The John Report: WWE Smackdown 05/05/23 Review

wwe smackdown may 5

This week’s WWE Smackdown has appearances from Cody Rhodes, Bad Bunny, Shinsuke Nakamura facing Karrion Kross and more.

The WWE Draft is behind us with new rosters starting next Monday, May 8th on Raw so next week’s Smackdown will be the first SD with the new roster. Backlash is on Saturday night too. Check out the TJRWrestling Backlash preview right here. I’ll review Backlash live on TJRWrestling on Saturday night.

From the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this is Smackdown for episode #1237. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

It was a packed house in Puerto Rico. They had a longer entrance area with a bit of a curve to it.

Let’s Hear from Rey Mysterio and the LWO

Rey Mysterio made his entrance with his Latino World Order allies Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, Cruz Del Toro and Zelina Vega. They showed a press conference clip with Vega exchanging words with Rhea Ripley. Michael Cole and Wade Barrett were on commentary for the show. The Spanish announce team was there as well.

Rey spoke in Spanish leading to cheers. I don’t know Spanish, so no translations coming from me. Rey called for Zelina Vega to say something, but there was an interruption.

The Judgment Day’s Finn Balor, Dominik Mysterio & Smackdown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley made their entrance. Dominik ripped a fan’s LWO shirt. I assume it was a plant.

Dominik and The Judgment Day got into the ring with the fans booing Dominik loudly as soon as he tried to speak. Dominik called Rey the same deadbeat dad that he’s always going to be. Rey told Dominik something that made the fans laugh. Rey called out Dominik to have a WrestleMania rematch. Ripley suggested that Rey fights her instead. Vega stepped up so Dominik said that Rey should fight the both of them. It sounded like they agreed to a mixed tag team match with Ripley saying “you’re on” to end it. Rey turned his head, so Dominik slapped Rey in the face and Dominik left. Cole was freaking out about it.

Analysis: That was just based on hearing the crowd react to everything. They are loud. That makes everything better. My apologies for not translating Spanish for you. I think even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can tell by the crowd’s reactions what was being said. The fans loved Rey and the LWO while they hated Dominik just like American crowds. Anyway, that’s a big match for later in the show. It makes sense to put Rey in a big match on a Smackdown in Puerto Rico in a Spanish speaking market like this. Dom’s cheap shot on Rey at the end was great. That’s such a clever heel move to get heat.

The OC group made their entrance including AJ Styles, Michin and the team of Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows in tag team action. They had a fight with the Viking Raiders last week, so now we get the match.

A commercial aired for Backlash on Saturday night.


It’s confirmed for later in the show: Rey Mysterio & Zelina Vega of the LWO vs. Dominik Mysterio & Rhea Ripley of The Judgment Day.

The OC – Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (w/AJ Styles & Michin) vs. Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) (w/Valhalla)

AJ Styles joined commentary for the match. Erik and Karl exchanged strikes in a battle of bearded bald guys. This crowd was on fire with Karl hitting a running kick to the knee. Gallows faced off against Ivar, who delivered back elbows, then Gallows knocked him down and hit a jumping back elbow. Karl tagged in for a boot/legsweep combo on Ivar for a two count while AJ made it clear he wanted to face Roman Reigns. Styles said it was the first time he had ever been out that long with an injury in 24 years. Karl went to the turnbuckle, Valhalla distracted, Karl looked at her and Ivar knocked Karl down. Michin warned Valhalla. They went to break there.


The match continued with Gallows getting the tag followed by punches, a corner splash and a running shoulder tackle. Gallows hit a sitout spinebuster for a two count. This crowd is so loud! Erik tagged in to exchange strikes, which Erik won and led to a spinebuster. Ivar tagged in with a top rope splash on Gallows for a two count because Karl made the save. Gallows ran the ropes, Valhalla tried a trip, so Gallows stopped and Michin dropkicked Valhalla on the floor. Gallows kicked Ivar in the head, Erik in, Karl got the tag and hit a forearm to knock Erik out of the ring. Magic Killer by G&A connects and Karl covered for the pinfall win after nine minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The OC – Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Analysis: *** It was a solid tag team match between four veteran tag team wrestlers that know what they are doing out there. I don’t think I’ve heard a crowd that loud for a Gallows hot tag, but the fans were so into it and that certainly helps when you’re watching at home. Putting over The OC was the right call because they just came back to TV while the Viking Raiders aren’t doing much these days.

