WWE Friday Night Smackdown results (5/17): Barnett’s review of Jade Cargill vs. Nia Jax, Bianca Belair vs. Tiffany Stratton, Randy Orton vs. Carmelo Hayes, and Tama Tonga vs. LA Knight in King and Queen of the Ring matches

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

WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,291)
Jacksonville, Florida at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
Aired live May 17, 2024 on Fox

A King and Queen of the Ring recap video aired that gave previews of tonight’s Smackdown tournament matches. The King of the Ring competitors were shown walking into the building earlier in the day, along with Cody Rhodes. Corey Graves and Wade Barrett joined the show on commentary. In the arena, Bianca Belair made her ring entrance for the opening match. She was followed by Tiffany Stratton. 

1. Tiffany Stratton vs. Bianca Belair in a Queen of the Ring Tournament Match: There were competing “EST” and “Tiffy Time” chants to start the match. Bianca showed off her power and backed Tiffany into the corner. Stratton fired back with a big slap and then pulled Bianca down by her braid. Belair then kipped up and slapped Stratton in response. Belair hasn’t shown any signs of the knee injury from last week. They battled back and forth with acrobatic evasions and reversals. Bianca landed a gut buster, and then began to favor the left knee. 

In the corner, Bianca lined up for 10 punches, but Belair escaped and grabbed her braid. Bianca then pulled her back into the corner in a tug of war. They battled on the apron, and Stratton was able to twist up Bianca’s bad knee on the second rope. She then followed up by throwing Bianca knee first into the ring steps…[c]

My Take: This is following the pattern I expected. The question is whether Tiffany gets the upset here or Bianca advances but is left as dead meat going into the next round.

Stratton focused on the knee during the break and had a submission applied as the show returned. Bianca struggled but managed to reach the ropes. Belair managed to kick Stratton away temporarily. Stratton attempted to pull Bianca under the ropes to wrap her knee around the ringpost, but Belair pulled her into the ring post instead. Bianca started a comeback with body slams and a fallaway slam. Stratton reversed out of a suplex, but couldn’t capitalize. Bianca then planted her with a spinebuster and got a close near fall. 

After a series of reversals, Bianca went for the KOD, but Stratton was able to reverse. She then landed a running double stomp and covered for a near fall. Stratton went for a back handspring elbow in the corner, but Bianca caught her and landed a gnarly suplex for another near fall. Bianca struggled to get to her feet. She tried to pull Stratton back into the ring, but she held into the ring apron. The ref had to sort it out, so Stratton landed a thumb to the eye and a running clothesline for a close near fall. 

Stratton then went up top for a PME, and Bianca knocked her down onto her groin. She then pulled her out of the corner for the KOD and a victory. 

Bianca Belair defeated Tiffany Stratton at 13:28 to advance in the Queen fo the Ring Tournament

After the match, Cathy Kelley interviewed Bianca and asked about her knee. Bianca said she is not 100% but she didn’t become the EST by making excuses, and next week nothing would stop her from becoming Queen of the Ring. We then got a video recap of the Cody Rhodes vs. Logan Paul match challenge from last week. 

Backstage, Logan Paul ran into LA Knight. They had a face to face before Nick Aldis pulled Logan into his office…[c]

My Take: Tiffany and Bianca had a fun match. It wasn’t a technical masterpiece but they have chemistry together and I bet the next one is even better. 

Navy personnel were shown at ringside while Corey Graves promoted WWE’s activities with the USO. Jade Cargill was interviewed backstage by Byron Saxton. He asked about Nia Jax, and Jade called her a beast, but to Jade Cargill she was just in her way. Bianca walked up and said she put Tiffy in Time Out, and Cargill asked about her knee. Bianca said it would be just fine if she had to stand across from her next week. Cargill said ok, but they needed to take it one match at a time. 

Footage was then shown of Solo claiming to have spoken to Roman Reigns, and that he was put in charge of the Bloodline until he got back, and he was to be his wiseman. Backstage, Tama Tonga paced and made strange noises. Solo said it was time to go. Heyman asked if Solo had talked to him today, and he said “all the time, Wiseman”. LA Knight was interviewed by Cathy Kelley, and he said he would introduce “Tommy” Tonga to a BFT and move on in the King of the Ring Tournament. 

Carmelo Hayes approached, and offered LA Knight a chance to welcome him to Smackdown. They bantered back and forth, and Knight said nobody would be saying his name if he’s looking past Randy Orton. In the arena, Tama Tonga made his entrance with The Bloodline…[c]

My Take: Lots of potential matchups teased there. I’m curious how long Roman will be away. Perhaps Heyman will be temporarily convinced by Solo’s deception at some point.

