By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,251)
Dayton, Ohio at Nutter Center
Aired live August 4, 2023 on Fox
Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed the TV audience to the show. Jey Uso and Solo Sikoa were confirmed to go one on one later in the show…
LA Knight his made for the first match of the night. Knight grabbed a microphone and addressed the Slim Jim 25-Man Battle Royal. He called his opponents a group of stooges.
A graphic was shown on the screen that featured The Miz, Santos Escobar, Sheamus, Matt Riddle, Shinsuke Nakamura, and AJ Styles. Knight called himself more must see than The Miz, and called Sheamus a pasty goof and a halfwit. He said he would add being beaten by LA Knight to his long list of accomplishments. Sheamus then made his ring entrance with Butch and Ridge Holland.
1. LA Knight vs. Sheamus (w/Butch, Ridge Holland): Sheamus landed a knee lift and headlock takeover. He then talked trash to Knight and performed his “YEAH!” catchphrase. Knight fired back with a back elbow and then some punches and kicks in the corner. Knight landed a cross body that sent both of them to ringside.
Santos Escobar, The Miz, Grayson Waller, Karrion Kross, and AJ Styles walked to ringside. Sheamus managed to regain control and land white noise on the apron…[c]
My Take: LA Knight continues to be mega over. His promo wasn’t anything special and it didn’t matter.
Sheamus pulled at Knight’s face with a fish hook. Knight fought to his feet and reversed out of a slam into a reverse DDT. Knight landed some punches and a body slam. He then landed a jumping elbow drop, but didn’t make a cover. He picked Sheamus up in a torture rack and pancaked him back onto side and shoulder for a near fall.
Knight attempted to go for a BFT, but Sheamus escaped and rolled Knight up for two. He then picked up Knight and climbed the ropes for an avalanche White Noise for a close near fall. After some back and forth, Sheamus applied a Texas Cloverleaf, but Knight reached the ropes. After a few up-kicks Knight got to his feet. Sheamus climbed to the top rope. Knight attempted to leap to the top, but he lost his balance, which caused Sheamus to lose his balance. Both men fell to the floor.
Austin Theory attacked Santos Escobar out of nowhere at ringside and drew the attention of everyone at ringside. Sheamus picked the Miz from the floor and pulled him onto the apron. He clubbed his chest, but Knight tried to roll him up from behind. Sheamus kicked out at two, and managed to land a Brogue Kick on Miz after Knight moved out of the way. Knight then landed BFT and got the win.
LA Knight defeated Sheamus at 12:44
After the match, Grayson Waller and Karrion Kross attempted to get at Knight in the ring, but he made an escape. Solo Sikoa was shown looking stoic backstage…[c]
My Take: A rather slowly paced match that ended up getting derailed by Knight being unable to execute the planned finish. I’m sure he’d like to have that one back. I continue to believe Knight’s push has a chance to stall out if he doesn’t show more consistency with his ring work. Try as I might, I still don’t care about this Slim Jim Battle Royal.
Backstage, The OC bickered with The Brawling Brutes, and Adam Pearce told them to take care of it in the ring. That left Sheamus to have a staredown with AJ Styles. Cole and Barrett introduced a video package for the Cody and Brock feud set to a dramatic piano ballad. The Brawling Brutes (Ridge and Butch) made their entrance for the next match…[c]
Jey Uso was shown walking backstage. Anderson and Gallows made their entrance with Michin.
2. Ridge Holland and Butch vs. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows (w/Michin): Holland started the match with Gallows. The OC Brothers took control early, but Holland was able to land a suplex on Anderson and tag in Butch. He entered the match and went after Anderson’s fingers and elbow. He then grabbed and twisted his ear and nose. Butch stomped on Anderson, but he was able to drag himself to the corner and tag in Gallows. They performed a gnarly looking double back suplex. Ridge Holland broke up the pinfall…[c]
Holland landed a big lariat on Anderson and tagged in Butch. He entered and knocked Gallows off the apron and several kicks. Gallows returned and landed an elbow to Butch. Holland powered up Gallows with a back body drop. Suddenly, The Street Profits showed up in suits and cleaned everybody out of the ring and caused a no contest finish.
