NEWS

WWE Battleground – Punjabi Prisons, flags and the best of the tags

WWE certainly seem to be erring more on the side of quantity as opposed to quality given they only had a pay per view event a fortnight ago. And I have to say, I didn’t hold a lot of hope for this event.

Especially after the last one where I wholeheartedly believe the women completely upstaged the guys. Not to take anything away from the girls but when the major portion of your franchise is built on big, burly blokes and they’re being shown up by a smaller contingent of extremely talented women, it could mean you need to re-visit your business model.

For starters, I want Jinder Mahal to be better, and I am tired of Randy Orton being rammed down my throat by the WWE. I like the idea of Jinder, I really do, but he’s getting monotonous. He’s a one trick pony and without his prop gags in the form of the Singh Brothers he’s just a snarling heel who uses the same inflections with every sentence. Now that I’ve picked up on his speech patterns it is starting to drive me slowly mad. But I really like the idea of someone who’s not an all American boy serving it back to the masses.

I also don’t see the point of the Punjabi Prison match for the title. They’ve tried it a couple of times before and it doesn’t go over well. Especially with the live crowd who basically can’t see a fucking thing for the majority of the match. Like I’ve said before, the crowd play a massive role in these events.

View of the Punjabi Prison cage from ringside

How is anyone supposed to see what is going in with that in the way?

I also need to note the tackiness of the flag match between Rusev and Cena. From a classic 80’s wrestling fan’s perspective it seems to make everything old new again. It’s basically Hulk Hogan v the Iron Sheik right? I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But there’s something a bit gross about Cena talking about 9-11 to hype the match. Still, I’m sentimental, so I have mixed emotions about this match, but those days are long gone. I think wrestling fans are a lot smarter than that these days.

So here I am watching Battleground and hoping for something more.

Let’s see how it went.

Spoiler Alert Banner

 

Tag Team Title Match

The New Day v The Usos

The New Day are probably the best and most entertaining tag team I’ve seen in recent times. I’m always impressed as to how well they sell the seemingly preposterous and I have a feeling, in spite of how great the Usos are, tonight is going to be theirs. Although, they’ve decided to sit Biggie out and put Xavier and Kofi up, which may be their undoing.

The match kicks off at a lightning pace thanks to the New Day but the Usos slow things down soon enough. The Usos have pedigree in the industry and it shows when they wrestle. You can definitely see echoes of their uncle, the late great Umaga. This is a great opening match.

The New Day however are definitely the crowd favourites and there’s a lot of high flying back and forth. There’s twists and turns that are sold incredibly well, particularly by the heel team.

Towards the end of the match we see Xavier dive off the top rope right into a boot to the face, the timing is incredible. Xavier kicks out from the subsequent pin and the crowd go nuts!!!

This is the kind of wrestling I’ve been hanging out to see!

Shortly after we see a big submission hold from Jimmy Uso on Xavier Woods in the middle of the ring and the crowd will Woods to the ropes.

Kofi returns to the ring after being power bombed onto the floor earlier and smashes Jimmy with a midnight hour from the top rope. Another kick out.

It goes back and forth. There’s another couple of big finishing moves and kick outs, the crowd chant “this is awesome” and they’re right!

Finally Xavier catches Jimmy with an elbow from the top rope and gets the pinfall.

Tag match of the year thus far! Amazing!

Winner and new champs: The New Day 

🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

 The New Day celebrating with their title belts

Shinske Nakamura v Baron Corbin

I’m warming to Nakamura as a wrestler but he takes his sweet time getting to the ring and it’s annoying as shit. I’m on my own here though I think, it seems he can do no wrong in front of the WWE universe as they “woah-oh” every note of his opening music and start chanting for him as soon as it stops.

Corbin on the other hand, has fans divided. I’m warming to him also and it seems so are the writers because they’re giving him a massive push.

There’s a lot of trash talk between the two. It’s not bad. Nakamura is a loon. Corbin is a dick. There’s kicking and punching but it feels a little slow early on. That first match was a tough act to follow.

