The John Report: WWE Smackdown 04/28/23 Review (WWE Draft Night 1)

wwe smackdown april 28

This week’s WWE Smackdown saw Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens defend the Tag Team Titles against The Usos, plus the start of this year’s WWE Draft.

The following superstars are listed on as far as who is eligible to get drafted on tonight’s Smackdown: Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair, Bobby Lashley, Candice LeRae, Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville, Cody Rhodes, Damage CTRL (Bayley, IYO SKY & Dakota Kai), Dexter Lumis, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Edge, Hit Row (Top Dolla & Ashante “Thee” Adonis w/ B-Fab), Imperium (GUNTHER, Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci), Lacey Evans, Matt Riddle, Maximum Male Models (ma.cé, mån.sôör & Maxxine Dupri), Mustafa Ali, Natalya, Omos (w/ MVP), Shinsuke Nakamura, The Bloodline (Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa), The Miz, The O.C. (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson & Michin), The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins), Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar w/ Valhalla) and Select NXT Superstars. Anybody not listed there is eligible to be drafted on Monday’s Raw.

From the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, this is Smackdown for episode #1236. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

The commentary team of Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed us to the show while hyping up the Tag Team Title match main event.

Triple H Welcomes Us To The WWE Draft

Triple H made his entrance in a suit. There was a podium on the right side of the entrance area. Hunter welcomed us to the 2023 WWE Draft with some rules. Hunter said that 50% will be drafted tonight and the other 50% will be drafted on Raw. They showed the Friday Draft Pool eligible to be picked on night one.

Hunter said that select NXT superstars are also available to be drafted to Raw or Smackdown. Hunter said that the post-draft rosters will begin on May 8th, so the first Raw after May 6th. Hunter announced the picks.


1. Smackdown – The Bloodline’s Paul Heyman, Solo Sikoa & Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. That’s the order he read it.

2. Raw – Cody Rhodes

3. Smackdown – Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair

4. Raw – Becky Lynch

Since Roman Reigns is staying on Smackdown with his two titles then that means the new WWE World Heavyweight Title will be on Raw.

Analysis: I am not surprised that Roman Reigns is staying on Smackdown. Cody Rhodes being on the opposite show of Reigns is interesting, but if WWE wants to go with Roman-Cody at WrestleMania 40 next year then it could conceivably keep them apart as long as we don’t see crossover among the rosters. I’m not sure if Cody will win the World Heavyweight Title at all. Belair to Smackdown is an interesting choice since she has had the Raw Women’s Title for 13 months, so I assume if Rhea Ripley goes to Raw then they’ll do a title switch. Becky Lynch staying on Raw is certainly fine. That should mean her husband Seth Rollins will be there too.

Let’s Hear from The Usos

The Usos made their entrance saying The Bloodline was in your city. They did a promo by the entrance. Jimmy Uso congratulated Roman Reigns for once again being the number one pick. Jey Uso said they are bringing home gold to The Bloodline. Jimmy and Jey mentioned that Roman hasn’t responded to them much since WrestleMania. Jimmy said that they will dedicate this victory to Roman and become the 9-time Tag Team Champions. They said Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens are the twos and The Usos are The Ones.

Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens entered with the Raw & Smackdown Tag Team Titles. They stood by the entrance area too. Zayn mentioned how strange it was how Roman Reigns hasn’t said a single word to them this whole time, yet they dedicate this match to Reigns? Zayn mentioned that Reigns was drafted with Heyman and Solo Sikoa, but no Usos. Zayn said you can dedicate this to Reigns but tonight they are walking out…and Jey said that Sami isn’t walking out with a damn thing. Jimmy said when they beat Sami & Kevin, that’s when Kevin is going to turn his back on Sami. Owens said he’s so sick of all this talk. Owens said that the only thing matters is they beat the hell out of The Usos and they keep the Tag Team Titles.

Analysis: Good promos from both sides. Zayn made logical points about how Roman Reigns isn’t talking to The Usos, yet they still want to win for him and that’s a strange thing. I like how the promos were done to make us care even more about the main event. It’s a big match for sure.

Butch entered with Sheamus for a match up next.


There was a backstage door shown with “RAW” on it and a “SMACKDOWN” door as well. Cole said something about the “braintrust” of each show as if we are supposed to believe they have different bosses. We didn’t see if anybody is in the rooms.

