The John Report: WWE Smackdown 02/24/23 Review
This week’s WWE Smackdown featured Charlotte Flair & Rhea Ripley going face to face, Rey Mysterio facing Killer Kross again and more.
WWE posted a behind-the-scenes video of Sami Zayn from last week in Montreal at Smackdown and Elimination Chamber. It’s a really good look at Sami with his wife appearing in it, his young son, his lifelong friends and so on. I really liked it. The video runs for 28 minutes and is on WWE’s Youtube channel here if you want to see it.
From the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, this is Smackdown for episode #1227. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
The show began with a video package of the Elimination Chamber main event with Roman Reigns defeating Sami Zayn in an emotional match to keep the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. It was outstanding. They also showed Raw highlights when Sami told Kevin Owens he needed him to take down The Bloodline, but Owens refused him…for now. It’s quite a story. Slow build. Lots of drama. I love it.
Kayla Braxton was shown in the backstage area as Jimmy Uso arrived. Jimmy said he hasn’t spoken with his brother Jey Uso. Jimmy said he texted, called and left a voicemail. Jimmy said that Jey can meet him in the middle of the ring tonight. Jimmy said if Jey wants to get something off his chest, he can tell Jimmy. That was it.
Analysis: A tease for a segment with The Usos later in the show. We know Sami Zayn will probably be involved too.
It was a six-man tag team match to start the show. Michael Cole and Wade Barrett were on commentary.
Braun Strowman, Madcap Moss & Ricochet vs. Imperium (GUNTHER, Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci)
Gunther is the Intercontinental Champion that has had successful title defenses against all thee of the opponents. Moss ran over Vinci with a shoulder tackle Ricochet tagged in with a springboard senton onto Vinci. Ricochet got a takedown followed by a standing SSP for a two count. Vinci clotheslined Ricochet to prevent a tag. Kaiser tagged in and sent Ricochet face first into the middle rope. Ricochet showed off his athleticism, but Kaiser decked him with a forearm to the throat. Kaiser punched Strowman, the referee kept Braun back and Kaiser/Vinci did a high/low clothesline trip on Ricochet on the apron. Gunther slammed Ricochet on the apron as well as the show went to break.
Kaiser had Ricochet grounded, Ricochet tried to fight back and Kaiser hit a clothesline for two. Gunther tagged in with some chops to Ricochet as Drew McIntyre appeared in the aisle staring at Gunther. Vinci was back in with two clotheslines, Ricochet broke free and Strowman tagged in for the first time. Strowman was on fire with running corner splashes and a forearm to Gunther’s chest. Strowman sent Vinci out of the ring. Gunther tagged in, chops to Strowman and Gunther kicked the knee, but Strowman slammed Gunther down. Gunther dropkicked Strowman to the turnbuckle. Moss hit a running shoulder tackle, then he punched Kaiser off the apron and Gunther hit a German Suplex. Gunther with a clothesline on Moss and a Powerbomb for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Imperium (GUNTHER, Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci)
Analysis: *** Good match with Gunther looking impressive as usual. When I saw the lineup in the match I figured Moss would lose, so that result isn’t a surprise. Strowman was really only used for the hot tag spot and he did a nice job when he was in there. Gunther continues to pick up victories, which makes him a very strong IC Champion.
Post match, Gunther held the Intercontinental Title in the air while Drew McIntyre looked at him from a distance. Drew took off his jacket and that led to the Viking Raiders attacking Drew from behind. Sheamus ran out for the save, but Ivar knocked down Sheamus. Strowman ran over Viking Raiders outside the ring. Ricochet hit a twisting dive over the top onto the Viking Raiders. Drew and Sheamus each hit running kicks to knock the Viking Raiders over the barricade. The four babyfaces Strowman, Sheamus, McIntyre & Ricochet played to end it as Drew’s music played.
Analysis: I think Gunther vs. McIntyre at WrestleMania would be an incredible match. Perhaps they add Drew’s best friend Sheamus to it. Maybe there will be even more people in the match. I don’t know, but I’m intrigued to see what they do.
Rey Mysterio was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Rey mentioned Karrion Kross, but Santos Escobar showed up saying he wants to show the WWE Universe how much he respects Rey. Rey told Escobar that’s a mutual feeling. Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley arrived leading to Dominik trashing Santos for showing respect to Rey. Dominik made a prison reference as usual. Santos threatened to beat up Dominik, so Ripley stood in front of Dominik and Santos didn’t do anything. Dom and Rhea left. Santos told Rey not to let it bother him and Rey said how can it not bother him when that’s his son? Rey walked away.
Analysis: I like having Escobar as an ally for Rey. I think that can work as a pairing.
They showed Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa talking in the locker room with Paul Heyman there holding the WWE and Undisputed Titles. Jimmy talked about it was great when Jey teamed with him a few weeks ago, but it’s been weird since Montreal last week. Heyman suggested that Solo stays in the back with him while Jimmy handles things with Jey personally. Jimmy agreed to it.
Analysis: It was another tease for an Uso segment later in the show.
Let’s Hear from LA Knight
LA Knight did a promo saying everybody is talking about WrestleMania moments. Knight said he’s there to make money and win titles. Knight said he’s not the one that’s going to be having a WrestleMania moment. Knight claimed you can’t have an LA WrestleMania without LA Knight, so Knight said he’ll give WrestleMania an LA Knight moment.
The New Day showed up with Kofi Kingston wondering who is LA Knight to be demanding anything right now. Knight didn’t recall inviting the “Nerd Day” out there. Knight reminded us about his name again. Xavier Woods said that being nerds has made them a hell of a lot of money. Woods mocked Knight for having a fake leather jacket. Woods mentioned Kofi’s WrestleMania moment. Knight said he didn’t care what they did in the past. Knight asked how KofiMania worked out for him anyway. Kofi said it worked out pretty well since he won the WWE Championship on the grandest stage of them all. Kofi said he wasn’t waiting for a WrestleMania moment, he fought for it and he won’t wait to fight Knight right now. Kofi mocked the “yeah” thing. Woods told Adam Pearce in the back that if he approves it he should send a referee out there and get this match going. Referee Jason Ayers ran out there so the match is next.
Analysis: A typical promo segment to set up a match. Knight was his usual cocky self while mentioning his name throughout the promo. Kofi and Woods always have some creative dialogue. It’s a fresh matchup.
LA Knight vs. Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods)
Kofi with a headscissors and Knight hit him with a shoulder tackle. Kofi hit a jumping back elbow. Kofi hit a kick to the gut followed by a splash off the middle ropes with a splash onto the back for a two count. Kofi hit a jumping kick to the head, then Kofi went up top again and hit a cross body block on Knight for two. Knight hit a back elbow to the head along with an uppercut smash to the chest. Kofi did a jawbreaker, but Knight came back with a powerslam for two. Knight went for a neckbreaker, Kofi held onto the ropes and Kofi hit a running corner splash. Kofi another corner splash, but then Knight caught Kofi and sent Kofi into the top turnbuckle. Knight sent the back of Kofi’s head into the turnbuckle leading to Kofi rolling to the floor. That led to a break.
Knight remained in control as he tossed Kofi over the top to the floor. Woods checked on Kofi, so Knight trash talked Woods a bit. Knight with a catapult that sent Kofi throat first into the bottom rope. Knight with a running knee on Kofi. Knight jumped from the apron into the ring with a shoulder tackle. Kofi got some offense going by countering a move into a knee lift to the face. Kofi hit a jumping heel kick to the face. Kofi got a sunset flip pin attempt for two. Kofi wit ha leaping clothesline that looked a bit awkward because maybe Knight thought it was something else. Kofi hit the Boom Drop leg drop. Kofi wanted the Trouble in Paradise kick, Knight moved and Knight hit a lifting slam while driving Kofi to the mat. Knight was annoyed by Woods firing up the crowd, so Knight hit Woods with a forearm to the back. Kofi hit a somersault onto Knight on the floor. Back in the ring, Knight to the turnbuckle, Woods blew the trombone in his face and Kofi hit the Trouble in Paradise kick to the face for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: *** A competitive match that was pretty good. They are two veterans that know what they’re doing in there. Knight is a solid heel that isn’t the most exciting in the ring, but his promos are definitely above average. Kofi is always going to have a solid match as long as he gets the time. Since Knight attacked Woods on the floor, Woods got revenge with the trombone distraction leading to Kofi hitting Trouble in Paradise for the win. This felt like just a random match, but perhaps it will lead to some sort of story that they will go back to in the future.
