The John Report: WWE Smackdown 04/21/23 Review

wwe smackdown april 21

This week’s WWE Smackdown features GUNTHER defending the IC Title against Xavier Woods, a Women’s Tag Team Title match, Solo Sikoa facing Matt Riddle in a No DQ match main event and more.

From the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, this is Smackdown for episode #1235. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

The Smackdown introduction video aired to welcome us to the show. The commentary team of Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed us to the show with Cole mentioning next week is the start of the WWE Draft.

Damian Priest and Finn Balor of The Judgment Day entered for tag team action. They replayed the story with Bad Bunny getting attacked by Priest and Dominik with Bunny going to Raw this coming Monday. The LWO’s Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar entered for tag team action.

Latino World Order – Rey Mysterio & Santos Escobar vs. The Judgment Day – Finn Balor & Damian Priest

Rey hit a running hurricanrana, then Balor with a sunset flip and Rey hit a dropkick. Rey went for a moonsault, but Balor got the knees up. Priest tagged in and kicked Rey down. Priest hit a running back elbow on Rey in the corner, then Balor back in with a backbreaker and Priest tagged back in with a leg drop/backbreaker combo. Balor grabbed a tight headlock, Rey broke free with elbows and Rey countered a move with a bulldog. Escobar hit two running forearms on Balor, then a forearm on Priest and a backbreaker on Balor. Escobar hit double knees on Priest and an arm drag/dropkick combo on both opponents. Priest was in the ring illegally, so Escobar launched Rey onto Priest with a senton. Priest saved Balor from a sliding Rey splash. Escobar ran the ropes, but Balor was back in with a clothesline leading to a break.


Escobar was the face in peril as he ran right into a jumping kick by Priest for two. When Escobar tried to break free, Priest kicked Escobar in the arm and hit running elbow smashes. Escobar came back with a dropkick. Rey got the hot tag against Balor with Rey getting a headscissors, then Rey hit a senton splash off the top and a springboard cross body block for two. Rey with a kick to the head, but Priest tagged in and Rey sent Priest out of the ring. Rey with a headscissors on Balor into the ropes, then Rey hit a 619 on Balor and Escobar, who was legal, hit a top rope splash on Balor. Cole pointed out that Priest was legal, he sent Rey into the ring post and Priest went back into the ring with a South of Heaven slam on Escobar for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Judgment Day – Finn Balor & Damian Priest

Analysis: ***1/4 Good match with four talented veterans working well together. Escobar was the face in peril for most of it, Rey was on fire after the tag and I liked how the finish was booked with Priest outsmarting Escobar to get the win. Balor did a nice job in the match too. The win for Priest made sense since he’s going to team with Dominik against Rey & Bad Bunny at Backlash, which is not official yet.

Post match, Priest did a promo by the entrance area saying this Monday on Raw was the return of Bad Bunny. Priest said he hopes this visit goes better than the last time and Priest laughed.

There was a replay of Solo Sikoa beating Matt Riddle last week on Smackdown. There was a post match attack as well.

The Bloodlines Solo Sikoa and his brothers The Usos were shown arriving.

A commercial aired for Backlash on Saturday, April 6th while promoting the Brock Lesnar-Cody Rhodes match.


Zelina Vega walked into the room of the WWE Official Adam Pearce. Vega said she didn’t know what was going to happen in the WWE Draft, but she wants to challenge Rhea Ripley for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Vega said that she’s the only Puerto Rican woman on the roster and she’s ready. Pearce said that he’ll talk to management and Ripley about it. Vega smiled and left.

Analysis: I am fine with Vega being a title challenger considering her Puerto Rican roots, but why not book her strong and have her earn a title shot? You need to have people earning title shots instead of just handing them out.

A video aired of Shinsuke Nakamura training and talking about how he was the King of Strong Style.

Karrion Kross was featured in a backstage video with Scarlett. Kross talked about his past rivalries with Drew McIntyre, Riddick Moss (Madcap Moss) and Rey Mysterio saying he took something from each of them. Kross said that he is going to take Nakamura’s honor.

Analysis: There was a tease for the start of that Kross-Nakamura feud last week, so it continues here.

