The John Report: WWE Smackdown 03/03/23 Review
This week’s WWE Smackdown featured Roman Reigns-Cody Rhodes face to face, Sami Zayn had a match against Solo Sikoa in the main event and more.
There are just four weeks to go until WrestleMania 39. Bring it on. I’ll be at a Smackdown live event this Sunday night in Kitchener, Ontario about one hour from home. It should be fun.
From the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC, this is Smackdown for episode #1228. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
It’s a big crowd in Washington, DC that’s sold out with over 15,000 people as the announced attendance. Michael Cole and Wade Barrett were on commentary as usual to welcome us to the show.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns…and Cody Rhodes
The Tribal Chief is here as Roman Reigns made his entrance with The Bloodline’s Jimmy Uso, Solo Sikoa and the “Special Counsel” Paul Heyman as well. Congrats to Solo on getting married earlier this week. It was a loud reaction for The Bloodline as usual. The graphic was shown for Roman Reigns defending the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Cody Rhodes. After the lengthy entrance of Roman Reigns and The Bloodline, Heyman handed Roman the microphone to start things off. Reigns: “Washington, DC…acknowledge me!” That led to a mix of cheers and boos.
Cody Rhodes made his entrance at that point. Cody got a huge ovation while wearing a suit. The fans are getting louder and louder for the “whoa-oh” part of The Kingdom song. Cole noted it was the first time in seven years that Cody is on Smackdown.
Cody started saying that contrary to what Mr. Heyman may have told you, he wasn’t there to invade Smackdown. Cody said he wanted to have a conversation man to man with his WrestleMania opponent. Cody said he didn’t know why Reigns had his compatriots here and Cody said unless you feel that you (Roman) need them. Reigns told “Wise Man” Heyman to leave them, he said Solo goes too and Jimmy left as well. It was just Cody and Roman in the ring with Reigns holding his two titles.
Reigns asked Cody if that made him more comfortable. Reigns put the WWE Title and the Undisputed Title down in between them. Reigns: “So what do you want to talk about?”
Cody mentioned it has been 915 days for Reigns as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion – it’s just that long for the Universal Title, not the WWE Title, but that’s fine to say. Cody congratulated Roman on that. Cody talked about how Roman is an impossible mountain to climb, but Cody said that’s kind of his thing. Cody mentioned being Randy’s boy, overcoming Stardust, selling 10,000+ tickets for an indy show with his buddies (that’s All In 2018) and the goalposts continue to move. Cody said that Roman might be impossible for others, but not for himself. Loud “Cody” chants after that.
Reigns said that was good and laughing about how Cody sounded like he was rehearsing that all week. Reigns asked if Cody has won that one pointing at one of the titles. Reigns asked if Cody has ever even competed for one of these? Reigns also asked if Cody has ever been in the main event of WrestleMania before? Reigns said he’s done all of that and he’s the most experienced main event of all time. Reigns talked about how he was groomed since he was just a little boy, not just by his father, but by Cody’s father (Dusty Rhodes) too. The fans let out an “ooohhh” reaction to that.
Reigns decided to speak about Dusty saying he has too much respect for that man and he spent a lot of time with them. Reigns said that the Dream was the one that told Reigns he had it in him. Reigns did a Dusty impression telling Roman that he was it. Reigns said that Dusty knew that Roman would be the main event and Reigns said that Dusty was the best. Reigns told Cody that Dusty would never talk about Cody. Reigns said maybe when Seth, Owens, Becky or the others were there. Roman said he wished Dusty was there while adding that he knows Cody misses him and Roman said he missed Dusty too.
Reigns picked up his titles on his left shoulder. Reigns said if there’s anything that Dusty didn’t Cody, Roman will teach Cody. Reigns extended his hand for a handshake.
Cody said he’s not even playing on the same field. Cody said this isn’t just chess. Cody said that Reigns sent Heyman to tell Cody the real-life situation and the truth. Cody claimed that if one of Dusty’s Kids is better than Dusty’s actual kid. Cody spoke about how this doesn’t just become a story that needs to exist. Cody said that it has been a necessity for him to beat Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. The fans cheered. Cody extended his hand, said “may the better man win” and they shook hands. Reigns left the ring first with his two titles while Cody was left in the ring. That was a lengthy segment that went about 20 minutes.
