Hello all, I hope that you’ve all recovered (and I’d say recovered really is the word) from last week’s Battleground, because CHRIST. I’m stuck as to deciding which was the worst bit between the confusing ending of the Owens/Styles match, the disturbing nationalist overtones of the Flag match and literally every aspect, abstract and immediate, of the Punjabi Prison match.
So let’s just barrel past all of that and focus on the here and now, moving further and further away from it with every second which passes.
Drink it in, maaaaaaan….
The show starts with the entrance of the new United States Champ, your boy Kevin Owens. He gets a microphone and says that this all just feels right somehow: Kevin Owens as the United States Champion. He says that if you try hard and you have a good heart, then your dreams come true and you can beat AJ Styles. He says he wants to defend this Championship with honour, and so is going to reinstate the Kevin Owens United States Open Challenge…next week.
AJ Styles’ music plays and he makes his way down to the ring. At some point we really need to talk about the fact that there was no foul play when that referee got knocked down, which is just ridiculous in a professional wrestling environment. Owens yells for someone to cut the music, and tells Styles that he’d better be out here to congratulate him. Styles says nope: he’s here for the rematch.
Owens protests that he’s not defending the title against anyone tonight…
…and then Chris Jericho’s music hits and the crowd goes FUCKING MENTAL.
Y2J is back, along with the List of Jericho. He gets into the ring and welcomes us all to the return of Chris Jericho before telling Kevin Owens to be quiet. He reminds us all that Owens was the one who put him out, but now he’s back and he’s still owed a rematch for the United States Championship.
AJ and Chris get into a little spat about who gets the next title shot, and Chris asks if AJ Styles knows what happens to guys who try to cut in front of him. Meanwhile, Owens has just left quietly, wanting nothing to do with this. Jericho puts Styles on the list and then demands that Owens get back into the ring. Before Owens can exit, Shane McMahon arrives to try and commission this situation.
Shane tells Owens to stay put as this concerns him personally. He says that both Styles and Jericho are legitimately owed rematches, and the best way to make that happen will be in a Triple Threat match between the three of them…right here tonight!
Time for a Battleground rematch, and thankfully not one involving Jinder Mahal: it’s Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin. Nakamura flails his way down to the ring, followed by Baron Corbin his Big Blue Briefcase. Bell rings and we get down to it.
Nakamura wards Corbin off with some hard strikes, getting the better of the big man before running a knee into the man’s head as it hangs off the apron. Shinsuke seems super-pissed, and backs up for a run at Corbin before Baron takes his damn head off with a clothesline so hard it knocks us into a commercial break.
When we come back, it should come as no surprise that Shinsuke is at Corbin’s mercy. He’s locked in Baron’s half-chinlock, which he fights his way out of. He ducks a clothesline from Corbin, ducks a second one and dropkicks the big man before slamming hard, measured kicks into him. Corbin catches one of the kicks and slaps Shinsuke across the face. Big fucking mistake as it turns out, because Nakamura slams a kick into his chest so hard that Corbin just drops to the mat.
Nakamura hits knee after knee into Baron’s skull, then drapes him over the top turnbuckle before running another knee right into his stomach. A flying kick from the second rope nets Nakamura a near-fall, then Corbin ducks the Kinshasa before managing to catch the Artist with chokeslam-backbreaker for two. Baron hits his own volley of knees into Shinsuke’s ribs, then punches him into a corner.
Corbin charges; Nakamura dodges; Corbin slides out of the ring, back inside and tries to clothesline Shinsuke, who ducks but runs right into a Deep Six for another near-fall. Corbin tries for end of days, but Nakamura backflips out of it and beans Baron in the skull with a huge kick. Baron attempts another low blow, but this time Shinsuke’s wise to it, hitting another kick and a vicious knee before – mercifully – ending things with the Kinshasa.
Still surprising how nasty Nakamura can get, particularly when he can almost bully people as big as Corbin. This was a great, hard-hitting match and it makes sense that Shinsuke should win. 3 Stars.
Dasha is backstage with Naomi, asking her about Natalya’s upcoming title shot and her refusal to shake Naomi’s hand on Sunday. Naomi starts talking about disrespect, but then Natalya arrives and tells the Champ that she’s not one to talk about disrespect considering what she’s done to a WWE Championship, after everything that past wrestlers (but particularly the Harts) have done to establish the prestige of such titles.
Naomi replies that Natalya’s stuck in the past, whereas what she’s doing represents the future. Natalya leaves, taking her bullshit opinions about awesome customised title belts with her, and then Carmella arrives with her Money in the Bank Briefcase. She is apparently just there to remind Naomi that she exists, and once she’s accomplished that, she leaves.
