On the road to WrestleMania, the biggest names in WWE visited our nation’s capital for an episode of Friday Night SmackDown at Capital One Arena, March 3. The sellout show in Washington, D.C., came just weeks before the company’s biggest event of the year, WrestleMania 39 — a two-night extravaganza in Inglewood, California, April 1-2.
Before the television cameras started rolling, those in attendance were treated to an untelevised match in which the Brawling Brutes (Butch and Ridge Holland) defeated Hit Row (Ashante “Thee” Adonis and Top Dolla w/ B-Fab). Prior to joining the WWE, Top Dolla was known as University of Maryland and Washington Redskins defensive lineman A.J. Francis, so it made sense that he kicked off the night by berating the locals while referring his “close and personal friend Daniel Snyder.” He hasn’t been in the world of sports entertainment for very long, but Top Dolla clearly knows what buttons to push to get instant heat in D.C.
With the warm-up match complete, SmackDown kicked off with a face-to-face meeting between champion Roman Reigns and challenger Cody Rhodes, who earned a shot at Reigns’ WWE and Universal championships by winning the Royal Rumble. The Rock’s cousin and the son of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes did a fantastic job of hyping their upcoming headlining match and set the tone for an action-packed episode.
Rhea Ripley (w/ Dominik Mysterio) defeated Liv Morgan and then Dominik Mysterio (w/ Rhea Ripley) defeated Santos Escobar. As members of the Judgement Day faction, Ripley and Mysterio, are two of the bigger “bad guys” on the roster. That means they’re more than willing to bend the rules, from time to time. In related news, Ripley won her match against the much-smaller Morgan and then tipped the scales in favor of Mysterio.
Shayna Baszler (w/ Ronda Rousey) defeated Tegan Nox (w/ Natalya) in a match that barely lasted longer than it took me to type this sentence. In a much more compelling segment, the All Mighty Bobby Lashley came out to the ring to confront Bray Wyatt but was attacked from behind by a mysterious masked man named Uncle Howdy instead.
In the main event of the evening, Solo Sikoa (w/ Jimmy Uso) defeated Sami Zayn in a physical and highly-entertaining match. For months, Zayn was a loyal member of the Bloodline for months, but after turning on Reigns at Royal Rumble, the Tribal Chief has ordered Sikoa and The Usos to take out Zayn once and for all. While Sikoa was able to exact some revenge in this match, the feud remains alive and heated as ever.
After the TV cameras stopped rolling, the WWE treated fans to two additional dark matches. In the first bout, Women’s SmackDown champion Charlotte Flair defeated Sonya Deville, followed by Cody Rhodes besting Finn Balor in a pair of matches designed to send everyone home happy after a downright enjoyable evening.