The WWE Battleground pay-per-view took place Sunday night in Philadelphia. It was not a show that WWE fans are going to look back on fondly because there were several questionable booking decisions, two of the bigger matches went on too long and aside from the exciting opening tag match, a lot of it was boring.

Battleground ran three hours and 11 minutes because WWE Network allows WWE to run as long as they want. I think if they shaved off 20 minutes it would have helped a lot, but it was still a below average PPV that I don’t want to watch ever again.

Here’s a rundown of every match in the order they took place and I’ll also look at what’s next for the performers.

Aiden English defeated Tye Dillinger on the Kickoff Show

These two have wrestled a bunch of times, so there was a lot of familiarity between them. They worked hard, got in a couple of good near-falls and English ended up winning clean, which is what I predicted. The reason I went with English is simply because he hasn’t really won much as a singles star, so they might as well put him over. It doesn’t mean much, but it’s better than another loss.

What’s Next: The optimist in me hopes that English gets a mild push with a meaningful feud against somebody good on the Smackdown roster, but the realist in me doubts it. Same goes with Dillinger. It’s hard to forecast much for either guy.

The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) defeated The Usos to win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles

Best match of the night by far and I don’t think it was even close. It was probably the best tag match on the main roster this year, but I might rate some NXT tags ahead of it. I’m glad that Woods was a part of the match instead of Big E just because Woods was probably a better style fit against the more athletic Usos. That’s nothing against Big E because I like him too. I just thought it was cool for Woods to not only be in the match, but he got the win for his team.

The highlight of the match was a spot where Woods went for a springboard attack off the top rope and he was hit with a superkick by Jimmy Uso. It led to a cover attempt by Jimmy that earned a two-count. It was one of several near-falls in the match where the crowd thought the match was over.

The finish saw both Usos go up to the top rope. Jey was knocked down by Woods. Kingston avoided an attack from Jimmy and Kingston hit the Trouble in Paradise. Woods followed up with a springboard elbow drop off the top rope and got the win for his team after about 14 minutes. The pacing of the match was great and the finish was well done. I picked The New Day to win just because I felt like it was time for a change.

What’s Next: There will probably be a rematch at SummerSlam. There’s not a lot of depth in the tag team division right now, so The Usos will get a chance to win back their titles. It could be a gimmick match like a Ladder Match or something to raise the stakes compared to their last two matches.

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Baron Corbin by disqualification

This was a letdown on a card full of matches that I would call disappointing. I thought Nakamura would be able to help carry Corbin to one of his better singles match, but after it was over I really don’t want to see them wrestle again. The chemistry isn’t there for them. Corbin’s inability to sell well for Nakamura’s moves hurt it a lot.

The finish sucked too. Nakamura was making his comeback with a series of kicks and setting up for the Kinshasa finisher. Corbin countered him by kicking him in the groin for the intentional disqualification because the ref was standing right there. That was it after 13 minutes. It’s the kind of finish that WWE books when they don’t want to put somebody over because they want to protect both guys. It’s similar to The Usos winning by a lame countout against New Day at Money in the Bank last month.

If you want my reaction to that finish in GIF form, here it is.

Post-match, Corbin went back in the ring and hit Nakamura in the ribs with the Money in the Bank briefcase. He followed up with his End of Days slam, which meant Corbin was left standing tall. This was Nakamura’s worst singles match on a PPV or NXT Takeover event in two years. I don’t think it was his fault either. Corbin just doesn’t have chemistry with him.

What’s Next: There will probably be a rematch on Smackdown very soon or maybe they do it at SummerSlam. I thought Styles vs. Nakamura might be the plan at SummerSlam. Now I’m not so sure about that. This feud could continue there, although I’m not sure if that’s a good thing consider how poor this match was.

Natalya defeated Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Tamina & Lana in a 5-Way Elimination Match

They tried hard and got time, but the match was hurt by Lana looking way out of place. There was a point where she was throwing kicks on Charlotte in the corner where Lana missed by several inches. She did the kick again and Charlotte did her best to sell it, but it looked cheesy. I think putting Lana in matches has hurt her character because she drew better reactions when she managed her husband Rusev.

My hope for the booking of this match was that Tamina and Lana would go out early while the other three (the talented ones) would wrestle a great match in 10 minutes. Nope. That’s not what happened. After about 10 minutes, Lynch made Tamina and Lana tap out to her Disarmer submission. Natalya rolled up Lynch while grabbing the tights to get rid of her. Charlotte and Natalya worked for a couple of minutes with Natalya getting the pin after sending the back of Charlotte’s head into the turnbuckle.

The match was fine, but I thought it could have been structured better. It wasn’t nearly as good as the two Women’s Money in the Bank matches they did.

After the win, Naomi wanted Natalya to shake her hand. Natalya walked away and refused to shake it because she’s a heel. That’s what heels do.

