Immediately, something we can get behind! Before anything can truly happen and right after we see, “Then. Now. Forever,” a graphic flashes across the screen. There will be a #1 Contender’s Match for the United States Championship. The winner of this match will face Rusev later tonight for his title. Four Superstars will be involved and none of them are Titus O’Neil. The competitors will be Apollo Crews, Cesaro, Sheamus, and Albert Del Rio. I wonder what this means for Titus? Is a rematch for the title a guarantee or is he just the #5 contender? And didn’t we see this match on Monday? It was a tag match!
Cesaro’s Upper Cut Party
We see a real nice big body car pull up and Cesaro steps out! Hey Swiss Superman! He states that tonight he’ll be hosting an exclusive Upper Cut party. Only his opponents in the fatal four way match are invited. He sounds ready for a big fight or two tonight!
Apollo Crews Vs. Cesaro Vs. Sheamus Vs. Alberto Del Rio (Fatal 4 #1 Contender Match)
There’s legitimate beef between Crews and Sheamus. And Del Rio and Sheamus. And history between Cesaro and Sheamus! I guess everyone hates Sheamus. Crews has a lot to prove not being in the WWE for that long, and all of the other men have held this title at one point or another. That makes Crews an underdog going into this match. Del Rio most recently held the title. Sheamus hasn’t had as much success (outside of winning MITB for some reason) since he dropped the title. Cesaro hasn’t seen gold since Tyson Kidd was still around. They all want this and there’s no telling who wants it more.
From jump, Apollo wants Sheamus and the two go at it almost immediately. They spill out of the ring with Sheamus getting the better of Crews. Cesaro is there lurking on the apron. He front flips onto the side of Sheamus’ head and the crowd is feeling it. Del Rio comes to the aide of Sheamus and the two decide to team up. They drag Cesaro into the ring and start working on him. Crews comes in and breaks things up. Sheamus gets Cesaro in a Cloverleaf and Del Rio almost kicks his face off. Alliance over. Del Rio gets Sheamus in the Cross Arm Breaker and Crews breaks that up with a Standing Moonsault and a pin. Nice move by the way.
Cesaro nails Crews with a Drop Kick and then everyone shows up to the Upper Cut party Cesaro was talking about.
Sheamus leaves the party early and slams Cesaro. After a few blows here and there, Crews and Sheamus somehow spill out of the ring again and Del Rio and Cesaro are left in the ring Del Rio goes for his Cross Arm Breaker and Cesaro reverses. He grabs Del Rio’s legs and it’s time to start swinging! Cesaro quickly transitions into a Sharpshooter and Del Rio taps! Cesaro wins.
After the match, Del Rio, being the poor sport he is, attacks Cesaro. Slamming him around and hitting his Double Stomp from the apron to the floor. Cue Rusev.
Rusev comes out demanding to start his match now. Attack the enemy while he’s weak. He calls Cesaro a coward. A real champion would fight now. Cesaro WAS heading to the back but his pride wouldn’t allow him. Clutching his rib area, he accepts and the match starts.
Cesaro Vs. Rusev w/Lana (United States Championship Match)
Rusev wisely jumps on Cesaro from the very beginning. Cesaro is able to swing things in his favor and fights back delivering fist after fist. Rusev would eventually take the reigns and trap Cesaro in a Bear Hug.
Cesaro fights out of it and then we get to see the brilliance and creativity that is Cesaro. Kicks, flips, and European Upper Cuts galore! He goes for the Dutch Neutralizer but his battered ribs won’t allow him to apply the proper torque needed to get the big man up. Rusev counters and goes for the Accolade. Cesaro is able to slip out and somehow go for a Sharpshooter. His ribs again hinder him. He’s not able to turn Rusev over. Well, Rusev DOES have a good hold on Cesaro’s leg as well.
Rusev takes advantage of the opening and tries for the Accolade again. This time Cesaro winds up flipping it into an odd pin. Rusev kicks out at 2. Rusev has had enough. He nails Cesaro with a kick on the side of the head and yells, “CRUUUUSHHH!!!” He stomps on Cesaro back and ribs and finally applies the Accolade. Cesaro has no choice but to tap immediately. Rusev retains.
