The John Report: WWE Smackdown 04/07/23 Review

wwe smackdown april 7

This week’s WWE Smackdown has Sami Zayn facing Jey Uso, Rey Mysterio & Santos Escobar against Dominik Mysterio & Damian Priest, plus a whole lot more.

It’s the first Smackdown since WrestleMania 39. I loved WM39 because the match quality was as great as any WrestleMania ever. I don’t know if I can say the same about all the booking, but over the two nights and eight hours of content, I really enjoyed it.

Raw was not well-liked by a lot of people, which led to my lowest score for Raw this year. Vince McMahon had a big say in it apparently. The good news for Smackdown is that it is believed that Vince didn’t get involved with the creative process for it, so it’s more of a Triple H show and that’s good. It’s been a Triple H show since late July 2022 when Vince “retired” and the overall product has been better. I respect what Vince did in his career running the show, but at nearly 78 years old, let your son-in-law run it. The product is better. It just is. Look at the ratings being up, look at attendance being up and watch the shows. They are good. Take a step back, Grandpa. It will be just fine without you. Start golfing, play some bocce ball with some seniors around your age, or maybe spend more time on the yacht or something. You’ve earned it. Let Triple H run the show, please.

Best wishes to Drew McIntyre, who is off Smackdown this week due to some health issue. That Intercontinental Title match at WrestleMania 39 between GUNTHER, Drew and Sheamus was outstanding. I went five stars out of five for that match. I also went five stars for Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens beating The Usos to become the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions. I still haven’t rewatched those matches due to being so busy, but I will this weekend. As I said, in terms of match quality, it was an incredible WrestleMania event. No doubt about it.

From the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, this is Smackdown for episode #1233. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

It started off with the WrestleMania 39 video package that we also saw on Raw. That took about five minutes to get through it all.

The Brawling Brutes group of Sheamus, Butch and Ridge Holland entered for the opening match. The commentary team of Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed us to the show with a rundown of what’s coming up on Smackdown.

Imperium were next led by the Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER, who was joined by Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci.

The Brawling Brutes – Sheamus, Butch & Ridge Holland vs. Imperium – GUNTHER, Giovanni Vinci & Ludwig Kaiser

Butch ran over Vinci with a lefty clothesline and a running forearm. Holland tagged in leading to Vinci hitting a springboard cross body block. Kaiser tagged in with a running forearm. Butch jumped off the top with a double stomp on the left arm. Vinci was back in, so Butch stepped on Vinci’s left arm. After Gunther distracted the referee, Kaiser shoved Butch off the turnbuckle into a vertical suplex by Vinci for two. Great power shown there by Vinci as usual. The Brutes scared Imperium out of the ring leading to a break.


Gunther was in control of Butch with a chinlock. When Gunther let go, he decked Sheamus with a punch to knock Sheamus off the apron. Butch did a finger snap to Gunther, who tagged out and Vinci tagged in, but Butch kicked him in the back. Holland was against Kaiser with a back body drop and a double underhook suplex. Kaiser tried a suplex, Holland blocked that and Holland hit an Alabama Slam for two. Holland missed a corner charge, the heels made quick tags and there was a triple kick on Holland at the same time. Holland tried to fight out of the corner, but Gunther chopped him. Gunther knocked Sheamus off the apron again. Gunther with a boot and Powerbomb on Holland for two because Butch made the save. Gunther with a Boston Crab on Holland leading to Sheamus going up on the apron. After ten minutes, Sheamus finally got the tag with the fans cheering. Sheamus with punches to Gunther, then a running clothesline and a running powerslam. Sheamus worked over Gunther with the ten beats forearms to the chest. The fans were into it. Gunther avoided a running kick and hit a German Suplex. Gunther with a boot to the face, Sheamus powered out of a move and hit White Noise for two. There were a bunch of moves between Kaiser, Butch, Holland and there was Butch hitting a moonsault onto Kaiser on the floor. Vinci was legal, he went for a springboard move and Sheamus hit him with a knee. Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Vinci for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Brawling Brutes – Sheamus, Butch & Ridge Holland

Analysis: ***1/2 It was a great match as usual by these teams that are very familiar with eachother. I think it’s a case of Triple H putting some of his favorite guys out there, saying here’s 12 minutes, so go do your thing and you know it’s always going to be fun to watch. I loved the way Gunther kept knocking Sheamus off the apron to build to the hot tag and the fans exploded for it. I’m not surprised by Vinci being the guy that was pinned since it’s going to be him or Kaiser. We know Gunther will be kept strong, which is fine with me. If we ever get Sheamus against Gunther again then I think Sheamus should beat him.

