WWE Battleground is in the books, and it featured the surprising return of The Great Khali, aiding Jinder Mahal to victory in the Punjabi Prison match against Randy Orton. What is the next step for Mahal and Khali? Who is the next challenger? Plus, The New Day defeated The Usos to become Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Will The Usos challenge in a rematch, or will The New Day take on the next opponent? And, who is behind the attack on Breezango?
All this, plus AJ Styles, John Cena, Naomi, Natalya, and much more starting at 8pm Eastern. We will have all the details in our live report here, so be sure to tune in, and follow along on Twitter as well @RingRap!
We are in Richmond, VA tonight. Greg Hamilton announces the NEW United States Champion, Kevin Owens! Owens heads to the ring, title in hand. He says it just feels right – he is once again our United States Champion. He says he proved to everyone that if your heart is pure, good things will happen. He says he can go back to defending the title with the pride and honor it deserves.
An AJ Styles chat breaks out. Owens says he’s reinstating the Kevin Owens United States Title Open Challenge, and it begins….. next week. He runs down the fans, says he would never defend his title in front of a bunch of hicks like Richmond.
AJ Styles comes out. Owens says Styles better be out there to congratulate him. Styles says “Nope. I came out here to get my rematch for that United States Championship.” Owens laughs. He isn’t defending his title tonight against him, or anyone.
And then Chris Jericho’s music hits. Yup. Chris Jericho!
Jericho walks onto the ramp, list in hand. Owens looks shocked and terrified. Jericho enters the ring amidst Y2J chants. “It’s the return of Jericho! Welcome back man!” Owens starts yelling at him, but Jericho quiets him. “Quiet. Quiet. Quiet. QUIET.” He tells Owens to shut his mouth – it’s not Montreal, it’s America! He says the last time he was on Smackdown, he left on a stretcher. But he rehabbed, did Crossfit, drank a few beers, and he’s back. He wants his rematch for the US Title – right here tonight! Styles has something to say about that – he’s glad he’s back, but a lot of things have changed. He says the next person in line for the title is him. Jericho asks him if he’s trying to jump his spot in line, cut ahead of him. “You know what happens?” Jericho tells a story about a guy that cut him in line at the grocery store – he punched him in the face and put him in the Walls of Jericho! But AJ Styles… he just made The List!
Meanwhile, Kevin Owens walked away, but Jericho yelled him down. Owens walked further on, until Shane McMahon interrupts. He asks Owens to stick around as this concerns him. He says Jericho and Styles will both get an opportunity at the US Title – he makes it a Triple Threat Match… tonight! Owens is livid, but we’ve got one hell of a main event for tonight!
But first, Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin!
Jericho’s return is a huge surprise, though I’m shocked to see him go directly into the US Title picture. It’s fine though. He’s got a credible reason to be there. I’m glad he’s back too – Smackdown could use him right now.
Out of the break, Nakamura makes his entrance. Baron Corbin enters second. No blind attacks this week.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
The Action: The two trade strikes early on. Nakamura gets the advantage when he drops a knee across Corbin on the apron. Outside the ring, Corbin nails him with a clothesline. We go to a picture-in-picture commercial as Corbin maintains control. Corbin unleashes elbows outside the ring, and rolls Nakamura in. He throws Nak around a bit. Nakamura recovers and tries to lock in an armbreaker, rolling it into a triangle choke.
Back from break, Corbin has control again. He works over Nak’s arm. Nakamura fights free. Corbin slides under the ring post, but Nakamura catches him with a flying boot. Nakamura lays in roundhouse kicks. Corbin catches one and the two trade blows. Nakamura sets Corbin up on the turnbuckle and hits a running knee. A flying knee from the second turnbuckle is worth two. He misses a Kinshasa, and Corbin drops him with a backbreaker for two. Corbin misses a clothesline but hits a Deep Six for two.
Nakamura hits a flurry of offense. He kicks the knee and hits a running knee to the back of the head before setting Corbin up. He hits the Kinshasa for the clean win.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
This was a MUCH better match than Sunday night. Why couldn’t they do this on pay-per-view? Corbin will be fine here. Shinsuke needed that win.
The announcers hype the Triple Threat Match for the United States Championship later tonight, plus Jinder Mahal demands an opponent for Summerslam.
Backstage, Dasha Fuentes interviews Naomi. She asks her about Natalya’s refusal to shake her hand. Naomi says Nattie is tough as nails, but she won’t let her disrespect her. Nattie walks in and says Naomi tarnished everything being a champion stands for. She says she turned the title into a kids toy. She has no respect for those that paved the way. At Summerslam, she’ll take the title and restore honor. Naomi says Nattie is stuck in the Dungeon. She says it’s the title of now. She didn’t tarnish the title – she earned it. At Summerslam, she’ll be blinded by the glow.
