The John Report: WWE SmackDown 03/22/24 Review

WWE Smackdown March 22

This week’s WWE Smackdown featured a huge Roman Reigns-Cody “face to face” showdown heading into their two WrestleMania 40 matches.

There are also some interesting matches on the show: Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar, IYO SKY vs. Naomi, Grayson Waller & Austin Theory vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson and The Street Profits vs. Authors of Pain as well. WrestleMania 40 is 15 days away. I’m excited to be there.

From the Fiserv Forum in Green Bay, Wisconsin, this is Smackdown for episode #1283. Follow me on Twitter/X @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

They showed some wrestlers walking around earlier in the day backstage including Cody Rhodes and Damage CTRL’s IYO SKY, Asuka, Kairi Sane & Bayley.

It’s a grudge match to start the show as the LWO’s Rey Mysterio made his entrance for his first match since early November. Rey had knee surgery and they kept him out of the ring for over four months even though I know Rey said in an interview it was more like an eight-week thing. I don’t know if WWE kept him out because they wanted to bring him around WrestleMania season rather than a month ago. Anyway, I’m glad Rey is back and I hope he has a healthy year.

A video aired about the Rey story with former friend Santos Escobar. It featured comments from Santos Escobar saying that Rey took the LWO away from him. Santos said that Rey was his hero, so Santos took pity on him. Santos said he’ll hurt Rey in ways that will be hard to watch, but a man’s gotta do what he has to do. That leads into this match.

Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar

Even though both guys lead groups, Smackdown GM Nick Aldis banned both of their groups from being at ringside. Rey knocked down Escobar with an elbow smash. Rey went for a springboard move and did a kick, but Rey slipped a bit and it didn’t hit smoothly. Rey managed to come back with a spot where Escobar held his hand so that Rey hit a hurricanrana. Rey hit a sliding dropkick that may have been low on Escobar. Santos got some offense with a back elbow to the head. Santos knocked down Rey with a knee to the ribs along with a running low dropkick. Rey did a headscissors to send Escobar out of the ring. Rey followed up with a sliding splash under the bottom rope onto Escobar on the floor. Rey did slip a couple of times early, but he looked like he was fine after that.


The match returned with Escobar hitting a boot to the face to knock Rey down. Escobar hit a running double knee attack against the turnbuckle. Rey tried to fight back, but Escobar whipped Rey hard sternum-first into the turnbuckle. Escobar set up Rey upside down against the turnbuckle, but Rey pulled himself up and Santos hit the ring post. Rey jumped off the top of the ring post onto Escobar with a cross body block. Rey hit a seated senton off the top along with a clothesline, Escobar went for a sunset flip and Rey rolled through leading to a dropkick. Rey hit a springboard moonsault like a Lionsault for a two count. Rey set up Escobar against the ropes, but Escobar was back up with a superkick. Escobar slammed Rey hard into the mat for two. Escobar called Rey a “pathetic old man” so Rey fought back with kicks and a dropkick out of the ring. Rey used the hood of the commentary table and hit Escobar with it. Escobar was by the barricade so Rey hit a seated senton off the commentary table and onto Escobar on the barricade, so Escobar went back-first on the floor. Rey shoved Escobar into the ring post before they went back into the ring. Rey punched Escobar to knock him backward, so then somebody showed up at ringside in a mask and an LWO shirt and they grabbed Rey’s foot. It was Dominik Mysterio. Escobar hit a 619 kick on Rey. Escobar hit the Phantom Driver on Rey for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Santos Escobar

Analysis: ***1/4 A pretty good with the cheap finish by having Santos Escobar get the assist from Dominik Mysterio for the win. When it was announced that nobody from their groups could interfere I thought it might actually lead to a clean finish, but instead, they used that stipulation to bring out Dominik to have him screw over his dad. It certainly makes Rey a sympathetic figure. Rey slipped a few times early, but after that, he got his feet under him and looked like his usual great self.

After the match, Dominik took off the LWO shirt and revealed The Judgment Day shirt. Escobar and Dominik celebrated their cheap actions together. Rey was angry in the ring.

The Smackdown commentary team of Corey Graves and Wade Barrett were shown on camera welcoming us to the show.

A video package showed highlights of last week’s Smackdown when Bayley’s match with Dakota Kai ended in a DQ due to Damage CTRL. Naomi tried to save Bayley, but Damage CTRL beat up Bayley & Naomi easily. Damage CTRL stood tall to end it.

