SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
JUNE 9, 2023
DES MOINES, IA AT WELLS FARGO ARENA
AIRED ON FOX
REPORT BY ALEX McDONALD, PWTPORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Michael Cole, Wade Barrett
-The show opened with a video recap of last week’s main event segment. The video showed Triple H presenting Roman Reigns with the new Undisputed Universal Championship, then moved to the Usos interrupting. The segment then showed Reigns’ interaction with the Usos, mainly Jimmy. The video then shifted to Solo Sikoa’s attack on Jimmy. Paul Heyman asked Reigns about Jey as the video cut out.
-The camera panned the arena as Michael Cole welcomed the crowd to the show. Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman were in the ring. Heyman took the mic and introduced himself. Before he could finish, the Usos’ music played and Jey Uso appeared on the stage. Cole asked if Jey would leave the Bloodline to join Jimmy or remain loyal to Reigns. Jey circled the ring and stared down Sikoa as Sikoa stared back. Jey grabbed a mic from ringside and entered the ring.
-Jey paced opposite Sikoa. The crowd chanted “Uso, Uso”. Jey said he let a lot of things slide. He told Sikoa that stabbing your brother in the back is something you don’t do. Jey said he doesn’t know if he can forgive Sikoa. Jey told Sikoa to say what he needed to say, then dropped the mic. Heyman interjected and told Jey that he had everything all wrong. Heyman said it wasn’t Sikoa’s fault, his fault, Reigns’ fault, or even Jey’s. Heyman said it’s all Jimmy’s fault because Jimmy made up his mind for Jey and himself. Jey paced. Heyman told Sikoa to step back. Heyman stepped up to Jey. He said he wasn’t a physical threat to Jey. Heyman asked Jey if Jimmy asked him about kicking Reigns at Night of Champions. Heyman said that Jimmy made the decision for him because he’s the older brother. Heyman said that Jimmy has always resented Jey because Jimmy knows that Reigns wants to groom Jey to be the next Tribal Chief. Heyman said it’s Jey’s future and destiny. He said it was never going to be Jimmy and Jimmy has known that the whole time and has resented Jey because of it. He said that the fans are booing because they don’t know the truth. Heyman said he’s set up a match to set Jey on the trajectory of being the next Tribal Chief. He said that Jey will have an opportunity for gold. He said that it won’t be tag team gold, however. Heyman said that because of Jimmy there’s no more tag team in WWE known as the Usos. Heyman said that Jey is going to bring gold home to the Bloodline as he will defeat Austin Theory for the United States Championship tonight. Heyman said that Jey’s path begins tonight with a win over Theory. He said that Reigns will groom Jey and someday, when the time is right, Jey will be Tribal Chief. Heyman said he needs Jey’s answer now. Heyman extended the mic to Jey. Jey took the mic and paused. Jey said he would take Heyman up on the U.S. title challenge. Heyman extended his hand to Jey. Jey looked skeptical then looked to the crowd. The crowd chanted “no, no”. Jey said he would get back to Heyman on that. Jey dropped the mic and exited the ring. Sikoa stared after Jey.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Really good segment to start the show. I didn’t expect the U.S. title match with Jey and Theory and I’m actually really interested to see how they work together considering they both have such bright futures in the company. This is a chance to see how they perform in this type of match and more to see if Jey can carry himself as a standout singles star. Jey’s work on the mic was good here and his mannerisms were very promising for his possible future as a singles competitor. The other wrinkle here is the notion that Reigns sees more in Jey than Jimmy. They’ve dropped bread crumbs that Reigns sees a lot in Jey and cares about what Jey thinks much more so than Jimmy. Even if Heyman is lying, this story has been told in such a way that this is actually believable and is a great unexpected twist in the story. Obviously, we’re supposed to believe that Heyman is trying to entice Jey and this probably isn’t true. But, because of prior actions, this is believable enough that it fits. Good stuff.)
-Cole and Wade Barrett sat ringside. Cole asked if Jey would go back to the Bloodline with the United States title. They then showed a graphic for Asuka’s Women’s Championship presentation later in the evening. Then a graphic for the Money in the Bank Qualifying matches appeared. Cole said one of them starts right now.
