Lana makes the save, earning herself a showdown with Charlotte. Tamina breaks up the beatdown and the double team begins on Charlotte.

Lana completely misses a kick to the head but gets two anyway and it’s time to pose. Becky FINALLY comes back in and beats on Lana, setting up a Charlotte vs. Becky showdown. Natalya breaks it up and hits the basement dropkick for two on Charlotte. Lynch kicks Natalya in the ribs and grabs the Bexploder, followed by another one to Lana. Another Bexploder to Natalya looks to set up the Figure Eight but Charlotte can’t get it on.

The discus lariat sets up the Sharpshooter, only to have Lana make a rather illogical save. Tamina has to break up the Disarm-Her on Lana, followed by a Samoan drop. The same hold has to be broken up a second time but Becky gets the Disarm-Her on Tamina for the tap at 8:08.

The same hold gets rid of Lana at 8:38, followed by a rollup to eliminate Becky at 8:42. So we’re down to Charlotte vs. Natalya with Charlotte powerbombing her way out of an early cross armbreaker. Charlotte’s moonsault hits knees though and Natalya sends her hard into the corner for the pin and the title shot at 10:58.

Rating: D+. So we sit through a bunch of stupid saves and Lana being in way over her head (she’s gorgeous, she looks amazing in her outfits and she has the character but sweet goodness it’s not working in the ring) and NATALYA wins? She’s the biggest charisma vacuum I’ve ever seen and is the definition of nothing more than a hand in the ring. You have the other options for the title shot and you pick her? Just…..why? Oh and please, PLEASE keep Naomi away from microphones. She’s just not good at talking in any form.

Natalya won’t shake Naomi’s hand.

We recap AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens. Kevin defeated him via countout earlier this summer but AJ won a battle royal to get another title shot at Battleground. Then he won the title at Madison Square Garden in a big surprise, switching the roles for this show.

US Title: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens

Styles is defending. Owens grabs a headlock to start but AJ armdrags him out to the floor for a breather. Back in and Kevin gets taken down again, sending him outside again. A dropkick sends Owens outside for the third time but this time AJ misses a charge into the barricade. Owens grabs a long chinlock back inside, followed by a DDT to cut off AJ’s comeback.

We hit the chinlock again with Owens adding in the trash talk as only he can. The Phenomenal Rush puts Owens down and the seated forearm sends Owens over to the apron. AJ can’t lift Owens for much of anything and a missed charge sends him hard into the ropes. The fireman’s carry neckbreaker gives AJ two but the springboard 450 hits knees.

Owens nails the Cannonball for two but Styles is right back with a torture rack into the spinning powerbomb for a near fall of his own. Another springboard is broken up but Owens trips AJ up and sends him shoulder first onto the apron. Back in and the ref is bumped, leaving no one to see Owens in the Calf Crusher. He doesn’t tap but rather reverses into a Crossface on the bad shoulder. That’s reverses into a Crossface on Owens but he reverses into a rollup for the pin and the title at 17:44.

Rating: B. Uh….ok? Did they really just change the title at Madison Square Garden for the sake of a DVD release? The match was good enough but I’m not wild on them changing the title back and forth so fast. I was looking forward to AJ doing the Open Challenge but odds are we’re looking at a gimmick rematch at Summerslam, which doesn’t do much for me.

The Singh Brothers tell Jinder Mahal that they can’t be at ringside with him. Mahal says he has 1.3 billion people in his corner.

We recap John Cena vs. Rusev. Cena came back on the Fourth of July and talked about how much he loved America, only to have Rusev interrupt. This led to a challenge to a flag match, which Rusev accepted.

Rusev vs. John Cena

Flag match, which means you have to pull your country’s flag off a pole, take it up the ramp and put it on a pedestal to win. Cena headlocks him to start but Rusev shoves him away and goes straight for the flag. That’s not happening yet though so Cena pulls him off with something like a super bulldog.