Ridge Holland and Butch fought Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows to a No Contest at 7:58
After the match, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins fixed their outfits and welcomed Bobby Lashley out from the back. Bobby soaked up some cheers from the crowd and stood with the Profits…
A Charlotte Flair video package, where she sat on a yacht and said winning and a high roller lifestyle were in her blood. She said Bianca might have been on top for 2 years but she’s been on top for her entire career. Charlotte toasted herself as the 15 time Women’s World Champion. The Women’s World Title match was plugged for SummerSlam, and up next we will learn the history of Tribal Combat up next…[c]
My Take: Not much to that tag match, but it was nice to see the Profits back and looking like they are aiming for high intensity. I’m curious how they cast Bobby’s new alliance, as it seems like it could work as both a babyface or heel squad.
Paul Heyman stood in the ring when the show returned. He said “Ladies, if there are any in Ohio” and Gentlemen. Paul asked how it came to this, because it was the last thing that Roman Reigns wanted. He said if you wanted to place blame on what happened to Jimmy Uso, we can all blame Jey Uso. Heyman said what happens tomorrow to former right hand man and former main event Jey Uso will not be anyone’s fault but Roman Reigns. Heyman then said they would be entering a tradition called Tribal Combat.
A video package then aired that focused on the significance of the Ula Fala necklace that Roman Reigns wears, and how centuries of combat had settled the conflicts of the Samoan tribes. It was then explained that the only rule to Tribal Combat is that there has to be a declarative winner, and one tribal chief. After the video, Heyman said that Roman Reigns has earned his status as Tribal Chief, and told Jey Uso that could never be him, and there would be no remorse or forgiveness on Saturday.
Heyman started to give a spoiler for SummerSlam, but Jey Uso interrupted him. He made his entrance to the ring and fired up the crowd. Jey had a microphone and soaked in the crowd reaction for a bit. Jey described hitting Roman with sticks, chairs, and putting him through a table. He swore he would bring his culture, his passion, and his family to beat Roman Reigns and become the new undisputed Tribal Chief and WWE Universal Champion.
Solo made his way to the ring and Jey told him to chill out. Jey told Solo that it didn’t matter what happened between them because he would always forgive him. He told Solo that Roman and Heyman are giving him orders and telling him the same things he used to tell him every night. Heyman piped up and told Jey to be quiet, and asked Solo if he really believed that, and got a death stare. He then pulled Solo aside to talk with him, but Jey kicked him in the face and sent him to the floor. Jey then teased hitting Heyman, but walked away and told Solo he would see him later.
A video aired that recapped Santos Escobar and Rey Mysterio’s match from last week. Cole said he was at home and considered day to day. Backstage, Austin Theory said he would dedicate his defeat of Santos Escobar next week to Rey Mysterio. He then said he would take care of Cameron Grimes next, and made his ring entrance…[c]
My Take: Another solid promo from Heyman and Jey. It seems like Jey is getting more comfortable on the microphone all the time. Here’s hoping he busts out the face paint at SummerSlam.
Cameron Grimes made his ring entrance as the show returned.
3. U.S. Champion Austin Theory vs. Cameron Grimes in a non-title match: Theory picked up Grimes and slammed him. Santos Escobar tried to make his way to the ring, but he was stopped by officials. Grimed landed the Cave In and nearly covered for the win, but Theory’s foot was on the ropes. Theory rolled to the floor, but Grimes followed and tossed him into the barricades at ringside. He then landed a flying cross body back into the ring or a near fall. Grimes then landed a swinging side slam and a series of kicks. He then managed to pull off his “Collision Course” powerslam for another near fall.
Theory avoided another Cave In using the official. Grimes tried to go up top, but Theory knocked him down and landed A-Town Down and got the win.
