SmackDown Live ran its Battleground pay-per-view last night (July 23, 2017) in Philadelphia.
Let’s ... well, let’s just get to it.
For a blow-by-blow analysis, read the best live blog in the business from the exceptional ReverendKain. Like, really, read Rev’s live blog if you want all the details.
The Great Khali returned to help Jinder Mahal beat Randy Orton in a Punjabi Prison WWE Championship Match
Like, there are no words that could accurately describe just how bad and lame everything about this match was. It’s simply indescribable.
Poor Samir Singh taking that bump—off the top of the prison through the announce table—for this match.
At least the feud is over.
Breezango were out to solve the case as to who had been raiding their office in recent weeks. Unfortunately, we’re left with more questions with answers, as after The Ascension attempted to claim they were the attackers (until Fandango realized they were at the Eddie Money concert—this was fun) the real culprits struck again.
The shot of Fandango and Tyler Breeze laying motionless on the ground, with only the flashlight on them, took this storyline to a very dark place—especially when Fandango was dragged off to who knows where. We’re likely to learn more on Tuesday, so just leave upon a YouTube tab in your browser until then.
It’s remarkable just how great these vignettes are given the quality of the rest of the show.
The New Day beat The Usos in an awesome match to become the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions. This was the opener and delivered in spades.
If you haven’t watched the show yet, just watch this match and then turn it off. It’s hard to remember just how good it was, because the rest of the show was just that bad.
Aiden English beat Tye Dillinger on the Kickoff show after a spirited contest.
These two guys are just about the perfect pre-show act—and that’s not an insult. English with his classic annoying singing gimmick and Dillinger as the hardscrabble guy who has a weird quirk that everyone just buys into.
This match was a legit hoot.
(The English-Dillinger recap was written before the show turned for the worst. It was really fun though.)
It will be lost in the mix after the disaster that was the main event, but John Cena—John freakin’ Cena—beat Rusev in a terrible and dumb flag match. Cena put Rusev through two tables with an AA—the tables having been set up by Rusev, who only needed to grab his flag and stick it in the thing, while Cena was selling—before planting the stars and stripes in its pedestal.
Both men’s slow climbs up four steps to plant their respective flags were the dumbest thing in modern wrestling until the main event happened.
Sure, it’s only a secondary pay-per-view, but man. John Cena reduced to that match is a damn shame.
Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles to begin his third reign as United States Champion. The finish to this match was all kinds of weird, with a big ref bump not really having much effect and then AJ’s calf crusher reversed into a pinning combination by Owens, who got the three count despite a slow count and Styles not really being hurt.
It was very weird and nobody in the audience knew what to make of what happened. It felt like a botched finish in all honesty.
... Imagine paying to attend this show.
Natalya defeated Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Tamina, and Lana in a Five-Way Elimination Match to earn the right to fight Naomi—who was on commentary—for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam. This was not very good, but it wasn’t that bad either. Charlotte was awesome in this match, including a deadlift powerbomb spot on Natalya—that Nattie ably assisted with—that was really compelling. Becky tapped out both Tamina and Lana, but was rolled up by Natalya—who had a handful of tights. Nattie pinned Charlotte after getting her knees up on Charlotte’s moonsault and then slamming her head into the bottom turnbuckle.
Reminder that Emma, an exceptional worker, is wasting away on Raw, doing nothing.
Shinsuke Nakamura beat Baron Corbin by disqualification after Corbin gave him a big dick kick when Nak was preparing an inverted exploder suplex. He then beat down Shinsuke after the match. This will continue, but wasn’t very good last night.
Sami Zayn overcame The Power of Love to beat Mike Kanellis with a Helluva Kick despite Maria interfering once more. This was fine but not particularly special and was placed in a death spot.
Best part about it is when Maria blew Mike a kiss from the outside, Mike caught it in his fist, then punched Zayn with said fist. That was fun.
SmackDown Live shed its “Land of Opportunity” gimmick and gained a new ethos last night in Philadelphia: impossibly dumb and bad.
There’s nothing left to say. If you watched Battleground, I’m sorry.