Analysis: This felt very important like it should when it’s two guys that are main eventing WrestleMania together. I thought it was a very entertaining promo exchange without any physicality, which is fine because it was all about setting the stage for WrestleMania and getting people excited about their match. Some of what Reigns said is similar to what Paul Heyman did towards Cody in the past when he kept referencing Dusty Rhodes to try to get under Cody’s skin. In Roman’s case, there was a lot of truth to what he said with Dusty seeing a lot in him. It is “Dusty’s Kid” aka Roman against Dusty’s actual kid Cody, which is what infuriates Cody because he wants to prove he can be better than a guy like Roman. You don’t see many WWE promos referencing the All In 2018 indy show either, so that is pretty unique as well. I liked this segment.
Rhea Ripley was shown walking backstage with Dominik Mysterio for Ripley’s match up next.
Rhea Ripley made her entrance with Dominik Mysterio. Ripley challenges Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Title at WrestleMania 39. They showed Liv Morgan last week saying she wanted a match with Rhea Ripley.
Rhea Ripley (w/Dominik Mysterio) vs. Liv Morgan
They were the final two in the Women’s Royal Rumble that was won by Ripley. Liv attacked with a dropkick to start, but Ripley came back with a lift that sent Liv crashing into the mat. Ripley delivered a knee strike to the face. Ripley charged, Morgan moved and Morgan hit a running knee. Morgan hit a missile dropkick off the middle turnbuckle. Morgan went for a suicide dive, Ripley avoided it and sent Morgan crashing to the mat. Ripley spoke to the camera talking to Charlotte Flair saying she is Rhea “Bloody” Ripley and you can’t run from her.
Ripley was in control with a forearm to the back. Morgan came back with a backstabber double knees to the back. Liv with a headscissors into the ropes, then double knees to the face and double knees again. Morgan really likes double knees as she jumped off the middle rope with the knees again for a two count. Ripley avoided Oblivion, Liv got a kick to the ear and a running knee. Liv went up top, she jumped off and Ripley hit her with a Powerbomb. Ripley hit the Riptide slam. Ripley applied an inverted Cloverleaf submission with a knee on the back of the head as Morgan tapped out. Ripley got the win after about nine minutes.
Winner by submission: Rhea Ripley
Analysis: **3/4 A good match with Ripley dominating early, Liv put up a fight for a few minutes with a lot of knee-based offense and Ripley put her away to win. They are not going to have Ripley lose on the road to WrestleMania, nor should they. Having Ripley look dominant is the right way to book her.
Post match, Ripley celebrated the win while they showed a crying girl in the crowd.
Still to come: Sami Zayn vs. Solo Sikoa.
This Monday on Raw in Boston: John Cena makes his return while Logan Paul is back to go face-to-face with Seth “Freakin” Rollins.
The Bloodline were shown in their dressing room with Roman Reigns asking Jimmy Uso where is Jey. Jimmy talked to him. Reigns said that he is running out of patience. Jimmy said he’ll tell Jey. Reigns said not with him, but he’s running out of patience with Jimmy too. Jimmy left and said he’ll let Jey know.
Analysis: The Bloodline’s issues continue with Jey not being a part of the group for more than a month since the Royal Rumble. Reigns isn’t just frustrated about Jey, but also Jimmy’s inability to get his brother Jey back in the group.
There was a Progressive Match Flo replaying showing Karrion Kross beating Rey Mysterio last week on Smackdown because Dominik Mysterio cost his father Rey the match. After the match, Dominik dared Rey to hit him and Rey wouldn’t do it.
Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio were shown walking backstage. Santos Escobar walked up saying Rey Mysterio should have punched Dominik, but he understood why he couldn’t do it. Escobar challenged Dominik to a match, Escobar said he got approval from Adam Pearce and wanted Dominik to face him man to man. Escobar left towards the ring.
Analysis: They turned Escobar face by having him exchange masks with Rey Mysterio. They haven’t really had Escobar with the Legado Del Fantasma group since then, so I’m not sure if it’s a total group turn or just him.
They showed some competitors in the Special Olympics World Games. Good luck to them.
Santos Escobar made his entrance with Cole saying that finally, Dominik will get respect beaten into him. Santos Escobar made his entrance wearing a red mask and he carried a Rey Mysterio mask with him on the way to the ring. Dominik Mysterio entered with Rhea Ripley while Cole was disgusted because Escobar challenged Dominik to a match without Ripley at ringside.
