WWE SmackDown Live Results: Highlights, Analysis, and Grades for July 18

5 of 7

The Leader of the Cenation Appears

After the participants of the previous match cleared the ring, John Cena made his way to the squared circle to address his upcoming contest with Rusev. Inside of the ring, an American Flag and a Bulgarian flag stood on opposite corners. Obviously this is the company trying to hype Sunday’s gimmick match.

Similar to how the fans chanted USA when Jinder Mahal appeared earlier, Cena received the same treatment from those in attendance. Going over the rules of the contest, he discusses how this match is more important than the standard good vs bad guy routine. Rusev tends to disrespect America every chance he gets, something which doesn’t resonate well with Cena. Although he knows the Bulgarian Brute is a tough opponent, the former 16-time world champion has the spirit of America within him.

Born in a country where fighting for what you believe in is valued, Cena is a strong supporter of fighting for what’s right. He has no plan of giving up this Sunday, and so he grabs the American flag and waves it in the air. His music hits for a moment, but then Rusev burst onto the scene out of nowhere.

Assaulting Cena from behind, the Bulgarian Brite looked to send a message to his recent rival. Locking him in the Accolade, Rusev hoped to embarrass Cena on SmackDown Live. The Champ tried his best to break the hold, however, he ultimately succumbed to the pain. Grabbing his flag, Rusev waved it over a prone Cena to close the segment.

Backstage, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura had a brief interaction. Styles wanted to talk about the main event, but Nakamura simply pointed at the United States Championship and said one day he’ll answer the open challenge.