This Week In The WWE: 3/8-3/14

These are unprecedented times around the World.

The coronavirus has impacted us all. Our everyday routines have been turned upside down with a virus that has spread around the World and forced so many changes to our day-to-day lives. Things like going to school and work, or going to the store or just hanging out at your local hangout are no longer commonplace. There’s now a “should I go” thought before moving forward.

Sports, pro wrestling and the sports entertainment community are not exempt during this pandemic. Most every major and collegiate sporting event has either been canceled, postponed or suspended for the time being. There’s no concrete date on when the NBA, NHL, MLS, and MLB will play their next games. The NCAA Tournament has been canceled as well as the rest of the XFL season.

So, what’s the fate next for the wrestling world? Well, first up was Smackdown Friday Night. Originally scheduled for Detroit, Michigan, it was moved to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Florida as the city of Detroit had barred large scale events for the time being. Fans, for the time being, are not being allowed to attend the Performance Center. Ironically, NXT broadcast live from the WWE Performance Center with fans this past Wednesday because of a scheduling conflict at Full Sail University. The WWE has already announced that Monday Night RAW will also be televised from the Performance Center instead of in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as originally scheduled.  

Friday’s broadcast was indeed unique with Triple H joining Michael Cole on commentary giving a bit of levity after his open to the show welcoming the WWE Universe to the Performance Center. Triple H’s line about Asuka “blending in with the crowd” before attacking Alexa Bliss stands out. It harkens back to the time after the 9-11 attacks on America back in 2001 where SmackDown was the first live event in the country. The difference here is that there was a live audience. More on the show comes below in our SmackDown section.

WWE’s Live Events for this weekend in Toronto and Youngstown, Ohio were also canceled.

The WWE isn’t the only wrestling company affected by the outbreak. AEW’s Dynamite show this Wednesday in Rochester, New York has been moved to its home base in Jacksonville, Florida due to that city’s ban on events. It’s Blood & Guts show in Brooklyn, New York on March 25th will not take place due to the Prudential Center being shut down for a month.  Ring of Honor has canceled its 18th Anniversary Past & Present show for this weekend.

As of now, WrestleMania is still a go for the city of Tampa, Florida for April 5th but I’d be shocked it moves forward. Rumors of a move to June or July are out there. I can’t see any way that the city of Tampa nor the state of Florida allows such a large gathering to take place especially with so many fans flying into the city from around the Country and the World. It’s probably only a matter of time before the announcement of its postponement comes out.

It’s a very fluid situation as news changes not only day-by-day, but hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute. We are in the infancy of the virus here in the United States while other countries are ahead of us in its stages. The United States is still getting a handle on testing, so at this point, there’s no real figure on just how many have really been infected by the virus. Reports are that it could be up to 70-150 million that actually catch the virus.

All we can really do is be vigilant. Provide yourself a little social distancing. Do your best to avoid situations in which you may come in to contact with someone who may have the virus. Wash your hands. Cough and sneeze into your elbow. If you’re sick, stay home.

Be safe and stay well.

Now, with all that having been said, there’s a ton of wrestling news to get to.

The WWE and former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski are reportedly close to signing a deal that would see Gronk debut on SmackDown on March 20th, per Ryan Satin of WWE’s Backstage. Gronkowski reportedly could appear at WrestleMania, if it happens, and wrestle a few matches during the year.

Matt Hardy’s now a free agent! Rumors abound as to his next, non-independent gig. Will it be a return in a new form to WWE or NXT? Could it be as The Exalted One in AEW? Or possibly could Hardy come back to Impact Wrestling or Ring of Honor? The answer could come soon!


STAR OF THE WEEK

Shayna Baszler – How could it not be Baszler! Shayna eliminated all five of her fellow competitors in the Elimination Chamber Match to earn her WrestleMania showdown with RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch in what could be match of the night in Tampa, if it happens.


ELIMINATION CHAMBER RESULTS

  • The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) defeated Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins
  • Daniel Bryan defeated Drew Gulak
  • United States Championship Match: Andrade defeated Humberto Carrillo to retain title
  • Elimination Chamber Tag Team Title Match: The Miz & John Morrison defeated The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E), The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso), Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado), Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler and Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker) to retain titles
  • No Disqualification Match: Aleister Black defeated AJ Styles (The Undertaker interference)
  • RAW Tag Team Title Match: The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) defeated Seth Rollins & Buddy Murphy
  • 3-on-1 Intercontinental Championship Handicap Match: Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro defeated Braun Stroman with Sami Zayn getting the pin
  • Women’s #1 Contender’s Elimination Chamber Match: Shayna Baszler defeated Asuka, Natalya, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott

No real shockers here as the WWE ramps up to shore up the WrestleMania card. The biggest news comes in  the form of The Undertaker causing AJ Styles to lose again, setting up their match on the biggest stage. Match of the night sleeper – Daniel Bryan over Drew Gulak in a mat classic.


