This week’s WWE Smackdown featuredUniversal Champion Roman Reigns and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar signing their contract for WrestleMania, Sami Zayn’s Intercontinental Championship celebration and more.
There was a video about the rivalry between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar leading to their WrestleMania match. Lesnar won the WWE Title at Day 1 when Roman Reigns was unable to compete. At the Royal Rumble, Paul Heyman screwed over Lesnar by getting Reigns to attack Lesnar and cost Lesnar the WWE Title. Lesnar got another shot at the WWE Title at Elimination Chamber last Saturday in a Chamber match and Lesnar ended up leaving with the WWE Title again. That will lead to Reigns vs. Lesnar in a Title vs. Title match at WrestleMania 38.
There was a shot of the crowd at the sold out Giant Center in Hershey, PA with Pat McAfee welcoming us to the show. Michael Cole was on commentary with Pat as usual. WWE is billing Lesnar vs. Reigns as the “Biggest WrestleMania Match of All-Time” as well as a Winner Take All Championship Unification match. There’s a contract signing on Smackdown this week.
Analysis: The announcement of Lesnar/Reigns being a Championship Unification Match is a big deal because it means they are combing the WWE and Universal Titles at WrestleMania. I don’t know what it means for the future.
Let’s Hear from Ronda Rousey
Michael Cole was in the ring for an interview and he brought out Ronda Rousey, the Royal Rumble winner that will challenge Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Title at WrestleMania 38. We know that’s on Saturday, April 2.
Rousey was asked why she decided to return at the Royal Rumble. Rousey talked about breaking her hand at WrestleMania 35 three years ago, then she broke her other hand and then she had a baby daughter. Rousey said she knew she wanted to come back four months after she had her baby. Rousey talked about how her mother was a winner in judo while she was a single mother that was working on her PhD and said she wanted to set an example for her daughter. Cole mentioned Rousey medaled in the Olympics in judo, she was the first woman UFC Champion and the first woman inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Cole noted that Rousey also was one of the first three women to headline WrestleMania. They talked about what’s next with Ronda saying she wanted to tap out Charlotte Flair.
They showed images from Elimination Chamber when Ronda competed with one arm tied behind her back and beat Sonya Deville to win the tag team match.
Charlotte Flair showed up with the Smackdown Women’s Title. Charlotte said she showed mercy at Elimination Chamber, but that won’t be the case at WrestleMania because she’ll be the first woman to make Ronda tap out. Charlotte said after that, Ronda can go home to work on baby number two. Sonya Deville attacked Rousey from behind. Charlotte took advantage by tripping up Rousey and ramming the right leg into the ring post two times. Sonya trash-talked Ronda a bit, so Rousey flipped her across the ring. Rousey stood tall in the ring while the heels left.
Analysis: It was a decent promo exchange. Nothing special about it, but fine for what they were going for. Rousey isn’t great at doing promos on her own, so having her answer questions from Cole is a smarter way to do it instead of having Rousey out there by herself. Charlotte was her usual cocky heel character that we have seen for many years. Sonya went for the cheap shot, but Rousey was ready for her.
Kofi Kingston and Big E were shown backstage riding on an ATV with Big E driving. They are in action after a break.
There was a backstage scene in the office with WWE Official Adam Pearce informing Sonya Deville that she must face Ronda Rousey on Smackdown next week. Upper management made the match official. Sonya didn’t have any kind of reaction to it.
Analysis: That should be a quick win for Rousey. If it goes longer than three minutes I’ll be surprised.
Los Lotharios made their entrance with a “kiss cam” on the way to the ring. They found a girl at ringside and kissed her on the cheek. Apparently she’s an indy wrestler, so good for her. Kofi Kingston & Big E entered as the opponents to The New Day song, but the graphic just says their names. Apparently, Vince McMahon decided that he only wants to call them New Day if all three of them are together, so when Xavier Woods is back from injury I guess we’ll see them using the New Day again. Big E was riding around the ATV with Kofi on the back of it. They said it was Big E’s birthday gift for his birthday next week.
