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SmackDown recap & reactions (Aug. 25, 2023): The color red

WWE held Friday Night SmackDown this week under the worst of circumstances — needing to put on a show just one day after Bray Wyatt died, and just two days after Terry Funk died. They went ahead with it, in their honor, and paid tribute to both.

I’m still young enough that I missed many of the glory days of Funk’s career, but I’m old enough to know he was a certified legend so many of the wrestlers I would come to love looked up to. So many wrestlers today are who they are because they watched/learned from the Funker.

Cody Rhodes came to this show to speak on the man and great wrestler he was.

May he rest in peace.

It’s different with Bray Wyatt, who was born just under two weeks after me in May of 1987. I’ve been here on Cageside for the entirety of his main roster run with WWE. I wasn’t always the biggest fan of the direction Bray Wyatt took his character, or the stories he was involved in, but the man himself? My oh my, he just grabbed you right away with every bit of who he was and how he presented himself.

He looked so damn cool, no matter what form he took, no matter what costume he had on. The way he talked was like no other. That scratchy voice, the way he drew it out, the low whisper he would turn into a growl. Man, he captivated the shit out of me just by speaking.

I don’t just mean in character either. I would sometimes watch interviews he did with various media just to listen to him speak. Growing up, I was the emo kid who was all too ready to embrace a character like Bray Wyatt, who called himself the color red in a world full of black and white.

Shit like that really spoke to a sad guy like me. Maybe that’s why, as an adult, I felt so drawn to him.

I once went back and transcribed every promo he cut on WWE television after the came to the main roster. I mean it when I say he really grabbed me with just his words, even if they weren’t actually his. It really sucks to think he won’t be back on my TV, saying something, anything.

I’ve never wanted to listen so much.

But that’s trivial when considering the pain his loved ones and those who loved him are in right now. My heart aches for them.

May he rest in peace.

It sure was a pleasure to watch him.

The rest of the show

  • Rey Mysterio defeated Grayson Waller in what turned out to be a really good match, all things considered. Santos Escobar came to his mentor’s aid when Austin Theory got himself involved. Mysterio being this good after this many years in the industry and hanging with young guns like Waller is truly incredible.
  • Iyo Sky defeated Zelina Vega to retain the women’s championship in a decent match that showed flashes of what could be if Sky was simply allowed to do what she’s done everywhere else — just be a great, dominant wrestler. Instead, they have to constantly play up Damage CTRL on the outside getting involved with every aspect of everything, including cutaway shots to Bayley just standing there looking some kind of way about whatever happened in the ring. It’s starting to feel like a hindrance to Sky’s progress in WWE. Maybe it’s time to go back to the breakup angle?
  • The Street Profits and The Brawling Brutes had a “Terry Funk Hardcore Match” but it wasn’t anywhere near as hardcore as Funk used to be when he was in WWE all those years ago. It was a different time, of course, but still. The only furniture they used was a table Ridge Holland was put through for the finish. The match was much more about Bobby Lashley actually getting involved for the first time, as he hit BUTCH with a spear on the outside while dressed in a suit and some glasses that never came off for said spear.
  • They put LA Knight in the main event, and had him say a few words about Wyatt. He did a pretty damn good job with it, considering what he was being asked to do.
  • Knight then wrestled Finn Balor in a fitting main event showcase, considering Balor was The Fiend’s first opponent and Knight was his last. Knight won clean with the Blunt Force Trauma in a straight up match, one they pushed as one of the biggest wins in Knight’s career in WWE so far.

They did wrestling on this show, but it was a night of tribute to Funk and Wyatt and for that reason I’m going to refrain from giving it a grade.

With love for all of you, dear readers.

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