This week’s WWE Smackdown featured Triple H making an appearance, a tag team match for a title shot, Elimination Chamber qualifying matches and more.
It’s been an eventful week as usual in 2024 and this week’s Smackdown is following up the explosive WrestleMania 40 Kickoff press event in Las Vegas. At that event, we learned that Men’s Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes will face Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title at WrestleMania. It also featured The Rock siding with Roman Reigns and Rock slapping Cody in the face when Rock didn’t like firing back with a personal insult after Reigns did it to Cody first. It certainly got a lot of attention, with good reason.
Triple H was shown arriving earlier in the day.
The graphic was shown for Roman Reigns defending the Undisputed WWE Universal Title against Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 40.
It was Corey Graves on commentary with Wade Barrett after making their Smackdown debut as a team last week.
Let’s Hear From Triple H
Triple H was introduced as Paul “Triple H” Levesque, the WWE Chief Content Officer. Hunter was in dress clothes. The Raw GM Adam Pearce was in the ring along with Smackdown GM Nick Aldis. A lot of cheering for Hunter along with a “Triple H” chant.
Hunter said that feels like we are on the Road to WrestleMania. Hunter welcomed the crowd to Smackdown. Hunter spoke about how last night in Las Vegas, it was an incredible Kickoff event to get them started on the grandest stage of them all. Hunter said that the road is on fire now and it feels really good. Hunter wanted to clear up one thing as fans chanted “Rocky sucks” at him.
Hunter spoke about how there was some confusion in the air and maybe some people don’t know their role. Hunter wanted to set the record straight because people went out there to try to assert their authority when they didn’t really have any. Hunter said that he didn’t care where you sit. Hunter said whether you like them or don’t like them, the answers come from one place and one place only and right now you are looking at it. The fans popped for that.
Hunter said that in the main event of WrestleMania 40, Roman Reigns will defend his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Cody Rhodes. The graphic was shown on screen after Hunter said it. The fans cheered. Loud “Cody” chant after that.
As Hunter continued, he noted that some people back there won’t like the decision. Hunter said “It doesn’t matter if you don’t like that decision” and he said it similar to a Rock promo. Hunter said welcome to the Road to WrestleMania.
Analysis: That was an interesting promo by Hunter taking some direct shots at Roman Reigns and The Rock. Hunter spoke about how certain people think they have power, but the one man with the power is Hunter, who is the head booker of WWE as the Chief Content Officer. The interesting thing about that is that The Rock is on WWE’s Board of Directors so we could see Rock doing a promo saying he has a lot of power too. Reigns can also complain about it too. This positions Triple H as a babyface matchmaker to the fans.
Nick Aldis spoke about how we must shift our attention to Seth Rollins and the World Heavyweight Championship. Aldis said that after discussions all week, Seth’s opponent will be determined in Perth, Australia in the Elimination chamber. Nick said there would be a series of matches to determine participants in that match. Aldis said to show they are a united front, they wanted to show us the 12 men competing in the Elimination Chamber matches.
The 12 men in six Elimination Chamber Qualifying matches are Randy Orton, Bronson Reed, Kevin Owens, Logan Paul, AJ Styles, The Miz, Bobby Lashley, Ivar, Drew McIntyre, Sami Zayn, Dominik Mysterio and LA Knight…yeah. There should be some intriguing matchups there.
Analysis: There are some big names there for sure and a lot of potential winners.
Drew McIntyre from Raw was in action up first against AJ Styles. Drew spoke about how his shirt mocking CM Punk has outsold CM Punk shirts. Drew called himself DM Hunk and said Punk wouldn’t get any royalties from the shirts. Drew talked about how Cody Rhodes picked Roman Reigns and Drew bragged about how he convinced Cody on Raw. Drew said he’s saved WrestleMania, he’s taken out Punk, Cody’s going to finish the story and now Drew has to save the World Title. Drew said he’s going to win the Elimination Chamber and give you a champion to be proud of and a champion that is best for business.
