WWE SMACKDOWN RESULTS (3/1): McDonald’s “alt perspective” report on Rock’s return, Bayley & Kai vs. Kabuki Warriors, Carlito vs. Escobar, Naomi vs. Stratton

By Alex McDonald, PWTorch Contributor


MARCH 1, 2024

Announcers: Corey Graves, Wade Barrett



-The show opened with a recap video from Elimination Chamber this past Saturday.

-They showed an outside shot of Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA, the home of Wrestlemania XL. They then transitioned to an outside shot of tonight’s arena. The camera panned the crowd and Corey Graves introduced the show.

-Roman Reigns’ music played and he made his entrance with Paul Heyman, Jimmy Uso, and Solo Sikoa. A graphic appeared with the number of days Reigns has been champion. As Reigns made his way to the ring they showed a graphic for Reigns against Cody Rhodes at Wrestlemania. Graves promoted the match and said Rhodes will have another opportunity to finish his story. Reigns posed on the apron and the crowd cheered. Reigns and the Bloodline posed again in the ring as pyro exploded on the stage.

-Reigns stood in the center of the ring with Heyman to his left and Sikoa and Jimmy behind him. Reigns got a mic from Heyman and teased speaking into the mic. The crowd booed. Reigns then asked Glendale, AZ to acknowledge him. Reigns commented on the response and said it used to be louder. He said it’s not him, so it must be the crowd. Reigns then asked Phoenix, AZ to acknowledge him and the crowd booed. The crowd chanted for Cody Rhodes. Reigns wiped his forehead and said he would try one last time. He said if the crowd doesn’t get on his page, he’s going to leave. Reigns once again asked the crowd to acknowledge him. He was met with even louder boos this time. Jimmy looked around confused as the crowd chanted for Rhodes again. Reigns turned to Heyman and said they’re done. Reigns turned to walk off but Heyman stopped him. Heyman said they can’t leave because “he’s coming out”. Heyman asked Reigns for a moment. Heyman addressed the crowd and said that the People’s Champion would be out in a moment. Heyman called The Rock the greatest movie star of all time and said he would be out after the commercial break. [c]

(McDonald’s Analysis: I like the fact that things are getting to Reigns and him selling how much he hates the Cody chants. Heyman stopping Reigns from leaving and seeming to obey Rock’s wishes over Reigns’ is really interesting. I wonder if they will play into that down the road.)

-The Rock’s music played and he made his entrance. Rock wore another $500 shirt, this time with sleeves, to go with his gold chain and sunglasses. Rock turned around and showed off the shirt before he made his way to the ring. Rock posed on the second rope and the crowd cheered.

-Rock stood opposite the Bloodline with a mic. Rock asked the crowd if they were sure they wanted to boo him. The crowd booed again. Rock said he had some good news to share. He said he has news the crowd might be proud of. Rock said Glendale is ten miles away from Phoenix. He said the number one city in America for cocaine and meth use is Phoenix, AZ. The crowd booed. Rock said it means that finally, your life has meaning because the cactus loving crackheads have something worth shooting in their veins. Rock said he has come back to Arizona. Reigns looked on from across the ring and scowled. Rock turned and looked at Reigns as the crowd chanted “Rocky”. Rock said his body is covered in chills and he and the Bloodline are in a good mood. Rock said they’re in a good mood because for the first time in decades, professional wrestling is cool and exciting. He said that’s why it’s sold out in every city. He said wrestling is cool again because of Rock, Reigns, and the Bloodline. The crowd chanted “Cody”. Rock said that Cody Rhodes isn’t cool. Rock said Rhodes thinks he’s tough and wants to challenge Rock. Rock said he sees Rhodes and hears him but he says no to the challenge. Rock said Rhodes can’t wrestle him because he wants to. Rock said everyone wants him, including every woman in the arena. Rock told the crackhead Karen’s and meth-head Mary’s to calm down. Rock said Rhodes thinks he can go one on one with him, but he can’t. Rock said Rhodes has a match coming up against Reigns and he’s challenging him. Rock said the Bloodline had a laugh about their challenge, but they have a counter offer for Rhodes. Rock said Rhodes and his friend, the walking clown emoji, Seth Rollins, think they’re tough. Rock challenged Rhodes and Rollins to a tag team match against himself and Reigns at Wrestlemania Night One. Rock said if Rhodes and Rollins win, then the title match between Rhodes and Reigns will be free of the Bloodline. Rock said there’s always a but. He said if and when Reigns and Rock win, the match between Rhodes and Reigns will be Bloodline rules. He said maybe Rock will be commentary, maybe Jimmy will be the ref, maybe Sikoa will sing the National Anthem. The crowd chanted for Sikoa. Rock said he may just bash Rhodes’ brain in, and it will be legal. Rock called himself and Reigns the greatest pairing in the history of sports and entertainment. Rock invited Rhodes and Rollins to Smackdown next week to accept the challenge. Rock said if they don’t accept the challenge, Rock will make sure Rhodes doesn’t win the title. Rock said Rhodes knows that Rock sits on the board and he runs the show so no one can stop him. The crowd chanted for Triple H. Rock said if Rhodes doesn’t accept the challenge, Reigns and Rock will end the story tragically.