Bayley was shown backstage talking to Naomi, who said that you didn’t have to thank her and said she’s got Bayley’s back. Naomi said she was going to get revenge on IYO SKY. Bayley said she didn’t want Naomi to get in the middle of it. Bianca Belair walked in saying that everything that Bayley gets, she deserves. Belair reminded Bayley of how many times she attacked her over the last two years. Bayley admitted she understood all that, Belair spoke back at her and they argued, so Naomi stopped them. Naomi left with Belair while Bayley was frustrated.

Austin Theory & Grayson Waller entered for a tag team match.

A video aired about The Rock appearing on Raw on April 1st in Brooklyn.


Bianca Belair and Naomi were shown walking backstage. Cody Rhodes was signing pictures as they walked by. Belair told Naomi this was just like when she had to fight against Damage CTRL. Naomi said that she hears what Belair is saying, but Naomi also knows she can’t fight them by herself just like Belair couldn’t do it by herself. Naomi walked away while Belair thought about that.

The OC – Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (w/Michin) vs. Austin Theory & Grayson Waller

This is part of a mini-Smackdown tournament. The teams here have to win this match and then another match to get into the WrestleMania 40 Tag Team Title Ladder Match.

Gallows worked over Theory with punches to start the match. Waller tagged in leading to Gallows punching him too. Karl tagged in with a boot knocking Theory out of the ring and Gallows clotheslined Waller out of the ring. Karl did a slingshot dive over the top onto both opponents. That’s rare to see from Karl, but he did it well.


The match continued with Gallows hitting a huge Chokeslam on Theory while Michin hit Waller with an arm drag on the floor. Karl was back in with a flipping neckbreaker. Karl hit spinebusters on each of his opponents. Karl hit a boot to the head followed by a neckbreaker off the middle turnbuckle. Gallows back in, Waller saved a double team move and Waller punched Karl out of the ring. Gallows sent Waller out of the ring. Theory did a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Gallows along with his feet on the rope (Waller also held Theory’s foot) for the pinfall win. It went about six minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Austin Theory & Grayson Waller

Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid tag team match for the time given. I say this all the time, but if you only give a match six or seven minutes then just show the whole thing. I get that you need to do commercials. I’m just saying if it’s at that length then show the whole match. Anyway, Luke & Karl were on offense for about 80% of the match until one ROLLUP OF DEATH~! (it’s so deadly) by Theory on Gallows for the win. It was as cheap as it gets. I’m fine with that result since Theory & Waller are an entertaining tag team with a lot of potential.

A video package aired about Bron Breakker showing some of his incredible stats as a fast runner, having an impressive broad jump and power. Bron also runs 23 MPH and a 38” vertical leap. It said “Bron Breakker: A New Level Of Performance.”

Analysis: I like that. Bron really is an incredible athlete. I wish he was part of a storyline going into WrestleMania, but maybe they’ll have him win the battle royal assuming that’s on Smackdown before WrestleMania.

Damage CTRL was shown walking backstage because IYO SKY was in action up next.


A clip was shown of Roman Reigns as a guest on the Pat McAfee Show. They showed the clip of Reigns saying that Cody Rhodes & The Rock both saw what WWE was doing, so they wanted to come back to be part of it. Check our News section on TJRWrestling regularly for more of Roman’s comments from the show. I did a couple of posts already on Friday and we’ll have more up over the weekend.

Naomi was up first for her glow entrance. Damage CTRL made their entrance, but WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY wasn’t with them at first. Sky was shown beating up Bayley backstage. Officials broke it up, so Sky left for her match.

IYO SKY vs. Naomi

This is not for Sky’s WWE Women’s Title. Naomi sent Sky into the turnbuckle followed by a boot to the throat. Sky came back with punches along with a hurricanrana off the ropes. Sky hit a running corner dropkick. Naomi hit a springboard kick on a running Sky. Naomi connected with a dropkick while fans chanted “Naomi” and Naomi hit a bulldog for two. They went to break there.


Naomi remained on offense as she sent Sky into the turnbuckle followed by a cross body block off the top rope. Naomi hit a running dropkick against the turnbuckle. Naomi jumped off the middle turnbuckle leading to the splits splash on Sky for two. Sky hit a springboard dropkick on Naomi followed by the Meteora double knees. Sky went up top, Naomi hit a jumping kick and Naomi hit a superplex off the middle rope for two. Sky countered a Naomi move leading to a roll through by Sky along with a double stomp to the ribs. Naomi hit Sky with a knee to the face followed by Naomi using her legs to send Sky into the mat. Dakota Kai, Asuka & Kairi Sane showed up at ringside, Naomi knocked Kai off the apron and Sky took advantage to knock down Bayley. Sky went up top leading to the Over The Moonsault for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.

