WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Live Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Sept. 15 – Bleacher Report

John Cena joined The Grayson Waller Effect Friday night on SmackDown, sharing the screen with the young, Aussie heel for the second time this year in the most hyped segment of the show.

It headlined a broadcast that also featured a hotly anticipated rematch between LA Knight and The Miz.

What went down in that promo segment, as well as the Payback rematch?

Find out with this recap of the latest Fox broadcast.

Announced in advance for the September 15 broadcast were:

  • The Grayson Waller Effect featuring John Cena
  • AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor
  • Asuka vs. Bayley
  • LA Knight vs. The Miz
Aric Becker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pat McAfee made a surprise to return to SmackDown, live from Denver, and popped both the fans and commentator Michael Cole. After a brief, energetic promo, Austin Theory hit the ring, interrupting his former rival.

After an insult-laden response, McAfee told Theory that SmackDown is the people’s show, bringing about the return of The Rock. The roof blew off the arena as The Great One made his way to the ring.

An extended chant that was bleeped out and went on far too long gave way to The Rock laying out the brash, young heel and delivering a big People’s Elbow to an electric response.

McAfee added his own for good measure, capping off a fantastic, surprising opening segment. Pro wrestling is great when it can deliver the unexpected and this was certainly unexpected.



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • Surprises rule!
  • Theory called himself ‘the real Austin” and a “real ass-kicker,” mocking “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and his historic rivalry with Rock.
  • The Great One bucking broadcast rules and having the entire crowd chant “a-hole” was fun, especially as censors scurried to bleep it out of the broadcast.
Credit: WWE.com

AJ Styles and Finn Balor are so talented that even a so-so match between them, interrupted by a midmatch commercial break, is still pretty damn good.

Such was the case Friday as the former world champions did battle in a competitive match that saw Judgment Day’s Damian Priest and Dominik Mysterio ejected from ringside after attempting to interfere, only for Jimmy Uso to interject himself in the bout and setup Balor’s victory.

The finish suggests the battles between Styles and Uso are not over and allows Judgment Day to continue building momentum, especially as they appear across all three of WWE’s brands.

A solid use of all involved, this was a great followup to the explosive show open.


Balor defeated Styles



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • Styles and Balor are both former leaders of Bullet Club and among the most influential and important wrestlers of the last 20 years.
  • Priest attempted to interfere but the official booted him and Dominik Mysterio from ringside.
  • Jimmy Uso attempted to interfere but Styles caught him with a right hand. Balor took advantage of the distraction to score the tainted victory.
Credit: WWE.com

Backstage, Finn Balor attempted to lure Jimmy Uso into joining The Judgment Day based on the idea that there are no leaders, no one to be beholden to. Uso appeared somewhat interested.

Back in the arena, the LWO’s Rey Mysterio, Santos Escobar, Zelina Vega, Cruz Del Toro, and Joaquin Wilde were in the ring for a special promo.

After Escobar respectfully challenged Mysterio for the United States Championship, the unnamed trio of Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits interrupted the festivities, leading to a tag team match.

Montez Ford and Angel Dawkins defeated Del Toro and Wilde in a quick match, putting the babyfaces away in a bout that was anything but competitive. A post-match attack further solidified the group as heels.

This was fine but Del Toro and Wilde are quickly losing credibility following a squash loss to Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn two weeks ago and this quick defeat here. LWO is as strong as the sum of its parts and if two of the five are viewed as glorified enhancement stars, it will ultimately hurt the overall value of the group.

Mysterio vs. Escobar should be fun but after this, it would not be surprising if Lashley is ultimately the one to dethrone the Hall of Famer.


The Street Profits defeated The LWO



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • “You know what that means? There’s no Roman,” Balor told Uso, attempting to convince him to join Judgment Day.
  • Escobar asked Mysterio for a championship opportunity, to which the United States Champion accepted.
  • The Street Profits need new theme music if they are supposed to be heels. Their current theme is too upbeat and energetic.
Credit: WWE.com

LA Knight made it 2-0 against The Miz since Payback, defeating the former WWE champion with Blunt Force Trauma.