Bianca Belair was shown doing a promo on her phone while in a hotel in Europe on tour with the Raw brand. Belair talked about how she gets to be the Smackdown Women’s Champion and wants to be the longest-reigning SD Women’s Champion as well. Cole noted that Rhea Ripley isn’t eligible to be drafted until Monday.

Butch vs. LA Knight

The crowd reaction to LA Knight is strong. Butch stomped on Knight’s arm along with a barrage of forearms to the chest. Butch went for an armbar, but Knight sent him into the top rope to break free. Knight slammed Butch on the apron leading to a break.


Butch got some offense going by stepping on Knight’s hand and a kick to the head. Knight to the floor, but Butch met him there with a moonsault onto a standing Knight. Back in the ring, Butch was up top, Knight went after him, Butch snapped the fingers and Knight jumped to the top rope with a superplex for two. The fans were chanting “LA Knight” even though he’s a heel. Knight tried a move, Butch got out of it and Knight came back with a boot to the head. Butch went for an armbar on the left arm, but Knight got the bottom rope with his feet to break the hold. Knight wrenched on Butch’s arm across the middle rope and Knight hit the BFT (Blunt Force Trauma) for the pinfall win after nine minutes. The fans cheered.

Winner by pinfall: LA Knight

Analysis: **3/4 The match was okay with the fans rallying behind Knight, even though he’s a heel. Early on they were actually booing Knight, then they got into it more. Knight has a lot of charisma and personality, so it’s not a shock that the fans do like hit a bit. Butch isn’t pushed much, which meant it was pretty obvious he was going to lose here.

The Usos were in The Bloodline’s locker room with Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa. Heyman said that success is their only avenue tonight. Heyman said that tonight is the night you reject the failure of Zayn & Owens. Heyman said that tonight is the night they rise to the occasion. Heyman said that The Tribal Chief wants them to know that one way or another, he accepts that tonight is the night with Heyman staring at Solo. Heyman handed Solo tape while said it so Solo started taping his hands.

Analysis: The insinuation at the end of the promo was that if The Usos fail then their brother Solo Sikoa will beat them up because that’s what Roman Reigns wants if The Usos lose.

They showed WWE Hall of Famer Rob Van Dam walking out of the Raw room and Michael Hayes out of the Smackdown room. They are reading names in the draft up next.

Analysis: Good to see RVD. Hayes has worked for WWE behind the scenes for about 30 years so he’s always there anyway.


Rob Van Dam, a WWE Hall of Famer, made his entrance to announce the next draft picks. Michael Hayes, another WWE Hall of Famer, also appeared to announce draft picks. They showed the NXT Performance Center with NXT stars watching the show. Hayes announced the Smackdown picks while RVD announced the Raw picks.


5. Smackdown – The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins

6. Raw – Imperium (Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER, Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci)

7. Smackdown – Edge

8. Raw – Matt Riddle

Analysis: The Street Profits remain together while Ford gets to be on the same show as his wife Bianca Belair, which makes a lot of sense. Imperium moves to Raw and that means the Intercontinental Title of GUNTHER goes with it. That’s a big one. Edge going to Smackdown where he spent a lot of years is certainly fine with me. Matt Riddle remains on Raw where he’s been for a while and had good success.

The Street Profits did a promo about how they are back on the blue brand. Ford said nothing changes except for the day they work on and they said “we want the smoke.”

Ricochet & Braun Strowman entered for this tag team match. Braun suffered a concussion last week, but I guess he’s doing just fine since he’s in action again. The Latino World Order’s Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde also entered for this triple threat tag team match.

Braun Strowman & Ricochet vs. The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) vs. Latino World Order (Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde)

Strowman cleared the ring of the four opponents quickly. Strowman was going to toss Ricochet, who was hesitant after the mistake last week and Strowman assured him it would be okay. Strowman launched Ricochet over the top onto guys on the floor. That led to a break.


