Randy Orton Interrupted WWE Champion Jinder Mahal
I've said countless times in the past three months that this feud has bored me to tears, and I'm beyond ready for it to reach its end. I'm not exactly excited for their Punjabi Prison match at Battleground, but I am excited for Battleground just so the rivalry will finally be over. Speaking of the Prison, it's a sweet spectacle, but I firmly believe their bout will be a train wreck. I understood why Mahal had no voice coming off his WWE Championship win at Backlash, but that was two months ago. Why does it still sound like he has laryngitis? Meanwhile, Orton's rebuttal was every bit as basic as Mahal's promo.
SmackDown Tag Team Champion Jimmy Uso def. Kofi Kingston
We've seen several singles matches between these two teams over the last month, so while this was nothing new, it might have been the best one-on-one bout they've produced to date. They received a bit more time than usual and the finishing sequence was fun. The Usos needed a victory after suffering so many losses lately, but despite this shortcoming, I assume they will retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at Battleground (as they should).
Renee Young Interviewed Chad Gable
I'm glad they followed up on Kurt Angle revealing Jason Jordan as his long-lost son with some comments from Gable, who was sort of an afterthought on Monday night. No, why Jordan instantly moved to Raw was never explained, but Gable did show signs of sadness when talking about breaking away from Jordan. He didn't give an indication as to what's next for him, but I hope he's used like the star he is because he can be a real asset to SmackDown's midcard scene.
Mike Kanellis def. Sami Zayn
Fans have already started to crap all over Mike and Maria's "power of love" gimmick because of how one-dimensional it is, but I'm willing to give it more time and see how it plays out. I am a fan of how cheesy it feels and Mike having Maria airbrushed on the back of his ring jacket is pretty cool. The match wasn't much of note but was decent while it lasted, leading to a good debut win for Kanellis. My only real gripe with this was that it wasn't advertised in advance.
Rusev Attacked John Cena
Aside from how we saw five months' worth of Cena and Rusev as rivals two years ago, the worst part about the second round of this feud is that we're forced to sit through Cena's generic patriotic promos again and again. He brings up all of America's most historic moments and none of it makes sense in the slightest. In other words, this came across as forced and wasn't Cena's finest promo work. On the bright side, Rusev desperately needed the heat considering he will likely lose to Cena on Sunday.
Becky Lynch def. Charlotte Flair
I would argue that this is one of the biggest matches SmackDown's women's division can do at the moment, so I was somewhat surprised it was announced only an hour before it happened. Nevertheless, this was a great match with plenty of enjoyable back-and-forth and suspenseful nearfalls down the stretch. I fully expected a non-finish of some sort involving the rest of the combatants in the upcoming No. 1 Contender's Fatal 5-Way match at Battleground, but Lynch beating Charlotte clean was a terrific touch that gave Lynch a notable victory at long last.
Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin def. United States Champion AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura
A tag team match headlined last week's edition of SmackDown as well, so although this started off as more of the same, it was ultimately very well-wrestled and they picked up the pace at just the right time at the end. All four Superstars had strong chemistry together and the final few minutes were a blast. The heels needed the victory more than the babyfaces did, so I was happy that they went over.
SmackDown is usually superior to Raw, but it's been lacking in recent weeks in my opinion, to the point where I'm not really looking forward to Battleground whatsoever. Sure, some matches on the card have potential, but this wasn't an effective go-home show at all because it failed to create buzz for the event. Fingers crossed SmackDown starts to pick up again as the build to SummerSlam gets underway next week.
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