There was a discussion about the World Heavyweight Title tournament. As Triple H announced earlier on Friday, It starts this Monday on Raw with two triple threat matches, the winners of those matches meet later on Raw and the winner of that singles match represents Raw at Night of Champions. They’ll do the same thing on Smackdown too. The winners of those matches face off in a singles match at Night of Champion on May 27th to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.

Analysis: I am picking Seth Rollins to become the World Heavyweight Champion. There are some good options from Smackdown to face him, so I’ll go with Bobby Lashley or AJ Styles as the opponent.

Bianca Belair made her entrance as the Raw Women’s Champion.


They showed a video/photos of WWE selling out their European tour shows last week. The Raw brand was there for four shows and it was packed every night.

Let’s Hear from Bianca Belair

Bianca Belair talked about how great the European tour was, but she is so hyped that she got drafted and is so happy to be in Puerto Rico. Belair said she made history when she was on Smackdown. Belair talked about how IYO SKY is dangerous and unpredictable. Belair spoke about how she has proven no matter what brand she is on, she’ll always show up and show out. The fans chanted “EST” for her. Belair said with a victory tomorrow she’ll tie the record for the longest title reign. That means after Backlash she’ll become the longest reigning Women’s Champion of the modern era.

Damage CTRL interrupted with Bayley talking with Dakota Kai & IYO SKY walking along with her. Bayley said she made Belair on this show. Bayley told Belair that she was conceited and said that IYO SKY will end that title reign tomorrow night. Bayley talked about how Sky is going to be the Raw Women’s Champion and Bayley & Kai feel like being Women’s Tag Team Champions. Bayley called Michael Cole an idiot, which is always funny.

The trio from Damage CTRL attacked Belair, who tried to fight them off. Bayley threw Belair into Sky to knock Sky out of the ring. Belair tried to give Bayley the KOD, but Bayley got out of it and Sky hit a missile dropkick off the top. Damage CTRL did a 3-on-1 attack against Belair, so Women’s Tag Team Champions Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez made the save. The faces cleaned house while the heels left. The championship trio of Belair, Morgan & Raquel posed in the ring.

Analysis: It was okay as a segment to further the story between Belair and Sky, which hasn’t had much of a story going into their Backlash match. Bayley & Kai beat Liv & Raquel non-title, so there should be a title match coming soon. Since Belair is on Smackdown after the WWE Draft and Rhea Ripley is on Raw, I assume we will get a belt swap between them, but WWE has yet to announce anything about it.

Karrion Kross did a backstage promo with Scarlett with a warning for Shinsuke Nakamura. Kross wondered how much Nakamura’s honor was worth to him.

The Street Profits team of Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins made their entrance. They went into the crowd to greet the fans as part of their entrance.


There were highlights shown from last week’s Smackdown when Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn retained the WWE Tag Team Titles against The Usos.

The Bloodline’s locker room was shown with The Usos walking into the room with Solo Sikoa. The Usos were talking about how they were ready, Jimmy asked Solo if he was ready and Solo didn’t say anything. Jey told Solo that Jimmy asked a question. Solo said tomorrow he’ll do his part and you two better do yours. Solo looked at his taped thumb as if he was going to attack his brothers with a Samoan Spike. Solo left so Jimmy ragged on Jey for making Solo say something.

Analysis: A tease of Solo potentially beating up his own brothers yet again.

Imperium (Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci) vs. The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins)

No GUNTHER with Imperium probably because he just got married over the last week to Ginny, so maybe he’s on the honeymoon. Imperium were really aggressive to start. Vinci hit a cross body block onto the Profits on the floor. Vinci with a rolling senton and a moonsault off the top rope. Kaiser was legal with a suplex on Ford. After ducking a clothesline, Ford hit a belly to back suplex on Kaiser. Dawkins tagged in with a jumping elbow on Vinci, a punch for Kaiser, a corner splash on Vinci and a spinebuster. Ford made the tag and hit a Frog Splash on Vinci for the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins)

Analysis: **1/2 A solid tag team match to put over The Street Profits since they’re on the Smackdown brand now, so it’s a way to remind the audience just how talented they are. That Frog Splash by Ford always looks incredible. I am all for a Street Profits title push.

Cody Rhodes was shown walking backstage in a suit. Cody gets some promo time up next.


The LWO was shown talking backstage with Rey Mysterio and Zelina Vega getting ready for their mixed tag team main event.

A video package aired summarizing the Cody Rhodes-Brock Lesnar story going into Backlash on Saturday. It was a lengthy video that took about four minutes.