-Rock started to say his catchphrase, but Reigns cut him off. Rock stared down Reigns and Reigns looked away. Heyman looked on in shock. Reigns held out his hand for a mic and Heyman gave it to him. Reigns said he needed something from Rock. He said he would do anything for his family, but he needs one thing. Reigns looked at Rock and asked Rock to acknowledge him. Rock stared down Reigns. Rock removed his sunglasses and looked at Reigns. Rock said he acknowledges Reigns as his Tribal Chief. Rock extended his hand and Reigns shook it. They then hugged. The crowd chanted “you sold out”. Rock said he needed to explain something to the crowd. He said this is family and he and Reigns will do anything for family. Rock told the crowd to go home and smoke some more crack. Rock said “if you smell” and handed the mic to Reigns. Reigns finished with “what the Bloodline is cooking”. The Bloodline posed with their ones in the sky.

(McDonald’s Analysis: Well, that’s the answer we’ve all been looking for. I really like how that segment went. Rock was strong, even if some of the jokes are lowbrow. He came off well here and commanded the attention of everyone. Beyond that, the match set-up is interesting. I could see it playing out either way, but the stakes make sense and don’t put the main event match in jeopardy for the fans’ sake and it also doesn’t make the outcome a foregone conclusion. You can see them going with the Bloodline winning on Night One to set up Rhodes beating all the odds, or they lose and Reigns has to do it all on his own. This could also be an opportunity to give something back to Rollins with how he’s been portrayed thus far. Rollins could pin Rock on Night One before Rhodes beats Reigns on Night Two. Or, Rhodes could beat Rock and turn around and lose to Reigns the following night. This was expected, but I don’t think anyone expected stipulations like this. It’s good stuff. Reigns’ moment with Rock and needing his validation was also a special touch that they could use again down the line if they choose to. To top it all off, Rock transitioned from the thumb out to the thumb in on the one finger gesture at the end. I think everyone read too much into it the first time, Rock just doesn’t know how to do it.)

-Grayson Waller and Austin Theory were in the back watching something on Waller’s phone. L.A. Knight appeared with a chair and asked if they saw A.J. Styles. They said no. Knight walked off. Waller and Theory were watching Randy Orton getting eliminated from the Chamber and laughing. Orton was behind them. He caught what they were watching and challenged one of them to a match later tonight. Orton said they can choose. Waller said Theory mentioned he wanted to wrestle Orton before. Orton accepted and said he would see Theory later. Orton walked off after he slapped Theory on the back. Theory turned to Waller and mentioned that Waller did it to him again. [c]

-Tiffany Stratton made her entrance. Naomi was waiting in the ring.


