WWE SmackDown at Amway Center in Orlando, FL on 7/21/23 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Jacob Striewski

Earlier this year, Rewind It Magazine were there at the Amway Center when WWE came through Orlando for Raw. This past Friday, July 21, the world’s largest wrestling promotion came back into town for their SmackDown brand, and Rewind It were once again there to catch all of the action. What made the occasion all the more special was being able to take my son Jacob Striewski to his first ever WWE event finally, where he once again acted as photographer for Rewind It for the third straight time in a row (and second consecutive time at the Amway).

The ladies kicked the night off with a sizzle as the lovely Tiffany Stratton effortlessly took out Kiana James in the first match. Afterwards, ringside announcers Wade Barrett and Michael Cole made their dramatic entrances.

The fatal 4-way between Rey Mysterio, Sheamus, LA Knight, and Cameron Grimes was no doubt one of the biggest draws of the night that saw stars like Austin Theory and Santos Escobar also get coaxed into the mix. But the wildest moment of the match came when all four of the original men fell from the top of the turnbuckle in a massive Tower of Doom maneuver. Ultimately, Mysterio walked away with the victory and advancement to the U.S. Invitational.

Second-generation wrestler Charlotte Flair (daughter of the legendary Ric Flair) then emerged to take on Iyo Sky. The ladies duked it out for some time before Flair ultimately took the W, only to be blindsided by Asuka, who left Flair writhing in pain on the mat.

Charlotte Flair takes down Iyo Sky with ease.

In a brief backstage segment, Kayla interviewed Dominick Myseterio with Rhea Ripley by his side. As he bragged on about taking on everyone and anyone for his title, Butch of The Brawling Brutes came out to challenge him. Then former WWE legend Shawn Michaels emerged to much delight of (most) of the crowd to say what a “great idea” this was, leaving everyone stunned.

U.S. Champion Austin Theory and LWO member Santos Escobar then picked up where they left off earlier in a non-title match. Despite being the underdog, Escobar walked away with a victory after initiating a Phantom Driver on Theory.

Current NXT champion Dominik Mysterion came out (with Rhea Ripley at his side) to defend his title against Butch. Mysterio seemed to be in charge before Butch’s partner Ridge Holland came from out of nowhere to bale out his teammate.

Dirty “Dom” Mysterio holds his NXT Championship belt high as Rhea Ripley looks on.

Things then took a turn for the hilarious as Kit Wilson pushed Elton Prince (both of the Pretty Deadly tag team) down to ringside in a wheelchair. The two quickly fled as the Brutes chased them off, only for Ripley to attack Butch and effectively help Dirty “Dom” retain his title.

But of course the true show-stopper and most talked about segment of the evening came when the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and cousin Jey Uso played out the drama of the “Rules of Engagement,” signing the contract for the upcoming SummerSlam match at a desk and chairs set up in the center of the ring.

Reigns and Uso stare each other down as Solo prepares to strike.

This ended with Reigns stopping Samoan Solo from attacking Uso, only to give Uso the opening to knock Solo out of the ring with a superkick to the face. A nervous Paul Heyman could only look on with worry as Reigns and Uso stared each other down afterwards, knowing that the “Tribal Chief” status of the Bloodline story was now on the line.

As if all of this was not enough, two dark matches followed, first between Grayson Waller and AJ Styles, followed by Drew McyIntyre appearing, raising his sword high among flames in the ring before taking on Ludwig Kaiser in an off-air match. Despite some exciting moments, the energy in the crowd had begun to dissipate as many dispersed, leaving the final battle of the night (which found McIntyre ultimately winning) somewhat anti-climatic.

WWE Raw at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL on 2/6/23 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

I can’t say I’ve really kept up with the WWE – or any pro wrestling for that matter – for quite some time. But a trip to last year’s Sunday Stunner in Daytona Beach was enough to reignite a guilty pleasure I had not felt for many years since the likes of The Ultimate Warrior or Jake “The Snake” Roberts were mixed in among the various other He-Man or G.I. Joe action figures I had at the time while growing up (back when it was still known as the WWF).

So when the chance to cover WWE Raw at the Amway Center for Rewind It Magazine presented itself, I couldn’t resist (even if my wife/photographer was less than thrilled with the notion). And while I might not be completely up to speed with all the lingo per se, I got the gist of what was going on, and what exactly I liked. Case in point; the very first match of the night this past Monday, February 6, was between two extremely easy-on-the-eyes ladies in the form of Dana Brooke and Indi Hartwell that immediately caught my attention (Brooke walked away from said match victorious).

A tag team match between the Creed Brothers (Brutus and Julius Creed) and the Good Brothers (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) followed (with the latter winning) before commentator Corey Graves introduced the one and only Edge and Beth Phoenix (one of the best moments of the night occurred when Edge stopped to take a selfie with a young fan during his entrance music, no doubt making said fan’s night). An all-out brawl then ensued as the two took on bad guys The Judgement Day, featuring Finn Balor, Dominik Mysterio, Rhea Ripley, and Damien Priest.

A little drawn-out drama (complete with seemingly every ref in the house stepping in) then ensued before Angelo Dawkins of The Street Profits took on Priest one-on-one, leading him to actually toss Priest onto the judges table at one point, although Priest would ultimately come out with the win. This was followed by one of the quickest matches of the night, seeing Dexter Lumis taking out Baron Corbin via pinfall in about five minutes time.

The crowd then got a brief taste of what was to come between Becky Lynch and Bayley with some behind-the-scenes drama before the mighty Brock Lesner emerged to call out (and eventually body slam) Bobby Lashley in an effort to get him to sign a contract to face him again.

Things really heated up once Candice LeRae struted out and onto the ropes wearing pixie wings, ready to battle Carmella, Michin, and Piper Niven in a four-way qualifying match. Carmella eventually reigned supreme in the match (in a red bikini top nonetheless) even after Niven laid the three other ladies out flat in one swift shot at one point.

Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin then joined forces to take down The Alpha Academy, hands down one of the most entertaining and fun tag team matches of the night with the antics of Otis and Chad Gable adding an extra layer of hilarity.

The crowd then got a look into what was to come next week between The Miz and Rick Boogs, before Chelsea Green took to the ring in what felt like the closest thing to a striptease of the night. Her optimism was short-lived though, as wild woman Asuka took her down quickly. Montez Ford and Elias also went at it (with Ford walking away with the W) to qualify for the elimination chamber before the main event of the night.

Superstars Bianca Belair and Cody Rhodes (with Paul Heyman by his side) also made some brief appearances before stepping aside for Seth Rollins and Austin Theory to briefly duke it out before said main event – the steel cage match between Bayley and Becky Lynch, which was every bit of pure adrenalized excitement as one would imagine a match in a steel cage between grown women could be. Lynch ultimately emerged with the victory after the one and only Lita made a surprise return to help see things through.

Although it might not be the same wrestling I knew growing up as I alluded to in the beginning of this article, it was still without a doubt a night to remember, and there’s a good chance you might just find Rewind It Magazine there the next time the WWE comes through town again.