The John Report: WWE Smackdown 02/03/23 Review
This week’s WWE Smackdown was the first episode since the Royal Rumble featuring The Bloodline imploding before our eyes.
The main event of the 2023 Royal Rumble event saw Roman Reigns defeat Kevin Owens to retain the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. It was not without controversy because Owens had Reigns beaten when the referee was bumped. However, Reigns managed to come back to win with a Spear. Following the match, the story continued with Reigns ordering the rest of the Bloodline to continue the attack on Owens. The Usos handcuffed Owens to the ropes so Owens couldn’t protect himself during the beating.
During that post match beating, there was a key moment where Reigns wanted Sami Zayn to continue the assault on Owens with a steel chair. It was Roman’s way of wanting Sami to prove his loyalty to the group. Instead, Zayn told Reigns that they had done enough to Owens, but Reigns kept pushing Zayn in the face and when Reigns turned his back, Zayn hit him in the back with a chair! The fans cheered for that moment (a huge pop!) while The Usos yelled at Zayn for it.
At that point, it was all downhill for Zayn because it was his turn to take a beating from The Bloodline. Jimmy Uso hit him with a superkick even though Jimmy liked him – it was just Jimmy being loyal to The Tribal Chief. However, Jey Uso refused to take part in it since Jey likes and respects Sami Zayn now. Jey left on his own with the fans cheering him. After Jey left, the trio of Reigns, Jimmy Uso and Sikoa beat up Zayn with Reigns using the steel chair as well as numerous punches. Reigns dropped petals from a lei and left them in the ring around Sami’s body. Zayn was left in the ring barely able to move while his best friend Owens was handcuffed to the ropes. The Bloodline walked away at that point and that was the end of the Royal Rumble.
This storyline has been brilliant. Following the implosion at the Royal Rumble, the focus is on the Elimination Chamber Premium Live Event on Saturday, February 18th, which is just 15 days away. Elimination Chamber is also in Montreal, Quebec, which is Zayn and KO’s hometown (Owens is from nearby Marieville), so that crowd will be absolutely on fire for them as major players in this storyline.
From the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina, this is Smackdown for episode #1224. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
The opening video package recapped the post match drama from the Royal Rumble that I mentioned above. A great video as usual. The crowd reactions during this story have been very telling.
Kayla Braxton was outside in the parking lot as The Bloodline arrived in a truck. It was Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso, Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman with Roman’s two titles. Kayla asked about Jey Uso’s status in The Bloodline. Reigns refused to talk while Heyman said he had no comment on Jey’s status, but thanks for wearing The Bloodline colors (she was in red and black). Heyman walked towards the building. The show intro aired after that.
Analysis: It was smart to start with that because that was on the mind of the fans, so asking about Jey Uso made sense.
The commentary team was Michael Cole and Wade Barrett as usual. If you were wondering if Pat McAfee was back after doing commentary at the Royal Rumble, the answer is no. I don’t know if Pat will ever be back as a WWE announcer.
Finals of the Contender’s Tag Team Championship Tournament: Braun Strowman & Ricochet vs. Imperium – Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci (w/GUNTHER)
The winners of this match will get a Smackdown Tag Team Title match against The Usos with that match taking place next week.
Strowman shoved Vinci immediately. Kaiser tagged in, Strowman decked him with an uppercut and Imperium retreated. Ricochet tagged in with a dropkick on Kaiser, then a jawbreaker and after a distraction from Vinci, Kaiser hit an uppercut. Strowman ran on the floor leading to a shoulder tackle on Vinci on the floor. Kaiser jumped on Strowman, who caught him and Vinci jumped off the top onto Strowman, who got knocked down to the floor. They went to break.
The match continued with Vinci sending Strowman into the ring post. Kaiser and Vinci did a double dropkick combo on Braun. Vinci with a headlock, Strowman with a back body drop to break free and bring in Ricochet with a running shoulder tackle on Vinci. Ricochet with a kick on Vinci, then a springboard clothesline and a standing Shooting Star Press on Vinci for a two count. Vinci broke free, then he sent Ricochet into the post and Imperium hit a springboard back elbow. Strowman knocked Vinci off the apron onto the commentary table. Strowman launched Ricochet over the top rope onto Imperium on the floor. Ricochet shoved Gunther, then Gunther shoved back, the referee saw that and Gunther was ejected from ringside. Barrett praised Ricochet for outsmarting Gunther there. While the referee was looking at Gunther, Kaiser & Vinci did a legsweep/clothesline combo with Kaiser getting a two count on Ricochet.
