By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,255)
Hershey, Pennsylvania at Giant Center
Aired live September 1, 2023 on Fox
[Hour One] A Bloodline recap video opened the show… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Kevin Patrick were on commentary, and Mike Rome was the ring announcer…
John Cena made his entrance to a great ovation. Cena welcomed to viewers and noted that they were live from a sold out venue in Hershey. Cena said that no matter what he’s scheduled to do, he’s going to do his best to say thank you when he steps in the ring. He thanked for the fans for everything they’ve given and continue to give.
Cena said the fans gave him a chance to come back to his WWE family. Cena said that they’ve given him a chance to be a part of Smackdown “and not just for one night only, for months.” Cena was also thankful for getting a chance to work his first ever live event in India.
Cena announced that he will be the host of Saturday’s WWE Payback event. Cena said that for all the fans have given him, he will do his best to give back to them. Cena said that would start here and now. Cena said it would be an epic Smackdown. Cena started to tease that he was going to face someone, but he was interrupted by entrance music.
Jimmy Uso made his entrance dressed in non-wrestling attire and headed to the ring. Jimmy entered the ring and paced before crossing his arms at the wrist and looking at Cena while the fans chanted in support of Jey Uso. Jimmy asked Cena what he was doing there.
Jimmy claimed that the fans came to see him. Jimmy said he would save his brother ten times over. He said that it doesn’t matter whether people believe him, he did what he did because he loves Jey. Jimmy said he didn’t want Jey to be corrupted like Roman Reigns and John Cena.
Jimmy said that Cena and Reigns are exactly alike. Cena shook his head no. Jimmy said Cena takes and takes. He said the only difference between Cena and Reigns “is that you do yours with a smile.” The fans chanted for Cena, who told Jimmy that the wrong Uso quit.
Jimmy turned and acted like he was leaving, then turned and threw a superkick, but Cena caught his foot. Cena put Jimmy down with an Attitude Adjustment. Cena removed his shirt and played to the fans while Jimmy ended up at ringside. Jimmy sat next to the broadcast table and smiled while Cena made his exit…
Powell’s POV: A solid segment. Cena was in gratitude mode, but he did give WWE Payback a boost by announcing that he will host the show. I like the idea of Cena working with Jimmy at some point. It’s a good fit because Jey is off selling that he quit, and the fans view Jimmy as a heel, so it would be odd to see him work with Roman Reigns or Solo Sikoa. By the way, Jake Barnett took my place on AEW Dynamite coverage on Wednesday, so I’m returning the favor tonight.
Kayla Braxton stood on the backstage interview set and introduced Grayson Waller and Austin Theory as her guests. She asked what they thought of Cena hosting Payback. Waller and Theory both laughed. Theory recalled beating Cena at WrestleMania. Waller spoke about interviewing Cody Rhodes on the Payback version of his talkshow. Theory spoke about how he and Waller would beat Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar…
The LWO faction of Santos Escobar, Zelina Vega, Cruz Del Toro, and Joaquin Wilde made their entrance. Rey Mysterio’s entrance followed and he joined them on the stage before they all headed to the ring heading into the first commercial break… [C]
Graves acknowledged that The Struts’ “Too Good at Raising Hell” is the Payback theme song…
Backstage, Jimmy scolded a production member for nearly wheeling a crate into him. Jimmy asked if he knew who he was, then walked away while selling from taking the Cena’s finisher…
Grayson Waller and Austin Theory made their entrance for the opening tag team match…
1. Grayson Waller and Austin Theory vs. Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar (w/Zelina Vega, Cruz Del Toro, Joaquin Wilde). A couple minutes into the match, Rey shoved Theory over the top rope next to Waller. Rey ran the ropes and then Escobar launched him onto both heels heading into a break. [C]
Waller and Theory isolated Mysterio coming out of the break. Waller accidentally hit Theory with a shot that was meant for Mysterio. Waller stopped Rey from reaching his corner, but Rey DDT’d him and made the hot tag. Escobar worked over Waller and executed a top rope crossbody block for a two count.
Escobar hit Waller with double knees in the corner and followed up with an enzuigiri. Escobar put Waller down with a huracanrana and covered him, but Theory returned to break it up. Rey and Escobar celebrated. Waller charged toward both men. Escobar shoved Rey out of the way and took a chop block from Theory. Rey and Theory tumbled the floor. Waller returned and hit his Rolling Stunner finisher on Escobar and got the three count…
Grayson Waller and Austin Theory defeated Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar in 8:20.
Powell’s POV: Waller and Theory showed some chemistry as a team. I’m surprised they didn’t have Theory steal the pin given that he’s challenging for the U.S. Title at Payback while Waller is hosting a talkshow segment. I wonder if we’ll end up seeing Waller and Theory face Cena and Cody Rhodes at some point during Cena’s current run.
Adam Pearce was talking with Michin when Jimmy Uso butted in. Michin took offense. Jimmy said no one was talking to her. Pearce said he called Jimmy in because he’s been rude and is bullying people. Pearce asked Jimmy what’s with him. Jimmy asked if that was it and then exited the room…
Bobby Lashley made his entrance dressed in a suit… [C]
Backstage, Michin complained to AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson about Jimmy Uso disrespecting her. Gallows and Anderson told her to stay out of The Bloodline mess. Styles said it was a big deal and added that he would handle it…
Lashley delivered an in-ring promo. The fans chanted his name and he said they know how to make someone feel good. Lashley said people keep asking him what’s happening with him and The Street Profits. Lashley said real recognizes real, and great recognizes great. Lashley said that’s why he recognizes the Street Profits. Lashley pointed at the stage.
Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins made their entrance dressed in suits. Lashley said the Profits are athletic and charismatic, and are now more aggressive than they’ve ever been. Ford said this night wasn’t about them, it was about them giving gratitude to Lashley for everything he’s done for them.
Dawkins said Lashley helped them see the bigger picture. Ford and Dawkins thanked Lashley, who said they could thank him with their continued success. Lashley said they are putting everyone on notice. Lashley said they are coming for power, control, and championship gold. “We are coming for it all,” Lashley said before dropping the mic.
As the trio were leaving, Kevin Owens made his entrance and was joined by Sami Zayn. Lashley and the Profits blocked their path and stared at them. Lashley and the Profits smiled and then let Owens and Zayn pass. Ford sang along with Sami’s entrance theme. A graphic listed Owens and Zayn as facing Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde after a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: That staredown was interesting and felt like foreshadowing. Lashley and the Profits are all smiles right now, but it will be interesting to see if they remain babyfaces or if they are going to be a heel faction. Either way, I look forward to the Profits eventually challenging Owens and Zayn.
2. Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde (w/Zelina Vega) in a non-title match. Wilde caught Owens with a dropkick and tagged out. Del Toro tagged in and caught Owens and Zayn with kicks. Owens came right back with a Popup Powerbomb. Zayn tagged in and booted Wilde off the apron with a kick. Zayn followed up with a Helluva Kick on Del Toro. Owens tagged in and hit the Stunner on Del Toro before pinning hm…
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde in 2:35 in a non-title match.
After the match, Zayn took the mic and warned Judgment Day that there were in for the fight of their life at Payback…
Powell’s POV: Just a quick showcase win for Owens and Zayn. I wasn’t expecting anything more, but I continue to hope that Del Toro and Wilde will eventually get a chance to be more than just sidekicks.
Backstage, AJ Styles confronted Jimmy Uso about disrespecting Michin. Jimmy shoved Styles and asked him what he was going to do. Styles shoved Jimmy to the ground. Solo Sikoa entered the picture and knocked Styles down with a shot to the back of the head.
Sikoa told Jimmy that he’s out of The Bloodline when they say he’s out of The Bloodline. Jimmy told Sikoa that Sikoa, Roman Reigns, and Paul Heyman can’t tell him anything. Jimmy stormed away…
[Hour Two] Styles was interviewed by Cathey Kelley in the backstage area. Styles said The Bloodline thinks they run Smackdown and all of WWE, but they do not. Styles called for a match against Sikoa. Gallows, Anderson, and Michin showed up. Anderson once again said they should avoid Bloodline drama. Michin told Styles not to listen to Gallows and Anderson. Styles said they need a reminder that this is the house that he built…
The Miz made his entrance. Highlights aired of his impersonation of LA Knight on Raw. In the ring, Miz said his match with Knight would be the biggest match of Knight’s career. Miz said Knight isn’t on his level, nor even half the star that he was ten years ago.
LA Knight made his entrance and joined Miz inside the ring. Knight spoke of Miz’s cosplay games. He said Miz had done it to Rock, John Cena, and now him. Knight said those are three people who Miz want to be and can’t be. Knight recalled Miz saying it’s easy to be Knight.
Knight spoke of living in roach infested apartments and cashing checks at a payday loan center. Knight said Miz walked in on his glory from a reality show. Knight said Miz is right when he says he’s not on his level. Knight said he’s above Miz, who isn’t on his level.
The Miz pointed out that Knight was on a reality show named “The Hero” and was the first person eliminated. Knight said Miz wasn’t even the star of his own reality show. Knight said Miz’s wife was the star of the show. Knight said he wanted Miz to send his regards to Miz’s wife. He said she would be broken inside when Miz comes home battered, but they could fix it with one call to him.
Miz said the people relate to Knight because they fail and settle for mediocrity. Miz said Knight had hopes and dreams and never gave up. He said that gives him a chance to do something the fans can’t in that he could succeed. Miz said that unfortunately for Knight, he has to face him at Payback. Miz said that after he wins, Knight will lose his job and go back to the roach infested apartment.
Knight told Miz that he will get stomped out. Knight started to do his name bit, but he ducked a Miz clothesline instead. Miz ended up catching Knight with a shot to the throat and then put him down with a Skull Crushing Finale. Miz said that was a look into Knight’s future.
