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    HomeEntertainmentSmackDown recap & reactions (Mar. 31, 2023): WrestleMania (kind of)

    SmackDown recap & reactions (Mar. 31, 2023): WrestleMania (kind of)

    If you’re wondering what Cody Rhodes would decide to talk about during his promo on the WrestleMania 39 go home episode of Friday Night SmackDown in Los Angeles, would you believe me if I told you he started rapping 2Pac’s part in the 1996 hit “California Love?”

    Soon as he stepped on the scene.

    He came off it quickly enough, just in time to do a little bit of shooting on Roman Reigns, and making clear that he’s left all the other personas in the past behind him, and now is the time for him to be The Guy. Now is the time for him to finish…

    Before he could say “the story,” Roman’s music hit.


    Probably not, but I really liked it nonetheless.

    I also quite liked that Reigns didn’t even bother telling LA to acknowledge him, because he doesn’t care about any of them. Instead, he turned to Rhodes and said “it’s not their turn — it’s your turn.”

    “Cody Rhodes — ACKNOWLEDGE ME!”

    His music hit, and the credits rolled with the two of them staring each other down.

    It was understated but I absolutely loved it. They’ve said all they need to say. There’s nothing left to do but fight it out in the ring.


    The Usos kicked off the show this week, and they were quickly joined by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn so they could lay it all on the line in one last talk before they get to throw down at WrestleMania 39.

    It got a bit heavy.

    Owens looked up to Jimmy and Jey for being there for him early in his WWE run. But then they started doing Roman Reigns’ bidding and everything changed. He’s still a bit conflicted — he won’t like what he has to do to win the tag team titles from them.

    But he’s damn sure going to do it.

    When Jimmy and Jey got to respond, they spoke of family and everything it means. When Zayn cut in, it was with one hell of a line. “Blood isn’t the only thing that makes family — loyalty is too.”

    This offended the hell out of Jey, but Sami kept talking and you could tell his words were getting to him. There’s always been that sliver of doubt within Jey when it comes to Reigns. We’ve all seen it.

    Foreshadowing, perhaps?

    Zayn promised to bring it all to an end at WrestleMania. They’re taking the tag team championship and The Bloodline will fall and maybe The Usos can go back to being the guys they were when Owens first showed up, the good guys they spoke of just minutes before.

    “Nah, it’s gonna be the same thing it always is — you’re going to lose the big match and Kevin Owens is going to stab you in the back. AGAIN!”

    This was one hell of a back and forth, and set up the match just as well as they possibly could with one final opportunity to do just that.

    All the rest

    • With a Fatal 4-Way men’s tag team match set for WrestleMania, what better way to give us a preview for it then by having a member of each team work a Fatal 4-Way singles match just one night before? That’s what we got here, with Montez Ford vs. Ricochet vs. Chad Gable vs. Erik. It actually served its purpose well, considering they had a plainly fun match that saw Ricochet take advantage of a Ford splash on Gable following up with a big moonsault to score the pinfall and the victory.
    • WWE went the predictable route, booking Bobby Lashley to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. As far as battle royals go, it wasn’t bad. They got the tag teams out in pairs, did an elimination save spot for BUTCH, gave us a couple of interesting mid-ring square offs featuring big beefy men, and an impressive performance for a guy who didn’t win in Bronson Reed. This could very well be all the Lashley we get during WrestleMania weekend, and that would be a bit of a shame but he at least got to shine here.
    • Having said all that, LA Knight was very clearly the most over guy in that battle royal — with a special shout to Maximum Male Models, who also got a nice response for their spot in the match — and it would also be a real shame if Knight isn’t involved in WrestleMania in some form or fashion.
    • With a Fatal 4-Way women’s tag team match set for WrestleMania, what better way to give us a preview for it then by having a member of each team work a Fatal 4-Way singles match one night before? That’s what we got here, with Raquel Rodriguez vs. Natalya vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Sonya Deville. They weren’t given nearly the same amount of time as the men were, and the match wasn’t given a chance to be anywhere near as good either. Sadly, it could also be a preview of what’s to come at WrestleMania, just for the wrong reasons.
    • Another big trope WWE made sure to hit on this show — WILL THEY GET ALONG?!? Drew McIntyre and Sheamus will be involved in a triple threat match for the Intercontinental championship at WrestleMania 39 but they had to team on this show against Imperium. Wouldn’t you know it, they couldn’t get along! Despite this, they managed to put differences aside just enough to hit their finishers on Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci, with Sheamus scoring the winning pinfall for the squad. Then, a staredown as GUNTHER watched on a monitor backstage. Nothing terribly noteworthy in any of this.

    They focused on building to the two biggest matches at WrestleMania, but spending time on two Fatal 4-Way matches for two time filler WrestleMania matches over doing literally anything for Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley felt like a misstep to me.

    Still, it was a good show.

    Grade: B

    Your turn.

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