Welcome to the live coverage of SmackDown for the July 28 2023 episode.
One week out from Summerslam, we see Jey Uso and Roman Reigns come face-to-face before their high-stakes title match. Also tonight, we see Rey Mysterio battle Santos Escobar for an opportunity for the United States Championship, and Karl Anderson locks up with Karrion Kross.
JEY USO & ROMAN REIGNS IN RING SEGMENT:
The show opens with Jey Uso already standing in the ring, he introduces himself and throws up the one. As he does this, the Tribal Chief’s theme plays, and makes his way down the ramp with Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa. As Paul hands Jey the mic, the crowd chants loudly for Jey. Roman begins by saying that the only reason the crowd likes the Usos is because he made the crowd like them. He says that he made Jey everything he is: the right hand man, main event Jey Uso. Reigns complains that Jey wants to steal his spotlight and open the show, what’s next, being the face of the company?
Jey says he didn’t want any of that, he just wanted to support his family. He’s been Roman’s right hand man for three years with no questions asked because he believed that Reigns could lead the company, and more importantly the family. But Roman broke the family, and now Jey “has to do what he has to do.” You broke the bloodline, you broke the family, and now you broke Jimmy… and that’s all your fault, Jey says.
Roman tells him to shut up and that he won’t accept that blame, it’s Jey’s fault, Jey’s jealousy of Jimmy is the reason that he’s in the hospital right now. He says that Jey is selfish for asking for a title match when Jimmy got injured. If Jimmy wasn’t hurt, Jey didn’t have a chance. Roman says he screwed his twin brother, and that his younger brother respects Roman more than him. Reigns says that hypothetically, if Jey wins, he takes the belt, he takes the mantle of tribal chief, and that he loses anything. But at the end of the day, he’ll always be Roman Reigns, but without all of this, Jey has nothing. He finishes his promo by saying that Jey can’t beat him, and the two stare down in the ring.
Before Roman leaves, Jey says that he already has beaten Roman. He’s the one who pinned him. He puts his hand behind Roman’s head and says, “And at Summerslam… I’m going to do it again.” Jey struts his way out of the ring and down the ramp, staring back at his cousin before we cut away.
I feel as though Jey’s career trajectory has been changed by this, similar to Sami’s, and that he won’t go back to just “being another Uso.”
SANTOS ESCOBAR DEFEATS REY MYSTERIO VIA REF STOPPAGE: UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP INVITATIONAL FINAL
Before the match, we see Jey Uso backstage. He gets stopped by Grayson Waller, who says that no matter what happens, although Jey will probably lose, he could give him the “Grayson Waller Rub.” He poses the question, what do you think of the Grayson Waller Effect with Little Jey? Jey laughs with him before delivering him a right hand that sends him sprawling.
The match opens with the two showing respect for each other. Santos quickly gets Rey in a leglock. The camera pans to the skybox, where Austin Theory is manspreading and eating some popcorn. I honestly don’t care who wins this match, as long as they take the title off of Theory next week. We see the two exchange some more back and forth offence before we go to commercial after a Mysterio tope. I’m keen for Rey and Santos to put their feet on the gas and turn up the pace in this match.
We come back from the break to the two still trading back and forth. Escobar lands a big crossbody but can only score a two count over Rey. Mysterio flips momentum in to his favour with an interesting pinning combination for a two count. As he bounces off the ropes, Santos hits a devastating tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, but Rey kicks out at two. “This is awesome” chants start to ring out from the crowd. I’m quite perplexed by this as the two have almost felt like they’ve been working in slomo this match. Escobar gets Rey in an electric chair position, and the two spill to the outside of the ring. Still in the electric chair position, Mysterio sends Santos flying in to the apron with a hurricanrana. Rey gets in to the ring for his signature slide under the ropes, but nobody’s home as Escobar gets in to the ring and launches out with a tope suicida. We go to another commercial as the two lay on the outside.
As we come back from the break, we see WWE medical checking on Rey Mysterio. They replay the suicida and show Rey Mysterio getting hurt. Jessika Carr goes to Mike Rome and tells him to announce Santos Escobar as the winner of the match. I’m honestly not sure if this is worked or not – it looks like Rey Mysterio hit his head quite hard on the ground. I think potentially Mysterio may have already been injured as he seemed like he was working slower than usual, and this is a way to get him off of TV for a little while. Wishing all the best for Rey regardless, and hopefully Santos can win the championship as a result next week.
This was a bit of a slower match than I expected, but hoping to see the two of these guys lock up once more down the track.