A Progressive Match Flo video aired about Rhea Ripley winning the Women’s Royal Rumble match. Ripley followed that up by challenging the Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 39.
Charlotte and Rhea go face to face up next.
This Monday on Raw: Becky Lynch & Lita challenge Damage CTRL’s Dakota Kai & IYO Sky for the Women’s Tag Team Titles, plus Omos challenged Brock Lesnar to a Wrestlemania 39, so we will find out if Lesnar accepts the challenge. The Miz will reveal a must-see secret on Miz TV.
Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley Go Face to Face
Charlotte Flair made her entrance in some flashy dress clothes as Cole mentioned she was a 14-time Women’s Champion. Charlotte pointed at the WrestleMania sign saying it was 35 days until WrestleMania (I think that should be 36). Charlotte said she knows Rhea Ripley likes to run her mouth on Raw, so she invited Ripley to come out there. Ripley wasn’t there right away…but Dominik was.
Dominik Mysterio called Flair “Queenie.” Charlotte laughed about how Dominik was taking orders. Charlotte said that Ripley should come out there now instead of hiding behind her boy toy. Dominik said nobody is hotter than Rhea Ripley. Dominik said that they say that women are the softer sex, but when Rhea hugs her, she damn near breaks his back. Charlotte said she had a real Latino man at home that calls her “mami” with a much thicker accent.
Dominik talked about how they have something in common since they are both generational talents that are better than their fathers and they can surpass them even though the fans don’t appreciate it. Dominik said that Rey Mysterio messed him up and it put a big chip on his shoulder. Dominik said that when Rhea beats Charlotte, she’ll know her dad Ric Flair was right and she is not good enough. Charlotte Flair wished a happy 74th birthday to Ric Flair tomorrow. Charlotte said that Ric can still go and if he was still there, he would kick Dominik’s butt. Charlotte threatened to beat up Dominik.
Rhea Ripley the “mami” finally made her entrance in The Judgment Day shirt joining Dom and Charlotte in the ring. Ripley got in Charlotte’s face, then Dominik pulled Rhea back and Rhea/Dominik left. Flair held up her Smackdown Women’s Title, so Ripley got in her face for some more trash talk. That was it.
Analysis: I’m surprised that WWE advertised this as a “face to face” segment yet Ripley didn’t say a single word on the microphone. I can understand wanting to give Dominik promo time to further his story with Rey Mysterio as well, but I thought there would be some words being exchanged by Charlotte and Rhea. Dom had some funny lines. His delivery isn’t smooth all the time, but the dialogue works for the character he’s playing. Anyway, Charlotte vs. Rhea should be very good at WrestleMania, but I do hope they pick up the intensity in the weeks ahead.
The announcers talked about how Money in the Bank sold out in London, England instantly. Cole said some limited tickets were just released for both nights of WrestleMania.
They showed some Twitter trash talk from Natalya and Shayna Baszler to set up their match this week.
Natalya made her entrance with Tegan Nox by her side. They showed Natalya getting cleared to compete earlier, then WWE Official Adam Pearce told her to be careful and Tegan Nox told Natalya she had her back. Pearce said he made the match official.
They mentioned the Sami Zayn video on Youtube that I mentioned at the start of this review.
Shayna Baszler (w/Ronda Rousey) vs. Natalya (w/Tegan Nox)
Baszler entered to Rousey’s music rather than her own song. Baszler grabbed the left arm leading to an armbar takedown. Baszler punched the left arm that was hurting for Natalya. Baszler charged, Natalya got a rollup and a side Russian legsweep. Natalya with a kick followed by a German Suplex and a discus clothesline for two. Baszler to the floor to regroup, so Natalya kicked Baszler in the back to knock her down. Natalya warned Rousey, do Baszler hit Natalya with a running knee to the face. Baszler applied an armbar on the left arm while using the legs to trap the arm and Natalya tapped out. It went about three minutes.
