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WWE SmackDown recap & reactions (May 19, 2023): The Bloodline rift

One question I had headed into this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown was in regards to how it would feel to go back to Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn squaring up with Roman Reigns, even if this time it’s over the tag team titles and also includes Solo Sikoa. Would there be the same heat as before?

The short answer is “no” but that’s only natural. Despite being champions, Owens and Zayn have been moved into a bit of a secondary role here, helping push along the story of The Usos falling out of favor with their Tribal Chief.

They came together right at the start of this week’s show, and Reigns claimed his sole regret in his career is wasting any of his life on Zayn. Sami responded by saying his sole regret is not blasting Roman with that chair even sooner.

But what really hit was when Sami said that Reigns won’t get what he wants, finally, because “you’re not as good as us” and then really hit him hard with “you’re not as good as The Usos either.”

That one hit hard.

Naturally, Reigns tried to respond and couldn’t because Jimmy & Jey hit the ring to put the boots to Sami & Kevin, thinking they were helping. They were, of course, but not in the way Roman wanted, because it wasn’t the plan he had laid out. As he stormed off, he bumped into Solo and there was a brief moment of tension.

Or at least the tease of as much. It didn’t last long but there was definitely some electricity there.

Cut to backstage, and Reigns berated the The Usos for not following his rule. It’s worth noting how much of an emotional mess he was here, both because he couldn’t keep his family in line and because he’s still very much upset about how the entire ordeal with Zayn went down.

It adds an extra layer to the match at Night of Champions.

Of course I’m buying in again.

Later in the evening, The Usos took on the LWO in the main event. Paul Heyman brought word that while Reigns had decided to forgive the duo, he wouldn’t be out there for support.

The match itself was fantastic — I’m convinced The Usos are incapable of having a bad match at this point in their careers — and saw the LWO win when Santos Escobar pinned Jimmy after Owens and Zayn made their presence felt simply by showing up ringside. The distraction was enough.

Roman’s reaction? Disgust.

The rift grows wider.

We got our first look at Grayson Waller on the main roster in the form of his hosting an episode of his show-within-the-show, “The Grayson Waller Effect.” AJ Styles was his special guest.

And they took no chances with the segment:

Waller played it straight at first, and Styles talked about beating Seth Rollins to win the new world heavyweight championship at Night of Champions. It was all standard fare.

To close it out, because he spent almost zero time being antagonistic before this, Waller said he couldn’t wait to hear the announcement of the new world heavyweight champion being Rollins. Styles responded by staring him down, and that’s how they faded out of the segment.

It was an underwhelming debut appearance for Waller, who didn’t show much of what made him so compelling in NXT. It was just one show, of course, but you only get one chance to make a first impression.

If anything, this makes me wonder if surprise call ups are the better play than drafting folks and struggling to find a way to naturally fit them into ongoing storylines.

Again, though, it’s still plenty early and he’s a talented wrestler who will surely be just fine.



I’m happy to report that yet another city responded to LA Knight like the absolute mega star he is, wildly cheering for his entrance and going right along with all his catchphrases. If this man doesn’t win the Money in the Bank ladder match, I’m going to start getting concerned with Triple H’s eyes and ears.

Meanwhile, his partner, Rick BOOGS, was pinned by Montez Ford to lose their match against The Street Profits. Knight responded by picking him up and hitting him with the BFT.

What this means above all else is WWE was never planning to stick him in a lame tag team for any extended period of time. Here’s to hoping they do more to capitalize on his growing popularity before it gets away from them.

All the rest
  • Pretty Deadly made their debut on the main roster with a pre-tape introducing them followed by the elaborate slo-mo entrance and a match against The Brawling Brutes, Ridge Holland & BUTCH. The crowd wasn’t reacting much to Wilson & Prince but it was their first showing on the blue brand. The match was well worked, and they scored the victory with “some shenanigans,” as Michael Cole referred to it.
  • Asuka, who is challenging Bianca Belair for the Raw women’s championship at Night of Champions, defeated Zelina Vega in a singles match. What was strange was the way they called attention to the hugely touching response to Vega at Backlash in Puerto Rico and even mentioned how she needs to capitalize on the momentum of that evening, even if she came up short. I’m not sure how having her lose to the next top contender to the title does that. They actually had a fun match and Zelina showed flashes of what she could be as a babyface underdog. The crowd was hugely into her, and it looks clear to this writer she deserves a bigger push. Meanwhile, Belair hit the scene to run Asuka off and got mist spit in her face again. I’m having trouble being terribly excited about them running this back, especially seeing how good Vega was.
  • Cameron Grimes wants to go to the moon. Just a quick reminder.
  • Karrion Kross showed the latest tarot card for the guy he will be coming for next — AJ Styles. Tick tock.
  • Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn won a squash match for their debut match on the blue brand. They brought the NXT tag team titles along with them, and were announced that way too. It adds to the confusion around multiple titles in WWE right now more than anything. But, hey, they’re here!
  • They revealed Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez have been forced to relinquish the women’s tag team titles due to Morgan’s injury and then booked a Fatal 4-Way for Raw in two weeks. That match, by the way, will not include Fyre & Dawn. I’m not sure what that says about the NXT women’s tag team titles but there you go.
  • Austin Theory cut a promo on Sheamus saying he expected better when he first showed up on the blue brand after the Draft. He ran Sheamus down a bit before The Celtic Warrior workout guru hit the scene to lay him out and drop the mic without a word. This was all the setup needed for a United States championship match next week.

This was an okay show.

Grade: C+

Your turn.

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