SmackDown on Fox Episode #22
SmackDown Episode # 1,071
Boston, MA – TD Garden
The show opens without an intro video or the pyro as we go straight to the arena where the new Universal Champion Goldberg will be kicking things off tonight.
Goldberg is met with a chorus of boos which he soaks in. Goldberg says “It’s not about who’s last, it’s about who’s next” and then drops the mic. Roman Reigns then comes out and after a stare down that last for a minute Reigns responds with “I’m Next” and just like that the Universal Championship match at WrestleMania was made.
I feel I’m going to be of a differing opinion than most when it comes to the Goldberg title win, while it does suck that The Fiend lost the title so soon I am not in an uproar about it to the point where I’m threatening to cancel the network because in the end it’s a pro wrestling show and I refuse to get that frustrated or upset about it as there are way more important things to get that upset about in life. I always try to look at things with a glass half full perspective so I’m not going to dwell on one questionable decision that WWE made instead I will look at all the things that I do enjoy in WWE right now and that is how I’m able to remain a fan of WWE, because for all their wrongdoings there are still a lot of positive things going on in the company.
I don’t think losing the title completely buries The Fiend to the point of no return because as we will see by the end of the night he will end up in a match just as big as the title match, however, if he loses the match at Mania then there is definitely a problem. I feel the reason they chose to put the title on Goldberg was because they wanted Reigns in the Universal Title match at Mania, but they had to put him against someone who the fans were sure to boo as they don’t want a situation where the crowd is split or is favoring the champion seeing as Reigns is supposed to be the top babyface on SmackDown and despite The Fiend being a great heel they knew that with the smart WrestleMania crowd he would get cheered over Reigns, however, I do believe they run the risk of fans completely turning on the match and not caring about either guy which is not a good situation to be in. If I were WWE I would copy what they did last year at Mania and have this match open the show because if they save it for last there could be tons of people leaving the arena because they have no interest in the outcome regardless of who wins.
The announcers hype up the return of John Cena and we get the first of several videos highlighting Cena’s biggest moments in the WWE.
We come back from break and Bayley is in the ring for the first match of the night.
Match #1: Bayley vs Naomi
As soon as the bell rings Bayley asks for a mic and then says that she shouldn’t be here tonight as she has already made history when she beat Naomi at Super Showdown, but the reason she is here is so that she can welcome back a future multi-platinum artist that will be bigger than Beyonce or Cardi B and that person is Sasha Banks.
Bayley takes advantage of the distraction made by Sasha’s entrance as she beats down Naomi. Naomi counters an Irish whip attempt and hits Bayley with a scorpion kick followed by a dropkick. Naomi hits a running forearm and the corner and then goes for a bulldog into the corner, but Bayley pushes her off sending Naomi into the corner. Naomi dodges an incoming Bayley and then hits her with the Rear View and this was all Sasha cared to see as she jumps in the ring and attacks Naomi.
Winner: Naomi via DQ Match Rating: ¼*
The Boss and Hug Connection team up on Naomi until Lacey Evans runs down to make the save and then all four women start brawling until they are broken up by the referees. Referee Jessika Carr tells the ring announcer she is sanctioning a tag team match right now.
Match #2: Naomi & Lacey Evans vs The Boss & Hug Connection
Naomi and Lacey dropkick Bayley and Sasha sending them out of the ring and then they attempt to hit their opponents with planchas and while Naomi hits hers perfectly the same couldn’t be said for Lacey as she completely botches hers and with that we go to commercial.
As we come back from break we see that Sasha is in control as she has Naomi by the hair while she taunts the crowd. Sasha tags in Bayley and they hit a hip toss bomb for a 2 count. Bayley chokes Naomi across the middle rope and then Sasha gets in a cheap shot for good measure. Bayley tags Sasha back in and they slam her into the corner and then Sasha follows up with a Meteora as Naomi is seated in the corner. Sasha puts Naomi in a surfboard but she is able to escape and then she hits Sasha with an inverted atomic drop followed by a spinning wheel kick. Naomi tries to crawl over and make a cover, but Sasha cuts her off with a basement dropkick.
