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The fifth edition of Battleground is brought to you by the Smackdown brand and will take place on July 22nd at the Wells Fargo Centre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The show has eight matches in total, one of which will take place on the pre-show.
Nothing to get too excited here, to be honest. I suppose the Women’s match, United States title and Tag match could be worth a watch, but everything else just doesn’t stick out for me.
Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English
These guys have squared up countless times with Tye getting his arm raised in victory. I do like Aiden English, he needs to win some matches to see if he can get his singing gimmick over. Come to think of it, why not pair him up with Elias Samson to form a new heel tag team? At least it gives them something to do I guess. The pre-show traditionally favours the babyface to walk away with the win. This is no exception.
Winner: Tye Dillinger
WWE United States Championship
AJ Styles © vs. Kevin Owens
My issue with the match is that this should be for the WWE Championship not the US Championship. I have no problem with WWE using talented wrestlers like Styles and Owens to elevate a midcard title, but the Smackdown brand has suffered after Styles left the WWE Title picture.
That’s the only negative I have about this match. I’m more than confident that both guys will pull out all the spots to put on a match worth talking about. Owens is going to come out as the aggressor because he’s mad about losing the title. AJ will get his comeback and successfully defend his championship with a Styles Clash.
I’m a huge fan of both of these guys. Owens is someone I’ve always enjoyed watching and AJ is arguably the best in-ring performer in the company today. Give these guys twenty minutes. It could be one of the best matches of the year if done correctly.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: AJ Styles
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
My friends and I were talking about this match the other day and we all agreed that Shinsuke would win because the MITB contract holder always tends to lose a lot. I guess most WWE fans know it too. The build-up for this match has been okay, but not great. Nakamura has been undefeated since being called up to the main roster. It hasn’t been acknowledged yet on television, but do they want Corbin to be the first to beat him? I doubt it.
I can’t see this feud continuing after this event after the seeds were planted on Smackdown for a future Nakamura v AJ Styles contest at SummerSlam.
As for this match, it’s going to be Corbin controlling throughout with Nakamura making the big comeback for the victory.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis
This match just happened recently on Smackdown with Mike picking up the victory, thanks to some outside interference from his wife Maria. What do I make of Mike Kanellis? I enjoy it. His gimmick suggests that he’s whipped, and his attire that he wore during his debut was over the top but perfect. Plus getting to see Maria on television is always a bonus. She’s a right stunner!
That entrance theme is tremendous.
It’s sad that Sami Zayn has found himself in the Dolph Ziggler role as the babyface that’s used to put over new talent. I wish they find a way to utilise him properly.
I think this match will be similar to their Smackdown encounter with Mike getting assistance from his wife.
Winner: Mike Kanellis
Five Way elimination match
Winner to become the #1 contender for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam
Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya vs. Lana
This is why Smackdown gets it right where Raw gets it wrong. All of these girls are used to working with each other because of how many multi-person matches that have been booked since the formation of the draft. Making it an elimination match means it will obviously last longer than a single fall match.
When it comes to picking a winner three names pop up straight away; Natalya, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch. It would be smart to build the match around those three because Tamina isn’t interesting enough to watch and we’ve seen Lana vs. Naomi done countless times already. Do they really need to do another one at one of the biggest pay per views of the year? Not really, no.
Common sense suggests that Natalya would win because she’s a heel and it makes sense to have a heel vs. face match for the title at SummerSlam. I don’t think WWE view her as a star like Charlotte or Becky, so I’m going to go with either one of them. They had a good match on Smackdown, check it out if you haven’t seen it. Since Charlotte lost on Smackdown, I think she’ll get the win here to set up a title match at SummerSlam.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
John Cena vs. Rusev
These guys have had solid matches in the past, but this feud just doesn’t do anything for me. Classic lazy booking by the WWE. It feels like this is WWE’s way of telling us they have nothing else for Cena and they brought him back on America’s birthday on July 4, which meant Rusev had to show up to set up a Flag Match. It made me groan immediately. Instead of booking Rusev as a monster heel following his return from a shoulder, he’s out there putting over Cena again. I don’t think there needs to be a lot of analysis here. Why waste our time talking about it when WWE’s creative team spent very little time thinking of this story? Cena wins without much doubt and moves on to get a WWE Title shot at SummerSlam.
Just a quick side note here, I think taking Lana away from Rusev hurts his presentation. I would have Lana join her husband after this feud is over.
Winner: John Cena
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The New Day vs. The Usos ©
I still can’t get over the awesomeness of that rap battle, especially that line. You know the one!!!! I want to feud to stretch toward SummerSlam because I love the chemistry between these two teams. It’s crystal clear that all six of these guys clearly enjoy working together and it shows in their performances. The feud has died down after the rap battle but with a key performance here could very well give this a restart.
It’s crazy to see these two teams, The New Day and The Usos still together and going pretty damn strong, especially in an era where many tag teams have appeared on the chopping block (American Alpha, Enzo & Big Cass, The Vaudevillians). The Usos are better than they’ve ever been, and The New Day have thrived in a new environment on Smackdown Live.
I’ve got a feeling that we will see a title change at Battleground. The lack of depth in the tag team division does concern me. If they do a title change that can lead to more matches between them as WWE tries to re-build the depth behind them.
Winners and NEW WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions: The New Day
Punjabi Prison match
Jinder Mahal © vs. Randy Orton
This feud just hasn’t done it for me at all. I think it all boils down to me not being able to take Jinder Mahal seriously as a world champion. I know a lot of people rolled their eyes when they heard what type of match this was going to be. I was not one of those people. Listen, maybe this gimmick is snakebit just in the sense that the first time it was to be used, Great Khali couldn’t even be in the match due to a health scare. So you had a match that had no story behind it in a gimmick that neither guy could really do anything with. What’s the appeal of seeing big guys like Taker and Show try to climb? Same with Batista and Khali. At least with Orton and Mahal, they are athletic enough to make something of this apparatus and give us a new take on the match. Could the gimmick still suck? Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if this is awful and we never see it again. However, on the off chance that someone with the psychology of Orton and the eagerness of Mahal to stake his name as a top guy, can come up with some innovative ways to use the structure, then it’ll feel like a brand new match and something you can attach to Mahal a couple times a year. The reason it went away in the first place is because Khali couldn’t do anything to make it memorable. I don’t feel the same way about Mahal.
I’m confident that Jinder won’t get Hindered here (see what I did there, kids?), although I do think it’s very likely that John Cena will dethrone as champion at SummerSlam.
Winner and STILL WWE Champion: Jinder Mahal
That’s my predictions for Battleground. Feel free to post your predictions in the comments section below and I’ll be back on Monday with my random thoughts on the show.