Legacy Arena
Birmingham, Alabama
July 18th, 2017
Commentators: Tom Phillips, John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield & Byron Saxton

Open: “It’s brutal, it’s unforgiving and it’s coming. Will Randy Orton be locked inside the Punjabi Prison just five days before Battleground?”

In The Arena: The Singh Brothers are on the stage and introduce us to WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, they make their way to the ring which has been surrounded by the Punjabi Prison and some ominous music plays as the outer structure drops down to the floor. The Maharaja calls for everyone to behold the structure, speaks about Sunday at Battleground and claims it will be the final resting place of Randy Orton’s legacy. The crowd breaks out with a “USA” chant, Jinder calls for silence, Sunil & Samir explaining the rules of the match. Mahal states that the most important rule of all is there are no disqualifications or count-outs, the arena fills with “Randy” chants, the champion vowing to smash Orton’s face until it is ugly like the nation he represents. The Maharaja says he will drag The Viper to the top of the prison, drive him all the way down with a Khallas and he will remain WWE Champion, then speaks in Punjabi to his people. Randy Orton walks out to the stage to interrupt, thinks Jinder is either the bravest man he’s ever met or he’s not all that bright, wondering why Mahal would choose to be locked in the prison with him. The Apex Predator states that takes away the champion’s advantage of The Singh Brothers, claims Sunil & Samir are the only reason he lost the title in the first place, then walks down to the aisle for a closer look at the structure. Orton tells The Maharaja there will be no escape at Battleground, no running or hiding, Randy starts to climb up the prison and informs Mahal that he has nothing to lose now. He continues scaling the Punjabi Prison, reminds the champion that he is the one with something to lose, says Jinder has the weight of an entire country on his shoulders, wondering what he will do when the 1.3 billion people in India consider him a disgrace. Orton gets to the top of the outer structure and takes a seat, looks down and vows that this is the view he will have at Battleground, claiming he will take back what is his.

Match #1: SmackDown Tag Team Champion Jimmy Uso w/Jey Uso vs. Kofi Kingston w/Big E & Xavier Woods
Collar & elbow tie-up to begin, Jimmy backs Kingston to the corner, looks for a right hand off the break, Kofi avoids it and puts the boots to him with numerous stomps. He lines Jimmy up and charges in with a basement dropkick, covers for a 2 count, twerks in Jimmy’s face, Jimmy rushes in near the ropes and deposits him to the floor. Kofi builds a head of steam for an outside dive, Jimmy ducks his head and Kingston puts on the brakes, bounces himself off the top rope for a somersault senton and takes him out on the way to break….We come back and Jimmy is now in control, hooks on a rear chinlock to grind Kingston down, Kofi fights back to a standing position and uses a jawbreaker to escape. Jimmy rebounds off the ropes for a kick, Kingston blocks it, spins him around, gets clocked by an enzuigiri and Jimmy gains a near fall. Kofi pulls himself to his feet in the corner, Jimmy charges in, gets planted by a standing double stomp, both guys stumble back to their feet, Kingston ducks a clothesline and starts building momentum with chops. He connects with a dropkick, hits the ropes for a leaping clothesline, goes back to the ropes and scores with the Boom Drop, then calls for Trouble In Paradise. Jimmy ducks under it, catches him on his shoulders, rams Kingston into the turnbuckles with a death valley driver, hooks the leg and still can’t put it away. Kofi staggers to his feet in the corner, Jimmy charges in again, Kingston slips out to the apron, surprises him with a kick and climbs to the top rope. Jimmy decks him with an uppercut, goes up for a superplex, Kofi blocks it, drops him back to the canvas and Jey hops to the apron to create a distraction. Kingston drops down to the apron, catches Jimmy with a shoulder to the breadbasket, goes back upstairs for a crossbody, Jimmy rolls through into a cover and steals the victory.
Winner: Jimmy Uso (Top Rope Crossbody Counter)

  • Off The Top: I have to say, I really dug the opening segment tonight. A lot of people have complained over doing another Punjabi Prison match because the others in the past weren’t great, but you have to remember they were completely different. This isn’t going to be Batista vs. The Great Khali or Big Show vs. The Undertaker, Orton & Jinder are completely different workers. Only a decent opening contest tonight with Jimmy stealing some momentum before The Usos defend the titles on Sunday. I’ve said all along it was only a matter of time before New Day won the championships and I think the loss here tonight sets them up to do that at Battleground.

