WWE SmackDown Review: The Road To WrestleMania Officially Begins

WWE SmackDown
Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina

Corey Graves welcomed us to SmackDown. Triple H was shown arriving at 4:18pm ET. They showed highlights from the WWE WrestleMania XL Kickoff event with Cody Rhodes picking to face Roman Reigns. This led to The Rock telling Triple H to “Fix It” after he slapped Cody. 

Paul “Triple H” Levesque Addresses WrestleMania XL Kickoff Event 

Paul “Triple H” Levesque came out a huge reaction. Huge Triple H chants from the crowd. Raw GM Adam Pearce and SmackDown GM Nick Aldis were inside the ring. Levesque said that reaction feels like they are on the Road to WrestleMania. Levesque welcomed everyone to SmackDown. Levesque spoke the WrestleMania XL Kickoff event. Levesque said they took a hard left turn and now that road is on fire. Levesque said it feels really good. Levesque said he came out here to clear up one thing. The fans began chanting “Rocky Sucks!” 

Levesque said there was confusion in the air after the event. Levesque said some point don’t know their role. The crowd buzzed after that line. Levesque said he needed to set the record straight. Levesque there were some point who tried to assort their authority when they don’t have any. Levesque said he doesn’t care where someone sits. Levesque said he wanted to make one thing abundantly clear where people like it or not. Levesque said the answers come from one place and one place only. Levesque looked into the camera and said right now you are looking at him. This got a big reaction. 

Levesque said Roman Reigns will defend the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Cody Rhodes in the WrestleMania XL main event. This got a huge reaction. They showed the WrestleMania XL graphic for the match. Huge Cody chants from the crowd. Levesque said there will be some people who will be disappointed by the decision. Levesque said “it doesn’t matter if you don’t like that decision.” This got a big reaction. Levesque welcomed everyone to “Road to WrestleMania!” 

Nick Aldis turned his attention to Seth Rollins and the World Heavyweight Championship. Aldis said Rollins challenger will be determined by the winner of the Elimination Chamber. Adlis said there will be qualifying matches on the show. Adam Pearce took over and showed the participants who will battle to qualify for the Elimination Chamber. The participants include, Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, LA Knight, Sami Zayn, Logan Paul, Bronson Reed, Bobby Lashley, The Miz, Dominik Mysterio and Ivar. They announced McIntyre vs. Styles was the first qualifying match. 

(Amin’s Thoughts) — This was much needed after the WrestleMania XL Kickoff event. This was Levesque telling everyone that’s he’s still WWE’S COO and that he’s the one who’s running creative from the tone of his voice. This was good with Levesque officially announcing the WrestleMania main event between Cody and Reigns. They also announced the Chamber to determine Rollins challenger for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania which is good to put more interest on the Elimination Chamber PLE. They are going be many more twist and turns to WrestleMania when The Rock returns back to WWE TV. They are going to run with this storyline of Triple H and The Rock for power of the company. 

Drew McIntyre Promo 

Drew McIntyre came out to a strong heel reaction. McIntyre said he wanted to thank everyone. McIntyre wanted to thank everyone for buying his shirt which shows everyone the same way he feels about Punk. McIntyre called himself by DM Hunk and promised Punk won’t see a penny of the profits. McIntyre said he wanted to talk about how happy everyone was with Cody Rhodes’ decision. McIntyre said Cody played with everyone’s emotions and played games, and he helped motivate Cody to finish his story. McIntyre said he saved WrestleMania by taking Punk and motivating Cody to finish his story. McIntyre said now he has to save the World Heavyweight Title. McIntyre said he will win the Elimination Chamber and finally have his WrestleMania moment. McIntyre said he’ll give everyone a champion they can be proud of and who is best for business. 

(Amin’s Thoughts) — Drew McIntyre has been on such a role and is one the best onscreen characters on WWE TV. McIntyre continuing to take little jabs at CM Punk but also giving himself the credit for Cody’s decision was great stuff. McIntyre should be the favourite to win the Chamber and face Rollins for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania. WWE already had program ready to go with McIntyre as champion facing CM Punk when he returns from injury. 

Randy Orton and Sami Zayn were show arriving separately earlier in the day.