RAW

RESULTS

  • Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Angel Garza
  • Bobby Lashley defeated Zack Ryder
  • Drew McIntyre defeated Erick Rowan
  • Non-Title WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) defeated Natalya & Liv Morgan)
  • 24/7 Championship Match: Riddick Moss defeated Cedric Alexander to retain title
  • Aleister Black defeated Seth Rollins (DQ)
  • Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy & The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) defeated The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) & The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar)

Anybody else find it odd that Edge was back so soon, so healthy? I was kind of disappointed. Beating up MVP and an RKO to Randy Orton doesn’t cut it for me. A red-hot angle took a meandering step this week and needs to ramp it back up this Monday to get back on track.

I would’ve thought Natalya and Liv Morgan might have gotten a non-title match win over The Kabuki Warriors to set up a future triple threat match at WrestleMania, but we’ll have to wait on that one.

I still don’t get the appeal of Riddick Moss defending the 24/7 Championship in traditional form each week. So far, it’s been vanilla with a title that needs to stand out for its creativity and unpredictability.

Why does the WWE keep having their men’s tag team champions lose on TV right after getting the tittles? Seems like a pattern with The Miz & John Morrison and now The Street Profits.

NXT Champion Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair needs a personal connection and emotional investment to take it to the next level. Otherwise, it’s just another title match. Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler has it. Ripley vs. Flair doesn’t. Although, very impressive thigh heel figure-four post leg-lock by Flair on Ripley on NXT Wednesday.


NXT

RESULTS

  • NXT North American Championship Match: Keith Lee defeated Cameron Grimes to retain title
  • NXT Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s Ladder Match: Mia Yim defeated Dakota Kai
  • Kushida defeated Raul Mendoza
  • NXT Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s Ladder Match: Tegan Nox defeated Deonna Purrazzo
  • NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The BroserWeights (Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne) defeated The Undisputed ERA (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) to retain titles

I wasn’t expecting much this past Wednesday night with NXT coming from the Performance Center. It basically looked like a smaller Full Sail. Ironically enough, it became the forerunner to SmackDown there as the coronavirus has changed many plans this week.

A good, solid show with quality wrestling to advance the current storylines.

Some questions…

  • Tick-tock apocalypse – is this Killer Kross and Scarlett Bordeaux?
  • Who kidnapped Raul Mendoza?

The BroserWeights are doing their best to be on par with The Undisputed Era and It’s become a fun feud, one I hope doesn’t end with TUE loss.

Looks like it’s more Damian Priest and Dominik Dijakovic for North American Champion Keith Lee, who seems to be in the mode of gathering wins these days against opponents he should beat.

Irony – Finn Balor shown with his passport out just moments after President Trump announced a travel ban to America from European countries, with the United Kingdom being exempt.

Ciampa vs. Gargano is always going to be good. It’ll be interesting to see how they keep in fresh through Tampa and beyond. Amazing romp wrecking each other through the Performance Center to up the ante is a good start!


SMACKDOWN

RESULTS

  • Sasha Banks & Bayley defeated Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
  • Daniel Bryan defeated Cesaro
  • Jeff Hardy defeated King Corbin

The WWE is never afraid to stand out and be ahead of the curve when it comes to national events. As we mentioned, they were the first live gathering of people after the 9-11 attacks on America back in 2001 with a live edition of SmackDown. Now, 19 years later, they are the only “sport” on tv Friday night broadcasting live on FOX from the Performance Center without a crowd due to the coronavirus.

Kudos to Michael Cole and Triple H for bringing some fun and an escape for the WWE Universe for a few hours after a very trying week for most. Love the inside stuff and shots back and forth. Triple H to Sami Zayn – “You’ve (Zayn) turned irritating into an art form.” Classic!

Unfortunately, due to travel complications, Paige did not make her scheduled appearance, but Bayley and Sasha Banks made the most of it, mocking her before beating up on Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross, with help from Asuka. It looks like Cross & Bliss might be getting their Women’s Tag Team Title Match after all.

Loved the Roman Reigns interview with Cole. A nice shot at Bill Goldberg’s IQ by playing football at the University of Georgia and his “part-time” status by Reigns gives the feud a little backstory.

With the unusual circumstances, it was fitting that the WWE chose to show the Elimination Chamber Tag Team Match from this past Sunday’s PPV. Way to showcase a very good match for those who don’t have the WWE Network.

The best was saved for last though! John Cena and Bray Wyatt gave us a true reason to want to see them fight again. Stripped down to the basics, face-to-face and easy to understand. Cena thinks Wyatt isn’t the future. Wyatt says Cena broke him. The Fiend awaits next for John Cena. Let him in!


WrestleMania Card

  • WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre
  • Universal Championship Match: Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns
  • RAW Women’s Championship Match: Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler
  • John Cena vs. The Fiend/Bray Wyatt
  • NXT Women’s Championship Match: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair
  • The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles

Parting shots:

Mojo Rawley confirmed Rob Gronkowski coming to the WWE and SmackDown next week.

Be vigilant and safe everyone! Be kind to each other!


Thanks for letting us share our thoughts! Shoot me an email at jcrowe567@gmail.com. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions! You can also check out my blog, The Crowe’s Nest as we delve into more pro wrestling, sports entertainment and the World of Sports. My apologies ahead of time – I AM a Patriots and Red Sox fan! If you’re not down with that, I’ve got TWO WORDS for you… NEW ENGLAND!

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