By Mike “Sarge” Riley, 98.5 The Sports Hub
BOSTON (CBS) –This Sunday at Battleground will be the final stop before the WWE’s second biggest pay per view of the year next month (Summerslam). The “Smackdown” exclusive show features a main event caliber match that is middle of the card, a number one contender match for the Women’s title and John Cena’s first time in action since Wrestlemania.
Battleground also features three championship matches, but will Smackdown follow the Raw trend from “Great Balls of Fire” and not even have the titles change hands?
Sarge’s Battleground Predictions
WWE Tag Team Championship
The Usos (C) vs. The New Day. For a while the Smackdown tag team division was in disarray. Enter the longest reigning tag team champs in company history, The New Day. This is too young a rival to have the belts change hands and potentially squash any future competition between the two.
Sarge Says: The Usos retain (and then a rematch at Summerslam)
Flag Match: John Cena vs. Rusev. Remember when Rusev came to the ring on a tank at Wrestlemania 31 before fighting Cena? Yeah, you won’t see that again on Sunday. In fact, there’s been no real build to this match. This is simply a “comeback” for Cena and a “get acclimated” to a new show for Rusev after making the jump from Raw in April. Cena’s in ring ability will be as good as his amazing promo he cut this past week on Smackdown as he clearly bleeds red, white and blue.
Sarge Says: John Cena
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin. This is the set up for Nakamura being in title contention. Baron Corbin has his insurance with the Money in the Bank contract, but Nakamura will get his push sooner than later.
Sarge Says: Nakamura
Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis. I’m not being neutral to this one and bringing out the “fan boy” in me. Going big on Mike Kannelis (AKA Mike Bennett) over Zayn in this match. He debuted at the Money in the Bank show with his wife Maria by his side and the “Power of Love” angle has been a good start for this rising star. Mike is a New England staple from the independent circuit working his way up to forming “The Kingdom” with Matt Taven in Ring of Honor and then making the jump to TNA/Impact.
I met Mike and Maria for the first time two years ago at an event at LeLacheur Park (Home of the Lowell Spinners) and they couldn’t have been more kind. It’s always great to see local products succeed and I am rooting hard for Mike not only on Sunday but to continue his success as he climbs up in WWE.
Sarge Says: Mike Kanellis
United States Championship
AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens. AJ Styles is the best all-around athlete in WWE today, and Kevin Owens is a close 1A. I am very excited for this match, and it could be the main event. But, to WWE’s credit making the US title a prestigious one, and Styles won the belt at a non-televised event at Madison Square Garden. If these two can pick up where they left off at Backlash, then I think the WWE Universe is in for a treat, and I see this rival rolling into the end of summer.
Sarge Says: AJ Styles
Women’s #1 Contendership (Fatal 5-way Elimination)
Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch vs Natalya vs Tamina vs Lana. Since the addition of Charlotte to the Smackdown roster in April, we haven’t seen her full ability to be a main eventer she once was on Raw. In fact, I could see Charlotte and Becky as the two finalists for this match, similar to their one on one showdown this past week on Smackdown. But, the Queen regains her throne and she is the challenger for Naomi at Summerslam.
Sarge Says: Charlotte Flair
WWE Championship (Punjabi Prison Match)
Jinder Mahal (C) vs. Randy Orton. This is almost like the Cleveland Browns coming to Foxboro in a playoff game (not that they ever would make it to January). My point is, Mahal won’t lose on home territory and he carries the title into Summerslam.
Sarge Says: Jinder Mahal
And don’t forget some local shows to take in over the next few weeks
Friday August 4 – Danvers Indoor Sports Arena Danvers, MA
Cody Rhodes challenges Chaotic Wrestling Champion Elia Markopoulos
Donovan Dijak vs. Josh Briggs
Saturday August 19 – LeLacheur Park Lowell, MA
“A Night of GrandSlams”
Featuring WWE Hall of Famer “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
Former WWE Superstars Kenny & Mike of “The Spirit Squad”, Billy Gunn and Ryback
Friday September 8 – Campanelli Stadium Brockton, MA
Featuring WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley and former superstar Chavo Guerrero
Mike “Sarge” Riley can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ NewsRadio 1030. Find him on Twitter @Sarge985.