WWE SmackDown 4/12/2024: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "WWE SmackDown," the real big show after WrestleMania! After all, the "Raw after 'Mania" may have given us John Cena and some "NXT" call-ups, but it was on "SmackDown" that we got the debut of a widely sought free agent entering WWE for the first time. Looks like Friday kinda stole your thunder there, Monday. Say something.


Anyway, while we always throw something in here about how we can't cover the entire show, this time we're covering even less of the show than usual, since a couple WINC writers have differing views on specific segments. So as usual, if what you need is a comprehensive look at everything that happened on this week's installment of blue brand programming, you're going to want to check out our "SmackDown" results page. The question in this space is, what did we actually think about the show Friday night? With that in mind, here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 4/12 episode of "WWE SmackDown."

Hated: Cameron Grimes not getting pushed to — the — MOON!

Remember when Cameron Grimes made his main roster debut by defeating Baron Corbin in seven seconds? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

That debut should've set Grimes up for a big push upon joining the "SmackDown" roster. The following week, he beat Ashante "Thee" Adonis. From there, he was fed a steady diet of dark matches along with TV losses to Austin Theory and Grayson Waller. Last week, he was part of the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. On Friday, Corbin's tag team partner, Bron Breakker, evened things up when he got a win back over Grimes.


Silver linings — at least WWE remembered that the former Million Dollar Champion wasn't still in "WWE NXT." Grimes got himself over in "NXT" with his top hat-wearing-guy-who-got-rich-off-crypto character and his "To the MOON!" catchphrase. Perhaps it wasn't a main roster character, but they didn't even give him an opportunity to try. He has constantly been diminished and forgotten about. How many people saw him in the ring on "SmackDown" and remembered his awesome main roster debut? How many remembered him at all?

Cameron Grimes is too talented to be booked so inconsistently. If this really is a new era, maybe give some overlooked talent an opportunity to shine and get themselves over.

Written by Samantha Schipman


Loved: Naomi shuts down 'Tiffy Time' for shot at Bayley

I loved everything about the initial part of this segment. I love Bayley as WWE Women's Champion and I love that she's getting her flowers. Almost just as importantly, I'm glad the fans are back on her side as a babyface, after years of her playing a heel character alongside Damage CNTRL. When Tiffany Stratton's music hit during her celebration, I loved that, too. I really like Stratton, in part, because (please excuse me for judging here) she doesn't look like she should be so good at what she does in the ring. She gives me a "Divas Era" vibe, but it just works because she's so darn good. And Naomi! I'm so glad Naomi is also getting her flowers, coming off a win at WrestleMania in a dominant tag team with Bianca Belair and Jade Cargill, straight into a title match with her real-life friend. Bayley put Naomi over strong, telling Stratton that she wasn't about to issue an open challenge, but had Naomi in mind already.


Naomi looked strong as a fighting challenger, telling Bayley she wasn't ready for a title shot until she took out Stratton. Stratton taking shots at Naomi before the match, saying "she couldn't even win a title if it glowed in the dark," and telling her that she already beat her was great for her character. The match itself was just great because both women are excellent workers and play into their respective characters well.

I will say I didn't entirely love how the match ended. It was a bit anti-climactic for my taste with the roll-up victory for Naomi, but I'm glad she got the win to move on to challenge her friend in what I think will be an excellent babyface versus babyface match — something I don't usually go for. Even with the lackluster ending, Stratton still looked strong and can absolutely be a credible challenger for Bayley in the future. She may have gotten rolled up and pinned, but the way she recovered from missing her Prettiest Moonsault Ever, landing on her feet and even taunting Naomi a bit, looked excellent.


Stratton is young and still a relative newcomer to the main roster. I would have liked to see her on WrestleMania this year, but she did get her chance to shine at Elimination Chamber, and there is still plenty of time for her. Naomi proved herself in Impact as Knockouts Champion and is much more deserving of the first shot at Bayley at this point of her career. It might not have been "Tiffy Time" Friday night, but I certainly am ready to feel the glow when she does battle with Bayley in the future.

Written by Daisy Ruth

Hated: It's Tiffy Time (so why is she losing?)

Tiffany Stratton hit the main roster in WWE just in time for Elimination Chamber, and fans took to her right away. In the Chamber itself, where she was absolutely adored by the Perth, Australia crowd, she eliminated Naomi and then returned the favor the next week on "SmackDown." So, yeah sure, it makes sense for her to get that win back tonight, fine. But WWE pulled the wool over this apparent doofus' eyes, rolling Stratton out to present herself as the first challenger to the newly crowned WWE Women's Champion Bayley, only to have the champ reveal that she had someone else in mind in Naomi, who promptly challenged and beat Stratton, and will now face Bayley next week.


There's a built-in story here, of course, since there's about a 177% chance that Stratton will cost Naomi in the match next week and surely, those two will feud for a while thereafter. And no disrespect to Naomi either. Her return to WWE at the 2023 Royal Rumble was a feel-good moment for all and the emotion behind it got to yours truly in turn. Samesies, as the kids say, regarding Bayley, whose title win at WrestleMania was one of my favorite moments of the weekend.

But let's get serious: It's Tiffy time! So, on with it then! Let Tiffany Stratton win every match and every title forevermore because she is HER. (Hyperbolic "love" in a "Hate" entry: complete.) I would really have loved for Friday night to have jumpstarted of the Stratton Era (so much talk of eras lately) but we all know that's coming in short order. Totally straight-faced, I will say that in 35+ years watching professional wrestling (yes, I'm old), I haven't seen too many people take to the craft as quickly as Stratton has. Per Cagematch, she has 45 total televised matches to her credit, and if that stuns you, good. She's that good and only going to get better.


