The final SmackDown pay-per-view before we build to SummerSlam will be Battleground 2017, emanating from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.
Per usual at the end of an event, I like to try to give my extended projections for which matches I think we’ll be getting on the next card, what makes the most sense, what missteps WWE may take and so forth before it’s all been fully fleshed out and announced while also recapping what we do know for sure is being set up.
This also allows everyone else to leave their comments below to sound off on which directions they think WWE will go so we can trace back to this point and say we were right all along, or that we wish they would have done something different, so on and so forth.
So what do I see in my crystal ball for Sunday, July 23rd?
WWE Championship Match: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton or John Cena
WWE loves to beat a dead horse and one thing that is very reliable is that they will do 3 matches per feud for almost every feud. With that being said, I wholeheartedly expect Jinder Mahal to be defending the WWE title against Randy Orton another time.
The alternative is that John Cena comes out on July 4th and issues a challenge to Mahal, but I honestly think we’ll see Cena/Mahal at SummerSlam at this point more so than at Battleground. Instead, I can picture Cena wrestling in some other kind of match…
United States Championship Match: Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles or John Cena
Kevin Owens will most likely be defending the United States Championship, but his opponent could be one of three people.
I don’t count Shinsuke Nakamura in the header above because I can’t picture he’ll have as much of a chance to fight for this belt as much as the other two. He’ll have his hands busy elsewhere, but it’s worth bringing him up.
Instead, I think this is down to either Styles or Cena, depending on a few other factors.
Obviously, if Cena faces Mahal at Battleground, he’s not facing Owens. That right there makes this Styles as the go-to, since I don’t think Orton will somehow switch over to a feud against Owens rather than a feud against either Rusev or Dolph Ziggler.
However, if Cena comes out on July 4th and he cuts a pro-USA promo, this could be a means to start a temporary feud between he and Owens with his “New Face of America” gimmick.
The more I think about it, the more I lean towards Cena/Owens, but we should get much more clarification about this on Tuesday night as well as Monday night with the Roman Reigns announcement, as it’s rumored he may challenge Cena for a match at SummerSlam. If that’s the case, Cena won’t be going into SummerSlam with the United States Championship, so a match against Owens means a loss against Owens, or Cena is just occupied with Rusev.
Styles, on the other hand, will assuredly be wrestling in some capacity, so if we don’t get Owens/Cena, we’ll get Owens/Styles.
The Rusev Match with Leftovers from Above
Since all of this is contingent upon a balancing act, it’s tough to make a few judgment calls without doing if/then statements.
If Mahal vs. Orton and Owens vs. Cena, I think we’ll see a match between Rusev and AJ Styles.
If Mahal vs. Orton and Owens vs. Styles, I think we’ll see a match between Rusev and John Cena.
If Mahal vs. Cena and Owens vs. Styles, I think we’ll see a match between Rusev and Randy Orton.
Essentially, what this boils down to is “whichever one of those three who doesn’t fight for the WWE and United States Championships will fight Rusev.”
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
After their interactions at Money in the Bank, I feel like this one is a guarantee, don’t you?
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
We know that the title being defended should be on the guaranteed list, but who the champion and the challenger are at the time can potentially change at any minute.
I don’t anticipate Carmella using her cash-in by this point, nor do I think Naomi will drop the title on an episode of SmackDown leading up to this, so I do expect to see Naomi going into this event holding the championship.
Her challenger, on the other hand, I have no real clue what WWE wants to do. At the moment, I’d steer clear of doing another match with Lana. I also think it’s WAY too early to have Maria Kanellis in this role. We could see a No. 1 contender’s match between the four women who lost the ladder match and if that’s the case, I’d bank (no puns intended) on Charlotte or Tamina getting the match here.
Part of me thinks Carmella might start a feud with Natalya going forward to keep her busy and out of the title scene outside of a cash-in tease now and again. I might be completely and utterly wrong about this, though, as I’m working on pure speculation.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. The New Day
You do a lame count out ending on a pay-per-view because you want to do this match again without having either team really win over the other. ‘Nuff said. I get it. I don’t like that you did that, but that’s what you did, so let’s just move on and announce the match already. Hopefully, The New Day simply wins the belts here and something better is set up for SummerSlam.
POTENTIAL OTHER MATCHES
Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler
Looking at the list above, noticeably absent are Zayn and Ziggler. I don’t think this will be the type of match that we see get any kind of built whatsoever, but just a last minute toss onto the card when they realize both men have nothing to do. This may even be a pre-show match, to be honest.
Mike Kanellis vs. Tye Dillinger
Unless they’re going to hold off on using Kanellis on a pay-per-view until SummerSlam or whatever SmackDown event follows that, I can see his first feud being with Tye Dillinger and them being positioned as one of the buffer matches on this card with Kanellis obviously getting the victory.
Secondary Women’s Division Match
I don’t think this is a necessity, but I do think there’s a chance we see a second match featuring the women’s division, either with Carmella putting her briefcase on the line or perhaps some kind of tag team match just to put a few more names on the card.