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WWE SmackDown live results: John Cena makes his return


Date: July 4, 2017
Location: Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ

The Big Takeaway --

John Cena’s return was interrupted by Rusev and the two will have a flag match at Battleground. There was no explanation given regarding Cena’s status as a free agent. He did mention his willingness to take on anyone put in front of him, including several names from Raw. The most notable names were Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns.

The rap battle between The Usos and New Day was a memorable one. Specifically, the Usos referenced Xavier Woods’ history with Paige (without mentioning her name) and the crowd knew exactly what they were talking about.

AJ Styles worked double duty, defeating Chad Gable in a first-ever match, then was victorious in the battle royal to become number one contender for Kevin Owen’s US Title.

Naomi once again dispatched Lana in seconds, and Daniel Bryan gleefully fined and suspended James Ellsworth. If Ellsworth violates his 30-day suspension, Carmella will once again be stripped of the MITB contract.

Show Recap -- 

John Cena kicks off the show. The ring ropes are red, white and blue.

Big mixed reaction for Cena. He let them go a while with “Let’s go Cena” and “Cena sucks” chants. Cena was fired up for Independence Day. He claimed people of any race, religion, gender, etc could achieve the American dream, and WWE was the same way. He loved that he could step into the ring and compete with the very best.

Cena knows other wrestlers were speculating about his future, that he’s on his way to Hollywood, that he’s lost his edge, that he’s a part-timing mascot. Cena called himself an all-timer, not a part-timer (the same line he used months ago before leaving again). He said if his time was limited, he’s going down in a blaze of freakin’ glory.

He mentioned top guys as potential opponents from both brands, including Shinsuke Nakamura, Jinder Mahal, Samoa Joe, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.

Rusev interrupted, holding a Bulgarian flag. Rusev said he works hard, despite what Cena might think, so hard that he got hurt in the ring while Cena was off filming. He saw all the commercials for Cena’s return and wondered where his commercials were. He sent videos messages to Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon, but he wasn’t waiting for anymore, especially not for Cena to take an opportunity away from him. He called America a joke.

Cena said they weren’t in “Bulge-area,” they were in the USA and dared Rusev to go to the ring. Rusev said on Bulgarian Independence Day, they go out and march and show their pride, but in America, they eat hot dogs. The crowd chanted “Yes.” Rusev called them dumb Americans.

Cena said Americans weren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in. He challenged Rusev to a flag match. The crowd chanted “Yes.” Rusev accepted but not for today. He waved his flag as Cena led the crowd in a “USA” chant. JBL called Cena the greatest of all time.  

They plugged Naomi vs. Lana for the Women’s title and the Usos/New Day rap battle hosted by Wale.

Chad Gable and AJ Styles showed up in Daniel Bryan’s office. Bryan said Kevin Owens has been complaining about the two of them being in the battle royal tonight considering he’s beaten them both. Bryan proposed a one-on-one match between them to determine who gets in the battle royal. Styles was fine with “a little competition.” Gable sternly told him he was more than a little competition.

AJ Styles defeated Chad Gable

They went to commercial break quickly into the match. The previous segment probably went long. Gable out-wrestled Styles early on until he was cut off by a dropkick. After the break, Styles went for the Phenomenal forearm but Gable knocked him off the rope. Styles came back with a snap suplex into the turnbuckles.

Gable countered a Styles Clash into an ankle lock. Styles reversed that into a Calf Crusher but Gable rolled through into a rope break. Gable then hit a release German suplex. Styles countered another German attempt into a rollup for two, then followed with a Pele kick. Styles then nailed a Phenomenal forearm for the pinfall win in about 8 minutes. Fun while it lasted.

Styles helped Gable to his feet afterwards as the crowd cheered both men. Styles nodded at Gable and left. (Jason Jordan was not at ringside.) 

Mojo Rawley sat at his locker and looked down at his Hype Bros t-shirt. Zack Ryder walked in and apologized about their match last week. Rawley said it was alright, but Ryder knew it wasn’t. Ryder let him know he got them both in the battle royal tonight. Rawley teased turning on Ryder, but cheered up and reminded him who won the Andre the Giant battle royal. Rawley thanked Ryder and they shook hands.


Carmella and James Ellsworth came out to celebrate. Ellsworth said he was cancelling Independence Day because they have something more important to celebrate and called Carmella the first, second and only Miss Money in the Bank. Carmella mocked the crowd for thinking someone else might win last week. She quoted the Rolling Stones, saying you can’t always get what you want, unless you’re Carmella.

She talked about being able to cash in whenever she wants when Naomi interrupted. Naomi’s title belt is glowing blue (the lights surround the gold plates). Naomi let Carmella know that she wasn’t worried. She also let James “Ellsworthless” know someone else had some words for him. That brought out Daniel Bryan to a huge reaction here in Phoenix.

Bryan told Ellsworth to shut up before he could really say anything. Bryan barred Ellsworth from the arena, fined him $10,000 and suspended him without pay for 30 days. Bryan said if he breaks any of these rules, Carmella will be stripped of the contract. Bryan was great here, mocking Ellsworth after announcing each penalty. Crowd chanted Yes as Carmella and Ellsworth ran off.

Women’s championship match: Naomi defeated Lana

Naomi won in 11 seconds with her submission finish. Turns out, the lights on Naomi’s belt change colour too. Before the match, they showed a Tweet from Naomi saying she was bored of Lana. After the match, Tamina ran in and got in Naomi’s face for a moment. She told Lana to get up and escorted her to the back. Lana seemed confused.

