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WWE SmackDown results, live blog (Sept. 15, 2023): John Cena returns

WWE Friday Night SmackDown comes waltzing back into our lives tonight (Sept. 15, 2023) with a live show emanating from Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado, featuring all the latest build to the upcoming Fastlane premium live event scheduled for early next month in Indianapolis.

Advertised for tonight: John Cena returns to SmackDown television as a guest on the Grayson Waller Effect.

Also on the card: LA Knight has a Payback rematch against The Miz, IYO SKY and Asuka prepare for next week’s women’s championship match, Jimmy Uso tries to sort out his current status with The Bloodline, and much more!

Come right back here at 8 pm ET when the SmackDown live blog kicks off once the show starts on FOX. It will be below this line here. (Note: Links to illegal streams are prohibited. Pics and GIFs are allowed.)


I’ve been living so long in the darkness I know the cold embrace of the night. When morning comes I close my eyes, ‘cause I’m blinded with the light. Taking a chance on a feeling is like waiting for a flower to grow, so I stand at the crossroad, baby, liveblogging this here pro wrestling show for you, folks.

The show opens with Pat McAfee making his entrance.

He greets the crowd and talks about doing his day job and keeping up with WWE when he realized SmackDown was only an hour away from where he was so he had to come down to feel the WWE Universe.

Enter Austin Theory.

He says this isn’t SmackDown, it’s Austin Theory Live, which is just blatantly untrue. They argue back and forth over whether Theory is copying Pat’s whole deal, which given that they’re dressed identically, well...


Theory starts talking at him and Dwayne tells him to shut his bitch-ass up and says he doesn’t know how all this works. He does the ol’ “Finally...!” bit and Austin says finally people get to see the Rock and Austin together again, but it’s not boring old Stone Cold, it’s a real asskicker who’s gonna be the entire Mount Rushmore.

Johnson does “the Rock says”, Theory does “it doesn’t matter”, and then Dwayne talks about the people and does a Stone Cold impression. He says this is the Rock’s show and what the people say matters, and here’s Austin talking trash. He says Theory from A-Town is clearly an a-hole, and the Rock is gonna show him.

In about three seconds this side of the arena is gonna chant “You are!” and then this side is gonna chant “An asshole!” and indeed, they chant suchwise, although broadcast censorship chops it up and most of the next few minutes is cut through with silence.

Anyway, the Rock promises to whoop Theory’s candy-ass, Austin attacks first but Rocky hits a spinebuster! THE PEOPLE’S ELBOW! Rock directs some traffic, Pat squares him up and hits his own People’s Elbow!

Commentary hypes up the rest of tonight’s show.

Judgment Day make their entrance and we go to break.

AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor

Balor hot out the gates, elbows and stomps in the corner, Styles cuts him off, backbreaker, whip reversed, sunset flip, roll through, Finn with a dropkick for a nearfall. Elbows from behind into a reverse chinlock, AJ fires back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, Balor to the floor and we go to break!

Back from commercial, both men down and out, back to their feet, Styles Rush, off the ropes, sliding lariat from the Phenomenal One! Stinger Splash sets up an Ushigoroshi but Balor claws his eyes to break free! Back suplex facebuster, cover for two! Up top, jockeying for position, AJ crotches him and pulls him down in Styles Clash position but Finn fights him!

Styles manages an Ushigoroshi and falls to the floor for a breather! Slingshot plancha elbow, crack Dominik Mysterio one, Damian Priest runs interference and referee Dan Engler kicks both of them out of the ringside area! Forearm from the apron staggers Balor, springboard, nobody home, Jimmy Uso runs interference, Finn capitalizes...

Finn Balor wins by pinfall with a crucifix pin.

And so we go to break.

Back from commercial, Pat McAfee and the Rock are excitedly recapping the opening segment at each other when John Cena rolls up.

Dwayne and John square up and Cena welcomes him home with a handshake and a hug.

