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SmackDown recap & reactions (July 28, 2023): Tribal warfare continues

We came into this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown still curious about some of the details related to “TRIBAL COMBAT.” We know it’s a No DQ, Anything Goes match where Roman Reigns will defend the WWE Universal championship AND his status as Tribal Chief against Jey Uso at SummerSlam next week. What else is there to it?

Why did Reigns prevent Solo Sikoa from attacking Jey last week?

Instead, what we got was Jey opening the show, Roman getting terribly upset about it, and more accusations that Jey wants to be the new Tribal Chief. Power hungry and all that. But no. Jey never wanted that, and he was content being the right hand man because he believed in the cause. He believed in Reigns.

But Reigns broke the family, and then he broke Jimmy, and now Jey has to get him. That’s just what has to happen now.

It’s his fault.

Reigns, ever the gaslighter, tried to turn it around and claim that, well, actually, it’s Jey’s fault and he screwed over his own brother Jimmy. Also, he never would have been in the position he was in if Jimmy wasn’t hurt. So after SummerSlam, he’s done. Completely out of the picture.

Reigns was perfectly foul here, the obnoxiously powerful leader no one wants but everyone has to deal with. He knows he’s going to win, and he can’t stand the idea that anyone could possibly think otherwise.

Why would Jey even think he has a chance?

“It’s because I already beat you. I pinned you.”

Damn right he did.

This was everything it needed to be. Jey did nothing but speak the truth, and Reigns has never looked so uneasy about it. They’re working hard to get us to buy in again.

And damn it, it’s working.

Shortly after all this, Grayson Waller decided to rub elbows with Jey backstage and he got punched in the mouth for it. It was glorious all on its own, but of course it was a setup for a match later.

Jey won that match, of course. Right in front of Reigns, who then sent Sikoa in after him. Solo got dealt with so Roman himself jumped in and he ate a spear. HUGE pop for all of this, by the way.

The people want Jey Uso to be the guy who dethrones Roman Reigns so very, very much. It’s not going to happen, and there are plenty of reasons for that, all of which make perfectly good sense. But that isn’t going to stop any of us from hoping for it, and being so crushingly disappointed when we don’t get it.

Sure enough, the show ended with Sikoa and Reigns eventually getting the better of Jey, and leaving everyone hoping that won’t be the scene next Saturday night.

Even though we all know it will.


I’m going to hope anyway.

Your LA Knight segment of the week:

Hit Row once again showed up just to be the crew Knight got to run down before running through and I ain’t mad about it one bit. Knight called Top Dolla Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, then beat Ashante Adonis in a singles match with no issue. Notably, Michael Cole was laughing like an idiot in that fake way he does when they really want to get someone over.

This is a very good sign for the future of L. A. Knight.


Later in the night, he campaigned to be added to a battle royal match that will take place at SummerSlam and Adam Pearce agreed. He will indeed be on the card at Ford Field and I can’t imagine just how loud that place is going to be when his music hits.

All the rest

  • Santos Escobar defeated Rey Mysterio to earn a shot at Austin Theory and the United States championship. Well, the match was stopped due to injury, as Mysterio appeared to hit his head hard on the floor taking a bump on the outside. They simply announced he could not continue and Escobar was declared the winner. He appeared fine after this, hugging Escobar and endorsing him, but it absolutely looked like his head hit pretty damn hard. Assuming this was a legitimate stoppage, I would commend WWE for doing it. I would far prefer safety measures like this, especially when it comes to head injuries. If it was a work, well, it was a pretty damn good one but I’d rather they not work injuries like this unless it also acts as a way to set up for potential stoppages when it needs to happen for a legit injury in the future.
  • Bobby Lashley is indeed taking The Street Profits under his wing, calling them major players and big stars who need to present themselves as such. That means new suits. They were more than happy to oblige him. It’s worth noting he also said Trick Williams and Carmelo Hayes spoke highly of Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins, so we may very well be looking at a full blown faction at some point. With five members like this, how could it ever go wrong?
  • Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair responded to some trash talk by new Women’s Tag Team Champions Sonya Deville & Chelsea Green by teaming up to wrestle the duo in a match. It was your standard “they wrestle for the title soon, let’s see if they can co-exist as teammates” type of deal. They couldn’t, but they won the match anyway.
  • Bayley and Iyo Sky had a bit of an argument but they appear to be remaining on the same page for now. Meanwhile, Shotzi is still terrorizing Bayley like The Riddler from Batman Forever back in 1995 and shit. But also Asuka showed up to get in Sky’s face, and we got the weekly reminder that the Money in the Bank contract looms large over everything.
  • Karl Anderson really wanted to go it solo against Karrion Kross, telling the rest of The O.C. to hang back and let him handle things. He was soundly beaten in short order and needed to be saved by them post-match. Tough scenes for Anderson, but Kross is building some momentum, finally.
  • It should be pointed out Grayson Waller was once again very publicly making reference to The Rock, even doing so during a match against Jey Uso with Roman Reigns watching. I don’t know if it’s going anywhere, but it would be kinda weird if it didn’t at this point.

This was a good show.

Grade: B-

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