The John Report: WWE Smackdown 07/21/23 Review

wwe smackdown july 21

This week’s WWE Smackdown featured Roman Reigns & Jey Uso in a “Rules of Engagement” and a 4-way match that could lead to a US Title shot.

It was one year ago tomorrow (July 22nd) when Vince McMahon retired from WWE. It only lasted about five months, but I remember the date because I wrote dozens…and dozens of news stories referencing July 22nd in the months that followed. I wish he stayed retired. Go hang out on a yacht and chill, Grandpa Vinny.

Tonight’s Smackdown is airing on FS1 in the US due to the USA Women’s Soccer/Football team playing on the main Fox channel tonight. To WWE’s credit, they did promote the show being on FS1 quite a bit, so a lot of fans should know it. With that said, the audience is going to be less than what they got on Fox even though WWE heavily pushed the Reigns-Jey showdown.

From the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1248. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

There was an opening video package about the Roman Reigns-Jey Uso storyline.

They showed the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns walking backstage with Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman.

Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed to the show with Cole saying there were 14,167 fans in attendance. It’s another sellout.

Rey Mysterio made his entrance first to a good pop for the US Title Invitational. Austin Theory, the US Champion, was at ringside watching the match. They showed NXT’s Wes Lee and Dragon Lee (no relation) applauding while sitting at ringside. Sheamus was up next with the fans cheering him. Cameron Grimes was up next and he didn’t get much of a reaction although he is a rising star. LA Knight was last and he got the biggest pop out of the four wrestlers.

LA Knight did a promo starting with “Let me talk to ya” and there were “LA Knight” chants. Knight spoke about SummerSlam saying he wants to go to the biggest party of the summer and take the US Title. Knight said his three opponents will realize whose game is it with the fans chanting “LA Knight” to end it.

Analysis: It’s a babyface promo from Knight again. I think he’s a face now. It’s really cool to hear how popular Knight is now.

US Championship Invitational: LA Knight vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Sheamus vs. Cameron Grimes

The winner faces Santos Escobar next week on Smackdown. The winner of that match gets a US Title match against Austin Theory.

Grimes knocked Rey out of the ring. Knight clotheslined Sheamus over the top to the floor. Knight with a shoulder tackle to Grimes and Knight tossed Grimes out of the ring. Knight did the pointing so the fans chanted “LA Knight…yeah” leading to a break.


The match continued with Grimes sending Rey into the barricade while Knight clotheslined Sheamus. No countouts and no disqualifications in a four way match. Sheamus hit a rolling senton slam. Knight ducked a Sheamus move leading to an elbow to the chest. Sheamus clotheslined Knight on the apron and Grimes tried a rollup, but Sheamus got out of that and Mysterio sent Grimes into Knight on the apron. Sheamus and Rey each delivered forearms to the chest with Sheamus hitting Knight and Rey hitting Grimes. Sheamus did it better. Rey dropkicked Sheamus into the knee, but Sheamus came back with a backbreaker. Grimes back in with a cross body block off the top on Sheamus. Grimes worked over Sheamus and Rey with kicks followed by an enziguri kick by Grimes to Knight. Grimes did a spinning slam on Rey. Sheamus punched Grimes, who came back with a dropkick and Sheamus ran Grimes over with a forearm. Sheamus with a backbreaker on Grimes. Knight pulled Sheamus out of the ring leading to Knight slamming Sheamus onto the apron. Knight hit Grimes with a forearm, so Rey dropkicked Knight into the barricade. Back in the ring, Rey went up top and Knight tripped him up. They did a four way spot out of the corner with Sheamus Powerbombing Grimes while Grimes gave a German Suplex to Knight, who did a superplex to Rey! That was a crazy Tower of Doom corner spot. I’m glad it turned out safely for everybody involved.


Sheamus and Knight did a double clothesline on the floor to knock each other down. Rey and Grimes went tumbling over the top, so Rey did a hurricanrana to Grimes into Theory’s chair, but Theory moved. Sheamus jumped off the top with a forearm smash onto Rey and Grimes. Knight was back in the ring, Sheamus with a necksnap across the top and Sheamus hit a top rope clothesline. Sheamus with a powerslam on Rey and White Noise connects on Knight for a two count. Sheamus took a long time setting up for Brogue Kick, so Knight avoided it and hit a spinebuster-style move. Rey jumped onto Knight to break it up. Sheamus with a running knee to Grimes. Knight slammed Sheamus off his shoulders for two with Rey breaking it up. Grimes caught a running Rey and hit a cross body block into a pin attempt for two. That’s a spot that Grimes loves to do called the Collision Course. Rey with a step up kick to Grimes. Rey hit a hurricanrana on Sheamus and Grimes at the same time leading to Rey hitting a double 619 kick on Grimes and Sheamus. Rey hit a splash on Grimes leading to Theory pulling Rey off the pin and Theory sent Rey into the steel steps. Santos Escobar ran to the save and saved Rey by going after Theory. Knight bounced off the ropes leading to an elbow drop on Grimes. Sheamus back in with a Brogue Kick on Knight, Grimes hit a Cave In on Sheamus and Rey was back in with a hurricanrana into a pin on Grimes for the pinfall win after 18 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Rey Mysterio