They locked up and Naomi shot Stratton off the ropes. Stratton took Naomi down and then showed off her athleticism. Naomi took Stratton down and did a cartwheel of her own. Stratton tossed Naomi down and taunted her. Naomi fought back and charged Stratton in the corner. The crowd favored Stratton over Naomi in the early moments of the match. Naomi punched Stratton down and then charged with a dropkick. Naomi made the cover for a two count. Naomi charged again and Stratton lifted her to the apron. Naomi landed a big right followed by a springboard facebuster. Naomi made the cover for a two count. Stratton rolled to the outside and the show cut to commercial. [c]

Stratton flipped into an elbow in the corner on Naomi. Stratton followed up with a low double stomp and made the cover for a two count. Naomi fought back and hit a facebuster variation on Stratton on the apron. Naomi made a cover for a two count. They traded blows in the middle of the ring. Naomi came off the ropes but Stratton caught her coming in with a spinebuster. Stratton made the cover for a two count. Naomi landed a jawbreaker and charged Stratton in the corner but Stratton moved to the apron. Stratton raked Naomi’s eyes and tossed her into the ringpost. Stratton followed up with the Prettiest Moonsault Ever for the win.

WINNER: Tiffany Stratton in 8:00

(McDonald’s Analysis: Why did they re-sign Naomi again? She’s in the exact same, if not worse, spot she was in when she left. They should have spent the money on Jordynn Grace and brought in someone who can actually make a difference. Speaking of making a difference, Stratton is special. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the crowd wasn’t as in to her yet, but her performance at Elimination Chamber flipped that and she was mega over tonight. She was significantly more popular than Naomi and garnered more of a babyface reaction. I don’t want WWE to overreact to this and turn Stratton, but I hope they continue to push her and make her look credible against higher level opponents. They have a chance to freshen up the Smackdown Women’s Division with Stratton and they can’t waste the opportunity. She would be a great opponent for the new babyface Bayley down the line.)

-Graves threw to a video package on Damage Ctrl’s break-up.

-The Kabuki Warriors made their entrance with Iyo Sky. Graves hyped their match against Bayley and Dakota Kai for after the break. [c]


-Bayley made her entrance with Dakota Kai. They ran into the ring and the Kabuki Warriors retreated.

(2) KABUKI WARRIORS (Asuka & Kairi Sane) (w/ Iyo Sky) vs. BAYLEY & DAKOTA KAI

Asuka and Sane attacked Bayley from behind. They landed double kicks and a low dropkick. Sky cheered them on from ringside. Bayley recovered and took Asuka down and punched away at her. Asuka retreated to the corner. Bayley charged and Asuka lifted her to the apron. Bayley landed a shot and climbed to the top rope. Asuka distracted the ref and Sane threw Bayley off the top rope. Bayley slid to the outside and pulled Asuka down. Bayley took down Sane. Asuka whipped Bayley into Kai and knocked her off the apron. Asuka slapped Bayley but Bayley fought back. Sane tagged in and they hit a double team on Bayley. Sane made the cover for a two count. Sane slammed Bayley’s head into the mat. Asuka tagged back in and Sane tossed Bayley into Asuka’s feet. Bayley countered a double team then took down Sane and Asuka. Kai tried to get back on the apron. Bayley crawled toward Kai and Asuka held her back. Bayley got free and went to tag in Kai. Kai dropped off the apron and smirked at Bayley. Bayley slammed the mat in frustration and looked hurt. Bayley fought back against Asuka and Sane. Bayley took them down and then ran after Kai. Bayley beat on Kai on the outside but she was attacked from behind by the Kabuki Warriors.

WINNER: No Contest in 5:00

-Damage Ctrl beat on Bayley and Sky hit the ring and took her down with a big dropkick from behind. Sky laughed at Bayley as Damage Ctrl stood tall.

(McDonald’s Analysis: Well, everyone with a brain saw that coming. I don’t know if Rock ran long or if this was supposed to be really fast, but the angle felt rushed. When Kai didn’t tag in and was taken out, I assumed she wasn’t cleared to wrestle. I still think that may be the case, but they teased it enough to have you forget about it for a minute. Kai was certain to turn on Bayley to further tilt the odds in the favor of Damage Ctrl. This was fine, but it did feel rushed. At the end of the day though, it didn’t need to be drawn out. They got from point A to point B and they can expand on it later.)

-They showed a graphic for Orton against Theory. Wade Barrett promoted the match.

