To thank our veterans for their sacrifice and dedication for freedom and safety, welcome to the 21st Tribute to the Troops commemoration as we have The War and Treaty perform God Bless, America.

Hall of Famer JBL will be joining us on commentary tonight as he is the one who started this heartfelt movement.

Dragon Lee vs. Santos Escobar – United States Championship Tournament Round OneĀ 

Why is it that I saw this coming between Lee and Escobar? Ha! This clash was bound to happen since the feud has started. I just didn’t expect it to the first match. But, before anything could happen, Dominik Mysterio has arrived on SmackDown.

Commentary reckons he’s here scouting Dragon Lee since he’ll be facing him tomorrow Saturday at NXT Deadline for the North American Championship with Rey Mysterio at Lee’s side.

Escobar misses with a kick as Dragon counters with some heavy right hands to the head then sends Santos over the ropes right in front of Dom. Lee is on a roll as he flies over the ropes and perfectly lands on his opponent.

Santos performs an incredible neck breaker to Dragon as he dangled off the second rope. Dragon thought he had Santos for a moment there, but he got caught and slammed against the apron.

Lee almost gets the win with the kick to Santos’ face in the corner of the ring, but Escobar remains in the match.

Although Dragon Lee fought so well during this first round, I was shocked to find that he lost after that Phantom Driver by Santos. Well… damn. As Escobar advances, he will face the winner of the Lashley versus Kross match.

Winner: Santos EscobarĀ 

Backstage, Randy is confused upon arrival that he’ll be teaming up with LA Knight, someone he didn’t know until last week. Orton says he didn’t need to be saved when what’s little of The Bloodline attacked him, yet they both have something in common. Knight and Orton want The Bloodline, hence Nick Aldis’ decision.

However, Aldis got a fine for 100,ooo dollars rather than 50,000. Randy warns him that the addition is for next time. Ha! Ha!

Up next, we have a very thrilled American Nightmare Cody Rhodes joining us on the blue brand for Tribute to the Troops and more. There’s no one better than John Cena to explain why it is so important to thank and recognize veterans for their continuous service throughout the years he’s taken part in Tribute to the Troops. The salute he does every time he makes an entrance is for the soldiers who fought for our freedom.

Prior to Rhodes leaving, he invites the US Army Drill Team to the stage. Thank you! Brad Nessler from CBS Sports is here as well.

Bobby Lashley vs. Karrion Kross – United States Championship Tournament Round One

I’m so glad to see Scarlett and Karrion Kross again. It’s been several months since I last saw them, and with honesty, I missed them.

A mistake on Lashley’s part was to stretch out without paying attention to his challenger as Kross rushes over to Bobby and begins to pounce early. Bobby counters with an attempt at the Hurt Lock, but Kross breaks it by ramming Lashley against the turnbuckle.

Bobby manages to avoid colliding with the steel stairs then drops Karrion on the main floor. Lashley continues with his momentum by sending Kross across the ring with a belly-to-belly throw.

Bobby delivers a well-placed clothesline followed by a neck breaker. Lashley is momentarily rocked until he sends Kross plummeting on the mat. Karrion has been on the receiving end quite frequently since this match started.

And it becomes even more apparent when Lashley spears Kross into oblivion and advances to face Santos Escobar.

Winner: Bobby Lashley

Elsewhere, as Asuka prepares for her WrestleMania rematch against Charlotte Flair, things turn sour the second Bayley shows up. Although, she volunteered herself to stay back, she also suggests that the rest of the group stay as well. The weird things is that Dakota, Kairi and Iyo have decided to be at ringside regardless and leave Bayley out of it. Hmm. I wonder why?

I can tell that Sky, Sane and Asuka are tired of Bayley. And I knew that a conspiracy was forming behind Bayley’s back. It’s only a matter of time until someone else takes wind of this and uses it against her.

But now, CM Punk is here as promised. Punk decides to talk about who’s practically never here, Roman Reigns. Surprisingly, he acknowledges Reigns, yet he almost reminds Roman that he’s the original Paul Heyman.

Punk gives a shoutout to Jey Uso for being on RAW. He begins to contemplate whether he should hang with Jey on Mondays, or scrap with Jimmy on Fridays. It’s a toughie.

Almost everyone has welcomed Punk back, but there are still a few who haven’t. And I’m waiting to hear whether or not Punk will mention him by name. Ha! Ha! I know who I’m talking about, and so do the fans.

Anyway, CM Punk has quite the decision to make since NXT also wants him. After he hears what Adam Pearce has to say next Monday like he mentioned earlier this week, then he’ll make his final choice. He wants to main event WrestleMania next year, and in order to do that, he has to win the Royal Rumble.

To read Part Two of SmackDown: A special salute to the troops, click on the link below: