Welcome to WrestlePurists live coverage of SmackDown for the July 14 2023 episode.
Tonight, we’re on the road to Summerslam, and the stakes are high for WWE Women’s Champion Asuka as she defends her title against Bianca Belair. Bianca has been showing a mean streak lately, but undoubtedly Charlotte Flair will be involved one way or another. Also tonight, we’ll see a recount of Jey’s actions last week ahead of his potential match with Roman Reigns at the biggest party of the summer. AJ Styles, Santos Escobar, Pete “BUTCH” Dunne, and Grayson Waller clash in the first half of a United States Championship invitational, and we see Sheamus and Ridge Holland clash with Pretty Deadly.
BIANCA BELAIR IN-RING PROMO
The show opens with Bianca Belair in the ring cutting a promo ahead of their main event clash for the WWE Women’s Championship. Bianca comes out to a huge cheer reaction like usual, with loud crowd “EST” chants. Belair says “good things come to those who wait” and that “patience is a virtue, but patience is sweet.” She promises a KOD and 1, 2, 3 for Asuka tonight, and as she is about to wrap up her promo, the queen Charlotte Flair interrupts her.
Charlotte grabs a microphone and says that she’s rooting for Bianca, in fact, she’s manifesting a win for Bianca. She says that tonight she hopes that Bianca leaves with the WWE Women’s Championship, so that Charlotte can challenge Belair next.
Bianca reiterates that right now she’s focused on Asuka, but if she wins, what would be bigger than Bianca Belair v Charlotte Flair at Summerslam? The two shake hands and Charlotte leaves the ring.
It’s good to see someone that isn’t Bloodline adjacent open the show, definitely a refreshing start. Good to see the women to get a promo segment to hype up the main event, I think Bianca might take this here.
PRETTY DEADLY DEFEAT SHEAMUS & RIDGE HOLLAND w/ BUTCH
Before the match, we see Sheamus hyping up the boys backstage. They all join to say “it’s fight night” and make their entrance together. I love the visual of the lights coming on to the three of them. After the break, Pretty Deadly make their signature slow motion entrance.
The match opens with Elton prince sliding out of the ring, and Sheamus immediately bodyslams Kit Wilson. He’s not here to mess around after they cost him the United States championship last week. Sheamus hits a rolling senton onto the two members of Pretty Deadly, and blocks a hip toss from Elton with a wicked clothesline. Momentum swings in to Pretty Deadly’s favour when they isolate Holland in their corner, unloading tandem offence on to him. He slowly fights his way out, landing dual bodyslams on the boys. Sheamus tags in, and they get Pretty Deadly over the ropes to unleash the “ten” beats of the bodhran. I do not envy anyone that has to take this move. We go to break as Sheamus beats down Kit Wilson over the ropes.
After the commercial, Pretty Deadly are once again in control on their side of the ring. The two are abusing the ref’s count to lay in dual offence. Sheamus fights out with an electric chair slam, and crawls to Holland for the tag, but Prince runs around the ring and knocks him off of the apron. They finally manage to get the tag and Holland comes in with a huge comeback. He absolutely bulldozes Prince and Wilson, battering them around the ring. He goes for a pin attempt on Pretty Deadly blonde but Pretty Deadly brunette breaks it up. Sheamus brogue kicks Wilson, but they roll out of the ring. In the chaos, Prince takes the turnbuckle cover off, exposing the hard steel underneath. He whips Ridge in to hit, and Holland hits his throat, which is still injured from Solo’s Samoan Spike. Prince climbs the ropes and hits a leg drop on to Ridge’s throat, scoring three.
Overall a solid fun tag match, it’s good to see Pretty Deadly getting lots of tag wins as I think they’re a really creative team.
GRAYSON WALLER BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW
We go backstage with Cathy Kelly and Grayson Waller. She asks Grayson his feelings about the upcoming match, he’s just surprised that it hadn’t happened sooner. He mentions his beef with the Rock on twitter and finishes his promo with the classic “if you smell line.”
TRIBAL COURT RECOUNT
They show a video package recounting tribal court, which you can read all about here. Michael Cole confirms that Jimmy Uso has fractured ribs and will be out of action for the foreseeable future
CHARLOTTE FLAIR BACKSTAGE WITH ADAM PEARCE
Charlotte Flair is seen backstage with a suitcase. Adam Pearce confronts her and Charlotte says she’s leaving SmackDown early so that he knows she won’t interfere. As she leaves, Bayley and IYO arrive and say that that doesn’t stop them from interfering. As they leave, Flair comes back and says that she’s staying.
