This week’s WWE Smackdown paid tribute to the lives of Bray Wyatt and Terry Funk as well as other action.
I am very saddened by the death of Bray Wyatt. He was only 36. He had a wife and four kids. I just can’t imagine what that family is going through.
Look at all of us who feel so emotional and a lot of us just know this guy from watching Windham Rotunda doing a great job as a pro wrestler in entertaining us. My heart aches for this family, his friends and all of us pro wrestling fans who learn to love these people that we may never get to know, yet our respect is so great that they feel like family to us. Wrestling fans have this special connection to the performers we watch. It’s hard to explain it to non-wrestling fans, but those of us who are fans get it and it’s why we’re so sad right now. Bray was an incredible all-around performer with a very creative mind. He will be missed immensely.
Bray died of a heart attack after dealing with COVID issues. I feel so bad that he had to go through all that and that we have to say goodbye to him. He was a young man who should still be with us. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Be good to others. You don’t know what they are going through. A simple smile, a text message, a private message or something along those lines go a long way to making somebody feel better.
The death of Terry Funk was difficult too. I know at 79 he’s obviously a lot older than Bray was, but it’s still sad and never easy to deal with. I have felt numb for a few days this week. It will be an emotional show for sure.
There were graphics shown for both Terry Funk and Bray Wyatt saying this show was “In Memory Of” both of them.
The WWE roster was on the stage. That included the injured Braun Strowman and former WWE superstar Erick Rowan as well. I’m so glad they brought Rowan there.
Michael Cole was at ringside mentioning the death of Terry Funk and Bray Wyatt. Cole said we will honor them tonight. There was a ten bell salute as the talent and staff on the stage bowed their heads in honor of their fallen friends.
Bray Wyatt Video
A video package aired about Bray Wyatt’s incredible WWE career from when he started in the company 14 years ago until the end of his run that happened far too soon. There were a lot of family photos shown too.
Analysis: I thought the video was amazing. It reminded us of the unique character that Bray Wyatt was and they picked a lot of the right moments. The family photos were so sad knowing he had a wife and four kids. My heart breaks for them. I’m not sure how to summarize it or what else to say about it, but I was in tears watching it and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I want to watch it again. I can’t believe he’s gone.
The fans chanted “Thank You Bray.” The fans sang “he’s got the whole world in his hands” for Bray too because we know that song was his song.
There was a rocking chair shown on the stage in front of the talent the stage. They put a spotlight on the chair because we know Bray used to sit in a chair like that.
Analysis: That was a touching tribute for Bray to start the show. I know some people might complain about WWE not doing the whole show about him, but I think doing some of the show about him is great. I’m not going to complain about it. It’s not easy for any of them considering they knew the guy and loved him as much as anybody did.
There were images shown of Terry Funk along with Tweets/X comments from various wrestlers that knew and loved Terry.
The commentary team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves & Kevin Patrick were at ringside to welcome us to the show. Cole said that we are here to honor Bray Wyatt & Terry Funk while adding that both men loved to entertain us, so they will entertain us.
Rey Mysterio made his entrance for singles action. He had “TF” and “BW” on his black armbar for Funk and Wyatt. Rey will defend the US Title against Austin Theory at Payback. Rye didn’t have the US Title with him for some reason.
It was also announced that Grayson Waller will host Cody Rhodes on the Grayson Waller Effect talk show at Payback.
Rey Mysterio vs. Grayson Waller
Waller used his size advantage for a headlock takedown. Rey came back with a headscissors takedown. Rey sent Waller into the middle ropes, Waller was back up, Waller sent Rey to the apron and when Rey tried a leap, Waller kicked Rey to the floor. Waller to the floor, but Rey gave him a headscissors into the barricade.
