– Tonight’s WWE SmackDown opens up with a video package for Independence Day and tonight’s big return.
– We’re live from the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix with Tom Phillips, JBL and Byron Saxton. Greg Hamilton is in the ring to introduce free agent John Cena. The music hits and out comes Cena for his big return.
Cena is fired up as he takes the mic. The dueling chants start up and Cena takes it all in. Cena says he’s fired up because today is Independence Day. Cena talks about America and why he loves the country. Cena goes on and says people have been spreading rumors about his future, about him going Hollywood, losing his edge and being nothing more than a part-time mascot. Cena says he is an all-timer, and that means RAW and SmackDown. Cena goes on and names several top WWE Superstars and says if you line them up, he will knock every one of them down. In 15 years, and you know it’s true, Cena has never lost the fire or passion needed to compete with the best but now it burns stronger. Cena says he is a man with nothing to lose. Today, the franchise is back and the champ is here. The music interrupts and out comes Rusev making his SmackDown debut.
Rusev comes out holding a mic and the Bulgarian flag. Fans chant USA. Rusev says despite Cena’s claim, he does work hard and he got hurt in that ring working hard. Rusev says he’s been at home rehabbing his shoulder, watching the commercials for Cena’s return and wondering why they weren’t airing commercials for his return. Rusev says he sent video messages to Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon but they didn’t replay. That’s why he’s here now. Rusev says Cena will not be taking any opportunities from him. Rusev says the American Dream is a lie just like America is a joke. Fans boo. Cena asks if Rusev knows where he is. We’re not in Bulge-area, we’re in the good ‘ol USA. Cena invites Rusev to the ring to get punched in the mouth. Rusev says there goes Cena just trying to boss him around again, Americans always think they can boss people around. Rusev says American Independence Day is a joke compared to Independence Day in Bulgaria. A “yes!” chant starts when Rusev says all we do is sit at home and stuff our face. Rusev says that was not a compliment, you dumb Americans. Another USA chant starts up.
The back and forth leads to Cena challenging Rusev to a Flag Match. Rusev agrees but it won’t be tonight, it will be on his own terms. The segment ends with Cena getting a USA chant going.
– Still to come, Lana vs. Naomi and the Rap Battle.
– SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan is backstage on the phone talking to someone about how it’s good to have Cena back. AJ Styles and Chad Gable come in to talk about the battle royal tonight. Bryan says Kevin Owens has made a case that they shouldn’t be in tonight’s battle royal. Bryan makes AJ vs. Gable with the winner getting a spot in the battle royal. AJ says he’s always up for a little competition. Gable says he’s much more than a little competition. We go to commercial.
AJ Styles vs. Chad Gable
Back from the break and out first comes AJ Styles. The winner of this match will earn a spot in tonight’s Independence Day Battle Royal. Chad Gable is out next.
They lock up and go at it. Gable takes control and wrestles AJ to the mat, keeping him down. They get up and AJ fights back with kicks. AJ gets the upperhand as we go to commercial.
Back from the break and AJ goes to the top but ends up hitting the turnbuckle face first. AJ springboards in from the apron but Gable counters and knocks him off the top. Gable goes to the top and hits a moonsault but AJ comes right back. AJ suplexes Gable into the corner. More back and forth now. Gable turns a Styles Clash attempt into the ankle lock. AJ tries to get to the ropes but Gable drops down and tightens the hold. AJ finally counters and puts Gable in the Calf Crusher.
The hold is finally broken. They meet in the middle of the ring trading shots. Gable tosses AJ face first to the mat. More back and forth between the two. AJ ends up hitting the Phenomenal Forearm for the win and the battle royal spot.
Winner: AJ Styles
– After the match, AJ stands tall as we get replays. AJ helps Gable up and we get a show of respect. AJ makes his exit.
– The Hype Bros are backstage. Mojo Rawley is down about last week’s loss to The Usos but Zack Ryder tries to cheer him up and reveals that he got them a spot in tonight’s battle royal. Mojo gets hype and mentions his Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal win at WrestleMania 33.
– We see Ms. Money In the Bank Carmella backstage walking with James Ellsworth. They are headed to the ring for a Carmellabration. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and out comes Carmella with her Money In the Bank briefcase and James Ellsworth. Ellsworth takes the mic and says he’s canceling Independence Day because we’re here for something more important – a Carmellabration. He tells everyone to stand and give it up for the first, second and only Ms. Money In the Bank.
Carmella laughs at everyone for thinking someone else was going to win the briefcase in the rematch. She says everyone wanted to write history by making Daniel Bryan grant the rematch. She says you can’t always get what you want… unless you’re Carmella. She goes on about having all the power and says she gets to decide when and where she will beat Naomi for the title. The music interrupts and out comes the SmackDown Women’s Champion.