BAYLEY W/ IYO SKY DEFEATS ZELINA VEGA
After the backstage segment, Zelina Vega makes her entrance for a match against Bayley. Bayley makes her entrance after the break, touting the lock of Shotzi’s hair that they cut off 2 weeks ago. I have a feeling that someone might be interrupting this match…
Bayley opens up the match by smacking Zelina out of the ring and rebounding her head off of the announce table. Zelina gets back in the game and launches off of the second rope with a meteora, then a hurricanrana. She scores two before Bayley steals her chancla. Vega wrestles it out of her hands, and lays the smackdown on Bayley to a huge crowd reaction. After a referee distration, Bayley lands the rose plant on Zelina Vega and scores three.
After the match we see a Shotzi video package. She says that she’s not cared of Bayley, and that she’s in control. As she cuts a scathing promo against Bayley and IYO, she grabs hair clippers and begins shaving her head. I’m keen for a Shotzi repackage, although the “crazy woman” gimmick is a little tired.
JEY USO IN-RING PROMO
Jey stands in the ring as the crowd chants for him. He begins talking about how him and his brother have been glued at the hip, and they’ve been inseparable all their life. He says that being twins makes them special, and that they feel the same emotions. If he’s sad, Jey’s sad, if he’s happy, Jey’s happy, if he’s hurt, then Jey is hurt too. Jey says he has the upmost respect for his family, for the whole bloodline, but for Roman Reigns he disrespects him more than anyone. Jey says he’s going to spank Solo like he did last week. He says that he’s the tribal chief, he’s the new head of the table.
Paul Heyman interrupts the segment and introduces himself and Solo. He says that Solo is here to enforce the peace, and Paul just wants to talk to him. He says that next week Jey and Roman Reigns will be face-to-face to discuss the “rules of engagement,” but tonight they’re just going to talk. Heyman says he understands Jey’s feelings right now, and that with all of this anger and indignation, he’s sounding more and more like a tribal chief each and every day. Paul is fantastic at getting under his opponent’s skin. He says that Solo is right, Jey isn’t self-aware, Jey doesn’t have the conscience needed to be the right hand man. Paul says that everything that happened to Jimmy is Jey’s fault because he wanted to be the head of the table.
Paul turns to the hardcam and talks directly to Jimmy Uso, presumably watching along “in hospital.” He doubles down on the fact that this is Jey’s fault and that no one will forgive him for what he’s done. As he continues, Solo stretches his hand out for the microphone. Heyman hands him the microphone.
Solo says “what happened to Jimmy, that’s all on you… but me? I’ll never forgive you either.”
This statement has a lot more weight coming directly from Solo, as he rarely speaks. Jey superkicks Solo and knocks him out of the ring, leaving him across from Paul Heyman. Jey toys with Heyman who is cornered and cowering in the ring, but Solo makes the save for Paul and gets Jey ready for the Samoan Spike. Jey takes him down and as Paul gets back in to the ring he superkicks Heyman in the throat. Jey dives out fo the ring to hit Solo and the crowd goes bonkers. Paul begins scrambling to his feet and Jey grabs a steel chair. Sikoa tries to save Paul and gets a chairshot across the back for his troubles. Both Heyman and Solo scramble out of the ring and leave up the ramp.
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP FATAL 4-WAY: ESCOBAR DEFEATS BUTCH, WALLER and STYLES
Before the match, Theory makes his entrance to sit on commentary for the 4-way. You already know who I’m rooting for in this match. Next week there’ll be another fatal 4-way, and the winner of this match will challenge the winner of that match to determine Theory’s next challenger. I think we will see LA Knight win next week’s match, and go on to challenge Theory at Summerslam for the US Championship.
We come back from the break to see BUTCH and Sheamus in the ring, with Waller making his entrance. AJ Styles makes his entrance and the match begins. Grayson immediately lays out BUTCH, and rolls out of the ring to get in the face of Theory. Dunne launches off of the steel steps to tackle Waller down. In the ring, AJ and Escobar trade some back and forth pin combos before Styles knocks Escobar out of the ring. BUTCH jumps into the ring to take on Styles. Waller interrupts the two and attempts to double pin them, but they both kick out. All four of the men trade some back and forth offence in the ring. Grayson’s selling is a highlight of this match so far. Styles hits a pele kick on to Santos before the commercial break.
