The John Report: WWE Smackdown 09/22/23 Review

wwe smackdown september 22

This week’s WWE Smackdown saw John Cena on the show again along with IYO SKY defending the WWE Women’s Title against Asuka and The Street Profits facing Rey Mysterio & Santos Escobar.

There were several WWE superstars that were released on Thursday, just a few days after WWE fired about 100 office staff over the last week following the news that Endeavor officially acquired WWE earlier this month. We also found out on Friday shortly before Smackdown that Raw’s Matt Riddle was released as well. A lot of people released weren’t necessarily pushed on television much, so I do understand it, but it still sucks to see it happen. With that said, I hope they succeed post-WWE like so many other wrestlers do.

We also learned earlier this week that starting in October 2024, Smackdown is moving back to NBCU’s USA Network on a huge deal that pays WWE over $287 every year for the next five years. It’s a 40% increase over the Smackdown on Fox deal, but there will be fewer viewers on USA Network compared to Fox. That means that there is one more year of Smackdown on Fox for those of you in the United States.

From the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale (Phoenix), Arizona, this is Smackdown for episode #1257. Follow me on Twitter/X @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

John Cena made his entrance to a huge ovation as usual. Cena was introduced as the “Greatest of All Time” by ring announcer Mike Rome. A replay was shown of last week on Smackdown when John Cena and AJ Styles worked together to fend off Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso to end the show. The commentary team was Michael Cole, Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves as usual.

Let’s Hear from John Cena

John Cena welcomed us to another sold out edition of Friday Night Smackdown. Cena said since he’s been back home he has been a lot of things like a host, talk show guest and a referee. The fans were shouting “WHAT” as Cena mentioned his roles and cities he has been in over the last month. Cena said those other shows have been sold out, but it’s not like tonight. Cena said tonight is different because he doesn’t want to be a ref, a host or a backstage correspondent. Cena said he came back to WWE to compete so tonight is the night where he would like to have a match. Cena asked the fans if tonight was a good night to have a match? The fans popped loudly and shouted “YES” in reply.

Cena said he’s more than just excited, he’s also angry. Cena said he’s angry at The Bloodline. Cena said he is angry enough to fight The Bloodline by himself, but he thinks he has found himself a phenomenal partner. Here comes AJ Styles.

AJ Styles made his entrance as Michael Cole referenced the incredible matches that Cena and Styles had in 2016-17. It was one of my favorite rivalries in WWE in the 2010 decade. The fans chanted “AJ Styles” as Styles stood in the ring with Cena.

Styles recapped the situation saying you want AJ Styles & John Cena versus The Bloodline? Styles: “Bloodline, you want some? Come get some!” That’s a John Cena line. The fans loved it.

Jimmy Uso and his brother Solo Sikoa made their entrance. Jimmy & Solo stood on the apron, but they didn’t go into the ring with Cena & Styles. Jimmy decided to drop to the floor followed by Solo slowly following his brother. Cena’s music hit to end this.

Analysis: It sets up a tag team match that was obvious after last week. John Cena isn’t going to wrestle that often at 46 years old, but I’m sure he can handle a few matches per month. Styles is the same age too, for what it’s worth. Anyway, the promo work was fine as usual.

The announcers did a rundown of matches coming up this week.

The LWO made their entrance led by WWE Hall of Famer Rey Mysterio, who is the United States Champion, along with Santos Escobar and Zelina Vega. They got a nice ovation for that tag team match up next.


John Cena & AJ Styles were backstage with WWE Official Adam Pearce wanting Pearce to make the match happen. Pearce said with The Bloodline involved, he has to go deal with Paul Heyman to see if it can happen.

The Street Profits – Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins (w/Bobby Lashley) vs. LWO – Rey Mysterio & Santos Escobar (w/Zelina Vega)

Dawkins started with Escobar as they each went for moves, but they kept avoiding eachother and Escobar hit a dropkick. Rey tagged in with a headscissors. Ford tagged in with a nearfall. Ford with a few leapfrogs, Rey avoided him and hit a cross body block. Rey kicked Ford to the ground. Rey went for a sliding splash, but Dawkins pulled Ford out of the ring. Dawkins ran over Escobar with a Pounce on the floor. They went to break there.


