WWE SmackDown advertised a Kansas City Showdown between Sami Zayn and Jey Uso, as Zayn continues to beg for Kevin Owens’ services. The night ended with Owens saving Sami Zayn from another Bloodline beatdown, and answering loud chants of “hug it out,” by hugging to a gigantic pop. If this isn’t the main event of WrestleMania, Night 1, I don’t know what is.
Cody Rhodes returned to SmackDown also advertised Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre for the right to challenge GUNTHER for the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
Last week’s broadcast of SmackDown drew 2.320 million viewers.
WWE SmackDown Results | March 17, 2023
- The Judgment Day def. Legado Del Fantasma
- Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez def. Emma and Tegan Nox
- Xavier Woods def. LA Knight
- Drew McIntyre and Sheamus Battle to a No Contest
WWE SmackDown Ratings
- March 10, 2023 | 2.320 million
- March 3, 2023 | 2.451 million
- February 24, 2023 | 2.408 million
- February 17, 2023 | 2.383 million
- February 10, 2023 | 2.438 million
- WWE SmackDown Venue: T-Mobile Center (Kansas City, Mo.)
- WWE SmackDown Tickets Distributed: 8,788
- Available Tickets: 378
WWE SmackDown Winners and Grades
Cody Rhodes, Sami Zayn And Kevin Owens Appear Live
Cody Rhodes continues to be universally embraced as a top babyface in ways Roman Reigns never was. For those keeping score at home, we’re now going on three weeks and counting of “resting Reigns,” who continues to stay home.
Sami Zayn continued to plead with Kevin Owens. In another slow-building WrestleMania program, Owens continued to be stubborn and say no despite Sami’s (and Cody’s) best efforts.
Opening Segment Grade: A
Dominik and Rhea Ripley def. Legado Del Fantasma
Though this was a pretty good crowd throughout, they were very silent for Legado Del Fantasma’s entrance. Hopefully one day, Legado gets pushed to the degree where fans are singing along to their theme song like they did in NXT
Rhea Ripley destroyed Zelina Vega with the Riptide. Zelina looked very good in this match, by the way.
Judgment Day vs. Legado Del Fantasma Grade: B-
Dominik Mysterio And Rey Mysterio Face Off
This was another segment where Dominik continued to egg on Rey, but Rey Mysterio continues to refuse to fight his son.
This was the closest Rey Mysterio came to accepting Dominik’s WrestleMania challenge. When he teased it, fans chanted “kick his ass.” Fans remain hot for Rey Mysterio to put hands on Dominik, and when he does, it will be such a glorious moment.
Dominik-Rey Grade: B-
Morgan And Rodriguez def. Tegan Nox and Emma
WWE will feature two WrestleMania showcase matches, in the form of men’s and women’s Fatal 4-Way tag team matches. It’s an obvious attempt to get everybody on the card, which tells me there may be no WrestleMania battle royals, which is WWE’s typical tactic to get everybody on the show.
I’m surprised WWE even has enough women to have tag team Fatal 4-Way qualifying matches, let alone the match itself.
Women’s Tag Team Qualifier Grade: C+
Charlotte Flair Brawls With Rhea Ripley
Charlotte received a babyface response from this crowd, which surprisingly, seemed universally against Rhea. Whether or not that holds up at WrestleMania is anybody’s guess.
Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley actually had a very good promo exchange, so I was shocked to see them brawl the way they did. WWE’s unwritten “no-touch” policy expired between Ripley and Charlotte, and it was awesome.
Flair-Ripley Brawl Grade: B
Xavier Woods def. LA Knight
Backstage, LA Knight was on the wrong end of a physical confrontation with Rey Mysterio. This set up a match between Knight and Mysterio next week. This wouldn’t be the worst spot for Knight to pick up a high-quality win because of interference from Dominik.
LA Knight is quietly—and organically—rising as a major player in WWE, but he’s not going to get there with frivolous losses to people who didn’t need the win.
Xavier Woods vs. LA Knight Grade: B-
Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
As is always the case with their matches, Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus received “this is awesome” chants in short order.
As soon as Sheamus and Drew McIntyre hit a dual Claymore-Brogue Kick, the predictable “draw” finish became inevitable. Gunther wasn’t having it, as he interfered before the referee could register a 10 count, and attacked both men. am Pearce made the Triple Threat official for WrestleMania.
Upon Pearce making the announcement of the WrestleMania Triple Threat match, Michael Cole said “that’s gonna be a banger!” which made it sound like less than a banger.
Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus Grade: B+
Sami Zayn and Jey Uso Face Off
The only flaw of this segment was it opened with the T-Mobile Arena chanting “what!” Ever the pro, Jey Uso rolled with it.
This storyline continues to be layered, especially with Sami Zayn bringing up the fact that Jey Uso isn’t mad at Sami Zayn, he’s mad at himself. Because Sami did what Jey wanted to do.
Sami Zayn told Kevin Owens “I love you” in the parking lot, but Owens simply drove off. Owens reappeared during this segment—in a hoodie, of course—and brawled with The Usos. The two responded to loud “hug it out” chants by hugging it out. This should be the WrestleMania Night 1 main event.