Rusev is right back up to pull him off the top with an electric chair and it’s time to talk some trash about America. Cena gets thrown down again as this is already dragging about five minutes in. The shoulders stagger Rusev but he sends Cena outside. It’s still not enough to pull down the flag though as Cena makes the save, only to get powerbombed (kind of) back down. Rusev gets his flag down but eats a dropkick to knock it down again.

An AA lets Cena get up top but Rusev pulls him down AGAIN. Rusev’s powerbomb is countered into the STF though and Rusev taps, which means nothing. Cena grabs the American flag and jumps down into a superkick to put both guys down. The Bulgarian flag is picked up again so Cena has to dive off the apron to make a save and send Rusev into the steps.

Now it’s Cena going up the aisle but Rusev makes another save and hits him in the head with the steps. Cena gets up again and sends Rusev head first into the entrance screen. A fall away slam onto the ramp stops Cena again and it’s freaking TABLE TIME because it’s Philadelphia and ECW is still a thing. Make that two tables and just get to the AA through them so Cena can put the flag up and win.

Rusev can’t hit an AA so they knock each other down again with Cena grabbing the American flag. Why he doesn’t grab both of them and throw the Bulgarian one into the crowd isn’t clear. Rusev gets the flag stand and hits Cena over the back with it to set up the Accolade. With Cena down, Rusev gets the Bulgarian flag but has to fight out of an AA attempt. Another Accolade is broken up and Cena AA’s him through the tables, allowing him to put in the American flag for the win at 20:42.

Rating: F+. I absolutely could not stand this match as it felt like it went on for the better part of an hour. There were multiple times where they could have done ANYTHING else to get rid of the flag podium or the flag itself but they would rather walk around like they had been shot. Just awful here with a bad concept, a choreographed ending and nothing close to drama. Terrible stuff here, especially when it’s nothing more than a way to tie into the whole war/battle theme.

It’s Fashion X Files time when the Ascension comes in to say it was them all along. That’s not true though as Fandango knows they were at an Eddie Money concert on Tuesday. The lights go out and someone jumps Breeze. Someone does the same to Fandango and it’s…..not revealed who did it as someone drags Fandango’s body away. To Be Continued.

We recap Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis. They’ve been having issues for a few weeks and Maria cost Sami the first match earlier this week. Tonight it’s rematch time.

Mike Kanellis vs. Sami Zayn

The Kanellis family is wearing matching Maria’s jackets with lip prints all over them with Mike adding similar tights. Sami grabs a headscissors to start and Mike is sent outside where Maria has to pull him away from an attempted dive. Back in and Mike hammers away but has to stop for a kiss from Maria (in case you thought it was one from the referee).

Sami fights out of a double arm crank and sends Mike outside for the big running flip dive. The Blue Thunder Bomb is broken up so Sami settles for the tornado DDT instead. Maria gets in the ring to block the exploder though, only to have the second attempt work just fine. The Helluva Kick gives Sami the pin at 7:19.

Rating: D. Again, I don’t think anyone was seriously thinking that Mike was the talented one of the team and this match didn’t do much to showcase himself. He’s rather average in the ring and the whole character is that he really loves his gorgeous wife. There’s nothing special in the ring to help fix a lame gimmick and that’s not a good sign for his future.

We recap the Punjabi Prison match. Orton has been dealing with the Singh Brothers in all of his matches with Mahal so it’s time to lock them out. The structure is a bit complicated as it has two cages (made of bamboo), one around the ring and the other around the outside. The regular cage around the ring has four trap doors which will open up for sixty seconds each. If they close, they can’t be reopened though and if all four close, you have to climb over the top. The first person to get out of both cages wins.

Smackdown World Title: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton

Orton is challenging and we better have a Great Khali appearance. Randy hammers away to start and puts Mahal down before calling for the first door. Mahal dives over to keep him inside though and the clock runs out, meaning that door is no longer an option. They slug it out again with the champ getting the better of it and grabbing an armbar (as is the case in most prison fights).

The second door is opened but Orton throws him down with a fall away slam. Neither of them can get out so Mahal tries to climb, earning himself a trip right back to the mat. Mahal splashes him against the cage a few times but Orton grabs a suplex to send him into it as well. That goes nowhere either and they’ve only got one door left. The hanging DDT stuns Mahal so the fourth door is open, only to have Mahal break up the RKO with a jumping knee to the head.

