5/12 WWE Friday Night Smackdown results: Powell’s review of Roman Reigns’ return, AJ Styles vs. Edge vs. Rey Mysterio, and Austin Theory vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Sheamus tournament matches, winners meet for a spot in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,238)
Knoxville, Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena
Aired live May 12, 2023 on Fox

[Hour One] Michael Cole introduced the show and was joined on commentary by Wade Barrett. They touted the return of Roman Reigns…

Edge made his entrance and stopped to look at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship title belt that was set up on a table on the stage. Ring announcer Mike Rome introduced Edge, who kissed his children, who were in the front row. Rey Mysterio and AJ Styles were already in the ring…

1. AJ Styles vs. Edge vs. Rey Mysterio in a Triple Threat match for a spot in the semifinals of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament. Edge caught Styles with an early boot to the head. A “let’s go Edge” chant broke out. Cole noted that Edge relinquished the World Heavyweight Championship due to injury and was never beaten for the title.

A short time later, Styles performed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Mysterio and then clotheslined Edge over the top rope. Mysterio came back with a head-scissors takedown on Styles and then repeated the move on Edge once he returned to the ring.

Edge caught Rey going for a springboard crossbody block and executed a fallaway slam. Edge set up for a double spear, but both opponents kicked him. Rey put Edge down with a Destroyer for a near fall. Edge rolled to the floor. Styles sent Mysterio sliding under the bottom rope and he was caught by Edge. Styles kicked Edge through the ropes and then Edge fell backward and DDT’d Mysterio in the process heading into a break. [C]

Styles and Mysterio fought on the apron coming out of the break. Edge dove through the ropes and speared both men, causing them all to fall to ringside. Edge brought Rey back to the ring and covered him for a near fall. Styles returned to the ring and tossed Edge back to the floor.

Styles put Rey in a Calf Crusher. Edge returned and put Rey in a crossface for a moment, then released it and hit Styles to break his hold. Rey performed an awkward looking double huracanrana that put both opponents in 619 position. Rey set up for the move, but both men dropkicked him. Styles and Edge threw simultaneous clotheslines, leaving all three men down for a moment.

A short time later, Edge shoved a charging Styles, whose head slammed into the middle turnbuckle. Edge went to the ropes. Rey cut him off and set up for a top rope huracanrana, but Styles grabbed Rey and powerbombed him, which led to a two count. Styles went to the ropes where Edge was still seated. Rey recovered and performed powerbomb on Styles, who simultaneously superplexed Edge. Rey covered Styles for a two count.

Rey put Edge in 619 position, but Styles tripped Rey from the floor. Styles set up for his finisher, but Edge avoided it. Rey caught Edge with a move and put him in position for a 619. Edge stuffed the 619 and put Rey in the Edgecator. Styles returned and Edge ended up putting him in the same move after releasing Rey.

Rey hit Edge with a 619. Rey went up top and dove at Edge, but they appeared to botch whatever the spot was supposed to be. Styles hit Edge with a Phenomenal Forearm and pinned him…

AJ Styles defeated Edge and Rey Mysterio in 16:15 to advance to the semifinals of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament.

Powell’s POV: An entertaining match despite the apparent flubbed spot at the end. Edge getting the only introduction made me second guess my pre tournament prediction of a Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles finale. By the way, I’m filling in for the vacationing Jake Barnett tonight. He will be back to cover next week’s Smackdown.

A video package recapped last week’s drama involving Jey Uso and Solo Sikoa…

Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso were shown yucking it up backstage. Cole questioned whether Roman Reigns was returning to celebrate or give the Usos a pep talk…

Sheamus made his entrance with Ridge Holland and Butch for the other tournament match. Holland and Butch headed to the back while Sheamus went to the ring… [C]

Cole hyped Fox’s USFL coverage and then Barrett hyped a championship celebration for Bianca Belair in her hometown for later in the show…

Bobby Lashley was already in the ring while he was introduced by Mike Rome. U.S. Champion Austin Theory’s entrance was televised…

2. Austin Theory vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Sheamus in a Triple Threat match for a spot in the semifinals of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament. Theory darted to ringside once the bell rang to start the match. Lashley and Sheamus followed and roughed up Theory before tossing him back in the ring and then both men continued to work him over. Lashley clotheslined Theory over the top rope to the floor.

