Jinder Mahal had a big surprise in store for Randy Orton, as The Great Khali made his return to help Mahal retain the WWE Championship in a Punjabi Prison match at a lacklustre Battleground.
In only the third Punjabi Prison match in WWE history, Mahal managed to beat Orton once again in the main event with Khali’s return not enough to save this Smackdown exclusive pay-per-view.
Kevin Owens became a three-time United States Champion by defeating AJ Styles in a match that failed to live up to expectations and it even seemed the ending of their clash was slightly botched.
It was not all bad as New Day defeated The Uso’s in a thrilling opening match to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship, but it all went downhill from there.
A lot of people are calling this one of the worst pay-per-views over the past few years but I did not think it was all bad. Let’s take a closer look at the action and see if they are any positives to take away from Battleground.
The Uso’s retained the gold last month in a disappointing affair with New Day at Money in the Bank, but this was far better than their previous encounter and turned out to be the match of the night.
Xavier Woods took a lot of punishment from The Uso’s including a superkick in mid-air from Jimmy Uso and also had to dig deep to get to the bottom rope to break the Tequila Sunrise submission.
There was plenty of near falls in this thrilling match with Kofi gaining a two count of his own after a modified Midnight Hour to Jimmy as the match continued to swing back-and-forth in the closing moments.
After Jimmy missed the Uso splash, Kofi connected with Trouble in Paradise with Woods hit an incredible springboard elbow drop more than half way across to ring to seal a deserved victory for New Day.
Woods really shone in this match and gaining the winning fall was nothing more than he deserved. It has been a great rivalry and I look forward to see two of the best teams in WWE go at it again at SummerSlam.
Mr Money in the Bank may have gotten himself disqualified against the King of Strong Style, but the two men actually put on a decent match before the weak finish.
Corbin dominated Nakamura for the majority of the match, but Nakamura began to strike back with the vicious knees to the Lone Wolf, before Corbin had enough and low blowed Nakamura.
It was a decent match and while I am never a fan of DQ’s or countouts at pay-per-views, I think this worked because it does not hurt either man’s momentum and keeps them both looking strong.
Corbin was not done with Nakamura after the match as he hit him with the briefcase and the End of Days to remind fans the power he holds as Mr Money in the Bank.
This was where Battleground really began to fall apart as Natalya became a shock No. 1 Contender to Naomi’s Smackdown Women’s Championship by defeating Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Lana and Tamina in a Fatal 5 Way Elimination match.
Tamina and Lana dominated the early goings and then in quick succession, Becky Lynch eliminated both women who submitted to the dis-arm-her before Natalya eliminated the Lasskicker with a roll up.
The eliminations came too quick and it felt it was all rushed in the end. I was expecting a good brawl with Charlotte and Natalya in the final two but Nattie scored the win after driving Charlotte face first into the turnbuckle to seal the underwhelming win.
I don’t get the choice of Natalya because a match between Naomi and the Queen of Harts does not interest me whatsoever. I don’t know what the logic is behind it but I expect that match to only make the pre-show at SummerSlam.
They had a great match at Backlash despite the countout finish, but Styles defence of his United States Championship against Kevin Owens at Battleground was one of the biggest disappointments of the year.
They are both incredible wrestlers and they threw a lot at the other man but it just never had that spark and they also lacked chemistry. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I felt bored through this one and became annoyed the amount fo pinfall attempts.
After a referee bump, I expected something to happen but nothing did. Styles locked a calf crusher in on Owens who reversed into a roll up and after a very slow count, Owens became a three-time US Champion.
I am not sure if the ending was a botch or not but the referee’s count was so slow, you expected Styles to kick out and when he counted three, it was all a bit confusing.
Owens reclaiming the gold might suggest they will continue their fued into SummerSlam but I hope it is a much better one than this. Both men will know this was poor and will hopefully want to put things right by stealing the show at SummerSlam.
I was not expecting this Flag match with new rules to be any good, but it was alright. It was not ever going to be the greatest match in the world, but I think both men gave a good account of themselves despite the weird stipulations.
There was a lot of trying to get the flag and then go up the ramp to put in it the holder on their respective podium, but there were also some good spots with Cena nailing Rusev with the AA through two tables before planting down the USA flag for the win.
There were points that the match did drag on but I thought it was an alright match with Cena winning very predictable. I have a feeling now we could be seeing Cena go for a record 17th world win against Mahal at SummerSlam.
Mike Kanellis made a successful debut last week on Smackdown by defeating Sami Zayn and in his second match, he already has his first WWE defeat after Sami Zayn picked up the win at Battleground.
Both men showcased exactly what they can do in a very short amount of time allocated to them with Zayn in particular showing off some great skill, before sealing a rare win with the Helluva Kick.
I thought it a strange choice for Kanellis to lose so early in his career but on the other hand, I am glad Zayn won. Sami proved he is a very talented guy and does deserve better chances on the blue brand.
I had never seen a Punjabi Prison match before and while I thought the whole door opening and closing after 60 seconds was a bizarre stipulation, the main event was not as bad as I thought it would be.
Mahal and Orton’s rivalry had not been the most invigorating and while I would say this was probably one of the better matches between the champion and the Viper, there were still a lot of moments that bored me in this main event.
What has been annoying about previous matches was the Singh brothers involvement and if you thought the cage would keep them away, you were wrong as they hid under the ring and came out to ambush Orton.
Orton once again managed to overcome the twin brother’s interference including sending Samir Singh off the top of the cage through the announcer’s table below in the highlight of the night.
What Orton did not see coming was the return of The Great Khali who shook the cage to deny Orton escaping and choked him out, allowing Mahal to climb out to retain the WWE Championship.
I have never been a fan of Mahal as WWE Champion and I am still not buying into it. I really hope this is the end of that fued and I also hope that WWE soon realise things are not working and that Mahal loses the title as soon as possible.
Battleground started off brilliantly will a great Tag Team match that saw New Day win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. After the opening match, I thought to myself this could be a decent show but I was wrong.
It was a bizarre choice to take the United States Championship off Styles after just three weeks and I have a feeling it was Vince McMahon changing his mind at the last-minute. What was even more bizarre was the head-scratching ending.
Natalya winning the No.1 Contender’s match was also a questionable decision and I believe Charlotte or Becky Lynch winning would have fans more interested in the Smackdown Women’s title picture.
I thought the main event was OK and while I did not see the return of Khali coming, it did not do much to help Mahal get over as WWE Champion. The sooner they take the title off him, things on Smackdown might improve for the better.