Know what else is gonna be more than good? Naomi vs. Bayley, and everything to come from there. This is a fun time to be watching WWE, no doubt.

Written by Jon Jordan

Loved: Tama Tonga is in The Bloodline!

When this promo involving The Bloodline first started, I was ready to absolutely hate on it. With Paul Heyman essentially just taking accountability for Roman Reigns' loss of the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship to Cody Rhodes and going over the highlights of what happened in the match, it just seemed to be shaping up to be like any old promo out there with nothing being said to progress any sort of storyline.


However, the second that Tama Tonga showed up to blindside Jimmy Uso with an attack, my feelings on things instantly changed.

The Bloodline is all about doing what it takes and earning wins, so it makes perfect sense that Jimmy Uso would (at least be in part) to blame for messing up the match for Roman Reigns. Having Tonga debut by attacking Jimmy was perfect, as it set him up to be a major player in WWE moving forward and give him a reputation of being an absolute monster. Up until now, Solo Sikoa has assumed the mantle in The Bloodline, but as of late, he's been transitioning into a newer role with the more speaking lines he's given on a weekly basis. Having WWE bring in a new monster is incredibly smart for Sikoa's character arc to be executed. It made for a fantastic introduction to Tonga to the WWE Universe, and it put him in a great position especially with him not starting from scratch having previously making a name for himself in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and with WWE's push of "a new era."


Written by Olivia Quinlan

Hated: Just another cog in The Bloodline machine

Friday night, Tama Tonga answered the question all loyal followers of The Bloodline have been asking: is he going to join the WWE to stand with The Bloodline? Tonga took out Jimmy Uso with a sneak attack and held Uso down to be publicly executed via Samoan Spike from Solo Sikoa. In a backstage segment shortly after the assault, Tonga leaned towards a fearful Paul Heyman's face, and with just two centimeters of personal space to spare, mentioned the "orders from the Tribal Chief." Presumably, this means that Tonga was operating under the orders of Roman Reings (or is he?) much to Heyman's shock.


Isn't it crazy how Tonga can go from seven-time IWGP Tag Team Champion, four time NEVER Openweight champion, and one-time Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champion, just to play second fiddle to Roman Reigns (or Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, or Sikoa, or whoever is calling themselves the Tribal Chief now)? This happened with Sikoa too — as soon as they're absorbed into The Bloodline, individuals with a promising career path suddenly need to abandon whatever flavor they had just to become another cog in The Bloodline's machine. Sikoa's transition from street fighter on "NXT" to "guy who Samoan Spikes people at the behest of others" on the main roster is a downgrade that needs to be studied, and Tonga is basically following in the same steps.


Tonga and Sikoa are just bodies. They don't have flavor, they don't have personalities, and Sikoa is just now starting to have ambitions of his own 587 days after his main roster debut. Things are not looking great for Tonga, character-wise. (And maybe even career-wise, because where does he go when The Bloodline inevitably implodes if he doesn't have a character to stand on)). I understand that Tonga is new to WWE, and that his allegiance to The Bloodline is sound and logical. Still, I hate, hate, hate how that association with The Bloodline — as good as it is for his career, objectively — means that he is now just some guy who works for his family. It wouldn't have killed WWE to give him a personality. It wouldn't have even killed WWE to book him outside The Bloodline — Naomi is literally married to Jimmy Uso, and yet she is still operating as her own woman with her own, glowy personality.

WWE has reduced a multi-time champion, renowned tag-team wrestler, and international star into Solo Sikoa 2: Electric Boogaloo. Yippee.

Written by Angeline Phu

Loved: Styles/Knight 2 makes tons of sense

During a WrestleMania weekend that was just about highlight after highlight across all three cards, it almost sounds disrespectful to say that LA Knight's win over AJ Styles surprised many people in terms of how good it was. The win gave Knight a huge feather in his cap at WWE's trademark event over a bona fide made man in Styles, and good on him for that. His run on the main roster (post-Max Dupri, of course) couldn't have gone better to this point for the former Eli Drake. Friday on "SmackDown," Knight's win in a triple threat match over Santos Escobar and Bobby Lashley, positioning him for a shot at Cody Rhodes' Undisputed WWE Championship come Backlash, elevated him further still. In the other triple threat, Styles prevailed over Rey Mysterio and Kevin Owens in an absolute gem of a match, and will now run it back with Knight next week to see who moves on to face Rhodes. That's probably not good news for Knight (although it makes all the sense in the world) but it is great news for we, the viewers!


For all the good that Knight has done, he's already had his title-shot-in-which-he-never-had-any-shot-at-winning moment at Crown Jewel 2023 against Roman Reigns. It doesn't do him any good (and likely wouldn't draw anything box office-wise) to square off against Rhodes now too, since (a) he, again, has no shot, and (b) there's babyface vs. babyface dynamic to consider. Instead, putting a newly saltified old man heel in Styles back in the main event is perfect. Rhodes and Styles have never faced each other in the ring in any promotion — but Styles took on Dusty Rhodes three times in TNA in 2003, so there's always that (all-too-easy) fodder to heighten his heelitude.

tyles will lose, naturally, but that's fine. It won't hurt him a bit and could even turn him saltier still, and then there's plenty of places for him to go from there. As for Knight? He remains in that mid-to-high-level tier where he'll be just fine for plenty of time to come. And with the WWE Draft coming in short order, who knows? Maybe he flips on over to "Raw" and become a contender to Damian Priest or whomever holds the WWE World Heavyweight Champion somewhere down the road. Methinks that's a better fit overall for "The Megastar."


Written by Jon Jordan