Following his shocking victory over Kevin Owens to capture the United States Championship this past Friday during a WWE Live Event in the hallowed Madison Square Garden, AJ Styles kicked off the show on Team Blue to declare that he was bringing back the United States Championship Open Challenge. Who would be the first Superstar to answer The Phenomenal One’s call? Well, his name is JOHN CENA!
The Leader of the Cenation, who created the United States Championship Open Challenge, seemed ready to rekindle his classic rivalry with Styles, but before the two could throw down, they were interrupted by KO, who wanted a rematch for the title, and then by Rusev, who snuck into the ring and surprise attacked Cena, his WWE Battleground opponent. Rusev’s assault from behind led to The New Face of America planting Styles with a bone-rattling Pop-up Powerbomb and The Bulgarian Brute locking The Cenation Leader in the devastating Accolade.
Fresh off making it to the final three of the Independence Day Battle Royal, Tye Dillinger received the biggest opportunity of his career when he took on WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, who was once again flanked by The Singh Brothers. The Perfect 10 brought his best to The Modern-Day Maharaja, but Mahal prevailed after a brief flurry by Dillinger, besting him with a ring-shaking Khallas.
After the contest, Mahal stated that he was going to give everyone a little taste of what Randy Orton was in for at WWE Battleground when he brings the Punjabi Prison to SmackDown LIVE next week.
Following their salacious Rap Battle from one week ago, The New Day and SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos got back to settling their issues with actions rather than words, as Xavier Woods took on Jey Uso.
With last week’s verbal barbs clearly still lingering, Woods and Jey duked it out as their teammates watched on from ringside, at least until their eagerness to get involved in the match got them ejected by the official.
With the playing field leveled, the two Superstars battled it out in a true one-on-one environment, and Woods bested Jey after connecting with an amazing soaring elbow while Jey was pinned between the ropes.
Following weeks of contention between the two, Shinsuke Nakamura and Baron Corbin would finally settle their differences here on SmackDown LIVE … well, almost. In a measure of payback from when Corbin attacked Nakamura during his entrance at WWE Money in the Bank, WWE’s Rockstar flipped the script and blindsided The Lone Wolf before the contest here. Afterward, the two rivals tore into one another in a wild brawl around ringside and in the crowd before being separated by WWE officials.
It was announced later in the show that Nakamura and Corbin would clash at WWE Battleground.
With the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match(es) now in the rearview, there was still some unfinished business to resolve between the “welcoming committee” and their opposition. Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch teamed up to square off against Natalya & Tamina, as the four Superstars all began to eye WWE Battleground’s 5-Way Elimination Match to determine the No. 1 contender to Naomi’s SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam.
Both teams laid it all on the line, and it looked as though Lynch & Flair might be on their way to a victory. However, Lana, who was offered a helping hand from Tamina just last week, returned the favor by distracting Charlotte Flair, allowing Tamina to score the victory for her and Natalya with a dastardly kick to The Queen.
After interrupting Maria & Mike Kanellis not once, but twice in recent weeks, Sami Zayn caught the ire of The First Lady of SmackDown LIVE, who demanded an apology. When Zayn gave her some backlash to that request, Maria promptly slapped Zayn, and her husband smashed a vase of roses over his head.
The message? Sometimes, love hurts.
Following the tumultuous tussle that opened the show, John Cena & AJ Styles teamed up for the first time ever to take on Kevin Owens & Rusev in an explosive main event.
With all four Superstars firing on all cylinders, it was as competitive a main event as you could ever expect to see. At the end of the tremendous bout, The Phenomenal One drilled Rusev with a head-ringing Phenomenal Forearm and staggered Owens with a Pele Kick, allowing The Cenation Leader to plant The New Face of America with a resounding Attitude Adjustment to obtain the victory. After the contest, Cena raised Styles’ arm, and the two Superstars showed one another a sign of mutual respect.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) & Sin Cara defeated Aiden English & The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
Other on-screen talent