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Join 411’s Live WWE Smackdown Coverage

March 24, 2023 | Posted by Robert Winfree
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Well everyone, WrestleMania is coming up very quickly and WWE is starting to kick into harder sell mode. The interactions between Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns have been excellent, and the interest in The Usos vs. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens might represent the most the WWE fanbase has been invested in the tag team title picture in decades. Unfortunately the rest of the card is a little tepid, Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley has no momentum, Bianca Belair vs. Asuka has also struggled to really find footing, our freak show match of Brock Lesnar vs. Omos has left most people just asking “why?” over and over again, we’re still not sure what’s up with LA Knight or Bobby Lashley and Bray Wyatt, plus we might be staring down the first WrestleMania that AJ Styles misses since he debuted with the company. Though also on the positive side, Edge vs. Demon Balor in Hell in a Cell has potential and Seth Rollins vs. Logan Paul probably has some kind of audience. Tonight we’ve got a contract signing for the Intercontinental Title match between Gunther, Sheamus, and Drew McIntyre. We’ve also got Cody Rhodes vs. Ludwig Kaiser and that should be fun, Rey Mysterio battles LA Knight for probably a short time period then we get another long winded Dominik Mysterio promo where he repeats the same thing he’s said for the last several months, the only real question being if Rey decides to fight him at Mania this week or next. Rumor has it the Kevin Owens show will be back and he’ll talk with Sami Zayn to further try and set up the tag team title match with the Usos. Anyway that’s the current preamble, so let’s get to the action.

We open with a video recap of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens reuniting last week on Smackdown, then their challenge to the Usos on RAW. I seriously do not envy whoever has to follow that match at Mania. Full video opening after that, never a good sign for our time management for the show.

Up first, “Wrestling has more than one royal family” and I guess we’re starting a wrestling show with a wrestling match. I hate how much of a novelty that’s become again.

Match #1: Cody Rhodes vs. Ludwig Kaiser w/ Giovanni Vinci

Kaiser got the jobber entrance. This is Cody’s first match on Smackdwon in 7 years. They tie up and Kaiser is able to put Cody in the corner and lands a body shot. Cody fights back and hits a delayed gordbuster, but Paul Heyman waddles onto the entrance stage to distract Cody. That doesn’t really matter as Cody trips Kaiser then hits a kick but he’s visually caught between Kaiser and Heyman as we head to break.

We come back to Kaiser landing an uppercut then a slam. Kaiser retains control then goes to attack the knee of Cody around the ring post but Cody pulls him into the ring post. Some ringside brawling now as Cody unloads on Kaiser with punches before they head back into the ring. Kaiser blocks a Cody Cutter with a chop block in the ropes then follows up with a punt kick. Cody fights back with strikes, then Kaiser hits a cross chop to cut him off. Kaiser distracts to ref to set up a Vinci cheap shot, then Kaiser grabs a side headlock. Sliding uppercut from Kaiser lands but he can’t get a 3 count. Kaiser and Cody start trading punches, then Kaiser lands a jawbreaker to once again cut Cody off. Cody sends Kaiser to the apron and hits a Disaster kick. Solo Sikoa joins Heyman on the entrance ramp now as well to distract Cody when going for a Tiger Driver, that allows Kaiser to hit a chop block. Kaiser then sends Cody into the ring steps as Heyman and Solo head to the ringside area and we head to break.

We get a double down as we come back after Kaiser and Cody run into each other. They start trading punches now and Cody winds up getting the better of things and starts to fire up. Snap powerslam from Cody gets 2. Vinci tosses his jacket into the ring then as the ref gets rid of it he and Kaiser hit a double team clothesline. Kaiser with an uppercut in the corner then a butterfly suplex but his diving attack is caught by Cody though Kaiser hits a Victory Roll for 2. Cody Cutter connects and he’s fired up, hits the Cross Rhodes and that’ll do it.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Cody Rhodes won

Rating: 3 stars
Thoughts: This didn’t quite hit the higher gears, but Kaiser is a wonderfully expressive worker and he and Cody were solid enough in this spot.