Backstage: SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon is in his office with Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Tamina & Lana. Shane-O-Mac reminds us that we’re five days away from the Fatal 5-Way at Battleground to determine the #1 Contender, states he wants something for tonight and wonders who will give him a competitive match. Charlotte thinks the decision is easy after last week and wants to face Lana, Nattie calls The Queen delusional and claims she’s facing Lana tonight. Becky thinks if someone’s going to fight The Ravishing Russian then it’s her, Tamina proclaims that nobody is fighting Lana tonight and Natalya thinks Charlotte should fight Becky. The Queen says that’s not going to happen because Shane wants a competitive match, The Lass Kicker takes offense to that and they start bickering. The Commish thinks he’s found something and announces they will go one-on-one.

Video: Last night on RAW after weeks of questions surrounding General Manager Kurt Angle, the truth was finally revealed as Angle announced he had a son he wasn’t aware of. That son is of all things a WWE Superstar, Angle welcoming out Jason Jordan.

Backstage: Renee Young is sitting down with Chad Gable, Chad talks about how he was shocked to find out Jason Jordan is Kurt Angle’s son, speaks about how it’s changed his life too and knew something had been up for weeks. Gable says he accomplished a lot with Jordan including being SmackDown Tag Team Champions, supports Jordan moving to RAW and he’s got some ideas on what is next for him, stating that this is a great chance for everyone to see him on his own.

Match #2: Mike Kanellis w/Maria Kanellis vs. Sami Zayn
Kanellis comes in firing at the bell, Sami blocks a right hand and unloads with shots of his own, drives him head-first into the top turnbuckle, then scores with stinging chops. Zayn goes to the 2nd rope to rain down with fists, Kanellis rolls to the outside to take a breather, The Underdog from the Underground goes out after him, levels him with a clothesline, then deposits him back inside. Kanellis catches Sami coming back inside with kicks to the breadbasket, shoots him to the ropes, Zayn flattens him with another clothesline, then uses one more to send him over the top to the floor. The Underdog from the Underground steps out and drives Kanellis into the barricade, throws him into the ring and slides in, Kanellis is there to meet him with a barrage of shots, hits the ropes and runs into another clothesline. Sami tosses him into the turnbuckles with an exploder suplex, measures for the Helluva Kick, Maria comes inside, steps in front of her husband and the official argues with her to leave. Kanellis suckers Sami with a stiff right hand, delivers a Samoan Driver and picks the up the win.
Winner: Mike Kanellis (Samoan Driver)

  • Off The Top: I sure hope that this isn’t how Kanellis is going to be booked all the time, he’s much more talented in the ring than what we saw here. Hell, all he did was throw a few punches, get his ass kicked and hit a Samoan Driver. This can’t be the last we see of these two squaring off, especially with Maria helping Mike get the victory, so this smells like a late-minute addition to Battleground on Sunday.

In The Arena: John Cena heads down to the squared circle, The Leader of the Cenation talks about the WWE Universe being excited for Battleground, speaks about the matches we will see, but wonders what will be remembered. Cena claims people will remember the Flag Match, points out the Bulgarian flag in one corner and the US flag in another, the arena erupts with “USA” chants and he explains how to win the match. Cena states there’s more to it than that though, reminds us that Rusev continuously runs down the United States verbally, claiming everyone will remember either the flag us the USA waving in victory or that of Bulgaria. Cena says he’s aware there are a lot of people that don’t like him, thinks everyone loves the US flag and asks if it will fly at Battleground or fall. The Leader of the Cenation says it all rests on his shoulders, states that he’s ready and it’s not your typical match, talks about how the people will feel if he fails, but reiterates that he’s ready. He proclaims that the USA is a nation of fighters that stands up for what they believe in, another “USA” chant takes over the crowd and Cena says there’s a reason they proudly chant that, reminding us of all the times we went to war, but in the end our flag flew high. He climbs to the top turnbuckle and takes down the American flag, holds it in the air and vows that it will fly high this Sunday. Rusev hops the barricade and slides into the ring, blindsides Cena, drills him with a superkick, then locks on The Accolade. The Leader of the Cenation powers to his feet with Rusev on his back, drives him into the corner to try and break free, The Bulgarian Brute grinds him back down, Cena tries one more time, but fades out. Rusev climbs up to retrieve the Bulgarian flag, holds it in the air and walks up to the stage, securing it in the same manner needed to win at Battleground.

Backstage: WWE United States Champion AJ Styles is in the locker room when Shinsuke Nakamura walks in, The Phenomenal One wondering if he wants to talk strategy. Nakamura doesn’t give an answer, Styles asks if he wants to reminisce about Japan, Shinsuke spots the US Title and stares at it. The King of Strong Styles tells AJ that one day when Styles calls, he will answer, then takes his leave.

