The John Report: WWE SmackDown 04/12/24 Review

WWE Smackdown April 12

This week’s WWE Smackdown featured new champions like Cody Rhodes and Bayley, plus two high-stakes triple threat matches.

It’s the first episode of Smackdown since WrestleMania 40 last Saturday & Sunday. I was there for WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia and had a great time. Cody Rhodes became the WWE Champion while Bayley won the WWE Women’s Title. Austin Theory & Grayson Waller also became Smackdown Tag Team Champions since WWE decided to split those titles again. We are on the road to Backlash in France on May 5th, which means it’s less than a month away.

From the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, this is Smackdown for episode #1286. Follow me on Twitter/X @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

There was a highlight shown of Cody Rhodes blocking a Spear from Roman Reigns with a kick to the chest followed by Cody hitting the Cross Rhodes three times in a row for the pinfall win to become WWE Champion. They showed fan reactions along with the celebration in the ring. It was incredible to be there live. I was so happy for Cody getting that moment.

Let’s Hear from Cody Rhodes

The Undisputed WWE Champion (I think saying WWE Champion is good enough) Cody Rhodes made his entrance in a suit along with that gold championship in his hands. The fans popped loudly for Cody as usual while popping loudly for the “WHOA-OH” for his song. It was another sold out crowd at a WWE TV show. The fans chanted “you deserve it” before Cody said a word. There was also a loud “Cody” chant.

Cody: “So…Detroit…what do you guys want to talk about?” Cody said this past Monday he was doing some talking and he was interrupted by The Rock. That led to some “Rocky sucks” chants. Cody felt like saying: “Who told you tonight felt like open mic night, bitch?” Cody said that the mood certainly changed and Rock placed a gift in his hand. Cody said that it was something he had gifted to The Rock. Cody said that he believed The Rock when he said he was off to Hollywood and he believed him when Rock said he would be back and would be looking for Cody. That led to Cody saying that you don’t have to look far to find him.

Cody moved on talking about how in three weeks time he’ll be heading to France for Backlash. Cody said he’ll defend his WWE Championship against one of the six men you will see in action tonight: Santos Escobar (boos), Rey Mysterio (cheers), LA Knight (Yeah) and AJ Styles (boos). Cody said that AJ and himself are only two of the four men to be NWA Champion and WWE Champion. Cody mentioned Bobby Lashley as well, which drew cheers as well as a bit of a mixed reaction and Cody ended it by mentioning his friend Kevin Owens. Cody mentioned that Kevin might think he’s better but Cody thinks he is better so there is only one way to find out.

Cody mentioned that they are very sold out so he turned around to look at the fans all around the arena. Cody said he is no longer the hunter because he is The Hunted. Cody said that if you come at the king, you best not miss (originally a line by Omar from The Wire – look it up my friends). Cody said that he was once undesirable, he became undeniable and now he is your Undisputed WWE Champion. Cody celebrated to cheers from the crowd.

Analysis: The promo was solid by Cody Rhodes as usual. I kept waiting for an interruption, but there wasn’t one. It was a confident champion promo from Cody talking about how he’s no longer hunting the champion and he’s the hunted. I don’t expect Cody to lose the WWE Title this year and I think he’ll be holding it until WrestleMania 41 next year.

They showed new WWE Women’s Champion Bayley walking backstage. Rey Mysterio and the LWO were shown arriving earlier in the day as well.

The Bloodline was shown backstage. It was Jimmy Uso, Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman. They noticed the big locker room had Cody Rhodes’ logo on the door. Kevin Owens went into the locker room and told them they’re not invited. Solo told the others that he would take care of it. Heyman told Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso that if they want the locker room back, the title has to come home to The Bloodline and that’s by order of The Tribal Chief.

Analysis: Perhaps this will lead to Solo Sikoa getting a bit of a singles push. They haven’t featured in matches that much in the last few months, so maybe that will change now.

LA Knight made his entrance for the first triple threat match of the show.


This Monday on Raw: Sami Zayn defends the Intercontinental Title against Chad Gable. Plus, it’s the return of Sheamus.