Kaiser hit Ricochet with an uppercut, Ricochet came back with a knee on Kaiser and some punches. Vinci tagged in with a springboard cross body block, Kaiser with a running kick and Imperium knocked Strowman off the apron leading to Vinci getting a two count. Ricochet fought out of a double team with a kick on Kaiser, then Vinci tagged in and Kaiser tossed Ricochet over to Vinci for a brainbuster for two. Strowman got the tag against Kaiser shoulder tackles, then he tossed Kaiser across the ring and Strowman no sold Vinci trying a move. Strowman decked Kaiser with a clothesline. Strowman gave Kaiser a Monster Bomb. Ricochet got the tag, went on Braun’s shoulders and Ricochet hit a senton splash onto Kaiser for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Braun Strowman & Ricochet
Analysis: ***1/4 A pretty good match as usual any time Imperium are in a longer tag team match. They know how to work as a traditional heel tag team so well by isolating the faces leading to the comeback. Once Strowman got the hot tag, it was all over from there. Ricochet and Strowman work well together as babyfaces with different styles and looks, but the fans like them a lot. I liked the finish with Ricochet doing a senton off Braun’s shoulders for the win. That looked like a painful bump for Kaiser to take also.
A video aired about Rhea Ripley winning the Women’s Royal Rumble match last Saturday. On Raw this past Monday, Ripley said she’s going to use her title match opportunity against Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. That match is on for WrestleMania 39.
Charlotte Flair was interviewed by Kayla Braxton with Charlotte saying that WrestleMania will be epic. Flair mentioned facing Sonya Deville tonight with Deville saying she’s going to win the title tonight and she’ll face Ripley at WrestleMania. Sonya said that Hollywood needs a star like her. Charlotte was laughing about it and told her to keep talking.
Analysis: I doubt anybody watching this thinks Deville will face Ripley at WrestleMania, but of course, Deville is going to say it.
There was some altercation between Rey Mysterio and New Day along with The Judgment Day at a NASCAR event, so that’s coming up next.
They showed some Royal Rumble photos.
There was a video shown of Rey Mysterio and The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) hanging out with some NASCAR guys when Dominik Mysterio, Finn Balor and Damian Priest of The Judgment Day were there. It was at the LA Coliseum ahead of a race on Sunday that airs on FOX. They had some NASCAR drivers in the video leading to some trash talk. It also led to Rey and Dominik driving NASCAR cars on the track together. They showed Rey and Dominik driving the cars along with coaches in the passenger seat. There was plenty of trash talk. Rey beat Dominik in their race around the track. Dominik claimed that Rey cheated and if Mami (Rhea Ripley) was there it would have been different. The two sides argued. That was it.
Analysis: It was a way to promote a NASCAR race on Fox while continuing the Rey-Dominik story. They didn’t even address Rey Mysterio missing the Royal Rumble due to injury and the storyline reason being that Dominik likely attacked him. Plenty of good one liners as well with Dominik referencing his “prison” time too. Anyway, I don’t watch NASCAR. I’m a sports junkie, but NASCAR isn’t my thing. Sorry NASCAR fans. I can’t watch everything!
It's @reymysterio vs. @DomMysterio35 like you've never seen before… 🏎
Don't miss @NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum on @FOXTV this Sunday at 8/7c! pic.twitter.com/8zcv8fq0cE
— WWE (@WWE) February 4, 2023
Sonya Deville entered for her match.
This Monday on Raw: Bayley faces Becky Lynch in a Steel Cage Match,
Charlotte Flair made her entrance as the Smackdown Women’s Championship looking confident as usual. The fans were cheering her since it’s babyface Charlotte mode.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Sonya Deville
Flair with a takedown followed by a shoulder tackle. Flair was sent to the turnbuckle, she jumped to the top rope and hit a cross body block for two. Deville did a hair pull takedown for a knockdown leading to a break.