Elsewhere in the backstage, Jimmy Uso hangs out with Paul Heyman lurking in the background when Finn Balor rolls up.

Finn thanks Jimmy for the assist and Uso says this was just him returning the favor from last week and they’re even. Balor says he saw his brother on Monday and Jim asks what he’s talking about and Finn says he’s just sure he misses his brother and since Jey didn’t say “no” to joining Judgment Day, what if Jimmy joined too and the Usos were together in Judgment Day.

Jim says he’s cool, Finn sells him on “there’s no leaders in Judgment Day” and that means “no Roman” and Uso makes a mildly interested noise before Paul Heyman walks up.

The Latino World Order are arrayed together in the ring.

Rey Mysterio asks Denver what’s good and offers nothing but love and respect in return. He says when he came to SmackDown a year ago he was at a crossroads and in a difficult time in his life, but then the lWo reminded him who he is and what family is really about. And now, he’s the United States Champion and he has a family that is united and stronger than ever.

Santos Escobar talks up Rey stepping up to win the title and what that meant, and how his dream was always to face his idol, Rey Mysterio, with a title on the line, and asks him for a title match. Mysterio asks if he’s asking for a title match, Santos says he has nothing but love and respect for him, Rey says he feels the same way and of course he accepts!

Enter Bobby Lashley, flanked by the Street Profits as is usual of late.

Bob says tag teams have been falling apart and trying to patch things over with awkward lovefests and this is gonna be easier than he imagined. Latino World Order’s tag arm accepts the challenge and we go to break!

Latino World Order (Cruz del Toro & Joaquin Wilde) vs. Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford)

Wilde is on the wrong side of town from the jump and the Profits take it so fast I don’t even have a chance to get into liveblogging gear.

Street Profits win by pinfall with the Revelation on Joaquin Wilde.

Post-match, Bob directs them to attack the Latino World Order some more and they beat them down until Santos and Rey make the save! Lashley attacks Escobar from behind, Ford holds Mysterio’s leg and Bob cracks the legend in the face!

And so we go to break.

Back from commercial, we get a media hype reel for the announcement that the 2024 Royal Rumble is in Tampa, Florida.

We get a video package for LA Knight vs. the Miz.

LA Knight vs. the Miz

Circling, taking in the atmosphere, side headlock, shot off, shoulder block, duck a lariat, Miz begs off in the corner! A-Lister puts him into the turnbuckles and puts boots to him, chops in the corner, Knight plastering him, high-angle powerslam for a nearfall!

Slingshot shoulder from the apron, Miz takes control from a moment while I’m kissing my girlfriend goodbye for the night (don’t worry y’all we’re gonna live together soon) but when I sit back down LA has the match again as we go to break!

Back from commercial, Miz lays Knight out with a big boot! Sliding knee, cover for two! Off the ropes, front kick, LA catches him with a lariat, side Russian legsweep, DDT connects! Stomps to Miz in the corner, cover for two! Jockeying for position, trading pin attempts, Miz tries for a basement DDT but Knight blocks by grabbing the ropes on his way down!

A-Lister off the ropes, running knee, hanging Codebreaker... LA KICKS OUT! Knight with right hands, Miz off the ropes and he eats a Hot Shot! LA sets him up...

LA Knight wins by pinfall with the BFT.

Post-match, LA Knight grabs a microphone and soaks in the atmosphere for a moment before speaking.

He says from the day he set foot in SmackDown he said he was coming for gold, so he looked at the top of the mountain and he sees all the different options and it doesn’t matter if it’s Rey Mysterio, GUNTHER, Seth Rollins, or Roman Reigns, you got to understand it’s not just a catchphrase, he’s top two and he ain’t number two, because it’s LA Knight’s game.

Paul Heyman is watching backstage with Solo Sikoa.

Solo wants to take care of some business but Paul reminds him that order can only come from Roman Reigns and it hasn’t come yet, and Jimmy Uso is a bigger problem, cutting deals with Judgment Day and picking fights with John Cena, and those things are his problem.