Analysis: Drew is killing it as this heel character. I’m enjoying it a lot.
AJ Styles was up next for the first Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match.
Randy Orton was shown earlier in the day leaving his bus and walking around backstage. Sami Zayn was shown arriving earlier in the day. It’s Orton vs. Zayn later in the show.
Men’s Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles
A matchup between two former WWE Champions. LA Knight joined commentary for this match due to his issues with Styles.
Styles went after the knees, but Drew nailed Styles with a chop. Styles elbowed Drew. Styles went for a leaping attack, but Drew caught him leading to a vertical suplex. Drew chopped Styles a few times so Styles came back with his own chops. Drew hit a backbreaker for two. Styles hit a dropkick followed by a chop block to the knees. Styles with a kick and he went to the turnbuckle, so Drew chopped him from the turnbuckle to the floor. Drew tossed Styles over the barricade at ringside. That led to a break.
The match continued with Styles hitting an impressive DDT after spinning around Drew’s body. Styles hit strikes to the body along with a running forearm to the head. Drew blocked a Styles move leading to a punch. Drew went for a move off the middle turnbuckle, but Styles slipped out of it leading to a running Powerbomb for two. Drew kicked Styles with a kick to the gut followed by a Future Shock DDT. Drew wanted a Claymore Kick, but Styles ducked it and Styles applied the Calf Crusher submission on Drew’s left leg. Drew crawled to the bottom rope to break the hold. Styles hit Drew with a forearm, then Drew blocked a springboard move and Drew sent Styles off the apron to the floor. They were outside the commentary table where Styles kicked Drew in the head. Drew tossed Styles over the commentary table near Knight. Knight poured some water onto Styles, who didn’t like that. Drew shoved Styles into Knight and Drew brought Styles back into the ring. Knight was on the apron as Styles kicked Drew and got an inside cradle. The referee Jessika Carr yelled at Knight, so Styles punched Knight off the apron. Drew hit a Claymore Kick on Styles for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: ***1/2 A very good matchup between two former WWE Champions that have chemistry together. As soon as LA Knight was shown on commentary, it was obvious that Drew would win due to Knight’s past issues with Styles. That makes me think we might get a Knight/Styles match at Elimination Chamber too so when Knight has his qualifying match, look for Styles to get involved in that. The match felt like a big deal and the fans were into it, so that’s always a good thing too.
That win means that Drew McIntyre has qualified for the Men’s Elimination Chamber match at the Elimination Chamber PLE.
Analysis: I think Drew might win the Chamber. It depends on who else is in it.
Sami Zayn was interviewed by Kayla Braxton backstage. Zayn said that nothing is certain in WWE, especially around WrestleMania season. Zayn talked about how he was in the main event last year and now the window is closing fast. Zayn talked about how tonight he has to face one of the best ever in Randy Orton. Zayn spoke about how he’s never beaten Drew McIntyre. Zayn said it’s not an easy battle, but it’s a path, so he’ll take it.
This Monday on Raw, find out what happens next on the Road to WrestleMania. Plus, Jey Uso & New Day face GUNTHER’s Imperium group in a six-man tag team match.
Ryan Blaney, the 2023 NASCAR Cup Champion, was shown walking around earlier in the day with some replica title. I have never heard of him. It’s okay. He’s probably never heard of me either.
Pretty Deadly’s Kit Wilson & Elton Prince were shown on some pier near the water saying that it was their time and they were going to show everybody what Pretty Deadly is all about.
Analysis: I can remember other NXT wrestlers doing promos in the same location. It must be somewhere in Orlando that WWE likes.
There was a Progressive Match Flo video showing last week’s Smackdown how Damage CTRL’s WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY and Women’s Tag Team Champions Asuka & Kairi Sane turned on Bayley, the Women’s Royal Rumble winner. Bayley was ready for it, she fought back and Bayley said she was going after Sky at WrestleMania 40.