It is a slow match, I feel like Corbin is doing most of the work in the first half. Nakamura makes a comeback but I feel like the crowd are more pumped about Nakamura’s entrance than his actual wrestling.

Every time the match gets some steam up they pump the brakes and I don’t know why. Corbin gets a chance to go in for a spear, slides out of the ring around the corner post and back in where he takes Nakamura’s head off with a clothesline. It’s good! The match is physical. Corbin foils a Kinshasa countering with a Deep Six and it looks rad.

I think it’s Nakamura’s style that I struggle with, I’m not used to seeing a little guy trade blows the way Nakamura often does with the big boys and I find it hard to buy. I feel like he fronts like a high flyer but rarely climbs the ropes.

The match ends when Corbin hits Nakamura with a low blow kicking him in the nuts and gets disqualified.

A lame ending to a physical, but slow match.

As a nice post script Corbin puts an end to Nakamura’s music and the crowd’s wailing by taking him out with the Money In The Bank briefcase and an End of Days to finish. People hate him but I’m glad he cut that short.

Winner: Nakamura, by disqualification. 

🍿🍿1/2

 Corbin drive Nakamura into the turnbuckle

Five Way Elimination Match

Charlotte Flair v Becky Lynch v Natalya Neidhardt v Tamina Snuka v Lana

In spite of these guys facing off way to often I’m actually keen for this match to determine the number one contender to face Naomi for the title at Summerslam. I’m even more keen after the amazing showing from Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks at Great Balls of Fire, the girls are kicking the WWE’s arse at the moment and have, in this reviewer’s opinion, the best talent their division has ever seen.

Fatal five ways can end up being a total mess though and there’s a broad spectrum of ability here, from Charlotte Flair who is phenomenal, to Lana who is incredibly sloppy.

Lana kicks grabs, scratches and yells a hell of a lot. I actually think she needs to be dropped back down to work on her technique more, before she actually really hurts someone.

There’s a lot of double-teaming between Tamina and Lana on Charlotte until Becky comes in and busts it up. Charlotte v Becky is a far more entertaining prospect. Natalya returns from wherever she was and kicks the pace of this match into high gear.

Becky recovers and cleans house and the match picks up.

Lana comes back in and messes everything up though. She is seriously rubbish and it is even more irritating because Tamina keeps coming to her rescue. Becky busts out the disarmer on each of them and they tap out one after the other. Unfortunately Natalya comes out of nowhere, clocks Becky and eliminates her with a dirty pin. Now we have Charlotte v Natalya and it is game on.

Charlotte executes a spectacular power bomb and then moonsaults into Natalya’s knees. Natalya smashes her neck into the turnbuckle and pins her for a three count.

Bummer. I wanted Charlotte to win.

Pretty good match though once they eliminated Lana.

Winner: Natalya 

🍿🍿🍿

 Natalya's arms raised by the referee in victory

 

United States Championship Match

AJ Styles v Kevin Owens

 I have high hopes for this match. I am a huge fan of Kevin Owens, and while I loathe Styles as a character he’s an awesome performer in the ring. After Styles won the United States Championship from Owens a week or so ago Kevin is mad keen to get it back and is playing the obsessed heel masterfully.

Is he going to get it back? No chance. I think this will sit with Styles for a while, but this is a rivalry that has legs enough to go on for some time.

This middle card match is the one I am most looking forward to tonight.

I just love Owens’ aggression in the ring, his smack talk is the best and he is so agile for a big man. Combine that with Styles’ technical proficiency and we’ve got a match.

You get the feeling watching these two guys that they’ll be around in the business for some time. Kind of like Randy Savage or Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.

They’re not afraid to take it outside the ring and mix it up and they know how to pace the match without making it boring. Corbin and Nakamura could learn from these guys.

Even in the quiet moments Owens talks shit, and keeps it interesting. He makes something as boring as a headlock on the mat entertaining and it gives both wrestlers time to regroup and build tension.

Styles unleashes flurries of fists and kicks and Owens’ counters are vicious. Styles’ fireman’s carry neck-breaker is bloody spectacular. As is his 450, but he is thwarted by Owens’ knees.

