The Rope Break #12: WWE Battleground 2017 Review!!

By Curtis Suthard – 7/24/2017

 

The Rope Break #12:

WWE Battleground 2017 Review

Credit:WWE.com

Oh, boy! The other night, Smackdown gave us Battleground, their August PPV which seemed to be filled with a few potential great matches among the countless rematches and two very lame gimmick matches that it was offering up. Did it live up to its potential? Maybe the gimmicky goodness of two of the bigger matches on the card helped instead of hindered? Well, come with me, the Nerd Nation Radio Official Wrestling Nerd, Curt, as I take a look back, try to answer those questions and possibly complain. A lot!

Credit: WWE.com

Pre-Show Match: Aiden English VS. Tye Dillinger: Should we really care all that much about this one? No, not necessarily. But, as a fan of both of these guys; Why not? This was a good little match, which ran a bit longer than I expected it to. Though, these two just seemed to sort of have a similar match to all of the others that they have had preceding this one. The only difference here is that Aiden English finally won one! That makes me happy. It is about time that these two get spun off into some new storylines and/or feuds to try to build a bit on their characters. Aiden is the one with the uphill battle, being the fit-throwing, crybaby heel, he needs to find a good program and/or protagonist for him to play off of. Dillinger would be a good straight-man for English’s heelish machinations, except for the fact that these two have been playing off of each other for a while now and nothing memorable or exciting has come from it.

Credit: WWE.com

The same can also be said for Tye Dillinger, as well. Tye came bursting onto the Main Roster with a ton of momentum as a fan favorite from NXT. But, much like a few other call-ups before him, all of that excitement has begun to peter out and could be lost entirely if something isn’t done soon to save it. I’m not sure just who I would put him up against, honestly. But, if I was calling the shots I’d go with Ziggler, maybe. Dolph is essentially an enhancement talent now on the Main Roster and he should embrace it quite frankly, because he does a good job at it. If not Dolph, then maybe the newly arrived Mike Kanellis? Hopefully, both English and Dillinger will move on from this match and get the opportunity to climb the ladder a bit.

Credit: WWE.com

The New Day VS. The Usos (Smackdown Tag Team Championships): So, the show starts off with a bang. I have been high on both of these teams and all of the matches that they have had with each other. They work so well together and this match may just have been one of their best efforts in this whole long-running feud. The Usos have been so damn good since really getting comfortable with their current gimmick post-heel turn. And, of course, The New Day are the quintessential babyfaces, just seeming to effortlessly put on great matches, all while having the times of their lives doing it. I honestly didn’t think that the New Day would win the titles here, but once the commentators reminded me that this was the same arena in which they broke the “Longest-Running Tag Team Champions”-record, I could see the writing on the wall. Which, I was fine with in the end, because the match was just so good.

Credit: WWE.com

Big E sat this one out, letting Kofi and Xavier face Jimmy and Jey, which I was a little surprised by, honestly. But, it never really entered my thoughts again as Xavier Woods looked great out there. I often forget just how much fun he can be to watch. Which is odd, because I’ve been a fan of the guy since his TNA, Consequences Creed, days. But, as good as Woods was, Jimmy and Jey, I think, were just that much better. I can’t get over just how solid they are as possibly the best heel Tag Team in WWE today. The double-teaming, rough, hard shots and trash-talking is just fantastic. When they caught Kofi Kingston as he leapt off of the top rope to the outside, doing his “Trust Fall”-thing, I marked out a bit. When Jey came out of nowhere and kicked Xavier Woods in the face as he was going for the elbow drop on Jimmy Uso the first time, I did mark out. The Usos are on fire right now. Yeah, sure, The New Day in the end won the Tag Team Championships back, for the third time. But, I don’t see this feud ending anytime soon. And, as I have said before, that is a good thing!

Credit: WWE.com

Shinsuke Nakamura VS. Baron Corbin: So, things slowed down a little bit with this match. Which was fine. Nakamura was looking for a little revenge on Corbin for all of his recent ambushes and cheap shots that he has been taking over the last few weeks. So, the lead-in for this match was your standard “I don’t like you. You don’t like me”, Grudge match type storyline. And, that’s okay, as I see this feud as sort of just a placeholder feud, giving Nakamura and/or Corbin both something to do for the time being before heading into some more high-profile matches. Nakamura is probably heading for a feud with Styles and/or Owens, possibly for the U.S. Title. Corbin on the other hand is proving that he has what it takes to be a convincing WWE Champion at some point in the not-so-distant future. So, almost all of the pressure seems to be on Corbin to show that he has what it takes and I think that he is doing just that. He has shown definite improvement since getting the call-up to the Main Roster from NXT.

