The John Report: WWE Smackdown 03/31/23 Review
This week’s WWE Smackdown featured the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, Roman Reigns-Cody Rhodes final words, Drew McIntyre & Sheamus team up and more.
It’s one before WrestleMania 39 as I sit here on Friday night. We are putting out so much content on TJRWrestling. Here’s our WrestleMania 39 preview where you can see our team and myself do a rundown of all the matches. Some common picks and some are different. Anyway, I’m certainly ready for WrestleMania 39 to get here. I’ll have live reviews on Saturday & Sunday night. Bring it on, pal.
From the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California, this is Smackdown for episode #1232. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
The commentary team of Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed us to the show with a rundown of what’s coming up on Smackdown.
Let’s Hear from The Usos
The Usos made their entrance for some promo time. Jey Uso mentioned that The Bloodline is in your city. Jimmy Uso said it’s the last Smackdown before the biggest tag team match of all time at…here’s the interruption.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens made their entrance. It was a bigger, more elaborate stage than usual since the Hall of Fame ceremony was after Smackdown. The fans were singing along with Sami’s song. Zayn and Owens walked down the ramp saying it was the biggest Tag Team Championship in WWE history. Zayn said they will put an end to all of this once and for all.
Zayn and Owens got into the ring with The Usos. Zayn said tonight they will make sure there is nothing left unsaid between them. Owens said he was conflicted about what they have to do tomorrow night. Owens talked about how when he first started in WWE, the first two guys that made him feel welcome were The Usos. Owens said that he remembers The Usos would hang out with his son and he looked up to them. Owens said that he liked them until they did their cousin’s bidding and they lost his respect. Owens yelled at The Usos for attacking him at the Royal Rumble and if it wasn’t for Zayn, Owens wouldn’t be there. Owens was fired up saying that The Usos know what’s coming, it ain’t paranoia and Owens said that they are taking The Usos’ titles at WrestleMania. The fans cheered.
Jimmy Uso said they showed love to KO back then, but they don’t have love for them. Jimmy said that what he has with Jey is brotherhood, it’s family, it’s blood and Sami interrupted that. Zayn said that blood is not the only thing that makes you family because loyalty makes you family. Jey Uso spoke up asking Sami what does he know about loyalty?
Zayn told Jey he was loyal to Jimmy and Jey from day one…the whole time. Zayn said they chose blood over loyalty even though Roman Reigns has never been loyal to Jimmy and especially to Jey. This led to Jey turning his back to Sami to think about it. Zayn said that the pressure of The Bloodline has always been on The Usos. Zayn said that they are going to put The Usos out of their misery because they are taking the Tag Team Championships from The Usos. Zayn said when they win, that’s the end of The Bloodline. Zayn said that they can go back to being the guys that the guys in the locker room love and the guys in the crowd love – they can just go back to being The Usos. Sami said they just won’t have the Tag Team Championships with them anymore.
Jey Uso said it’s going to be the same thing with Kevin and Sami that it always is. Jey said they will lose the big match and Kevin Owens is going to stab Sami in the back again. Meanwhile, The Usos will be doing what they have been doing for over 600+ days while mentioning they are 8-time Tag Team Champions and have the longest tag team title reign ever. Jey said he’s sick of you saying The Bloodline are going to fall. Jey said that after all the smoke clears, they’re going to say that still The WWE Undisputed Tag Team Champions will be The Usos. The music of the champions played as The Usos had a staredown with Zayn/Owens.
Analysis: It was a great promo segment. All four guys made great points with Zayn continuing to tell The Usos that this will be the end of The Bloodline and he took shots at Roman Reigns again. Kevin Owens made a great point that Zayn saved him at The Bloodline after The Usos attacked him. Jimmy Uso was confident as usual. Jey Uso was once again outstanding by how he reacted to what Zayn said, he had the facial expression like maybe what Sami was saying was right and then he fired back with confidence like his brother. I thought it was excellent overall.
"THIS RIGHT HERE IS BLOODLINE-MANIA!" ☝️
Will @WWEUsos leave #WrestleMania TOMORROW NIGHT still Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions or will @FightOwensFight and @SamiZayn prevail? 👀#WrestleMania#SmackDownpic.twitter.com/FkSTY9x1A1
— WWE (@WWE) April 1, 2023
The Usos left the ring first while The Street Profits made their entrance. Those teams had a bit of a staredown. Montez Ford entered for a Fatal 4-Way match.
