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SmackDown recap & reactions (Mar. 24, 2023): WRESTLEZAYNIA BABY!

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn headlined this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown in a heartwarming edition of “The KO Show.” It was nice to see the two of them together again, cracking jokes, ribbing each other, and ultimately Owens revealing he had a new shirt made for Sami now that he doesn’t need to affiliate with The Bloodline anymore.


The shirt also features KO-Mania on the back.

It just fits.

Of course, they were interrupted by The Usos hitting the ring to launch a sneak attack, because that’s just how these things go. They were ran off fairly quickly and the show ended not long after.

It was always going to be difficult to follow up on the segment they had last week, but introducing the shirt a week ahead of the biggest show of the year makes sense and I’m still so over the moon for these two and what they’re about to do that I can’t complain about any of this.

I’m so ready for WrestleMania.

This show featured an interesting promo from Charlotte Flair.


Everything about Charlotte exudes stardom, from her look to her name to the way she carries herself. Naturally, she kind of hit on that a bit in this promo, speaking on having some insecurities about reaching her own potential.

As she was talking about this, the crowd hit her with a “WHAT” chant and she went out of her way to call attention to it, telling the fans to listen because it’s important to her. Then she said she’s “built this house on every brick that you have thrown at me for the last seven years.”

It felt like a bit of a strange disconnect between the babyface Charlotte we had been getting and the one fans are so used to booing for her streak of excellence. Is that because of her name? She addressed that too, saying she’ll never regret carrying on the greatest legacy in the history of sports entertainment.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this one, especially considering Rhea Ripley, the opponent Flair is selling a match with, is so clearly ready to take the ball and run with it herself.

Well, it happened.

That little punk kid — shout out to Michael Cole — Dominik Mysterio went after not just dear old dad, he got right in his own mother’s face and screamed at her to shut up. If there was ever going to be something that would send Rey over the edge, it would be Dom disrespecting his mother like that.

Sure enough:

Damn, that felt good.

“You pushed me to do this! You don’t disrespect your mother like that! That’s my wife!”

And then he finally accepted the challenge for a match at WrestleMania 39, to a thunderous ovation from the fans in Las Vegas.

What I liked best about this was how both men reacted after the fact. Dominik walked out holding his head looking worried about what he may have gotten himself into — may have bit off more than he can chew here — while Rey still looked tortured by it. There’s nothing to feel happy about here, not for him.

For us, though, it’s everything we’ve been waiting for.

All the rest

  • This show kicked off with Cody Rhodes — that WHOA-OH during his entrance at WrestleMania is going to cause a damn earthquake in LA — taking on Ludwig Kaiser of Imperium. Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman watched from ringside, with Solo looking entirely unimpressed the whole way, while Rhodes pinned Kaiser clean. Giovanni Vinci was also ringside but did nothing but walk his teammate out. A bit odd, but also they weren’t there to be the center of attention this time. After, Heyman hopped in the ring to tell him he would be wrestling Sikoa on Monday Night Raw next week and then meeting Reigns one final time on SmackDown next week before the big match at WrestleMania. Cody responded by promising to show the world Solo isn’t ready and, actually, Roman isn’t ready for this ass whooping he’s got coming either. It was a solid answer. They continue to do well presenting Rhodes as a legit threat in a way it hasn’t felt like anyone else has been. I’m definitely curious to see what they do about Solo being undefeated if they’re doing this match on Monday.
  • Xia Li & Lacey Evans took on Shotzi & Natalya in a qualifying match for the “WrestleMania Showcase Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match” at WrestleMania 39. I quite enjoyed how open commentary was about what exactly this was all about. “Quite an opportunity to get on the card at WrestleMania,” said Michael Cole, while Wade Barrett talked about how anyone not on the card this late in the game is panicking about how to get there. Transparency is all we can ask for, right? Anyway, the match wasn’t very good and Shotzi & Nattie won without much issue. After, Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler showed up to announce they’re just going to go ahead and be in the match too.
  • The Street Profits made fun of Ricochet and Braun Strowman for being bald. Strowman said Angelo Dawkins is “pretty thin up top yourself.” Yep. This definitely is a thing that happened on this show.
  • A contract signing was held for the triple threat Intercontinental championship match at WrestleMania 39. Sheamus complained about Drew McIntyre stabbing him in the back while he’s been working so hard to become the Ultimate Grand Slam Champion. McIntyre called him a sensitive little guy who needs to log off Twitter and just fight already. For his part, GUNTHER was just pissed at Adam Pearce for putting him in a match where he can lose his title without being pinned or submitted himself. It’s a valid criticism! Pearce had no answer, so GUNTHER simply vowed to do whatever he has to, including beat both McIntyre and Sheamus and, hell, Ridge Holland too. And what the hell is BUTCH looking at? So BUTCH, the absolute mad lad, attacked and GUNTHER screamed Pearce into making the match right then and there. The match, even shortened for TV, was predictably awesome and made me want a proper showcase for these two. Here’s to hoping BUTCH can become the Bruiserweight Pete Dunne again soon enough.

They were never going to be able to top last week, but they still put together a fun show that advanced quite a bit toward WrestleMania.

Grade: B

Tell me what you thought about it.

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