They showed highlights from WrestleMania 40 including Bobby Lashley & The Street Profits beating The Final Testament, Jey Uso beating Jimmy Uso and LA Knight defeating AJ Styles.

The commentary team was Corey Graves and Wade Barrett as usual for the blue brand.

LA Knight vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Santos Escobar

There are no countouts and no disqualifications in triple threat matches. The winner of this match faces the winner of the other triple threat match next week. The winner of that match next week gets to challenge Cody Rhodes for the WWE Title. During a pre-tape interview, Escobar said that they didn’t take out Dragon Lee last week.

Lashley cleared the ring early and then he brought in Escobar by tossing him into the ring. Knight pulled Lashley out of the ring where they exchanged punches. Escobar took advantage with a suicide dive to knock down both guys on the floor. That led to a break.


The action continued with Lashley in control of Escobar with punches while Escobar was on the top rope. Escobar punched Lashley down, so Knight jumped up top and that led to a Tower of Doom (Powerbomb by Lashley, superplex by Knight) out of the corner leading to Lashley getting a two count on Escobar. Knight did a Crucifix Driver pin attempt on Knight, but they were near the ropes. Escobar kicked Knight followed by Escobar hitting double knees on Knight. LA slipped out of a move by Escobar leading to a powerslam and an elbow drop. Legado Del Fantasma’s Berto & Angel attacked Knight with punches. They tossed Knight into Escobar, who hit a sitout Powerbomb on Knight. Lashley went after Escobar, but Angel & Berto beat up Lashley with punches and kicks. The Street Profits duo of Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins cleared the ring of Angel & Berto. Elektra Lopez got in the ring to stop Dawkins from diving, so B-Fab hit a pump kick on Lopez. Angel & Berto knocked down Dawkins with a kick, so Ford hit a somersault dive over the top onto Angel & Berto on the floor. Escobar with a rollup on Lashley for two. Lashley hit a lifting flatliner on Escobar. Lashley charged with a Spear, Escobar moved and Lashley hit the turnbuckle leading to a bump to the floor. Knight hit the Blount Force Trauma on Escobar for the pinfall win after about nine minutes.

Winner by pinfall: LA Knight

Analysis: *** A good match that was full of action. Since there are no disqualifications in a triple threat match, they used that to their advantage to use the others in the stables of Lashley and Escobar. Knight isn’t in a stable, yet he was able to capitalize on the situation and beat Escobar clean. I think any of them winning would be fine. I certainly don’t mind a Knight victory. We’ll see how the second triple threat match goes and who WWE goes with for the title shot against Cody. The fans were into this match the whole way and were very happy about Knight’s big win.

Rey Mysterio and the LWO were interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the locker room. Rey said that the truth will eventually surface about whoever took out Dragon Lee last week. Rey talked about how in the last couple of years, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, he formed the LWO and deep down inside he truly believes he has another run as WWE Champion. Rey left with his group.

Analysis: It was likely Carlito who attacked Dragon Lee out of jealousy last week, but it may take a few weeks for that to be revealed.

The Bloodline’s Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso and Hall of Famer Paul Heyman entered the ring for a promo.


There were more WrestleMania 40 highlights shown. They showed Jade Cargill, Bianca Belair & Naomi winning along with Rey Mysterio & Andrade getting the win thanks to an assist from two Philadelphia Eagles.

Let’s Hear from The Bloodline

Paul Heyman started the promo joined in the ring by Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso. Heyman said by orders of The Tribal Chief, they offer no excuses about what happened at WrestleMania. Heyman said that they don’t blame John Cena, The Undertaker or Jey Uso. Heyman said that Roman Reigns has ordered that they accept accountability. Heyman reminded us that at WrestleMania 39, Reigns beat Cody Rhodes because Cody took his eye off the ball, then what happened and Reigns took advantage to successfully defend the title. Heyman said that Seth Rollins told the truth about being Cody’s Shield. Heyman said that Reigns could have smashed Cody with the steel chair, but he didn’t do it because after ten years of waiting on revenge against Seth Rollins, Reigns gave in to temptation. Heyman said that Reigns took his eye off the ball, Cody was prepared, focused, strategic, was ready and like that…it was over. Heyman: “Ladies and gentlemen, your new Undisputed Champion is Cody Rhodes.” The fans cheered.