Match #3: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair
has joined commentary for this contest. They go in for a lock-up and Becky picks the arm, brings Charlotte down with a top wristlock, The Queen kicks her away and we have a stalemate. Collar & elbow tie-up now, The Lass Kicker grabs a side headlock, takes Flair to the canvas, Charlotte rolls through and gains a side headlock of her own, Lynch working back to her feet. She backs The Queen to the ropes and reverses to another side headlock, gets pushed off into the ropes, Charlotte drops down, leapfrogs over, Becky somersaults over her and we have another stalemate. Flair rushes Lynch near the ropes, gets caught by multiple arm drags, The Lass Kicker connects with a dropkick and Charlotte regroups. Becky offers a handshake, The Queen hits the ropes, counters a back elbow to whip her to the corner, The Lass Kicker reverses, Charlotte hops up-and-over her, then back handsprings to her feet. Lynch rushes in for a clothesline, Flair ducks under it, stacks her up with a bridge for a count of 2, grabs a waistlock and pushes Becky to the ropes for a roll-up, but The Lass Kicker hangs on to avoid it. She charges Charlotte and tilt-a-whirls into a Dis-Arm-Her attempt, The Queen breaks away, rolls to the floor and we go to commercial….Back from the break and Lynch sends Charlotte back into the ring, The Queen clobbers Becky coming in with a right hand, they exchange shots and Flair gets the better of it with stinging chops. She shoots The Lass Kicker to the corner, delivers another chop off the rebound, hits the ropes for a kick to the jaw, follows with a knee drop and gets 2 as SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi watches from the back. Charlotte goes for the Figure Eight and gets tossed away to the corner, Becky rushes in, The Queen side-steps out of harm’s way, The Lass Kicker springs to the 2nd rope and flies off with a forearm. She drops Flair with a leg lariat, buries a kick to the midsection, throws her with the Bexploder and The Queen pulls herself to her feet in the corner. Lynch charges in with a Flying Firearm for a near fall, wants to slap on the Dis-Arm-Her, Charlotte rolls out of it, cuts her down at the knee, then hits the ropes for Natural Selection. The Lass Kicker counters for the Dis-Arm-Her, Flair reverses to a roll-up that almost finishes it, both ladies pop back up quick and Lynch gets dropped by a big boot for a 2 count. The Queen climbs to the top rope for a moonsault, Becky avoids it, locks on the Dis-Arm-Her, Charlotte reaches the bottom rope, but gets dragged back to the middle of the ring and taps.
Winner: Becky Lynch (Dis-Arm-Her)

  • Post-Match: Charlotte staggers back to her feet, Becky offers a handshake and The Queen accepts it. Tamina & Lana march down to the ring, Nattie slides in from behind, ambushes Charlotte from behind and dumps her to the outside. Tamina & Lana work over Becky and send her to the floor, The Queen of Harts goes after Tamina, but Lana pulls her off. The Ravishing Russian puts the bad-mouth on Nattie, Tamina spins her around, connects with a Superkick, then stares down Lana as she makes her way to the back.
  • Off The Top: Awesome, technically sound women’s match here. I see a lot of people complaining that Charlotte always seems to be involved in the important women’s storylines and matches, but I don’t know how anyone can say she isn’t the best and most over female the WWE has. As for Sunday, I’ve always said that the big match for SummerSlam should be Naomi vs. Charlotte and I still feel that way, so I look at the loss here to Becky as a way for WWE to run a “misdirection” if you will.

Backstage: Renee Young welcomes in SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi, The Glow Queen says she won’t be defending her title at Battleground, but she will be the first in the ring to congratulate her #1 Contender. Naomi states SummerSlam could be her biggest challenge, but she’s not in WWE to run and will take the fight to anyone who steps up. Carmella walks in holding her Money In The Bank briefcase up, reminds Naomi that she will be anywhere the champion is and takes her leave.

Backstage: It’s time for an edition of The Fashion X-Files, Breezango looking at their suspect board and Breeze thinks they need to get real because there’s no such thing as ghosts or aliens. Fandango wonders if it could be the Illuminati, we hear a voice coming from the other room and they look to see that it’s Aiden English warming up his voice. A light appears from above and a delivery guy walks in, The Lord of the Dance mistakes him for an alien, but the guy says he’s just dropping off a package and turned the light on. They sign for it and Prince Pretty looks inside, Fandango pulls out a severed stick-horse head, Breeze finding a note that says “Battleground”.

Backstage: Drew Gulak speaks of his match on 205 Live tonight against Mustafa Ali, vows to prove that his mat-based style will persevere in trying times. Drew claims he will ground Mustafa for good in a 2/3 Falls match.