Shinsuke Nakamura was backstage ready for an interview. He got a big pop but was immediately attacked from behind from Baron Corbin. Corbin asked Nakamura if he looked afraid of him. It sounded like Nakamura said “yes” before fighting back. Officials jumped in to separate them.

A flag match between Cena and Rusev was made official for Battleground in Philadelphia.

Rap Battle hosted by Wale

Wale, wearing an nWo Wolfpac shirt, introduced The Usos first, who had an entourage they called the “Day Ones.” (They probably only exist for this segment.) The New Day came out with their own entourage dressed in wacky costumes, like Abe Lincoln and a bald eagle. Big E went first, claiming the Usos were regulated to dark matches before them and tossed some insults towards Rikishi’s rear end.

The Usos went next, making jokes about Big E’s chest. The Usos then tossed out a line about Xavier Woods being Rated R, which got a huge pop.

Kofi Kingston went next and targeted the Usos’ physiques, suggested there's a reason they wrestle in shirts and claimed their guts extend beyond their penises. The Usos responded by pointing out Kingston being a fake Jamaican.

Woods was next and said Jimmy Uso was nothing until his wife put him on Total Divas. He finished saying they should go back to holding bags for Roman. One of the Usos pushed Woods but everyone was quickly separated. Wale disqualified The Usos and gave the win to New Day. I don’t think the crowd agreed with the decision, but there was no way they could top the Rated R line earlier.

This segment probably wasn’t for everyone, but I greatly enjoyed it. My recap can’t do it justice at all, so go watch it if you missed it.

Aiden English defeated Randy Orton via DQ

Like last week, Orton interrupted English as he sang to the crowd. As Orton posed for his entrance, English attacked him from behind, nailed him with the microphone and tossed him into the steps. English began singing again and they cut to an ill-timed commercial break as Orton was getting to his feet.

After the break, the match was underway with Orton still wearing his sleeveless hoody. Orton was back in control, took off his hoody, tossed English over the announce table, into the barricade and into the ringpost. Orton then gave him a back suplex on the table as the referee yelled, “Get him in the ring!” Orton hit a draping DDT off the announce table instead.

Orton grabbed the steel steps and the referee warned him to stop. Orton clobbered English with the steps and finally, the ref called for the bell (presumably a DQ). Orton finished English off with an RKO in the ring.

Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers came out. Mahal called America the home of prejudice and the land of ignorance. Mahal wishes he could put everyone in the crowd into the Punjabi Prison and beat respect into them. Mahal said he would destroy Orton’s once-great legacy and called himself the only superpower in WWE.

Mahal was about to speak Punjabi but Orton cut him off. Orton said he would beat up Mahal in the Punjabi Prison and maybe he would RKO him back to India. Orton said people don’t hate him because he’s different, they hate him because he’s a jackass.

Tye Dillinger was walking around backstage and passed a construction worker on a ladder (Fandango). Tyler Breeze, dressed as Renee Young, interviewed Dillinger. Breeze referred to himself as “Tenee Young” and asked Dillinger his strategy in the battle royal. Dillinger gave purposely generic answers and let Tenee know he was a ten.

They cut to Renee Young and she appeared baffled. She complimented Breeze on filling out the dressed, then interviewed Maria and Mike Kanellis. As they spoke, the video cut out and they had to go to a shot of the arena (you could still hear them). The crowd booed. The video came back on just in time to hear a loud crashing sound. It was Sami Zayn nearby, who knocked something down as he stretched. Zayn apologized for interrupting them again and did some comedy before his music hit and he ran off for the match.

Talking Smack will feature Maria and Mike Kanellis, Naomi and the winner of the Battle Royal.

AJ Styles won a Battle Royal to become Number One contender for the U.S. Title 

The participants are AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, Fandango, Tyler Breeze, Konnor, Viktor, Mojo Rawley, Zack Ryder, Jason Jordan, Epico, Sin Cara, Erick Rowan and Tye Dillinger. Owens is on commentary. He told Tom Phillips to shut up and plugged his DVD. They went to commercial less than two minutes into this high stakes match, but not before Dolph Ziggler was the first eliminated by Luke Harper.

Erick Rowan eliminated Fandango. He tossed Breeze over the top but Breeze jumped into Fandango’s arms. Fandango put Breeze back in the ring but Rowan eliminated him right away. Rowan also dumped out Sin Cara.

Harper eliminated Konnor but Rawley immediately eliminated Harper, which was booed. Ryder and Rawley eliminated Rowan but then Rawley eliminated Ryder, which was also booed. (Owens said it would be great if Ryder and Rawley collided and they both exploded.)

Zayn eliminated Rawley with a Helluva kick. There must’ve been eliminations during commercial or off-camera because this left us with Zayn, Dillinger and Styles.

Dillinger got a chance to shine for a moment, almost eliminating both men. Zayn got the better of him though and tossed him out. Zayn gave Styles an exploder into the corner but Styles dodged a Helluva kick. Zayn tried to suplex Styles out of the ring, but Styles countered with a knee to the head. Finally, Styles nailed a Pele kick and Zayn fell out of the ring. Styles wins.

Owens attacked Styles afterwards but Styles fought back. He went for a Styles Clash but Owens bailed. Styles posed with the title to end the show.

Final Thoughts --

The battle royal wasn’t great, but I thought this was still a pretty enjoyable show throughout.