Naomi congratulates Carmella on being able to call herself Ms. Money In the Bank but Naomi likes to call herself something else… the SmackDown Women’s Champion. Naomi goes on and says she’s not worried about Carmella cashing in because her eyes will always be open and her glow will always be on. She addresses Ellsworthless next and says someone else has words for him… the music hits and out comes the SmackDown General Manager to a big “yes!” chant.
Bryan wonders what he’s going to do with Ellsworth. Fans chant Bryan’s name. Ellsworth goes to speak but Bryan tells him to shut up. Bryan says he knows exactly what he’s going to do with Ellsworth – bar him from the arena. Fans pop. Ellsworth mocks Bryan about getting back into the arena. Bryan also fines Ellsworth $10,000. Ellsworth doesn’t like that. Bryan also suspends Ellsworth for 30 days. Fans chant “yes!” at him. Bryan says if Ellsworth doesn’t leave right now or if he breaks any of these rules, Carmella will be stripped of her contract. Carmella tells Ellsworth to leave and takes his arm to lead him to the back. Bryan’s music hits as he celebrates with Naomi in the ring. We go to commercial.
SmackDown Women’s Title Match: Lana vs. Naomi
Back from the break and Naomi is finishing her entrance. Lana is out next by herself. We get formal ring introductions from Greg Hamilton.
The bell rings and Naomi strikes with a kick. Naomi immediately drops Lana into a submission and makes her tap out in less than a minute.
– After the match, Naomi celebrates as Lana cries. Tamina Snuka appears in the ring and gets between the two. Tamina stares at Naomi and then turns to Lana, telling her to get up. Tamina looks to be caring for Lana here. She tells Lana to come on and get out of the ring. Lana follows her and they leave together.
– We go backstage to Dasha Fuentes and Shinsuke Nakamura. Dasha starts speaking but Baron Corbin nails Nakamura from behind with his Money In the Bank briefcase. Corbin talks trash and decks Nakamura but they are separated by officials.
– Still to come, Wale hosts the Rap Off between The New Day and The Usos. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Bryan has confirmed Cena vs. Rusev in a Flag Match for Battleground.
– We go to the ring and rapper Wale is in to kick off tonight’s Rap Battle. He introduces SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos first. Out they come with about 7 other guys. Tom says this is their Day One group. Wale introduces The New Day next and out comes Big E, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston with a bunch of characters – a sailor, a man dressed as Lady Liberty, George Washington and others.
Wale says we’re going to keep it clean tonight, PG only. He goes over the rules and warns about not getting physical. Big E raps first and mentions their dad, WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi. Wale warns The Usos to keep it clean because they look angry. The Usos rap together next and make a reference to Woods and Paige, telling them to not get R Rated like Woods did. The crowd goes crazy and Woods smirks. They go on and repeat the line.
Kofi raps next and makes jokes on what kind of shape The Usos are in. The Usos respond with shots at Kofi for being a fake Jamaican in the past. Woods raps next and says Jimmy Uso was nothing until Naomi put him on Total Divas. Woods says they should get back to doing what they do best – carrying bags for Roman Reigns. The Usos get upset and go to attack but the two sides are held back. Wale isn’t having it. He disqualifies The Usos and tells them to get out of his ring. He announces The New Day as the winners. The Usos and their entourage head to the back while The New Day and their entourage taunt them.
– Randy Orton is shown walking backstage. We go to commercial.
– Back from the break and Titus O’Neil is backstage with a promo to hype tonight’s WWE 205 Live episode.
Randy Orton vs. Aiden English
We go to the ring and Aiden English is introduced. He has a spotlight and a mic. English starts singing but the music quickly interrupts and out comes Randy Orton to a pop.
We see video of Orton’s RKO to English on last week’s show. Orton poses in the corner. English asks if Orton is done because he wasn’t finished with his performance. English decks Orton with the mic and goes to work on him. English takes it to the floor and leaves Orton laying. English returns to the ring and starts singing again as we see Orton recovering on the floor. Back to commercial.
Back from the break and Orton apparently just hit a powerslam as English is rolling out to the floor for a breather. Orton ends up tossing English over the announce table. Orton beats English on top of the table and goes on to launch him into the barrier. Orton sends English into the ring post and keeps up the attack on the floor. Orton with a draping DDT from the announce table. Orton takes apart the steel steps as the referee warns him. Orton rams English in the face with half of the steps and gets disqualified.
Winner by DQ: Aiden English
– After the bell, Orton brings English back into the ring as fans chant RKO. Orton waits for English to get up and hits him with the RKO. Orton’s music hits but is quickly interrupted by Jinder Mahal’s theme. The WWE Champion comes to the stage with The Singh Brothers next. Fans chant USA as Jinder takes the mic and knocks America. Mahal goes on and says he will end Orton’s legacy at Battleground inside Punjabi Prison and prove why The Modern Day Maharaja is the only powerhouse in WWE. Jinder goes to speak to his people but Orton tells him to shut up. Orton gets fired up and says he might as well just RKO Jinder’s ass right back to India. Orton says Jinder is right, no one likes Jinder, but it’s not because of how he looks or sounds or where he’s from – it’s because he will forever be a jackass. Orton’s music hits as an angry Jinder looks on from the stage. Orton poses in the corners.
– The announcers plug the WWE Network, Great Balls of Fire and Battleground.
– Still to come, the Independence Day Battle Royal. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Tye Dillinger is walking backstage. We see Fandango dressed as a worker, painting something on the wall it appears. Tyler Breeze, dressed as Renee Young, stops Dillinger and asks for every single detail of his battle royal strategy tonight. He says his name is Tenee Young. Dillinger talks about the match but wonders what would happen if Breezango has to face each other in the battle royal. Dillinger leaves and says Tenee is a 10. Fandango wanders over and says they may come to blows tonight, for America, but they will always be partners.
– We go backstage to the real Renee Young. She’s with Mike & Maria Kanellis. Maria says their message is simple – love. It’s ageless, timeless. Everyone wants love but not everyone gets it. She says their love is the power of love. Mike starts talking about how beautiful his wife is but the backstage feed cuts and all we see is a shot of the crowd. They cut back to Mike & Maria with Renee. Sami Zayn is shown stretching for the match but he knocks over a bunch of equipment. He apologizes for interrupting again. Sami is a big fan of this love message. He says we need a lot more of the power of love. Sami keeps rambling until his music hits and out he goes for tonight’s main event. Mike & Maria aren’t happy as their moment has been ruined.
Independence Day Battle Royal: Sami Zayn, Konnor, Viktor, Sin Cara, Epico, AJ Styles, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, Tye Dillinger, Erick Rowan, Jason Jordan, Mojo Rawley, Zack Ryder, Tyler Breeze, Fandango
We go to the ring for tonight’s Independence Battle Royal as Sami Zayn makes his way out. The winner of this will face WWE United States Champion Kevin Owens at Battleground. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and Dolph Ziggler is making his entrance. The ring is filled with Superstars now. WWE United States Champion Kevin Owens has joined the announcers for commentary. AJ Styles makes his way to the ring next.
The bell rings and everyone goes at it. Konnor works on AJ while Sami tries to toss Ziggler. Fandango and Viktor go at it. Jordan tries to dump Ryder. Rowan works on getting Sin Cara out. Epico works on Mojo. Harper goes at it with Konnor now. Harper eliminates Ziggler for the first elimination. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and Fandango has been eliminated. Rowan tosses Breeze but Fandango catches him and puts him back in the ring. Rowan eliminates Breeze. Rowan eliminates Sin Cara next. Mojo beats Rowan down in the corner. Rowan works on Konnor next. Harper eliminates Konnor. Mojo eliminates Konnor.
Mojo turns around to Ryder staring at him. It looks like they’re about to have some friendly competition but Rowan decks Mojo. Rowan tries to eliminate Ryder but Mojo makes the save. They double team Rowan and eliminate him. Mojo turns and eliminates Ryder to boos. Ryder looks shocked.
Dillinger comes from behind and tosses Mojo to the apron. Mojo fights off Dillinger and AJ from the apron. Sami eliminates Mojo with a Helluva Kick. It’s down to AJ, Sami and Dillinger now. Dillinger and Sami goes at it. Dillinger also decks AJ. Dillinger mounts Sami in the corner as fans count along. Dillinger stomps on AJ in the corner as fans count along. Dillinger goes for the Tye Breaker on Sami and hits it. AJ also takes a Tye Breaker. Dillinger gets fired up as fans cheer him on. Dillinger tries to dump both opponents at the same time but they hang on.
Dillinger has both opponents on the apron now, still trying to get them to the floor. Sami backdrops Dillinger and eliminates him. Sami and AJ go at it now. Sami with the Exploder into the corner. Sami waits for AJ to get up. AJ dodges a Helluva Kick and Sami goes over the ropes but he hangs on and doesn’t touch the floor. They trade counters on the apron now. AJ knocks Sami off with a pele kick and gets the win.
Winner and New #1 Contender: AJ Styles
– After the bell, Owens immediately hits the ring and unloads on Styles. Owens holds the title as referees warn him. He grabs AJ and puts the title in his face talking trash. AJ drops Owens and comes back for a Styles Clash attempt. Owens slides out and scrambles to the floor. Owens yells at referees to get his title from the ring. AJ grabs the title and raises it as his music plays. SmackDown goes off the air with Owens throwing a fit while AJ rolls out of the ring and referees get in between them.