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WWE Smackdown Review 14/07/23

Hey there everyone, it’s time for more WWE Smackdown because what else would we do on a Friday evening? Last week was very Bloodline focused with Jimmy and Jey trying to put Roman Reigns on trial, Roman faking handing the crown over to Jey before Roman and Solo Sikoa beat down Jimmy and sent him off in an ambulance. Jey returned to close the show and warned Roman that now he was coming for him, and tonight Roman has to respond to the challenge Jey threw out. That does make Roman vs. Jey the presumptive match for SummerSlam at least, but we’ll have to see what exactly comes out of this episode. Bianca Belair gets her title rematch tonight against Asuka, and I’m sure Poochie and Damage Control won't be on hand to make things complicated, right? Speaking of Damage Control, Shotzi has been after them lately and we’ll see if anything comes of that. AJ Styles seems to be moving on from Karrion Kross after their very abbreviated match last week, though I’m not sure given just that the opening Bloodline segment last week ran very long. LA Knight was left off of the show last week, but one would assume that he’ll be back this week as he’s one of the most over guys on the roster. Bobby Lashley has been MIA for a while, maybe he’ll show up? It also looks like Sheamus and the Brawling Brutes will be continuing their feud with Austin Theory and Pretty Deadly. Smackdown is in kind of a funk here, the non-Bloodline-related stuff feels a little heatless and without direction but if they’re going to turn that trend around going into SummerSlam tonight would be a good place to start. Anyway, that’s the preamble, let’s get to the action. In the back Jey Uso walks, and we have minor technical issues with audio stuff for a few moments. Once they sort that out we’re reminded that Jey is on the war path. Up first, here comes Bianca Belair, not dressed to wrestle yet so it’s talking time. Belair gets a mic and the platitudes about patience and waiting aren’t terribly useful as she’s been waiting since May for a fair rematch with Asuka. To say nothing about all the hoops she went through for that shot, but tonight is the night, it’s her night to remind everyone that vengeance is sweet. She’s giving Asuka exactly what she deserves, then will leave here as champion. But here’s Charlotte Flair to interrupt, because everyone should be asking what Poochie thinks about this. Charlotte gets a mic and plays with the crowd, and thinks Belair will win tonight and promises to manifest that win here in Flair Country. Charlotte stutters over her words, this is rough, but Charlotte wants to be next in line after Belair wins. They go back and forth a bit but Charlotte wants that title shot against Belair, Belair seems generally amenable but won't commit to anything as she has to focus on Asuka, but Belair vs. Charlotte at SummerSlam would be big. They shake on it, awkwardly, then Charlotte just walks off as Belair’s music plays. That was just weird for an opening segment, it felt like they were waiting for another interruption or had to fill some time as Charlotte lost her place a few times. In the back, Asuka watches this on a monitor, because the champion should remain the least strong and interesting part of everything. The Brawling Brutes are at Gorilla, and Butch will be wrestling in a fatal four-way while Sheamus and Ridge are gonna get revenge on Pretty Deadly. They all head to the ring, that tag team match will be up after this break. Post break here comes Pretty Deadly. Please stop with the slow-motion effect, it wasn’t good with John Morrison and it’s not good here.

Match #1 – Tag Team Match: Sheamus and Ridge Holland vs. Pretty Deadly (Kit Wilson and Elton Prince) Sheamus goes right after Wilson as Prince tries to avoid him, then Sheamus grabs Prince for a Finlay Roll, and then he hits on Wilson onto Prince. Prince lands a boot but Sheamus is just annoyed and clotheslines him down then tags in Ridge. Ridge and Sheamus double-team Prince for a moment. Some strikes from Ridge but Prince slips free of his grip and lands a chop block. Wilson tags in and they work over Ridge in the corner to some sweetened crowd noise. Some quick tags from Prince and Wilson, Wilson winds up legal and they keep beating down Ridge, but Ridge picks them both up and drops them then tags out. Sheamus menaces Wilson then tosses him to the apron. Ridge catches Prince on the ropes and we get stereo Bodhran beatings. They get all the way up to 25 or so before we head to commercial break.

