The Smackdown crew rolls into the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, PA tonight to bring us their final pay per view offering before SummerSlam – Battleground. Tonight marks the return of the Punjabi Prison, as Jinder Mahal attempts to stave off the challenge of Randy Orton inside the two cages of bamboo. Will the Singh Brothers get involved? Will Orton finally extract revenge and capture his championship back? Also, Natalya, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Tamina, and Lana tangle for the right to challenge Naomi at SummerSlam for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Who will emerge as that contender? The full card is as follows:
- Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English (Pre-Show Match)
- Jinder Mahal (c, w/The Singh Brothers) vs. Randy Orton; WWE Championship
- AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens, WWE United States Championship
- The Usos (c) vs. New Day; WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship
- Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Natalya vs. Lana; Fatal Five Way Elimination Match to earn the right to face Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
- Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis (w/Maria Kanellis)
- John Cena vs. Rusev; Flag Match
Renee Young hyped the show as the last one before SummerSlam. She was joined by Jerry Lawler, Sam Roberts from Sirius XM, and David Otunga. They noted it has been a decade since the Punjabi Prison was used. After some banter about the matches, Renee sent it to Kayla Braxton in the Social Media Lounge for more hype. She noted that Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis was added to the card and Mike and Maria would be in the Social Media Lounge later.
They ran a hype package for the Cena vs. Rusev flag match, then interviewed John Cena about the match. He said there’s no way he could stand in the ring and tell the fans he wants to be the best if he fails tonight. The panel discussed the match, calling it a must win for Cena, then made predictions.
They ran a video package for the women’s fatal five way match to hype that up. Carmella replaced David Otunga for the discussion of the match. Carmella picked Natalya to win tonight’s match. Sam picked Charlotte, and King took the easy way out and picked Natalya also. Not a shining segment for Carmella here on the mic but not bad either. She felt a bit repetitive at times.
They noted AJ Styles threw out the first pitch at a Philadelphia Phillies game today, then fed it to a video package to hype the Styles vs. Owens match for the US Championship. Styles was interviewed backstage and he said Owens talks a lot. He talked about how the title represents America and said it was a workhorse championship. “Kevin Owens is not man enough for the job.”
Owens was interviewed next, and mocked that Styles thinks he’s quiet because of Styles. He said people know he’s the best and the new face of America. He said people know he should be the United States Champion and it’s the Kevin Owens show. He promised to take the title back tonight. He said that the fact that he’s Canadian proves he is more of a man than AJ Styles. The panel discussed the match then made predictions.
They went to the Social Media Lounge to talk with Mike and Maria Kanellis and they answered questions while acting enamored with each other. I really feel like this is a waste of Mike Kanellis’ talent right at the moment but then again I don’t see that much of Smackdown to say whether or not this is going to work long term. The panel felt the display between the two was a bit over the top.
The panel recapped the card then sent it to the ring for the pre-show match.
Match #1 – Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger;
Winner: Aiden English
The Reax: Aiden did his “Shakespeare of Song” gimmick and sang a few bars for us. He’s not a bad singer, actually, so if wrestling doesn’t pan out…? Tye Dillinger made his entrance to a decent reaction. Tom Philips, JBL, and Byron Saxton on the call and they discussed the Punjabi Prison match briefly.
Dillinger took a shoulder block early as the announcers talked about how the ten chants got started in Philly at an NXT event. English controlled the early going, but the two went through a go-behind sequence and Dillinger took him down with a hip toss. He taunted the “ten” chant in English’s face.
After Dillinger stomped English in the corner, the official pulled him off. English hit a headbutt then shot Dillinger into the corner with a shot to the back. He followed with a corner splash. English taunted as they broke for a commercial. English continued to control the offense after the break, singing while he had a headlock locked in.
English came off the ropes but ate a drop kick from Dillinger. Dillinger fired off a couple chops then went on a series of moves. Dillinger pulled his knee pad down for the Tye Breaker but English rolled to ringside. Outside the ring English hit a kick then fed Dillinger in. Dillinger met him with a nice spinebuster for two. Dillinger perched him on the ropes, threw a chop, then set up a superplex.