Deville was in control after a knee strike for a two count. Flair sent Deville into the turnbuckle, Deville with a kick to the knee and Flair hit a couple of clotheslines along with chops. Flair hit a belly-to-back suplex. Flair with a forearm to the head, then a knee drop on the leg and Flair hit a running boot for a two count. Flair went for a kick while Deville was on the apron, Deville wrenched the leg against the rope and Deville hit a pump kick for two. Flair with a backbreaker, Deville with a kick and Deville hit a jumping knee off the middle ropes for two. I could hear them calling spots going into that move. Flair got an inside cradle for a two count. Flair did a cartwheel that was unnecessary that led to a clothesline for two. Flair went up top, she went for a moonsault, landed on her feet and Deville got her knees up for two with Deville’s feet on the rope. Deville went for a sunset flip, Flair rolled through and Flair applied the Figure Eight submission for the tapout win. It went about nine minutes.
Winner by submission: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: **3/4 A win for Charlotte Flair as expected. Deville got plenty of offense in the match, but as I alluded to earlier, I doubt anybody watching this thought Deville had a chance to win. It would be nice if Flair worked over the leg a bit before the Figure Eight submission. It is still a good submission move, but I’d like to see some offense on the knee leading up to it just to build to the finish a bit.
A video package aired about Cody Rhodes winning the Men’s Royal Rumble match last Saturday. Thanks to that win, Cody will challenge the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 39 just as long as Reigns keeps the title until then.
The Bloodline’s locker room was shown with Roman Reigns sitting beside Jimmy Uso, Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman behind Reigns. Roman asked Jimmy where is his brother, Jimmy said he didn’t know and he hasn’t heard from him. Reigns thought it was disrespectful that Jey walked out on them and Jey didn’t communicate with him all week. Reigns said that The Usos have a title match next week. Reigns asked Jimmy again if he talked to him and Jimmy said no. Solo was asked if he talked to his brother Jey and Jimmy said nobody has heard from Jey. Reigns called on the Wise Man Heyman to remind them that it’s WrestleMania season. Reigns told Jimmy to find out where Jey is. Jimmy left with Solo to try to find brother Jey Uso.
Analysis: A necessary segment to continue the story wondering where Jey Uso is with Reigns wanting Jey’s brother Jimmy and Solo to find out where he is. They didn’t mention Sami Zayn in the segment.
The Brawling Brutes team of Ridge Holland & Butch made their entrance for tag team action.
There was a video for Black History Month that honored Kofi Kingston.
The Viking Raiders made their entrance with Valhalla. Erik and Ivar attacked Drew McIntyre and Sheamus last week on Smackdown, so we got to see a replay of that. That attack took Drew & Sheamus out of the tag team tournament, which led to Braun Strowman & Ricochet taking their spot.
The Brawling Brutes (Butch & Ridge Holland) vs. Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) (w/Valhalla)
Ivar whipped Butch into the turnbuckle leading to Butch going face first into the middle turnbuckle. Erik tagged in, Butch with boots to the face and Ridge tagged in with a corner splash on Erik. Ridge hit a shoulder tackle. Holland with a suplex followed by a clothesline. Ridge and Butch beat on Erik with repeated forearm strikes to the chest. Butch tried a leap onto Erik on the floor, but Erik moved. Valhalla stared at Butch, so Erik sent Butch into the barricade. That led to a break.
Butch broke free leading to Ridge tagging in with two overhead suplexes on Erik. Ridge hooked the arms leading to an overhead suplex on Erik. Ridge charged, Erik with a kick and Ivar tagged in going for a move, but Ridge overpowered him with an Alabama Slam for two. Ivar with repeated back elbows on Ridge, Butch tagged in, he hit a boot to the face and an enziguri kick. Erik tagged in with a clothesline followed by a running knee. Erik tackled Ridge into the barricade. Butch gave Ivar a hurricanrana off the top for two. Butch went for a moonsault, Ivar caught him, Erik tagged in and hit a forearm to knock down Butch. Ivar hit Ridge with a spin kick on the floor. Ivar tagged in leading to the double team Ragnarok (double Powerbomb) for the pinfall win on Butch after ten minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar)
Analysis: **1/2 It made logical sense for The Viking Raiders to win to build them up for a match against Drew/Sheamus. The crowd was dead for a lot of the match. I like Butch and Holland, but they aren’t that popular as faces without Sheamus around, so that’s what led to a quiet crowd.
