SmackDown Report for 3/13/20

SmackDown on Fox Episode #24
SmackDown Episode # 1,073
Orlando, FL – WWE Performance Center

The show opens with Triple H up on the perch welcoming us to the first of who knows how many shows WWE will be doing from the Performance Center, he then goes on to tell us about the Performance Center. Triple H hopes that this show will help take people’s minds away from all the craziness that is happening in the world for a couple of hours. Triple H then welcomes us to SmackDown and the camera pans over to show that there are no fans in attendance. 

Sasha Banks & Bayley make their way to the ring and we see that Triple H has joined Michael Cole on commentary. Sasha and Bayley talk about how they made the PC and thus this is their house, they then question Michael Cole as to where Paige was since she was supposed to confront them tonight and he tells them that she had travel issues. 

Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross come out and Alexa says that they called out the Kabuki Warriors last week and the only response they got back was some weird tweets. Alexa says that the Kabuki Warriors know they want the titles and that’s why they refuse to come to SmackDown. Alexa says that if Sasha and Bayley are done talking trash then they can have a match right now and that leads to our first match of the night.

Match #1: Boss ‘n Hug Connection vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
Bayley and Nikki start the match with a lockup and Nikki drives Bayley back into the babyface corner and tags in Alexa. Alexa takes Bayley down and hits her with the rolling double knee drop and then tags Nikki back in who hits a dropkick on Bayley and Bayley quickly scurries to the corner as Nikki tags Alexa right back in. Nikki hits Bayley with an avalanche in the corner and then Alexa hits the quick stop slap. Alexa goes up top but Sasha pulls Bayley out of the ring before Alexa is able to do anything. Nikki runs around the ring and then leaps off the ring steps taking Sasha down with a crossbody and then Alexa hits Bayley with a baseball slide and the babyfaces are in full control as we go to break. 

We come back from break and Bayley has taken control of Alexa as she has her in the corner stomping a mudhole in her. Bayley drags Alexa into the heel corner and tags in Sasha and they continue to beat Alexa down. Alexa blocks a hip toss attempt and turns it into a pinfall combination but only gets a 2 count. Alexa gives the sweet innocent angel face and then blocks a punch from Sasha and hits her with a right hand of her own. Alexa takes Sasha down with a flying head scissors that sends Sasha into the corner and then charges at her, but Sasha grabs her and throws her face-first into the middle turnbuckle and then follows up by hitting the double knees in the corner which gets a 2 count. 

Sasha tags in Bayley and they cross the arms of Alexa and send her into the corner. Bayley chokes Alexa across the middle rope and then Sasha gets a cheap kick in from the apron. Bayley sends Alexa back into the heel corner while taunting Nikki and then tags in Sasha. Bayley whips Sasha in Alexa’s direction and Sasha mocks Alexa by doing the quick stop slap to her. Alexa goes for a schoolgirl pin out of nowhere but it only gets a 2 count and she is taken right back down with a dropkick. Nikki is clapping her hands to try and get the non-existent crowd fired up for Alexa. Sasha locks in a chin lock on Alexa and then transitions it into a surfboard, Alexa gets to her feet and throws Sasha off of her only for Sasha to knock her right back down. 

Sasha tags Bayley back in and then holds Alexa so Bayley can connect with a blow to the mid-section. Bayley tries to ground Alexa again but she fights out of it so Bayley sends her back into the corner and tags Sasha back in. Alexa fights her way out of the corner and then avoids the running double knees and she is finally able to make the hot tag to Nikki. Nikki hits the avalanche in the corner and then bulldogs Sasha out of the corner and then knocks Sasha off the apron. Nikki goes for a tornado DDT, but Sasha throws her off and goes for a Meteora but Nikki avoids it and turns it into a sunset flip for a 2 count. Nikki keeps trying different pinning combinations, but Sasha continues to kick out. Nikki sends Sasha into the corner and charges at her, but Sasha backdrops her out to the apron only for Nikki to hit her with a dropkick from the apron through the ropes and then goes up top and hits her with a crossbody which gets a 2 count as Bayley breaks up the pin. Alexa comes in and takes Bayley down and Bayley acts like her eye is injured which distracts the referee long enough for Asuka to come out of nowhere and drive Alexa back first into the edge of the ring. Asuka dances on the ramp while back in the ring Sasha locks in the Bank Statement on Nikki which leads to Nikki tapping out.   
Winners: Boss ‘n Hug Connection via Submission   Match Rating: **½