Bayley was shown arriving earlier in the day. It looks like there’s a Penta mask at the end of her purse or whatever she has. They like showing arrivals.
Analysis: If you watch pro sports like the NFL, NBA, and some other leagues, they show player arrivals often while listing the time on the screen like WWE does. I think it is WWE’s way of trying to be a bit like that sports presentation.
Bianca Belair made her entrance for an Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match. Belair won the Women’s Chamber match in 2022.
Women’s Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Bianca Belair vs. Michin
Michin was aggressive right away with some kicks to the body along with a nearfall. Belair left the ring, so Michin hit her with a running kick. They went to a break.
The match continued with Michin getting a clothesline, a kick and a dropkick. Michin hit a neckbreaker. Belair avoided a cannonball smash. Belair hit a backbreaker followed by the moonsault attempt, but Belair was ready for Michin trying to block it. Belair hit an impressive spinebuster for two. Belair hit a shoulder tackle to the ribs followed by some punches while against the turnbuckle. Michin did a hair pull sending Belair into the turnbuckle. Michin hit a superplex off the middle rope for two. Belair wanted the KOD slam, but Michin got out of it and Michin hit the Eat Defeat boot to the face. Belair was knocked out of the ring. Belair hit a back body drop on Michin. Belair hit the KOD slam for the pinfall win after seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bianca Belair
Analysis: **3/4 There was plenty of offense for Michin in this match, but this was all about Belair getting the big win. Belair didn’t need to do that much to put Michin away.
The win means that Bianca Belair joins Becky Lynch in the Women’s Elimination Chamber match along with four other women.
Analysis: Becky Lynch is my pick to win that match because I think she’ll win and go on to face Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania 40. I wouldn’t mind a Belair win leading to her facing Ripley, but I think Ripley against Lynch is more likely.
Bayley, the Women’s Royal Rumble winner, was shown walking backstage all alone. She’s up next.
It was mentioned by Graves that there were over 100 million social views for the WrestleMania 40 press event.
Bron Breakker was shown talking to Triple H in his office. Hunter talked about how far Bron has come since Hunter saw him walk into the Performance Center a few years ago. Hunter said that he’s looking forward to seeing what Bron can do on this level. Bron asked Hunter for some advice about what brand he should pick. Paul Heyman walked in to shake Bron’s hand. Hunter asked Bron to leave. Heyman said that Bron is a hell of a talent from a wacky family. Heyman said he’ll give Hunter some space after what happened and he’ll come back next week with Roman Reigns and The Rock. Hunter said he was looking forward to it.
Analysis: That’s big for next week because it means WWE is promoting The Rock in advance of an appearance for the first time in many years. The Rock has made surprise appearances many times, but now they are promoting it with Rock and Reigns on the show next week. That will be big.
Let’s Hear from Bayley
It’s babyface Bayley time making her entrance alone without Damage CTRL by her side. The fans chanted “Bayley” for her. Bayley said maybe some of you thought she had it coming and they chanted “Bayley” again. Bayley said whether you like her or not, it sounds like the fans are cool with her. Bayley said that the fans stuck with her all these years because the fans know how much Bayley feels about this business. The fans chanted “you deserve it” as Bayley said Damage CTRL meant everything to her. Bayley said she put Damage CTRL before herself and all they did was take from her. Bayley spoke about how after she won Royal Rumble, maybe everything would be fine and she said that they were laughing at her. Bayley said she’s been in this situation far too many times to not have learned her lesson. Bayley said at WrestleMania, IYO is going to learn the hard way.