Orton counters the Khallas into an RKO but the freaking Singh Brothers pop out from underneath the ring to pull Mahal through the door. Orton can’t get out in time so he easily climbs the inner cage and steps over to the outer one. THEN WHY WOULD YOU EVER BOTHER WITH THE TRAP DOORS??? Mahal drops down so the Singh Brothers pull Orton down instead.

Randy beats them up and pulls Mahal down, leaving the champ to find kendo sticks to work Orton over. Much like everything else though, Orton shrugs it off and does the same thing to Mahal to take over. One of the Brothers crawls through a hole in the cage and climbs up the outside, only to get punched down through a table (heck of a bump actually). Mahal pulls Orton back down and THIS IS STILL GOING!

The hanging DDT onto the floor should kill Mahal but that might mean the match is ending anytime soon so he’s just dazed for a few seconds. Now it’s a chair with Mahal taking a few shots to the ribs. The other brother gets knocked off the cage wall and it’s the GREAT KHALI to shake the cage as Orton tries to climb out. Khali chokes him through the cage and Mahal climbs out to retain at 27:42. Yes I said 27:42.

Rating: F-. I think this match actually broke me. I don’t remember HATING a match this much since…..geez the Russo days maybe? This could have been cut down by probably two thirds for the same result but they were literally just walking around looking for more stuff to do to each other because they didn’t have anything else to do to fill in the time.

Speaking of the time, WHY IN THE WORLD WAS THIS NEARLY HALF AN HOUR??? The show ended at eleven minutes after the hour and I’d LOVE to hear someone try to validate why it needed that extra time. I absolutely could not stand this match as it started off stupid and turned into one of the worst things I’ve seen in a very, very long time. It was long, it was stupid, and it makes the champ look like an even bigger loser than people already thought he was.

Overall Rating: D-. I know some of the stuff on here was good to very good but when your two main events are such absolute garbage and eat up nearly fifty minutes (closer to an hour with entrances/pre and post match stuff and the show runs over, there’s no way the show can be saved. Couple that with a pretty bad women’s match, a nothing Kanellis vs. Zayn match and the general feeling that this show meant very little and even the two good matches are helpless. This was terrible and it’s completely laid at the feet of whoever booked/produced the two main events. Simple awful.


New Day b. Usos – Top rope elbow to Jey

Shinsuke Nakamura b. Baron Corbin via DQ when Corbin kicked him low

Natalya b. Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Tamina and Lana last eliminating Charlotte

Kevin Owens b. AJ Styles – Rollup

John Cena b. Rusev – Cena put his flag on the podium

Sami Zayn b. Mike Kanellis – Helluva Kick

Jinder Mahal b. Randy Orton – Mahal escaped the prison

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up the Complete 2002 Monday Night Raw Reviews in either E-Book or Paperback. Check out the information here:

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23 Responses

  1. Aeon Mathix says:

    As bad as both main events were, I feel like not only tonight but the last few months would be far better if it was actually Rusev rather than Jinder as champion like it was reported prior. Jinder could have easily done the one off flag match against Cena and lose nothing while I’m fairly certain Rusev would have killer matches with Orton than these boring change the channel matches Jinder has had.

    • Thomas Hall says:

      It would be for me for one reason: Rusev has actually done SOMETHING in his career. The matches would have been better too and it wouldn’t require the Singh Brothers as the latest worthless lackeys.

  2. M.R. says:

    Sounds like I missed a classic.

  3. Joe says:

    They’ve managed to make Nakamura just another name on the roster, damn shame.

  4. Aeon Mathix says:

    They couldn’t really be doing another Orton vs Mahal match at Summerslam could they? You have Styles, Nakamura, Owens, Cena, Orton, Zayn on one show yet Jinder Mahal is WWE Champion and having these snooze fest matches.

  5. Jay H (the real one) says:

    Worst Match in ten years? You must not remember Sharmell vs Jenna Moresca from the TNA Victory Road 8 years ago.

