We eat your words

WWE SmackDown Live Full Results, Grades and Highlights for July 11, 2017

Cena and Styles shared the same ring again last night.

INTRO: A highlight package aired of last week’s battle royal, in which AJ Styles earned a shot at Kevin Owen’s U.S. championship. We’re then taken to their July 7 title match at Madison Square Garden. This match was professionally shot, as WWE cameras show Owens kissing the title goodbye prior to handing it to the official. Should be a sweet addition to an AJ match anthology some day. Styles wins the championship with the Phenomenal Forearm, and the New York fans leap out of their seats. WWE shifts to fan footage of the aftermath, which enhances the “you had to be there” feeling of seeing a title change hands at a non-televised event. Sound bites declared that “people in the crowd can’t believe what they’ve just seen”, and that Styles won the championship in the world’s most prestigious venue. Impressive video package that put over the anything-can-happen nature of WWE events (especially those that aren’t televised weekly).

OPENING SEGMENT: Tom Phillips announced that, after a “phenomenal week”, WWE has a new U.S. Champion. Styles is introduced as the new U.S. champion, and walks to the ring sporting a new star-spangled P1 shirt. Byron Saxton said the NYC environment was “absolute euphoria” on Friday. Numerous fan signs note the title change. Styles soaked in some chants, then said that Battleground came early for him last week. While he would never claim to be the face of America, Styles claimed that Owens’ face looked like a monkey’s butt, so the new champ represented an upgrade. Styles resuscitated John Cena’s U.S. Open Challenge, offering a title shot to anyone who thought they could beat the best.

Styles paced in the ring awaiting his challenger – who turned out to be the challenge’s namesake. Big reaction from the crowd as Cena charged into the ring. He told Styles he wanted to ensure he knew what he just said. Cena asked if the open challenge was everyone except him. Styles clarified that the open challenge was open for everyone – “especially you”. Cena accepted the challenge and requested a referee, getting Charles Robinson.

As the referee motioned to both men to lock up, Owens’ music played. He walked out shaking his head, and said that no one wants to see another Styles/Cena matchup. Owens claimed he rightfully deserved the U.S. championship. He told Cena to leave the ring because no one wanted to see him. Cena responded that Owens can’t see him (must’ve been saving that one since 2004). He told Owens to make him leave the ring, threatening to run through him. As he turned to make the same threat to Styles, Rusev entered the ring and tackled him to the mat. Styles pulled Rusev off Cena, only to get ambushed by Owens and a pop-up powerbomb. Rusev nailed Cena with a thrust kick, then placed him in the Accolade. Big “USA!” chant as the heels exited the ring.

Saxton plugged a Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin match for later tonight, and Phillips said that Tye Dillinger (fresh off a third-place finish in last week’s battle royal) will face Jinder Mahal next.

Back from commercial, Philips announced that SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon had booked Cena and Styles to face Rusev and Owens in a tag match later tonight. We then go to the entrance ramp, where the Singh Brothers introduce the “Modern Day Maharaja” with an impressive rolling of the “rrrrr” in that last word. Mahal entered the ring, which was decorated with a rug, as JBL promoted the upcoming Punjabi Prison match booked for Battleground. He said that tonight marked the “chance of Tye Dillinger’s lifetime”. Good job by Saxton to imply that Dillinger was getting this opportunity after his strong performance in last week’s battle royal.

 

WWE Champion Jinder Mahal vs. Tye Dillinger

Saxton claimed that Mahal wanted to use the Punjabi Prison to “empower his nation.” Eh, still not that interested. Dillinger outmaneuvered Mahal in the match’s opening minute, taking him down with a cross-body-block off the middle turnbuckle. Mahal stopped Dillinger with a strong lariat, then grounded him with a chinlock. He maintained the pressure on Dillinger with strikes as we stay with the action during commercial. Painful-looking offense from Jinder as the Singhs antagonize the crowd. While we’re in split-screen mode, Mountain Dew aired one of their puppy-monkey-baby commercials, which made this match seem more energetic. More strikes from Mahal and we’re back to a chinlock, augmented by the champion ripping at Dillinger’s face. He dropped knees on Dillinger before sticking a boot into Tye’s jaw.

