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The SmackDown Rundown 3/22/24 Bayley Made Her Bed

Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar

Reverse Hipster: Didn't Matter **

Santos and Dominik

This was a two-star segment. Santos fought Escobar in a match that was almost good. The match had its moments, like Rey diving on Santos and crashing them into the bell area, but I never felt like the match told a good story and caught a rhythm. Dominik helped Santos win the match by ambushing Rey while the Ref's back was turned. Once again, this almost matters. Dominik aligning himself with Santos seems significant, but he already hated Rey, and if they popped up in a segment next week, you wouldn't need this match to explain why.

Rob: Mattered ***

I thought that Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar was a likely WrestleMania match, so I was tempted to write it off. The match wasn’t much, but with Dominik showing up to cost his dad the match, I feel like there is a chance for them to build something cool for WrestleMania.

Bianca Confronts Bayley Backstage

Reverse Hipster: Mattered ****

Bianca Confronts Bayley

This is a four-star segment because it is such a wonderful example of continuity. Last week, people chanted for Bianca to come and save Bayley, but Bianca didn't show up. It was Naomi. Now Naomi has been off doing her own thing in TNA, but Bianca has been here, so they have different feelings towards Bayley. Bayley apologized for dragging Naomi into her stuff, and Naomi seemed sympathetic, but Bianca wasn't having it. Bianca berated Bayley for her past and said Bayley wasn't sorry for bringing Naomi into her stuff.

Bianca doesn't care that Bayley has been getting jumped because Bayley jumped her with Damage Control for the last two years, and I love that. I love that Bianca remembers that and hasn't just joined Bayley because they are both good girls now. This display of continuity makes Bianca and Bayley feel like real people and also explains why Bayley has to face Damage Control alone. Bayley Made Her Bed.

Rob: Mattered ****

I completely agree with Reverse Hipster. WWE is killing it at filling in plot holes and developing characters with continuity. Bianca Belair should remember that Bayley was a bully to her- it wasn’t even that long ago!

Naomi, Give Bianca Something To Think About

Revers Hipster: Mattered ***/

Bianca and Naomi

Bianca is adamant that Bayley is not to be trusted and that Naomi doesn't understand because she hasn't been around. However, Naomi levels with her by saying she can't change the past, but she isn't going to back down from Damage Control. Naomi points out that Damage Control is picking off the Women's division one by one, and Naomi can't fight back alone, just like Bianca couldn't fend them off alone. Bianca is at a real crossroads because she fought them alone for so long, and ultimately, they stole her title, but she also knows Naomi is right; something needs to be done about Damage Control. Will Bianca choose her bitterness or her friendship with Naomi?

This is a three-and-a-half-star segment because it goes back on the previous segment by getting other wrestlers involved in Bayley's beef. However, this segment challenges the characters in an interesting way, progresses the story, and adds value to the storyline.

Rob: Mattered ***

I would have preferred to see Bianca Belair’s character in conflict for longer than one SmackDown, but given the constraints, I think they did a good job convincing Belair to join Naomi’s cause.

The OC vs. Theory & Grayson Waller

Reverse Hipster: Mattered ***/

Austin & Waller cheat

This match inherently mattered because it was a tournament match to determine who would move on for a chance to be in the WWE Undisputed Tag Team Title Ladder Match at Wrestlemania. However, this match was also very well done. The OC dominated this match. Theory and Grayson Waller looked like local talent brought in to be squashed. Michin threw Waller with an arm toss on the outside. Gallows and Anderson looked better than they have in years, and then Austin and Waller just crept in and stole it at the last second. Waller held Theory's feet on the ropes to illegally gain leverage during Theory's roll-up pin of Gallows. This was a perfect ending. Theory & Grayson look like scumbags who stole the match, which is good for their villain image, and the OC looked better than they have in years, even in a loss.

Rob: Didn’t Matter **

With another loss, the OC have no credibility, and at this point, it seems like they are in on the joke. Austin Theory and Grayson Waller are undoubtedly the more interesting team, but I feel like they could have won this match clean to build credibility or they could have not had this match at all.

Bron Breakker Loading

Reverse Hipster: Mattered ***/

Bron Breakker yells

Bron Breakker looks good in his hype packages. He looks explosive and powerful. One thing about these hype videos that I appreciate is that WWE has taken the Next Gen Stats approach to Bron. Listing out his explosiveness and giving metrics to explain his athletic feats drives home the great Athlete he is. Also, this athletic presentation separates him from other characters who haven't been presented like this.

Rob: Mattered ****

As a regular watcher of NXT, it’s easy to forget that mainstream fans don’t necessarily know Bron Breakker. This segment told them that they should get familiar.