Men’s Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
AJ Styles vs. Drew McIntyre 

AJ Styles came out to strong babyface reaction and firework display. LA Knight came out to a strong babyface reaction. Knight joined commentary for the match. McIntyre and Styles began exchanging strikes. McIntyre caught Styles going for a dive. McIntyre took control planting Styles with a suplex. McIntyre connected with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Styles responded catching McIntyre with a dropkick. McIntyre knocked Styles off the ropes. The action moved to the floor as McIntyre launched Styles over the barricade. Styles responded catching McIntyre with a Satellite DDT. Styles made a comeback rocking McIntyre with the Phenomenal Blitz. Styles called for Styles Clash but McIntyre broke free. McIntyre went for an avalanche White Noice. Styles countered hitting a Sit-Out Powerbomb for two. The fans chanted “This Is Awesome!” McIntyre responded catching Styles with a Future Shock DDT. McIntyre knit up but his knee buckled. McIntyre called for the Claymore Kick but Styles ducked. Styles applied the Calf Crusher but McIntyre grabbed the ropes. Styles called for the Phenomenal Forearm. McIntyre grabbed Styles and rocked him with the Glasgow Kiss. The action moved the floor. McIntyre launched Styles over the announcers table. Knight grabbed his water bottle and offered in Styles direction. Styles swatted the water bottle away. McIntyre shoved Styles into Knight. Styles caught McIntyre with an inside cradle. Knight distracted the referee. Styles had a visual pin. Styles knocked Knight off the ring apron. McIntyre rocked Styles with a Claymore Kick for the win. 

WINNER: Drew McIntyre 

(Amin’s Thoughts) — This was a really good action packed match as both McIntyre and Styles worked well together. A really showing from Styles as this was the best he looked since returning. They protected Styles giving him a visual pin and also had Knight cost him. I could see this lead to Styles costing Knight his qualifying match. Drew McIntyre is one of my favourite characters to watch on WWE TV. A strong showing from McIntyre who looked great in the match. McIntyre right now is my favourite to win the Elimination Chamber and face Rollins for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania.

Kayla Braxton interviewed Sami Zayn backstage. Zayn said nothing is WWE around WrestleMania. Sami said WrestleMania season is an emotional title for lots of people. Sami said he was thinking about when he was in the WrestleMania main event last year.  Sami said he’s watching his WrestleMania window close. Sami said he doesn’t have time to be emotional. Sami said he has to look at what’s in-front of him tonight which is a qualifying match against Randy Orton. Sami said Drew McIntyre would be waiting for him if he beats Orton. Sami noted he’s never beaten Drew. Sami said this is a path he will take. 

They showed Nascar Driver Ryan Blaney arriving at the arena and checking out the arena earlier in the day.

They aired a Pretty Deadly vignette. Elton Prince looked into the clouds which said looked liked Queen Elizabeth. They showed Queen Elizabeth winking from the clouds. Price saw Kit Wilson who was feeling down. Wilson showed his fingers bandaged up. Prince said Pete Dunne should be ashamed of himself. Prince said it’s WrestleMania season. Prince told Wilson it’s time to show SmackDown what Pretty Deadly is all about. Prince and Wilson screamed “YES BOYS!” Pretty Deadly theme played. 

Progressive Match Flo: Bayley making her WrestleMania decision to face Iyo Sky for the WWE Women’s Title. They showed Bayley arriving to SmackDown earlier in the day. 

Women’s Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
Bianca Belair vs. Michin (w/Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows)

Bianca Belair came out to a big reaction. Michin shined early rocking Belair with combination kicks. Michin connected with a Pele Kick for a near fall. Michin followed with a PK for a near fall. Belair and Michin exchanged strikes as they returned from break. Michin caught Belair with a jumping neck breaker. Michin went for a cannonball but Belair moved. Belair went for a Handspring Moonsault but Michin got her knees up. Belair responded right back catching Michin with a spinebuster for two. Belair went for corner suplex but Michin broke free. Michin planted Belair with a Superplex for two. Michin called for Eat Defeat but Belair blocked. Belair went for KOD but Michin broke free. Michin connected with Eat Defeat. Belair was too close to the ropes as she fell out of the ring. Michin called for Styles Clash but Belair broke free. Belair connected with KOD for the win. 

