WWE Friday Night Smackdown results (9/15): Barnett’s review of John Cena on The Grayson Waller Effect talkshow, LA Knight vs. The Miz, Bayley vs. Asuka, Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles

By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)

WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,257)
Denver, Colorado at Ball Arena
Aired live September 15, 2023 on Fox

Kevin Patrick, Michael Cole, and Corey Graves joined in on commentary to start the show. Pat McAfee’s music hit and he headed to the ring. Cole joked with Patrick about McAfee replacing him. McAfee told Denver that he loved them, and mentioned that he was in Boulder to cover Deion Sanders and the Colorado Bulldogs. He said there was a zero percent chance he was going to miss out on seeing the WWE Universe, and that it was his pleasure to welcome them to the greatest wrestling show on television, WWE Smackdown. 

Austin Theory walked out dressed in a black tank top and pants much like McAfee. Theory said it wasn’t Smackdown, it was Austin Theory Live. He then said he’s 26 and he’s everywhere, and all McAfee had at 26 was a mugshot. Theory said they had unfinished business, and he was going to drop him right now because he wasn’t sure who he thought he was, and he would send him back injured to his football show injured like Aaron Rodgers. 

McAfee said he wasn’t going to do anything, and he had no interest in fighting him because he was taking advantage of some of the local laws. McAfee said this wasn’t Austin Theory Live, it was the People’s Show, and asked if he knew what that meant….

Suddenly, The Rock’s music hit and he headed out to a huge reaction, as you’d expect. For those unaware, The Rock made an appearance on Pat McAfee’s ESPN Show earlier today. The announcers smartly sat out and allowed the crowd reaction to speak for itself. There were some wide shots showing that the arena was a near sellout if not completely sold out. 

The Rock grabbed a microphone as huge Rocky chants broke out. There were some “Holy Sh*t!” chants that were cut off by Fox. Theory started to speak about how long it had been, and Rock told him to shut his bitch ass up. He told him that he clearly didn’t know how all this works, and took off his jacket. Rock did his “Finally…” bit about Denver and soaked in the crowd chants. Theory said maybe he should try, and said finally Austin and Rock are back in the ring together, and he was a real Austin, a real ass kicker, and he would take up the whole Mount Rushmore. 

The Rock tried to speak up, and Theory told him it doesn’t matter what he says. The Rock said it does matter what he says, and it matters what the people say. He then worked through a bit where he had one half of the audience say “You are”, and “An asshole”. After a few rounds of that, he reversed which sides of the crowd were saying which words. Theory eventually screamed at them to shut up and huffed and puffed around. Fox censors were not happy with this development as the audio was basically unusable at this point. 

The Rock said Theory came down to the ring to run down the people on The Rock’s show, the People’s show, and in 3 seconds The Rock would whoop his ass all over Denver. Theory tried to jump the gun, and ate a spinebuster for his trouble. The Rock then fired up the crowd before performing the People’s Elbow. McAfee then delivered a considerably less athletic version of his own People’s Elbow.

The Grayson Waller Effect with John Cena is up later, along with Asuka vs. Bayley, and The Miz vs. LA Knight, and AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor up next…[c]

My Take: A very fun segment that capitalized on McAfee and The Rock being nearby in Boulder for McAfee’s ESPN show. I don’t know if this was planned or improvised, but it gave the local crowd a rare Rock appearance that might have been the loudest TV reaction we’ve heard in ages in front of a sellout.

Finn Balor had made his entrance before the break. He was followed by AJ Styles. 

1. AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor (w/Damien Priest and Dominik Mysterio): Priest attempted interference early, which allowed Balor to land a cheapshot. Styles roared back with a backbreaker, but Balor rolled through a sunset flip and landed a seated dropkick a few seconds later. Styles turned things around again and sent Balor reeling out of the ring to regroup…[c]

Styles and Balor collided mid-ring with double cross body blocks. Dom distracted the ref so Balor could scratch at the eyes of Styles. Both men ended up in the corner. Styles attempted a head scissors back into the ring, but Balor held onto the top rope. Styles got up and attempted a Styles Clash, but Balor avoided it, and he settled for a backbreaker of sorts. 

The action spilled outside, where AJ landed a springboard forearm. Priest and Dom got involved again, and were ejected from ringside. Styles attempted a Phenomenal Forearm, but Balor avoided it. Out of the crowd, Jimmy Uso jumped on the apron and collided with Styles. Balor then pulled him into a crucifix pin for the win. 

Finn Balor defeated AJ Styles at 8:48

After the match, Balor escaped up to rejoin Dom and Priest, while Jimmy Uso smiled at his handiwork. 

My Take: Not much to grade there as it was pretty short with the commercial break. I guess the idea was that there’s a bit of a common interest forming between Jimmy Uso and Judgement Day, and so there was a bit of story forwarding involved.

