WWE Battleground had the potential to be an incredible show, much like Great Balls of Fire two weeks ago, but it seems that like many WWE pay-per-views, it didn’t work out that way.
It was reported a few weeks ago that the ticket sales for Battleground were quite poor and that Jinder Mahal as champion could have been one of the main reasons for this, which allowed the WWE Universe to hope that The Modern Day Maharaja would be losing his championship sooner than expected. Not only that, but the tease from Fandango and Tyler Breeze about being attacked by another Tag Team gave the impression that there could have been an NXT debut last night as well, but much like the former, this was not the case.
Battleground last year boasted the long overdue triple threat main event match between all three former Shield members, so this year was always going to have a lot to live up to as the first SmackDown Exclusive Battleground event, and it just didn’t manage to live up to the hype.
Here are 10 things that WWE got wrong last night in Philadelphia, and five that the company did actually manage to get right.
15. Wrong: Lackluster Pay-Per-View
When the matches were slowly announced for the event over the past few weeks, the WWE Universe was well aware that the event could be another underwhelming affair ahead of SummerSlam which is now in less than a month’s time.
That being said, it was hopeful that there would be at least one stand out match, which ended up being between Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. The other seven matches on the card were not really worthy of pay-per-view standards and it really felt like an extended episode of SmackDown. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon really need to change something up over the next few months because SmackDown really does look as though it is becoming the B show once again.
14. Wrong: The Flag Match
Rusev and John Cena collided in “an old school flag match” last night and as with any match where a pole must be climbed in order to retrieve something, the entire chemistry of the match just failed to work.
Rusev and Cena have had incredible matches in the past, the duo do know how to work together, but last night’s match was slow at building towards anything. The slow climbing at times became frustrating and there wasn’t a lot of actual wrestling involved in the match, it was mostly punching and tackling. This was Rusev’s chance to get back on the map after a few months away and it just wasn’t working for him at all last night. Whether Cena was the problem or it had to do with the match itself will perhaps become clear if the feud between the duo continues.
13. Right: Baron Corbin’s Dirty Tactics
Baron Corbin took on Shinsuke Nakamura in a match that has been building for a number of weeks now, since Corbin attacked Nakamura back at Money in the Bank. While Nakamura showed all of Corbin’s faults in their match and proved that he is not yet ready for the push of being World Champion, it seems that the outcome of the match was an expected one.
The feud between these two stars is far from over and Corbin could take a disqualification loss if it meant that he was the one in control. The story of the match worked perfectly and Corbin can only benefit from continuing to work with someone who has Nakamura’s experience heading into SummerSlam next month.
12. Wrong: The Punjabi Prison Match
The Punjabi Prison match hasn’t been used in more than a decade and there is a reason why. The audience in attendance could hardly see the match, the structure didn’t look safe at so many different points, and the concept of four doors open for 60 seconds each made it seem tedious and annoying.
There were so many times when both Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal could have escaped out of the door, it was open and they were in front of it, but they decided to stay in and attempt to hit a finisher instead. It was senseless. WWE really needs to retire the match now, it was an awful concept back in 2006 and it’s still an awful concept now.
11. Wrong: Aiden English Win
What does Tye Dillinger have to do to remain relevant on the SmackDown roster? The match with Aiden English was a carbon copy of the Backlash kickoff show a few months ago, but with a different outcome.
English seems to have developed a new character since his Vaudevillain team mate Simon Gotch was released from WWE, and while it isn’t a bad gimmick, WWE is trying to push the wrong guy. Dillinger has proved that he can get over with the WWE Universe, look at the Royal Rumble, so why are the company dead set on putting a feud between these two stars together? No one wants to see another match between these two, Dillinger deserves a place on an actual pay-per-view card moving forward.
10. Right: Sami Zayn Pay-Per-View Win
Sami Zayn is a former NXT Champion but he hasn’t had a lot of luck on the main roster either. His feuds with Kevin Owens have been spot on, but the company have been unable to follow those up with anything decent for The Underdog from The Underground.
Zayn was dragged into a rivalry with Mike and Maria Kanellis when it seemed that convenient problems between them turned out to not just be a coincidence. While Mike got the win on SmackDown last week, it seemed only fair that Sami was given a notch as well. He finally managed to pick up a win on a SmackDown pay-per-view which was exactly what Zayn needed, but it will be interesting to see where this feud goes next.
9. Wrong: No Carmella
This isn’t strictly true, Carmella was part of the kickoff show panel, so the WWE made it clear that Miss Money in the Bank was in the building and even went to the trouble of having Naomi step into the ring after the match to shake hands with Natalya, who then left.
Naomi was on her own in the middle of the ring last night and Carmella wasn’t even teased. Why? Natalya and Naomi were focused on each other and it would have been the perfect time for Carmella to skip out and remind them both that there was a third person in this entire scenario. The entire women’s section lacked something last night and a small thing like this could have saved it.