English fought out of the superplex then hit a cross body, but Dillinger rolled it through and got a two count off of it. Dillinger looked for the Tye Breaker but English grabbed the ropes. English hit Dillinger with a face-first move for two, then got worked up about it. He composed himself and mocked the ten chants.
English teased using the Tye Breaker, but Dillinger escaped. The two went through a sequence of roll-up attempts. In the end, English hit his finish and scored the victory.
Interesting. Generally, WWE goes with the face winning on the pre-show to give that “feel good” reaction heading to the main card, but they chose not to here. The match knew its place and role on the card, and the crowd was into Dillinger throughout. They did get kind of quiet when English won though.
The panel hyped WWE Network and all of the offerings coming with 30-day trial subscription.
They showed Jinder Mahal arriving, then he was interviewed by Indian broadcast people. The panel fed it to a video package to hype the main event. They showed tweets from both men then the panel discussed the match. Roberts called it history and said Orton’s legacy is on the line. Otunga said Jinder has something up his sleeve because he picked this stipulation. Renee closed the pre-show.
WWE “Battleground,” Live from Philadelphia, PA at the Wells Fargo Center;
The show opened with a video package about colors being worn with pride and being earned and fought for. It also hyped various matches on the card. The commentary checked in and noted the Punjabi Prison match will be the third ever.
Big E bellowed out and they made their way to the ring in USA themed gear. Nod to Apollo Creed, perhaps? I haven’t missed JBL, that’s for sure. Tom Philips introduced foreign announce teams. No New Day promo to kick this show off, like I was expecting. The Usos made their way to the ring.
Match #1 – The Usos (c) vs. New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods w/Big E ); Smackdown Tag Team Championship;
Winner: New Day to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The Reax: They recapped the the rap battle from from a few weeks ago that got pretty savage. Actually was a pretty good segment. The teams jawed at each other as the official held the belts up. Kofi started the match with a big dropkick then tagged out to Woods who hit splashes. The Usos grabbed Woods at the ropes and hammered away on him to take control of the match.
Woods cut off a kick but ate a knee shot to the face. Dueling chants for and against the Usos as Jimmy (I think, lost track) hit his corner butt splash. He choked Woods on the ropes then Jey hit Woods with a shot as the official tended to Jimmy. They double teamed with a backbreaker into an elbow drop on Woods.
Jey perched Woods on the ropes and threw a chop followed with a slap to the chest. He went up top and set for a superplex but Woods fought him off by throwing headbutts. Jey fell to the mat and Woods followed with a missile drop kick. Hot tags both sides, and Kingston fired off with a flurry of offense on both members of the Usos. Boom Drop to Jimmy, then Kofi looked for Trouble in Paradise but Jimmy escaped.
Kofi kicked Jimmy then sent Jey to the floor. He tagged and went top rope, falling toward the Usos. They caught him and double-powerbombed Kofi then hit a leaping Woods with an uppercut. They fed Woods in and set for a splash, but Woods rolled out of the way. They set up a wheelbarrow, but Woods slipped through and hit a unique move for two.
Woods looked for the Honor Roll, but Jimmy caught him and rammed him to the corner. Jey tossed Woods up into a Samoan Drop by Jey for two. Action’s getting fast here as Woods fought his way out of a double team then went top rope. Jimmy was legal and hit him as he came off with a superkick for a good near fall.
Jimmy locked in a submission as the commentary team noted Kofi was still out at ringside. Woods struggled toward the rope but Jimmy pulled him back to mid ring and locked the hold back in. Woods finally broke the hold in the ropes, and Jimmy jawed at the official. Kofi magically returned to the match and tagged in, and he and Woods hit Midnight Hour for a good near fall.
Kofi looked for a springboard move that Jimmy ducked under. He followed with a superkick and tagged to Jey who hit the splash for a good near fall. Jey tagged and both men went for stereo splashes but Woods shoved off Jey. Jimmy missed his splash, then Kofi hit Jey with Trouble in Paradise. Woods followed up with the big elbow drop from a long way away and New Day captured the win.
A really good tag team match to start the show with a newsworthy finish. The teams went out and worked really hard and put on a match that the fans were into throughout. Woods played the babyface in peril pretty well, especially while Kofi sold the double powerbomb. Still not sure they should have moved the championship right now, but it created a moment that the fans were into to kick off the show.