Credit: WWE.com

Though this match was slower in pace than the other that preceded it, it was still a decent match and did what it needed to do. Nakamura looked pretty strong throughout, even though Corbin was giving it to him repeatedly. Nakamura is undefeated as a singles competitor so far, so I wasn’t at all surprised with the outcome of this one. As things were winding down and Nakamura went to lock up Corbin for a suplex, Corbin resorted to just throwing his foot back and nailing Shinsuke below the belt right in front of the ref. Which led to a DQ and a win for Nakamura. Meaning Shinsuke keeps his winning streak alive and it helps Baron Corbin come off as even more of a dastardly heel. It also probably guarantees that we will get some rematches on multiple Smackdown’s for the next month or so, possibly leading to a big one at Summerslam.

Credit: WWE.com

Tamina VS. Charlotte Flair VS. Becky Lynch VS. Lana VS. Natalya (Fatal 5-way Elimination Match for the #1 Contender for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Summerslam): Whew! So, I’ve really only got two things to really say about this match, besides talking about the winner and subsequent #1 Contender. 1) Where was Carmella in this one? Just because she won the Money in the Bank briefcase, with a shot at the Women’s title guaranteed, doesn’t mean that she can’t still earn herself a shot the old fashioned way. I mean, imagine if she had won a shot at a match against Naomi at Summerslam, only to get herself DQ’d in that match for using a weapon to wear Naomi out and then immediately cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase right there and then for what should be an easy win. Carmella shouldn’t be disallowed to compete for the title, unless this is somehow part of the punishment for her first, screwy Money in the Bank win. And, if it is, then someone should make that clear. Though, that would be a dumb explanation because, really it was Ellsworth who really committed the crime in that match and Carmella was already punished because she had to relinquish the briefcase and win it all over again in the do-over match that was held a week later on Smackdown. So, I seemingly just talked myself out of my own explanation.

Credit: WWE.com

Anyway, 2) This is really just another #1 Contendership match, in what seems to be an endless string of #1 Contender matches that have been held over and over again, lately on Smackdown. At some point, the “Powers That Be”, which, I guess are Daniel Bryan and/or Shane McMahon, just got to stop with these multi-person elimination deals and just go back to the #1 Contender status being earned on individual’s win-loss records or winning convincing victories in singles matches alone. Heck, I’d even accept some of those “You Pinned the Champ in a Tag Match! So, Now You’re the #1 Contender”-type calls any day now.

Credit: WWE.com

Back to the match from Battleground! It was good. Not great, not bad. Just good. Lana looks to be improving a bit, but is nowhere near ready to hold a Championship, yet. I was pulling for Becky, as I have been in nearly every match that she is in. And, though she was eliminated before the final two, I am pretty confident that her time will come to carry the Smackdown Women’s title once again. Now, I was nearly positive that Charlotte had this one in the bag. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Natalya won it. And, not just any old win, but she made Charlotte tap out, which is surprising. Though, as much as I like the idea of Natalya winning the shot at Naomi and the Championship at Summerslam, unfortunately, I see this as the setup for Carmella’s cashing in of the Money in the Bank that I am sure it is. Natty may indeed win, but she won’t leave Brooklyn as the Champ.

Credit: WWE.com

Kevin Owens VS. A.J. Styles (United States Championship): I have loved everything that these two have done together over the last few months on Smackdown. But, this might be the match where I start to think that maybe enough is enough. Had you asked me 24 hours ago, which match I thought would steal the show at Battleground, I would have easily answered with this one. Maybe, those high expectations only helped to add to the disappointment I felt after this one was over. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t at the same level as any of the other encounters Owen and Styles have had. All in all, this match is maybe a step above what I would expect from a weekly Smackdown Main Event match.

Credit: WWE.com

Now, I’m not upset that Owens won. I am perfectly fine with that. As a matter of fact, I prefer Owens to hold some title and since he sure as hell isn’t going to be getting a shot at the WWE Championship just yet (which sucks), the U.S. Title is just fine. Owens being champ also helps his status as a top-heel, as he has something to lord over all of the other wrestlers who want to take it off of him. It only adds to upping his ego by proving that he can get the job done and win the big matches when necessary. Styles, who is arguably the top face on Smackdown, if not in all of WWE, doesn’t need a title to help him endear himself to the fans. As a matter of fact, not having a Championship only helps to make him more of a hero as he fights to earn what he deserves and we, the fans, can cheer him on as he struggles to do just that.