Sheamus slammed Lashley and covered him for a two count. Sheamus set up for Ten Beats and then dodged a charging Theory, who knocked Lashley off the apron. Sheamus hit Ten Beats on Theory while the fans counted along. Sheamus stood tall with both opponents at ringside. [C]

Lashley set up Sheamus for his Hurt Lock finisher, but Theory broke it up with a dropkick. Theory put Sheamus down and covered him until Lashley broke up the pin. Theory hit Lashley with a Blockbuster and pinned him, but Sheamus cut in.

A short time later, Sheamus performed White Noise on Theory from the middle rope and covered him for a two count. Sheamus set up for the Celtic Cross. Theory slipped out and rolled Sheamus into a pin for a two count. Sheamus put Theory down and then played to the crowd.

Sheamus set up for the Brogue Kick, but Lashley speared him. Theory tossed Lashley to ringside and covered Sheamus for a two count. Lashley escaped Theory’s finisher and slammed him to the mat with a one-armed spinebuster. Lashley put Theory in the Hurt Lock. Sheamus returned and Brogue Kicked Theory. Lashley tossed Sheamus to the floor and then pinned Theory…

Bobby Lashley defeated Austin Theory and Sheamus in a Triple Threat 13:10 to advance to the semifinals of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament.

Powell’s POV: A decent match that resulted in the soft U.S. Champion taking a loss in his first appearance since being drafted to Smackdown.

A graphic listed AJ Styles vs. Bobby Lashley in a semifinal match for later in the show… A shot aired of Roman Reigns’ dressing room door…

An ad for Raw questioned how Cody Rhodes would respond to Brock Lesnar demanding a fight, Gunther’s first appearance since the draft, a battle royal to become No. 1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship, and Becky Lynch addresses Trish Stratus… [C]

Adam Pearce was on the phone boasting about the tournament semifinal match when Grayson Waller entered the room. Pearce ended the call and greeted Waller, who suggested that Pearce put the winner of the semifinal match in the hot seat by having that person on his Waller Effect talkshow. Pearce liked the idea and agreed to it…

Baron Corbin was in the ring. Cameron Grimes received a televised entrance. Once Grimes was in the ring, Corbin noted that Grimes was Smackdown’s final pick in the draft. Corbin said he was surprised that Grimes actually showed up and said he would be pinned in about two minutes…

3. Cameron Grimes vs. Baron Corbin. The bell rang to start the match and Grimes immediately hit his Cave In finisher and scored the pin…

Cameron Grimes defeated Baron Corbin in 0:06.

Powell’s POV: Well, no one can bitch about how this NXT wrestler’s debut went on the main roster. I assume they will run this back next week.

A video package recapped Brock Lesnar attacking Cody Rhodes on Monday’s Raw. The Lesnar vs. Rhodes match graphic was shown, but it did not list whatever gimmick match they seem likely to go with…

Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns made his entrance along with fellow Bloodline members Paul Heyman, Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso. Heyman held one of Roman’s two title belts and looked annoyed by the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt that was still on the stage. Cole said the Bloodline considers the new title belt to be a consolation prize… [C]

Powell’s POV: The Bloodline aren’t the only ones who consider the new title belt to be a consolation prize. Hopefully the company can do something to boost the image of the new belt in the months ahead.

[Hour Two] The Bloodline stood in the ring. Reigns stared at the crowd and eventually held his hand out. Heyman slipped Reigns the mic. Reigns told Knoxville to acknowledge him. There seemed to be more boos than cheers, but then a “Roman” chant broke out.

Reigns said greatness garners respect. Reigns said there’s a lot of talk about royal families in the wrestling business, but there’s only one. Reigns said that every man in the ring main evented both nights of WrestleMania. Reigns said they are the only family that will ever main event both nights of WrestleMania.

Reigns said they kept pushing along at Backlash. He said even though he wasn’t there, someone had to step up. “Solo stepped up,” Reigns said. He added that there was concern when they brought up Solo because he would be in the ring with the very best of all-time. Reigns spoke about being thrown into the deep end and said that Sikoa swims like a shark.

