WWE SmackDown 4/5/2024: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "WWE SmackDown," the show where GUYS WRESTLEMANIA IS LITERALLY HERE AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. That's right, in case you didn't know, this was the final, official go-home show for WrestleMania 40, and it threw us some curveballs, including a big Bronson Reed (pun intended) battle royal win and a major last-minute change to one of the matches taking place at "The Grandaddy of Them All." Will we get to those things? Yes. Will we get to everything? No. Sorry, random LA Knight promo; you can check out our "SmackDown" results page if you want to know what he said about AJ Styles. Here, it's all about what the WINC staff thought of this show, our final appetizer before wrestling's annual main course.


So, did we appreciate the many shenanigans of Kevin Owens and Randy Orton? Did we think Cody Rhodes made a strong enough statement to close the show? And most importantly, is Austin Theory really still in a WrestleMania match? Really? Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 4/5/24 episode of "WWE SmackDown."

Hated: MIA from the Andre

I love the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, for honestly no good reason. Maybe it's because I love chaos and love gimmick matches, but I do recognize that it means absolutely nothing and the poor guy that wins it usually doesn't get too much for it. I really hope that's not the case for Bronson Reed this year, because he certainly deserves a big push, but that remains to be seen – and also not the subject of my ire here. What I really hated about this year's battle royal is the false advertising, for lack of a better term.


The match graphic showcased quite a few stars that were going to be involved, but quite a few were also missing from the match itself, including Shinsuke Nakamura, Chad Gable, and Andrade. The latter actually made sense later on in the show with his involvement in the LWO and Legado del Fantasma story, but why in the world was Nakamura missing? He's not doing anything else! Gable, maybe I can understand a little bit more with his involvement in the Sami Zayn and GUNTHER Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania, but even then, that's not his story, specifically. But Nakamura? Nowhere near any story. And I'm sure I'm missing a few wrestlers that were pictured on the graphic and not in the match, in addition to these guys.


I also thought it was a little strange this was the 10th anniversary of the battle royal, and it wasn't made out to be a bigger deal. I'm of the mindset that this should always be on the preshow of WrestleMania, but that's also in part because I need matches on those shows to even begin to keep my attention. It could have been done up much bigger given the time on the preshow. Overall, I suppose it's not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but on a show that was relatively good, with all fans, myself included, in good spirits before WrestleMania, this irked me more than it had any reason to.

Written by Daisy Ruth

Loved: An unexpected betrayal

Well, this turn was certainly an unexpected but welcome surprise.

Although it looked as though Andrade El Idolo would be joining Legado Del Fantasma, having been seen with the rest of the stable backstage and talking business with Santos Escobar's WrestleMania tag team partner Dominik Mysterio. However, that turned out not to be the case as Andrade officially turned his back on Escobar and Dominik and hugged Rey Mysterio in the chaos that ensued following the match between Elektra Lopez and Zelina Vega.


It's rare in the landscape of modern day professional wrestling to be able to pull off a face or a heel turn without the fans having any idea that it's coming or giving any sort of indication. However, this managed to do that and added that much more excitement to the turn. What made it even more special was having Andrade reunite with Vega given their extensive history with each other and their memorable partnership. It added to the emotion of the moment, and made Vega pulling out a Hammerlock DDT during the match with Lopez a fun little callback to connect the dots with after watching the match as a moment of foreshadowing.

Written by Olivia Quinlan

Loved: Women. That's it.

It's no surprise that WWE's women consistently steal the show, day in and day out, both outrageously and subtly. Somehow, they're still severely underrated.

I stand by my thoughts about six-women tag match booking — I do think that all women involved in the emerging Naomi/Bianca Belair/Jade Cargill stable should get their chance to shine in their own right. However, the chemistry that all three of them have together is undeniable. Sure, Naomi and Belair going back and forth at the beginning of their "WWE SmackDown" promo segment was a little messy, but they have a spark between them that adds more to their entertainment factor than the clunky interrupting takes away. Naomi and Belair's in-ring conversation tonight read more like friends talking than a traditional wrestling promo; the genuine nature of their interaction served well to endear them to the fans even more. Their infectious excitement provided a good, stable foundation for Cargill to build off of. Her effortlessly cool style of cutting a promo is pretty good, but when she is surrounded by the excitable energy of Naomi and Belair, the contrast makes her silent confidence even more alluring. I would be crazy if I didn't acknowledge the matching-but-distinct cowgirl aesthetic all three were going for in celebration of Beyonce's new country-themed album. Besides looking absolutely great, the undeniable chemistry of all three women combined with their eagerness to tip their cowgirl hat to another Black icon is something that should be celebrated. We love to see women supporting women, especially Black women supporting Black women. Naomi, Belair, and Cargill are going to display Black excellence at WrestleMania 40, and we will all be seated.


Speaking of Black excellence, B-Fab also had a chance to shine tonight in The Pride's video response to The Final Testament. Normally, B-Fab has been pushed to the side in The Pride, often used as an escort or someone to directly oppose Scarlett (another escort). While the fighting is mainly done by the men, it was a great move to let B-Fab spread her wings a bit in a video segment, which is a safer option than an in-ring segment. The role is small, I will admit, but in this small taste of the spotlight, WWE production gave B-Fab both the opportunity and the tools to make sure she succeeds, and she did pretty good speaking for The Pride tonight. Plus, she looked stunning, with eyeliner sharp enough to cut down any detractors. I love to see it. You love to see it.


It does suck that while WWE has some of the best women's talent in the western world, the one women's match on tonight's card was entirely dominated by men, storyline-wise. While the story payoff was satisfying (my talented colleague Olivia has plenty to say about that), I really wish they could have allowed Zelina Vega and Elektra Lopez more ample time to compete unimpeded. Both women are incredibly promising, and their strong aesthetics imply a strong understanding of their character. I just wish they would have more time to show the WWE Universe those characters. At the very least, I would personally love to see them follow in B-Fab's steps, and have more time to speak, rather than be pretty faces accompanying their respective factions.

While women take up a much smaller portion of WWE programming week-to-week, they manage to be far more impactful per minute than their male counterparts. They are a potent concentration of wrestling excellence — charisma, style, in-ring ability, WWE's women have it all. In less than 24 hours, WWE's women will show up to WrestleMania, and they will show out. They always have, they always do, and they always will.

Written by Angeline Phu

Hated: Theory, still in a Mania match

Mannnnnn, they teased my dreams coming true. I've been railing for weeks on how badly we needed AT LEAST Austin Theory out of the six-pack ladder match for the WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championships (and Grayson Waller, as collateral damage, all due apologies) and for the love of [insert-whatever-you-love-here], WE ALMOST HAD IT!


Theory and Waller were commissioned as WWE United States Champion Logan Paul's cronies to run down Randy Orton and Kevin Owens as they tried to seek out Paul at Lincoln Financial Field while Orton and Owens were conducting the Kevin Owens Show at the Wells Fargo Center, and just their involvement therein gave me hope for some sort of expulsion from the Mania match but damn it, it was not to be! Not yet anyway ... your boy holds out hope!

I thought Pretty Deadly was the natural substitution but given their unceremonious exits from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, I now can only hold out hope for something else. Will someone "from" Philly jump them backstage early and take their place? It's Philly, right? So maybe we can look toward a local relic like The Dudley Boyz? DOES SOMEONE NEED TO CALL ME? I'M IN SHAPE! I CAN WORK WITH R-TRUTH! My goodness, I need to calm down. But that's what happens when I get my hopes up, get teased for the outcome I wanted, and then get dumped on anyway. Down with Theory! And up with whatever else in his place. (Sorry, Waller!)


Written by Jon Jordan

Loved: R-KO's effective comedy

It honestly makes me a little sad that Randy Orton and Kevin Owens actually have to face each other instead of teaming up when it comes to WrestleMania, and also sad that I don't think either of them are walking away with Logan Paul's United States Championship. Tonight, they started off the show with some goofiness that I greatly appreciated, and it was something I thought this "SmackDown" needed. "The KO Show" opened up "SmackDown," with Owens and Orton deciding to go after Paul, who appeared on the tron from the site of WrestleMania, Lincoln Financial Field, whereas "SmackDown" was down the street at the Wells Fargo Center. Owens and Orton hysterically raced off on a golf cart to get to Paul, with Orton hanging on the back and making some of the funniest faces I've seen in awhile. Or, so we thought they raced off.


Turns out, Paul was back at Wells Fargo Center and came out to the ring and ran down his opponents. Which I wasn't entirely a fan of, but I guess it had to happen in this instance. Paul had his "associates" Grayson Waller and Austin Theory posted up at Lincoln Financial Field to ambush Orton and Owens – which didn't work out, because they had never actually left the arena. They came out from underneath the ring to beat up Paul, and anytime that guy gets beaten up, it's a tick in the "love" column for me.

Outside of the comedy, the main reason I thought this was so effective was the fact it showcased the WrestleMania stage and set extremely well. Usually when they show it off, they run the same video package they posted to their social media that day, or even the day before. I don't believe they did that on this show (they might have and I missed it, admittedly), and did this instead. I'm not really a fan of seeing everything before the show myself, but if I have to, this is the way I want to see it, with an actual story and angle to tie it all together.


This isn't a WrestleMania match that comes to mind when I think about what I'm excited for. However, Orton and Owens tried their hardest to make it a little more exciting (and funny as heck) tonight, to at least get me to laugh. I rather see Orton and Owens in a buddy cop movie together rather than face each other, at this point, but tonight, I got a kick out of them. I think Paul is walking out of Philadelphia with the title, but maybe we see his opponents in a tag team at least once or twice moving forward.

Written by Daisy Ruth

Hated: Too little, too late

I know Cody Rhodes is supposed to be the favorite in his match against Roman Reigns on Sunday, but is he? Is he really? Because after the way the last week or two have gone, I feel like WWE has done a pretty good job convincing me that Reigns and The Rock are way better and cooler than Cody and his friends, and part of me would be legitimately surprised if Rhodes won the title at this point.


Like I'm sorry, but this was it. The actual go-home show for WrestleMania. Here's what it was following: On last week's "Raw," The Rock pummeled Cody out in the rain until blood was streaming down his face. On last week's "SmackDown," Cody didn't appear, and video from The Rock beating him up was replayed ad nauseum. On this week's "Raw," The Rock and Reigns were beating up Seth Rollins and Jey Uso, and when Cody came out to make the save, they beat him up too and stood tall over his lifeless corpse. Suddenly this thing had gotten pretty decidedly one-sided — unless Cody could make an equally strong statement on this week's "SmackDown."

Unfortunately, it's hard to make an equally strong statement about how you're going to beat up The Rock and Roman Reigns when neither of those guys appears on the show. Instead, Cody and pals got to smack around Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa, which, big deal guys, everybody does that these days. You think beating down Roman's henchmen and cutting another promo is going to make up for all the times we've seen you get the snot kicked out of your head, Cody? And if that wasn't bad enough, The Rock somehow managed to still get the last word by cutting a promo on him while Rock was inducting his grandmother into the WWE Hall of Fame.


I've been talking about this for a while, but it's now official: There's no satisfying ending to this Cody/Rock thing. Rhodes and Rollins are probably losing on Saturday, and even if they win, you have to think it's Roman getting pinned. So there's no real way for "The Final Boss" to get his comeuppance in a satisfying manner, and Cody is in increasing danger of looking like an absolute clown if The Rock follows up making him bleed and whipping him with a weight belt by beating him at WrestleMania — or, even worse, turning on Roman to hand-deliver Cody the win. End Roman's three-year world title reign? This guy? I am very much not sure that's happening. Great job, everyone.

Written by Miles Schneiderman