WINNER: Bianca Belair 

(Amin’s Thoughts) — This was a good action packed match as Belair and Michin worked well together. I was glad to see they gave Michin a lot in the match as she had a great showing. Michin isn’t placed at the top of the card but it’s been great seeing her work strong matches. Belair winning is good as it’s adds more star power to the Women’s Elimination Chamber match. Belair and Becky being the final two in the Women’s Elimination Chamber would be fun to watch. 

Bron Breakker met with Paul “Triple H” Levesque in his office. Levesque said he was proud of Breakker from where he started to where he is now in WWE. Levesque said he’s looking forward to see what Breakker does on WWE. Breakker wanted advice from Levesque about where he should go after receiving two great offers from Raw and SmackDown. The crowd buzzed as Paul Heyman appeared. Heyman shook Breakker’s hand. Levesque told Breakker to give him and Heyman a minute. Breakker left. Heyman put over Breakker as well. Levesque asked Heyman what he wanted? Heyman said now isn’t a good time after everything that happened at the WrestleMania XL Kickoff. Heyman said he wanted to give Levesque some space. Heyman said he’s coming back next week with Roman Reigns. Heyman said he’s retuning with The Rock as well. There were boos in the background from the crowd. Levesque said “looking forward to it.” 

(Amin’s Thoughts) — Next week should be a pretty newsworthy episode of SmackDown with both Roman Reigns and The Rock returning. This could likely be the start to building Cody & Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns & The Rock for WrestleMania Night One. 

Bayley & Dakota Kai Promo 

Bayley received a huge reaction. Huge Bayley chants from the crowd. Bayley said she’s having a tough time deciding what to put into words after what happened last week. Bayley said a big part of her doesn’t want to believe what happened last week. Bayley said the crowd made her feel better. Bayley said she feared some fans thought she had it coming. Huge Bayley chants. Bayley smiled wider. Bayley said maybe she had it coming. Bayley said maybe the crowd is cool with her. The fans cheered. Bayley said the fans have been on a journey with her and know what she feels about WWE. Bayley said Damage CTRL means everyone to her. You Deserve It chants. 

Bayley said she spoke about Damage CTRL being her family. Bayley said she gave and gave and they all they did was take from her. Bayley said she thought Damage CTRL would be happy when she won the Women’s Royal Rumble. Bayley said they laughed behind her back. Bayley said Iyo Sky will learn a lesson at WrestleMania. The crowd cheered. 

Dakota Kai came out. Kai was wearing her knee brace. Kai said she’s been texting Bayley all week. Kai asked Bayley if she was ghosting her? Bayley asked Kai where she was last week? Kai said she’s so close to being cleared. Kai said she had to speak to her doctor. Kai said she had no idea what was going to happen between Bayley and Damage CTRL. Bayley said Kai was with Iyo, Asuka and Kairi Sane. Kai said she was placed in a real tough spot. Kai said she always believed in Damage CTRL. The fans booed. They were skeptical weren’t sure if Kai was being genuine or just helping Iyo, Asuka and Sane. 

Kai said Iyo also believed in Damage CTRL. Kai said Iyo believed until Asuka and Kairi Sane came along. Kai spoke about Bayley’s past history with Asuka and Sane. Kai thought everything would be fine. Kai said Damage CTRL began falling apart once Asuka and Sane got into Iyo’s head. Bayley asked Kai why didn’t she tell her? Kai said she wanted too. The fans booed. Kai said she didn’t know what to say because Bayley’s plan was working. Kai said Asuka and Sane are WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. Kai said Bayley won the Women’s Royal Rumble. Kai said Damage CTRL were so close to having it all. Kai thought the situation with Asuka and Sane would blow over but didn’t. Bayley asked Kai what now. 

Iyo Sky’s music played. Iyo came out with Asuka and Kairi Sane. Iyo, Asuka and Sane stood on the ring apron. Bayley stood in the middle of the ring. Kai left the ring to grab a chair. Bayley looked worried. Iyo was smiling from the ring apron. Bayley moved out of the way. Kai swung the chair as Iyo, Asuka and Sane instead. Iyo, Asuka and Sane left the ring. Kai teased hitting Bayley with a chair. Kai dropped the chair. The crowd chanted “Hug It Out!” Bayley stared at Kai. Bayley’s music played. 