Carmella steps in, Briefcase and all. She reminds Naomi that she’s looking to the future, and walks away.
Charlotte and Becky make their entrances prior to the break.
Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch vs. Tamina & Lana
The Action: Lynch and Lana start it out, but Lana runs for the tag quickly. Lynch goes for a Disarmher on Tamina early on. She hits with a kick to the face. Tamina slams her into the turnbuckle, but Lynch fights out.
Tamina tags in and hits a suplex on Lynch for two. Lana maintains control and tags in Tamina. Lynch makes the hot tag to Charlotte, who unleashes chops. She drops a knee to the back of the head. Tamina hits a kick to the face, and Lana tags in. Lana goes on the offense, but Charlotte hits a boot and gets the pin.
Winners: Charlotte & Becky
Tamina stalks Lana outside the ring, clearly pissed.
Lana continues to get squashed in nearly all situations, which is fine – they’re playing her up for exactly what she is – inexperienced. I’m curious where the story goes. Tamina is furious at the blind tag and the loss, but she didn’t lay hands on Lana. Not sure what’s next for these two.
The announcers cue highlights of the Punjabi Prison match, which saw Jinder Mahal retain the WWE Championship over Randy Orton, with a little help from The Great Khali and The Singh Brothers. Back in the arena, Mahal is introduced, and comes out by himself initially. Phillips tells us that The Singh Brothers aren’t present tonight thanks to the happenings of that match.
Mahal stands in the ring smiling. He says at Battleground he crushed the Legacy of Randy Orton, and the Legend of the Modern Day Maharaja was born. He says Orton relied on hope – agreeing to face him on his terms. He says he was just like the fans, underestimating him. He will hold the title as long as he wants, and he demands to know who he’ll face at Summerslam. But first, he demands silence as he speaks to his people in Punjabi.
As he’s cutting his promo, John Cena interrupts. He makes a full entrance as Mahal looks on annoyed. Cena grabs a mic as the fans chant, mostly in his favor. He gets ready to speak, but Mahal cuts him off – he wasn’t finished. He knows exactly what he’s going to say. “I’m John Cena, 16 time champion. You don’t deserve to represent 1.3 billion. You need the help of the Singh Brothers, of The Great Khali.” Cena tells him to stop moving his mouth. Cena tells him as a mind reader, he’s a piece of crap. Cena is the one guy that will congratulate him face to face – he respects him. He respects the shape he’s in, and the fact that the title means so much to him that he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it. It’s a congratulations.
Cena acts like he almost forgot – he doesn’t care if he has a giant, or the Singh Brothers, or a whole bunch of other things. He says it won’t be enough – at Summerslam, he’s facing Super Cena, which means he’s walking out of Summerslam 17 time champion. “It was nice to meet you, you can’t see me. Hit the trumpets!”
As Cena leaves, Daniel Bryan’s music hits and he walks out. Bryan congratulates both men for winning on Sunday. He says Cena is on a quest to make history, but he doesn’t make the matches – he and Shane do. He says opportunities are earned, even if your name is John Cena. He says Cena performed brilliantly Sunday night, and he’ll face another man that performed brilliantly tonight – Shinsuke Nakamura! That match happens next week, and the winner gets Jinder at Summerslam!
Wow, that’s one heck of a match to give away on free TV. I wonder if it will go down with a wonky finish? I feel like there’s more money in Cena vs. Mahal, but I’m excited at the idea of Nakamura getting the title shot instead.
After the break, Kevin Owens is complaining to Shane McMahon about his match tonight. He’s upset that he has to face both Jericho and Styles. He doesn’t even need to get pinned! Shane says both men have rematch clauses, and says that he does not care who the United States Champion is, as long as it’s defended on Smackdown. He cares about giving the best possible matchups, and tonight’s match will be amazing. “It’s for the audience.” Owens doesn’t give a damn about the audience, and he doesn’t really give a damn about McMahon either.
In the ring, Aiden English sings a song. He’s the “Shakespeare of Song, the Maestro of Mayhem.” He shuts down the audience boos. “The drama king, who hits like a rock, but sings like a dove, for tonight I am joined by the Power of Love.”
Aiden English & Mike Kanellis (w/ Maria Kanellis) vs. Tye Dillinger & Sami Zayn
The Action: English and Dillinger start it off. Dillinger hits a series of chops. He tags in Zayn, who hits 2nd rope axe handle as we go to a picture-in-picture commercial. Zayn keeps the pressure on English. Tag to Kanellis. Kanellis tags Zayn with an elbow and then bails out of the ring. There must’ve been a blind tag I didn’t catch, because English attacked Zayn outside the ring while Mike and Maria distracted him.
