The night we have all been beaten in the face with over and over, the night that John Cena returns. Tonight in Phoenix, AZ the show opened with the long-awaited event. With a massive pop and a chorus of “Cena Sucks” to his entrance music, John Cena makes his long publicized return to tv. After a long patriotic speech about how he is not a part-timer but an all-timer, Cena says he is going to be all over both RAW and Smackdown Live. After calling out all of the major superstars, stating he will take them all down, Rusev makes his debut on the blue brand.
Armed with the Bulgarian flag, that Cena hilariously called “bulge area”, Rusev mocks the crowd and cries about his lack of commercials for his comeback and is met with the chant of “USA” from the WWE Universe. Cena calls for a flag match but Rusev refuses and says he will not be bossed by Cena. The segment ends with the WWE Universe chasing Rusev off by returning to the “USA” chant.
With such a build for this return, it ended up being underwhelming at best. Let’s just get to the matches, shall we?
Chad Gable vs. AJ Styles, In it to Win it Match for a spot in the Battle Royal
Because of Kevin Owens cry baby antics to Daniel Bryan, these two are required to fight for the chance to be a part of the Independence Day Battle Royal because they both had already been beaten by Owens. Funny thing is that more than these two had already been beaten by Owens but somehow Styles and Gable were singled out.
Not long after the match starts, Gable plays to his strengths and takes Styles directly to the mat. Styles decides that he has had enough and makes a strong comeback but it does not last long. After a failed attempt at the Phenomenal Forearm, Gable is able to get out of the Styles Clash and put AJ into the ankle lock. AJ is then able to reverse it into the calf crusher, Gable breaks free. Finally, after some intense back and forth, Styles hits Gable with the Pele Kick and then a successful Phenomenal Forearm and wins the match. It is made clear that Chad has earned the respect of AJ when helps Gable up off the mat.
After the match, we see The Hype Bros have a tense moment in which Zack tells Mojo that they are in the Battle Royal. The feeling that a breakup is imminent lingers in the air.
Carmella and James Ellsworth
Following the entrance of Carmella, James Ellsworth dresses down the crowd and declares that today is a “Carmellabration”. Answered by thundering boos from the WWE Universe, Carmella takes her turn to talk smack, no pun intended, to the crowd. This session is interrupted by the WWE Women’s Champion, Naomi. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that her title GLOWS now. Very cool, super great! Well, almost as great as Naomi calling James, Ellsworthless. Classic. This epic burn is made even better when the music for Daniel Bryan hits and the commish comes out. With this, Ellsworth is not only banned from the arena, given a fine of $10,000, suspended for 30 days, but also told that if he breaks any rules, Carmella will be stripped of her contract. Let’s hope for her sake he follows the rules.
Naomi vs. Lana for the Women’s Title
Will the 3rd time for the charm for Lana? Nope. The match ends in less than 30 seconds when Naomi puts Lana in a submission and she taps out. Proving that the champ doesn’t even need to pin to win. Tamina shows up and tells Lana to get up and come with her. Do I smell a new sidekick for Tamina? It looks like the bad guys’ number just grew by one more.
Next, Shinsuke Nakamura gets jumped by Baron Corbin during his interview and after Shinsuke gets a few hits in, it is broken up and the segment ends.
Rap Battle: New Day vs. The Uso’s hosted by Wale
This was not the worst segment I have ever seen but it also was not the best. There were some funny personal digs, like the one about Xavier Woods’s sex tape, Big E’s chest size and how Jay Uso was only made relevant because of his wife, Naomi, who got him on Total Divas. There was some shoving by the Uso’s which ultimately led to their disqualification.
Randy Orton vs. Aiden English
The match begins with Aiden English singing his song in the center of the ring that is, of course, interrupted by Randy Orton’s entrance. Will English ever get a chance to finish that song? The answer comes when we enter a new dimension in which Aiden English whoops up on Randy Orton! English takes Orton to task after throwing him out of the ring, into the barricade and into the steps. This gives English the chance to get back into the ring and finish his song. Once he is finished the bell rings and the match officially begins.
The beat down by English continues until Orton has had enough and takes back control of the match. With extreme prejudice, Orton sends English out of the ring, onto the announcer’s desk, into the barricade, back onto the desk, dropped face first onto the ground and beat with the steel steps. This leads to Orton’s disqualification but Orton could not care less. English is brought back into the ring for a crowd encouraged RKO in the center of the ring. Good times.
Just when we think it is over, Jinder Mahal comes out and tells the WWE Universe how terrible they are because they do not like him because of where he comes from. To this Orton tells him that it isn’t because of where he comes from that causes people to hate him, people hate him because he is a “jackass”.
After the break, we are given two that really didn’t need to happen. The first being Tyler Breeze in drag interviewing Tye Dillinger, working to get his Battle Royal strategy while Fandango listens in the background. The second is an interview with Rene Young featuring Maria and Mike Kanellis. Maria preaches about the power of love and what it means but is cut short when Sami Zayn, as well as some technical difficulties, interrupts them yet again. Zayn gushes on how he loves their message and how he is so sorry for the interruption and for the one from last week. Sami then has to run off because his music is playing and he has to get to the ring.
AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, Tye Dillinger, Eric Rowan, Jason Jordan, Sin Cara, One of the Colon brothers (not sure which one), The Ascension, Breezango and The Hype Bros in the Independence Day Battle Royal for the #1 Contender spot for the United States Championship
Kevin Owens joins the gang on commentary as the ring fills with competitors and watches as AJ Styles makes his entrance, battered and bruised, holding his ribs. One has to wonder if AJ will even be able to compete but it seems as though he was going to give it a go. As the match begins it is chaos, of course, and Dolph Ziggler is the first one out. It doesn’t take long before they are thrown out one by one. Fandango, Tyler Breeze, Sin Cara, The Ascension, and Luke Harper follow suit. When all of a sudden we have Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley squaring off. This is cut short by Rowan who tries to throw Ryder out of the ring. The Hype Bros work together and take Rowan out leading Mojo to toss Zack out thus opening the door to the breakup of the beloved tag team. Caught up in the drama, Mojo is taken out by Zayn in a surprise moment, leaving Sami, AJ, and Tye as the last men standing. Tye Dillinger flips the crazy switch and goes savage on Styles and Zayn. After giving the Tyebreaker to both men, Dillinger fights it out on the apron to no avail and is eliminated, leaving Sami and AJ to fight it out to the finish.
As if it were a competition of heart, the two men fight it out like their lives depend on it but in the end, it just wasn’t enough for Sami Zayn as AJ Styles gives a strategically placed kick to the head of Zayn to end the match. Owens get super mad, storms the ring and goes after Styles. Just when Owens thinks he has Styles whooped, AJ comes back and get Owens set up for the Styles Clash. With all that he has, Owens breaks free and rolls out of the ring leaving the title for Styles to raise and declare that he is the next United States Champion. Overall, not a terrible night of action in the WWE.