This week’s WWE Smackdown featured AJ Styles against Jimmy Uso Charlotte Flair teaming up with Shotzi facing Damage CTRL and more.
It’s the first Smackdown episode since the WWE Payback Premium Live Event last Saturday. I thought Payback was solid with some good matches, but not as good as the better WWE PLEs this year. The next WWE PLE is Fastlane on Saturday, October 7th. There’s no John Cena on Smackdown this week since he was at the WWE live event in India with the Raw crew. Cena is back on Smackdown next week.
The opening video package showed highlights from Payback.
They showed a Smackdown opening video that has John Cena in it. I think it was new since they don’t show it most weeks. That was followed by an impressive pyro display. The commentary team of Michael Cole, Kevin Patrick & Corey Graves welcomed us to the show to promote what’s coming up this week.
Charlotte Flair entered for tag team action as the 14-time Women’s Champion. Shotzi was up next since Charlotte distracted Bayley last week and Shotzi capitalized to win over Bayley. That was followed by Damage CTRL’s Bayley, WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY and their buddy Dakota Kai, who is still out of action with a knee injury. The announcers talked about the issues between Charlotte and the Damage CTRL group over the last month.
Damage CTRL – IYO SKY & Bayley (w/Dakota Kai) vs. Charlotte Flair & Shotzi
Flair battled Bayley on the floor with Flair sending Bayley into the barricade. Sky sent Shotzi out of the ring, Flair checked on Shotzi and Sky hit an impressive moonsault onto Shotzi & Flair on the floor. That led to a break less than one minute into this match.
Sky was in control of Shotzi as the heels were in control and Bayley tagged in for a double team kick to Shotzi’s head. Bayley applied a chinlock on Shotzi, who broke free and delivered elbows along with a kick to the head. Flair got the hot tag with a cross body block off the top as the crowd came alive with Flair delivering a lot of chops leading to “WOO” chants. Flair hit an overhead fallaway slam across the ring. Flair did a cartwheel into a clothesline along with an overhead suplex across the ring on Sky. Bayley got an inside cradle for two. Flair applied the Figure Four Leglock, but Sky ran into the ring illegally with a double knee attack on Flair to break it up. Sky tagged in with a hurricanrana, Bayley made the tag and Bayley did a slow climb to the top, but Bayley was distracted by Asuka, who grabbed the Women’s Title from Dakota Kai at ringside. Flair was back up to kick Bayley and Flair kicked Sky off the apron. Shotzi got the tag leading to a lifting DDT on Bayley for the pinfall win after nine minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Charlotte Flair & Shotzi
Analysis: **3/4 It was a pretty good match with solid action while telling the story of Bayley getting distracted by Asuka at ringside, which led to Flair & Shotzi capitalizing to win. This crowd loved Charlotte as much as any crowd has in a while. She usually doesn’t get cheered that loudly, but they loved her.
After the match, Flair and Shotzi left. Asuka went into the ring with the WWE Women’s Title while Sky got in her face. Asuka backed away while Sky picked up her title. They had a staredown while Asuka was in the aisle.
Analysis: That’s obviously teasing a match between IYO SKY and Asuka, who is the former Women’s Champion who lost the title in a triple threat to Bianca Belair. An Asuka/Sky match will be great whenever it happens. (We found later it’s in two weeks.)
A Progressive Match Flo was shown about Jimmy Uso on Smackdown last week. Jimmy took an AA from John Cena. Solo Sikoa also beat AJ Styles in a match thanks to Jimmy Uso. That set up this week’s Styles-Jimmy match.
Paul Heyman was backstage on his phone while Jimmy Uso walked up to him backstage. Jimmy was wearing a “We The Ones” shirt saying nobody told him he was out of The Bloodline, so he’s still in the group. Jimmy insisted that he was in. Heyman told Jimmy that Solo Sikoa wasn’t there and neither was Roman Reigns…of course. Heyman told Jimmy to handle his business with AJ Styles and Heyman will do his part to bring this family back together. Jimmy wanted a handshake, but Heyman just kept on walking.
Paul Heyman walked up to AJ Styles looking at some of his t-shirts. Heyman gave Styles a bit of a warning, so Styles grabbed him by the throat and pushed him into an equipment box. Jimmy Uso attacked Styles from behind with a forearm and threw him into some objects. Jimmy told Heyman he handled that AJ Styles business. Heyman called Roman Reigns on his phone.
Analysis: It’s a follow up from last week with Jimmy trying to prove himself to The Bloodline. It was more of the same from Jimmy again saying he’s still in The Bloodline while Heyman doesn’t seem sure of it. Anyway, this also adds more to the Jimmy/Styles coming up later, so I don’t mind it all.
