It was the 4th July American Independence Day special extravaganza palooza last night on SmackDown Live. Of course it went down as expected. The foreigners were booed for being a different colour and the American Hero, John Cena, was revered for being the epitome of the American Dream. Yet, that wasn’t anything special for this episode as that is what we have come to expect from SmackDown over the years. However, there was an Independence Day Battle Royale to end the show which we will get to. Welcome to the most must-see Vulture Hound weekly review in history; welcome to… The SmackDown Review.
As has been hyped more than Mojo Rawley in the last month, John Cena, made his return to WWE programming since last appearing at WrestleMania in April. Not unusual for Cena, he praised America and Americans, and further praised the WWE Superstars who work week in and week out. Yet, this part-timer took exception for those who call him a part-timer. Cena, the self-righteous “Champ”, claimed that he is an “all-timer”, and clarified his reason being a Free Agent as going to work on both Raw and Smackdown. We typically got the same spiel about never giving up and that he will take down anyone, both Raw and SmackDown, who gets in his way.
Cutting short the celebration, Rusev also made his return, carrying the Bulgarian flag. Rusev, rightly so, brought to attention his lack of return commercials and further stated that Cena, and America, are a joke. The evil foreigner made the American angry so Cena issued the challenge of a flag match (whatever the f**k that is?). Rusev made it clear that he will only fight on his terms where it was announced later in the episode that the flag match (again, what the f**k?) will take place at Battleground on July 23rd, famous for being the day Bulgarian poet and Communist leader Nikola Vaptsarov was executed by firing squad. Happy 23rd July Bulgaria!
The very messy plot of the Women’s Money in the Bank story thickened to near viscous proportions as Carmella and James Ellsworth made their way to the ring. Ellsworth announced that Independence Day was cancelled and to be replaced by a celebration of Carmella. A “Carmella-bration” if you will. The SmackDown Women’s Champion and, notorious feeler of the glow, Naomi, interrupted the bedazzled duo to debut her new glow-in-the-dark championship. Then, notorious master of the cheap pops, Daniel Bryan, came to the ring in order to punish Ellsworth for his actions last week which resulted in Carmella AGAIN winning the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match. Bryan ejected the former no.1 contender for the WWE Championship (yes, remember that happened) from the building and fined him $10,000. That’s £7747 to my fellow Brits and still a lot of money. Clearly feeling hard done by, Ellsworth began to protest, but Mr Brie Bella said that if he didn’t leave, he would have no choice but to strip Carmella (careful now) of the Money in the Bank briefcase if he didn’t comply. Carmella immediately ushered him from the building and hopefully that will be the last we shall see of him for quite some time!
– After threatening to relinquish Carmella of the Money in the Bank contract for a second time Bryan announced that Lana would face Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Championship for third time in two weeks! Of course, Naomi defeated Lana. AGAIN. Interestingly, after the match, Tamina came to the ring and took Lana under her wing. Which could mean a potential Karate Kid rise to the top for the pair in a master and apprentice style partnership.
– As announced last week, The Usos and The New Day squared off in a rap battle. Both groups arrived accompanied by their respective posses. The Usos were eventually disqualified for starting a physical fight even though they were clearly the better of the two in terms of their put downs. A particular highlight was the Usos calling Xavier Woods “rated R”.
– In a repeat of last week, Randy Orton interrupted Aiden English before he could finish his song ahead of their match. Orton lost his cool and beat English with the ring steps, drawing the disqualification. Jinder Mahal appeared and taunted Orton and the fans because he’s the stereotypical foreigner. To which Orton responded by saying he’d beat Jinder’s ass all the way back to India. Not only racist but very incorrect considering he is Canadian. But what does that matter? It’s Independence Day, yee-haw!
Before the main event – an Independence Day Battle Royal – AJ Styles defeated Chad Gable in singles action to qualify. I’m not entirely sure why a man of Styles credentials had to qualify but it was an excellent match nonetheless. Gable once again made a great account for himself as a singles competitor as the pair traded reversals on their submission moves. Styles eventually got the pin after hitting the Phenomenal Forearm and advanced to the night’s main event.
During the Battle Royal itself, Kevin Owens sat in on commentary and very bluntly told Tom Phillips to shut up on more than one occasion. After Mojo Rawley shockingly eliminated his Hyped Brother, Zack Ryder, the final four were Rawley, Sami Zayn, Tye Dillinger, and AJ Styles. Rawley didn’t last long and was soon eliminated with a Helluva Kick from Zayn who also eliminated Dillinger with a backdrop. Styles eventually won the match by eliminating Zayn with a Pele Kick to become the No. 1 contender for the United States Championship. After the match, Owens attacked Styles. Styles went for the Styles Clash but Owens escaped, leaving his title in the ring. This allowed Styles to pose with Owens’ championship to end the show.