Post match Heyman has a mic as he and Solo get onto the ring apron. Heyman says Cody is owed an apology, and as the wise man of the Bloodline he’ll deliver it. He runs down Samantha Irvin’s announcing, you horrible heel, and instead announces Cody Rhodes as the challenger for Roman at Mania. The very same Cody that sees his Mania road containing a pothole on Monday when he has to wrestle Solo Sikoa on RAW. And if Cody survives Solo then all roads lead to Roman Reigns, who will be here next Friday to have a final face to face with Cody. Heyman tosses Cody the mic. Cody asks if this is what we’re doing? Moving the goalposts again? Also Heyman interrupted the crowd singing his song. Do they expect Cody to turn this down? Well he shouldn’t have wrestled Rollins with half of his body hanging off. As good as the undefeated Solo is, he’s not ready yet. And as for the champion, this is briefly interrupted by a “you’re not ready” chant, well at Mania Roman will find out the same thing, he’s not ready either. Solid promo from both men, nothing spectacular but it sets up the final week to Mania nicely.

We get the announcement that Cena vs. Theory curtain jerks on Saturday.

In the back Poochie walks, and I’m sure she’ll talk after this break because everyone wants to know what’s up with Poochie at all times.

Post break we get a video recap of the promo between Charlotte and Rhea Ripley last week, which wasn’t good, and the prolonged pull apart brawl that followed, which went on too long but seemed to at least wake the crowd up after they didn’t care about the talking. These two just haven’t showed great chemistry thus far.

After that, here comes Charlotte to the ring. Charlotte has a mic and panders to the crowd just a bit. She brings up being a 14 time world champion, which wasn’t built on fear, insecurities, and nepotism. Well 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. She asks what fear is, calling it ignorance, this business was built on respect, not fear. Tell that to Abdullah the Butcher and Bruiser Brody. She runs down a list of talent she’s respected just like Ripley, and the crowd gives her a loud “what” chant. She has insecurities but uses them to build herself up. Lastly she loves her father and wants to continue building the best legacy in sports entertainment. Love it or not diamonds are forever, and so is Charlotte Flair. At least it didn’t last forever, but there’s still no heat for that match.

In the back Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn go over the set for the KO Show.

Back to the ring, here’s Rey Mysterio. We see Rey’s wife and daughter at ringside. After this break Rey will wrestle the megastar, LA Knight.

Post break here comes LA Knight, to a pretty good pop.

Match #2: Rey Mysterio vs. LA Knight

Early quick offense from Rey but Knight blocks a monkey flip. Second attempt from Rey does land the monkey flip. More leg kicks from Rey then 10 punches in the corner but he runs into a modified flapjack. Knight lays in stomps in the corner. Neckbreaker from Knight then some crowd play. Rey hits the ropes then hits a headscissors and sends Knight out of the ring. Baseball slide from Rey to set up a low baseball slide to the floor into a splash on Knight. They head back into the ring, Rey lands a kick then heads up top but the music of Dominik Mysterio interrupts things. That distraction allows Knight to knock Rey off the top rope. We head to break as Dom’s one facial expression meanders down the ramp.

We come back to Rey and Knight trading strikes in the ring. Rey lands a dropkick, but he runs into a big boot from Knight for a 2 count. Knight catches Rey and hits a powerslam then misses a jumping elbow. Rey hits a wheelbarrow bulldog then heads up top. Seated senton from Rey, then a springboard crossbody for 2. Rey flips out of a back suplex, but Knight counters into a modified one anyway and gets his own 2 count. Rey hits a DDT then sets up Knight for the 619, which Knight catches only for Rey to counter with another 619 set up but this time Dom trips him up leading to Knight rolling up Rey with a schoolboy for the 3 count.