BIANCA BELAIR BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW
We go backstage with Bianca Belair and Kayla Braxton. Bianca Belair is talking about her upcoming triple threat at Summerslam, saying that the numbers aren’t fair for anyone. As she’s talking, new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Chelsea Green and Sonya Deville arrive and tout that they’ve been champions for 11 days without a celebration. Bianca says if they want to talk numbers, how about the three of them in a triple threat tonight? Charlotte Flair interrupts saying that she wants Bianca 100% for their upcoming match, and says she’s going to talk to Adam Pearce to make it a tag team match. CAN THEY COEXIST???
LA KNIGHT DEFEATS ASHANTE “THEE” ADONIS
Hit Row are in the ring for whatever reason, and then LA Knight’s music hits. The crowd goes bonkers, like they do every week. LA Knight says he knew Will Smith was in the game, but he didn’t know Uncle Phil became a rapper. He says that B-Fab looks like she has a little bit of a fire in her loins for the megstar LA Knight. He says that a lot of people can say they’re undeniable, a lot of people can say they’re inevitable, but he lives it.
The bell rings and Ashante quickly gets momentum over LA Knight, and Top Dolla gets some sneaky interference. Quickly though, LA Knight turns things around and pins Adonis without much effort.
This match was a good quick way to get LA Knight on the show, albeit I wish it was in the prior match and punching his ticket to an opportunity for the US Championship.
BACKSTAGE WITH JEY USO AND ADAM PEARCE
Adam Pearce tells Jey Uso that Grayson Waller has been knocking on his door all night, asking for a match with him. Jey tells Adam, “yeet,” and Pearce makes it “official yeet.”
STREET PROFITS & BOBBY LASHLEY SEGMENT:
We see the Street Profits sitting in a nice room with Bobby Lashley. Lashley says he was talking with Trick and Melo and they spoke very highly of the Street Profits. He says that they’re both stars, should be treated like stars, and most importantly, should dress like stars. Both Bobby and Tez stare at Dawkins in sweats, before Lashley has suits wheeled out. The three laugh before we cut back to the ring.
I’m interested in this faction that they’re building, especially after alluding to TrickMelo joining.
CHARLOTTE FLAIR & BIANCA BELAIR DEFEAT CHELSEA GREEN & SONYA DEVILLE
Charlotte made her entrance with some huge pyro, and Bianca followed after the commercial break. The two seem tense as they stand in the ring waiting for Chelsea and Sonya to make their way down the ramp. Bianca starts the match and locks up with Chelsea. As Bianca bounces off the ropes, Flair tags herself in and locks Chelsea up. Green escapes and Charlotte does the trademark strut. Bianca tags back in, and Chelsea manages to escape and tag out to Deville. Belair lands a handspring moonsault and scores a two count over Sonya, knocking Green off of the apron with the handspring. After a distraction from Chelsea, Sonya lands a massive pump kick onto Bianca.
After we come back from the break, Deville is in control as she tags in Chelsea. Bianca fights out of the corner and tries to launch across the ring to tag Flair. She gets dragged back by the tag champs, and gets put in a double suplex position. Belair manages to suplex both Green and Deville, and tags Charlotte in. Flair lands a big crossbody on to both of them, before lighting Chelsea up with some chops. She spears and pins Chelsea who escapes at 2.999. Green tags Deville ine, who also escapes a pinfall attempt, and kicks Flair out of the way from locking in the figure four. Belair tags herself in, and brings the fight to Sonya with a vertical suplex and kip up right after. She gets Sonya into the corner, but Deville grabs the hair and brings them back to the centre of the ring. Green manages to tag in, and locks in the unpretti-her, but before she can hit it, Bianca fights out. She puts Green in the KOD position, and Charlotte tags herself in. She boots Green and pins her for three.
The story with Bianca and Charlotte will certainly continue past Summerslam, and ideally we’ll see the two lock up at WrestleMania and Belair can say she’s knocked off all of the horsewomen.
BACKSTAGE WITH IYO AND BAYLEY
Bayley and IYO are talking in the locker room. Bayley pulls out a poster from her bag that Shotzi had made for her. As they prepare to leave, Asuka interrupts. She says that she’s facing two of the best at Summerslam in Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair, and that IYO shouldn’t dare interrupt. SKY says that she plans on leaving Summerslam as the new WWE Women’s Champion.
Personally I’m hoping we see a cash-in or a return to freshen up the women’s division at Summerslam, but I also want a proper competitive singles match between IYO and Asuka.
