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Join 411’s Live WWE Smackdown Coverage

March 31, 2023 | Posted by Robert Winfree
WWE Smackdown Image Credit: WWE

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Well people, this is it. The very last show before WrestleMania starts on Saturday. The big draw tonight is the final face to face between Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes, the two have had some compelling interactions thus far and this will be their last chance to sell us on the main event. We’re also having the Andre the Giant Battle Royal tonight, amazing how fast that went from WrestleMania match to buried on TV. Drew McIntyre will team with Sheamus to battle Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci in a final tease for the Intercontinental title match at WrestleMania when they challenge Gunther in a triple threat match. Poochie will almost certainly talk, though after getting a serious “What?” treatment last week before reminding us all that she worked really really hard to memorize her script that might not be a good idea. A lot of this show hasn’t been announced yet but I’m sure they’ll find some way to fill the air time. Anyway that’s the preamble, let’s get to the action.

Up first, here come the Usos. Jimmy and Jey have mics in the ring, and Jey reminds us the Bloodline is in town. Jimmy calls their match with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn the biggest tag team match of all time, but before he can continue Sami Zayn’s music interrupts and here come the challengers. Both Owens and Sami have mics as well, Sami agrees that we’re one night away from the biggest tag team title match in WWE history. Tomorrow night this ends one and for all. Sami and Owens get in the ring, and Sami says tonight is the last chance for the airing of grievances. Owens needs Jimmy and Jey to know he’s actually conflicted about tomorrow, bringing up their long history since Jimmy and Jey made him feel welcome when he first got to WWE. He used to look up to Jimmy and Jey, until they started doing their cousins dirty work. Well at the Royal Rumble that got worse when they tried to take away his career, and if it wasn’t for Sami he wouldn’t be standing here today. Tomorrow they know they’re going down, it isn’t paranoia, Sami and Owens will take their titles. Jimmy chuckles, and says they did show him love when he first came here. But this version of Jimmy and Jey have no love for either Owens or Sami. Jimmy says Owens and Sami are conflicted and bicker constantly, Jimmy and Jey have what Owens and Sami want. Sami interrupts, saying more than blood can make you family, loyalty makes you family. Jey interrupts, asking what Sami knows about loyalty. Sami says he was loyal to the Bloodline from day one, but Jimmy and Jey chose Roman over Sami even though Roman was never loyal to them. Sami says the pressure of the Bloodline has always fallen on Jimmy and Jey, and they’ll remove that pressure from them when they beat them at Mania. That will be the end of Roman, the Bloodline, all of it, and then Jimmy and Jey can go back to being themselves. They can go back to just being the Usos. Wrong button Sami, and you should have known that given how hard Jey worked to differentiate himself from Jimmy. Jey shakes his head, nah that ain’t it. What it is, is the same thing it’s always been. They’re gonna lose the big match, then Owens will stab Sami in the back again. Meanwhile the Usos will do what they’ve been doing for 600+ days. Jey and Jimmy run down their resumes, this is Bloodline-Mania and when the smoke clears tomorrow it’s “and still” just like always. The Usos head out, but as they’re on the ramp here come the Street Profits. There’s a brief stare down on the entrance stage but no physicality. That was a solid promo segment, all four men brought it and they did a good job of selling the stakes and personal issues.

The Profits hit the ring and we’ll have our first match after this break.

Post break Ricochet has entered the ring as the last man in.

Match #1 – Fatal 4-Way: Montez Ford w/ Angelo Dawkins vs. Chad Gable w/ Otis vs. Ricochet w/ Braun Strowman vs. Erik w/ Ivar and Valhalla

Things break down quickly with Erik abusing Ricochet while Gable squares off with Ford. Ricochet low bridges Erik as Gable gets ejected and we get a stand off between Ricochet and Ford. They hit the ropes for the predictable acrobatics then stand off. Gabel is back and tries to “shoosh” everyone but eats a double dropkick. Erik is back in now, another double dropkick sends him out. Ricochet and Ford dance then hit stereo dives but they’re caught with an exploder from Gable and a fall away slam from Erik. Gable bounces Ricochet off the ring steps before Erik posts Ford. Back in the ring Gable misses a shot to the back of Ricochet but he sells it anyway. Dragon Screw from Gable but Erik then clocks him. Erik unloads on Ricochet for a bit but runs into a boot, Valhalla distracts Ricochet leading to Erik wiping him out only to eat a German suplex from Gable to send us to break.

We come back to Ricochet headbutting Gable off the top rope then Erik hitting Ford with a superplex. Gable runs up and hits Ricochet with a super belly to belly suplex and everyone’s down. Ford fires up with clotheslines and gets to run wild for a bit including backhanding Gable off of his feet. Ricochet takes out Ford with a flying clothesline, then Gable hits Ricochet with a Chaos Theory but Erik breaks up the pin. Erik avoids a kick from Ford and knees him in the face then Uranage’s Gable onto Ford but he can’t find a pin yet as both men kick out. Ford flips out of a back suplex and hits an enziguri then dives onto a pile of bodies. Back in the ring Ford From the Heavens to Gable but he rolls away from the pin and Ricochet follows with a Shooing Star Press to Gable and gets the pin before Ford can recover and break up the pin.


