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SmackDown recap & reactions (Mar. 3, 2023): Like father, like son

WWE wasted no time getting right to the getting good on this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown in Washington D.C.

Adrenaline, in my soul.

Cody Rhodes, Royal Rumble winner and the guy who has been a much bigger star than anyone could have anticipated, finally came face-to-face with the man he’ll challenge for the WWE Universal championship at WrestleMania 39 in Hollywood, Roman Reigns.

They did a damn good job of building to this in such a way that it felt like a legitimate moment just for the two to be sharing a ring together. I suppose those are the advantages of how they’ve been doing things lately.

You knew where this was going.

Rhodes put Reigns over as the top of the mountain, a peak a bit too high to climb for most but not for him. When Roman got his turn, he went right for the jugular — the fact that he’s been groomed to be the top star from day one from his own father and from Cody’s father too.

And then he hit hard as hell with lines like “you know what your dad used to say about you? …. Nothing” and “if there’s anything your dad didn’t teach you, I will.”

Cody’s response was the usual overdramatic flair we’ve come to expect from him, but it worked nonetheless — if Reigns is saying this, then what Paul Heyman said before must be true, and it changes everything for him. Because it means Reigns is Dusty’s favorite son he never had, and therefore Cody might as well not exist at all, and the only way to make himself exist is to defeat Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania and win the title his father never did.

Like I said, it’s overdramatic and maybe just a tad overdone but I don’t care one bit, I’m fully bought in after this segment.

As for the other issues within The Bloodline, Jey Uso still hasn’t settled on where he stands following Royal Rumble and how he feels about Sami Zayn. But he’s running out of time, because Reigns is getting good and pissed off about it.

Soon he won’t blame Jey, or even Sami Zayn for it — he’ll blame Jimmy. We’ve seen a bit of what that looks like in the past.

Here, Reigns ordered Jimmy to assist Solo Sikoa in his match with Sami, thinking vanquishing Zayn would lead to Jey making his way back to the family. Perhaps not surprisingly, Solo beat Sami without even really needing help from Jimmy.

After, though, is when they put the boots to him and set him up with the chair around his neck in the corner.

Before Solo could take him out, Jimmy stepped in and demanded he get to do it. Then he talked too much and gave Sami time to recover, take both guys down, and get the hell out of dodge. Zayn took the loss but managed to survive, and the show went off the air with his music playing.

It somehow still felt like something of a victory for him and a loss for The Bloodline, without having to beat Solo.

This was done really well, and still has me wondering how we get to Zayn & Owens vs. The Usos at the big one. I’m having a hard time seeing the vision in that regard but they have my trust with this story.

Bobby Lashley made a surprise appearance on this show, and I really appreciated the fact that commentary made a big deal of it. You know, despite the fact that multiple Raw wrestlers had already appeared on this very show to promote their matches at WrestleMania, which was very clearly what Lashley was here to do.

He kept true to who he is, which is to say he doesn’t play kid games and he was here to call Bray Wyatt out like a man. Of course, he was greeted by the usual MIND GAMES, with some scary video giving way to Uncle Howdy attacking him from behind.

But, because Lashley is a bad man, he very quickly overpowered Howdy, setting him up for a Spear that never came because the lights went out just long enough for Howdy to escape.

By the way, seeing Howdy selling was quite the visual.

It’s also a bit cathartic for fans like myself who are very much into big beefy dudes throwing hands seeing Lashley not putting up with any of this spooky bullshit and just kicking ass and taking names.

All the rest
  • Rhea Ripley submitted Liv Morgan in a match that was a lot more fun than it had any business being. They punctuated it by showing a crying young fan in the crowd just before cutting back to the ring in time for Ripley to wave goodbye to a downed Morgan. It’s good seeing Rhea on the blue brand scoring wins like this head of her big match for the SmackDown women’s championship.
  • Santos Escobar has taken up a friendship with Rey Mysterio, born of a great respect for a legitimate lucha legend. So he took it upon himself to try to teach Dominik Mysterio a lesson, including taking the mask Rey gifted him to the ring and forcefully telling Dom “this is your legacy! Do you respect your legacy?” Just for Dom to spit at the mask and yell back “NO!” Naturally, Dom tried to use some brass knuckles and got caught by the referee, which allowed Ripley to take out Escobar and set him up for a Frog Splash and the pinfall. Then he stole the mask and ripped it! Escobar, who is fantastic, was hanging from the bottom rope screaming “NOOOOOOOO” and shaking his fist. It was fantastic. Before Dom could get to the back, Rey’s music hit. He wanted the mask. Dom offered it only his father would strike him. He would not. So he threw it on the ground, and walked off just enough to create the space to cheat shot Rey when he went for it. That damn kid really needs an ass whooping.
  • Drew McIntyre called out GUNTHER for a match at WrestleMania once again, and instead of being answered by the Intercontinental champion Sheamus hit the scene to argue with him over how much of a betrayal it is to go over his head like this. That title means a lot to Sheamus, after all, whose dream is to become the first ever “ULTIMATE GRAND SLAM CHAMPION” or whatever. They argued it out until LA Knight, then The New Day, then Karrion Kross all hit the scene to seemingly stake their case to a WrestleMania match, and it ended in a big fight that resolved nothing. While it’s clear WWE sees the juice in McIntyre and Sheamus here, it’s worth pointing out Knight got a huge response from the crowd in D.C. Let’s hope that continues in other cities across the country because that man deserves more time on TV.
  • We were going to get Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler vs. Tegan Nox & Natalya but they shot an injury angle for Rousey that aired in an “earlier today” video to explain Rousey not working and her arm in a sling while Baszler took on Nox in singles action. Shayna tapped Baszler with an armbar. I can’t say enough good things about Rousey in this tag team. She does a fantastic job of complementing Baszler, and they play off each other really well, and that shines through even in short segments like this.

This was a damn fine show.

Tell me how you felt about it.

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