The John Report: WWE Smackdown 02/17/23 Review
This week’s WWE Smackdown featured Drew McIntyre & Sheamus vs. Viking Raiders, GUNTHER defending the Intercontinental Title and more.
It is Smackdown in Montreal just like Elimination Chamber will be on Saturday. Our Elimination Chamber preview is right here on TJRWrestling so check that out.
From the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, this is Smackdown for episode #1226. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
A graphic was shown In Memory of Jerry Jarrett, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 80 years old. Rest in Peace, Jerry.
The opening video package covered last week’s show when The Usos picked up the win over Braun Strowman & Ricochet to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. They also showed Jey privately talking to Sami Zayn (Sami acknowledges Jey) while Paul Heyman told Jimmy Uso that The Usos to stay home and watch on television.
The Smackdown intro video aired.
There was an impressive pyro display followed by a shot of the sold out Bell Centre with over 15,000 fans on hand according to Michael Cole, who was on hand with Wade Barrett. The Elimination Chamber structure was hanging above the ring.
Natalya and Shotzi entered for tag team action separately. A video package aired about Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler doing cheap attacks against their opponents in the past. Lots of boos for Rousey and Baszler during their entrance.
Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler vs. Natalya & Shotzi
Natalya started with Baszler with a rollup for two, and Natalya hit a kick to Baszler’s face. Rousey tagged in to boos. Natalya tried a Sharpshooter, Rousey got out of it and brought in Baszler while Shotzi tagged in. Shotzi with a knee to the face, a forearm, a kick to the head and Baszler hooked the arm leading to Rousey tagging in. Rousey pulled on Shotzi’s arm against the ropes while Shotzi hit a dropkick. Rousey was back in leading to Shotzi hooking the arm and dropping Rousey in a Tiger Suplex. That was a rough landing for Rousey. Shotzi tried a submission hooking the arms, Rousey got out of that and Shotzi sent Rousey out of the ring. Shotzi hit a suicide dive onto Rousey on the floor. Natalya hit a discus clothesline on Baszler on the floor. Shotzi jumped off the top with a cross body block onto both opponents on the floor. The fans were cheering for the faces in control.
Baszler was in control of Shotzi and Baszler punched Natalya to stop a tag. Rousey tagged in, Shotzi grabbed her head and hit a DDT on the apron. I think that’s a spot they tried in the past and didn’t do it well, but it looked good here. Shotzi with a step-up enziguri on Baszler, who was legal. Natalya with a legsweep on Baszler, then a German Suplex and Baszler went for a knee, but Natalya moved. Natalya hit a running Powerbomb for a two count. Rousey made the tag, Natalya clotheslined Baszler and Rousey jumped off the top, but Natalya moved. Natalya applied the Sharpshooter on Rousey in the middle of the ring, but Baszler was back in, so Natalya stopped the hold to punch Baszler. Shotzi tagged in and Baszler pulled Natalya out of the ring to prevent a double team move. Rousey took down Shotzi leading to the armbar by Rousey and Shotzi tapped out. It went about 12 minutes.
Winners by submission: Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler
Analysis: ***1/4 That was pretty good with the Natalya/Shotzi team getting more offense than I would have thought going into it. A win by Rousey/Baszler seemed obvious since they are getting at title push likely leading to a Women’s Tag Team Title match at WrestleMania, so they are going to get wins to build them up as contenders. Natalya was great in the match, Shotzi hit some high flying moves and Rousey/Baszler sold really well for them. I liked the match.
Still to come: Sami Zayn comes home. They’ll revisit some Roman/Sami moments up next.
A commercial aired for Elimination Chamber on Saturday night.
It was announced that Charlotte Flair is the Honorary Race Official for the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
There was a video package showing Sami Zayn initially talking to The Bloodline last summer saying if there was some way to help out, he can be a very valuable ally. They showed clips of Zayn helping The Bloodline repeatedly to prove his loyalty to the group. Kevin Owens also reminded Sami that they aren’t his real blood and he never will be. They showed some of the disagreements that Sami had with The Bloodline where people were mad at him. The Trial of Sami Zayn segment from Raw was shown. They ended it there with the Royal Rumble part coming up later.
Analysis: It’s such a fantastic storyline. I love it. Pro wrestling at its best.
The Hit Row trio of Top Dolla, Ashante “Thee” Adonis and B-Fab with a rap trashing Montreal a bit. That’s when the lights went out leading to Bray Wyatt’s music starting.
Bray Wyatt and Uncle Howdy were both standing on the apron. Bray had a mask on his face and he took the mask off. The fans chanted “Holy Shit” for this. Bray and Howdy went to the ring. Howdy punched Adonis. Wyatt did a Mandible Claw to Dolla and tossed him over the top to the floor. Wyatt did the Mandible Claw to Adonis and Howdy dropped Adonis with a Sister Abigail.
Bray Wyatt said Montreal, you’re welcome. The fans cheered. Bray said he was in control of himself. Bray said whoever wins the match between Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley at Elimination should run. That was it.
Analysis: There’s a fresh rivalry for Wyatt targeting Brock Lesnar or Bobby Lashley depending on who wins that match. I assume that one of them will be Wyatt’s opponent at WrestleMania, which is certainly fine with me because it would be a big match.
Sheamus and Drew McIntyre were backstage with the Brawling Brutes getting fired up ahead of their match.
They showed images and videos of Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrating the Super Bowl win by wearing the WWE Title around his waist a lot. Good advertising for WWE.
A Progressive Match Flow replay was shown of Madcap Moss winning a Fatal 4-Way match to earn an Intercontinental Title match this week.
Madcap Moss was backstage with girlfriend Emma, who told Moss it was his time to shine. Moss said people can doubt him and you will keep being wrong until you realize that Madcap Moss is a superstar.
Ariel Helwani, who is a combat sports reporter, was in the crowd saying that Montreal was ready to see Sami Zayn make history on Saturday night. The fans were fired up.
The best friend duo of Drew McIntyre & Sheamus entered to a big pop. The Viking Raiders were up next with Valhalla joining them. This has been built up over the last several weeks.
Drew McIntyre & Sheamus vs. Viking Raiders – Erik & Ivar (w/Valhalla)
Sheamus ran over Ivar with a shoulder tackle to the floor. Sheamus jumped off the apron with punches on Ivar while Drew fought with Erik. Drew sent Erik into the barricade. Back in the ring, Sheamus clotheslined Ivar over the top leading to a break.
Ivar was in control of Sheamus with a chinlock. Sheamus got back up, so Ivar hit back elbow smashes on Ivar in the corner. Erik tagged in for some face gouging against Sheamus. Erik hit Sheamus with a forearm smash, then Ivar tagged in and knocked Drew off the apron. Sheamus was back up with a clothesline on Ivar. Drew tagged in with two clotheslines on Erik, then a back elbow and Drew hit a belly-to-belly suplex across the ring. Drew with neckbreakers on both opponents. Drew and Erik exchanged strikes leading to Drew hitting a Michinoku Driver for two. Ivar tagged in, Drew with a headbutt, Sheamus tagged in and did a necksnap across the ropes. Sheamus sent Ivar across the ring, Ivar with a boot to the face and Ivar went up top, but Sheamus was there with him. Sheamus delivered a rolling senton slam off the middle rope! Great move with the crowd getting loud going into a break.
The match continued with Drew and Sheamus delivering repeated “ten beats” forearms to their opponents. Drew hit a spinebuster on Ivar, Sheamus got the tag and hit a diving knee drop on Ivar for a two count. Erik tagged back in leading to Sheamus hitting a powerslam. Sheamus tried for a Brogue Kick, Erik caught him, then leaned into the ropes and dropped Sheamus safely. Erik picked Sheamus back up with a Powerbomb. Erik jumped off the middle rope with nothing leading to Sheamus hitting a jumping knee on Erik. Drew set up in the corner, but Ivar pulled Erik out of the ring. Drew ran the ropes and hit a somersault dive over the top onto both guys. That’s such a great leap by a 280-pounder like Drew. Valhalla distracted Drew, then Erik hit a spinebuster, Ivar got the tag and Ivar delivered a powerslam off the middle ropes for two because Sheamus made the save. Erik sent Sheamus shoulder-first into the ring post. Drew with a headbutt to Erik, but Ivar was there with a spin kick on Drew. Ivar went up top and hit a Viking Splash on Drew for two. Raiders went for their double team finish, but Sheamus was back in with a Brogue Kick on Ivar. Drew ran the ropes with a Brogue Kick on Erik for the pinfall win after 17 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Drew McIntyre & Sheamus
Analysis: ***3/4 That was yet another “banger” of a match for Drew & Sheamus meaning it was awesome. They got plenty of time since it was a three segment match with a lot of action, nearfalls and excitement throughout the match. The Viking Raiders are an excellent tag team. Drew & Sheamus are great too. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to see Drew & Sheamus as Tag Team Champions at some point because you know they’re always going to have great matches.