Analysis: ***1/2 A great match that got plenty of time and had many nearfalls throughout the match. I think between Rey, Sheamus and Knight all of them had a shot to win while Grimes was obvious as the guy that was going to get beat, which is what happened. The corner Tower of Doom spot was great. Some of the nearfalls were really believable, so that made it more exciting as it went on. Just like at Money in the Bank, I thought Knight should win that and it didn’t happen. It should have been a Knight win here too, but he failed yet again. The fans are still behind Knight. I just think he needs a big win soon.

That win by Rey means that he’ll face his LWO friend Santos Escobar in the finals of the US Championship Invitational next week on Smackdown. They hugged in the ring.

A look back at Brock Lesnar-Cody Rhodes is up next.

This Monday on Raw: Drew McInytre-GUNTHER going face to face, Becky Lynch faces Zoey Stark and Seth Rollins has a contract signing with Finn Balor.


They showed The Cavinder Twins in the crowd at ringside. They are training at the WWE PC.

Jey Uso was shown walking backstage where he saw NXT’s Tony D’Angelo and Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo. Jey also greeted The Creed Brothers, who were standing there.

Austin Theory walked up to WWE Official Adam Pearce complaining about Santos Escobar going after him. Theory wanted a match, Pearce wanted Theory to put the US Title, Theory didn’t want to do that and Pearce said fine, he’ll make the match.

A video package aired showing Cody Rhodes having a homecoming on Raw in Atlanta this past Monday. Cody pointed out his mom in the crowd. Brock Lesnar showed up, kicked Cody’s ass, Brock gave Cody an F5 in front of Cody’s mom and Brock put Cody in the Kimura Lock on the left arm just as he had done in the past. Lesnar accepted Cody’s match challenge for SummerSlam.

Analysis: The SummerSlam match will likely have a stipulation, but nothing has been announced yet.

The NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams were at ringside.

Charlotte Flair made her entrance for singles action.


They showed NXT Women’s Champion Tiffany Stratton in the crowd.

IYO SKY made her entrance with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Bayley was with Sky walking fine, which is a good sign after Bayley hurt her knee at a live event last weekend.

Last week on Raw, IYO SKY nearly cashed in Money in the Bank on WWE Women’s Champion Asuka, but Asuka spit the mist into Bayley’s face and Asuka ran away.

Charlotte Flair vs. IYO SKY (w/Bayley)

Bayley joined commentary to insult Cole. Flair ran over Sky with a shoulder tackle. Sky came back with a dropkick to the left knee. Flair tripped up Sky, but then Sky kicked Flair down. Flair kicked Sky to knock her down followed by a cross body block off the top onto Sky. Flair sent Sky to the apron, Sky with a strike and a springboard missile dropkick for two. Sky went for a running kick, Flair avoided her and Flair kicked Sky down. Flair hit a hurricanrana on Flair on the floor, so Flair did a flip bump that looked like gymnastics. It didn’t look smooth. Anyway, the show went to break there.


Flair sent Sky into the ring and hit a forearm. Sky avoided an attack to the knee leading to Sky hitting double knees in the corner. Bayley called Shotzi a sore loser. Flair hit a belly-to-back suplex on Sky. They exchanged strikes, Sky kicked the left knee and Flair hit a kick to the chest. Flair delivered multiple chops to Sky followed by a fallaway slam across the ring. Flair did a cartwheel leading to a clothesline for two. Flair with a backbreaker and she sent Sky into the turnbuckle. Bayley left commentary to distract Charlotte, so Sky sent Flair into the turnbuckle and Sky hit a running Powerbomb out of the corner for two. A video package aired featuring Shotzi, who was laughing hysterically while shouting Bayley’s name repeatedly. Bayley was scared of that, so she went to the back while Sky wondered where Bayley was going. Sky went up top, Flair was back up and pulled Sky down. Flair missed a Spear when Sky moved and Flair hit the middle turnbuckle. Sky went up top for a moonsault, Flair moved and Flair went for her own moonsault, but Sky got her feet up to block. Sky applied a Crossface submission and turned it into a pin attempt for two. Flair tried a pin for two. Sky avoided a kick followed by a leg wrench against the top rope. Sky jumped off the top, Flair avoided it and applied a Boston Crab submission. Sky got out of it and hit a dropkick. Sky with some punches, then she ran the ropes and Flair hit a Spear for two. Sky got a cradle for two. Flair was back up with a German Suplex for two. Sky countered a move followed by a double stomp on the stomach. They battled by the turnbuckle with Sky hitting a Frankensteiner for two and they each got nearfalls after that. Flair hit the Natural Selection neckbreaker for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Charlotte Flair