Ricochet (w/Braun Strowman) vs. Montez Ford (w/Angelo Dawkins) vs. Chad Gable (w/Otis) vs. Erik (w/Ivar & Valhalla)
There are no countouts and disqualifications in a four-way in WWE. These four teams meet at WrestleMania in a Four-Way tag team match on Saturday.
Ricochet and Ford cleared the ring, they knocked Gable out of the ring and dropkicked Erik out of the ring. Ford and Ricochet tried dives on the floor, but Gable & Erik caught them there leading to belly to belly suplexes on the floor. Gable sent Ricochet into the steel steps and Erik sent Ford into the ring post. Back in the ring, Gable with a forearm to the back of Ricochet. Erik hit Gable with a forearm to the head. Ricochet was distracted by Valhalla, so Erik hit Ricochet with a punch. Gable jumped off the top with a clothesline on Erik leading to a break.
Ricochet shoved Gable off the top while Erik superplexed Ford off the top. Gable jumped to the top leading to a belly-to-belly suplex on Ricochet. Ford hit a running back elbow, then a kick on Erik and a cross body block off the top. Ford with a backhand to knock Gable down, but Ricochet was there with a clothesline off the top. Gable with a German Suplex on Ricochet, but Erik broke up the pin. Erik with a knee to Ford and he slammed Gable onto Ford’s back leading to multiple two counts by Erik. Ford with a step up enziguri knocking Erik out of the ring. Ford hit a somersault dive over the top onto three guys on the floor. Ford hit a Frog Splash off the top onto Gable, but he was too hurt to make a cover. Ricochet jumped off the opposite corner with an amazing Shooting Star Press for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ricochet
Analysis: *** It was a match full of action with a hot finish. Ford hit that dive to the floor, then a Frog Splash and Ricochet hit the SSP for the win, so they ended it with some big moves to raise the excitement for the finish. I liked how it ended. I didn’t necessarily like how much Ford sold the Frog Splash after hitting it because it was overselling a bit to allow Ricochet to hit his move. Anyway, poor Gable eating another pin after hitting some great moves in the match. Erik got in some power spots too.
After the match, Ricochet and Strowman celebrated while pointing at the WrestleMania sign.
The Bloodline group was shown in their dressing room with Roman Reigns walking into the room. He sat down with The Usos while Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa were standing.
Bobby Lashley was shown warming up for the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.
A video package aired for the Smackdown Women’s Championship match between champion Charlotte Flair and challenger Rhea Ripley. That match is on Saturday.
Analysis: I picked Ripley to win in our WM preview. I think it’s a popular prediction.
Some of the entrants made their way into the ring for the Andre the Giant battle royal. That was followed by an Andre the Giant video to honor the legend.
Bobby Lashley received his full entrance and they went to break there. That meant all the wrestlers had to wait in the ring together for three minutes.
They showed the door for The Great Muta and a guy walked out of the room with green mist on his face. Poor guy. Muta is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame later.
Braun Strowman made his entrance. The battle royal started.
Andre The Giant Battle Royal
They never said how many guys were in there, but Wade Barrett thinks it was 32 people. Baron Corbin was eliminated by Rick Boogs in about ten seconds. Cole mentioned Cesaro was the first-ever winner of this battle royal in 2014. Lashley clotheslined Top Dolla out and Lashley tossed Ashante “Thee” Adonis out. Joaquin Wilde was eliminated on the other side of the ring. Dexter Lumis just stood in the corner doing nothing while nobody was trying to fight him. Mace eliminated two guys and then Dexter Lumis dumped Mace out. Johnny Gargano superkicked Mansoor over the top to the floor. Otis eliminated Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows back to back. Elias and Rick Boogs worked together to eliminate Otis, but then Los Lotharios (Angel and Humberto) eliminated Elias. Boogs eliminated Angel and Humberto back to back. That led to a break.
