Your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE BATTLEGROUND 2017

In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead.

Last time on SO OF COURSE…balls!

Meanwhile on Smackdown….

What’s happened to Smackdown?

Raw suddenly has turned into a pretty good show (notwithstanding certain storylines…) while Smackdown has been spinning its wheels for the better part of two months. Actually, if we’re being honest, Raw is not that good either, but it’s main-event scene is straight fire right now and that makes all the difference. So what’s going on with Smackdown? If only I could remember what happened two months ago that might explain the blue show’s sudden nosedive…

What could be the explanation?

I’m at a total loss.

It’s not as if there’s any evidence Vince McMahon is suddenly more engaged in the product, in an effort secure WWE Network subscribers in some particular overseas market….But which market?

There are so many…it could be any of them.

Oh well.

Now we come to July, the month before SummerSlam and Smackdown’s last chance to reset the table before putting on their best pair of pants and dancing on the second biggest stage of the year. What does the show have cooking? Rematches, rematches, throw-away nothingburgers, and rematches.

It’s like Raw has sucked Smackdown’s soul in order to recharge its own creative batteries.

So here we are, in a fit of frustration mingled with the beginning stages of apathy to bring you this, your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE BATTLEBOWL JUST KIDDING THAT’S TOO CLEVER A NAME HOW ‘BOUT SOMETHING MORE BORING LIKE BATTLEGROUND!

Remember Battlebowl? What a weird show. Ric Flair and Steve Austin teamed up against 2 Cold Scorpio and something called a “Maxx Payne.”

WCW, man.

Anyway, on to the show…and let’s keep it pithy. If WWE doesn’t want to book an original card, there’s no need to waste three-thousand words on it; those semi-colons are a finite commodity. Like helium.

THE USOS vs NEW DAY

Take it away Wikipedia!

At Money in the Bank, The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston with Xavier Woods) defeated SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso) by count-out, thus The Usos retained. On the following episode of SmackDown, The New Day taunted how The Usos backed out of the match and Big E defeated Jimmy. The following week, after The Usos defeated The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder), preventing them from becoming the number one contenders, The New Day confronted and challenged The Usos to another title match at Battleground, and The Usos accepted. On the July 4 episode, The New Day and The Usos had a rap battle hosted by Wale. The New Day won after The Usos took offense and attacked The New Day. Over the next two weeks, the teams traded wins in singles matches where Woods defeated Jey and Jimmy defeated Kingston.

Wait…what’s this now?

On the July 4 episode, The New Day and The Usos had a rap battle hosted by Wale. The New Day won after The Usos took offense and attacked The New Day

That’s not how rap battles work.

Last month the Usos retained the Tag Titles in the cheapest way possible: Rolling out of the ring and walking away. They were disqualified but of course retained their titles. Again, it’s a cheap finish for the audience but if it is used as a foundation to build something then it’s excusable. Say for example the rematch were a no-disqualification match, then the audience would feel like actions have consequences and that we’ve moved from point-A to point-B in the story. And then in the no-DQ match the Usos would cheat to retain the titles and get away with it since it’s no-DQ. That would set up the big blowoff match at SummerSlam where the babyface team would ultimately triumph: A-to-B-to-C. Simple as that.

Except no: The rematch here is just a rematch. No stipulations or anything. Which means one of three things will happen:

1) New Day will win the titles, making last month’s finish a turd in the punchbowl for no reason

2) Usos will cheat again to retain the titles, making this months’ finish merely a repeat of last months’ turd in the punchbowl

3) Usos will win clean, making last month’s finish a turd in the punchbowl for no reason AND make the babyfaces look like goobers on top of it all

There’s nothing that can be done to salvage things, so let’s go with the best possible outcome available: New Day wins and we get a Breezango vs New Day feud heading into SummerSlam. Throw the Usos in there too if you want, that’s fine.

SO OF COURSE!

SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs BARON CORBIN

Take it away Wikipedia!

At Money in the Bank, as Shinsuke Nakamura was making his entrance for the titular Money in the Bank ladder match, he was attacked from behind by Baron Corbin, which took Nakamura out for a majority of the match; Corbin ultimately won and received a contract for a WWE Championship match. On the June 27 episode of SmackDown, after witnessing Corbin defeat Sami Zayn, interviewer Dasha Fuentes asked Nakamura if he would like a one-on-one match with Mr. Money in the Bank. Nakamura replied that although Corbin was dangerous, he was afraid of Nakamura. Backstage the following week, as Fuentes was about to have another interview with Nakamura, Corbin attacked Nakamura with his Money in the Bank briefcase and said that he was not scared of Nakamura. The two were set to have a match on the July 11 episode, but the two fought before the match, and their match was rescheduled for Battleground. The following week, Nakamura teamed up with AJ Styles to face Corbin and Kevin Owens. As Nakamura made his entrance, he was attacked from behind by Corbin, and he and Owens defeated Nakamura and Styles.