What’s Next: The win by Natalya means that she faces Naomi at SummerSlam. If you read my preview, you would have seen that I picked Charlotte Flair to win because I thought WWE would want her in a big title match at SummerSlam. I like Natalya a lot and she’s my favorite woman on Smackdown, but I didn’t expect her to go over in this match. I find it hard to believe Charlotte would be off SummerSlam’s card, so there may be a twist or two before SummerSlam on August 20.

Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles to retain the United States Championship

I’m not sure who made the decision to have awful finishes for Kevin Owens and AJ Styles matches, but somebody has decided that’s what must happen. Their match at Backlash ended when Styles lost by countout after he was caught in the announce table. Lame ending. This time, they did a finish where (following a ref bump) Styles applied a Crossface, Owens rolled through, turned it into a pin and it looked like a double pin or something where Styles’ far shoulder wasn’t down. It was very confusing, yet Owens was announced as the winner of the US Title.

It was a disappointing match considering the quality of the performers. When it’s AJ Styles in a PPV match, you expect something great, so when something is only “good” then it’s a letdown. Styles was booked much better last year than this year.

As for the title change, I don’t understand the logic of it. Styles won it from Owens a few weeks ago at a house show, so I figured he would get the win in this rematch. Nope. It’s back to Owens, so why do the title change in the first place? I don’t have the answer. At lest the ref bump spot was creative.

What’s Next: Another match between them. At least one more since Styles gets a US Title rematch. I’m not sure what else either guy might do. Styles should probably be the guy to win the WWE Title from Jinder Mahal very soon, but that’s probably going to be John Cena.

I think Styles may feud with Baron Corbin in the near-future because he can make Corbin look better than anybody. Owens as US Champion is fine because he’s an arrogant jerk who gets people’s attention. I just thought the idea of Styles doing the US Open Challenge would have been a lot of fun. Maybe it’s still a plan with another title change coming. It’s hard to predict title booking sometimes.

John Cena defeated Rusev in a Flag Match

This was one of the most boring matches on WWE PPV this year. It may have been the most boring on this show, but the main event topped it on the boring scale. The rules of the match were stupid, first of all. They spent 10 minutes trying to take down their respective flags. During that sequence, their climbing to the top of the turnbuckle was painfully slow. They looked like a couple of seniors in their 70s that have bad knees and hips that can’t walk normal. It was so lame.

Rusev got his flag first, which meant nothing because you had to plant it on a platform up the ramp. Also, there was a ref in the ring with them for some reason even though the ref had nothing to do since there are no pinfalls, submission, disqualifications or countouts. At least he was there to give them time cues.

They spent some time fighting around their platforms that had a stand on it. Rusev set up two tables by the US flag platform, which basically told you what the finish was going to be as soon as he set them up there. Rusev applied the Accolade submission on the ramp. Cena kept coming back. Rusev applied the Accolade again, Cena powered out of it and sent Rusev off the platform onto the two tables with an Attitude Adjustment.

Cena planted the US flag to vanquish the evil Bulgarian who happens to live in the US and got married on that Total Divas show in the US. Rusev is so EVIL! Right. Anyway, the best thing about it was when it ended nearly 20 minutes after it started. If it went 10 minutes, I may have hated it less.

What a terrible way to bring back Rusev from shoulder injury. This could have been WWE’s chance to re-invent and try to make him come across as a badass heel who was indestructible. Instead, he lost a bad match that wasn’t very exciting at all. Oh, and this table bump probably wasn’t good for his ass either. Right on the tailbone.

What’s Next: I assume Cena is the next challenger for Jinder Mahal’s WWE Title and he might win it because I think Mahal’s been a flop as WWE Champion. Since SummerSlam is the second (or third) biggest WWE show of the year, it makes sense for Cena to be in that top challenger spot. I’m not sure what’s next for Rusev. Maybe he can feud with Sami Zayn or AJ Styles because they can make him look like a strong heel with the way they sell. I wish Rusev was used better in general.

Breezango Were Attacked Backstage

There was a Fashion Files segment where The Ascension said that they attacked Breezango. Fandango told them that they were at the Eddie Money concert, so it wasn’t them. The lights went out and Tyler Breeze was attacked. Fandango was also attacked, ending with somebody dragging him away. The mystery of who attacked Breezango continues. It’s probably Luke Harper and Erick Rowan back together as a heel team, but if it was the Sanity group from NXT that would be even better.

Sami Zayn defeated Mike Kanellis (w/Maria Kanellis)

The 50/50 booking style was in effect here as Zayn got the win after Kanellis beat him in a cheap way on Smackdown last week. I thought Kanellis should win again (even though Zayn is a favorite of mine) because it would get him off on the right foot on the main roster. They did a similar spot to Smackdown last week with Maria getting in the ring to stop Sami. It didn’t work this time because Zayn countered Kanellis, hit the Exploder Suplex and Helluva Kick to win after about seven minutes.