The match continued with Madcap Moss eliminating Dexter Lumis and Karrion Kross eliminated Xavier Woods. We only got to see Woods on the floor there. LA Knight eliminated Mustafa Ali leading to some cheers for Knight even though he’s a heel. Kross and Lashley each applied submissions and then dropped their guys. Lashley tossed a charging Kross over the top, but Kross held on. Bronson Reed eliminated Madcap Moss while Strowman eliminated Boogs. Strowman and Reed had a showdown while Lashley eliminated Ziggler. Lashley clotheslined Reed, but Strowman caught Lashley during a charge. Strowman drove Lashley into the turnbuckle and Reed hit a splash. Holland and Butch worked together on Reed with a headbutt/kick combo. Butch kicked Gargano in the head and Gargano came back with a DDT. Knight with a flapjack sending Gargano into the mat, but Gargano held on from the elimination attempt. Kross slammed Knight, Escobar with a headscissors on Kross, Gargano with a Spear on Escobar and Lashley hit a spinebuster on Gargano. Lashley and Strowman got rid of Gargano and Escobar. Reed clotheslined Holland out. Holland caught Butch from elimination, but then Reed tossed Butch out.
The final four were Reed, Knight, Strowman and Lashley. Reed nearly eliminated Knight, but Knight held on. Reed lifted up Knight on his shoulders and tossed Knight over the top to the floor. Huge boos for Knight being eliminated. Lashley with corner clotheslines on Strowman and Reed. Strowman picked up Lashley leading to a powerslam. Reed tried to eliminate Strowman, but Braun held on and Reed hit a shoulder tackle to knock Strowman down. Reed jumped off the top with a Tsunami attempt, but Lashley moved and Reed hit the mat. Reed tried to dump Lashley, but Lashley held on. Lashley was back in and he tossed Reed out to win the match. It went about 14 minutes.
Winner: Bobby Lashley
Analysis: **3/4 It was okay for a battle royal. They are hard to rate because it’s never really anything you haven’t seen before. You can only do so much in battle royals. The fans were really behind Knight due to the LA name, so when Reed dumped him out the fans absolutely hated it. I’m glad that Reed looked strong during the match while Strowman has credibility as a former Universal Champion and a big guy, so it made sense to feature him a lot. Lashley winning wasn’t a surprise since he was the most popular pick going into the match.
Bobby Lashley celebrated the win. Lashley went over to the Andre the Giant trophy and folded his arms just like Andre on the trophy.
Analysis: I feel bad for Lashley not being on the WrestleMania card. He was supposed to be against Bray Wyatt, but due to Bray’s mysterious illness, it’s not happening.
After Smackdown, Bobby Lashley did this promo saying he wants a match at WrestleMania, so maybe he’ll be on the show.
I’ll say it once again…
I AM FREE SATURDAY & SUNDAY!!
You can’t have #WrestleMania without the All-Mighty. You just can’t!
Whoever wants to test me, step up! 👊🏾@WWE#SmackDownpic.twitter.com/or9FzsdzOA
— Bobby Lashley (@fightbobby) April 1, 2023
There was a video package about Cody Rhodes as the challenger for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania 39. It did a good job of covering his journey in WWE from when he started about 15 years ago to where he is now. Cody has changed a lot since those early days, since his “Dashing” days and his Stardust days.
They showed Cody Rhodes backstage in a suit. He’s up later with Roman Reigns.
Raquel Rodriguez made her entrance with Liv Morgan for Raquel’s match.
A commercial aired for NXT Stand & Deliver on Saturday afternoon/morning depending on where you are. My NXT Stand & Deliver preview is here. I’ll have a review up on TJRWrestling on Saturday afternoon.
Natalya (w/Shotzi) vs. Sonya Deville (w/Chelsea Green) vs. Shayna Baszler (w/Ronda Rousey) vs. Raquel Rodriguez (w/Liv Morgan)
Natalya and Raquel cleared the ring. Deville was back in with a knee strike. Natalya put a Sharpshooter on Deville, but Baszler went into the ring and grabbed Natalya with a sleeper. Raquel broke that up by picking up Natalya/Raquel at the same time, so Deville did a chop block to Raquel. Baszler knocked Deville out of the ring, Natalya with a clothesline, Raquel knocked down Baszler and Deville was back in to send Raquel into the ring post. Deville jumped off the ropes with nothing, Raquel caught Deville, Raquel kicked Baszler and Raquel hit a Texana Bomb on Deville. It went about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Raquel Rodriguez
Analysis: ** A quick match to put over Raquel’s power. Lots of moves and leaving the ring right after taking a move. The crowd was dead for most of the match.
