By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,259)
Sacramento, California at Golden 1 Center
Aired live September 29, 2023 on Fox
The Smackdown intro video played, followed by Michael Cole, Kevin Patrick, and Corey Graves introducing the show. John Cena was announced for the show, along with Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair, and Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar. Jimmy Uso’s music hit and he walked to the ring with Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman. John Cena vs. Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa was shown as the current match for Fastlane.
Paul Heyman held the microphone and introduced himself through a chorus of boos. He said tonight he could make an announcement in the ring rather than into his phone, and said that they along with everyone in the stands acknowledges their Tribal Chief Roman Reigns. Heyman said that it was in his name last week that the Bloodline beat down the second best of all time, John Cena. Heyman then introduced a film that recapped the ruse perpetrated on Cena and AJ Styles by the Bloodline at the end of last week’s show.
He then told the crowd that Cena was having some transportation issues this evening, and the crowd can’t see him tonight, because he’s not currently at Smackdown. Jimmy Uso then interrupted Heyman to take the microphone and say that the Bloodline was now in your city. He then said the reason John Cena isn’t there is because he was scared of Jim Uso. Jimmy then addressed AJ Styles and said they would do the same to Cena if he kept getting in their business.
Karl Anderson then dumped Solo and Jimmy to the floor in a surprise attack. Anderson then told both guys that he wanted one of them in the ring right now, and that they had made things personal by what they had done to Styles. Solo told Jimmy to handle it or he would handle it for him.
My Take: Jimmy continues to do his own thing to the annoyance of both Heyman and Solo. Karl Anderson seeking revenge makes sense, but he’s so far beneath both Jimmy and Solo on the card that the outcome of the match doesn’t really feel in doubt.
1. Jimmy Uso vs. Karl Anderson: The match was joined in progress with Anderson in control. Anderson had a gnarly looking wound on his lower back that must have happened before the match was shown on television. Anderson landed a spinebuster and covered for a near fall. He then placed Jimmy on the top rope and set up for a superplex. Solo jumped up on the apron which allowed Jimmy to gouge Anderson in the eyes. Jimmy then followed up with a superkick and a splash from the top and got the win.
Jimmy Uso defeated Karl Andreson at 2:07 of TV Time
After the match, Jimmy Uso celebrated briefly before Anderson got to his feet and started brawling. Solo then got in the ring and put Anderson down with a Samoan Spike. Jimmy tried to get dapped up by Solo and he refused. They walked towards the stage and Michin walked by them to check on Anderson. She slapped Jimmy Uso to the ground and left him reeling.
Backstage, Santos Escobar spoke about having butterflies for his upcoming match. He said it was about heart, and he had a chance to fulfill his dreams and he would not stop until he reached them. Escobar then said Rey was in for the fight of his life, and may the best man win. Bobby Lashley will be on the Grayson Waller effect next…[c]
My Take: Pretty much what you’d expect from that match. Michin got a pop for slapping Jimmy as you’d expect. Escobar did a nice job of laying the groundwork for some frustration if he’s unable to defeat Mysterio.
Backstage, Jimmy Uso shoved around some unknown production employees backstage. Heyman grabbed his phone to call Roman in response to the outburst.
In the arena, Mike Rome made introductions for Grayson Waller. He dissed John Cena for being late to the show, and then introduced Bobby Lashley. Waller said he’d finally get the one thing he’s been missing, the Grayson Waller rub. Lashley made his entrance and got a babyface crowd reaction initially. Video was shown of Lashley interfering in the Street Profits match, and taking out his frustrations on them after they lost.
Waller called out the Street Profits devastating loss last week. Lashley said he made a mistake. He thought the Street Profits had enough pride to do whatever it takes, and now he’s going back to the drawing board. Waller then pitched himself and Austin Theory as replacements for the Street Profits, and Lashley said he knew all about them and he was going to have to pass. Teh Street Profits then made their way out to the ring with microphones.
Lashley got up and met them as they got in the ring. They tried to explain, and he cut them off. He said he didn’t want excuses or reasons. If they wanted something out of him, they’d have to prove it. Lashley started to leave, and the Street Profits attempted to stop him, but he blew them off again and told them to show him something. Waller then brought out Austin Theory to try and “save the crowd”.
Lashley stared at him as he walked by. Theory will face Cameron Grimes next…[c]
My Take: A lot of entrances for shockingly little content. I guess the Profits need to put Theory and Waller in some concrete boots and throw them in the river.
