By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,235)
Columbus, Ohio at Schottenstein Center
Aired live April 21, 2023 on Fox
Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed the crowd to Ohio State University, and said it was the last opportunity for Smackdown stars to impress before the WWE Draft. They went over tonight’s card, including Matt Riddle and Solo Sikoa in a No DQ match in the main event. Judgement Day’s music rang out and both Damien Priest and Finn Balor made their way to the ring. Footage was shown of Bad Bunny getting involved with Judgement Day 3 weeks ago on Raw. Rey Mysterio made his entrance with Santos Escobar for the opening Tag Match.
1. Damien Priest and Finn Balor vs. Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar: Balor and Mysterio started the match. Finn got his legs up on a springboard moonsault attempt, and made a tag out to Priest. He entered the match and landed some heavy strikes on Mysterio and a big leg drop for a two count. Balor tagged back in and applied a chin lock, but Rey broke free and climbed the corner turnbuckle. Finn was there to intercept him, but got caught with a facebuster.
Rey made a tag to Escobar, who entered and landed a series of flying forearms to Balor and Priest. He then dropped Balor with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and then landed a rising knee to Priest. Escobar used his speed to avoid both heels, and then vaulted Rey with a double team to take down Priest with a senton. Judgement Day turned things around when Priest pulled Balor out of the way of a dive, and he then took down Escobar with a diving lariat…[c]
Priest landed a jumping side kick on Escobar, and then applied a side chin lock. Priest mocked Mysterio with a taunt, which gave Escobar an opening to knock Balor off the apron and land a big dropkick on Priest. Mysterio tagged in and took down Balor with a leaping senton and a flying crossbody for a two count. Priest made a tag to Balor without Mysterio seeing it, which interrupted a 619.
There was confusion on the babyface side and neither Mysterio or Escobar seemed aware that Priest was the legal man. Rey landed a 619 on Balor and Escobar landed a splash from the top. He covered Balor, but Priest tossed Rey into the ring post and landed a South of Heaven on Escobar and got the win.
Damien Priest and Finn Balor defeated Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar at 11:35
After the match, Priest got on the microphone and said Bad Bunny would return on Raw, and he hoped it went better for him this time than it did last time. The announce team showed video footage of Solo Sikoa defeating Matt Riddle in the Main Event of Smackdown last week, followed by turning the announce table over on top of him. Solo was then shown arriving to the arena with The Usos…[c]
My Take: Escobar looked like a huge doofus for not realizing who the legal man was. He was standing on the apron and would have had a clear view of the referee acknowledging the tag. I’m not sure if Escobar was supposed to be distracted at that moment and just wasn’t, but it looked a bit silly.
Zelina Vega was shown backstage talking to Adam Pearce. She told him that she wanted to challenge Rhea Ripley at Backlash, and framed it as an opportunity to represent her country in Puerto Rico. Pearce said he would talk to Rhea and upper management and get back to her. Cole and Barrett then aired a video package for Shinsuke Nakamura.
We then saw a promo from Karrion Kross and Scarlett and talk about how he had never done anything to anyone, it was the cards, referring to Scarlett’s Tarot set. He said he had taken things away from Mysterio, McIntyre, and Moss, and now he would take away Nakamura’s honor. In the arena, Ricochet made his entrance along with Braun Strowman….[c]
My Take: Kross is having a real hard time connecting with this Tarot Card gimmick. He needs to try something else.
Cole said Braun Strowman calls his team with Ricochat “Team Jacked, Tan, and Juicy”. Woof. The Viking Raiders made their entrance for the next match with Valhalla. Footage was shown of the Viking Raiders sneak attack on Braun and Ricochet backstage last week.
2. Erik and Ivar (w/Valhalla) vs. Braun Strowman and Ricochet: Ivar and Braun started the match. They traded punches early, and Ivar teed off with back elbows in the corner. Braun turned things around with big clubbing blows and a big shoulder block. He then knocked Erik off the apron, and then landed a short arm clothesline on Ivar.
Strowman sent Ivar against the ropes, where Erik made a blind tag. Strowman picked up Ivar for a powerslam, and Erik got involved and shut it down. Strowman managed to break free from the Raiders and tag Ricochet. He tried to throw Ricochet at the Raiders by pulling him over the top rope into the ring, but ended up dropping him before clumsily running out of the ring. Very bizarre spot, and I hope he’s not hurt or something. Ricochet recovered and sent The Raiders out to the floor, where he landed a somersault plancha on them…[c]
RIcochet was controlled during the break by Erik and Ivar. They kept him grounded in a rear chin lock. He eventually broke free and tagged in Strowman, who entered and landed an impressive dropkick. Strowman then ran around the ring for the “Strowman Express”. Valhalla got involved with a distraction, which let Erik take down Strowman with some knee lifts. Ivar then landed a big splash from the top onto Strowman for a near fall.