The three legal guys were Ricochet, Dawkins and Cruz, who managed to walk the ropes leading to a dropkick. Ricochet with a boot to the face of Cruz, who came back with a step up enziguri. Wilde tagged in and jumped off the top onto the Profits on the floor. Back in the ring, Wilde got a hurricanrana on Ricochet for two. Ricochet sent Wilde out of the ring, but Wilde was back in and Cruz tagged in with a brainbuster. Strowman broke up a pin attempt, then some punches and Braun went running out of the ring with Braun running over two guys. Dawkins hit a somersault dive over the top onto Strowman. Ricochet with a somersault dive onto Dawkins! Back in the ring, Ricochet kicked Dawkins. Ricochet went up top and missed a 450 Splash. Dawkins with a right hand on Ricochet, Ford tagged in, Dawkins hit a spinebuster on Ricochet and Ford hit a Frog Splash off the top for the pinfall win on Ricochet. It went about eight minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Street Profits

Analysis: *** That was a fun tag team match with a lot of chaos and big moves toward the end of the match. There were some illegal tag team match action moments in the match. I don’t like that, but it’s not as bad as other wrestling companies. Cruz and Wilde hit some big moves while Dawkins and Ricochet hit impressive dives to the floor. The result puts over The Street Profits on their new show Smackdown, which makes sense if WWE intends to push them a bit in the future.

A Progressive Match Flo replay was shown to set up the Damian Priest-Bad Bunny match at Backlash, which is a San Juan Street Fight. Bad Bunny beat up Priest with a kendo stick on Raw and then Bunny challenged Priest to the match, so it’s on.

Next Friday in San Juan, Puerto Rico for Smackdown: Bad Bunny is there.

They showed John Bradshaw Layfield representing Smackdown and Teddy Long representing Raw for draft announcements up next.



The WWE Hall of Famer John Bradshaw Layfield was there to announce the Smackdown pick while WWE Hall of Famer Teddy Long was there to announce the Raw picks. Teddy was SD GM for so long, but I guess JBL being a WWE Champion gets him on SD.

9. Smackdown – Bobby Lashley

10. Raw – Drew McIntyre

11. Smackdown – The OC (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson & Michin)

12. Raw – The Miz

Analysis: Bobby Lashley could be a feud for Roman Reigns in the near future and it would feel fresh. I hope Drew McIntyre gets a big push on Raw. He deserves it. Perhaps Drew will be a top contender for the World Heavyweight Title. The OC being back is a positive and AJ Styles has been better on Smackdown compared to Raw in the past. Considering how many matches The Miz loses, he probably shouldn’t be picked that high, but he has been in WWE for nearly 20 years at this point.

Zelina Vega vs. Sonya Deville (w/Chelsea Green)

Vega will challenge Rhea Ripley for the Smackdown Women’s Title at Backlash.

Deville used her size advantage (everybody is bigger than Vega) leading to a kick and some body punches. Vega applied a headscissors/armbar on Deville by the ropes. Green distracted Vega on the floor, so Deville kicked Vega to knock her down. Back in the ring, Deville grabbed a headlock. Vega ran the ropes leading to Deville kicking her in the head. Deville went for a running knee, Vega avoided it and did a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Zelina Vega

Analysis: *1/4 A weak match with a dead crowd. Vega was selling for most of it and then one deadly ROLLUP OF DEATH~! was enough to win. It wasn’t that interesting at all.

Post match, Rhea Ripley arrived in the ring and dropkicked Vega to knock her down. Ripley headbutted Deville out of the ring while Green backed away from Ripley. Ripley went for a Riptide, but Vega hit a DDT. Vega ran away while Ripley was grabbing her head to sell it.

Analysis: Ripley isn’t losing to Vega obviously, but it’s smart to have Vega hit a big move to show that she can put Ripley down like that. I still think they could have done a better job of setting up the match since Vega was just given the match due to her Puerto Rican heritage. Anyway, Vega may get a good nearfall or two when they wrestle, but Ripley should win.

The WWE Tag Team Title match is still to come.

A commercial aired for Backlash on May 6th.


They showed Zelina Vega backstage talking to Santos Escobar and Rey Mysterio. Vega said that she’s going to be ready at Backlash in Puerto Rico in front of her family. Rey told Vega if she fights with what she has in her heart and if she’s smart, she’ll leave Smackdown as the new Smackdown Women’s Champion. They are all in the LWO and they were all smiling.

Let’s Hear From The OC

The OC’s AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson & “Michin” Mia Yim made their entrance. Styles is back after missing over four months with an ankle injury. They were about to do a promo, but The Viking Raiders showed up with Valhalla for the interruption.