Backstage, Rock and McAfee were joking about Denver going on for two hours chanting about Austin Theory being an asshole. John Cena walked up and gave The Rock a handshake and a hug. Jimmy Uso was shown backstage elsewhere with Paul Heyman in the background. Finn Balor walked up and Jimmy told him what happened out there was not about him. After Balor called him “dawg” awkwardly a couple of times, he made a pitch for both Jimmy and Jey to join The Judgement Day. He said they don’t have a leader, and that means no Roman. Jimmy nodded and then started speaking to Heyman when he walked up. 

In the ring, the LWO stood in the ring. Rey Mysterio spoke and said he was grateful for the LWO teaching him what family was all about again after what had happened with his son. Santos Escobar then spoke up and told Rey he was happy he took his place in his match against Austin Theory. He said it’s always been his dream to face off against his idol Rey Mysterio, and asked him for an opportunity to face him for the US Championship. Rey feigned being upset at first, but then accepted and they shared a hug. 

Bobby Lashley’s music then hit, and he walked out with the Street Profits. He said they had Tag Teams falling apart and teams having weird love fests in the ring. Lashley said he said they were going to take over, but had no idea how easy it would be. Cruz Del Toro then spoke up and said if they were looking for a fight, they shouldn’t be standing 50 feet away, and demanded they get to the ring. Referees ran down as Lashley and the Street Profits headed to the ring…[c]

My Take: No interaction between The Rock and The Bloodline backstage. It’ll be interesting if he runs into Heyman later. Rey vs. Escobar for the US Title will be an interesting match to watch the build for to see if they do any foreshadowing about Escobar’s intentions.

2. The LWO (Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro) vs. The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins): The match was joined in progress. The Street Profits landed The Revelation about 30 seconds in and it was over.

The Street Profits defeated The LWO at roughly 30 seconds

After the match, Lashley instructed the Profits to attack Wilde and Del Toro. They did, and got attacked from behind by Escobar and Mysterio. Lashley got involved and took out Escobar, and then had a staredown with Mysterio before leaving the ring…[c]

My Take: That match didn’t overstay its welcome. That’s about all you can say about it.

An LA Knight video package aired. The Miz then made his ring entrance. John Cena was advertised for the Grayson Waller Effect coming up later. LA Knight then made his ring entrance for the next match. 

3. The Miz vs. LA Knight: They tied up to start, and then traded some strikes and chops back and forth for the first few minutes. Knight landed a springboard shoulder block and covered for a two count. Miz recovered and put down Knight with a lariat. Knight recovered and landed a neckbreaker and a bulldog. He then followed up with a dropkick to a seated Miz for a two count. Miz pulled the apron up on the ring to cause a distraction, and then poked Knight in the eyes. He then landed a facebuster out of the corner and covered for a two count…[c]

Miz kicked Knight in the ribs and then delivered a big boot to the face. He then hit the ropes and landed a knee strike for a two count. Knight fought out of the Skull Crushing Finale, and then landed a big lariat. He followed up with a side Russian leg sweep and a DDT. After an awkward exchange, Miz rolled up Knight with the tights for a near fall. Knight then avoided a DDT attempt, but couldn’t avoid a double knee facebuster for a near fall. 

Knight started a comeback with some punches, but Miz kicked his knee out from under him. Knight then hot shotted Miz onto the ropes and landed the BFT. He then covered for the win. 

LA Knight defeated The Miz at 11:25 

After the match, Knight grabbed a microphone. He said that when he came to Smackdown he said he was coming for Gold. He called out Gunther, Rey Mysterio, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins and said he’s coming for them. Knight said he’s Top 2 and he’s not number two, and then delivered his catchphrase. Backstage, Solo Sikoa was shown with Paul Heyman, and said he wanted to handle this LA Knight problem. Heyman told Solo that the order needs to come from Roman Reigns. 

Solo told Heyman that Jimmy Uso is making deals with the Judgement Day and causing problems with John Cena, and those are problems that Solo will have to solve. Solo replied that he already knows what he needs to do, and it would happen tonight…[c]

My Take: Far from a technical masterpiece, but that match seemed to hold the crowd’s interest and they gave a strong reaction for the Knight victory. I don’t know what’s up next for The Miz, but I’m glad this feud with Knight is wrapped up.

Backstage, Pretty Deadly approached Adam Pearce backstage. He told them they’d be back in the ring in no time. Prince gave a melodramatic performance and spoke about Ridge Holland breaking his bones and laughing at his misfortune. Pearce asked why a shoulder injury required him to be in a wheelchair, and Wilson scoffed at his audacity. He then hyped up Prince and they gave a “Yes Boy!” and said they’d be back in the ring in no time. 

