Smackdown – July 21, 2023
By Thomas Hall on 22nd July 2023
Date: July 21, 2023
Location: Amway Arena, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Wade Barrett
We are just over two weeks away from Summerslam and this week has a pretty major development. The big story of the week will be the announcement of the rules of engagement between Roman Reigns and Jey Uso. Other than that, we get a step closer to a #1 contender to the US Title. Let’s get to it.
We open with a long recap of the recent Bloodline issues, which got us to tonight’s Jey Uso vs. Roman Reigns showdown.
Rey Mysterio vs. Cameron Grimes vs. LA Knight vs. Sheamus
The winner gets to face Santos Escobar next week for the US Title shot at Summerslam, meaning Summerslam is at ringside. Knight has a mic on the way to the ring and promises to win the match to go to Summerslam (the fans approve). It’s a brawl to start with the four of them pairing off. Knight elbows Sheamus down and the fans are very pleased as we take a break.
Back with Knight and Grimes being sent outside, leaving us with Sheamus vs. Rey in the ring. Rey and Sheamus actually hit the stereo forearms to the other twos’ chests but Sheamus isn’t having that much gimmick infringement. Instead it’s a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to Rey but Grimes comes back in to kick away at them. Knight’s comeback is cut off with an enziguri and Grimes faceplants Mysterio for two. Back up and Knight crotches Rey on top but the other two come over to make it a Tower Of Doom.
We take a break and come back with Rey hurricanranaing Grimes at Theory at ringside but only hitting the chair. Sheamus sends Grimes and Rey into the barricade but Knight counters the Brogue Kick into a slam. Blunt Force Trauma is broken up so Knight settles for his reverse AA for two, with Rey making the save.
Rey goes up top but Grimes catches him, only to have Rey hit a top rope hurricanrana on Sheamus and Grimes at the same time. Theory breaks up the cover by sending Rey into the steps so here is Santos Escobar to fight Theory into the crowd. We hit the parade of finishes until Rey snaps off a hurricanrana to finish Grimes at 18:36.
Rating: B-. Well, at least Knight didn’t get pinned. That is likely going to be the big talking point coming out of this match as Knight’s non-push has been rather interesting for the last few weeks. As for the actual winner, this sets up Mysterio vs. Escobar, which should have more than a few interesting facets. The match itself was a higher level version the four way formula, though it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.
Post match Rey and Escobar have a respectful standoff.
The Cavinder Twins, NXT rookies, are here.
Jey Uso is walking through the back and runs into NXT’s Tony D, Stacks and the Creeds, all of whom are or were NXT stars.
Austin Theory wants Santos Escobar tonight, with Adam Pearce making it official. Non-title of course.
We look at Brock Lesnar taking out Cody Rhodes on Raw.
Carmelo Hayes (NXT Champion) and his friend Trick Williams are here.
NXT Women’s Champion Tiffany Stratton is here.
Charlotte vs. Iyo Sky
Bayley is with Sky and joins commentary. They trade cartwheels to start until Charlotte gets in a quick shot, setting up a high crossbody for an early two. Sky is back up and drops Charlotte as Bayley isn’t interested in talking about Shotzi last week. Charlotte knocks her to the floor but misses a dive as we take a break.
Back with Charlotte in trouble but neckbreakering her way to a double knockdown. Sky’s crossbody is countered into a fall away slam and an Honor Roll gets two. Bayley has had enough and offers a distraction, allowing Sky to hit an awesome sunset bomb. We get a rather intense video of Shotzi shaving her head last week and Bayley is scared enough to run away.
Charlotte misses the spear into the corner and the crossface goes on. With that broken up, Sky misses the missile dropkick and the spear gives Charlotte two. A German suplex connects for the same but Sky catches her on top with a super hurricanrana. They trade rollups for two each until Natural Selection finishes Sky at 13:38.
Rating: B. This had time and they were able to put something together here. The Smackdown women’s division has become something rather interesting in a short amount of time. You have four women in the title hunt right now, with Sky looming over all of them. I want to see where this is going and that’s interesting for a change.
Post match Asuka runs in and lays out Charlotte.
Dominik Mysterio is the new NXT North American Champion. Cue Butch to say he wants a title shot and here’s Shawn Michaels to make it official. Well that was quick.