Winner by submission: Shayna Baszler
Analysis: *3/4 A decisive win by Baszler after Natalya was too busy being worried about Rousey on the floor, so Baszler hit the running knee and the armbar finished off Natalya. Baszler & Rousey are getting pushed for a likely Women’s Tag Team Title match at WrestleMania, so they will likely win matches on the road to WrestleMania to keep them strong.
Post match, Rousey tried to attack Natalya, but Nox tackled Rousey to stop it. Rousey and Baszler left the ring with Rousey shouting “who is this?” as if she doesn’t know who Nox is. Rousey threatened to beat up Nox in a unique way: “You’re done, Skittles. You’ll be tasting the rainbow next week.” Nox had multi-colored hair, so Rousey was making fun of it by calling her “Skittles” I guess. Good nickname.
They aired the Seth Rollins-Becky Lynch movie parody of Joker and Batman. It was a shorter version of it.
Firefly Fun House with Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt was shown watching his promo from last week warning Bobby Lashley or Brock Lesnar. They showed Bobby Lashley mentioning Wyatt on Raw. Bray was on Firefly Funhouse News (FFN) with Ramblin’ Rabbit. There was a video featuring Uncle Howdy I think saying he was all of us. Bray Wyatt was shown hosting a game show called “Can You Keep A Secret?” They showed the opened Fun House door with some creepy images being shown. Somebody was shown in a mask with somebody asking if he told us a story, can you keep a secret? That was it.
Analysis: This was all over the place with a lot of weird imagery throughout the segment. It was tough to get everything they showed. I don’t know if it was Bray Wyatt in a mask or if it’s going to lead to another character being introduced. There are some people guessing that Eric Young’s voice was used and it did sound like him. The rumor is Bray Wyatt vs. Bobby Lashley at WrestleMania, but it’s obviously not official yet.
WTH DID WE JUST WATCH?!@Windham6#BrayWyatt#FireflyFunHouse#SmackDownpic.twitter.com/rrZE6i3pc6
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) February 25, 2023
Jimmy Uso was backstage with Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman. Jimmy said he knows that Jey will be there. Heyman showed Jimmy a text from Reigns saying The Tribal Chief will be on Smackdown next week. The message from Roman is that Jimmy needs to handle Jey this week or else Reigns will handle Jey next week…personally.
Rey Mysterio faces Karrion Kross up next.
It was Rey Mysterio up first. Karrion Kross was next with his lovely wife Scarlett for their “Fall And Pray” entrance.
Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. Rey Mysterio
Rey with a headscissors takedown and he sent Kross out of the ring. Rey with a swinging kick onto Karrion’s back to knock him out of the ring. Rey hit a suicide dive leading to a break.
Kross was in control a forearm smash. Kross charged, blocked a kick and Kross kicked him in the ribs. Rey came back with a headscissors sending Kross into the turnbuckle. Rey jumped off the top with a seated senton. Rey ran the ropes, Kross used his momentum and sent Rey under the bottom rope to the floor. Kross gave Rey a stomach breaker on the floor. Back in the ring, Kross had Rey on his back, Rey fought back with elbows while they were by the turnbuckle and Rey hit a hurricanrana from the top across the ring for a two count. Rey sent Kross into the ropes, Scarlett was on the apron and Rey hit the ropes, so Scarlett bumped into the ring. The referee was looking at Scarlett as Rey went for a 619 kick, but Dominik Mysterio showed up to catch Rey. Dominik dared Rey to hit him, but Rey wouldn’t do it. Back in the ring, Kross hit Rey with a forearm and a Kross Jacket submission by Kross. Rey passed out so Kross won after about nine minutes.
Winner by submission: Karrion Kross
Analysis: **3/4 The match was okay with Kross getting the win thanks to the chaos at ringside by Dominik while Scarlett also distracted the referee in a unique way. Kross is decent as a heel, but not that interesting overall. Rey had a good performance as usual.
Post match, Dominik went into the ring and lightly kicked his father Rey while he was down. Dominik told Rey to do something about it. Dominik shoved Rey a few times Dominik kept on shoving Rey, who didn’t want to strike his son. Dominik yelled at his father to do it while the fans wanted Rey to do it. Rey left under the bottom rope while the fans booed because they wanted Rey to do it.