AJ Styles wondered if the Viking Raiders were there for a fight. Styles backed away to a turnbuckle and then the fight started with the two tag teams and Ymi hit Eat Defeat on Valhalla. Anderson & Gallows sent Ivar out of the ring and then they hit the Magic Killer.

Styles did a quick promo: “Smackdown, we have just stared.” Styles went to the apron and hit a Phenomenal Forearm off the top rope onto Ivar. Styles celebrated.

Analysis: It’s good to see AJ Styles back in action after the broken ankle injury that kept him out for over four months. I mentioned Bobby Lashley as a possible opponent for Roman Reigns, but AJ Styles can certainly be a challenger for Reigns as well.

The fourth round of picks were next with Shawn Michaels representing Smackdown and Road Dogg representing Raw. Those picks were up next.



The WWE Hall of Famers Shawn Michaels & Road Dogg made their entrance to the D-Generation X theme song. They were cheered heavily with Michaels announcing Smackdown and Road Dogg announcing Raw.

13. Smackdown – Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai & IYO SKY)

14. Raw – Shinsuke Nakamura

15. Smackdown – NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn

16. Raw – NXT Women’s Champion Indi Hartwell

Shawn Michaels threw his card down after losing two NXT picks back to back.

Analysis: Damage CTRL moving is okay I guess, but that also means they are on the same show as Bianca Belair again. I don’t need to see that rivalry yet again after it was on Raw a lot. I do like Bayley doing anything and her partners are really good as well. Shinsuke Nakamura to Raw is a change of scenery for him. I can see him getting a solid push there. I didn’t expect either of those NXT picks. Dawn & Fyre add to the women’s tag team division, so that’s a positive. Indi has been in NXT for such a long time. It makes sense to call her up to Raw even though she’s a champion.

They showed Mckenzie Mitchell interviewing NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Isla Dawn & Alba Fyre getting interviewed about going to Smackdown. They were excited while Kayden Carter & Katana Chance challenged them to a title match on Tuesday. The champions accepted.

Shinsuke Nakamura was interviewed by Kayla Braxton about going to Raw. Nakamura said he was excited. Karrion Kross showed up to attack Nakamura from behind with a forearm and Kross sent Nakamura into an equipment casing. Kross and Scarlett stood over Nakamura.

Analysis: If that feud continues then that should mean that Karrion Kross will go to Raw with Nakamura as well.

The Usos were shown getting ready in The Bloodline locker room. They wanted Solo Sikoa to go with them, but Heyman said that The Tribal Chief wanted Solo to stay so the spotlight is on The Usos. Heyman said tonight is the night as we saw Solo showing his taped hand and thumb.

Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn entered as the Undisputed (Raw & Smackdown) Tag Team Champions. They got a big pop.


Next Friday at noon is a Backlash press conference with Bad Bunny and others.

They showed Triple H’s announcement from Raw with the introduction of the WWE World Heavyweight Title. The winner will be crowned at Night of Champions on Saturday, May 27th.

It was announced that the Smackdown Lowdown that airs on Peacock/WWE Network on Saturday will have more WWE Draft picks announced.

Next Friday on Smackdown in Puerto Rico:

* Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karrion Kross

* The OC vs. Viking Raiders

* Bad Bunny comes to Smackdown.

The Usos made their entrance as the challengers. I think Owens & Zayn were in the ring for about five minutes.

Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)

The Usos attacked right away and they were in control. Jey hit a superkick on Owens in the ring. Jimmy tagged in leading to a double superkick for Jimmy getting a two count on Owens. Zayn was shown out on the floor as the show went to break.


Jimmy was in control of Owens by ramming KO’s left leg into the ring post. The Usos continued to work over Owens for a few minutes, Owens broke free and Zayn tagged in against Jey with punches. Jey with a back elbow, but Zayn came back with two clotheslines to send Jey out of the ring. Zayn sent Jimmy out of the ring and Zayn ran the ropes leading to a somersault dive over the top onto both Usos. Back in the ring, Zayn hit a Sunset Flip Powerbomb on Jey for two. Jey came back with some punches, but Zayn grabbed a hold of him with a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Zayn went up top again, but Jey was back up with a jumping superkick to knock Zayn off the apron to the floor. They went to a break about ten minutes into the match.