The Brawling Brutes celebrated the win with the fans cheering for them a lot.

Up next is a look back at Brock Lesnar destroying Cody Rhodes on Raw.


A video package aired with highlights from Raw. They set up a main event with Brock Lesnar teaming with Cody against Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa, but instead of a match, Lesnar turned heel by destroying Cody. That’s how Raw ended. A night of sadness for Cody Rhodes. Wade Barrett said that he “heard” Brock was mad because his match was on first at WrestleMania and that was the reason he attacked Cody.

Analysis: I’m not sure if what Wade said will be the actual story of why Brock attacked Cody, but if it is then that’s kind of weak. I don’t think Brock needs a lengthy explanation other than he’s sick of Roman Reigns as the champion and since Cody couldn’t get the job done, Brock kicked his ass to teach him how to be a tougher man.

Paul Heyman was interviewed by Kayla Braxton with Solo Sikoa standing by as well. Heyman told the crowd there’s no booing his name, so the fans booed that. Kayla asked Heyman if he knew why Lesnar knew what he did to Cody. Heyman said that The Bloodline headlined both nights of WrestleMania all thanks to Roman Reigns, who is now approaching 1000 days and here’s Jey Uso walking into the picture. Jey said he hasn’t seen Jimmy all night. Heyman said that Jimmy isn’t there. Heyman told Jey that the Tribal Chief wanted Jimmy to watch on TV as Jey takes out Sami Zayn all by himself. Heyman talked about Jey solving the Sami Zayn Problem. Jey seemed okay with it and he left. Heyman told Solo said that Jey solves the Sami Zayn Problem tonight or Solo solves their problems tonight.

Analysis: Interesting words at the end there with the Wise Man teasing that Jey Uso has to take out Sami Zayn or else Solo Sikoa will do something about it.

Ricochet made his entrance for singles action.


Ivar (w/Valhalla) vs. Ricochet

It was mentioned by Cole that the tag team partners Erik and Braun Strowman were banned from ringside.

Ricochet worked over Ivar with kicks to the body, then a headscissors and a dropkick sending Ivar out of the ring. Ricochet dropkicked Ivar off the apron to the floor. Ricochet tried a dive, Ivar caught him and sent Ricochet back-first into the ring apron. Ivar hit a cross body block on Ricochet against the apron, which has an LED board. Back in the ring, Ivar worked over Ricochet with elbows to the head. Ricochet with kicks, then he tried a sunset flip, Ivar blocked it and Ricochet came back with a jumping knee. Ivar with a knee lift to the ribs. Ivar went for a springboard move, then Ricochet got him with a kick and Ricochet tried a lift, but that wasn’t happening. Ivar hit a spin kick to the head for two. Ivar went to the top rope, Ricochet went after him and Ricochet hit a top rope hurricanrana. Ricochet went up top and jumped off with a Shooting Star Press for the pinfall win after about five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ricochet

Analysis: **1/2 It was good for the time given with the singles wrestler Ricochet beating the tag team guy Ivar. I get that they are both in tag teams right now with Ricochet teaming with Braun Strowman and Ivar with Erik as usual, but it felt like a bit of a random tag team match. With that said, Ivar is a talented guy and Ricochet is obviously fun to watch, so it ended up being an entertaining match.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were in the locker room with their Smackdown & Raw Tag Team Titles. Owens was staring at the titles before Zayn came in. Owens said that Zayn can handle Jey tonight and be done with The Bloodline. Zayn said that he feels like he has to talk to Jey. Owens wondered what he was talking about. Zayn said it sounds weird, but he feels a sense of obligation. Owens said that Jey is more dangerous than he’s ever been. Owens said he knows he can’t talk Zayn out of this, but it’s a bad idea and Zayn shouldn’t do it. Zayn said he has to do it. Zayn said it’ll be okay.

Analysis: It was an interesting discussion by the Tag Team Champions with Zayn wanting to try to communicate with his former good friend Jey again. Owens warning Zayn is how a friend like KO should react to that.

Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan entered for a match. They will challenge for the Women’s Tag Team Titles held by Becky Lynch & Lita on Monday’s Raw.

This Sunday on A&E it’s Dusty Rhodes on Biography followed by WWE Rivals covering The Undertaker’s rivalry with Randy Orton in 2005. I’ll watch both of those shows.


The team of Shotzi & Natalya entered for tag team action. They showed a pre-match promo Shotzi & Natalya with Shotzi calling themselves the Ballsy Baddies.