Credit: WWE.com

I’m sure we haven’t seen the end of this feud as the ending of this match was not the cleanest of victories as Owens seemingly, purposefully threw Styles into the ref, knocking him out for a bit. Which really wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because immediately after the two of them began rolling around swapping submissions, that neither one tapped out of, before Owens used some leverage to roll Styles onto his shoulders for a pin coincidentally just as the ref came to and could count it.

Credit: WWE.com

Hopefully, the follow-up matches that we are sure to get in this feud pick up the pace a little and return to delivering for the fans. It hasn’t yet reached the level of frustration for me, as say, Ambrose VS. The Miz has. But, I dread that this could just be the first step in that direction. And that dread is only helped along by the fact that these two former Champions are nowhere near even being considered for the WWE title at all. Which means that for now these guys will be stuck in the mid-card limbo for the foreseeable, but hopefully not-so distant future.

Credit: WWE.com

Rusev VS. John Cena (Flag Match): Okay. I’m going to try my best to not complain too much about this one. So, let me just get this out of the way first and foremost: As I have said before, there has never been an “Anything”-on a Pole Match that has been good. They are some of the lamest and cheapest gimmick matches of all time. So, I was already not so happy going into this one. Now, compound that with the fact that Rusev, who I am a fan of, is once again chained to this whole “Evil Foreigner Who Hates America, Just Because”-gimmick and throw in a dash of, John Cena, and you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for “I Hate this Match Before it Even Happens”-soup.

Credit: WWE.com

With that out of the way, I will say that both Rusev and Cena did a pretty good job there, for what it’s worth. My main issue here is that this match just dragged on and on. It was way too long. The first bit of the match was just so slow and hokey, what with each guy slowly climbing up the turnbuckles to get their respective flags. Which was only made more obviously cheesy as we got to see the much smaller and average-looking WWE official climb those same turnbuckles when hanging up the flags before the match began, so quickly and confidently. So, obviously two guys, each in peak-physical condition like Rusev and Cena obviously are, couldn’t possibly move with even half of that speed? Please!

Credit: WWE.com

Then finally, the flags have been pulled down and now both guys have to plant their respective flag into a stand, which is sitting on top of some steps upon the entrance stage. Great! So, that means that we get a heaping helping of both fellas slowly trudging up the ramp and constantly dropping their flags along the way to throw some fists at their opponent. What action! The only way a match like this would impress me is if the bell rings, both guys fly into their corner, climb up, grab their flags, drop down, sprint to the stands and plant their flags as quickly as possible making the match a one minute affair. That would be great. But, we will never get that.

Credit: WWE.com

Anyway, Cena won! Shock of shocks, I know. Where will this take Cena from here? Probably feuding with Rusev some more. Maybe Cena will just leapfrog everyone and get a title shot against Jinder at Summerslam, which is what plenty of people all over the interwebs are predicting. I think it’ll be even worse than that though. I think we’ll get a tag match with Cena and Orton against both Jinder and Rusev, or, even worse, Jinder and the returning Great Khali (spoilers! More on Khali a little further down). Hopefully, Rusev gets the chance to build some momentum, which I only see happening if he gets as far away from a feud with Cena as fast as possible. Time will tell, I guess.

Credit: WWE.com

Sami Zayn VS. Mike Kanellis w/ Maria Kanellis: I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one really. I was surprised that Mike Kanellis’ debut was done last week on Smackdown, instead of holding off and having it happen on Battleground. I don’t think that that decision may bode well for future plans for Mike Kanellis as a debut on a PPV seems a bit more important, what with the almost guaranteed win that comes with that debut. On the other hand though, Sami got a definitive win in a place of prominence on a PPV! Which is a good thing. This match was good, but not too much better than the first encounter they had last week on Smackdown. That’s really it. This just sort of felt like filler and was just shoe-horned in to the show to add some padding.

Credit: WWE.com

Randy Orton VS. Jinder Mahal (WWE Championship Punjabi Prison Match): So, we come to this. One of the dumber gimmick matches of all time. “How could it get any worse,” you might ask? I don’t know? Maybe WWE could also bring back one of the most boring and pointless wrestlers (and I use that term very loosely, here) of all time during this match? Well, that is just what we got! And, it sucked.

Credit: WWE.com

Now, in an effort to try and be as positive as I can about this, I will just say that this was possibly the best Punjabi Prison match I have seen. Randy looked good, through most of the match. Jinder looked okay, which seems to be best I can say for Jinder right now. Because this was essentially a cage match, we were treated to endless moments where one of or both of the men could have just waltz out of the open doors of the inner cage, but chose not to for one reason or another. Not only that, but once Jinder escaped the inner cage, which surrounds the ring, due to the Singh Brothers, who were hidden under the ring, pulling him out, all Orton needed to do to escape that cage was climb it. Which he not only did in a matter of seconds, but also merely stepped between the inner cage and the outer cage. Which just goes to show that either guy could have won the match easily after their opponent got taken out the first time. I know: “Wrestling Logic!” But, c’mon.

