AJ Styles Issues US Open Challenge to Kick-Off SmackDown Live

Tonight's SmackDown Live was all about the aftermath and fall-out from the events of last week's Independence Day show and the surprise title change that took place at last Friday's Madison Square Garden.

Tonight's event opened with a video package reflecting on a couple major game-changing events in the US Title picture — AJ Styles winning the Independence Day Battle Royal for the number one contendership at Kevin Owen's title, and subsequently defeating the former "New Face of America" at a WWE house show this past Friday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Airing from San Antonio, TX, the show began proper with the commentary team introducing Styles as the new United States Champion. "It looks like Battleground came a little early for AJ Styles," announced the new champ.

Up Next: AJ Styles Comments on His US Title Win and Kevin Owens

He proceeded to remark this wasn't about him or KO, but the US Title and what it represents. Without naming former rival John Cena, he reflected on the time of his 2015 US Title Open Challenge. Much like KO had teased in recent weeks, Styles issued an open challenge of his own.

And who answered that challenge? None other than the newly-returned true "Face Who Runs the Place" Cena.

Unlike Owens, Styles made no excuse to welcome the highest level of challenger. But the recently dethroned "New Face of America" KO had some words for both contestants, interrupting before their match could get underway.

"Nobody wants you here, Nobody missed you," Owens told Cena, while issuing warning to both he and Styles that he intends to come for the belt he still feels is rightfully his to reclaim.

Up Next: Rusev Crashes John Cena's Patriotic Return to SmackDown

At that moment Rusev once again appeared by surprise, for the second week in a row. Rushing the scene, the Bulgarian Brute proceeded to lay out both Styles and Cena, locking in the Accolade on the latter.

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The unholy alliance of KO and Rusev made just as swift an exit, but we can expect to see all four top-level talents face off later tonight in a tag team match, and perhaps a preview of what's in store for the upcoming Battleground PPV.