By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,223)
Laredo, Texas at Sames Auto Arena
Aired live January 27, 2023 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with footage of Sami Zayn’s trial from Raw XXX. The footage wrapped up with Roman Reigns telling Zayn that he didn’t want to see him until Saturday…
Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, and Solo Sikoa arrived in an SUV outside the building. Jimmy told Sikoa that this was his night and then they headed into the building. Sami Zayn appeared and told Jey that he had to tell him that he was thankful for what he did for him on Monday. Zayn hugged Jey and then put his hood on and went back into hiding (due to Reigns)…
The Smackdown opening aired and then pyro shot off on the stage. Michael Cole and Wade Barrett checked in on commentary and hyped Kevin Owens vs. Solo Sikoa, and then entrances for the opening match took place…
1. Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. Rey Mysterio. Cole plugged the Royal Rumble and spoke of Rey as a past winner while adding that Kross would compete in his first Rumble match on Saturday. The action spilled over to ringside where Rey ran Kross into the ring post. Rey followed up with a sunset bomb from the apron heading into a commercial break. [C]
Kross was in offensive control and put Rey down with a backbreaker that resulted in a two count. Footage aired from during the break of Kross catching Rey when he attempted a suicide dive and then chokeslamming him into the apron. Back live, Kross went after Rey’s mask while both men were on the ropes. Rey fought off Kross and climbed up top, but Kross tripped him into a tree of woe.
Kross charged Rey, who sat up, causing Kross to go through the ropes and into the ring post. With Kross in position for the 619, Rey ran the ropes and was distracted by Scarlett. Kross tried to take advantage of the distraction, but Rey cut him off and ended up hitting the 619 and a top rope splash for a near fall. Kross came right back a with a suplex. Kross set up for another, but Rey caught him in a crucifix pin and got the three count.
Rey Mysterio defeated Karrion Kross in 7:25.
Powell’s POV: I’m mildly surprised to see Rey get the pin at this point in his feud with Kross. We have to see Rey and Dominik cross paths in the Rumble tomorrow, right?
A sponsored ad recapped Austin Theory beating Bobby Lashley to retain the U.S. Title when Brock Lesnar interfered on Raw XXX… U.S. Champion Austin Theory made his entrance… [C] Cole hyped Fox’s coverage of the NFC Championship Game on Sunday…
A pre-taped promo aired with “Damage CTRL” members Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky talking about how it would be impossible for them to lose once they all enter the Rumble match and work together…
Theory stood in the ring and claimed that he will win the Royal Rumble match. Theory was interrupted by the New Day entrance theme and then Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods came out with microphones. Kingston said the only Austins he respects are Austin Creed, Steve Austin, and Austin, Texas.
Kingston and Woods entered the ring and giggled over Theory claiming that he would win the Rumble. Woods said that when one member of New Day wins the Rumble, they all win the Rumble. Theory said he’s the biggest star in WWE and took exception to being interrupted.
The Miz made his entrance. “I told you it’s Royal Rumble season,” Cole said on commentary. “The stars just keep showing up.” Miz took exception to Theory claiming to be the biggest star in WWE. Miz said he’s been competing in Rumble matches since before Theory hit puberty. “Doesn’t that just mean you’re old?” Theory asked. Miz said he’s older, wiser, smart, and better than Theory will ever be.
Miz said he will win the Rumble and said it’s the one thing he hasn’t won in WWE. Miz spoke of how dangerous he is when he has a chip on his shoulder. Miz told Theory he would show him how dangerous he would be on Saturday. Miz and Theory turned and attacked Kingston and Woods.
Bobby Lashley’s entrance theme played and he ran to the ring and clotheslined Miz and Theory. Woods went for a high-five, but Lashley put him and then Kingston down. Lashley hit a Flatliner on Miz and then speared Theory. Lashley was the last man standing and played to the crowd, which chanted his name. Lashley said that since Brock Lesnar interrupted his match, he would terrorize everyone in the Rumble until he gets what he deserves.