Analysis: Good job by Dominik as the heel trying to push Rey to do it, but Rey is still reluctant about it. With WrestleMania coming in five weeks, I think WWE wants to accelerate the build to the Rey-Dom match.
Jimmy Uso was shown looking at his phone as he made his way to the ring for the main event segment.
A video aired about WWE celebrating Black History Month.
Next week on Smackdown:
* Roman Reigns returns.
* Liv Morgan vs. Rhea Ripley.
* Natalya & Tegan Nox vs. Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler.
Let’s Hear from Jimmy Usos and Others
Jimmy Uso made his entrance in all black attire with some white shoes. Jimmy had the Raw & Smackdown Tag Team Titles with him. Jimmy stared towards the hard camera saying he knows his brother is torn and when Jey hurts, Jimmy hurts too. Jimmy said he’s always here for Jey just like he needs Jey to be there right now. Jimmy spoke about how he knows The Bloodline has a Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens problem…and here comes Sami Zayn, who entered from the crowd.
Sami faced off with Jimmy in the ring. Sami said he knows Jimmy wants to talk to Jey, but right now Sami needs to talk to Jey. Sami said that Jimmy was a brother to him. Sami said that Jimmy had Sami’s back in The Bloodline from day one. Sami reminded Jimmy he was the one that made Sami the Honorary Uce. Zayn said that at the Royal Rumble, Jimmy took Sami down with zero hesitation. Sami told Jimmy that hurt. There were “Sami” chants from the crowd.
Jimmy said that Sami made the choice. Jimmy said that Sami stepped on Jimmy and Jey. Jimmy said that Sami made the choice, so Jimmy did what he had to do. Sami said that family doesn’t make you test your loyalty every week and jump through hoops to prove you’re worth something. Sami said that for weeks, months and years, Roman has been doing that to Jey Uso too.
Jey Uso finally arrived in the back part of the arena. Sami said that he’s going to make sure that The Bloodline comes crumbling down. Sami told Jimmy he doesn’t have to go down with the ship. Sami was distracted by Jey Uso in the crowd, so Jimmy punched Zayn with the microphone. Jimmy encouraged Jey to come to the ring while Sami hit a Helluva Kick on Jimmy to knock him down. Zayn left the ring before The Usos younger brother Solo Sikoa showed up in the ring. Sami was in the crowd with the people while Jey remained standing behind the barricade. Cole emphasized that next week, Roman Reigns will be here. They showed Sami in the crowd, Jey in the crowd behind the barricade, Jimmy/Solo in the ring and Sami again. That was it.
Analysis: I wouldn’t call it a great segment or anything that impactful, but it was good in the sense that it allowed Sami a chance to try to talk some sense to Jimmy. What Sami said was true because Jimmy was the guy in The Bloodline that liked and believed in Sami from the beginning, but now we see Jimmy is loyal to cousin Roman Reigns more than ever. Jey Uso not getting involved at all teases the idea that he might be on Sami’s side against The Bloodline…unless he’s not. They are certainly building to a big moment where Jey will probably join Jimmy again in attacking Zayn because the rumors are that it will be Usos vs. Zayn/Owens, but the story is taking its sweet time to play out. There’s no rush to it. Maybe it will end up being something totally different. I don’t know at this point. With Roman Reigns back next week, it will be interesting to see where things go from there.
Three Stars of the Show
- Kofi Kingston
- Sami Zayn/Jimmy Uso
6.75 out of 10
Last week: 7.5
2023 Average: 7
It was good overall although I wouldn’t say it felt like it had any segments that were special like we have seen in recent weeks and months. It was slow story development with Sami Zayn/Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso not getting involved. Charlotte Flair talked to Dominik Mysterio because Rhea Ripley didn’t want to say a word. Both of those stories are fine, but if you missed it, you really didn’t miss anything that important.
In terms of match quality, there were a few pretty good matches. I liked Imperium’s win over Strowman/Ricochet/Moss while Kofi Kingston beating LA Knight was a solid new match. The Bray Wyatt segment was unique as usual.
Roman Reigns is back next week, so hopefully we see some more progress with The Bloodline story.
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.