We come back from the break with Grayson, BUTCH and Santos in the ring. Waller quickly knocks Escobar out of the ring, and AJ runs back in to hit some wild offence on Grayson. The match is really fast paced with the competitors constantly battling in and out of the ring, and Theory has been quite boring on commentary. Waller and Santos are both placed on the top rope in superplex position, and Styles and BUTCH climb to double superplex them. Escobar stands up on the ring post, and grabs all three of them for a sunset flip powerbomb. The crowd chants “this is awesome” and Santos tries to pin Waller. Styles and Butch break it up in time, and the four trade blows once more. Michael Cole on commentary calls out Theory as “none of his matches get this is awesome chants.”
BUTCH and Waller spill out of the ring, and Santos hits a massive tope suicida on to BUTCH, dragging him back in to the ring but is interrupted by a phenomenal forearm. As AJ sets BUTCH up for the styles clash, a video package of the OC being choked out by none other than Karrion Kross starts playing on the screen. AJ begins to leave, and Grayson takes him out as he walks up the ramp. Waller hits BUTCH with his signature rolling stunner, and goes for the pin, but Santos splashes him from the top rope and scores the three count.
This was a fantastic match that really showcased all four performers. I’m bummed that Grayson ate the pin but I think he can bounce back from it really well. After the match, they showed the line-up for next week’s Fatal 4-Way, and it’s safe to say that Escobar will be laying down for LA Knight in two weeks time.
BACKSTAGE WITH THE STREET PROFITS
We go to the parking lot with the Street Profits. A stretch limo arrives, and out steps none other than Bobby Lashley! Both Angelo and Montez get in to the limo and it drives away.
LA KNIGHT PROMO
We see a video pre-tape for the other three competitors of the fatal 4-way: Rey Mysterio, Cameron Grimes, and Sheamus. After the packages the vocoder over the speaker blares “L. A. Knight.” He comes out to an electric crowd reaction and talks about how everyone is using his name for clicks on the internet. He says you can call me the megastar, you can call me the GOAT, but soon enough you’ll be calling me champ. I’m confident there will be a riot in Detroit if LA Knight doesn’t win the US Championship.
WWE WOMEN’s CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: BIANCA BELAIR DEFEATS ASUKA VIA DQ
After LA Knight’s promo, Bianca Belair makes her entrance. Rhea Ripley’s titantron played for a moment, but I don’t think she’ll be showing up tonight. Asuka enters after the commercial break, and before the bell rings, we see Bayley entering with a ringside ticket, IYO SKY in tow.
The match begins with the two competitors exchanging back and forth holds and takedowns. Asuka uses Bianca’s hair to grapple her early in to the match, and sends Belair in to the turnbuckle. She quickly turns it around, putting Asuka in to KOD position, but Asuka escapes and knocks Bianca down. As the two lay in the ring, Charlotte Flair enters through the crowd with a ringside ticket.
After the break, Bianca lands a stalling suplex and moonsault but only scores two. She puts Asuka on to the top rope in superplex position, but Asuka fights out. Bianca flips out, and Asuka lands a dropkick. She attempts the pin, but only manages a two count. Asuka bounces Belair off the ropes and attempts to secure the Asuka Lock, but Bianca powers her up in to a spinebuster. She does a handspring off of the ropes but gets caught into the Asuka Lock again! Belair manages to escape and put Asuka in the pinning predicament, who has to break the hold. They spill to the outside, and Bianca puts Asuka in the KOD position and plants her on to the announce table. Bayley, IYO SKY, and Charlotte Flair hop the barricade. Charlotte Flair goes to boot IYO, but SKY dodges and she hits Bayley instead. Flair gets sent in to the ring post, and tries to spear IYO who once again dodges, and Charlotte spears Bianca. The match is called off in a DQ, and IYO notices all of the women laid out. She tells Bayley to cash in the briefcase, and drags Asuka in to the ring for a moonsault. As Bayley tries to cash in, Asuka springs up and unleashes the mist onto Bayley and scrambles out of the ring with her championship.
This was a great match which will definitely lead to a bigger match between Bianca, Asuka and Charlotte at Summerslam. It was good to see the women get a decent amount of time and a story that unravelled throughout the night.
POST SHOW NOTES
Tonight’s episode of SmackDown was overall quite enjoyable and helped set up some stories for Summerslam. The US Championship Invitational will be a good feature over the next few weeks, and will absolutely culminate with LA Knight strapped up. The women’s segments throughout the night were really good and I’m excited for Shotzi’s repackage, as well as the WWE Women’s Championship picture. The Bloodline story is really coming to a head now and Jey Uso is really shining in his role. I’m also eager to see the developments between Bobby Lashley and the Street Profits.
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