WWE SmackDown Grades and Reactions for March 15, 2024

The road to WrestleMania continues to heat up with multiple new matches and angles developing.
Jan 27, 2024; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Bayley celebrates after winning the women   s Royal Rumble
Jan 27, 2024; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Bayley celebrates after winning the women s Royal Rumble / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Rock makes a violent promise to “Mama Rhodes”

The Rock made his entrance for the third week in a row, but this time it’s not the same. The Rock came out to his retro “Hollywood” theme song, used during the days of his heel persona. Many people have been speculating whether they would change The Rock’s music now that he’s once again a heel. It’s certainly a better choice of entrance music to fit Rock’s current persona. 

The segment starts with The Rock showing appreciation for his wrestling roots, saying that being in Memphis means that he’s finally home. This was a surprise due to Rock’s recent interactions with the crowd in the past two weeks. His appreciation for the city and its fans was touching, but inconsistent with the story that Rock and Reigns have been telling. 

After the confusing show of appreciation, the segment continues with another famous sing-along with The Rock. Rock sings about Cody Rhodes, his clown friend, Seth Rollins, and even Rhodes’ mother. This time, Rock was not the one with the guitar.  He had a duo there to provide the music while he delivered the punchline. 

Finally, Rock finished his song and got down to business. He replayed Cody’s interview from last Monday night on RAW and made fun of the leader of the Cody crybabies for, well, crying. He insults Cody Further and then makes a promise to Rhodes’ mother, Michelle. He takes out his own signature weight belt and tells Cody’s mother that she’s going to be receiving this belt on night 2 of Wrestlemania 40. The only catch is that by then, it will have been covered in Cody’s blood all over it. Sending a powerful message, The Rock exits the ring with his weight belt in hand. 

Even after softly breaking character, Rock cut a compelling promo. However, it would have been a little better if it was the first time we were hearing most of it. A good portion of his words tonight were already said this morning in a new Instagram video that The Rock posted, where he already made his big threat of whooping Cody with his weight belt. While you can buy into everything he says, it certainly takes away from the creativity aspect of the show.

Grade: B

Humberto and Angel Vs. LWO (WrestleMania qualifying match)

After the announcement from Nick Aldis and Adam Pearce, the qualifying matches begin for the six-pac ladder match at Wrestlemania for the Undisputed Tag Team Championships.  These two teams have been putting on great matches, including this one. However, Legado Del Fantasma has gotten stronger throughout the weeks. They have been looking more impressive and have been an entertaining heel faction to win. As expected from the start, Humberto picks up the win and gains the advance for his team. While they haven’t qualified just yet, Santos Escobar and his goons have been getting more and more attention since Escobar turned on Rey Mysterio. A spot in the ladder match would make sense, especially if Santos also ends up getting a Wrestlemania moment of his own. The team’s next opponent is to be decided later on in the night.

Grade: C

L.A Knight and AJ Styles will face off at WrestleMania

After not being featured much since Elimination Chamber, L.A Knight finally issued a challenge to AJ Styles. This feud stems back all the way to November when Styles returned from an injury and surprise attacked Knight. The two have had issues ever since and Elimination Chamber was the last straw for Knight. After Styles cost him the Elimination Chamber match, Knight lost his patience. 

After Knight makes the formal challenge, Styles rushes to the ramp to attack Styles again. This time, with a steel chair in hand. He grabs the Mic from the ground and tells Knight he accepts the challenge at Wrestlemania. Yet again, Styles attacks Knight and gets the upper hand. Considering that Knight is so popular with the fanbase and that he’s been on the receiving end of a bunch of attacks from Styles with little retaliation, there’s almost no doubt that their match will end “with everybody saying L.A Knight.” Knight earned this victory after being denied the spotlight until well after it was due. It’s only fitting that he is given his first Wrestlemania match and victory.

Grade: B-

Jimmy Uso answers Jey Uso's Challenge

In a brief backstage segment, Jimmy Uso replied to Jey's Wrestlemania challenge last Monday on RAW. With a whole lot of energy, Jimmy accepts the match at Mania. This was anticipated by pretty much everyone. Their rivalry has been on and off since Summer Slam when Jimmy cost Jey Uso the Undisputed Championship against Roman Reigns. Additionally, Jimmy cost both the Tag Team and Intercontinental Championships between Summer Slam and now. This has been a boiling feud and it all cumulates at Wrestlemania. Regardless of the winner, this match is sure to turn heads.

Randy Orton Vs. Grayson Waller + Logan Paul finds out his WrestleMania Opponent(s)

Logan Paul joined commentary before the match started. Waller benefitted from a distracted Orton and started the match off in his favor. Waller carried this through the commercial break. Shortly after, Orton was able to recover. Within a short time, Orton bounced Waller off the announce table and RKO’d him into defeat. However, Orton was not able to celebrate for long.

Theory and Paul attacked Orton immediately following his win. Orton was saved by Kevin Owens, who has also had his issues with Paul for the past few months. Owens makes the save and makes a fool out of Theory by giving him a stunner that Orton follows up on with an RKO. Smackdown GM, Nick Aldis then comes out and books yet another Wrestlemania match. He made it official that Logan Paul would defend his United States Championship Match in a triple threat match against both Owens and Orton at Wrestlemania 40. Although many were hoping for a one-on-one between Paul and Orton, Adding Owens to the mix will make this match even more exciting to watch. 

Grade: B-

Dragon Lee Vs. Santos Escobar

After an already impressive victory from Legado Del Fantasma earlier tonight, Santos Escobar looks to send a message to Rey Mysterio and the rest of the LWO. However, the match didn’t last very long. Escobar put away Lee quickly and his goons jumped him immediately following. Fortunately for Lee, Both Carlito and Mysterio arrive to address their rival in Escobar. After Legado Del Fantasma successfully retreated up the ramp, Mysterio Challenged Escobar to a match next week on Smackdown. It’s great to see Mysterio back from Injury. It’s surprising that 

this match is not being saved for Wrestlemania, but it will certainly be interesting to see how this story progresses before Philly. 

Grade: C

Pretty Deadly Vs. New Catch Republic (WrestleMania qualifying match)

This match has been made on SmackDown several times now and it has gotten pretty repetitive. Regardless, Many people rallied behind their favorite SmackDown tag team, Dunne and Bate, now known as New Catch Republic. The two didn’t take very long to predictably put down Pretty Deadly. They will now face Legado Del Fantasma for an opportunity to challenge for the tag titles against 5 other teams at Wrestlemania 40.

 Grade: C-

Bayley Vs Dakota Kai

Setting up Iyo  Sky’s title defense against Bayley in Philly, Dakota Kai represents Damage Control as she looks to make sure Bayley doesn’t make it to Wrestlemania. Bayley puts on an impressive match and does a good job of promoting her biggest Mania match yet. However, the match didn’t last long due to time.

Bayley won the match via DQ when WWE Women’s Champion, Iyo Sky attacked Bayley mid-match. Then, all of Damage Control swarmed Bayley. Even with the assistance of Naomi, the four members of Damage Control still dominated the two underdogs. SmackDown went off the air with Iyo Sky standing over a lifeless Bayley. While this match was rightfully in the main event spotlight, There was not very much time at all for the in-ring portion of the final segment. This could have possibly been due to The Rock’s opening segment taking up nearly a half hour, another Rock segment on SmackDown that goes way longer than it needs to be. While The Rock, Reigns, Rollins and Rhodes are telling a once-in-a-lifetime story, There’s also a significant argument to be made for the TV time that they take away from the rest of the talent that are there every week. 

Grade: B