Kofi Kingston & Big E vs. Los Lotharios (Angel & Humberto)
These teams were 1-1 in matches this month and WWE loves rematches. Kofi and Big E were in control early with some tandem moves leading to Big E hitting a clothesline. The fans were loud as Big E did an abdominal stretch with “New Day rocks” chants during the punches. Kofi tagged in with a leap over Big E’s back for a splash onto Humberto. Kofi kicked Humberto, Angel with a distraction and Kofi was knocked off the apron to the floor. Angel and Humberto sent Kofi back first into the ring apron. Angel took off his pants to reveal the shorts leading to a break.
Los Lotharios were in control with a double dropkick on Kofi for a two count. Humberto grounded Kofi for a bit, then Humberto knocked Big E off the apron and Angel tagged in for a double leg takedown by the Lotharios. Kofi with a jumping stomp to the chest of Angel to create some space. Big E with the belly to belly suplexes to Humberto followed by a running splash. Angel with a distraction, Big E looked at him and Humberto hit a superkick. Angel tagged in, Big E caught him with a uranage and Kofi tagged in with a top rope bulldog for a two count. Humberto broke up the pin, Humberto kicked Big E out of the ring and Kofi dropkicked Humberto to take care of him. Angel sent Kofi out of the ring to the floor leading to a suicide dive on the floor. Angel checked out the ATV on the floor, so Kofi jumped off the steps with a double axhandle on Angel. Big E with a belly to belly suplex on Humberto on the floor. Back in the ring, Kofi jumped off the top right into a superkick from Angel, who got a two count. Big E went onto the ATV to tease driving over Humberto, Angel wanted him to stop, and Kofi capitalized by hitting a knee to Angel’s face. Big E got the tag and Kofi jumped off the top with a Midnight Hour (assisted Big Ending) for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Kofi Kingston & Big E
Analysis: ***1/2 A very good tag team match here just like the other matches they had together earlier in the month. I didn’t like the spot with Big E teasing that he would drive over Humberto on the floor, but I get why they did it to outsmart Angel and set up for the finish. I don’t know if Kofi & Big E winning is going to lead to them getting a title shot soon (they have wrestled The Usos many times) or what the plan is. The good thing is the crowd still cares about the New Day guys being together because they were loud for the whole match.
The Usos, the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, were backstage talking to Sam Roberts with McAfee screaming while wondering what Sam was doing on Smackdown.
There was a video about Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura driving a Toyota Tundra. They showed Boogs driving with Nakamura as they took a boat out for some kayaking on the water.
A video aired about WrestleMania taking place in 36 days. It’s five weeks away. They really like saying the word “stupendous” a lot.
Kofi Kingston & Big E were shown backstage on the ATV with Sheamus and Ridge Holland there. Sheamus did some trash talk towards them, but then Kofi/Big E laughed and drove away.
Analysis: That’s a future tag team match.
The Usos, the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, were interviewed by Sam Roberts. Jey Uso talked about the contract signing for the biggest WrestleMania match of all time. Jimmy said that Big Uce (Roman Reigns) is going to put the work on Brock Lesnar. The Usos were mocking Sam, so then the Viking Raiders showed up to attack The Usos with punches. The Usos ran off while the Viking Raiders said that they wanted their title match.
There was a clip shown of Natalya beating Aliyah on Smackdown two weeks ago. Xia Li saved Aliyah after the match, so that sets up this match.
Xia Li was interviewed by Megan Morant in the backstage area. Li said she’s been waiting for this moment her whole life saying she worked hard on NXT and was looking forward to this match on Smackdown. Li talked about how she’s a protector.
Xia Li made her entrance. With some graphics appearing on the screen that almost made it look like she could shoot lightning. She can’t, but at least it looks that way. Pat: “That was awesome.” Li was in action up next.