Winner by pinfall: IYO SKY

Analysis: *** A good match by two talented athletes who matched up very well together. It was cool to see some of the moves they did. The finish was a bit lazy since all it took was Kai being on the apron, Naomi knocking her down and Sky hitting one move before her finisher. I just think they could have timed it out better or planned it better.

After the match, Damage CTRL attacked Naomi including Asuka spinning the dreaded mist in Naomi’s face. Bianca Belair made the save by destroying Kai on the floor and hitting a spinebuster on Sane. Belair went after Asuka, so Sane grabbed Belair’s hair, but Belair hit a power slam. Kai hit a chop block on Belair and Sky hit a running dropkick to knock Belair down. The fans chanted “Bayley” but she was taken out earlier. Naomi tried to cover up Belair. Damage CTRL celebrated to end it.

Analysis: I’m not sure exactly where it’s leading, but perhaps we’ll see Naomi & Belair as a tag team against the Women’s Tag Team Champions Asuka & Sane. Anyway, I think the build for Bayley-Sky has been okay. It hasn’t been great. I do think the Sky-Bayley match at WrestleMania will be very good.

Backstage, Cody Rhodes was shown talking to Smackdown GM Nick Aldis while Paul Heyman was lurking in the background.

A video aired about Jade Cargill. Jade said that she doesn’t have to speak and she’s a trending topic and a headline. Jade said that they will build statues of her. Jade announced that she will be taking her talents to Smackdown.

It was announced that Cargill will appear on Smackdown next week.

Analysis: It’s cool that Jade is officially on Smackdown and will be on the show next week. The thing is that last year they did the Draft in May so it could lead to Jade being on Raw when they draft this year, assuming it’s in May again.

Up next is an incident involving LA Knight and AJ Styles.

This Monday on Raw: CM Punk returns in Chicago.


A commercial aired for the Bray Wyatt documentary premiering on April 1st on Peacock. That’s going to be an emotional watch. Just seeing the clip of his dad Mike Rotunda (I.R.S.) crying makes me so sad. The fans in the arena did the “fireflies” salute to Bray with their phone lights on.

Naomi was shown backstage with Bianca Belair trying to clean the mist out of Naomi’s eyes. Tiffany Stratton arrived and mocked Naomi for what happened. Stratton left while Belair tried to help Naomi.

Kevin Owens was backstage talking to Smackdown GM Nick Aldis about his current situation. Pretty Deadly interrupted that discussion so they argued. Owens mentioned he punched two guys in the face last time he was in this arena. Owens challenged Pretty Deadly to a tag team match next week with Randy Orton, who happened to be right there. Pretty Deadly weren’t thrilled about it. Aldis told Pretty Deadly that they have a tag team match next week. Owens punched Pretty Deadly at the same time just like he did to Theory & Waller in the past.

Analysis: The double punch by Owens was funny once again. Nick Aldis had surgery to repair his torn right biceps, so you could tell he was favoring that arm, but Nick also had a suit on to cover it up.

There was a video shown of AJ Styles getting interviewed at home. LA Knight was shown in his car at AJ’s house. Knight fought with Styles on the lawn. The footage stopped there. They showed police officers arriving at the house and arresting Knight for trespassing. They showed the police officer camera footage of the arrest. As Knight was put in the car, he was shouting about how he was going to beat Styles at WrestleMania. The announcers said that Styles didn’t press charges while Knight was released from custody.

Analysis: It’s a way to try something different by making it look like this personal rivalry has reached another level since Knight went to AJ’s house to fight him.

The Street Profits entered for tag team action joined by Bobby Lashley & B-Fab. Lashley & B-Fab went to the back as the Profits got the crowd into it.


Authors of Pain made their entrance with Paul Ellering, Karrion Kross & Scarlett. As the match began, Kross & Scarlett went to the back.

The Street Profits – Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins vs. Authors of Pain – Akam & Rezar (w/Paul Ellering)

The winners face Grayson Waller & Austin Theory in the mini-tournament on Smackdown. AOP worked over Dawkins a bit for a couple of minutes. Dawkins sent both AOP guys out of the ring. Ford tagged in, jumped over the top and AOP caught him. AOP threw Ford onto Dawkins on the floor. The show went to break there.


