WWE’s 5th ever Battleground PPV is in the books. The show was held in the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. While reviews have been mixed so far, nobody can argue we didn’t witness the greatest Punjabi Prison match in pro-wrestling history. That isn’t to say Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton was that great a match, only that theirs was not as terrible as the only other two Punjabi Prison matches that have taken place.
One noteworthy point about this show is that WWE was forced to slash ticket prices because sales were going so poorly. Philadelphia is a huge wrestling market, and often host several big shows a year. The Philly fans were evidently not thrilled with Battleground’s lineup however, as WWE was forced to offer over discounts of up to 50% just to get people in the building.
Despite the poor sales for Battleground, it was announced that Philadelphia will host the Royal Rumble next year. The last time the Rumble was held in Philadelphia, the fans turned on the show without mercy after Daniel Bryan was eliminated.
Battleground 2017 was about far more than just the main event however. The Smackdown brand has some of the best wrestlers in the world at the moment, many of whom were given a chance to shine on this show.
Here are 10 things WWE got wrong at Battleground, and 10 they got right:
20. Got Right: Xavier Woods Wrestles On a PPV!
2017 is almost half over and Battleground was just Xavier Woods’ 2nd time wrestling on a PPV. His only other time this year was when he was an entrant in the Royal Rumble.
Woods had often been the 3rd man of New Day’s trio, but there are signs that is starting to change. He’s a terrific wrestler, as was shown at Battleground.
It made sense for Woods to be in the match too, seeing as he got roasted the hardest by the Usos during the Rap Battle on Smackdown earlier this month. Kofi got it the 2nd hardest when the Usos made fun of his Jamaican character from his pre-New Day career.
19. Got Wrong: No Mention of Shane McMahon’s Helicopter Crash Survival
So the Commissioner of this brand falls out of the sky in a helicopter earlier in the week and nobody bothered to mention it on air?
4 days before the Battleground PPV, Shane McMahon was chartering a helicopter that suddenly was forced to make a crash landing in water. Luckily for everyone involved, the pilot did an excellent job and nobody was hurt. The story was picked up by several media outlets.
Normally WWE is great at taking advantage of things like this. They could have cracked jokes about how he was probably practicing for his next giant leap at WrestleMania, but opted not to.
18. Got Right: Charlotte’s Incredible Moonsault
Charlotte Flair may have the greatest moonsault in the history of moonsaults. The one she did at Battleground was possibly her best yet. With all due respect to Christopher Daniels, I think he may have been surpassed in this area.
Her moonsaults didn’t start out this good; she’s gotten a lot better at them. Charlotte has also gotten a lot better in general, and she was already quite good to begin with.
The next five years will determine a lot in women’s wrestling. The amount of female talent WWE is developing is going to lead to an influx of new stars in the coming years.
Charlotte will continue to be a focal point of WWE’s women’s roster for years to come. By the time her career is over, she will probably have a case to say she is the greatest female performer in WWE history.
17. Got Wrong: Natalya vs. Naomi at SummerSlam?
Don’t get us wrong here, Natalya is awesome. She is a great performer, is basically a player coach out there, and everyone loves her. Nobody is debating any of that. All the same though, Naomi vs. Natalya at SummerSlam?
Nothing against Naomi either, but neither Charlotte Flair or Becky Lynch are going to be involved in the Smackdown women’s championship match at SummerSlam… really?
This could easily be salvaged however, if both Charlotte and Becky are given another good match on the show. If it means either or both of them are relegated to Kickoff status or worse however, that’s no good.
16. Got Right: Protecting Nakamura’s Undefeated Streak
Battleground was Nakamura’s 33rd singles match since debuting on the Smackdown roster in April. He’s won all 33. He’s lost a few tag-team matches in there, but no singles matches.
That WWE has been keeping him looking strong these last few months shows that they are willing to put him in the main event picture.
He didn’t pin Corbin at Battleground mind you, he only picked up the DQ win after Corbin hit him with a low blow. Corbin then hit him with the briefcase after the match, which most likely means their feud will continue.
Nakamura and Corbin will probably meet yet again at SummerSlam, where hopefully we will get a clean finish to the match. If Nakamura keeps on winning matches like he has been, it’s possible he could be ready to win a World Title by WresteMania.
15. Got Wrong: No Chad Gable
Last week on Raw, it was revealed that Kurt Angle is Jason Jordan’s biological father. Then on Smackdown, Renee Young conducted a sit down interview with Chad Gable, giving him a chance to talk about the new opportunity this gives him as a singles Superstar.
His new singles career is going so well he wasn’t mentioned once on this PPV. Not even so much as a follow-up interview with Renee Young backstage. Not every Superstar can be booked for each PPV, nor should they be, but when you have a character about to start a pivotal period in their career, perhaps it would be wise to at least give them a video package.
14. Got Right: No James Ellsworth
In storyline, James Ellsworth has been suspended for 30 days. That should keep him off television long enough for fans to forget about the MITB match he is now so negatively associated with.
Ellsworth has “heat”, but he has the wrong kind of it. Fans were not happy about his role in the first ever women’s Money in the Bank match, and while normally that would be something WWE would play up on television, they’ve instead decided to just shove him under the rug for a bit.
Not that everyone dislikes Ellsworth however. In fact, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin said on his podcast recently that he finds Ellsworth “entertaining as hell”. In truth, the actual guy can be entertaining, but after the last Smackdown-only PPV, nobody really wants to see him right now.
13. Got Wrong: Confusing Finish to the Owens vs. Styles Match
Let’s replay what happened here: Owens threw Styles into the referee knocking him out of the match for a bit. Then Owens and Styles exchanged submission holds for awhile but nobody tapped out. Styles locked Owens in a Rings of Saturn type hold and Owens countered it into a pinning combination. AJ never let go of his submission on Owens but clearly had his shoulders on the mat. The groggy ref then got it together enough to count the 3.
Something got messed up here.
First of all, the ref bump served no purpose in the match. Nothing illegal happened while he was unconscious and nobody got pinned or tapped out. So why did the ref get knocked out if it didn’t matter? Something didn’t happen as it was supposed to and the finish didn’t come out like it had been planned.
12. Got Right: The US Championship Matters Again!
Over the last year, WWE has elevated the importance of the US Championship significantly. Instead of being treated as a prop for middle-card talent, the US title now feels like a championship for main event Superstars.
While the ending of AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens left a lot to be desired, the rest of the match was great. Good matches has been the trend in US title bouts so far in 2017.
For the first part of the year the title was part of the Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho “Best Friends” storyline. It has since moved into Kevin Owens’ “Face of America” gimmick. Ever since Roman Reigns lost it to Chris Jericho in a handicap match in January, some of the best things happening in the company have centred around the United States Championship.
11. Got Wrong: Potentially Pushing Aiden English
Aiden English defeated Tye Dillinger on the Kickoff show, resulting in thousands of fans simultaneously grumbling, “seriously?”
This was Aiden English’s 49th singles match on the main roster. It was his 3rd win. If WWE was real competition, there is no way this guy would still be on the roster.
Tye Dillinger had beaten him 12 out of 12 times heading into this match. Perhaps he was inspired by his new painting-inspired tights, but whatever the reason, English ended his losing streak here. Now his record is a far more respectable 3W-46L.
The win means they might be thinking of giving the “Motzart of Melody” a bit of a push. English’s style might suit some, but we’re going to throw this one in the “Got Wrong” category, as that gimmick seems a bit too 1980s to be successful today.
10. Got Right: Found A Way to get John Cena Cheered
At Battleground the live crowd in Philadelphia didn’t boo John Cena. Notoriously one of the most anti-Cena cities in the world, Philadelphia had no choice but to cheer for the guy.
Philadelphia will boo a lot of people, but they will not boo the American guy in a flag match. There were some fans who were cheering for Rusev, but on the whole this was the most pro-Cena you’ll ever hear a live audience in Philadelphia.
There are few other cities with such a rich history of pro-wrestling. While perhaps best known (in wrestling that is) for being the birthplace of ECW, some very notable events in wrestling history have taken place in the city. Philadelphia was also the location of the 2015 Royal Rumble, where the live crowd turned on the show after Daniel Bryan was eliminated from the Rumble match.
9. Got Wrong: No Love For Rusev
Rusev can’t catch a break. First Shane McMahon ignores his request for a WWE Championship match, and now he loses to Cena in his first match back from injury.
This was the 25th time John Cena and Rusev have met in singles competition. Cena has won 24 and Rusev has won 1.
Several weeks before Rusev returned to competition, he posted a video asking Smackdown GM Shane McMahon for a WWE Championship match at Money in the Bank. Rusev said if he didn’t receive it, he wasn’t going to report to Smackdown.
Then we never heard anything more about it, Rusev returned without mentioning it, and Shane McMahon never acknowledged his request.
8. Got Right: John Cena’s Still Freakishly Strong at 40
If WWE was going to have Rusev lose in his first match back, at least they had him lose in epic style.
John Cena has had far greater displays of strength than this, but what he did at Battleground was still pretty impressive considering he recently turned 40 years old. Rusev is over 300lbs, but John Cena hoisted him on his shoulders, walked up 3 steps, and then gave him an Attitude Adjustment through a table like it was nothing. Say what you want about John Cena, he is a freakishly strong man.
Rusev has become one of John Cena’s all-time greatest rivals, even if it is a fairly lopsided rivalry. The first time the two ever met in a singles match was at Fastlane 2015. Rusev defeated Cena for the US Championship that night. Cena has won every match since.