Let’s Hear from Cody Rhodes

Cody Rhodes made his entrance in a suit. The fans popped very loudly for him and a lot of them were singing the theme song. There was a loud “UH-OH” by the crowd right on cue.

Cody said a few Spanish words to pop the crowd. Cody mentioned Brock Lesnar is a cowboy, but he is also a coward. Cody said Brock has a lot of nicknames. Cody called Brock a “gatekeeper” saying that Arn Anderson used to tell him when you reach the kingdom, Brock is the one standing in the way in front of the gate to the kingdom. Cody said that you never have to compete against Lesnar in WWE, but Brock picked a fight with Cody. Cody said that Lesnar has yet to explain why he picked a fight, so maybe when Cody beats him at Backlash he’ll get an explanation from Lesnar. Cody recalled saying he was afraid of Lesnar and it’s still true because everybody should be afraid of Lesnar. Cody said with Backlash tomorrow he doesn’t have any time to be afraid of Lesnar. Cody spoke about how it’s a fair fight against Lesnar. Cody said that this will be the place where he got back on the road to finishing his story and to claiming his kingdom and he’ll do it against Brock Lesnar. Cody celebrated as his music played.

Analysis: A strong promo from Cody Rhodes as usual. I liked it. That Cody-Brock match could go either way. I went with Cody in our preview, but I think Lesnar winning is certainly a possibility as well.

Shinsuke Nakamura was shown getting ready backstage when Kayla Braxton asked if Nakamura had any thoughts after Karrion Kross attacked Nakamura last week. Nakamura said “come on” into the camera and made his entrance.

Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance with the crowd singing along with the catchy theme song. Nakamura was drafted to Raw. That match with Kross is up next.


The trio of WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn were standing by with Matt Riddle. There was a focused promo from Riddle about how they are going to beat The Bloodline at Backlash. Zayn and Owens didn’t say a word, Riddle asked if they had anything to say and Zayn said there was nothing left to say.

Karrion Kross made his dark entrance with his lovely wife Scarlett for their “fall and pray” yelling routine. Kross and Scarlett remain on Smackdown after the WWE Draft.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karrion Kross

Kross with kicks, then Nakamura came back with some kicks to the body and Kross hit an elbow smash to the face. Nakamura came back with a running kick. Nakamura charged on the floor, but Kross hit a knee to the ribs. Kross picked up Nakamura and sent him Powerbomb-style back first into the ring post.


Nakamura was in control with a barrage as kicks to the body, then a kick to the back of the neck and Nakamura hit a running knee lift in the corner. Scarlett jumped on the apron, those are some shorts, Nakamura was distracted by her and Kross hit a Saito Suplex for a two count. Nakamura got out of a sleeper attempt leading to an armbar, but Kross powered out of it. Nakamura hit a spinning kick and a German Suplex. Nakamura set up for his finish, but Kross was back up with a running lariat to knock Nakamura down for two. Nakamura countered a move for two. Kross came back with a knee followed by a Saito Suplex for two. Kross went for a charging attack, Nakamura blocked with a kick, a kick to the back of the neck and Nakamura hit a Kinshasa running knee for the pinfall win after eight minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura

Analysis: *** It was pretty good. It was better than a lot of Kross matches have been. Nakamura sold Kross’ power moves well throughout the match, but Nakamura was too crafty and found a way to win. They are pushing Nakamura again as he heads to Raw, so I hope he does well there. As for Kross, he needed a good match like this.

Still to come is Rey Mysterio & Zelina Vega vs. Rhea Ripley & Dominik Mysterio in a mixed tag team match.


A video aired about NXT stars coming to Smackdown after the WWE Draft: NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles Isla Dawn & Alba Fyre, Cameron Grimes, Pretty Deadly (Elton Prince & Kit Wilson), Grayson Waller

Analysis: It’s a good group. I’m most excited about Waller because I think he’s the total package. It will be good to see Cameron Grimes too.

Cameron Grimes was shown talking to WWE Official Adam Pearce in the office. Baron Corbin walked into the office trashing Grimes for being the last pick in the draft. Corbin said he was a free agent between Raw and Smackdown couldn’t agree on who should sign him. Pearce didn’t see it that way. Grimes exchanged words with Corbin and Pearce made the match for next week on Smackdown.

Analysis: That should be a win for Grimes.

There was a rundown of the Backlash card on Saturday night in this order.

* Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar

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

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

* Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. Omos

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

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

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

Rey Mysterio and Zelina Vega of the LWO made their entrance for tag team action.


