Cody Rhodes to Appear Live on SmackDown

Two weeks from the biggest match of Cody Rhodes’ career, the WWE Universe will hear from The American Nightmare tonight on SmackDown. Between his upcoming WrestleMania showdown with Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, which seemingly gets more personal by the day, and his recent interactions with fellow Bloodline rivals Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, there’s no shortage of topics for Rhodes to address. What will The American Nightmare, one of WWE’s most stirring orators, say when he’s got a live mic?

– Tonight’s WWE Smack SmackDown on FOX opens live from the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri as Michael Cole welcomes us. He’s joined at ringside by Wade Barrett. They hype tonight’s show.

– We go right to the ring and out comes Cody Rhodes to a big pop as Samantha Irvin does the introductions.

Cody takes the mic and asks the crowd what they want to talk about – WrestleMania? Cody talks about tempers and mistakes on The Road to WrestleMania 39. He says he has the utmost respect for our champion, Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Fans boo. Cody says Reigns is the greatest champion in sports, he looks forward to seeing Reigns in the ring on RAW, and then beating Reigns at WrestleMania. Fans pop and chant “Cody!” now.

Cody doesn’t want to talk about somebody, he wants to talk to somebody. Cody knows this person is back there watching. He calls Kevin Owens to the ring, please. Owens isn’t coming out. Cody says he’s asking nicely and… the music interrupts and out comes Owens to a pop as we see how Solo Sikoa defeated Owens in a Street Fight on RAW, thanks to Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos. Owens enters the ring to a “KO!” chant. Owens thanks Cody and says he’s sure he knows what this is about. Cody interrupts and says this isn’t a conversation between two people, it involves another party. Cody calls out Sami Zayn now and here he comes to a pop.

Owens argues with Cody. Sami enters and Cody takes the mic, mentioning the respect and love he has for Owens. Cody recalls leaving WWE years ago and wishing them the best in their future endeavors. He thanks Owens for introducing him to some friends who helped him out and bettered his livelihood. It’s a favor Cody can never repay but he’d like to try in this moment. Cody says since we’re all here, let’s have The Conversation. Fans chant “hug it out!” now. Owens has heard everything Sami has to say. Sami says he hasn’t heard all Owens has to say.

Sami recalls how they’ve done bad things to each other over the years, but always came back to each other, and he can’t understand why now is different. Sami tells Owens to do or say whatever he needs to do so they can get back to working together, even if that means punching him. Owens tells Cody he came out here as he asked, so did you get what you wanted? Owens wants to leave. Cody says they are in the people-pleasing business, so it doesn’t matter what he wants, but everyone wants to see them back on the same page. Fans cheer and chant “hug it out!” again.

Sami goes on about how they can do something magical if they come together, they can bring down The Bloodline. Sami says it may take years to repair this, and they don’t need to be friends to do this, they just need to work together. Owens gets it, Sami just wants him to take on The Bloodline with Cody, and they don’t need to be friends… but why would he fight for someone who doesn’t even want to be his friend? Owens thanks Cody for doing this, and says he’s all set. Owens exits the ring to boos as Sami and Cody look on.

– Still to come, Sami Zayn will have a showdown with Jey Uso.

– We see Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley walking backstage. We go to commercial.

– Back from the break and we see Kevin Owens leaving in the back parking lot. Sami Zayn runs out to stop him. Sami says forget what he said about The Bloodline and all that… Sami says they are friends, always have been and always will be, they are brothers. Sami says if Owens never wants to talk to him again, that’s fine, but he loves him. Owens gets in his car to leave, then speeds away. Sami is looking for Owens to turn around, but he doesn’t.

Santos Escobar and Zelina Vega vs. Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley

We go back to the ring for mixed tag team action as The Judgment Day’s Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley are out first. We see how The Judgment Day beat Legado del Fantasma in six-man action last week. Out next comes Legado’s Santos Escobar and Zelina Vega, and they are ready to fight.

The bell rings and Dominik dropkicks Santos from the side, then mounts him with punches. Escobar fights back with flying forearms, and right hands of his own. Ripley runs in and Escobar catches her kick. Vega tags in and leaps off the top with a plancha while Escobar holds Ripley.

Vega plants Ripley face-first into the mat with a hurricanrana. They go to the floor but Escobar takes Dominik out at ringside. Vega climbs up and hits a moonsault to Ripley on the floor. Legado returns to the ring and Vega poses on top of Escobar’s shoulders. Back to commercial.

Back from the break and Dominik unloads on Escobar in the corner. Escobar fights back but Dominik drops him and nails the senton from the apron for a 2 count.

Dominik mounts Escobar with rights now. They run the ropes and Escobar nails a dropkick. Escobar with the leg drop backbreaker for 2 as Ripley makes the save. Ripley slams Dominik on top of Escobar for 2 as Vega breaks the pin up just in time.

Dominik works Escobar over, but stops to taunt Vega. They go at it again and collide in the middle of the ring. Vega and Ripley tag in at the same time and they go at it. Vega counters with a big tornado DDT for 2 as Dominik pulls Vega off Ripley to boos. Escobar with a big jumping knee to Dominik. Ripley sends Vega to the floor. Escobar has Dominik up top but Ripley assists for the big slam to the mat.

Vega comes back in and nails a crossbody to Ripley, then a knee to the face. Vega goes to the middle rope and hits a hurricanrana on Dominik. Ripley comes from behind and slams Vega with Riptide for the pin to win.

Winners: Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley

– After the match, Ripley and Dominik stand tall as the music hits. We go to replays. Dominik takes the mic but boos drown him out. He says your WWE Hall of Famer is nothing but a disrespectful deadbeat of a father, who was never there for his son. We see Rey Mysterio on the big screen now, walking backstage. Fans pop and chant “Rey!” as we go back to commercial with Dominik looking on as Ripley hypes him up.

Back from the break and out comes Rey Mysterio to his music. Dominik comments on how Rey showed up this time but he missed so many nights at home in the past. Rey asks Ripley if he can have a moment with his son, and she leaves the ring. Dominik goes on and says Rey took his WrestleMania moment because he’s nothing but a scared failed attempt at a father. Dominik goes to call Rey a piece of shit but Rey interrupts.

Rey admits he wasn’t the best father, he missed a lot of things, but that doesn’t take away his love. Rey says he still loves Dominik and whether Dominik believes it or not, he is Rey”s world, but soon, pretty soon, Dominik will find out how selfish this business is and how Rey made sacrifices so that Dominik, his mom and sister could have the life Rey only dreamed of. All the fancy cars, the brand names, you name it – Dominik had it. Every time Dominik got into trouble, his last name bailed him out. Rey gets choked up and says he’s having a hard time coping with his. Rey says he’s being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and he’d love nothing more than to have Dominik at his side on the stage.

Fans chant “you deserve it!” now. Rey says his biggest regret is what Dominik has become. He says if some ungrateful, disrespectful, pathetic, punk ass kid called him out, at WrestleMania, he’d gladly whoop their ass. Fans pop and chant “kick his ass!” now. Rey says unfortunately… Dominik slaps his hand away. Rey says unfortunately, Dominik is his son and fighting him would be the biggest disgrace as a father. Rey says Dominik isn’t worth it, he won’t fight him now or any other time, and he won’t fight him at WrestleMania either. Rey drops the mic and exits the ring. Dominik taunts Rey for running away again, from his own son. Dominik calls Rey a scared little man and keeps taunting him. Rey stops on the stage and bows his head.

– We see Drew McIntyre backstage warming up. We also see Sheamus warming up with Ridge Holland and Butch.

– Wade Barrett announces two Showcase Matches for WrestleMania 39, one for men and one for women. These are the planned Fatal 4 Way tag team matches reported earlier. Barrett sends us to the first qualifier.

WrestleMania 39 Fatal 4 Way Showcase Qualifier: Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Emma and Tegan Nox

We go back to the ring and out first comes Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez. The winning team will qualify for the Women’s Showcase Fatal 4 Way at WrestleMania 39. Back to commercial.

Back from the break and Tegan Nox and Emma are out. Nox starts off and she has her arm taped up after what happened with Shayna Baszler last week. The bell rings and Nox goes at it with Rodriguez. Raquel dominates after getting slapped.

Liv tags in and Rodriguez whips her into Nox in the corner. Liv goes on and covers for a 2 count. Nox fights with Liv and nails a flying knee. Nox with more strikes and a running corner uppercut. Emma tags in and hits the low crossbody to Liv in the corner. Nox then nails the follow-up to Liv while she’s down, and Emma covers for 2.

Emma works Liv over and hits the double underhook suplex for 2. Nox tags back in and kicks Liv around, smacking her and taunting her. Liv just laughs from her knees, then nails a Backstabber to Nox. Rodriguez and Emma tag in at the same time. Raquel unloads and drops Emma with a clothesline, then a fall-away slam and the middle rope corkscrew elbow. Nox breaks the pin up at 2.

Liv runs over and hits Code Red to Nox. Emma sends Morgan to the floor. Emma fights with Raquel. Raquel tags Liv in, then drops Emma with the Texana Bomb. Liv follows up with Ob-Livion to Emma for the pin to win and advance to WrestleMania.

Winners: Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez

– After the match, Liv and Raquel stand tall to celebrate as the music hits. The announcers hype their Showcase Fatal 4 Way at WrestleMania.

– We see the war of words between Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair on last week’s show.

– We go back to the ring and out comes SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair to a big pop and pyro. Back to commercial.

Back from the break and Flair has the mic. She points up at the WrestleMania 39 sign and says the more things change, the more they stay the same. She recalls being a kid and this business was built on Rhodes as a challenger, and Flair as a champion. Here we are years later and WrestleMania 39 is built on the same thing.

Flair goes on about how she’s been a star in all her WrestleMania matches. She says Rhea Ripley can’t be the star or champion until she goes through Flair, which she couldn’t do three years ago, and which she can’t do now because the more things change, the more they stay the same. The music interrupts and out comes Ripley with Dominik Mysterio. Ripley says Flair is right, she chose Flair, not RAW Women’s Champion Bianca Belair. She has reasons for not picking Belair and she will get back to that. Ripley goes on about how male and female Superstars fear her… except for Flair. That pisses Ripley off. Ripley praises Flair some and says she’s been champion all these times because she’s a Superstar.

Ripley could give her all the credit in the world but the title around her waist… Ripley wants and needs it, she doesn’t just want to be a star, she needs to be a star and after WrestleMania, once all is done and dusted, Flair will learn to call Ripley champion, and she will learn to fear Ripley. Dominik steps in Flair’s face and taunts her. Ripley drops Flair with a cheap shot. Ripley says she will see Flair at WrestleMania.

Fans boo as Ripley and Dominik exit the ring. Flair gets up, runs around the ring and clotheslines Ripley, then rams her into the barrier and beats on her. Ripley fights back as officials rush down to try and restore order. Flair hits the ring post hard and clutches her nose, but then she sends Ripley into the barrier. They brawl back on the floor, then to their feet. Flair decks a security guard, then nails a running big boot to Ripley. Ripley keeps fighting and tosses Flair over the announce table. Security holds Ripley back but Flair leaps off the announce table and takes them all down. The brawl continues against the barrier as officials try to restore order. They tumble over the barrier into the crowd now. They’re finally kept apart but still taunting each other as fans pop. Flair stands in the ring and raises her title in the air. Ripley looks up at her and smiles, then licks her lips.

– Kayla Braxton is backstage with Sami Zayn, asking how the emotional start to the night may impact his mindset going into the showdown with Jey Uso. Sami talks about how if enough people say you’re the problem, you start to believe it. He says whatever happens next is OK as he brought this all on himself. If Jey wants him to pull up, fine, it’s time to pull up.

LA Knight vs. Xavier Woods

We go back to the ring and out comes Xavier Woods. Back to commercial.

Back from the break and out comes LA Knight. We see footage from earlier today of Knight interrupting a WWE 2K23 sessions with Woods and Madcap Moss. Knight insulted them and Woods issued a challenge for this match. The bell rings and they go at it. Knight turns it around in the corner and stomps away.

Cole mentions how Kofi Kingston underwent successful ankle surgery earlier today. Woods fights but LA counters with a DDT for 2. Knight climbs up for a superplex but Woods knocks him to the mat, then hits a missile dropkick.

Woods with a long Falcon Arrow to Knight for 2. Knight slides off Woods’ shoulders and mounts offense. Knight with a Facebuster for 2. Woods blocks a suplex and catches Knight with BackWoods for the pin to win.

Winner: Xavier Woods

– After the match, Woods celebrates and taunts Knight from ringside as the music hits.

– The announcers talk about The Great Muta going into the WWE Hall of Fame.

– Still to come, Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre with a WrestleMania title shot on the line. Back to commercial.

– Back from the break and Kayla stops LA Knight backstage. He tells her to hold on, and walks over to start trash talking Rey Mysterio, who is signing a stack of autographs. Rey decks Knight with a big right hand, then speaks in Spanish and walks off. A shocked Knight wonders what the hell Rey just said.

– Tonight’s Progressive Match Flo video looks back at last week’s Fatal 5 Way main event, which led to this next match.

WWE Intercontinental Title #1 Contenders Match: Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre

We go back to the ring and out first comes Sheamus. Drew McIntyre is out next. They both hit the ring as fans cheer. Sheamus points his shillelagh at the WrestleMania 39 sign, while Drew points up with his sword. Before the match can begin, the music hits and out comes Imperium – WWE Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER, Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci. The winner of this match will challenge GUNTHER at WrestleMania 39. We go back to commercial as Imperium looks on from the entrance-way.

Back from the break and the bell rings as they face off. Imperium watches from ringside. Sheamus ignores a handshake attempt. They lock up and go at it. Sheamus drops Drew first. Drew with a knee to the gut to put Sheamus down. Drew chops Sheamus and hits a snap suplex for 2.

Wade Barrett calls GUNTHER over and tries to get comments. GUNTHER says he will fulfill his duties and face whoever is named his challenger. He says Barrett is wasting his time with ill-prepared questions. Cole apologizes to GUNTHER. The back & forth continues in the ring now. They trade big chops but Sheamus hits the Irish Curse backbreaker for a 2 count.

Sheamus goes for 10 Beats of the Bodhrán but can only hit 1. They tangle some and Drew runs into a big boot in the corner. Sheamus pulls himself to the top rope but before he can fly, Drew rocks him with a right hand. Drew climbs up and unloads, then hits the big superplex as Imperium watches. We go to commercial with both men down in the middle of the ring.

Back from the break and Sheamus is chopping Drew. Sheamus with a big side-slam for 2 in the middle of the ring. Sheamus with 10 Beats of the Bodhrán as fans count along. Sheamus plays to the crowd for cheers but this allows Drew to recover some. Sheamus calls for the Brogue Kick now. Drew comes back and launches Sheamus, then kips-up and calls for the Claymore Kick.

Drew goes for it but Sheamus meets him with a big knee to the face. Drew kicks out at 2. Fans chant “this is awesome!” now as they trade big strikes from their knees. They get to their feet and trade big clothesline blows now. Drew with a Glasgow Kiss headbutt, Sheamaus with a pump knee. They’re both down against the ropes. Sheamus nails a Brogue Kick as Drew nails a Claymore Kick, but they both go down.

Fans count as GUNTHER shows frustration, saying not like this. GUNTHER hits the apron and has words with the referee. GUNTHER is in the ring now, asking who is going to win. He yells at both competitors. They get up and corner GUNTHER now but Vinci and Kaiser attack from behind, beating them down to boos. GUNTHER with a running corner dropkick to Drew as Sheamus tosses Vinci and Kaiser to the floor.

Sheamus turns around to a lariat from GUNTHER. GUNTHER grabs Sheamus and slams him on top of Drew’s back with a big powerbomb as the boos get louder. GUNTHER exits the ring and Imperium heads to the back. Adam Pearce interrupts from the big screen. He says GUNTHER was clear last week about wanting one challenger but tonight’s actions say otherwise. Pearce says GUNTHER leaves him no choice – it will be a Triple Threat at WrestleMania with GUNTHER, McIntyre and Sheamus. GUNTHER is not happy. Drew and Sheamus recover in the ring, staring out at Imperium.

– We see Jey Uso walking backstage. Back to commercial.

– Back from the break and Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champion Jey Uso is in the ring. Before he can speak, the music hits and out comes Sami Zayn.

Zayn walks right into the ring and says he’s here, so how does Jey want to do this. Jey says he has a job to do but Sami is going to hear this. Jey didn’t like or trust Sami from day one, didn’t want him around his family at all, but then week after week the family started liking Sami. Fans are giving Jey the “What!?” treatment here. Jey says he was the only one who didn’t like Sami, and the one time he put his guard down for someone he thought loved him, Sami betrayed him and made him look stupid in front of the whole world. Jey says some woman told him he always second-guesses himself but one thing he knows for sure – Sami was fake from day one.

Jey mentions not having a choice but Sami says he made the choice to take abuse from Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns over and over. Sami says he was not going to take that but he loved the family. Sami thinks Jey is just mad he didn’t hit Reigns first. Sami keeps saying Jey always has a choice. Jey is a bit emotional, but he turns and attacks Sami. They brawl round the ring now. Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champion Jimmy Uso rushes the ring now to help his bother. They send Sami to the floor and Jey smashes half of the steel ring steps in his face. They bring the attack back into the ring but the music hits and out comes Kevin Owens.

The Usos wait but there’s no sign of Owens. Owens is now standing behind them in the ring. Jey turns around first but Owens drops him, then sends Jimmy to the floor over the top rope. Jimmy comes back fighting but Owens sends him to the floor. Owns stomps on Jey now, then hits a Stunner on Jimmy as he comes back in. Owens with a Pop-Up Powerbomb to Jey in the middle of the ring. Owens screams as Jey rolls to the floor and fans pop. Sami stumbles to his feet and looks at Owens as fans chant “hug it out!” again. Owens marches across the ring to Sami and grabs him for a big hug as the crowd erupts. We see Cody Rhodes watching from backstage. Owens’ music starts up as he and Sami stand together, looking out at The Usos. SmackDown goes off the air with the two teams staring at each other.