It was the go-home show for SmackDown Live and as the WWE Superstars of the blue brand headed into Battleground, they did so with the knowledge that few people seemed interested in the pay-per-view. Attendance for the event was reported as disappointingly low, there isn't much going on in the way of must-see matches and SmackDown Live, in general, has struggled to give the fans much in the way of can't miss programming.
Did Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal finally meet up before the Punjabi Prison match? Did John Cena and Rusev make fans really want to tune in for their Flag match? What will Chad Gable say now that Jason Jordan is on Raw and American Alpha is seemingly done as a team?
Here are the 5 Winners and 5 Losers From SmackDown Live July 18, 2017.
10 Loser - Jinder Mahal
Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal did their best to try and make the Punjabi Prison match something fans would want to tune in for. While it wasn't their fault, neither did a very admirable job. It just doesn't seem like Mahal is a draw and Orton may not be an ideal opponent. The hope was that having the actual Punjabi Prison set up would add a little punch to the feud and help demonstrate the structure's sheer awesomeness, but that didn't happen since there was no actual confrontation between the two WWE Superstars. The feud just isn't believable, and the WWE missed an opportunity to use the physical prison as a real selling tool.
9 Winner - Becky Lynch
It wasn't a great match, but the fact that Lynch got a win against Charlotte is good for her character. Further to that, the fact she tapped Charlotte out makes Lynch a credible favorite for SummerSlam. If the rumors of Lynch getting set up for some sort of feud against an MMA star are true, this is a big opportunity for her, and she might be in line for a pretty big push. Lynch has deserved a better fate than she's gotten in the past few months. This might be the start of something.
8 Loser - Women's Fatal 5-Way
While Becky Lynch may have personally left SmackDown Live looking strong, the conclusion to the match between Lynch and Charlotte showed everyone just how little the Fatal 5-Way is going to mean to the pay-per-view on Sunday. The whole story feels thrown together and it appears to be a way to get everyone on the card just because the WWE wants everyone on the card. It's a lazy way to book the women of the show and it's not doing anyone any favors. SmackDown Live is going to need to come up with some angles between one or two of the top female competitors to keep the women's division interesting.
7 Winner - Rusev Eliminating Cena
There had to be little doubt that Rusev was simply being made to look strong, only to lose to John Cena at Battleground and set Cena up for a SummerSlam opponent that screams more marquee than this feud does. If that's the case, this build for Rusev could go off the rails quickly. This angle has almost an identical feel to when Rusev lost to Cena at WrestleMania, and while Rusev looks strong right now, will he continue to? This could be a big opportunity for the WWE to get Rusev back in the picture as a legit threat. Whether or not they choose to is another story.
6 Loser - Uso's and New Day Buildup
Last week, when Xavier Woods defeated Jey Uso, it was a poor use of time. To do it in two consecutive weeks with different members of the team and simply switch victors only shows that the WWE is out of ideas and the teams are "evenly matched" going into Battleground. There were so many better ways to build this feud. The WWE had the right idea with the rap battle and while you can't do that every week, more of that display of creativity and fewer pointless matches would have been the way to go.
5 Winner - Mike Kanellis Gets Big Win
For now, this is a win for Mike Kanellis. It might behoove the WWE to tread carefully here because Kanellis beat Sami Zayn, the WWE Universe learned two things. First, Kanellis has a mean right hand. Second, he's not going to win if Maria doesn't interfere. If that's the case, they'll be a strong heel duo out of the gate, but any momentum they build will fade quickly. The good news here is that Sami Zayn doesn't look weak in the loss.
4 Loser - Chad Gable
Much like Jason Jordan was a loser and winner on Raw, Chad Gable fits into both the winner and loser categories simply because the WWE Universe will never get to see how good a team American Alpha could have been. Both wrestlers had so much more to give as a team and the WWE gave up on them far too early. It will be hard to tell if a singles career will have the same impact as a longer tag run would have, but the WWE Universe is about to find out.
3 Winner - Chad Gable
Where Gable is a winner is in his reaction to Jason Jordan moving to Raw and in his finding out about Jordan being Kurt Angle's illegitimate son. Gable is happy for Jordan and will support his former partner, but the interview wasn't necessarily all about Jordan. Cable's not going to be silent on his own. His interview with Renee Young was a good way to introduce the fact that he will not be forgotten about and a bigger second half of 2017 is coming for him. What that is, is still a very big mystery.
2 Loser - Battleground Still No Big Deal
The issue at hand for the WWE was making sure their final SmackDown Live before Battleground made you want to tune into the pay-per-view. In that respect, the show didn't succeed. Cena's promo was pro-U.S.A, but added very little to his match against Rusev and felt forced. The women's bout seemed unimportant, Styles vs Owens and Corbin vs Nakamura might be interesting and quality matches, but not must-see and the main event doesn't have a main event feel to it.
1 Winner - Kevin Owens Picks Up The Pinfall
It was a smart move to give Owens a pinfall victory in the main event of the show. After losing his U.S. Title to A.J. Styles on an untelevised Madison Square Garden show, Owens was potentially at the risk of looking less credible. He immediately earns that credibility back heading into his rematch with Styles at Battleground. While it doesn't feel likely Owens will win the title, there is, at a minimum, the potential that he could. This match will be the match of Battleground. It was probably the only good reason to tune into the pay-per-view.