Waller was in control with an elbow drop off the middle ropes for a two count. Waller hit a jumping side kick for two. Waller whipped Rey hard into the turnbuckle with Rey taking a sternum-first bump. Waller with another hard whip into the corner. Rey with a headscissors that sent Waller into the turnbuckle. Rey with a seated senton followed by a springboard cross body block. Rey hit an impressive swinging DDT for a two count. Waller kicked Rey back and hit a flipping neckbreaker into the mat. Waller hit Rey in the back of the neck with a forearm, Rey came back with a forearm and a senton splash. Rey sent Waller into the middle ropes, but here comes Austin Theory with his music playing during the match. Waller with a rollup for two. Rey and Waller did a cross body block collision spot. Santos Escobar attacked Theory from behind. Theory sent Escobar into the barricade and a chop block to the left knee. Rey dropkicked Theory on the floor. Waller with a clothesline on Rey on the floor. Waller punched Escobar. Waller jumped into the ring, Rey avoided him, Rey sent Waller into the middle rope and Rey hit a 619 kick. Escobar kicked Theory down and Rey did the Drop the Dime splash on Waller for the pinfall win. It went about 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Rey Mysterio
Analysis: *** A good match with Waller getting a lot of offense and coming close to winning a few times, but Rey found a way to win thanks to Escobar helping Rey neutralize Theory. I thought the finish was booked well. I think a popular prediction will be Escobar turning heel on Rey in the coming months, but there’s no need to rush it.
After the match, somebody found the US Title because Rey was handed it while Escobar celebrated with Rey.
Next Friday on Smackdown: John Cena returns.
There were images shown of Bray Wyatt’s life/career along with some social media comments from WWE superstars including The Rock that will miss Bray greatly.
It was mentioned that LA Knight will face Finn Balor in the main event. They were two signature opponents of Bray Wyatt, so that’s why it’s the main event.
Replays were shown of Zelina Vega beating IYO SKY twice in the last two months to set up the upcoming title match.
The Damage CTRL trio of WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY, Bayley & Dakota Kai were interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. Bayley mocked Braxton for being a short person like the people in the LWO. Bayley put over the greatness of IYO SKY and said we are in IYO’s Era, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Zelina Vega made her entrance as the challenger while the announcers. The announcers were talking about her anime gear. I have no idea about that stuff. Anyway, Mike Rome did the championship introductions with both women in the ring. They went to break.
There was a brief video showing The Fiend’s debut when Bray Wyatt first introduced that character to us.
WWE Women’s Championship: IYO SKY (w/Bayley & Dakota Kai) vs. Zelina Vega
Vega got some offense going early with an arm drag across the ring. Sky came back by sending Vega throat first into the ropes. Sky with a body slam for two. Vega got a rollup attempt followed by a rolling kick. Sky hit a body slam off the turnbuckle for a two. It was off the middle rope. Sky missed a corner charge when Vega moved. Vega kicked Sky in the body, then a whip into the turnbuckle and a running clothesline. Vega hit a Hammerlock DDT with no cover attempt. Vega hit the Meteora double knees off the middle ropes for two and a rollup for two. Sky came back with a springboard missile dropkick. Sky tried a move, but Vega countered it into a DDT. Vega went for Code Red, then Sky caught her and Sky hit a Powerbomb. Vega managed to come back to hit the Code Red, but Sky rolled out of the ring. Vega went after Sky on the floor, so Sky shoved Vega into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Sky hit double knees in the corner. Sky went up top and hit the Over the Moonsault for the pinfall win after about six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: IYO SKY
Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid match with Vega putting up a fight, but Sky was too much for her. The key spot was when Vega tried going after Sky on the floor, but Sky sent Vega into the steel steps. Sky followed up with two moves including the top rope moonsault for the win. It made sense for Sky to beat somebody that she has lost to in the past to show that Sky is better now.
Cody Rhodes was shown walking backstage to pay tribute to Terry Funk up next.
This Monday on Raw: Becky Lynch faces Zoey Stark in a Falls Count Anywhere Match.
