– The first WWE SmackDown on FOX of 2023 opens live from the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee as Michael Cole welcomes us. He’s joined at ringside by Wade Barrett.
– The announcers begin to hype tonight’s show but commentary chairs and other items start flying. The Bloodline is here. Solo Sikoa, Sami Zayn and Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos, Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso, are at ringside and they’re still in a bad mood. The music hits and out comes Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns with Paul Heyman. Reigns stops at the entrance-way and raises his finger in the air as the pyro goes off. The Usos, Sikoa and Zayn look on from ringside and salute The Tribal Chief. Reigns marches to the ring as Samantha Irvin does the introductions.
Cole shows us how John Cena and Kevin Owens defeated Reigns and Zayn one week ago. Reigns stops on the apron and poses as the rest of The Bloodline poses on the other side of the ring, raising their fingers on the apron. The Bloodline now poses together in the middle of the ring as the pyro hits again. Reigns takes the mic and calls on Memphis to acknowledge him.
Reigns tells Heyman we’re going to start things off a bit differently tonight. Reigns says he wants to hear from The Honorary Uce, Sami Zayn. Fans pop. Zayn is all smiles and a “Sami!” chant starts up. Zayn says we saw how The Bloodline kicked off this show, how they kicked off RAW, how they kicked off 2023, to put everyone on notice that this year belongs to The Bloodline. Sami says they are starting 2023 off right. They sent a message at RAW. He goes on about their wins at RAW and says they are sending a message this year. Reigns doesn’t really care to talk about this year, he wants to talk about what happened last year. Reigns brings up last week’s loss to Cena and Owens. Reigns laughs about some saying they lost, which isn’t in his DNA. He had to think about it long and hard. Reigns says he didn’t lose, Sami did. Sami’s shoulders were on the mat, not his.
Reigns says he didn’t lose so he doesn’t really care about it, and they’re moving forward, but he can’t figure out why Sami called his shot, why he guaranteed a win. Reigns says he calls his shots, and he always delivers without a problem, but it’s embarrassing when you call a shot but then fail to deliver. Reigns asks if Sami wants to be The Tribal Chief, why is he doing things like Reigns. Does Sami want to be like Reigns, does he think he can do things better? Reigns says at the top you have to think about these things, you have to keep eyes in the back of your head. Sami looks a bit confused as he shakes his head. Reigns asks over and over if Sami wants to be him, if he wants to take over The Bloodline. Reigns is yelling at Sami now. The music interrupts and out comes Owens.
Owens says Reigns needs to relax, take a deep breath or two because he has some misdirected anger going on. Owens can’t think of the last time he saw Reigns like this, but Owens knows he was the cause of it, and he’s the cause of it again tonight. Owens says Reigns’ problem isn’t with Sami, it’s with Owens. He’s got a KO Problem and it’s starting to drive Reigns crazy. Owens says it’s time for Reigns tot take care of that problem, and to do it at the Royal Rumble with the title on the line. Fans pop. Reigns says yeah, sure, he doesn’t care about Owens and just wants him to go away, leave forever. Reigns says after he beat Reigns last week, he’s in a great mood and will leave but not forever, he will see Reigns at the Royal Rumble, and he will see Sami whenever Sami manages to dig his balls out of Reigns’ pocket. Owens walks away from the entrance-way as his music starts back up. Heyman talks with Reigns as The Bloodline looks on, but we can’t hear what they’re saying. We go to commercial.
– Back from the break and new SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair arrives in the back, driving her convertible BMW. She hops out and goes to enter the building. Cole says she will be here live tonight.
WWE NXT Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Santos Escobar
We go back to the ring and out comes NXT Tag Team Champions The New Day – Kofi Kingston with Xavier Woods. Cole shows us video from earlier today with Legado del Fantasma interrupting Kayla Braxton’s backstage interview with The New Day. Santos Escobar commented on how Kofi’s Royal Rumble appearances are legendary and as much as he likes watching Kofi in The Rumble, he will enjoy eliminating Kingston even more. Escobar said the sun has set on The New Day, and now it’s Legado’s time. The two sides had words with Kingston telling them to jump. We go back to the ring and out comes Legado del Fantasma – Escobar with Zelina Vega, Joaquin Wilde, and Cruz Del Toro.
The bell rings and they lock up. Escobar takes it to the corner and backs off as the referee warns him. Escobar with a kick to the gut. Fans chant for Kofi now. Escobar mounts offense but Kofi catches him with an arm drag. Kofi gets sent to the apron and Escobar rocks him. Escobar tries to knock Kofi to the floor but like he’s done in the Royal Rumble in the past, he uses a handstand to keep him up and get to the steel ring steps as Woods cheers him on.