Reigns credited Sikoa with taking care of problems. He mentioned that Sikoa solved the Riddle problem. Sikoa spoke to Reigns, who said Solo is so good that he was still thinking about the Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn problem. Reigns told him not to worry about it because they are no longer the problem.

Reigns told Sikoa the problem are Sikoa’s brothers. The Usos squirmed. Reigns asked if the Usos thought they could lose at WrestleMania and they wouldn’t talk about it. Reigns recalled the Usos dedicating their tag title rematch to him and then losing.

Reigns said he’s not even a tag team wrestler. He said they have Hall of Fame tag teams in their family and took issue with the Usos dedicating the match to him. Reigns said he tried to take a little time away and they embarrassed him and their family.

“You know better than this,” Reigns said before demanding that the Usos apologize. Reigns told the Usos that he didn’t want to see anything come out of their mouths unless it was “I apologize or I’m sorry, my Tribal Chief.” Jimmy smiled as he spoke off-mic. Reigns asked if Jimmy was laughing.

The crowd chanted “no.” Reigns said that if he were Jimmy, he wouldn’t listen to the idiots. Reigns took issue with Jimmy smiling and asked if they were doing the commercial again. Reigns asked if he’s the clown and then pie-faced Jimmy. Reigns asked Jimmy if he was going to do something. Heyman ducked between the ropes in the corner.

Jimmy moved forward (the crowd was censored), but Jey cut in front of him. “We apologize, Uce,” Jey said. “You give us one more shot to bring back the championships to The Bloodline, Uce.” Reigns said Jey was right, the tag titles will come back to The Bloodline. Reigns told Heyman to fill them in.

Heyman took the mic and explained that Reigns showed up with a game plan. He said Reigns had him flex their muscle with the board of directors. Heyman announced that the tag titles would come home to the Bloodline at Night of Champions when Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will lose the tag team titles to Solo Siko and Roman Reigns.

Heyman slipped the mic back to Reigns, who said he was dedicating his and Sikoa’s tag title win to the greatest tag team of all-time: Afa and Sika. Cole stated on commentary that the Usos were speechless, embarrassed, and humiliated. Reigns, Heyman, and Sikoa headed toward the back. Reigns stopped and looked at the new title belt for a moment…

Powell’s POV: I love it. Reigns made the Usos look sympathetic and it will be a blast to see him in the ring with Sami Zayn again.

Kayla Braxton stood on the backstage ring set and introduced “Damage CTRL” Iyo Sky, Bayley, and Dakota Kai. Bayley said she and Roman are both grand slam champions and exceptional leaders even when things don’t go as planned. Bayley said she blamed herself for pushing Sky too hard when she wasn’t ready yet. Bayley said she and Kai would win the women’s tag titles. She told Braxton to tell Roman that Smackdown belongs to Damage CTRL…

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez made their entrance… [C] A Wade Barrett narrated video package touted the success of WWE Backlash and Smackdown in Puerto Rico…

Backstage, Joaquin Wilde, Cruz Del Toro, and Zelina Vega were smiling when the Usos approached and accused them of laughing at them. Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar showed up. Escobar said it’s not their fault that Reigns doesn’t love the Usos anymore. The Usos said that was real funny and then walked away…

4. Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Bayley and Dakota Kai (w/Iyo Sky) for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. The Damage CTRL entrance was not televised. NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Isla Dawn and Alba Fyre were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. [C]

Rodriguez executed a couple of fallaway slams on Kai coming out of the break. She tried to follow up with a corkscrew elbow, but Kai rolled out of the way and tagged out. The champions came right back. Rodriguez picked up Morgan and used her as a battering ram. Morgan smiled and waved to the crowd before Rodriguez threw her at Bayley.

Morgan got caught up in the heel corner. Bayley held up Morgan while Kai tagged in and performed a double stomp on an elevated Morgan. Cole called it a meteora and said Kai may have tweaked her knee when she landed. Bayley had Sky grab one of the tag title belts. Rodriguez cut off Sky and then Morgan rolled up Bayley and pinned her…

Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez beat Bayley and Dakota Kai in 8:10 to retain the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles.