Mahal pounded Mahal with punches to the mid-section as we return to full-screen action. Saxton tells us that Mahal has exercised a “very slow, methodical approach”, which is undeniably true and also not the best way to intrigue viewers. Dillinger kept trying to regain his feet as Mahal pummeled him with right hands. The perfect 10 finally created separation with a flying forearm, then mounted the middle rope to throw fists as the crowd chanted his number. Mahal threw him off and connected on a running knee. The champion picked up Dillinger and slammed him with the Khallas for the victory. As long as Jinder gets to successfully defend the world title, letting mid-card superstars like Dillinger wrestle him would seem to benefit everyone involved.

Result: Jinder Mahal beat Tye Dillinger with the Khallas.

Grade: C

After the match, Mahal said he speaks the truth each week, but the fans still disrespect him. He claimed that he brings class, diversity, and excellence to WWE. Mahal called out Orton for threatening his family. He told the crowd that chanting “USA!” won’t change the fact that India’s 1.3 billion people know that Mahal is the greatest champion of all time. He told Orton that, if he wanted to make Mahal’s life hell, he would bring hell right to the viper. Next week on SmackDown, Mahal is showing up with the Punjabi Prison.

New Day walk backstage as a WWE staffer denied Big E’s offer of loose Booty-O’s from his singlet. Saxton announced that Xavier Woods would fight Jey Uso next.

Xavier Woods vs. Jey Uso

As New Day skipped to the ring, Saxton said their arrival meant that his smile just signed an hour-long extension. Somehow, JBL lets this comment go. Clips were shown of last week’s rap battle. Even the Usos’ good lines were stepped on by their insistence on repeating them. As the bell rang, Woods landed a kick to Uso’s midsection, following up with right hands. He struck Uso with a discus forearm, then bashed him with forearms as he hung up on the middle rope. As Woods rebounded off the opposite ropes, Jimmy Uso nonchalantly tripped him, causing Woods to hit the mat face-first. Jey Uso shoved Kofi Kingston off the ring apron, causing both non-combatant unicorns to enter the ring. The referee tossed Big E, Kofi, and Jimmy Uso from ringside. Jey got distracted by the ejections, but hit Woods with a superkick for a two-count. Uce went straight to the top rope for a big splash, but Woods got his knees up. Woods ran at Uso, landing on his feet after being backdropped over the top rope and hitting an enziguri. As Uso hung on the middle rope, Woods went up top to hit his rope-walk flying elbow for the win. Phillips said that move could be the difference maker at Battleground.

Result: Xavier Woods pinned Jey Uso after a top-rope elbow drop.

Grade: C+

Back from commercial, we return to Shane McMahon talking to Daniel Bryan over the telephone. He concluded the conversation as Naomi entered with a big smile. She said we got ourselves a bit of a “litch-uation” here. Someone hipper than me can explain that term. Naomi said that Carmella has the Money in the Bank contract, and can come at her anytime, anyplace. But the champion still needed a challenger, and it wouldn’t be Lana this time.

Thus, entered Charlotte. She told Shane that, if he said “Lana” again, he would have to ban her like Ellsworth, or someone would get hurt. Nice way to get #JusticeforEllsworth some visibility. Becky Lynch, Natalya, Tamina, and (yes) Lana walked into the room to find out who would get the next title shot. Shane said they’d compete in a five-way elimination match at Battleground. The winner would face the SmackDown champion at SummerSlam. Charlotte asked the straightforward question, “How is Lana in this match?” Tamina advised Lana that she had her back, then told Charlotte to watch her mouth. Natalya and Becky snapped at each other, prompting Shane to book Lynch and Flair vs. Tamina and Natalya tonight.

As Charlotte and Becky saluted their opponents with “tea time” motions, Carmella walked up to Shane with her briefcase and a petition from her attorney. Carmella demanded that Shane reinstate Ellsworth immediately. Shane read the petition, briefly, before tearing it in half. He told Carmella that Bryan’s decision stood, causing her to harrumph and storm off.

