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Battleground 2017 RunDown: 'Muricah, F*ck Yeah!


Can you feel the xenophobia now, Mr. Krabs? It’s predictions time once again and this time, the Blue Brand will be front and center as they host this year’s Great American Bash Battleground! Now you may be wondering why I skipped this week’s edition of SmackDown RunDown Live. Simply put, this week’s show is boring af. And seriously, do you want to see me make fun of Jinder Mahal twice this week? Think of me as hitting two patriotic eagles with one foreign-looking stone. Yeah, that analogy sounds good to me. So, Battleground, who ya got?


Punjabi Prison Match for the WWE Championship
Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal (c)




Welp, this is it, you guys. The final chapter of the Orton-Mahal saga. They almost got me hooked with this storyline and I was almost willing to give Jinder Mahal the credit for being a good heel, then they ruined it by booking this match. I don’t want to repeat my rant on why I think this stipulation sucks balls so let’s just pretend I’m in for the ride. Are you all still high on Jinder being the WWE Champion? I tried to give him a chance, really, but the only thing the guy improved in himself aside from his aggressive wrestling style was the hoarseness of his stupid voice. It’s like he’s not even trying anymore. He’s a one dimensional character cutting the same type of promo week after week and the latest episode of SmackDown Live was no different. Bringing the Punjabi Cage literally did nothing to hype the crowd up. He has added nothing to the prestige of the WWE Championship so why are we keeping the title on his waist again? Oh, right, business.


Who will escape the Punjabi Prison? I want Randy Orton to win so bad. He’s not really my first choice to become the top guy, but at least he can pull off the role and we can finally start respecting the world title again. But alas, business speaks louder than logic and proper storytelling in the house that Vince McMahon built so expect Jinder Mahal to somehow find a way and escape the stupid prison structure. With that being aside, I’d like to talk to Jinder using the language of my people. Boooo, wag ka nga diyan Jinder ampota, hindi ka naman magaling potek bakit ka naging tsampyon?! Para kang may asthma, balik ka na sa India pakshet men! Mukha mo parang natatae lagi. John Cena pa rin ulol! Oh, I’m sorry, did you have a hard time reading that last bit? That inconvenience you just experienced is the visual equivalent of listening to your pathetic promos. *mic drop*


Flag Match for the pride of their nation, apparently
John Cena vs. Rusev




Why does it have to be a flag match? Why does it have to be Rusev? Why did they have to build the story up like it’s a national pride thing? Why did they have to push Rusev’s return sooner only for him to be fed to John Cena? Why did Cena deliver that passionate but clearly out-of-place promo this week where he talked about how he wants to passionately make love with America or somewhere between those lines? Did he really have to bring up 9/11 just to sell this match? Why couldn’t they just have a regular one-on-one match under the pretense of Rusev’s return being overshadowed by Cena’s return so we can at least get behind with this storyline and not feel uncomfortable about trumping one’s country? What did Rusev’s country do to Cena’s country to merit this type of match? What, I’m just asking.


Who will wave the flag to victory? Let’s see. The PPV will be held in America, majority of the crowd will be American, the company is as American as it gets, the biggest star of the company is American, and the match involves waving the American flag to win. Sure, let’s expect the guy from Bulgaria to win. John Cena will obviously fly over our good friend RuRu. Although, and this would be too risky, imagine the heat Rusev will receive as he waves the Bulgarian flag to end the match. That would totally up his game and bring his Bulgarian ass to the top, but of course, we all know WWE doesn’t even have the ball sack to swerve the country it lives in.


United States Championship Match
Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles (c)




Seeing how this PPV seems to be focusing on the old red, white, and blue, I would be pissed if this match didn’t get the main event spot. If WWE’s going to mold this show around the fact that America is the goddamn paradise of the world, they better crank the Xenophobia up to 911 and have the country’s top prize be defended to close the show (and also, AJ Styles in the main event is always delightful). Expect another explosive encounter between the two bona fide superstars. The ending sequence of this week’s tag team main event should be a preview of what’s in store for us on Monday (Manila time). I’m calling it: match of the night and main event spot. Mark my words!


Who will walk out as the Face of America? At this point, AJ Styles should have a lengthy reign as the U.S. Champion. KO’s Face of America gimmick obviously didn’t work so let’s give the title to a mega-babyface to further establish the title as the standard for greatness. Plus, with Styles carrying the belt, we’ll witness the return of the U.S. Open Challenge! So that’s nice. I can’t wait to see Styles defend his gold against the likes of Tye Dillinger, Chad Gable, and hey, let’s give Luke Harper a chance, too. Let’s take a break from the Kevin Owens smugness because I’m starting to get tired of his act for some reason.


Five-Way Elimination Match for the #1 contendership to the SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Tamina vs. Lana




Don’t you just love five-way matches? I’m still waiting for the return of the Championship Scramble, but for now, we’ll have to settle with elimination matches. I also love the fact that here on SmackDown Live, no woman is left behind. Take the unexpected match-up between the babyfaces of the women’s division, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. It’s nice to have Becky Lynch grab wins from time to time. We also witnessed the how Tamina and Lana ganged up on everyone and I’m just glad the Welcoming Committee is finally no more. Also, can we talk about the great work they’re doing with Lana? She gets to be an interesting character since every woman in the roster wants a match with her because she’s easy to beat but Tamina wants to protect her, forming a rather intriguing team in the process. Isn’t that neat? Who knows, maybe she’ll learn a thing or two from the second-generation Superstar.