Owens got the tag as he sent Jey out of the ring and Owens hit a cannonball on Jimmy against the turnbuckle. Owens went up top, Jimmy met him there with a punch and they battled on the top turnbuckle, which led to Owens hitting the twisting Fisherman’s Buster off the middle rope. Owens went up top and hit a Swanton Bomb for a two count on Jimmy. Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa were shown watching on a TV backstage. Heyman answered the phone, said “yes sir” a bunch of times and Heyman thanked The Tribal Chief. Heyman said that was “the call” and tonight is Solo’s night, so Solo left. Back to the match, Jimmy avoided a Powerbomb, but Owens managed to hit the Popup Powerbomb right after for two with Jey breaking up the pin. Zayn sent Jey out of the ring and Sami tried a dive, but Jey superkicked him. Back in the ring, Owens hit a Stunner on Jimmy for two. Solo Sikoa showed up, so Matt Riddle arrived and got into a brawl with Solo to the backstage area. Jimmy rocked Owens with a couple of kicks, Jey tagged in with two kicks and a double superkick on Owens got a two count for Jey. The Usos hit another double superkick on Owens. Zayn was on the apron, The Usos hit a double superkick to Zayn and The Usos hit a double superkick to Owens again for two. Jimmy held Owens and Jey hit another superkick for two. Owens fought back with punches, but Jey hit him with another superkick. Jimmy tagged in, Zayn pulled Jey out of the ring and sent Jey into the steel steps. Kevin Owens with a Stunner on Jimmy and Zayn tagged in with a Helluva Kick on Jimmy for the pinfall win after 19 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

Analysis: **** I thought it was a great match. It wasn’t at the level of their five-star WrestleMania match, but I think they worked very well together and had an entertaining match as you would expect. Lots of nearfalls by The Usos throughout the match although they were unable to connect with the 1D for the win. Owens spent most of the match taking a beating and making it look like The Usos could put him away, but they never did. Zayn was terrific throughout the match with some good selling the whole way (Owens too) and then Zayn hit his Helluva Kick finish for the win.

Post match, Owens & Zayn celebrated the win. The Usos looked frustrated while Cole was screaming about how Roman Reigns wasn’t going to be happy about this. Solo Sikoa was shown watching on from a distance. There were more shots of The Usos and Solo staring from afar. End show.

Analysis: That ending will tease the possibility of Solo Sikoa kicking The Usos’ as per the orders of Roman Reigns, so we’ll have to see what happens whenever Reigns decides to show up on TV again. Perhaps WWE will separate The Usos from Reigns so maybe that’s why it’s happening this way. I don’t know what will happen with the story, but that’s fine. Watch and find out.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
  2. The Usos
  3. LA Knight


The Scoreboard

7.5 out of 10

Last week: 7

2023 Average: 7.21


Final Thoughts

I thought it was a good show overall. The WWE Draft picks obviously get a lot of attention. I wouldn’t say there were many surprises with some of the big names staying where they already were. Bianca Belair goes back to Smackdown after being dominant on Raw. It would be nice if we got some clarity about what happens with champions moving between brands because they never really tried to explain it, but it will likely be more clear after Raw when more picks are announced. Roman Reigns staying on Smackdown means the new WWE World Heavyweight Title will be on Raw and we know some big names will be contenders for that title. I thought Cody Rhodes might be on the same show as Roman, but Cody is still a Raw guy so they are separated.

The WWE Tag Team Title match between Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens and The Usos was really good. No surprise there. They got three segments to have a very long match. Owens got his ass kicked for most of it, Zayn did too and then KO/Sami found a way to win. Prior to the match, there were some tense moments with Paul Heyman trying to fire up The Usos while suggesting that Solo Sikoa would kick his brothers’ asses if they lost, but it didn’t happen at least on this show. Matt Riddle showed up to stop Solo from interfering in the match as well. Anyway, no Roman Reigns on the show and we don’t know if The Usos will be on Smackdown with him or on Raw.

It was cool hearing the crowd get behind LA Knight a lot in his match with Butch. It may be tough for WWE to keep Knight a heel for very long, but I think being heelish is good for him as a performer. The Street Profits had a good showing in that tag team match. I thought the Zelina Vega match with Sonya Deville was poor with a dead crowd, but they wanted to have Vega get a win. Rhea Ripley sold Vega’s DDT really well post match. Backlash looks to be set with seven matches taking place next weekend.

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

* San Juan Street Fight: Bad Bunny vs. Damian Priest

* 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

* Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. IYO SKY

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