Next week on Smackdown, it’s the return of Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, who has been off for over one month. Also, the World Heavyweight Title tournament continues. Plus, Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan defend the Women’s Tag Team Titles against Bayley & Dakota Kai.

Rey Mysterio & Zelina Vega vs. Dominik Mysterio & Rhea Ripley (w/Finn Balor)

Rey battled Dominik and when Rey ran the ropes, Ripley hit him with a knee to the back. Rey got some momentum back, tagged in Vega, who hit a headscissors that sent Dominik into the ropes. Vega charged, but Ripley knocked Vega down with a boot. They went to break.


Ripley worked over Vega with forearms to the back. Vega managed to get a crucifix pin and a rolling kick. Dominik pulled Rey off the apron to prevent a tag. Ripley went for a Powerbomb, Vega countered it and hit a jawbreaker. Ripley tried a lift, Vega avoided it and went to the turnbuckle, which led to Ripley running into the turnbuckle. Rey tagged in so Dominik was legal as the crowd exploded. Rey ran the ropes with a cross body block off the middle rope. Rey with a headscissors that sent Dominik into the turnbuckle. Dominik sent Rey face first into the top turnbuckle followed by a Michinoku Driver, but Vega broke up the pin. Ripley sent Vega out of the ring. Rey with a headscissors that sent Dominik into the ropes. Vega drove Ripley into the barricade on the floor. Rey hit the 619 kick on Dominik. Balor distracted Rey on the turnbuckle, then Dominik was back up and Dominik hit a vertical suplex. Dominik did vertical suplexes, but Rey stopped a third one by using the legs of Dom to trap him and Rey covered for the three count.

Winners by pinfall: Rey Mysterio & Zelina Vega

Analysis: *** A good match. The finish was clever with Dominik going for the Three Amigos suplexes only for Rey to counter by hooking the legs. A clever counter by the veteran Hall of Famer. They obviously weren’t going to have Ripley lose, so Dominik taking the pinfall makes sense if you want to put the faces over. Vega got a bit of offense on Ripley, but not that much.

After the match, Dominik and Balor attacked Rey with punches and kicks. Damian Priest joined the party with some punches on Rey. Bad Bunny’s music hit as the crowd went wild while Bunny had the LWO with him. Bunny had a kendo stick with him. The LWO sent Judgment Day out of the ring.

Damian Priest and Bad Bunny faced off in the ring. Dominik ran at Bunny, so Bunny hit Dominik in the ribs with the kendo stick. Priest ran away.

Bad Bunny and The LWO celebrated in the ring. Rey Mysterio handed Bad Bunny an LWO shirt. Bad Bunny put the shirt on. The fans loved that. End show.

Analysis: The pop for Bad Bunny was huge. This Puerto Rico loves him, which is not a shock since he’s from Puerto Rico and he’s such a huge star due to his music. They teased a Bunny/Priest showdown without giving it away. Make people wait until Backlash one night later. It’s certainly possible that the Bunny/Priest match main events Backlash too because the fans react so strongly to Bunny, so it makes sense to put him on last.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Rey Mysterio & Zelina Vega
  2. Dominik Mysterio & Rhea Ripley
  3. The OC, Shinsuke Nakamura


The Scoreboard

7 out of 10

Last week: 7.5

2023 Average: 7.19


Final Thoughts

This Puerto Rico crowd was incredible. That’s the first talking point I need to mention here. They were hot from the opening promo to the first match and in the main event as well. When you have a crowd that hot, it makes the show even better. They are going to be on fire for some of the Backlash matches, so that will certainly help the show in terms of being more exciting.

The rest of the show did a solid job of building to Backlash on Saturday night. I don’t think the Backlash card is that strong from top to bottom, so it’s tough to get excited about everything. Tag teams like The Street Profits and The OC got wins since they are Smackdown teams in the WWE Draft and Raw’s Shinsuke Nakamura ended his rivalry with Karrion Kross with a clean win. I really liked the Cody Rhodes promo about Brock Lesnar too.

Rey Mysterio and the LWO were featured a lot. It’s so weird that he’s not in Backlash match in a country like Puerto Rico with Latino fans, but they did put him in the opening and closing segment on this show. Dominik Mysterio got so much heat as usual. Anyway, it was a fun main event with Rey & Vega beating Dom & Ripley, which led to Bad Bunny getting a HUGE pop for saving Rey after Damian Priest went out there. It’s smart to save the Bunny-Priest physicality until Backlash.

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

wwe backlash 2023 cody rhodes brock lesnar

* 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