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Winfree’s WWE Smackdown Review 9.22.23

September 22, 2023 | Posted by Robert Winfree
WWE Smackdown 9-22-23 Solo Sikoa Jimmy Uso Image Credit: WWE
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Winfree’s WWE Smackdown Review 9.22.23  

Well it’s another Friday night so it’s time for more WWE Smackdown. Last week saw a big pop for the brief return of The Rock, John Cena and AJ Styles seem to have found a common enemy in Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso continues to be the lesser Uso, and on the whole the Bloodline story continues to be pretty mundane when Roman isn’t around. To that end there’s been rumors about Cena and AJ teaming up against Solo and R-Truth’s imaginary friend tonight and that wouldn’t surprise me. On the confirmed side of things we’re getting a women’s title match between Iyo Sky and Asuka, hopefully the shenanigans stay away from that because those two are very talented, and a tag team match with the Street Profits taking on Santos Escobar and Rey Mysterio. LA Knight needs a new direction after disposing of The Miz again, Shotzi and Bayley are still doing a weird mashup of Mean Girls and slasher film jump scares, and still no word on who might be coming to Smackdown after Jey Uso showed up on RAW. In behind the scenes news, with TKO now officially up and running cuts have been coming down on the corporate and talent side of things. This is to be expected from any corporate merger, but is still rough for the people being effected. We’ve also had news that Smackdown will move to USA next year, so there’s that. Anyway that’s the preamble so let’s get to the action.

First up, here comes John Cena. Cena has a mic and plays with the crowd before moving on to say he’s done a lot of things since returning to WWE and he’s been everywhere man but nothing has quite been like tonight. Tonight is a special night because he’s getting back into the ring tonight to wrestle, and he knows he’s getting a little up there in years but the fans want him to have a match. He’s angry at the Bloodline, angry enough to fight Solo and Jimmy by himself but he’s found a partner, someone just as angry as him, you might even say a phenomenal partner, and that brings out AJ Styles. AJ takes Cena’s mic wants to make sure he understands, Cena wants AJ and Cena vs. The Bloodline. The crowd seem into it and we get a “yes” chant. AJ then invites the Bloodline to come get some. Little Jimmy Uso does show up flanked by Solo Sikoa. Jimmy and Solo get on the apron and we get a stare down, but ultimately Jimmy and Solo retreat before physicality. I’m sure that’ll get made for later.

Commentary promises a replay/recap of The Rock showing up last week at some point. Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar head to the ring, their tag team match will be up after this break.

Post break Cena and AJ talk with Adam Pearce, they want that tag team match tonight and Pearce wants it as well but has to deal with Paul Heyman first. AJ and Cena lament the state of WWE’s bureaucracy.

To the ring, here come the Street Profits alongside suited Bobby Lashley.

Match #1 – Tag Team Match: Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar w/ Zelina Vega vs. Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) w/ Bobby Lashley

Escobar and Dawkins start us off, Dawkins grabs a side headlock then hits a shoulder block. Some rope running then Escobar lands a dropkick. Rey tags in and hits an assisted head scissors to drop Dawkins. Dawkins fights back with a right hand then tags in Ford who lands a dropkick. Rey into the ropes and hits a springboard crossbody then punches down Dawkins and low bridges Ford. Looks like Rey wants to dive, but Dawkins pulls Ford away from Rey’s headfirst baseball slide and Rey eats the floor. Escobar comes over to check on Rey and Dawkins wipes him out with a Pounce to send us to break.

Rey with a sunset flip as we come back, that gets 2 then Ford wipes out Rey with a clothesline. Rey fights out of the Profits corner but Ford prevents a tag and gets Rey in an Electric Chair but Rey counters and launches him into the corner. Escobar tags in and runs wild for a bit then climbs up top for a crossbody that gets 2. Ford flips through a sunset flip and hits a running kick to put Santos down. Ford up top, but slow and Escobar kicks him then climbs up there with him for a super hurricanrana and a 2 count. Escobar with a double knee strike in the corner then he tries a Phantom Driver but Ford slips free and lands a leaping enziguri then tags in Dawkins. Dawkins hoists Escobar up for a spinning Flapjack that gets 2. Knee strike from Escobar and he tags in Rey who hits an around the world DDT then sets up Dawkins for a 619 but Dawkins intercepts Rey with a Sky High and Escobar has to break up the pin. Escobar ejects Ford, Dawkins launches Rey onto Ford then distracts the ref so Lashley can slam Rey onto the apron. Dawkins follows up with a powerbomb attempt but Rey counters into a sunset flip, might have been attempting a Code Red that just went slow, and it gets the 3 count.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar won in 10:50

Rating: 3 stars
Thoughts: Solid tag team match, Bobby Lashley trying to help the Profits and the Profits working to find their new footing is a decent angle as long as they don’t make it into a joke. But all four men can go and were given time to craft a decent little match.

We get our promised recap/replay of The Rock showing up last week to punk out Austin Theory. After that Austin Theory comes out and throws a hissy fit as we head to break.

Video for the Unholy Union, Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn. They bring up that the tag team titles have been cursed since they failed to unify them, and who could have possibly done that?