Owens pins, Styles kicks out. Owens cannonballs and pins again, Styles kicks out. Owens’ frustration will get the better of him and as he places Styles on the top rope you know its going to go to shit. Styles hoists the big man into a torture rack and drops him, which is an incredible show of strength. A pin and Owens kicks out.

These blokes know how to tell a story.

As they go outside the ring Owens trips Styles on the apron and he sells a shoulder injury, which gives Owens something to focus on.

The match crescendos when Owens hurls Styles into the ref knocking him out. Styles cinches Owens in the Calf Crusher but there’s no ref present, Owens reverses into a cross face. Awesome! Styles reverses and has Owens in a cross face and in an awesome twist Owens flips into a bridge and has Styles’ shoulders on the mat.

There’s confusion as to who is pinned. The victory is awarded to Owens! I did not see that coming.

Owens’ face of America gimmick is too good for them to retire right now I guess!

Good times! These guys are the gold standard and they make it look easy.

Winner and new United States Champion: Kevin Owens 

🍿🍿🍿🍿1/2

 Kevin Owens had AJ Styles in a headlock

 

Flag Match

John Cena v Rusev

I anticipate that his will be the low point of the evening but I have pretty much been wrong about everything in this pay per view thus far. The goal of this match is for each competitor to remove their flag from it’s post in their corner of the ring and travel back up the entrance ramp where there is a podium waiting for the winner to place their flag.

So far the actual wrestling has been pretty decent so I’m very pessimistic about any gimmicks. Don’t get me started on the main event. Yet.

Rusev is a beast, I hope he wins. He won’t. The WWE thinks the crowd need something to hoist their self-esteem on. I actually don’t think wrestling fans are that stupid these days.

Rusev is out first. Cena does his thing. I love how a vast majority of the crowd sing, “John Cena sucks” to the tune of his entrance music. It’s probably a 50/50 split for Cena supporters. Told you they weren’t that stupid.

Straight up there are some big bumps in this match, they’re big boys after all, but it feels boring. I’ve seen Rusev wrestle with much more intensity than this. I think it is not helped by the fact that as soon as they’ve worked on their opponent they retreat to the corner to retrieve the flag instead of focusing on finishing the job. The flags are a stupid distraction, unlike something like the Money In The Bank where all opponents are focused on a common goal.

The concept for this match is a dumb idea. There, I said it.

They botch what may have meant to be a leg drop from Cena that looks like it was supposed to be caught by Rusev and turned into a power bomb. A low point.

I think they kind of realise this and have a go at making it better. The intensity picks up, Rusev grabs his flag, there is some back and forth and Cena drops Rusev with an AA. Soon after Cena gets Rusev in an STF and he taps. It’s a flag match so that means nothing.

I’m bored.

Both flags are now out of their mounts and in the ring. I don’t care. Maybe if they get outside the ring things will pick up.

Kind of. Rusev gets flung into the steel steps, which always goes over well. Cena gets the flag halfway up the ramp but Rusev recovers and works Cena with the steel steps.

Nope. Still bored.

Am I being too harsh? Or is it because the previous matches have been so much better?

At the top of the ramp there’s some tables and it looks like this is going to be the turning point. All it takes is one big bump from a decent height through a table to wash away all the other boring back and forth. Now that I’m focused on the tables I’m keen to find out where this goes. I have no interest in the flags.

Rusev puts the accolade on Cena at the top of the ramp and I’m time travelling back to the 80’s watching the Iron Sheik put the camel clutch on Hulk Hogan.

Cena breaks, gets in a situation where Rusev tries to put him in the hold again, picks Rusev up, takes him to the top of the podium AA’s him through the tables and puts the flag in the slot.

Meh.

Winner: America, erm, I mean John Cena 

🍿🍿

 Cena jumps off the top rope towards Rusev

 

Side note: Am I the only one who is enjoying The Fashion X Files? This segment was a cliffhanger!

Mike Kanellis v Sami Zayn

Make and Maria Kanellis are annoying AF and Sami Zayn deserves better than to be matched against this clown. Kanellis beat Zayn in his debut last week so I’m hoping Sami ends this tonight and he doesn’t get sucked into a rubbish storyline with this couple. Because it will suck more than it has for the past few weeks.