Naomi vs. IYO

Reverse Hipster: Mattered ****/

Naomi Dives on IYO

This was excellent. I don't know if there was an adjustment period for Naomi coming back to the WWE style or what, but she started slow. However, this match with IYO has been her best match since she returned. Naomi went toe-to-toe with IYO and reminded everyone why she had won the world championship in two different companies. Naomi actually got the best of IYO, and she was about to win the match when Damage Control came out and interfered, giving IYO the chance to take over and win.

After the match, Damage Control just took turns kicking the crap out of Naomi, and she tried to fight back, and she was actually winning until Asuka spit the mist in her face. Then we saw that Bianca had made her own decision and had come out to save her friend. Bianca beat everyone in Damage Control. She was kicking butt and taking names. It was awesome, but eventually, the numbers caught up to her, and Bianca and Naomi were left in a heap to be stomped until Damage Control got bored. While this was happening, we were left wondering if Bayley would come out.

Bayley never came out, and even though we know IYO jumped her before the match with Naomi, it still feels wrong. The only reason Naomi and Bianca are even in this situation is because of Bayley. Bianca ran out for Naomi, and Naomi ran out for Bayley, but when they needed her, Bayley was nowhere to be seen. I don't think Bianca will take this well. Masterful storytelling.

Rob: Mattered ***

It’s always great to see good matches on a weekly show. This is exactly why Naomi is still valuable to WWE- she got a match up we had never seen before and both women killed it in-ring. After the match, Bianca Belair showed that she made her decision and stuck with it. I agree with Reverse Hipster that it will be interesting to see how Bayley follows up on her no-show here.

Jade's Hype Package

Reverse Hipster: Didn't Matter **

Jade Cargill vignette

I like Jade, but her hype package didn't give me any sense of who she is. She talked about being talked about and wanting to be legendary, but who doesn't? Also, the fact that other people are talking about her is outside of her. Bron's hype package taught me he's an explosive, dominant athlete you don't want to mess with. Plus Bron has a history in NXT to lean back on. What should my takeaway from Jade's be? Who is she? WWE is happy to have her, and they should be, but be careful. AEW's refusal to flush out Jade's character and progress her is why they lost her in the first place.

Rob: Didn’t Matter **

I agree with Reverse Hipster. In contrast to Bron Breakker’s package, Jade Cargill’s vignette didn’t make me feel like I had to see her. If you’re familiar with her game in AEW, you are probably already excited. If you’re not, then you didn’t get a good reason to tune in here.

Don't Forget Tiffany

Reverse Hipster: Mattered ***

Asuka sprays Naomi

This is a flyby segment, but It matters. Bianca was helping a distressed Naomi clear the mist out of her eyes. I love the way Naomi sells it like it's tear gas. While this was going on, Tiffany came by and told Naomi this was a good look for her, and Bianca wanted to drop Tiffany, but she was too busy to chase after her. I like that WWE reminded us that Tiffany and Bianca are still beefing, and that has not gone away. It really makes you wonder how WWE will balance Bianca's involvement with Damage Control and Tiffany. I hope Tiffany and Bianca get a mania match, but until we find out, I'm enjoying the ride.

Rob: Mattered ***

Belair is perhaps the most interesting woman going into WrestleMania. While she won’t be in a title match, she could steal the show with the right opponent. It could be Naomi, Tiffany Stratton, Jade Cargill, or someone else because the women’s division is so deep right now.

Kevin Owen's Challenged Pretty Deadly

Reverse Hipster: Didn't Matter ***

Kevin & Pretty Deadly

Whenever you get Kevin Owens Pretty Deadly and this current version of Randy together, you are gonna get a pretty funny segment. Both Kevin and Pretty Deadly were complaining about Wrestlemania when Pretty Deadly said Kevin Owens knew nothing about tag teams, and Kevin reminded them that he literally won the tag titles in the main event of WrestleMania last year, plus he just punched two guys in the face, last week. Kevin then challenged them to a match the next week and said he wanted the guy behind Pretty Deadly to be their partner, and it was Randy.

Pretty Deadly jumped like they had seen a ghost, which was hilarious. Randy assured them they were okay because one of them had a jacket just like his dad used to wear, and then he agreed to be Kevin's tag partner. After Kevin Owens left, Nick Aldis warned Pretty Deadly not to stand so close together, and then Kevin punched them both in the face at the same time and gave a new meaning to the word punchline. This was a fun segment, but in the grand scheme of things, it didn't really matter. You didn't need to watch it to understand what's going on. It's just a filler match to give Kevin and Randy something to do.

Rob: Mattered ***

I like when WWE gives a little backstage segment to build for a match later in the night or next week. These four had great chemistry in a funny backstage segment, but it can quickly turn into drama next week as Kevin Owens and Randy Orton will be partners for one week and opponents at WrestleMania. To me, this was just a way to build that camaraderie so it means something when they tear it down.