Rey got a sunset flip pinfall attempt on Ford for a two count, but Ford came back with a clothesline. Ford lifted up Rey on his shoulders going for a move, but Rey leaned forward to send Ford face first into the turnbuckle. Escobar tagged in with a shoulder tackle, a punch on Dawkins on the apron and a forearm for Ford. Escobar with a kick followed by a cross body block off the top for a two count. Ford came back with a kick along with a running splash. Ford went up top, Escobar met him there with a kick and Escobar hit a top rope hurricanrana for a two count. Escobar hit a running double knee attack against the turnbuckle. Ford came back with a jumping kick to the head. Dawkins gave Escobar a slam off the shoulders for a two count. Escobar hit a jumping knee to the face. Rey tagged in with a counter DDT followed by a kick to the knee into the ropes. Dawkins was back up and hit a Sky High spinebuster for a two count because Escobar broke up the pin. Escobar sent Ford out of the ring. Dawkins punched Escobar out of the ring. Dawkins sent Rey crashing onto Ford on the floor. Lashley slammed Rey hard onto the apron while the referee was looking at Dawkins. Lashley yelled at Dawkins to finish him. Dawkins was a bit hesitant as he went for a lift and Rey did a sunset flip pin for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: LWO – Rey Mysterio & Santos Escobar

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a pretty good match. I was a bit surprised by the outcome because I figured The Street Profits would win to continue their momentum, but Rey found a way to beat Dawkins with a counter move like we have seen Rey do many times in his career. I think the story will be that The Street Profits need to be more aggressive as heels, so this loss will help them become more like that.

After the match, Bobby Lashley was angry about the loss. Lashley walked away on his own while The Street Profits were in the ring.

A video package aired about the segment involving The Rock’s return to WWE on Smackdown last week. The Rock & Pat McAfee kicked Austin Theory’s ass while Rock delivered some of his classic lines in a promo. A graphic was shown saying there were 153 million social media views of The Rock’s appearance.

Austin Theory showed up at ringside yelling at Michael Cole saying that he (Theory) was the one responsible for what happened last week. Referees made Theory go to the back.


A video package aired about Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn walking in some dark forest. They spoke about how the Women’s Tag Team Titles appeared to be cursed and suggested that they were the ones who did it.

Analysis: It’s nice to see the creative team remembered those two women. They haven’t been shown in a while.

There was a backstage scene with Austin Theory along with Adam Pearce, who told Theory to calm down. Theory’s buddy Grayson Waller showed up. The Brawling Brutes duo of Butch & Ridge Holland arrived to laugh about Theory getting humiliated by The Rock. Pearce put them in a match. The Brutes were happy about it while Theory & Waller complained about it.

Bobby Lashley yelled at The Street Profits in the locker room telling them to give him their suits back. Lashley said if they can’t pull the trigger then he will find somebody that can. Lashley left while The Street Profits said nothing.

Analysis: As I wrote earlier, it should lead to The Street Profits becoming more like heels in the coming weeks.

The Progressive Match Flo video aired about Asuka’s match against WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY. It spoke about how they have blazed a trail from Japan to WWE and been very successful.

Asuka made her entrance with Michael Cole saying this was a dream match for fans who have followed their careers over the last 15 years.


This Monday on Raw: Damian Priest & Finn Balor defend the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles against Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens. Plus, Shinsuke Nakamura responds to Seth “Freakin” Rollins and it all starts off with Cody Rhodes.

There was a backstage scene with Adam Pearce talking to Paul Heyman, who was talking into his phone. We couldn’t hear them.

IYO SKY made her entrance as the WWE Women’s Champion with Damage CTRL’s Bayley & Dakota Kai. It was mentioned by Cole that Asuka & Sky were in a tag team in Japan along with Iyo’s sister. Ring announcer Mike Rome did the championship introductions. Charlotte Flair, the 14-time Women’s Champion, made her entrance to watch the match. Flair sat in a chair beside the commentary table.