This was a nice way to kick off a very unique and surreal episode of SmackDown as these four women put on a good match despite having to be the first ones of the night to wrestle in a match without an audience. I liked how Bayley and Sasha made up for there being no crowd by interacting with Cole and Triple H in their pre-match promo. I did get a nice laugh anytime they would try to do the usual crowd interactions like Nikki trying to get the crowd behind Alexa so she can fight her way out of a hold. It looks like Kabuki Warriors vs Bliss & Cross is indeed going to be happening (that is if WrestleMania even happens) as we finally got a response from the champions in the form of Asuka attacking Alexa during the match. It will be interesting to see if they add a third or fourth team to the match like has been rumored. I do wonder what the plan was for Paige had she made it to SmackDown this week to confront Bayley and Sasha.  

We come back from commercial and see a video recap of the Goldberg and Roman Reigns confrontation from two weeks ago. 

Michael Cole is in the ring as he is set to interview Roman Reigns.

Cole asks Reigns about how weird it was to come out without an audience and Reigns says they all of the WWE superstars live off the reactions of the crowd and making them cheer or boo so it was weird, but he is happy to be back in the PC. Cole then asks Reigns about the up and down year he has had and Reigns says he has been blessed and has been driven by the fact that he has his health and is able to get up each day and live life and he is glad to be back in a title match at WrestleMania. Cole asks Reigns about his critics that say that Reigns got a title match out of nowhere, Reigns says that he has been dealing with these same critics his entire career and then he poses the question of why shouldn’t he be in the main event at WrestleMania when he has spent all year being the main event of every show he has been on, and why shouldn’t he reap the benefits of all the hard work he put in all year? Reigns says that nobody in WWE has the level of commitment that he has and that he came back as fast as he could from his bout with Leukemia just so he could do what he loves and he isn’t bowing down to anyone and he is taking what is his. 

Cole says the tagline for the match between Reigns and Goldberg at WrestleMania is Spear vs Spear and then asks Reigns’ response to the fact that Goldberg said that he was going to bulldoze Reigns down with his Spear. Reigns takes a shot at Georgia saying that because Goldberg went to college there he probably doesn’t even know how to operate a bulldozer. Reigns says he has a lot of respect for Goldberg and calls him an Icon, however, with that said Goldberg is a part-timer and he doesn’t have time for that because he is full time and he has dedicated every day of his life to wrestling and this is all he thinks about. Reigns says he was born and bred from wrestling and he has eaten from the WWE table his entire life. Reigns says Goldberg doesn’t know what he is in for and this match is more than just one move as Reigns has mastered the nuances of performance and at WrestleMania, he is gonna whoop Goldberg’s ass and he is taking back his Universal Title. Cole thanks Reigns for the interview and the segment ends. 

I really enjoyed this interview as this felt like more of an interview with Joe Anoa’i rather than a promo by Roman Reigns as he was very relaxed and felt way more genuine than he usually does when he cuts a promo, even though the line where he says he has mastered the nuance of performance was a very strange way to say he is a better wrestler than Goldberg. I thought once the interview got to the part about Goldberg they did a good job of getting straight to the point. I also didn’t mind Reigns’s explanation of why he should be in this match against Goldberg. Overall this was a good segment, however, it pales in comparison to the promo we get later in the night. 

We cut backstage where Sami Zayn and his boys think they are going to be interviewed, but Kayla Braxton tells them they have been bumped and Zayn says that usually, he would be upset about this, but he is too busy celebrating Intercontinental Title win from this past Sunday. 

The person that Sami Zayn got bumped by was Jeff Hardy who says that he is happy to be back and happy to be healthy and while he has been away he has searched his soul and he has come to realize he has a lot left to do in the WWE. King Corbin walks up and says that he isn’t happy to see Hardy back and then mocks Hardy’s past alcohol issues, Hardy tells Corbin that he has a big match tonight and it’s against the King himself. 

