By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,256)
Boston, Massachusetts at TD Garden
Aired live September 8, 2023 on Fox
An extended video package went over the results of WWE Payback. After the video, the normal Smackdown video introduction aired. Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick announced Judgement Day vs. The Brawling Brutes, Austin Theory vs. LA Knight, and AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Uso. In the arena, Charlotte Flair made her entrance for the opening match. She was followed by her partner Shotzi. Damage Ctrl made their entrance with Bayley and Iyo competing.
1. Shotzi and Charlotte vs. Iyo Sky and Bayley: Bayley and Charlotte started the match and shoved each other. Charlotte knocked Iyo off the apron, and very quickly all four women were in the ring. Charlotte tossed Bayley to the floor, and then into the barricade at ringside. Iyo tossed Shotzi to the floor, and then performed a moonsault on both Charlotte and Shotzi…[c]
My Take: A bit of a slow start to the show with the long video package. They must have been extra proud of that one, or just short on talent due to the show in India that took place today.
Shotzi and Bayley landed a double kick to Shotzi and remained in control of the match. Bayley choked her on the second rope and landed strikes in the corner. Shotzi escaped Bayley with some kicks of her own and made a hot tag to Charlotte. She entered the match and landed chops to both Bayley and Iyo. Charlotte then landed a fallaway slam on Bayley and fired up the crowd.
She then landed a lariat after a front flip and applied the Figure Four to Charlotte. Iyo entered the match and hit her with a Meteora to break up the hold. Bayley and Iyo made quick tags back and forth. Iyo pulled Charlotte into the ring with head scissors. Bayley climbed the top rope, and Asuka caused a distraction by grabbing the title from Dakota Kai from the timekeeper’s area. Charlotte then knocked Iyo from the apron with a Big Boot and Shotzi put down Bayley with a DDT for the win.
Shotzi and Charlotte defeated Iyo Sky and Bayley at 9:01
After the match, Asuka confronted Iyo Sky in the ring and held up the title in her face. Iyo retrieved her title but seemed concerned about Asuka’s challenge. After the match, we saw a video package of Jimmy Uso returning last week and causing chaos throughout the show, including costing AJ Styles his match against Solo Sikoa.
Jimmy approached Paul Heyman backstage, and told him that nobody told him anything about being out of the bloodline so he’s in. Paul said there is a difference between being in and being IN. He continued and said that Roman offered him a house, a car, and other things but he turned him down, and now he’s got to work things out with Roman Reigns. He told Jimmy that if he took care of his business with AJ Styles later he would do everything he could to put the family back together.
Heyman walked off and ran into AJ Styles. Heyman wondered why he would want to tangle with him if he had a choice, and Styles grabbed him by the shirt and pushed him into some equipment. Jimmy Uso showed up and pulled Styles off of Heyman and threw him over some equipment crates. Jimmy then told Heyman he would take care of his AJ Styles problem, and Heyman gave his phone a voice command to call Roman Reigns…[c]
My Take: The women’s match was pretty short with a long commercial break. Shotzi got a second win over Bayley and it appears we’re getting Iyo vs. Asuka, which should be great. Jimmy Uso trying to worm his way back into the Bloodline is interesting. Roman’s reaction to him at his next appearance will be fun to watch.
Backstage, Bayley told Kayla Braxton that Asuka should mind her own business. Iyo said Asuka seems ready for Iyo, and Iyo replied that she was ready for Asuka and that was a challenge for the title. In the arena, LA Knight made his entrance for the next match. First, he had a microphone in hand.
Knight addressed Miz and his performance with invisible John Cena on Monday’s Raw where he claimed Knight only beat him because John Cena was the referee. He said that he didn’t need Cena’s help or his endorsement. He respected what he had accomplished but at the end of the day he did count the three. Knight told Miz that he will force him to accept the bitter pill of defeat, and if that means defeating him a second time, he……and Grayson Waller interrupted.
Waller rambled for a bit about nothing, and brought out Austin Theory to address Knight accepting Miz’s challenge from Monday. Theory walked out and told Knight that he had already defeated John Cena and Knight, and that when he was done with him Miz wouldn’t waste his time. Knight responded and asked Waller and Theory if they were done boring everybody, and that he would show those incels how to do this. He then spoke about TD Garden being on Legends Way, and that he would kick Theory’s 26 year old Keister with everybody saying LA Knight…[c]
My Take: Knight acknowledged Theory and Waller struggling to maintain the crowd’s interest and dunked on them. Seems like both of them are cast in the role of talking themselves into beatings.