Kingston fights back in with a kick, then a top rope crossbody. Kingston knocks Escobar over the top rope to the floor. Kingston celebrates in the middle of the ring and drops to his knees to pose as we go back to commercial.
Back from the break and Kingston hits a running knee for a 2 count as Vega applauds from ringside, then barks at Kingston. Escobar taunts Kofi some, then kicks him in the corner. Kingston fights back and now they trade shots. Woods cheers Kofi on, and Kingston hits a second rope missile dropkick. Fans rally for The New Day now as Woods plays the trombone.
Escobar mounts offense but gets sent to the apron. Escobar drops Kofi with a strike from the apron. Woods distracts Escobar on the floor, allowing Kofi to grab him from the ring. Escobar drops Kofi off the counter with an enziguri for a 2 count. Escobar talks trash while whipping Kofi into the ropes, but Kofi counters with a unique roll-up. Kofi ducks a clothesline and chops Escobar. Kofi mounts offense with a clothesline and more now. They tangle an Kofi nails SOS for a close 2 count.
More back and forth now. Kingston goes to the top but Escobar jumps up and meets him there. Escobar works Kofi over up top and tries for a superplex. Kofi fights back and knocks Escobar to the mat. Kofi wastes some time and leaps out but Escobar catches him with a knee on the way down. Kofi kicks out just in time. Kofi ends up nailing a big double stomp for a close 2 count.
Kingston kicks Escobar and nails a Boom Drop for a big pop. Cruz gets on the apron while Wilde grabs Kofi’s leg from ringside and Vega also distracts by arguing with Woods. Kofi kicks Wilde away but this allows Escobar to hit the Phantom Driver on Kingston for the pin to win.
Winner: Santos Escobar
– After the match, Escobar quickly hits the floor as the music hits. He regroups with Vega and the rest of Legado del Fantasma at the bottom of the ramp as The New Day looks on.
– Cole confirms Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns for the Royal Rumble with the Undisputed WWE Universal Title on the line.
– Sami Zayn is backstage knocking on the door of Roman Reigns’ locker room suite but Paul Heyman stops him. Sami just wants to explain but Heyman says now is not the time. The Usos and Solo Sikoa walk up, and they’re allowed to enter the room. Heyman recalls how last week he told Zayn that you need to be three steps ahead at all times on The Island of Relevancy, but even three steps down the road would be bad timing. Heyman says think about this – I still love you. Heyman enters the room. Sami looks confused as Heyman shuts the door in his face.
– Back from the break and Liv Morgan cuts a backstage promo on how she will win the Women’s Royal Rumble, declaring her spot. She wants to be the first entrant.
– We see how Uncle Howdy dropped Bray Wyatt last week while they both stood in the ring with LA Knight. LA is backstage with Kayla Braxton now. She asks show he feels going into the Pitch Black match at the Royal Rumble. LA insults the people of Memphis and says he feels good because Wyatt’s plans back-fired last week and now all he has to do is walk into The Rumble and kick what’s left of him around. Knight says now no one is talking about Wyatt’s big return match, they’re talking about LA. Yeah. Knight goes on and says when the lights go down at The Rumble, Wyatt’s lights will go out. That’s not an insult, it’s just a fact of life. Yeah. Cole says we still don’t know much about the Pitch Black match but it will be No Rules, Anything Goes, win by pinfall or submission.
Karrion Kross and Scarlett vs. Madcap Moss and Emma
We go back to the ring and out comes Karrion Kross and Scarlett, for what will be her official in-ring debut. We see the backstage segment from two weeks ago, where Emma slapped Scarlett and Kross warned her that she has no idea what she started. Kross and Scarlett pose in the middle of the ring as we go to commercial.
Back from the break and the match is underway as Kross and Madcap Moss go at it while Emma and Scarlett look on from the apron. They both go down and crawl to make tags. Emma unloads on Scarlett as soon as they tag in. Emma plays to the crowd for a pop, then rocks Scarlett and splashes her in the corner to keep her there. Scarlett kicks out at 2. Scarlet rocks Emma and delivers more strikes. Scarlett with an overhead suplex for 2.
Emma ducks a shot and nails a double underhook throw. Emma with a kick to the face for a 2 count as Kross pulls Emma off his wife. Fans boo. Emma has words with Kross as the referee tries to get Kross to leave. Emma slaps Kross. Kross backs Emma into the corner but Moss tags in and rocks Kross from the apron. Moss with a big shoulder thrust into the corner. Scarlett grabs Moss’ leg from the floor, which allows Kross to hit a big lariat.