There was Part 2 of the Roman Reigns-Sami Zayn story with the spotlight on the Royal Rumble main event. They went right to Reigns wanting to hit Kevin Owens with a steel chair, but Sami told Reigns to stop and he didn’t need to do this. When Reigns turned his back, Zayn crushed him with a steel chair to the back. That led to Zayn getting his ass kicked by Reigns, Solo Sikoa & Jimmy Uso, but Jey Uso left. Two weeks ago on Smackdown, Zayn attacked Reigns with Zayn hitting a Spear. Zayn was attacked by Jimmy & Solo again while Reigns told Zayn he’ll beat him in front of his own family at Elimination Chamber in Montreal.
Analysis: The story has been amazing as I say every week. The video packages are also outstanding in terms of summarizing the story perfectly.
Asuka made her entrance for singles action. Asuka had on headgear again along with her Kana face paint on her face. Asuka is up against Liv Morgan after a break.
A commercial aired for the WWE 2K23 video game that will be released on March 14th and 17th.
Rey Mysterio was interviewed backstage with Kayla Braxton. They showed the WWE Digital clip of Rey and Santos Escobar exchanging masks last week in the locker room. They shook hands. Rey said he knows that meant a lot to Santos and it meant the world to him too. Rey spoke about how competition is always welcome here and respect…here comes Karrion Kross. Kross said at one time he wanted to be a father (looking at Scarlett) while saying that maybe he doesn’t want to be a father and trashed Rey for being a pathetic excuse of a father. Kross dared Rey to do something about it. Rey didn’t say anything while he made angry faces.
Analysis: I guess that feud just keeps on going. Rey facing his son Dominik at WrestleMania 39 seems likely, but Rey has yet to strike his son.
Asuka vs. Liv Morgan
Carmella was on commentary. Asuka and Morgan are both in the Elimination Chamber Match while Carmella also is in the same match. Barrett picks Raquel Rodriguez in the Women’s Chamber match and Carmella said that’s why Wade is the worst announcer.
Morgan with kicks, Asuka caught a kick and hit a German Suplex. Asuka hit a running kick. Asuka applied an armbar on Morgan while Raquel Rodriguez went out to the ring to get in Carmella’s face. Nikki Cross showed up and hugged Michael Cole. Asuka with a kick, then Asuka went to the top turnbuckle and Morgan hit a double knee attack for two. Cole called it Oblivion, but that was not her finishing move.
The match continued with Natalya joining the other women at ringside to watch the match. Morgan with a running knee attack in the corner. Asuka came back hitting Morgan with a knee lift. Cross told Cole that she was his best friend. Asuka with kicks, Morgan with a slap to the face and Morgan delivered a bunch of kicks. Morgan with another knee followed by a missile dropkick off the middle rope. Morgan jumped off the ropes with double knees again. Asuka blocked a move, Morgan with a rollup and Asuka applied an Asuka Lock submission. Morgan quit to give Asuka the win after about nine minutes.
Winner by submission: Asuka
Analysis: *** Nice job by both ladies here. A quality win by Asuka. They worked well together with Morgan getting a lot of offense and rocking Asuka a few times, but Asuka’s submission skills came in handy as usual. Asuka continues to pick up wins.
After the match, Carmella with a superkick on Asuka, Natalya with a clothesline on Carmella, Nikki hit a neckbreaker on Natalya and Raquel hit a Texana Bomb on Nikki. Raquel picked up her friend Morgan, who hit Raquel with double knees. Asuka went into the ring and hit Raquel with a roundhouse kick to the head. Asuka had a staredown with Liv, who left the ring leaving Asuka alone under the Elimination Chamber structure.
Analysis: Asuka won two matches this week and stood tall to end this segment. Asuka is my pick to win the Women’s Elimination Chamber match.
They showed combat sports journalist Ariel Helwani in the crowd. Helwani said it’s been 30 years since the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, so Montreal is ready for a winner like Sami Zayn. Helwani said they’ll raise a banner and party like it’s 1993.
GUNTHER was interviewed backstage by Megan Morant. GUNTHER was with his Imperium saying for 250 days, he has dominated and Madcap Moss will fall to the ring general.
GUNTHER made his entrance as the Intercontinental Champion with his Imperium buddies by his side.
Intercontinental Championship: GUNTHER vs. Madcap Moss (w/Emma)
Gunther has been IC Champion for 252 days. Gunther was in control with a shoulder tackle, a chop and a running boot for a two count. Moss got some offense going with shoulder tackles to the ribs. Gunther tried a leapfrog, Moss caught him and hit a spinebuster for two. Moss hit Gunther with a forearm to knock Gunther out of the ring. That led to a break.