Santos Escobar vs. Dominik Mysterio (w/Rhea Ripley)
Dominik hid in the ropes to start and hit a running dropkick. Escobar came back with his own dropkick. Escobar told Dominik to look at the mask and asked if he respected his legacy? Dominik spit on the mask and shouted “no.” Escobar applied a submission tying up the legs and pulling back on the arms. Dominik managed to send Escobar into the middle turnbuckle as Escobar went to the floor. Dominik hit a cross body block off the middle rope onto Escobar on the floor as the show went to break. Nice move there by Dom.
Dominik worked over Escobar with punches. Dominik used his legs to send Escobar into the ropes, then Dom teased a 619, but instead he just drove his knee onto Escobar’s back. Escobar punched Dominik, then Dominik gouged the eyes and Dominik hit a running clothesline in the corner. Dominik told Escobar to respect him, not Rey’s legacy. Escobar got some offense going with two forearms and a tilt-a-whirl into a leg drop. They each ran the ropes leading to a double headbutt or at least that was the idea. Dominik had Brass Knuckles, so Ripley pulled Escobar out of the ring and hit a Riptide slam on the floor. Dominik went up top and hit a Frog Splash off the top for the pinfall win after nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dominik Mysterio
Analysis: *** A good match with Dominik cheating to win thanks to Ripley hitting Riptide on Escobar. They didn’t really try to explain why Escobar was alone without Legado del Fantasma, which made it pretty obvious that Ripley would interfere in the match. Dominik looks better in the ring as a heel. When he was a face, I don’t think he knew what his character really was, but you can see he’s a lot more confident now.
Post match, Dominik stole the Rey Mysterio mask with Cole trashing Dominik for being so disrespectful. Dominik ripped apart the Rey mask while Santos was furious about it.
Rey Mysterio’s music hit as he confronted his son Dominik and Ripley. Rey told Dominik not to disrespect the mask. Dominik dared his father to hit him, but Rey wouldn’t do it. Dominik threw the mask down. When Rey tried to pick it up, Dominik hit Rey with a forearm. Huge boos from the crowd for that. Cole called it a disgusting, pathetic display by Dominik. Rey was seated with the mask in his hand.
Analysis: They continue to build to the moment with Rey hitting Dom, which should lead to the WrestleMania match being announced. It’s coming, but they aren’t there yet. Dominik was very heelish throughout all of his appearances on this show. He is really improving a lot.
The announcers were shown on camera with Cole trashing Dominik some more while Barrett claimed that Rey was scared of his son.
They showed Sami Zayn earlier in the day when he was walking in the concourse area where the fans were before the show. Zayn did a promo talking into a cell phone saying he knows it’s not about wins and losses. Zayn said he’s sending a message tonight, not The Bloodline. Zayn said “The Bloodline is going down” as the fans started “Sami” chants.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance for some promo time wearing jeans and a tank top. No Drew merch shirt for him.
There was a WrestleMania 39 commercial featuring husband-wife Montez Ford and Bianca Belair doing a Titanic parody. Montez dropped his phone into the water while Bianca asked if he was backed up on the cloud and Ford said no. Poor guy.
Let’s Hear from Drew McIntyre…and Others
Drew McIntyre was staring at the WrestleMania sign saying it’s four weeks until WrestleMania and he doesn’t have a match yet. Drew said he wants to beat the schnitzel out of one man…GUNTHER…you and me! Drew wants the Intercontinental Championship.
Sheamus walked out asking Drew what he was doing. Sheamus said that 15 years in this company and Drew knows how much Sheamus wants that Intercontinental Championship. Drew told Sheamus to calm down. Sheamus walked in the ring saying that Drew knew that Sheamus wanted GUNTHER at WrestleMania and now he’s calling him out. Drew said that he didn’t have to ask Sheamus for permission. Sheamus said he thought Drew was his brother, but he’s a backstabbing bastard. Drew said that Sheamus had his chance and he lost…twice.
LA Knight was next up for the promo party: “Let me talk to ya.” Knight said if you’re talking about the Intercontinental Title then you need to talk about LA Knight. Sheamus and Drew continued to argue while Knight went down to the ring saying you can’t have an LA WrestleMania without him. Knight was on the apron while Drew and Sheamus kept talking.
