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WWE Smackdown! - September 23, 2022
Live from Salt Lake City, Utah. Our hosts are Michael Cole and Corey Graves.
The Bloodline (and Sami Zayn) start the show with a discussion in the ring. Roman's "Acknowledge Me!" catchphrase gets a big babyface reaction. The fans even like Paul Heyman, at least until he calls them "Salt Lake Citiots." Paul explains that the Tribal Elders sent Solo Sikoa to help the Bloodline because of all the conspiracies against them. With a new enforcer in the group, the Usos are now free to pursue their own legacy, but Roman interrupts their mic time to remind Solo that he answers to him. They try to end the segment, but Sami Zayn awkwardly takes the mic. He knows he's not "technically blood" with the group, but wants everyone to know that he acknowledges the Tribal Chief! Crowd chants for Sami. Roman says he likes Sami, but is confused why he's wearing their shirt and tagging along. Roman demands that Sami take off his Bloodline shirt. Sami looks hurt, and Jey ends up ripping the shirt off his chest. Sami is forbidden to EVER where a Bloodline shirt again… because Roman got him a new one, and tosses him an official "Honoracy Uce" shirt. That was a heckuva tease. Sami joyously gives Roman a big hug. Well, this moved at a snail's pace and ate up 20 minutes of TV, but provided just enough drama to justify it.
Smackdown Women's Champion Liv Morgan vs. Lacey Evans
This is happening because Evans insulted Morgan earlier today. They trade slaps, then Evans boots Morgan out of the air. Liv answers with a shotgun dropkick, but misses a corner attack. Evans sweeps the legs and soaks in some fake crowd boos. Liv survives a chinlock, but Lacey sweeps her leg again. Liv dodges a stomp, but gets knocked loopy on the ring post. Slow and clunky so far, but let's take a break. They return from commercials with Lacey working another chinlock. Liv earns some crowd support by showing some fire, but Evans locks on a tight headscissors. Next, Evans misses a kendo stick swing, and Liv hits a Codebreaker and ObLIVion for a flukey win at 8:41. Okay, we get it, Liv is an underdog, *.
Winner: Liv Morgan
Morgan loses her cool and pummels Evans with the kendo stick. Morgan might have more of a killer instinct than we all thought, she puts Evans through a table with a top rope senton! This was a much better statement for Liv than barely defeating Lacey in a boring match.
Hit Row enjoy some fine adult beverages backstage. They're hosting a watch party for the Tag Team Championship match later tonight, because they want the next shot. Street Profits join the party, with similar goals in mind. Shinsuke Nakamura shows up to break the tension and it's good times for all.
Sami Zayn's "Honorary Uce" status has gone to his head and he abuses a caterer. Madcap Moss and Ricochet try to talk some sense into Sami by calling him obnoxious. Ricochet is about to call Sami something really mean when Solo Sikoa ambushes and leaves them down and out. This angle is great.
Video package putting over how great the Usos are and how they're on the verge of becoming the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in WWE history.
Let's take a look at a classic Royal Rumble moment, since it's September and only LOGICAL! Shawn Michaels won the Rumble after entering at #1. Okay, it's not so random, because tickets for the 2023 Rumble in San Antonio are going on sale. I apologize.
The New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston) vs. Maximum Male Models (Mace and Monsoor, with Max Dupi and Maxxine)
No entrance for the MMM, which seems appropriate. New Day lost the feud to Viking Raiders, but the Vikings are on the shelf with another injury, so the New Day get the renewed push instead. The crowd chants for the New Day as they do a fast forward version of the tag team formula. Maxxine's picture taking becomes distracting, and Kofi breaks up a double team so Xavier can win via roll-up at 2:28. This felt like an Attitude Era match with New Generation gimmicks, ½*.
Winners: The New Day
Max Dupri is disgusted by what losers his guys are and throws a fit, to massive fake boos.
The watch party has filled up with wrestlers not booked for matches. Los Lotharios hit on Fab-B, so the Hit Row men chase them away.