AOP remained in control as Rezar stomped on Ford and Rezar tagged in with kicks of his own. Rezar went for a lift, Ford hit a jumping kick to the head and Dawkins got the tag. Dawkins was on fire with a leapfrog followed by a corkscrew back elbow. Dawkins ran over Rezar on the floor. Dawkins hit the double underhook suplex on Akam. Dawkins hit a corner splash and a jumping kick to the head. Ford tagged back in, Akam broke free and Akam kicked Ford in the head after sending Dawkins into the ropes. Rezar hit the Final Chapter double team move (clothesline/leg sweep) with Akam for a two count because Dawkins made the save. Akam lifted up Ford for a move, but Dawkins tackled Rezar out of the ring. Ford did an inside cradle pin for the win. It went about eight minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Street Profits – Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins

Analysis: **3/4 A solid match where AOP dominated a lot of it and the Profits found a way to get the win. Dawkins hit a couple of great saves. Great counter move by Ford to get the win.

That means that The Street Profits will face Theory & Waller next week. The winners of that match will make the Six-Team Ladder Match at WrestleMania 40.

Analysis: That’s a tossup. I think Theory & Waller might win because AOP & Kross could cost the Profits. If The Street Profits win then that’s certainly fine with me.

Paul Heyman was shown talking on his phone saying that Cody Rhodes was here by himself. Heyman told his Tribal Chief (Roman Reigns) that his public awaits. That main event segment was coming up.


Here’s what is coming up next week on Smackdown.

* Bianca Belair vs. Dakota Kai

* WrestleMania Tag Team Title Qualifying Match: The Street Profits vs. Grayson Waller & Austin Theory

* WrestleMania Tag Team Title Qualifying Match: New Catch Republic vs. Legado Del Fantasma

* Kevin Owens & Randy Orton vs. Pretty Deadly

* Jade Cargill makes her first official appearance as Smackdown superstar

Roman Reigns was shown exiting a black truck for his promo segment main event. Paul Heyman greeted him, so they left to make their way to the ring.

Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champion joined by the “Wise Man” Special Counsel Paul Heyman. Roman is working twice at WrestleMania 40 in a tag team match with The Rock at WrestleMania 40 Saturday and then against Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 40 Sunday.

Reigns said that the Wise Man made a promise and Reigns kept his word because he’s an honest man. Reigns said that there would be no Bloodline with him and there is nobody with him except Paul Heyman, who is not a physical threat. Reigns invited Cody Rhodes to come join him because it’s time to acknowledge Reigns.

Cody Rhodes was shown walking backstage because the Face to Face is up next.


Face To Face: Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes

Cody Rhodes made his entrance in a grey suit along with a tie. The fans popped huge for Cody as usual while also shouting “WHOA-OH” during the song at the appropriate times. Cody got into the ring with Reigns & Heyman while the fans chanted “Cody” after the music stopped playing.

Reigns and Cody both confirmed that they both came alone. Reigns told Cody that he was a fool. Reigns told Cody that he was stupid. Reigns thinks that Cody wasn’t fit for this job and he wasn’t fit to be the face of this company because he’s an idiot. Reigns told Cody that he needs to be thinking with his head. Reigns spoke about how over the last month, Cody has aligned himself with Roman’s little brother Seth Rollins. Reigns told Cody that Rollins wasn’t really there for him. Reigns said that Rollins told Cody he would be his Shield and Reigns thought that over time, he thought they would be brothers, but then what happened – Rollins stabbed Reigns in the back. Reigns asked Cody what did he think would happen to him?

Cody Rhodes reminded Reigns who the first team was that did beat The Shield. Cody said that the last name was Rhodes. Cody said that he’s certainly not unfamiliar with factions and groups doing stuff while he was off doing other things. Cody pointed out that Roman’s shirt said “Family Above All” so it’s not just a faction. Cody asked the crowd if he can trust Seth “Freakin” Rollins and the fans cheered. Cody said that Rollins might hate Cody’s guts and Cody said that Rollins hates him even more. Cody mentioned Reigns wondering if Cody could trust Rollins, but Cody asked Reigns if he can trust The Rock? Cody said that in the Pantheon that is The Bloodline, who is really in charge: The Tribal Chief or The Final Boss?

Reigns said that Cody said that in the past but the other way around. Reigns told Cody it was spoken and spun like a true politician. Reigns spoke about how Cody will pull a kid from the crowd and make him part of his entrance because Cody loves the fans. Reigns told Cody that he (Cody) can’t keep his promises. Reigns told Cody that nothing ever comes to fruition because he is number two. Reigns told the fans that they would be lucky to be number two and Reigns told Cody that he is the greatest number two of all time. Reigns told Cody that he (Reigns) is number one forever.