There were more tribute tweets/IG posts from WWE superstars and friends of the company in honor of Bray Wyatt. I loved that photo that Alexa Bliss posted of Bray when he was in the burnt costume.
Terry Funk Tribute by Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes made his entrance in a suit with the fans going wild for him as usual.
Cody stood in the ring for a promo: “So Louisville, Kentucky, I know what I want to talk about.” Cody talked about being 11 years old he’s traveling with his father and across the people mover he hears a peculiar insult calling Dusty Rhodes an “egg sucking dog.” Cody saw it was the proprietor of the Double Cross Ranch – Terry Funk.
A graphic was shown “In Memory of Terry Funk 1944-2023.”
Cody said that performers in the company get to be called WWE Superstars. They have been called wrestlers, athletes, competitors and even carnies. Cody said few earn the right to call themselves cowboys. Cody said that Terry Funk and Bray Wyatt were cowboys in the best of ways.
Cody spoke about Terry Funk being a constant in pro wrestling for 50 years. Cody said for 50 years, he’s constantly been changing. Cody spoke about “the rub” in pro wrestling saying when somebody with equity pulls up others. Cody said that Terry did that for an entire company, movement and a revolution. Cody cued up the Terry Funk video package.
A video package aired about WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk. They covered his legendary career very well by talking about his days as an NWA World Champion and his WWE run that saw him become a Tag Team Champion with Mick Foley. They showed the 2009 Hall of Fame ceremony when Terry was inducted. There were lots of comments from people that admired Terry as well.
Cody said from Texas to Tokyo, Terry Funk was extremely passionate and he was hardcore. Cody said that this next tag team match is a Terry Funk Hardcore Match.
Analysis: That was really well done by Cody Rhodes talking about what made Terry Funk special. Terry was hardcore and a legitimate badass as well that had a long career spanning 50 years as Cody said. Awesome video package as well.
The Brawling Brutes entered for tag team action.
A commercial aired for Payback on September 2nd promoting Seth “Freakin” Rollins defending the World Heavyweight Title against Shinsuke Nakamura. I don’t expect a title change.
They showed Bray Wyatt winning the WWE Title for the first time at Elimination Chamber 2017. Great match, by the way.
Terry Funk Hardcore Tag Team Match: The Street Profits – Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins vs. The Brawling Brutes – Butch & Ridge Holland
It’s essentially a tornado tag team match ending by pinfall or submission. Butch battled Ford outside the ring with Butch going after body parts. Butch hit a dropkick on Ford and a dropkick on Dawkins. Ridge did a spinning front facelock along with a DDT on Ford. Dawkins back in with a double underhook slam on Ridge. Ford hit a splash on Ridge for two. Ford and Dawkins took turns punching Butch along with a double team slam into the mat. Ford charged at Butch, who got a boot up and Butch hit a moonsault onto both opponents. Ridge put Butch on his shoulders and spun him around so Butch’s legs knocked down the Profits. Ridge hit a shoulder tackle on Dawkins on the floor. Dawkins hit a back body drop on the floor. Butch with a knee attack on Dawkins. Ford hit a somersault dive over the top onto both Brutes and Dawkins on the floor. Bobby Lashley arrived in a suit to watch his buddies The Street Profits in action.