Rating: 2 stars
Thoughts: I get that they had to be smart since they’re on Mania but this was pretty slow getting going. That said the finishing sequence was really nice.

In the back the Usos talk with Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa, but in walks Roman Reigns to the locker room.

Also in the back Bobby Lashley prepares for the battle royal, which is up after this break.

Post break, we get a video recap of Rhea Ripley winning the women’s Royal Rumble and challenge to Charlotte Flair. Hey, remember when Charlotte winning the NXT women’s title was going to elevate that title and the NXT brand? Yeah, that was comical then and it’s even funnier in hindsight. That match has such little heat to it.

The talent walks to the ring, no entrances for anyone as we get a video package for Andre the Giant, and Cole has to say with presumable a straight face that winning this match helped elevate Baron Corbin. Oh wait, correction, Bobby Lashley does get an entrance. Well I wonder who’s winning. Anyway we head to break again.

Post break a PA in the back walks out of the Great Muta’s dressing room with a green face.

Back to the ring, Braun Strowman enters as Michael Cole picks Top Dolla to win because he can’t go over the top rope. That’s funny.

Match #2: Andre the Giant Battle Royal

Corbin gets eliminated almost immediately. Dexter Lumis is just standing around. Dolla and Ashante attack Lashley, but Lashley fights them both off then eliminates Dolla and Ashante. Cruz del Toro is elimiated. Ziggler is trying to take out Otis but that’s not working out for him. Ivar and someone I missed got eliminated by the Maximum Male Models. Mace and Mansoor get tossed by Lumis and Gargano. Karl Anderson gets tossed, then Luke Gallows right behind him as Otis is on a run. Boogs goes for Otis, and is able to dump him all by himself. Elias approves, then Elias is eliminated by Angel and Humberto but Boogs then takes both of them out and takes down the straps as we head to break.

Things have thinned a bit as we come back, Lumis then gets eliminated as does Xavier Woods. Ali keeps trying to get rid of Dolph Ziggler but can’t get rid of him. Butch and Moss square off for a bit, then Knight takes out Ali. Kross grabs Knight in the Kross jacket as Bobby grabs a Hurt Lock on Ziggler, Kross and Lashley then go face to face. Kross avoids a Hurt Lock as Cole can’t tell Mustafa Ali and Santos Escobar apart. Bobby can’t quite eliminate Kross. Bronson Reed eliminates Moss. Braun and Reed go face to face, Bobby eliminates Dolph and then joins the stare down. All three men go at it with Bobby running into Braun and trying a Hurt Lock but Braun is too big, leading to Reed hitting an avalanche on both of them. Butch and Ridge Holland team up on Reed and things break down. Gargano counters a Bitter End with a DDT. Knight with a big flapjack to Gargano then tries to toss him but can’t. We get a parade of signature spots from everyone left, Bobby takes out Gargano as Braun takes out Santos. Reed takes out Ridge, then Ridge saves Butch . Reed then tosses Butch for good this time. Our final four are LA Knight, Bronson Reed, Braun Strowman, and Bobby Lashley.

Knight and Reed fight for a bit, and Reed hoists Knight up and tosses him to thunderous boos. The crowd are really behind Knight, he should have a big thing lined up post Mania. Bobby runs wild while the crowd doesn’t care and chant “LA Knight” for a bit. Braun powerslams Bobby only for Reed to eliminate him. Bobby and Reed are left, Reed goes up for a Tsunami but Bobby avoids him then hits a Spear, avoids being tossed and does finally toss Reed out to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Bobby Lashley won

Rating: 2 stars
Thoughts: It’s a Battle Royal, they’re all kind of the same. LA Knight being very over shouldn’t surprise anyone, and the winner was painfully obvious.

Post match Bobby poses with the trophy.

Next, a Cody Rhodes video package.

Cody sits in the back thinking about things, getting ready to stare down Roman Reigns one last time before their match.

Raquel Rodriguez heads to the ring, our second fatal 4-way is up next.

Shayna Baszler makes her way to the ring as we come back to action.

Match #3 – Fatal 4-Way: Raquel Rodriguez w/ Liv Morgan vs. Shayna Baszler w/ Ronda Rousey vs. Sonya Deville w/ Chelsea Green vs Natalya w/ Shotzi

Sonya tries to get everyone to gang up on Baszler, it works and she’s tossed out. Natalya with a clothesline to Sonya, then hits the ropes but Raquel cuts off her attempted lucha moves until Sonya comes in to complicate things. Natalya gets a Shaprshooter on Sonya but Baszler grabs her in the Kirifuda Clutch. Baszler starts choking Natalya on the ropes, Raquel comes over and picks them both up on her shoulders then stands around for an eternity while Sonya remembers her cue to hit a chop block on Raquel. Everyone gets in a few spots, then Sonya posts Raquel and climbs the ropes but jumps into a Tejana Bomb from Raquel, Raquel boots down Baszler while holding Sonya up then Bombs Sonya and pins her.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Raquel Rodriguez won

Rating: 1.5 stars
Thoughts: Too short to leave much of an impression apart from another reminder that Raquel is physically imposing.