We come back to Wilson tagging in as they’re working over Sheamus. Wilson with some clubbing blows to the chest, then Sheamus eats a running uppercut. Prince tags in and they stomp on Sheamus for a bit then Wilson tags in. Sheamus picks Wilson up for an Electric Chair drop and both men are down. Prince runs over to pull Ridge off the apron so Sheamus can’t tag out. Wilson with some more strikes to Sheamus then he tries a flying nothing and eats a knee from Sheamus and both men are down. Ridge and Prince tag in, and Ridge tosses both men around for a bit then there’s a slight mistiming on a belly-to-belly suplex that sends Prince into Wilson. Ridge, now gassed, hits a sit-out Fisherman’s Buster but only a 2 count. Sheamus climbs the ropes and jumps onto Wilson on the floor then sends Prince back into the ring. Ridge with a weak Northern Lights Bomb but Wilson breaks up the pin. Sheamus Brogue Kicks Wilson out of the ring, then Prince sends him out as well. Prince exposes a turnbuckle, then Ridge charges into it landing on his throat which is allegedly still injured from the Samoan Spike a few weeks ago. That allows Prince to hit a top rope leg drop and get the pin. OFFICIAL RESULT: Pretty Deadly won

Thoughts: Ridge is still very raw and you’d like to see him further along in his development at this point. Hopefully this will move us beyond this mini-feud because they’ve decently established Pretty Deadly and I’m not sure what else is to be gained by another iteration of this.

We get a recap of Edge vs. Grayson Waller from last week, as well as another reminder that Waller is already better at everything they claim Austin Theory is. In the back Cathy Kelly interviews Waller, Waller isn’t surprised he’s in the title picture. Even The Rock is talking about Waller, but enough about him let’s talk about the Fatal 4-Way tonight. He plans on winning, if ya smell what he’s cooking. If Dwayne isn’t coming back to work with Roman he darn sure isn’t screwing around with Waller. After this break we’ll get a recap of more stuff from last week. Post break we do in fact get our promised recap of the Bloodline stuff from last week. Though Michael Cole calling that segment the main event is comical, it literally opened the show and took over 40 minutes. The commentary team then provides a medical update on Jimmy Uso, he’ll be out for a while. Tonight we’re also on day 1,048 of Roman’s title run. Charlotte walks in the back, and Adam Pearce finds her. Charlotte is leaving so she won't be involved in the Belair and Asuka match, she’s happy to have a match with Belair secured and feels good. Bayley and Iyo Sky show up for a very brief cameo, leading to Charlotte changing her mind as her deal is with Belair not Iyo. Shenanigans incoming. Back to the ring and here comes Zelina Vega, she’ll be in action against Bayley after this break. Post break here comes Bayley with Iyo Sky.

Match #2: Zelina Vega vs. Bayley w/ Iyo Sky Bayley attacks Vega and sends her out of the ring, then bounces her off the announce table a few times. They head to the apron where Vega fights back with some strikes and shoves Bayley into the ring post. Back in the ring Vega heads up top for a diving Meteora and a 2 count. Head scissors from Vega then a Twist of Fate for another 2 count. Bayley blocks a kick and starts stomping on Vega, then gets the flip flop Vega brought out but Vega avoids a whack and hits a Codebreaker then hits Bayley with the flip flop a bit. Bayley winds up hanging up Vega on the ropes then hits a Rose Plant to win. OFFICIAL RESULT: Bayley won

Thoughts: Odd down the stretch, I’m not sure if there was supposed to be some tension between Bayley and Iyo about using the briefcase or if they just had the most visually obvious set-up for a case shot ever and didn’t take it. Video from Shotzi as Bayley celebrates. Shotzi isn’t scared of Bayley, and we see her shave her own head while reminding us that she can’t be controlled. Maybe Shotzi is a little weird, but she’s in control and is going to show us all how chaotic she is. Credit to Bayley and Iyo for actually selling the deranged video.

Here comes Jey Uso, he’ll have more talky time after this break.

