Smackdown moved on to Birmingham, Alabama on Tuesday night, and the focus was solely on this Sunday’s Battleground pay-per-view.
The New Day will again challenge The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships on Sunday, whilst the WWE Championship and United States Championship will also be defended this weekend.
Ahead of the pay-per-view, the likes of AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, John Cena, Becky Lynch and Sami Zayn were all in action, and here are seven things you missed overnight…
Jinder Mahal introduces Randy Orton to the Punjabi Prison
Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton (Image: WWE)
On Sunday, Jinder Mahal will again defend his WWE Championship against Randy Orton, but this time, they will go head-to-head inside the devastating Punjabi Prison – a bamboo cage inside an even bigger bamboo cage, and the winner must escape the first cage before climbing over the second.
Mahal and the Singh Brothers stepped inside the Punjabi Prison to not only remind Orton of the rules of the match, but also threaten Orton with the prospect of being hit with a Khallas – Mahal’s finishing move – from the top of the structure.
Orton emerged and even climbed up the Punjabi Prison to mock Mahal for choosing a match where the Singh Brothers – seemingly – can’t help him, and attempted to get inside the Champion’s head by suggesting that he will be letting down 1.3 billion Indians if he loses Sunday’s match, raising the stakes for their bout in the process.
The WWE Universe is still reeling from Kurt Angle’s shocking revelation on Monday Night Raw, where the Raw General Manager announced that Jason Jordan is not only his son, but would also be joining the red brand from Smackdown.
Jordan was a part of the American Alpha tag team, meaning his switch leaves Chad Gable to fend for himself on Smackdown, and he sat down with Renee Young to discuss the news and his plans going forward.
Gable – who has recently been challenging for the United States Championship – admitted that he didn’t know about Jordan’s situation before the announcement, but did notice that he had been distant in recent weeks. Gable vowed to support Jordan just as they did as tag team partners, but believes that he has his own surprises up his sleeve as he embraces being a singles competitor on Smackdown.
Mike Kanellis makes his Smackdown debut – and defeats Sami Zayn
Since making an appearance alongside wife Maria, Mike Kanellis hadn’t been seen in competitive action in WWE, but his backstage attack on Sami Zayn last week set him up for his first bout this week.
Zayn’s continued, and admittedly accidental, interruptions of Maria and Mike’s ‘Power of Love’ messages had riled up the Kanellises, and Mike exerted some form of revenge on Tuesday night.
After some considerable interference from Maria, who was attempting to protect her husband from Zayn, Mike took full advantage with a Samoan Driver for the victory, meaning it’s one match, one win for Smackdown’s most recent addition.
Rusev attacks John Cena ahead of Battleground meeting
This Sunday’s Battleground pay-per-view sees John Cena in action against the returning Rusev, in a Flag Match, in which an American flag will be on one turnbuckle, and a Bulgarian flag on another, and the first to retrieve their flag wins.
Ahead of that match, Cena emerged to give a familiar, patriotic message to the crowd about how he acknowledges that he may not be everybody’s favourite WWE star, but everybody in attendance loves the American flag, and he will defend it with his life this weekend.
As Cena waved the American flag, Rusev arrived with an attack, blindsiding Cena before locking in the Accolade, and eventually waving the Bulgarian flag gleefully at the top of the ramp, firing a major warning to Cena ahead of Battleground.
Battleground will also see five women – Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Lana, Natalya and Tamina – compete in a five-way elimination match for a shot at Naomi’s Smackdown Women’s Championship at Summerslam.
Ahead of that match, the five competitors bickered backstage with Shane McMahon over who should compete on Smackdown, with the commissioner eventually settling on Natalya’s suggestion of seeing friends Becky and Charlotte go one-on-one.
It was Lynch who scored a surprise win by forcing Flair to tap out to her Dis-Arm-Her submission, but she had little time to celebrate as Natalya, Lana and Tamina all stormed the ring to attack the pair, though Lana and Tamina’s shock alliance continued as they teamed up to take Natalya down too, and these relationships could come into play on Sunday.
Backstage, Naomi was attempting to comment on Sunday’s match, but was confronted by Money in the Bank winner Carmella, who reminded the Champion that she will be following her wherever she goes as she weighs up the opportune moment to cash in.
Breezango receive another mysterious message
Fandango and pal Breeze were targeted again
Breezango have been serving up a weekly dose of wacky for some time now, and they were at it again this week as they attempted to get to the bottom of who has been attacking them and trashing their offices.
In an X-Files-style skit, Breeze and Fandango ruled out aliens and a singing Aiden English before receiving a parcel, which contained the head of Fandango’s toy horse, Tully, and a message simply reading ‘Battleground’.
Breeze and Fandango look set to meet their mystery tormentors on Sunday, though the bizarre adventures of Smackdown’s most entertaining tag team will surely continue for the foreseeable future.
Kevin Owens pins AJ Styles in tag team main event
It was another win for Kevin Owens (Image: WWE)
Sunday will also see Kevin Owens take on AJ Styles as he attempts to win back his United States Championship, and Baron Corbin go one-on-one with Shinsuke Nakamura after weeks of cheap shots from the Money in the Bank winner.
Corbin was at it again on Tuesday as he attacked Nakamura mid-entrance, ahead of a tag team main event, which featured Corbin alongside Owens, and Styles teaming with Nakamura – though Nakamura’s pre-match admission that he’s eyeing Styles’ United States Championship made for an interesting dynamic.
A brawl on the ramp after Corbin’s attack did finally lead to an in-ring match, with Owens hitting a Pop-Up Powerbomb on Styles for the win after a superb blind tag with Corbin – and Owens’ pin on Styles may just give him even more belief that he can reclaim his United States Championship at Battleground.