clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

SmackDown recap & reactions (Sept. 22, 2023): They got some

John Cena kicked off Friday Night SmackDown this week to say he felt like it’s time to take the next step in his latest return to WWE. Instead of being a special guest referee or hanging out on talk show sets, he wanted to wrestle an actual match.

He recruited AJ Styles to be his tag team partner, seeing as they share a common enemy. The Bloodline seemed to agree on a showdown but backed away at the last second, teasing like it wouldn’t happen.

You know, the standard heel stuff.

Naturally, the babyfaces got with Adam Pearce, who got with Paul Heyman, who said he would be fine with it as long as it didn’t happen on this show. The contract was drawn up for Fastlane, and they booked a signing for the main event.

That worked out nicely!

Except Solo and Jimmy had different plans, ambushing Styles backstage just before he could walk out to sign the contract. Cena, it should be noted, had already made his entrance and wasted no time putting pen to paper.

They did an injury angle for Styles, calling in an ambulance to take him away.

You know where this is going.

Heyman made note of Cena having signed without a tag team partner to sign with him. The obvious tease was that someone would come to Cena’s aid. It sounded like fans were chanting “Rocky” in the hopes The Rock would be that person, as silly as that may seem.

Help never came. The show ended simply ended with The Bloodline standing over a beatdown Cena, throwing up the 1’s.

The standard for any story involving The Bloodline is to drag everything out to give it maximum effect when they deliver the next surprise. The fact that reports are indicating LA Knight was set for this spot and tested positive for Covid before the show ends up playing into that.

It’s a pretty decent hook for a tag match at a B show as we inch closer to the much bigger WWE shows early next year.

There are only two weeks to Fastlane.

Iyo Sky finally got the spotlight for a big women’s title defense, something we haven’t seen from her since she won the title at SummerSlam. The match was even a 1-on-1 showdown with Asuka, a battle sure to deliver the goods.

It mostly did just that.

There were a few rough patches but the match was strong for a title match on network television. It was particularly good when they stiffened up and really went after each other like both are capable of doing.

More of that, please!

Sky emerged victorious because, well, she has Damage CTRL and that means Bayley coming to the rescue as needed. Charlotte Flair was also on the scene, and she refused to stand for it. Later, Flair vs. Bayley was booked for next week and Flair vs. Sky likely won’t be far behind it.

That will be the true test for Sky and how WWE feels about her as champion.

During a match pitting Santos Escobar & Rey Mysterio vs. The Street Profits, commentary did a fantastic job of explaining the how and the why behind Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford linking up with Bobby Lashley.

They need respect, and you only get that by winning. They also see the growing emphasis on groups within WWE, and backup is becoming downright necessary. Lashley is looking for backup but also for two strong units to help take all the power.

I liked how they called attention to all of this. It was also a perfect set up for the finish of the match.

Lashley set up Dawkins for an easy pinfall, cheating to chokeslam Mysterio on the apron while Dawkins had the referee distracted. But he hesitated to capitalize and Mysterio rolled him up for the pinfall and the victory. After, the Profits seemed upset and Lashley was particularly unhappy with how this all played out. Again, commentary was great in explaining that Bobby is trying to make them killers and the Profits are still a bit too party and not enough business.

Later, to drive the point home, they had Lashley get down their throat to make it clear that’s the story here. This is the depth they needed for this story, and I’m here for it. It’s not enough to put the Profits in suits and have them next to Lashley — they need actual character growth.

And this is the start of it.

Here we go.

Your LA Knight segment of the week:

Didn’t happen because our favorite guy has Covid.

Get well soon, LA!

Here’s a classic clip anyway:

Shoes of a champion.

All the rest
  • WWE aired a replay of The Rock clowning on Austin Theory from last week, so this week Theory came through the crowd to yell at the commentary team while taking the top off their table. He wants credit for some of the many views that segment did. He screamed about it and walked off. I guess the idea here is this is a new Austin Theory. He’s got an edge to him! He’s angry! Look out! It indirectly led to a tag team match, when the Brawling Brutes made fun of his plight while Adam Pearce was trying to get him to calm down. Grayson Waller came to his defense, the pal he is, and they were booked for later. They defeated the Brutes when Waller hit the Rolling Stunner on Ridge Holland and Theory followed up with A-Town Down. It was a fun match.
  • Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn are now taking credit for casting a spell or some other such magic that has the women’s tag team titles cursed. So that’s why all these weird things have been happening to the women who win them!
  • On the men’s tag side, Pretty Deadly are now doing an entire series on Elton Prince’s long road to recovery from his shoulder injury, and they deserve to win an award for it already. #EltonStrong

A standard outing for the blue brand.

Grade: B-

Your turn.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats