Back to Philadelphia. The City of Extreme. Where Paul Heyman fathered wrestling's misfit child. Where the environment is less friendly and more civil warfare. Where there is no "WWE Universe" but simply wrestling fans.
On paper, Battleground looked to be awful. And, well, you will have to stick with us to find out if WWE botched yet another event. All roads are leading to SummerSlam in Brooklyn and Battleground was the final truck stop along the way.
So, what went down? And was it worth your WWE Network subscription price? What comes next for those who did "battle" in Pennsylvania. The following are 15 takeaways that will help paint a Bob Ross scenery moving forward.
Let's begin with something obvious but nevertheless a relevant point: there are too many damn Pay-Per-View events. When is it enough? Twenty? Twenty-five? What's wrong with having twelve PPVs a year? Leading up to this Battleground event, one thing was abundantly clear: nobody cares enough about WWE anymore to want this many PPVs. Enough is enough.
In a surprise twist at Battleground, The New Day would place Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston in the ring to face-off against the defending SmackDown Tag Team Champions, The Usos. Something new from the trio but not enough to erase that old aura that surrounds this team. While their antics remain humorous enough to elicit a chuckle, the belly-busting laughter has subsided.
In spite of this aforementioned old feeling, The New Day would defeat The Usos and capture the SmackDown Tag Team Championship; becoming the first team to hold Tag titles on the Red and Blue Brand. So yes, perhaps this act has become a little stale but WWE doesn't care. That Booty-O merchandise must continue to sell at live events. And really, what else matters?
The fans love marking out to Shinsuke Nakamura. The man with the violin-fueled, energetic, stir-causing entrance has almost all the makings of being a top babyface in WWE. Almost. The biggest problem facing Nakamura remains his lack of English speaking-ability. And we all (at least us bitter fans) understand Vince McMahon enough by now. "That leather-wearing New Japan star will never headline in my company, dammit!"
The future WWE Champion (yes, his cash-in will prove successful), Baron Corbin has some solid qualities. Nothing that screams main event but certainly a dominant United States Champion. However, the company has positioned Corbin to be a future main event star. Which leaves us wondering if Corbin can actually carry a main event feud? In "the land of opportunity" only time will tell.
Naomi has worked hard over the years to climb through the ranks in WWE. As SmackDown Women's Champion, she has held her own. However, the "glow" has extended too far. We don't need the Women's Championship coming across as a glow-in-the-dark prop. And besides, there hasn't been a cool custom title since the Smoking Skull belt. What?! We said there hasn't been a cool custom title since the Smoking Skull belt.
Lana remains green in the ring but can certainly change color if she continues to put forth the effort. Sure, she is little too loud while performing and her delivery is a little slow but there are signs of life. Lana possesses athleticism and flexibility and if she continues down this path, could someday hang with the big girls. At Battleground, "The Ravishing Russian" found herself eliminated second but didn't look half bad in a losing effort.
In the Fatal Five-Way Elimination match at Battleground, Natalya would emerge victorious and claim her spot at SummerSlam as the #1 Contender to the SmackDown Women's Championship. So, it's safe to assume that Naomi will retain the title in Brooklyn, right? Natalya has the name and the years to back her up but the betting odds will favor the current champion.
**Insert you IWC darling here and commence your pissing and moaning**
Like it or not, there is nobody in the wrestling business who can outperform AJ Styles right now. Out talk? Absolutely. Out wrestle? Not a chance. Styles is a wrestler through-and-through and at Battleground, Styles actually provided fans with a taste of something old: a wrestling match. This should come as no surprise but Styles defending the United States Championship against Kevin Owens was the match of the night.
What can take a great wrestler to new heights? A great opponent. Enter Kevin Owens. The Canadian-born grappler who claims to be "the new face of America" proved to be a worthy adversary to AJ Styles. These two have traveled similar paths to WWE and watching them perform on Pay-Per-View is a treat. Too bad it was Battleground. Owens-Styles could main event WrestleMania (OK, stop dreaming).
Admit something: John Cena matters to you and your WWE viewing habits. Without Cena, WWE lacks a certain feel. That "big time" Superstars feel that Cena provides. After fifteen years and sixteen World Championship victories, it's time to give this man his due. Yes, Cena competed in a Flag match at Battleground as Vince McMahon (Donald Trump's buddy) longed for another patriotic pop but it was good to see him back on PPV.
Remember during the Attitude Era when going to the use the bathroom during a WWE Pay-Per-View was unimaginable. Fans would rather hold it for three consecutive hours or strap on an adult diaper rather than miss a second of the action. Well, luckily at Battleground you had The Fashion Police segment to empty your bladder. Which was essentially its entire purpose.
"The Power of Love" is obnoxious, but that's not a bad thing. As it pertains to wrestling, the obnoxious gimmick works well. Maria and Mike Kanellis (having him take her last name is a fantastic approach) are doing it right at the moment and although Mr. Kanellis fell off to Sami Zayn at Battleground, there is hope for this duo. After all, we all know wins and losses don't matter anymore in WWE.
How do you build the future SmackDown Women's Champion? By not including her on the card of course. No squash match? No backstage segment? Why couldn't Carmella interrupt Naomi's commentary during the #1 Contender's match? Because WWE has completely given up on the actual long-term building process. Hopefully, when Carmella does cash-in, "The Princess" is afforded sufficient amount of time with the title.
There is a reason certain things are left behind in the past. And the Punjabi Prison match is a prime example of this. What a pointless and boring concept. Randy Orton challenged Jinder Mahal in only the third contest of this kind and what did they do to make it exciting? Nothing. If WWE insisted on having a structure for this WWE Championship match then a steel cage would have sufficed.
Major Match Notes: One cool spot involving a Sign Brother falling through a table. The Great Khali returned. And, oh yeah. Mahal retained the WWE Championship.
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