WWE Women’s Championship: IYO SKY (w/Bayley & Dakota Kai) vs. Asuka

They did some mat wrestling with some counters by each woman. Sky hit a cartwheel to avoid a move from Asuka. Asuka got a rollup into a pinning combination and a deep arm drag. Asuka was on the middle rope, so Sky hit an arm drag off there. Asuka went to the floor, Sky went for a moonsault and Asuka moved. Sky charged, but Asuka kicked Sky in the head to knock her down. They went to break there.


Sky was in control by pulling Asuka’s arm against the ropes and hitting a dropkick. Sky hit another missile dropkick off the top. Sky hit a double stomp on Asuka’s ribs followed by the running knees for a two count. Sky went up top, Asuka tripped her up and Sky punched Asuka to knock her down. Asuka managed to come back with a superplex for a two count. Sky ran the ropes leading to Asuka kicking her in the chest for a knockdown. Sky came back with a running punch for a two count. Sky with a German Suplex, Asuka went for an armbar, but Sky was able to get out of it. Sky connected with a kick to the side of the head. Asuka with a back elbow, then a kick to the head and Asuka hit a missile dropkick off the top. Asuka hit a running back elbow in the corner and a flurry of strikes along with a spin kick and sliding kick for a two count. Asuka went up top again, but Sky jumped off the middle ropes leading to a springboard dropkick. That was so good. Asuka was on the apron, Sky went for a Powerbomb, Asuka held on and then Sky managed to hit the Powerbomb although it wasn’t that rough. Asuka with a kick, Sky moved and Asuka kicked the ring post. Sky went up top and hit a moonsault onto a standing Asuka on the floor. That led to another break.


Sky had Asuka grounded with a chinlock and Asuka came back with a rollup for two. Sky hit a bridging German Suplex for a two count. Sky went for Crossface submission, but Asuka rolled out of it leading to an Asuka Lock submission. Sky tried a pin to get out of it, so Asuka let go and Asuka delivered a kick to the side of the head. Asuka kicked Sky in the ribs along with a middle rope missile dropkick for two. Asuka and Sky were on their knees exchanging forearms. Asuka applied an armbar on the right arm again, but Sky managed to get out of it. Asuka applied an Asuka Lock although Sky managed to get back to a vertical position. Sky got a rollup for two. Asuka took down Sky with an Asuka Lock again and Bayley put Sky’s foot on the bottom rope, so Charlotte punched Bayley to knock her down. Asuka watched what was happening, so Sky hit double knees to the back. Sky went up top and hit the Over the Moonsault off the top for the pinfall win after 18 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: IYO SKY

Analysis: ***3/4 It was a great match with Sky benefitting from Asuka looking at what was happening on the floor and it took two moves for Sky to put Asuka away after that. I thought it was a lot of fun to watch featuring a lot of counter moves by both women. Asuka came close to winning by submission a few times. Bayley getting involved didn’t surprise me and it also made sense for babyface Charlotte to put a stop to the cheating. However, that attack by Charlotte on Bayley ended up costing Asuka the match. It was the right booking move to have Sky win while Asuka has an out for losing due to what happened on the floor.

There was a scene from The Bloodline’s locker room with Jimmy Uso & Solo Sikoa along with Paul Heyman. The WWE Official Adam Pearce said the contract is here. Heyman said that as long as the match isn’t tonight. Pearce said it’s at Fastlane. Jimmy said they’ll be in the ring to sign it. Pearce left. Heyman said that usually decisions like that need approval or authorization from “The Tribal Chief” Roman Reigns. Jimmy told Heyman to let Jimmy know what Reigns says. Jimmy left. Solo said to Heyman don’t worry about it because after tonight, there will be nobody left at Fastlane. Solo looked at his taped thumb. Heyman called Roman Reigns as the scene ended.

Analysis: They teased the match happening on this show earlier in the night, but now it’s coming at Fastlane according to this segment. That’s what I figured last week.