Jimmy thinks he’s in the Bloodline, and he’s of the bloodline, but he’s not IN the Bloodline. Solo says he’s gonna finish this tonight, and we go to break.

Back from commercial, Adam Pearce is backstage meeting with Pretty Deadly. He says medical has said Elton Prince’s shoulder is healing and they’ll be back in the ring in no time. Elly cries about how he’s a shadow of the man he used to be. Pearce questions why he’s in a wheelchair, the lads aren’t having it and Kitty promises him that with the proper training regimen he’ll be his old self in no time!

Bayley and Dakota Kai are chatting backstage about IYO SKY’s absence tonight and whether or not she’s ready for Asuka.

Dakota tells her she has to show up against Asuka tonight and says she’s been so distracted it’s a real question whether or not she’s actually ready for Asuka.

Asuka makes her entrance and we go to break.

Back from commercial, we get a recap of our opening segment.

Commentary hypes up next week’s show.

Asuka vs. Bayley

Collar and elbow, struggling around the ring, Asuka passes her into the corner and a shoving match breaks out! Stomp the foot, right hands, whip blocked, rolling solebutt from Asuka! Bayley trips her up, the Empress grabs wrist control, Role Model with a nearfall!

Mat slam gets a dropkick, duck the Penalty Kick, Bayley trips her up on the apron and rams her into the post as we go to break!

Back from commercial, Bayley with a rear chinlock, Stunner over the middle rope, Penalty Kick, cover for two! Asuka counters a sunset flip into a cross armbar, the Role Model with a folding press for the break! German suplex from the Empress, both women are down and out!

Asuka with a kick, backsplash in the corner, Bayely with a high elbow but the Empress gets her with the Alarm Clock and a Penalty Kick... STILL NO! Bayley blocks a Codebreaker, puts boots to her, Asuka reverses to an ankle lock! Struggling around the ring, the Role Model to her feet, the Empress with a diving Codebreaker... NOT ENOUGH!

Into the armbar on the kickout, Bayley rolls into the ropes and to the floor! Hot Shot into the apron, Bayley piefaces her on the floor but Shotzi Blackheart jumps the barricade and the Role Model runs away! Back inside, Asuka has her...

Asuka wins by pinfall with a backslide.

And so we go to break.

Back from commercial, Grayson Waller hosts the Grayson Waller Effect.

He says he’s had the opportunity to have some huge guests on his show, men and women who think they’re the GOAT, but that moniker only fits one person, his guest tonight, whose star is fading quicker than his hairline. But don’t worry, his rise back to the top starts tonight... John Cena!

John Cena makes his entrance.

Waller chides him about taking his hat off when he talks to grownups and says he watched Payback and, as a host, he thinks he needs some help. He was out there stealing the spotlight and he has to be more like Grayson and just sit back and let the stars shine.

Cena picks up the mic for a response but Waller cuts him off and berates him for making it all about him and accuses him of not wanting to wrestle anymore. He talks about how his boy Austin Theory beat John, and Cena takes his hat and shirt off like he’s gonna fight, but Grayson reminds him it’s a talk show and it’s his turn to speak.

Enter Jimmy Uso.

He yanks the mic out of Cena’s hand and says Kangaroo Jack has a point— nobody wants John Cena here. He says everybody came here to see him, Jim Uso, and if Cena wants to try and embarrass him again he should do it or get the hell out of his ring.

Enter Solo Sikoa.

Jim celebrates and jaws at Cena, Solo goozles him but then turns around and lays John out! Uso comes in for a hug but Sikoa ignores him and continues attacking Cena! Jimmy shrugs and joins the beatdown— AJ STYLES MAKES THE SAVE! Cena recovers and the babyfaces take the ring!

“You can’t see me” into the Five Knuckle Shuff on Uso! Fireman’s carry, Solo saves his brother at Paul Heyman’s command!

That’s the show, folks.

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