The John Report: WWE SmackDown 05/03/24 Review

wwe smackdown january 5

This week’s WWE Smackdown featured Cody Rhodes & AJ Styles going face to face, plus Austin Theory & Grayson Waller facing The Street Profits, and more.

It’s the final WWE Smackdown before the Backlash PLE, which I previewed here. This episode already aired in full in Europe, so I’m writing a review watching a downloaded feed of the TNT Sports broadcast in Europe rather than waiting for it to air in the US and Canada.

From the LDLC Arena in Lyon-Decines, France, this is Smackdown for episode #1289. Follow me on Twitter/X @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

They showed Cody Rhodes and AJ Styles arriving separately earlier in the day. Randy Orton & Kevin Owens were also shown walking together earlier in the day.

The commentary team of Corey Graves and Wade Barrett welcomed us to the show. The French commentary team was at ringside as well.

Bayley, the WWE Women’s Champion, was up first to a huge pop. The fans were so loud as we got the entrance of Naomi. Tiffany Stratton was up next even though she was an opponent. The Damage CTRL group was up next with Dakota Kai and Women’s Tag Team Champions Asuka & Kairi Sane. Bianca Belair was up next for the babyface team followed by Jade Cargill up last.

Bayley, Naomi, Jade Cargill & Bianca Belair vs. Damage CTRL – IYO SKY, Asuka, Kairi Sane & Dakota Kai

The fans sang the “Hey Bayley” song that the UK fans usually sing, so it carried over here to France. Naomi sent Sane into the turnbuckle followed by a dropkick. Belair tagged in with a handspring moonsault on Sane for two. Belair hit a vertical suplex on Sane and then Belair tossed Asuka out of the ring. Sane with a back fist. Bayley tagged in and Stratton was legal for the heel side leading to Stratton hitting a spinebuster for two.


It was the heel side in control as Asuka hit a sliding knee on Bayley for a two count. Sane sent Bayley into Asuka’s behind by the turnbuckle. Stratton sent Bayley into the turnbuckle followed by Tiffy hitting a handspring back elbow. Stratton hit an Alabama Slam on Stratton for two because Naomi broke up the pin. Stratton punched Cargill off the apron and threw Bayley into Naomi. Bayley hit a belly-to-back suplex on Stratton. Belair was reluctant to tag in to help her former rival Bayley, so Cargill made the tag. Cargill hit a pump kick on Kai, a Chokeslam on Asuka and a backbreaker on Sane. Belair tagged in as Cargill splashed Kai and hit a Powerbomb on Kai. Cargill slammed legal woman Belair on Kai for two because Sane made the save. Asuka with a dropkick, Naomi with a full nelson slam, Stratton with a kick, Bayley with Bayley to Belly and Kai hit a Scorpion Kick to Bayley. Belair avoided a Kai kick leading to Belair hitting the KOD on Kai for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Bayley, Naomi, Jade Cargill & Bianca Belair

Analysis: *** A good tag team match following the usual tag team formula by giving the heels control for the first half before the babyfaces made the comeback to get the win. I thought it would be Cargill getting the win, but there’s nothing wrong with Belair picking up the W for the team. The heel side didn’t really have a moment where it looked like they might get the win. The team of Belair & Cargill continue to look dominant in every match they have as a team.

The WWE Tag Team Champions Austin Theory & Grayson Waller did a promo from the locker room. Theory said that the fans get to see their first title defense. Waller said that they will show The Street Profits that they are the smoke.


Jade Cargill & Bianca Belair were interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Jade said they are always confident. Belair said she’s ready for closure with Damage CTRL. Belair said she was ready to be done with it while staring at Bayley, so Bayley walked away. Cargill tried to calm Belair down.

Analysis: I like that there are still issues with Belair when it comes to Bayley because of their long history together. Just because Bayley is a face now doesn’t mean she has to get along with all of her former rivals.

A Progressive Match Flo replay was shown of last week’s Smackdown when Cody Rhodes beat Carmelo Hayes in the main event. After the match, AJ Styles had a staredown with Cody to end the show.

The Smackdown General Manager Nick Aldis was shown talking to Carmelo Hayes in the office. Hayes said he was declaring himself to be in the King of the Ring tournament. Bobby Lashley congratulated Melo on being on Smackdown and his great match last week. Lashley told Melo to call him if he needed anything. Melo said that he’ll be just fine. Melo talked about shooting his shot and Lashley and told Melo he lost last week. Melo asked when was the last time Lashley shot his shot? Lashley gave Melo advice telling him to be careful who he disrespects around here.

