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WWE SmackDown Live preview (July 4, 2017): Hustle, Loyalty, ‘Murica

Night two of WWE’s trip to Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, this one on the U.S. of A’s birthday and JOHN CENA.

The Headliners

Perhaps you’ve heard of him...

He can’t say “the champ is here” right now, and he’s even lost “the Face That Runs The Place” title to AJ Styles, but maybe he can steal a line from baseball legend Reggie Jackson, because John Cena is very much still the straw that stirs the drink for WWE.

Anticipation for his return from his latest hiatus for movie and television was high anyway, but then WWE threw the words “free agent” on a graphic hyping his comeback tonight, and now we’re all fired up. While we all figure that means he’ll be working Mondays and Tuesdays as needed for however long he’s sticking around this time, beyond that...

Are we close to a 17th World title reign, with Cena as the American hero standing up to a cocky foreigner? Is a passing of the torch moment with Roman Reigns imminent? Those are the most prominent rumors. Perhaps tonight will provide some clues about what’s next for the big free agent.

The Title Scene

WWE champ Jinder Mahal was put in a position where he had to give Randy Orton another rematch, so he picked one he feels represents his heritage - and that was innovated by his hero, The Great Khali. So at Battleground, we’re getting the return of the Punjabi Prison!

KO doesn’t really doesn’t think it’s fair, but General Manager Daniel Bryan is about opportunity more than fairness (just ask the Hype Bros). And Kevin Owens does need a new challenger for his United States championship, so as fans, we can’t really complain about an Independence Day battle royal to determine who the new #1 contender will be. We can’t offer you any predictions however, because we only know one competitor - the Phenomenal One himself. Actually, scratch that previous statement. We’re picking Styles.

Naomi is getting a little fed up with all the chances Lana keeps getting to take her Women’s title. But even if the Ravishing Russian’s shoulder wasn’t down last Tuesday, there was little evidence to suggest their third match in three weeks - mandated by Bryan for tonight - will result in a different outcome than the previous two.

Their rematch is still weeks away, but The New Day will get a chance to prove they’re better than tag team champions The Usos at something tonight. That’s because Wale will call a rap battle pitting Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods against Jimmy & Jey in Arizona on July 4.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Now that the Money in the Bank business is settled, what’s next for the rest of the Women’s division? Carmella will float around the Naomi/Lana winner, obviously, but are Charlotte and Natalya feuding again? Where does Becky Lynch direct that hot fire after another setback? See, SmackDown has questions, too!

- Mr. Money in the Bank got a big win over his rival Sami Zayn (who may have pissed off Team Blue’s new lovebirds, Mike & Maria Kanellis, in the process). And if the fact a certain Artist was scouting their match tells us anything, Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin may be happening in the not-too-distant future.

- The Fashion Police are still trying to track down their mystery tormentors, since Konnor and Viktor cracked under the pressure (and/or really wanted two tickets to paradise) and confessed they only showed up at the last pay-per-view (PPV) to get on the card.

- Rusev is rumored to appear on the July 4 episode, for like the eighth week in a row. At least the Handsome One gets rumors, unlike poor M.I.A. Tye Dillinger.

Three weeks to Battleground!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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