Brock Lesnar hopped the barricade and entered the ring. Lesnar grabbed Lashley and put him down with an F5. Lesnar picked up the mic and told Lashley that he would see him at the Rumble. Lesnar picked up his hat and put it on, then played to the crowd while the broadcast team hyped Lesnar, a two-time Rumble winner, now being entered in the match. Cole said Lesnar would have a chance to tie Steve Austin’s record of three Rumble wins…
Separate shots aired of Kevin Owens and Solo Sikoa while Cole hyped their main event match… [C]
Powell’s POV: Lesnar entering the Rumble is a nice go-home show hook. Granted, I don’t think many people want him to win if it means yet another Lesnar vs. Reigns match at WrestleMania, but I don’t think they are going there unless the crazy old man has taken back control of the book and forgotten just how many times he’s booked that match.
A pre-taped Rhea Ripley promo aired from an outdoor setting. In a shocking development, she said she’s going to win the Rumble too…
2. Lacey Evans vs. Jazmin Allure. Evans wore camouflage gear and teased high-fiving a special fan on her way to the ring only to pull her hand back, which the fan seemed to have fun with. Allure’s entrance was not televised. The sole of Evans’ boot came off. Evans tried to use it as a weapon, but the referee stopped her and took it away. Late in the match, Evans hit Allure with the Woman’s Right and the applied the Cobra Clutch for the win…
Lacey Evans defeated Jazmin Allure in 2:15.
After the match, Evans took the mic and said the Cobra Clutch is unbreakable. She also announced that she’s in the Rumble match and told the crowd to salute the winner. Evans picked up Allure and tossed her over the top rope to the floor…
Powell’s POV: I feel Lacey’s pain. I had the same thing happen with a new pair of Nike’s once. Anyway, this was a pretty good reintroduction following another long layoff for Evans.
Drew McIntyre and Sheamus were interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. They took turns hitting each other while saying the other would win. Braxton had to stop the slap fest by asking them about their match against Hit Row. They said it would be straight back to skid row, then did their “banger after banger” bit… [C]
Drone footage was shown flying through San Antonio from the Alamo, through the River Walk, and then over the Alamodome. Pyro shot off outside the stadium… The broadcast team set up the replay of the fourth Cody Rhodes video… The updated men’s Royal Rumble graphic included Brock Lesnar, who was positioned front and center…
Drew McIntyre and Sheamus made their entrance for their tag team tournament match against Hit Row. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar came out and attacked McIntyre and Sheamus from behind. The Viking Raiders put McIntyre and Sheamus down. Erik hit them both with knees to the head and then Ivar performed crossbody splashes against the barricade while Valhalla watched. Adam Pearce and a group of officials and producers ran out while Cole questioned what this meant for the match… [C]
Powell’s POV: I believe recent protocol suggests that Dominik Mysterio and Sami Zayn should replace McIntyre and Sheamus in the tournament. Okay, not really, but I’m happy to see that we can expect a Viking Raiders vs. McIntyre and Sheamus rematch at some point.
“Hit Row” Top Dolla, Ashante Thee Adonis, and B-Fab made their entrance. Footage aired from during the break of McIntyre and Sheamus storming to the back while Pearce tried to talk them down. In the ring, Hit Row tried to convince Pearce that they should be named the winners. Pearce said there would be a replacement team. Braun Strowman and Ricochet made their entrance…
3. Braun Strowman and Ricochet vs. “Hit Row” Top Dolla and Ashante Thee Adonis (w/B-Fab) in a semifinal tournament match for a shot at the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Ricochet sent Ashante to ringside and wanted to run the ropes for a dive, but Top Dolla blocked his path.
[Hour Two] Ricochet knocked Top Dolla off the apron with a kick. B-Fab distracted Ricochet, who was struck by Ashante. B-Fab also took a cheap shot at Ricochet while the referee was distracted. Strowman eventually took a hot tag and roughed up both opponents. Ricochet took out Top Dolla with a dive from the ring to the floor. Strowman performed a Monster Bomb on Ashante and then pinned him…
Braun Strowman and Ricochet beat “Hit Row” Top Dolla and Ashante Thee Adonis in 5:55 to advance to the finals of the tournament.
