3/13 WWE Friday Night Smackdown results: Powell’s review of John Cena’s appearance, Jeff Hardy’s return, Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro, Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, no fans in attendance at the WWE Performance Center

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Friday Night Smackdown on Fox
Aired live on March 13, 2020 from Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center

[Hour One] Paul “Triple H” Levesque stood on the perch at the WWE Performance Center and welcomed viewers to the show. He called it the athletic hub of WWE. Various shots of the WWE Performance Center were shown. He noted a list of wrestlers who have “all walked through these doors” and said they will return “to do what they have been trained to do better than anyone else on this planet, and that is to entertain you.”

Triple H noted that the show will be different than anything fans have seen before. He told fans to sit back and forget about the problems and let WWE do what it does best – put smiles on faces…

Michael Cole checked in on commentary. There were blue laser lights around the ring. Cole hyped John Cena, Jeff Hardy, and an interview with Roman Reigns…

Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance while ring announcer Greg Hamilton delivered introductions. Triple H sat in on commentary with Cole, who noted that he would have multiple guest commentators. Banks and Bayley interrupted Triple H and boasted that they built the WWE Performance Center. Banks dubbed it “our house.”

Bayley and Banks looked at Cole and Triple H and asked where Paige was. Cole said Paige apparently had travel issues. Triple H said he didn’t know about Banks and Bayley, but he’s sick of Cole’s excuses. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross made their entrance. “Don’t you just love surprises?” Bliss asked. Bliss recalled that she and Cross called out the Kabuki Warriors. Cross cut off Bliss and yelled that they were looking for a fight. Bayley went to ringside and grabbed a mic and apparently accepted…

1. Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Triple H spoke about how it’s different to work in front of no fans and not being able to feed off a live crowd’s energy. Bliss and Cross cleared the heels from the ring heading into an early commercial break. [C]

Triple H said nine of the top 15 women on all of social media are from WWE. He said they are changing the world. Cole spoke about Bliss attending Dusty Rhodes’ promo class while she was at the PC. Cross started clapping in support of Bliss, who was isolated by the heels. Triple H joked about it being strange that she was trying to get the crowd worked up when there were no fans present.

Hunter also spoke about Bayley doing everything for the fans for years and said she now doesn’t care what anyone thinks and that works for her. Cross tagged in and eventually performed a top rope cross body block on Banks. Bayley ran in to break up the pin. Bayley sold an eye injury to distract the referee while Asuka came out and ran Bliss back first into the apron. In the ring, Banks performed a Backstabber on Cross and then put her in the Bank Statement for the submission win…

Bayley and Sasha Banks beat Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross in 11:00.

Cole said it was fun to have Triple H join him. Triple H said he’s not very good at this part of it, so he was leaving it to Cole even though a lot of people think he’s not very good at it either. Cole hyped the Reigns interview for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: None of those women were over based on the live crowd’s reaction. Okay, no more crowd jokes. It’s definitely a strange atmosphere. I like the idea of working in multiple color commentators to keep things interesting. Triple H was his usual self in that he couldn’t resist taking jabs, including noting that Bayley probably didn’t need to go back to ringside to get a microphone to respond to Bliss and Cross’s challenge.

Cole spoke about the show being at the PC while shots of the building were shown. Cole set up a recap of Roman Reigns telling Goldberg “I’m next” to set up their WrestleMania match…

Cole stood in the ring and introduced Roman Reigns, who came out to his entrance music (no pyro?!?) and joined Cole in the ring. They both sat down on two chairs that were inside the ring. Cole asked Reigns how weird his entrance was. Reigns acknowledged that it was odd, but said it was great to be back at the PC.

Reigns spoke about having his health and how that’s been driving him. He said it’s good to be back in the main event picture at WrestleMania. Cole said there have been a lot of critics who feel Reigns put himself in the main event and didn’t deserve it. Reigns said that if he can main event shows all year, why shouldn’t he capitalize on all that hard work. Reigns said he came back as fast as he could and he’s not taking a backseat to anyone.

Cole noted that they are billing the match as spear vs. spear and that Goldberg said he would bulldoze Reigns. Roman joked that Goldberg went to Georgia (Reigns went to Georgia Tech), so he doesn’t know if he’s smart enough to operate a bulldozer. Reigns said Goldberg is a part-timer and they don’t have time for it.

Reigns said he’s dedicated his life to his craft and said he has eaten from a WWE table his entire life. He said he was groomed for this since he was a young boy. Reigns said he’s busted his ass week in and week out and will take the title back and set things right…

Powell’s POV: They are clearly having Reigns lean into the fan backlash against Goldberg winning the WWE Universal Championship and all of the grumbling about part-timers and/or returning legends taking the prime spots at WrestleMania. I’m not sure if it will make a difference with the WrestleMania crowd, but at this point we don’t know if there will be a WrestleMania, let alone a WrestleMania held in front of a live crowd.