The Damage CTRL trio of Bayley, WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY & Dakota Kai were interviewed by Kayla Braxton backstage. Bayley threatened Asuka saying they’ll take her out like they did to Bianca Belair. SKY said she’s ready for Asuka and will put the title on the line against her.
Let’s Hear from LA Knight
LA Knight made his entrance to a huge pop from the crowd with Knight in ring gear including a “Let Me Talk To Ya” shirt. There was a report earlier in the week that Knight re-signed with WWE or was close to doing that, so it’s really time for him to get a big push. Knight mentioned The Miz’s “scintillating performance” on Raw saying he didn’t come here to play like it says in The Miz’s theme song. Knight said he’s here to get to the top. Knight said Miz played dress-up and then he played make believe with invisible John Cena. Knight said he didn’t need Cena and didn’t need Cena’s endorsement. Knight said he respects what Cena accomplished and Cena counted the three. As Knight kept talking, he was interrupted.
Grayson Waller appeared by the entrance area in a dress shirt and he introduced his associate Austin Theory, who was in his wrestling gear. Waller said they beat Rey Mysterio and his stepson Santos Escobar, so they are an undefeated tag team. Waller claimed they can be the greatest tag team of all time if they decide to be. Knight mocked them telling them they sound like they are proud of themselves. Theory bragged about how Knight has already beat John Cena and beat Knight as well. Theory bragged about how at 26 years old he has already been a two-time US Champion while Knight…has just been here. Theory told Knight to take in this 15 minutes of fame. Knight said that they were boring everybody. Knight called Waller a “mush mouth moron” and Theory is a “cross eyed halfwit.” Knight said that TD Garden stands on Legends Way saying that Austin Theory at 26 years old can get his keester kicked tonight with everybody saying “LA Knight…yeah.” That match is next.
Analysis: I thought it was a good promo exchange. Knight is obviously a terrific promo guy and his feud with The Miz is continuing even though Knight already beat him clean at Payback. Waller & Theory play similar characters as cocky young heels, so having them align is a smart way to get them on screen together. I’m certainly fine with that because they work well together.
A video aired about WWE’s work in fighting pediatric cancer with their Connor’s Cure charity.
LA Knight vs. Austin Theory (w/Grayson Waller)
Grayson Waller was on commentary announcing that John Cena will be on the Grayson Waller Effect talk show next week. Waller suggested his team name with Theory could be “A-Town Down Under.”
Theory knocked Knight down with a shoulder tackle two times in a row. Knight popped back up with an uppercut. Knight hit a neckbreaker. Theory sent Knight into the ring post followed by a suplex for two. Knight came back with a slingshot shoulder tackle sending Theory out of the ring. Knight went after Theory on the floor with Knight sending Theory’s head into the commentary table as the fans chanted “YEAH” for it. Theory sent Knight over the top rope leading to a neck snap on the ropes. Theory gave Knight a neckbreaker on the floor.
Theory missed an elbow drop, Knight with punches, a Russian legsweep and a DDT. Knight hit a running knee smash on Theory against the turnbuckle. Theory smashed Knight with a forearm to the face followed by a neckbreaker. Knight sent Theory out of the ring followed by a running dropkick knocking Theory down on the floor. Theory suplexed Knight on the floor. Waller went on the apron and took a turnbuckle pad off, which Theory saw while the referee didn’t see it because he was counting both guys down. Knight countered a Theory lift attempt leading to a powerslam. Knight hit the running elbow drop. Waller with a distraction, Theory went after him and Theory got a rollup. Knight nearly sent Theory into the exposed steel turnbuckle, but Theory stopped himself and Knight hit a Blount Force Trauma (BFT) for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: LA Knight
Analysis: *** A good match with Knight surviving against Theory even with Waller lurking at ringside. I thought the finish was booked well since it puts over Knight for being a veteran babyface wrestler that’s smart and was ready for the cheating actions of the heels. Knight winning will be a regular thing as his rise continues.
After the match, Waller tried a cheap shot on Knight, but Knight was ready for it and Waller bailed to the floor. Knight celebrated his win.
AJ Styles was interviewed by Cathy Kelley. Styles said he was ready because he’s standing and that means he can fight. Styles said that Jimmy Uso can attack him all he wants, but nothing will stop Styles from tearing his head off whenever he wants.
The Judgment Day’s WWE Tag team Champions Damian Priest (with purple Money in the Bank briefcase) & Finn Balor entered for tag team action along with NXT North American Champion Dominik Mysterio. Cole mentioned that since Balor & Priest are Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions they can be on both main roster brands. Dominik was also on NXT this week. Ring announcer Mike Rome introduced Balor & Dominik, but then corrected himself to say Priest instead of Dominik. Graves mentioned it too, so that was funny as they headed to break.