Rating: 2.5 stars
Thoughts: These two are solid, and I’m glad Knight actually picked up a win here as Rey’s pretty much bulletproof.

Post match Dom gets a mic and again asks for a match at Mania. Rey pulls down the straps, but says no and again leaves. Again Dom with the “walk away like you always do” line. Dom then asks his mom what it’s like to be married to a pathetic loser like Rey. He heads over to be face to face with his mom and sister. He briefly loses his place in the script before asking if his mom knew she married a deadbeat? Well the answer is yes, because she allowed all this to happen. Aliyah gets in his face now, leading to Angie taking the mic, but Dom snatches it back and tells her to shut up. Rey might have had enough of this and walks back towards Dom then lays him out with a punch. Dom tries, and fails, to look surprised. Rey picks up the mic and says he didn’t want to do this, Dom did it by disrespecting his mother like that. That’s Rey’s wife and he wont tolerate this. If Dom wants a fight at Mania Rey accepts. About time this got something approximating forward momentum as Dom doing the same thing for 2 months was just tiring. That sends us to break.

Post break, we’re reminded that Andy Kaufman will be joining the Hall of Fame this year. If he’s really alive this would be the time to come back.

To the ring, and we’ve got tag team action to set up one of the big “get everyone on the card” matches at Mania.

Match #3 – Tag Team Match: Xia Li and Lacey Evans vs. Shotzi and Natalya

Evans slams down Shotzi right away. Corner work from Evans then she forgets to tag in Li and the ref has to pretend the tag happened. Some corner work from Li then an exploder suplex. Evans tags back in and hits her modified Bronco Buster then faceplants Shotzi a few times. Evans with a cheap shot to Natalya then she and Shotzi can’t find the spacing on an enziguri. Shotzi runs into a clothesline, then Li tags in. Again Shotzi fights back with kicks then avoids a Woman’s Right from Evans that hits Li and puts her down. Natalya boots Evans off the apron to set up a suicide dive from Shotzi. Natalya tags in, Li is still wobbled and that sets up a Hart Attack into the Sharpshooter and Li taps out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Shotzi and Natalya on

Rating: 1.5 stars
Thoughts: Not great, some obvious timing and spacing issues here and this felt like bad filler.

Post match here come Ronda Rousey and Shanya Baszler with mics. Baszler brings up that they beat down or injured Natalya, Shotzi, Liv Morgan, and Raquel Rodriguez. They all want payback, and Ronda stalls things bringing up how much success they’ve had in Vegas. Well Vegas doesn’t appreciate them so they’re not giving them anymore. Baszler does bring up that they’ll be in that clown fiesta match at Mania. Decent way to keep Ronda on the card but protect her with the injury.

Up next, here comes Drew McIntyre in street clothes and sans sword. Our Intercontinental title match contract signing will be up after this break.

Post break Adam Pearce is here in the ring, he goes to introduce Drew but the music of Sheamus cuts this off. Sheamus and his goons are here. Sheamus talks about how Drew took the knowledge that Sheamus wanted the IC title and tried to steal it from him. Now imagine getting the chance to beat that person down at Mania, then Drew interrupts Sheamus and tells him to shut up. Every week Sheamus has been trying to guilt trip Drew. Last week they reminded everyone why they’re they most physical wrestlers in this company, and they should have celebrated together but now Sheamus is so sensitive that he can’t separate business and personal. Drew sticks to the facts, he’s beaten Sheamus and knows he can beat Gunther as well, while Sheamus can’t beat Gunther. Adam Pearce calms things down, reminding them to sign the contract so they can fight at Mania. Drew signs, Sheamus signs, then the music for Imperium hits and here comes Gunther. No backup for Gunther as he heads to the ring. Gunther wants Pearce to justify this decision to him, putting him in a match where he doesn’t have to be involved in the decision to lose his title. Pearce again plays peacemaker, not as well as John Cena, but Gunther does sign. Gunther will do whatever it takes to defend his title at Mania, he’s going to beat Drew and Sheamus, he’ll even beat up Sheamus’s goons. That prompts Butch to jump at Gunther, Gunther then demands a match with Butch as we head to break. Given how much I loved WALTER vs. Pete Dunne I’m sure these two can still deliver.