Dragon Lee was shown in the crowd.
2. Cameron Grimes vs. Austin Theory: Grimes started out hot and landed some rapid fire kicks and made some quick covers that got one counts from the referee. Theory fired back with a back elbow then landed some punches. Grimes rallied with some more strikes and climbed to the top for a cross body and a two count cover. He followed up with a bridging german suplex for another two count.
Grimes hit the rope and sent Theory to the floor. He then landed a soccer kick. Waller got involved and allowed Theory to throw Grimes into the ring post on the floor. He followed up with a springboard rolling dropkick and A-Town Down for the win.
Austin Theory defeated Cameron Grimes at 3:04
Rey Mysterio was interviewed backstage and said he has nothing but love and respect or Santos. He said he expects the best from his opponents, and the same of himself. He said let the best man win, and told Santos that sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. Rey then made his ring entrance. Mysterio gave Dragon Lee a hug as he got close to the ring. The announce team said that Mysterio had called him the future of Lucha Libre…[c]
My Take: Some fun foreshadowing there with Dragon Lee being present for this match and being a future potential ally of Rey Mysterio if Santos and Legado Del Fantasma turn on him to fracture the LWO.
Jimmy Uso assaulted Ashante Thee Adonis backstage while B-Fab protested. WWE officials broke them up eventually, but Solo grabbed Ashante and put him through a table with a Uranage. In the arena, Santos Escobar made his entrance. Zelina Vega made her entrance separately during the break. Santos also gave a hug to Dragon Lee at ringside before the match. Mike Rome made ring announcements before the match.
3. Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar for the United States Championship: Escobar grabbed a waistlock. Mysterio attempted to break free, but Santos turned it into a body scissors and a pinning predicament for a one count. Mysterio escaped a submission attempt. Both men traded reversals and ended up on the apron. Escobar landed a kick that sent Mysterio to the floor, and followed up with a springboard splash…[c]
The match slowed back down and Rey landed an arm drag to reverse out of another waist lock. Santos landed a dropkick and covered for a two count. Mysterio fired back with flying head scissors and then landed a springboard splash onto Santos out on the floor. Back in the ring, Mysterio landed a seated senton and an awkward looking cross body block. Split screen footage was shown of Jimmy Uso and Solo laying out random people backstage and being generally out of control.
Mysterio was stunned by a kick from Mysterio, and then tripped onto the second rope. Santos popped up and landed a superkick before Rey could land a 619. Escobar then followed up with a high speed suicide dive through the middle rope to the floor. He then followed up with a moonsault from the barricade. Escobar sent Rey back into the ring and landed a Meteora in the corner. He then landed a second one and placed Rey on the top rope.
Rey battled back and landed some punches that sent Escobar back into the ring. Escobar landed a kick and climbed back up, where he executed a hurracarrana back into the ring. He then landed a springboard splash and covered for a near fall…[c]
Esobar applied a Gory Special, but Rey was able to make an escape. Rey attempted a springboard cross body, but Escobar got out of the way. Santos followed up with a tilt a whirl backbreaker, followed by a torture rack backbreaker for a near fall. Rey fired up and landed a kick. Escobar caught him in position for a powerbomb, but Rey reversed into a pinfall attempt for a near fall.
Both men ended up on the top turnbuckle where Rey landed a head scissors after fighting out of a Phantom Driver. Rey attempted to follow up for a 619 but Santos picked him out of the air for a Phantom Driver. Rey broke free and landed a second 619 attempt. He couldn’t land the follow up splash. Escobar attempted a Phantom Driver, but Rey reversed and rolled him up for the win.
Rey Mysterio defeated Santos Escobar to retain the United States Championship at 20:39
Escobar looked heavily disappointed after the match, and Mysterio celebrated. Rey walked over to Escobar and offered his hand for a handshake, but they were both ambushed from behind by the Street Profits. Bobby Lashley walked down to the ring with a smile on his face and said he knew they had it in them. Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde ran down to the ring and got demolished. Security prevented Dragon Lee from offering any assistance. Lashley and the Profits embraced and walked back up towards the stage. John Cena was advertised for later…[c]
My Take: A very entertaining match between Mysterio and Escobar. They paced it well and had some believable near falls, while also protecting the Phantom Driver for a future encounter. The Street Profits interference prevented Santos from making any hasty decisions for now, and Dragon Lee is waiting in the wings for what comes next.