(Amin’s Thoughts) — This has been my favourite storyline to watch on SmackDown. Bayley comes off as such a great babyface. The reason this storyline has been great because as fans we’ve been seeing that Bayley always wanted to see everyone in Damage CTRL succeed. Now as fans we want to see Bayley get her moment at WrestleMania after Iyo, Asuka and Sane were planning to turn on her. I really liked Kai’s explanation for not being on SmackDown last week. Kai gave a great reasoning needing to check her knee as she’s close to comeback from injury. Kai grabbing the chair teasing but going after Iyo, Asuka and Sane was nicely done. I’m still thinking Kai will go heel and show she’s the mastermind behind the new Damage CTRL with Iyo, Asuka and Sane. Bayley will need some buddies to help her. 

Kayla Braxton interviewed Randy Orton backstage. Orton brought up how Sami said it’s not a given for anyone to make it to WrestleMania. Orton said he was injured last year watching WrestleMania from home. Orton said he feared the lesson of patience. Orton said he always knows when to strike. Orton said he knows how important it is to wait. Orton said when it comes to Roman Reigns he can sit back and wait. Orton said his road to WrestleMania has taken a slight detour. Orton said if things go his way he will be going to the Elimination Chamber. Orton said everyone in the Elimination Chamber will find out that the three most destructive words in Sports Entertainment is R-K-O. 

Bobby Lashley was backstage with Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins. Lashley introduced B-Fab as the newest member of the group. Dawkins and Ford said they still have business with The Final Testament. B-Fab said they have more important business to take care of first. B-Fab hyped the Lashley vs. Bronson Reed qualifying match. Lashley vowed to win the Elimination Chamber. Lashley said WrestleMania will be Almighty. 

Number One Contender’s Match for Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles
DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) vs. British Strong Style (Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate)

Bate and Gargano began with a great counter exchange. Dunne tagged in rocking Gargano with a running clothesline. Ciampa stopped Dunne’s momentum rocking him with a back elbow. Dunne used Ciampa’s momentum sending him to the floor. Dunne went for a flying moonsault but Ciampa moved. Ciampa nailed Dunne with a forearm smash. Gargano caught Bate with a tope to the floor. Ciampa rocked Bate and Dunne with a double flying clothesline as they returned from break. Ciampa planted Bate with a reverse DDT for two. Ciampa and Gargano caught Dunne with a Poisonrana/pump kick combo. Gargano called for One Final Beat but Bate caught him. The crowd popped as Bate spun Ciampa and Gargano at the same time. Bate and Dune went for a double Tyler Driver 97’ combo but Gargano countered into a double head scissors. Gargano nailed Dunne with a rolling kick. Bate rocked Gargano with a jab. Ciampa nailed Dunne with a knee strike. Gargano caught Dunne with a flying Tornado DDT on the floor. Ciampa connected with a Project Ciampa to Bate for two. Bate and Ciampa exchanged big strikes. Ciampa nailed Bate with running knee strike. DIY called for Meet in the Middle. Dunne appeared snapping Ciampa’s fingers. Bate rocked Ciampa and Gargano with a double rebound clothesline. Bate connected with a plancha to Ciampa on the floor. Gargano went for a slingshot spear but Dunne caught him with a forearm smash. Dunne connected Bitter End for the win. 

WINNERS: Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate 

(Amin’s Thoughts) — A really fun back and forth action packed match. This was just a nice appetizer of what both these teams can do together if given more times and go wild like they had matches on NXT during the Black & Gold era. DIY will be just fine they just need to keep having good matches and pick up more wins with stakes. Bate and Dunne needed the win as they just recently paired together. Bate and Dunne against Finn Bálor and Damian Priest feels like a fresh match. WWE Tag Team Division on both Raw and SmackDown are looking really good right now. 