They showed AJ Styles getting ready backstage and recapped his comments from the pre-show about Owens not being man enough to capture the US Championship. They recapped the setup of the story between Shinsuke Nakamura and Baron Corbin at Money in the Bank in advance of their match, next. Nakamura made his entrance.
Match #2 – Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura by disqualification
The Reax: During Corbin’s entrance they recapped a brawl between the two men a couple weeks ago. JBL put the two over as the best strikers out there today. Nakamura and Corbin jawed to start the match, then Nakamura threw forearm shots. Corbin fought back with some shots of his own, then Nakamura hit kicks to the leg. Corbin rolled out to take a breather.
Nakamura tried to pull Corbin to ringside a bit later, but Corbin cut him off then stomped on him and took over the offense. He locked in a bear hug. Nakamura threw elbows to escape then tried to lock Corbin in a triangle. He couldn’t quite get it, then they broke and Corbin threw a big boot. He threw Nakamura to ringside and drove him into the barrier a couple times. Corbin threw Nakamura back in then went back to the bear hug.
Nakamura escaped with elbows, then Corbin tried to load a chokeslam. Nakamura escaped with a “sort of” kick that didn’t look good, then he unloaded with more kicks to get Corbin down. Nakamura started to get rolling, perching Corbin across the buckle and hitting a pair of running knees that netted a two count. Nakamura avoided a corner splash but Corbin slid under the ropes and back in and hit a big clothesline for two.
Corbin continued to throw punches then posed to boos. He picked Nakamura up but he threw a knee to stop the suplex, then a series of them. He followed with a face-first suplex then teased the Kinshasa but Corbin caught him and hit Deep Six for two.
After some selling, the two exchanged strikes. Corbin tried for a chokeslam but Nakmura escaped and hit a backstabber then followed with a spinning kick. Nakamura called for Kinshasa again but Corbin just laid on the mat. Shinsuke picked him up, and Corbin hit a mule kick low to get the match thrown out. Shinsuke won and JBL said that Corbin didn’t think he had any other options. Corbin smiled as both men sold the effects of the match, then retrieved his briefcase and carried it out held high. He went back to the ring and hit Shinsuke with the briefcase then End of Days.
A slow and plodding match between these two and the fans were pretty quiet throughout. The finish got some heat on Corbin for both the cheap way out and the attack after the fact. A very physical match for sure between them. Corbin still comes out with heel momentum from the attack and Nakamura has some sympathy from the way it went down. I look for these two to meet up again at SummerSlam because this doesn’t close the matter.
They showed Kevin Owens backstage getting ready for his match against AJ Styles later. The commentary team talked about the previous match. They fed it into a hype package for the women’s five way match. Naomi made her entrance and she would join commentary for the match. The competitors in the match made their way to the ring.
Match #3 – Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Lana vs. Tamina; Women’s Five Way Elimination Match, winner faces Naomi at SummerSlam for the Smackdown Women’s Championship;
The Reax: Naomi burned JBL on commentary telling him that her entrance dance is not for older folks. Yikes. The five women jockeyed for position as the bell rang, with the heels going after Becky and Charlotte right away. Charlotte got the better of Lana but Natalya caught her with a quick cover. Natalya tried for the Sharpshooter but Charlotte kicked her away.
Lana pulled Becky to ringside and threw her into the desk. Natalya tried for the Sharpshooter on Tamina but she escaped. Lana pulled Natalya to ringside, leaving Tamina and Lana against Charlotte. They paired up on her, with Tamina slamming Charlotte and Lana following with an elbow drop. Tamina held Charlotte up and Lana hit a kick.
Charlotte countered a second slam then stomped Tamina. Her and Lana stared down, but Tamina grabbed her leg and Lana hit a high kick (it wasn’t a good one) for a two count. Tamina followed with a suplex, then Lana followed with a kick to the back. Tamina fed her to the corner and Lana followed with a splash. The two kept up the offense.
Becky back in the match, and she attacked Lana. Her and Charlotte hit exploder suplexes and the heels rolled to ringside. Becky and Charlotte went at it, with Becky hitting armdrags. After Charlotte hit a neckbreaker, Natalya re-entered the match and hit a low kick on Charlotte. She got two counts on both women.