-Santos Escobar made his entrance with Rey Mysterio at his side. They showed a graphic for Escobar against Mustafa Ali. Cole hyped the match for after the break. [c]
-They showed a graphic for Theory and Jey later in the show. Cole said that Heyman wasn’t lying.
-Mustafa Ali made his entrance.
-L.A. Knight made his entrance behind Ali and joined commentary.
(1) SANTOS ESCOBAR (w/ Rey Mysterio) vs. MUSTAFA ALI – Money in the Bank Qualifying Match
Escobar blocked a punch then landed one. The pair traded chops in the corner. Escobar took Ali down with a crossbody. Ali hit a hurricanrana and sent Escobar to the outside. Escobar pulled Ali out and delivered a big chop. Ali answered with one of his own. They traded punches. Ali leapt to the ring steps. Escobar went to the apron and landed a big kick. Escobar looked for a suplex but Ali blocked it. Escobar knocked Ali back to the steps and landed a big kick to the gut. Escobar hit a hurricanrana that sent Ali to the floor from the steps. Escobar rolled Ali back into the ring and made the cover for a two count. Ali escaped to the outside and tried to regroup. Escobar hit a suicide dive through the ropes and took Ali out at ringside. Escobar got back in the ring and pointed to the briefcases. Escobar went to the top rope and dove onto Ali on the outside. Escobar pointed to the briefcases from the floor as they cut to break. [c]
Escobar climbed to the top rope to join Ali. Escobar beat on Ali but Ali fought back. Ali flipped off the top rope and landed on the floor on his feet. Escobar dove off the top rope but Ali caught him coming in with a dropkick. Ali rolled Escobar back into the ring and went for a splash but Escobar moved and Ali landed on his feet. Escobar recovered and delivered a reverse frankensteiner. Escobar made the cover for a two count. Escobar hit double knees on Ali in the corner. Escobar put Ali on his shoulders but Ali got free and rolled up Escobar for a near fall. Ali then hit a tornado DDT from the top rope for another near fall. Ali climbed to the top. Escobar knocked him down then followed him up. Escobar lifted Ali to his shoulders on the ropes. Ali fought back but Escobar resisted. Escobar planted Ali with the Phantom Driver from the second rope and made the cover for the win.
WINNER: Santos Escobar in 10:00 to advance to the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
(McDonald’s Analysis: They really went for it there. This match was a little different than what you normally see on WWE TV but that’s not a bad thing. It had it’s moments but the outcome was never really in doubt and that hurt this one a little bit. I liked what they did, but all of the spots without the selling made the moves feel more hollow than they should have. Escobar has a great finisher and I hope this is the start of something for Escobar that’s more than being Mysterio’s buddy.)
-L.W.O. ran down the ramp and celebrated with Escobar.
-Jey was in the back. Sami Zayn approached. He said that Jey had a big night and he wanted to tell Jey something. Zayn said the time they spent together in the Bloodline was some of the best times of his life. Zayn said in another life they would still be doing it. He said that couldn’t happen because of one man. Zayn said that when the Tribal Chief takes over the paranoia and manipulation sets in. Zayn said he did everything he could to keep the family first and keep things together. He said it was never enough and he had to keep proving himself. Zayn said that Jey is going through the same thing now. He said he gets it if Jey wants to be the next Tribal Chief. He said he hopes Jey wins the U.S. title so the Bloodline will see they need Jey more than Jey needs them. Zayn said to remember what it means. He said it would be no more Jimmy and no more Usos. Zayn told Jey to listen to what’s in his heart. Jey sighed and walked off. [c]
(McDonald’s Analysis: I really liked this and all the parallels Zayn drew between himself and Jey. Zayn did a really good job here and this came off as meaningful to Zayn. I also like the context that Zayn is here in the back of his own accord and it has nothing to do with the brand split and has no real reason to be explained. Zayn simply wanted to talk to his friend about a serious situation. Jey soaked it all in and didn’t respond. Let’s see what Jey chooses.)
-They showed a graphic for Jey against Theory. Barrett hyped the match for later in the show.
