Here we are, folks, the last event before SummerSlam 2017. While it’s hard not to want the biggest party of the summer to get here fast, there is one colossal structure standing in the way. Yes, that’s right, the Punjabi Prison has returned to – hopefully – put a cap on the feud between Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton. But that’s not all – we’ve got a full card of action awaiting us on Sunday! Let’s take a look!
Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English
Not much to say about this matchup. Dillinger and English have been engaged in a limited, but still entertaining, lower-card feud for the past several weeks. This match should find its way on to the pre-show. If I know WWE, English will take the win to even things out after their Backlash confrontation. Gotta love that 50/50 booking.
PICK: Tye Dillinger
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
A Money in the Bank briefcase holder and the most charismatic man in the world will lock horns on Sunday as part of a feud that began when Corbin blindsided Nakamura as Nak made his way down the ramp for the MITB match at the last SmackDown event. This feud has been excruciatingly paint-by-number, but still marginally interesting. I would like to see a clean finish in favor of Shinsuke here, but I have a sneaking suspicion this will go to a disqualification or no-contest as the ferocity of Corbin is all too difficult to contain.
PICK: Shinsuke Nakamura
John Cena vs. Rusev – Flag match
Probably the weakest of all feuds going on at the moment, Cena and Rusev – in this incarnation at least – have only been going at it for a pair of weeks. Rusev has been re-shackled with his tried and true and a anti-American gimmick to contrast with the uber-patriot, Cena. Cena is going to win using some absurd feat of strength and Rusev will find himself again aimless and wandering about the SmackDown landscape. Dare I forget to mention that this flag match still somehow comes only in second place for Most Ridiculous Gimmick Match on this card?
PICK: John Cena
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Tamina vs. Lana –
Fatal 5-Way elimination match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship #1 contendership
Multi-women matches seems to be the theme of SmackDown as of late and I am…pretty tired of them, to be honest. Still, it is much preferable to a Lana singles match so I will not complain. The scene is pretty bland as of late, so I hope we get a heel turn or some sort of story coming out of this match and going into SummerSlam. Charlotte and Becky are a wonderful pairing, calling back hints of Charlotte’s father’s relationship with Sting, and I would love to see a little progression in the story between the two. For a winner? I’ll go Charlotte, as SummerSlam begs for a leading lady.
PICK: Charlotte Flair
The Usos vs. The New Day
for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship
If not for the next match, this would be the uncontested best thing going on SmackDown. It’s still the best thing, though – just with a little competition. The Usos and the New Day have been nothing but magic in the ring and out over the weeks since MITB 2017. For those of you who missed it, their rap battle is a must-see.
But that was the past, and this is the now. After the Usos elected for a self-count-out at MITB, this feud needs some conclusive victories. I would rather the teams not trade the titles as of yet, but another loss (or no-win) for the New Day could start to chip away at their rapport with the WWE Universe. Against my desires, I see another screwy finish and the Usos retaining.
PICK: Usos retain…somehow
AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens
for the United States Championship
But wait…I thought that AJ Styles won the United States Championship #1 Contender Battle Royal? Ah, indeed he did! But the Face that Runs the Place was able to strip the New Face of America of his championship at Madison Square Garden in an untelevised match. Rare, I know, but still pretty cool. Thus, the #1 Contendership has magically transferred to the New Face of America and here we are! Owens and Styles could wrestle until the finals days of existence, and I don’t think anyone would mind. However, we have a bit of a quandary in that a victor is quite unclear.
Hints have been thrown for a future confrontation between Nakamura and AJ Styles, but I hope that is for something a bit further down the line. If it is for SummerSlam, I am not certain where that would put Owens. If Owens does win, then I assume we get the blow-off at SummerSlam – but what does Nakamura do with himself? Triple threat? Maybe. I think an Owens victory is a bit more likely of a situation as it leaves the doors open for a rematch or the addition of Nakamura to the feud.
PICK: Kevin Owens
Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton –
Punjabi Prison match for the WWE Championship
The Punjabi Prison has returned! After two past iterations saw the originator, the Great Khali, either not compete or lose outright, it is quite hard to see Jinder Mahal joining his hero in the L column. And I really don’t think he should lose. While Orton is the safe bet of all safe bets, Jinder has yet to get a chance to prove his worth as a top heel champion. This one feud with Orton has been a bit bland, but that is not exactly uncommon for the Viper despite his talents. Jinder needs the stage of SummerSlam¸ as well as another feud to truly show off his talents. I hope this match, despite its inherently ridiculous gimmick, succeeds in getting Jinder over as a legitimate champion.
PICK: Jinder Mahal
Things to look out for:
- We may very well see a continuation of the bizarre – but hilarious – feud between the Kanellis’s and Sami Zayn in some form.
- Keep an eye out for another iteration of Fashion Files and potentially a match featuring the Fashion Police.
Headlined by the intimidating Punjabi Prison, Battleground 2017 actually has some semblance of a big-match feel to it. While it lacks last year’s awesome flags, this show has all the potential to be a big winner. Make sure to tune into the Pre-Show at 7 p.m. and the main show at 8 p.m. Meet me back here next week to discuss the fall-out and speculate on whether or not the Punjabi Prison could ever be seen again.
-by Dat Man S.Fran
Photo Credit: WWE.com