Emma attacks Scarlett at ringside but Scarlett sends her face-first into the ring post. Scarlett tosses Emma over the announce table. Moss and Kross tangle in the ring now. Kross with the KrossHammer forearm to the back of the head, then the KrossJacket submission in the middle of the ring to win.
Winners: Karrion Kross and Scarlett
– After the match, Kross stands tall over Moss as the music hits. Scarlett brings Rey Mysterios’ music into the ring and they place it over Moss’ head. They pull out a Mysterio tarot card, then lay it over Moss. Kross and Scarlett pose over Moss as the music picks up and the lights go red. Kross kneels into the camera and says he knows Mysterio is watching, and he knows Rey knows that he will be in Moss’ place soon. Tik, tok. Kross exits the ring and carries Scarlett to the back.
– Cole touts last week’s SmackDown ratings and shows us tonight’s Progressive Match Flo video, which looks back at how Ronda Rousey retained the SmackDown Women’s Title over Raquel Rodriguez last Friday, but then dropped the title to Charlotte Flair after she made her surprise return. Flair is here tonight. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and the announcers hype WWE Money In the Bank from London on Saturday, July 1 at The O2 Arena.
– We go to King Jerry Lawler’s Hall of Fame Bar & Grille on Beale Street in Memphis, owned by WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler. Sheamus and Drew McIntyre are there talking. Sheamus says being on the front lines together these past few months has made him want to smash Drew’s face in a little bit less. Drew says the talk like that is what got them in this mess in the first place, that and Sheamus kept kicking Drew in the head. They keep hitting each other with friendly but aggressive body slaps. Sheamus says he’s proud to call Drew an Honorary Brute. Drew appreciates that. Sheamus says he’s been thinking back to all of their matches and how they kicked the crap out of each other. The friendly slaps continue as they recall their past matches. Sheamus says if they did that to each other, imagine what they will do to The Usos tonight on SmackDown. McIntyre is looking forward to beating The Usos and getting back out on Beale Street later tonight. They get the bar crowd to chant “Banger after banger!” with them.
– We go back to the ring and out comes new SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair as the pyro goes off. Fans cheer for Flair as Cole talks about last week’s surprise return and title win over Ronda Rousey.
Flair takes the mic and gives a shout-out to Memphis, then asks if they missed their Queen. Flair says she missed them too. She asks about the “payback is a bitch” catchphrase and says just ask Rousey, she knows. Fans chant “thank you Charlotte!” and Flair is surprised to hear this, but she thanks the fans. She says she was gone for 8 months and whether you love or hate her, she was genuinely surprised to hear the reactions to her return in Tampa last week.
Flair says whether you like to cheer her or boo her, or just “Woooo!”, she’s always been about three things – passion, consistency and dedication for what she does in the ring. Flair says she may be a lot of things to a lot of people but one thing she is not is complacent, she will always ask and demand more, she will not just coast, she will knock down any obstacle in her way, because that’s what a champion does. A champion expects the unexpected and rises to any occasion, and that is what she’s done 14 times. The music interrupts and out comes Sonya Deville.
Deville gets fans to give it up for Flair. Deville says the hillbillies in the arena might not be bright enough to see through Flair’s lies, but Deville is and she does. Deville says there should be an asterisk next to Flair’s #14 because she beat a half-dead Rousey. Deville sarcastically congratulates Flair as she enters the ring. Fans want Flair to “whoop that trick!” now. Deville seemingly challenges Flair, then takes off her jacket. Flair taunts Deville. Deville says if Flair wants to prove she’s a real champion, put the title on the line right now. Flair asks Memphis what they think of the challenge, and they cheer. The “whoop that trick!” chant starts back up. Flair says challenge accepted, trick. Flair and Deville get ready for a match as the referee hits the ring.
SmackDown Women’s Title Match: Sonya Deville vs. Charlotte Flair
The bell rings and Sonya Deville decks SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair from behind as she takes her jacket off. Deville unloads on Flair with forearms and punches against the ropes. Flair gets a big shot in, dropping Deville. Deville rolls to the floor to regroup as Flair looks on. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and Deville is working Flair over in the middle of the ring. Flair counters and sends Deville into the corner. Deville counters and takes the knee out with a chop block. Deville focuses on the knee now, covering for 2. Deville with big crossface strikes now as she grounds Flair in the middle of the ring, talking some trash.
