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The SmackDown Rundown France

Bayley, Naomi, Bianca, Jade vs. Tiffany Stratton, Asuka, Dakota Kai, Kairi Sane 8 Woman Tag Match 

Mattered: ****

Naomi Bayley Jade Bianca

The crowd energy was absolutely unbelievable. They understood the assignment. Triple H said they would return to international crowds if they were good crowds, and France went nuts from minute one. However, wrestling is a relationship, and it's WWE's job to match that level of energy and give fans a reason to keep cheering all night. Starting with the women in a star-studded tag match was smart.

Damage Control Tiffany Stratton

The women absolutely delivered as well. There was even a little story as well. Bayley and Bianca still have problems. Bianca didn't want to tag in when Bayley needed it, and Bayley didn't want to tag her, so instead, Jade tagged in. Match-wise, every woman had their moment to shine. They did a sequence where they just hit their best moves until one team was able to pull out that little bit extra to get the win. The final blow was Bianca's KOD to Dakota Kai for the win. Great start to SmackDown. 


A-Town Down Under Interview

Didn't Matter**

Austin Theory Grayson Waller

A-Town Down Under cut a promo about beating up the Street Profits later, and it was a throwaway segment. They didn't say anything that made this segment essential to the show.


Bianca Belair Still Butt Hurt

Mattered: ***.5

Bianca Belair mad

Bianca cut an interview backstage with her four-woman team and turned towards Bayley as she said she was going to beat Sane and Asuka and finally be done with Damage Control, hopefully. Bianca made it awkward for Bayley, who left, but much like Drew McIntyre, she can't just forget all that Bayley did. I love this subtle story, and it's becoming more and more clear that Bayley and Bianca will have to settle it in the ring. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but It's happening.


Carmelo Stunts on Bobby Lashley

Mattered ****

Carmelo and Bobby

Carmelo was in the back talking to Nick Aldis about how he feels good about where he is after almost beating Cody. Bobby came up to offer him props and advice if he ever needed it. Carmelo big leagued him and said thanks, but no thanks, I think I got it all figured out. Bobby reminded him that it's not about the shots you take. It's about making them count, and he lost last week. Carmelo then asked Bobby when the last time he took his shot was. Bobby stopped Carmelo from leaving and said here is some free advice: watch who you insult.


I love this segment. It's the best use of Bobby that I have seen in a long time. Bobby and Carmelo can be a great feud—the steady, strong vet Bobby and the arrogant, undersized aerial artist Carmelo Hayes. Not only will they have great matches, but their issue stems from something realistic. A young guy who thinks he knows everything and disrespects his elders. I love this for Carmelo, who is going from a match with a World Champion to a feud with a former one.


The New Catch Republic vs. AOP

Mattered: ***** 

Tyler Bate Airplane

This match was incredible. The New Catch Republic may not be champions, but they are the best tag team in WWE right now. They consistently impress, and this match was no different. Tyler Bate actually lifted one of the Authors of Pain by himself and airplane spun him before hitting him with an attitude adjustment. A man that small shouldn't be able to do that. He wasn't done either. He dove through the ropes and front flipped onto his opponent. Scarlet distracted the ref, and Karrion Kross hit some weird kind of F5 gorilla press. Whatever it was, it was awesome. Pete Dunne took him out with a backflip, but when he got back in the ring, The Authors of Pain got him in their big bear claws and attempted to slam him through the mat. The Authors of Pain win. AOP gets the credibility, and the New Catch Republic steals the show. What a match!    


Ominous Paul Heyman 

Mattered ****

Paul Heyman facepalm

Paul Heyman entered Nick's office and was told his request was denied. He said there was no way he could take Kevin and Randy out of the Backlash match, but Heyman said that what happens to them is on Nick's conscience. Of course, that could just be bluster and cheap talk. However, it makes you wonder what Solo and Tonga have planned. Randy and Kevin are two of the most deadly wrestlers in the industry, but What if Solo and Tonga make an example out of them? What if they send them back to America on a stretcher? You never know with this new Bloodline. 