The New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods were up next. Woods said they were to apologize on behalf of LA Knight. Kofi said Knight cried about how you can’t have a WrestleMania without LA Knight so Woods said it was sad. Kofi said that LA Knight wants a match at WrestleMania while Kofi pointed out that Knight can’t even win a match on Smackdown.
Karrion Kross was next with the lovely Scarlett walking down to the ringside area. Kross didn’t say anything. Knight knocked Kofi out of the ring, then he tossed Woods out of the ring and Sheamus clotheslined Knight out of the ring. Drew teased like he was about to do a move to Sheamus, but he stopped. Drew hit a somersault dive over the top onto a bunch of guys on the floor. Kross went into the ring and sent Sheamus shoulder-first into the turnbuckle. Kross did his “tick tock” point to his arm while staring at the camera.
Analysis: It was a way to involve a lot of people in one promo to try to build up the IC Title picture. I think Drew and Sheamus belong there while Kofi Kingston probably does too, but as Kofi pointed out, LA Knight really doesn’t win much, so it’s tough to put him in the IC Title picture. Later in the show, they announced a Fatal 5-Way match for next week.
The announcers plugged NXT Roadblock talking about Roxanne Perez defending the NXT Women’s Title against Meiko Satomura while Grayson Waller has Shawn Michaels as the guest on the Grayson Waller Effect talk show.
A commercial aired for NXT Roadblock on Tuesday.
They showed a clip from earlier in the day when Natalya and Tegan Nox attacked Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler backstage. Rousey was down selling a left arm injury, so there’s no tag team match as originally planned.
Tegan Nox (w/Natalya) vs. Shayna Baszler (w/Ronda Rousey)
Nox knocked down Baszler with a kick and hit a cannonball in the corner. Nox got a headscissors along with a kick. Baszler blocked a kick followed by Baszler stomping on Nox’s left arm. Baszler wrenched on the left arm. Baszler twisted the arm around while sending Nox into the mat. Nox got an inside cradle for two. Baszler hit a rising knee to the face followed by an armbar on the right arm and Nox tapped out. This went two minutes.
Winner by submission: Tegan Nox
Analysis: * It was an easy win by Baszler as you would expect. The expectation is that Baszler & Rousey will challenge for the Women’s Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania, so having Baszler made a lot of sense.
Post match, Nox was saying she thinks Baszler broke her arm.
GUNTHER and Imperium were interviewed by Kayla Braxton. GUNTHER complained about how it’s a disgrace that Adam Pearce has yet to find who will face him at WrestleMania. GUNTHER talked about being the ring general.
Bobby Lashley made his entrance in street clothes with the announcers shocked about it since Lashley is a Raw guy.
There was a replay of Raw when Bray Wyatt had a unique warning for Bobby Lashley to “run” while Lashley looked at the screen.
Let’s Hear from Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley said he doesn’t run from anyone. Lashley said that Bray Wyatt doing the Muscle Man Dance is a sign of weakness. Lashley said since Wyatt won’t come to him face-to-face so Lashley decided to come to Smackdown to see him. Lashley invited Wyatt to come to him.
The music of the mysterious Uncle Howdy started to play. Howdy was behind Lashley with punches to the back. Howdy made the mistake of charging, Lashley caught him with a spinebuster. The lights went out, then they came back on and Howdy was gone. Lashley was puzzled by it all.
Analysis: That made Lashley come across as a brave babyface challenging the mysterious Wyatt, who sent out his buddy Howdy instead and Lashley took care of him easily. Wyatt not appearing also teases a future confrontation with Lashley. I don’t know if this will be a good feud because feels so random at this point.
Jimmy Uso went into The Bloodline’s locker room with Jimmy telling Roman Reigns that Jey needed more time. Jimmy made it clear that Jey actually said “leave him the hell alone.” Roman said they have always been for Jey. Roman talked about how he’s going to fix this Sami Zayn problem once and for all. Roman told Jimmy to go out there with Solo and get rid of Sami. Roman said if you get rid of Sami Zayn then Jey will come home. Reigns told Jimmy to do it for The Bloodline and the family. Heyman told Reigns that was wonderful. Reigns said Jey has got one week. Reigns said that if Jey is not in The Bloodline in one week then he’s not going to blame Sami, he’s going to blame Jimmy.