Shotzi & Natalya vs. Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan

Raquel with a shoulder tackle on Natalya. Shotzi got the tag, Natalya with a headscissors takedown sending Raquel out of the ring and Shotzi hit a suicide dive on Raquel on the floor. Back in the ring, Shotzi with a knee on Raquel, who held Shotzi on her shoulders and Morgan tagged in with a dropkick. Morgan jumped over Shotzi and hit a DDT with Natalya making the save. Natalya tagged in and exchanged pin attempts with Morgan. Natalya with a German Suplex and discus clothesline. Raquel broke up the pin. Shotzi tagged in for a double team blockbuster/neckbreaker. Natalya ran the ropes, Raquel hit her with a shoulder tackle and Morgan hit a Tornado DDT on Shotzi. Morgan hit the Oblivion flatliner off the ropes on Shotzi for the pinfall win. They got about four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan

Analysis: ** It was okay for a match to put over Raquel & Liv since they are getting the Women’s Tag Team Title match on Raw next Monday. Natalya always has good interactions with Morgan in the ring while Shotzi is willing to put her body on the line at all times. Raquel didn’t get to show off her power as much as usual, but that’s fine because Liv looked strong in picking up the win. The right team won.

There was a backstage scene with Xavier Woods and Madcap Moss with Emma playing WWE 2K23. LA Knight walked into the picture complaining about how he wasn’t a part of WrestleMania this year. Woods said that he beat Knight in the past and he’ll do it again. Knight grabbed the video game control saying that instead of playing video games you could be playing LA Knights game…yeah. Knight threw the controller down.

Analysis: I think not having LA Knight as part of WrestleMania was a big miss, especially because those Miz segments on both nights were really bad. Give us something else there.

They showed suit wearing Triple H walking backstage for his promo up next.


Let’s Hear from Triple H

Triple H made his entrance wearing a suit to the “King of Kings” song. The fans popped big for Hunter as he made his way down to the ring for some promo time.

Hunter said that as long as there is breath in his body, that will never get old. Hunter welcomed the crowd to Smackdown even though they have been there for a while. Hunter spoke about how there is nothing in the world like WrestleMania where athletes come to make history at the grandest stage of them all. Hunter talked about how hearts are broken, dreams are fulfilled and WrestleMania 39 exceeded expectations. Hunter talked about the crowd size saying that they broke every single record that they have. Hunter said from viewership, attendance, a gross of $21.6 million to sponsorship and merchandise. Hunter said they broke all the records. Hunter said almost 1 billion views on digital this week alone.

Hunter said now we look to the future. Hunter: “Are you ready?” Hunter in just a few short weeks, it is once again time for the WWE Draft. Hunter said that’s a night that changes the future and destiny of every superstar. Hunter said that every single superstar eligible for the draft. Hunter promised us that when it’s all said and done, this year’s draft will truly change the game. Hunter introduced us to somebody that is changing the game…Rhea Ripley

Analysis: It was a newsworthy promo with Triple H announcing the WWE Draft is coming soon. I like doing it after WrestleMania instead of doing it in October like they did in the past. I know they did it in October in the past because of the TV deal starting on Fox in October 2019, but for storyline purposes, it’s better around this time of year. Even though they are doing the WWE Draft again, it’s worth noting that WWE hasn’t been strict about the brand extension since Triple H took over the creative team last summer, so I’ll be interested to see if it’s more strict in the future. Just looking at this week’s Smackdown, lots of Raw people are on the show. If that’s going to continue then what’s the point of the WWE Draft in the first place? Anyway, I’m intrigued to see how they do the WWE Draft this year.

Let’s Hear from The Judgment Day

Rhea Ripley made her entrance as the Smackdown Women’s Champion joined by her allies in The Judgment day – Finn Balor, Damian Priest & “Prison” Dominik Mysterio. Ripley said that April 1st, 2023 is the night that sports entertainment changed forever because Rhea “Bloody” Ripley destroyed Charlotte Flair, so it’s time to “rise for Mami.” Ripley called herself the greatest champion in all of WWE.

Finn Balor complained about how Edge split his head open just to get a win. Balor said even though he got 14 staples in his head, Edge is nowhere to be seen and Finn is still standing.

As soon as Dominik tried to speak, the fans were booing him. It was loud. They kept on booing Dominik, who shouted about how his father put his hands on his own son. Dominik claimed that he couldn’t hurt his own father and that’s why he lost at WrestleMania. Dominik said he could see the anger in his dad Rey Mysterio’s eyes. Dominik said that Rey and the rest of Dom’s family can go to hell. Dominik told Rey to take Bad Bunny with him.

