Date: July 23, 2017
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield, Byron Saxton
It’s time for another pay per view before we head on to Summerslam but tonight we have a Punjabi Prison match. Yeah they’re dusting this one off because the Smackdown World Champion is of Indian descent and this is some kind of a war themed pay per view. Other than that we have John Cena vs. Rusev in a flag match to keep up the same theme. Let’s get to it.
Kickoff Show: Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger
English sings before the match, dubbing himself the Beethoven of Baritone and the Drama King. It helps that he has one heck of a voice. English shoulders him down to start and does a quick curtsy. Dillinger comes right back with a series of very fast standing switches into an armdrag, good for a TEN. Back up and English sends him into the middle buckle before unloading with some right hands.
We come back from a break with Dillinger fighting out of a chinlock and hitting a running forearm. A spinebuster gives Tye two but he can’t hit the Tyebreaker. English gets two off a layout DDT (he lands on his stomach instead of falling backwards) and frustration is setting in. Aiden tries a Tyebreaker of his own but spends too much time giving Dillinger a ZERO, allowing Tye to slip out into a sunset flip for two. That’s fine with English though as he sends Aiden into the corner and grabs a dragon suplex which spins off into a faceplant for the pin at 9:45.
Rating: C. I had a feeling they might have English go over here as it’s fairly clear that Dillinger has already lost whatever steam he could
The opening video shows wrestlers wearing war paint, which they’ve all earned. It transitions into Rusev running down America and Orton wanting his title back.
Tag Team Titles: New Day vs. Usos
New Day is challenging and clad in red, white and blue. You know, because WWE wants to do an AMERICA IS AWESOME show and chose freaking Battleground while also doing GREAT BALLS OF FIRE instead of Great AMERICAN Bash. Keep up the brilliance guys. Kofi dropkicks Jey at the bell and it’s off to Woods as the challengers hit some rapid fire kicks, followed by a middle rope elbow for two, all in the first thirty seconds. The champs take over on Woods in the corner with a variety of kicks and stomps, followed by Jey hitting the running Umaga attack (with JBL mentioning Umaga by name for a change).
Woods shoves Jey off the top though and hits a missile dropkick, allowing the hot tag to Kingston. Trouble in Paradise doesn’t work so both champs are sent outside with Kofi tagging Woods. The Usos able to catch the trust fall though and Kofi gets powerbombed on the floor. A wheelbarrow suplex is countered into a faceplant for two on Jimmy but the Honor Roll is broken up.
Woods eats a pop up Samoan drop for a close two and is able to get up top for the really far elbow. That’s fine with Jimmy though who slides over for a superkick to knock Woods out of the air (SWEET) for two. We hit a Tequila Sunrise into a long half crab until Woods gets over to the rope for the break.
Kofi remembers he’s alive and comes back in with a top rope double stomp to Jimmy while Woods holds him in a backbreaker (not the Midnight Hour Tom). The champs are right back with a superkick into the Superfly Splash for an even closer near fall. Woods is back up to shove Jey off the top, leaving Jimmy to eat Trouble in Paradise. Xavier adds the really long top rope elbow for the pin and the titles at 13:43.
Rating: B+. This was straight out of the old WCW Cruiserweight Title playbook: give two people some time and let them go nuts with high spots and hot near falls. The Usos weren’t doing anything with the belts and New Day, though not what they used to be, are still flat out more popular than anyone else in the promotion so this makes a good bit of sense. I’m not sure who they feud with but at least they’re back on top.
Recap of Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. Corbin attacked him at the start of the Money in the Bank ladder match and has done it multiple times since. Tonight it’s about revenge.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
Nakamura’s pop is outstanding, even for a Philadelphia crowd. Corbin gets in his face to start but Nakamura calmly kicks him down, meaning it’s time for an early breather on the floor. They trade places with Nakamura making him wait for a bit, only to charge back in for a right hand to the jaw. We hit a bearhug of all things but Nakamura reverses into a triangle choke.