Ridge was in control of Ford with a powerslam. Lashley was watching at ringside. The Brutes honored their mentor Sheamus with ten beats (forearms to the chest) by each guy. Ridge launched Ford into the air leading to Butch hitting a Powerbomb for two. Dawkins ran over Butch with a shoulder tackle on the floor. Dawkins hit a jumping back elbow on Ridge, then a corner splash and a jumping kick. Ford was up top a hit a top rope Blockbuster while Ridge was on Dawkins’ shoulder. All four guys got some offense with kicks and clotheslines. Dawkins and Ridge battled by the turnbuckle with Ridge hitting a superplex, but Ford hit a Frog Splash off the top for two because Ridge broke up the pin. Butch pulled out a table from under the ring and bumped into Lashley at ringside. Ford knocked Butch off the apron while Ford set up the table in the ring. Ridge fought back against Ford and Dawkins was back into it so Ridge hit a slam/DDT combo. Butch snapped the fingers of Dawkins. Ridge put Dawkins on the table. Butch went up top and Lashley shoved Butch down. Lashley hit a running Spear on Butch on the floor. Back in the ring, Dawkins and Ford hit their double team spinebuster/neckbreaker called The Revelation through the table. It went about 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Street Profits – Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins
Analysis: *** This was called a “Hardcore Match” yet they barely used any weapons, but at least the ending featured a table break that the fans really wanted. The Street Profits are still being cheered even though they were heelish a bit because Lashley taking Butch was a cheap move that allowed the Profits to win. I think the Profits winning makes sense since they should be pushed as a tag team with Lashley mentoring them.
After the match, The Street Profits celebrated with Lashley hugging them.
There was a brief video about the Firefly Fun House hosted by Bray Wyatt.
LA Knight was shown walking backstage.
They showed more Tweets/X comments from the WWE family honoring the late, great Bray Wyatt.
A Progressive Match Flo replay was shown from this past Monday’s Raw when The Miz lost to Akira Tozawa due in part to LA Knight watching the match at ringside. Knight didn’t actually do anything to Miz, but Miz was so focused on Knight being there.
A clip was shown of The Miz talking to TMZ Sports about LA Knight. Miz trashed Knight calling him a fad. Miz said LA Knight isn’t making it to WrestleMania in Philly if Knight keeps messing with him.
Let’s Hear from LA Knight
LA Knight made his entrance in his wrestling gear to a big pop. The fans shouted for his finger pointing “LA Knight Yeah.”
Knight said he’ll get to The Miz, but tonight’s about Bray Wyatt. Knight saw everybody in the crowd representing with the fireflies and it got him thinking about how sometimes your greatest foes can be your greatest helpers. Knight talked about how Bray Wyatt went through hell with him, but what Bray was doing was getting Knight ready for anything. Knight said his heart breaks for Bray’s family. Knight said he can hear it, he can feel it and when he saw those fireflies, he knows we can feel the spirit of Bray Wyatt in this building. The fans said he won’t act like he was best friends with Bray Wyatt, but he’ll repeat the sentiment: “Thank You Bray.” Knight said that same spirit allows him to say “let me talk to ya.”
LA Knight talked about The Miz calling LA just a fad. Knight said if he’s just a fad, he’s okay with that then The Miz never was. Knight said when The Miz had a stunt double, he was the star. Knight said when Miz was WWE Champion 12 years ago, he was in the background to The Rock and John Cena. Knight let The Miz they can do this anywhere on Raw or Smackdown or anywhere else. Knight said a wise man once told me the next time you see me: “Run!” Nice Wyatt tribute at the end there.
Analysis: That was awesome. LA Knight is such a gifted promo guy. I loved what he said about Bray Wyatt. They had a lengthy feud toward the end of 2022 and into their match at the Royal Rumble, which Wyatt won over Knight. That was actually Wyatt’s last televised match. Knight did a really nice job of honoring Wyatt by talking about their history and saying that Bray was getting him ready. I think a Knight-Miz match at Payback is pretty obvious, so it’s just a matter of making it official.
A video aired about Bray Wyatt’s WWE return at Extreme Rules last October.
Next week on Smackdown:
* John Cena returns.
* Rey Mysterio & Santos Escobar vs. Austin Theory & Grayson Waller
* Jimmy Uso returns. That was set for this week, but they pushed it back to next week.
Finn Balor of The Judgment Day made his entrance alone.
As the Knight/Balor match began, they said that LA Knight will face The Miz at Payback.
