This week’s WWE Smackdown continued the Road to WrestleMania, which is just three weeks away on Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3.
Before we get to Smackdown this week, just a note to say thanks for all the daily feedback I’ve been getting about the WrestleMania reviews that I am re-posting daily in our PPV section. Earlier on Friday, I posted the all-time great WrestleMania 17 (X-Seven) from 2001, which is the one I consider to be the best WM ever and I’m sure a lot of fans do as well. For a lot of them, I’m going to add updated 2022 thoughts as well, so you get my full match breakdowns, plus analysis and some current thoughts as well.
The commentary team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee welcomed us to the show while they showed the crowd in Birmingham looking ready to go. Brock Lesnar’s music hit to start the show.
Let’s Hear from Brock Lesnar
The WWE Champion Brock Lesnar walked out wearing a black cowboy hat, a flannel shirt and jeans with a serious look on his face. The fans cheered for Lesnar as he made his customary walk around the ring before getting in the ring for a promo.
Lesnar started by saying the name of Roman Reigns while adding that Roman has changed the rules and changed the game. Lesnar talked about how for the last six days he dragged his ass out of bed and he said you don’t draw first blood on Brock Lesnar and live to tell about it. Lesnar pointed at the scar by his eyebrow. Lesnar said he was out for blood. Lesnar said he didn’t care about WrestleMania contracts or titles (he tossed the WWE Title towards Pat McAfee) while making clear what he wanted: “Roman Reigns, get your ass out here.”
Paul Heyman made his entrance into the building. Heyman advised Lesnar to take the temperature down. Heyman said that Lesnar got smashed by the Tribal Chief and if you want the Universal Champion…Heyman told us that Roman Reigns is not here this evening. There were loud boos from the crowd. Lesnar told Heyman to shut up. Lesnar said if Reigns isn’t there tonight (Heyman said it was for Brock’s protection) then who is going to protect Paul? Lesnar left the ring while Heyman ran to the back and Lesnar changed after him. Heyman was shown running in the backstage area while Lesnar ran over security guys and threw some of them into walls. Heyman managed to get into a car that drove away. Lesnar was frustrated about it.
Analysis: It is a tease of Lesnar destroying people because he’s angry, which is the kind of thing that WWE fans love. Heyman getting away just made Brock angrier. They were not on the show again after this.
The commentary team of Cole and McAfee talked about the situation. It led to the recap of the ATV feud between Big E/Kofi Kingston and Sheamus/Ridge Holland leading to their match tonight.
Sheamus and Ridge Holland were interviewed by Megan Morant in the backstage area. Sheamus said that they fixed the ATV when they smashed it. Holland said it was fight night. Sheamus noted that they had another friend to join them while adding you know him as a different name, but now his name is…Butch. It’s former NXT superstar Pete Dunne.
Analysis: I’m happy for Pete Dunne being on Smackdown since they need more wrestlers on this show. It’s also cool to see Sheamus has this stable now because they can have a good run as a three man group. I don’t think the name change to Butch is necessary at all, but we’ll get used to it, I guess. I don’t really get angry about name changes. I just don’t know why they did it in this case.
Big E and Kofi Kingston entered for tag team action.
Sheamus and Ridge Holland made their entrance with their buddy Butch, who used to be known as Pete Dunne. Big E attacked Sheamus before the match, Sheamus bailed to the floor and then back in the ring to start the match.
Kofi Kingston & Big E vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland (w/Butch)
Sheamus started with Kofi, Holland tagged in with a shoulder tackle and Kofi hit a jumping back elbow. Holland with a knee drop to the face. Kofi hit a springboard dropkick. Big E tagged in against Sheamus with Big E delivering punches. Sheamus with a clothesline to the head, then Sheamus ran the ropes and Big E hit an elbow to the face. Sheamus worked over Big E with punches to the ribs along with the forearms to the chest. Sheamus jumped off the top, Big E caught him and hit an overhead belly to belly suplex. Holland went over to Kofi, so Kofi jumped on him. Sheamus was in position on the ring apron, Big E went for a splash, Sheamus moved and Big E hit the ring apron hard. Big E stumbled around on the floor a bit, so Sheamus dropped him with a knee lift.