Corbin slips out of that as well and yells at the crowd before putting on the bearhug again. A chokeslam is broken up with a quick kick, followed by a spinning kick to the head. Corbin runs him over with an awesome clothesline but Nakamura knees the heck out of him to escape. Kinshasa is countered with Deep Six for two but a chokeslam is countered into a Backstabber. Nakamura loads up the reverse exploder but Corbin kicks him low for the DQ at 12:28.
Rating: C-. As usual, Nakamura continues to just kind of be there and that makes for some disappointing matches. The bearhug and ending really hold this one back too as Corbin didn’t exactly show off much here and Nakamura was exactly what he’s been doing in recent months. I hope he steps up at Summerslam because otherwise, I have no idea when he’s going to do so.
Baron goes to leave but hits Nakamura with the briefcase and adds End of Days to continue the feud.
Video on Naomi and the five potential challengers to set up the #1 contenders match.
Natalya vs. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Lana
Elimination rules and the winner gets Naomi, on commentary here, at Summerslam. Lana is knocked to the floor to start (probably not the worst idea) and everyone else brawls inside. Natalya tries a Sharpshooter on Tamina until Lana makes the save, earning herself a showdown with Charlotte. Tamina breaks up the beatdown and the double team begins on Charlotte.
Lana completely misses a kick to the head but gets two anyway and it’s time to pose. Becky FINALLY comes back in and beats on Lana, setting up a Charlotte vs. Becky showdown. Natalya breaks it up and hits the basement dropkick for two on Charlotte. Lynch kicks Natalya in the ribs and grabs the Bexploder, followed by another one to Lana. Another Bexploder to Natalya looks to set up the Figure Eight but Charlotte can’t get it on.
The discus lariat sets up the Sharpshooter, only to have Lana make a rather illogical save. Tamina has to break up the Disarm-Her on Lana, followed by a Samoan drop. The same hold has to be broken up a second time but Becky gets the Disarm-Her on Tamina for the tap at 8:08.
The same hold gets rid of Lana at 8:38, followed by a rollup to eliminate Becky at 8:42. So we’re down to Charlotte vs. Natalya with Charlotte powerbombing her way out of an early cross armbreaker. Charlotte’s moonsault hits knees though and Natalya sends her hard into the corner for the pin and the title shot at 10:58.
Rating: D+. So we sit through a bunch of stupid saves and Lana being in way over her head (she’s gorgeous, she looks amazing in her outfits and she has the character but sweet goodness it’s not working in the ring) and NATALYA wins? She’s the biggest charisma vacuum I’ve ever seen and is the definition of nothing more than a hand in the ring. You have the other options for the title shot and you pick her? Just…..why? Oh and please, PLEASE keep Naomi away from microphones. She’s just not good at talking in any form.
Natalya won’t shake Naomi’s hand.
We recap AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens. Kevin defeated him via countout earlier this summer but AJ won a battle royal to get another title shot at Battleground. Then he won the title at Madison Square Garden in a big surprise, switching the roles for this show.
US Title: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens
Styles is defending. Owens grabs a headlock to start but AJ armdrags him out to the floor for a breather. Back in and Kevin gets taken down again, sending him outside again. A dropkick sends Owens outside for the third time but this time AJ misses a charge into the barricade. Owens grabs a long chinlock back inside, followed by a DDT to cut off AJ’s comeback.
We hit the chinlock again with Owens adding in the trash talk as only he can. The Phenomenal Rush puts Owens down and the seated forearm sends Owens over to the apron. AJ can’t lift Owens for much of anything and a missed charge sends him hard into the ropes. The fireman’s carry neckbreaker gives AJ two but the springboard 450 hits knees.
Owens nails the Cannonball for two but Styles is right back with a torture rack into the spinning powerbomb for a near fall of his own. Another springboard is broken up but Owens trips AJ up and sends him shoulder first onto the apron. Back in and the ref is bumped, leaving no one to see Owens in the Calf Crusher. He doesn’t tap but rather reverses into a Crossface on the bad shoulder. That’s reverses into a Crossface on Owens but he reverses into a rollup for the pin and the title at 17:44.