Heyman tried to say more about Roman Reigns, but Solo Sikoa stared at Heyman. Solo said that winning and losing matters. Solo said there are consequences for losing. Solo said that consequences need change. Solo looked over to his older brother Jimmy Uso. Solo hugged his brother. Solo told Jimmy that he was his brother and he loved him. That led to Tama Tonga going into the ring and attacking Jimmy from behind. Tama beat up Jimmy with punches. The announcers mentioned Tama was the son of Haku and he was tearing up Japan for years. Solo told Tama to hold up Jimmy, so Solo hit Jimmy with the Samoan Spike. Solo hit Jimmy with the Samoan Spike four times. Heyman was stunned by it. Tama held up one finger in the air. Solo held up one finger in the air with The Bloodline. Heyman tried to call Roman Reigns, so Solo grabbed the phone and Solo stepped on Heyman’s phone. Tonga brought a steel chair into the ring and Solo put the steel chair on Jimmy’s head. Solo told Jimmy he loved him. Heyman was shouting about how this was not what The Tribal Chief wanted. Solo hit a running hip attack on Jimmy while the chair was on Jimmy’s head. Jimmy was checked on by WWE officials. Solo left with Tama while Heyman walked with them and Heyman was shocked by it all.

Analysis: That was an interesting development. Tama Tonga’s debut was expected since it was reported that he was at Smackdown and it made sense for him to be part of The Bloodline stable. However, this was something a bit unexpected because it’s Tama joining Solo Sikoa as a new version of The Bloodline with Paul Heyman reacting to it saying this is not what Roman Reigns wanted. Solo stepping on Paul’s phone to prevent a phone call was also a shock. Jimmy Uso getting taken out by Solo could lead to Jimmy going babyface after he gets some time off. Maybe Jimmy will reunite with Jey Uso after the WWE Draft. There are a lot of ways it can go. It seems like it’s time for Solo to get a big push and Tama Tonga will be there by his side. Jacob Fatu has signed with WWE recently as well, so it will be interesting to see if he has a role in all this too. Perhaps they do something long-term like Solo, Tama & Jacob against Roman and The Usos in a babyface role. That would work, I think.


There was a replay of Solo Sikoa’s attack on Jimmy Uso with Tama Tonga making his WWE debut in the segment.

Bron Breakker vs. Cameron Grimes

Bron just lost the NXT Tag Team Titles with Baron Corbin this past Tuesday. Bron said his goodbye to NXT as well, so Bron is going to be on the main roster moving forward. Bron did two waistlock takedowns. Grimes hit Bron with a forearm to the back. Bron ran the ropes quickly and hit a running clothesline. Bron worked over Grimes with shoulder tackles. Grimes delivered a superkick, but when he tried a leap off the ropes, Bron caught him with a powerslam. Bron hit a Spear for the pinfall win after two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Bron Breakker

Analysis: * A squash win for Bron Breakker, who is a future main eventer. It’s easy to get excited about Bron’s future. He’s going to be a major star. I like Grimes, but they aren’t really using him much at this point.

There were more WrestleMania 40 highlights shown including Stephanie McMahon’s promo, Damian Priest become WWE World Heavyweight Champion and Bayley winning the WWE Women’s Championship.

Bayley was shown walking backstage because she’s up next.


AJ Styles did a pre-tape promo saying that tonight he’ll fix what happened at WrestleMania. Styles said that he was going to demolish everything and prove a point. Styles said that this isn’t personal, it’s necessary. Styles said he’ll step over their dead bodies to get what he wants – LA Knight. Styles said that the damage he causes tonight will be a taste of what LA Knight gets next week. AJ promises it will be phenomenal.

Let’s Hear From Bayley

Bayley made her entrance as the new WWE Women’s Champion. She was wearing the title around her waist while the fans chanted “you deserve it” for her. Bayley thanked the fans for that.

