WWE Battleground 2017 Results: Worst Booking Decisions from SmackDown PPV
By now, it is obvious the SmackDown-exclusive Battleground pay-per-view was not one of the WWE's better productions of 2017. A mixture of underwhelming in-ring content and questionable booking decisions creating a perfect storm of disappointment and, in some instances, unbridled suckitude.
From a gimmick bout with a less-than-stellar track record to a ridiculously long foregone conclusion, the show left more than a few fans scratching their heads, wondering what the creative team was thinking when putting the show together.
In the wake of the WWE Network presentation, relive moments, matches and decisions that help Battleground earn the negative feedback it has in the days since it kicked off in Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.
Shinsuke Nakamura's Use in Match with Baron Corbin
Sunday's match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Baron Corbin was as poorly booked a wrestling match as one could have possibly imagined given the charismatic, electrifying babyface involved.
There was nothing wrong with Corbin utilizing a low blow to intentionally get himself disqualified, evading defeat and sticking it to his rival. What was wrong was the booking of Nakamura to that point.
Throughout the match, he sold and sold for Corbin, putting over the oppressive strength of his opponent. The match layout had him selling, selling, selling but never really igniting a babyface comeback for him to get his signature stuff in.
He was, on that night, little more than an entrance.
That is an indictment against a creative team that has rarely demonstrated it recognizes what about the Nakamura character makes him so great.
Kevin Owens Wins the United States Championship
What was the point of AJ Styles winning the United States Championship from Kevin Owens in the first place?
To pop the crowd in Madison Square Garden on July 7?
If so, the SmackDown writers hurt the event by wasting the payoff to a major storyline on a live event no one will remember a month or two afterward anyway.
By switching the title back to Owens, no matter how controversial the outcome was or what stipulation match it ultimately sets up, it rendered Styles' big win a booking gimmick and nothing more.
The rivalry, which should have culminated with The Phenomenal One finally overcoming Owens' chicanery and winning the title, now descends into mediocrity, another instance of Owens working an elongated series of repetitive matches with someone he performs well against.
You know, rather than telling a coherent story from start to finish.
The Length of the Flag Match
It is obvious that in the minds of those responsible for putting together the Flag match between John Cena and Rusev, the match should be a patriotic epic that established Cena as one of the greatest Americans in WWE history.
It would see the all-American superhero overcome the onslaught of the foreign heel, representing the resiliency that has made the country great.
All that is fine. Pro wrestling has been defined by patriotic characters and their evil, foreign opposition for decades. The problem is that WWE Creative gave Cena and Rusev 21 minutes and three seconds for a match that did not need to be any longer than 15.
It was overly long and felt even longer.
The slow climb to the top rope to retrieve the flag, the snail's pace with which Cena and Rusev finally made their ways up the ramp and to the pedestals, where one would place his country's greatest symbol and win the match, and the ridiculousness of the table bump late made for a match that tried too hard to be more than it was.
That fans were not invested in the thrown-together story, and the outcome was so obvious, only highlights the mistake that was giving the bout 20-plus minutes to accomplish the inevitable.
Mike Kanellis Loses in First PPV Match
Mike and Maria Kanellis have quite clearly struggled to get The Power of Love gimmick over with audiences. It has not struck a chord and seriously emasculates the former every time the happy couple walks out onto the stage.
To their credit, they have immersed themselves in the characters, going as far as to have custom gear made up.
Unfortunately, it may all be for naught, as the first hints that management is not infatuated with the act became evident Sunday night when Mike lost his first pay-per-view match to Sami Zayn.
The same Zayn who rarely wins high-profile matches in his own right.
The fact that Kanellis was beaten as soon as he was, and that he has been so shoddily booked, suggests he is rapidly falling out of favor with management. That is, unless there is some major angle related to his loss that will unfold on the July 25 episode of SmackDown Live. If that is the case, this booking misstep can be forgiven.
If not, a talented young star with a proven track record of playing an unlikable heel in nearly every major promotion on the planet may have his potential wasted by a company that clearly thought the horrific Power of Love gimmick was a good one.
The Punjabi Prison Match's Existence
Any criticism of the Punjabi Prison match between Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal may be justified, even if this writer thought it was a better match than it will ever get credit for.
With that said, it is time to eliminate that particular gimmick match from WWE lore.
It has never produced a high-quality match, and more times than not, it has handcuffed the performers involved, preventing them from telling the story they want thanks to the ridiculous rules the bout carries with it.
As someone who was in Philadelphia for the event Sunday night, this writer can attest to the fact that it is a difficult match to watch because of the enormity and obnoxiousness of the structure itself.
It also does not make for a fun viewing experience at home either, the low-level camera shots and abundance of bamboo adversely affecting the WWE's typically tight production.
The match needs to go, if only because it is 0-3 in inspiring a desire to see another.