Get yourself someone who stares at you the way Tamina stares at Lana
Charlotte and Becky Lynch make their entrances, teaming up tonight to take on Tamina and Lana. The heels arrive during the break, and Tamina lets Lana start off against Tamina. Becky immediately tries to apply the Disarmer, compelling Lana to employ the “scream and run away” tactic, tagging out to Tamina who just looks irked by this.
Tamina enters the ring and locks up with Becky before backing her into the ropes and shoving her. Becky shoves a bitch right back, goes for the Disarmer and then transitions into a roll-up. Tamina kicks out, getting up just in time to receive a kick to the chops and almost gets locked in the Disarmer again! Tamina busts out, drives Becky into the corner, takes a back elbow to the face and is finally able to slam Lynch down to the mat.
Oh, now Lana wants the tag. Tamina lets her have it, and the Ravishing Russian suplexes Becky for a two count before driving knees into her back. Becky tries to rally, but Lana slides out of a bodyslam attempt and drives the Lasskicker down to the mat. Tamina tags in, laying Becky low with a hard clothesline before smashing her head into the turnbuckle.
Becky rocks Tamina with a back elbow, then an enzuigiri, then gets the tag! Charlotte comes in hot, chopping the sweet fuck out of Tamina, who bumps for her like a champ. Knee to the head almost puts Tamina out, but the Samoan slides out of an attempted slam before superkicking Charlotte right in the chops. Lana tags herself in, eats a big boot and that is all she wrote.
So, Lana’s getting pushed with the young-learner character. This could honestly be good for her going forward. Tamina moved and sold really well here; Becky and Charlotte were naturally fantastic. 2.5 Stars.
Tamina screams at Lana for a bit, and this has “abusive partnership” written the whole fuck over it. At some point Rusev should probably take an interest in his wife’s professional life; they work in the same damn place, so it’s not like he’s unaware of this.
Anyone really miss Orton?
We get a look back at the Punjabi Prison match, in case you’re a glutton for that kind of punishment you sick freak. Then Jinder Mahal is introduced, walking out alone tonight.
Mahal says that on Sunday he crushed the legacy of Randy Orton and his own legend was born. He says that Orton underestimated him, and I think it’s fair to not expect that someone would bring the Great Khali back just to help them maintain a Championship. Now he demands a WWE Championship opponent for SummerSlam, and begins talking in Punjabi before John Cena’s music hits.
Oh good: this should be tasteful and inoffensive.
Cena sprints his little heart out down to the ring as Jinder prepares himself for the outpouring of mean-spirited racism that’s going to occur. He tells John Cena that he knows exactly what he’s going to say, but he wouldn’t be John Cena if he didn’t speak anyway.
Cena says that Jinder’s got him wrong: he’s out here to congratulate him because Jinder’s in amazing shape and he obviously cares about the WWE Championship. So, congratulations, and BTW he wants a title shot and Jinder can bring all the help he wants and it won’t be enough. Cena then leaves, point made.
To be honest, Cena only pronounced “maharajah” in a funny way and used the phrase “magic carpet” in this promo, which coming from him is an essay on equality.
Daniel Bryan arrives, because this should probably be Generally Managed. Bryan says that opportunities are earned on SmackDown, not just handed out. So, next week John Cena will face Shinsuke Nakamura in a number one contender’s match! Fuck yes: I don’t even care about the title match now.
Meanwhile, Shane McMahon is backstage and Kevin Owens arrives. Owens claims that this whole Triple Threat thing is total bullshit. Shane says that this isn’t about how he personally feels about Owens; this is for the WWE Universe so Owens is going to go out there and defend the that Championship.
Fuck you, true love
Adrian English is in the ring, singing his little socks off. Mike and Maria Kanellis arrive, fresh off their loss on Sunday. Sami Zayn makes his entrance, followed by Tye Dillinger.
English and Dillinger lock up, with English backing Tye into a corner. Tye catches a kick and chops English, following that up with a back elbow. He tags in Zayn as we go to a commercial break, and Sami must have fucked that up royally because when we come back he’s being held in a sleeper hold by English.
Kanellis tags in, sending Sami into the corner and clotheslining him. A running boot puts Zayn down. English tags in, stomping Zayn before Sami starts throwing hands. Zayn sends English through the ropes and tags in Tye! Dillinger sends English flying, and then does the same to Kanellis when the latter comes in off a blind tag. Ten punches hit Mike right before Tye lays English out with an axe handle.