The Brawling Brutes team of Butch & Ridge Holland made their entrance for tag team action.


There was a mention of Perth, Australia hosting WWE Elimination Chamber on February 24, 2024 in Optus Stadium with a huge crowd at the show.

Kit Wilson was featured in a video talking about Elton Prince suffering a catastrophic shoulder injury. They showed Elton in the background where he dropped a drink. Kit and Elton were featured doing various exercises leading to comedy spots. An Orthopedic Specialist said Elton has a separated shoulder and “he’ll be fine.” The long road to recovery continues. #EltonStrong. Cole called it ridiculous.

Analysis: It was cheesy comedy. I don’t mind it. I find Pretty Deadly to be entertaining.

Austin Theory & Grayson Waller vs. The Brawling Brutes – Butch & Ridge Holland

Theory pounded on Butch with punches. Waller tagged in leading to Butch stomping on his arm. Holland tagged in with an overhead suplex. Holland decked Waller with a clothesline and Butch hit a double foot stomp. Butch with a running dropkick to knock Waller down. Theory sent Butch into the ropes, Theory opened the ropes and Butch was sent to the floor. Butch & Holland each hit ten forearms to the chest of their opponents just like their buddy Sheamus does. That led to a break.


Theory was in control of Butch with a clothesline along with forearms to keep Butch down. Waller and Theory made quick tags as they worked over Butch in the corner. Theory and Waller each hit corner clotheslines on Butch. Butch did a finger snap to Waller leading to Holland tagging in. Holland with a shoulder breaker along with two overhead suplexes. Holland with a double underhook suplex on Waller across the ring. Waller broke free so Theory tagged in for a double chop block. Theory delivered a lefty forearm smash on Holland for two as Butch made the save. Waller tried to do a leaping move on Butch, but Holland did a tackle. Theory jumped right onto Holland, who caught him for an impressive powerslam for two. Butch hit a moonsault off the turnbuckle onto Waller on the floor. Theory slipped out of a Holland move and Theory got a rollup for two. Holland delivered a headbutt to Theory along with an Alabama Slam. Holland applied a Boston Crab submission on Theory while Butch jumped on Waller’s back on the floor, but Waller drove Butch into the ring post. Waller jumped into the ring with a rolling Stunner on Holland, which led to Theory hitting the A-Town Down on Holland for the pinfall win. It went about 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Austin Theory & Grayson Waller

Analysis: ***1/4 That turned into a pretty good match. I’m not surprised that Theory & Waller got the win since they have a lot of chemistry together as a cocky heel tag team. Holland got a lot of time in the ring to show off his power moves. Butch was terrific as usual. I liked the finish a lot with Waller sending Butch into the ring post, then Waller saved Theory by hitting a Stunner and Theory hit his finish on Holland for the win.

Austin Theory & Grayson Waller celebrated their win while saying they are 2-0 as a team.

There’s a Fastlane contract signing up next.


Next week on WWE Smackdown:

* Rey Mysterio defends the United States Championship vs. Santos Escobar

* Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley

* Grayson Waller Effect talk show with Bobby Lashley

Fastlane Contract Signing

Adam Pearce, the WWE Official, was in the ring with a contract along with a table and four chairs. Pearce said it was time for the contract signing for one of the main events of WWE Fastlane, which is on October 7th in Indianapolis.

John Cena was introduced first and Cena signed the contract to get it done right away.

AJ Styles was supposed to be up next, but the cameras were shown backstage with Jimmy Uso beating up Styles with punches. Jimmy slammed AJ’s head against the equipment case. Solo was standing on top of some structure and he splashed Styles through some object that we never saw. All we heard were the sounds of Solo splashing Styles. They showed Styles was laid out on a broken table. John Cena made his way back there along with referees and officials calling for help. Styles sold it like he was knocked out.

Analysis: A twist to the story. It looks like John Cena has to find a new partner because of Styles getting taken out. They filmed it in a way where we didn’t actually see Solo splash Styles, but they made the noise and then Styles was shown through the table. I like how it was shot that way.


