Smackdown Live provided the final build for the Battleground PPV this Sunday, featuring a huge tag team main event with the dream team of AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura taking on Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin. We also saw the in-ring debut of Mike Kanellis facing off against Sami Zayn, the two biggest stars of the Smackdown Live women’s division Becky Lynch battled Charlotte Flair, another great edition of the Fashion Files and we got our first look in years at the Punjabi Prison.
Jinder Mahal opens the show bringing the Punjabi Prison to Smackdown Live. While it did seem a little cringeworthy to some, this segment and the Singh Brothers explaining how the match works will be good for those totally unfamiliar with this match type. Randy Orton soon came out to say his piece. Neither man said anything that hadn’t already been said. Seems a little lazy as the final build to the Main Event of a PPV for what should be the biggest title in the world.
In the opening match of the night Jimmy Uso defeated Kofi Kingston. While a good match, with Xavier Woods beating Jey Uso last week in singles competition, this just reverses last week’s decision and doesn’t take the feud any further. Again, very lazy booking here, and the heat of this feud has been completely drained with two lay singles matches after the Rap Battle shot so much life into this feud. Disappointing.
Chad Gable sits down with Renee Young for an interview. Gable says that he will support his former American Alpha partner Jason Jordan and that he is happy for him given Kurt Angles announcement. Gable also says that now he is on his own he has big plans as a singles competitor. WWE probably could have done a bit more than a few minutes of interview given the circumstances. Hopefully Gable can get a good mid-card run and the US Title would be perfect for him.
Mike Kanellis wins his first match on Smackdown Live defeating Sami Zayn. Incredible that they didn’t save Mike Kanellis’ first match for a PPV, especially against Sami Zayn given the rivalry building. The finish came with Zayn getting the upper hand before Maria stepped in to protect her husband, allowing Mike to cheap shot Zayn and hit his finish for the win. With such a cheap victory, perhaps the feud will continue to a PPV, but a missed opportunity given it was Mike’s very first match. We really did not get to see much of what Mike is capable of in the ring here.
John Cena came to the ring to promote the Battleground PPV and particularly his Flag match against Rusev. Maybe it’s because I’m personally not American (Proud Australian) but this was way too patriotic. While Cena’s “The flag flew high” thing was absolutely beautiful, instead of potentially focusing on their long history cumulating at Wrestlemania 31 and Rusev’s initial sentiments that nobody cared about his return and fans & management only cared about Cena’s return, this entire promo revolved around the standard patriotic USA thing that we have seen so many times and are getting in small part in the main event picture also with Jinder Mahal & Randy Orton. Rusev’s attack from behind was great but the fact he stood tall to end his segment raises concerns that Cena is going over on PPV.
Becky Lynch submitted Charlotte Flair in Women’s action. Curious as to why this match, a singles match between the two biggest stars of the Smackdown women’s division was given away unannounced and free on TV; it doesn’t make much sense at the moment, perhaps it is because they are both babyfaces? Natalya was on commentary (unfortunately) and after the match Tamina and Lana came to the ring and all five women brawled before their match at Battleground. A great way to build towards their PPV match especially given the final builds to the rest of the Battleground card.
This week’s edition of the Fashion Files was, as always, absolutely brilliant! Breezango were paranoid about the presence of ghosts with Aiden English warm up singing and a delivery man with a light. The posters or clues on the pin-board are hilarious as well. We learnt that at Battleground the case will be resolved once and for all. Here’s hoping that it will be the returning team of Rowan & Harper.
The main event sees a huge Tag Team match with the ultimate dream team of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura taking on Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin. Corbin once again jumps Nakamura’s entrance and all four men brawl on the ramp before the match can even start. A good solid main event match; the standard combining of two feuds into a tag team match isn’t the most original final build for a PPV but it is tried and true, and the talent involved here made it more than work. Owen’s got the win for his team by pinning his Battleground opponent AJ Styles. With the heel standing tall, will he be able to do the same on PPV and once again become the true Face of America?