A bit later, Becky went on a Bex-Ploder series, hitting just about everyone with them. Tamina cut her off and hit a superkick and a Samoan Drop. Charlotte re-entered and went for the Figure Four, but Natalya rolled her up for two. She followed with the discus clothesline for two then locked in a Sharpshooter. Lana cut off the submission and covered Charlotte for herself.
Becky caught Lana with the Disarmer, but Tamina cut her off. Tamina speared Charlotte through the ropes, and Becky went back to the Disarmer on Lana. Tamina cut that off again and tried to go for a Samoan Drop but Becky escaped and locked her in the Disarmer. Tamina tapped out.
Becky went right back to the Disarmer on Lana and got her to tap.
Natalya ran in and rolled Becky up from behind and grabbed her tights, so that sent Becky to the showers.
Becky Lynch eliminated.
Charlotte ran over Natalya and it’s down to the two of them. Late in the match, Charlotte went for a moonsault, but Natalya got the knees up. She followed by rolling Charlotte backwards into the buckle, then covered to get the victory. After the match, Naomi entered the ring and offered a handshake. Natalya stared at her then left the ring. The commentary team ran highlights of the finish.
A solid match, while not spectacular. On paper, Natalya vs. Naomi doesn’t scream “big time match” but the dynamic should be interesting to watch play out. The dynamics between Tamina and Lana were interesting to watch, as Tamina would save Lana but Lana did not reciprocate. The fans were quiet through this one too. Unless the crowd’s not mic’d well, they seem to be simply watching and not investing one way or the other.
The commentary team recapped the match finish again, then fed it to a video package to hype up the United States Championship match. Entrances took place for the match.
Match #4 – AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens; WWE United States Championship;
Winner: Kevin Owens to win the WWE United States Championship
The Reax: They noted that AJ Styles was the second man to win the US title in Madison Square Garden. JBL said that Styles has been calling his shots since he showed up. They handled the in-ring introductions before the match, and Styles and Owens jawed during introductions. Crowd’s into this early.
Owens was the early aggressor with knee shots. After a rope running sequence, AJ threw Owens with an arm drag and Owens rolled out for a breather. He re-entered, and the two went through a go-behind sequence. Owens tripped Styles’ leg, but Styles came back with a head scissor of his own. Owens rolled back to ringside in frustration.
Owens re-entered and wanted to throw a punch but Styles kicked his hand. The two went through another go-behind sequence. Owens ran the ropes but ate a drop kick, and that sent Owens back to ringside to regroup. Styles ran out after him and attacked, throwing Owens into the barrier. Styles tried a splash but Owens moved, then sent Styles crotch-first into the ring post.
Owens fed him in and immediately hit a back senton for two. He took over with kicks and grinding his forearm into AJ’s face. Owens locked in a headlock, laying on him. Styles tried to get up but Owens pulled him back down. Styles got to his feet and threw some elbows, but Owens yanked him down by his hair. Owens tried a senton but Styles got his knees up.
Styles fired off strikes, but Owens countered a spinning back fist by kicking Styles and hitting a DDT. Owens went back to the headlock. AJ fought out and threw punches, the spinning back fist and a clothesline. Styles flew in with a forearm shot. Owens rolled to the corner but was met with a corner clothesline. Styles tried to get Owens up on his back but couldn’t. Owens tried a belly to back suplex but Styles landed on his feet and hit Owens with a face first bomb for two.
Styles went back to picking Owens up but couldn’t. Moments later, Owens rolled AJ up for two. AJ finally loaded the fireman’s carry neckbreaker for two. Styles re-positioned Owens then went springboard 450 but Owens got his knees up. Owens covered quickly for two, then followed with a cannonball for another two count.
Owens perched AJ on the buckle then went looking for a superplex. AJ fought out then slipped over looking for a sunset flip at first, but then loaded the torture rack and dropped him for two. Styles went top rope moments later, but Owens tripped him. Owens again looked for the superplex but Styles fought him off. Styles slipped under Owens to escape. Styles went out looking for the Phenomenal Forearm but Owens slid out to ringside and tripped him on the apron.
