Hey there everyone, pretty somber episode of WWE Smackdown tonight. For those who might have missed the news, yesterday Windham Rotunda, better known as Bray Wyatt, passed away suddenly from what’s been reported as a heart attack. He was 36 years old. Earlier in the week wrestling icon Terry Funk passed, so it’s been kind of a bad week all around. The only currently advertised matches for tonight are Iyo Sky vs. Zelina Vega for Iyo’s title, and Rey Mysterio taking on Grayson Waller in a non-title affair. If this show follows the more established tribute style show we’ll get a lot of video messages and some highlight packages for Bray.
We open with side-by-side “In memory of” cards for Terry Funk and Bray Wyatt. The whole roster is assembled on the entrance stage and Michael Cole has a mic. Cole has to remind us about Funk and Wyatt, and tonight will honour their legacies and celebrate their lives. Erik Rowan is beside Triple H on the stage. We get the 10 bell salute. Braun Strowman is here as well.
We get a video package for Bray set to an appropriately creepy rendition of “He’s got the whole world in his hands” at first. It still blows my mind a little bit just how far his range extended as a performer. Seeing all the pics of him with Brodie Lee is tough, then there’s the stuff with his family which is just heartbreaking.
“Thank you Bray” chant as we come back to live, then the crowd sings “He’s got the whole world in his hands” for a few moments before we fade to black with a spotlight on a rocking chair. That sends us to break.
He's got the whole world in his hands…
We come back and get a montage of tweets that came out after Terry Funk’s passing. If they’d played Desperado I might have lost it.
Our commentary trio is here and part of why Cody Rhodes is here tonight is to tribute Funk. And they promise that they’re here to entertain tonight in honour of Funk and Bray.
Here comes Rey Mysterio wearing an armband bearing “TF” and “BW” on it. Rey’s title defence has been pushed to next week, and he and Theory will be on the Payback PPV.
Match #1: Rey Mysterio vs. Grayson Waller
They tie up and Waller overpowers Rey. Oh, John Cena’s appearance that was supposed to be tonight has also been pushed to next Friday. Arm drag from Rey then an elbow. Waller grabs a side headlock then they hit the ropes and Waller lands a shoulder block.
Side headlock takeover from Waller, then they hit the ropes again and Rey with a head scissors to send Waller to the mat. Rey goes for a 10 punch in the corner, he gets to 9 before Waller slips free, Then Rey sends Waller into the ropes but Waller avoids a 619. Waller boots Rey trying a springboard and that sends Rey to the floor, Then Waller misses a sliding clothesline and Rey hurricanrana’s him into the barrier to send us to break.
Waller lands on top of Rey as we come back. Some mounted punches from Waller then a rope walk elbow drop for a 2 count. Bit of a sidekick from Waller and he stands over Rey. Some hard hammer throws from Waller, then he tries a powerbomb but Rey counters with a rana that posts Waller.
Rey heads up top, seated senton then a springboard crossbody. Around the world, DDT from Rey gets a 2 count. Waller fights out of a corner and hits a flipping Kill Switch for 2. Rey fights off the shoulders of Waller, then hits him with a turn-back clothesline and senton, that’s one of Bray’s combinations. Austin Theory comes out to make everything worse, the distraction lets Waller get a roll-up for 2, and then we get a double down on a double crossbody.
Santos Escobar attacks Theory from behind, but Theory can turn the tables and chop-block him. Rey with a baseball slide to Theory, but that allows Waller to clothesline Rey. Waller punches Escobar, but that distraction lets Rey set him up for a 619. Escobar wipes out Theory with a superkick so Rey can hit a splash and get the pin.
OFFICIAL RESULT: Rey Mysterio won
Rating: 2.5 stars
Thoughts: Fine enough match, but less Theory would have made it better.
We get a quick video that’s a replay of one of the first Wyatt Family videos.
The commentary runs down more of what we’re in for tonight, then we fade to a commercial that reminds us John Cena will be here next week.
Some highlights from Twitter of wrestlers posting about Bray bring us back to the broadcast.
Tonight LA Knight will take on Finn Balor in our main event.
Corey Graves reminisces about Bray and them coming up together in FCW.
Quick highlights of Zelina Vega pinning Iyo Sky twice to set up her title shot tonight.
Iyo Sky is at Gorilla with the rest of Damage Control. Bayley interrupts Kayla’s question and mocks Kayla’s height briefly before dismissing Zelina’s wins as pure flukes. Just look at Iyo, a generational talent and the current women’s champion. We’re in Iyo’s era and all need to enjoy the ride.
Zelina Vega heads to the ring, then we get in-ring introductions to send us to break.
We come back to a QR code and a reminder about just how freaking awesome The Fiend’s debut was.
Match #2 – WWE Women’s Title Match: (c) Iyo Sky w/ Bayley and Dakota Kai vs. Zelina Vega
Iyo with a quick go behind on Vega, then they trade arm wringers and escape with Vega getting the better of things. Iyo tries to beg off, then snaps Vega into the ropes and starts stomping on her. A scoop slam from Iyo gets a 2 count. Iyo slams Vega off the second rope then grabs a chin lock.