Fans rally for Flair as she breaks free. Flair with a big kick to the face in the corner. Flair with a clothesline, and another. Flair chops Deville several times as fans “Wooo!” with her. Flair with a back suplex and a kip-up for a pop. Flair plays to the crowd as they cheer hr on.
Flair runs into a big kick in the corner. Deville comes off the middle rope but Flair moves to avoid the knee. Flair flips into a clothesline for a 2 count. Deville rolls to the apron as Flair shows a bit of frustration. Flair approaches but Deville drops her over the top rope. Deville runs right back in but Flair intercepts her with a Spear. Flair applies the Figure Four in the middle of the ring now as fans cheer her on. Flair bridges into the Figure Eight and Deville taps out for the finish and Flair retains.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
– After the match, Flair stands tall and raises the title in the air as her music hits.
– Cole sends us to the same Cody Rhodes vignette that aired during RAW this week.
Royal Rumble Qualifying Match: Ricochet vs. “Top Dolla” AJ Francis
We go back to the ring and out comes Ricochet for tonight’s Royal Rumble qualifier. Ricochet hits the ring and poses to a pop as we go back to commercial.
Back from the break and we get a new vignette from Lacey Evans. She is training and learning more methods and close combat skills. Her new method of destruction is the Cobra Clutch. We go back to the ring and out comes Hit Row – “Top Dolla” AJ Francis with Ashante “Thee” Adonis and “B-Fab” Briana Brandy. Cole continues to bring up Dolla’s recent botch. The bell rings and they go at it.
Ricochet goes to springboard back in but Dolla grabs him by his throat on the top rope, then launches him to the mat. Dolla talks some trash and levels Ricochet with a kick for a 2 count.
Dolla chokes Ricochet on the ropes as the referee warns him and Hit Row talks trash from ringside. Dolla aggressively chokes Ricochet on the ropes again, then drops him with ease. Dolla with more trash talking to boos now. Ricochet fights back and mounts offense.
Ricochet keeps control and drops Dolla face-first into the mat. Ricochet goes to the top and he hits the Shooting Star Press for the fairly quick win to earn his spot in the Men’s Royal Rumble.
– After the match, Ricochet stands tall as the music hits. We go to replays. We come back to Dolla offering a handshake to a skeptical Ricochet. They shake and embrace. Dolla then raises Ricochet’s arms in victory. Adonis superkicks Ricochet out of nowhere, then Dolla man-handles him and talks trash to his face. Dolla holds Ricochet while B-Fab nails a pump kick to put him back down. Fans continue to boo as Adonis mounts Ricochet with punches. Adonis and Dolla with a big double team slam now as B-Fab continues the trash talking. Dolla grabs Ricochet again but the music hits and out comes Braun Strowman. Strowman rushes the ring but Hit Row quickly retreats. Strowman dares Dolla to come back to the ring but he won’t. Strowman and Ricochet stand together while Hit Row barks back from the ramp.
– We go backstage to The Bloodline. The Usos are getting hyped up for the main event. Solo Sikoa leaves with them. Roman Reigns tells Paul Heyman to bring Sami Zayn to him. We go back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Cole sends us to a video package for next week’s title match between Braun Strowman and WWE Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER.
– We go to Roman Reigns’ locker room suite and in comes Sami Zayn, who asks if Reigns wanted to see him. Reigns tells him to take a seat. Paul Heyman is sitting in the background. Sami says he doesn’t have to say this but he acknowledges Reigns as The Tribal Chief, everyone does, no one questions that. Zayn says he’s not trying to be a Tribal Chief or take power, nothing like that, but if anything he did gave that impression to Reigns, then he’s sorry. Sami repeats – he’s sorry. Reigns takes a deep breath and sits forward in his chair. Reigns says he does not accept Zayn’s apology. Reigns says as your Tribal Chief, he holds himself to a very high standard and at the end of the day, he’s got to control his anger. Reigns says no one deserves to be talked to like that, nobody deserves that in front of the whole world. So no, Reigns does not accept Zayn’s apology because Reigns should be the one apologizing.
Zayn is shocked. Reigns says he’s sorry. Zayn doesn’t know what to say. Zayn says it’s fine, Reigns is under a lot of pressure, right? Zayn says as Reigns is Head of The Table, he gets it. Reigns appreciates that but says it’s no excuse. Reigns is embarrassed to say Kevin Owens was right – he’s not mad at Zayn, he’s mad at KO, and he’s taking it out on Zayn, and that’s not right. It’s not right, but they’re going to fix it. Sami looks relieved. Reigns says the KO problem is one they’re going to fix, right Wise Man? Heyman, clutching both title belts, sits down next to Sami on the couch. Heyman says The Tribal Chief is giving Sami the opportunity to redeem himself next week, live on SmackDown, in a match against Owens. Sami nods his head and says yes, let’s do it. Sami says he will take care of Owens for his Tribal Chief. The Usos’ music hits in the arena for the main event and Zayn gets up to go join them. Reigns grabs his arm and tells him to stay so they can all watch this match together. Heyman is all smiles. Sami sits back down next to Heyman.