Owens started to focus offense on the arm that Styles was favoring. Styles hit a Pele kick then looked for the Styles Clash. Owens flung him off and into the official. Owens hit a superkick then looked for the pop up powerbomb, but AJ countered and locked in the Calf Crusher. Owens rolled it over into an STF. The official started to come to and Styles rolled into his own cross face. Owens rolled it over and AJ maintained the hold. The groggy official counted, and Owens won. AJ protested in the ring while Owens celebrated.
A good match between the two of them, as expected. The pace was a bit slower than expected, but the two worked pretty well together. I am a bit surprised they moved the title here but the door seems open to go back to it at SummerSlam for a third time between the two of them. Sometimes moves like this make you wonder if the house show title change was a mistake, but the way they ran with it, it clearly wasn’t.
Backstage, Jinder was warming up when the Singh Brothers entered. They said they can’t be there for his match tonight, and when the second wall lowers it’s holy ground. They said they would be in the back waiting to celebrate the win. Jinder said he alone would make sure that the prison would be the final resting place of Orton’s legacy. He said he would fight alone but not be alone when 1.3 billion people in India celebrate with him.
The commentary team set up a video package for the flag match, which is up next. Entrances took place for the match. There were steps at the stage with flag holders. Rules are this: retrieve your own country’s flag, then take it to the stage and put it in the appropriate flag holder. More foreign announce team introductions happened.
Match #5 – John Cena vs. Rusev; Flag Match
Winner: John Cena
The Reax: JBL called this one of the most pressure filled matches Cena has entered. Rusev made an immediate play for his flag but Cena cut him off. Rusev threw a shot to the back and made another quick play but Cena cut him off again. They recounted Rusev winning the last flag match back in 2014 at SummerSlam. Rusev threw some strikes again and made another flag play.
Cena cut Rusev off up on the buckle then hit him with a big bulldog off the top rope. Cena made a play for the US flag but Rusev grabbed him and dropped him in an electric chair. Rusev continued the offense, throwing strikes and kicks on Cena. He hit a suplex then made a play. Cena cut him off but Rusev stomped on him. Rusev hit a clothesline.
Rusev pie-faced Cena to the mat and ranted at him. He pinned him against the corner where the US flag was, ranted at him, then splashed him in the corner. He made a play for the flag but Cena cut him off. Rusev hit an axe handle from the ropes then Cena fired back with punches of his own. Rusev hit a DDT and played to the fans.
Cena struggled to his feet then fired off his shoulder tackles then the side slam. He followed with the Five Knuckle but Rusev avoided and hit a spinebuster. Rusev sent Cena to the floor then headed toward his flag. Cena cut him off again and knocked Rusev to the mat then flew off the rope looking for the leg drop but Rusev sort of turned it into a powerbomb. Rusev went back to get his flag again.
Rusev got his flag and posed while Cena sold. Rusev got on the mat and Cena met him with a drop kick. Cena avoided a Rusev charge then hit the AA. Cena struggled to the buckle and Rusev caught him in a powerbomb position. Cena slipped down and got Rusev into the STF. Rusev tried tapping out, but no tap outs or DQ’s here. Rusev faded out and Cena went for the flag again, this time getting it.
Rusev met him with a kick as he got off the buckle. Both men sold. Rusev grabbed his flag and rolled out. Cena met him with a double sledge off the apron then threw Rusev to the stairs. He rolled in and grabbed the US flag and headed up the ramp. Rusev met him there and they fought at ringside. Rusev sent Cena face first to into the steps. Cena crawled toward the flag, but Rusev met him with the stairs and hit him.
Rusev went to get his flag and held it up. Cena grabbed his leg as he walked by then opened up with punches then threw him into the LED board. Cena tried to jump from the pedestal onto Rusev but Rusev caught him and hit a fallaway slam. Both men sold.
Rusev went for a table after asking where the flag was, and that drew an “EC-Dub” chant. He went back and grabbed a second, setting them up side by side. Cena crawled to the US pedestal by this point. Rusev caught him and ran him face first to the podium. Cena and Rusev were on top of the pedestal. Rusev mocked the “you can’t see me” gesture then tried to load the AA through the tables. Cena slipped out and fought him off, then they fought on the ramp.