Vega fights back and flips out of a back suplex, then avoids a corner attack and lands a flurry of kicks. Running clothesline from Vega then a hammerlock DDT, shout out to Andrade.
Vega to the second rope for a Meteora and a 2 count. More pin attempts from Vega but she can’t find a 3 count. Iyo avoids a corner rush and hits a springboard dropkick then kips up. Vega counters a scoop slam into a DDT and both women are down. Vega tries a Code Red but Iyo blocks and hits a falling powerbomb to again put both women down. Iyo wants the Over the Moonsault, but Vega climbs up and pulls her down then hits a Code Red but Iyo rolls out of the ring. Vega follows Iyo out of the ring and Iyo shoves her into the ring steps. Back in the ring now Iyo hits a corner Meteora, and then Over the Moonsault finishes it.
OFFICIAL RESULT: Iyo Sky retained the title
Rating: 3 stars
Thoughts: Fun little match, Iyo and Vega have proven to have solid chemistry and this made for a perfectly fine first title defense for Iyo.
Cody Rhodes walks in the back, he’ll be paying tribute to Terry Funk after this break.
More tweets show on the screen about Bray.
Back to the ring, here’s Cody Rhodes. Cody is here to talk about Terry Funk given Funk’s history with Dusty Rhodes, he was also the mentor of Husky Harris/Bray Wyatt in one of the early NXT seasons. Anyway, Cody knows what he wants to talk about tonight. He wants to talk about being 11 years old, travelling with his father, and in an airport he hears a man yell at his father that he’s “an egg-sucking dog”.
Some choice words for Dusty’s mother as well, and Cody couldn’t see who was doing the yelling but fully expected a fight. But when he did of course it was Terry Funk. Modern wrestlers get to call themselves “superstars”, They’ve been called other things over the years, but there’s a fabled few who’ve earned the right to call themselves cowboys. Both Terry Funk and Bray Wyatt were Cowboys in the best ways.
He talks about Funk wearing the ten pounds of gold proudly, one of the few wrestlers who claim to have attended West Texas State in wrestling who did, and Funk has been in the business for 50 years. And for those 50 years, Funk was changing. Cody explains “the rub” and how Terry Funk did that not just for a wrestler or two, he did it for an entire company, an entire revolution. Then we get a Terry Funk highlight package. It’s the traditionally well-done WWE video, guys like Stone Cold and Ric Flair talking about his early run, and then we even get some clips of his movie rolls.
Road House showing up tonight was not on my bingo card. Next, they talk about Funk’s time in ECW in particular, and we get some highlights of Funk and Mick Foley in WWE. Terry and Dory Jr. got into the Hall of Fame in 2009, being inducted by Dusty Rhodes.
Back to Cody in the ring. Funk was passionate from Texas to Tokyo, extremely passionate even. He’s glad that he can tell us all that our next tag team match is a Terry Funk Hardcore match. That brings out the Brawling Brutes, that match will be up after this break.
A brief highlight of Bray pinning AJ Styles to win the WWE title in the Elimination Chamber.
Here come the Street Profits, still rocking the black and teal.
Match #3 – Hardcore Tag Team Match: Brawling Brutes (Ridge Holland and Butch) vs. The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins)
I’m assuming no tagging here if we’re in a wild Funk-style hardcore match. We get to brawling right away and all four men find themselves on the floor. Dawkins tosses Ridge into some steps while Butch clubs on Ford.
In the ring, Butch hits some drop kicks then grabs a Funk spinning toe hold briefly before Ford and Ridge square up and Ridge hits a DDT. Dawkins with a slam to Ridge then Ford with a modified Rolling Thunder splash.
Butch is in with strikes to Dawkins, then Ford backhands him and Dawkins follows with a punch. Double flapjack to Butch and then Ridge takes some punches in the corner. Butch tries to fight back and hits a moonsault onto Ford and Dawkins. Ridge puts Butch on his shoulders and swings him around, I’d rather they just use a ladder if they’re going to do the spot. Ridge runs over Dawkins on the floor as the crowd wants tables. Dawkins fights off a piledriver and hits a backdrop. Butch with a knee strike to Dawkins but Ford then with a ridiculous dive onto everyone. Here comes Bobby Lashley for some reason, and we head to break.
We come back to Butch and Ridge going Bodhran beating, they each get to 10. Ford is isolated and takes some corner offense from Butch and Ridge then an assisted powerbomb gets a 2 count. Dawkins avoids a Butch jump and then runs him over. Ridge and Dawkins trade punches then Dawkins hits a jumping back elbow. Corner assault from Dawkins then he puts Ridge on his shoulders, Ford then with a Doomsday Blockbuster and Butch has to break up the pin.
Butch runs wild with kicks and stomps to both Ford and Dawkins before Ford clocks him with an enziguri. Ridge eats a superkick and hits a clothesline. Dawkins climbs the ropes, Ridge attacks and then climbs up on the ropes with him. Ridge barely keeps his balance and hits a superplex, but then Ford From the Heavens onto Ridge and again Butch has to break up the pin.
