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SmackDown recap & reactions (Sept. 15, 2023): The Great One

There is no doubt about the fact that Roman Reigns is a star, and why he’s the number one guy in WWE and has been for many years now. I’m not here to question that. But I’ll be damned if there aren’t times we’re quickly reminded of what a true star looks like and Reigns isn’t quite that just yet.

I’m talking, of course, about The Rock, who returned on Friday Night SmackDown this week to a thunderous pop in Denver. They absolutely blew the roof off the place, because of course they would, because that’s one of the biggest stars in the history of the industry.

By the way, it was also a great reminder of why they really should put that match together sooner rather than later. Experiencing that response had me eager for the moment when Reigns’ theme would hit and he would come out talking about “acknowledge me.”

A license to print money.

Anyway, The Rock was a special surprise after we already got a great surprise in Pat McAfee coming down the road from where College Gameday is this week. He welcomed us to the show before Austin Theory came out to be the guy who would get clowned on by the stars everyone loves.

They clowned him in a way that must have been incredible for those in attendance but was somewhat annoying for those of us watching at home. FOX had to repeatedly cut the audio because The Rock had the entire audience calling Theory an asshole.

Hey, that’s showbiz, baby.

Or something like that.

Either way, even with the obnoxious muting, it was an incredibly fun opening segment. It also makes clear that Rock is willing to appear on WWE TV during the strike, contrary to prior rumored talk.

Speaking of that, he ran into John Cena backstage. Thankfully, we aren’t getting Thrice in a Lifetime. They hugged it out.

That was a good lead in to the main event segment of this show later in the night, with Cena appearing as the special guest on the latest episode of “The Grayson Waller Effect.”

Waller, to his credit, got in a great reference to Deion Sanders, telling Cena that his mother taught him to take his hat off when he talks to grown ups. If you know, you know kind of thing.

Waller went in on Cena not wanting to wrestle anymore, pointing how the fact that he returned and did a guest spot as a special referee instead of a match. Before Cena could protest, Jimmy Uso hit the scene.

He talked a tough game, and once again, Cena could not respond before Solo Sikoa hit the scene. He got right in Cena’s face before turning to Jimmy, grabbing him up and making like he was going to lay him out.

But it was a feint.

Instead, he superkicked Cena and the duo went about putting the boots to him. That’s when AJ Styles ran in to make the save. It’s notable that Paul Heyman ordered Sikoa to save Jimmy when he found himself in trouble here.

While on his trusty cell phone.

Considering their earlier interaction, I was expecting another Rock appearance but if they aren’t actually going to do Rock vs. Reigns just yet, it’s probably better to hold off on it. Plus, Styles has already been involved and it only makes sense to keep that going.

Your LA Knight segment of the week:

It was yet another match with The Miz in a program that has been far better than you would expect considering Miz has won like one match in over a year. He’s built for exactly these kind of feuds, though, and his job the whole way has been to get Knight over and he’s done just that.

He did it again here, giving Knight a solid match and putting him over clean after the Blunt Force Trauma.

After, Knight grabbed a microphone because of course he had to do some talking. He made clear he’s coming after a title and it really doesn’t matter who it is that’s holding it. In his list of champions, he included Roman Reigns and that got one hell of a pop.

What’s even more interesting is the fact that WWE cut backstage to show Solo Sikoa watching this and outright saying LA is becoming a problem. Heyman tossed some water on that, though, because he has to wait for Reigns to call and give the order first.

And there are a lot of other issues to deal with, especially with all the names floating around.

If nothing else, WWE wants it clear that Knight vs. Reigns is at least on the table.


All the rest

  • AJ Styles was defeated by Finn Balor thanks to interference from Jimmy Uso, who showed up just after the rest of The Judgment Day was thrown out. Commentary presented it like it was simply Jimmy getting back at AJ for what happened last week. The match wasn’t given as much time as you might expect, considering who was involved, but the Rock return segment ran long, so that may have had something to do with it. Later, Jimmy told Balor that was simply payback for last week and now they’re square. Then, Finn went into his pitch — how about Jimmy joins up with Judgment Day, just like they hope Jey will. The best thing about the group? They don’t have a leader. Jimmy was reluctant until Balor said that, and then he just looked uneasy but not entirely resistant to the idea anymore.
  • Santos Escobar took his opportunity to shoot his shot this week, telling Rey Mysterio that his dream has always been to challenge Mysterio for a championship. He has nothing but love and respect for him but he wants an opportunity. Mysterio made like he was going to get upset about it before accepting. We’ve been talking about this being where they were likely headed and they’re doing it the right way.
  • And then The Suit Profits showed up to make fun of the LWO while Bobby Lashley — who got loud “Bob-by” chants — made clear they are indeed coming to fill the power vacuum. It led to Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde challenging Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford to a tag team match. That match was a glorified squash, making clear the LWO is not to be taken seriously as a group outside of its top two members but The Suit Profits absolutely are. The Profits left the entire group laid out and the fans still haven’t caught on that they are, in fact, that bad guys. Whatever works.
  • Pretty Deadly were fantastic in their brief appearance here, as Adam Pearce met with them to say medical brings word they’ll be back soon. Elton Prince, in particular, was hilarious playing up his injury before Kit Wilson hyped him up for his return. That was the gist of the segment, that they’ll be back in action soon enough.
  • They kept calling Asuka vs. Bayley the “main event” even though it wasn’t the last segment of the show. One of those WWE things that annoys more than it should. Dakota Kai tried to get Bayley focused for the match beforehand but it didn’t matter — she was once again distracted by Shotzi, who came out of the crowd to help assist in the win. A tentative fist bump with Asuka followed after Damage CTRL bailed to the back.

This was a great show. Tons of fun.

Grade: A-

Your turn.

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