Well now this is how you book a feud. You take one babyface who is proven to be lethal and pit him against a heel who has shown the ability to be lethal but who prefers to take shortcuts to get his victories (which is a great heel trope that Triple H did so well in the Attitude Era). Have them cross paths in various ways without the babyface ever getting a clear upperhand and then build to a PPV match where you’d think a clean resolution would occur.

That’s good, simple booking.

All signs, therefore, point to Naka getting the W and that’s fine except for the fact that Corbin is Mr. Money in the Bank. And while it’s expected that the MITB holder will lose every match between now and his successful cash-in, that doesn’t mean I’m supposed to like it. Nevertheless that’s where we are: Corbin loses because he has the MITB briefcase, and the MITB briefcase is a reverse-monkey’s paw that causes you to suck until it finally grants your wish and gives you what you want. Naka gets the win but Corbin wins the gold (not on Sunday though…more likely September).

SO OF COURSE!

AJ STYLES vs KEVIN OWENS

Wikipedia?

On the June 20 episode of SmackDown, then-United States Champion Kevin Owens issued a U.S. Championship Open Challenge to any local competitor. AJ Styles came out to accept the challenge, but Owens denied him since Styles was not from Dayton, Ohio. American Alpha’s Chad Gable then answered the challenge, claiming he had moved to Dayton “[that] morning”, but Owens retained in the ensuing match. The following week, Styles confronted General Manager Daniel Bryan and said that Owens did not know what an Open Challenge was. Owens interrupted and said that Styles was complaining. Bryan then said that when John Cena hosted the U.S. Championship Open Challenge, it was open to anyone. Bryan decided that for the July 4 episode of SmackDown, there would be an Independence Day Battle Royal, where the winner would face Owens for the United States Championship at Battleground. That episode, Styles defeated Gable to qualify for the battle royal and subsequently won the battle royal. After Styles’ victory, Owens, who was seated at ringside, attacked Styles, but Styles fought him off and posed with the title belt. Three days later, despite becoming the number one contender for the title at Battleground, Styles faced Owens at a WWE live event in Madison Square Garden and defeated him to win the United States Championship. On the following episode of SmackDown, the new champion issued his own U.S. Championship Open Challenge, which was accepted by Cena. Before the match could occur, however, Owens and Rusev confronted and attacked both Cena and Styles. Styles and Cena defeated Owens and Rusev in a tag team match, and Owens invoked his championship rematch for Battleground. The following week, Styles teamed up with Shinsuke Nakamura, but lost to Owens and Baron Corbin.

Obviously the big story here is Styles winning the US Title at a house show recently, but there are two points that need to be remembered: In the first place, it wasn’t just any house show; it was Madison Square Garden, WWE’s home field. If you’re going to win a title anywhere in WWE, winning it there is aces. In the second place, the title-change only happened because Vince freaked out that MSG was not sold out for a WWE show, so he booked a title-change simply to remind fans that “anything can happen at live events!”

So no, Kevin Owens is not in the dog house, and no Kevin Owens is not suddenly about to jump to the main-event.

The fact is, who holds what titles mean very little to WWE anymore. This feud will continue just like it always had, except the belt will be on someone else’s waist. If Owens wins on Sunday it’ll be because he was always going to win on Sunday and the belt will just change waists with little fanfare. If Styles retains on Sunday it’ll be because he was always supposed to win the title at the PPV and Vince just jumped the gun for a short-term gain (wouldn’t be the first time).

Not to go all nihilistic, but nothing matters.

SO OF COURSE!

CHARLOTTE vs BECKY LYNCH vs NATALIA vs TAMINA vs LANA

Wiki!

At Money in the Bank, Naomi defeated Lana to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship, and again in two back-to-back rematches on SmackDown. On the July 11 episode, Naomi confronted Commissioner Shane McMahon about who her next opponent would be. Charlotte Flair interrupted and said that she should be the next challenger, followed by Becky Lynch, Tamina, Natalya, and Lana. Shane decided that at Battleground, the five would face each other in a fatal five-way elimination match to determine the number one contender for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam…Naomi said that besides Lana, whoever wins at Battleground could be her toughest challenge at SummerSlam. She was then interrupted by Carmella, who had won the Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match to earn a SmackDown Women’s Championship match contract. Carmella said that wherever Naomi goes, she goes, and teased that she may cash in her Money in the Bank briefcase against Naomi at Battleground.

Uh…what’s that last part again?

Carmella said that wherever Naomi goes, she goes, and teased that she may cash in her Money in the Bank briefcase against Naomi at Battleground.

*check’s script*

Naomi isn’t even booked for Battleground.