If the segment had ended there, it would have been good, but then Paul accidentally let it slip that he hasn't talked to Roman since Wrestlemania. This means he took Roman out of the draft himself and lied to everyone. This also puts doubt on the entire Bloodline. Is this why Solo stepped up? 


The RKO Show

Mattered ***.5 

Randy Orton Solo Sikoa

Randy and Kevin came out and had fun with the fans before they let Paul come on as their guest. Paul refused to get in the ring after Randy insinuated that he might RKO him. However, he did beg them not to fight Solo and Tonga. They, of course, refused, and while pointing out how the Bloodline was falling apart, they asked who the Tribal Chief was. Paul didn't give an official answer because before he had to say anything, Solo and Tonga started beating down Randy and Kevin, and it devolved into a brawl. 


This segment was a good preview for Backlash, and it raised some interesting questions. Who is the Tribal Chief? Roman, Solo, or the Rock? Plus, the crowd chanted WE WANT ROMAN. It's cool to see Roman getting the CM Punk treatment. 


Street Profits Want the Smoke 

Didn't Matter:: **

Street Profits Blue

The Street Profits cut the babyface version of the bland promo that A-Town Down did. This segment adds no excitement and serves, at best, as a reminder that the tag team title match is happening tonight.


Angel vs. LA Knight

Didn't Matter: ***

La Knight Angel fight

I hate to put LA Knight here because France went crazy for him, and I like him too, but this was a boring spot for him. He wrestled a fine match with Angel. LA Knight predictably won, and after the match, we found out why we were getting such a random match. This was to set up LA Knight and Santos in the King of the Ring. Even with an LA Knight segment where he got to say all his catchphrases with the crowd and diss Santos, this moment of the show couldn't be saved. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't that exciting or important either. Plus, moments like this stick out on a hot show.


Carlito's Karma

Mattered: ***

Carlito attacked by Dragon Lee

Carlito revealed he attacked Dragon Lee because he was upset that Lee was being chosen for a Wrestlemania match instead of him after all the time Carlito spent with the LWO. Dragon Lee then came and attacked Carlito. This segment was important to the story, so it gets a pass, but a backstage interview for the big reveal and a throwaway attack is enough to keep me invested in this feud but not enough to make me excited about it.


A-Town Down Under vs. The Street Profits WWE Tag Team Championship Match

Mattered:***.3

The Street Profits

This was an exciting match, but it feels like these two teams were holding back a bit. Street Profits were rolling, and they hit their Doomsday Device. It seemed like they would win, but Grayson Waller kicked out of the pin. There was a distraction later, and a Flatliner came to Dawkins. Then, Theory got the pin, and Dawkins didn't kick out. It was a good match, but it just felt like, wow, that's it? These two teams feel capable of more.


 AJ Styles Punked Cody Rhodes 

Mattered ***.5

AJ Styles slaps Cody

Cody Rhodes wanted another love fest about how great they both were, and AJ said Nah, forget that. AJ said Cody was a nepo baby and that he didn't have to do this by himself. He said he left WWE when things didn't work out and then had legends helping him finish his story. Meanwhile, AJ fought his whole career to make it to WWE, and he wasn't welcomed with open arms. Cody tried to remain respectful and give AJ the too-sweet, referencing that they were both in the Bullet Club, but Aj thwacked him in the face and walked out. 


I'm glad AJ Styles did this. Cody needed a reality check. We aren't buddies, and I don't want to talk about how great it is to be here together. I want to take your head off and take your title. Cody needs to find a way to be competitive without being a jerk. It's clear Cody wants to go about things the right way, but that doesn't mean you have to be a doof. 


Smackdown Rundown France Final Grade 89/100 B+

Smackdown Rundown France

Rundown France review: This was an excellent show. There were a few okay and non-essential moments, but mostly high highs throughout the show. As opposed to night two of the draft, which felt like it would never end, this show felt like it sped by. The crowd was electric, and WWE put on a terrific show with good in-ring performances and intriguing story developments. I'm hooked on SmackDown and very interested in Backlash.



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