Natalya made her entrance with the Guinness Book of World Records in her hands or at least the cover said that. They had Shayna Baszler, Aliyah, Drew Gulak and Mansoor watching on a TV.
Natalya vs. Xia Li
Natalya with a whip into the corner. Li to the middle rope, she jumped over Li and hit a dropkick. Natalya countered a move leading to a discus clothesline for two. Natalya with a slap to the face followed by a suplex. Natalya applied an abdominal stretch, Li got out of that and Li delivered elbows to the knee. Natalya went for a kick, Li with an elbow to the leg and two jumping knees. The fans were chanting “Hershey’s Chocolate” with Pat covering for it saying they were chanting for Li. (I was told Natalya did a promo ripping on Hershey’s Chocolate during the break so that’s why the fans chanted that.) Xia Li with a kick to the ribs followed by an elbow to the head. Li hit an overhead suplex across the ring for a two count. Natalya came back looking for a Sharpshooter, Li got out of that and stepped into a spinning kick to the face for the pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Xia Li
Analysis: *3/4 A simple match to put over Li in her Smackdown debut. That’s kind of the role Natalya has at this point since she put over Aliyah multiple times as well although Natalya did win their last match. I’d like to see Natalya doing more than that, but that’s all they have for her at this point. Li’s strikes and kicks look good, so it’s not a surprise she went with a spin kick as a finisher.
A Progressive Match Flo replay was shown of Sami Zayn beating Shinsuke Nakamura to win the Intercontinental Championship for the third time.
Sami Zayn made his entrance wearing a suit with a bowtie and a shiny gold jacket. Sami’s championship celebration is up next.
A commercial aired for next Tuesday on NXT: Bron Breakker & Tommaso Ciampa vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode.
Sami Zayn’s Intercontinental Championship Celebration
It was the top of hour two. Zayn said that justice has finally been served. There was a red carpet in the ring, balloons and the IC Title was in the middle of the ring. Zayn said he was the victim of a conspiracy, but now he’s the IC Champion again. Zayn talked about how “they” will persecute him any chance they get. Zayn said no matter what they throw at him, he knows he can overcome it. Zayn asked them to show some respect, so then the fans booed. Zayn claimed he would give Shinsuke Nakamura a rematch, but he’s picking up pieces of his kneecap that Zayn shattered. Zayn laughed about it. Zayn said that he would be willing to defend the title against any and all comers.
It’s Jackass time because Jackass Forever star Johnny Knoxville made his entrance to get in the ring with Zayn. The fans cheered for Knoxville. Zayn asked what Knoxville was doing there, so Johnny said that Sami crashed his movie premiere and he asked Sami how he was doing. Sami said he was doing great, but he respectfully told Knoxville to get the hell out of the ring right now. Knoxville said he thought Sami issued a challenge for anybody to take him on for the title, so Knoxville said, “let’s do it.” Zayn told Knoxville he didn’t belong here or in the same ring as Sami Zayn. Sami said that Knoxville is trying to get in his head, but Sami sees through him. Knoxville asked if Sami wanted to be a fighting champion or don’t you have enough balls? I think the fans were chanting “no balls” in response to that.
Zayn told Knoxville that he was not worth it, then it looked like Sami was leaving until he went back in the ring and punched Knoxville in the face. Zayn worked over Knoxville with punches followed by the Helluva Kick in the corner although he barely touched him. That’s actually a safe move that looks great every time Sami does it. Referees tried to stop Zayn, but Zayn broke free and hit another Helluva Kick on Knoxville. That kick looked better. Zayn held up the IC Title while the crowd left to boos.
Analysis: Sami is great. That’s consistent every week. I liked how cocky he was in the promo, how he laughed about beating Nakamura and bringing up the conspiracy thing he has been talking about for over a year. Knoxville got a really good response from the crowd. It’s likely that they are doing Zayn vs. Knoxville at WrestleMania even though Johnny has never won a match in WWE, so justifying it is hard to do, but I guess that’s the plan. I think Johnny fits in well as a celebrity face that the fans actually like. I don’t mind celebrities being involved at WrestleMania because it’s part of the show. I think it would be better if Knoxville supported another wrestler against Zayn rather than doing Zayn vs. Knoxville, but I guess it’s going to be Zayn against Knoxville unless WWE decides to try something else.