What’s Carmella going to do? Is she going to attack Naomi when she comes out onto the ramp, post-match, to have the obligatory “champ goes onto the ramp to hold the title up and taunt the new challenger” stare-down, and then cash-in and win the title, thus setting up a triple threat match at SummerSlam between Carmella, Naomi and the winner of this #1 Contenders match, Becky Lynch, allowing for the one moment everyone is excited to see (Becky Lynch breaking James Ellsworth’s arm) while Carmella steals a rollup victory over Naomi, setting up the big Carmella (w/ Ellsworth) vs Becky Lynch match that the whole division seems to have been building to for months at the September PPV (WWE Shake, Rattle and Roll)?

SO OF COURSE!

JOHN CENA vs RUSEV

Thus saith Wikipedia:

After WrestleMania 33, John Cena went on a hiatus from WWE to film the second season of the television series American Grit. On the June 6 episode of SmackDown, it was announced that Cena would make his return to the SmackDown brand on the July 4 episode. However, on Raw the following week, it was announced that Cena was a free agent, and had become a free agent during the 2017 WWE Superstar Shake-up. Also during the Superstar Shake-up, Rusev was moved to the SmackDown brand, but at the time, he was out for a shoulder injury that required surgery. Since then, he appeared in a couple of WWE.com videos demanding a WWE Championship match at Money in the Bank, but was not granted his request. On the July 4 episode of SmackDown, Cena made his return…He was then interrupted by Rusev, making his first appearance for the SmackDown brand. Rusev complained that he did not receive any commercials for his eventual return, unlike Cena, who did. He said that the “American Dream” and the United States were a joke, after which, Cena challenged Rusev to a flag match. Rusev accepted and General Manager Daniel Bryan scheduled the match for Battleground.

Poor Rusev. Poor stupid Rusev.

There are things you just don’t do, and being a foreigner on Independence Day within a ten-mile radius of John Cena is a colossal no-no. A flag match between Cena and a foreigner is about the most obvious thing you can do on the 4th of July, so of course (!) they decided merely to announce a flag match for Battleground, three weeks after ‘merica has got its extra dose of jingo out of its system.

The only thing more guaranteed than a Cena victory over Rusev is a Cena victory over Bray Wyatt, and since Bray Wyatt isn’t here, it’s curtains for Rusev. This feels like a one-and-done feud for Cena, so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here and who his SummerSlam opponent will be. There are a lot of options and possibilities. The only thing that is certain is Cena crushing Rusev’s soul.

SO OF COURSE!

JINDER MAHAL vs RANDY ORTON

Wikipedia recapping this feud like:

At Money in the Bank, Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton to retain the WWE Championship. On the following episode of SmackDown, Orton explained in a sit-down interview that he lost focus after The Singh Brothers (Samir and Sunil Singh) attempted to attack his father, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, who was seated at ringside for the match. He said that he understood having allies, referencing his time in Evolution, The Legacy, and The Authority, but he would not tolerate people disrespecting his family. He said that he was no longer concerned with becoming a fourteen-time world champion, he only wanted to hurt Mahal. Later that night after Mahal defeated Luke Harper, Orton attacked The Singh Brothers, and then Mahal, who escaped into the crowd. The following week, Orton said that he wanted a rematch for the title and that if he did not receive it, he would continue to attack Mahal anywhere he saw him. Commissioner Shane McMahon, who sympathized with Orton over Mahal and The Singh Brothers disrespecting his family, gave Orton a title rematch at Battleground, but allowed Mahal to choose the stipulation. Mahal came out and chose a Punjabi Prison match, made famous by The Great Khali, marking the third Punjabi Prison match in WWE history and the first since 2007. On the July 4 episode, Orton said that he would punish Mahal in the Punjabi Prison match. Mahal responded and said that he would be bringing the Punjabi Prison to SmackDown the following week. That episode, while inside of the Punjabi Prison, The Singh Brothers explained the rules of the match while Mahal said that there would be no escape for Orton. Orton then came out and said that since the two of them would locked in the prison, Mahal would not be able to have help from The Singh Brothers, who were the reason why Mahal won the title and subsequently retained it beforehand.

Me recapping this feud like:

Round three in this feud has two options: It can go the way round two went (which is to say, the way round one went…with Orton dominating before losing suddenly after mild interference) or it can go a different way, with Orton winning the title. So our options are either Jinder Mahal continues being WWE Champion or Randy Orton returns to being WWE Champion.

Stop the ride please I want to get off.

At least their third match has a goofy stipulation behind it, which will make it at least worth checking out on Youtube the next day. If you haven’t been watching, Orton and Mahal will go at it in a PUNJABI PRISON MATCH, aka a “Bamboo Box Bruhaha.”

Pictured below:

Yes that is a lot of bamboo.

No you’re not supposed to be able to see what happens in the ring.

Why would you want to watch Orton vs Mahal again? WWE is doing you a favour.

Just switch to Game of Thrones and wait for the whole thing to blow over.

SO OF COURSE!

Oh well there’s always…Raw? That doesn’t sound right.

Here’s to Sunday!

~

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