WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 24
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The Mysterio family saga headlined Friday's episode of SmackDown. Credit: WWE.com
WWE rolled into the famous MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Friday night for SmackDown with a show aimed at writing the latest chapter in top storylines on this Road to WrestleMania 39.
Cody Rhodes sought to keep momentum on his side as he battled Imperium's Ludwig Kaiser, while Rey Mysterio faced threats on two different sides just one week from taking his place among pro wrestling's greatest in the Hall of Fame.
What else went down, and what does it mean for the top stars and stories ahead of the biggest event of the year?
Find out with this recap of the March 24 broadcast.
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Announced for Friday's show in advance were:
- Cody Rhodes vs. Ludwig Kaiser
- Rey Mysterio vs. LA Knight
- Mysterio family confrontation
- Sami Zayn on "The KO Show"
- Intercontinental Championship contract signing featuring Drew McIntyre, Sheamus and Gunther
Cody Rhodes vs. Ludwig Kaiser
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Just nine days before he challenges Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 39, Cody Rhodes kicked off SmackDown with a grueling contest against Imperium's Ludwig Kaiser.
The German gave Rhodes as competitive a match as he could have imagined, working the head and neck before turning his focus to the left knee of the 2023 Royal Rumble winner.
Rhodes, resilient, fought through the pain and the distraction of Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa at ringside to stun Kaiser with the Cody Cutter and put him away with the Cross Rhodes. A post-match promo saw the announcement of Rhodes vs. Sikoa for Monday's Raw.
This was a really strong outing for Kaiser, who rarely gets an opportunity to compete in singles competition but proved he could hang with one of the top stars in the industry.
A good, long match to kick off the show, it told the story of a guy in Rhodes who is marching toward the top prize in the industry but along the way is going to get the best of every opponent.
How he adapts and overcomes is key, and here, he did so with perfect timing and his trademark finisher. He will not be as lucky come Monday night if he tries to absorb that much offense from the punishing Sikoa, who is the perfect next hurdle on the road to The Tribal Chief.
Rhodes pinned Kaiser
- Rhodes entered to a huge pop while Kaiser and his Imperium teammate Giovanni Vinci were already in the ring.
- Paul Heyman made his presence felt on the entrance ramp, watching Rhodes from a distance as the show headed to a commercial break.
- Kaiser wrestled control of the match away from The American Nightmare during the break, capitalizing on a superplex that did more damage to Rhodes than the intended competitor.
- Sikoa joined Heyman and moved closer to the ring, getting a closer look as Kaiser launched Rhodes over the ring steps.
- Rhodes delivered a Cody Cutter that downed Kaiser and set up the finish.
- Sikoa hopped on the apron with Heyman, who cut a promo and revealed that Rhodes will battle the enforcer of The Bloodline Monday night on Raw.
- "I probably shouldn't have wrestled with half of my body hanging off and I still beat Seth Rollins!" Rhodes exclaimed in defiance of the idea that he cannot beat Sikoa.
- Rhodes said after Sikoa finds out he's not ready on Raw, Reigns will find out at WrestleMania that he isn't ready, either.
Charlotte Flair Promo
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SmackDown women's champion Charlotte Flair hit the ring for an in-ring promo just over one week before she defends against 2023 Women's Royal Rumble winner Rhea Ripley in Hollywood at WrestleMania.
Flair admitted respect for Ripley, but then the promo took on a different tone, with her defending herself in the face of "WHAT?!" chants from the crowd. She wrapped things up by vowing to continue her family's legacy at WrestleMania.
This was fine for what it was but tonally off. Flair came across more as a heel than anything, which is not exactly what you want from the babyface who will be looking to fend off her heel top contender in just over a week.
Maybe it was confidence, perhaps it was defiance toward an audience that inexplicably chose her promo as the time to launch into chants that have not been relevant in 20 years and are the bane of this writer's existence, but the tone hurt what was already an ineffective promo because of the lack of focus on Ripley.
- "14-time world champion, and I can tell you that was not built on fear, insecurities or nepotism," Flair said.
- "Rhea Ripley, I don't fear you. I respect you. The only thing I fear is my own potential."
- "I have built this house with every brick you all have thrown at me all these years!"
- "I will never apologize for continuing the greatest legacy in the history of this industry."
Rey Mysterio vs. LA Knight
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Dominik Mysterio wanted a match with his father, 2023 Hall of Fame inductee Rey.
After Friday, he got it.
First, the living legend battled LA Knight in a match that resulted from a backstage confrontation a week ago. The competitive match saw Knight score a tainted victory after Dominik tripped his father up, providing a distraction that allowed the loudmouth heel the opportunity to score a cheap schoolboy rollup win.
The meat of the segment came moments later when Dominik taunted his father by disrespecting his own mother. This drew Rey back to the ringside area, where he blasted his son with a hard right hand to the face and finally accepted the WrestleMania 39 match.
This was fantastic and further proof on this road to The Showcase of the Immortals that slow-burn stories with ample build and layers still work.
Rey vs. Dominik is spectacle storytelling and will result in another emotionally fueled match that will have fans in Hollywood rooting for the Hall of Famer to whup his ungrateful son's ass in a grand display of family drama.
Knight pinned Mysterio
- Rey greeted his wife, Angie, and daughter, Aalyah, at ringside.
- Wade Barrett continued to put over Knight's quest for a WrestleMania match, suggesting that is a story WWE wants to focus on for the star.
- Dominik appeared mid-match, distracting his father and turning the tide in the favor of the heel entering the commercial break.
- The ungrateful second-generation heel distracted his father after tripping him up during a 619 attempt, setting up a finish that saw Knight roll Rey up for the win.
- "Mom, did you know you married a deadbeat?" Dominik asked his mother. "Actually, you did, because you sat by and watched every night as he left me."
- "Mom...SHUT UP!" Dominik exclaimed, providing the emphasis for one of the most anticipated matches of the WrestleMania card.
Women's Tag Team Showcase Qualifier: Shotzi and Natalya vs. Lacey Evans and Xia Li
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The Women's Tag Team Showcase match at WrestleMania may not be the most exciting addition to the card but, at least for three of the four teams involved, it will be the culmination of months of television.
Shotzi and Natalya cashed their ticket to the contest, beating Xia Li and Lacey Evans in a qualifier Friday night that was perfectly acceptable wrestling but little else.
From there, Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler returned to the show and revealed that they had been added to the showcase. The Submission Magician rightly pointed out that Friday's winners, as well as Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez, have reasons to want to get at them.
She was right, as the heels have made life a living hell for all four women. If the match ended with those three teams, it would make the most sense.
A fourth team, likely Carmella and Chelsea Green if the recent booking is any indication, will give those two fantastic characters a WrestleMania spot, which only serves to water down the match.
Shotzi and Natalya defeated Evans and Li
- Rousey and Baszler acknowledging that all opponents have issues with them sparked Shotzi to try to fight, only to be held back by Natalya. At least one of the three appeared to be pissed off at the heels.
Intercontinental Championship Contract Signing; Gunther vs. Butch
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A contract signing to finalize the Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship between Sheamus, Drew McIntyre and Gunther predictably turned to chaos Friday night.
Hurt feelings between the challengers were aired before The Ring General demanded an explanation from WWE official Adam Pearce as to why the three-way dance was made in the first place.
Signatures happened, the match was made official, and all hell broke loose from there as Butch attacked Gunther, setting up a match between the NXT UK rivals.
The match was as physical and competitive as one might expect from the Intercontinental champion and the artist formerly known as Pete Dunne, with chest-caving strikes and several submission attempts.
Distractions by McIntyre and Butch's Brawling Brutes teammates gave way to Gunther delivering the Last Symphony for the win.
The issues between McIntyre, Sheamus and Gunther, the deteriorating friendship between the Scottish and Celtic warriors, and Gunther's quest to restore dignity to professional wrestling despite what he perceives as a nonsensical Triple Threat Match are stories that helped elevate these segments and make them a success.
A fun little surprise of a match only helped it.
Gunther defeated Butch
- Sheamus reminded McIntyre that he brought him to his first training session and even let him live on his sofa.
- "I've beaten you. I know I can beat Gunther and history suggests you can't," McIntyre told The Celtic Warrior.
- Gunther demanded Adam Pearce explain his decision but ultimately signed the contract, stating that whatever gets him on the WrestleMania card and defending the Intercontinental Championship will be justified.
- Butch jumped Gunther, necessitating a match between the two after the commercial break.
- Butch tried for a moonsault off the apron, landed on his feet, and immediately ate a chop that sent him over the announce table.
- A brawl between McIntyre, Sheamus and Ridge Holland distracted Butch and set up the finish.
The KO Show with Sami Zayn
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Kevin Owens welcomed best friend, brother, and overall swell guy Sami Zayn to The KO Show to cap off the night's broadcast.
Friendly banter and the presentation of the new KO-Mania shirt, this year with "WrestleZAYNia" across the front, gave way to a sneak attack by The Usos that left Zayn lying and a vengeful Owen wielding a steel chair.
The segment, including the nice payoff to Owens' "you need a new shirt" comment from a few months back after Roman Reigns had given Zayn one, was good stuff and continued to highlight the best storyline in wrestling.
With that said, it did not further things in any measurable way, making it impossible to grade it any higher than a 'B,' no matter how rewarding it is to watch two guys like Owens and Zayn have this run in this company.
They are genuine stars and have earned all of this.
- "You wanted your own pop. It's OK. I get it. They love you. I totally get it," Owens jokingly ribbed Zayn about getting his own entrance.
- "Do you realize what we're on the verge of doing?" Zayn asked before reminding Owens and the fans that they started in Montréal and are about to win the tag titles at WrestleMania.
- Owens called Zayn the MVP of the last 12 months, igniting chants from the crowd.
- Owens presented Zayn with a new shirt: WrestleZAYNia.
- "I told you last week, you get one hug a year," Owens said.
- The Usos attacked, dropping Zayn with a 1-D and scurrying to the floor as Owens chased them off with a steel chair.
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|WWE Raw Tag Team Championship|
|Date won||April 1, 2023|
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