A replay was shown of Bad Bunny costing Dominik the win at WrestleMania by stopping Dominik from using a chain. On Raw, Dominik and Priest got involved with Bad Bunny at ringside. Priest gave Bunny a Chokeslam through the commentary table.

Damian Priest said he hopes Bad Bunny can forgive him because he forgives Bunny for making Priest do what Priest did to Bunny.

Analysis: I liked Ripley’s promo. The others did well too. Dominik gets so much speech without even speaking, so it just shows how well the storyline is working.

Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar entered for tag team action joined by the LWO (Latino World Order). That tag team match is next.


Damian Priest & Dominik Mysterio (w/Finn Balor & Rhea Ripley) vs. Rey Mysterio & Santos Escobar (w/Joaquin Wilde, Cruz Del Toro & Zelina Vega)

The heels were in control of Rey with Dominik punching Rey repeatedly. Dominik suplexed Rey. When Dominik charged, Rey got his boots up and Rey broke free to bring in Escobar. Escobar with a jumping kick followed by a cross body block and two backbreakers on Dominik. Rey was launched towards Priest for some illegal offense with a hurricanrana to send Priest out of the ring. Rey and Escobar each hit suicide dives on their opponents on the floor leading to a break. Good action spot going into the break.


Priest was in control of Escobar with a flatliner for two. Dominik was back in with a chinlock on Escobar. A back body drop by Escobar created some space, Rey got the tag and hit a headscissors on his son. Dominik came back with a Michinoku Driver for two. Dominik hit a sunset flip, but Rey rolled through with a dropkick. Rey kicked Priest off the apron to the floor. Rey hit a dropkick, then Ripley pulled Dominik off the ropes to avoid a 619 kick, so Vega gave Ripley a headscissors on the floor. Ripley chased Vega into the crowd and Rey sent Priest out of the ring. Rey hit a 619 kick on Dominik, Escobar tagged in, Priest knocked Rey out of the ring, Cole pointed out that Priest was legal and Priest saved Dominik from a move by Escobar. Priest hit a South of Heaven slam on Escobar for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Damian Priest & Dominik Mysterio

Analysis: *** A good match to put the heels over. It made sense for the heels to win since Priest & Dominik are likely against Rey & Bad Bunny at Backlash, so you want to establish Priest & Dominik as a team that’s capable of winning big matches. Rey & Escobar should always have good matches as a team because they’re so talented.

Sami Zayn was shown walking backstage where he asked a guy if he knew where Jey Uso was. The guy pointed down a hall, so Zayn walked that way.

This Monday on Raw: The Miz faces Matt Riddle, Lita & Becky Lynch defend the Women’s Tag Team Titles against Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan and what’s next for Cody Rhodes? Find out on Raw.


Next week on Smackdown: Shinsuke Nakamura is back. Good to see Nakamura back in action after several months off.

Jey Uso was shown pacing around backstage with Sami Zayn walking up to him. Zayn said he had something he needed to say. Zayn told Jey there’s a way out of this and Jey knows that. Zayn said that The Bloodline is crumbling. Zayn said that Jimmy is not there, Roman is mad at him, Heyman is selling lies and Solo is looking threatening. Zayn said he’ll beat it into his head if that’s how it has to be. Zayn told Jey that’s not how it has to be. There was some loud banging going on backstage and it was Kevin Owens trapped under an equipment box. Solo Sikoa was shown standing by. There were some WWE Officials there to check on Owens while Sami was checking on Owens as well. Owens was selling a left knee injury. Paul Heyman was standing by watching what happened.

Analysis: The story was that Kevin Owens told Sami Zayn to not talk to Jey and look what happened when Sami did it? KO got his ass kicked. That’s good storytelling because it shows that Owens was right while Zayn should have listened to his friend. I like what Zayn said to Jey about how The Bloodline was falling apart and Jey could break free. Jey didn’t say a word, but he was clearly listening. I liked that segment.

Jey Uso made his entrance for singles action. It’s weird not seeing him with the Tag Team Titles, but here we are. That main event match was next.


Next week on Smackdown it’s Xavier Woods facing LA Knight. That’s all they announced so far, plus we know Shinsuke Nakamura is back too.

Sami Zayn was shown backstage with Kayla Braxton asking for an update on Kevin Owens. Zayn said that Owens is getting looked at in the trainer’s room. Zayn said that Owens can’t help him tonight, but he was right that The Bloodline is more dangerous than before. Zayn talked about solving a problem now.

