By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,233)
Portland, Oregon at Moda Center
Aired live April 7, 2023 on Fox
[Hour One] A WrestleMania 39 recap video package opened the show… Michael Cole and Wade Barrett were on commentary, and Samatha Irvin was the ring announcer… Entrances for the opening match took place…
1. “The Brawling Brutes” Sheamus, Ridge Holland, and Butch vs. “Imperium” Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser, and Giovanni Vinci in a six-man tag match. Butch ended up on the ropes. Kaiser shoved him to Vinci, who then suplexed him while the referee was distracted. Imperium headed to ringside heading into a commercial break. [C]
Gunther knocked Sheamus off the apron with a cheap shot and then powerbombed Holland. Gunther had Holland pinned, but Butch ran in and broke it up. Sheamus eventually tagged in and hit White Noise on Gunther and covered him for a near fall. Vinci tagged in and eventually performed a springboard move into a knee lift from Sheamus, who followed up with the Brogue Kick and got the pin…
“The Brawling Brutes” Sheamus, Ridge Holland, and Butch beat “Imperium” Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser, and Giovanni Vinci in 11:45 in a six-man tag match.
Cole hyped footage of Brock Lesnar attacking Cody Rhodes from Monday’s Raw… [C]
Powell’s POV: A strong six-man tag match opener. These six work really well together. I’m happy they gave Sheamus the win over an Imperium member coming out of WrestleMania, as it sends the message that his quest to win the Intercontinental Championship isn’t finished.
A long video package recapped the WrestleMania 39 main event finish and Brock Lesnar attacking Cody Rhodes at the end of Monday’s Raw…
Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa were interviewed by Kayla Braxton on the backstage ring set. Braxton asked Heyman if he had any idea why Lesnar did what he did. Heyman asked her why this night was different than all other nights. Heyman said he would pass over her interrogation and instead speak about Roman Reigns. Heyman noted that Reigns is approaching 1,000 days as champion.
Jey Uso showed up and shook hands with Heyman, who called him the righthand man. Jey said he was looking for Jimmy Uso all night. Heyman told Jey that Jimmy was not present because Reigns wanted him to stay home while Jey took care of Sami Zayn all by himself. Once Jey walked away, Heyman told Sikoa that either Jey solved the Zayn problem or Sikoa would solve their problems…
Ricochet made his entrance for a match against Ivar of the Viking Raiders… [C]
Powell’s POV: An interesting choice of words. If Jey fails to get the job done during the match with Zayn, does Jey become the problem that Heyman wants Sikoa to take care of?
WrestleMania still shots aired coming out of the break… Ivar made his entrance along with Valhalla, but Erik did not accompany them to the ring…
2. Ivar (w/Valhalla) vs. Ricochet. Ivar put Ricochet down with a spin kick and covered him for a two count. Ivar went up top, but Ricochet cut him off with punches. Ricochet performed a springboard into a huracanrana that pulled Ivar off the ropes and down to the mat. Ricochet performed a shooting star press and got the three count…
Ricochet defeated Ivar in 4:10.
Powell’s POV: There were a few weeks when it felt like the Viking Raiders were being established as the badasses of the tag team division. They’re just spinning their wheels at this point. It should have packed more of a punch when Ricochet beat Ivar than it did.
Kevin Owens was staring at his tag team title belts when Sami Zayn interrupted him. Zayn was excited and showed off his belts. Owens told Zayn that his match with Jey Uso is a chance for them to be finished with the Usos. Zayn said he couldn’t shake the feeling that he needed to speak to Jey. Owens was thrown off and didn’t understand why Zayn wanted to talk to him. Zayn said he felt like he had a sense of obligation.
Owens said that beating the Usos for the tag titles makes Jey more dangerous than he’s ever been. Owens said he knew that he couldn’t talk Zayn out of it, but added that it’s a bad idea. Zayn said he had to talk to Jey and assured Owens that it would be okay…
Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez made their entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: Another interesting development. In fact, it’s a such a compelling hook that I’m surprised they didn’t tease Zayn attempting to talk to Jey during the opening minutes of the show.
Natalya and Shotzi made their entrance. Natalya said they should be No. 1 contenders to the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. Shotzi referred to their team as ballsy baddies…
3. Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Natalya and Shotzi. Cole and Barrett offered their condolences on the death of Bushwhacker Butch Miller as the match got underway. Natalya ran the ropes for a Hart Attack clothesline on Morgan, but Rodriguez cut her off with a shoulder block. Morgan performed a tornado DDT on Shotzi and then hit her with Oblivion before pinning her…
Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez beat Natalya and Shotzi in 2:50.
