By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,246)
Taped earlier in the day in London, England at O2 Arena
Aired June 30, 2023 on Fox
A graphic was shown in memory of Darren “Droz” Drozdov. Michael Cole welcomed the audience to Smackdown in London. They advertised the Bloodline going face to face later tonight, as well as Asuka vs. Charlotte, and Logan Paul’s appearance on The Grayson Waller Effect. Mike Rome made ring announcement for the opening match, which is for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn made ring entrances, followed by Pretty Deadly. Wade Barrett called O2 Arena one of the best places for wrestling on the planet. The set was different this week, without the usual giant screen setup. I imagine this is the PPV setup and is done to maximize attendance.
1. Pretty Deadly (Elton Prince and Kit Wilson) vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: Zayn and Wilson started the match, and Zayn got the early advantage with a deep arm drag. Prince landed a cheap shot from the apron when the referee was distracted by Kevin Owens. Wilson and Prince took Zayn to the outside and bounced him off the announce table…[c]
My Take: The building looks good and it’s a packed house in the O2 Arena.
Pretty Deadly continued to isolate Zayn through the break and as the show resumed. Zayn managed to land a back body drop and make a hot tag to Owens. He entered and battered Wilson and Prince with lariats, but started to sell his left ankle. He landed a swanton on Prince, but Wilson broke up the fall. Prince avoided a stunner and shoved Owens, who collapsed to the mat. Wilson pulled Zayn to the floor and then tagged into the match. Pretty Deadly landed a “Cry Martini” assisted Codebreaker of sorts. They followed up with Spilt Milk, but Zayn saved the matchup by breaking up the fall.
Owens managed to throw Prince with a German Suplex, and crawled to Zayn to make the tag. Wilson tagged in as well, and Zayn landed a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. Wilson scratched at Zayn’s eyes, and pulled the apron into the ring. Prince snuck in and hid under the apron, and Wilson rolled up a confused Zayn for a close near fall. Owens recovered enough to land a Stunner on Prince, and Zayn landed a Helluva Kick on Wilson and picked up the win.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defeated Pretty Deadly at 12:33
After the match, a video recapped the Solo and Sheamus story from last week’s show. Backstage “earlier today”, Adam Pearce was interviewed by Megan Morant when The Brawling Brutes approached and demanded to know where Solo was. Pearce said that a rematch can’t happen tonight, and Ridge protested that he deserved to have a banger in England. Pearce granted him a non-title match with Austin Theory up next. Austin Theory made his entrance in the arena.
My Take: A solid tag match. I hope Owens wasn’t seriously hurt there. It looked like his leg collided with the ropes when he performed a cannonball, but it didn’t look out of the ordinary.
Austin Theory waited in the ring. The Brawling Brutes made their entrance, with Ridge Holland competing.
2. Ridge Holland vs. Austin Theory: Holland landed some heavy strikes early on and sent Theory to the apron. Theory attempted a shoulder charge, but Holland caught him and reversed into a vertical butterfly suplex of sorts. Theory recovered and landed a hard right hand for a two count. He then stomped on Holland and played to the crowd. Theory targeted the throat of Holland and choked him on the ropes. He then landed a chop to the throat and a rolling Thunder dropkick to the neck and covered for the win.
Austin Theory defeated Ridge Holland at 2:41
After the match, Theory continued the attack on Holland. Sheamus ran down and chased him off, and they had a brief stare down. Cole then plugged the Bloodline confrontation later tonight…[c]
My Take: Not much to that match. Theory continues to generate more apathy than boos, but people did cheer when Sheamus made the save.
A Karrion Kross video aired where he spoke about beating AJ Styles in three moves and enjoyed choking the life out of him. He made a challenge to face him one on one next week. Cole and Barrett then introduced a video package that summarized the Bloodline Civil War. It covered some of their family history, the multi-year dominance of The Bloodline, and the fractures that formed after WrestleMania.
After the Bloodline video, Bayley made her ring entrance for her match with Shotzi coming up next. The winner goes on to Money in the Bank…[c]
My Take: WWE knows what it has on its hands with The Bloodline, and they have put together a lot of really strong production pieces to fill in anyone watching on all the context. This video package was no exception.
Video recapped Iyo and Bayley’s disagreements leading to Iyo accepting the match with Shotzi on Bayley’s behalf.
3. Shotzi vs. Bayley: “Hey Bayley” chants started immediately as the women tried to have a match. Shotzi got an early advantage and Bayley rolled to the floor. Shotzi attempted a dive, but landed on Iyo instead. Bayley landed a Bayley to Belly back in the ring for a two count. The crowd chants continued in full force. Shotzi landed DDT and then landed a step up enziguri. Bayley ducked most of it and Shotzi sold her knee.
Shotzi recovered and managed to land a sliced bread out of the corner. She covered, but Iyo placed Bayley’s foot on the ropes. Shotzi argued with Iyo, but Bayley raked her eyes and landed the Rose Plant for the win.
Bayley defeated Shotzi at 3:27.
Bayley and Iyo celebrated after the match…[c]
My Take: The crowd chants were the most entertaining aspect of that match. It was kind of clunky in spots and the outcome never seemed in question for me personally.
Bayley and Iyo were celebrating backstage when Shotzi approached and attacked them both. They defended themselves and suplexed her on top of a nearby table. Bayley then called her a freak and cut off some of her hair. In the ring, Mike Rome made the elaborate introduction for The Grayson Waller effect.
Waller introduced Logan Paul as the man who made KSI famous. He then brought out Logan for an interview, who got booed heavily. Waller tried to pretend the London fans love Paul, and asked him what it would mean to him to have the Money in the Bank contract. Paul said “his dreams don’t stop until he has gold around his belt” and then got Grayson Waller’s name wrong. He then said he might not even cash in, he must just smack LA Knight upside the head with a briefcase. This prompted LA Knight to walk out to huge applause.