8. Wrong: No Match For The Fashion Police
The Fashion Police promised the WWE Universe a season finale at Battleground. The case was supposed to finally be closed and there were rumours that there could be a team being called up from NXT or that Luke Harper and Erick Rowan could be back together.
It was one of the most anticipated angles on the show, but when it finally happened, The Ascension tried to convince Fandango and Tyler Breeze that they were the culprits before another attack happened. It was then left up in the air as it seemed that the case wasn’t actually ready to be closed. The Fashion Police could well be the best thing on SmackDown right now and it felt cheap that the WWE Universe was robbed of the chance to see the duo in a pay-per-view match.
7. Right: Natalya Vs. Naomi At SummerSlam
Let’s be honest, if you had to choose a woman to go on to fight for the Women’s Championship at SummerSlam out of all the women on SmackDown Live, it would easily have to be Natalya or Charlotte. It seems that WWE is finally listening and after what was a strange kind of elimination match between the five women on the roster, Natalya finally got the win over Charlotte.
The ending to the match was much better than the beginning as the daughters from two of WWE’s best-known wrestling families proved that they still have what it takes to tear the house down. Natalya could be a legitimate threat to Naomi, unlike Lana in recent weeks, which makes this feud so much more exciting.
6. Wrong: John Cena Defeated Rusev
Is it 2015 again? Haven’t we seen this all before? John Cena was the man who ended Rusev’s undefeated streak. He was the man who beat The Bulgarian Brute in an “I Quit” match and took away his United States Championship. Rusev has legitimate reasons to push and fight much harder than he has in any other match when it comes to a feud with Cena, so why didn’t he?
Cena should have put Rusev over last night, he should have allowed The Bulgarian star to make his return to WWE in victorious circumstances, but once again it seems that “Big Match Cena” had to be the hero of America while playing the villain in a completely different screenplay.
5. Wrong: Kevin Owens Won Back The US Championship
What is it with WWE’s obsession with playing hot potato with their championships? It makes sense that Kevin Owens needs the US title to be the “face of America” but what doesn’t make sense is that he managed to defeat AJ after knocking out the referee and then pinning him in what looked like a botched cradle attempt.
It was a strange ending and it felt as though Styles deserved better. He has held the championship for less than two weeks and Owens has already taken it back, does this mean that AJ and Owens are far from over? Or could AJ be set to step into the title picture in the place of Randy Orton moving forward? It is an interesting time in WWE.
4. Right: Ruckus Crowd In Philadelphia
WWE knew when they got to Philadelphia that they were stepping into hardcore wrestling country. The crowd famously booed Roman Reigns out of the building when it was announced that he had won the 2015 Royal Rumble, and last night they were out in full force once again.
Unsurprisingly there were the predictable CM Punk chants a few times throughout the night, but WWE seemed to manage to keep the crowd entertained enough that the chants were not as bad as they could have been. Philadelphia fans are usually worse than the Raw after WrestleMania and the feel of the crowd last night definitely added something to the event overall.
3. Wrong: No Money In The Bank Tease
Not only was Carmella missing from the women’s segment of the show, but Baron Corbin also failed to make an appearance at the end of the show as well, if only to remind Jinder that he still has the case.
Baron had just lost his match to Nakamura via DQ and could easily have come out refreshed an hour later and reminded Jinder that Orton was his first challenger as champion. There are many more where he came from and it took four men to defeat him inside a Punjabi Prison. Instead, WWE decided that The Great Khali was the best thing they could come up with and Jinder left with the title held high above his head.
2. Wrong: The Great Khali Return
The Great Khali is an ambassador for WWE when it comes to their relations in India, that’s understandable, but why does he need to be on TV? Khali was released because he was dangerous in the ring, couldn’t pull off many wrestling moves because of his physical condition, and couldn’t speak a word of English.
Bringing back Khali and showing that Jinder needed two Singh brothers and a giant to be able to defeat Randy Orton was a little bit of a joke. It is hoped that WWE used Khali as a cheap pop and they won’t be bringing him back to WWE TV full time, because it took them so long to get rid of him and SmackDown ratings are already struggling. This could be the final straw.
1. Right: The New Day Are SmackDown Tag Team Champions
So, WWE could have gotten something right at Battleground and that was the Tag Team match between The New Day and The Usos. The feud between the two teams has been heating up for a while and after their count out victory at Money in the Bank, New Day stepped it up by taking home the titles.
The trio made history by becoming the first team to hold both the Raw and the SmackDown Tag Team Championships and given the way tag teams have been crumbling in WWE recently, hopefully this will mark a new era and we will finally have a new team stepping into the title picture.
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