Powell’s POV: The match gave Morgan and Rodriguez another win heading into their WWE Women’s Tag Team Title match with Becky Lynch and Lita on Monday’s Raw.
Backstage, Xavier Woods and Madcap Moss were playing video games while Emma sat behind Moss. LA Knight entered the room and complained about not being on the WrestleMania card. Woods said Knight probably would have been on the WrestleMania card if he worked as much as he talks. Woods offered to beat Knight in another match. Knight picked up the video game controller and threw it on the ground. Moss had to hold back Woods from going after Knight…
Paul “Triple H” Levesque was shown walking backstage… [C] WrestleMania still shots were shown…
Samantha Irvin introduced Triple H, who was listed as a WWE Hall of Famer on a graphic (after being listed as the Chief Content Officer on Raw).
[Hour Two] Triple H, who was dressed in a suit, played to the crowd on the ropes. Cole said Triple H is one of the all-time greats “and is now running the place.” Triple H told the crowd that their reaction will never get old and welcomed them to Smackdown.
Triple H said there’s nothing in the world like WrestleMania. He said hearts are broken and dreams are fulfilled. He said that this year’s event exceeded all expectations and touted it as a record-breaking night. “If there’s a record, we broke it,” Triple H said.
Triple H said that it was time to look to the future. “Are you ready?” he asked. “Because I want to tell you that in just a few short weeks, it is once again time for the WWE Draft.” Triple H said that when it is all said and done, this year’s draft “will truly change the game.” He said he wanted to introduce someone who has already changed the game.
New Smackdown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley was introduced. Ripley walked out with Judgment Day members Dominik Mysterio, Damian Priest, and Finn Balor. Triple H greeted them near the stage and shook all of their hands before heading to the back.
The Judgment Day members entered the ring and struck a pose before getting microphones. Ripley said she did the impossible by destroying and dethroning Charlotte Flair. Ripley said it’s time that everyone rises for Mami. The vocal fans cheered. Ripley barked at the fans to rise for the greatest champion in all of WWE.
Balor called Edge a sicko for splitting his head open just to get a win. Balor asked who the real winner is. Balor said that while he has 14 staples in his head, he’s still standing, whereas Edge is nowhere to be seen.
Dominik took the mic and the crowd booed the hell out of him when he started to speak. Dom started and stopped again because of the loud boos, then told the crowd that he had all night. Ripley whispered to Dom. A “you suck” chant broke out.
Dom said the person who sucks is a father who lays his hands on his own son. Dom claimed he held back and pulled punches at WrestleMania because he couldn’t bring himself to hurt his own father. Dom said that he saw the anger in his father’s eyes. Dom said he knows where the lines are drawn and now Rey and the rest of his family can go to hell and take Bad Bunny with them.
Cole narrated footage aired of Bad Bunny stopping Dom from using a steel chain at WrestleMania. Barrett narrated footage of Dom getting involved in Rey’s match against Austin Theory on Monday’s Raw, which was followed by the angle with Priest putting Bunny through the broadcast table.
Priest spoke in Spanish briefly, then stated in English that he hopes Bad Bunny can find it in his heart to forgive him. Priest smiled and said he forgives Bunny for making him do what he did to him.
Rey Mysterio’s entrance music played and then he made his entrance with Santos Escobar, Zelina Vega, Joaquin Wilde, and Cruz Del Toro. They were all wearing LWO t-shirts… A Backlash video aired… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m really looking forward to the draft. One can only hope that this it will be handled by Paul Levesque and his team. I’m looking forward to seeing if they have any fresh ideas for the draft and whether they will actually enforce the brand split rules.
4. Dominik Mysterio and Damian Priest (w/Rhea Ripley, Finn Balor) vs. Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar (w/Zelina Vega, Joaquin Wilde, Cruz Del Toro). Dom teased starting against Rey, but he tagged in Priest. Cole vented about how Dom talked like a big man and then backed down when he had a chance to start the match with his father. Rey and Escobar hit simultaneous suicide dives and played to the crowd heading into the break. [C]
Rey dropkicked Dom into position for the 619, but Ripley pulled Dom out of the way. Vega jumped from the apron and performed a huracanrana on Ripley, who then chased Vega into the crowd. In the ring, Rey put Dom in position for a 619 again. Rey tagged in Escobar and then hit the 619. Escobar hoisted up Dom, but Priest hit him while Cole noted that Priest was the legal man. Priest put Escobar down with the South of Heaven chokeslam and scored the pin…
Dominik Mysterio and Damian Priest beat Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar in 10:10.