There was a video about Titus O’Neil’s Bullard Family Foundation charity for Black History Month. Titus does a great job. He’s a good dude.
They showed a recap of Sami Zayn’s attack on Johnny Knoxville.
Sami Zayn was backstage talking to WWE Official Adam Pearce with Zayn saying he’s sorry for what he did, but Knoxville got in the ring with him. Ricochet interrupted the discussion. Ricochet said he was there to fight up since Sami said he wanted to be a fighting champion. Pearce set up Zayn vs. Ricochet for the IC Title next week. It’s official. Ricochet laughed at Zayn, who was left in silence.
Analysis: That should be a great match between Zayn and Ricochet, who is very underutilized on Smackdown.
Sasha Banks made her entrance for her first match since the women’s Royal Rumble match. Good to see Banks back in action. Naomi made her entrance before the match could begin. Naomi joined commentary for the match with Pat doing some bad dancing for Naomi’s music.
Sasha Banks vs. Shotzi
Banks hit two suplexes, Shotzi blocked a third one and hit a suplex that sent Banks ribs-first across the top rope. Shotzi stomped on Banks a bit. Naomi talked about how great it was to team with Ronda Rousey at Elimination Chamber and pick up a big win. They did a move with Banks fighting out of a suplex, Banks used her legs to send Shotzi into the middle rope and Banks hit a double knee. Banks with another double knee move to the Banks hit the backstabber into the Bank Statement submission and Shotzi tapped out after about two minutes.
Winner by submission: Sasha Banks
Analysis: * Easy win for Banks in her return to action. Shotzi isn’t being used that much, so it was obvious what was going to happen here.
Post match, Naomi got into the ring with Banks and said that you are looking at the next Women’s Tag Team Champions. Banks seemed to agree with that.
Analysis: I’m fine with that. It’s random, but it’s better than sitting on the sidelines doing nothing. They barely feature the Women’s Tag Team Titles anymore, so having Banks/Naomi beat Carmella/Zelina Vega for the titles would be cool to see. They could use more women to make it a multi-team match as well. I saw some people complaining that it should be Naomi against Deville at WrestleMania. Why? Naomi’s already beaten her in a singles match and they just did the tag at Elimination Chamber with Naomi’s team winning. That feud is over.
Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss were interviewed by Megan Morant, who noted that Corbin is undefeated (using the Happy name). They showed the scary bump Moss took at Elimination Chamber with Corbin laughing at it as if it was funny. Corbin said that Moss had the strongest neck he’s ever seen. Corbin said that his match against Drew McIntyre is like a WrestleMania-caliber match. Corbin said he’s going to show Drew McIntyre who the real warrior is.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance with Cole pushing the “Smackdown Warrior” they have given Drew instead of saying “Scottish Warrior” like they said in the past. Drew had Angela the sword with him.
Happy Corbin entered with Madcap Moss, who was grabbing his neck on his way to the ring. They announced Corbin as being “undefeated” which again is just his singles record since he has used the “Happy” name last summer.
Corbin was in the ring with McIntyre saying that this was a WrestleMania-calibre match. Corbin wondered if Drew wanted Corbin to embarrass him right here in Hershey with Corbin saying the people there were pathetic. Corbin said that Moss is an inspiration while saying he landed on his neck and continued to fight. Moss posed for the fans, so then the fans cheered. Corbin said that Moss deserved this rematch while telling Moss that he can take Drew. Moss and Corbin double-teamed Drew with punches/kicks. The referee got them to stop, Drew got back up and told the referee it was okay to start the match.