If there’s one thing Zayn can do though it make his own storyline in the ring. If Kanellis can keep up this match could be decent. It does get off to a good start.

Kanellis is a good seller and seems to be able to hold his own. I guess when you have a stupid gimmick handed to you like he has you really do need to have some wrestling ability to make up for it.

I love it when Zayn gets acrobatic and airborne and he’s all over Kanellis halfway through the match. He executes a sweet dive over the ropes onto Kanellis who is stuck outside the ring, brings him in and repeats from the top rope, then follows up with a spectacular DDT. Maria intervenes and prevents an exploder but she’s thwarted when Zayn lands one shortly after then follows up with a Helluva kick and it’s game over.

Short and sweet.

Winner Sami Zayn 

🍿🍿🍿

 Zayn clotheslines Kanellis

 

Main Event Punjabi Prison Match for the WWE Title

Jinder Mahal v Randy Orton

As the Punjabi Prison descends around the ring it becomes abundantly clear that this is a fucking stupid idea. How the fuck is anyone supposed to even see what is going on in this match?

If you’re unfamiliar with how a Punjabi Prison match works. It’s basically a cage within a cage match. The winner is the person who escapes first.

I will be pissed if that person is Randy Orton whose entrance is actually more annoying than Nakamura’s. Just get to the ring mate.

Orton aside, I would be more pissed if I bought a ticket to this event because the people in the crowd cannot see shit with all that bamboo around the ring. It’s not as bad watching on TV of course, but you need the live crowd to be into it.

Both guys do a decent job in the early stages of the match and the added tension of the inside cage having four doors that can be opened for only sixty seconds at the request of the competitors helps. Sort of. Once the minute is up the door is locked for good. They can still climb over though.

They take their time with this one. For good reason. I can imagine it takes a lot of work to get a structure that huge into a venue so they’re hardly going to wrap this up in ten minutes. We’re in for a long match.

It’s also nice to know that I’m not alone with my preference for Mahal over Orton. A small “let’s go Jinder” chant starts in the crowd but is cut short when Orton lands a DDT on Mahal. Orton calls for the fourth and final door to open and lines Mahal up for an RKO but is unsuccessful. Randy eventually lands one but the Singh brothers appear from under the ring and pull Jinder out as the cage shuts behinds him, trapping Orton inside. This is actually a great twist!!!

Did I say one trick pony before? At least the pony’s cronies are tricky!

Mahal begins to climb but Orton in a rage climbs the inner structure super quick and gets to him in time. Orton is faced with a minor disadvantage because he has the Singh brothers to contend with now too. They’re only little guys though and he cleans them up and evens things out pretty quick.

Jinder gets his hands on a kendo stick and wails on Orton, Orton returns the favour. Randy is sporting some decent welts for his trouble, it’s not quite colour but it will do for now.

Orton climbs up, Samir Singh squeezes through the bars (he’s small enough to) scaling the other side to stop Orton which leads to Orton punching Singh in the head multiple times and dropping him fifteen feet off the top of the cage and through a table. “Holy shit, holy shit!”. Mahal has enough time to recover in the meantime and prevents Randy’s escape.

There seems to have been a lot of foreign objects smuggled into this prison, the Singh Brothers, kendo sticks and chairs. I’m sure there are more surprises though.

And right on cue The Great Khali shows up from obscurity to thwart Orton by choking him through the bars while Mahal climbs out. Cool!

Mahal makes it out, retains his title and the Great Khali is back! Rad! Mahal has more tricks than I thought!

I stand by my points about the Punjabi Prison concept though, it really is a logistics nightmare, and while to me it still is a gimmick that is easily bested by hell in a cell or just an ordinary cage, it would appear third time is a charm.

Winner: Jinder Mahal 

🍿🍿🍿

Khali raised Mahal's arm in victory

Overall not a bad event, although that tag team match really eclipsed everything that came after. I stand corrected. Battleground was half decent.

What do you think?

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