Analysis: There’s a tease of a future Carmelo Hayes-Bobby Lashley match. That would be cool to see. I’m optimistic about WWE using Melo the right way on Smackdown.

New Catch Republic entered for tag team action.


A video was shown about some of Smackdown’s draft picks that were made over the last week. The new rosters go into effect starting this Monday on Raw, so next Friday’s Smackdown is the beginning of the new Smackdown roster.

Authors of Pain – Akam & Rezar (w/Karrion Kross, Scarlett & Paul Ellering) vs. New Catch Republic – Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate

Both teams got drafted to Raw, so this is their last match on Smackdown for now.

Akam threw Dunne out of the ring right away. Dunne came back with three dropkicks that didn’t knock Akam down. Bate tagged in for some tag team punching. Bate hit two running uppercuts on Akam, but Akam came back with a clothesline and Bate did a flip bump to sell that. Rezar overpowered Bate in the ring, which led to Bate trying to overpower Rezar with a suplex and that didn’t work. Dunne tagged in with a double stomp to the arm and both AOP guys were sent to the floor. Bate did a somersault dive onto both AOP guys on the floor. Bate hit a springboard uppercut. Rezar caught Bate and Rezar rammed Bate back first into the turnbuckle.


The match continued with AOP dominating Bate with some quick tags. Rezar had Bate in a bearhug until Bate broke free. Akam was back in, so Bate bounced off the ropes leading to a clothesline. The crowd was on fire as Dunne got the hot tag leading to enziguri kicks and a dropkick. Dunne jumped onto Rezar on the floor. Dunne hit a Sliced Bread neckbreaker for a two count. Dunne jumped off the top with moonsault that didn’t work because Akam moved. Bate tagged in, there were a few strikes to Akam’s head and Bate did an airplane spin on Akam leading to a slam. Dunne tagged back in with a running knee for two because Rezar broke up the fall. Rezar was greeted with some finger snapping and forearms sent Rezar out of the ring. Scarlett jumped on the apron so Dunne dove onto Rezar on the floor. Kross picked up Bate and slammed him on the floor. Dunne dove onto Kross on the floor. Back in the ring, Rezar hit Dunne with a uranage slam. Rezar tagged in for a double team neckbreaker/Powerbomb for the pinfall win after ten minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Authors of Pain – Akam & Rezar

Analysis: ***1/4 A fun tag team match. I don’t think the NCR guys are capable of having a bad match because they’re so talented. It was a bit of a cheap win since Kross got involved on the floor, which took out Bate and that led to AOP isolating Dunne to take out Dunne. These teams worked well together.

There was a replay of last week when Randy Orton saved Kevin Owens from a fight with The Bloodline’s Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga. Those four guys will have a tag team match at Backlash.

Paul Heyman was talking to Smackdown GM Nick Aldis in Nick’s office. Heyman mentioned sending Nick a memo and Nick said it was denied. Nick said that he’s not taking Owens & Orton out of the match. Heyman said that what happens to Owens & Orton is on Nick’s conscience. As Heyman left, Aldis wondered if it was by orders of The Tribal Chief. Aldis asked if Heyman was in charge. Heyman admitted he hasn’t spoken to Roman Reigns since WrestleMania. Aldis asked for clarification. Heyman said that Roman Reigns didn’t pull himself out of the WWE Draft, it was Heyman who did it. Heyman said he had no choice. Heyman said that he can’t subject Reigns to the chaos that’s going on with The Bloodline. Aldis told Heyman to try to pull Orton & Owens out of their match by joining them on the RKO Show up next.

Analysis: It was an informative backstage segment because Heyman admitted he hasn’t talked to Roman Reigns since WrestleMania nearly one month ago.


RKO Show With Randy Orton & Kevin Owens…and Paul Heyman

Randy Orton got a huge reaction from the crowd. The fans were also singing Orton’s theme song, which really doesn’t happen that often, but it showed how much they love Orton. You could tell it meant a lot to Orton because he was urging the fans to keep singing. Orton was amazed at the crowd singing his song.

Analysis: That was so cool. I’ve covered Orton’s entire career for 24 years and I don’t remember a crowd singing his song like that. It’s rare to see that. It’s a special crowd in France.