Grayson Waller joined in on commentary after the break. He said John Cena would be on the Grayson Waller effect next week.
2. LA Knight vs. Austin Theory: Knight hit a gnarly looking neckbreaker early on. Theory bounced back by shoving him hard into the turnbuckles. The action spilled outside, where Knight dribbled Theory off the announce table. Theory recovered and dumped Knight hard on the apron. He then landed a neckbreaker of his own from the apron to the floor…[c]
Knight was in control when the show returned, and tossed Theory hard into the corner. It didn’t last after Theory landed a rolling blockbuster and covered for a near fall. The action spilled outside again where Theory landed a snap suplex. Waller jumped up on the apron and pulled the turnbuckle pad off. Knight landed a powerslam back in the ring and he fired up the crowd. He then landed an elbow drop.
Waller got the apron at that point and offered a distraction. It backfired as Theory nearly got shoved into the exposed turnbuckle. He was able to hit the brakes, but walked right into a BFT from Knight. He covered and got the win.
LA Knight defeated Austin Theory at 9:22
After the match, Grayson Waller attempted a sneak attack but was foiled immediately. Knight then celebrated with the crowd. Cathy Kelley asked AJ Styles if he was still capable of competing after the sneak attack from Jimmy Uso, and he said that he was standing so he was ready. Styles then said nothing would stop him from tearing Jimmy’s head off later tonight.
Back in the arena, Judgement Day (sans Rhea Ripley) made their way to the ring. Finn Balor and Damien Priest will face Butch and Ridge Holland next…[c]
My Take: Waller named his new tag team with Theory “A-Town Down Under” and said they were undefeated. I guess that frees them up to lose all kinds of singles matches.
Backstage Paul Heyman spoke with Adam Pearce. He demanded to know who was being traded from Raw to Smackdown, and Pearce said those things come from the highest level and he doesn’t know yet. LA Knight walked up and demanded his match with The Miz, and Pearce made it official. Heyman introduced himself and patronized LA Knight about his catchphrase. He then told him that next time he hears from the guy at the door that he’s doing business, Knight should knock first. He asked him if he understood, and Knight leaned in to say “Yeah”.
In the ring, Finn Balor and Damien Priest introduced themselves and Dominick. Finn spoke about being Grand Slam Finn, and Priest called himself Senor Money in the Bank. Balor listes off all of their accomplishments, and said they had done something not even Roman Reigns could do by defeating Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. They handed off to Dominick, who got booed so loudly he wasn’t even audible for parts of it. He spoke about Judgement Day being proud of Rhea and that they were the most dominant group in WWE….which brought out The Brawling Brutes.
Ridge and Butch walked to the ring and said it was fight night. Ridge told Finn that he should be worried about Butch, and he was insulted. He stuck his finger into Butch’s chest, who immediately grabbed it and snapped it. Ridge and Butch then sent the heels to the floor…[c]
My Take: Heyman must have the same sneaking suspicion as the rest of us that Cody Rhodes is headed to Smackdown. Dom continues to get the most heat in the company. It’s remarkable.
3. Finn Balor and Damien Priest vs. Butch and Ridge Holland (w/Dominick Mysterio): The match was joined in progress with Finn and Butch in the ring. Butch quickly tagged in and tossed around Balor with a swing and then a double underhook suplex. Finn escaped another suplex attempt and tagged in Priest. He and Ridge came to a stalemate until Ridge managed to slam both Priest and Balor simultaneously. Priest fired back with a big lariat and some punches. Pretty Deadly were shown watching a monitor backstage, while Priest tagged Balor.
Ridge used his power to escape from Balor and made a tag to Butch. He quickly kicked Priest off the apron and landed multiple kicks to Balor that sent him to the floor. Butch dove onto both Priest and Balor at ringside with a moonsault…[c]
Pretty Deadly was shown backstage again watching the monitors. Butch Ridge landed a dropkick and powerslam combo for a near fall on Priest. Butch tried to capitalize, but ate a superkick from Priest for a near fall. Pries then knocked Ridge from the apron and landed a headlock driver for another near fall. Butch landed a kick to Priest, who tagged in Balor. Butch landed a German Suplex, but Dominick interfered to prevent a cover.