The OC is in the back helping AJ warm up for the Fatal 4-Way. Back to the ring where Jey Uso has a mic and wants to talk. Jey takes his sweet time before talking, but he’s wearing black so we can tell he’s super serious. Eventually he says he and Jimmy were inseparable when growing up, lots of “what” play from the crowd. Having brothers is a great thing, but there’s just something special about being twins. They share emotions, and if Jimmy’s hurt then Jey is hurt too. Never in a million years did he expect his own family to hurt Jimmy. He respects everything about the family, everything except Roman Reigns. And Solo can get spanked again just like last week. As for the Wise Man, he’s tired of Heyman puppeteering his family for 40 years. Jey is the real chief now. Paul Heyman comes out with Solo and a mic. Heyman introduces himself as they stalk to the ring, and introduces Solo as well. Well Solo isn’t here to enforce the will of Heyman, he’s here to enforce peace. Solo climbs onto the apron and Heyman says they’re coming into the ring and all they want is a conversation. Things worked this way before Jey was even born. Next week Jey and Roman Reigns will be face-to-face and will discuss the rules of engagement for their match. But tonight Heyman just wants to talk. He understands the anger of Jey, the desire for revenge but that righteous indignation just makes him sound more and more like a Tribal Chief. Heyman says Solo was right, Jey has no self-awareness and doesn’t seem to understand. Jey doesn’t have the conscience needed to be a right-hand man, what happened to Jimmy is Jey’s fault. Jey rose up against Roman, Jey wanted to be the head of the table, then Heyman switches to talking to Jimmy. He wants to make sure Jimmy knows he caught that beating because of Jey’s actions. Heyman tells Jey that he doesn’t know how Jey will ever forgive himself, or how Jimmy will forgive Jey, and says their father will never forgive Jey. Their mother will never forgive Jey. Heyman loves Jimmy and Jey, but he’ll never forgive him. Roman will never forgive Jey for this either. Solo asks for the mic from Heyman, and Heyman hands it over. Solo considers the mic, then tells Jey that what happened to Jimmy is all on Jey. But as for Solo, he’ll never forgive Jey either for making him do that. Jey and Solo start brawling, Jey lands a superkick to send Solo out of the ring and he’s left alone with Heyman. Heyman sells the threat as only he can, and Jey seems very happy about the potential for violence, but Solo comes from behind and wipes out Jey. Stomps from Solo and he tries a Samoan Spike but Jey avoids it and fights back. Heyman tries to get into the ring with a chair but Jey superkicks Heyman then dives onto Solo. Jey is all alone with Heyman again, and there’s a chair in the ring. Heyman tries to beg off, but Jey’s got the chair, only for Solo to come in and take the bullet for Heyman leaving Jey standing tall with the chair. Pretty good segment, and after a fairly lacklustre first half of the show this brought some energy that the episode was needing. In the back Adam Pearce is talking with Bianca Belair and the ref for our main event, while we can see Bayley and Iyo skulking in the background. Back to the ring, here’s Austin Theory to almost no reaction. Theory will be on commentary for our next match after this break. Post break Grayson Waller heads to the ring. Santos Escobar and Butch got the jobber's entrance, and only AJ Styles gets a real entrance.

Match #3 – Fatal 4-Way Match: Butch vs. AJ Styles vs. Grayson Waller vs. Santos Escobar Waller punches Butch then runs away from AJ to jaw jack with Theory. Butch jumps off the ring steps to attack Waller. In the ring Escobar and AJ trade some roll-ups then Santos lays in chops. Dropkick from AJ sends Escobar out of the ring where Butch clotheslines him. AJ and Butch start trading strikes while Theory makes commentary worse. AJ bridges out of a jackknife from Butch but here’s Waller to roll both of them up for a 2 count. Waller gets punched down by AJ. AJ and Butch trade punches then Escobar overshoots his crossbody but they both sell it. Waller eats a kick from Escobar, then Escobar chops away at Waller. AJ winds up holding Escobar and Waller jumps onto his back. They all trade strikes, AJ last lands a Pele kick to Escobar as we head to break. We come back to Waller kneeing Butch repeatedly. Waller with a leg lariat to Escobar. Butch grabs the fingers of Waller and wrenches them. Waller sends Butch out of the ring then AJ attacks Waller with a sliding elbow. Death Valley neckbreaker from AJ but Butch breaks up the pin. Theory sounds like a robot on commentary, might as well be a soundboard. Escobar with kicks to Butch then a top rope hurricanrana that sends Butch into AJ who rolls him up for 2, nice spot. Escobar up top again, but Waller is there to punch him. Waller climbs up with Escobar and wants a top rope Stunner but Butch flies in with a kick. Butch and AJ climb up, we’re getting a big old spot, Escobar jumps over the three men to do the sunset flip powerbomb portion of a Tower of Doom spot and everyone’s down. Escobar with a Meteora to each other men, then he hits a Phantom Driver on Waller but AJ and Butch break up the pin. Waller rolls out of the ring and the other three men start trading strikes. AJ tries a Styles Clash on Butch but Butch flips free and kicks him, then intercepts a diving Escobar with an elbow only for Waller to break up the pin. Waller gets Butch in an Electric Chair but Butch slips free and kicks Waller in the head. Waller ejects Butch then follows him but he misses a clothesline and Butch moonsaults onto him. Escobar with a lovely suicide dive onto Butch. Back in the ring Escobar wants a Phantom Driver on Butch but AJ flies in with a Phenomenal Forearm to Escobar. AJ’s going for a Styles Clash on Butch, but we cut to the back where Karrion Kross is assaulting Karl Anderson and yelling that he’s not done with AJ. That distracts AJ allowing Waller to hit a rolling Stunner to Butch but then Escobar drops onto Waller with a Frog Splash and picks up the pin. OFFICIAL RESULT: Santos Escobar won

