John Cena kicked off SmackDown at its new home, in a new year, in a very patriotic mood. Talk of USA Network transitioned to discussion of the United States Championship, eventually prompting the Cenation leader to give a rousing introduction to the current titleholder, Alberto Del Rio.
Despite being called out in front of the WWE Universe, The Essence of Excellence was not about to put his coveted championship on the line. However, he was willing to fight anyone right there and then … except the 15-time World Champion. In response, Cena summoned the high-flying Kalisto to battle the arrogant Del Rio.
Cena stayed at ringside to get a good look at the man who took the United States Championship from him while he cheered on Kalisto. The Cenation leader’s presence at times seemed to be a distraction for Alberto Del Rio, who still managed to control the pace of the contest.
Just when it looked like The Essence of Excellence was positioning himself to lock in his Cross Armbreaker submission, the Lucha Dragon pulled off an acrobatic reversal en route to a shocking upset victory. Now how’s that for SmackDown’s very first match on USA Network?
The very first episode of Thursday’s hottest show on USA Network began and ended with fireworks as Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens’ Intercontinental Championship Match erupted into an unruly battle.
It became apparent early on in the contest that the squared circle would not be able to contain these two fiery fighters as their clash made its way outside the ring and overtop the announce table — giving new SmackDown announcer Mauro Ranallo his first up-close encounter with a WWE match. The Lunatic Fringe and KO took the fight into the crowd, resulting in both Superstars being counted out.
This proved to be just the beginning for both men, however, as they took it upon themselves to completely throw out the rulebook. The bitter rivals fought among WWE fans, on top of the stage and eventually through tables as they were both left lying in the wreckage of their epic brawl as the show went off the air. USA Network, say hello to SmackDown.
In other action... Divas Champion Charlotte defeated Becky Lynch... and Dolph Ziggler, Neville, Goldust & R-Truth def. The Miz & The New Day.