Analysis: It worked well as a segment to build to the main event as well as what Reigns might do if The Bloodline’s problems continue.
Sami Zayn facing Solo Sikoa was up next.
Next week on Smackdown:
Fatal 5-Way: Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre vs. LA Knight vs. Karrion Kross – The winner gets an Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania.
Ricochet & Braun Strowman vs. The Viking Raiders.
Analysis: I think Drew McIntyre winning that 5-Way match is very likely. As I mentioned earlier, Drew and Sheamus each getting the match with GUNTHER for the Intercontinental Title would be fine with me too.
Solo Sikoa made his entrance with Jimmy Uso. Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman were shown watching on a TV in their dressing room. Sami Zayn made his entrance to a big ovation from the crowd. They also sang along with Sami’s song.
Solo Sikoa (w/Jimmy Uso) vs. Sami Zayn
They started out brawling right away. Jimmy went into the ring and Sami dumped him out of the ring. Zayn sent Solo out of the ring. Zayn hit a somersault dive over the top onto both brothers on the floor.
The bell finally rang as Solo went into the ring and hit an elbow smash. Zayn avoided a charging Zayn leading to Zayn hitting a clothesline over the top to the floor. Zayn left the ring, Jimmy was shouting at Zayn and Solo ran over Zayn with a running body attack. Solo sent Zayn into the ring post three times followed by Solo sending Zayn over a ringside barricade as well.
Solo worked over Sami with multiple headbutts. Zayn broke free by jumping off the ropes to leap over Solo and Zayn hit a clothesline. Zayn ran the ropes leading to Solo hitting a Samoan Drop. Solo hit a running hip attack on Sami in the corner. Zayn came back with kicks followed by a Tornado DDT off the turnbuckle for two. Zayn jumped off the top with a cross body block for two. Solo with elbows, Solo charged and Zayn moved so Solo hit the turnbuckle. Zayn hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Zayn went for a Helluva Kick, Jimmy pulled Solo out of the way (the referee saw it and did nothing) and Solo delivered a Samoan Spike to Zayn for the pinfall win after ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Solo Sikoa
Analysis: *** A cheap win by Solo after Jimmy saved his brother Solo from a Helluva Kick attempt by Zayn. Solo continues to win matches every time he’s out there. Zayn is great at selling as usual while his comebacks work really well. More time would have been nice, but that’s okay because it left time for the post match story.
Post match, Solo and Jimmy took turns punching Zayn repeatedly. Jimmy shouted at Zayn that this was his fault. They set up a chair on Zayn’s head against the turnbuckle. Solo wanted to attack, but Jimmy said he’ll do it. Zayn threw the chair at Solo and Zayn hit a Helluva Kick on Jimmy. Zayn wanted to hit Jimmy with the chair in the back, Solo was back up and Zayn threw a chair at Jimmy. Zayn left through the crowd while his music played. Roman Reigns was shown watching on the TV looking disappointed. Zayn went up the steps in the crowd while Jimmy was frustrated about what happened and Reigns was angry too. End show.
Analysis: Sami Zayn stands tall even though he lost the match. Roman Reigns selling it while watching it on TV was great to see. I thought the story would have progressed even more this week on Smackdown, but instead, it was still a bit slow as we build to next week with Reigns wanting to see Jey Uso while Jimmy is mad that he didn’t do more damage to Zayn.
Three Stars of the Show
- Roman Reigns/Cody Rhodes
- Sami Zayn/Solo Sikoa
- Dominik Mysterio
7 out of 10
Last week: 6.75
2023 Average: 7
It was good overall. I think the Roman Reigns-Cody Rhodes segment to open the show was easily the best part of Smackdown this week. It wasn’t an epic promo necessarily, but it felt like a big deal and made me want to see Roman vs. Cody even more, so in that sense it worked perfectly. Roman crushed Cody with some of his comments about Dusty while Cody showed a lot of determination in firing back and not being intimidated at all.
The rest of Smackdown was a bit of a mixed bag with some of the segments. It felt like more talking than usual, but that’s also common during WrestleMania season.
There was plenty of The Bloodline as usual. Even though Solo Sikoa beat Sami Zayn thanks to an assist from Jimmy Uso, Sami managed to get the upper hand and escape. Next week we’ll see if Jey Uso is back so this story can continue to progress.
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