Powell’s POV: A fun tag match that keeps the heat on Dom and Priest heading into the Backlash match. My guess is that Judgment Day is broken up via the draft, but Dom ends up running the LWO with Escobar. Wilde and Del Toro are a quality tag team and hopefully they’ll get to do more than stand in the corner like mostly do these days.
Backstage, Sami Zayn asked a crew member if he’d seen Jey Uso. The crew member pointed Zayn toward Uso…
An ad for Raw listed Matt Riddle vs. The Miz, Becky Lynch and Lita vs. Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles, and questioned what’s next for Cody Rhodes after the Brock Lesnar attack… [C]
A sponsored ad touted the return of Shinsuke Nakamura for next week’s Smackdown…
Jey Uso was shown pacing and getting ready for his match. His opponent Sami Zayn showed up and said everything he’s predicted has happened. Zayn said The Bloodline is crumbling. He said Jimmy wasn’t there, Roman Reigns is mad at Jey, and Solo Sikoa looked like he was ready to drop the hammer any second. Zayn said that if Jey needed him to beat him this week and next week or until he beats it into his head, then that’s what he would do. Zayn said it’s not how it has to be.
A crashing sound could be heard in the background. Zayn ran over to where Kevin Owens was down with a production crate over his leg. Solo Sikoa was being held back by a number of producers. Zayn called for a trainer to treat Owens…
Barrett blamed Zayn and recalled Owens telling him that speaking to Jey was a bad idea. Jey made his entrance. Cole hyped the main event as coming up after the break… [C] Cole hyped the women’s tag team title match for Raw again. Barrett announced Xavier Woods vs. LA Knight for next week’s Smackdown…
Backstage, Braxton asked Zayn for an update on Owens. Sami said Owens was getting medical treatment and he didn’t think he’d be able to join him. Zayn said Owens was right in saying that the Bloodline are even more dangerous now. Zayn also said that Jey would find out that he’s not the only one with a problem that would be solved tonight…
5. Jey Uso vs. Sami Zayn. Jey had Sami in a corner of the ring when Sami tried to talk to him. Jey pie-faced him. Moments later, Zayn sent Jey to the floor and set up to run the ropes, but he stopped in his tracks when he spotted Solo Sikoa walked to ringside. [C]
Zayn performed a superplex coming out of the break. Moments later, Jey caught Zayn leaping from the ropes and superkicked him. Jey covered Zayn for a two count. Jey barked at Zayn and was censored for cussing a couple times. Zayn performed an exploder suplex on Jey.
Zayn set up for his Helluva Kick finisher, but Jey avoided it and rolled him up for a two count. Zayn came right back with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. A short time later, Jey and Zayn fought on the ropes. Jey got the better of it with a headbutt that left Zayn on the apron. The referee pulled Jey back, which led to Sikoa hitting Zayn with the Samoan Spike. Jey followed up with a kick and then pinned Zayn.
Jey Uso defeated Sami Zayn in 10:15.
After the match, Sikoa entered the ring and looked down at Zayn, then walked over and held out his hand for Jey and helped him to his feet. Jey played to the crowd. Sikoa grabbed Zayn and hit him with a few headbutts and repeated punches while Jey stood by and watched from a corner of the ring.
Sikoa picked up Sami for the Samoan Spike, but Jey stopped Sikoa from performing the move. A “Jey” chant broke out. Jey jawed at his brother and then superkicked a kneeling Zayn. Jey gave instructions to Sikoa, who went to ringside and grabbed a chair while Jey worked over Zayn with punches.
Matt Riddle ran out while Cole recalled Sikoa putting him out of action. Riddle cleared Jey and Sikoa from the ring. Sikoa wanted to return to the ring, but Jey held him back. Cole said The Bloodline has a dangerous enemy and his name is Matt Riddle…
Powell’s POV: It was a fun moment when Jey stopped Sikoa from hitting the Samoan Spike. The fans want to cheer Jey badly, but he keeps showing loyalty to The Bloodline. Overall, this was a much better post WrestleMania edition than the hot mess that was most of Monday’s Raw. I will have more to say about Smackdown during my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Smackdown by grading it below.