Renee Young finds Rusev and Lana walking down a hallway. She congratulates him on his victory. Rusev calls himself a true American hero. Renee schools him on the history of Independence Day and that it’s approaching quickly. Rusev has more snide and disrespectful remarks about the country and brags about taking Lana away on a trip. Renee informs him that he has another title defense on Monday, July 4 against none other than Titus O’Neil. Answers my question from earlier. Before Rusev can express his rage, Lana simply says, “Crush,” and Rusev calmly walks away.
Dana Brooke Vs. Billie Kay
I don’t know how they expect us to watch SmackDown every week and this is a match, but work with me here. If you’ve never seen either of these girls check out NXT. Dana was no scrub down in Florida. They don’t use her very well on the main roster. Sorry, Charlotte didn’t even want to see this match.
Bless their hearts! In NXT there’s a lot more opportunity and equality in terms of match length and importance on the roster between men and women. Not so much on the main roster. Billie Kay can really move. Don’t get me wrong, she’s no Sasha or Charlotte but she’s got some stuff.
The match starts off with Dana obviously taking Kay to school because let’s bury one talent to enhance another for some reason. Dana toys with her with the usual heel-ish shenanigans, until Kay catches her off guard. Kay hits a nice Discus Clothesline and a Big Boot to match but Dana quickly extinguishes the fire. She hits whatever she’s calling her finisher and the match ends just like that.
Sasha Banks (Legit Interview)
During the last sequence of the match, we see our beloved Sasha Banks watching on a monitor in the back. After Dana gets the three count, Renee Young approaches The Boss and comments about how on fire she’s been and inquires about her title aspirations. Sasha reminds us all of her longstanding rivalry with Charlotte dating back to NXT and even plugs RIVALRIES on the WWE Network. That’s a great show by the way. According to Sasha, Charlotte knows she’s coming and she should be scared.
All of a sudden, a “Summer Breeze” slides in. Summer Rae stands directly in the spotlight texting on her phone.
She “realizes” she’s interrupted Sasha’s interview and decides to say a few words herself. Apparently the locker room is sick of this whole, “Legit Boss” business and Summer in particular can’t wait for the brand split and hopes the two get split up. Sasha takes them as fighting words and issues a challenge to Summer Rae. We’ll be seeing these two in the ring shortly.
Miz TV (with Dean Ambrose)
Maryse is here, stunning as ever, to introduce her husband. Before Miz can get into his whole shtick, Ambrose’s music hits and he comes to the ring with a brown paper bag.
Ambrose apologizes for being late and explains that he’s been very busy running around since he’s become champ. Miz tells him that he’s early as Ambrose opens his paper bag and begins eating a sandwich. Miz gets upset about the sandwich and Ambrose offers him a bite. Miz declines because of the Gluten.
The two get into a war of words, The Miz talks about starring in Marine 5, Ambrose calls it Maroon 5 and they argue about who has a better talk show. Miz states that Ambrose as a champion is a disgrace to everyone else on the roster with a title. Ambrose is through talking and he throws down the gauntlet. He puts his mic down and waits for Miz to take his designer jacket off. Miz finally prepares himself for battle. Ambrose takes another bite of his sandwich and uses Miz’s jacket as a napkin.
He gets in there pretty good. Maryse flips out and yells at Ambrose about how expensive and important that jacket is. She throws it over his head and The Miz nails him with a Big Boot.
Miz and Maryse walk away grinning. I don’t think this is the end.
Braun Strowman & Eric Rowan Vs. Two Random Guys (They’re Literally Listed As Local Competitors)
Rowan starts off the match by taking off his mask slowly. He runs through Competitor #1 and takes a cheap shot at Competitor #2. Rowan lays out #1 with a Full Nelson Slam and tags in Strowman (as if THAT were necessary).
Strowman grabs #2 and drags him into the ring. He throws him so far up in the air he almost got hit by a plane.