They showed Rey Mysterio backstage in a tuxedo talking to another Hall of Famer, John Bradshaw Layfield. Rey headlines the Hall of Fame ceremony later.
The Bloodline’s WrestleMania movie parody video aired. It was based on the classic film Goodfellas, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. I think it was the best of this year’s WrestleMania movie parody videos.
They showed Roman Reigns pondering in the locker room with Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa standing by.
The Progressive Match Flo replay was shown with highlights from last week’s Smackdown with Rey Mysterio punching his son Dominik after Dominik told his mother (Rey’s wife) to shut up. Rey accepted Dominik’s challenge for a WrestleMania match.
Rey Mysterio was shown in the locker room in his tuxedo with Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Zelina Vega, Joaquin Wilde & Cruz Del Toro) going into the room. Santos Escobar said it breaks his heart to see what Rey is going through with his son since Santos is a father too. Rey said he’ll teach Dominik a lesson he’ll never forget. Santos said they had Rey’s back if The Judgment Day tried to interfere in Rey’s match. Rey said they’ll do it in style. Rey handed all four members of Legado the Latino World Order shirts. Rey said it’s official, so they are the new Latino World Order. The fans popped for it as the wrestlers held the shirts up for the camera in the room.
Analysis: That was cool. The LWO was a group in WCW about 25 years ago featuring a lot of their Latino cruiserweight wrestlers at the time. There aren’t many babyface groups in WWE, but having Legado associated with Rey is a good idea to elevate the Legado group a bit by being around a top guy like Rey. It’s fine with me.
LWO: Latino World Order 🇲🇽
Legado Del Fantasma has @reymysterio's back and he has theirs. 🤝 @ZelinaVegaWWE@EscobarWWE@deltoro_wwe@joaquinwilde_#WrestleMania#SmackDownpic.twitter.com/dfpFxyRnIC
— WWE (@WWE) April 1, 2023
Sheamus made his entrance for tag team action. Drew McIntyre was next and he walked right by Sheamus on his way to the ring.
Drew McIntyre & Sheamus vs. Imperium (Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci)
The Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER was shown watching on a TV backstage. Drew clotheslined Vinci, who tried a hiptoss. Kaiser tagged in with a jumping kick, Drew off the ropes and Sheamus tagged in with a punch off the top. Sheamus clotheslined Kaiser against the turnbuckle. Sheamus sent Gunther to the apron leading to Sheamus hitting the forearms to the chest ten times. Drew tagged himself in leading to an argument with Sheamus. Imperium attacked, Sheamus sent Vinci out of the ring, Drew headbutted Kaiser and sent Kaiser out of the ring. Drew and Sheamus had a staredown as Gunther watched. That led to a break.
Kaiser was in control of Sheamus with a headlock. Sheamus came back with a backbreaker. Drew got the tag with belly-to-belly suplexes and neckbreakers with Vinci as the legal man on the Imperium team. Sheamus tagged in, Drew argued with him, Drew was knocked out of the ring and Imperium did a high-low on Sheamus to knock him down for a two count. Sheamus came back with a high knee on Vinci. Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Vinci and Drew went into the ring with a Claymore Kick on Kaiser, who did a flip bump to sell it. Sheamus covered Vinci for the pinfall win after eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Drew McIntyre & Sheamus
Analysis: **1/2 It was just an average match with an obvious result. Drew and Sheamus had issues teaming together due to their egos, but when they got on the same page at the end they easily put Imperium away. They probably could have done the match in four minutes, but with a commercial during the match, that stretched it to eight minutes.
Post match, Drew and Sheamus had a staredown while Gunther watched from a TV backstage.
The announcers went over the WrestleMania lineup. They didn’t mention all 13 matches, but they went over most of them. I have the full listing at the bottom of this review. They did not specify main event of WrestleMania Saturday, but did specify that Reigns-Rhodes is main eventing WrestleMania Sunday of course.