Analysis: *** They worked hard and had a competitive match that was even most of the way, but the crowd wasn’t into it that much. They just don’t love Charlotte Flair like some babyfaces in WWE. I also thought the finish fell flat because while Flair hit Natural Selection, Sky was bent over while she was doing it so there wasn’t much of a neckbreaker effect of the move. I’m not surprised by the result, but I am a bit surprised by how flat the finish was.

After the match, Asuka showed up and hit Flair with a German Suplex. Asuka with a running kick to the head. Asuka applied an armbar on the right arm until a referee showed up and Asuka let go.

Analysis: It gets heat on Asuka going into her SummerSlam match defending the WWE Women’s Title against Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair. That match was announced earlier on Friday.

They showed a highlight from NXT on Tuesday with Dominik Mysterio beating Wes Lee to become the NXT North American Champion. Dom had help from The Judgment Day.

Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley were interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Dominik bragged about being the champion of North America. Butch walked up to challenge Dominik Mysterio to a match. Dominik didn’t want to do it, but NXT boss Shawn Michaels walked up saying it would be a great match, so he’ll see if he can get this done.

Analysis: That means Dominik and Rhea have been on all three brands this week. Clearly, WWE is high on the Judgment Day and there’s nothing wrong with that. That group is doing well.

Roman Reigns was shown in the dressing room looking at his Lei while also looking at Solo Sikoa, who just nodded at Reigns and they didn’t say anything.

Austin Theory entered as the US Champion for a singles match.


Bayley and IYO SKY were shown in the locker room. Bayley looked at her luggage, which had scissors jabbed into a photo of Bayley. It was a message from Shotzi. Bayley and Sky left.

Austin Theory vs. Santos Escobar

Escobar hit a dropkick. Theory came back with a suplex. Escobar with a headscissors, but Theory hit a DDT. Escobar tried a submission move, Theory got out of it and Escobar clotheslined Theory out of the ring. Theory tried to regroup as the show went to break.


I missed a few minutes back from the break. Theory was in control with a suplex onto the knee. Escobar came back with a jumping kick to the face. Theory went up top, Escobar went after him an Escobar hit a hurricanrana off them. Escobar hit running knees in the corner and a Phantom Driver for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Santos Escobar

Analysis: *** It was good with a surprising result to have the champion lose a non-title match like that. I don’t mind a champion losing non-title on Smackdown because it’s rare to see. Escobar likely earns a title now while he also faces Rey Mysterio next week for a US Title match.

They showed Bobby Lashley talking to NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams in the backstage area.

Analysis: Last it was Lashley talking to The Street Profits, so this week it’s different since it is Melo and Trick. It could lead to a Lashley group, but we don’t know if that’s coming for sure.

Dominic Mysterio entered as the NXT North American Champion with Rhea Ripley by his side.


NXT North American Championship: Dominik Mysterio (w/Rhea Ripley) vs. Butch

Butch took Dominik down to the match leading to an arm bar along with twisting the left arm. Butch stomped on Dom’s arm. Butch went after the left arm again, Dominik it a necksnap against the ropes and Ripley put a chain in Dominik’s hand. Ripley distracted the referee and Ridge Holland showed up to grab the chair to stop Dominik from using it. Butch hit a suplex into a slam for a two count.


Dominik was in control with a senton splash. Pretty Deadly’s Kit Wilson and Elton Prince (in a wheelchair with his arm in a sling) walked out to ringside due to their issues with Butch and Holland. Butch hit kicks and a stomp on the arm. Butch with a running kick on Dominik. Butch came back with a German Suplex and a roundhouse kick to the head for two. Kit Wilson punched Holland and then Butch/Holland went after Kit, so Prince was all alone. Prince ran to the back. Butch went back into the ring, Ripley hit him with a chop block to the leg and Dominik sent Butch into the ring post. Dominik covered for the pinfall win after eight minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dominik Mysterio

Analysis: ** A cheap win for Dominik, who benefits big time from having Ripley at ringside. Butch rarely wins TV matches, so I’m not surprised that he took the loss.

