WWE Smackdown Grades and Reactions for March 8, 2024

Things are building up heading into WrestleMania 40.
WWE SmackDown
WWE SmackDown / Gladys Vega/GettyImages

Randy Orton sets his sights on Logan Paul

SmackDown started with United States Champion, Logan Paul. Paul did his usual gloating and the crowd expectedly booed him in unison. To make things even worse for all the Logan haters, Paul announced that WWE and his company Prime have partnered and Prime is now the first center ring sponsor for WWE for every PLE (per Paul.) He stood over a giant Prime logo smack dab in the middle of the ring to show what it would look like. To celebrate, Paul invited his business partner, boxer, and social media influencer, KSI. KSI joins Paul in the ring with his usual obnoxious laugh. 

As the two were about to do a professional photo, they were stopped by Randy Orton’s entrance music playing over the PR. Paul and KSI began to think it was just a fake out when Orton didn’t walk down the ramp, but most fans know that was just a sign of an Orton sneak attack. Orton failed to RKO Logan Paul but did manage to RKO KSI right on his own Prime Logo.

He then mockingly takes a sip of Prime, tells Paul he thinks it’s “really good,” then pours it over who was still lying lifeless in the ring over the Prime sponsor logo in the center of the ring. This transitions into a tag match between Kevin Owens and Randy Orton Vs. Austin Theory and Gracen Waller. I was certainly not expecting to see KSI on SmackDown, but seeing Orton RKO him in the middle of the ring was certainly a pleasant surprise. 

Grade: B

Kevin Owens and Randy Orton Vs. Grayson Waller and Austin Theory

It took Orton a minute to be tagged into this match, but once he was, the crowd was electric. Theory and Waller have been the standard heels on SmackDown for a while now. They have also been friendly with Paul in the past as well. It’s tough to say what their role will be at Wrestlemania 40 but it could be helping Paul keep his title against a hungry Orton at Wrestlemania. 

The match didn’t last very long but it was a great match to warm up the crowd for the rest of the night. Orton put away Waller with the RKO. Owens and Orton celebrated in the ring, but it didn’t last long. Paul blindsided both men after the match and attempted to hit Orton with brass knuckles once again. Orton steals the knuckles from Paul but fails to successfully use them against him. Regardless, Owens and Orton stand tall against Theory, Waller, and Paul. Wherever this story is going, it certainly seems like a United States title shot is in Orton’s future.

Grade: B-

Bobby Lashley Vs. Karrion Kross

Representing The Final Testament, Kross looks to get the upper hand on Bobby Lashley again. This time, in a one-on-one match. Kross and The Final Testament have dominated against Lashley and The Street Profits over the past several weeks, making Lashley look incredibly weak, along with The Profits. Hopefully, Lashley and his stable can be put over before being completely buried by bad booking. Karrion Kross has always been an interesting persona that fans were invested in, but his rise should not be at the expense of Bobby Lashley and The Profits' reputation on the roster

Lashley and Kross were explosive during this match. The action was impressive and exciting but it did not last long. AOP got involved and caused a DQ. Even with Dawkins and Ford running out to the ring, Akam, Razar, and Kross laid out the whole faction. Yet again, Lashley and the Profits look like fools.

Wins and losses happen, but booking a faction into oblivion is never a good sign for those individuals in particular. Lashley and The Profits never even had time to establish themselves as a legitimate faction on SmackDown. Before they knew it, they were stuck in a program with The Final Testament that had not been mutually beneficial. Lashley was screwed out of Wrestlemania last year and it seems that it may be happening this year as well.

Grade: D+

Tiffany Stratton Vs. Michin

Continuing her hot streak since her debut, Stratton targets Michin as this week’s victim. Michin, on the other hand, has not been booked well lately, along with her good brothers. Knowing the status of both these women, It was easy to predict the winner of this short-lived match before the bell even rang. 

Stratton looked strong throughout the match and then hit her finishing “Prettiest Moonsault Ever.” It was undoubtedly over from there. Stratton comes out on top once again, maintaining dominance on the women’s roster going into Wrestlemania. While both women’s titles are already being challenged in Philly, there could still be room at Mania for, dare I say, “Tiffy Time.”

Grade: C+

Angel Vs. Dragon Lee

After basically being bullied earlier on in the night backstage, Dragon Lee would have a chance at redemption against Angel in one-on-one action. Santos Escobar has built his faction well over the past couple of months and is ready for a potential match against LWO at Wrestlemania. Legado Del Fantasma Vs. LWO has been a developing story for several months now that has recently incorporated Dragon Lee into the mix.

After Mysterio’s return to the ring last week, It seems likely that an alliance between Mysterio and Lee is possible in the future. Lee showed off his athletic ability during the match and did get the victory; but was immediately laid out by Escobar and his goons. With LWO absent from the arena, there was no one to stop Legado Del Fantasma from making an example of Dragon Lee. Now that Rey Mysterio has returned, It’s highly likely that Escobar will answer for everything he’s done over the last several months quite soon.

Grade: C

Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins answer The Bloodline’s challenge

Watching the Bloodline make their entrance, I was wondering If The Rock would accompany his cousins in their entrance this week or continue to make his separate entrance. While he is an enormous figure in his own right who’s worthy of his own entrance, The Rock being a part of the Bloodline’s entrance makes the Bloodline look immensely strong. While he did not join the Tribal Chief in entering the arena this week, The Rock did have a slightly different version of his entrance, featuring new lighting effects and spotlights.

Cody and Seth wasted little time making their way to the ring, but due to security, they made their way to the ring through the crowd, reminiscent of The Shield, when Rollins and Reigns stood side by side in battle against all of WWE. Through a commercial break (annoying,) Rollins and Rhodes make their way to the floor level and enter the ring. When Cody attempts to finally give his answer, The Rock shuts him up and starts laying “some gospel on his punk-ass.” Through the Rock’s rambling, Rollins cuts him off and gets in his face.

This is where the segment got extremely interesting. Rollins says that both men understand The Bloodline’s stipulation for Night one of Wrestlemania and they accept The Rock’s challenge. Rollins, Reigns and Rhodes will all wrestle two matches across Wrestlemania weekend. Rollins may even have two matches on the first night. The tension in the ring could be felt after Rollins uttered to The Rock “You had your time. You damn sure can’t have ours.” Rollins’ anger and frustration could be felt. Everything about this faceoff was truly gold. 

The Rock reminds both of his Wrestlemania opponents that as a member of the TKO board, he is technically the boss and he can ensure that both men walk out of Wrestlemania empty-handed, but that isn’t what broke Cody Rhodes. The final straw came when Rock said that the reason Cody was so much younger than his siblings was because he was a mistake. As insulting as this was, Cody responded in the most poetic way possible, with a slap straight across Rock's face. This stunned and Baffled Rock. Smackdown went off the air with Roman holding back Rock after Cody’s slap. 

The tag match between these four men on night one of Wrestlemania will almost definitely be the main event. Similar to last year, the overall Bloodline story is too big to not headline both nights. Some may not like The Rock and Roman Reigns not having full-time schedules but still main eventing all of Wrestlemania 40. However, they won’t be complaining if Rollins and Rhodes Successfully beat Rock and Reigns in the night one tag match and ensure a Bloodline-free night two main event (hopefully.) This was another cinematic segment that was setting up a Blockbuster Wrestlemania. Similar to last year’s Bloodline story, the building to these matches is consistent and tells a story that fans are more invested in than any other story on the program. 

Grade: A