By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,258)
Glendale, Arizona at Desert Diamond Arena
Aired live September 22, 2023 on Fox
The show begins at 7CT/8ET..
Kevin Patrick, Michael Cole, and Corey Graves welcomed the TV audience to Phoenix. They mentioned the arena being sold out. John Cena’s music hit and he headed to the ring to open the show. Video was shown of the conclusion of Smackdown last week that involved Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso, John Cena, and AJ Styles.
The crowd chanted loudly and Cena welcomed the audience to another sold out Friday Night Smackdown. He recalled all of his different roles as a backstage interviewer, a referee, a host, a and a talk show guest since he returned. Cena then recalled all the places he’s been since he returned, and said none of them were like tonight, because he didn’t want to be anything else but a competitor on tonight’s show. He said he would like to have a match, and then asked the crowd if they thought if he should have a match tonight. They all gave him a predictable answer.
Cena said he was angry at the bloodline, and he’d fight them by himself, but he had found himself a partner that was just as angry as he is. He then called him a phenomenal partner, and brought out AJ Styles. He walked to the ring and grabbed the microphone from Cena, and asked him to confirm if he really wanted it to be John Cena and AJ Styles vs. The Bloodline. The crowd erupted and Styles yelled that if the Bloodline wanted some, they could come get some.
Jimmy Uso’s music hit and he walked out with Solo Sikoa. They got on the apron, and when it came time to fight they backed off and walked away. Iyo Sky vs. Asuka was plugged for the main event, as well as revisiting The Rock’s return last week. Up next is Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar vs. The Street Profits. Rey and Santos Escobar walked out to the ring with Zelina Vega…[c]
My Take: The crowd was hot, but that promo was pretty light on content and seemed to tease the tag match out into the future, perhaps at the Fastlane PPV in a couple of weeks.
Styles and Cena spoke to Adam Pearce backstage and demanded a match with The Bloodline tonight. Pearce said to get a match with The Bloodline, they’d have to go through Paul Heyman, which left Cena and Styles frustrated. In the arena, The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) made their entrance with Bobby Lashley.
1. Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar “The LWO” w/Zelina Vega vs. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins “The Street Profits” w/Bobby Lashley: Dawkins and Escobar started the match and tied up. Escobar got an early advantage and tagged out to Mysterio, and the tide turned very quickly. Ford tagged in and took down Mysterio with a flying single leg kick. Mysterio recovered and knocked Dawkins from the apron and sent Ford to the outside. He then hit the ropes for a dive, and Rey crashed and burned after Dawkins moved Ford out of the way. Dawkins then upended Escobar on the outside with a running body block…[c]
Mysterio catapulted Ford face first into the second turnbuckle with a reversal. He then made a hot tag to Escobar, who sent Dawkins to the floor and landed a series of flying forearms to Ford. He then landed a flying cross body from the top rope and covered for a near fall. Ford recovered and landed a running splash of his own and got a two count. He then went to the top rope, where Escobar met him and pulled him back into the ring with a hurracarrana for a close near fall. He then followed with double knees in the corner. Escobar attempted a Phantom Driver, but Ford escape dand landed a kick.
Ford tagged in Dawkins, who planted Escobar with a facebuster. Escobar quickly tagged out to Mysterio. Rey hit the ropes and ran into a Sky High on Mysterio for a near fall. Rey recovered and dropped Ford with a kick. He then splashed Ford on the floor. Lashley decided to get involved and spiked Mysterio on the apron behind the ref’s back. Dawkins hesitated to finish Mysterio, and got rolled up with a reversal. Mysterio got the 3 count and the win.
The LWO defeated the Street Profits at 11:03
After the match, Lashley was livid and Dawkins looked shocked. The announce team questioned whether the Street Profits were questioning their change in attitude. The announce team then threw to a video package that recapped The Rock’s appearance on the show last week. Austin Theory showed up after the video and screamed at the announce team and pulled the cover off the announce table…[c]
My Take: The Profits failing their first big test isn’t what I expected. I guess we’ll have to see if Lashley can get them to fully commit to the dark side. That seems like the story in the short term.
