Posted July 22nd, 2017 by 1Wrestling News Team

By Don Murphy

I remember the days when the WWE would center their storylines around four pay-per-view events each year: The Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and the Survivor Series. Now, they’re up to approximately nineteen each year and that’s not including the six hours of live television they produce each week. Add to that the depth of content the other organizations (Ring of Honor, New Japan, Global Force Wrestling) produce and – well, let’s just say that even the most ardent of fan might have a hard time keeping up. Nevertheless, the WWE Smackdown brand’s Battleground show, which takes place Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a show not-to-miss and will likely give us a good indication as to where storylines are headed, as we look to SummerSlam next month. I’ll be interested to see what the various title pictures look like, in addition to how two of the newer additions to the roster – Mike Kanellis and Shinsuke Nakamura are presented. This will be Kanellis’ first pay-per-view match since joining WWE, and being matched up against Sami Zayn gives him a great opportunity to have a strong performance. With Nakamura, he hasn’t had that notable match that we all know he’s capable of and, with the company being strong on Baron Corbin moving forward, it will be interesting to see how they match up against each other. Finally, let’s not forget that Corbin holds the Money in the Bank briefcase, so there’s always the chance he decides to cash in on either Jinder Mahal or Randy Orton, depending on who emerges from the Punjabi Prison as the WWE Champion. So, Battleground will not be short on news items coming out the show. Let’s run down the card….

Main Event/WWE Championship Match: Jinder Mahal defends the WWE Championship against Randy Orton

*This match takes place within the confines of a Punjabi Prison*

Analysis: The WWE appears to be going all out to present Jinder Mahal as a main event player. Over the past several months, while I haven’t found the push to be overly compelling, I appreciate the effort put forth in trying to build a new star. And, to his credit, he’s done the best he can with what he has to work with. Finding that successful, breakout character takes time, and my hope is that as Mahal works with different talent, he’s able to find the version of his character that resonates with the audience. And, as I’ve said before, I’d like to see some more depth added to the Singh Brothers, beyond just being ring announcers and running interference. The WWE needs top-level heels and with the right seasoning, Jinder and the Singh Brothers have the potential to be a top act. In terms of this match, I’m ready to see Mahal move on from Orton, so I anticipate this being the final chapter in the feud, with Jinder retaining the title. I didn’t remember the Punjabi Prison until I saw it this past week on Smackdown. In addition to the match itself, I’m particularly interested to see how the camera men are going to capture the action. With a structure that is essentially two cages, it was a bit difficult to see. Hopefully, they have a solution for that come match time. After this, I see Mahal moving on to face John Cena at SummerSlam. For Orton, some time away and a bit of a refreshed character might be the order post-Battleground.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Jinder Mahal retains the WWE Championship

Flag Match: John Cena meets Rusev

Analysis: I was never the biggest John Cena fan. Like many other more vocal fans, I felt that a heel turn might be a good course of action. But, I must say that he has won me over with some of the best matches I have seen over the past couple of years, with opponents such as Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. Now, all of that being said, I do wish they would have found a different opponent for Cena in his return match. I was excited when Rusev moved to Smackdown and the opportunity to have a fresh start as a top heel. As I noted, Smackdown needs more of them and, as I don’t see any scenario where Cena loses this match, my hope is that they can find a way to build Rusev back to prominence because there’s just so much potential in him that I feel is being missed. As for the stipulation, I do like the old school nostalgia it brings and in terms of the storyline, I suppose it makes sense. In fact, since Rusev won’t actually be pinned to lose the match, this will help protect the character, which is a good thing. This will be good, but it’s really a placeholder for Cena, as he moves on to face Jinder Mahal at SummerSlam for the WWE Championship.