Braun Strowman & Ricochet made their entrance for tag team action. The Viking Raiders did a cheap attack backstage last week, so now we get the match.


Viking Raiders – Erik & Ivar (w/Valhalla) vs. Braun Strowman & Ricochet

Ivar was aggressive with repeated back elbows on Strowman leading to Strowman coming back with repeated forearms to the back. Strowman ran over Ivar with a shoulder tackle followed by Braun hitting a clothesline. Erik made a tag, saved Ivar from a slam and both Raiders punched Strowman with forearms to the back. Braun powered out with Braun launching Ricochet for a move, but Ricochet hit the mat. Ricochet managed to regroup with a springboard dropkick on Erik on the apron. Ricochet did a handspring leading to a backflip over the top with a moonsault landing on both heels on the floor. Great move.


Erik was in control of Ricochet with a chinlock. After about a minute of that, Strowman got the tag and hit a corner splash on Erik. Strowman hit a running dropkick on Erik against the turnbuckle. Braun left the ring for the Strowman Express shoulder tackles on Erik and Ivar. Braun on the apron, Valhalla yelled at Braun, Ivar grabbed Braun’s leg and Erik hit Braun with three knees in a row. Ivar got the tag and Ivar hit a top rope splash for two as Braun got the right shoulder up. Strowman broke free with a double shoulder tackle on both Raiders. Ricochet tagged in with an elbow off the ropes on Erik, but Ivar came back with a knockdown. Ricochet hit multiple kicks on Ivar, Strowman tagged in and this time Braun launched Ivar and it worked. Ricochet was legal, he was on Braun’s shoulders and Ricochet hit a Swanton Bomb on Ivar for the pinfall win after ten minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Braun Strowman & Ricochet

Analysis: *** A good tag team match that was fun to watch with the babyface duo of Braun & Ricochet working well together as usual. I liked that nearfall spot with Ivar hitting the splash on Braun for a two count. That was a believable two count. Braun & Ricochet continue to gain momentum as a team and this could lead to a title shot soon.

The smiling duo of Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez were interviewed by Kayla Braxton ahead of their Women’s Tag Team Title match. Liv was asked about Chelsea throwing water on her, then Liv said she can get messy, Raquel told her to leave it in the ring and Liv said: “Watch us.” Liv and Raquel made their entrance for their title defense.


Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green made their entrance with microphones. Deville told the crowd to shut up and show them some respect. Green said they were future champions and they wake up winning every morning. Green teased spraying water from a bottle on Morgan, but she didn’t do it and the heels laughed.

Women’s Tag Team Championships: Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan vs. Sonya Deville & Chelsea Green

Morgan hit a dropkick on Green. Deville tagged in leading to Morgan hitting an enziguri kick. Raquel hit a corner splash on Deville along with shoulder tackles. Deville did a chop block to the left knee of Raquel. Raquel with waist lock slams on Green and Morgan tagged in. Raquel got a hold of Green on the floor, so Deville hit a diving attack onto Raquel on the floor. Morgan hit a somersault dive over the top onto both heels. Green came back with a legsweep off the middle ropes. Deville and Green hit a double team suplex on Liv. Deville hit a jumping knee for two. Morgan countered a suplex attempt leading to a neckbreaker. Raquel tagged in with several clotheslines and a fallaway slam on Green. Raquel hit the springboard elbow off the turnbuckle. Raquel hit a suplex and Morgan hit a dropkick while all four women were down selling for a bit. Raquel kicked Deville down and Green kicked Raquel out of the ring. Morgan poured water on Green, Morgan rolled up Green and Raquel used her foot to keep Morgan on top for the pinfall win after seven minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan

Analysis: **1/4 It was just a decent match with the champions finding a way to win after the challengers got some offense for a few minutes. It’s rare to see champions cheating to win, but it worked because Raquel & Liv had to deal with the challengers cheating throughout the match, so Raquel doing it in a way to help her team win is fine with me.

Matt Riddle was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. It was a quick promo with Riddle sounding confident ahead of his match against Solo Sikoa.

Xavier Woods entered for singles action.