Match #4: Gunther vs. Butch w/ Sheamus and Ridge Holland

Butch and Gunther are laying in chops as we come back, then Gunther lands a boot. Scoop slam from Gunther. Drew McIntyre is still ringside. Butch fires back with strikes then goes for the arm of Gunther but Gunther counters into a butterfly suplex. Some stomps from Gunther, Butch tries to fight back but Gunther chops him back down. More chops from Gunther, and he starts trash talking Sheamus as well. Butch jumps up and grabs a triangle armbar then attacks the fingers but Gunther chops him and puts on a Boston Crab. Gunther transitions to a Crossface, but Butch grabs the fingers to break the hold only for Gunther to chop him back down. That one got a reaction from Sheamus. Butch with some kicks but Gunther blocks one then hits a German suplex. Gunther puts Butch on the top rope and chops them stomps him towards the apron and sends Butch down to the floor as we head to break.

We come back to Butch avoiding some Bodhran Beating from Gunther, Butch grabs the fingers of Gunther and wrenches them. Butch looks to fire up in the ring, there’s an audible “bruiserweight” chant as he stomps the arm of Gunther. Gunther tries a Sleeper hold, he’s got Butch fading then tries a German suplex but Butch flips out of it and lands a kick. Butch to the apron as Gunther heads out of the ring, Gunther avoids a moonsault and chops Butch over the announcers table. Drew and Sheamus are both in proximity to Gunther now, then Gunther avoids a jumping Butch who wipes out Drew. Back in the ring Butch stomps the hands. On the floor Drew headbutts Sheamus, then posts Ridge but Sheamus takes out Drew with a knee. In the ring Gunther hits a lariat then the Last Symphony to get the win. Kudos to Butch for knowing how to make that move look good.


Rating: 3 stars
Thoughts: This bordered on 3.5 stars but the overbooking hurts it. Still, Gunther and Butch are magic together.

Post match Gunther and Sheamus stare off, then Drew flies in with a Claymore for Gunther.

In the back the Street Profits do the Greek Chorus thing about their match at Mania. This is interrupted by Braun Strowman and Ricochet as everyone talks about baldness. Some trash talk goes back and forth as we cut away.

Back to the ring, here comes Kevin Owens and he’ll host the KO Show after this break.

Post break Owens is in the ring with the chairs and a mic, he welcomes us to the KO Show. Then he brings out Sami Zayn. Owens asks if he did everything just like Sami wanted. Sami says this is Owens’s show, and they argue for a bit about if they were going to come out together or separately, Owens knows Sami wanted his own pop. Pretty solid “Sami” chants as Owens says he gets it. Sami asks if they’re done talking backstage stuff they should talk about WrestleMania. In all the Bloodline talk Sami forgot that they’re on the verge of winning the WWE tag team titles together at Mania. Not just any Mania, this year feels special even by Mania standards. Owens says that isn’t lost on him, and knows Mania feels different. He’s got something for Sami, a few months ago he told Sami that he needed a new shirt, and offers him a KO-Mania shirt, KO-Mania is on the back. The front is different, because there’s only been one WWE MVP this year, one man who caught fire, and that’s Sami Zayn. The front of the shirt says WrestleZaynia. Owens takes off his jacket to reveal he’s wearing that shirt already. Sami then puts on his new shirt over his old Sami Uso shirt. Sami wants a hug, but Owens wont as he hugged Sami last year and you only get one per year. Owens reconsiders and hugs, but Jimmy and Jey Uso jump them from behind. Super kicks to Owens then a 1D to Sami. Owens returns with a chair and Jimmy and Jey evade him. The two teams stare down each other to close the show.

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WWE Smackdown, Robert Winfree