Before heading to commercial we get that Goodfellas via the Bloodline commercial. This was easily the best one they’ve produced.

We come back, Roman is in the back talking things over with Heyman and the rest of the Bloodline.

Next, a video package for Rey vs. Dominik, because this wasn’t painful enough to live through in real time. After that in the back Rey talks with Legado del Phantasma. Santos hopes that Rey is able to teach Dom a lesson, and if Judgement Day get involved LDF promise they have his back. Rey says if they’re doing that they’re doing it in style, and offers all of them Latino World Order shirts, claiming they’re officially the reborn LWO.

Back to the ring, here comes Sheamus and Drew McIntyre who will take on Imperium after this break.

Post break here come Kaiser and Vinci while Gunther watches in the back on a monitor.

Match #4 – Tag Team Match: Sheamus and Drew McIntyre vs. Imperium (Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci)

Vinci and Drew start, but Drew gets distracted arguing with Sheamus. Vinci can’t hip toss Drew and Drew clotheslines him down. Vinci eats a chop and tags out letting Kaiser land a blind kick then they double team Drew for a bit. Drew lands a back elbow and Sheamus tags himself in. Sheamus lands some strikes while commentary again tell us about the rules of a triple threat match. Kaiser avoids being sent out of the ring but Sheamus sets for Bodhran Beating and gets up to 10 with a big wind up on the last one. Drew tags himself in as Sheamus tries a Brogue Kick and then the two of them start shoving. Kaiser and Vinci jump them but it goes badly as Kaiser and Vinci both get launched out of the ring then Drew and Sheamus get a little heated at each other as we head to break.

Sheamus is getting worked over by Kaiser as we come back. Kaiser eats an Irish Curse and both men are down. Boy the crowd is pretty dead. Drew tries to rally the crowd but they’re not that interested as he tags himself in. Vinci tagged in as well and Drew runs wild on him for a bit then drops Kaiser with a neckbreaker. Drew sets for a Claymore to Vinci but Sheamus tags himself in as Drew does the countdown thing. Sheamus and Drew argue, Vinci dropkicks Sheamus into Drew then they catch Sheamus with a high low spot but only a 2 count. Knee from Sheamus and he kind of wakes up the crowd, he wants a Brogue Kick and hits it then Drew Claymore’s Kaiser to protect the pin as Sheamus covers Vinci.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Drew McIntyre and Sheamus won

Rating: 2.5 stars
Thoughts: Average match, more about how Sheamus and Drew interacted than anything else. I do wish Kaiser and Vinci would be treated with a little more seriousness.

Commentary runs down both nights of WrestleMania because we’re just filling time tonight.

Another break, and after this Roman and Cody will go face to face.

Post break here comes Cody Rhodes. The pop he’s going to get on Sunday will be truly epic if the escalation on the weekly shows is anything to go by. Cody has a mic, so what do we want to talk about? We could talk about being at the end of the road to WrestleMania, and we’ve all seen Cody’s ride along this road, he’s got no ace left up his sleeve. The media started this week, the scheduling, the work outs, doing everything to make sure he’s perfectly prepared to step into the ring on Sunday and become Undisputed WWE Universal champion. He’s the most prepared he’s ever been for this, but in the interest of transparency he feels unprepared right now. They could talk about literally anything, mostly because we’ve talked enough and it’s time to start the fighting. He actually quotes a little Tupac, then mentions being grateful for being back and for all his audience who followed him here. Now he’s projecting perfection trying to be poised, usually that means something is broken inside. He’s not alone in that sentiment, and maybe his only medicine for what’s broken is beating Roman Reigns on Sunday. Speaking of our champion, the last time they went face to face Roman mentioned he couldn’t get over in his own company while it took Roman 8 years to get over despite millions of dollars from WWE telling you he’s the guy. Well the other thing Roman said that stuck with him was “everyone thinks they’re the guy until they meet the guy.” So allow Cody to introduce himself, he’s not Dusty’s son, not dashing, not dust, he’s Roman’s successor and the next Undisputed WWE Universal champion. Sunday he finishes- well he wont finish that sentence because Roman’s music cuts him off. Here comes Roman Reigns, flanked only by Paul Heyman. Roman slowly circles Cody in the ring, pretty decent “Roman” chants actually as Roman gets a mic from Heyman and decides he doesn’t care enough about the fans to demand their acknowledgement. Dang, that burned the fans. It’s not the fans turn, it’s Cody’s turn to acknowledge Roman, then he drops the mic. Roman and Cody stare down as Roman holds one of his titles high to close the show. Nice stuff from Cody and Roman has a pretty good handle on when less is more, summing up with just reminding Cody that now it’s his turn to acknowledge the Tribal Chief.

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WWE Smackdown, Robert Winfree