The Punjabi Prison made its return at Battleground, and while the match had some severe flaws, the big news came at the end, courtesy of former world champion The Great Khali.
Yes, the “creator” of the Punjabi Prison returned at the end of the night to help Jinder Mahal retain his title. Mahal and Randy Orton battled to climb the second cage, and it looked like Orton would finally get the advantage.
However, Mahal's music played, and Khali lumbered down the ramp. Orton froze midway, which allowed Khali to get to the structure and shake Orton, who had begun climbing and almost got away. He then reached through the bamboo prison to grab Orton by the throat, not letting go until Mahal climbed up and over to win the match.
So Jinder Mahal retained the title, once again through nefarious means. The question now becomes where do we go from here? While it was once again a tainted win, they can't do Orton vs. Mahal again.
Yes, there was interference, but it was a no DQ match, so all is fair in love and war. Plus, based on the reaction in Phiadelphia, people are tired of this feud. The problem is how to extricate Orton from Jinder. With yet another corrupt victory, you would think Orton would once again demand a rematch.
One easy way would be if The Great Khali can wrestle one more match. Now, that would involve seeing Khali in a match, which most people don't want to see, but that would be a simple solution. Otherwise, it's hard to see Orton separate himself from this for Summerslam.
As far as Mahal goes, the next challenger seems simple. We have an anti-American champion, who continues to bring backup to win his matches. We have a man who, at Battleground, literally triumphed with the American flag.
Yes, the logical move is to ratchet the patriotism up a notch and have John Cena face Jinder Mahal at Summerslam. Cena automatically puts a spotlight on the WWE title match in what is sure to be a stacked card, and it makes sense in storyline.
There does have to be a note about the Punjabi Prison match. WWE, there is a reason that the match hasn't been held in a decade. Keep it that way. The biggest thing is that people can't see the match in this structure. The TV was a little bit better, but still tough to see, but it was nearly impossible to watch the match in the arena.
That was partially responsible for a dead crowd that decided it was better to chant about the 76ers than the match. The other thing is that the rules of the match, namely, the doors opening and closing in the first cage, make for a completely uncompelling beginning of the match.
The doors open, and then you have guys basically laying on each other to prevent them from leaving the ring. When you have four minutes of guaranteed nothingness in a match, it makes for a bad start that casts a pall over the rest of it.
While it wasn't the best match, it does open up some interesting possibilities for Smackdown for the future. We'll just have to see where they go.
The Rest of Battleground:
**As mentioned above, Cena beat Rusev in their flag match. There were some odd rules to this one that seemed to even catch the competitors off-guard. Instead of the standard flag match which simply involves grabbing a flag off a pole and waving it, this match required to grab a match off the pole, take it back up the ramp, and place it on a podium. This led to the two brawling up the ramp, including a final table spot with Cena sending Rusev through a table before placing Old Glory on the podium for the win.
**There were two title changes at Battleground. The first opened the show, as The New Day beat the Usos. Interestingly, it was Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods who competed without Big E. This really allowed Woods to show off his in-ring ability. This was a strong opener with several false finishes, and all four men got a good spotlight in the match. At the end, Xavier Woods hit his elbow off the top rope (not the turnbuckle) that took him across the ring for the win.
**The other title change was in the U.S. title match, as The New Face of America, Kevin Owens, regained his title from A.J. Styles. The finish was a rather odd one. Owens flung Styles through the air into the ref, who took one of the better ref bumps we've seen lately.
As the ref was down, the two exchanged submissions, with Styles locking in the calf crusher, and Owens was able to counter it into a crossface. Styles got Owens in a crossface of his own, but as the ref started to come to, Owens turned Styles over and the ref counted the pin. It was an odd ending to the match, and probably guarantees a rematch at Summerslam.
**Natalya is the new No. 1 contender to Naomi's women’s title. She won the five-way elimination match, finally pinning Charlotte at the end to win it. The first part of the match highlighted the teamwork between Tamina and Lana, though that was put to an end with Becky Lynch forcing both of them to tap out. Natalya caught Becky with a roll-up to eliminate her, and then it was one on one between Charlotte and Natalya.
Charlotte took advantage, but when she went for a moonsault, Natalya got her knees up. Natalya then flung Charlotte neck-first into the turnbuckle, and pinned her for the win. While this is a little surprising, Natalya makes sense as an opponent for Naomi, especially with major rumors flying around the Four Horsewomen for Summerslam.
**Sami Zayn beat Mike Kanellis. The Kanellises came out before the match with matching jackets with Maria's face on it. Maria once again tried to interject herself into the match, and it seemed like it would work once again. However, Sami was able to counter the Power of Love, hit the exploder into the corner and the Helluva Kick, and got the win.
**Nakamura beat Baron Corbin via DQ. Nakamura seemed to have the match locked up. He had nailed Corbin with a series of strikes and went to the corner for the Kinshasa. Corbin didn't get up, and Nakamura had to go for an exploder instead. As he did that, Corbin hit a blatant low blow for the DQ. After the match, after both were slow to get up, Corbin used his Money in the Bank briefcase to attack Nakamura.
**Aiden English beat Tye Dillinger on the pre-show.
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