Thoughts: These four are talented, and definitely got to cut loose here. I’m a little surprised we’re continuing AJ vs. Kross but if they are then this wasn’t a bad way to keep AJ looking strong despite not winning. Escobar seems like an odd choice, but next week there will be another Fatal 4-Way and that winner will face Escobar and the winner of all that gets the next shot at Theory. In the back, Pearce again talks with a ref and now Asuka, going over stuff for the main event. That sends us to break. In the back AJ finds Gallows and Anderson recovering from Kross’s attack. AJ says it’s not over and he promises retribution. The Street Profits wander around the parking lot looking for someone, a limo pulls up and here’s Bobby Lashley. Well, nice to know he’s alive. Lashley invites them into the limo for a discussion. Hmm, that could be an interesting team. Oh, minor note on Shotzi shaving her head. Apparently it’s in solidarity with her sister who’s got cancer. Best wishes to her beating cancer’s ass. Rey Mysterio talks via video, he says the LWO has revived his career and next week he’s taking another step towards the US title. Cameron Grimes is in that match too and he’s confident he’s going to the moon. Sheamus says he’s had Theory beat twice and Pretty Deadly has cost him the title, he’s sick of losing to that Cena wannabe, if he’s got to go through the whole roster he’s willing to do it to get at Theory again. Back to the ring, here’s LA Knight to a monster pop. Knight has a mic, and wants to talk to us while taking in some loud “LA Knight” chants. He knows that now he’s everywhere, yeah! Everyone wants to use his name to get views and clicks, well in reality Knight is the best decision this company ever made. The worst decision ever made is the ongoing US title invitational. Theory’s title is in danger because LA Knight is coming for that title. You can call him the megastar, the goat, but sooner or later we’ll be calling him champ, yeah. This is LA Knight’s game, yeah! Well at least he got on TV this week, and he really should be going over. Bianca Belair comes out after that, her title shot comes up after this break. Post break, a reminder that Roman Reigns will be here next week Back to the ring, here comes Asuka.

Match #4 – WWE Women’s Title Match: (c) Asuka vs. Biacna Belair As they’re ready to start we see Bayley and Iyo Sky arrive with tickets. Asuka slams down Belair and kicks her but misses a sliding kick. Belair lands a shoulder block then eventually hip tosses Asuka. Asuka avoids some corner punches and pulls at Belair’s hair then trips her into the corner. Belair forgets to sell a kick, but then catches a jumping Asuka and slams her into the corner. Belair wants a Kiss of Death but Asuka counters with an arm drag and lands a Codebreaker but Belair comes off the ropes and lands a shoulder block. Charlotte Flair also has a ticket and walks through the crowd as head to break. Belair is in control as we come back, she lands a suplex and then the handspring moonsault for 2. Belair sets Asuka on the top rope, she wants a superplex but Asuka shoves her off and lands a dropkick for 2. Asuka misses a corner charge but is able to knee Belair in the face then tries a Fujiwara armbar but Belair slides around and hoists Asuka up but can’t land the powerbomb so they settle for a slightly awkward spinebuster for a 2 count. Asuka catches a jumping Belair with an Asuka Lock attempt but Belair rolls through and then tries a Glam Slam but Asuka sends her to the apron and then hits a Codebreaker through the ropes. On the floor, Belair avoids a kick and hits the Kiss of Death onto the announce table, which does not break. Bayley, Iyo, and Charlotte all hop the barricade and things break down on the floor. Iyo posts Charlotte then talks with Belair, and Charlotte tries to Spear Iyo but Iyo moves and Charlotte winds up Spearing Belair which draws the DQ. OFFICIAL RESULT: Bianca Belair won via Disqualification

Thoughts: We know Belair and Asuka can go and have good chemistry, but this was hampered by the overbooking and the crowd knowing that we were just going to get some kind of schmoz. Post-match Iyo wants to cash in the contract, so she and Bayley drag Asuka into the ring but Asuka Mists Bayley before the contract is actually cashed in and then escapes with the belt. Everyone stares daggers at each other while Asuka celebrates retaining the title. Again, they’ve made the champion the weakest element of this story and it’s kind of a shame. One more reminder that next week Smackdown will be on FS1 instead of Fox, and the episode comes to a close. This was a tale of two halves really, the opening hour or so was pretty weak. A less than compelling talking segment that felt like the timing was off, a tag team match that just kind of existed and a lot of recaps. But the Fatal 4-Way was good, not surprising given the talent, the stuff with Jey, Heyman, and Solo was up to the generally high standard of Bloodline-related material, and they made sure to get LA Knight on air this time. The main event felt off, which is understandable when you consider how overbooked it was down the stretch, and sadly Asuka continues to feel like the least important part of the whole thing, but it served the general purpose of advancing things without being ready to fully change the status quo. All in all, I think this falls just a hair short of Good, but it was generally watchable.



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