Dakota Kai walked out to the ring with her big knee brace on her right knee. Kai said that she was so close to being cleared that she had to meet with her doctor last week. Bayley said that Dakota was right there laughing with them and she said Dakota knew what going on the whole time. Dakota said she was put in a tough spot and said she always believed in Damage CTRL, which is what Bayley created. The fans booed. Kai said that Sky believed in them too up until Asuka & Sane came along. Kai said once Asuka & Sane got in Iyo’s head, it was all over. Bayley wondered why Kai didn’t tell her. Kai said that Bayley, Iyo and her felt like they couldn’t be stopped. Kai said that Bayley has always been a mentor to Kai. Kai said that the plan was working because Kabuki Warriors won the Tag Team Titles and Bayley won the Royal Rumble, so they had it all. Kai said that she thought the situation with Kairi & Asuka would blow over, but it didn’t. Bayley asked Kai where does she stand…and here’s the interruption.
IYO SKY made her entrance as the Women’s Champion along with Asuka & Kairi Sane aka the Kabuki Warriors. Kai bailed from the ring. Kai brought a chair into the ring looking like she would hit Bayley, but Kai went after Sky, Asuka & Sane, all of whom dropped from the apron. Kai dropped the chair while Sky and friends were in the aisle. The fans chanted “Hug It Out” as Bayley’s music played to end this.
Analysis: It appears as though Dakota Kai is on Bayley’s side in this situation, but I don’t know if that’s going to last. I think having the three talented Japanese women together is fine. I also feel like Kai is going to turn on Bayley so that Kai remains with the three women. If they do this story where Bayley is all alone, yet she can overcome all of them, that’s going to be fun to watch. I enjoyed hearing the fans cheer for Bayley, chant her name and chant “you deserve it” as well. It has been about five years since Bayley turned heel, so now she’s back in that face role as a woman that has done it all in WWE and we want to see her do it again as this different character. I think Bayley beating Sky at WrestleMania 40 is a lock. I’m intrigued about the story going into it too.
Randy Orton was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the locker room. Orton spoke about how he knows it’s not a given to make it to WrestleMania because last year he was at home watching from the sidelines and it was horrible. Orton said he has learned patience. Orton said he knows when to strike, but he knows how to wait. Orton said as far as Roman Reigns goes, he knows he can wait. Orton spoke about how he has Sami Zayn tonight and then he’ll get into the Chamber match. Orton said that there will be one constant in the Chamber match – RKO. The fans chanted the letters on cue.
Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne entered for tag team action.
A commercial aired for the Elimination Chamber PLE promoting Rhea Ripley defending the Women’s World Title against Nia Jax.
Bobby Lashley was backstage with The Street Profits and their new ally B-Fab. They spoke about how last week The Final Testament found out what they are like as a unit. B-Fab mentioned Lashley will be against Bronson Reed on Monday’s Raw in an Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match. Lashley was excited about it while mentioning his “All Mighty” nickname.
Analysis: I can see Final Testament costing Lashley that match. The reason why I say that is because Reed is from Australia, so I can see him being in the Men’s Chamber match.
#DIY – Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano vs. Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate
The winners get to challenge The Judgment Day’s for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles at Elimination Chamber.
Gargano and Bate did some pin attempts leading to multiple quick falls. Dunne tagged in with a shoulder tackle on Gargano. Ciampa ran over Dunne with an elbow smash. Ciampa sent Dunne out of the ring, Gargano knocked Bate down on the floor and Ciampa hit a running knee on Dunne on the floor. Gargano and Ciampa did their self applause leading to a break.
