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WWE Battleground 2017 will feature the familiar and the novel.
SmackDown’s next pay-per-view will see rivalries that overflowed at Money in the Bank reach a new chapter. Baron Corbin ambushing Shinsuke Nakamura, The Usos taking the cheap way out and Jinder Mahal using his flunkies to retain the WWE Championship promise to lead to matches for the July 23 card.
The blue brand, though, will have a number of additional moving parts to find spots for.
Mike Kanellis debuted at Money in the Bank. John Cena is set for a July 4 return. And Rusev is sure to make his presence felt soon.
Who will all these Superstars face at Battleground? What will the blue brand’s last event before SummerSlam look like? Read on for projections for the upcoming PPV.
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It’s clear The New Day isn’t done chasing the champs.
When the battle grew too intense and defeat was too close in The Usos’ minds on Sunday, the brothers exited the ring and took a count-out loss so they could hold onto the tag titles. That’s an easy way to feed into the two teams’ next chapter.
They won’t be alone, though.
Breezango finished off The Ascension and wrapped up their recent Fashion Files case. The Hype Bros, meanwhile, reunited at Money in the Bank following Zack Ryder recovering from a knee injury. Both squads will now need a new direction.
At Battleground, WWE will cram all four teams into a single match. That will allow the company to keep spotlighting Breezango and The Hype Bros and save the climax of the Usos-New day feud for SummerSlam. The nearly non-existent American Alpha will continue to be left out in one of the most puzzling developments of the year.
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Before Money in the Bank, Rusev demanded a title shot. If he didn’t get it, he wouldn’t begin his tenure with SmackDown, he explained.
WWE has since dropped that story, but The Bulgarian Brute could easily pick it up when he comes back, as the heel angrily confronts SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon. Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet reported that Rusev is cleared to compete. His return should now be imminent.
At SummerSlam, a furious Rusev could collide with McMahon in response to being left out of title match consideration.
In the meantime, a warm-up match awaits at Battleground. Tye Dillinger needs something to do after missing the Money in the Bank card. He would play the gutsy babyface who stands up to a monster here.
And Rusev can generate some solid heat by taking out The Perfect 10.
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Backlash may be the precursor to Battleground for Kevin Owens and AJ Styles.
At Money in the Bank, both men collided in the men’s ladder match to close the PPV. That bout caused WWE to step away from an escalating rivalry. Owens escaped with a win at Backlash in May when Styles’ foot got trapped in the announce desk.
Their story never finished. The Phenomenal One never got a chance to make up for that fluky loss. He will on July 23.
As great as KO and Styles were together at Backlash, WWE has to be considering a rematch between them. They can build on the animosity that they generated during Money in the Bank. Styles nearly broke Owens in half by driving him onto a ladder.
That promises to be part of the build to Owens vs. Styles II.
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The SmackDown brand welcomed Mike and Maria Kanellis during the Money in the Bank PPV. The former Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor stars made a surprise appearance on Sunday where they told fans they would show everyone the power of love.
Maria has often done more talking and managing than wrestling. Mike, meanwhile, is more likely to get some in-ring action on his plate come Battleground.
The heel will need a babyface to oppose. And few play that role as well as Sami Zayn. The Underdog from the Underground would assure Kanellis a quality match.
Braun Strowman and Baron Corbin have ridden a feud with Zayn in their journey toward the top. WWE may look to allow Kanellis that same path to the chagrin of Zayn’s fanbase.
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Lana had her crack at the SmackDown Women’s Championship while the majority of the women’s division was involved in the Money in the Bank ladder match. She won’t have that luxury come Battleground.
While WWE looks to slowly build up Lana on TV, Charlotte Flair is bound to step into her spot at No. 1 contender.
Flair and Naomi never got to finish their last fight. The Welcoming Committee stepped in and left their title bout a mess in April. It’s time to swing back to that story and wrap things up.
Flair is now a babyface, but she’s been showing flashes of heel tendencies. Her pursuit of Naomi could easily see her turn back toward the dark side.
The Queen remains the division’s biggest star and WWE is sure to showcase her, perhaps even crowning her ahead of SummerSlam.
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Cena’s spot on the card is the most difficult to predict.
He’ll return on July 4, well before Battleground. He’s sure to be a part of the PPV, but he doesn’t have any current stories to build on. Tangling with Mahal at some point is a possibility, although a title match against The Maharaja is a bout more suited for SummerSlam.
It would make sense for Cena to go after his old rival Owens, but he is likely to be busy with Styles. Corbin has issues with Nakamura to dive in.
That may leave Dolph Ziggler as the only viable option, giving The Showoff a hell of an opportunity by default.
Ziggler is below Cena’s level at this point. He could provide a warm-up match, though, ahead of Cena vs. Mahal. And there is some history between the two to dredge up if needed.
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Corbin worsened Nakamura’s chances of becoming Mr. Money in the Bank before the ladder match even began.
The Lone Wolf attacked the popular Superstar from behind. Nakamura did manage to make a gutsy comeback, but the assault clearly weakened him.
Nakamura is sure to be furious with Corbin following the PPV. A match at Battleground is likely to come of that. It would give both wrestlers something significant to do and the story is already half-written.
The King of Strong Style could also use a win here to launch himself into the WWE title picture while Corbin will remain there thanks to having the Money in the Bank briefcase in his possession.
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The Mahal-Orton rivalry will be a trilogy.
The ending of their Money in the Bank WWE title match spoke to their issues continuing. The Singh Brothers going after Bob Orton at ringside distracted the challenger. The Viper went into a rage and took out the cronies.
That allowed Mahal to swoop in and pin him.
Orton is sure to demand one more chance at the gold. Perhaps he asks for a stipulation that will keep out The Singh Brothers. There is still room to play with this narrative.
And should Mahal fend off Orton at Battleground, he’ll be ready to welcome Cena as his next challenger come SummerSlam.