It continued with Moss in control with chops. Moss got out of a move, ran the ropes, Gunther tried a suplex and Moss got out of that. Moss ran the ropes quickly leading to a running clothesline. Moss hit a suplex followed by the neckbreaker that he used as a finish sometimes, but it only got a two count here. Gunther blocked a move leading to Gunther doing a forearm smash to the chest. Moss went after Gunther by the ropes, but Gunther knocked him down with a hard chop. Gunther went to the apron, Moss held him on the ropes and Moss hit a fallaway slam off the middle rope for two. Moss charged into Gunther, who applied a sleeper and the fans were chanting “Ole” to entertain themselves with Sami Zayn coming up. After Gunther wore down Moss in the sleeper, he picked up Moss and hit a Powerbomb for the pinfall win after about eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: GUNTHER
Analysis: **3/4 A solid match with Moss putting up a fight, but there was no way he was going to win here. Gunther was impressive as usual with the sleeper hold used to wear down Moss before putting him away with the Powerbomb. No surprise by that result.
Sami Zayn comes home is up next.
They showed more of the Kansas City Chiefs wearing the WWE Title to celebrate the Super Bowl.
Next week on Smackdown:
* Charlotte Flair goes face to face with Rhea Ripley.
* Rey Mysterio vs. Karrion Kross.
* Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Fun House is back.
Let’s Hear from Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn made his entrance to his Worlds Apart theme song. It is more of a babyface song, so I’m glad they brought it for him The fans can chant along to it as well. Sami Zayn slipped on the turnbuckle a bit getting into the ring, but he didn’t fall at least. He’s okay! Sami was greeted with a huge ovation from the hometown crowd.
Sami Zayn stood in the ring with the microphone while he got a standing ovation from the crowd along with “Ole Ole Ole” chants. This went on for a few minutes while Zayn soaked it in while smiling about it. The crowd chanted “you deserve it” for Zayn as well while Zayn was so emotional he had some tears on his face. There were more “Ole Ole Ole” chants after that. There was a loud “f**k you Roman” chant as well. Zayn didn’t speak for a few minutes there.
Zayn finally spoke saying something in French thanking the fans for the support. Zayn said that year after year, they point at the WrestleMania sign and it is important, but for him and this city, it’s once in a lifetime. Zayn said something in French that drew a huge reaction. Zayn said that tomorrow is not just Reigns vs. Zayn, but it’s Roman vs. Sami and the entire city of Montreal. Zayn stared into the hard camera saying that Roman is going down.
A graphic was shown of the Roman Reigns-Sami Zayn match. They played Sami’s song again with the fans singing along with it. Sami was fired up again and that’s the end of the show.
Analysis: The crowd reaction told the story there. They loved Sami and they let him know it. I didn’t expect to see Roman Reigns. It was more about shining the spotlight on Zayn, his 20-year journey as a wrestler to be in this moment where he’s going after the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship in his hometown of Montreal in front of a rabid crowd that is totally behind him. It’s going to be incredible to watch how the fans react at Elimination Chamber. I’m looking forward to it.
Three Stars of the Show
- Sami Zayn
- Drew McIntyre & Sheamus
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2023 Average: 7.04
I thought it was a very good show. It was great to hear the response that Sami Zayn got in the main event in front of the Montreal crowd. They really built-up Sami’s appearance well with video packages and the announcers talking about it all show long. Amazing crowd reaction. It will probably be even louder at Elimination Chamber too.
There were four matches on the show with all of them getting plenty of time since they all went at least two segments. The Drew/Sheamus vs. Viking Raiders was the best match of the night as Drew/Sheamus continue to put on “banger after banger” as a team. The opening women’s tag team match was more competitive than I thought with Rousey/Baszler getting the win while Asuka beat Liv Morgan. Madcap Moss put up a fight, but Gunther put him away to keep the IC Title.
The other newsworthy thing is that Bray Wyatt called out the winner of the Bobby Lashley-Brock Lesnar match, so that’s probably a WrestleMania match. It’s interesting either way with Wyatt facing a top guy.
WWE Elimination Chamber takes place this Saturday, February 18th in my home country of Canada in Montreal. Here’s the lineup:
* Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Sami Zayn
* Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley
* US Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Austin Theory (c) vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. Bronson Reed vs. Damian Priest vs. Montez Ford
* Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. Finn Balor & Rhea Ripley
* Raw Women’s Championship #1 Contender Elimination Chamber Match: Asuka vs. Raquel Rodriguez vs. Liv Morgan vs. Nikki Cross vs. Natalya vs. Carmella
You can watch WWE Elimination Chamber, streaming live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Saturday, February 18, on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.
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.