We move now to Renee (not Tenee) Young, who introduced Baron Corbin. She showed footage of Corbin attacking Nakamura with the Money in the Bank briefcase last week, then getting forearmed by Nakamura in response. Corbin said he’s afraid of what he’ll do to Nakamura. The lone wolf warned Nakamura that he needs to learn that he’s Mr. Money in the Bank, and “he’s not.” He followed up that gem with “Sayonara, Nakamura” as Young gave some side-eye to Corbin’s witticisms. Their first-time ever match is next.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin

Nakamura brought the fight to Corbin in the aisle as the lone wolf jawed with some fans. Phillips deftly pointed out that this assault was retribution for Corbin sneak-attacking him last week. Corbin gained momentum quickly, tossing Nakamura over the barricade. The two men traded blows as the referee tried vainly to gain control. Corbin drove Nakamura back over the barricade, then screamed at two officials to shut up. Both men tussled at ringside as officials and agents tried to separate them. Nakamura pursued Corbin as both men were held back. The artist then invited Nakamura to join him in the ring as Corbin stared him down from the ramp.

Result: No contest.

Grade: F for administrative interference.

Backstage, Styles winced in pain from his earlier beating as Cena approached him. Cena recommended that Styles wait to issue an open challenge until he goes away again. Styles retorted that Cena did really well with Rusev. He claimed he knew that Cena would be the first challenger, and that he hadn’t forgotten what Cena took from him (the WWE championship) the last time they wrestled. Cena said it’s obvious that Styles wanted to compete with the best. He promised he’d have Styles’ back later tonight. Styles quietly responded that he’d already gotten Cena’s back.

Cedric Alexander promoted his upcoming “I quit” match against Noam Dar on 205 Live. He promised that he’d make Dar quit. As the tag match competitors made their way to the ring, the announce team questioned whether Flair and Lynch could cooperate tonight, and posited what a victory at Battleground could mean for Lynch after months of disappointment.

Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch vs. Tamina and Natalya

Tamina overpowered Lynch early with strikes, but Lynch took her bigger opponent down with a series of kicks. Lynch hit a running leg drop as Charlotte made the tag and hit her own knee drop. The two clinked phantom teacups before Charlotte applied a front-facelock. Tamina freed herself, head-butting Charlotte and driving her into the corner for Natalya to work over. Phillips confirmed the dissolution of the Welcoming Committee as Charlotte fired back with a chop. The faces hit a double-team double-ax-handle on Natalya as Becky reentered the fray. She hit Natalya with kicks, then took her down with the Beck-sploder. Becky attempted a baseball slide on Natalya, but Tamina pulled her partner out of the way, allowing Natalya to drive her back-first into the steel stairs. Lynch writhed in pain on the concrete as we go to commercial.

Back in the ring, Natalya applied a reverse chinlock. She played to the crowd, then choked Lynch against the ropes. Tamina tagged back in as they landed tandem kicks to Lynch in the corner. She threw Lynch down with a big body slam before applying her own reverse chinlock. Tamina smothered Lynch’s strikes, throwing her back into her corner for Natalya to apply a third reverse chinlock. These split-screens during commercials have not added much tonight. Back to full-screen, Becky was once again cut off from the hot tag, and slammed into the turnbuckles. Tamina tagged in, and Lynch again endured boots from both opponents. Tamina snapmared Lynch and … there’s our fourth reverse chinlock of this bout. Perhaps sensing the need for change, Tamina shifted into a regular chinlock. Good to shake it up.

Lana stormed to the ring in a blue, floor-length dress. Her purpose was not immediately evident, although that’s a fitting description of her entire in-ring career to this point. Lynch fought to a vertical position, but was put back down by a clothesline. Tamina and Natalya teamed up for boots in the corner (for a third time this match) as the referee stopped Charlotte from engaging. Natalya tagged in, showboated, and ate Lynch’s boot. Lynch crawled between Natalya’s legs and was stopped just short of her corner. Natalya struggled to apply the sharpshooter, then was kicked off as Becky finally made the tag.