AJ Styles was shown getting put on a stretcher while The OC’s Karl Anderson and Michin were there along with John Cena. There was a replay of what happened before the break.

They showed AJ Styles being put into the ambulance. Karl Anderson said to Cena he had been telling Styles not to get involved in this Bloodline stuff. Michin and Anderson went into the ambulance with Styles while Cena stood there looking frustrated.

Let’s Hear from Paul Heyman and The Bloodline

Paul Heyman made his way out to ringside as there were about ten minutes left in the show. Solo Sikoa & Jimmy Uso entered the ring as well. Solo threw the chairs and table out of the ring.

Heyman was being booed heavily as he introduced us to himself. Heyman said he has in his hands a contract signed by the second greatest of all time, John Cena, without any tag team partner for Fastlane.

Jimmy took the microphone from Heyman. Jimmy reminded us what happens when you mess with The Bloodline. Jimmy said if John Cena was smart he would go in the ambulance with Styles and go away far from The Bloodline. Jimmy said that John Cena is going to end up in an ambulance anyway.

John Cena ran out to ringside and punched Solo followed by Cena whipping Solo into the steel steps. Cena went into the ring leading to a shoulder tackle on Jimmy and a spinning belly-to-back slam. Solo was back in the ring, Cena lifted Solo and Jimmy hit Cena with a superkick. Solo hit Cena with a Samoan Spike. Jimmy & Solo stomped on Cena. Solo picked up Cena leading to another Samoan Spike to the throat. Jimmy went up top, did Cena’s “you can’t see me” hand gesture and hit an Uso Splash on Cena.

Jimmy grabbed the contract from Paul Heyman and Jimmy signed it. Solo Sikoa also signed the contract for Fastlane tag team action. Jimmy put the contract on Cena’s chest. Jimmy went up top and hit another Uso Splash on Cena. Jimmy and Solo held up one finger each. Replays were shown of the 2-on-1 attack by Jimmy & Solo on Cena.

Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa were shown standing above John Cena. Meanwhile, Paul Heyman was calling Roman Reigns on his phone. The show ended there with The Bloodline standing tall.

Analysis: It was an effective beatdown segment to show how dominating The Bloodline still is. They took out AJ Styles backstage and beat up Cena in the ring too. With AJ Styles out, the obvious tag team partner for John Cena is LA Knight. I figured he would come out for the save, but there was no sign of him on this week’s show. What we know is there will be some sort of tag team match at Fastlane, but we don’t know who Cena’s partner will be yet. Tune in next week on Smackdown to find out, I guess.

Update: It was reported by PWInsider that LA Knight had a positive COVID-19 test, so that’s why he missed Smackdown. Knight was going to be the guy to save Cena in this segment and likely be Cena’s tag team partner at Fastlane, but obviously, WWE had to adjust without Knight being available to be a part of it. Hopefully, Knight is okay and we see him return soon.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. IYO SKY/Asuka
  2. John Cena
  3. Jimmy Uso/Solo Sikoa


The Scoreboard

7.25 out of 10

Last week: 8

2023 Average: 7.24


Final Thoughts

It was a pretty good show this week. A lot of talking on the show with in-ring promos and backstage segments as well. John Cena & AJ Styles looked set for a showdown with Jimmy Uso & Solo Sikoa, but Styles was taken out. That seemed like the perfect spot for LA Knight to save Cena from a 2-on-1 attack. It didn’t happen because we found out after the show that Knight has COVID-19 so he was kept off the show. Perhaps they’ll do the angle next week to set up the Fastlane tag team match.

There were only three matches in two hours, which is lower than usual. Most weeks Smackdown has four matches. I’d prefer four or five matches, but at least the IYO SKY-Asuka match got a lot of time and it was a tremendous match. The other two tag team matches had good finishes that advanced the storylines.

There is still nothing official for Fastlane on October 7th.


Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Rams. You can contact me using any of the methods below.

John Canton


Twitter/X: @johnreport