Backstage, Cesaro interrupted Kayla Braxton’s to interview Sami Zayn as the new Intercontinental Champion. Shinsuke Nakamura joined them. Braxton said they weren’t scheduled and were actually bumped. Zayn was okay with it because it let him get back to celebrating.

Jeff Hardy joined Braxton for the interview. Hardy said he’s as healthy and as hungry as he’s ever been. He said he has a lot more to do in WWE. King Corbin showed up and said not everybody is happy that Hardy is back. He said things have changed and Smackdown his run by a benevolent king who keeps peasants like Hardy in their place.

Corbin suggested that Hardy say the alphabet backwards or take his hand a touch the tip of his nose. Hardy said he has a big match tonight. Corbin acted surprised and asked who it was against. Hardy informed Corbin that the match is against him. Hardy walked away, then Elias showed up to sing a song about Corbin, who stormed away. Elias stopped playing and said Corbin has no idea what’s coming…

Powell’s POV: Corbin acting like he didn’t know he had a match with Hardy couldn’t have felt more fake and scripted if they did twenty more takes and actually tried to make it seem fake and scripted.

Cole hyped that the Elimination Chamber match for the Smackdown Tag Titles was coming up after the break… [C] An ad aired for WrestleMania and focused on Becky Lynch and Shayna Baszler…

Cole was rejoined by Triple H on commentary. Triple H joked that it only took one segment for the internet to beg for him to come back. They recapped still shots of the Daniel Bryan vs. Drew Gualk match from the Elimination Chamber event. Cole noted that Bryan was clearly impressed by Gulak’s performance…

Bryan found Gulak backstage. Gulak was going to walk away, but Bryan stopped him. Bryan said he didn’t believe that Gulak found holes in his game until they got in the ring and Gulak countered all of his moves. Bryan said the match took place nearly a week ago and his neck still hurts. Bryan said he’s willing to learn if Gulak is willing to teach.

Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Nakamura showed up. Zayn laughed at Bryan while recalling that they invited him to join their group. Zayn boasted that he’s the Intercontinental Champion while Bryan is reduced to taking tips from a nobody. Bryan was about to step up to Zayn, but Cesaro got in his face and said that if he had a problem with Zayn then he had a problem with him. Bryan called for Cesaro to meet him in the ring. Gulak said he’d remember being called a nobody…

Cole asked if they could make Bryan vs. Cesaro official. Hunter said that after a promo like that from Nakamura they could absolutely make it official. Cole set up footage from the Elimination Chamber match for the Smackdown Tag Titles from the pay-per-view. The footage started moments before the opening bell for the match that saw The Miz and John Morrison defeat Big E & Kofi Kingston, The Usos, Heavy Machinery, Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik, and Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler to retain the Smackdown Tag Titles. They cut to break after Metalik dove off the pod onto both New Day members. [C]

Powell’s POV: This is a channel changing moment for most of the fans who already watched the Elimination Chamber event, but they are surely outnumbered by those who did not see it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be twiddling my thumbs until this is over.

The footage resumed with Miz and Morrison entering the match. They cut to another break after Miz hit a springboard kick on Kingston, which was followed by Miz going for a pin that Big E broke up. [C]

Cole and Triple H checked in from the PC. Cole plugged the insurance company sponsor. Cole said the world is indeed watching. He said Smackdown is the number one trend on social media. Triple H said they were going back to the Elimination Chamber, which was a long match and luckily just long enough because Cole just returned from the Elimination Chamber at the PC and fortunately they haven’t been affected by that run on paper…

Powell’s POV: Cole seems to have had a lot of practice at acting like he’s laughing uproariously at all of Hunter’s jokes.

The Chamber match resulted with Otis performing a Caterpillar on Big E, which was followed by Dorado climbing to the top of the Chamber and then performing a shooting star press onto the pile below.

[Hour Two] The second hour began with Otis going after Ziggler, who climbed on top of a pod. This was followed Otis finally getting his hands on Ziggler only to just drop him onto the ropes in a lousy moment. They cut to break after the Usos eliminated Roode and Ziggler. [C]

The footage resumed with New Day and The Usos teaming up on Miz and Morrison. It concluded with Miz and Morrison both pinning one of the Usos to win the match…

The Miz and Morrison were seated in the ring at the PC and applauded as they watched the finish on the screen above the entrance area. Miz boasted about how they’re still winning championships after 13 years. Morrison said that if people don’t think they are the best tag team then they should speak now. Miz said if people don’t think he’s the greatest technical wrestler then they should speak up now.

Morrison brought up his Boone The Bounty Hunter movie, but Miz objected because of his Marine movies. Miz said there will be no booing or “you suck” chants. Miz said he couldn’t possibly suck because he’s not from Orlando. They high-fived. Morrison said they don’t need a catchy singalong because they’re not there to pander to a bunch of fans. They held up their title belts and said that’s why they were here. They sang their “hey hey/ho ho” song…

Cole hyped John Cena appearing to discuss his match against Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania. He also said they would address the rumors about Rob Gronkowski…

Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak made their entrance. Bryan did the Yes bit for a moment and then stopped. Gulak came out behind him and did the Yes bit, then encouraged Bryan to join him and Bryan eventually did… An ad for Raw hyped the AJ Styles and Undertaker contract signing for WrestleMania… [C]

Cole sat at his desk and motioned to where Triple H was supposed to be, then asked what he was doing. Another camera shot showed Hunter working the camera in front of Cole. Triple H said they are shorthanded. Cole set up footage from WWE Backstage of the report that Gronkowski was close to signing a deal.

Cole and Triple H were joined by Mojo Rawley at the broadcast table. Mojo was back in Hype mode and said “the rumors are true, baby.” Rawley said nothing is officially signed, then said Gronk would be in the house. Rawley’s headset nearly fell off and Cole had to move adjust it for him. Rawley spazzed while hyping Gronk and roughed up Cole in a comical manner…

Cesaro made his entrance along with Zayn and Nakamura. Footage aired from Elimination Chamber of Zayn getting the pin in the handicap match with Braun Strowman to become the Intercontinental Champion…

2. Daniel Bryan (w/Drew Gulak) vs. Cesaro (w/Shinsuke Nakamura). Zayn sat in on commentary. Cesaro threw several uppercuts at Bryan in the corner. Bryan dropped to his knee and got up again, then Cesaro blasted him with another uppercut. Bryan sold heading into a break. [C]

Cesaro hit Bryan with a popup uppercut and covered him for a two count. Cesaro put Bryan in a crossface, but Bryan rolled him into a pin to escape it. When they got up, Bryan caught Cesaro in an inside cradle and got the pin.

Daniel Bryan beat Cesaro in 6:25.

After the match, Nakamura went after Bryan. Gulak made the save. Cesaro got involved and was put in a dragon sleeper by Gulak, who was outnumbered. Cesaro ended up whipping Gulak into the ring steps. Bryan performed a suicide dive that took out Nakamura. Zayn called off his guys and said they had proven their point…

Powell’s POV: When things get back to normal, I vote for a rematch that goes five times the length of that match. I’m surprised to see Gulak with Bryan. I like it because Bryan can help get Gulak over, and if they want to feud then Gulak can turn on him when the time is right.

Triple H used a makeup pad on Cole while telling him that his makeup looked terrible. He also used a marker on him because he said Cole’s soul patch looked gray. Cole hyped Cena’s appearance and Hardy vs. Corbin… [C]

Cole noted that they were at the PC and said there were no fans, but he hoped that they were entertaining fans. He hyped Gronk and the Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns contract signing for next week’s Smackdown…

3. Jeff Hardy vs. King Corbin. Corbin’s entrance was not televised. Elias sat in on commentary. Corbin attacked Hardy before the bell. Once they made it back to the ring, the referee checked on Hardy and then called for the bell to start the match. Corbin remained in offensive control. Corbin barked at Elias and asked him why he was even out there. Elias stood on the broadcast table and played his guitar. Hardy took advantage of the distraction and hit a Twist of Fate and a Swanton Bomb for the win.

Jeff Hardy defeated King Corbin in 2:25.

Triple H said that not everyone has the skill to play the guitar so badly that it knocks another man out in the ring. Elias said you do what you do to get the job done…

Cole hyped John Cena for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: When Corbin confronted Hardy earlier, I thought they might be setting up a feud between them, but the way this match played out it seems like the focus is still on Corbin vs. Elias.

Triple H stood on the PC perch and said he hopes that viewers have enjoyed “this historic edition.” Hunter said that they are missing the most important part of the WWE Universe, which is the fans. He said the fans are not in attendance, “but you are here” (pointing at his chest). He said it hasn’t stopped the wrestlers from performing their hearts out. Hunter said they have earned the right to use the words “WWE – Then, Now, Forever”…

John Cena made his entrance and joined Michael Cole in the ring for an interview. Cole asked if he’s ever been through anything like this during his career. Cena said it was a first for everyone. He said he misses everyone watching at home on Fox and hopes to see them soon.

Cole recalled Cena defeating Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania and noted that Wyatt cites that as a reason he became The Fiend. Cena questioned how he should respond to someone blaming their failure on him. Cena said he won’t like the answer. Cena said there’s been a lot of people who have blamed him. He said there’s a long list of people with potential and while potential is good, it can be dangerous.