Backstage, Bayley told Dakota Kai that she needed to beat Asuka next week. She said she hopes Iyo is ready for Asuka after impulsively challenging her for a match. Dakota told her that she’s been so distracted by Shotzi lately, that the real question is whether she’s ready for Asuka. Bayley stared at the ground. 

Asuka made her entrance in the arena. She will face Bayley up next…[c]

A replay of The Rock’s appearance earlier in the show was shown. Judgement Day were then seen chatting backstage with all their titles. Bayley made her ring entrance in the arena with Dakota Kai. Iyo Sky vs. Asuka for the WWE Women’s Championship for next week. 

4. Bayley (w/Dakota Kai) vs. Asuka: They traded slaps and strikes to start. Asuka attempted to land a head kick, but Bayley jumped out of the way. Bayley used the referee positioning to land a cheap shot. Asuka then landed a top rope dropkick that sent Bayley out to the apron. Bayley recovered and tripped Asuka on the apron, and then shoved her into the ring post…[c]

Bayley remained in control and landed a knee to the ribs. Bayley overshot on a sunset flip attempt, and Asuka turned it into an armbar. Bayley escaped, but Asuka landed a German Suplex. She followed up with a kick to the ribs. Asuka continued the assault with a knee strike and a sliding kick for a near fall. Bayley avoided a codebreaker, but Asuka quickly pulled her into an ankle lock. Asuka then used her agility to quickly get to the second rope and land another codebreaker successfully. 

The action spilled outside after some reversals and Bayley tossed Asuka into the barricade. Shotzi then showed up from the crowd and chased Bayley back into the ring. Asuka took advantage and used a backslide and got the win. 

Asuka defeated Bayley at 9:01

After the match, Shotzi chased Bayley to the back, and then fist bumped Asuka. John Cena is on the Grayson Waller Effect next…[c]

My Take: This match just never felt like it got out of second gear. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it didn’t feel smooth or like anyone was working with any sense of urgency. I am looking forward to seeing what Asuka and Iyo put together for next week.

Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar vs. The Street Profits was announced for next week. Mike Rome delivered his obnoxious entrance for the Grayson Waller Effect. Waller said he’s had an opportunity to have some big stars on the Grayson Waller effect, including many who think they’re the GOAT. That label only applies to one man, and that’s his guest tonight. He said that his star is fading like his hairline, but that stops tonight with the Grayson Waller rub. Waller then introduced John Cena. 

Cena made his entrance and sat at the makeshift talk show table. Waller said this must be like a dream for Cena to be on the Grayson Waller effect. He then said when he talks to grown ups he takes his hat off. Waller told Cena he thinks he needs some help and to be more like him, and just sit back and let the stars shine. 

Cena stood up to talk, and Waller told him he had to make it all about him, and become a special guest referee at Payback. He accused Cena of not wanting to be an in ring competitor anymore. Waller said he was the greatest of all time, but it’s clear he’s nowhere near the greatest right now. He said he hadn’t been the same since Austin Theory beat him at WrestleMania. 

Just as Cena was getting ready to take him out, Jimmy Uso interrupted and headed to the ring. Cena walked up to Jimmy, who stole his mic away. He told Cena that Kangaroo Jack had a point, and that’s the fact that nobody wants Cena here and everybody came to see him. Jimmy said he came out to say it to his face. If he wanted to embarrass him like he did two weeks ago, he better step up or get the hell out of his ring. 

Solo Sikoa’s music hit and he walked to the ring and immediately stepped to Cena’s face. He then faked like he was going to Samoan Spike his brother,and then kicked Cena in the face. Jimmy and Solo beat on Cena, and AJ Styles ran down to make the save. Styles sent Solo to the floor and Cena took down Jimmy and landed a five knuckle shuffle. Solo pulled Jimmy away to avoid an Attitude Adjustment to close the show. 

My Take: A very star studded show. Cena never got a chance to say anything, but I think the intent of the final segment is clear. Cena and Styles will form a dream team of sorts to take on Solo and Jimmy. There were rumors that Cody might be that guy, but maybe plans have changed. I’ll be back tomorrow with an audio review of this show exclusively for Dot Net Members.


Readers Comments (7)

  1. Are John Cena, The Dwayne, Pat McAfee and AJ Styles forming a faction as well, if so I feel sorry for the OC.

  2. Where the HELL is Reigns.

  3. Reigns isn’t needed right now, and they’ll be able to run the major PPVs through the fall all the way to WM with him rested and ready to go.

  4. Yeah Reigns will be rested, now he has stepped back from his gruelling schedule of one match every couple of months.

  5. I agree with Shauny79.

  6. Johnny Skinwalker September 16, 2023 @ 9:35 pm

    I was disappointed there wasn’t more to AJ saving Cena. They have been great rivals in the past with AJ saying he built Smackdown, etc…And AJ beating Cena for the title. There should have been some tension at least before they shake hands.

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