By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,241)
Taped May 19, 2023 in Columbia, South Carolina at Colonial Life Arena
Aired May 26, 2023 on Fox
Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed the audience to the show. AJ Styles will face Karrion Kross Later, as well as Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa on the KO Show with Kevin Owens. Sheamus made his ring entrance for the first match with Butch and Ridge Holland. He was followed by Austin Theory. Mike Rome made ring introductions for the opening match.
1. Austin Theory vs. Sheamus (w/Ridge Holland, Butch) for the U.S. Championship: They tied up early on, and Sheamus won the power battle and landed shoulder block. He then followed up with a lariat, but Theory recovered quickly and landed a dropkick that sent Sheamus to the apron. He then tried to deliver Sheamus’ clubbing blows to the chest, but Sheamus powered free and pulled Theory onto the apron. Theory fired back and shoved Sheamus into the ring post and then gave Sheamus a back suplex on the ring apron…[c]
Theory continued to deliver clubs to the back and a kick for a one count fall. Sheamus landed a kick in response, but Theory fired back with a rolling blockbuster and covered for a near fall. Sheamus started a comeback with some double axe handle strokes and a white noise backbreaker for a near fall. He followed up with a body slam. Sheamus picked up Theory and climbed to the second rope. Theory snuck out and then draped Sheamus over his shoulder, he then spun out Sheamus into a powerbomb for a near fall.
Sheamus responded with a knee lift and covered for a near fall. He then landed clubbing bows to the chest on the apron, and fired up for a Brogue Kick. Pretty Deadly suddenly arrived at ringside and took out Butch and Ridge on the outside. Sheamus grabbed Kit Wilson and landed clubs to the chest. Theory rolled up Sheamus from behind and got the surprise victory.
Austin Theory defeated Sheamus to retain the U.S. Championship at 12:01
After the match, Theory weaseled up the ramp while the Brawling Brutes recovered on the outside…
Footage was then shown from last week involving the Bloodline, The Usos, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn…
Backstage, Paul Heyman told The Usos they were invited for the 1000 Day celebration of the greatest title reign of all time next week. Jimmy turned to Jey and told him he didn’t know what his issue was, and stood up to go get some food because he was hungry.
Roman told him to sit down. Jimmy refused. Roman got up and told him to do something, and said nothing had changed since they were kids, and he would whoop him again. Roman said he would respect him and acknowledge him, and told him to leave his locker room. Jey got up and told Jimmy it was time to go and they walked out…
In the arena, Raquel Rodriguez made her ring entrance, followed by her new partner Shotzi in her tank. They will face Bayley and Iyo Sky next…[c]
My Take: A decent match to open the show, but it struggled to get out of second gear. I guess we are probably getting a six man between the Brutes, Theory, and Pretty Deadly coming up soon. The intrigue between The Usos and Reigns continues. I’d be shocked if we didn’t see Jimmy or Jey cost Roman the tag titles and perhaps be his challenger for Money in the Bank in early July.
Iyo Sky and Bayley made their entrance after the break. Video was shown of Shotzi making the save for Raquel on Monday and re-forming their team. The Women’s Tag Team Championship Fatal Four Way was advertised for Monday’s Raw.
2. Iyo Sky and Bayley vs. Raquel Rodriguez and Shotzi: Raquel and Bayley started the match. Bayley backed Raquel into her corner and tagged Iyo. They got stuffed attempting a double team and Raquel dashed to tag in Shotzi. They dumped the heels to the floor and Shotzi dove through Raquel’s legs and the ropes to splash both women on the floor.
Iyo and Raquel ended up the legal competitors, and the heels finally made good on their efforts for a double team with a dropkick combination. Bayley covered for a two count, and Raquel sold her ribs as being in pain…[c]
Bayley choked Raquel using the ropes, and then tagged Iyo who entered the match and followed up with a running dropkick. Bayley tagged back in again, and Raquel powered her way into a comeback and made a quick tag to Shotzi. She entered the ring and landed kicks to both Bayley and Sky.
Shotzi draped Bayley over the second rope and landed a running hip attack to her spine. Bayley recovered with an eye poke and then Iyo took control with a series of strikes. Shotzi managed to land a double underhook german suplex on Sky, and Bayley had to break up the fall.
The match broke down as all four women were involved in the action. Bayley blew up a double team attack in the corner by shoving Shotzi off the ropes. Bayley attempted to call a double team move on Raquel, but there was a miscommunication and Iyo ended up landing a dropkick onto Shotzi. She landed the kick cleanly but knocked Raquel onto Bayley in the process which resulted in a clumsy pinfall.