7. Got Wrong: No Mention of #Sami4Syria
Sami Zayn is currently running a charity fundraising drive titled “Sami 4 Syria”. The program is to raise money for mobile medical programs in Syria, where 13.5 million people have been displaced due to ongoing civil conflict.
Zayn’s parents were Syrian immigrants who moved to Canada. He’s trying to give back to people in a country he has family ties in, would it have been so hard to mention his fundraising drive on television? Just casually bringing up the hashtag #Sami4Syria briefly may have helped raising a significant chunk of cash.
While it is probably less important to him, Zayn did pick up the victory against Mike Kanellis at Battleground. The win ties their series at 1 win a piece, as Kanellis defeated Zayn earlier this month on Smackdown.
6. Got Right: Mike Kanellis Hit Sami With Maria’s Blown Kiss
Not everyone likes Mike and Maria, but even those who hate the gimmick have to respect how fully committed the two performers are. Nothing better exemplifies this than a spot from early in Mike’s match at Battleground, when he punched Sami with a blown kiss.
Here’s how this all went down. Mike gave Sami 2 punches in the corner, but then decided he needed some extra power on his 3rd punch. He motioned to Maria for help. Mike then proceeded to blow a kiss at Maria, which Maria “caught” and then blew back to him. Mike then caught what had originally been his kiss, closed his fist up around it and bashed Sami in the head with it. Then Mike went for the cover, because surely the blown kiss in his fist caused him to hit Sami so hard that he would be able to pin him.
5. Got Wrong: Live Crowd Couldn’t See Inside The Punjabi Prison
The Punjabi Prison looked cool, but for fans who attended the show live, it was almost impossible to see what was happening inside of it. Normally fans can see through the holes of a cage to see what is going on inside the ring, but that is more difficult in a Punjabi Prison, where there is another cage around the floor area.
Fans in attendance posted pictures from their seats and often times it looked as though all they could see was a mess of bamboo. Further live reports stated that some fans were leaving during the main event in order to lineup for Royal Rumble tickets, which went on sale immediately after Battleground and will also be held in Philadelphia.
4. Got Right: Patriotic Themed PPV
3 of the main matches at Battleground had an international feel to them: Jinder Mahal representing India against Randy Orton, Rusev and Cena in a flag match, and Kevin Owens, a Canadian, being the “Face of America”. It was a very patriotically themed PPV.
Pitting country against country is always a fairly easy way to ensure fans are at least somewhat invested in a match. As we saw, it is also one of the only ways to get John Cena cheered in some places.
WWE is an international company now, so perhaps this is the start of them playing that up in storyline more. WWE has signed several talents from the UK, Asia, and all over the world as of late. An annual PPV pitting country against country could be a nice change of pace in between Money in the Bank and SummerSlam.
3. Got Wrong: Breaking Sunil Singh
Sunil of the Singh brothers was broken at Battleground. Not broken like Matt Hardy was #Broken, we mean physically broken into pieces. As of this writing there is no word on the condition of the Singh brother who was knocked off the Punjabi Prison and through an announce table, but “broken” seems a safe way to describe him.
WWE showed slow-mo replay of Sunil falling and then hitting the announce table. Although the replay had no sound, for some reason I was certain I heard him screaming on the way down. The announce table broke, but Sunil did first. His head ricocheted hard up and down after he made contact with the top of the table, and referees were quick to check on him. Hopefully he’s fine, but this did it not look good.
2. Got Right: The Return of the Great Khali
Former World Champion, the Great Khali, returned at Battleground 2017 to help Jinder Mahal defeat Randy Orton and retain his WWE Championship.
Adding Great Khali to Jinder Mahal’s act seems like a good move, especially considering WWE’s desire to expand their presence in India. Khali is a big star in the country, something WWE is hoping Jinder Mahal will become as well.
Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton is the greatest Punjabi Prison match in the history of Sports Entertainment and pro-wrestling. Granted, there have only ever been 2 other such matches, and both of those was terrible.
The Punjabi Prison match at Battleground 2017 however, was actually pretty good. It was a well-structured story with a couple of big spots and a surprise return. For a B-level PPV that’s the best you’re going to get.
1. Got Wrong: False Depiction of Punjabi’s Penitentiary System
Battleground 2017 may have left WWE’s Indian fanbase wondering, “What? Do they actually think that’s what our prisons are like?”.
India has normal prisons with cement and bars. The Indian government has yet to formally comment on the false, and inflammatory depiction of their prison system on WWE programming. One can only assume they are infuriated at the suggestion that they house their inmates inside feeble sticks of bamboo. How would they ever expect to keep their inmates inside??
After some research, we have discovered that the Punjab prisons department has just installed state-of-the-art water filtration systems in many of their prisons. They have vocational training for inmates and list their diets and meal plans on their website. They also put ceilings on their prisons to prevent inmates from climbing out.
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