Holland was working over Big E a bit, but then Big E caught him with a side belly to belly slam. Kofi got the tag against Sheamus with Kofi jumping off the top, hitting a dropkick and springboard cross body block. Kofi with a running kick on Sheamus followed by the Boom Drop double leg drop. Kofi punched Holland off the apron and Kofi hit Sheamus with the SOS slam for two as Holland broke it up. Big E went for a Spear on Big E, but Holland moved and Holland hit Big E with a belly to belly suplex on the floor. That was a rough landing for Big E on his head/neck. Really bad bump there. Kofi jumped on Sheamus with a boot to the chest. Sheamus went up top, Butch distracted and Sheamus knocked down Kofi off the top rope. Sheamus pinned Kofi after that. It went about eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: **1/2 A decent match with a flat ending. I thought Sheamus should have hit him with a regular Brogue Kick to get the win because what they did just didn’t seem like a good way to end it. When Kofi didn’t kick out my reaction was, “that’s it?” It just felt weak. It was likely an improvised ending due to what happened to Big E on the floor.
Post match, Butch went after Kofi with forearms to the head and stomps to the body. They said Big E was getting checked on by medical personnel. Butch continued to work over Kofi with forearms until Sheamus and Holland pulled Butch off.
Analysis: It’s a good way to show the kind of character that Butch is because he fits in well with Sheamus/Holland as guys that love to fight. Butch’s strength is his talent in the ring, not necessarily his promos, so he could do well in this role
— Royal Wrestling (@RoyalWrestling_) March 12, 2022
UPDATE: Big E had to be stretchered out after landing on his head. Ridge Holland’s suplex on the floor was not a good one and you could tell right away as Big E landed on the top of his head. Apparently Big E gave a thumbs up to the crowd. After being taken to the hospital, Big E posted this update on Twitter noting he can move his digits (hands/fingers), but they told him he had a broken neck. He said he’ll be okay, but obviously, that’s an awful situation. No idea when he’ll be back, but we wish him the best in his recovery from this injury. Big E is a good dude.
— Ettore “Big E” Ewen (@WWEBigE) March 12, 2022
The Kevin Owens/Steve Austin story was up next.
They showed the headlines that were generated earlier in the week when Steve Austin accepted the KO Show invitation to WrestleMania.
A video package aired showing the Kevin Owens promo that main evented Raw with KO inviting WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to the KO Show at WrestleMania. Owens has been ripping Texas a lot, Austin is a Texan and now they will meet face to face in Texas for a KO Show. They showed the video that Steve Austin posted on social media to answer KO’s talk show invitation. Austin told Kevin Owens he was a “dumb son of a bitch” that was fixing to get his ass kicked by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Steve said that he’s going to open up one last can of whoop ass on Owens and that’s the bottom line…cuz Stone Cold said so.
Analysis: Great promo from Austin. It’s not a match, it’s an interview. Austin is 57 years old and he shouldn’t be wrestling after 19 years without a match, but he is in great shape. The expectation is that after a promo exchange, Austin will likely kick KO’s ass.
There was a Progressive Match Flo replay showing what happened last week on Smackdown when Johnny Knoxville distracted Sami Zayn during the Intercontinental Title defense for Zayn, so Ricochet capitalized on the situation and pinned Zayn after a hurricanrana to win the IC Title.
Sami Zayn was interviewed by Kayla Braxton with Sami saying he didn’t like being introduced as a “former” champion. They showed a clip from Johnny Knoxville earlier in the day with Knoxville posting Sami Zayn’s phone number on a plane banner. Knoxville noted it was his birthday, so happy birthday to him. Zayn was freaking out about how they showed his number. Zayn said he got like 10,000 messages while noting that he wasn’t prepared for his match against Ricochet. Zayn said that he can overcome anything. Zayn claimed that Ricochet was not that good because he was lucky and Johnny Knoxville cost him the championship. Zayn said he’s going to get back his IC Title tonight.
Analysis: It was likely not Zayn’s real number, but Sami sold it well. It was actually a funny stunt that adds more interest to the Knoxville/Zayn match at WrestleMania. I’d rather see Zayn against an actual wrestler at WrestleMania, but I do think this feud is good for Zayn in the sense that it shows off his personality more.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance with his sword for a tag team match.
A video aired about the WWE 2K22 video game that is available now. I’m not a gamer anymore, but I have read/heard good things about the game, so that’s cool.
The music of the Viking Raiders hit since they were teaming with The Viking Raiders. There was a shot of the backstage area where Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss, Jinder Mahal and Shanky were shown beating up Erik & Ivar of the Viking Raiders.