#2 lands on #1 and Strowman basically uses #2 to pin #1, 1,2,3.
New Day Gon’ New Day
Bray Wyatt enters the ring and grabs a microphone. Before he can utter a word, the Titantron flashes. We see New Day graphics flash across the screen in a Wyatt-like fashion. We see Kofi Kingston wearing a black sheep mask with a unicorn horn on it. He removes the mask. He speaks on fear with his best Bray Wyatt impression. He asks Bray Wyatt what he fears. The camera pans and now we see the whole squad. Big E has some colorful suggestions of what might be scaring Bray. Examples include soap, the ghost from The Conjuring 2 and females with big ol’ booties! Wyatt just smiles and laughs. Big E says New Day will EXPOSE the Wyatts. He demands Bray expose himself! Before this gets out of hand, Kofi stops it. Too far, E. We don’t want to see that. Big E then tells Bray to keep his sheep in the barn (ba-dum,tsss!). Bray laughs and responds. He loves how everything is a joke to them. But he’s noticed that Xavier is not joining in on the fun. He tells Xavier to inform his pals of what he already knows. “The DEVIL calls for you,” says Bray in that eery voice he loves to use. “All that’s left for you to do is pray….and RUN!”
Sasha Banks Vs. Summer Rae
Sasha gets right into it. She’s flinging Summer around and reminding her just why she calls herself The Boss. All the momentum is on Banks’ side. The two begin brawling on the apron near the ramp. Summer tries to Suplex Banks quite possibly on the apron, but Sasha pushes out. That creates enough separation for Summer to land a HUGE Boot sending Sasha flying into the ring post and on to the floor.
With Summer in control, we see a plethora of kicks and spins. Her long legs and dancer prowess work well in the squared circle. Sasha would mount a comeback with some fast paced maneuvers. It becomes a battle of counters until Sasha finally lands Double Knees in the corner and quickly slaps on the Bank Statement. Boss wins.
No. Just, no. Not doing this. NEXT!!
The Miz w/Maryse Vs. Dean Ambrose
Told ya that wouldn’t be the end. Because, who doesn’t want to see a Champion Vs. Champion match? Say what you want about The Miz, but he’s an excellent worker with a firm grasp on how to work a WWE crowd. Ambrose is just crazy in the ring.
You know, it’s weird seeing the champ fight on a SmackDown taping, but that’s okay! Ambrose is on the top of his game and so is Miz. In this match, Ambrose seems one step ahead. One step quicker and one punch stronger. One punch stronger? I stand by it. I mean, he’s not One Punch Man or anything. Anyway, don’t we love to see the Lunatic fly? Not since Daniel Bryan crashed through the ropes (or Jay Lethal about 2 and a half or 3 times in a row in ROH every match) have we seen a more exciting Crash & Burn! Well tonight, Maryse ruined it for us all. She grabs her husband before Ambrose can even fill up the tank for take off. Miz climbs back in the ring and still can’t get the best of Ambrose. He winds up being chased outside the ring. Maryse interferes and Ambrose ends up being tossed into the barricade.
Match swings in Miz’s favor. He goes to work on Dean’s lower body, focusing on softening up that left leg for a Figure Four. After a failed Missile Drop Kick, Miz locks in the Figure Four and Ambrose is straining. He somehow manages to grab the bottom rope to force a break.
Miz drags him back to the certain of the ring to try again and Dean rolls him up. Miz kicks out at 2 and Dean throws him out the ring. Opportunity for redemption! Ambrose flies and this time connects! Flying Lunatic!
The action makes its way back into the ring and when Ambrose goes for his patented Clothesline, Miz counters with The Skull Crushing Finale.
Somehow Dean kicks out at 2. Match continues. Miz climbs the top rope looking for a Double Axe Handle Smash, Dean counters with a kick to the gut and Dirty Deeds. Three count.
Funny how Dean and everyone else is saying, “WWE Champion” instead of “WWE World Heavyweight Champion” now. Y’all ain’t slick.