Raquel Rodriguez and Shotzi defeated Iyo Sky and Bayley at 9:45
After the match, Sky and Bayley argued, and then we got a video package recap of Seth Rollins’ comments about the World Heavyweight Championship match coming up at Night of Champions. We then saw an AJ Styles video package. Hit Row made their entrance in the arena. Ashante Thee Adonis will face Cameron Grimes next…[c]
My Take: Not a particularly strong women’s tag match. The effort was there but the finish was clunky and there wasn’t much of a story throughout the match to set it up. Bayley and Sky cooperated well and didn’t play up any conflict until Iyo made her mistake. It wasn’t real clear why Bayley wasn’t able to kick out because she wasn’t really subject to a streak of high impact offense leading up to the point where Iyo kind of knocked Raquel on top of her.
Cameron Grimes made his entrance after the break. Grimes gave a picture in picture promo where he was a happy go lucky hayseed headed to the moon.
3. Cameron Grimes vs. Ashante Thee Adonis (w/B-Fab, Top Dolla): Grimes grabbed a headlock, and then landed a shoulder block and a flying head scissors. He then landed a running shooting star press for a two count. Top Dolla got involved early and tripped Grimes, which led to Adonis taking control with a series of strikes and a dropkick for a two count. Gimes recovered and landed a string of forearm strikes and another flying head scissors. He followed up with the Cave In for the win.
Cameron Grimes defeated Ashante Thee Adonis at 4:11
After the match, Grimes celebrated up the walkway before getting ambushed by Baron Corbin. Grimes was left laid out on the stage…
Cole moved the show along quickly and introduced a video package for Bianca Belair and Asuka’s feud. Bianca then made her entrance for a promo up next…[c]
My Take: A quick victory for Grimes. I assume we get the Corbin rematch or a setup for it next week. I’m not a fan of his babyface country ass doofus gimmick and I hope they switch it up.
Bianca got an EST Chant as the show returned. She said tomorrow she would defend her Raw Women’s Championship against Asuka. Bianca said this is not the Asuka she faced at WrestleMania, because she respected that Asuka for wanting her title. This Asuka is different because she wants something more, and had to humiliate her by misting her during her title celebration in her hometown.
Bianca said all she had to do to get a rematch was ask, but now she’s got a fight and she’s going to fight her at Night of Champions until she retains her Raw Women’s Championship.
Asuka’s music hit and Bianca turned towards the stage. Asuka ambushed her from behind and applied an armbar. Bianca recovered and went for a KOD, but WWE officials had swarmed the ring and managed to catch Asuka before she hit the ground…
KO and Sami were shown backstage as a tease for the KO Show. LA Knight made his entrance in the arena. He got a bunch of piped in booing on the audio track when the crowd was clearly cheering. He will face Rick Boogs next…[c]
My Take: The audio was heavily sweetened during the Bianca Belair promo. The crowd looked silent while WWE piped in heavy cheering. It was honestly distracting. The same thing happened for Knight’s entrance, where the crowd was clearly cheering while boos played over the television feed. It’s weird when the company asks you to disbelieve what you’re seeing with your own eyes.
Rick Boogs was mid-entrance as the show returned. Footage was shown of Knight attacking Boogs after their loss to the Street Profits last week.The Street Profits made their entrance to join on commentary.
4. Rick Boogs vs. LA Knight: Boogs landed a lariat and tossed LA Knight across the ring with a biel toss. Boogs quickly took Knight over to the announce table and press slammed Knight on top of it. Knight avoided a shoulder tackle in the corner and Boogs hit the ring post. He followed up with a knee strike, but Boogs got out of the way of a running knee drop.
Boogs used his power to escape and land an overhead suplex. Knight fired back with kicks, but Boogs pancaked him when he bounced off the ropes. He then followed up with another suplex. Boogs attempted a pump handle, but Knight escaped and landed a BFT and got the win.
LA Knight defeated Rick Boogs at 3:56
After the match, Knight told the Profits he would make change out of both their five dollar asses if they keep talking trash. He then said they want the smoke, but they’ll get smoked by the made called LA Knight.
Backstage, Scarlett held up a tarot card with AJ Styles on it. Karrion Kross said Styles is so focused on the World Heavyweight Champion that he doesn’t see the danger he poses. He said should be wondering what kind of condition he’ll be in after he’s victimized by Karrion Kross.