Byron Saxton was backstage. The crowd booed as Dominik Mysterio walked in. Dominik said Finn Bálor & Damian Priest will retain the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles over Dunne and Bate. Dominik said Rhea Ripley will wipe the floor with Nia Jax. Dominik said he’s gonna win the Elimination Chamber and beat Seth Rollins for the World Title. Dominik said he and Mami will have matching titles. Saxton told Dominik he needs to qualify first. Dominik said he doesn’t care who he faces. Dominik said he would smack his opponent in the mouth. The crowd cheered as Kevin Owens appeared. Owens said he’s Dominik’s opponent on SmackDown next week. Owens said he’s gonna give Dominik the greatest beating of all-time. Owens said he’s dedicating it to the greatest Luchador of all-time Rey Mysterio. Dominik left. The crowd cheered as R-Truth appeared. R-Truth thought Owens was The Miz. R-Truth said Owens was suppose to be on Raw. R-Truth said don’t let Nick get to you. Owens said “Nick Mysterio?” R-Truth said “Nick Aldis” That was great. The crowd chanted “We Want Truth!” Owens told R-Truth he would be careful. 

Nick Aldis was speaking to Adam Pearce in their office. The crowd booed as Logan Paul appeared. Paul told Aldis to find him a challenger for the United States Title. Paul complained that Aldis put him in a qualifying match. Paul said he’s beyond qualified. Paul said he’s be part of the highlight grossing gate and most viewership. Paul was upset he was wrestling next week for free in Utah. Paul said he should be getting The Rock treatment. Paul calmed down. Paul said he’s going to do it but wasn’t happy about it. Paul said he’s going to win the Elimination Chamber and then beat Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania. Paul asked who he’s wrestling? Pearce said it’s Friday so he’s going to led Aldis do the honours. Pearce told Aldis to announce the match. Aldis said Paul was facing The Miz next week. 

Men’s Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
Randy Orton vs. Sami Zayn

Sami Zayn came out first to a strong babyface reaction. Randy Orton got a huge babyface reaction. Loud Randy chants as the match began. Sami used Orton’s momentum sending him to the floor. Sami teased a dive but Orton moved. The crowd sang the Ole song. Orton and Sami exchanged corner strikes. Orton nailed Sami with an uppercut. The action moved the floor. Sami caught Orton with a flying moonsault off the barricade. Sami went for a dive but Orton caught him with a strike. Orton went for a backdrop suplex but Sami landed his feet. Sami took control planting Orton with a backdrop onto the announcers table. Sami caught Orton with a Tornado DDT for a two count as they returned from break. Orton stopped Sami from climbing the ropes. Orton planted Sami with an awesome Superplex which got a big reaction. Orton sold his back huge on the landing. Orton made a comeback catching Sami with a snap powerslam. Orton called for the Hangman DDT. Sami countered backdropping Orton to the floor. Sami caught Orton with a tope on the floor. Orton responded planting Sami with a backdrop onto the announcers table. Orton followed hitting a Hangman DDT. The crowd cheered as Orton called for the RKO. Sami caught Orotn with a sunset flip for near fall. Sami connected with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a good two count. Sami went for a springboard but Orton moved. Orton caught Sami with an RKO for the win. 

WINNER: Randy Orton 

(Amin’s Thoughts) — This was a good match as both Orton and Sami worked well together. Sami on Raw delivered a great promo saying he’s now a contender for the World Title. I’m curious to see the direction Sami goes after losing another big match. I could see Sami entering the Elimination Chamber after winning a second chance qualifier match which they like to do. A strong showing from Orton as he looked great in the win. I like Orton being added to the Men’s Elimination Chamber because now they have another top star who could challenge Rollins for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania. 

The crowd cheered as Orton posed on the turnbuckle. Sami walked to the back disappointed after the loss. Drew McIntyre came out. McIntyre entered the ring. McIntyre and Orton had a stare down. The show ended. 


This was a solid episode of SmackDown. There were some really good wrestling matches. All the matches on the show had stakes which made them all feel important. I also liked the followup from the WrestleMania XL Kickoff. Triple H did what was needed to show he’s in control announcing the WrestleMania main event between Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns. Triple H also took some jabs without mentioning The Rock’s name was nicely done. This sets up Reigns and The Rock retuning next week which will bring lots of interest to the show. Overall, a very strong episode of SmackDown. The show had a clear direction which is something you want to see on the Road to WrestleMania.