-Bron Breakker was shown making his way to the ring in the back. Graves hyped his appearance for after the break. [c]

-They showed the arena from the outside again.

-In the arena, Damage Ctrl walked in the back and celebrated. They bumped into Jade Cargill. Nick Aldis appeared and said he would deal with Damage Ctrl better. He beckoned Cargill to come with him.

(McDonald’s Analysis: Sign me up for Cargill and Belair against the Kabuki Warriors at Wrestlemania.)

-Bron Breakker made his entrance. Xyon Quinn was in the ring.


Breakker charged and hit Quinn with a spear. Breakker made the cover for the win.

WINNER: Bron Breakker in 5 seconds

-Breakker celebrated.

(McDonald’s Analysis: Yeah, I think Rock went a little long. This is how Breakker should be winning anyway. I didn’t like that his opponent got in so much offense last week. They didn’t make that same mistake here and it was a welcome change. Good stuff.)

-The announce team was shown ringside. Graves said Damage Ctrl isn’t the only faction that’s been divided recently. He threw to a video package on Legado del Fantasma and their feud with the L.W.O. and Carlito.

-Carlito made his entrance with the L.W.O. He left them behind as he made his way to the ring. They showed a graphic for Carlito against Santos Escobar in a Street Fight. Graves hyped the match for after the break. [c]

-Santos Escobar made his entrance with Legado del Fantasma. Like Carlito, he left them behind on the ramp as he made his way to the ring.

(4) CARLITO vs. SANTOS ESCOBAR – Street Fight

They traded punches. Carlito took Escobar down and punched away. Carlito tossed Escobar to the outside. Carlito followed Escobar out and tossed him into the steps. Carlito pulled out a table from under the ring. The crowd cheered. Escobar kicked Carlito and followed up with a chop. Carlito reversed a whip and sent Escobar into the steps. Carlito tossed Escobar into the ring. Carlito looked under the ring again and pulled out a kendo stick. Carlito then pulled out an apple. Escobar came from the ring and took out Carlito with a dive. Escobar tossed the apple aside as the show cut to a break. [c]

Back from break, Carlito was in the corner under a trash can. Escobar charged with double knees and took down Carlito. Escobar made the cover for a two count. Escobar tossed Carlito to the outside. Escobar set up a dive but Carlito held up a chair and Escobar ran into it. Carlito stayed on the attack and hit Escobar with the trash can. Carlito put Escobar in the trash can and hit it with the chair. Carlito removed the trash can and positioned the chair. Carlito hit a neckbreaker onto the chair and covered Escobar for a two count. Carlito dropped to the outside and pulled out a table. Carlito moved the table into the ring. Carlito set up the table but Escobar took Carlito down with a knee. Escobar took Carlito to the corner and landed a kick. He placed Carlito on the top turnbuckle. Escobar followed Carlito up but Carlito crotched Escobar on the top rope. Angel and Humberto hit the ring and attacked Carlito. They held Carlito for Escobar and they delivered a triple powerbomb. Escobar made the cover for a two count. Escobar told Angel and Humberto to get the table. Angel and Humberto set up the table. Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde hit the ring and attacked Angel and Humberto. The four brawled on the outside but Angel and Humberto took them out.

Rey Mysterio made his entrance and appeared on the stage on crutches. Escobar laughed. Angel and Humberto made their way toward Mysterio. Mysterio attacked them with the crutch. Escobar looked on in shock. Escobar called for Mysterio to get in the ring. Mysterio obliged. They stood face to face and Escobar yelled at Mysterio. Mysterio ducked a punch and Carlito spit the apple in the face of Escobar. Carlito hit the Backstabber. The L.W.O. took out Angel and Humberto. Mysterio delivered the 619 and Carlito made the cover for the win.

WINNER: Carlito in 11:00

-The L.W.O. celebrated in the ring.

(McDonald’s Analysis: Fun match. I don’t get why Mysterio got to attack Escobar here. It would have been better to save that for Wrestlemania. Either way, I fully expect that will be the match at Wrestlemania. It’s a good spot for Escobar and a win over Mysterio could be big for him at this stage.)