We got another tag from the Boss N Hug Connection and they hit Bayley with double back elbows for a 2 count. Bayley tags Sasha right back in and she taunts Lacey before giving her a kick to the gut that sends Lacey off the apron. Sasha whips Naomi into the heel corner, but Naomi is able to stop herself in time so she can knock Bayley off the apron. Sasha charges at Naomi but is met with a mule kick and then a running jawbreaker. Naomi is close to making a tag when Sasha grabs her, but Naomi takes her down with an enziguri and then she finally makes the hot tag to Lacey.
Lacey comes in and hits a couple of clothesline followed by a leg sweep. Lacey charges at Bayley in the corner, but she is backdropped out to the apron so Lacey uses that as an opportunity to sweep Bayley’s leg again and then she kicks Sasha off the apron before hitting a slingshot elbow drop back into the ring. Lacey hits a running kick to the midsection of Bayley and follows that up with the delayed elevated bronco buster as Naomi tags in. Naomi hits a springboard crossbody on Bayley that gets a 2 count before Sasha breaks up the pin. Lacey grabs Sasha and tries to throw her out of the ring, but Sasha reverses momentum and sends Lacey to the outside instead. Naomi attempts a full nelson on Sasha but she turns it into a backstabber. Lacey grabs Sasha and drags her to the outside where she sends her into the barricade. Sasha and Lacey continue to fight on the outside and when they get close enough to the ring Bayley reaches out and attempts to grab Lacey, but Naomi gives her a kick to the head and then hits her with a sunset flip pin to pick up the win.
Winners: Naomi & Lacey Evans via Pinfall Match Rating: **¼
Naomi and Lacey celebrate their win as we go to break.
This was a fine match for TV but nothing really notable to talk about. It’s good to see that Sasha is back and has been cleared to compete once again. I hope that next week they can find a good way to start the build for the SmackDown Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania which will hopefully be Bayley vs Sasha Banks, but then again I could definitely see this match being a multi-woman match (that also involves Lacey and Naomi) seeing as we already have two big one on one women’s matches scheduled for WrestleMania. I’m guessing there won’t be a SmackDown women’s Elimination Chamber match as they would’ve announced it this week.
We come back from break and go right to the next match.
Match #3: Kofi Kingston w/ Big E vs Robert Roode w/ Dolph Ziggler
They circle the ring until Roode grabs a headlock, Kingston shoots Roode into the ropes but gets taken down with a shoulder block and Roode goes right back to the headlock and then transitions into a hammerlock but Kingston is able to turn and grab his own headlock on Roode. Roode shoots Kingston off into the ropes and this time Roode is taken down with the shoulder block. Roode gets up and backs Kingston into the corner where he delivers a kick to the gut and then delivers a chop, Roode sends Kingston into the opposite corner and hits a monkey flip, but Kingston lands on his feet and then levels Roode with a dropkick for a 2 count. Kingston wrenches on the arm momentarily until Roode gets to the ropes to force Kingston to break the hold and then Roode delivers a back elbow. Roode goes right back to a headlock but Kingston gets out of it and hits Roode with a jumping back elbow that sends Roode to the floor. Ziggler gets on the apron to distract the referee while on the other side Roode kicks the stairs and then acts as if he had been thrown into them so that when the referee turns around the only person he sees next to Roode is Big E and this is enough for the referee to send Big E to the back. Big E and Kingston argue with the referee as we go to commercial.