Cena questioned why Wyatt went into a downward spiral. Cena said Wyatt got lazy. “Bray Wyatt’s biggest enemy is Bray Wyatt,” Cena said. He noted that no one says it about him and assumed people would say it’s because he wins a lot. Cena brought up some of his big losses, including one to CM Punk, and questioned why no one says he’s buried. Cena said it’s because they know who he is. He gets his ass back in the fight.

Cena said others get lazy and blame everyone but themselves. He questioned how he addresses people who blame him. He said he gives them an Attitude Adjustment. Cole set up footage of Cena’s promo from two weeks ago on Smackdown. Cole asked Cena why he would try to antagonize Wyatt. Cena said he accepted a challenge because he believes WWE needs to invest in its future.

Cena said Wyatt is not that future. He mentioned Drew McIntyre, Tommaso Ciampa, Matt Riddle, Rhea Ripley, and Velveteen Dream as people the company should invest in. Cena asked why they give fifth and sixth chances to people like Wyatt. Cena said he took the match because he wants to take Wyatt out of the equation. Cena said their WrestleMania match will be physical and gruesome and uncomfortable to watch, but it will accomplish what it should have six years ago – ending the existence of the most overhyped, overvalued, overprivileged WWE superstar in existence.”

Wyatt laughed and emerged from the from behind the ringside barricade. He said that it was good to see Cena again even though he was saying really mean things about him. Wyatt said Cena is a big movie star now and still has big muscles and girlfriends on tap. He said most of us imagine it must be great to be Cena. Wyatt said Cena has him all wrong, though. Wyatt said he’s not sick, Cena is.

Wyatt said Cena doesn’t care about the future, he cares about Cena. He said Cena doesn’t care who he buries along the way as long as he gets his spotlight. He said Cena craves the spotlight like an addict. Wyatt said Cena took something from him six years ago and he thought about it a lot to the point that he wanted to smash his brain into a million pieces so he could go five seconds without the voices talking to him about it.

Wyatt said one day he stopped fighting the voices and started listening to them. He said they took his corporate world and turned it into a majestic funhouse. Wyatt said Cena broke him, and The Fiend put him back together. Wyatt looked at Cena and told him it will be a slaughter at WrestleMania and Cena just doesn’t know it yet. “Let me in, John,” Wyatt said. The Fiend image appeared on the screen and the Wyatt laugh track played to close the show…

Powell’s POV: A very good segment to close the show. No crowd was needed for the Wyatt portion. I still feel like Cena agreed too quickly two weeks ago after claiming that he was not going to take a WrestleMania spot from someone who deserved it, but I liked this segment and the way they established where both characters are coming from. Overall, it was definitely a strange edition of Smackdown without the crowd present. I understand keeping the matches brief, but they definitely could have given more time to Bryan and Cesaro. It will be very interesting to see how they handle this on Monday when they have three hours to fill. I will have more to say about this show in my weekly Smackdown audio review for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of it by assigning it a letter grade via our post Smackdown poll on the main page. Be smart and be safe.



The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...


Readers Comments (4)

  1. It was a different show. As a referee on the local scene I have been on shows with just a handful of people – a couple of dozen or so – so I have a bit of an idea of what it can be like. But for those who were used to crowds in five figures for TV and four figures for house shows depending on the venue it would have been very strange. But they all handled it pretty well. If they do something similar on Raw next week the focus may well be more on promos and angles as they build to Wrestlemania. I think they’ll keep to it being on April 5 for now, unless something changes. And now that a state of emergency has been declared by the CDC (I assume – correct me if I’m wrong) it may take two weeks to know for certain, and that takes us to the go home week if Mania doesn’t move.

    • Did you have to go to a wrestling school to be a ref? There are a lot of indy shows near me. I’m too old to wrestle, but I would love to referee. Any advice?

  2. I imagine Vince was moist at the prospect of being able to do a sit down interview with Roman without the crowd booing or what’ing it.

  3. Yowie wowie; I am such a mark for Bray Wyatt (and Alexa and Nikki) and I loved his promo. I would have loved the Firefly them but it was still great.
    Poor Michael Cole; I know it’s his job to take shit from everyone but still; the little nod to all of us from Triple H- saying he’s not very good at this part of it, so he was leaving it to Cole even though a lot of people think he’s not very good at it either- was a nice wink to all of us who read the dirt sheets and it would have been top shelf if they’d left it at that (I did REALLY like Triple H on the camera though)
    Kudos to the talent for really showing up. Kudos to creative for coming up fast with something in a tough spot.
    My day job is part of the concert/touring/production world (on the supply side) the WWE really did a good job keeping the storylines going.
    Also, kudos to Sami for his excellent heel mic work. He is, as Powell would say, such an excellent “pest heel” (which Alexa is, too; I wish they’d bring that back).
    Coulda done w/o the elimination chamber flashback (and HHH joke) but they had to fill the time.
    All in all, the best of a bad situation; w’ll see what Monday brings…

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