Elias then walks up and says he hasn’t forgotten what Corbin did last week and he has even written a song about it, but Corbin doesn’t care to hear it and walks off and when he does Elias says that Corbin has no idea what’s coming. 

We are then told we will get a replay of the SmackDown Tag Team Title Elimination Chamber after the break. 

We come back to a recap of the Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gulak match at Elimination Chamber and Triple H praises both guys. 

We go to the back and Bryan walks up to Gulak and says that Gulak was right and that he does have holes in his game and on top of that his neck still hurts from this past Sunday. Bryan says that if Gulak is still willing to teach him then he is ready to learn from Gulak. 

Sami Zayn and his boys walk up and Zayn talks about how Bryan refused their offer to join them and now Zayn has the Intercontinental Title while Bryan is a shell of his former self. Bryan steps up to Zayn, but Cesaro gets between them and this leads to Bryan challenging Cesaro to a match later tonight which Cesaro accepts. 

We get the replay of the Chamber match which takes up a good portion of the show. 

After the match, we cut to the ring where Miz & Morrison cut a promo which consists of them saying a bunch of positive things about themselves and if anyone disagrees speak now and there will be no booing or negative chants. 

Daniel Bryan who is being accompanied by Drew Gulak makes his way to the ring as we go to commercial.

When we come back we go to the announce desk where Triple H has taken control of the camera and says that they are short-handed and not everyone can have just one job. Cole says tonight feels like a flashback as his career in WWE started with DX giving him shit and now 25 years later he still has to deal with it. 

We get a replay of the announcement on WWE Backstage that Rob Gronkowski is headed to the WWE. We then go to the announce table where Mojo Rawley has joined Cole & Triple H at ringside and he confirms that Gronk will be on SmackDown next week and then Mojo gets super hyped up and starts grabbing Cole and shakes him around and Triple H joins in on the fun as well because he loves messing with Cole. 

Rob Gronkowski is coming to the WWE YAY!!! (cue eye roll) I couldn’t care less about this big jock coming to the WWE because that means we will basically have two annoying loud mouth jocks on the roster and I can barely tolerate Mojo as it is. I hope they don’t just throw him straight up to the SmackDown roster just because he has some name value because he needs to be down at the PC for a while just like Cain Velasquez. I can’t believe that just as I was starting to be able to tolerate Mojo as the heel that didn’t shy away from defending the 24/7 title they turned around and made him the obnoxious hype guy once again, thanks a lot WWE. 

Match #2: Daniel Bryan w/ Drew Gulak vs Cesaro w/ Sami Zayn & Shinsuke Nakamura
Sami Zayn has joined commentary for this match

We get a lockup and then Cesaro grabs a side headlock, but Bryan shoots him off into the ropes only for Cesaro to come back with a shoulder block and Cesaro makes a cover for a quick 1 count. Both men get to their feet and Bryan backs Cesaro into the corner and delivers the corner kicks to Cesaro’s mid-section until Cesaro catches his leg and spins Bryan around so that he is now in the corner and then Cesaro fires away with a barrage of European uppercuts to the point where referee Jessika Carr has to back him away only for Cesaro to hit one last uppercut that sends Bryan crumbling to the mat as we go to commercial. 

We come back to Bryan working his way out of a hold and he gives Cesaro a kick to the leg only for Cesaro to come back with an uppercut that sends Bryan rolling out to the apron. We are shown that during the break Bryan and Cesaro had a brutal strike exchange. Bryan tries to hit a shoulder attack on Cesaro from the apron, but Cesaro avoids it and knees Bryan in the chest and then Cesaro dead-lifts Bryan from the apron and suplexes him into the ring and this gets a 2 count. Cesaro hits a couple of running uppercuts in the corner until Bryan finally starts to make a comeback with the backflip off the top turnbuckle and the running clothesline. Bryan hits the Yes Kicks on Cesaro but this is only enough to get a 2 count. Bryan charges at Cesaro but gets caught and hit with the pop-up uppercut for another 2 count and as Bryan kicks out Cesaro transitions into a crossface but Bryan shifts his weight to turn it into a pin, but Cesaro is able to turn that into a crucifix pin of his own that gets a 2 count. Bryan catches Cesaro in a small package and that is enough to get the win on the Swiss Superman.
Winner: Daniel Bryan via Pinfall   Match Rating: **3/4

After the match, Zayn and his boys attack Bryan until Gulak comes in to help out Bryan, but the numbers catch up on Gulak as they beat him down and send him into the steps at ringside and then Bryan makes the save by hitting a tope suicida and then the referees come out to break up the brawl. 