    I actually don’t mind Jindar having a stable of his own ala JBL’s run on Smackdown in 2004 when he was WWE Champion. Personally I thought the Punjabi Prison picked up a little when the Singh Brothers got involved.

    Not saying it was PPV of the year but IMO there was still some good stuff on it. Usos/New Day was definitely Match of the night.

    • Greg says:

      Jenna vs Sharmell wasn’t a match between wrestlers for a world freaking title.

      • Jay H (the real one) says:

        No kidding sherlock but to say it’s the worst Match in 10 years is ludicrous.

        • BestSportsEntertainer says:

          Why are you so positive all the time?

          This PPV was awful.

        • Jay H (the real one) says:

          Why am I so positive all the time? I don’t know why. I just enjoy for it what it is, it’s not life or death getting upset over a bad Show, i don’t lose my mind if there’s a questionable booking decision,etc. Take your pick.

    • Dmxfury says:

      So predictable 😂 This was garbage and it’s ok to admit it

    • Thomas Hall says:

      I remember it and yeah this was worse. When you have one of the best ever and the World Champion, you expect more than you get from a manager vs. a celebrity.

  6. NightShiftLoser says:

    Early in this review, you mentioned the “WCW formula”. Doesn’t this whole show feel like it happened in 1999 WCW? Start hot, and then slowly turn to a steaming pile of horse manure as it carries on? I can’t think of a WCW show, PPV or not, that didn’t feel like that from Starrcade ’97 on.

  7. Mike M. says:

    Lucked out tonight, and a buddy and I got free front row tickets. We were behind the Swedish, I think, announce team. A few notes-

    -Crowd went nuts for Dillinger’s entrance and no one cared about the match.
    – Tag title match was definitely the hottest match of the night.
    – Corbin/Nakamura killed the hot crowd, though Nakamura is definitely over.
    – Crowd loved Becky Lynch and some of the air came out of the place when she went out. Crowd stunned Natalya won.
    – Ending of Styles/Owens came out of nowhere.
    -Zayn/Bennett existed. Maria is amazing though.

    Totally right on the main events. They lasted forever and both alienated the live crowd due to obstructing our view. Crowd did pop for the Cena win though. The Punjabi Prison match was awful. The bump the Singh brother took was insane though. Jinder is setting up his version of JBL’s cabinet for, I assume, Cena to run through.

    Great experience because it was my first time in the front row for a PPV. I would have been very disappointed watching it at home though.

    • Dmxfury says:

      Amazing how much better I always rate shows I attended. Live is cool

      • Mike M. says:

        Yeah, I definitely know it wasn’t a great PPV at all. I’ve been a fan for 30 years, but this was my first time in the front row at a non-indy show.

  8. Macios says:

    I have an absolutely awful feeling for Summerslam. With the amount of rematches/people who still need to get on the card it’s looking like a very long long PPV.

    You could easily have any or all of the following:

    Nakamura vs Baron 2
    Owens vs AJ 3
    Cena vs Mahal
    Khali vs Orton (or any Orton match)
    Natalya vs Naomi
    Another Smackdown Diva Match Charlotte and Becky vs tamina Lana
    New Day vs Usos 2 many
    Fashion Police Segment/Match
    Bray vs Finn
    Jason Jordan match
    Miztourage vs Seth Rollins and Dean
    Raw Tag Fatal Fourway
    Alexa vs Sasha
    WWE championship match
    Big Cass vs Big Show and Enzo
    Tozawa vs Neville
    Truth vs Goldust

    That still leaves Rusev, Ryder, Crews, Ziggler, Gable, Mike Kanellis, Zayn, most divas off card. It’s poised to be overkill.

  9. Jerichoholic94 says:


    • Thomas Hall says:

      Agoobwa is reserved for stuff that gets to the point of so bad it’s good. This had me nearly screaming for it to end and being amazed that they had the guts to do this on live TV.

      • Jerichoholic94 says:

        Fair enough. I just had to check because for once I actually missed the ppv so I wanted to know if watching the replay right away was even worth it.

  10. Mystery Man says:

    You can’t be serious.

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