Y’know, we like to have a lot of laughs here at Win Column Sports. In the world of sports (and sports entertainment) there’s generally always something to talk about, and always something to make fun of.
There’s one thing, however, that I’m not willing to joke about – the quality of WWE Battleground.
I won’t say I haven’t been proven wrong before – albeit rarely – but I can’t find it in me to get excited about Battleground. Perhaps it’s PPV fatigue (Battlleground marks the ninth event of the year already), perhaps it’s the lack of credible build to most of the matches, or perhaps it’s the fact that they’ve inexplicably managed to make the prospect of Orton/Mahal III even worse than it already was.
Because if there’s one thing worse than a “climb out of the cage to win” match, it’s a “climb out of TWO cages to win match!”
Seven matches make up the card for this Smackdown Live exclusive, including a Flag match between Johnathan Cena and the returning Handsome Rusev (!)
We also will be treated to Shinsuke Nakamura v Baron Corbin, the Usos v the New Day and an AJ Styles v Kevin Owens match that may be the only reason that I’m tuning in on Sunday
But enough about me; as Captain Tenneal used to say -
Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English
On the positive side – Tye Dillinger and Aiden English!
On the not-so-positive side – I didn’t even know they were still feuding.
Seriously, has anyone on the main roster been as misused as Tye Dillinger? I mean, it’s only been a few months since his main roster call-up, and I believe I could count on one hand how many times I’ve seen him on TV. It’s another episode in a frustrating trend of NXT studs who have been horrendously cast on the main roster.
Don’t you even f**king try and tell me they haven’t been
On the note of the former Vaudevillain, English has actually been quite good in his return to his Drama King gimmick of old. Like Dillinger, however, he’s become a casualty of the numbers game in WWE, appearing almost more sporadically than the Perfect 10.
Get it? Numbers game? Perfect 10? Nah, you don’t get it.
There’s been no buildup, and hopefully no follow up unless it means more TV time for these two.
Prediction: Tye Dillinger
John Cena vs. Rusev – Flag Match
In the WrestleMania 31 rematch that no one wanted to see, John Cena takes on Rusev with a flag match stipulation.
What’s a flag match, you might ask?
Essentially, imaging a sports entertainment version of Capture the Flag. Flags are attached to both individuals respective turnbuckles – basically, defend your flag, and bring your opponents flag back to your side.
I know, Punk. I know.
It’s a brutal way to bring back Rusev. Since his injury just prior to Fastlane in February, we’ve been begging to get the Handsome one back on our screens. He’s entertaining as all hell, frankly, and I love the guy.
However, this is John Cena we’re talking about. While I have a huge amount of respect for the guy, he’s reached part-time status by this point. He should be used to be putting over a guy like Rusev, not beating him with a brutal stipulation. But, if a rumoured showdown with Roman Reigns is on the cards for WrestleMania 34 (ugh), they’ll have to keep the 16-time champ looking strong.
Prediction: John Cena
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match – The Usos © vs The New Day
After a hugely entertaining rap battle two weeks ago, the Usos and the New Day wrestle for what feels like the 201182734th time.
Seriously, how disappointing is it that these two squads couldn’t capitalize on their outstanding promos from two weeks ago? If you haven’t checked them out, here they are:
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Outstanding, right? Yet, nothing but mediocre singles matches have occupied their time in the two weeks since, and all the hype for this endless rematch is gone.
Seriously, this has turned into the Orton/Cena of tag-team feuds.
I think that this program has one more match in it, so I’m going with the Uso Penitentiary.
Prediction: The Usos.
U.S. Championship Match – AJ Styles © vs. Kevin Owens
Now THIS is more like it!
This may be the most interesting program in WWE at the moment, and it’s all due to one house show at Madison Square Garden
On July 7th, WWE fans likely entered MSG expecting then-champion Kevin Owens to retain his US Championship – I mean, nothing happens at a house show, right?