-Kayla Braxton was in the ring. She introduced the NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions, Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn. They made their entrance. Kayla started to interview the pair but she was interrupted by Ronda Rousey’s music. Rousey and Shayna Baszler made their entrance. Baszler said they want to call themselves the Women’s Tag Team Champions. Baszler asked if they knew about the history of those titles. Baszler said she was the reason they were created and they should be hers. Rousey said she’s crunched the numbers and they’ve gone through the division so fast, they’re going to be hungry soon. Rousey said the division isn’t big enough for the both of them and they want a match and Fyre and Dawn’s titles. Fyre and Dawn taunted Rousey and Baszler then accepted the challenge. Fyre and Dawn attacked. Baszler and Rousey tried to fight back but they sent Rousey to the outside. Fyre and Dawn hit their finish on Baszler and dumped her out of the ring. Fyre and Dawn posed in the ring. Cole and Barrett hyped the idea of a unification match between the two.
-Barrett and Cole were ringside. Cole threw to a video package on the late Iron Sheik. The video featured footage of Sheik’s career and highlighted his victory of Bob Backlund for the WWE Championship in 1983. The narrator said that Sheik as a heel was instrumental to WWE’s popularity in the 1980’s. The video then showed Sheik’s induction in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. The video closed with a photo of Sheik with the year of his birth and death.
-Bayley made her entrance with Iyo Sky. [c]
-Michin made her entrance with A.J. Styles. Styles joined commentary.
(2) BAYLEY (w/ Iyo Sky) vs. MICHIN (w/ A.J. Styles) – Money in the Bank Qualifying Match
Bayley attacked Michin and took her to the outside. Bayley slammed Michin’s face on the announce table. Bayley tossed Michin into the ring and taunted Styles. Michin dove through the ropes and took out Bayley. Michin rolled Bayley in the ring and covered her for a near fall. Michin pounded on Bayley and stayed on the attack. Michin took Bayley down with a headscissors. Michin went to the apron and came through the ropes to deliver a DDT to Bayley. Michin made the cover for another near fall. Michin landed a series of kicks and Bayley tried to regroup on the apron. The ref checked on Bayley. Bayley charged Michin and Michin took her down with a big kick. Bayley went back to the apron. Bayley grabbed Michin’s hair and pulled her into the turnbuckle. Bayley hit the Rose Plant and covered Michin for the win.
WINNER: Bayley in 2:00 to advance to the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
-Scarlett appeared at ringside and blew red smoke in Styles’ face. Kross appeared in the crowd and locked Styles in the Kross Jacket. Kross tossed Styles down. Kross and Scarlett posed in the crowd as Michin checked on Styles.
(McDonald’s Analysis: The match was predictable and pretty useless overall. They tried to make Michin look good by giving her all the offense, but it’s a wasted effort when she loses to two moves. It makes it seem like Bayley just shrugged off all of Michin’s best stuff and can win easily if she tries. It’s a bad way to book matches and makes the loser look like, well, a loser. Anyway, the attack by Scarlett and Kross was interesting and the red smoke bit was creative. I thought this was pretty much over, but I guess they’re going to get a little more out of it. I doubt Kross will get any wins over Styles, but it’s something that should kill some time before Styles moves on to something else. If Jey ends up the U.S. Champion, that’s a match I would like to see.)
-Cole threw to a video recap of Bianca Belair and Asuka’s brawl last week on Smackdown.
-Belair was in the back with Adam Pearce. Pearce said he knows Belair wants to get his hands on Asuka but Pearce is presenting Asuka with the new title tonight and he needs it to go off without a hitch. Pearce asked Belair not to attack Asuka. Belair protested. Pearce said that Belair is in line for a rematch and Pearce needs her to leave it alone. Belair said that since Pearce did her a solid, she’ll do one back. Belair reiterated that she’s going to get a rematch, so she won’t interfere.
-Cole hyped Asuka’s championship presentation for after the break. [c]
-They showed a recap of Kross’ attack on Styles. After the video they showed the O.C. in the back. Styles was upset. Michin said they’ll get Kross and Scarlett. Styles asked what the smoke was.