Ciampa was in control with a reverse DDT on Bate for two. Gargano tagged in, Ciampa punched legal man Dunne. Gargano hit a reverse rana on Dunne after a knee from Ciampa. Gargano hit a spinning clothesline on Bate, who sold it with a flipping bump. Bate did an airplane spin to Gargano while also doing a swing to Ciampa at the same time. Bate tossed Gargano onto Ciampa. Dunne tagged in leading to a double kick. Gargano countered both opponents with a double hurricanrana. Gargano hit a rolling kick on Dunne, Bate with a punch to Johnny and Ciampa tagged in with a knee on Ciampa. Gargano jumped onto Dunne on the floor with a DDT on the floor. Ciampa hit the Project Ciampa backbreaker on Bate for two. Ciampa got a boot to the head followed by a pump knee on Bate. Dunne did a finger snap to Ciampa and Gargano superkicked Dunne. Ciampa hit Denne with a knee. Bate hit a double clothesline on both opponents. Gargano with a superkick on Bate. That led to Bate running the ropes and he hit a suicide dive onto Ciampa on the floor. Gargano went for a slingshot Spear, Dunne avoided it and Dunne hit the Bitter End on Gargano for the pinfall win after eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a fun match. It was full of action from the moment the bell rang. This could have gone either way, but since #DIY already lost a Tag Team Title match, I thought that would lead to Dunne & Bate getting the win. It’s nice to see Dunne & Bate getting a bit of a push now that Dunne has dropped the Butch name.
After the match, Dunne and Bate touched knuckles with both of the #DIY guys as a sign of respect.
Dominik Mysterio was interviewed by Byron Saxton, who said that Finn Balor & Damian Priest will keep their Tag Team Titles at Elimination Chamber. Dominik said Rhea Ripley will face Nia Jax at Elimination Chamber to keep her title. Dominik said that he’s going to win the Elimination Chamber match and Kevin Owens walked in saying he’ll be the one facing Dominik next week in an Elimination Chamber qualifying match on Smackdown. Owens said he was going to beat Dominik and dedicate the match to the greatest Luchador of all time, Rey Mysterio. Dom left. R-Truth walked up to Owens thinking it was The Miz and said he was supposed to be on Raw. Truth told Owens not to let Nick catch him. Owens was like, Nick Mysterio? Truth said no, Nick Aldis. Owens was so confused as Truth left. The fans chanted “We Want Truth” probably because he’s a Charlotte, NC guy.
Analysis: I think Owens beating Dominik makes a lot of sense in that match on Smackdown next week.
Sami Zayn and Randy Orton were shown warming up separately ahead of their main event match.
Logan Paul, the US Champion, walked into the office of Smackdown GM Nick Aldis who was there with Raw GM Adam Pearce. Paul complained about how Aldis put him in an Elimination Chamber qualifying match on Smackdown next week. Paul said he was supposed to learn about his next US Title challenger. Paul said that he’ll do it, but he’s not happy about this. Paul said he’s going to Australia and he’s going to win Elimination Chamber. Paul said he’s going to beat Seth Rollins in their WrestleMania rematch and walk out of WrestleMania as a double champion. Aldis told Paul he’s going one on one with a man he knows quite well, The Miz. Paul wasn’t thrilled about that as he left. Pearce said Aldis has his hands full with that one.
Analysis: That match next week on Smackdown will be Logan Paul’s first TV match in WWE since all of his previous matches were PLE shows.
This Monday on Raw has Elimination Chamber qualifying matches: Bronson Reed vs. Bobby Lashley and LA Knight vs. Ivar.
Next week on Smackdown has these four qualifying matches.
* Men’s Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Logan Paul vs. The Miz
* Men’s Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Dominik Mysterio vs. Kevin Owens
* Women’s Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Shotzi vs. Tiffany Stratton
* Women’s Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Naomi vs. Zelina Vega
Sami Zayn made his entrance first followed by Randy Orton up next. They are both popular babyfaces. They went to a break before the match.
A commercial confirmed The Rock and Roman Reigns will be on Smackdown next Friday.
Men’s Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Randy Orton vs. Sami Zayn
Orton knocked down Zayn with a shoulder tackle. Zayn sent Orton out of the ring. Zayn tried a dive, but Orton walked away, so Zayn did a backflip into the ring. When Orton got back into the ring, each man worked over the other guy with punches. Orton hit an uppercut to the chest that knocked Zayn out of the ring. Orton sent Zayn into the barricade, so Zayn jumped to the top of the barricade and Zayn hit a moonsault onto a standing Orton on the floor. Zayn tried a diving attack, but Orton stopped that with a forearm. Orton brought Zayn out of the ring and went for a slam onto the commentary table, but Orton countered that leading to Zayn slamming Orton back first onto the table. It was not strong enough to break the table.
