We are just a few days away from the next SmackDown PPV, Battleground. Before we go there, we will run down the storyline behind these matches and what can happen in the future when either match goes either way.
WWE Championship Punjabi Prison match: Jinder Mahal (c) vs Randy Orton
Story: On the 18th April episode of SmackDown, Jinder beat Mojo, Zayn, Harper, Rowan and Ziggler to become number one contender for the WWE Championship with help from the Bollywood Boys (Who would get repackaged as The Singh Brothers right thereafter). After that win, he began adopting a stereotypical anti-American foreigner gimmick (Blaming the negative reception on him being from another country) and attacked Orton during his match against Wyatt at Payback. When Backlash rolled around, he defeated Orton to win the WWE Championship with help from The Singh Brothers. The same happened at Money in the Bank, but with The Singh Brothers beating Randy’s father up to form as a distraction. Because of the beatdown of his father, Orton got a rematch and to prevent the Singhs from interfering for the next time, the rematch between Orton and Mahal will take place inside a Punjabi Prison (Mahal chose it to lock Orton in), a match type that rarely, if ever, happens (This is the third time overall it ever takes place).
Outlook after the match: If Mahal wins, Orton would be out of the WWE Title picture, but it’s unknown who would be Mahal’s next challenger as nobody has really been hinted as a challenger (Closest to that is Nakamura or Cena, but the latter is focusing more on the US Title). If Orton wins, the Mahal/Orton feud will be dragged out longer and, unless Mahal regains the title, would negatively impact promotion in India. Although a cash-in by Corbin is always possible, I don’t think it will happen at Battleground.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Uso’s (c) vs The New Day
Story: After The Uso’s defended their Tag Titles at Backlash, they declared that no tag team could beat them. The recently traded New Day took exception to that and challenged The Uso’s to a title match at MITB which they won by an intentional count-out, which led to The Uso’s retaining the belts. New Day taunted that they counted themselves out and the feud continued, with New Day gaining momentum by winning most singles matches (Big E over Jimmy and Xavier over Jey, although Jimmy got a victory over Kofi on the last Smackdown) and winning a rap battle. Before the last three singles matches and rap battle, it was already announced that the New Day would challenge for the Tag Titles again at Battleground
Outlook after the match: Although I expect the Uso’s feud to be dragging out a little longer regardless of who wins, I don’t really know what would happen after that unless a lower card tag team steps up to the plate (Ascension even?) or a multi-tag team feud will be done.
United States Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs Kevin Owens
Story: Kevin Owens issued an US Open Challenge on the June 20th episode of SmackDown, which got answered by AJ Styles but got denied because he wasn’t a local wrestler. Styles confronted the GM about this the next week and made an Independence Day Battle Royal to decide Owens’ challenger for the Battleground PPV. Styles beat Chad Gable in an impromptu qualifying match and subsequently won the battle royal itself to earn a US Title shot, but beat Owens three days later at a Madison Square Garden house show to win the US Championship. Owens attacked Styles before his defense against John Cena should’ve began on the SmackDown thereafter and invoked his rematch clause for Battleground. Owens gained momentum after the previous SmackDown by pinning Styles in a tag match, also involving Shinsuke Nakamura (On Styles’ side) and Baron Corbin (Owens’ side).
Outlook after the match: If AJ wins, this could work to either Nakamura vs Styles or Cena vs Styles (Both have been hinted at). If Owens wins, both Nakamura and Cena can still challenge, but would be on the backburner for a little while for AJ to get his rematch first. I also think that Chad Gable would challenge for a future PPV (More chance for that if Owens would be champ at first) as well seeing the praise he gets, but he isn’t that directly hinted at.
Flag match: John Cena vs Rusev
Story: On July 4th, John Cena returned to SmackDown as a free agent after his post-WM hiatus. Rusev returned from his shoulder injury to interrupt Cena’s promo to declare the GM and Cena a joke which prompted Cena to challenge Rusev to a Flag match at Battleground. The following week, Rusev attacked Cena before he was going to answer the US Open Challenge, but lost a tag team match to Cena and Styles (With Owens as his partner) on the same episode. After Cena made a promo on the SmackDown before Battleground, talking about what the US flag meant to the country and that it will fly high at Battleground, Rusev attacked Cena from behind and applied the Accolade.