-Adam Pearce was in the ring. He said he has the honor of unveiling the WWE Women’s Championship. He introduced Asuka who made her entrance. Pearce said it was his pleasure to present the new title. Pearce removed the cloak and revealed the new title. Asuka handed over the Raw Women’s title and Pearce put the new title on Asuka.
-Charlotte Flair’s music played and she made her entrance. Asuka was shocked. Charlotte and Asuka stared each other down as Charlotte came through the ropes. Charlotte got a mic from ringside and posed. The crowd cheered for Charlotte. Pearce asked Charlotte what she was doing. He said he thinks he knows what she’s doing. Pearce said that Charlotte needs to get in line. Charlotte said she doesn’t wait in line. Charlotte said she made the line. She turned to Asuka and said that no one respects Asuka more than her, but Charlotte wants the title. Charlotte challenged Asuka for the title. Asuka replied in Japanese. Asuka accepted. Charlotte turned to Pearce and said he can put the title around her waist after she beats Asuka. Asuka went for the mist but Charlotte evaded the mist and tossed Asuka to the outside. Cole asked what Pearce was going to do about Bianca Belair. Barrett said that Charlotte can jump any line she wants.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Charlotte’s back and automatically has a title match. I thought something might happen when they harped on the rematch thing with Belair so much, but I didn’t expect Charlotte. Asuka and Charlotte feels like a re-run, but it’s logical. Belair is really the only fresh opponent for Charlotte at this point and they’re not going to go to that right away. I hope they don’t just go back to Charlotte with the title and have Belair chase her, but based on history, that’s probably where we’re headed.)
-They showed a recap of the opening segment with Heyman and Jey. After the video, Jey was in the back. Heyman appeared. He said Jey got him with the cliffhanger. Heyman then asked for Jey’s passport and his suit measurements. Jey asked if they were going to a wedding. Heyman said it’s bigger than that. He said that Jey is going to fly on the private jet with Reigns to Money in the Bank. Heyman said that Jey needs a suit for a triple celebration next week. Heyman said there will be a public acknowledgement that Jey is going to be groomed by the Tribal Chief. Jey said to count him in. Jey said he doesn’t know why Heyman is so happy. Jey said if he’s in the Bloodline, then Heyman is out of the Bloodline. Jey walked off and Heyman seethed.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Jey was so good here again. His joy over everything Heyman told him before dropping the bombshell was well acted and perfectly played. Jey has what it takes to be a top level singles star and I hope he gets the opportunity to do so. I don’t know if he should be the guy to beat Reigns, but he could be a player at the top of cards in the near future.)
-Butch made his entrance with Sheamus and Ridge Holland at his side. They hugged at the top of the stage and Butch came down the ramp by himself. [c]
-Pearce was in the back on the phone. Pearce said the match between Asuka and Charlotte should be three weeks from tonight before Money in the Bank. Belair appeared and glared at Pearce. Pearce told her he would figure it out. Belair said he better.
-Trick Williams and Carmello Hayes were in the crowd. They were introduced. Cole mentioned that if you win Money in the Bank, any champion on any brand can be cashed-in on.
-Baron Corbin made his entrance. Cole threw to a video recap of Corbin’s attack on Carmello Hayes on NXT two weeks ago. They then showed his win against Trick Williams this past Tuesday on NXT. After the videos, Corbin was in the ring with a mic. He said he hopes Williams and Hayes enjoy the show when he beats Butch and wins Money in the Bank again. He said he’s surprised they showed up after what Corbin did to Williams.
(3) BUTCH vs. BARON CORBIN – Money in the Bank Qualifying Match
Butch kicked Corbin then charged him in the corner and delivered another kick. Butch took Corbin down and made the cover for a near fall. Corbin fought back and delivered a backbreaker. He mounted Butch and rained down punches. Corbin went for a slam but Butch got free and landed a kick that sent Corbin to the apron. Butch went to the fingers but Corbin fought back. Butch ripped at the fingers again. Butch charged Corbin and Corbin took him down with a big boot. Corbin taunted Williams and Hayes. Corbin went for a chokeslam but Butch rolled Corbin up and got the win.