Once Orton and Jinder got outside of the inner cage and were trapped in the ringside area by the outer cage, the match became a hardcore, handicap match more or less, as Orton was forced to take on both Singh’s as well as Jinder. Jinder and Orton both took turns pummeling each other with Kendo sticks. Though, Orton clearly got the worst of it as a few of the shots from Jinder welted up Orton’s shoulder and drew some blood. At one of the high points of the match, as Orton was trying to climb up and over, Samir Singh slipped through the cage and tried to stop Orton from the outside, only to get dropped off of the cage and onto an announce table. Which really seems to be the only other thing that the Singh’s are there for, besides opening doors for Jinder.

Credit: WWE.com

So, just as Orton finally seems to have everything wrapped up and on the verge of climbing over, Jinder’s music hits and out walks, very slowly walks, The Great Khali. Now, I’m all for surprises and I guess Khali adds something to this match, as it kind of makes sense as not only the originator of the Punjabi Prison match but, also a well-known Indian wrestler. Of course it makes sense that he would come out to help Jinder Mahal win the match. The only real problem that I have is that we may get stuck with Khali eating up someone else’s spot on Smackdown. Khali stinks in that ring. He can hardly do anything. This is not the direction that Smackdown needs to be going in. If Khali is just there to sort of be Jinder’s bodyguard and occasionally interfere, fine. But, please, do not make him an active wrestler again. And, once again trying to put a positive spin on things, maybe this will free up the Singh’s to finally go back to competing as a Tag Team, which could benefit Smackdown’s weak Tag Division. So, maybe that could be a bright spot going forward with Jinder’s stable.

Credit: WWE.com

So, where do we go from here? This feud started off with a bang. Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal’s first match was really good. Possibly due to the fact that there were such low expectations going into it. But, also, honestly, because both guys did a great job in that first match, as well as the unexpected nature of the whole thing. Their second match, wasn’t so great. I would say an average and undoubtedly, predictable match with a very predictable outcome. So, I guess I get it when the Punjabi Prison was brought back to sort of raise the stakes for Orton and Jinder’s third match. Though, due to that, I wonder how the stakes will be raised yet again, if this feud is to continue. Maybe, “Super Patriot”, John Cena will worm his way into things? Maybe Orton will finally stop stealing Christian’s “One More Match”-gimmick and move on to something else, opening up a spot for someone else to challenge for the WWE Championship? Though, I don’t have a whole lot of faith in that happening just yet.

Credit: WWE.com

Now, I know I left out Breezango and what was supposed to be the closing of the case at Battleground. But, that was because it was quite possibly the biggest disappointment of the night as we never found out just who is behind these vile acts and the murder of Tully. Instead, we were treated to a mildly-amusing segment where the Ascension try to take the blame, for some reason, only to have Breezango blow them off. Then the lights went out and Tyler Breeze was knocked out. Just as Fandango was reeling from his partner being attacked, the light went out again and came back on to reveal that the same had happened to ‘Dango. I was really hoping for some resolution and possibly an impromptu match, which could have easily taken the place of Sami VS. Mike Kanellis or filled up some time if the Flag Match had been trimmed up. Anyway, as long as this leads to the reformation of Rowan and Harper as a serious, powerhouse Tag Team. Which, as I mentioned just a paragraph or two back, Smackdown’s Tag Division needs.

Credit: WWE.com

So, unfortunately, this show wasn’t the best. A whole bunch of rematches that really didn’t add anything new to the feuds or storylines that they are a part of. The two prominent matches were bogged down by the lameness of the gimmicks that were attached to them. Smackdown is the high point of my weekly WWE viewing habits, but we have had two relatively subpar PPV’s from Smackdown this summer and that’s not good. The Tag Team Championship match was clearly the “show-stopper” match of the night, as it was fantastic, but was also the first match on the card, so that everything seemed to be just losing momentum as the show went on following it. It is because of those reasons that we rate this show, WWE Battleground 2017, a 2 out of 5 on the Official Nerd Nation Radio Pocket Protector Scale!

 

I will be back sometime soon to once again talk and gripe about the world of Pro-Wrestling! Need to reach out and ask me how I maintain these levels of excellence? Feel free to do so at curt@nerdnationradio.com!

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