Outlook after this match: Seeing the US theme, Cena has the most chance to win the match. Win or lose, Cena will move on to the US Title scene while I cannot know where Rusev will go (Probable US Title match perhaps as well?).
Fatal 5-Way Elimination #1 Contenders Match for SD Womens Title at Summerslam: Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch vs Natalya vs Tamina vs Lana
Story: After Naomi beat Lana thrice at MITB and subsequent SmackDown episodes, Naomi wanted a new challenger and confronted Commissioner Shane McMahon about it. Charlotte, Becky, Tamina, Natalya and Lana interrupted each other (Charlotte interrupted Shane first) so a Fatal 5-Way was made for Battleground to decide Naomi’s new challenger at SummerSlam, which led to all five contenders facing each other in tag and singles matches. In the meanwhile, Ms Money in the Bank, Carmella is looming around and waiting for the perfect moment to cash her briefcase in on Naomi. Both Naomi and Carmella will be at Battleground, the former to shake the hand of the winner of the subsequent match.
Outlook after the match: It’s kinda one-sided, the winner of the match goes on to SummerSlam to challenge Naomi. Unless one of the other women attack the champion after the match, I cannot see Carmella cash in, but I can see her take a closer look at it all as well. Maybe Carmella will feud with either Charlotte or Lynch (If either of them doesn’t win) to fill time before cashing in (Probably win some matches to not look weak as a MITB case holder), but that’s just speculation.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Baron Corbin
Story: Before the MITB match started, Corbin attacked Nakamura at his entrance to gain leverage for his MITB win. Despite Nakamura’s return, Corbin won the briefcase nonetheless. On the 27th June episode of SmackDown, Nakamura was asked if he would challenge Corbin after Corbin beat Zayn and said that Corbin’s afraid despite looking dangerous. The following week, Nakamura was about to have another interview before getting attacked by Corbin with his briefcase. On their scheduled match at the July 11th episode of SmackDown, Corbin and Nakamura fought before the match would start and the match got rescheduled to Battleground. The following week, Nakamura got attacked yet again by Corbin before his tag match with AJ Styles against Corbin and Owens, which Nakamura lost.
Outlook after the match: A Corbin win would make more sense as he is the MITB holder who could use a victory. A Nakamura win wouldn’t be too nonsensical though as he could use momentum for his probable US Title storyline with AJ Styles (Although I think a loss for Nakamura won’t change those plans that much at itself) and could be rectified either way with a SD rematch.
Mike Kanellis vs Sami Zayn
Story: At MITB, Maria Kanellis (For the first time since 2010) reappeared with her husband, Mike Kanellis and preached about “the power of love”. On the June 27th episode of SmackDown, Sami Zayn interrupted Mike and Maria mid-promo to enter his match and the following week, the love duo interrupted Zayn during his interview. After Maria demanded an apology the next week, Zayn said that he already apologized twice and called Mike out for not having had a debut match yet, which Zayn got a vase smashed over him for his troubles thereafter. Mike defeated Zayn with help from Maria the following week and a rematch got announced soon thereafter for Battleground.
Outlook after the match: If Mike Kanellis wins, he would retain his debut momentum and carry that over to a future storyline (Chad Gable or Mojo Rawley perhaps?). If Zayn wins, he would break his losing streak and could bring that momentum over to a US Title shot (Most probable if Owens is champion in that instance)
Kickoff match: Aiden English vs Tye Dillinger
Story: Tye beat Aiden thrice on television (Twice on SmackDown whereafter English cried on the second and once on the Backlash Kickoff) and a few times on house shows/dark matches. On July 18th, a rematch between the two has been announced for the Battleground Kickoff.
Outlook after the match: Either way, both will (Yet again) most probably fade away into obscurity after this match as both haven’t appeared much on TV lately (Tye had a strong showing on the Independence Day battle royal and lost to Jinder, while English got a DQ victory over Randy Orton but neither had a storyline of their own). At best, this would springboard Tye (Or even both) back into being relevant on SmackDown TV and move on to other feuds, but I sadly don’t see that happening.