Up next: Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns go face-to-face for the final time before their WrestleMania matchup.
A commercial aired for the WWE Hall of Fame on Peacock/WWE Network after Smackdown.
Let’s Hear from Cody Rhodes…and Roman Reigns
Cody Rhodes made his entrance wearing a blue suit. Cody got a big ovation and the loud “whoa-oh” spot during the song keeps getting louder. Cody talked about everything he has been doing over the last week like media appearances, making sure he is eating right and all this other stuff that goes into it.
Cody said that he is the most prepared that he has ever been. Cody said in the spirit of full transparency, he feels wildly unprepared. Cody said that the fans want a showdown, a duel, they talked enough and the fans want to see a fight. Cody went on talking about some California Love lyrics. Cody thanked the fans for welcoming him back. Cody spoke about how he projects perfection, but usually it’s an indication that something is broken inside. Cody said that the only medicine for him is Sunday – defeating Roman Reigns.
Cody talked about how for the last 11 years, WWE told you that Roman was the guy and it only started paying off in year eight. The fans let out an “ooohhh” reaction to that. Cody said that Roman said that everything thinks they’re the guy until they meet the guy. Cody said he is not just Dusty’s son, Dashing or Dust, he said he is the next Head of the Table, the American Nightmare Cody Rhodes and he is the next Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. Cody said that this Sunday at WrestleMania, “I finish…” and here comes Roman.
Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion with the “Wise Man” Paul Heyman by his side. Roman did his usual slow entrance took about three minutes. There was not much time left.
Reigns shouted out Los Angeles and told Heyman he didn’t like any of them. Reigns didn’t do his “acknowledge me” bit. Reigns said: “Cody Rhodes…acknowledge me.” Cody stood face to face with Reigns as Roman held up the WWE Title above his head. Heyman had the Universal Title on his shoulder. Reigns and Cody had a staredown. Will Cody finish the story or will Roman continue his reign? That’s WrestleMania Sunday. The show ended with the Roman-Cody staredown. That’s all for Smackdown.
Analysis: I liked the promo by Cody. When Cody said he was the most prepared of his career, I think he was being honest as usual and the fans believe it. Reigns didn’t need to say much. He just wanted to intimidate Cody as usual. I liked how it was done. Keep it simple. I’m just ready for the match to get here on Sunday night.
Three Stars of the Show
- Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens/The Usos
- Cody Rhodes
- Bobby Lashley
7 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
2023 Average: 7.12
It was a solid WrestleMania go-home edition of Smackdown. I wouldn’t call it an incredible show or anything like that in that, but they built up some of the big matches well. The opening promo with The Usos and Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens was excellent and got me more excited for their WrestleMania match.
The main event promo was Cody Rhodes talking about how he is the most prepared he’s ever been in his career. Roman Reigns didn’t say much other than wanting Cody to “acknowledge him” as Reigns tends to do. It was an intense staredown to end the show.
In terms of matches, Bobby Lashley winning the Andre The Giant Battle Royal was the most obvious winner. There were two 4-way matches that were fine with the men getting a lot more time than the women. Drew McIntyre & Sheamus got a tag team match win too to give them positive momentum as well. Some of the video packages were very good too. I’m ready for WrestleMania.
Here’s the WrestleMania 39 lineup taking place on April 1st and April 2nd:
SATURDAY, APRIL 1
* United States Championship: Austin Theory (c) vs. John Cena
* Men’s Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match: The Street Profits vs. Braun Strowman & Ricochet vs. Alpha Academy vs. Viking Raiders
* Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio
* Damage CTRL – Bayley, IYO SKY & Dakota Kai vs. Trish Stratus, Becky Lynch & Lita
* Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. Logan Paul
* Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Rhea Ripley – SmackDown Women’s Championship
* The Usos (c) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn – Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship
SUNDAY, APRIL 2
* Women’s Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match: Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan vs. Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler vs. Natalya & Shotzi vs. Sonya Deville & Chelsea Green
* Intercontinental Championship: GUNTHER (c) vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre
* Brock Lesnar vs. Omos
* Hell in a Cell Match: Edge vs. Finn Balor
* Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Asuka
* Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Cody Rhodes
WrestleMania goes Hollywood for a special two-night Premium Live Event, Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, streaming live on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.