We come back from commercial to see that Roode has Kingston grounded with a headlock, Kingston works his way back to his feet and elbows out of the headlock. We cut to the back where we see Mandy Rose watching the match and she has a bit of a smile come up on her face when Ziggler is shown. Back in the ring Roode has regained control but that quickly changes when Kingston leaps up on the ropes and hits a dropkick which sends Roode out to the apron for a breather. Kingston goes to grab Roode, but he drops Kingston throat first across the top rope which gets a 2 count. Roode looks for a suplex on Kingston, but he fights out of it so Roode gives him another clubbing blow and then he hits the suplex.
Roode goes up to the second turnbuckle and attempts a knee drop, but he takes too long and that allows Kingston to move out of the way. Roode starts favoring his leg and this allows Kingston to get back to his feet and springboard into the ring with a chop to the head. Kingston makes his comeback as he is hitting Roode with a flurry of strikes and then a boom drop. Kingston goes for Trouble in Paradise, but Roode ducks it and then sends Kingston into the corner which Kingston uses to his advantage as he comes off with a springboard crossbody that gets a 2 count. Kingston goes for the SOS, but Roode counters into a full nelson slam for a 2 count.
Roode sets Kingston on the top rope possibly looking for a superplex, but Kingston fights him off and sends him back down to the mat where Kingston attempts to hit a double stomp but this time Roode moves sending Kingston rolling across the ring. Kingston charges at Roode but is caught with a spinebuster for yet another 2 count. Roode sets Kingston up for the Glorious DDT but he blocks it and hits an SOS which could’ve ended the match but Ziggler puts Roode’s foot on the rope. Kingston turns his attention to Ziggler and this distraction allows Roode to roll Kingston up in a schoolboy to pick up the win.
Winner: Robert Roode via Pinfall Match Rating: **¾
After the match we cut to the back where Sonya has now joined Mandy and she tells Mandy that “her man” sure seems happy to which Mandy responded with a shrug.
Once this match got past Roode locking in twenty headlocks it really picked up and became good. I really liked the Eddie Guerrero style tactics that Roode did to get Big E sent to the back. I also like how they intertwined the match with the whole Otis, Mandy, & Ziggler story.
We cut to the back to see that Otis was watching the match and he tells Tucker that something just isn’t right about the whole Mandy and Ziggler thing but he just can’t put his finger on what it is. Tucker tells Otis he would do anything for him and then he tells Otis a bit of truth which is sometimes the guy just doesn’t get the girl and sometimes guys like Ziggler get the girl instead and maybe it’s time Otis lets Mandy go. Tucker then says that next week they are going to have a match and then Otis will get the love he deserves from the WWE Universe.
I liked this segment for a few reasons the first being that it showed Otis isn’t as dumb as he has been portrayed as he is able to realize something isn’t adding up about what happened on Valentine’s Day. I really liked the genuineness in Tucker’s voice when he was telling his buddy that sometimes life isn’t fair and the good guys don’t always get the girl, however as he was saying all of this a theory popped into my head that perhaps Tucker was the one that set up the whole thing with Ziggler and Mandy because he didn’t like the fact that Otis was more focused on Mandy than he was them as a team and Tucker was jealous that he was fixing to lose a best friend. I know that is a theory that is a bit out of left field but if WWE want to pull a Vince Russo and really swerve people that’s what they would do, however, it’s not what they should do.
We cut back to the ring where Renee Young is awkwardly waiting on the ring crew to finish setting up the ring for the contract signing between Braun Strowman and Shinsuke Nakamura that is coming up next after the break.
When we come back Renee welcomes us to the contract signing for the Intercontinental Championship match at Elimination Chamber. Renee says that as the challenger Nakamura will sign first, but Zayn wants to look over the contract first seeing as they have been treated very badly recently and he brings up that Nakamura had to have stitches in his back after being power slammed onto the piano last week. Strowman finally gets enough and tells Zayn to shut up and that he doesn’t care what is in the contract because he knows he will end up facing all three of them anyway so he might as well just sign the contract first. Zayn’s ears have perked up as he heard Strowman say he would have to face all three of them and he wanted to make sure the crowd heard him say that as well. Zayn grabs the contract and asks Strowman if he is really willing to face all three of them as he makes amendments to the contract turning the Intercontinental Championship match at Elimination Chamber into a 3-on-1 handicap match. Zayn hands the contract over to Renee who then leaves the ring.