Powell’s POV: Sadly, this wasn’t even the worst ruling made by Adam Pearce’s authority figure character this week.
Kevin Owens was interviewed by Braxton in the backstage area. She asked him the obvious question of why he would face Solo Sikoa a night before he challenges Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. Owens said he wanted to right a wrong from two years ago when he nearly won the championship and lost because The Bloodline interfered. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso showed up. Adam Pearce and his band of merry producers got between Owens and the Usos… [C]
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso were shown walking to the parking lot with security behind them. Jey made a call and asked his “dawg” if he was still in town, then told him that he needs a favor…
The Wyatt Family entrance theme played. LA Knight walked onto the stage dressed in a hat and shirt that was similar to what Bray Wyatt once wore. Once in the ring, Knight removed the hat and shirt. A few fans were chanting “LA Knight.” Knight said he heard the fans chanting “talk to us” at Raw XXX. Knight said he gives the fans what they want even though they don’t deserve it.
Knight took issue with Undertaker assisting Bray Wyatt. Knight said it’s because neither one of them wanted to face him one-on-one. Knight said Wyatt had 24 hours until the Pitch Black match. He told Wyatt to take the advice that Undertaker whispered into his ear and then dress as whatever version of himself gives him a tingle in his loins. Knight pointed to the clothing he left in the ring and said that’s Wyatt’s future.
The Wyatt symbol flashed and then Bray Wyatt was shown sitting on a rocking chair on the stage. Wyatt said he heard Knight telling jokes, but he knew he wasn’t smiling on the inside. Wyatt said Knight will finally meet the man he’s been looking for. “Have a great night, sweetheart,” Wyatt said. He told Knight to enjoy it because when the lights go out, “You’ll see.” A light showed Uncle Howdy standing in one of the concourse entrance areas in the crowd… [C]
4. Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci vs. Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro (w/Zelina Vega) in a semifinal tournament match for a shot at the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Both entrances were televised. The quiet crowd gasped when Del Toro clotheslined Vinci, who got a bigger reaction when he fired right back with a big clothesline. Kaiser and Vinci were in offensive control heading into a break. [C]
Wilde was isolated until he performed a tornado DDT on Kaiser. Del Toro tagged in and executed a nice head-scissors takedown on Vinci, who had also tagged in. Del Toro performed a double missile dropkick on both opponents, then joined Wilde in performing suicide dives onto both opponents at ringside.
Back in the ring, Del Toro performed a huracanrana that pulled Vinci off the top rope. Wilde tagged in and performed a top rope splash on Vinci, but Kaiser broke up the pin at the last moment. A short time later, Vinci press slammed Wilde from the top rope. Vinci held his knee in pain and then tagged in Kaiser. The duo performed their Imperial Bomb on Wilde, and then Kaiser pinned him…
Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci defeated Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro in 12:15 to advance to the finals of the tournament for a shot at the Smackdown Tag Team Titles.
Cole hyped Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci vs. Braun Strowman and Ricochet in the tournament finals for next week’s Smackdown…
Jackie Redmond narrated a Royal Rumble numbers video that noted that the Rumble was Pat Patterson’s vision… Kevin Owens was shown walking through the backstage area while the broadcast team hyped the main event… [C]
Powell’s POV: These are two top notch teams and it was impressive to see them get the crowd involved. The crowd was quiet initially because they were given no incentive to root for one heel team over the other going into the match. They picked up on the LDF duo working from underneath and were receptive to their offense from that point on. Meanwhile, I love the Rumble numbers video packages and this one was no exception. They even showed Titus O’Neil tripping during his Greatest Royal Rumble entrance, which is always good for a laugh, in part because he’s been such a good sport about it.