And I don’t wanna be right
Clean as a whistle, Styles pinned Owens in the center of the ring to win his first United States championship, sending shockwaves throughout the WWE Universe. It was the first truly surprising moment in WWE since Goldberg defeated Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series last year.
Now, two of WWE’s top workers face off again, this time on PPV. Again, expect a high-quality match; these two have been earning in-ring accolades for decades each, and gives me no reason to expect that they would disappoint. Remember, the only reason their last PPV encounter was frowned upon was the finish; Styles/Owens has the potential to be a Match of the Year candidate.
I don’t see any issues with the finish for this event; there’s no reason to take the title off of arguably the best performer in WWE today.
Prediction: AJ Styles
Women’s Number One Contenders Elimination Match – Charlotte vs. Tamina vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Lana
Whatever happens, I simply hope that this doesn’t turn into a multi-woman match at Summerslam.
Not that these women don’t deserve to be on the card; they really do. But frankly, the title deserves to be defended one-on-one at a major event like this one – so who deserves to shine on the biggest stage?
My first thought was, of course, Charlotte Flair. WWE is obviously trying to create the female Ric Flair, and who better to become so than his own daughter? She’s already shone at two WrestleManias, and I can see no reason she shouldn’t be fighting for the title at another major event.
However, with the recent teaming up of Tamina and Lana, I feel as though they’ll target two of the other women to square off in a tag-team match to fill out the rest of the rumoured four-hour Summerslam event. To me, it SCREAMS that best friends Lynch and Charlotte will be teaming up.
As well, it gives the chance to have Naomi earn a big win over a credible heel character; while Charlotte straddles the fence of heel/face dynamics, there’s one other female wrestler on the roster with a respected pedigree – and I think that someone will win.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
What’re the odds that this one even starts?
These two have been feuding over the last month, as Mr. Money in the Bank has interrupted or flat-out ruined Nakamura’s entrance over the past few weeks on Smackdown Live. Obviously, this would frustrate anyone, and the two are scheduled to battle at, well, Battleground.
I’ll be honest here; while many love Baron Corbin, and I have no issues with the man myself, I still don’t quite buy into him. His character work is good, and the End of Days may actually be the most devastating finisher on the roster, but his in-ring work leaves something to be desired still. While nowhere near as bad as when he debuted (which frankly was atrocious), he still doesn’t strike me as someone who should be facing Nakamura.
However, what this does mean is that Shinsuke Nakamura is wrestling in a WWE ring, and that’s lovely. There’s not much to say about the guy; he’s easily one of my favourites.
To me, the MITB briefcase solidifies that Corbin won’t win this match; frankly, he can lose every match he’s in until he cashes in and hold his momentum.
At Battleground? It’s the King of Strong Style.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura
WWE Championship Match - Jinder Mahal © vs Randy Orton – Punjabi Prison Match
Don’t care. Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care.
Seriously – I don’t care about any sort of expansion plan to India that WWE is planning. I don’t care about Randy Orton, I don’t care about Jinder Mahal, and I don’t care about the Punjabi Prison.
What WWE has done here is collectively flipped us all the middle finger. For three months (!) they’ve given us a heel champion with a completely out-of-date anti-America gimmick against the blandest babyface this side of wet bread.
For the rest of my time as a WWE fan, I will bring up this match whenever I feel it needs to be evidenced that Vincent Kennedy McMahon simply doesn’t care what we think.
Not only this, but they’ve now placed the World’s Boringest Feud inside the Punjabi Prision – a cage match in which the occupants must climb out of two cages to win. It’s only been done twice before – once featuring the Undertaker vs. the Big Show, and a second that gave us Batista vs. the Great Khali.
Both were atrocious, and those ones featured wrestlers I actually game a semi-shit about.
As for the match itself, I hope Randy Orton loses through whatever means possible, and lets us all move away from this atrocity of a feud.
Prediction: Jinder Mahal (and general unhappiness from the WWE Universe.)