Butch decides to give the people what they want, he goes for a table but backs into Bobby and Bobby is less than pleased. The table is in the ring now and Ford attacks Ridge and Butch then finishes setting up the table.
Ford goes to Uranage Ridge but Ridge fights free and takes out both Dawkins and Ford with a combination of DDT and Samoan drop. Butch with a finger snapper to Dawkins, then he goes up top but Bobby pushes him off the top to the floor then Spears him. In the ring Ridge takes the Revelation (that Sky High and neckbreaker finisher) through the table and that’ll do it.
OFFICIAL RESULT: Street Profits won
Rating: 2.5 stars
Thoughts: Not much hardcore about that apart from the table spot, which is just false advertising. But the action was fine, pity the crowd didn’t recognize the Funk-related spots.
We get a quick clip from the Firefly Funhouse, man Those were so much fun.
In the back, LA Knight walks and we head to break.
More Bray tribute tweets bring us back.
We get a recap of LA Knight screwing around with Miz on Monday. Miz putting over Akira Tozawa feels right on oh so many levels.
Next some TMZ footage where he runs down LA Knight.
To the ring, here’s LA Knight. Before the match Knight gets a mic, he looks very emotional and says he’ll get to the Miz later because tonight is about Bray Wyatt. He saw the fireflies out here tonight, and it got him thinking about how your greatest foes become your greatest helpers.
Bray put him through hell, but Bray got him ready for anything during that time. His heart breaks for Bray’s family, but he can hear and feel the spirit of Bray with us still. He’s not here to pretend he and Bray were best friends, but he’ll say “thank you Bray” because that spirit is what helps him say “lemme talk to ya”. Knight moves into running down the Miz and mocks his voice while doing a pretty good Miz impression, then says Knight’s OK being a fad because Miz wasn’t even that. Even when Miz had a stunt double, that double was the star.
When Miz was champion 12 years ago he was just background noise to a story about John Cen and The Rock. He’ll fight Miz anywhere so everyone can remind Miz that this is LA Knight’s game. Oh one more thing, Miz a wise man once told Knight The next time you see me, run! I appreciate Knight keeping so much of that in character, as you could see him struggling emotionally a few times but he kept it together.
We get a little clip of Bray’s return last year to send us to break.
The commentary team talks about next week's card, John Cena, Rey and Santos vs. Waller and lesser Waller, and Jimmy Uso will be here doing something.
Here comes Finn Balor, he looks almost as emotional as Knight.
Match #4: LA Knight vs. Finn Balor
Balor with a quick mat return then he stands over Knight. In another tie-up, Knight gets a hammerlock then paint brushes Balor. Balor with a side headlock then Knight hits a shoulder block to send Balor out of the ring. Knight chases Balor then avoids an elbow back in the ring. We get confirmation that Miz and Knight will wrestle at Payback. Knight bounces Balor off of the announce table a few times then they head back into the ring. A slingshot shoulder block from Knight drops Balor.
Balor runs into a back elbow but then catches Knight on the second rope and yanks him into the corner to send us to break. Our Bray moment this time is Bray’s heartfelt message after his return, which was genuinely special.
Balor is working a headlock as we come back. Knight avoids a corner attack and hits a jumping neckbreaker. Punches from Knight then a DDT for a 2 count. Balor lands a kick but runs into a flapjack and eats a boot from Knight. Looks like Knight has a small cut on his head, and the ref has the gloves on.
Balor with a Russian leg sweep then some stomps. Next Balor hits a Sling Blade, he wants the shotgun dropkick but Knight intercepts him with a clothesline and then stomps in the corner. A hip attack from Knight connects, and Balor fights back with a double leg then a stomp. Again Balor sets for the John WOOO dropkick and hits it. Balor is up top, but Knight avoids the Coup de Grace and hits a power slam.
The Yeah Elbow follows but again only 2. Balor avoids Blunt Force Trauma, hits an Eye of the Hurricane, then climbs up top but Knight crotches him on the top rope. Knight climbs up the ropes with Balor, Balor elbows him down but Knight then jumps up there with him and hits a superplex. Blunt Force Trauma and we’re done.
OFFICIAL RESULT: LA Knight won
Rating: 3 stars
Thoughts: Fine little match, Balor and Knight can both go and this is a good win for Knight that won't objectively hurt Balor as Balor is both kind of just in his general spot on the card and in the midst of losing control over his faction.
Knight celebrates on the entrance stage.
The power goes down and there’s a single lantern lit in the ring. “Thank you Bray” chants and the visual of the fireflies in the audience close the show.
As has been the case before, this wasn’t about the wrestling. This was about paying tribute to two wrestlers who passed away this week, one of whom was a current member of the roster. Bray getting more focus than Funk made sense, but Cody’s promo and the Funk video were both great. They focused a bit on storylines here but moving most of them until next week is the right way to go. The show had me thinking about Bray and Funk throughout though, and that’s what it should have been this week.