LA Knight vs. Finn Balor
The announcers talked about how Knight and Balor were signature opponents of Bray Wyatt. The action spilled to the floor with Knight sending Balor face first into the commentary hood a few times. Knight hit a shoulder tackle. Knight went for a move off the middle turnbuckle, but Balor tripped up Knight, who bumped into the turnbuckle.
They showed a clip of Bray Wyatt giving a heartfelt message thanking the fans during a promo last year.
Balor was in control as he charged into the corner, but Balor moved and Knight hit a neckbreaker. Knight with a DDT followed by a facebuster into the mat and a running kick for two. Balor got some offense going again with a kick to the ribs followed by a Russian legsweep. Balor hit a Slingblade neckbreaker. Balor charged, but Knight stopped him with a clothesline. Knight delivered some stomps in the corner along with a running knee. Knight lifted Balor on his shoulders, but Balor fought out of that and stomped on Knight. Balor hit a running dropkick into the corner. Knight with a powerslam. Knight with the running elbow drop for two. Balor came back with a reverse DDT elbow smash. Balor went up top, Knight fought with him, then Balor knocked him down and Knight jumped up to the top rope for a superplex. Knight hit a BFT (Blount Force Trauma) neckbreaker face first into the mat for the pinfall win after about 11 minutes. Cole said it might have been Knight’s biggest win in WWE so far.
Winner by pinfall: LA Knight
Analysis: ***1/4 A pretty good main event match with the babyface Knight winning clean. That’s the right call for a show where you are paying tribute to wrestlers who recently passed away. Balor isn’t going to be hurt by this kind of loss. I think maybe they could have put on a tag team match in the main event with some top faces beating some top heels and have the crowd get into the match more. This match was okay, but at times the crowd wasn’t into it. If it was a tag team match, maybe the fans would have been into it more. Just an idea on my part.
After the match, they showed LA Knight standing by the entrance and he pointed out at the crowd: “YEAH!”
The lights went out in the arena, they showed a lantern in the ring and the fireflies (fans) lit up the arena with their cell phone light. They showed an image of Wyatt on the screen. The fans were chanting “Thank You Bray” for all the wonderful memories. The camera zoomed in on the lantern in the ring and then it faded out. End show.
Analysis: Nice ending. We will miss you, Bray. Big time.
The Fireflies are shining extra bright tonight.
— WWE (@WWE) August 26, 2023
Three Stars of the Show
Nothing here except to say that we love you and we miss you, Bray Wyatt and Terry Funk.
No rating this week out of 10
Last week: 7.75
2023 Average: 7.24
I’m not rating the show out of 10 this week. If that bothers you, don’t let it. I’m being respectful toward Bray Wyatt and Terry Funk, who were honored on this show. I think WWE did a really nice job throughout Smackdown with the tributes for both men.
There might be some fans whining that WWE didn’t do a two hour tribute show to Bray or something like that, but I think what they presented is fine. It’s not easy to put on some two hour tribute show, much less ask your talent to stop crying long enough so that they can put on a show for the fans. I admire the wrestlers that did perform for us tonight. I liked the words spoken by those that talked as well. It’s not easy, but they did the best they could.
Four matches took place while some angles were furthered, but nothing major. Once again, that’s certainly fine for a show like this. I’ll probably re-watch the Bray Wyatt tribute video package a few times in the coming days. I’ll shed a tear again too. He will be missed. That’s for sure.
Here’s the WWE Payback PLE lineup for September 2 in Pittsburgh:
* World Heavyweight Championship: Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
* Women’s World Heavyweight Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Rodriguez
* Steel Cage Match: Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus
* United States Championship: Rey Mysterio vs. Austin Theory
* LA Knight vs. The Miz
* Grayson Waller Effect talk show with Cody Rhodes as the guest
You can watch WWE Payback on Saturday, September 2, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, streaming LIVE on Peacock in the United States and on 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.
Twitter aka X @johnreport