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SmackDown recap & reactions (Aug. 4, 2023): The Real Chief

WWE decided the best way to build to the main event of SummerSlam in Detroit on the final episode of Friday Night SmackDown before it was to have Jey Uso, who challenges Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal championship and his status as Tribal Chief, take on Solo Sikoa.

Makes sense.

Before all that, though, they recognized a mistake they made and quickly corrected it — they explained exactly what Tribal Combat is and why it’s so significant to this story:

Paul Heyman did say it’s likely we’ll never see Jimmy Uso ever again, which makes me think we’ll be seeing him at SummerSlam and that will play some kind of significant role in the main event. What that may be, I do not know. But I can absolutely imagine a scenario where he returns at just the right time, helps his brother, and gives us a memorable near fall where we all feel like maybe it’s really possible Jey wins the title.

And then they break our hearts again.

But we’ll see.

Then, things got interesting again.

Jey confronted Heyman but when Solo hit the ring with a head of steam, Jey got in his head by simply telling him the truth, the same damn thing Sami Zayn did for all that time to create the break in Jey that led to all of this. Sikoa seemed to maybe be buying in a bit, even calling off Heyman, but Jey laid him out with a superkick before anything could be settled verbally.

That left them to settle things later physically.

The match wasn’t anything to write home about, though it didn’t really need to be. All they needed to do was show that Jey could handle Sikoa, and he did just that in the form of a Spear followed by the Splash to get the pinfall. That’s the goal for SummerSlam too.

Naturally, Solo attacked after the match but even with the element of surprise, Jey ultimately got the upper hand on him, ending the night standing tall.

“Can Jey Uso do the unthinkable? Can Jey Uso knock off The Tribal Chief? Can Jey Uso win Tribal Combat tomorrow night at SummerSlam?”

Those are the questions Michael Cole left us with as the show faded out. We can only hope the answer is yes, but they did a good job of building to it here.

Your LA Knight segment of the week:

“Give the people what they want,” Wade Barrett said as LA Knight was working the schtick to start off Friday Night SmackDown this week. You bet your ass the fans in attendance in Ohio absolutely blew the roof off for him.

Then he got on the mic and did what he does best.

He talked to ‘em.


(It’s never going to get old to me, and I don’t particularly give a damn who gets upset about it.)

Naturally, though, the match with Sheamus, promoted as a way for one of the two to “gain momentum” heading into SummerSlam, ended up also being a way to get a few of the names involved in the Slim Jim Battle Royal some TV time before heading off to Detroit to, uh, royally battle. Thankfully, they simply stood around the ring, not getting involved in the match itself. They beat on each other, but allowed Knight and Sheamus to have a decent match in the ring.

Barring a slip up (or two) on the top rope.

Well, The Miz also acted as an unintentional distraction that helped Knight score the pinfall victory but we don’t need to talk too much about that. What matters here is LA won the match.


After, Karrion Kross and Grayson Waller tried to rush him, but he got away. What WWE did a great job of making clear here was just how much of a threat they all know Knight to be.

The tides they are turning, folks.

All the rest

  • After getting into it on the outside of the ring during Sheamus vs. LA Knight, The Brawling Brutes took on The O.C. in tag team action. The match was fine but no one will remember it because it ended without a finish when The Street Profits hit the scene, decked out in suits, and cleared everybody the hell out with an aggression we haven’t seen from the two in some time. It should be noted they were cheered for having done this. The roof really blew off when they stood up near the entrance and Bobby Lashley came out to stand with them. Here we go with a fresh new faction that could very well make a lot of noise on whatever show they’re on.
  • Cameron Grimes, who has been largely forgotten about since being called up to the main roster, had a pretty damn good showing here against Austin Theory in a straight singles match. He was dominant throughout, but got caught lacking on the ropes and pinned after Theory hit his finish. He lost but he looked as good as one could hope while doing so. After, Santos Escobar hit the ring to leave Theory laid out to build some hype for their U.S. title match next week.
  • Iyo Sky and Bayley were guests on “The Grayson Waller Effect,” where Waller asked Sky if she plans on cashing in the Money in the Bank contract at SummerSlam. Before she could answer, Bayley grabbed a microphone and answered for her, saying they would never reveal their plans ahead of time. Iyo, it should be noted, looked none too pleased with this. Finally, after another tease of as much, Shotzi showed up to torment Bayley once more. Someone rode out on her tank, and Bayley predictably sent Iyo to deal with it. That’s when Shotzi showed up from behind with her new look and attacked Bayley, chasing her around with clippers while laughing maniacally. Zelina Vega, by the way, was in the tank. It worked out because, hey, she had a match with Sky scheduled! And wouldn’t you know it, Vega scored another win after an assist from Shotzi, whose chase of Bayley helped distract Sky.
  • They promoted the women’s championship match at SummerSlam with three videos packages, one for Asuka, one for Charlotte Flair, and one for Bianca Belair. They were underwhelming.

A good show, as usual.

Grade: B-

Your turn.

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