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles Match: Sheamus and Drew McIntyre vs. The Usos
We go back to the ring for tonight’s main event and out first comes Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos – Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso, with Solo Sikoa. They stop and raise the 1s in the air, then march to the ring. The members of The Bloodline look on as the music hits and out comes Sheamus. Drew McIntyre is out next, and they head to the ring together, then pose as the pyro hits. We get formal ring introductions from Samantha Irvin. Back to commercial.
Back from the break and Sheamus is going at it with Jimmy. They trade counters and Sheamus clubs Jimmy to the mat as Solo looks on. Drew comes in and chops Jimmy while Shamus holds him. Jimmy fights but Drew nails a big overhead throw, then taunts Jey. Drew keeps control as Jey tags in.
Jey fights back but Drew drops him again with a big right hand. Jey runs into an elbow, then Drew has to knock Jimmy off the apron as he tries to interfere. This allows Jey to nail a big Samoan Drop to Drew. Drew is on the apron now as Jey works him over. Jey brings Drew back into the ring with a suplex.
We see Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn and Paul Heyman watching from backstage. Jimmy tags back in and uses the middle rope to choke Drew while Jey nails a cheap shot from the floor. Jimmy grounds Drew with a headlock now. Jimmy keeps control and in comes Jey for a quick double team.
Drew fights off both champions from the apron. He drops down to the floor and clotheslines Jimmy as he charges. Jey nails a big suicide dive to send Drew into the barrier, then he plays to the crowd. We go to commercial with Jey standing tall at ringside.
Back from the break and Sheamus rocks Jey to the apron, then rips his shirt open and delivers 20 Beats of the Bodhrán as fans count along. Sheamus drops Jey for a close 2 count as we see Reigns, Heyman and Zayn looking on from backstage. The Usos double team Shamus and in comes Jimmy with a superkick, then a top rope Uso splash. Sheamus kicks out just in time. Jimmy argues with the referee out of frustration.
Jey tags in and goes to the top, while Jimmy also goes up top on the opposite side of the ring. Drew cuts Jimmy off while Sheamus cuts Jey off, both climb up. Drew and Sheamus both hit super White Noise for a big pop. Sheamus covers Jey but he kicks out just in time as Sikoa looks on a bit worried from ringside.
Sheamus blocks a kick but Jey nails the enziguri. Drew and Jimmy tag in now. Drew with the neckbreaker and a kip-up for a pop. Drew runs the ropes and leaps out, taking both opponents down at ringside. Drew brings Jey back in for the Claymore Kick. He hits it and covers Jey for the pin but Jimmy rushes back in to make the save just in time. Jimmy may be legal now or we missed the tag. We see Reigns, Zayn and Heyman backstage watching the match and eating popcorn. Drew runs and hits the ring post shoulder-first as Jey moves. Sheamus tags in and goes for the Celtic Cross but Jimmy tags in and pulls Jey to safety. Sheamus eats a double superkick and the 1D for the pin but Drew leaps over to break it up just in time.
All four Superstars are down now. Drew with a Glasgow Kiss headbutt to Jey from the floor. Solo rocks Drew and then slams him on top of the barrier while the referee isn’t looking. Butch runs down and attacks Sikoa at ringside. Ridge Holland joins him and they brawl with Sikoa into the crowd, dumping him over the barrier. Sheamus knees Jimmy but Jimmy nails a superkick. Sheamus with the Brogue Kick for a pin but Jey pulls Jimmy to the floor to break the pin up.
Sheamus goes to the top and leaps to the floor to take both opponents down. Sheamus brings Jimmy back in and puts him on his shoulders but he has to stop and kick Jey off the apron. Jimmy falls on top of Sheamus and holds the pin for the win to retain while Jey pulls on him and the ropes for leverage from the floor.
Winners: The Usos
– After the match, we cut backstage to see Zayn going wild and throwing popcorn all over the room. Reigns is a bit surprised. The Usos quickly head to the floor as their music hits. The first SmackDown of 2023 goes off the air with the announcers hyping Zayn vs. Kevin Owens for next week.