Strowman broke free from the Raiders with a double shoulder block, and made a tag to Ricochet. He landed a springboard elbow on Erik, but was cut down by a big boot from Ivar. Ricochet rebounded and sent Erik out of the ring. Strowman got involved and took down Ivar with a lariat. Ricochet then got on his shoulders and performed a Swanton for the win.
Ricochet and Braun Strowman defeated The Viking Raiders at 12:44
After the match, Ricochet and Strowman celebrated in the ring. Cole and Barrett introduced a video that showed Chelsea Green throwing water into Liv Morgan’s face. Raquel and Liv were shown backstage ready to make their entrance for their first title defense. Kayla asked them a question, and Liv went off about being the messiest person they’ve ever seen. Raquel told her to save it for the ring, and Liv told the audience to watch them. They will face Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green next…[c]
My Take: Strowman and Ricochet seem to be getting put in position to challenge for the tag titles at some point. Which is odd considering the current champions are also babyfaces. I hope that’s not a sign of a quick title change away from Kevin and Sami.
Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green made their entrances for the next match. This will be a WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match. They had microphones, and Sonya told the crowd to sit down, shut up and show them some respect. Chelsea admonished them for booing them, and said they can’t expect “normies” to understand what it’s like to wake up winning every day. They called themselves winners and Liv and Raquel losers, and then teased tossing more water on Liv by saying she looked thirsty.
3. Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships: Liv landed a running dropkick to start, and took it to both Chelsea and Sonya in the early going. Raquel tagged in and continued the assault on Sonya Deville. Sonya broke away and was able to make a tag, but Chelsea resumed getting tossed around by Raquel. Liv tagged in and Chelsea caught her with a knee. She then attempted to splash Raquel on the floor, but got caught.
Deville bailed out Green by landing a diving knee strike off the apron onto Rodriguez. Liv dove on both heels at ringside, but was quickly overwhelmed by the numbers. Chelsea landed a Russian Leg Sweep from the second turnbuckle, but the ref stopped the count because she tried to use the ropes. Deville then tagged in and landed some strikes, and also attempted to make a tag that was broken by the referee due to use of the ropes. Morgan fired back with a double neckbreaker on both Deville and Green.
Raquel tagged in and landed lariats on both Green and Deville. She landed a springboard corkscrew elbow onto Green, and Deville broke up the pinning attempt. Raquel pulled Deville back into the ring with a superplex. Morgan then took out Green with a missile dropkick from the top. Morgan then landed a backstabber. Green and Morgan battled on the apron, and Morgan dumped water on her head from the bottle Green brought to ringside. She then landed a sunset flip, and got the win with an assist from Raquel giving her some leverage.
Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez defeated Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green at 9:33
After the match, Matt Riddle was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. He said this time, he would be the one to leave Solo under the announce table in their No DQ match. Xavier Woods made his entrance in the arena for his Intercontinental Championship Match…[c]
My Take: The women had a fun match. There wasn’t any reason to expect a title change, but the finish gives them room to go back to it, and a new reason for Green and Deville to complain to Adam Pearce.
Gunther made his entrance with Giovanni Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser as the show returned. They left once Gunther got into the ring with Woods. Samantha Irvin provided ring announcements for the Intercontinental Championship Match.
4. Xavier Woods vs. Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship: Woods got in a few early shots, but Gunther took him down with a heavy chop…[c]
Gunther continued to assault Woods with chops to the chest and back. Woods created some separation with some punches, but Gunther stuffed a double leg takedown and landed another heavy chop to the chest for a two count. He then landed a butterfly suplex for another two count cover. Gunther taunted Woods and said he wasn’t on his level, which fired up Woods and led to a burst of offense. Woods and Gunther went back and forth with forearms, until Woods was able to drop him with a tilt a whirl forearm shot.
Woods landed a diving kick to the outside, followed by a somersault splash. He went up top, but Gunther sent him back down with a chop to the chest. Woods then cut down Gunther with a kick to the face, and then landed a top rope leg drop for a near fall. Gunther recovered and placed Woods in a sleeper hold. He then attempted a powerbomb, but Woods avoided it and landed a crucifix bomb for a near fall. Gunther went back to the sleeper and despite his best effort Woods couldn’t escape and went to sleep.