Backstage, Kayla Braxton interviewed LWO. Escobar spoke a bit in Spanish, and then Mysterio made a challenge to Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits for Fastlane. The announce team then plugged the Jade Cargill signing and said she would be a game changer for the Women’s division. Video highlights of the Women’s Championship match between Asuka and Iyo Sky were shown from last week.
Charlotte Flair made her ring entrance after the video. John Cena was shown arriving in his rental Mustang with a contract in hand…[c]
Another melodramatic video of Elton Prince’s return from his shoulder injury was shown. It was set to a ballad and showed him fighting out of his wheelchair and hitting a heavy back with a steel chair. It was ridiculous and amusing. The Brawling Brutes were shown backstage, and they promised to break his leg or his fingers next time.
In the arena, Bayley made her entrance with Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai. Before the match started, Charlotte asked her what happened to her. She told her she was one of the Four Horsewomen, and she’s become comfortable standing on the sidelines while Iyo holds the championship. Charlotte said she was the measuring stick and Bayley was a stepping stone. She then promised to challenge Iyo for her title after she defeats Bayley.
4. Bayley (w/Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai) vs. Charlotte Flair: Bayley got fired up and landed some early strikes. Charlotte attempted to fire back, but Iyo grabbed Charlotte’s foot on the apron, and Bayley knocked her to the floor. She then followed up with a Mick Foley style elbow drop from the apron to the floor onto Charlotte….[c]
My Take: #EltonStrong
Charlotte landed a cross body from the top and fired up the crowd. She then landed some chops and a fallaway slam. Charlotte did some more crowdwork and performed her front handspring into a clothesline. Bayley replied with some strikes, but Charlotte grabbed a double leg and targeted her knee. She then followed up with a big boot for a near fall. Bayley got back into things with a sunset flip into a buckle bomb for a near fall.
Bayley landed some chops and hit the ropes. Charlotte caught her with a spear on the rebound and got the win.
Charlotte defeated Bayley at 7:35
After the match, Bayley got on the mic and said that she can’t cut the line and get a title shot, and they would put an end to her tonight. Damage Ctrl surrounded the ring, but Asuka ran down to make a save. Asuke spoke a bit in Japanese, and Bayley then offered and accepted a triple threat match between Iyo, Charlotte, and Asuka at Fastlane. Iyo looked confused and said that’s not what she actually said…[c]
My Take: The match was fine but nothing you’ll remember by next week’s Smackdown. The Triple Threat for the PPV is an interesting choice. I hope they aren’t considering taking the title off of Iyo already, as it feels like she’s having good matches and just waiting on fresh opponents.
Dragon Lee vs. Austin Theory was announced for next week. John Cena’s music hit in the arena and he headed to the ring.
Cena called out Sacramento and they cheered heavily. He said that last week he said he came back to compete and that he wanted a match. He brought up The Bloodline leaving him knocked out, but they also left him with a signed contract for a match with The Bloodline at Fastlane. He called out not having a partner, and said that now he had a choice. Cena said he could rip up that contract like this never happened, or he could stand up and fight. He asked the crowd which choice they think the man who wears “never give up” on his heart is going to do.
The crowd erupted as Cena said he would fight The Bloodline by himself in a handicap match if he couldn’t find a partner by Fastlane. Jimmy and Solo walked out with Paul Heyman and asked Cena if he saw the message they were sending all night to anyone who might want to team up with John Cena? He said he wouldn’t make it to Fastlane. Cena knocked Jimmy off the apron and confronted Solo Sikoa.
Cena picked up Solo for an Attitude Adjustment and Jimmy kicked him in the face. They then splashed Cena with hip attacks in the corner repeatedly and then dumped him to the floor. Jimmy placed him on the announce table, and Solo climbed the top rope. LA Knight’s music hit and he ran down to the ring. He took out Jimmy with some strikes and then took down Solo with a neckbreaker. Cena recovered and they dumped The Bloodline to the floor.
Knight grabbed the contract off the ground and signed it. Cena reacted like he just got a Nintendo 64 for Christmas in 1997. Cena and Knight celebrated to close the show.
My Take: A fun close to the show. It’s good to see Knight recovered quickly from Covid and was able to get cleared to come back. The Tag Match is a nice hook for Fastlane, which is shaping up quickly with matches still left to be booked with a week to go until the PLE. Overall, this was a well paced episode of Smackdown. The Santos and Rey match is worth coming back to watch if you missed the show. The Women’s division continues to feel rather low effort in it’s booking, and I hope that changes soon.