The fantastic ring announcer Samantha Irvin did the in-ring championship introductions.

Intercontinental Championship: GUNTHER vs. Xavier Woods

It was noted by Cole that this was Xavier’s first time challenging for the IC Title. There was a feeling out process in the early going, I wasn’t paying close attention and then Gunther hit a hard chop. They went to a break one minute into the match.


Gunther was in control as he set up Woods against the turnbuckle and Gunther hit two hard chops to the back. Woods with chops, Gunther with a punch and a neck twist using his feet. Gunther with an open hand chop for a two count. Gunther with a hard chop along with a kick to the back. Gunther hit a double underhook suplex for two. Woods got some offense going with a slap, then some strikes and repeated kicks to the legs. Woods with a forearm, Gunther with a chop and Woods hit a jumping forearm to knock Gunther down. Woods dropkicked Gunther into the barricade. Woods jumped over the top with a somersault onto Gunther on the floor. Gunther came back with a chop, but Woods hit a jumping kick. Woods went up top and jumped off with a leg drop for one…two…no! Gunther kicked out. Gunther applied a sleeper hold, then he went for a move and Woods countered with a flip to send Gunther into the mat. Woods hit a Crucifix Bomb for two. Woods got a rollup for two while sitting on top. Gunther managed to grab Woods in a sleeper hold while using his legs to scissor the body, Gunther wore him down and the referee lifted Xavier’s arm, it went down and that was it. Gunther won after 12 minutes.

Winner by submission: GUNTHER

Analysis: ***1/2 A terrific championship match with Gunther dominating a lot of it, but then Woods made a heroic comeback that saw him nearly get the win after the top rope leg drop. Gunther was really aggressive with the chops as usual, he wore Woods down and I thought Woods sold it really well. The finish was a bit sudden, but also puts over Gunther for having the ability to put people away with different moves. The result wasn’t a surprise since Gunther has been the IC Champion for nearly one year and I don’t know when that title reign is going to end.

Up next is a look back at Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens winning the WWE Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania 39 three weeks ago.


A Progressive Match Flo video aired with highlights of Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens beating The Usos to win the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania 39 three weeks ago. It was an incredible match that I think was one of the best tag team matches in WWE history.

The Usos made their entrance for a promo.

They showed graphics for three new Backlash matches:

* The Smackdown Women’s Championship match has been added to Backlash with Rhea Ripley defending against Zelina Vega

* Seth Rollins vs. Omos

* Austin Theory defends the US Title vs. Bronson Reed vs. Bobby Lashley

Analysis: There are some random matches there, but I have enjoyed the Reed-Lashley brawling the last two weeks and now they get a title match. The Rollins-Omos match was just thrown out there without any story going into it, so that feels weird. I think it’s lazy booking-wise to just throw a match on there. I’m sure people will blame Vince McMahon for it even if he has nothing to do with it.

Let’s Hear from The Usos

The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) told Columbus they are in their city. Jimmy said that they have been asked how they are feeling without the Tag Team Titles. Jey said that they are going to complete the mission and bring those titles back home. Jey Uso said that there’s a six-man tag team match at Backlash and then they mentioned next week’s Smackdown match when The Usos challenge Zayn & Owens for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles. They said they will become nine-time WWE Tag Team Champions. The Usos did an introduction for their brother, the Enforcer of The Bloodline, Solo Sikoa.

Analysis: A confident promo from the challengers for the Tag Team Titles next week. Some people are predicting The Usos get the titles back because Night of Champions in Saudi Arabia is on May 27th and Sami/Kevin don’t work the Saudi shows, so I guess it’s a possibility.


Next week on Smackdown:

* Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens defend the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles vs. The Usos.

* WWE Draft begins.

No Disqualification Match: Matt Riddle vs. Solo Sikoa

Riddle got an early jump on Solo, but Solo came back with a headbutt and a clothesline. Solo used his legs for a submission around the head/neck, but Solo hit a Powerbomb to get out of it. Solo grabbed about a half dozen kendo sticks and two chairs into the ring. Solo hit Riddle in the back with a kendo stick. Riddle ducked a kendo stick shot, then Riddle hit a jumping kick and Solo sent Riddle out of the ring. Riddle came back with a kendo stick that he used to hit Solo’s upper body and Solo bailed to the floor. Riddle pulled out a table to cheers, but then Solo got a punch and put the table under. Riddle came back with the broton splash onto Solo on the floor leading to a break.