Braun Strowman vs. Otis (with Chad Gable)
The ring has been reinforced, in case you were worried. Pretty sure this an entirely Raw match, but I guess that doesn't matter much anymore. They lock up, Braun scores first with a throw. Dropkick by Braun sends Otis outside. Braun tries to charge, but Gable's interference lets Otis throw him into the barricade. Otis drives Braun's spine into the ring post and hits a lariat for 2. Braun answers with a spinebuster, Otis rolls outside to safety. The crowd roars as Braun tackles Otis into the announce table. Braun tosses Gable away, but Otis counters him with a World's Strongest Slam for only 2. Otis hits the Vader Bomb but Braun kicks out! Otis misses a diving headbutt, and Braun powerbombs him to win at 5:27. Call me crazy, but this was the perfect kind of TV match to hook casual fans, ***.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Kayla Braxton talks to the Brawlin' Brutes backstage. They chant FIGHT NIGHT and it kills me how lame this gimmick is, considering how great this could be if they were treated just 25% more seriously. Sheamus announces that he's facing Gunther again in 2 weeks and plans on taking the Intercontinental Championship from his cold, dead hands.
Drew McIntyre comes to the ring for some words. He says he doesn't like playing games, if you have a problem with him come see him in the ring, but apparently Karrion Kross didn't get that message. Drew announces that he'll face Kross at Extreme Rules in a strap match. Everything then goes black and white as Kross' music hits. Scarlett comes out alone, while Kross makes a failed ambush from the crowd. Drew ties the strap to Kross and pulls him into a big boot. Kross tries to get away, but Drew pulls him back for more punishment. Scarlett shields her man and shoots a fireball at him. Drew shakes it off and drops Kross again, but Scarlett sneaks up for a low blow. Kross gets choke Drew out and stand tall, which is sad, because I was glad to see Drew finally score a win in this feud. I suppose that's the point and I should be signing up for Peacock so I can see Extreme Rules pronto.
Dakota Kai (with Bayley and Iyo Sky) vs. Raquel Rodriguez
Raquel tackles Kai into the buckles and hits snake eyes onto the other corner. Bayley and Iyo immediately interfere, allowing Kai to hit a running boot Shotzi Blackheart runs in to attack Bayley, and fend off Sky. Raquel rolls up Kai to win at 1:22. Nothing match, just here to set up the post-match angle, ¼*.
Winner: Raquel Rodriguez
Damage Ctrl attempt a revenge beatdown, but end up getting cleared out of the ring.
Back at the watch party, tempers incoherently flare.
WWE Raw/Smackdown Tag Team Championship:
The Usos © (Jey and Jimmy Uso, with Sami Zayn and Solo Sikoa) vs. The Brawlin' Brutes (Ridge Holland and Butch, with Sheamus)
The Usos are only about two months away from becoming the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in WWE history, so the stakes are awesomely high in this one. Butch starts hot and hits Jey with a low dropkick to set up some finger manipulation. Holland tags in, but Jimmy's ambush enziguri reverses the momentum. Holland restores order with a knee lift and tags in Butch. Holland returns by Jey dumps him outside, allowing the Usos to hang Butch on the top rope! Sami cheers the Usos on as they throw Butch into the barricade. The Usos hit Butch with a double back drop for 2. Back from commercials, Butch tries to fight out the Usos' corner, but eats another enziguri. Sami tries to interfere but gets caught. Butch capitalizes with an enziguri on an Uso and makes the hot tag. Holland gets a nice pop as he cleans house. An Uso answers with a Samoan Drop, but Butch helps with a senton. Butch clears the Usos to ringside and hits an Asai moonsault. Butch hits a German suplex and kicks the head for a great nearfall. Butch runs into another enziguri, and takes a superkick. Butch tries a moonsault but eats stereo superkicks, but KICKS OUt AT 2! The Usos hit Butch with an elevated DDT, but Butch rips the fingers of an Uso to make a tag. Holland tries an Alabama Slam, but the Usos block him, only for Ridge to lift them up for a double backdrop! Butch and Holland hit a superkick/slam combo, but the Usos break the cover!! Sami grabs a chair, but Sheamus disarms him, only for Imperium to run in for an ambush. The Usos throw a superkick party and finish Butch with their tandem cutter to win at 14:17! Molten hot match with a tremendous sense of urgency and nonstop action, ****¼.
Winners and still WWE Tag Team Champions: The Usos
Final Thoughts: The opening segment and main event were tremendous. Smackdown is currently producing episodic television worth tuning into each week. Most of the rest of the show wasn't great, but that doesn't really matter when the show's bookends are this strong. Smackdown is worth a fresh look.
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