Cole hyped Fox’s NFC Championship game coverage and then a Xia Li promo aired about the Rumble…
The broadcast team set up footage from Ryan Satin’s Fox podcast interview with Charlotte Flair, which turned into an angle with Sonya Deville interrupting…
Charlotte Flair entered Adam Pearce’s office and said she wanted to give Sonya Deville a title match. Pearce booked the match for next week’s Smackdown while adding that he was doing it because Flair requested it. They shared a high-five…
Entrances for the main event took place. Cole hyped Roman Reigns appearing on Friday’s “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on NBC. A couple shots of Roman’s appearance were shown…
5. Kevin Owens vs. Solo Sikoa. Both men traded punches to start. Owens got Sikoa down and set up for a cannonball, but Sikoa rolled to ringside. Owens followed to the floor. Sikoa picked up Owens and ran him into the barricade, then slammed his head on the ring post. Sikoa ran Owens into the barricade again. [C]
Owens eventually connected with a cannonball in the corner. Owens followed up with a Swanton Bomb and had the pin, but Sami Zayn showed up and pulled Sikoa to ringside for the apparent disqualification.
Kevin Owens defeated Solo Sikoa by apparent disqualification.
Owens seethed and then went to the floor. Sikoa threw a superkick that Owens avoided and it ended up taking out Zayn. Owens set up the broadcast table, but Sikoa ran him into the ring post. Sikoa grabbed a chair and jabbed Owens with it, causing Owens to end up lying on the broadcast table. Sikoa climbed onto the timekeepers area barricade, but Owens stood up and cut him off. Sikoa headbutted Owens and then leapt from the barricade, but Owens caught him with a superkick.
Owens performed a powerbomb that failed to break the table. Owens picked up a chair and jawed at Zayn. Owens turned and hit Sikoa with the chair, then turned back to Zayn and tossed the chair in front of him. Owens went to the ring steps and told the crowd that this is his show. Owens yelled that he’s bringing everything he’s got to the Rumble.
Cole hyped Reigns vs. Owens and the Royal Rumble matches. Owens was shown on the stage. “I’ll see you tomorrow night, Sami,” Owens said…
Powell’s POV: A good main event despite the lack of a clean finish. Owens couldn’t lose heading into his title match, and this wasn’t the time to have Sikoa take a loss either, so the finish was logical. It also led to Zayn defying Roman’s orders to stay away until Saturday. Cole was good about pointing out that Jey presumably called Zayn and asked him to help Sikoa, but it’s not like the Reigns character is always the most reasonable fella.
Overall, a good go-home show with some quality matches and hype for the Rumble. I like that they announced a couple of matches for next week. One can only assume that viewership will be strong heading into the Rumble, so it’s wise to give fans with a hook for next week. I’m actually surprised they didn’t do the same thing on Monday during Raw XXX, but they’re probably banking on the first show after the Rumble performing well.
Hell yes, I’ll be live reviewing the Royal Rumble tomorrow night. We’ll also be revealing five of our 2022 awards tomorrow afternoon. Jake Barnett and I will have a same night Royal Rumble audio review (just as I’ll be doing shortly with Smackdown) for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of tonight’s Smackdown by grading it below in our weekly post show poll.
Kerry Von Erich was the Modern Day Warrior.
Karrion Kross is the Modern Day Erik Watts.
Lacey has a good new look. Is very strong and fairly good in the ring. They need to find a way to make it work for her even if it means a manager
What do you know about the modern day anything grandpa? If someone told you to act your age you’d up and die you old fart
Brian molests puppies more often than Lacey gets repackaged on Smackdown.
I hope the Rumble PPV is the end of UNcle Howdy Doody. It’s just awful awful awful.
They need to lean in to Lacey’s “heel” act. Have that heel continue to conveniently fall off, for her to use it as a weapon later. It’s not a foreign object.
How witty! Is that the best insult you have? Wow the Alzheimer’s has really set in bad on you hasn’t it grandpa? Isn’t it lights out time at the retirement home you miserable old prick?
Brainless Brian is a moose humper.
TheLamestOne eats the moose out afterwards.
Geez what’s with all the animal sexual insults with all you losers? It shows where your mind is at. Is one of you really Tony Khan? We all know what he likes to do with dogs