Kevin Owens got a big pop as well. Owens is from my country of Canada in Quebec where they speak French, so it’s easy for these fans to support Owens. I’m surprised Sami Zayn wasn’t put in a Backlash match for that reason because of his ability to speak French and relate to the crowd so well.

Owens spoke in French to the fans, which they liked. Orton welcomed us to the premiere of the RKO Show. They sat in leather chairs in the ring. Orton said that these people are so freakin’ amazing so the fans cheered. Orton talked about kicking The Bloodline’s asses at Backlash. Owens said he didn’t want to have a guest tonight, but then he started getting call after call after call. Owens said Paul Heyman wanted to be the guest on the show, so it piqued his curiosity and Owens said they might as well bring him out there.

The WWE Hall of Famer Paul Heyman did his usual “Ladies and Gentlemen” speech introducing himself while saying that he was WWE’s Undisputed Wise Man. Paul went down to the ring with respect, admiration and wisdom. Owens told Heyman you can’t just RKO him right away and Orton said he’s more of an “outta nowhere” kind of guy. Heyman said there will no RKO’s this evening, which drew boos. Orton begs to differ. Owens asked Heyman what he wanted.

Heyman stood on the apron for his promo while the fans chanted “We Want Roman” and Heyman said “I want Roman too.” Heyman said he respected Orton and Owens. Heyman said that when they stepped in the ring with Roman Reigns, it was competition and Reigns defended his title against them doing what he had to do. Heyman said that Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga are different. Heyman tried to get Orton & Owens to back out of this match now. Orton called Heyman a piece of trash. Owens said that everything around Heyman is falling apart. Orton asked Heyman who exactly is the real Tribal Chief? Heyman said that the whole world knows there’s only one Tribal Chief.

Solo Sikoa and Tama Tonga attacked Orton & Owens from behind with punches. Orton and Owens fought back as the action spilled to the floor. Orton and Solo were separated easily, but Owens & Tonga kept on fighting. Orton tossed a security guy onto the commentary table. Owens hit a somersault dive off the top onto a pile of guys. Solo & Tama were held back as KO’s music played to end it.

Analysis: It was a solid promo exchange. The super hot crowd certainly helped with the segment. Paul Heyman warning Orton & Owens to get out of the match is interesting because it makes you wonder what’s going to happen. It might be the debut of Jacob Fatu at Backlash or some other sort of surprise. The dialogue from Orton & Owens was okay, but they didn’t say much that was interesting. I liked how Orton played off the hot crowd because they loved Orton in France.

The Street Profits did a promo backstage about their title match. Ford talked about how they were going to put a whooping on Waller & Theory while Dawkins said “oui, oui” (yes yes) in response to that. Ford said they were going to walk out as the Tag Team Champions and Dawkins said “oui oui” to that. They did their catchphrase to end it.

LA Knight made his entrance to a thunderous response.


LA Knight vs. Angel (w/Santos Escobar, Berto & Elektra Lopez)

There was a QR Code on screen while Angel was posing on the apron for his entrance. Follow the clues, I guess. Knight nailed Angel with a shoulder tackle. Angel sent Knight into the turnbuckle and Knight bounced back with a clothesline along with a swinging neckbreaker. Knight rammed Angel’s head into the ring apron repeatedly, but it was really Angel’s hands hitting the mat. It’s the thought that counts. Knight knocked down Angel with a running dropkick through the ropes. Knight was in control in the ring with a clothesline along with a suplex.


Knight worked over Angel with punches. Berto did a distraction, so Angel hit a headbutt. Knight ran the ropes leading to a flying clothesline. Knight hit a running knee along with a powerslam and jumping elbow. Berto was on the apron, so Knight punched him down. Angel got a rollup for two and Knight hit BFT for the pinfall win. It went about five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: LA Knight

Analysis: ** Easy win for Knight. Angel barely got any offense except when he benefitted from distractions on the floor.

After the match, LA Knight did a promo while the fans cheered for him. Knight said that he was going to make this his ring. Knight said he has officially entered into the King of the Ring. Santos Escobar said that it’s impressive how Knight keeps on talking and talking. Escobar said when Knight is running his mouth, Escobar is winning King of the Ring. Knight asked the fans if he should keep talking and the fans cheered. Knight reminded Escobar whose game this is with everybody saying…LA Knight yeah.

Analysis: Quick promos to show confidence from both guys. Knight remains a very popular guy.