Drew McIntyre left the ring, he easily beat up Mahal, Shanky & Moss. Corbin attacked Drew after Mahal held Drew’s foot and then the four heels beat up Drew. Mahal whipped Drew into the ring post. Corbin told Drew if he wants it at Mania then he’s got it and he’s going to take his head off. Drew fought off three of the heels including a Glasgow Kiss on Moss. Corbin left the ring. Drew hit a clothesline on Moss, a clothesline on Mahal and then a Michinoku Driver on Shanky. Drew grabbed his sword Angela and pointed at the WrestleMania sign. Drew told Corbin that at WrestleMania, Corbin’s ass belongs to Drew. Good luck to Corbin.
Analysis: It was a way to add some heat to this rivalry by attacking Drew’s partners before there could be a match. Drew continues to dominate in these situations with Corbin, which is not a surprise. Drew should beat Corbin easily at WrestleMania and then get back in the main event picture hopefully.
A video aired about last week’s Smackdown when Ronda Rousey beat Sonya Deville. After the match, Charlotte Flair got in the ring with Rousey, which didn’t end well for Flair because Rousey put Flair in the Ankle Lock submission.
Ronda Rousey made her entrance.
Let’s Hear from Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey did a promo about how we are less than a month away from her match at WrestleMania. Rousey noted that Charlotte Flair claimed Rousey is a one trick pony with an armbar while Rousey noted that’s like saying Mike Tyson is a one trick pony by punching people out. Tyson hasn’t won a fight in decades now. Anyway, Rousey said she has also worked on the Ankle Lock move that she learned from one of her first mentors in pro wrestling – Kurt Angle. Rousey’s first WWE match was as Kurt Angle’s partner at WrestleMania. Rousey noted she’s been working on that Ankle Lock.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance wearing some non-wrestling attire that looked pretty fancy. Flair defends the Smackdown Women’s Title against Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania Saturday. Flair was booed as she posed in the crowd as Cole noted Flair was a 13-time champion.
Flair told Rousey that their match at WrestleMania will be a fight. Flair said that Rousey took advantage of Flair last week because she was wearing heels. Flair said she guarantees that Rousey won’t be tapping her out. Rousey noted that she already did again and she will again. Fans chanted “you tapped out” at Flair, so Flair said she couldn’t hear them. Flair talked about how she is the most decorated woman in sports entertainment history. Flair called Rousey a one trick pony, she didn’t care about Ronda’s ankle lock because she will embarrass Rousey, she will humiliate Rousey and Flair will make Rousey tap out. Ronda said she would give Flair the time to take off her heels. Instead, Flair left the ring. The fans chanted “you tapped out” at Flair, who told the crowd she was still the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Rousey said that at WrestleMania, Flair can’t walk away and Rousey is either going home with her arm or Flair is going to tap out. Ronda’s music played to end it.
Analysis: A decent promo exchange. Rousey is doing a better job of smiling while waiting for the crowd to react to her. The fans are behind Rousey for sure. As for the Flair, it was the same promo she always does about her accomplishments in order to get heat. Just basic stuff here.
The announcers recapped the Brock Lesnar situation while adding that Lesnar has left the arena while Roman Reigns is not there.
Sasha Banks & Naomi entered for a tag team match.
Naomi & Sasha Banks vs. Natalya & Shayna Baszler
The Women’s Tag Team Champions Carmella and Zelina Vega were watching from ringside. WWE originally advertised Banks vs. Vega, then Banks/Naomi vs. Carmella/Vega and now it’s a different match.
Baszler got a hold of Naomi’s foot, then brought in Natalya and they took down Naomi with a double leg whip. Natalya with a Michinoku Driver on Naomi. Baszler tagged in with a stomp on Naomi’s leg followed by Baszler applying a kneebar submission. Baszler sent Naomi into the turnbuckle, Naomi came back with a kick to the head and Banks got a kick on Natalya. Banks jumped off the top with a double knee attack followed by Banks getting a headscissors on Baszler while sending Natalya out of the ring. Banks with a headscissors on Natalya into the champions on the floor. Naomi jumped onto Baszler on the floor. Back in the ring, Natalya with a discus clothesline after a Vega distraction for a two count. Banks sent Natalya into the ropes to knock Vega off the apron and Banks hit a double knee attack on Natalya like a Codebreaker. That was enough for Banks to pin Natalya. It got about three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Naomi & Sasha Banks
Analysis: *1/2 A quick match to give Naomi/Banks some positive momentum going into WrestleMania. Naomi was the face in peril, Banks got the hot tag and that was it for them. I thought maybe Natalya/Baszler would win to add them to the Women’s Tag Team Title match at WrestleMania, but it didn’t happen.