Roman Reigns looks at the lei that symbolizes being Tribal Chief. Solo Sikoa looks at it as well and Reigns isn’t pleased.
Bayley gets to her locker room and finds a photo of herself stabbed to her bag with a pair of scissors. They’re out fast.
Santos Escobar vs. Austin Theory
Non-title. Theory knocks him down for an early two but Escobar is right back with a running headscissors. A rollup gives Escobar two but Theory slips away from what looked like Colt Cabana’s Billy Goat’s Curse. Theory bails from the threat of a dive and we take a break. Back with Theory getting two off a backbreaker but not being able to drop Escobar on the apron.
Instead Escobar knocks him outside for a suicide dive. Some running forearms drop Theory again back inside and a high crossbody gives Escobar two. Theory gets in a left hand and a fisherman’s buster gets two. A-Town Down is blocked so they both go to the top, where Escobar snaps off a heck of a super hurricanrana. The Phantom Driver finishes Theory at 10:43.
Rating: C+. The match was good enough stuff but it’s almost weird to see a champion losing like this. I know Theory hasn’t been the strongest champion in recent months but I could have gone without him getting pinned here. Escobar getting the title shot at the title itself should work out, though the threat of the two going 50/50 looms rather large.
Bobby Lashley meets with Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams.
NXT North American Title: Dominik Mysterio vs. Butch
Mysterio, with Rhea Ripley, is defending. Butch doesn’t waste time in hitting a dropkick and cranking on the fingers. The arm stomp sets up an armbar but Dominik is right in the ropes. Ripley slips Dominik a chain but here is Ridge Holland to pull it away. Butch grabs a quick X Plex and we take a break.
Back with Dominik hitting the slingshot hilo for two and we hit the chinlock. Cue Pretty Deadly, with Elton Prince in a wheelchair due to his separated shoulder. Butch fights up and hits Dominik in the face, earning commentary some yelling from Ripley. The kick to the head gives Butch two as Pretty Deadly and Holland get into it on the floor. The three of them go running off but Rhea chop blocks Butch, allowing Dominik to get in a posting to retain at 7:54.
Rating: C. As is usually the case, Dominik’s in-ring work (while fine) isn’t the point. This was about Ripley helping Dominik retain the title and all of the other shenanigans going on at the same time. It made or an entertaining showcase, with Dominik almost playing the modern day Honky Tonk Man. That’s an idea that could last for a long time, and this could be a nice first step.
Here is Jey Uso, followed by the Bloodline, to decide the rules of his match with Roman Reigns (in the form of a contract signing). They both sit down at the table and Reigns asks if Jey still wants to do this. Jey says that Jimmy is in the hospital so Jey has to get him. Reigns says that Jey isn’t getting him because he doesn’t get it. He’s just a soldier and a pawn in the game.
Reigns calmly signs the contract but Jey rips up the contract. Jey says they don’t need the contract because it’s in their blood. This is officially Tribal Combat, which has Reigns and Sikoa looking a bit more serious. Reigns: “Do the elders know about this?” Jey: “It was their idea Uce.”
Tribal Combat means anything goes, with Jey listing off everything that can happen. Reigns puts the title down and puts the lei on top of it, suggesting that it’s for the title and the spot as Tribal Chief. Sikoa loads up the Spike on Jey but Reigns blocks it and Sikoa gets superkicked. Reigns isn’t sure what to make of this and leaves to end the show. So it sounds like a street fight/no holds barred, but Reigns and Sikoa’s reaction to the term “Tribal Combat” sold the heck out of this, as you get the sense that they know it just got a lot more serious.
Overall Rating: C+. This was more about setting things up for the future and as a result, it made for kind of a weaker than usual Smackdown. What mattered here was setting things up for Summerslam, or at least the next few weeks and that part was a success. The wrestling was a bit up and down, but I think they knew the audience would be smaller because of the show being away from FOX this week. Not a bad show, but it was something you would watch if nothing else was on, not watch it above everything else.
Rey Mysterio b. LA Knight, Sheamus and Cameron Grimes – Standing hurricanrana to Grimes
Charlotte b. Iyo Sky – Natural Selection
Santos Escobar b. Austin Theory – Phantom Driver
Dominik Mysterio b. Butch – Ram into the post
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