Gunther defeated Xavier Woods at 10:02 to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship
After the match, the announce team put over the main event. Up next a video retrospective of Sami and Kevin winning the WWE Tag Team Championships from The Usos…[c]
My Take: A very good match between Gunther and Xavier Woods. I think with a little more time it could have been great, but this was very good. If they are considering Woods to carry a singles title, the US Championship could certainly use a change of pace after the draft.
A video package aired that recapped the fantastic WrestleMania 39 Night One Main Event between Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and The Usos. It also put over the WrestleMania rematch between Kevin and Sami and The Usos next week. The Usos then made their entrance to join on commentary for the main event. Rhea Ripley vs. Zelina Vega was confirmed for Backlash, as well as Seth Rollins vs Omos, and Bronson Reed vs. Austin Theory vs. Bobby Lashley for the US Title.
Jey Uso told the crowd that The Bloodline was in their city. Jimmy put on his best white guy nerd accent and asked Jey a bunch of questions about how they were feeling since their loss at WrestleMania. He refused to answer the questions and said their were focused on the future and bringing home gold next week. He said they would become nine time Tag Team Champions and dedicate their win in the WrestleMania rematch to the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns. Jey and Jimmy both said that Sami and Kevin would get bodied next week, just like Matt Riddle would get bodied tonight by the Samoan Savage, Enforcer of the Bloodline Solo Sikoa.
Solo Sikoa then made his entrance for the main event…[c]
My Take: Seth Rollins vs. Omos at Backlash??? I feel like I missed a couple of chapters of the story on that one. The Triple Threat for the US Title is a good time to move on from Theory sinc ehe’s been a bust for months now. Maybe Bronson Reed can steal a win from Bobby Lashley or something? Both options are better than Theory at this point.
Riddle’s music played but he ambushed Solo from behind. I was incorrect earlier, The Usos did not remain at ringside or join in on commentary for the match.
5. Solo Sikoa vs. Matt Riddle in a No-DQ Match: Solo shrugged off Riddle’s attack and landed a hard back elbow. Riddle attempted to apply a triangle submission, but Solo quickly escaped with a powerbomb. Solo rolled to the floor to get a pile of kendo sticks and chairs. He then wailed on Riddle with a Kendo stick, but Riddle avoided a strike and landed a kick to the face. Riddle rolled to ringside and then surprised Solo with a kendo stick of his own.
He pulled a table out from under the ring, which prompted cheers from the crowd, but Solo stuffed him and pushed it back under the ring and got boos. Riddle shoved Sikoa into the ring steps and then landed a running senton using the steps…[c]
Solo attempted a uranage on a stack of chairs. Riddle fired some elbows off, which caused Solo to push him into the ropes and land a Samoan Drop. Solo wrapped a chair around Riddle’s head and backed up into the corner. He charged in, but Riddle popped up and threw the chair at hit. He then sent Solo into a chair that was propped up in the corner, and used a chair with a knee strike a la Van Daminator for a near fall.
Riddle set up two chairs across from each other, and landed a T-Bone Suplex onto the chairs for another near fall. Riddle buried Solo in chairs and climbed up top, but Solo escaped and rolled out to the floor. Riddle gave chase, but got dumped on the apron. Riddle got an advantage at ringside and dumped the announce table on top of Solo, which brought out the Usos to intervene on his behalf.
The Usos attempted to take out Riddle, but he got the better of them initially and landed a Floating Bro off the ropes and took them down. Solo pushed the table off of himself and Riddle couldn’t believe it. He caught a flying Riddle and landed a Uranage on the apron. He then went for a Samoan Spike, but Riddle avoided it and landed a knee strike. Solo landed a spike on a charging Riddle and covered for the win.
Solo Sikoa defeated Matt Riddle at 14:12
After the match, The Usos set up a table and landed a 1D on Riddle through it. Solo and The Usos celebrated to close the show.
My Take: Another fun match to close the show, but there was no reason to believe in a Riddle upset given the numbers advantage that the announce team had pointed out numerous times for The Bloodline. Overall, this was a decent show but not a great one. There were some good high stakes matches, but creatively there wasn’t any reason to buy into any upsets.
Note: I will be back tomorrow with an audio review of Smackdown. Look for it on the site between Noon and 1pm Central.