Knight told Paul that has everything handed to him, yet he walks out given nothing and the entire world chants his name. He told Paul that he might be a star on social media or Youtube, but he’s standing in his ring. Knight said the odds are in his favor for a reason, and he was the one and only mega star in the ring. Paul said he was supposed to be a manager in WWE after a 20 year lackluster career, and he’s lucky he’s even addressing him. Knight told the crowd to remind him who’s game it is, and they chanted LA Knight.
Paul told the crowd to go back to the pub because they were drunk. Santos Escobar walked down to the ring and said they better be careful, because he needed the briefcase and if they weren’t careful there would be two briefcase winners from the LWO. Butch then made his entrance and immediately started a brawl when he got to the ring by attacking Logan Paul. They spilled to the floor and over the announce table. Knight and Escobar traded hands…[c]
My Take: Knight got a mega reaction, and Paul got mega boos. Escobar showed some desperation, which is interesting and might indicate an upcoming heel turn.
3. LA Knight vs. Butch vs. Santos Escobar: The match was in progress when the show returned. Knight landed a DDT on Escobar and then stomped on Butch in the corner. Escobar sent Knight to the apron. Butch attempted a suplex on Escobar, and got an assist from Knight to send him over. Knight then landed a scary looking back suplex slam on Butch, who landed high on his neck and shoulder.
Escobar landed a flying head scissors on Butch, but Knight broke up the pinfall. He then landed a running elbow drop on Escobar. Knight jawed with Logan Paul on the outside. Escobar performed a dive onto Knight, but he moved and Logan Paul took the hit. Escobar got caught with a Bitter End from Butch back in the ring, who got the pinfall.
Butch defeated LA Knight and Santos Escobar
After the match, everybody attempted to climb the ladder to grab the briefcase, but Butch had the last laugh. Backstage, AJ Styles accepted the challenge from Karrion Kross for next week, and brought Michin into frame so to demonstrate he had someone who would keep Kross’s “poodle” on her leash. Charlotte made her ring entrance in the arena. She will face Asuka next…[c]
My Take: Butch got his moment in London. I hope he savored it.
Asuka made her entrance after the break. Mike Rome made ring announcements for the match. Bianca Belair was shown with a ticket in the front row.
5. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka for the WWE Women’s Championship: Charlotte landed some chops to start the match. Asuka ducked a big boot and landed a German Suplex. Charlotte returned the favor a moment later. There was a clumsy series of spots where Charlotte was out of position for a flying cross armbreaker, and then missed most of a big boot attempt. Charlotte covered, but Asuka was in the ropes. Charlotte landed another big boot in the corner, but Asuka quickly recovered and landed a backstabber…[c]
Charlotte climbed to the top and attempted a double jump moonsault, but Asuka got the knees up. They traded submission attempts, but both reversed out. Charlotte landed a spear, but only got a near fall. Charlotte climbed back up top and landed a moonsault on Asuka on the floor, but didn’t land all of it. She landed chops in front of Bianca, but Asuka ducked a big boot and Charlotte kicked Bianca in the face. Bianca got back up and attacked Asuka on the outside, leading to an immediate DQ.
Asuka defeated Charlotte Flair by DQ at 7:47
Bianca and Charlotte argued on the floor, and Bianca decked her. Charlotte returned fire and charged at Bianca, but crashed into the ring steps as well. Bianca then landed a KOD on both Asuka and Charlotte. First Asuka onto the announce table, and then Charlotte on top of Asuka. Bianca celebrated afterward. The Bloodline confrontation is up next…[c]
My Take: An underwhelming match from Asuka and Charlotte. It looked like they had an off night, but they’ll get another chance with what I assume will be a Triple Threat with Bianca upcoming at Summerslam. It’ll be interesting to see which direction they go with Money in the Bank on the Women’s side.
Cole and Barrett ran down the card for Money in the Bank. Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa, and Roman Reigns made their ring entrance…[c]
Roman Reigns stood silently and soaked up the boos. He eventually asked London to acknowledge him. Roman said for two years he’s allowed his cousins to come out here and say “We the Ones”. He then said we aren’t The Ones, he’s the one. Roman said he knows he sounds arrogant, but he is the greatest of all time and The Tribal Chief. He claimed that he’s the only one who cares about and loves his cousins because he’s the one who lifted them up and carried them to the promised land.
The crowd chanted “you suck”, and Roman responded that what sucks is the family who betrays you. He said he’s willing to give them infinite chances because that’s what a Tribal Chief does, but they need to walk down to the ring, apologize, acknowledge him, and then they will move on. The Usos walked out at this point. Jimmy said he had it twisted, because they don’t want back in. They are past apologizing and acknowledging. Jey said the family is talking, and Roman has no idea the consequences if he loses tomorrow.
Jey said the last time Roman was pinned was 3 years ago, and the next time he’ll get pinned is tomorrow night. Jimmy said if he loses tomorrow night he will no longer be tribal chief. Jimmy and Jey both have no desire to be tribal chief, and said despite the fact that he’s tripping, their vote will go to Solo. Roman flipped out as Jey got on the apron. Jey pie faced Roman, and Jimmy kicked him in the face. A brawl out and security got involved quickly. Roman got the best of Jey when he was distracted by security.
Jimmy and Solo brawled amongst security and Roman jumped in. Jey recovered and landed a big splash on both Solo and Roman at ringside to close the show…[c]
My Take: This was an interesting sequence of events. Jey and Jimmy both attempted to pull their brother away from Roman, but he was unshaken. It’ll be interesting to see which way they go with the story tomorrow at Money in the Bank, because it feels like there are plausible reasons to go in several different directions.