Zayn keeps running his mouth and Strowman moves the table which causes Zayn to panic, Strowman asks Zayn what makes him think he will make it to WrestleMania and then he decks both Cesaro & Nakamura but they recover quickly and start beating on Strowman to the point where he is backed into the corner and then Strowman makes the mistake of grabbing both men by the goozle as it leaves an opening for Zayn to hit him with two Helluva Kicks and it that wasn’t enough he also gets hit with a Kinshasa from Nakamura. The heels set up the table and then Nakamura and Cesaro lift Strowman up into a suplex position and then Zayn hits Strowman with a Helluva Kick while he is up in the air which sends him crashing through the table. The heels walk up the ramp as Strowman gets to his feet and stares down his opponents for Elimination Chamber.
It looks like Strowman is back to rocking the same hairstyle he had back in late 2016. I thought this was a good segment that really picked up once the contracts had been signed. It was nice to see Zayn hit some Helluva Kicks again as he hasn’t been able to pull those out in a while. I really liked how Zayn used the Helluva Kick as the last shot needed in order to put Strowman through the table, in fact Zayn and his boys should use that all the time as their trio finisher. It was a nice touch how Zayn used something that Strowman said in a fit of anger against him, but with that said how and when did Zayn get the authority to make changes to contracts, that is something that should be done by someone in management.
We get a recap of what happened at the beginning of the night before we get the official announcement that Goldberg vs Reigns at WrestleMania is happening.
Daniel Bryan makes his way to the ring as he will be in action next.
As we come back from commercial we get a recap video of Undertaker’s appearance at Super Showdown when he chokeslammed AJ Styles and then won the Tuwaiq Trophy.
Match #4: Daniel Bryan vs Curtis Axel
When the match starts Axel leans outside the ropes to get some advice from Drew Gulak who is on commentary.
They lock up and Bryan quickly transitions into a rear waistlock, but Axel backs him up into the corner and delivers a back elbow. Axel puts the boots to Bryan in the corner and then snapmares him into the center of the ring so he can hit the Perfect neck snap. Axel puts an armbar on Bryan but Bryan quickly gets back to his feet and fights out of the hold only for Axel to knee him in the gut and then send him into the corner. Axel charges at Bryan in the corner and Bryan tries to stop him by putting his feet up, but Axel catches Bryan’s feet and spins him around so that Bryan’s back is toward Axel, Axel delivers some clubbing blows and then a clothesline to the back of Bryan. Axel is in full control as he taunts the crowd by doing the Yes chants. Bryan lures Axel into the corner so he can change the momentum and deliver a series of kicks in the corner. Bryan lowers his head too quickly when he sends Axel into the ropes and he pays for it as Axel kicks him in the head and throws him out of the ring.
Axel goes outside and sends Bryan into the ring post but Bryan is able to somewhat recover in time to get back in the ring. Axel rubs his forearm into Bryan’s face and then sends him into the corner, but Bryan backflips off the top and then hits the running clothesline. Bryan hits the Yes kicks but Axel is able to duck the big roundhouse kick at the end and roll Bryan up with a schoolboy for a 2 count as Bryan is able to transition into the Yes Lock only for Axel to turn that into a jackknife pin which gets a 2 count. We get a couple more pinfall attempts before Axel hits Bryan with a clothesline from behind. Axel attempts a Perfect Plex, but he takes too long and gives Bryan enough time to transition it into the Yes Lock and that is enough to make Axel tap out.