Austin Theory defeated Cameron Grimes at 3:20 in a non-title match
After the match, Santos Escobar got into the ring through the crowd and landed a Phantom Driver on Theory. He then talked some trash and left the ring. We then saw a video package that focused on Asuka. They finally put some subtitles, and showed Asuka’s frustration over having already beaten Bianca and Charlotte. She revealed she has a plan, but provided no details. We then saw another video that plugged the Cody Rhodes documentary on Peacock…[c]
My Take: I think WWE should pull the trigger on Santos Escobar next week. Whatever his story with Rey Mysterio is going to be with Rey Mysterio will enhance the value of the US Title more than whatever the hell Theory is doing right now.
Ring announcer Mike Rome made introductions for the Grayson Waller Effect. Waller said before he wins the Slim Jim Battle Royal, he wanted to give someone the Grayson Waller rub. He then said just like in life, one woman isn’t enough for him (cringe), and introduced Bayley and Iyo Sky. They made their way to the ring, and Waller said “Ding dong, hello”. Waller asked Iyo what her strategy was for SummerSlam, and Bayley took over and said she would say nothing.about it and called the crowd idiots.
Shotzi’s laughter played in the arena, and Waller had a laugh after Bayley freaked out, saying it was him. Bayley warned him never to do that again. Shotzi’s entrance music hit, and her tank started driving to the ring, but the person in the tank wore a helmet and mask. Shotzi appeared behind Bayley and landed a punch. She then pulled out a hair clipper and chased Bayley to the back. Zelina Vega was revealed as the tank driver, and she faces Iyo up next…[c]
My Take: I think they have to find a way to make Waller a bigger asshole on his own talk show. It’s far less interesting when he tries to straddle the line and be a good host.
4. Iyo Sky vs. Zelina Vega: The match was in progress. Both Women collided with a double clothesline. Vega then landed 10 punches in the corner and a meteora for a two count. Vega went for Code Red, but Sky avoided it and landed a double underhook backbreaker. Iyo then landed double knees in the corner, but Bayley and Shotzi spilled out from the back with the hair clippers. Iyo was distracted and pulled into a running powerbomb. Vega then landed a Code Red and got the win.
Zelina Vega defeated Iyo Sky at 3:48
After the match, a video package aired that focused on Bianca Belair. She said she was untouchable for almost 2 years until Bianca tried to blind her and stole her title. Bianca said there were no disqualifications and no excuses, and she would give both women a KOD and take back what’s rightfully hers. The announce team plugged the SummerSlam card after the video. Jey Uso made his ring entrance for the main event…[c]
My Take: The eventual Bayley vs. Iyo program should produce some fun matches.
5. Jey Uso vs. Solo Sikoa (w/Paul Heyman). Early in the match, Sikoa set up for a uranage slam by the broadcast table, but Jey fought him off. Jey hit a suicide dive heading into a break. [C]
Solo took over with a belly to belly suplex. Jey attempted to charge back into the match, but was cut off with a slap to the face. He then landed an overhead throw. Solo attempted a hip attack in the corner, but Jey moved and charged back with some right hands. He landed a kick to the chest, but Solo roared back with a lariat. Jey tried to fire up again, but Solo cut him off with a spinning wheel kick and a Spinning Sikoa.
Jey avoided a Samoan Spike and landed a superkick. Solo landed one in return, but Jey fired back with a spear and an Uso Splash for the win.
Jey Uso defeated Solo Sikoa at 10:51
After the match, Solo got back up and attacked Jey again. He tossed him into the ring post and grabbed a steel chair. Jey superkicked the chair into his face and landed several shots to his back. Solo got back up, so Jey smashed the chair on his shoulder and knocked him into the timekeeper’s area. Jey celebrated to end the show.
My Take: Solo and Jey did a nice job with the match, but the lack of Roman Reigns on the go home show was felt. The crowd was excited for Jey getting the upper hand on Solo, so it worked out in the end, but the momentum could have been much bigger had he outsmarted both Solo and Roman. I assume Solo and perhaps even Jimmy will be involved at SummerSlam, and it’ll be interesting to see how they bridge into the next chapter of this story.