Austin Theory gets chewed out by Adam Pearce in the back, then the Brawling Brutes insult Theory, Grayson Waller wanders over and eventually we’ve got a tag team match (playa).

Elsewhere the Street Profits approach Bobby Lashley, Lashley berates them for not finishing the job and he wants back everything he’s given them. If they can’t finish the job they can sit in catering and he’ll find someone who can.

We get a quick video to hype up Asuka and Iyo Sky then here comes Asuka. That title match will be up after this break.

Post break we see Paul Heyman in the back, and Adam Pearce approaches him and they talk off mic.

To the ring and here comes Iyo Sky.

We get our super special ring introductions, then for some reason freaking Poochie shows up. Because we can’t have a title match without wondering what Charlotte Flair is doing, or thinking, or taking up broadcast time.

Match #2 – WWE Women’s Title Match: (c) Iyo Sky w/ Bayley and Dakota Kai vs. Asuka

Well Poochie’s presence removes my hope for no shenanigans. Asuka and Iyo tie up, then trade arm wringers and escapes for a bit then Asuka grabs a side headlock for control. Iyo counters into a headlock of her own, they’re just going tit for tat at the moment trying to see who’s the best. Asuka counters into a side headlock, then she and Iyo trade takeovers and escapes before Iyo with a back handspring and they face off. Handshake offered from Asuka, Iyo declines and Asuka lands leg kicks then blocks a hip toss into a pin for 2. Another series of arm drags from Asuka but then Iyo catches her on the ropes for a second rope arm drag that sends Asuka out of the ring. Iyo tries an asai moonsault but Asuka avoids her and kicks her in the head as we go to break.

Both women are fighting on the ropes as we come back, Iyo gets the better of that and hits a springboard dropkick. Iyo with another springboard dropkick then a double stomp. Low angle Meteora from Iyo gets a 2 count. Asuka catches Iyo on the top rope and drops her down, but Iyo recovers and slaps her. Asuka with Kawada kicks to the dangling Iyo, then they head up top together. Iyo can’t fight off the superplex and Asuka crawls over to cover for a 2 count. Iyo fires up with strikes but runs into a head kick that gets Asuka another 2 count. More kicks from Asuka then Iyo counters with a running palm strike for her own 2 count. German suplex from Iyo, she gets 2 but Asuka counters into a kimura lock. Asuka converts to an armbar, Iyo rolls through the pressure and lands some elbows to break the hold. Swinging kick from Iyo and both women are down. Asuka with a head kick then climbs the ropes, dropkick of her own sends Iyo into the other corner. Iyo eats a knee then a striking flurry from Asuka and a sliding gamengiri for a near fall. Asuka goes for a Fujiwara armbar, then stomps on Iyo before climbing the ropes. Iyo meets Asuka up there and hits a sick springboard dropkick to send Asuka spilling to the floor. Iyo catches Asuka with a kick, then tries a sunset flip bomb to the floor, Asuka tries to block it but Iyo is able to hit the move eventually. Asuka tries to kick Iyo again but Iyo moves and Asuka kicks the ring post. Iyo back in the ring, she hits a ridiculous moonsault to Asuka on the floor and we get another break.

Iyo is working a rest hold as we come back. Asuka counters into a school boy for 2, then Iyo hits another bridging German suplex for a 2 count. Iyo wants a Crippler Crossface, Asuka scoots to the ropes pretty quickly then rolls through into an Asuka Lock. Iyo rolls Asuka’s shoulders down to break the hold, then Asuka lands a Buzzsaw kick and Iyo has to grab the ropes to break the pin. Iyo avoids another kick, but Asuka hits a kick to the body then climbs up and hits a middle rope dropkick for another near fall. They start trading elbows on their knees and fight up to their feet where Asuka catches a flying armbar. Iyo is able to get out of that but Asuka grabs the Asuka Lock again and wrenches on it for a bit but Iyo keeps scrambling and fights up then catches a Victory Roll for 2 but Asuka rolls through and grabs another Asuka Lock. Iyo can’t get free and desperately crawls to the ropes, Charlotte gets around as Bayley pulls Iyo into the ropes and Charlotte punches out Bayley. This distracts Asuka so Iyo hits a Meteora, then Over the Moonsault for the pin.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Iyo Sky retained the title in 19:30

Rating: 3.5 stars
Thoughts: Man this was good, utter shame about the sports entertainment stuff at the end especially since I doubt it leads to a rematch that’s just between these two.

Post match all of Damage Control celebrate.

Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman hang out with Heyman, Adam Pearce has the contract for their tag team match tonight. Heyman says they can have the match as long as it’s not tonight, Pearce says it’s for Fastlane and Jimmy says they’ll sign in the ring later. Pearce heads out and Heyman says decisions like that need approval from Roman Reigns, and Jimmy then harlequins his way out of the scene. Solo says not to worry about it, after tonight there wont be anyone left to fight them at Fastlane. Heyman again has to wonder who gave that order and calls Roman.

Back to the ring and here come the Brawling Brutes, their tag team match will be our main event match after this break.