LA Knight Takes The Fight To AJ's Doorstep

Reverse Hipster: Mattered

LA Knight gets arrested

LA Knight went to AJ's house to fight him, and the cops had to come and pull LA Knight off of AJ as AJ's wife yelled to get him out of there. This little feud just keeps gaining steam. I appreciate that they keep upping the stakes and getting more aggressive. This feud hasn't required a lot of time on screen, but every moment has made sense and advanced the story in an exciting way. This match is starting to look like a banger, and I'm getting Shane vs. AJ vibes.

Rob: Mattered ***

Fans will never forget Brian Pillman showing up to Steve Austin’s house. I’ll never forget watching Triple H showing up to Randy Orton’s house as a kid. To me, it doesn’t feel like much, but maybe for this generation, it feels like that. This matters because they are sticking to the idea that this is a blood feud. As such, I think their WrestleMania must become a stipulation match. They are earning that with segments like this.

Street Profits vs. AOP

Reverse Hipster: Mattered ***/

Street Profits vs. AOP

This fight was yet Another match in the tag tournament to get into a Wrestlemania tag team title match. Watching the Street Profits fight is just different. They are on another level, but AOP matches up well with them. Street Profits controlled the match, but AOP caught Montez and threw him into Dawkins. AOP took advantage of the size disparity between them and Ford all match, but then Dawkins got tagged in and leveled AOP and the playing field. Dawkins went crazy in the ring, and Ford also got his revenge by getting the surprise roll-up victory.

Rob: Mattered ***

Street Profits and AOP have a cool contrast of styles, and I’m glad Street Profits picked up the win because I think they may be the best team in-ring in WWE today. Still, this made me want to see more of AOP because they are such a unique team in today’s WWE landscape. WWE could have a great tag team division if they gave them more time to shine.

Paul Heyman Calls Roman

Paul Heyman stares

Reverse Hipster: Didn't Matter **

Paul called Roman and told him that Cody had come alone. This just wasn't necessary. If it was important for Cody to have friends with him, we would find out one way or another in his segment with Roman.

Rob: Didn’t Matter **

I agree with Reverse Hipster. Unless this is some big brain long-term storytelling, it didn’t matter. If WWE is going to have threads throughout the night like this, I think they need to be more multi-dimensional with more tension than just did Cody coming alone or not.

Roman Reigns & Cody Rhodes Face To Face

Reverse Hipster: Mattered ***

Team Cody vs. Bloodline

This is on the line of mattering, which is why it's rated so low. This engaging back-and-forth should be watched to see how the tension between Rhodes and Reigns has evolved. Roman called Cody a number two and an idiot for not understanding how the world works and trusting Seth of all people. Cody pointed out that Roman trusted the Rock and that Roman might be legendary, but Cody would be the guy who slays him.

Roman won the promo battle by being more expressive and entertaining with his promo. Cody declaring he would beat Cody was actually kind of a flat note. Both men were supposed to come alone, and just to show Cody how stupid he was, Roman had Solo and Jimmy circle the ring before joining Roman. This was flex to show he could have had Cody if he wanted, but then Jey and Seth came out of the Crowd to show Cody was ready. It was a nice bit of gamesmanship, which was exciting but a little too subtle for the main event of SmackDown. It's interesting because the women had a bad main event last week, and this week, they should have been the main event.

Rob: Mattered ****

Any time you get these two on the mic, I think the segment is awesome. What brings this up to the next level for me is that they showed how they had evolved over the last year. Roman Reigns simultaneously dissed and praised Cody Rhodes by saying he was a good number two. Reigns is saying that Rhodes is the closest to his level but still not enough. Rhodes poked at Reigns’s confidence and trust in his family by bringing up the Rock. Reigns has already lost Jey Uso from the Bloodline, shouldn’t it be possible that the Rock is using Reigns too? When Reigns and the Bloodline thought they had Rhodes outnumbered, he brought out Jey Uso and Seth Rollins, showing that Rhodes isn’t naive to the way the Bloodline operates anymore. But is it enough to get Rhodes the win at WrestleMania?

Reverse Hipster's SmackDown Final Grade 8.8/10 B+

Tiffany Stratton

SmackDown put on a strong show. WWE's dedication to the women's division throughout the night and the tag tournament gave the show a very high floor. There were a few segments that didn't matter, but there was nothing terrible on the show. However, that, combined with a so-so main event, is why this show falls short of an A.

Rob’s SmackDown Final Grade 8/10 B-

Damage Control beats Naomi & Bianca

SmackDown put together a show that mattered more than it didn’t on the Road to WrestleMania. They are selling their current feuds and building intrigue for possible new feuds. Because it had nothing amazing, it received a simple good grade.

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