By Steven Flora
Following the shocking return of Chris Jericho to SmackDown Live, he, AJ Styles and United States Champion Kevin Owens faced off in a Triple Threat Match with the star-spangled title on the line. Elsewhere, a once inconceivable dream match between John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura was announced for next week on SmackDown, and the winner will challenge Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam.
The United States title is simply phenomenal
WWE United States Championship Match: AJ Styles def. Kevin Owens (c) & Chris Jericho to become the NEW US Champion
The biggest story of the night was AJ Styles regaining the U.S. title in a thrilling triple threat main event match. Earlier in the night, Styles was looking for retribution following his loss last Sunday at WWE Battleground. However a returning Chris Jericho demanded he was next in line for a U.S. title match, which allowed Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon to create the perfect main event.
Jericho and Styles attack Owens right away and then go after each other, with both scoring near falls. Owens in to break that up and goes face to face with Jericho. They brawl, Owens fights off the codebreaker, but Jericho hits a dropkick off the ropes. Styles tosses Jericho to the floor, but Owens cuts him off and lays in ground and pound. Owens tosses Styles and covers Jericho for 2. Styles tosses Owens back to the floor, allowing Jericho to lock in the walls on Styles. Owens in and Jericho catapults him into Styles. Jericho locks in the walls on Owens. Styles in to make the save, but runs into a code breaker for 2. they’ve done a good job of getting the crowd really into this, Owens trips up Jericho as he goes for the lionsault. Owens back in and hits cannonballs to both. It breaks down into strikes, kicks, PELES and Superkicks and everyone is down. Jericho takes out Styles, eats a superkick and pop up powerbomb for a great near fall. Owens up top, hits the frog splash and Styles makes the save, and covers Jericho and regains the title! Winner: AJ Styles (c).
Side Note: This was a very good main event, with all three working hard, getting past the trappings of the three-way formula, and also getting the crowd heavily invested. Jericho felt fresh and didn’t miss a beat, working well with both, and I think Styles winning back the title shows there was a mistake at Battleground (ref likely counting, expecting the kick out, but calling it “like a shoot” as instructed), leading to the Owens win. Tonight he “gets screwed” because he had to face two men, and lost and that will give us a rematch for next week. Shane vs. Owens seems like a possibility for SummerSlam after it being teased for a couple of weeks, much like AJ & Shane en route to Wrestlemania 33.
Cena meets the King of Strong Style next week!
Wow, Wow, WOW … .what an announcement by General Manager Daniel Bryan. Mahal makes his way to the ring and explains Orton underestimated him, just like the fans, and he not only won but will stay champion as long as he desires. He wants to know who his SummerSlam opponent will be, but first speaks to his people in Punjabi. Rude American John Cena interrupts as he talks to his people. Cena respects Mahal is in shape and does whatever is needed to keep his title. Cena then introduces himself, and doesn’t care about Khali, The Singhs or anything else, because at SummerSlam, Mahal will be facing Super Cena, and he will walk out the 17-time champion. And that’s that … or is it? Daniel Bryan decided to show up for work as well, and congratulates both men on their wins at Battleground. Bryan says Cena doesn’t make the matches, and says he has to earn his opportunity. Next week, Cena will face Shinsuke Nakamura and the winner will go to SummerSlam and challenge Mahal.
Side Note: I don't care if this match should've been on PPV, it's going to be epic if done correctly. Nakamura has been criticized by the IWC for his lack of hard-hitting strikes and lack of promo skills. This match against Cena should show the WWE universe once and for all why Nakamura was one of the most revered wrestlers in New Japan Pro Wrestling. As for Cena, he really doesn't need another title win and instead this should be about putting over Nakamura for the sake of his credibility and for the WWE.
Are Lana & Tamina on the same page?
Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch def. Lana & Tamina
Lana and Becky to start, but Lana quickly runs and tags out to Tamina. Becky and Tamina go back and forth with Becky looking for the arm bar, she tapped both on Sunday. Tamina messes up running into a kick, and fights Becky off, and slams her to the mat, covering for 2. Tamina has been with WWE for seven years and is still having awkward exchanges on TV. Lana tags in, Lana and Tamina work the heat on Becky, it isn’t really good and Charlotte finally gets the tag. Charlotte runs wild, working over Tamina with chops and hitting the knee drop for 2. Tamina hits a desperation superkick, Lana tags herself in and Charlotte hits the big boot and pins her. Winner: Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch.
Side Note: It was OK for what it was but my God Tamina was sloppy. Don't get me wrong, Lana is still green in the ring but she's been putting in hard work since she decided to branch out on her own; everyone has to start from somewhere. Tamina, on the other hand, has been here for seven years and still botches … terrible. Flair & Lynch were great as always. Nothing else needs to be said.
A Perfect Underdog 10!
Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger def. Mike Kanellis & Aiden English
This is a Battleground remix rematch of two singles matches that were passable but ultimately forgettable. English and Tye kick things off, with Tye taking early control and tagging Sami in. We go to the screen in screen commercial break, with English cutting off Sami and tagging in Kanellis. Sami chases him to the floor, Maria distracts Sami and English attacks and rolls him back in to work him over with strikes. English and Kanellis work quick tags, working the heat on Sami. We’re back to full screen as English works over Sami. Sami tries to fire up, sends English to the floor and tags in Tye. Tye runs wild on both English and Kanellis. Tye tags in Sami, he hits the helluva kick on Kanellis and that’s that. Winner: Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger.
Side Note: A solid, yet filler match. Crowd were into it around 60% of the time but from even aligning English with Kanellis, it was painfully obvious they were going to lose to Tye & Sami. Another loss for Kanellis doesn't help him early on in his career but I'm just waiting for Kanellis & Miz to get it on!
Other Notable Moments
Nakamura takes on Corbin in a match better than their Battleground PPV match. Corbin works over Nakamura on the floor, and then rolls him back in the ring. Corbin mockingly claps for Nakamura, but that allows Nakamura to fight back and work for the arm bar. Corbin powers out but Nakamura transitions to the guillotine; Corbin hits the suplex to escape. Corbin now lays in knees to Nakamura and mocks him to add insult to injury. Corbin does the in and out again, and then hits deep six, covering for 2. Nakamura counters out of end of days, hits the back elbow as he avoids a low blow attempt. Nakamura hits Kinshasa and picks up the win. Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
The Usos attacked Big E during the intro and then kicked the shit out of Woods. They then slammed Kofi into the LED board and dragged him to the ring. Big E failed to make the save, eating a superkick.
Naomi gets interviewed backstage and talks about Natalya’s big win. She praises Natalya’s ability but was disrespected when she didn’t accept her handshake. Natalya says Naomi has no respect, disrespected the title, and at SummerSlam, Natalya plans to bring honor back to the title. Naomi says Natalya is stuck in the past, and plans to blind her with the glow at SummerSlam. Carmella arrives with her briefcase, reminding her that she is always here and looking toward the future.
Overall Smackdown Live Rating: B
Things to look forward to next week
What's next for Chad Gable?
Styles vs. Owens in a rematch for the U.S. Title
Nakamura vs Cena!!! #DreamMatch
Will we ever see The Great Khali again? (hopefully not)