Balor recovered and landed a slingblade, but couldn’t land the Coup de Grace. He tagged in Priest, who went for South of Heaven but got shut down. Ridge picked him up and Butch climbed the ropes. They were going to land a double team move, but Finn shoved Butch from the ropes. Priest then landed South of Heaven on both Ridge and Butch. Balor then landed the Coup de Grace on Ridge and picked up the win.
Finn Balor and Damien Priest defeated Ridge Holland and Butch
After the match, Bobby Lashley and the Street Profits walked down to the ring. Lashley had a microphone in hand. He got face to face with Priest, and said while he’s right that the Bloodline is crumbling, it won’t be Judgment Day taking over, it would be them.
Backstage, Michin and The Good Brothers were joking around backstage. Styles walked up and frustrated and asked them why they didn’t have his back earlier. He said if this is the way it’s going to be, he doesn’t want them anywhere near his match tonight…[c]
My Take: A solid tag match that ate up a good bit of time. These teams had a fair bit of chemistry with each other and the crowd was with the Brutes. They also popped big for Bobby and the Profits confronting Judgement Day. It’ll be interesting to see how the battle of the trios plays out on Smackdown. Seemingly the Bloodline, Judgement Day, The Brawling Brutes once Sheamus is healthy, and Bobby and The Profits will be vying for dominance.
Backstage, Asuka switched between Japanese and English. She made it clear that Iyo has her title and she never got her rematch. She said she would take it back in two weeks on Smackdown.
In the arena, Jimmy Uso made his entrance for the main event by himself. Footage was shown of the conversation between Heymand and Jimmy earlier, and the subsequent on AJ Styles by Jimmy afterward…[c]
AJ Styles made his entrance for the main event.
4. AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Uso: Styles avoided a superkick early on and Jimmy got tied up in the ropes. Styles then swept his leg out from under him. Jimmy attempted to roll up Styles and use the ropes, but the referee saw it. Styles then landed a hard right hand and snap suplex. The referee checked on Jimmy because he was rocked. AJ attempted a Styles Clash, but Jimmy rolled to the floor and took a lap around the ring to recover.
Jimmy landed a back elbow and quickly escaped the ring again. Styles landed a baseball slide, and then stood on the apron. He attempted to dive at Jimmy, but ate a superkick for his trouble. Paul Heymand and Solo Sikoa walked out onto the stage. Jimmy stared at them briefly and slammed Styles into the ring steps. He then looked disappointed that they didn’t trust him to finish the job by himself…[c]
Heyman and Solo stood at ringside. Jimmy landed a back body drop then dumped Styles into the corner. He then followed up with a running hip attack and covered for a near fall. The action slowed down for a bit while Jimmy held some rest holds. Styles landed a back suplex, and then both guys got into a slap fight. Jimmy landed a kick, and Styles responded with a pele kick of his own.
Styles sent Jimmy to the floor and then landed a springboard splash inside to outside. He lined up for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Jimmy avoided it. Styles gathered himself quickly and landed an Ushigoroshi. Jimmy fired back with a hard right hand. He made a cover for a two count. Both men traded strikes, and AJ landed a DDT for a two count.
Solo and Heyman provided a distraction by silently getting some attention from Styles. Jimmy then knocked Styles off the turnbuckle and choked him on the ropes. Styles rolled to the floor, and Solo refused to attack him and turned his back. AJ kicked Solo in the back of the head. He then shoved Jimmy into the ring post. He then landed a Phenomenal Forearm and got the pin.
AJ Styles defeated Jimmy Uso at 15:43
After the match, AJ tried to get out of there to avoid Solo. He was attacked by Damien Priest and Finn Balor, who dumped him back into the ring so Solo could land a Samoan Spike. Solo stared down a smiling Priest and Balor to close the show.
My Take: I’m not sure if it was a chemistry issue or the layout of the match, but the main event was unremarkable. The dynamic brewing between all the different factions on the show is interesting though, but it remains to be seen if they can pull it off for any length of time. Faction Wars can get very convoluted and it can happen quickly, so it will take some careful planning to make sure all the double crossing and temporary alliances don’t turn off viewers.