Smackdown – July 4, 2017

Date: July 4, 2017
Location: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona
Commentators: John Bradshaw Layfield, Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton

Welcome home Johnny! After weeks of hype, John Cena is making his return to WWE TV tonight. This is the first time Cena has been seen since Wrestlemania XXXIII and there’s no real indication of what he’ll be doing. Since Cena can appear on either show, this might be something of note or just a glorified one off appearance. Let’s get to it.

The opening video looks at Cena.

There’s no time wasted as Cena is right here to open the show. The fans are all over him but he tells them to let him have it because he’s WAY too fired up to be rattled tonight. Cena talks about the importance of Independence Day and talks about the American Dream (no not Dusty).

The same idea holds true here: everyone has a chance to come out here and compete with the best. Lately, a lot of people have been out here running their mouths talking about Cena going Hollywood and becoming little more than a part time mascot. Cena is an all-timer because he’ll show up on Raw or Smackdown to face anyone from AJ Styles to Jinder Mahal to Seth Rollins to Roman Reigns and anyone in between.

Cue the returning Rusev to say he works just as hard in the ring as anyone but he hasn’t had any commercials hyping up his return. The American Dream, just like Cena’s return, is a joke. Rusev rips on the Fourth of July and gets drowned out with a USA chant. Cena issues a challenge for a Flag Match but Rusev says we do this on his time and his terms. Rusev walks away so Cena starts a USA chant/song. Cena beating up a foreigner on the Fourth of July is as much of a layup as you can have and that’s perfectly acceptable.

Chad Gable and AJ Styles come in to see Daniel Bryan, who says Kevin Owens doesn’t want either of them in the battle royal because he’s beaten both of them. Bryan kind of agrees so the two of them will be fighting each other for the right to be in the battle royal instead.

Chad Gable vs. AJ Styles

No Jason Jordan in sight. Feeling out process to start with AJ easily being taken down but popping up for his dropkick to send us to a break less than a minute and a half in. Back with AJ blocking a belly to belly superplex attempt. The Phenomenal Forearm is broken up but Gable misses a moonsault attempt. AJ gets the Calf Crusher for a bit but Gable twists out and plants him with a German suplex. Not that it matters as AJ is sent to the apron and hits the Phenomenal Forearm for the pin at 8:11.

Rating: C+. Better match than I was expecting here though I’m curious if Jordan is hurt or something. That’s two singles matches for Gable in a row and we haven’t seen American Alpha in the ring in at least a month. I hope they’re not being split up or anything as Raw is dying for face teams and Alpha would be a great fit.

AJ helps him up post match.

Mojo Rawley looks at a Hype Bros shirt and doesn’t seem pleased. Zack Ryder comes in and says it’s cool because they’re both in the battle royal. That seems to smooth things over a bit.

Here are Carmella and James Ellsworth to brag about winning Money in the Bank again. Carmella laughs off the idea of the fans having their wrongs righted last week and goes Rolling Stones with a little You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Cue Naomi and the BELT HAS LED LIGHTS. That’s up there with the spinner title on the dumb scale. Naomi says her eyes are always open so the cash-in won’t work.

This brings out Daniel Bryan who tells Ellsworth to shut up. Due to what he did last week, he’s banned from the arena again, but as a bonus he’s fined $10,000 and suspended for thirty days without pay. If he doesn’t leave RIGHT NOW, Carmella loses the contract. They immediately leave, as you might expect. Thank goodness they addressed Ellsworth coming back in last week. This should wrap it up too and that’s the best thing possible.

Women’s Title: Lana vs. Naomi

Naomi is defending and grabs her reverse Rings of Saturn for the tap out at 11 seconds.

Post match Tamina comes out to stare Naomi down and leaves with Lana. Nope. Don’t even try to give Lana some kind of story or angle now. Not after you spend two months building her up with vignettes and then have her lose twice in less than a minute combined. I have no idea what the point was in building her up like that but if this is some nonsense about how she didn’t work hard enough or whatever, screw off WWE and get your nonsense in order. Or, you know, WRITE HER OFF TV INSTEAD OF KILLING HER LIKE THIS.