We get a video for Pretty Deadly, Kit Wilson speaks dramatically about Elton Prince’s injury a few months ago and we see Prince languishing in the background. A somewhat amusing highlight of Prince’s rehab follows. Apparently we’ll get more of these in the coming weeks.

Back to the ring and here comes Grayson Waller to a decent reaction and Austin Theory to another muted one. In fairness to Theory, this was slightly less muted than usual, so I guess The Rock’s presence helped him a little.

Match #3 – Tag Team Match: Brawling Brutes (Ridge Holland and Butch) vs. Austin Theory and Grayson Waller

Theory and Butch start us off, Butch goes right in with chops before Theory lands a clothesline. Waller tags in and lands some knees then Butch grabs the fingers of Waller. Butch stomps the arm of Waller and tags in Ridge. Ridge with a spinning butterfly suplex, he tried to stall that one but couldn’t hold it. Butch tags back in now that Ridge has exhausted half of his arsenal, and hits a double stomp then a low dropkick. Theory helps low bridge Butch, but Butch avoids Waller on the floor, Ridge grabs Theory and they go Bodhran beating for a bit before we head to break.

Theory drops Butch with a back elbow as we come back. Clothesline from Theory then he tags in Waller who lands another one. Waller wants to go Bodhran beating, but Butch grabs the fingers of Waller and snaps them to break the attack. Ridge tags in and runs wild, nearly dropping Waller more than once along the way, before hitting his arm trapped belly to belly suplex for a 2 count. Waller tags out, and he and Theory hit a double chop block, then Theory with a left hand but Butch breaks up the pin. Butch and Waller trade strikes, then obviously telegraph a spot that leads to Ridge tackling Waller. Ridge catches Theory with a gorilla press into a falling slam for another 2 count. Butch moonsaults onto Waller leaving Ridge and Theory in the ring. Theory avoids a Doctor Bomb, rolls up Ridge but only a 2 count. Ridge with a headbutt then an Alabama slam for 2. Boston crab from Ridge, Butch prevents Waller from getting involved but Waller posts Butch then hits his rolling Stunner to set up the A Town Down and Theory gets the pin.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Grayson Waller and Austin Theory won

Rating: 2.5 stars
Thoughts: Solid tag team match, Butch holding things down while Ridge learns to hit his power moves safely seems to be working out well enough so far.

After this break we’ll get our promised contract signing.

Post break commentary tells us about next week, Charlotte takes on Bayley because of course, then Bobby Lashley will be on the Grayson Waller Effect.

To the ring, the table is set up and Adam Pearce brings out John Cena. Cena doesn’t wait for anyone else, he just signs the contract. AJ Styles is next, but he doesn’t show up and we cut to the back where Jimmy is brawling with AJ. Jimmy bounces AJ around some crates and Cena runs back to help him. We see Solo up way too high, and he splashes onto AJ behind an obvious camera obstruction. A ton of officials run back to try and get control over things. Jimmy and Solo walk out as Cena shows up to help check on AJ and we head to a break.

Post break AJ is doing a stretcher job and we get a recap of the backstage attack. Paul Heyman waddles to the ring now as Cena and the OC are there with AJ getting into the ambulance. Anderson says he warned everyone to stay out of the Bloodline stuff before he and Michin get into the ambulance with AJ and they head out. Solo and Jimmy walk to the ring as well, the table and contract are still present but Solo tosses the chairs and table out of the ring. Heyman has a mic and introduces himself through boos, and notes that John Cena has signed a contract for a match at Fastlane. Well both Jimmy and Solo are willing to sign, but Cena doesn’t have a partner. Jimmy takes Heyman’s mic and the crowd instantly stops caring and begin chanting for the Rock. Jimmy says Cena should go far away from the Bloodline, and they’re going to put Cena in an ambulance too. Cena charges the ring and brawls with Solo then shoulder blocks Jimmy down. Jimmy eats the moves of Doom from Cena but Solo proves to be a difference maker. Solo sets to take out Cena with a Samoan Spike and does so. Jimmy and Solo resume stomping on Cena, feels like they missed a timing cue because they’re stalling for the inevitable save. Solo poses, Jimmy goes up top for a Splash and hits it. Jimmy gets the contract, signs it, then Solo signs it and they leave the contract with Cena. Jimmy wants another Splash, and hits it to increasingly less reaction. Solo and Jimmy pose over the fallen Cena and I guess we’ll spend another couple of weeks waiting to see who teams with Cena. Anyway that ends the episode.

The final score: review Good
The 411
Well let's start with the good, we had a darn good TV match between Asuka and Iyo Sky in probably the best Smackdown match in several months. We had a narrative thread all evening, which was nice, and it should lead to stuff in the future. Unfortunately a backstage issue meant things floundered a bit, apparently LA Knight was supposed to make the save for Cena tonight but there was some medical issue that stopped it and that did lead to a deflated ending. Our other tag team matches were fine enough, but I'm not sure I care enough about Lashley dressing down the Street Profits, and I know I don't care about the Brawling Brutes. But no one got hurt in the matches, so that's a plus. All in all this felt Good, but you know there was a better episode here potentially and it's a shame it didn't get to play out that way.

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WWE Smackdown, Robert Winfree