I don’t mean to disrespect Mike Bennett (Kanellis), but there are so many guys in NXT better in the ring than him. He got to skip the NXT route because WWE wanted this character with his wife on the main roster. Mike doesn’t do anything to interest me or excite me in any way. Guys like Bobby Roode, Drew McIntyre, Roderick Strong, Eric Young and so many others could be utilized in a much better way on the main roster.

What’s Next: There will probably be more matches between them with Kanellis getting another win to make it look like he won the feud. I write all the time about how Zayn is one of the most poorly booked performers because he’s one of the best guys in the ring and knows how to get a reaction, but he’s portrayed as such a midcard loser a lot of the time. Zayn may be used to put over Rusev soon just to try to rehab the awful booking of Rusev’s character.

Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton in a Punjabi Prison match to retain the WWE Championship

What a mess. That’s my reaction to this match. They went nearly 30 minutes inside of a Punjabi Prison structure that made it difficult for the fans to see what was going. Want a sample of what it looked like? Check this out.

I was bored the entire way. I know what the other Punjabi Prison matches from 2006 and 2007 were like. I didn’t go into this show with high hopes for this match and I wasn’t let down because the match was a stinker. I’m not going to criticize the wrestlers that much because they did well given the limitations. It’s not the wrestlers’ fault that WWE’s creative team booked them in a stupid gimmick match that doesn’t lead to a lot of excitement.

Orton and Mahal wrestled in the ring for about 10 minutes. There were four doors that they could use to get out of the ring. They would ask for a door to open, had 60 seconds to get out and for the first three times, the other guy prevented it. This was so boring to watch. At the fourth door, the Singh Brothers appeared from under the ring and pulled Mahal out while Orton was still in the ring. Orton ended up climbing out of the 16-foot high cage while Mahal was trying to get out of the 20-foot exterior cage and Orton was higher than Mahal by the time he got to the outer cage. It was just really cheesy and lame.

That led to Orton having to fight off the Singh Brothers along with Mahal outside the ring while they were inside the exterior cage. They used weapons like kendo sticks and steel chairs to try to add to the violence. Orton was cut open on his arm at one point.

The highlight of the match was this bump by Samir Singh. It was about 15 feet high and he went crashing through the announce table. He deserves a lot of praise for being willing to bump off the structure with a rough landing. It doesn’t look like the table was padded at all. It was a hard bump similar to stuff we’ve seen in the past, but it still looks painful any time somebody does it.

The finish of the match happened after Orton dropped Mahal with a DDT on the floor. Orton also attacked Sunil Singh with a chair to stop him. As Orton was climbing out, Mahal’s music hit and former WWE World Champion Great Khali made his entrance. I let out a groan and thought “oh crap, this is terrible” immediately because Khali is one of the worst wrestlers ever.

Orton was in shock as he tried to climb out of the prison, but Khali shook it to prevent him. Orton ended up going down a bit, so Khali went up a bit and choked him. The choke from Khali stopped Orton, so Mahal went up the outer structure and then climbed down to win. The show ended with Mahal and Khali celebrating.

In my preview of the event I wrote this:

“I picked Mahal as soon as the match was announced. Orton winning is a possibility, of course, but I think Mahal finds a way to win cheap again. The prison is designed to keep the Singh Brothers out although they could climb into the prison too.”

It was a cheap win for Mahal, as I said. The Singh Brothers didn’t climb in. They got in under the ring. I didn’t predict the Khali part because the thought of him returning to WWE just makes me groan. This roster in WWE is so talented right now, yet they don’t seem to be utilizing so much of the talent right at all. I hope that Khali coming back is only a temporary and that he never wrestles again. It might be appealing to the Indian fans that WWE covets so much, but it’s not good for WWE programming in general.

What’s Next: I hope this feud is over. Orton lost the WWE Title to Mahal, then he lost the rematch and this was the second rematch. There shouldn’t be any more Mahal vs. Orton matches. It makes sense for John Cena to step up as the next challenger to the WWE Title and I’d have Cena win it at SummerSlam too.

If Mahal keeps it for much longer, it will remind me of JBL’s long title reign in 2004 that I hoped would end much earlier than it did. That was boring, just like this title reign is. As for Orton, maybe a rivalry with Baron Corbin is on the horizon so he can put him over.

In Closing

I thought it was the worst WWE pay-per-view of the year. My previous worst was Raw’s Fastlane show in early March, but Battleground was worse because so many big matches disappointed. Outside of the great Tag Team Title match, there was nothing on this show that I’ll remember in a positive light in terms of match quality or good booking decisions. It just felt off all night.

I won’t be able to do a Raw review Tuesday because I’ll be out of town on a family matter. I’ll be back for Smackdown on Wednesday.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He's written for WhatCulture, Bleacher Report, Layfield Report, Rajah.com and many other places. You can follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net.