A clip was shown of The Usos beating The Viking Raiders last week.
The Usos made their entrance as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
There was a video shown of Roman Reigns attacking Brock Lesnar last Saturday in New York City.
Let’s Hear from The Usos
The Usos were in the ring with Jimmy doing a promo noting how many days they have been Smackdown Tag Team Champions and Roman Reigns as the Universal Champions. Jey Uso noted that they have no competition because “they the twos and we the ones.” The Usos held their fingers up in the air.
Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura made their entrance with Boogs saying they are the next Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Jimmy asked if they want to face The Ones aka The Usos at WrestleMania? Boogs was favoring a right leg injury. Jimmy told Boogs if he can beat Jey Usos in a singles match then they can have a Smackdown Tag Team Title match at WrestleMania.
Jimmy Uso (w/Shinsuke Nakamura) vs. Rick Boogs (w/Shinsuke Nakamura)
Jimmy tried to tackle Boogs, but didn’t get it done and Boogs took off the brace that was on his right knee. Boogs got a hold of Jey and hit an impressive delayed vertical suplex. Boogs with a press slam on Jey. Nakamura prevented Jimmy from interfering, Boogs went after Jimmy and knocked him down. Jey went for a kick, Boogs avoided it and Boogs hit the Boogs Cruise powerslam on Jey for the pinfall in about two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Rick Boogs
The win means that The Usos will defend the Smackdown Tag Team Titles against Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs.
Analysis: * This was rushed. Big win for Boogs, but it really wasn’t given much time and they had to go through everything quickly.
Post match, Jimmy hit Boogs in the back with Rick’s guitar so the guitar was smashed over Rick’s back. Boogs went down selling the attack.
Analysis: Cheap attack by The Usos to get some more heat. I think The Usos will probably retain the titles at WrestleMania.
Sami Zayn made his entrance for singles action.
This Monday on Raw: RK-Bro has a Championship Celebration, plus Kevin Owens challenged Steve Austin to appear at WrestleMania and Owens will respond to Austin’s promo against him.
A video aired letting us know WrestleMania is 22 days away. Stupendous!
Next week on Smackdown in Charlotte, NC: “Brock Lesnar & Roman Reigns Collide.” That’s it.
Ricochet made his entrance as the Intercontinental Champion for this title match.
Austin Theory from Raw made his way down to ringside. Theory faces McAfee at WrestleMania. Theory was seated in a leather chair beside McAfee. Theory got in McAfee’s face, Theory slapped the headset off McAfee’s head. Pat fought back with a leap onto Theory. Pat punched Theory repeatedly. Pat threw Theory onto the announce table, Theory got away and then some officials were there to break it up. Michael Cole tried to calm Pat down. Security guys walked with Pat towards the back while Theory tried to get at Pat, but the security guys made sure Theory went to the back.
Analysis: This was done to build up interest in the Theory/McAfee match at WrestleMania. The fans did cheer Pat a lot when he jumped on Theory and punched him repeatedly. No doubt the fans are going to be behind Pat during the match at WrestleMania. I thought Pat looked good there while Theory got some heat with the cheap shot.
The IC Title match is after a break.
Intercontinental Championship: Ricochet vs. Sami Zayn
Ricochet with a jumping kick to the chest. Cole was calling the match alone at ringside while Pat McAfee was escorted to the back before the break. Ricochet used his speed to jump over Zayn, then a headscissors and a dropkick. Ricochet with chops, then Zayn to the apron and Zayn managed to snap Ricochet’s neck across the top rope. Ricochet went for a hurricanrana, but Zayn caught him and hit a sitout Powerbomb for two. Zayn with a running clothesline for a two count. Ricochet came back with chops followed by a headscissors takedown. Ricochet to the apron leading to a springboard clothesline. Cole called it an elbow, but it was pretty much a regular clothesline. Ricochet with a jumping knee attempt, Zayn avoided it and Ricochet managed to come back with a jumping kick to the head. Ricochet went up top, Zayn shoved him and Ricochet went bumping into the barricade at ringside. The show went to break there.