WINNER: Butch in 3:00 to advance to the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
(McDonald’s Analysis: They’re really going athlete heavy for the Men’s Money in the Bank this year. The field is much different than what we’re used to. That will be a good thing for the actual match, but so far, I don’t see a logical winner to hold the briefcase and be a serious threat with it. And yes, that includes L.A. Knight.)
-Corbin went over to Williams and Hayes. Corbin punched Williams and Hayes responded with a punch. Williams and Hayes jumped over the barricade and went after Corbin before officials broke them up.
-Cole threw to a video package on Bobby Lashley.
-Shotzi made her entrance. Cole hyped her Money in the Bank Qualifying Match for after the break. [c]
-The Brawling Brutes celebrated in the back. Megan Morant appeared and congratulated Butch. Butch said he’s going home and it’s going to be fight night. Corbin appeared and complained. Cameron Grimes appeared and laid out Corbin. Cole said nothing is going right for Corbin.
-Iyo Sky made her entrance with Bayley.
(4) SHOTZI vs. IYO SKY (w/ Bayley) – Money in the Bank Qualifying Match
Bayley distracted Shotzi and Sky went after Shotzi. Sky went for a slam but Shotzi got free and delivered a suplex. Sky recovered and came off the top with a stomp. Sky worked on Shotzi’s arm. Sky jumped to the top rope and slammed Shotzi’s arm on the top rope. Sky came off the top but Shotzi moved and hit a bulldog. Shotzi kicked at Sky then delivered a suplex. Shotzi hit a running senton on Sky in the corner. Sky rolled to the outside. Shotzi ran the ropes and hit a suicide dive on Sky. Shotzi rolled Sky back into the ring and climbed to the top rope. Bayley distracted Shotzi and Sky crotched Shotzi on the top. Shotzi shoved Sky off the top rope. Bayley shoved Shotzi off the top rope. Sky climbed up and hit a moonsault for the win.
WINNER: Iyo Sky in 3:00 to advance to the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
(McDonald’s Analysis: Predictable match, predictable finish, nothing to see here. All of these qualifying matches have been short besides the first one. It’s an odd choice, but I guess it was the best course of action with the predictable outcomes.)
-Kayla Braxton was in the back and welcomed Austin Theory. Theory said he was the last one to find out about his title match. He said Reigns does whatever he wants but Theory doesn’t make excuses. Theory said even though he didn’t have time to prepare he’s going to win anyway. He said he’s going to send Jey back to the Bloodline as the failure he is. Theory then said that if Heyman is looking for a new client after next week, he should check out Austin Theory, live. [c]
(McDonald’s Analysis: Good promo from Theory. Short and to the point and he had some good lines in there. The delivery was really good, too. I know a lot of people don’t see it in this guy, but I do, and I think promos like this show his potential.)
-Sami Zayn was in the back. Kevin Owens appeared. Zayn said he talked to Jey and they’ll see. Owens said they need to focus on the Tag titles. Pretty Deadly appeared. They told Zayn and Owens to focus on their looks. Pretty Deadly asked for a Tag title match. The Brutes then appeared, followed by the O.C., Street Profits, and L.W.O. Adam Pearce appeared and asked what was going on. Owens freaked out and said they all showed up and asked for title matches. Zayn yelled that they all want title matches. Pearce said the challenging teams would have a Tag Team Gauntlet match next week on Smackdown.
-Cole threw to a video package on Grayson Waller. Barrett then announced the Grayson Waller Effect with Charlotte Flair next week.
(McDonald’s Analysis: They’ve done two of these packages on Waller and they were both better than his two Waller Effect segments. They would have been better off doing a series of these videos and vignettes and forgoing the Waller Effect completely until the character was more established.)
-Jey Uso made his entrance. Cole said Jey is going to announce whether he is in or out of the Bloodline. Cole hyped Jey’s match against Theory for after the break. [c]
-Cole and Barrett announced Charlotte against Asuka in three weeks as well as the Women’s Tag Team Championship Unification match. Barrett said that next week we will see the Tag Team Gauntlet match. Cole then announced Roman Reigns’ return next week on Smackdown.