Cena grabbed the US flag and crawled toward the podium. Rusev caught up and cut him off by hitting him with the flag holder. Rusev locked in the Accolade on the stage. Cena fell, and Rusev went back toward his flag, then headed to the podium. He went to put the flag in the holder, but Cena cut him off. He tried to load the AA but Rusev cut him off.
Rusev went back to the Accolade, but Cena picked him up. Cena loaded him in the AA position, carried him up the US podium and put him through it with the AA. Cena grabbed the US flag and planted it in the holder to win the match. The commentary team recapped it.
A solid and physical flag match with appropriate drama down the stretch with various plays to get the flag into the holder. Rusev showed himself well here and had this been any other style of match or any other stipulation, it would have made a lot more sense to put him over here. With the stipulation and all of the “national pride” talk that surrounded this match, Cena was going to win – that’s just how WWE was going to book it.
The commentary team noted that tickets are on sale for SummerSlam and that Royal Rumble will be in Philly in 2018. We got a Fashion Police segment. They talked about who messed up their office and said they’ve been hell of partners. The Ascension showed up and said they did it. Fashion Police said they couldn’t have done it because Ascension was at an Eddie Money show. Fandango brought out the horse head and Ascension faked getting sick.
Ascension left, and they asked who could have done this. The lights went out and noises could be heard. Fashion Police ended up laid out, and Fandango was dragged out.
Random thought – could it be Harper and Rowan?
They set up Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis with a recap of his Smackdown debut. Entrances took place for the match.
Match #6 – Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis (w/Maria Kanellis);
Winner: Sami Zayn
The Reax: Sami cut off a kick and took Kanellis down with a double leg and threw punches. He fired off with a chop in the corners then sent Kanellis to the floor. Sami teased a dive but Maria shoved Mike out of the way. When Sami went out, Maria got in his face and Mike hit a cheap shot. They posed over Sami and eskimo-kissed (rubbed noses).
Kanellis took over in the ring, getting a two count. Sami fired back with some chops but took a couple of corner clotheslines and a big boot from Kanellis for two. Mike fired off punches, then crawled over to Maria and kissed her. Kanellis stretched Sami out, but Sami fought out. He hit a couple of strikes then a backdrop. He sprung over Kanellis then sent him to the floor and followed with a dive.
Sami fed him in and went top rope for a cross body that got him two. Sami tried for another move but Mike cut him off. Mike set up something that Zayn cut off with a DDT. Sami set for the Exploder but Maria got in the rung and cut him off.
After Maria got out of the ring, moments later Zayn hit Mike with the Exploder suplex in the corner. He followed up with the Helluva Kick and scored the win. Maria consoled Mike at ringside.
This was fine for what it was. I look for them to go back to this match one more time either on weekly television or at SummerSlam. Big commentary problem I picked up on. They kept saying “Maria’s husband” referring to Mike. Maria adds value to the act, but she’s the valet. They need to drop that in order to get Mike over. He’s a good hand and can be valuable to the card.
They showed the Punjabi Prison being lowered for the main event, then fed it to a video package for the final sell of the main event. Mahal made his way out first to the ring, and the Hindi commentary team checked in and offered words in native tongue. JBL said that this is Mahal’s match and he has home court advantage. Orton made his way out to a good reaction. We got the formal ring introductions and a rules rundown after the outside cage lowered.
Match #7 – Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Randy Orton; WWE Championship inside Punjabi Prison;
Winner: Jinder Mahal to retain the WWE Championship
The Reax: I had to reload WWE Network so I missed the early action. Orton made an early play for one of the doors, but Mahal fought him off. Orton struggled and got part way out of it, but Mahal grabbed his leg and held on until time expired. Door #1 shut and locked for the duration.
The two exchanged strikes, and Mahal hit an armbreaker. He started to focus offense on the arm, and hit knee drops. He wrapped Orton’s arm in the cage while standing on the apron. Mahal continued to focus on the arm. Mahal called for a door, but Orton stopped him. Orton took a thumb to the eye, but Orton hit a fallaway slam in return. Orton dragged himself toward the open door, but Mahal cut him off and hit a bomb. Mahal made a play but Orton cut him off and rained down punches. Door #2 shut and locked for the duration again.
Orton tossed Mahal off the cage again, then a second time. Mahal started climbing and Orton went up and fought with him there. Mahal got the better of the battle and sent Orton to the mat, but Orton came back and tripped Mahal down. Mahal slid to the apron but Orton rammed him back first to the cage. Orton tried to set up the elevated DDT but Mahal countered and threw Orton to the cage.
Mahal hit a couple of running shots on Orton as he was between the ropes and cage. Orton caught him on the third one and hit a suplex that sent Mahal back-first to the cage. Rinse and repeat a second time, then Orton dropped him against the ropes. Orton called for the third door and made a play. Mahal cut him off, working the arm. He made a play, but Orton locked him in a hold then hit an uppercut. Orton made a move for the door but Mahal cut him off. Door #3 shut and locked for the duration.
The two stared at the final door, then at each other. Orton hit a powerslam then his elevated DDT. He called for the final door then posed for the RKO. Mahal cut him off and hit a high knee. Mahal looked for the Khallas, but Orton countered and hit the RKO.
Guess who showed up – the Singh Brothers. They pulled Mahal to the outside of the door, so Orton was stuck in the cage and Mahal is out of the first cage. Orton climbed the inner cage and Mahal started to climb the outer cage. Orton stepped the gap and got to the outer cage and met Mahal, and the two fought on the outer wall. After a series of headbutts and face plants into the cage, Mahal fell to the floor.
The Singh Brothers attacked Orton on the floor. They stood Orton up and Mahal hit a big boot on Orton. The Singh Brothers held Orton up, but Orton fought them out. He caught up to a climbing Mahal and dragged him back to the floor. He suplexed the Singh Brothers and took them out. Mahal broke out a kendo stick and hit Orton with it.
Mahal tried to hook the Khallas but Orton broke it by slamming him into the cage repeatedly. Orton pulled out a kendo stick of his own, and Mahal begged off but Orton wasn’t interested. He beat Mahal with the stick then one of the Singh Brothers got some too.
Orton started the climb again, but one of the Singhs climbed the cage from the opposite side. He caught Orton and held him from going any further. Orton started to fight him off with punches, and Samir (sp?) fell off the cage and crashed through the announce table.
Mahal had started to climb by this point, and he and Orton fought on the cage. The two eventually got on the floor and fought. Mahal went for a boot and missed, so Orton hit him with his elevated DDT using the cage. Orton destroyed the other Singh with a steel chair shot, then hit Mahal for good measure.
Orton continued the assault with the chair, hitting Mahal in the midsection a couple times. Orton started to climb again. Sunil (sp?) cut him off, but Orton disposed of him and continued the climb. As Orton continued the climb, here comes…
Great Khali? Yes, Great Khali.
Khali shook the cage and went up to meet Orton on the cage. He grabbed Orton by the throat and choked him while Mahal made the climb. Mahal made his way up and over the cage, hitting the floor to win the match and retain. Khali posed with him and celebrated while the commentary team recapped how the match finished. Orton sold at ringside while Mahal and Khali celebrated. JBL said Mahal was becoming a great champion to the chagrin of Randy Orton.
I really don’t know how to feel about this. I really don’t. If I could find words, I’d write them.
Heels have to win by shady means, I get that. I fully expected Jinder Mahal to retain here, and we got that. I fully expected the Singh Brothers to get involved in this match, and we saw it. But the Great Khali? Really? This finish was terrible. And where do you go from here? It’s not like Khali is going to wrestle – or is he? This is not a finish that gets heat on the heel, it’s heat on the company.
I had hope for a better Prison match than we’ve seen in the past, and while aspects of it were good, it was not what I had hoped for. Perhaps my expectations were too high.
I was really looking forward to seeing a Smackdown pay per view from this perspective tonight and covering it, and honestly, this show took a nosedive. We got a couple promising early matches. New Day vs. The Usos was very good, I enjoyed AJ vs. Kevin Owens and didn’t find Shinsuke vs. Corbin offensive though it didn’t thoroughly excite me. The women offered a solid but anti-climactic performance, and the flag match between Rusev and Cena was worked well but was extremely predictable. But this main event…yikes. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth overall.
Guaranteed this is not the last you hear from me about this show. I will be back in the saddle tomorrow night for Raw, then will join Drew on Ring Rap Audio on Wednesday to discuss this show and all the latest happenings in wrestling. See you then.