Back in the ring, it’s double-team time. Both men lay in stomps. Rapid tags from English and Kanellis. English has a headlock when we come in from the break. Kanellis hits a series of clotheslines and a boot for two. Zayn makes the hot tag finally, with English legal. Dillinger is on fire. He takes out both men easily, and sends Kanellis into the turnbuckle before hitting 10 punches. Tag to Zayn, Dillinger leaps over both men and sets Zayn up to connect with a Helluva Kick on Kanellis for the win.
Winners: Tye Dillinger & Sami Zayn
Tough to follow most of this as it was during the commercial break. About what you would expect from these four. Good action.
Back from break, The New Day begin their entrance, but mid-speech by Big E, The Usos attack. They jump Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston on the ramp, slamming them face-first into the steel. They send Kofi head-first into the edge of the LED board, and then drag him towards the ring. Big E comes out to get some revenge, but he’s dispatched by a superkick.
Now THAT was awesome.
Renee Young interviews Shinsuke Nakamura backstage. She asks him about his match next week against Cena. Shinsuke says “Next week, John Cena you can’t see me. Which means, I’ll see Jinder at Summerslam.”
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens (c) for the WWE United States Championship
The Action: Jericho immediately attacks Owens. Styles is on him too. They team up, and Owens bails out of the ring. Styles rolls Jericho up, worth 2. They trade pin attempts. Owens attacks Styles during one of those pins. He rolls Styles out of the ring.
Owens and Jericho go at it. Jericho tries to lock in the Walls. He hits a dropkick for one. Styles goes on the offense. The two reverse a suplex attempt. Styles tosses Jericho onto the apron and knocks him off to the floor. Owens attacks Styles, laying in stiff rights. He whips Styles into the turnbuckle and covers for one. Owens hits a senton on Styles for two.
Outside the ring, Owens kicks Jericho a few times before heading back in against Styles. Styles fires back with some offense, but Owens cuts him off. Styles rolls Owens into a Calf Crusher, but Jericho breaks it up with a Lionsault. Cover for two. We go to break.
Back from break, and Jericho is outside the ring. Styles and Owens inside. Styles starts the attack, and lays into Jericho with chops. Jericho hits a big back drop and a chop of his own. Jericho heads up top and sets up a suplex, but Owens catches him in an electric chair drop. Jericho rolls out of it and winds up for the Walls. Owens kicks out. Styles yanks the ropes over, sending Owens to the floor, then hits a springboard 450 splash on Jericho. Owens tosses Styles out of the ring and pins Jericho for two.
Styles attacks Owens outside, sending him into the barricade. He rolls back in and attacks Jericho. He sets up the Styles Clash, but Jericho reverses it and locks in the Walls. Owens moves to break it, but Jericho slingshots him into Styles, then locks in the Walls himself. Styles moves in to break it up, Jericho recovers and hits a Code Breaker for a near fall.
The two trade blows again. Styles hits a flurry, but Jericho cuts it off. Owens yanks the foot on a Lionsault attempt. He hits a cannonball on both men. Everyone kicks everyone, and all three men are laid out. Styles sets up Jericho on the apron. Styles goes for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Jericho hits a springboard dropkick, taking out the legs. Owens moves in and hits a pop-up powerbomb on Jericho. Jericho kicks out.
Owens is losing it. He goes up top and connects with a frog splash. Styles runs in and tosses Owens out of the ring, then covers Jericho. He makes the pin and picks up the win.
Winner: AJ Styles to become the United States Champion
Owens completely loses his cool after the match. He tears up the announcer’s table and grabs a mic. He tells everyone to shut up. “This is not fair!” Owens says it over and over again – it’s not fair Jericho was there, not fair that Shane forced him to defend in a Triple Threat match, that AJ stole his victory, and not fair that the people dislike him because he’s better than them. He says what is fair is his one-on-one rematch next week. He’s taking his United States Championship back.
Well, all is right in the world again. Styles regains the title that he allegedly lost in error on Sunday. Holy crap is next week a stacked show! Owens vs. Styles for the US Title, Shinsuke vs. Cena for the #1 Contendership. Both matches should draw eyes, but will they? It remains to be seen.
This episode of Smackdown was better than the Battlegrounds pay-per-view overall. Seriously. Not everything was great, but we had some good matches and more importantly, the furthering of storylines. It’s starting to feel like Summerslam season.
I’m out of here for the night folks. Thanks for reading! See you tomorrow on Ring Rap Audio!