They showed a replay of Austin Theory doing a cheap shot on Pat McAfee at ringside leading to Pat responding with punches. Cole noted that Pat was escorted out by security.
Ricochet worked over Zayn with elbows to the head, Ricochet with a standing moonsault and Zayn got an inside cradle for two. Ricochet tried a move, Zayn with elbows to the head and when Sami went for a suplex move, Ricochet countered it into a snap hurricanrana for two. That was an incredible counter for a two count. Ricochet with an uppercut, then a superkick and Zayn fought out of a move attempt. Ricochet went for a move, but Zayn caught him and hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Zayn set up Ricochet on the top rope, Ricochet fought back and delivered a hard chop that knocked Zayn off the apron to the mat. Zayn went up top and delivered an Exploder Suplex off the top rope. Good move there. Zayn charged for the Helluva Kick, but Ricochet countered with the Recoil (knees to the face). Ricochet went up top and hit a 630 splash onto Zayn for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ricochet
Analysis: ***1/4 These guys work well together every time I see them have a match. There were so many counters during the match and some close nearfalls for each man. That counter by Ricochet with Zayn going for the Helluva Kick only for Ricochet to counter with the Recoil was a really cool spot. That led to Ricochet getting the 630 Splash after that for the clean win. Good match as usual between them.
There was a parking lot scene with Charlotte Flair fighting with Ronda Rousey as they fought by a red car. Flair was wearing all black leather attire that was different than the dress she was in earlier. They exchanged forearms, then there were agents like Pat Buck, Jamie Noble and Charlotte Flair there to try to break it up. The women were able to fight the guys off and Flair suplexed Rousey on the hood of a car. Flair pulled back on Rousey’s head/neck while on the car, so I guess that’s a new submission move. There were more officials and referees there to break it up. Flair slammed Rousey’s head against the hood of the car. Flair was standing tall while Rousey was down on the cement. The camera showed Rousey trying to get back up. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: The feud needed something like that since it hasn’t been that interesting so far. If you’ll recall in 2019 there was a parking lot fight between Flair, Rousey and Becky Lynch, so I guess they felt the need to do something like that again. I’m guessing since Flair was striking officials that they might say she got fined or maybe even gets “suspended” for a week, but I don’t know if they’ll do that. Anyway, it was a way for Flair to stand tall and get the advantage in the feud for now.
Three Stars of the Show
- Big E because the man is in a bad way right now and I wish him the best.
That’s it for this week.
5.25 out of 10
Last week: 7
It was just an average show this week. Roman Reigns was missed since he wasn’t on the show while Brock Lesnar was only on in the first ten minutes. The other WrestleMania matches on Smackdown were pushed a bit throughout the night. There wasn’t anything that interesting. They tried to push the Charlotte/Rousey feud by having a parking lot fight to end the show. It was fine, but nothing to get excited about.
The best match was Ricochet beating Sami Zayn clean. Their match last week was good too, so it shows they have a lot of chemistry together. Other matches felt rushed and just didn’t feel like a big deal this week. Also, Pete Dunne as “Butch” is not going to be well received by fans although I guess we’ll just have to get used to it like other name changes. I don’t freak out about that stuff as much as some people do. Would I have changed it? No. It’s not up to me.
I hope Big E is okay after Ridge Holland suplexed him on his head on the floor. I know Big E said it’s a broken neck and he can move his digits (fingers), which is a good sign at least. Hopefully it’s something he can come back from and continue his career. I don’t know when. I just know I’ll miss that man while he’s gone and rooting for him to come back better than ever. If you believe in prayer as I do, say some prayers for Big E. It’s a reminder of how dangerous pro wrestling can be sometimes. Best wishes to Big E.
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 (Saturday)
Edge vs. AJ Styles (Sunday)
KO Show with Steve Austin (Saturday)
Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs. The Miz & Logan Paul (Saturday)
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Carmella & Zelina Vega (c) vs. Sasha Banks & Naomi vs. Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan (Sunday)
Drew McIntyre vs. Happy Corbin (Saturday)
Sami Zayn vs. Johnny Knoxville (Sunday)
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (c) vs. Rick Boogs & Shinsuke Nakamura
Pat McAfee vs. Austin Theory (Sunday)
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.
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.