I looked on and this match only went 6:25 and while it was good for what it was, this match should’ve gone a lot longer which they could’ve easily done, but for some reason, they decided to replay a match we had seen only five days earlier instead. They haven’t even had a match as a team yet, but I am already loving the Bryan and Gulak team and can’t wait to see them against all the other teams on SmackDown. I got a chuckle out of Gulak wanting Bryan to do the Yes Chant and Bryan pointing out that there were no fans there but doing it anyway because his new teacher told him to. I also thought Zayn was great tonight as the sore winner who couldn’t help but gloat about his Intercontinental Title win and rub it in everyone’s face. 

We cut to the announcers where Triple H is wiping the sweat off Michael Cole and then he darkens Cole’s soul patch with a sharpie since it has turned grey. 

We are told that next week will see the contract signing between Goldberg and Roman Reigns 

Match #3: Jeff Hardy vs King Corbin
Elias has joined commentary for this match

Corbin attacks Hardy before the bell and the action quickly spills outside as Corbin sends Hardy into the barricade before rolling into the ring and waiting on Hardy to roll in so the match can start. Corbin sends Hardy hard into the turnbuckle and then stares down Elias at ringside. Hardy makes a comeback with a sit-out jawbreaker and then takes Corbin down with a running forearm. Hardy hits an inverted atomic drop and then hits the double leg drop and seated dropkick combo and then goes for a cover that only gets a 2 count. Hardy goes for the Twist of Fury, but Corbin pushes him off into the corner. Hardy hits a back elbow on a charging Corbin and then gets his boots up when Corbin charges in again. 

Hardy runs at Corbin but Corbin catches him in a Deep Six which gets a 2 count and Corbin argues with the referee before staring down Elias once again and asking him why he is out there. Elias gets on top of the announce desk and starts playing guitar. Corbin tries to hit the End of Days on Hardy but he is able to roll through it and hit the Twist of Fury followed by the Swanton Bomb which is enough to get the win. 
Winner: Jeff Hardy via Pinfall    Match Rating: **

It’s nice to see Jeff Hardy back in action and hopefully, he can have a good singles run and stay free of injuries. I thought Elias was great on commentary during this match. 

After the break, we go back up to the perch where Triple H thanks us for tuning in tonight and how the fans are the most important part of the show, he goes on to say that even though there was no crowd there the WWE superstars poured their hearts out for us tonight so we could be entertained. 

John Cena makes his way to the ring as he will be interviewed by Michael Cole. 

Cole asks Cena what he has to say in response to Wyatt’s claim that Cena is the reason for the downward spiral that happened in his life and thus gave birth to The Fiend. Cena says this isn’t the first time someone has blamed him for their failures and a lot of the people who blame him had lots of potential but they got lazy and gave up. Cena says that Wyatt is his own worst enemy. Cena says he has had his share of setbacks but instead of giving up he adapts, overcomes, and gets back in the fight. Cena talks about how there are a lot of guys who talk about how being in the WWE has been their dream, but when the demand gets too great they get lazy and blame everyone except themselves. 

Cena goes on to say that he believes in what he said last week about investing in the future, but Wyatt isn’t that future and he can’t understand why certain guys get fifth and sixth chances when all they do is say “What about me?” instead of “How can I help you?”. Cena says he wants to invest in people who earn it. Cena wants to take Bray Wyatt out of the equation and at WrestleMania, it isn’t going to be a show-stealing match it’s going to be gruesome and uncomfortable. Cena’s goal is that by the end of WrestleMania he will end the existence of one of the most overhyped, overvalued, & over-privileged WWE superstars in existence. 

We then hear the laugh of Bray Wyatt and as Cena and Cole look around Wyatt pops up from behind the barricade. Wyatt says that he is glad that Cena is here even though he did say something pretty mean things about him. Wyatt talks about how great Cena’s life is right now and how most of us can’t imagine what it would be like to be Cena for just one day. Wyatt says that Cena has him all wrong as Cena is the one that is sick not him because Cena only cares about Cena and he doesn’t care who he has to bury along the way as long as he gets his spotlight, in fact, Cena fiends for the spotlight. 