The crowd was red-hot for Knight and Miz was great as the antagonistic heel. The match was never more than it needed to be, which was an extended showcase for Knight as he builds momentum toward what appears to be a showdown with Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.

At least, that is, based on the teases involving Paul Heyman over the last two weeks.


Knight defeated The Miz



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • The pop for LA Knight remains strong, even on a night when the Denver faithful have already been electrified by Pat McAfee, The Rock, AJ Styles and Rey Mysterio.
  • “Who proclaims themselves ‘The Megastar?’ It sounds awfully egotistical,” Corey Graves said. “Who calls themselves ‘The Hollywood A-Lister,’” Cole responded. “The A-Listers!” Graves exclaimed, making a good point.
  • “It doesn’t matter if it’s Rey Mysterio. It doesn’t matter if it’s Gunther. It doesn’t make a difference if it’s Seth Rollins. It damn sure doesn’t matter if it’s Roman Reigns,” Knight said, staking his claim to championship gold and his intent to compete for it.
  • Backstage, Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman watched Knight exit the arena, teasing the potential for a showdown with Reigns for the second, consecutive week.
Credit: WWE.com

Like Balor and Styles earlier in the night, Asuka and Bayley are capable of great in-ring work every time they set foot inside the squared circle. Great may not be the word to describe their match on Friday, but it was still very good.

Also like Styles and Balor, it featured a screwy, interference-laden finish that saw Shotzi provide a distraction that allowed The Empress of Tomorrow to score the win.

It was a repetitive finish, especially since it kept the storyline alive for the loser while intending to build up the winner’s momentum. If there is a weakness of Triple H as head of creative, it is not always recognizing when he has booked the same finish more than once on the card.

Clean that up and the idea of intertwining feuds is hardly a bad one.


Asuka defeated Bayley



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • The commentary team put over Iyo Sky’s absence by claiming she was home training for her WWE Women’s Championship defense against Asuka next week.
  • Did…did Cole just mention Triple Tails? From SMASH and Pro Wrestling Wave? Friggin SWEET! (Yes, it’s not the first time. No, it never stops being awesome that the commentary team acknowledges history in other promotions now.)
  • Shotzi appeared, startling Bayley and providing a distraction that Asuka capitalized on for the win. It would have been a more effective finish if we had not just see an identical one in the opener between Balor and Styles.
Credit: WWE.com

The Grayson Waller Effect featuring John Cena could have used a little more…John Cena.

The Greatest of All Time did not utter a word as the heelish Aussie, then Jey Uso, interrupted and ran him down on the mic. A brawl erupted, Solo Sikoa jumped in, and AJ Styles hit the ring to make the save and end the night with babyfaces standing tall.

This was a messy segment that did not accomplish or further much of anything. It continued Styles and Cena’s respective beefs with Uso, added Sikoa to the mix, and failed to justify Waller’s involvement other than sharing the squared circle with Cena one more time.

Maybe we get a cool tag team match out of it, but this felt like a rather disappointing utilization of Cena on a night that started so electrically with The Rock.



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • Waller played on Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell’s comments about Colorado head coach Deion Sanders, drawing heat from the Denver fans. 
  • Waller claimed Cena doesn’t want to be a wrestler anymore. 
  • Uso, Sikoa, and Styles all hit the ring before the babyfaces stood tall to close out the show. 

The show started with the returns of Pat McAfee and The Rock and there is not much a wrestling show can do to top that. WWE tried, presenting three matches with top-tier talent, the start of Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits’ heel run, and another primetime showcase for LA Knight.

The show felt a bit rushed at times but it focused on the Superstars and segments that were of the most significance, so it was a success.

That main event promo segment, though, felt off, for whatever reason. Hopefully, there is more to it than a predictable tag match because John Cena and the others involved have earned better.

Overall Grade: B+

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