Baron Corbin jumps Shinsuke Nakamura with the briefcase.

It’s time for the Rap Off with rapper Wale in charge. Both the Usos and New Day have groups of people with them and trade insults about penis size, fake Jamaican accents, staying in your lane and the Usos being nothing until Naomi put them on Total Divas. A fight almost breaks out so Wale disqualifies the Usos to give New Day the win after nearly twelve minutes of rapping/rhyming back and forth. I know that’s a short recap but there’s really nothing else that can be said when it’s just talking back and forth.

Randy Orton vs. Aiden English

Aiden gets annoyed at Randy for interrupting his song and jumps him from behind. Before he can sing again though, we hit a commercial. The match is joined in progress with Orton beating the heck out of English, including dropping him back first onto the announcers’ table. The hanging DDT to the floor makes things even worse and Orton hits him with the steps for the DQ at 2:19.

English takes a post match RKO and here are Mahal and company with something to say. He talks about how everyone disrespects him because of the color of his skin but before he can speak Punjabi, Orton cuts him off and threatens to RKO Mahal back to India. Nobody likes Mahal because he’s a jacka**…and that’s it.

Tye Dillinger is interviewed by Tyler Breeze in drag. Tyler, or Te-Nee Young asks what Tye is going to do to deal with the quadruple threat of Breezango. Dillinger gives a basic strategy and nearly runs into Fandango, who is wearing a fake mustache and dressed like a construction worker. Fandango and Breeze are of course bros forever, no matter how physical things get tonight. They’ve got something with this Breeze/Fandango things and that’s likely grounds for running them into the ground asap.

Renee Young (who says Te-Nee Young was filling out the dress) interviews Mike and Maria Kanellis about the power of love. A noise interrupts them and it’s Sami Zayn stretching. He talks about the Power of Love and goes into a discussion of Huey Louis and the News. As Sami wonders why you never hear about the News, his music hits and he has to run off. Maria is not pleased.

Battle Royal

Sami Zayn, Konnor, Viktor, Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper, Mojo Rawley, Zack Ryder, Erick Rowan, Fandango, Tyler Breeze, AJ Styles, Tye Dillinger, Sin Cara

Winner gets a shot at Kevin Owens, on commentary here, and the US Title at Battleground. I think I have everyone in there but that’s always hard to pull off due to the constant camera cuts. Harper clotheslines Ziggler out before the vest can even come off. We take an early break and come back with Rowan eliminating Fandango.

Breeze is thrown to the apron and jumps into Fandango’s arms before being placed back inside. That’s fine with Rowan who dumps him a few seconds later. Harper knocks out Konnor but gets dumped by Rawley. We’re down to Ryder, Rawley, Rowan, Dillinger, Styles and Zayn. The Hype Bros nearly get into it but team up to dump Rowan. Rawley throws Ryder out and says it’s not personal. Ryder seems to take it personally though and doesn’t seem to mind when Sami kicks Rawley out.

So we’re down to three with Tye stomping on Styles and Sami, in increments of ten of course. Tye sends both of them to the apron but Sami backdrops Dillinger out to get us down to two. Sami grabs a quick exploder on Styles but misses the Helluva Kick and gets Pele Kicked out to give AJ the win at 11:18.

Rating: C. This was better than your average battle royal as they got rid of most of the nothing guys early and got down to people fans care about. Styles winning was obvious but they kept things moving and it was far from bad. The fans would have been happy with any of the final three so it was hardly torture.

Owens hits the ring and beats Styles down, only to have AJ knock him to the floor and hold up the title to end the show.

Overall Rating: D+. Tonight was a completely skippable show, as it should have been on the major holiday. Save for Cena, who wasn’t around after the first fifteen minutes, nothing of note happened here, assuming you count AJ getting the title shot as important. This was exactly what they should have done tonight though as no one was watching and it gives them a week to put some stuff together.


AJ Styles b. Chad Gable – Phenomenal Forearm

Naomi b. Lana – Reverse Rings of Saturn

Aiden English b. Randy Orton via DQ when Orton used the steps

AJ Styles won a battle royal last eliminating Sami Zayn

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