Zayn went to the top rope, but Orton stopped that with punches. Orton went up top and Orton hit a superplex off the top rope just like his father Bob Orton as Barrett said Orton hadn’t done that move since Orton came back. Zayn drove Orton back-first into the turnbuckle. Orton came back with two clotheslines and a snap powerslam. Zayn dumped Orton out of the ring. Zayn hit a suicide dive along with a forearm smash to Orton’s face. They were by the commentary table so Orton punched Zayn and Orton gave Zayn a belly-to-back slam onto the commentary table. Orton brought Zayn into the ring for the draping DDT. Orton went for the RKO, but Zayn avoided it and got a rollup for two. Zayn hit the Blue Thunder Bomb for two as usual for that move. Zayn went off the ropes, he jumped off the rope over Orton, who avoided what Zayn was going for and Orton hit the RKO for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Randy Orton
Analysis: ***1/4 It was yet another good match on this show by two talented veterans. Zayn hit a lot of his big moves, but couldn’t put Orton away. I liked the finish because it showed how crafty Orton is by having him avoid a leaping Zayn, which led right into the RKO for the win. I hope there’s a good storyline for Zayn, who should be in a match like Elimination Chamber, but isn’t in it because WWE is doing this story about how Zayn is having a problem getting that positive moment back like he had last year at this time.
That win means that Randy Orton is in the Men’s Elimination Chamber match.
Orton celebrated the win while Sami Zayn was visibly frustrated about the loss. When Orton turned around, Drew McIntyre was waiting in the ring. Orton and Drew had a staredown. End show.
Analysis: Drew and Orton had a memorable rivalry in the Thunderdome Era of WWE in 2020, so now they’re in the same match again. I think they’ll be the two favorites to win. It’s certainly possible that WWE goes with Orton against Rollins in a Wrestlemania 31 rematch. It sounds good to me.
Three Stars of the Show
- Drew McIntyre
- Randy Orton
- Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate
8 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
2024 Average: 7.38
Final Thoughts on WWE Smackdown
I thought it was a great show filled with meaningful matches and some interesting promo while also building to something big for next week as well. The two Men’s Chamber Qualifying matches were very good with lots of star power as Drew McIntyre beat AJ Styles (thanks in part to LA Knight) and Randy Orton got a big win over Sami Zayn. Bianca Belair making it into the Women’s Chamber match was pretty obvious. I also enjoyed the tag team match with Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate beating #DIY in a fast-paced, exciting match.
There were some meaningful promo segments. Triple H started the show and essentially said he’s the boss, not The Rock or Roman Reigns and what he says goes. That’s going to be some sort of power struggle storyline, so I’m interested in seeing how that is followed up on. The crowd was solidly behind Triple H as the babyface boss of WWE. Bayley’s promo was also solid. She’s back in a babyface role for the first time in five years. Dakota Kai seems loyal to Bayley against Iyo, Asuka & Sane, but I think there could be a twist coming there.
Next week’s show looks big with Roman Reigns and The Rock in attendance. It’s rare for The Rock to be advertised for a WWE TV show, so that’s pretty huge. I assume they will put Cody Rhodes on too.
The next WWE PLE is Elimination Chamber on February 24th from Perth, Australia with this lineup:
* Men’s Elimination Chamber Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton vs. four other opponents.
* Women’s World Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Nia Jax
* Women’s Elimination Chamber Match: Becky Lynch vs. Bianca Belair vs. four other opponents.
* Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: The Judgment Day – Damian Priest & Finn Balor vs. Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate
Elimination Chamber takes place at Optus Stadium in Perth, Western Australia, at 5 AM ET/2 AM PT streaming LIVE on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.
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