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Best and Worst of SmackDown: WWE legend set to end 9-month title reign, Triple H has big plans for losing superstar? (March 17th, 2023)

ByRD Media

Mar 18, 2023

Welcome to this week’s edition of the best and worst of SmackDown. It was a great episode on the road to WrestleMania, with a couple of matches being made official and a few more on the verge of becoming official.


It was action-packed from start to finish, with only a small chunk of the show feeling as though it wasn’t utilized to its fullest potential. Those were the downs. But it was mostly ups in what we feel was one of the best episodes of SmackDown in a while.

These were the best and worst aspects of the third-last episode on the road to WrestleMania:

#3. Best: Triple Threat confirmation for WrestleMania 39

Intercontinental Champion Gunther was at ringside in commentary for the qualifying match between Drew McIntyre and Sheamus on SmackDown. While The Ring General insisted on a single challenger, he and the other two members of Imperium halted the match and attacked Sheamus and McIntyre, causing a DQ.

Sick and tired, Adam Pearce told Gunther that his actions didn’t match his words and declared a triple threat match for the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania. It’s no secret that Gunther has been the most dominant Intercontinental Champion of the 21st century and is seemingly ready to take the next big step in his career.

If Triple H has big plans for him going forward, then don’t be surprised to see Sheamus finally achieve Grand Slam glory at The Grandest Stage of Them All and end Gunther’s 9-month title reign. It would likely mean that the Ring General is stepping up to the world title scene.

#2. Worst: The handling of LA Knight on SmackDown

LA Knight has been on a losing streak lately, and that continued this week on SmackDown as he lost to Xavier Woods.

He took another L backstage later in the show when he told Rey Mysterio that he would happily face his son at WrestleMania. Mysterio snagged him in the face and left him puzzled.

But why is LA Knight being handled so badly on SmackDown? Well, it seems to be a part of a bigger story. The rumor right now is that he is in the running to be Stone Cold Steve Austin’s WrestleMania 39 opponent, which he will possibly lose if the match happens.

But after WrestleMania 39, it seems like Triple H has big plans for him, and this is all a part of a bigger story.

#2. Best: The Charlotte Flair-Rhea Ripley segment getting some big heat

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There were rumors that WWE is potentially planning to make Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair the main event of WrestleMania 39 Night 1. Although we don’t feel it’s the right decision, it’s out of our control.

While technically speaking, the Women’s Royal Rumble winner’s match should headline one night, it simply isn’t the most compelling story on the blue brand, let alone WWE.

With that said, WWE took a step in the right direction this week. After Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio defeated Zelina Vega and Santos Escobar, Charlotte Flair came out later on the show and was confronted by her WrestleMania opponent.

Thanks in part to a cheap tactic involving Dominik Mysterio, Ripley got the upper hand when she attacked The Queen. It led to a huge brawl that got the crowd hot, and while nobody technically won that exchange, it was a step in the right direction on SmackDown with only a couple of weeks left until The Show of Shows.

#1. Worst: A random WrestleMania match with no consequences?

WWE announced out of nowhere on SmackDown that there would be a Fatal-4-Way Women’s Tag Team match at WrestleMania. Former SmackDown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez were the first to qualify by beating Tegan Nox and Emma.

This was a very random announcement for a match that has almost no consequences whatsoever.

What’s the point of this? WWE didn’t even announce that the winners would get a shot at the Tag Team Titles, but we hope that’s the case.

#1. Best: The Kevin Owens-Sami Zayn storyline

The Kevin Owens-Sami Zayn storyline on SmackDown has been absolute gold, and that’s why we feel that it should headline WrestleMania 39 Night 1. They are rumored to be facing The Usos for the Tag Team Titles, and this week, the duo finally united after much resistance from KO.

Cody Rhodes played the mediator by getting both men out, and Sami Zayn explained why they needed to team up. Owens still refused, and Zayn went all the way to the back, telling him that they are brothers. Owens seemingly left, but we later found out that he was there the whole time.

While that was the extent of Cody’s role, Zayn confronted Jey Uso in the main event segment. It was compelling, enthralling, and everything you could want from a segment.

Sami Zayn calling out Jey Uso for tolerating Roman Reigns’ abuse was a brilliant touch, and Kevin Owens coming out for the save when Sami was getting beaten down was the perfect way to handle it.

The embrace between Zayn and Owens led to a huge pop, and it was a moment to be remembered – all while The American Nightmare was watching and smiling backstage.

Everything about this story has been handled incredibly well, and it’s arguably the second-most anticipated match on the entire WrestleMania card.

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