Winner: Daniel Bryan via Submission Match Rating: **½
Mark it on your calendars ladies and gentlemen that on February 28, 2020 Curtis Axel had the best match of his career, but then again would you expect anything less in a match against Daniel Bryan. I can’t remember the last time I saw Curtis Axel get this much offense in during a match. It was odd seeing Axel without Bo Dallas in his corner, I wonder if Bo is injured or if they just decided to split them up. How surprising and out of nowhere would it be if this thing between Bryan and Gulak leads to a match between them at WrestleMania, it that does happen then that match is a sleeper pick for best match of the night. I see it either being Bryan vs Gulak or Gulak continues to find guys to go after Bryan until he finally enlists the help of Corbin and we get Corbin vs Bryan at WrestleMania, the reason I think this could happen is because they are the only two big names on the SmackDown roster that don’t yet have a match for WrestleMania, I really hope it’s the former rather than the later.
As we go to break we see Miz and Morrison having a photoshoot with their newly won SmackDown Tag Team Championships and they will be out next.
Miz & Morrison come out and talk about how they are better now than they were during their first run as a team. Miz talks about how they proved the haters wrong and that the people can chant “You Suck” all they want because all they hear now are the sweet sounds of victory as they start the chant they made up last week. Greg Hamilton the ring announcer lets us know that the has been informed that the first title defense by Miz & Morrison will be against The New Day, The Usos, Heavy Machinery, Ziggler/Roode, & Lucha House Party and it will be inside of the Elimination Chamber.
Miz & Morrison are in a frenzy after hearing this news. The Usos make their entrance as we go to commercial.
I am looking forward to this Chamber match for no other reason than to see what happens when Ziggler and Otis are in there together, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ziggler eliminates Otis to further build to whatever match they are involved in at WrestleMania.
Match #5: The Miz & John Morrison vs The Usos
The match starts with Morrison and Jey in the ring, Morrison goes behind Jey and then grabs a headlock, Jey shoots him off into the ropes and Morrison comes back with a shoulder block. Morrison runs to the ropes and Jey drops down and then goes for a hip toss, but Morrison lands on his feet so Jey sweeps his legs out from under him and then delivers a standing splash. Morrison lands a forearm and then makes a tag to Miz who runs right into a hip toss. Jey hits a running shoulder thrust into the corner and then tags in Jimmy who follows up with a running forearm in the corner on Miz. We then see yet another production cut in thing that we have seen over the past few weeks.
Miz pushes Jimmy into the ropes and charges toward him only to run into a back elbow, but Jimmy turns around into a kick from Morrison who is on the apron. Miz hits the snapping DDT that gets a 2 count. Miz and Morrison hit the catapult slingshot elbow which gets a 2 count. Morrison chokes Jimmy across the bottom rope and then tags Miz back in, they hit a double gutbuster on Jimmy. Miz taunts Jimmy before hitting him with a running boot to the face. Miz taunts the crowd and then locks Jimmy in a chinlock. Jimmy gets to his feet and throws Miz off which allows Morrison to make a blind tag.
Jimmy dodges a charging Miz which sends Miz flying to the outside and then he rolls up Morrison with a schoolboy which gets a 2 count. Jimmy hits Morrison with an enziguri and then goes over to make a tag, but just as he reaches the corner Miz pulls Jey off the apron. Morrison hits the chuck kick on Jimmy which gets a 2 count and this sends us to a commercial break.
We come back just as both men make tags and Jey comes in hot with clotheslines, uppercuts, and a Samoan drop which gets a 2 count. Jey goes for the hip attack in the corner but Miz moves out of the way and then escapes a Samoan drop attempt before attempting the Skull Crushing Finale which Jey rolls out of. Miz hits his backbreaker and neckbreaker combo and as Miz goes to hit the neckbreaker, Morrison springboards in and hits a double stomp onto the chest of Jey. and this gets a 2 count as Jimmy breaks up the pin.
