Richmond Virginia played host to a huge episode of Smackdown Live that featured The Return of Jericho and a New United States Champion! Main Evented by a blockbuster Triple Threat Match for the US Title between Kevin Owens, AJ Styles & Chris Jericho, Smackdown Live also saw John Cena make his intentions clear for Jinder Mahals WWE Championship and a first time ever dream match set for next week between John Cena & Shinsuke Nakamura.
Kevin Owens kicked off the show celebrating his US Title win from Battleground, he said he would begin his Open Challenge, but not until next week. AJ Styles came out and demanded his rematch before THE RETURN OF JERICHO! Chris Jericho returned to an enormous reaction and stated his claim for the rematch he never received for the US title; and he did so putting all his catchphrases in there as well for huge reactions. Shane McMahon came out to announce that both men will receive their rematch, not at Wrestlemania, not even at Summerslam, but tonight. The triple threat match for the title was booked for the main event. This was amazing, no one expected to see Jericho back so soon but it completely makes sense to have him back for Summerslam. The perfect start to Smackdown Live.
In a Battleground Rematch Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Baron Corbin, this was exactly what should have happened at Battleground, just 48 hours too late. Hard-hitting, decisive, and a good win for Nakamura. Hopefully Nakamura can be involved in something huge for his first Summerslam, whether this feud is big enough or not is up to you.
Backstage Naomi is confronted by her Summerslam opponent Natalya before Mrs Money in the Bank Carmella reminds the champion that she is always just around the corner. The Naomi Natalya Summerslam feud for the title is one that both women deserve so much, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a lot of work to make this feel huge. Carmella’s James Ellsworth shirt was the real highlight here.
Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch defeated Tamina & Lana I Women’s Division action. With Lana suffering the fall to Charlotte, Tamina seems to be growing even more frustrated with Lana after she saved Lana at Battleground only for Lana not to be able to save her. It’s good to see their story progressing, but one must feel Charlotte & Becky should be featured more prominently heading into Summerslam.
WWE Champion Jinder Mahal demands to know his opponent for Summerslam, AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA! Cena keeps it short and sweet, saying he’s going to become the record breaking 17-time World Champion. Daniel Bryan comes out however to announce that Cena does still need to earn the opportunity, and next week there will be a match to determine the challenger to the WWE Title at Summerslam, and it will JOHN CENA VS SHINSUKE NAKAMURA! Giving away that match on free TV is curious as that can main event any PPV on the calendar, but what a monumental match!
Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger defeat Aiden English & Mike Kanellis in Tag Team action. A quick match, all four men are capable of doing far more than they are, with the 50/50 booking in both feuds perhaps they both continue, but this really did nothing for anyone involved.
The New Day head to the ring for their celebration after becoming Smackdown Tag Team Champions at Battleground but are jumped during their entrance by the Usos. The Usos were as intense as ever laying waste to the New Day. This feud is continuing onto Summerslam and after their match at Battleground who could complain.
AJ Styles Wins the United States Championship in a Triple Threat Match against Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho! The three men put on an incredible match as only could be expected from three of the very best in the world. Great back and forth with some incredible sequences and nail biting near falls. Styles literally stole the win pinning Jericho after Owens hit a frog splash to Jericho, before Styles stole the win throwing Owens out of the ring. After the match Owens loses his mind at ringside and demands his rematch for the title next week. Some will argue the ‘Hot Potato’ of the US Title is a bad thing, but when it’s between two men the quality of Owens & Styles, just like when it was Sasha Banks & Charlotte, all it does it tell a great story and put the title front and centre.