Post match, Drew McIntyre and Sheamus showed up for a confrontation with the Viking Raiders. Drew and Sheamus beat up Erik and Ivar by the entrance area. The Viking Raiders retreated while Drew’s music hit to end it.
Analysis: It was payback for Drew and Sheamus after the cheap attack by The Viking Raiders last week.
There were highlights shown of Bray Wyatt beating LA Knight in the Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match at the Royal Rumble. Uncle Howdy jumped off a staging area to put Knight through some padding.
Bray Wyatt was shown in a rocking chair backstage. Uncle Howdy appeared beside Bray, he stared into the camera and the scene ended there.
Analysis: I guess this is a way to show that Bray and Howdy are on the same side again.
Shotzi entered for the four-way women’s match.
There were more images shown from the Royal Rumble.
Fatal 4-Way Elimination Chamber Match Qualifier: Shotzi vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Natalya vs. Zelina Vega
The winner gets to join the Women’s Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber on February 18th. The first fall wins here.
Natalya and Shotzi attacked Baszler with kicks to knock her down. Shotzi with a shoulder tackle on Natalya, Vega pulled Shotzi out of the ring and sent her into the barricade. Vega hit a weak kick to Natalya’s head. Vega jumped on Natalya’s back for a Code Red for two but Baszler broke it up. Baszler with a suplex on Vega and a backbreaker on Shotzi. Natalya sent Baszler to the apron, Vega tripped up Baszler and Baszler took down Vega on the floor. Baszler hit a knee to Natalya’s face for a two count.
I missed a bit due to a bathroom break. Shotzi hit a Spear onto Baszler on the floor and Vega hit a moonsault onto both women on the floor. Natalya put Shotzi into the ring going for a Sharpshooter, but Vega broke that up. Shotzi with a German Suplex on Vega, Baszler with a German Suplex on Shotzi, Baszler went for the Kirifuda Clutch on multiple women and Natalya sent her out of the ring. Natalya applied the Sharpshooter to Vega, who tapped out. Natalya wins after eight minutes.
Winner by submission: Natalya
Analysis: **1/4 Good to see Natalya picking up a win in her first Smackdown match in over three months. The first part of the match was quick, then they went to a break and had everybody hitting some big moves. I think the result is fine because Elimination Chamber is in Montreal, so you have Natalya in her home country in the Chamber match. She’s a better choice than the others.
The Bloodline was shown in the locker room with Paul Heyman telling Roman Reigns that Jey Uso’s phone goes straight to voicemail. Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa walked into the room with Jimmy saying he can’t get a hold of Jey. Roman told Jimmy he was getting pulled in opposite directions, he’s sorry for being rude to Jimmy earlier and Jimmy said it was okay. Roman said he needed them and wanted them to be together. Reigns told Jimmy and Solo that Heyman got them some steak/sushi, so they should to go to the bus to eat some steak/sushi because Reigns is going to the ring because he’s got something he needs to say. Jimmy and Solo left. Reigns was up next.
Analysis: Everything else on the show didn’t seem like that big of a deal compared to this story. It’s all about The Bloodline angle at this point. Putting it in the main event spot is smart.
Next week on Smackdown:
* The Usos defend the Smackdown Tag Team Titles vs. Braun Strowman & Ricochet.
* Rey Mysterio vs. Madcap Moss vs. Karrion Kross vs. Santos Escobar with the winner getting an Intercontinental Match against GUNTHER.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns and The Bloodline
Roman Reigns made his entrance for the main event promo segment with Cole noting that it has been 887 days for Reigns as the Universal Champion. Reigns has held the WWE Title for about ten months now. Reigns made his entrance with Special Counsel, “Wise Man” Paul Heyman with Reigns wearing a shirt that only had himself and Heyman on it. Reigns defends the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 39 on April 1st and 2nd. Reigns posed with the WWE and Universal Titles as the fireworks went off in the arena. Reigns was greeted with “Sami” chants.
Reigns: “Greenville, South Carolina…acknowledge me!” That led to a mix of cheers and boos. There were loud “Sami” chants again. Reigns said he was going to ask them who they want him to talk about and it’s pretty obvious. Reigns mentioned Cody Rhodes as the Royal Rumble winner that is the number one contender and deserves his attention. Reigns said they reduced him to talk about the past leading to more “Sami” chants. Reigns said you’re going to hear his side of the story.