Next week is Smackdown back on Fox in the US:

* Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar in the US Championship Invitational Finals.

* Karl Anderson faces Karrion Kross.

Jey Uso entered for the main event promo segment. Good ovation for him.


Roman Reigns & Jey Uso Have a Rules Of Engagement Discussion

The Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa and the “Wise Man’ Paul Heyman made their entrance. Reigns took his sweet time getting to the ring as usual. It was probably four minutes or so. There was a red carpet in the ring, a table, two chairs and something that may be a contract on the table.

Reigns: “Orlando…acknowledge me!” The fans booed. Reigns asked Jey if he still wants to do this?

Jey said “yeah I still want to do this.” Jey said that Reigns made him do this because Reigns called the shot, Jimmy’s in the hospital and now Jey has to get him.

Reigns told Jey he doesn’t get it. Reigns called Jey a soldier and a pawn in this game. Reigns opened up the contract on the table, Paul Heyman handed him a pen and Reigns signed it.

Jey ripped up the contract saying they don’t need a contract. Jey said that the contract is their blood. Jey said this is Tribal Combat right now.

Reigns asked if the elders know about this. Jey said it was their idea (the elders of the family). Jey said that Tribal Combat means anything goes. Jey commented on using weapons to destroy Reigns while pointing out different options. The fans cheered, so Reigns told Orlando to shut their mouths. Reigns told “Little Jey” to shut his mouth. The fans booed.

Reigns bragged about how it isn’t his first rodeo and he’s won the business for nearly a decade now. Reigns stood up and told Jey “let’s go.” Jey reminded Reigns that it is Tribal Combat now. Reigns took off the Lei from around his neck. Reigns put the Lei on the Undisputed WWE Universal Title that was on the table.

Reigns and Jey shook hands and then touched their foreheads against eachother. Solo dumped the table and went for the Samoan Spike, but Reigns stopped it. Jey wasn’t taking any chances, so he hit Solo with a superkick to knock Solo out of the ring. Reigns slowly backed out of the ring while Jey stood tall. Cole summarized it saying that the Undisputed WWE Championship is on the line and being the Tribal Chief is on the line too.

A graphic appeared on the screen. It’s official for SummerSlam: Roman Reigns defends the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Jey Uso in a Tribal Combat match where anything goes.

Next week on Smackdown: Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar.

They showed Roman Reigns with Paul Heyman staring at Jey Uso from a distance. End show.

Analysis: I wouldn’t call this an epic segment like some of The Bloodline segments in recent weeks, but it was still good and intense as well. Jey did a nice job explaining how Tribal Combat means that anything goes, so they can use weapons in the match and it’s all legal. Reigns putting the Lei on the title tells us, like Cole said, that the championship is on the line and so is the title of being called the Tribal Chief. I think with Solo what they were trying to do is have him be in the dark a bit and not know that Roman-Jey would do that sign of respect thing with their foreheads touching. Reigns stopped Solo’s attack, so that led to Jey’s superkick on Solo and Jey didn’t fight with Reigns at all. Like I said it’s a good ending, but I wouldn’t call it anything that special or something you need to go out of your way to see. I’m just glad it’s official for SummerSlam now with Reigns facing Jey in what should be an outstanding main event.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Roman Reigns-Jey Uso
  2. Rey Mysterio
  3. LA Knight


The Scoreboard

7 out of 10

Last week: 7.25

2023 Average: 7.24


Final Thoughts

A good show as usual for Smackdown. I’ll keep it short just because I’m tired, so I’ll just say the Roman Reigns-Jey Uso segment wasn’t as great as some of their past segments, but it was effective in terms of making their SummerSlam match official.

In terms of matches, they were okay, but really only the 4-Way match stood out. Rey Mysterio winning is okay although I really wanted LA Knight to win and the fans wanted it too.

The next WWE Premium Live Event for the main roster is SummerSlam on August 5th at Ford Field in Detroit with this lineup so far:

* Tribal Combat Match (Anything Goes) For the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Jey Uso

* Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes

* World Heavyweight Championship: Seth “Freakin” Rollins (c) vs. Finn Balor

* WWE Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair

You can watch SummerSlam streaming live on Saturday, August 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.


Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Toronto Blue Jays. My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter @johnreport