Original air Date: July 18, 2017
Event Date: July 18, 2017 (aired live)
Commentary: Tom Phillips, JBL, Byron Saxton
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
It’s brutal, it’s unforgiving, and it’s coming to SmackDown Live. It’s the Punjabi Prison.
The Singh Brothers introduce “The Modern Day Maharaja” Jinder Mahal. The three of them head to the ring which is surrounded by the Punjabi Prison. Inside the structure, Mahal says that the prison will be the final resting place of Randy Orton’s legacy.
The Singh Brothers then explain the rules of the Punjabi Prison Match. There are two structures. The inner structure has some small doors which will be opened when one of the competitors calls for it, but they will only open for 60 seconds before they will close and remain shut. The outer structure has no doors and must be climbed over. Whoever escapes first wins. Mahal says that the most important rule is that there are no rules.
Randy Orton comes out to the stage. He says that Mahal is either brave or stupid for choosing to lock himself in the prison with Orton. He points out that the one advantage Mahal had, the Singh Brothers, can’t help him in the prison match. There will be no escape for Mahal on Sunday. He also talks about the pressure Mahal has put on himself by claiming to represent all the people of India. How will they react when Mahal loses?
** Orton has a lot of good points. This was a stupid match choice for Mahal. Unless he has some sort of plan to get the Singh Brothers inside the prison, then this decision makes little sense for him. I guess you could chalk it up to Mahal being too proud for his own good which has led him to make decisions based on arrogance rather than what’s worked for him up to this point, but they haven’t really portrayed him that way on television. He talks big, when when it comes down to it he always takes the shortcut. It will be difficult to take shortcuts in the prison.
It’s like when the Hardy Boyz chose a cage match for their title match against Sheamus and Cesaro. It made no sense because it obviously went against their strengths. Unless they reveal that Mahal had some sort of master plan all along, the Punjabi Prison feels like a poorly written excuse to have a huge gimmick match for no good reason. An unnecessarily complicated gimmick match at that. I can’t say I’m looking forward to this match. **
Jimmy Uso (SD Tag Champ) w/ Jey Uso (SD Tag Champ) vs Kofi Kingston w/ Xavier Woods, Big E
(referee: Mike Chioda)
Result: Jimmy Uso wins via pinfall by rolling through a diving crossbody from Kingston
Good match. This was solid all the way through and I liked the finish. This match puts New Day and The Usos on a pretty level playing field, more so than than a lot of the previous encounters between these two teams would indicate. I like that this was the last match before the PPV.
Shane McMahon wonders who between Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Natalya, Lana, and Tamina should have a match tonight. Charlotte wants Lana. So does Natalya. And Becky Lynch. Tamina says no one is fighting Lana tonight. Natalya suggests that Charlotte fight Becky, but Charlotte says she’s already beaten Becky lots of times. Shane decides the match is a good idea, so the match is made.
Last night on RAW Kurt Angle revealed that Jason Jordan is his long lost son.
Renee Young asks Chad Gable about Jason Jordan being Angle’s son. Gable says Jordan didn’t say anything to him before last night, though he knew something was going on. Gable supports Jordan, but he won’t share what’s next for himself.
Mike Kanellis w/ Maria Kanellis vs Sami Zayn
(referee: Jason Ayers)
Result: Mike Kanellis wins via pinfall after a Samoan Driver
This was okay. Kanellis got beat up pretty much the whole time, then things turned around when Maria entered the ring to get in Sami Zayn’s way. It was an alright first match for Mike, setting him and Maria up as basically a team in the ring.
John Cena heads to the ring. There are flags for Bulgaria and the United States set up in two corners of the ring. Cena says people are getting excited for Battleground this Sunday. Everyone will see great things, but hat will they remember? He says they will remember the flag match. He briefly explains the rules (you have to carry your flag and plant it at the finish line to win) before saying that even if not everyone in the crowd likes him, they probably like the American flag. Cena is ready to carry that flag.
After a speech about America and wars, Cena grabs the US flag and waves it. As his music starts to play, Rusev appears and attacks Cena from behind. He knocks Cena down and puts him in The Accolade. Cena tries to power out of the hold, but Rusev won’t let go. Cena appears to be unconscious, so Rusev releases the hold and grabs the Bulgaria flag. Rusev waves the flag as he leaves the ring and plants the flag on the stage.
AJ Styles starts to talk about Japan with Shinsuke Nakamura, but Nakamura’s mind is on the US Title. Nakamura points to the title belt and says that one day Styles will issue another open challenge, and Nakamura will answer.
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte
(referee: Danilo Anfibio; guest commentary: Natalya; watching in the back: Naomi)
Result: Becky Lynch wins via submission with Disarm Her
Good match. This was nicely competitive and both women pulled off some nice moves and counters. The finish was quite good as well. I like that this was just a straight match with no shenanigans. The winner was clear and decisive.
Tamina and Lana head to the ring after the match. Natalya enters the ring and attacks Becky from behind which starts a brawl with all five women. Natalya goes for a sharpshooter on Tamina, but Lana pulls her off. Tamina knocks down Natalya, leaving Tamina and Lana as the only women standing.
Renee Young welcomes Naomi. Naomi says she will be the first to congratulate whoever becomes number one contender on Sunday. Carmella walks up and reminds Naomi that everywhere she goes, so goes Carmella and her MitB contract.
In an episode of “The Fashion X Files,” Breezango encounters Aiden English. They also encounter a little green delivery man with a box. Fandango wonders what’s in the box. It’s the head of his stick horse with a note that only says “Battleground.”
Drew Gulak vows to prove that mat-based wrestling is superior to high flying. Tonight on 205 Live he will ground Mustafa Ali for good.
AJ Styles (US Champ) & Shinsuke Nakamura vs Baron Corbin & Kevin Owens
(referee: Charles Robinson)
Result: Kevin Owens pins AJ Styles after a pop-up powerbomb
Time: 9:07 (joined in progress)
Good match. Corbin and Owens attacked Styles and Nakamura before the match, but Styles and Nakamura were able to fight them off. The match was fairly even throughout, and the pace quickened and the moves got bigger as the match neared the end. This was a good final match before the PPV.
I think this was a good pre-Battleground show. Unsurprisingly, the heels got the last shots in during every segment (except for the Mahal/Orton segment). That seems pretty natural for a PPV buildup show like this. The matches were good with the exception of the Zayn/Kanellis match, but that made sense for the story so it was alright.
I’m not super excited for the PPV on Sunday, but I think it could be pretty good. Some of the gimmick matches are too gimmicky and have the danger of over-complicating their matches, but we’ll see what happens.
Match of the Night
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte
This one and the main event were both good, but I’m picking the women’s match because I like the finish and the overall way the match progressed slightly more.