Sami Zayn made his entrance wearing the Raw & Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Big pop for Sami.

Jey Uso vs. Sami Zayn

They shoved eachother at the start with Zayn telling Jey that The Bloodline was crumbling and Jey shoved Zayn in the face. Jey knocked down Zayn with a shoulder tackle. Zayn came back with a clothesline. Zayn decked Jey with a forearm and Zayn clotheslined Jey over the top to the floor. Zayn was about to run the ropes, but Solo Sikoa walked down to ringside to watch the match, which led to Sami staring at Solo in the aisle. They went to break there.


The match returned with Zayn hitting a top rope Exploder suplex on Jey across the ring. Solo was watching from ringside. Jey with a kick to the gut, a punch and a spinning kick to the head. Jey charged, Zayn got a boot up and Zayn jumped off the top with nothing as Jey hit a superkick for two. Jey did some trash talk, so Zayn hit an Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckle. Zayn went for a Helluva Kick, Jey moved and got a rollup. Zayn hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for two, which is what that move usually gets for Zayn. Zayn went up top, so Jey stopped him with an enziguri kick. Zayn punched Jey in the back repeatedly and Jey did a headbutt. Jey left Zayn on the apron, so Solo hit a Samoan Spike to Zayn’s chest. The referee never saw the cheap shot. Jey hit a jumping superkick on Zayn for the pinfall win after about 10 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Jey Uso

Analysis: ***1/4 The usual great match by Sami and Jey. These guys have tremendous together whether it’s a singles match or a tag team match. When they did that spot by the turnbuckle on that side of the ring, it was obvious that Solo was going to interfere and that’s okay because it fits the story. Since Owens was taken out, he wasn’t at ringside to watch Sami’s back and that led to the cheap shot by Solo, which was followed by Jey’s jumping kick finish for the win. Another cheap win for The Bloodline. That’s what they do.

Post match, Solo picked up Jey and Solo headbutted Zayn (headbutted his own hand) repeatedly. Solo worked over Zayn with punches repeatedly while Jey watched from inside the ring. Solo wanted to do more with a Samoan Spike, but Jey grabbed his brother’s arm. The fans chanted “Jey” for doing the right thing. Jey hit Sami with a superkick. Solo grabbed a steel chair, so “Bro” hit and Matt Riddle made the save. Riddle with a jumping knee to Solo and a jumping knee to Solo. Riddle clotheslined Solo out of the ring. Riddle stood tall in the ring with Sami while The Bloodline retreated. Riddle told The Bloodline “I’m back” as the show ended.

Analysis: Lots of drama at the end there. It looked like Jey was telling Solo to stop because Jey cares about his friend Sami, but then Jey nailed Sami with a superkick, so that shows that Jey is still with The Bloodline. However, those “Jey” chants show that the fans are ready to get behind Jey whenever Jey does turn on The Bloodline.

I think it was smart to have Riddle make the save since Solo took him out last December. It was a drug suspension leading to rehab for Riddle, but in storyline, it was an injury angle. I know Riddle was back on Raw too. This makes sense for him since he is going to want payback on Solo. It makes logical sense. I like it.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. The Brawling Brutes/Imperium
  2. Sami Zayn/Jey Uso
  3. Damian Priest & Dominik Mysterio


The Scoreboard

8 out of 10

Last week: 7

2023 Average: 7.18


Final Thoughts

It was a very entertaining and great show from start to finish. Good matches and story advancement throughout. This was much better than Raw was. It felt like more of a normal Triple H-booked show without Vince McMahon’s influence, so that’s good to see. Jey Usos and Sami Zayn had a good match with Solo Sikoa helping Jey win. Matt Riddle made the save for Zayn since Kevin Owens was taken out earlier. Solo took out Riddle months ago, so there’s some payback by Riddle.

The three tag team matches were all pretty good with the women’s match being shorter. The six-man tag team match that opened was great with some fun Sheamus-GUNTHER interaction. I liked The Judgment Day-LWO match too.

Triple H announcing the WWE Draft coming soon is a newsworthy item. The thing about that is that since Triple H has been booking since late July, they haven’t really been strict about being brand exclusive. Perhaps that will change after the draft. I don’t really mind it when the brand split is ignored. I think it could lead to Raw & Smackdown each having a World Title, but I’m not sure if they will take one from Roman Reigns or how they will do it. The same goes for the Tag Team Titles. Anyway, with Triple H in charge we’ll see how different The Draft looks.


Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter @johnreport