Bayley said it feels so good and she feels so proud to call herself the brand new Undisputed WWE Women’s Champion. Bayley said she’s retained titles at WrestleMania, lost titles at WrestleMania, but this one feels different. Bayley said that this championship represents more than just being the best – it represents the most talented locker room she’s ever been a part of. Bayley said that it feels different because of the fans. Bayley said for the last 11 years, the fans have been through everything with her. Bayley said that the fans have been fighting for her, they never gave up on her and she thanked the fans for their support. Bayley spoke about how she wanted to give out a brand new opportunity.

It’s Tiffy Time! Tiffany Stratton interrupted the promo complaining about how she wasn’t given an opportunity at WrestleMania. Stratton said that if Bayley was doing an open challenge, she accepts because it is Tiffy Time. The fans popped. Stratton got into the ring and Bayley said that she was not doing an open challenge. Bayley said that she had somebody in mind – Naomi. Stratton complained about that saying that Naomi couldn’t win a title if it glowed in the dark.

Naomi made her entrance with some determination where she greeted her pal Bayley. Stratton mentioned that she has already beaten Naomi. Naomi told “little girl” Tiffany that you are trying her on the wrong night. Naomi said that she has earned every single thing that she has gotten in WWE and she doesn’t plan to stop. Naomi said she can’t accept Bayley’s challenge yet because she wants to take on Tiffany right here and right now.

Analysis: I’m happy for Bayley as the Women’s Champion and it feels fresh to see her in a babyface role again after five years as a heel. I’m excited about Tiffany Stratton’s future similar to Bron Breakker on the men’s side. She’s going to be a huge star for the rest of this decade and beyond. Naomi had some good lines stepping up to Tiffany there, so I like how it was done to set up a match.

A commercial aired about the WWE Draft on April 26th Smackdown and April 29th Raw.


They showed Kayla Braxton outside the Doctor/Trainer room. Paul Heyman walked out of the room as Kayla asked for an update. Heyman shook his head “no” when asked if Jimmy was okay. Tama Tonga said “by orders of The Tribal Chief.” Solo Sikoa held his taped up right thumb and just stared at Paul. Heyman: “What the hell does that mean?” The scene ended there.

Analysis: It sounds like Solo Sikoa is thinking that he is The Tribal Chief now, so Tama was following orders from Solo. That’s how I think the story will go.

Naomi vs. Tiffany Stratton

Bayley was watching at ringside. Naomi was in control with a bulldog. Naomi hit a kick to the body and a leg drop. Naomi did an arm-wringer to work over the left arm. Stratton got some offense with some kicks. Naomi came back with a punch along with a knee to the body. Stratton sent a charging Naomi into the middle ropes. Stratton hit a running butt splash onto Naomi’s back. Naomi came back with a dropkick. Stratton sent Naomi to the apron, so Naomi nailed a kick to the head. Naomi tried for more, but Stratton sent Naomi hard into the ring post and Naomi bumped to the floor. That led to a break.


The match continued with Stratton catching a kick, but then Naomi still managed to kick Stratton in the head. Naomi hit two straight cross body blocks along with a springboard kick by Naomi. There was a running dropkick from Naomi while Stratton was against the turnbuckle. Naomi hit a springboard split-legged leg drop for two. Stratton rolled out of an attempted move and Stratton hit a double foot stomp to the body for two. Naomi went for a headscissors, Stratton caught her and Stratton hit an Alabama Slam. Stratton went for the Prettiest Moonsault Ever, but Naomi moved out of the way and Stratton landed on her feet. Naomi did a jackknife pin on Stratton for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Naomi

Analysis: *** A good match between two talented athletes who meshed together well. I thought that Stratton might win to give Bayley a heel opponent, but I don’t mind Naomi picking up the big win. Stratton missed her finisher off the top, which led to Naomi doing the jackknife pin to win. Good finish because it shows that these women can win matches without their finishing moves. It’s smart to do that sometimes.

Naomi celebrated the win while Graves said that Naomi earned the right to challenge for the WWE Women’s Championship.