Paul Heyman was talking to WWE Official Adam Pearce in Pearce’s office. Heyman wanted to know who was getting traded to Smackdown after Jey Uso was traded to Raw. Pearce said those decisions come from the top of WWE. LA Knight complained about Miz, so Pearce put Knight in a match against Miz next week. Heyman introduced himself to LA Knight saying he was a big fan of his. Heyman told Knight to knock first when Heyman was in a room like this. Heyman asked if they are clear and Knight said “YEAH” which is his catchphrase. Heyman left at that point.
Analysis: There’s a potential tease of LA Knight feuding with Paul Heyman’s buddy Roman Reigns down the road. I also think the Raw guy going to Smackdown will be Cody Rhodes, but that’s just my guess at this point.
Let’s Hear from The Judgment Day
Damian Priest told the fans to rise for The Judgment Day. No Rhea Ripley since she was with the WWE Raw crew in India. Finn Balor reminded us who they are as if we didn’t know. Dominik Mysterio tried to speak with the fans booing him so loudly that we could barely hear him. Priest said they are proud of Rhea Ripley. Priest said they accomplished something that The Bloodline couldn’t do and even Roman Reigns couldn’t do. Priest said they took the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles from Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens. Dominik said they are all equals in The Judgment Day and the most dominant group in WWE.
Butch & Ridge Holland made their entrance with Butch saying it was Fight Night. Holland said that they were looking to put on a “banger” in Beantown. Holland talked about how he’s made a habit of breaking fellas like them. Holland warned them to worry about Butch. Balor got in Butch’s face saying he didn’t care about him, so Butch snapped Balor’s finger. Holland clotheslined Priest out of the ring. That match is next.
Analysis: I found it strange that Holland would reference “breaking” since he broke Big E’s neck with an errant suplex on the floor a year and a half ago. It just doesn’t seem wise to reference that at all.
This Monday on Raw: Cody Rhodes is back, GUNTHER celebrates being the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion ever and Rhea Ripley defends the WWE Women’s Title against Raquel Rodriguez.
The Judgment Day – Damian Priest & Finn Balor (w/Dominik Mysterio) vs. The Brawling Brutes – Ridge Holland & Butch
This is not a title match. Butch was on offense against Balor with a stomp on the arm. Holland hit an impressive double underhook suplex on Balor. Priest tagged in with a kick followed by a jumping shoulder tackle. Holland picked up Priest, Balor went into the ring and Holland hit a back body drop on both guys. After a Dominik distraction, Priest decked Holland with a clothesline. Pretty Deadly was shown watching on a TV with Kit Wilson standing and Elton Prince sitting in a wheelchair selling an injury. Balor grounded Holland with a chinlock. Holland powered his way out of that and Butch tagged in with jumping kicks. Butch hit a knee drop on Balor’s arm. Butch with a running knee knocking Balor out of the ring. Butch hit a moonsault off the middle turnbuckle onto both opponents on the floor.
Butch was in control with a superplex. Balor came back with an elbow drop. Pretty Deadly was shown again with Prince wearing a sling on his left arm. Priest tagged in against Holland with strikes, but Ridge hit an overhead suplex. Holland picked up Priest and Butch hit a dropkick so it was a double team Michinoku Driver with Buch getting a two count. Butch charged, but Priest stopped hi m with a jumping kick. Priest kicked Holland off the apron followed by a headlock driver for a two count. Priest broke free, so Balor tagged in and Butch took him down. Butch got a hold of Dominik leading to forearms, but Balor was back up with a rollup for two. Balor with a Slingblade and dropkick into the turnbuckle. Balor jumped off the top with Coup de Grace, Butch avoided it and got a rollup for two. Butch with a kick and Balor hit a Pele Kick. Priest tagged in, Holland was legal and did a rugby tackle. Butch was on the top rope, Balor knocked him down and Priest hit South of Heaven on Butch. Priest hit South of Heaven on Butch onto Ridge. Balor tagged in with a Coup de Grace on Holland for the pinfall win. It went about 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Judgment Day – Damian Priest & Finn Balor
Analysis: ***1/4 I thought it was a very good tag team match. It went longer than I thought it would go, but I didn’t mind seeing the Brutes get a lot of offense in a match like that to make them look like a credible team. It was not a surprise for The Judgment Day guys to get the win to establish them as fighting champions who can win matches.
After the match, Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) entered the ring for a staredown. Lashley and The Street Profits were wearing suits. Lashley said they were right about The Bloodline crumbling, but it won’t be The Judgment Day taking over because it will be them.
Analysis: I like it. We still don’t know the name of Lashley’s new group, but I have enjoyed how they have been presented.