Reigns mentioned WarGames in November at Survivor Series. Reigns said that he saw everything that he needed to see. Reigns said he saw greed when he looked at Sami. Reigns talked about how when he walks into a restaurant, people want things from him and Reigns claimed that Zayn used his Bloodline and Island of Relevancy. Reigns told the fans that it is no different than them because all they do is want and they can never give back.
Sami Zayn attacked Reigns from behind. Zayn was wearing a black hoodie as he went into the ring and beat up Reigns with punches. The fans popped huge for it. Reigns came back with punches, knees and kicks to knock Sami down. Heyman handed Reigns a chair, Zayn got back up and Zayn hit Reigns with a Spear. Huge pop for that. Cole: “This place has come unglued!” The fans popped big for that. Zayn grabbed the chair and tried to hit Reigns in the back with it, but Reigns left.
Zayn was alone in the ring. Zayn told Reigns that he is wrong about him saying that he never wanted anything from Reigns. Zayn said that he never wanted anything from Reigns until now because he is coming after the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. The fans cheered for that as Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa showed up to make the save. Jimmy superkicked Zayn while Solo gave Sami a Samoan Spike to the chest. Jimmy placed a steel chair around Zayn’s neck by the turnbuckle, Solo charged and Reigns stopped Solo from doing the hip attack onto the chair. The fans chanted “We Want Jey.” Reigns talked to Zayn against the turnbuckle. Reigns said that Zayn broke up his family. Reigns said he wants Zayn in Montreal because he’s going to beat him in front of his family including his wife, his children and his friends. Reigns spoke to Zayn against the turnbuckle saying this is not a dream, this is reality. Reigns held up his two titles over a fallen Zayn and that was the end of the show.
Analysis: It was a very good show ending angle as usual with this storyline. Reigns was obviously bothered by the fans cheering for Sami, so when Zayn showed up with the attack behind Reigns it was a great idea because the fans popped big for it. Zayn and Reigns had a nice exchange leading to Zayn saying he wants the Undisputed WWE Universal Title. The whole time in this story, Zayn was genuinely trying to help Reigns, but now he wants to take away what matters the most to Reigns in WWE – those two big titles. Zayn took yet another beating, but Reigns stopped Solo from finishing Sami off. I like how Reigns spoke to Zayn saying he’ll get his title match because Reigns wants to beat up Sami in his hometown of Montreal in front of Sami’s family, friends and the crowd that will absolutely love Sami. That atmosphere in Montreal is going to be incredible. Yes, I expect Reigns to win and I think we’ll see Jey Uso turn on Sami to help Reigns win. That seems like a way to end it with some massive heel heat on The Bloodline. Anyway, I’m looking forward to that match a lot. I know some people think The Usos aren’t allowed in Canada due to DUI history, but Jey was at Smackdown in Winnipeg last September, so it should be fine for him. It would be nice if Zayn had some more meaningful wins to justify the title match against Reigns, but I think the story is strong enough to where people are going to accept it.
"You broke up my family and I'm gonna break YOU in front of your entire family." @WWERomanReigns just granted @SamiZayn's wish for a match at #WWEChamber! #SmackDownpic.twitter.com/AJ13br2gXI
— WWE (@WWE) February 4, 2023
Three Stars of the Show
- Roman Reigns/Sami Zayn
- Braun Strowman/Ricochet
- Charlotte Flair
7 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
2023 Average: 7.06
I thought it was mostly a good show. It was around what I usually rate Smackdown with the Braun/Ricochet win over Imperium standing out as the best match. Other matches were okay and all of them got at least two segments, so at least you can’t say any of them were short. Charlotte beating Sonya again was very predictable while The Viking Raiders gained momentum beating Butch/Holland. I’m happy to see Natalya back in action to earn a spot in the Women’s Elimination Chamber match too.
The highlight of the episode was The Bloodline main event segment that set up Roman Reigns defending his two titles against Sami Zayn at Elimination Chamber. Zayn issued the challenge and Reigns accepted because he wants to beat Zayn in front of his family in Montreal. The heat will be insane for that match! I also like the story that Jey Uso wasn’t there and The Usos have a title defense next week against Braun/Ricochet, but we have no idea if Jey will be there for it.
It’s all about The Bloodline on Smackdown these days. Other segments/matches and stories are fun, but that main story is carrying the show. No doubt about it.
Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.