“The Predictor” Predicts: John Cena defeats Rusev

WWE United States Championship Match: AJ Styles defends the WWE United States Championship against Kevin Owens

Analysis: I was one of the 18,000 shocked fans in Madison Square Garden on July 7th, when AJ won the title on a non-televised house show. So, I know first-hand that these two will deliver a great match. And, this past Tuesday on Smackdown, they teased a potential showdown between Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. For those familiar with their time in New Japan, you know the matches they had and that a match on WWE’s stage would be something special. Regrettably, I think we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that showdown, likely at WrestleMania. Now, as for this match, I see Owens getting his win and the title back, likely for his own program with Nakamura at SummerSlam. This is fine, except that by playing “hot potato” with the title, it loses its credibility. Eventually, I’d like to see longer title reigns across the board so that they can have the same level of prominence that the main titles do. I do see them making that effort over on Raw with the Intercontinental Championship, so I am confident that we’ll get there on Smackdown as well.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Kevin Owens regains the WWE United States Championship

Fatal Five Way Match: Featuring Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Lana and Tamina

*The winner faces the WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion at SummerSlam*

Analysis: The long-term goal would appear to have Charlotte have the title by WrestleMania. But, I like that they are taking time to try to build some of the other women on the roster. They’ve done an outstanding job with Carmella, who will likely get a title run later in the year, and now, it appears that they are finally trying to do something with Tamina. Now, there’s always the chance that she is simply a bodyguard, helping Lana to win the match. That was my original pick, but as they’ve done Lana vs. Naomi two times already, I don’t see them going back to this for a third time at a big show like SummerSlam. I think we’ll finally get the chance to see how Tamina can tell a story in a high-profile program, as they can definitely play into the family history between her and Naomi. So, while we wait for runs by Carmella and eventually Charlotte, I’m intrigued to see how additional talents and storylines emerge.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Tamina wins the Fatal Five Way

Singles Match: Shinsuke Nakamura meets Baron Corbin

Analysis: As I said in the opening, we haven’t seen the performance that we know Nakamura is capable of delivering. I’m not sure if it’s the way he’s been booked or if he hasn’t been matched with the right opponent. I did recently see him have a great match with Dolph Ziggler at Madison Square Garden, so I am confident that great matches are coming. On the other side, we know that the company is high on Corbin, which is evidenced by his winning the Money in the Bank briefcase, and I have enjoyed the pull-apart brawls that have helped build to this match. I think the approach they’ll take here is to have Corbin lose, so that when he does win the title, the fans will know that he has a level of vulnerability, making his title defenses interesting. Plus, if done right, a title feud between Corbin and Nakamura, with Nakamura in chase mode, could be an interesting story to tell.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Baron Corbin

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos defend the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship against the New Day

Analysis: I liked that they didn’t end this feud at “Money in the Bank,” as these two teams work very well together and the Smackdown tag team division was getting into the habit of rotating contenders in and out each month. The issue here continues to be the Usos are presented as the “cool heels” you want to cheer. This program would be so much better if there was a clear understanding around who the babyfaces are and who the heels are. And, the New Day is a great act, but it’s been the same act for two years. Some depth to the characters is badly needed, or I am afraid the act doesn’t have a long shelf-life after this feud concludes. I see the Usos holding onto the titles here, with a final chapter to the feud taking place at SummerSlam.

“The Predictor” Predicts: The Usos retain the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship

Singles Match: Mike Kanellis meets Sami Zayn

Analysis: This is the match I am probably most looking forward to. I have followed and been a fan of Mike and Maria since their days in Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling. Maria is such a great talker and a natural at generating heat. And, what Kanellis lacks on the mike, he makes up for in the ring. So, the two are the perfect pair, and the fact that they had Mike’s character take Maria’s last name was a very nice touch. As we’ve seen you can never go wrong adding Sami Zayn to the mix. I know that a lot of fans feel that Zayn is being buried and, while I do feel that some wins should be sprinkled in between the losses, I like the underdog story they tell with him. If and when they decide to pull the trigger and build him to a big title opportunity on a big stage, it has the potential to be magic. Kanellis will win his pay-per-view debut and then it’ll be interesting to see where both go from here.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Mike Kanellis defeats Sami Zayn

Pre-Show/Singles Match: Tye Dillinger meets Aiden English

Analysis: Many of the wrestling fans were hot on Dillinger to come to the main roster, but my concern was his ability to add some more depth to his character, beyond the “ten” chant. They haven’t gotten there yet, as he’s barely present on Smackdown and his main appearances have been pre-show matches. Similarly, I was hoping the break with Simon Gotch would help establish English as a credible mid-card act. That hasn’t happened yet either. Now, I haven’t given up hope as of yet, but feel as if both are spinning their wheels. I’m curious to see where they go next.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Tye Dillinger defeats Aiden English
Follow me on Twitter: @don424

Category: Wrestling.

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