Rating: B. Uh….ok? Did they really just change the title at Madison Square Garden for the sake of a DVD release? The match was good enough but I’m not wild on them changing the title back and forth so fast. I was looking forward to AJ doing the Open Challenge but odds are we’re looking at a gimmick rematch at Summerslam, which doesn’t do much for me.
The Singh Brothers tell Jinder Mahal that they can’t be at ringside with him. Mahal says he has 1.3 billion people in his corner.
We recap John Cena vs. Rusev. Cena came back on the Fourth of July and talked about how much he loved America, only to have Rusev interrupt. This led to a challenge to a flag match, which Rusev accepted.
Rusev vs. John Cena
Flag match, which means you have to pull your country’s flag off a pole, take it up the ramp and put it on a pedestal to win. Cena headlocks him to start but Rusev shoves him away and goes straight for the flag. That’s not happening yet though so Cena pulls him off with something like a super bulldog.
Rusev is right back up to pull him off the top with an electric chair and it’s time to talk some trash about America. Cena gets thrown down again as this is already dragging about five minutes in. The shoulders stagger Rusev but he sends Cena outside. It’s still not enough to pull down the flag though as Cena makes the save, only to get powerbombed (kind of) back down. Rusev gets his flag down but eats a dropkick to knock it down again.
An AA lets Cena get up top but Rusev pulls him down AGAIN. Rusev’s powerbomb is countered into the STF though and Rusev taps, which means nothing. Cena grabs the American flag and jumps down into a superkick to put both guys down. The Bulgarian flag is picked up again so Cena has to dive off the apron to make a save and send Rusev into the steps.
Now it’s Cena going up the aisle but Rusev makes another save and hits him in the head with the steps. Cena gets up again and sends Rusev head first into the entrance screen. A fall away slam onto the ramp stops Cena again and it’s freaking TABLE TIME because it’s Philadelphia and ECW is still a thing. Make that two tables and just get to the AA through them so Cena can put the flag up and win.
Rusev can’t hit an AA so they knock each other down again with Cena grabbing the American flag. Why he doesn’t grab both of them and throw the Bulgarian one into the crowd isn’t clear. Rusev gets the flag stand and hits Cena over the back with it to set up the Accolade. With Cena down, Rusev gets the Bulgarian flag but has to fight out of an AA attempt. Another Accolade is broken up and Cena AA’s him through the tables, allowing him to put in the American flag for the win at 20:42.
Rating: F+. I absolutely could not stand this match as it felt like it went on for the better part of an hour. There were multiple times where they could have done ANYTHING else to get rid of the flag podium or the flag itself but they would rather walk around like they had been shot. Just awful here with a bad concept, a choreographed ending and nothing close to drama. Terrible stuff here, especially when it’s nothing more than a way to tie into the whole war/battle theme.
It’s Fashion X Files time when the Ascension comes in to say it was them all along. That’s not true though as Fandango knows they were at an Eddie Money concert on Tuesday. The lights go out and someone jumps Breeze. Someone does the same to Fandango and it’s…..not revealed who did it as someone drags Fandango’s body away. To Be Continued.
We recap Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis. They’ve been having issues for a few weeks and Maria cost Sami the first match earlier this week. Tonight it’s rematch time.
Mike Kanellis vs. Sami Zayn
The Kanellis family is wearing matching Maria’s jackets with lip prints all over them with Mike adding similar tights. Sami grabs a headscissors to start and Mike is sent outside where Maria has to pull him away from an attempted dive. Back in and Mike hammers away but has to stop for a kiss from Maria (in case you thought it was one from the referee).
Sami fights out of a double arm crank and sends Mike outside for the big running flip dive. The Blue Thunder Bomb is broken up so Sami settles for the tornado DDT instead. Maria gets in the ring to block the exploder though, only to have the second attempt work just fine. The Helluva Kick gives Sami the pin at 7:19.