BACKSTAGE WITH ADAM PEARCE, LA KNIGHT & SHEAMUS
Adam Pearce is talking on the phone regarding the “Summerslam Slim Jim Battle Royal” before he’s interrupted by LA Knight. LA Knight says that it’s a travesty that he’s not fighting for the United States championship. The only way to make the “slim jim battle royal” mean something is to have LA Knight there to win it. Sheamus interrupts by saying that you can’t win it on promos alone, and that he has to fight for it. Sheamus says they have a line of their own… banger, after banger, after banger, and LA Knight says that the only thing getting banged will be Sheamus’s head at Summerslam. Pearce announces them both as competitors for the “slim jim battle royal” and announces a match between the two of them next week.
What is a slim jim battle royal and why is LA Knight fighting in this instead of something actually important.
KARRION KROSS W/ SCARLETT DEFEATS KARL ANDERSON
We cut back to the arena with Karrion Kross making his entrance with Scarlett. It’s good to see these two actually get the full entrance as I think it adds a lot to Kross’s presentation. Before Karl makes his entrance, the O.C ask him if he wants them to come down to the ring with him. He says it’s personal and makes his way to the ring on his own.
Anderson quickly takes momentum, launching off the top rope with a swinging neckbreaker. He pushes Kross up in to the corner and Scarlett takes advantage, tweaking Anderson’s knee. Karrion hits the saito suplex on to Karl, before the Kross Hammer. He delivers his new finisher, the F5… sorry, I mean the “Final Prayer,” and pins Karl for three. After the match he puts Karl Anderson in the Kross Jacket. AJ Styles and Michin run down the ring, followed shortly by Luke Gallows, but Kross and Scarlett manage to escape.
A short exhibition match that featured Kross and his new finisher. Hoping that he can get over from this as I think Karrion has quite a bit of potential but has managed to come up short in every attempt to get over.
JEY USO DEFEATS GRAYSON WALLER
After these two make their entrance, they stare down as loud “Uso” chants ring out across the arena. They lock up with Jey taking early momentum. Waller turns things around with a dropkick to Uso’s knee, sending Jey into the turnbuckle. The two brawl some more and Jey turns things around with an enzuigiri. Waller falls to the floor in the corner, and Jey hypes up the crowd with the Uso chants. As he lines Waller up, Roman Reign’s music hits. As Roman and his troupe make their way down the ramp, Grayson hits Jey with a big boot. We go to commercial with Jey laid out in the ring.
As we come back from the break, Roman has pulled up a chair and is sat on the ramp, flanked by Heyman and Sikoa. In the ring, Jey is turning things back around, putting Waller up on the top turnbuckle. Waller fights back, and makes his way across the ropes for his “Kobe” elbow drop. Waller hits Jey with a spinebuster, and stares into the hard cam while taking his elbow pad off. He goes for the People’s Elbow, doing his trademark lunges before jumping up for the People’s Elbow, but Jey scrambles out of the way. He capitalises off of Waller’s showboating, lining him up and hitting Grayson with a spear. Roman can’t help but smile to himself, but then Jey goes to the top rope and lands a splash on Waller to pin him for three.
POST MATCH ROMAN & SOLO BEATDOWN
As Jey has his hand raised, surprise surprise, Solo Sikoa jumps into the ring and knocks Jey down. Roman gives the nod for Solo to hit the spike, but Jey ducks out of the way. He superkicks Solo who rolls out of the ring. Roman fires up and gets in to the ring, but Jey meets him with a spear. He hulks up and the crowd goes absolutely nuts. As Jey goes to the top turnbuckle, he’s pushed off by Solo, who lands his spinning ura nage. He holds Jey up, and him and Roman hit the Spear & Spike combo. Roman stands over Jey, holding the Undisputed WWE Championship and the necklace. As he monologues over Jey, the crowd chants “you got pinned!” Solo picks Jey up again, and they hit him with another spear & spike.
This segment was great to build up hype for Summerslam, and allows Jey to rest next week on the go home show. I enjoyed the match between Waller and Jey, it’s great to see Waller in the spot he’s in now.
Overall I think this was a decent episode of SmackDown. LA Knight is consistently rising in popularity from week to week, he’s definitely a guy that could be a megastar for the next 5-10 years. The story between Jey and Roman is coming to a head, and they’re building tons of hype for their clash at Summerslam. I didn’t particularly enjoy the women’s tag team match tonight, as “can they co-exist” storylines have been done to death and I hate seeing champions get pinned. Karrion and Karl was certainly one of the matches of all time, and I’m interested to see what is coming from this Bobby Lashley & Street Profits alliance.