A video package aired featuring A-Town Down Under’s Austin Theory & Grayson Waller as the new Smackdown Tag Team Titles after they won those blue titles in the Tag Team Ladder Match. They bragged about being the champions.

Analysis: I like seeing Theory & Waller as the champions. They are cocky heels who like to tell everybody that they are the best and they are good at being those characters. I also like that the Tag Team Titles have been split up again. There are enough teams on the main roster.

There was a backstage scene with Nick Aldis standing beside The Street Profits and New Catch Republic watching the Theory & Waller video. Aldis said we’ll find them challengers next week so that likely means a tag team match between those teams.

Rey Mysterio was shown getting ready backstage.


There were more WrestleMania 40 highlights shown including Sami Zayn beating Gunther for the Intercontinental Title and Logan Paul retaining the US Title.

Logan Paul was shown at home doing a cell phone promo with the US Title. Logan bragged about how he was the real Legend Killer because he retained and remained the US Champion. Logan said that every event he’s been a part of has been the biggest ever. Logan bragged about the social media views saying a lot of them came from him. Logan said it was the “Logan Paul Levesque Era.” That was it.

Analysis: I don’t know about that name by Paul at the end there. However, Paul is right that he brings a lot of social media views to the product.

The team of Chelsea Green & Piper Niven made their entrance. They are a Raw team, but here they are on Smackdown. A pre-tape segment was shown of Green & Niven telling Smackdown GM Nick Aldis they were ready for an opportunity and Nick said he’d find them some opponents.

Chelsea Green & Piper Niven vs. Jade Cargill & Bianca Belair

Belair nailed Green with a spinebuster. Niven tagged in and wanted Jade to tag in. Niven pulled on Belair’s hair followed by a sitout Michinoku Driver. Niven hit a cannonball on Belair. Niven missed a splash while Jade tagged in against Green. Jade nailed Green with a spinebuster and superkick. Jade hit the Jaded slam for the pinfall win after less than two minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Jade Cargill & Bianca Belair

Analysis: Squash city. The announcers mentioned Jade & Belair going after the Women’s Tag Team Titles so I think that’s going to happen within the next month or two.

Kevin Owens was interviewed backstage by Byron Saxton. Owens spoke about the cool shots from backstage saying he’s going to try that. Owens walked with the microphone and put a Detroit Tigers MLB Championship Title on his shoulder since Owens loves tigers (he’s a zoo enthusiast). Owens also knocked a CM Punk shirt off a table backstage, so I’m sure the nerds on social media are going to be riled up about that. Owens talked about respecting Styles and Rey Mysterio. Owens said that he’s got something in common with Rey because their sons are way taller than them but his son is great while Rey’s son (Dominik) is a disappointment. Anyway, Owens said he would kick both of their asses. Owens made his entrance into the ring as the show went to break.


Next Friday on WWE Smackdown:

* Bayley defends the WWE Women’s Title vs. Naomi

* Smackdown Tag Team Titles #1 Contender’s Match: The Street Profits vs. New Catch Republic vs. Legado Del Fantasma vs. Authors of Pain

* LA Knight vs. Rey Mysterio, Kevin Owens or AJ Styles

AJ Styles made his entrance for the main event. I’m not used to his new theme song yet. The WWE Hall of Famer Rey Mysterio was up next to a big ovation. The LWO joined Rey by the entrance, but then they went to the back.

Kevin Owens vs. Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles

There are no countouts and no disqualifications in a triple threat match. The winner faces LA Knight next week. The winner of that match faces Cody Rhodes for the WWE Title at Backlash.

Rey gave Styles a headscissors into the ropes. Owens punched Styles out of the ring. Rey slid under the bottom rope, but Styles caught him and slammed Rey onto the apron. Styles punched Owens on the floor, but Owens tripped up Styles by the barricade. Owens hit a cannonball splash on Styles on the floor. Rey hit a senton attack off the apron onto Owens on the floor.


Styles nailed KO with a kick that knocked Owens down. Styles caught a leaping Rey, launched Rey over his back and Rey nailed a DDT on Owens. Rey jumped onto Styles and hit a DDT on Styles for two. Rey hit a sliding dropkick to knock Owens off the apron to the floor. Rey tripped up Styles against the middle turnbuckle, but Styles blocked a 619 kick. Styles hit the neckbreaker onto the knee on Rey and hit a sitout front slam on Owens for a two count. Rey gave Styles a hurricanrana out of the ring. Owens was on the turnbuckle, Rey tried a superplex, which was a bad idea and Owens hit a twisting suplex off the middle turnbuckle for two because Styles broke up the pin. Styles went for a moonsault off the turnbuckle, Owens avoided it and hit a superkick. Styles hit a Pele Kick on Owens. Rey hit a springboard cross body block on Styles to take him down. Rey gave Styles a back elbow, then Owens got a hold of both guys and there was a triple stack German Suplex. All three guys were down on the mat. Owens launched Rey into Styles, so Rey hit a hurricanrana into the ropes. Rey sent Owens out of the ring. Rey hit the 619 kick on Styles. Owens got back into it and hit a Stunner on Rey on the apron. Owens went up top, he jumped off with a Swanton Bomb, but Styles got the knees up. Rey went after Styles on the top rope, but Styles blocked a hurricanrana by Rey. Styles did an Avalanche Styles Clash on Rey onto Owens and Styles pinned Rey for the pinfall win. It went about 10 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles

Analysis: ***1/2 That was an excellent match that only went ten minutes, but it was exactly what it needed to be as a fast paced matchup between three talented former World Champions. I loved the finish because you know this match needed a special move to get the win, so to have Styles block the hurricanrana off the ropes and transition into a Styles Clash from the middle ropes onto Owens was a perfect way to end it. Really good ending to this match. It was another match that the fans were really into because there was a lot at stake.

After the match, AJ Styles celebrated the win while LA Knight joined him in the ring. Knight got in AJ’s face saying that they are going to do it again and Styles fired back with his own trash talk. Knight said he’ll see him next week. The show ended there.

Analysis: I know LA Knight beat AJ Styles at WrestleMania, but I’ll pick Styles to win this match. I think Styles challenging Cody Rhodes is more interesting than LA Knight in that spot because it’s better if Cody is against a heel.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. AJ Styles
  2. LA Knight
  3. Rey Mysterio/Kevin Owens


The Scoreboard

7.5 out of 10

Last week: No review.

2024 Average: 7.34


Final Thoughts on WWE Smackdown

I liked the show overall. The two triple threat matches were very good. I thought the Styles/Owens/Rey match was the best of the night. That Knight/Lashley/Escobar match was entertaining too, but all of the interference distracted from the action a bit. That will set up Knight against Styles for a shot at the WWE Title at Backlash. I don’t see either guy beating Cody Rhodes obviously, but it will be interesting to see how the Knight/Styles match is booked. I’m going with a Styles win there. And yes, I noticed Kevin Owens knocking down a CM Punk shirt backstage. I’m sure the nerds on social media will be riled up about that one.

The women’s story with Naomi beating Tiffany Stratton to earn a shot against Bayley’s WWE Women’s Title next week was good to see. This was another match on the show where the winner was rewarded. That’s how it should be. Meanwhile, Jade Cargill & Bianca Belair are a dominant team that will probably be holding the Women’s Tag Team Titles soon.

There was also a big angle that took place because Solo Sikoa appears as though he is taking over as the leader of The Bloodline while Roman Reigns is away. Solo beat up his brother Jimmy Uso with the help of a debuting Tama Tonga. The great Paul Heyman was great here because he made it clear that this wasn’t an order from Roman Reigns, which tells the audience that Solo is taking matters into his own hands. I’m interested to see if this will turn Jimmy Uso face leading to a reunion with brother Jey Uso. Anyway, welcome Tama Tonga to WWE officially. He’s a good veteran asset and certainly fits in well with this new version of The Bloodline that could be led by Solo Sikoa moving forward. This could lead to a Bloodline Civil War down the line too. There’s no need to rush it, but I certainly like the long-term potential.


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

John Canton


Twitter/X: @johnreport