Rating: D. Again, I don’t think anyone was seriously thinking that Mike was the talented one of the team and this match didn’t do much to showcase himself. He’s rather average in the ring and the whole character is that he really loves his gorgeous wife. There’s nothing special in the ring to help fix a lame gimmick and that’s not a good sign for his future.
We recap the Punjabi Prison match. Orton has been dealing with the Singh Brothers in all of his matches with Mahal so it’s time to lock them out. The structure is a bit complicated as it has two cages (made of bamboo), one around the ring and the other around the outside. The regular cage around the ring has four trap doors which will open up for sixty seconds each. If they close, they can’t be reopened though and if all four close, you have to climb over the top. The first person to get out of both cages wins.
Smackdown World Title: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton
Orton is challenging and we better have a Great Khali appearance. Randy hammers away to start and puts Mahal down before calling for the first door. Mahal dives over to keep him inside though and the clock runs out, meaning that door is no longer an option. They slug it out again with the champ getting the better of it and grabbing an armbar (as is the case in most prison fights).
The second door is opened but Orton throws him down with a fall away slam. Neither of them can get out so Mahal tries to climb, earning himself a trip right back to the mat. Mahal splashes him against the cage a few times but Orton grabs a suplex to send him into it as well. That goes nowhere either and they’ve only got one door left. The hanging DDT stuns Mahal so the fourth door is open, only to have Mahal break up the RKO with a jumping knee to the head.
Orton counters the Khallas into an RKO but the freaking Singh Brothers pop out from underneath the ring to pull Mahal through the door. Orton can’t get out in time so he easily climbs the inner cage and steps over to the outer one. THEN WHY WOULD YOU EVER BOTHER WITH THE TRAP DOORS??? Mahal drops down so the Singh Brothers pull Orton down instead.
Randy beats them up and pulls Mahal down, leaving the champ to find kendo sticks to work Orton over. Much like everything else though, Orton shrugs it off and does the same thing to Mahal to take over. One of the Brothers crawls through a hole in the cage and climbs up the outside, only to get punched down through a table (heck of a bump actually). Mahal pulls Orton back down and THIS IS STILL GOING!
The hanging DDT onto the floor should kill Mahal but that might mean the match is ending anytime soon so he’s just dazed for a few seconds. Now it’s a chair with Mahal taking a few shots to the ribs. The other brother gets knocked off the cage wall and it’s the GREAT KHALI to shake the cage as Orton tries to climb out. Khali chokes him through the cage and Mahal climbs out to retain at 27:42. Yes I said 27:42.
Rating: F-. I think this match actually broke me. I don’t remember HATING a match this much since…..geez the Russo days maybe? This could have been cut down by probably two thirds for the same result but they were literally just walking around looking for more stuff to do to each other because they didn’t have anything else to do to fill in the time.
Speaking of the time, WHY IN THE WORLD WAS THIS NEARLY HALF AN HOUR??? The show ended at eleven minutes after the hour and I’d LOVE to hear someone try to validate why it needed that extra time. I absolutely could not stand this match as it started off stupid and turned into one of the worst things I’ve seen in a very, very long time. It was long, it was stupid, and it makes the champ look like an even bigger loser than people already thought he was.
Overall Rating: D-. I know some of the stuff on here was good to very good but when your two main events are such absolute garbage and eat up nearly fifty minutes (closer to an hour with entrances/pre and post match stuff and the show runs over, there’s no way the show can be saved. Couple that with a pretty bad women’s match, a nothing Kanellis vs. Zayn match and the general feeling that this show meant very little and even the two good matches are helpless. This was terrible and it’s completely laid at the feet of whoever booked/produced the two main events. Simple awful.
New Day b. Usos – Top rope elbow to Jey
Shinsuke Nakamura b. Baron Corbin via DQ when Corbin kicked him low
Natalya b. Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Tamina and Lana last eliminating Charlotte
Kevin Owens b. AJ Styles – Rollup
John Cena b. Rusev – Cena put his flag on the podium
Sami Zayn b. Mike Kanellis – Helluva Kick
Jinder Mahal b. Randy Orton – Mahal escaped the prison
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