Charlotte flattened both opponents with running shots, then chopped down Natalya. She caught Natalya in the face with a running boot, then slammed her face into the mat with a falling knee. The queen threw Natalya with an overhead suplex, then ran Lana off the ring apron. This distraction allowed Natalya to tag Tamina, who smartly stayed on the apron as Charlotte focused her attention on the prone Natalya. Charlotte set up Natalya for the figure four, but Tamina entered as she had the hold nearly applied and hit a tough-looking superkick for the win.

Result: Tamina and Natalya beat Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch when Tamina pinned Charlotte after a superkick. And several reverse chinlocks.

Grade: C+.

After the match, Lana stood side-by-side with Natalya and Tamina. The replay showed Natalya tagging Tamina just before the match, then playing dead to sucker in Charlotte.

Maria Kanellis walked backstage to a door marked as the male locker room, then slammed her palm into it several times. Chad Gable asked if he could help her, and Maria requested the presence of Sami Zayn, as he owed her an apology. Gable checked before notifying her that Zayn wasn’t there. Maria told Gable to let Zayn know that the “first lady of SmackDown Live! is looking for him.” Gable gave a puppy-dog look for some reason as she walked away.

We rejoined Maria with her husband Mike backstage. He romanced her with flowers as she beamed back at him. As their faces nearly touched, a loud “ahem” broke up the lovefest, and the camera panned to Zayn standing with his arms crossed. The loving couple was so deep in their emotional thrall that Zayn needed to reprise his throat-clearing, then exclaim “Hey!” to get their attention. Maria told him that he owed them an apology, and she expected it now. Zayn said that he’d already apologized twice, and he’s getting a little sick of it. He said he doesn’t even know why he’s apologizing, because it seemed to him that every time he had something important to do, “like have a wrestling match”, Mr. and Mrs. Kanellis were in his way with “one of your love-ins.” Mike responded by booping Maria on the nose with his finger as she grinned happily. Zayn then asked the all-important question:

“What do you actually do here? Mike, do you compete here?”

Zayn then decided that he’d figured it out. Mike is the lover, and Maria is the fighter. Maria giggled, then slapped Sami hard. Mike stopped smiling, grabbed the vase of flowers, and smashed it over Zayn’s back. Maria kept giggling. She kneeled down by Zayn, and told him that their attack was brought to him by the power of love. Sometimes, she explained, love hurts. Maria dropped a purple flower on Zayn as he groaned in pain.

Phillips announced that Nakamura would get Corbin at Battleground, then introduced a Lone Star State-themed version of the Fashion Files titled, “Runway Walker: Texas Rangers.” Music enticed us with the promise of “sexy fashion rangers”. Fandango and Tyler Breeze rocked their best western gear as 1990s footage aired of Chuck Norris guesting in WWE. They patrolled the (backstage) range, Fandango surveying the landscape from atop his hobbyhorse. He allowed Zack Ryder to caress, then stable his noble steed. Having gained Ryder’s trust, Fandango yelled out for Breeze to lasso him. Tyler instead lassoed himself. Breezango informed Ryder that Breeze was engulfed in the lasso of truth, and Tyler invited Zack to ask him anything.

Zack Ryder: “When you go undercover, do you wear a bra?”

Tyler Breeze: “Of course. I’m not a hippie.”

Ryder helped remove the lasso as an approaching Mojo Rawley asked what situation he was walking into here. Fandango said they were trying to determine whether it was coincidental that Breeze got jumped the day that Ryder returned to SmackDown. Rawley denied any involvement in that attack, stating that the Hype Bros wouldn’t do anything shady like that. His phrasing perturbed Ryder, who reminded Mojo that he threw him out of last week’s battle royal. Rawley said it’s every man for himself in a battle royal. He cut off their conversation with Breezango, telling Ryder that it’s time to get back to work. Ryder thought about it, and told Breezango that maybe they all needed to get their heads back to reality. The sexy fashion rangers responded by looking for their horse – which was now gone. Breeze and Dango settled on “ghost aliens” as the primary suspects, and we were promised that this drama would be continued in The Fashion X Files: The Truth is Not H.