Cody told Reigns that he grew up in this industry the same that Cody did. Cody said that Reigns grew up wanting to be the biggest star to come along. Cody mentioned the biggest names of the past like Bruno, Flair, Hogan, Rock, Austin & Cena. Cody said that the next generation, their kids will probably want to grow up being the next Roman Reigns. Cody said that may be Roman’s density but you may be unfamiliar with Cody’s destiny. Cody talked about how when it comes to defeating Reigns for this championship that he has held all this time, Cody said that he is The One. Cody extended his hand for a handshake, but Reigns didn’t shake the hand. Reigns shook Heyman’s hand instead.

After leaving the ring, Reigns snapped his fingers, so then his music played. It also led to Solo Sikoa and Jimmy appearing from the crowd. Solo and his brother Jimmy surrounded the ring to stand beside Reigns on the floor. Cody Rhodes looked at Roman Reigns from the ring. Meanwhile, World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins and Jey Uso appeared in the crowd, so they showed up at ringside to stare at The Bloodline on the floor. That’s when Cody’s music started to play. Cody and his friends had a staredown with The Bloodline. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes were honest that they showed up to the Head to Head alone, but then when it ended, they both had their allies at ringside. I wrote last week that I thought this was a very important segment because they really needed to shine the spotlight on this Reigns-Rhodes match since The Rock had gotten so much attention over the last few weeks. I thought what they said here was very good. I wouldn’t call it a home run segment, but I did like how both men approached it. Reigns was the cocky champion that thinks he is going to remain the top guy while Cody is just going to be number two. I like how that was set up because it allowed Cody to say that he was going to be “The One” who takes the Undisputed WWE Universal Title from Reigns. Cody said that with a lot of confidence and that really worked well. I think that’s the kind of phrase that they are going to feature in video packages to build the match.

The post match staredown between The Bloodline and Cody with Seth & Jey is a nice tease of what it could be like if it’s Bloodline Rules at WrestleMania, which is what I expect. The Bloodline should win at WrestleMania Night 1, and then Cody should find a way to win Night 2 because of his help. I think Cody leaving WrestleMania 40 as WWE Champion is the right way to go.


Three Stars of the Show

1. Cody Rhodes

2. Roman Reigns

3. Santos Escobar/Rey Mysterio


The Scoreboard

7.25 out of 10

Last week: 7.25

2024 Average: 7.33


Final Thoughts on WWE Smackdown

A pretty good show overall. I rated it similar to last week. The Roman Reigns-Cody Rhodes promo was entertaining, but I wouldn’t say it was amazing or anything like that. I did like how Cody put an emphasis on saying that he would be the one to beat Reigns, who called Cody “number two” before that. The ending scene shows that Cody has backup with Seth Rollins & Jey Uso against The Bloodline, so that was a nice tease of what could happen at WrestleMania 40 as well.

The matches were okay. There were cheap wins by three of the heels on the show with Santos Escobar, the Theory/Waller and IYO SKY all cheating to win. It does feel a bit repetitive when it happens three times on the same show. They were different spots at least. The other win was a nice counter by Montez Ford of The Street Profits. Sometimes I think Smackdown could have better matches. They just haven’t had many standout matches this year, so I’d like that see them improve that in the future.

There was plenty of storyline progression throughout the show. Bianca Belair helped Naomi against Damage CTRL, but DC was too dominant and already took out Bayley. LA Knight attacking AJ Styles at his house shows how it has become a very personal feud. Nothing was officially added to the WrestleMania 40, but you can tell they are building to some more matches and it’s just a matter of when they get announced.

The next WWE PLE is WrestleMania 40 from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on April 6th and April 7th. This is the lineup so far.

* Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Cody Rhodes (SUNDAY)

* The Rock & Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes & Seth “Freakin” Rollins (SATURDAY)

* WWE Women’s World Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Becky Lynch

* WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Seth “Freakin” Rollins (c) vs. Drew McIntyre (SUNDAY)

* WWE Women’s Championship: IYO SKY (c) vs. Bayley

* Intercontinental Championship: GUNTHER (c) vs. Sami Zayn

* United States Championship: Logan Paul (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens

* LA Knight vs. AJ Styles

* Jimmy Uso vs. Jey Uso

* Six-Pack Ladder Match For WWE Tag Team Championships: Damian Priest & Finn Balor vs. #DIY – Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano vs. Awesome Truth – The Miz & R-Truth vs. The New Day – Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods vs. two other teams.

You can watch WrestleMania 40 on April 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, streaming LIVE on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.


Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. You can contact me using any of the methods below.

John Canton


Twitter/X: @johnreport