WWE Battleground 2017 Results: Natalya and Biggest Winners and Losers
The Battleground pay-per-view event has come and gone and in its wake, has left several Superstars better or worse off than they were prior to the July 23 event in Philadelphia.
Natalya cashed her ticket to SummerSlam with a quality win in the Fatal 5-Way Elimination match, defeating both Charlotte and Becky Lynch to pick up the coveted victory. WWE champion Jinder Mahal followed suit, winning a chaotic and controversial Punjabi Prison match against Randy Orton.
It was the tag team division that excelled, though, as New Day and The Usos kicked off the festivities with an enthralling show-stealer.
Not so lucky were Mike Kanellis and Shinsuka Nakamura, who experienced disappointing nights from a creative standpoint.
Why did the Superstars earn the statuses they did coming out of the broadcast?
Take a look for yourself.
Winners: The New Day and The Usos
The New Day and The Usos once again proved their incredible in-ring chemistry Sunday night with an electrifying contest that stole the show right out of the proverbial gate.
The teams tore the house down, executing perfectly timed near-falls that employed drama and athleticism the likes of which the show would lack later.
Jimmy and Jey Usos built heat for the babyfaces, cutting off any attempt at sustained offense. They looked every bit the champions and, in several cases, the best team on the roster.
Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston fought back like resilient babyfaces, though, while Big E paced around the ringside area and added urgency to the proceedings with his facial expressions and body language.
The finish was superb and the pop for New Day's first major victory as part of the SmackDown Live brand was the loudest of the night. On a night in which so much disappointed, it was the oft-maligned tag team division that shined brightest.
Loser: Mike Kanellis
As if the fumbled roll-out of the Mike and Maria Kanellis act was not bad enough, Sunday saw the former lose clean in the center of the ring to a Sami Zayn who has not necessarily been synonymous with wins on big stages.
Some would argue that Zayn is a former NXT champion and a damn fine professional wrestler and thus, a cowardly heel like Kanellis losing to him does nothing to hurt him. That could not be further from the truth.
Kanellis lacks credibility with the fans. Yes, he is the prototypical cowardly (and incredibly emasculated) heel but he has not won enough or gotten over with audiences to the point that he can start affording losses.
His loss threatened his heat at a time when he can least survive booking missteps.
If WWE Creative does not respond with a high-profile victory or something that takes fans' minds off the fact that he just cleanly and indisputably lost his first pay-per-view match, he could be even deader in the water than he has appeared to this point.
One of the most talented and respected members of the SmackDown Live roster, Natalya has long been the punching bag for women more promoted, marketed and pushed than she.
Sunday night, she returned to the Battleground pay-per-view a year after defeating Becky Lynch clean in the center of the ring and replicated her success, winning the Fatal 5-Way Elimination match and cashing her ticket for a Women's Championship match against Naomi at SummerSlam.
She did so by beating both Lynch and Charlotte, the two most credible women in the division. More importantly, and most impressively given WWE Creative's use of heels today, she did it relatively cleanly.
While her championship opportunity feels like an excuse to give Naomi something to do in Brooklyn until Carmella cashes in Money in the Bank, do not be surprised to see her capitalize on the moment and deliver one of her typically strong performances come August 20.
Loser: Shinsuke Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura entered Wells Fargo Center Sunday night to tremendous energy, the Philadelphia fans singing along to his theme music as he took to the squared circle for his showdown with Baron Corbin. Unfortunately, that was the extent of the excitement he generated at Battleground.
So poorly booked as the charismatic Superstar been that he has devolved into an entrance and little more.
The structure of the match did little to help.
Nakamura was beaten down by The Lone Wolf for the majority of the bout, his midsection the target of the Money in the Bank winner's attack.
Then, it was over.
Before The King of Strong Style could execute any of his signature offense, Corbin caught him with a low blow and the ref called for the bell, robbing fans of a spirited comeback attempt by the typically electrifying former NXT champion.
At some point, WWE Creative will be forced to re-examine the approach it has taken in regards to Nakamura or face the very real possibility that he will fail to enjoy the same success he did in the acclaimed developmental territory.
Winner: Jinder Mahal
Say what you will about Jinder Mahal, his push and reign as WWE champion but The Modern Day Maharaja defeated Randy Orton in a wild, chaotic main event to retain his title and extend his place atop the SmackDown Live brand.
More importantly, he did so in a fashion that will only serve to deliver him more heat.
He is the classic heel, in the same vein as John Bradshaw Layfield, who relies on assistance from others who pledge allegiance to him. Historians will argue that it hurt Layfield's reign but the loud-mouthed Texan permanently established himself as a main event attraction well after losing his WWE Championship.
It is far too early to suggest Mahal will ultimately find the same success Layfield did but WWE Creative is doing everything in its power to build heat for him and The Singh Brothers.
Given the lack of credible main event heels on Tuesday nights, he will have numerous opportunities to deliver strong, headlining performances such as Sunday's inside the notorious Punjabi Prison.