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SmackDown Live Recap: John Cena returns



The Big Takeaway

John Cena is back and explained why he’s a free Agent but was then interrupted by a returning Rusev. A.J. Styles won the Independence Day Battle Royal and will face Kevin Owens for the United States Championship at WWE Battleground.

WWE SmackDown Live Recap:

John Cena’s return to SmackDown Live was interrupted by Rusev

Cena came out and received a thunderous mixed reaction. The ring ropes were red, white and blue. Cena cut a great passionate promo and explained why he’s a free agent. Cena mentioned potential opponents from both Raw and SmackDown Live which included Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Jinder Mahal, Samoa Joe, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.

Cena was interrupted by the returning Rusev was holding a Bulgaria flag. Rusev was upset that he didn’t get any promotional videos about his return. Both Cena and Rusev traded back-and-forth jabs on the mic. Cena then challenged Rusev to a Flag Match. Rusev quickly declined Cena’s offer and said the match will happen on his terms.

  • Was awesome to see Cena back in the WWE and it showed why despite the mixed reaction he’s still the biggest superstar in the WWE.

Backstage: Daniel Bryan, A.J. Styles & Chad Gable

Bryan said that Owens didn’t want Gable or Styles in the battle royal because he beat them both. Bryan made a match and the winner of Styles and Gable will enter the Independence Day Battle Royal. Styles said he didn’t mind “little competition” Gable angrily said he was more than small competition.

A.J. Styles def. Chad Gable

Gable out-wrestled Styles early in the match but ate a dropkick. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm but Gable knocked him off the ropes. Gable went for a moonsault but Styles moved out of the way and delivered a snap suplex into the ropes. Gable countered the Styles Clash into an ankle lock. Styles then reverse the hold into a Calf Crusher.

Styles delivered the Phenomenal Blitz but Gable came back with a release German suplex. Styles countered another German attempt with a roll up for a near fall. Finish came with Gable tossing Styles to the outside but landed on the ring apron. Styles then delivered the Phenomenal Forearm and won.

  • A good match as both Styles and Gable looked great. After the match Styles lifted Gable up as the crowd cheered. Styles then nodded at Gable.

Backstage: Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder

Mojo was feeling gloomy backstage after losing to the Usos last week. Ryder came in and said they will take part in the Independence Day Battle Royal which cheered Mojo up.

Carmellabration was interrupted by Naomi and Daniel Bryan

Carmella came out, made fun of the crowd and then gloated about winning the Money in the Bank briefcase again. Naomi came out, got a nice reaction and then cut a promo on Carmella. Naomi then said somebody in the back has words for Ellsworth. Bryan came out to a huge reaction. Bryan banned Ellsworth from the building again. Ellsworth mocked Bryan by saying he’ll get back in. Bryan then fined him $10,000 and said he’s suspended for 30 days. If he doesn’t leave he will strip Carmella of the MITB briefcase. Carmella and Ellsworth left as the WWE Universe in Phoenix chanted “Yes”

  • Bryan, Carmella and Ellsworth were all awesome in this segment

SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Naomi def. Lana

Naomi went for a sunset flip and then transitioned into her version of the Anaconda Vice as Lana tapped out.

  • After the match Tamina came out and stared Naomi down. Tamina then Lana to the back.

Backstage: Dasha Fuentes interviewed Shinsuke Nakamura

Nakamura received a big reaction as he was getting ready for an interview segment but was attacked from behind by Baron Corbin with the MITB briefcase. Corbin asked Nakamura if he’s still not afraid of him? Nakamura fought back and this led to a pull apart.

WWE announced that John Cena will face Rusev in a Flag Match at WWE Battleground.

Wale hosts a Rap Off with The Usos & New Day

Wale was in the ring wearing a n.W.o Wolfpack shirt and hyped up the crowd. Then introduced the SmackDown Tag Team Champion Usos who came out with an entourage. The New Day then came out with their own entourage. Wale said to keep the Rap Off clean because WWE is PG.

Big E went first and claimed that The Usos were regulated to dark matches. Usos went next and made fun of Big E’s chest and then tossed a one-liner about Woods being Rated R (reference to leak Paige video) which got a big reaction. Kingston made a  jokes about the Usos wrestling in shirts. Usos came back by pointing out Kofi was a fake Jamacian. Woods brought up that Jimmy was nothing until his wife was put on Total Divas. Woods then said the Usos should go back to carrying Roman Reigns bags.

The Usos then pushed the New Day as the Wale disqualified the tag champs and awarded the New Day with the win.

  • This segment did drag but had some great one-liners

Aiden English def. Randy Orton via DQ

Aiden English was in the ring singing a song but was interrupted by Orton. Orton did his pose as English asked if he was finished? English attacked Orton with the mic before the match started and then threw him into the steps. After commercial break, Orton took control by throwing English over the announcer’s table. Orton then delivered a backdrop to English on the announcer’s table and then followed it up with a draping DDT off the announcer’s table. Orton then attacked English with the steel steps as the referee called for the bell. Orton then tossed English into the ring and delivered an RKO.

  • WWE Champion Jinder Mahal came out with the Singh Brothers and cut a heel promo on the crowd. Mahal was about to cut a promo for his people in Punjabi but was cut off by Orton. Orton said people don’t like Mahal because he will forever be a Jacka**

Backstage: Tye Dillinger and Breezeango

Dillinger was walking around backstage and went passed a construction worker (Fandango) then was approached by Tyler Breeze who was dressed up as Renee Young. Breeze referred to himself as “Tenee Young” and wanted to know Dillinger’s strategy for the battle royal? Dillinger gave a simple answer and said he was a ten.

Backstage: Renee Young interviewed Mike and Maria Kanellis

WWE then cut to Renee Young who looked baffled and but then complimented Breeze. Maria was speaking about the power of love but the camera cut as WWE showed the crowd in the arena. (You could still hear Maria speaking) The crowd booed this. The camera back on just in time to hear a loud crashing sound.

It was Sami Zayn who was stretching and accidentally knocked something down. Zayn apologized for interrupting them again and then cut a comedy promo. Zayn left when his music played. Mike was about kiss Maria but was having none of it and was upset that Zayn interrupted them again.

A.J. Styles won a number one contender US Title Battle Royal

Kevin Owens was on commentary, told Tom Phillips to keep quiet and then plugged his new DVD. The participants for the battle royal included 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. Ziggler was the first one eliminated by a Harper discus clothesline as WWE went to break.

Rowan eliminated Fandango and then tossed out Breeze. Breeze fell into the arms of Fandango and was placed back in the ring. Rowan once again tossed out Breeze and Sin Cara.

Harper eliminated Konnor but was then tossed out by Rawley as the crowd booed. Ryder and Rawley then eliminated Rowan. Rawley then tossed out Ryder which got more boos. Zayn eliminated Rawley with the Helluva Kick.

The final three were Dillinger, Styles and Zayn. Dillinger got the chance to shine by delivered punches and kicked in the corner as the WWE Universe chanted “10” Dillinger then delivered a Tye Breaker to both Styles and Zayn. Zayn eliminated Dillinger. Finish came with Zayn trying to suplex Styles who countered with a knee strike and then eliminated Zayn with the Pele kick.

  • A good battle royal which had the right winner of the match. After the match Owens attacked Styles. Styles battled back and teased a Styles Clash but Owens bailed to the floor. Styles then posed with the US title.


SmackDown Live was an enjoyable show to watch. As it was great to see John Cena back and WWE also set up matches for the Battleground PPV. Interested to see who Cena faces after Rusev since he’s a free agent.

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