The OC’s Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson & Michin were looking at something on Anderson’s phone. Styles wasn’t happy about getting attacked earlier. Anderson told Styles to not get involved in Bloodline business. Styles said they have always had each other’s backs. Styles said if this is how it will be then he doesn’t want The OC near his match tonight. Styles left.
Analysis: It’s fair to say that AJ Styles was justified to be angry at them since he was attacked earlier in the show.
There were images and highlights shown of the WWE Superstar Spectacle event in India that took place earlier on Friday. They spoke about how it was one of the loudest crowds of the year. John Cena was shown thanking the fans.
Next week on Smackdown:
* Grayson Waller Effect show with John Cena as the guest.
* LA Knight vs. The Miz.
Two weeks away on September 22nd, IYO SKY defends the WWE Women’s Title against Asuka. They showed a promo from Asuka saying she was the champion and never got a rematch, but said in two weeks she’s taking it back.
Jimmy Uso made his entrance for the main event.
AJ Styles made his entrance for the main event looking serious and ready to go.
AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Uso
Jimmy bailed to the floor early on. Back in the ring, Styles delivered from strikes and Jimmy hit an uppercut to the chest knocking Styles down. Styles came back, Jimmy bailed to the floor again and Styles hit a sliding kick to knock Jimmy down. Styles wanted to hit a s knee on the apron, but Jimmy stopped Styles with a superkick. Solo Sikoa arrived by the entrance area with Paul Heyman, so Heyman was lying (shocker!) when he said Solo wasn’t there. Jimmy sent Styles face first into the top of the steel steps with Jimmy smiling about Heyman and Solo watching him.
Styles was in control of Jimmy with chops, but Jimmy came back with a back body drop while Solo and Heyman were close to the ring. Jimmy hit a running hip attack on Styles against the turnbuckle for a two count. Jimmy grounded Styles in a headlock on the mat, Styles elbowed his way out of it and Jimmy did a hair pull to knock Styles down again. Styles fought his way back up, the fans were chanting “AJ Styles” for him and Styles hit a high angle belly-to-back suplex. Jimmy and Styles exchanged hard slaps to the face leading to Jimmy hitting a jumping kick to the left shoulder while Styles hit an impressive Pele Kick as both guys were down selling. Styles hit a running clothesline over the top with Jimmy landing at the feet of his brother Solo. Styles jumped over the top with a forearm on Jimmy on the floor. Styles stared at Solo. Back in the ring, Styles wanted a springboard attack, Jimmy moved and Styles hit the cradle slam onto the knee for a two count. Jimmy got back into with a kick to the gut and uppercut punch for two. Styles with strikes, Jimmy hit a headbutt and Styles came back with a jumping DDT for a two count. Styles wanted a Phenomenal Forearm from the apron, but Solo was near him, so Styles didn’t do it. Jimmy nailed Styles with a superkick. Jimmy left Solo on the apron for Solo to attack, but Solo didn’t do it. Jimmy left the ring to talk to Solo, wo turned his back to his brother. Styles punched Jimmy and kicked Solo to knock him down. Styles shoved Jimmy into the ring post. Styles hit a Phenomenal Forearm on Jimmy for the pinfall win. Styles got the win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: ***1/4 The pacing was pretty slow to try to tell the story about Jimmy trying to impress The Bloodline, but then it picked up in the final few minutes. Solo didn’t even tough Styles, yet AJ looked like a smart veteran by getting in a shot on Solo and that took Solo out leading to Styles finishing off Jimmy. I think it was the right call to have Styles win to give him some momentum. It’s in the early going of this story with AJ and The Bloodline, so it’s important that Styles picks up some victories.
After the match, Styles left the ring before Solo Sikoa could attack him. The Judgment Day’s Priest & Balor knocked Styles down and sent Styles into the ring. Solo hit the Samoan Spike on Styles. Solo had a staredown with The Judgment Day while the announcers wondered what this all means. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: An interesting development to end the show to show The Judgment Day was willing to help The Bloodline’s Solo Sikoa. This could lead to The Judgment Day and The Bloodline becoming allies to really run Smackdown together. Also, it’s important to remember that Styles told The OC he didn’t want them at ringside, so that left Styles all alone to get attacked to end the show.
Three Stars of the Show
- AJ Styles
- LA Knight
- Jimmy Uso and The Judgment Day
7 out of 10
Last week: 7
2023 Average: 7.22
I’ll be brief in saying it was a good show overall. The four matches were all pretty solid with nothing really standing out in terms of being great, but nothing was bad either. Wins for AJ Styles and LA Knight were cool to see. I thought they advanced some stories while starting up a few that were newish, so it makes you wonder where they are going.
While it was certainly not a must-see episode, I’d call it entertaining overall. A 7 out of 10 type of show.
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