Match #4: WWE United States Champion AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin & Kevin Owens
Corbin tries to ambush Nakamura as he makes his entrance, Shinsuke feels it coming, The Prize Fighter runs out to lend a hand, but here comes Styles to even the odds as we go to our final break….We return and the match is already underway, The Lone Wolf puts the boots to AJ, buries a knee to the breadbasket and chokes him over the bottom rope. He makes a tag and slides to the floor, rocks The Phenomenal One with a right hand, Owens stomps away at the champion, clobbers him with heavy right hands and hits the ropes. AJ surprises KO with a dropkick, stumbles to his corner to tag out, The Artist unloads on Owens with strikes in the corner, then delivers Good Vibrations. The Prize Fighter picks the leg, gets drilled by an enzuigiri, Nakamura snapmares him over for a knee drop, then tries to whip him to the ropes. KO reverses and Corbin low-bridges the top rope, Styles tries to come in and distracts the official, Shinsuke spills to the floor, Baron rolls him back inside and Owens scores with a senton for a 2 count. He drives The King of Strong Style head-first into the top turnbuckle, The Lone Wolf tags back in, batters Shinsuke with boots in the corner, then brings KO back in. The Prize Fighter stomps away at Nakamura in the corner, Corbin re-enters the match, drags The Artist up and gets caught by rights and lefts to the abdomen. Shinsuke hits the ropes and gets caught in a bearhug, begins to fight out of it, The Lone Wolf goes downstairs with a knee, charges in near the corner, Nakamura side-steps him, Baron slides out-and-in for a clothesline, Shinsuke ducks it and drops him with a single-leg dropkick. The Artist reaches for a tag and gets ripped to the mat by the hair, The Lone Wolf knocks Styles off the apron with a cheap shot, turns back to Nakamura and gets pelted by a flurry of kicks. The King of Strong Style looks to shoot him to the corner, Baron reverses and follows in, Shinsuke avoids him, planks Corbin across the top in the corner, then decks Owens off the apron with a kick. The Lone Wolf finds his footing, surprises Nakamura running in with Deep Six and covers, Styles is there to break the count at 2, but Baron unleashes a barrage of forearms on The Artist. He hauls Shinsuke up and sets for End Of Days, The King of Strong Style reverses out for a kick, looks for a roundhouse that’s off the mark, but brings his other leg around for a spinning wheel kick. Both guys crawl to tags and Styles ducks a clothesline from Owens, takes him down with a double leg, peppers The Prize Fighter with stiff right hands, blocks a clothesline and connects with the Phenomenal Blitz. He hits the ropes for a sliding forearm that gets a count of 2, lines up KO in the corner for a splash, nobody’s home, Owens attempts a clothesline that misses the mark, getting planted by a back suplex facebuster. The Phenomenal One sits on top and finds another near fall, muscles The Prize Fighter up for the Ushigoroshi, can’t lift him and gets turned inside-out with a clothesline. The Lone Wolf tags in and rushes Styles in the corner, AJ tries to roll him up with the Calf Crusher, Corbin blocks it, launches him across the ring and lifts him over his shoulder. The Phenomenal One slides out and locks on the Calf Crusher, Baron crawls to the bottom rope to force the break, pulls himself to his feet in the corner, then elevates AJ charging in over the top. The Phenomenal One lands on his feet, rocks Baron with a right hand, gets in position for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Owens takes him out at the legs from the floor. Nakamura comes around ringside and brings the fight to KO, Corbin rolls outside, dumps Shinsuke over the barricade into the timekeeper’s area, then slides into the squared circle. He hooks AJ for End Of Days, The Phenomenal One flips out of it, connects with an enzuigiri, ducks a clothesline and scores with a Pele Kick. Corbin stumbles to his corner and Owens makes a blind tag, AJ hooks Baron for the Style Clash, The Prize Fighter clocks him with a superkick, then sends him to the ropes and puts it away with a Pop-Up Powerbomb.
Winners: Baron Corbin & Kevin Owens (Owens/Pop-Up Powerbomb)

  • Off The Top: I found our main event tonight to just be solid and nothing overly exciting as we get a preview of Battleground with this tag team bout. This is the second week in a row we got AJ vs. Owens in some type of tag scenario, so I’m wondering if the idea well is running dry heading into Battleground. We all know SummerSlam is around the corner and that’s been the focus of RAW the last couple of weeks, so next week’s SmackDown Live will probably rush us right into the build for that. I don’t expect anything too crazy from these guys on Sunday, I think Styles retains and moves onto a big match at the annual summer event, likely against someone like Cena. As for Baron & Nakamura, I think Shinsuke is bulletproof and it would do a lot for Corbin to go over, but I’m not convinced that’s how it plays out.