-Austin Theory made his entrance. Cole asked if a victory for Jey would sway his decision toward joining the Bloodline. Barrett said that Jey should stay with Reigns because he’s a proven commodity.
-Formal ring introductions took place.
(5) JEY USO vs. AUSTIN THEORY (c) – United States Championship Match
They locked up and Theory got a headlock on Jey. Jey shot Theory off the ropes and Theory took Jey down with a shoulder tackle. Jey answered with a shoulder tackle of his own. Jey knocked Theory to the outside. The crowd cheered Jey on. Jey dropped to the outside and tossed Theory over the announce table. Jey posed on the outside as they cut to break. [c]
Theory had Jey in a headlock and Jey fought to his feet. Jey landed a punch and Theory answered with one of his own. The two traded punches. Jey ducked a punch then hit a pop-up neckbreaker and covered Theory for a two count. Theory tried to recover in the corner. Jey charged but Theory countered with a drop toehold that sent Jey into the turnbuckles. Theory followed up with a roll through the ropes into a dropkick. Theory made the cover for a two count. Theory went for a suplex but Theory got out and landed a blow to Jey’s back. Theory lifted Jey to his shoulders and spun him into a slam. Theory made the cover and got another two count. Theory got frustrated and motioned for his finisher. Theory lifted Jey to his shoulders but Jey got free and landed a kick to the gut. Theory recovered with a kick of his own. Jey answered with a kick. Jey hit a superkick to Theory but Theory knocked down the ref. Jey went to the top rope and hit a big splash. Jey made the cover but there was no ref to make the count. Pretty Deadly appeared and attacked Jey. Jimmy ran down the ramp and made the save. Solo Sikoa knocked down Jimmy. Sikoa set up for the spike but Jey blocked Sikoa. Jimmy went for a superkick on Sikoa but Sikoa ducked and Jimmy hit Jey. Jimmy and Sikoa brawled to the outside. Theory slid into the ring and covered Jey for the win.
WINNER: Austin Theory in 10:00 to retain the United States Championship
-They showed a replay of the events that just occurred. After the video, the Usos were in the ring. Heyman and Sikoa looked on from ringside. Jey and Jimmy looked over to Sikoa and Heyman. Jimmy consoled Jey and helped him up. Jey stared down Sikoa and Heyman. Jey shoved Jimmy away. Jimmy said he didn’t mean to hit Jey. Jey rolled out of the ring and walked up the ramp. He paused next to Heyman and Sikoa. Heyman apologized for what happened. Jey looked at Jimmy in the ring then walked off. Heyman held up his phone and told it to call Roman Reigns.
-They showed a graphic for a mixed tag match with Scarlett and Kross against Michin and Styles. They then showed a graphic for the Tag Team Gauntlet match. Then they promoted the return of Roman Reigns next week on Smackdown. Cole asked if Jey will fall in line and join the Bloodline or if he’ll side with his brother Jimmy.
(McDonald’s Analysis: What Theory and Jey got to do together was good, but it was formulaic to set up for the story heavy finish. The crowd was firmly behind Jey and showed the potential he has as a breakout babyface should that opportunity arise. Pretty Deadly’s involvement was another sign that there’s solid plans for them going forward and I wouldn’t be surprised if they won the gauntlet next week. Jimmy’s appearance was expected but they swerved us with the kick and him actually costing Jey the title after Jey saved Jimmy from Sikoa. Jey has every reason to be skeptical of Jimmy after everything that happened with Reigns. They’re brothers, but it’s easy to see where Jimmy wouldn’t want Jey to win a singles title and possibly rejoin the Bloodline because of it. It may be a clear accident to the rest of us, but it’s easy to see how Jey’s character would feel that Jimmy had other motives and did it on purpose. Anyway, solid episode but a lot of it was to set up other things down the road as opposed to actually furthering anything on this episode. Reigns’ return next week will be interesting, especially if we get an actual answer from Jey. Cole teased that an awful lot tonight, and we saw no indication that Jey is anywhere near a decision.)