This being my 1st SmackDown viewing in I can't remember how long, I didn't really know what I was letting myself in for given how I'd kept my distance from the main product after Raw was pulling tropes from 2003 that Austin & Bischoff did better when we had Miz & Ambrose as co-gms of Raw for that week.
That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me as I had tolerated most things from 'We Were Entertaining' as "quality" had been on a continuous decline for the last few years.
CM Punk walking out & Daniel Bryan retiring, respectively, were part of the decline as these were the 2 guys that the WWE Fans wanted. Not Roman Reigns.
So we begin the night with Cena returning in his 1st appearance since defeating the Miz & Maryse with Nikki Bellas a his tag partner at WrestleMania 33.
And in all honesty, it had been a while since the former Doctor of Thuganomics had been seen and I think they were just glad to see a familiar face that they could tolerate.
He gave a passionate speech about the importance of the 4th July Holiday and I think virutally those in attendance shared the same sentiment.
Then outcomes outdated, over-used, "I hate America" gimmick that was dull long before the Bulgarian Brute took up the Moniker and while he's an impressive athlete I think he'd serve better character-wise if he had been tagged with the anti-American gimmick as I've seen this done so many times over the years from the un-Americans of Christian, Lance Storm, the latet Test & William Regal in 2002, La Resistance in 2003 & Rusev with Lana in 2014/15.
Cena challenged Rusev to a Flag match as his 1st contest back and in typical heel-douce style, Rusev refuses.
WWE, and more specifically, Vince McMahon, I think someone needs to break it to you that this gimmick is so out-dated that you probably think Duran-Duran are a new group.
I was glad that this segment was brief and merciful as I've grown tired of this shtick in WWE.
AJ Styles Vs Chad Gable: win and you're in match
1st of the match of the night and it's Grade-A quality. But that said, it's AJ. Were you expecting anything less?
Awesome match with a show of respect from Styles to Chad as he went the distance.
I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!
Of course it's a WWE show without someone putting themselves on a perch. And in Carmella's case she's done more than her fair share lately. And hearing Ellesworth say they'll make this a 'Carmellabration' is where I felt like head-desking. Now, I love cheesy antics and all....but I draw the line at that. Naomi & Daniel Bryan interrupting them saved my sanity and the audience's by effectively telling them both to get out of the ring otherwise he'd strip Carmella of her MITB Contract. Safe to say they left promptly.
WWE SmackDown Women's Championship: (c) Naomi Vs Lana - ....it's a squash.
I don't this match lasted even 30 seconds. I appreciate they want Naomi to look strong, but that said this just makes the product look like a joke when you have squash matches like this. I have heard that Lana has been training to be able to compete and be able to try for a Title and then this happens?
And as for the shtick with her & Tamina afterwards? I don't know what to make of that.
NewDay defeat Usos in a battle-rap
I get the point of having some entertainment in between matches but I'd rather see these tag teams compete in matches. Not something that's more tailored to Cena's rap gimmick more. Which BTW, Cena, can you please go back to that?
I thought it was amusing to reference Woods' involvement with the Paige scandal which I am amazed that they were able to get away with touching on that in a PG product. But then again consistency in WWE is like British weather - it's inconsistent.
NewDay defeat the USOs in a segment I could really care less for. There were some parts that I liked with Rikishi being briefly mentioned, but the whole thing with questioning Koffi's former Jamaican gimmick was really asinine as this had been addressed before Bragging Rights 2009 by Triple H. So that was pointless.
Aiden English Def Randy Orton by DQ
This was a throwaway match and I think even Orton thought this as he had no qualms with being DQ'd after using the steps on a former Vaude Villian.
I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!
Because the night wouldn't be complete without another 'I hate America' speech with Jinder jerking off his ego to the audience's expense. As I mentioned earlier in this review that it's really dated to have heels come in with this Anti-American gimmick just to get heat when they could just work on getting heat by not liking their opponent. A novel idea? I think so.
Orton saves our sanity by cutting Mahal off and says he will beat Mahal on every side of the prison match and reclaim the belt.
The Main Event: Independence Day Battle Royal - AJ Styles becomes #1 Contender to the United States Title for Battleground
Decent main event. Didn't really help with Captain Douchebag on commentary. I like Owens as a wrestler, but as a character I don't find anything redeeming about him. He's so bland, contrived and boring with his mic work that he makes Randy Orton look like Randy Savage. OOOoo yeah!
It didn't surprise me too much that Styles would get the shot since he is one of the main reasons why people tune into Tuesday nights, but I do agree with the concensus that it could have gone to someone new. But that said, Styles will put on a good performance when he meets Owens at Battleground for the United States Championship.
Overall Verdict: Considering this is the 1st full episode of SmackDown I've seen in 2 years I thought it was ok. Not great but ok. Everything flowed fluidly save for the battle rap, other segments were kept on point and the main event was good.
My main advice from this week is just for the company to step out of their comfort zone and try some new ideas.
You know what happens when you don't evolve and move with the times?
You become, stale, stagnant, irrelevant and left in the past. Which is basically Vince McMahon's creativity these days. But that says more than it needs to.
D-. and that's me being generous