Who will face Naomi at SummerSlam? So among the five competitors, who should Naomi face at the biggest party of the summer? My money goes to Charlotte Flair. We have yet to see a conclusion from their brewing rivalry a few months ago, so having their rematch in the second biggest stage of all will be amazing. Plus, if they are planning to give Carmella her crowning moment at SummerSlam, she needs to cash her briefcase to a beaten up babyface. Both Naomi and Charlotte could fit that role like a glove and we could either get a Carmella vs. Naomi program to last the rest of the year or have a triple threat spectacle for a few months.


Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura




I really should be more hyped about this match. Hell, it has Shinsuke Nakamura in it. Corbin too, I like Baron Corbin as the brand’s top big guy. For some reason, I’m not that interested to see this match unfold. I’m not saying it will be a bad match, it’s just that their storyline failed to grab my interest. If they want Baron Corbin to stay low-key in order to make his eventual cash-in more impactful, don’t pair him with the overly popular Nakamura. Likewise, if they want to keep Nak’s stock high before he eventually receives a title shot, don’t make him eat the rising star in the form of Baron Corbin alive. I don’t think both men will benefit from a victory here, they’ll just end up stealing the momentum of the other.


Who will walk out from this physical rivalry? But since the match is booked anyway, I’ll just go ahead and choose Shinsuke Nakamura as my bet for this match. It’s a good way to close this rivalry for the books. Corbin’s vicious attack on Nakamura back at MITB must be avenged for both men to move on from this storyline. Sure, it will derail Corbin’s momentum for the meantime, but I guess that would give him some time to stay under the radar. Maybe we can have Nakamura kayfabe-injure Corbin a bit so he has to stay off TV for just a few weeks.  


SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
New Day vs. The Usos (c)




Now that I think about it, SmackDown Live’s tag team division had lost its depth following the departure of Jason Jordan to become Kurt Angle’s long lost son. Sweet gig, if you ask me. Now that American Alpha is no more, we only have six teams on the tag division. And with the Hype Bros teasing a break-up in the near future, we’ll only be left with five teams, only three of them are prominent enough to be part of something meaningful. So yeah, the Blue Brand needs to reset the tag team division, stat and there’s a quick way they can do that. It’s rather simple.


Who will claim the silver gold? Let the New Day claim the titles from the twins since Creative already did their job in losing their steam. And once the New Day is done with the Usos, how about letting other teams be in line for a title shot? We can give the Ascension the same treatment they gave to Breezango by making them a credible team, minus the silly skits, of course. We can also introduce new tag teams. Whoever attacked Breezango must at least be prominent enough for them to have a successful pay-off at Battleground.


Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis w/ Maria Kanellis




I really thought there’s something more with the whole Power of Love gimmick the Kanellises have the day they entered the WWE. Turns out, they’re just a copy-paste version of Miz and Maryse, only a bit cheesier and less charismatic. Check it, a couple who doesn’t shy away from a little SFW PDA? Check. The woman distracting the referee? Check. The guy is named Mike? Check, check, and checkaroo. Mike’s underwhelming in-ring debut is the only proof you need. His finisher is a Dana Brooke Driver, people. How generic can you get? I do like the small wrinkle of Mike being the submissive one. There’s a glimmer of interest I have for this act, but still not enough to be invested. Remember when we wanted to pirate Sami Zayn because we thought SmackDown Live can give him the upper midcard treatment he deserves? Yeah, we were wrong on that one.


Who will make a statement on Battleground? If this is the Power of Love in its entirety, let’s just give Sami Zayn the victory and let him actually do something more than this. He lost so much momentum ever since he got pinned by Jinder Mahal, of all people, a few months ago. Let’s actually use this guy to his full potential. Hey, there’s Shinsuke Nakamura. Didn’t he have an awesome WWE debut match against Sami last year? Why aren’t we exploring that possibility? Hey, Kevin Owens needs someone to work after his Face of America ran out of steam. How about forcing him to team with Sami just like Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit back in 2003? I’m just throwing ideas here, guys. Feel free to choose which ones will stick.


Kickoff Match
Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English




Tye Dillinger officially took the title “Mr. Kickoff” away from the previous holder, Baron Corbin, by being booked for the nth time in the kickoff show with his perennial opponent, Aiden English. Gee, I wonder who’s going to win this time?


*****


Are you excited to see how Battleground will play out? Who’s your favorite American competitor in this year’s Bash? Sound off at the comments below and get a chance to win my bottled up aggression and louder-than-thou night farts. Trust me, you don’t want to know.

*****

Ricky Jay Publico (@NitPickRick) is a wrestling fan who enjoys watching high flyers and brawlers battle it out in the ring. A known Botchamania binge-watcher, he claims to have memorized the chronological order of Royal Rumble winners, but fails to remember who won in 2004. He writes stories about life and nonsense.

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