A vignette aired for Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn that indicated they cursed the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. Backstage, Theory and Waller ran into Butch and Ridge backstage along with Adam Pearce. Theory felt disrespected by the Rock last week and was complaining to Pearce, who quickly got annoyed. He booked Theory and Waller vs. Ridge and Butch later in the show. Elsewhere backstage, Bobby Lashley said he wanted the suits, jewelry, and everything back from the Street Profits if they are going to be unable to pull the trigger. He said if they can’t get it done he would find somebody who could.
A video package aired that highlighted Iyo Sky and Asuka and their journeys to WWE through Japan. It labeled them as two of the best in the world and said only one could leave Smackdown the WWE Women’s Champion. In the arena, Asuka made her entrance. She will face Iyo Sky next…[c]
My Take: WWE using Fyre and Dawn to retcon a curse on the Women’s Tag Titles is clever. I hope they get a push because they were doing well before losing to Rousey and Baszler and disappearing for a while.
Iyo Sky made her entrance for the next match accompanied by Bayley and Dakota Kai. Mike Rome made ring announcements before the match. Before the bell could ring, Charlotte’s music hit and she walked to ringside and joined in on commentary.
2. Asuka vs. Iyo Sky (w/Dakota Kai and Bayley): Both women tied up to start and began some chain wrestling sequences. Asuka dragged Iyo to the mat with a front facelock. Back on their feet, Iyo returned the favor and dragged Asuka to the mat. Asuka reversed into a hammer lock, and then both women traded side headlock takeovers. They both got to their feet and Asuka offered a handshake. Iyo teased answering the handshake but then threw a kick instead.
Asuka landed some deep arm drags, and then Iyo one upper her by landing one from the second rope. Asuka rolled to the floor, and Iyo attempted a Moonsault to the floor but nobody was home…[c]
Both women battled on the top rope. Iyo pulled Asuka’s shoulder across the top rope and then landed a springboard shotgun dropkick. She then landed a meteora into a pinfall for a two count. Iyo climbed to top rope, and Asuka pulled her down over the top rope and landed a series of Kawada Kicks. She then followed up with a superkick for a close near fall. Asuka landed a stiff kick to the chest a moment later for another near fall. Iyo replied with a shotei and covered for a near fall of her own.
Asuka applied a chicken wing of sorts, and then transitioned into an Armbar. Iyo was able to escape and landed a kick to the head. Bayley and Dakota taunted Asuka from the floor. Asuka went up top and landed a shotgun dropkick. She then attempted a German Suplex, but Iyo avoided it. Asuka then landed a combination of strikes and a sliding kick for a close near fall. She then applied a Fujiwara Armbar and stomped on the arm of Iyo.
She then went up top, but Iyo popped up with a springboard and kicked her to the apron. Iyo then attempted a sunset flip bomb from the rope, but Asuka held onto the bottom rope and didn’t take a severe impact. Asuka attempted to kick Iyo in the head, but kicked the post instead. Iyo then performed a Moonsault to the floor and didn’t get much more than Asuka’s arm and shoulder. Both women were down on the outside….[c]
Iyo landed a German Suplex with a bridge for a near fall. She then attempted a crossface, but Asuka was able to reverse into the Asuka lock. Iyo struggled into a pin, and Asuka was forced to break. She then landed a kick and covered Iyo, but she was able to grab the rope with her arm for the break. Both women traded shots, and Asuka grabbed a wild right punch and turned it into a cross armbar. She then transitioned into the Asuka Lock, but Iyo escaped briefly. Asuka quickly applied it again, this time closer to the ropes.
Bayley interfered and placed Iyo’s foot on the ropes. Charlotte got involved and knocked around Bayley at ringside. Asuka was distracted briefly, and Iyo landed double knees to the back. She then followed up with a Moonsault and got the win.
Iyo Sky defeated Asuka at 19:46
After the match, Iyo Sky celebrated with Damage CTRL. Backstage, Adam Pearce walked into The Bloodline locker room with a contract for a tag match with Cena and Styles at Fastlane. Heyman initially balked, but Jimmy said they’d be out later to sign it in the ring. Pearce walked off, and Heyman reminded Jimmy that those decision are made by Roman Reigns. Jimmy said to let him know what Roman says, and walked off. Solo said it didn’t matter, because after tonight they wouldn’t have anyone left to fight at Fastlane. Heyman asked who gave that order and called Roman Reigns. The Brawling Brutes made their entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: Asuka and Iyo put together a great match. There were a few stumbles in there, but it was mostly excellent and they created a good bit of drama at the conclusion and made you believe Asuka had Iyo on the ropes. They could easily run this back if they wanted to, but I imagine they are going to be circling back to Charlotte soon. Kairi finished up in Japan so she could be on the horizon as well.
