In his triumphant return to Team Blue on Independence Day, John Cena was treated to a hero’s welcome by the WWE Universe. Cena, a free agent, passionately claimed that he was here to prove all his doubters wrong and was ready to take on the best on both SmackDown LIVE and Raw. However, the exuberant vibe was quickly altered when Rusev finally arrived on the blue brand for the first time since the Superstar Shake-up!
Feeling slighted by both SmackDown LIVE management and the WWE Universe, Rusev degraded Cena and the USA. Cena, off-put by The Bulgarian Brute’s clear lack of respect for the Fourth of July, proclaimed that this night wasn’t about Rusev, but about America.
Rusev and Cena jaw-jacked back and forth on the topic of American ideals, and The Cenation Leader then challenged The Bulgarian Brute to a Flag Match here tonight on SmackDown LIVE. Rusev, however, was quick to decline the offer, stating he would not be bossed around by the 16-time World Champion.
It was later announced that the two would indeed have the Flag Match at WWE Battleground.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos and The New Day arrived to Team Blue equipped with more bars than the Vegas strip. With Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Wale hosting, each Superstar took the mic and flowed, with humor certainly being The New Day’s zone and personal attacks being where The Usos operated most comfortably.
After the war of words began to get physically contentious, Wale called off the rest of the battle and simply declared that New Day were victorious. The New Day celebrated with Wale while the seething Usos took off with their crew.
With the No. 1 contendership to the United States Championship on the line, the Independence Day Battle Royal proved to be quite the tumultuous melee.
Action moved at a pulse-pounding rate as United States Champion Kevin Owens watched on from the commentary desk. The raucous match included such highlights as Mojo Rawley eliminating his own Hype Bros partner, Zack Ryder, before being booted off the apron by Sami Zayn’s Helluva Kick.
Tye Dillinger made it to the final three and nearly claimed the victory after hitting Tye-Breakers on both AJ Styles and Zayn and tossing them to the apron, though Zayn back-body-dropped The Perfect 10 over the top rope to the floor. Styles prevailed after a thrilling exchange with Zayn that concluded when The Phenomenal One hit Zayn with a Pele Kick that sent him careening to floor from the apron.
The exhausted Styles, who earned two victories in one night, had no time to bask in the glory, however, as KO immediately attacked from behind following his win. Never one to stay down, The Phenomenal One fought back as soon as The New Face of America began to hold up his title and talk trash, and Owens fled the squared circle.
In other action … AJ Styles def. Chad Gable to gain entry into the Independence Day Battle Royal … Carmella and James Ellsworth had a Carmellabration … SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi def. Lana … Baron Corbin blindsided Shinsuke Nakamura backstage … and Aiden English def. Randy Orton via Disqualification.