The match continued with Solo hitting a Samoan Drop for two after Riddle avoided a slam onto the steel chairs. Solo set up a chair against Riddle’s head by the turnbuckle, but Riddle was back up to throw a chair at Solo. That took way too long to set up, so you know it wasn’t going to work. Solo charged, Riddle moved and Solo hit a steel chair against the turnbuckle. Riddle attacked Solo with a kendo stick, then Riddle with chair shots to the back and a running knee into a chair for a two count. Riddle gave Solo an Exploder Suplex back first onto two steel chairs that were opened in the ring and that got a two count. Ouch. Riddle put a bunch of chairs on Solo on the mat, but Solo rolled out of the ring. Solo tripped up Riddle on the apron. They fought outside the ring, Solo was in control and he tossed Riddle over the commentary table. They were fighting on the table with Riddle hitting a knee to the face. Riddle turned the SD commentary table on Solo just like Solo did to him last week. The Usos showed up to attack Riddle at ringside. Jimmy and Jey punched and stomped on Riddle. Jey charged, Riddle sent him to the floor and Riddle used his legs to send Jimmy to the floor. Riddle managed to come back and hit a springboard Floating Bro twisting splash onto both Usos on the floor. Solo emerged from the table attack and hit a uranage slam onto the apron. Back in the ring, Riddle hit a jumping knee to the face. Riddle bounced off the ropes for a move, but Solo hit a Samoan Spike for the pinfall win after 12 minutes. Cole thought it was a clothesline at first, but it was a Samoan Spike.

Winner by pinfall: Solo Sikoa

Analysis: ***1/4 Solo continues to look dominant in every match he had. There was a bit of an assist from The Usos but not a blatant one. Riddle got some nearfalls toward the finish. In the end it was all about keeping Solo strong as usual. Riddle has tried to get revenge against Solo a few times now and failed. At some point, Riddle could use a win, but when it comes to Solo, they are always going to book him strong since he wins every match except when he lost to Cody.

Post match, The Usos hit 1D on Riddle through the table. No Owens or Zayn at Smackdown this week to make the save. The Bloodline stood tall to end it.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. GUNTHER/Xavier Woods
  2. The Judgment Day
  3. Braun Strowman & Ricochet


The Scoreboard

7 out of 10

Last week: 7.5

2023 Average: 7.19


Final Thoughts

It was a wrestling-heavy show with a lot of in-ring action and not a lot of talking. I wouldn’t call it a particularly exciting episode of Smackdown, but there was also nothing wrong with it. It’s weird seeing three straight tag team matches in a row in that first hour because it feels repetitive when you do three straight. All of the winners and losers made sense in terms of putting over pushed people against those that aren’t pushed as much.

I think GUNTHER’s match with Xavier Woods was probably the best of the night, but others were close. I liked The Judgment Day-LWO tag and Strowman/Ricochet continue to work well together as a team. Solo-Riddle in the main event was okay as Solo remains strong in a No DQ match. No Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens this week, so poor Riddle got his ass kicked by The Bloodline and he had no help. The lone women’s match wasn’t that interesting.

We are in the post-WrestleMania pre-WWE Draft period where they are trying to put on a solid show, but nothing that interesting really happened. The match quality makes it a good show for sure. I just think if you missed it then you didn’t miss that much in terms of major happenings.

The next WWE Premium Live Event is Backlash on Saturday, May 6th from San Juan, Puerto Rico with this lineup so far:

* Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar

* Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens & Matt Riddle vs. The Bloodline – Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso & Solo Sikoa

* Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. Omos

* Smackdown Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zelina Vega

* United States Championship: Austin Theory (c) vs. Bronson Reed vs. Bobby Lashley

You can watch WWE Backlash, streaming LIVE from Puerto Rico on Saturday, May 6, streaming live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.


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

John Canton


Twitter @johnreport