LA Knight made his entrance after the break.

2. LA Knight vs. Tama Tonga in a King of the Ring Tournament Match: Tama took control early with a sleeper. Knight broke free, but was put back down quickly with a lariat. Knight fired back with a lariat of his own and a back body drop. Interference from Tango Loa enabled Tama Tonga to ambush Knight from behind and send him shoulder first into the ring post. The Bloodline mocked Knight on the outside…[c]

A “we want Roman” chant broke out as Tama Tonga remained in control. Knight mounted a comeback with a suplex and then slammed him repeatedly into the ring apron on the floor. He then followed up with a pop up powerslam and then called for a BFT. Tonga Loa interrupted the proceedings, and Knight used a baseball slide to send him into the announce table. Knight then jawed at LA Knight, but he then entered the ring and ran into a running flatliner of sorts and got the win. 

Tama Tonga defeated LA Knight at 8:43 to advance in the King of the Ring Tournament

The Bloodline celebrated on the stage. Cody Rhodes and Logan Paul will have their contract signing next…[c]

My Take: A fairly basic match, but not a bad one. It seems like they are going with Randy Orton and Tama Tonga in the next round, which makes sense given the ongoing feud.

Cody played to the crowd and asked them what they wanted to talk about. He asked Logan Paul what happened on the grounds they stood on 32 years ago. He said Logan wasn’t born yet, so he wouldn’t know, but it was Wargames 1992. Cody said the reason he knows all of this because much like the people in the crowd, he’s a fan of professional wrestling. He called Logan Paul a tourist, and he thought now was the time Logan got off the bus and he became a Grand Slam Champion. 

Logan replied that he heard that from the last guy and the guy before that, and he didn’t come to listen to Cody talk he came to sign a contract. The crowd booed like crazy. Cody insisted on signing the contract and called his lawyer over to inspect. Logan tore up the contract and said he never agreed to put his title on the line, so he drew up a contract that he made that did not put the US title on the line. Nick Aldis stepped up and said this was bad business and not what they agreed to. 

Cody spoke up and told Aldis to allow him and Logan to sign the contract and get it done. Logan spoke up and said that Cody has done nothing to deserve a US Title shot, and threw the contract at him. Cody told Logan Paul a human hat rack and said the honeymoon is over. He said he’s seen him do a flip, big deal. Cody mentioned Mike Tyson and said he would knock out Jake Paul in 8 days, and in Saudi Arabian he would defeat him. Cody then signed the contract. Paul tried to attack Rhodes, but was dumped to the floor. Cody then powerbombed a member of Paul’s entourage through one of the tables in the ring. 

Cathy Kelley interviewed Nia Jax backstage. Jax acknowledged Cargill was strong and impressive, but said she is not going to be the Queen of the Ring, because Nia Jax would be the new Queen of the Ring. She then made her ring entrance. She will face Jade Cargill next…[c]

My Take: That was a hot segment between Rhodes and Paul. It definitely elevated their King and Queen of the Ring match. Cody was more over in Jacksonville than anywhere in recent memory. 

Jade Cargill made her entrance as the show returned. 

3. Jade Cargill vs. Nia Jax in a Queen of the Ring Tournament Match: Jax blasted Cargill with a punch and a clothesline. Cargill fired back with a spinebuster and Nia retreated to the floor. She pulled Cargill to the floor and tossed her in front of her daughter at ringside. Jax told the girl her Mom sucks, and she screamed back that she did not. She showed more fire and personality than a good chunk of televised wrestlers. Cargill fired back with punches and they started throwing furniture around. Nia swung and chair and Jade caught it…kinda? Jade then wrestled the chair away and smashed Nia over the back with it, and caused a DQ. 

Nia Jax defeated Jade Cargill by DQ at 2:37 to advance in the King of the Ring Tournament

After the match, Nia and Jade brawled all over ringside and had to be separated by a pile of officials and referees…[c]

My Take: It’s a shame Jade didn’t really catch the chair, but they made it work. I didn’t think they would go with Jade and Bianca this early, and it’s smart to push that off for a real money encounter. I’d love to see Bianca become the heel for this, as she has been a babyface for years and the fans have quickly taken to Cargill in that role.

DIY made their ring entrance. Angel and Berto were already in the ring. 

4. DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa) vs. Legado Del Fantasma (Angel and Berto): Theory and Waller were at ringside. Gargano got a hot start against Berto and made a tag to Ciampa. They landed a couple of double team moves and sent Berto and Angel to the floor. They landed stereo suicide dives on the floor and stared down Waller and Theory. Angel low bridged Ciampa as he hit the ropes a moment later and he crashed to the floor…[c]

Ciampa sought to make a tag, but Berto pulled Gargano from the apron. Angel and Berto landed a sharp looking Gory Special into a Cutter double team move for a near fall. Ciampa and Berto traded suplex reversals until Ciampa finally pulled it off. Gargano made a hot tag and landed a spear on Berto and a suicide dive on Angel on the floor. He then climbed to the top rope. Escobar and Lopez got on the apron caused a distraction, but were caught by the referee and ejected from the match. Ciampa and Gargano then hit Meet in the Middle on Berto and covered for the win. 

DIY defeated Legado Del Fantasma at 7:55

DIY trash talked Waller and Theory on the apron. Graves and Barrett brought attention to the QR codes that have flashed on screen for a few weeks. They showed a short video of someone at a doctor or therapist’s office, but it only lasted a few seconds. 

AJ Styles was interviewed backstage and was asked where he was going from here. He said he didn’t know, but he was very close to defeating Cody Rhodes in Lyon. He said he would go to Nick Aldis’ office and find out from there. Back in the arena, Randy Orton made his ring entrance for the main event. He will face Carmelo Hayes next…[c]

My Take: A solid tag match, but it didn’t have a ton of suspense with LDF not being in any real position to challenge Theory and Waller as fellow heels.

Bayley was interviewed backstage.and asked about the tournament now that Cargill was eliminated. She said Nia and Bianca are both strong challengers, but she was interrupted by Piper Niven and Chelsea Green. Bayley told them she didn’t have time to talk right now, but they could meet her in the ring next week. In the arena, Carmelo Hayes made his entrance for the Main Event. 

5. Carmelo Hayes vs. Randy Orton in a King of the Ring Tournament Match: Melo slapped Orton early on, and then shoved him. Orton replied with a kick to the guy and threw him shoulder first into the ring post several times. He then delivered several European Uppercuts and then tossed Hayes out to the floor. He set up for a suplex onto the announce table, but Hayes was able to slip away and land on his feet. Hayes gloated to the crowd, and Orton quickly tripped him up. He then delivered two suplexes onto the announce table instead of just one. The crowd chanted for one more, and Orton obliged…[c]

Hayes took over during the break and focused his attacks on the knee of Randy Orton that AJ Styles softened up the week before. Orton attempted to mount a comeback with some clotheslines and a powerslam, but Melo kept his cool and responded with a First 48. Melo took to the top rope and attempted a splash, but Orton was able to get out of the way. He then landed a draping DDT on Melo and called for an RKO. 

Orton lined up for an RKO, but Melo was able to escape. He then went for a Springboard, and walked right into an RKO anyway and Orton got the win. 

Randy Orton defeated Carmelo Hayes at 10:38 to advance in the King of the Ring Tournament

Orton celebrated in the ring. Cathy Kelley attempted to interview Orton, but the Bloodline interrupted. Orton asked if they were really going to try and walk out and intimidate him, and said he needed to reintroduce himself. He listed his accomplishments and said he would put his food up Tama Tonga’s ass in Saudia Arabia next week before allowing him to experience the three most dangerous letters in WWE….RKO.

My Take: A solid match with a fairly predictable ending. I find it interesting that both Bianca and Orton have knee injuries going into their matches next week. I guess we’ll see if that means they have Jey Uso and Tama Tonga in mind for the finals. It would certainly make for an interesting clash.


Readers Comments (7)

  1. When will WWE stop interference from Bloodline? Time for L A KNIGHT to get the push to championship! YEAH!

  2. Just another Tribal CHEAT from the Bloodline. SOLO needs to SEEK a new swamp and take Heyman and rest of Bloodline along.

  3. Gunthervs.Orton in the finals..

  4. Five years to the day of Ashley Massaro’s suicide, and WWE is promoting a USO tour. Unbelievable.

  5. Knight then jawed at LA Knight, but he then entered the ring and ran into a running flatliner of sorts and got the win.


  6. I guess the Nia,/Jade match was no count out? They were outside of the ring for 59 seconds with no count out. Nia hits Jade with a chair, nothing happens then Jade hits Nia with a chair and she gets DQ’d? WWE makes their refs look horrible.

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