Wyatt says that Cena took something from him back when they had their match at WrestleMania XXX and since then Wyatt has thought about it so much that he wanted to smash his brain into pieces just so he could have a moment of peace without the voices talking to him. Wyatt says that one day he stopped fighting the voices and started listening to them and they took his messed up world and turned it into a funhouse. Wyatt says that Cena broke him but The Fiend put him back together and at WrestleMania, it’s going to be a slaughter. Wyatt then tells Cena to let him in and a video of The Fiend shows up as SmackDown goes off the air. 

This was a fantastic way to close the show as this was hands down the best promo segment I have reviewed yet and it was so refreshing to hear a great promo after having to sit through Baron Corbin promos for the past four-plus months. It’s always nice to see some continuity in WWE and the fact that they are using Wyatt’s loss against Cena at WrestleMania XXX as the reason for this feud is some great storytelling. Everyone has always said that when Cena leaves out the poop jokes and childish humor in his promos that he is one of the best promos in wrestling and that proved to be true once again tonight as he cut a very passionate and well-spoken promo that actually felt a bit more heelish than a usual Cena promo. On the flip side, I thought Wyatt did a good job of calling Cena on his shit and I really liked the line about how Cena fiends for the spotlight. We finally got a great explanation of exactly how The Fiend came to be and why Wyatt listens to him and it all goes back points back to Cena, this was some of the best Wyatt character development we have gotten in quite a while and for once it made sense and wasn’t just Wyatt rambling on about nothing. This segment alone sold me on the Cena vs Wyatt match and I would be perfectly fine if there were no more interactions between them until WrestleMania as there is nothing else they could do to hype up the match that would be as effective as this was. 

This was quite a unique and surreal episode of SmackDown to review and unfortunately by the way it’s looking it won’t be the last as they could be stuck doing shows at the PC without an audience for the next couple of months and on top of that the fate of WrestleMania is still up in the air although it should’ve already been postponed seeing as all other major sports and entertainment events have been canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future, however, the officials in Tampa are leaving it in WWE’s hands which is dumb because if they knew Vince they would know to never leave a decision like this in his hands, I mean this is the same guy who didn’t even stop a show when one of his workers died during the show. 

As far as SmackDown itself goes I thought they did a good job for their first show under these crazy circumstances, while the matches were nothing to write home about I thought both the Roman Reigns interview and the closing segment were great and did a lot to build up to WrestleMania. I also want to say that the MVPs for this show were hands down Michael Cole and Triple H as they pretty much carried this show as they did a great job of finding a balance between getting over the talent that was in the ring and also being goofy and light-hearted which was definitely needed after everything the world has been going through the past couple of weeks, the fact that Triple H spent the entire show ribbing Cole was great but at the same time he was able to switch into professional mode when he needed to. I know people give Cole a hard time and can’t stand him and that is well warranted, but when he doesn’t have Vince screaming in his ear he is really good at what he does and tonight proved that as he was great in both roles of being a commentator and then as an interviewer during the Reigns and Cena segments, and he was also great in the role of being Triple H’s ribbing victim.  I truly do believe once Cole steps away from the announce table he will be someone we will actually come to respect and maybe even miss. With all due respect to Corey Graves, I wouldn’t mind if this was the announce team for SmackDown while they are down in the PC and I highly doubt the Raw team will be as good as what we got on this show. The only minor complaint I have about this show is that they should’ve given Cesaro vs Bryan more time instead of replaying the Chamber match, but other than that I thought it was a solid show under these circumstances. 

I know some are complaining that they never mentioned that they were at the PC because of the Coronavirus and to that I say take a chill pill, this show was supposed to be an escape from the real world plus why do they need to state the obvious, I mean would there be any other reason as to why they would be running a SmackDown show at the PC in front of an empty crowd some people are just so biased that they can’t even give WWE credit even when they do something right. 

That’s it for this week I’ll be back next week for our presumably second empty arena show from the PC  where we will continue down the road to WrestleMania which may or may not (but really shouldn’t) be happening on April 5.

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