AJ Styles and John Cena vs. Kevin Owens and Rusev

JBL said that pairing up Styles and Cena was like having Michael Jordan and LeBron James on the same team, and called Cena the greatest WWE superstar of all time. He then called their Royal Rumble bout “one of the greatest matches, if not the greatest match, I ever saw.” The bell sounded an end to this insane hyperbole as Cena and Rusev started the match for their teams. Rusev placed Cena in a headlock, knocked him down with a shoulder tackle, then raised his Bulgarian flag in triumph. Opting to continue the match, Rusev reentered the ring, where Cena took him down with a shoulder tackle and bulldog. Owens tagged in and stomped Cena. Tagging in, Rusev also put the boots to Cena, then allowed Owens to punish him while the referee was distracted.

Back from commercial, Cena fought to make the tag. He and Rusev exchanged big right hands before Rusev nailed him with a spin kick for a two count. Phillips said that Rusev and Owens were turning the Styles/Cena dream team into a nightmare. Rusev went to the middle rope for a headbutt, which Cena evaded. Styles yelled for the tag, then got it. He bashed Rusev with strikes, knocking him down with a clothesline and scoring with a running forearm. While Rusev stifled a Styles charge into the corner, AJ responded with the calf crusher, forcing Owens to make the save. Styles and Rusev jockeyed for position, countering each others’ moves until Styles was pushed into Owens, knocking him down. Rusev took advantage of this momentary distraction with a thrust kick, nearly getting the three count.

Rusev limped to his corner (selling the effects of the calf crusher) and tagged Owens. The ex-champion battered AJ with boots and fists, then hurt him with a running senton. We visit Chinlock City as Cena now implored Styles to make the tag. AJ quickly snared Owens in a schoolboy pin, but KO kicked out and waylaid Styles with a running clothesline. Rusev tagged back in and hit Styles with a roundhouse kick for another near fall. He taunted Cena, then dropped a running elbow on Styles. Rusev let Styles get to his feet before locking him into a bear hug. Styles fought out with right hands, then executed an enziguri that knocked down Rusev. Both men tagged out. Cena ran under a wild swing from Owens, hitting two flying shoulder tackles, blue thunder, and the five-knuckle shuffle. But his Attitude Adjustment attempt was stymied by Rusev, who hit Cena with another thrust kick. Styles blasted Rusev with the Phenomenal Forearm. He hit Owens with the Pele kick, sending his dazed rival into Cena for the Attitude Adjustment.

Result: AJ Styles and John Cena beat Kevin Owens and Rusev when Cena pinned Owens after an Attitude Adjustment.

Grade: B

After the match, Cena’s music faded as he and Styles faced off warily. Styles held up the U.S. championship as Cena raised his hand in victory. JBL called it respect between two all-time greats.

HIGH SPOTS

Cena and Rusev compete once more
The Franchise and the Bulgarian Brute greatly bolster the SmackDown men’s roster. Their returns to the ring provide a needed jolt of excitement, as well as two superstars that can comfortably main event the show during any given week.

The Kannelli get their revenge
Zayn’s antics have helped ingratiate WWE’s new couple into the SmackDown world, as his unintentional interruptions have been consistently amusing. For their part, Mike and Maria admirably moved from sappy to sinister with their backstage attack. This viciousness complements the two’s lovey-dovey sweet talk, giving this pairing exactly what it needed. Furthermore, Kannellis is going to get a great opponent to make him look strong in his first big WWE match.

 

LOW BLOWS

Mahal vs. Dillinger
This match offered nothing of interest. Mahal seems to need his opponents to help raise his game. The announce team describing Mahal’s style as “very slow” does not compliment his efforts in any way. If Mahal can’t give WWE a good match against Orton at the next pay-per-view, he has no business holding its richest prize (at least past SummerSlam).

Nakamura vs. Corbin non-starter
Both men were finally advancing back toward the ring after brawling in the crowd. So why did the agents wait around while they could presumably have been smashing into civilians, then run to break them up when they were finally right outside the ring? Lame logic that led to boos from the San Antonio fans.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Substandard ringwork from the Blue Brand until this week’s main event. The women’s tag match featured repetitive offense from the heels, and Mahal’s match earned the most backhanded of praise from the announce table. Next week’s main-event tease is a look at the Punjabi Prison, which isn’t quite on the same level as Cena’s return after four months of inaction. This show feels like it’s sleepwalking into the next pay-per-view.

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