AJ Styles made his entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: Knight and Boogs worked hard but neither of them is a top tier wrestling technician. It was a decent match but nothing spectacular. Thankfully for Knight, he’s a hell of a talker and crowds continue to want to get behind him as a star.
A video package aired for Isla Dawna and Alba Fyre. Karrion Kross made his entrance in the arena with Scarlett.
5. Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. AJ Styles: Kross tossed Styles into the bottom turnbuckle and then landed an overhead suplex. Scarlett got involved early and often to keep Kross on the offensive advantage, and that prompted Michin to walk down to the ring and run her off. Styles and Kross will be one on one after the break…[c]
Styles landed some chops, but Kross cut him of with a back elbow. Styles landed another combination of strikes that staggered Kross into the corner. He then followed up with a leaping forearm strike and a pele kick. Styles continued the attack with a running forearm and an ushigoroshi backbreaker for a two count.
He then attempted a tornado DDT from the corner, but Kross turned it into a northern lights suplex. He then followed up with a side slam for a near fall. Kross fired up for a Kross Hammer, but Styles ducked and landed a strike combination. Styles moved out to the apron and landed a forearm strike, followed by a Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
AJ Styles defeated Karrion Kross at 8:59
After the match, Styles signaled for a belt across his waist. The KO Show with Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa is up next…[c]
My Take: There was no suspense here given that Styles is in a world title match tomorrow, but these two worked decently well together. I think Kross could be a bigger player on Smackdown if his gimmick didn’t feel like such a dead end.
AJ Styles was interviewed backstage. He said Rollins may feel invincible, but he cannot be phenomenal. He said he would defeat him tomorrow to win the World Heavyweight Championship…
Cole and Barrett the introduced a video package that went over the Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesnar feud…
Sami Zayn made his entrance for the final segment. He was followed by Kevin Owens…[c]
Roman Reign’s 1,000 day celebration was advertised for next week, as well as Zelina Vega vs. Lacey Evans and LA Knight vs. Montez Ford in Money in the Bank qualifiers…
Kevin Owens welcomed the crowd to the Kevin Owens show. Sami corrected him and he re-announced it as the Kevin and Sami show. He then said they would defend their titles against Solo and Roman at Night of Champions. But before they do that, they had a few things to get off their chests, and introduced Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa to the KO Show.
Paul Heyman walked out and said it amazed him that people still don’t get the plot around here. He said The Tribal Chief doesn’t come out when they tell him to, he comes out when he decides he wants to. Heyman reminded the crowd there was no booing when the wise man had the microphone. The Usos interrupted the situation and said they hadn’t forgotten what they did to them last week. Jey said they were already moved onto tomorrow when they had bigger problems in front of them.
Owens grabbed a mic and told Heyman he knew Roman wouldn’t come out but he didn’t care because The Usos were who he wanted to talk to. He told them Sami was right the whole time, and Roman was a delusional narcissist. Kevin didn’t care what Roman Reigns called himself, they were the heart of the table and the bloodline. He asked them what it felt like to go from the Greatest Tag Team in WWE history to Roman Reigns errand boys.
Jimmy reiterated that they were in fact the greatest Tag Team in the world, and when it comes to being the ones he was the Tribal Chief. Heyman looked appalled and Roman Reigns’ music hit. He walked out immediately and stared a hole in The Usos. Roman tossed aside the microphones and looked both Jey and Jimmy in the eyes. Sami asked Roman if he knew it was over. He told him the Bloodline was collapsing and it was all his fault. Roman slapped the microphone out of his hands and got in his face. Owens gave Roman a stunner and The Usos brawled with Sami and Kevin.
Sami and Kevin got the better of it at first, but Solo managed to slide in and give them both Samoan Spikes. Roman then delivered a spear to Sami. The Usos picked up the tag titles off the ground. Jey handed one pair of them to Solo. Jimmy hesitated to give the other pair to Roman. Jey eventually grabbed them and handed them to Roman. Roman then held up all four of them to close the show. Jey stood behind Roman but Jimmy just stood dejected in the corner to close the show.
My Take: I hope they give us a meaningful advancement of the story between The Usos, Solo, and Roman tomorrow at Night of Champions. I think the most likely scenario is that The Usos cost Roman and Solo the win, even if their interference is intended to help, and it results in them being disinvited from the celebration on Smackdown next week. Then they can crash the party and set up a showdown at Money in the Bank. Overall, this was another episode carried by the Bloodline, but it remains entertaining and helps lift up some of the other angles that haven’t really caught on.