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Best and Worst of SmackDown: Triple H to make a major decision with record-breaking star, possible confirmation of which match will headline WrestleMania Night 1 (March 24th, 2023)

ByRD Media

Mar 25, 2023

It was the penultimate episode of SmackDown before WrestleMania 39 and what a show it was. While there was no Roman Reigns, WWE did a good enough job of building up hype for the main event.

How was this achieved? It was done by having Cody Rhodes in an excellent match against Ludwig Kaiser – who he defeated.

Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman made their presence known, and Sikoa’s recent temperament resulted in a match against The American Nightmare being made official for this Monday on RAW.

But before we get to the final RAW before WrestleMania, let’s look at what happened on SmackDown and what the ups and downs were:

 

#3. Best: The Intercontinental title segment

Adam Pearce hosted a contract signing between the three participants of the Intercontinental title match at The Show of Shows – Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, and the record-breaking champion Gunther.

While Gunther is yet to surpass Randy Savage and is a long way from The Honky Tonk Man’s record reign with the Intercontinental title, he is the best champion of this lineage that we have seen in years – or decades, even.

The contract signing segment was tense. It started with Drew McIntyre and Sheamus’ tensions and seemingly deteriorating friendship before The Ring General came out and intimidated Adam Pearce for his decision to make the match a triple threat.

Gunther even took a little jab at Butch (aka Pete Dunne) – the man he defeated to become the NXT United Kingdom Champion four years ago. He faced Butch on this week’s SmackDown and defeated him, after which the chaos at ringside saw McIntyre take the champion out with a Claymore.

Unfortunately, for McIntyre, he is the least likely to win the Intercontinental title. Sheamus has a reason because it’s the only title he has yet to win, while Gunther continues to make history. Triple H has a tough decision to make.

 

#2. Worst: The Charlotte Flair segment on SmackDown building little hype for her match

If there was any doubt as to which match should headline WrestleMania 39 Night 1, look no further than the Charlotte Flair segment on SmackDown this week. There was no face-to-face with Rhea Ripley, which was alright considering it was the same for Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns.

However, minus namedropping Sasha Banks and The Bella Twins, this segment was as forgettable as it gets. It was essentially a confirmation that WWE doesn’t plan to have the SmackDown Women’s Title match headline Night 1 – and it shouldn’t because it is far from a hot storyline, unlike the one that is more likely to headline Night 1.

 

#2. Best: The main event segment

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. The Usos is by far the hottest story in WWE right now. Given the impact of the Bloodline and Sami Zayn, as well as Kevin Owens’ involvement – this is by far the match that deserves the main event spot on the first night of WrestleMania.

The KO Show with Sami Zayn headlined SmackDown this week and did well in re-establishing the brotherly love that the two men share. The Usos attacked them and stood tall to get some heat at the end of the show, and it was a basic interaction that worked so well.

Sometimes, sticking to the fundamentals works – and the end of SmackDown this week proved that.

 

#1. Worst: The randomness in plans for Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey went from being rumored to facing Becky Lynch at WrestleMania to now being in an Exhibition Tag Team Match. Don’t get us wrong – Rousey lost a lot of steam and a rumored injury derailed her momentum.

To put you up to speed, Natalya and Shotzi qualified for the Exhibition Tag Team Match at WrestleMania on SmackDown. After that, Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler returned to inform them and Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez that they were part of the match as well.

But an exhibition tag team match for a star like Rousey – who is being paid in the seven-figure range – seems to be a bit of a bad return on investment. Hopefully, it’s the start of a new run for her, and the positive is that at least she made it on the card this year.

 

#1. Best: Rey Mysterio finally getting one over Dominik

The biggest pop of the night on SmackDown belonged to Rey Mysterio, who finally got one over his son Dominik. After Dom helped LA Knight defeat Rey Mysterio, he went on to insult his mother and sister who were sitting at ringside.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back as Rey finally popped one on his son before accepting his challenge for WrestleMania 39. Twitter erupted in joy at the moment and broke out in “Yes!” chants.

Dominik has been playing his role to near perfection and it’s incredible how a character adjustment can make a star level up. He did everything right and he is ready for the next big step after WrestleMania 39.

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