As reported earlier, tonight's SmackDown opened with new United States Champion AJ Styles issuing an open challenge for the US Title. And that call was immediately answered by not only the man who made US Open Challenges a thing, the John Cena, but also the recently defeated former champ Kevin Owens and newly returned Bulgarian Brute Rusev.
This lead to the announcement of a tag match which would require Styles and Cena to put aside their long-running past rivalry, uniting against their common enemies.
Last week Rusev interrupted Cena's grand patriotic return on Independence Day, reigniting the oldest feud between any of these four top talents, as The Bulgarian Brute and the o.g. "Face Who Runs the Place" have a storied history-- that story being the classic "Proud American" vs "Evil Foreigner Heel" angle that some see as outdated, but is still in heavy use by the WWE today.
Rusev proved his might and what we've been missing in his absence, dominating the playing field for much of the match. But AJ proved why he's risen to such a high level as a star in WWE, perhaps inheriting former rival Cena's role as the face of the franchise.
Styles did so often taking on the combined efforts of both heel challengers, as they took turns making frequent tags while his partner Cena played by-the-rules, waiting most of the match in the corner, hand outstretched.
Finally, an exhausted AJ was just barely able to make the tag, letting Cena do his thing clearing the field and landing a five knucke shuffle on KO. But as Rusev looked to interfere, AJ had his partner's back as promised knocking the Brute down with a Phenomenal Forearm. Cena then hit Owens with the Attitude Adjustment for the win, giving the US Title belt to its rightful holder and raising his former rivals hand in victory.
John Cena and Rusev will face off in an old-school flag match at WWE Battleground on July 23rd. It remains to be seen whether KO will get his US Title rematch that soon, or if as hinted at, AJ will make him fight for it longer, continuing his open challenge.