Analysis: It would be nice if they had somebody better for Drew to face at WrestleMania, but it looks like it will be Corbin.
Madcap Moss (w/Happy Corbin) vs. Drew McIntyre
Moss with a shoulder tackle. Drew came back with a Glasgow Kiss headbutt. Drew wanted the reverse Alabama Slam just like at Elimination Chamber, but Moss got his hands on the ropes. Moss escaped to the floor as the show went to break.
Drew sent Moss into the turnbuckle, but Moss got his feet up to stop a charging attack. Moss ran the ropes leading to a shoulder tackle for two. Moss went for a move off the ropes, Drew stepped back and hit a kick to the ribs. Moss worked over Drew with forearms, then Drew with two clotheslines and an overhead suplex across the ring two times. Drew with a neckbreaker followed by a kip-up back to his feet. Corbin with a distraction, Moss with a thumb to the eye (the referee never saw it), Moss sent Drew into the ring post and a DDT for two. Moss ran the ropes, Drew got back to his feet and hit a Claymore Kick on a running Moss leading to Drew getting the pinfall win after about eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: **1/2 It was yet another victory for Drew McIntyre beating Madcap Moss like we have seen at least three times in the last two months. Moss got a nearfall with the DDT after the eye gouge, but I doubt anybody watching this thought that Moss had a chance to win.
Ronda Rousey was interviewed by Megan Morant, who asked about Rousey’s match with Sonya next week. Rousey said she’s going to show everybody what happens when authority figures step out of line.
Next week on Smackdown in Miami: Ronda Rousey vs. Sonya Deville.
The Universal Champion Roman Reigns made his entrance joined by the Special Counsel “Wise Man” Paul Heyman and The Usos, who are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. The Bloodline made their entrance with the show going to break there. The contract signing main event was up next.
A commercial aired for Raw with Edge addressing his WrestleMania future while we could find out who will face Edge at WrestleMania. Also,
Next Friday on Smackdown: The Usos defend the Smackdown Tag Team Titles vs. The Viking Raiders, Sami Zayn defends the Intercontinental Championship vs. Ricochet. They already announced Ronda Rousey vs. Sonya Deville as well.
Analysis: Two title matches and a Rousey match. That’s more than they advertise most weeks.
Roman Reigns was in the ring with the table for the contract signing, WWE Official Adam Pearce was there, some security (indy wrestlers) were there and Paul Heyman/The Usos as well. Reigns: “Hershey, Pennsylvania, acknowledge me!” That led to boos and some cheers too.
Paul Heyman did a promo saying there’s no way to exaggerate the enormity of this year’s WrestleMania. Heyman said that this is the single biggest match in history. Heyman said it’s bigger than Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant, bigger than “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock, bigger than when Heyman conquered The Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania and he gave Lesnar half credit for that. Heyman said that Reigns will celebrate his “GOAT status” while running down all of the things for the WrestleMania match while noting it was a title vs. title unification. Heyman said that this is the contract signing for the biggest WrestleMania match of all-time. Heyman said that the security guys were there to protect Lesnar from his own impulsiveness and to protect Lesnar from Roman Reigns. Heyman said that’s what they call a cliffhanger…and there’s the commercial.
Analysis: Great promo work by Heyman as usual. Heyman is so awesome as the hype man as we know. Reigns just did his catchphrase and that was enough to get a big reaction.
It was announced that Vince McMahon will be a guest on Pat McAfee’s show on Thursday at 12pm on Youtube/Sirius XM with Pat saying that Vince will be in studio on Pat’s show. Cole asked how he pulled that off and Pat said he had no idea. That was funny.
Analysis: I like Pat’s show a lot on Youtube. It’s mostly about sports with a heavy dose of NFL, but Pat does get some WWE guests like Brock Lesnar recently. Having Vince on the show is a big get for Pat. There are rumors that this is being done to start an angle, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll definitely be checking that out.