-Randy Orton was shown warming up in the back. Barrett hyped his match with Theory for after the break. [c]

-Barrett hyped a match with Bobby Lashley against Karrion Kross for next week on Smackdown. There was an accompanying graphic. They then showed a graphic for Logan Paul’s return to Smackdown next week.

-New Catch Republic was in the back with Aldis. They said they had the Judgment Day beat at Elimination Chamber. They said they wanted a shot at the Tag Team titles at Wrestlemania. Aldis said that was a tall order. He then said that he and Pearce have been talking and they will have an announcement about the Tag titles soon. There was a noise and Aldis walked toward it. He bumped into L.A. Knight. Knight asked where A.J. Styles was. Aldis said he told Styles to stay home. Knight said that Styles flew across the world to cost him a shot at a title match. Knight said he’ll find Styles at home if he has to but he’s going to give Styles payback.

-Kevin Owens made his entrance. Owens joined the announce team. They showed a graphic for Orton against Theory. Graves promoted the match for after the break. [c]

-Austin Theory made his entrance with Grayson Waller.

-Randy Orton made his entrance.

(5) AUSTIN THEORY (w/ Grayson Waller) vs. RANDY ORTON

Theory went for a kick but Orton blocked. Orton hit an uppercut and then took Theory to the corner. Orton mounted Theory and hit him with rights as the crowd counted along. Orton dropped after nine and hit an uppercut to take Theory down. Theory rolled to the outside and Orton followed him out. Orton slammed Theory on the announce table. Waller pulled Theory out of the way and Waller distracted Orton. Theory slammed Orton on the announce desk. Theory went into the ring and celebrated as Orton sold his back on the outside. [c]

Theory was in control and took Orton down. Theory climbed to the top rope but Orton got to his feet and cut Theory off. Orton climbed to the top rope to join Theory. Orton landed a headbutt. Orton set up for a superplex but Orton slipped off the ropes. Theory superplexed himself anyway. Theory whipped Orton into the corner and Orton came out with a clothesline. Orton hit the snap slam and then clotheslined Theory over the top rope and to the floor. Orton back suplexed Theory onto the announce table. Waller tried to interfere and Orton slammed Waller on the announce desk as well. Orton got back in the ring and set up Theory for the stalling DDT. Orton hit it and then measured Theory. Orton set up for the RKO and went for it but Theory threw Orton off. Theory tossed Orton into the ring post. Theory followed up with a Blockbuster and made the cover for a two count. Theory lifted Orton to his shoulders but Orton got free. Theory took Orton to a knee with a chop block. Theory charged and landed a big right hand. Theory made the cover for a two count. Orton rolled to the apron. Theory went after him and set up for a stalling DDT. Orton countered and sent Theory to the apron. Theory hung up Orton on the top rope. Theory rolled through the ropes and leapt but Orton caught him with an RKO for the win.

WINNER: Randy Orton in 9:00

-Waller attacked Orton from behind but Owens hit the ring and went after Waller. Theory took Owens down. Owens fought back and hit Theory with a Stunner. Orton appeared and took out Waller with an RKO. Orton and Owens bumped fists. Orton celebrated as the show went off the air.

(McDonald’s Analysis: It was really novel seeing Orton and Theory work together. It felt fresh for some reason and that’s odd considering it seems like both guys have been around for a while. They worked well together except for the botch in the corner that was just bad. The announcers did a good job trying to cover it up, but it was very clear that Theory just decided to suplex himself while Orton kind of stood there. Really awkward spot. On another note, it’s a nitpick, but Orton has to actually hit the RKO when he sets up for it once in a while. It’s a given that it’s going to be thwarted and he’ll do it later “out of nowhere”. It’s too contrived. He should at least hit it from the stalking position once a month or something. Why do they insist on using Owens on commentary? If he took it seriously, he would probably be good at it, but instead he uses it to act like a third grader with a microphone. It’s just not good. Overall though, really good show with some developments on the road to Wrestlemania. All anyone is going to talk about is the opening segment, and it makes sense. If you want to talk about more than that, the angle with Escobar and Mysterio along with Tiffany Stratton were the highlights for me.)


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