Chris Jericho and AJ Styles Interrupted United states Champion Kevin Owens
Jericho is back, maaaaan! He's the master of shocking returns and this was no exception. I mentioned a month or so ago that there was a chance he could be back soon based off how he was still in the open to the show, but I didn't think it would be this soon. But hey, I'm not complaining, because SmackDown Live could use the star power right now. It made total sense to reinsert him into the United States Championship picture given his history with both men and this laid the groundwork for the night's main event very well.
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Baron Corbin
Their Battleground bout was decent yet disappointing, so I enjoyed this encounter significantly more. It was far from a mat classic, but they had the greatest match they probably could together and both Corbin and Nakamura came across like stars. Nakamura needed the clean win (and Corbin won't be too damaged by the loss considering he's Mr. Money in the Bank), but why not just do this at the pay-per-view? Also, it's entirely possible this rivalry isn't over yet.
Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch def. Tamina and Lana
My fear coming out of the Fatal 5-Way women's match at Battleground was that Charlotte and Lynch were headed for a feud with Tamina and Lana in time for SummerSlam. Given this was short-lived and pretty poor while it lasted, fingers crossed this was the beginning and end of that potential program. Charlotte and Lynch deserve better than that. Plus, it appeared Tamina wasn't pleased with Lana afterward, so perhaps their partnership has already ended.
John Cena Confronted WWE Champion Jinder Mahal
Regardless of whether it's Cena or Nakamura taking on Mahal at SummerSlam, let's take a second to praise the lord it won't be Randy Orton again. Hooray! In all seriousness, it's such a relief to have fresh faces in the title picture. We all figured Cena vs. Mahal was a strong possibility for SummerSlam, but Nakamura facing Cena in a No. 1 Contender's match next week is a pleasant surprise. Personally, I believe it's slightly silly they're giving away that dream match on free television, even though they are advertising it one week in advance, and it would be equally dumb to have Nakamura suffer his first defeat on on the main roster to Cena at this point. We'll see how it shakes out, and they have my interest, either way.
Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger def. Mike Kanellis and Aiden English
These four weren't given a ton of time to produce anything remotely memorable or special, but the bout served its purpose in furthering the feuds involved and giving the babyfaces a solid victory. My only issue with this was that Kanellis lost again, and it's asinine to have him eat the pinfall when he's teaming with English of all people. The guy has been on SmackDown for no more than a month and he's quickly been solidified as an undercard act with these back-to-back losses to Zayn, which is a shame.
The Usos Attacked SmackDown Tag tEam Champions The New Day
Everyone in the audience was excited for New Day to celebrate their championship win from Battleground and announce themselves as the new champs in New Day fashion, but I loved how WWE threw us for a loop by having The Usos attack them before that could happen. It allowed them to get their heat back following their loss of the twin titles and establish that they're angry as hell and will do anything to get them back.
AJ Styles def. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens in a Triple Threat Match to Win the United States Championship
This was a match I desperately wanted to see when it was teased when Jericho initially arrived on SmackDown back in May and I'm so happy we got it on this show. All three competitors killed it here with phenomenal performances and the in-ring action was extremely entertaining. Most importantly, the end result wasn't too predictable, so Styles regaining the gold was a cool twist. Owens' post-match promo set up their rematch for next week, which I can only assume will blow off their feud so they can go in different directions with SummerSlam approaching.
It's almost unbelievable how SmackDown could go from putting on one of the worst pay-per-views in a great while on Sunday night to hosting a hot follow-up show two days later. Jericho's return, the exceptional main event and the announcement of Cena vs. Nakamura made this a newsworthy night as well as a strong show on the whole, with the rest of the episode holding up nicely. The blue brand doesn't have as much buzz as it did earlier this year, but this show was a step in the right direction.
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