A clip was shown of last week when Carlito was revealed as the mystery attacker of Dragon Lee several months ago.

Carlito was interviewed by Byron Saxton. Carlito said he thought Rey Mysterio would choose him as his partner, but instead, Rey chose Carlito, so that’s not cool. Carlito said it wasn’t personal – Dragon was just in the way. Dragon Lee interrupted the interview with punches. It was broken up by referees and officials backstage.

Analysis: That should set up a Carlito-Dragon Lee match.

The Street Profits made their entrance by going through the crowd.


WWE Tag Team Championships: Austin Theory & Grayson Waller vs. The Street Profits – Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins

The champs got some light offense on Dawkins early, but the Profits hit some impressive moves like a shoulder tackle and dropkick. Ford hit Ospreay with a Rock Bottom. Dawkins hit a Swanton Bomb off the top on Waller, who bailed to the floor. Ford tagged in leading to a somersault dive over the top onto the champions on the floor. Dawkins was back in for a double team belly-to-back suplex. Dawkins hit a corner splash on Waller followed by a jumping kick to the head.


Ford was in control with a running clothesline on Theory. Ford hit a springboard back elbow followed by a belly-to-back suplex on Theory for two. Waller made the tag in as Ford kicked Theory down. Waller went up top, Ford avoided him and Waller dropkicked Dawkins across the ring and that got a two count. Theory tagged in going for a leaping attack, but Dawkins hit a Pounce to knock him down. Dawkins hit a spinebuster. Ford tagged in for a top rope Blockbuster on Theory for two. Dawkins lifted Theory, who did an eye gouge and Theory knocked down Ford on the turnbuckle. Dawkins went for a rollup on Theory, but the referee was checking on Ford. Waller jumped into the ring and hit a flatliner on Dawkins. Theory covered Dawkins for the pinfall win after about nine minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Austin Theory & Grayson Waller

Analysis: *** The match was solid with The Street Profits getting a lot of offense before the champions found a way to put them away. It wasn’t even a cheap win because it was really just Theory knocking down Ford on the apron, the referee checked on Ford and then the champions capitalized with a double team move for the win.

The announcers talked about how there will be breaking news on WWE socials tomorrow and that news will be related to WrestleMania.

Analysis: The guess here is that they are announcing WrestleMania 41 is in Las Vegas. I will like that news.

There was a rundown of the Backlash card. There’s a Backlash Countdown show with Jackie Redmond, CM Punk & Samoa Joe. I guess they might have dropped the “Kickoff” name.

* Women’s Tag Team Championships: Kabuki Warriors – Asuka & Kairi Sane (c) vs. Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill

* The Bloodline – Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga vs. Randy Orton & Kevin Owens

* WWE Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Naomi vs. Tiffany Stratton

* World Heavyweight Championship: Damian Priest (c) vs. Jey Uso

* Undisputed WWE Championship: Cody Rhodes (c) vs. AJ Styles

AJ Styles made his entrance for the main event Face to Face segment.


A commercial aired for Smackdown and King & Queen of the Ring on May 24th and May 25th.

The King and Queen of the Ring tournaments start Monday on Raw and they will continue on Smackdown as well.

Graves said that this was the highest-grossing Smackdown event in WWE history. In other words, ticket prices were very expensive and the numbers added up to a lot of money.

Cody Rhodes made his entrance wearing dress clothes without a jacket and he had the Undisputed WWE Championship with him. Cody received a huge pop from the crowd as you would expect. The fans also sang Cody’s theme song on his way to the ring.

Face to Face: Cody Rhodes and AJ Styles

Cody was cheered heavily when the music stopped and the fans were chanting “Cody” for him. Cody asked Lyon: “What do you want to talk about?” in French. Styles said that he didn’t care what they wanted to talk about. The fans did one of their singing routines to make a lot of noise and annoy Styles. The entire arena was standing while cheering, so Cody held up his WWE Title and the fans cheered more. Styles said it was almost like Cody was focused on all this and he wasn’t focused on what he should be focusing on. Cody spoke about how they were both Georgia boys and Bulldog fans. Styles said he didn’t want to hear Cody saying that he looked up to Styles. AJ said he may be older than Cody, but he is still in his prime. Cody tried to say he wasn’t going to say that and Styles said he knew what Cody was getting at. Styles said that the fans were disrespectful.