WrestleMania Contract Signing: WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Universal Champion Roman Reigns
Brock Lesnar made his entrance with the WWE Championship on his shoulder. Lesnar had a cowboy hat on while wearing jeans. Lesnar got into the ring with Reigns, who was sitting down in a leather chair. Lesnar put the WWE Title on the table and smirked at Reigns.
Lesnar: “Mr. Acknowledgement and Mr. Dick (Heyman), allow me to introduce myself.” Lesnar introduced himself in a special way just like Heyman used to introduce him and the fans chanted along with it. Lesnar said he had to contain himself a bit here because he admitted he was very impulsive. Lesnar said if you think the “skidmark security guys” will stop Brock from kicking Roman and Paul’s ass then you’re wrong. Lesnar said that the only thing stopping him is himself. Lesnar said he’s going to sign the contract, then he’s going to kick their ass and he’s going to get paid for it. Lesnar signed the contract first and threw it at Reigns.
Heyman said he’s had it with Brock’s disrespect. Heyman said that this is not going to be a unification match because Brock is going to lose the WWE Title next Saturday in Madison Square Garden. Reigns signed the contract to make it official. Pearce left with the contract.
Reigns: “You must be confused, farm boy.” Reigns said that the WWE Title is going to be his title because he’ll smash Lesnar at WrestleMania. Reigns said this is my show, my ring, this is my cameraman and these are his people because they acknowledge him. Reigns left the ring. Reigns said that the commentary team works for him. Reigns said that sign is his because he is WrestleMania. Reigns said that he runs this show and everybody works for her including the security in the ring.
Lesnar faced off with the security guys in the ring. Lesnar beat them up with punches, kicks, a suplex across the ring and Lesnar threw a chair at a guy. Lesnar hit a guy with the table in the ring. Lesnar hit a security guy with an F5. Lesnar hit another security guy with a German Suplex. Reigns was by the entrance area while Lesnar stood tall in the ring with Brock’s music playing. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: I thought Lesnar was great here. I liked the promo, the confidence he showed and then kicking ass after. Reigns got out of the ring to avoid an attack, so Lesnar got to destroy the security guards that were to get their asses kicked and we all knew that. It was fine for what it needed to be with Lesnar and Reigns signing the contract. It’s official. Obviously. Bring on WrestleMania in six weeks. I’m leaning towards a win for Reigns because I think Lesnar will be off for a few months after WrestleMania although I did see he was advertised for Backlash, so I don’t know if he’ll work that show too. I think story-wise it makes sense for Brock to win since Heyman/Reigns screwed him in the past and he’s seeking revenge.
Three Stars of the Show
- Brock Lesnar
- Kofi Kingston & Big E
- Roman Reigns/Paul Heyman
6.25 out of 10
Last week: 6.75
It was a show with some good moments. I wouldn’t call it a great episode overall. It was a promo-heavy show that is common during WrestleMania. They started with a Ronda Rousey promo to further her rivalry with Charlotte Flair and I thought it was fine. Sami Zayn was very entertaining as the cocky Intercontinental Champion that put Johnny Knoxville on his ass. They stretched the contract signing between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar into multiple segments instead of making it one segment like it usually is. That’s fine. Lesnar was great during that part while Heyman and Reigns did a nice job of getting heat with their actions/words as well.
As far as matches go, I liked Kofi/Big E beating Los Lotharios again. Those teams work well together. Other than that, there were shorter matches that were easy to predict and hard to really get into because it was obvious what was coming.
I like how they set things up for next week with two title matches plus Rousey in action against Deville. That’s better than most weeks in terms of promoting matches in advance.
The next WWE Premium Live Event is WrestleMania 38 from Dallas, Texas on Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3. Here’s the lineup so far:
Winner Take All – Title vs. Title: Universal Champion Roman Reigns vs. WWE Champion Brock Lesnar (Sunday)
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey (Saturday)
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Bianca Belair
Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs. The Miz & Logan Paul
WrestleMania 38 is a two-night event steaming LIVE on Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3, beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.
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