Miz’s music played as he exited the ring and taunted fans about what he did to their hero. Knight recovered and attacked Miz until producers and referees ran out and pulled him off…
Powell’s POV: A decent verbal exchange that went a little longer than it needed to. They’ve had better, but they got a nice assist from Cole, who did a good job of framing this as a must win match for Knight. Oh, and there is no debate, the true star of “Miz & Mrs” is Maryse’s sainted mother Marjo.
Highlights aired of Damage CTRL attacking Bianca Belair two weeks ago and injuring her left knee… The trio made their entrance while Cole hyped Bayley vs. Shotzi for after the break… [C]
Patrick announced Styles vs. Sikoa for later in the show… Shotzi made her tank entrance…
3. Shotzi vs. Bayley (w/Iyo Sky, Dakota Kai). Bayley mocked Shotzi’s spiked hair until Shotzi caught her with an enzuigiri. Shotzi howled and then performed a senton off the apron. [C]
Late in the match, Shotzi hit a cannonball in the corner. Shotzi went up top, but she was distracted by Sky, allowing Bayley to cut her off. Bayley called for Sky to pass her the WWE Women’s Championship belt, but Sky was reluctant.
Charlotte Flair’s music played and she came out and hit Sky with a big boot and ran her into the barricade. Flair hit Bayley while the referee was tied up with Shotzi and Kai. Shotzi put Bayley down with a DDT and pinned her.
Shotzi beat Bayley in 9:15.
Powell’s POV: The Shotzi character really needs some mic time. She acted crazed after Bayley cut her hair off and she really hasn’t had a chance to connect with fans. Bianca Belair is reportedly taking some time away. I hope she told the creative team to build up some heels for her to work with while she’s away. Heck, I wish Becky Lynch would make the same request of the creative team.
The broadcast team hyped Sikoa vs. Styles… [C] A sponsored video spotlighted the Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura feud… The broadcast team ran through the WWE Payback lineup… Highlights aired from the Cena and Jimmy Uso segment…
Solo Sikoa made his entrance. The onscreen graphic listed him as being accompanied by Paul Heyman, who did not come out with him… [C] Charlotte Flair and Shotzi vs. Iyo Sky and Bayley was advertised for next week’s Smackdown in Boston… AJ Styles made his entrance…
Powell’s POV: I misunderstood Sikoa earlier. He actually said that Jimmy is out of The Bloodline when they say he’s out of The Bloodline. I corrected the quote from that segment to avoid further confusion.
4. Solo Sikoa vs. AJ Styles. Styles was getting the better of Sikoa a couple minutes into the match when Paul Heyman walked out. Sikoa hit a distracted Styles from behind. Styles came right back and sent Sikoa to the floor and then hit him with a knee from the apron. Styles leapt over the top rope and hit Sikoa with a flying forearm on at ringside. [C]
Sikoa took offensive control and put Styles down with a belly-to-belly suplex for a near fall. Heyman smiled arrogantly as he stood at ringside. Sikoa teased going for his finisher, but Styles caught him with a kick before he could execute the Samoan Spike. Styles put Sikoa down with a Pele Kick and then both men stayed down momentarily.
Styles hit a series of strikes. Sikoa came back with a Samoan Drop and covered Styles for a near fall. Styles rallied and performed an Asai moonsault for a near fall of his own. Sikoa stuffed a Styles Clash attempt and ended up dumping Styles onto the apron. Styles hit him with a forearm from the apron.
The referee tended to Sikoa. Styles set up for his finisher even though Sikoa was on the other side of the ring. Jimmy Uso showed up and swiped the legs of Styles, who crashed on the top rope. Sikoa hit the Samoan Spike on Styles and then pinned him.
Solo Sikoa defeated AJ Styles in 12:05.
Afterward, Jimmy entered the ring and hugged Sikoa, who grabbed him by the throat and wound up for the Samoan Spike. Heyman, who was also caught off guard by Jimmy’s actions, told Sikoa not to follow through. Sikoa released Jimmy and left the ring. Jimmy superkicked Styles and then followed up with a top rope splash. Jimmy looked at Heyman and Sikoa and while holding up his index finger. Heyman made a call on his phone while Cole said it looked like Jimmy wanted back in The Bloodline…
Powell’s POV: The main event match was nothing special. The finish made no sense if you actually paid attention to Sikoa being all the way on the other side of the ring when Styles was going up for his finisher. Nevertheless, I like the latest development with Jimmy indicating that he wants to rejoin The Bloodline. Of course, that’s a big change from what he was saying earlier in the show, so there’s no guarantee that his character is being sincere.
Overall, this was a pretty good show with the return of Cena and an interesting development with The Bloodline. For that matter, it’s interesting that no one came out to help Styles. Gallows and Anderson said they wanted nothing to do with The Bloodline drama, but I can’t imagine that their failure to help will sit well with Styles. I will have more to say about Smackdown in my same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Smackdown by grading the show below. I’ll be back tomorrow night with a live review of WWE Payback.
Fantasy Football draft season is here! If you need a great site to host your league, search no further than MyFantasyLeague.com.