Miz sends Jimmy to the outside and then he charges at Jey who pulls down the top rope sending Miz flying out of the ring. Morrison hits a couple of nice punches which causes Jey to stumble back into his corner where Jimmy makes the blind tag. Morrison charges toward the corner, but the Usos move and then both of them hit kicks to Morrison’s head. Jey tags back in and then Jimmy takes out Miz at ringside with a tope suicida. Jey goes for the Uso Splash but Morrison gets his knees up and rolls into a pin but is only able to get a 2 count. Morrison charges at Jey who backdrops him to the apron, Morrison hits a forearm and then goes up top but he is cut off by Jey who joins Morrison up top as Jimmy makes a blind tag, Morrison pushes Jey off the top and then delivers a forearm to Jimmy that sends him to the floor.
Morrison goes to hit Starship Pain, but Jimmy is able to hit a kick to the head that knocks Morrison backwards and has him in a tree of woe position. Jimmy goes up top and then pulls Morrison up with him and then Jey hits a superkick on Miz that sends him flying off the apron. Jey makes one last tag so he is the legal man and then Jimmy hits Morrison with a destroyer off the top rope and Jey follows that with an Uso Splash which is enough to finish off the tag team champs.
Winners: The Usos via Pinfall Match Rating: ***
This was a really fun tag match and I hope we get to see much more of these two teams going against each other in the future.
We get one final hype for John Cena’s return as we go to commercial.
We come back and John Cena makes his way to the ring for his much anticipated return.
Cena is pumped up to be back in his hometown of Boston. Cena says he is here to answer the question of what he is doing at WrestleMania and he says that while he knows that his role has changed he will always be apart of the WWE. Cena says he is doing something different this year for Mania because he knows how hard everyone works just so they can hope to have a moment at WrestleMania and although we may think that the higher ups don’t listen he definitely listens to what the fans have to say. Cena goes on to say that this year’s WrestleMania should go on without John Cena. Cena says this isn’t a goodbye as much as it’s just him respecting the fact that WrestleMania spots should go to those who are there every week earning their spot. The fans continue to chant for Cena and she says that their cheering means more to him than they will ever know.
Cena is walking up the ramp when suddenly the lights go out and when they come back on nothing has happened, but when Cena turns around he sees The Fiend is standing behind him. The Fiend points at the WrestleMania sign and Cena responds with a tip of his cap and a “You Can’t See Me!” taunt as the lights go back out and the show comes to an end as we have just set up another big match for WrestleMania.
The ovation Cena got in Boston was tremendous and this has to be the first time in I don’t know how long that Cena has made his entrance without the “John Cena sucks” sing song chant. I can’t believe WWE thought that another promo where Cena teased not being at WrestleMania was going to work because it didn’t work the first time, if they want us to believe Cena isn’t going to be at WrestleMania then just don’t have him appear until WrestleMania. Then we get to the part where The Fiend comes out and Cena immediately changes his mind just because The Fiend pointed at the WrestleMania sign, like what the hell, that was a big decision Cena just made during his promo about not being at WrestleMania and his mind was changed that easily. I bet Nikki saw that and regrets that she didn’t have a WrestleMania sign to point at because if she did then she would’ve changed Cena’s mind about having kids.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Fiend pointing at the sign in the first place as his character shouldn’t be doing what everyone else on the roster is doing, that is just another part of the talking point of WWE not making new stars as they make them all do the same thing even if it goes against what their character would or should do.
This was quite an eventful SmackDown as we had a lot of match announcements both for Elimination Chamber next week as well as for WrestleMania and we also got Curtis Axel’s best match of his entire career. There are still some holes left to fill in when it comes to the SmackDown side of the WrestleMania card as have yet to confirm their Women’s Title match, their Tag Title match, and what Daniel Bryan will be doing, but I’m sure some of those announcements will come after everything plays out at Elimination Chamber.
That’s it for this week, but I’ll be back for the Elimination Chamber go home show as we continue our road to WrestleMania XXXVI.