Tye tags Sami in, then leaps off the top rope over both English and Kanellis. English runs at him and takes a kick to the face; Kanellis runs into the corner, turns around and eats a Helluva Kick from Zayn which ends the match.
Good, fast-paced match which will hopefully see both Zayn and Dillinger ascend the card. 2 Stars.
Meanwhile, the New Day tells us not to dare be sour, but are jumped by the Usos before they can even arrive. The beating is actually quite drawn-out and ugly; Big E tries to provide a hope spot for a second, but eats a pair of superkicks. Looks like this feud isn’t quite over.
Backstage, Renee Young is interviewing Shinsuke Nakamura, asking him about his potential WWE Championship opportunities. He says that Cena won’t be able to see him next week, which means that Nakamura will be seeing Jinder Mahal at SummerSlam.
Pretty good reason to bring Jericho back
But now it’s time for our Championship main event, and the three competitors make their way to the ring. Jericho and Styles immediately go after Owens, beating away at him until he slides out of the ring. Jericho then tries to catch Styles with some roll-ups, and the pair exchange fast pins until Owens barrels back in to put a stop to it. He hustles Styles out of the ring and then he and Jericho hurl themselves at each other. Jericho almost hits the Codebreaker, almost gets the Walls and then finally puts Owens down with a missile dropkick.
Styles tries to suplex Jericho, but Chris fights back until Styles knocks him off the apron. Owens leaps on Styles, beating him down on the mat and in the corners, throwing him into the turnbuckles with horrifying velocity. He stops to punch Jericho, then drops a back senton onto Styles.
Owens heads outside, stomping Jericho for a little bit, but the distraction costs him as Styles starts hammering him when he re-enters the ring. Owens regains control with a big back elbow, but Styles is able to catch him by surprise with the Calf-Crusher! Jericho’s suddenly in the ring and breaks up the submission with a Lionsault as we go to a break!
When we come back, Styles and Owens are in the ring. Styles hits stomps to Owens, then catches Jericho with a chop. Y2J backdrops AJ, then chops away at him in the corner before taking him up to the top rope. Owens catches up with them, and for a second it looks like we’re in for the tired suplex-powerbomb move, but then Jericho drops Styles off the top and counters Owens’ electric chair attempt with a try for the Walls of Jericho!
Owens counters, smacking Jericho damn hard in the mouth, then takes a punch from Styles who has perched himself on the apron. AJ low-bridges Owens out of the ring, then nails Jericho with his springboard 450; Owens throws Styles back out of the ring and covers Y2J for two! AJ pulls KO out and hurls him into the barricade before looking for the Styles Clash on Jericho, who turns it into the Walls! Owens tries to interfere; Jericho tries to put the Walls on him, but instead catapults him into Styles, knocking the Phenomenal One out of the ring!
Jericho finally locks Owens into the Walls in the centre of the ring, then suddenly breaks it to nail Styles with a Codebreaker for the near-fall! Y2J beats Styles to the ground, looks for the Lionsault but has his legs caught by Owens. The US Champ hits Cannonballs to both men, then gets smashed by a forearm from Styles, who takes an enzuigiri from Jericho, who eats a superkick from Owens, who gets taken out by a Pele Kick from Styles!
Styles is elevated onto the apron, goes to hit Jericho with the Phenomenal Forearm but is caught by Jericho’s springboard dropkick, knocking him off the ropes to the outside! Owens catches Y2J with a superkick, hits the Pop-Up Powerbomb, and Jericho kicks out! KO can’t believe it; he heads up to the top for the frog splash, and he hits it! Styles drags him off the cover, throwing him out of the ring before taking the cover from himself and winning the match!
Amazing: couldn’t have said who was going to win that one until the end. Some stuff we’ve either not seen before or for a long time. Incredible main event. 4 Stars.
Owens wrecks ringside and then grabs a microphone, yelling about how this isn’t fair. He tells AJ Styles that next week he wants a rematch for the title, one-on-one. Suits me.
Not much point in separating this into the Bad and the Good: all of tonight was really enjoyable from my perspective. Even the match involving Kanellis featured a Helluva Kick. The main event was fantastic; the set-up for matches next week has me seriously looking forward to that show, and we seem to be in high gear as SummerSlam approaches. No complaints at all. 10/10.
Tags: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, byron saxton, Carmella, Chad Gable, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, jbl, Jinder Mahal, John Cena, Kevin Owens, Lana, naomi, Natalya, Randy Orton, rusev, Shane McMahon, shinsuke nakamura, Singh Brothers, smackdown live, tamina, The Great Khali, The New Day, the usos, Tom Phillips