Powell’s POV: I wonder if there is something to the theory that the company intends to merge the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles and the NXT Women’s Tag Titles. The outcome of this match was never in question in my mind once they announced that the winners would defend the tag titles on Raw against the team of Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green.

Backstage, Holland and Butch were trying to cheer up Sheamus about his loss earlier when the Pretty Deadly duo of Elton Prince and Kit Wilson showed up with clipboards. Sheamus asked which one was pretty and which one was deadly. They asked if they should put down unintelligent grunt to describe Butch, who had to be held back by Sheamus and Holland. After the Pretty Deadly duo exited, Sheamus said, “You’ll find out,” to Holland, who said they should go have some pints… [C]

Barrett officially announced Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles for Night of Champions…

Powell’s POV: Unless something changes, I guess this means Sami Zayn will make his first appearance in Saudi Arabia.

Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair made her entrance. The ring was set up with orange and white balloons in all four corners. Belair greeted friends and family at ringside and then went to the ropes and posed.

Asuka made her entrance dressed in non-wrestling attire. Once in the ring, Asuka, who wore green gloves, offered Belair a handshake. Belair smiled and accepted the handshake. Asuka sprayed green mist into the eyes of Belair, who acted blinded while Asuka laughed. Trainers and two referees entered the ring to help Belair while Asuka made her exit…

AJ Styles was shown warming up in the backstage area…

Powell’s POV: Here’s hoping that Asuka going true heel will be accompanied by some character development. The switch to the evil clown makeup before WrestleMania was a nice start, but they never supported it with any type of explanation or backstory. It will be interesting to see how fans respond to this program. Obviously, Asuka is slotted as the heel, but she’s a popular wrestler and there’s still a chance that the anti-Belair sentiment that started at Backlash will spread. They clearly want to keep Belair a babyface, so they’ll have to tread very carefully.

The ad for Monday’s Raw was replayed…

Belair was shown seated on a trainer’s table and was flipping out over being blinded while two trainers stood by…

The following matches and segments were announced for next week’s Smackdown: Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa go face-to-face with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar vs. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso, Ridge Holland and Butch vs. “Pretty Deadly” Elton Prince and Kit Wilson, and the winner of the main event appears as the guest on The Grayson Waller Effect talkshow…

5. AJ Styles vs. Bobby Lashhley for a spot in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Night of Champions. Neither man’s entrance was televised this time around. Lashley tossed Styles over the top rope a couple minutes into the match. Lashley went to the floor and shoved Styles into the apron, then hoisted him up and drove him into the ring post. [C]

Styles caught Lashley in a Calf Crusher. Lashley hooked Styles’ head and slammed it into the mat repeatedly to break the hold. Lashley suffered a cut on top of his head. Styles DDT’d Lashley and covered him for a two count. Lashley rallied with a Flatliner.

A short time later, Styles dodged a spear, which led to Lashley crashing through the ropes and into the ring post casing. Styles hit the Phenomenal Forearm and pinned Lashley clean…

AJ Styles defeated Bobby Lashley in 12:05 to earn a spot in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Night of Champions.

The broadcast team ran through the WWE Night of Champions card while graphics were shown, including one for AJ Styles vs. Seth Rollins for for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Styles went to the stage and stood next to the title belt. Michin, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson ran out and celebrated with him to close the show…

Powell’s POV: It was good to see Styles get a clean win to advance to the finals of the tournament. I’m somewhat surprised that they had Lashley lose clean, as he’s one of the few Smackdown wrestlers who looks like a quality challenger for Roman Reigns. Of course, if they actually split up The Bloodline, then that will keep Reigns busy and they can always rebuild Lashley during that time.

Overall, this was a really good show. The Bloodline segment was compelling, and the Smackdown side of the tournament was more intriguing than the Raw version. I will have more to say in my same night audio review of Smackdown for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of the Smackdown by grading the show below.

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Readers Comments (3)

  1. Sami in Saudi? Something doesn’t seem right here. Maybe the Usos find a way to grab those titles this Monday or next. Or a surprise team steps in and upsets the champs.

  2. Sami was at the very first Saudi show in 2014.

  3. Tony that was before the Koshogi (sp?) controversy

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