Styles said that they were never on the same path. Style claims that Cody was on a different path because everybody wanted the son of the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Styles said that includes WWE and WWE welcomed Cody with open arms. The fans were chanting again. Styles said that Cody loved it here until things got a little rough and Cody couldn’t handle it. Styles made a Stardust hand gesture. Styles said that it was Cody’s decision to leave and that’s not something Styles got to do. Styles said that he was kept out of WWE for years. Styles said he wasn’t welcome with open arms. Styles talked about how he made it to the top all by himself. Styles said that unlike Cody, who had Hall of Famers and legends watching his back at WrestleMania so Cody could finish his story. Styles said that they were guys he had beaten before and he beat them the same way that Styles would beat Cody at Backlash. Styles said he would remind Cody that he is phenomenal. The fans were singing again.

Cody asked Styles who was he trying to convince? Cody said he praised Styles in the past. Cody said that Styles shouldn’t disparage Cody’s accomplishments. Cody said that he endured a lot of mistakes and he’s there as the WWE Championship. Cody spoke about how his first title defense (on television) was against AJ Styles in their first match together. Cody said that commentary can call it a Dream Match. Cold told Styles he is and forever will be Phenomenal. Cody said that tomorrow, he’s not looking at Styles as Phenomenal, he is looking at Styles as Cody’s first. Cody said that’s…too sweet. Styles teased a “too sweet” hand gesture, but instead, Styles slapped Cody in the face.

Analysis: There was no physicality between Cody and AJ in the build up to this match until that slap to the face by Styles at the end. It’s a little bit of mind games by the veteran Styles trying to get in Cody’s head. Cody showed him respect by doing the “too sweet” gesture since they were both in Bullet Club in the past, but instead, Styles responded with a slap to the face. The things that Styles said were mostly true because he did take a long time to get to WWE and he did make it to the top on his own. Cody meanwhile got hired when he was 20 years old and spent a decade in WWE before leaving to figure things out elsewhere. I enjoyed the promos of both guys. With that said Cody is going to keep the WWE Title over Styles at Backlash. I’m still looking forward to the match.

They cut backstage where Randy Orton & Kevin Owens were brawling with Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga. There were security guys back there to try to break it up. Orton hit Solo with a chair to the back. The show ended there.

Analysis: A chaotic way to end the show. It puts over how much those teams don’t like eachother. That should be a fun match at Backlash.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Cody Rhodes/AJ Styles
  2. Kevin Owens/Austin Theory
  3. Bayley, Naomi, Jade Cargill & Bianca Belair


The Scoreboard

7.25 out of 10

Last week: 6.5

2024 Average: 7.29


Final Thoughts on WWE Smackdown

I liked the show. They built up the four Smackdown matches at Backlash well. I thought the Cody Rhodes-AJ Styles promo in the main event was better than the Contract Signing they did two weeks ago. Styles did a great job with his words while Cody fired back and a cheap shot by Styles was a smart way to end it. The build for the Kevin Owens & Randy Orton vs. Tama Tonga & Solo Sikoa match continued to be very intense. That has the makings of a wild brawl at Backlash.

In terms of matches, the four matchups on this show were all pretty good. The women’s 4-on-4 tag was fun with the babyfaces picking up the win. I really liked the AOP-New Catch Republic that ended with AOP benefitting from their help on the floor. LA Knight got an easy win in his match that was done to set up his promo about being in King of the Ring. The Tag Team Champions Theory & Waller took a lot of The Street Profits and T&W had the crafty heel win. I liked how that was booked.

Lastly, the Lyon, France crowd was outstanding. I’m not surprised by that since we have read about how loud they are so to hear it on a TV broadcast is pretty cool. My favorite part of the crowd was when they sang Randy Orton’s theme song for him and Orton was overwhelmed by it. That was terrific. A big crowd making a lot of noise will make Backlash feel better too.

The next WWE Premium Live Event is Backlash on May 4th. Here’s the lineup.

* Undisputed WWE Championship: Cody Rhodes (c) vs. AJ Styles

* World Heavyweight Championship: Damian Priest (c) vs. Jey Uso

* WWE Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Naomi vs. Tiffany Stratton

* The Bloodline – Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga vs. Randy Orton & Kevin Owens

* Women’s Tag Team Championships: Kabuki Warriors – Asuka & Kairi Sane (c) vs. Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill

You can watch Backlash France, streaming live on Saturday, May 4, at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.


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