Elimination Chamber 2024 from Perth, Australia was advertised by Michael Cole. We then got a Pretty Deadly Vignette where they poked fun at Elton Prince’s road to recovery from his shoulder injury. He used a shake weight for laughs while a Doctor said he had a separated shoulder and that he would be fine. It was much funnier than I’m describing here. In the arena, Grayson Waller and Austin Theory made their entrances.
3. Austin Theory and Grayson Waller “A-Town Down Under” vs. Butch and Ridge Holland “The Brawling Brutes”: The Brutes got out to a hot start, dominating Theory and Waller and landing simultaneous clubbing blows to the chest on the floor and the apron…[c]
Theory and Waller turned things around during the break with a blind tag. They made quick tags and cut off Butch in their corner. Waller landed strikes on Butch and then pulled Ridge off the apron. When Ridge charged into the ring, Waller and Theory used the opportunity to double team Butch with strikes. Butch broke free of Waller with finger manipulation and made a tag to Ridge. He entered the ring and tossed around Waller with suplexes.
Waller attempted a rolling stunner from the floor, but Ridge launched him with a shoulder block. Theory then attempted to surprise Ridge, but got caught and powerslammed for his trouble. Butch took out Waller on the floor with a moonsault. Ridge landed an Alabama Slam on Theory for a near fall, followed by Boston Crab. Waller broke free of Butch by running into the post and then landed a rolling stunner on Ridge to break the Boston Crab. Theory then landed A-Town Down and got the win.
A-Town Down Under defeated The Brawling Brutes at 8:40
After the match, Waller and Theory celebrated. The Fastlane Contract Signing between Cena, Styles, and The Bloodline is up next…[c]
My Take: A good match that kept Ridge and Butch looking tough in defeat, but still gave Theory and Waller a boost. Waller and Theory work better together than they do apart, at least for now.
Bobby Lashley will be on The Grayson Waller Effect next week. Adam Pearce stood in the ring for the contract signing segment. He brought out John Cena first, who walked down to the ring quickly and signed the contract. Pearce then called for Styles, who was getting destroyed by Jimmy Uso backstage. He got slammed into a series of crates, and then Solo jumped on him from a set of scaffolding. WWE officials surrounded Styles as he was unconscious on top of a broken table. Cena showed up and checked on him while the Usos escaped out a different direction…[c]
My Take: So maybe Styles won’t be Cena’s partner after all? What does Cody Rhodes got going on?
AJ Styles did the old stretcher job backstage while footage was shown of the beatdown he took from Jimmy and Solo. Paul Heyman walked out into the arena with his cell phone in hand. They finished loading AJ into the ambulance and Michin and Karl Anderson joined him. Solo and Jimmy walked out to meet Heyman in the ring. They started to destroy the set for the contract signing and Heyman looked like he was at the end of his wits.
The crowd booed as Heyman grabbed the microphone and introduced himself. He revealed the contract for Fastlane without any Tag Team Partner for John Cena. Jimmy grabbed the microphone from Heyman and said look what happens when you mess with the Bloodline. He addressed Cena and told him to jump in that ambulance with Styles if he was as smart as he says he is and get far away from the Bloodline.
Jimmy said he would end up in an ambulance anyway and that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler. He then told Cena that he’s the twos, and they are the ones. Cena charged to ringside and got a few shots in, but was quickly overwhelmed. Solo landed Samoan Spike and then they both stomped on Cena. Jimmy then leisurely made his way to the top rope. Eventually, he landed an Uso Splash. Solo and Jimmy stood over Cena before signing the contract for Fastlane. Solo went ahead and signed it as well, and then placed the contract on Cena’s chest. Jimmy then delivered another splash. Jimmy and Solo held up the Ones as the show closed.
My Take: A strong finish to the show. Maybe Cena shows up at Raw on Monday to try and recruit a partner to face The Bloodline? Seems like a possibility. I’ll be back later tonight with the Member’s exclusive audio review.