By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown
Taped in Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired March 27, 2020 on Fox
[Hour One] The AC/DC opening aired and then Michael Cole checked from the empty Performance Center and hyped the previously advertised matches. Cole also hyped a look back at Roman Reigns vs. Triple H from WrestleMania 32 while claiming that Reigns would challenge Goldberg for the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania 36…
Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks made their entrance. Cole noted that Bayley has been champion for 308 days. Bayley spoke about WrestleMania being too big for one night and said it’s where the best of the best compete on the grandest stage of them all. “This year, our WrestleMania is a nightmare,” Bayley said (but not for the real reason). She blamed Paige for “what is now a Fatal Five-Way Elimination.” Bayley played up the idea that she and Banks are on the same page and there was no separation. “Right?” Bayley asked Banks.
Lacey Evans made her entrance before Banks could respond. Evans said Bayley’s mouth is almost as big as the hat she was wearing and Banks could barely get a word in. Banks took a jab at Evans and her “brat” daughter. Evans said Banks won’t be able to say her daughter’s name when she breaks her jaw with a Woman’s Right. She started to talk about taking the title from Bayley, but she was interrupted.
Naomi made her entrance and said she’s with Evans, at least until they handle Banks and Bayley. Naomi spoke about snatching the wig off Banks and how the Glow shines brightest and then she was interrupted.
Tamina made her entrance. Once in the ring, Tamina said actions speak louder than words. Tamina headbutted Naomi, then superkicked Evans. Bayley and Banks put the boots to Naomi, then backed into Tamina and quickly backed off before leaving the ring. Cole said it will be every woman for herself in the Fatal Five-Way elimination match at WrestleMania…
Cole hyped the Drew Gulak vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match and that Daniel Bryan will get an Intercontinental Title shot at WrestleMania if Gulak wins… [C]
Powell’s POV: There was no acknowledgement of Dana Brooke being pulled from the match, which was previously billed as a Six Pack Challenge. Given the circumstances, I’m happy they didn’t feel the need to add a replacement. This show was taped earlier in the week and thus it’s possible that Roman Reigns hadn’t made the call to pull out of WrestleMania yet. In other words, we may not get an angle on this show to set up the switch. I will avoid listing his replacement in this report if it’s not announced tonight for the benefit of those avoiding spoilers.
An ad aired for the 2020 Royal Rumble airing on FS1 on Tuesday at 6CT/7ET… A sponsored video package recapped the storyline that set up the Gulak vs. Nakamura match with the WrestleMania stipulation…
1. Drew Gulak (w/Daniel Bryan) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Sami Zayn, Cesaro). If Gulak wins, Bryan will challenge Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania. Zayn sat in on commentary for the match and express great confidence that Nakamura would defeat Gulak. When Gulak grabbed an early advantage, Cesaro pulled Nakamura to ringside. Gulak ended up on the floor and was worked over by Nakamura kicks.
Back inside the ring, Nakamura remained on the offensive and hit a flying knee from the middle rope that led to a two count. A short time later, Nakamura went for a Kinshasa, but Bryan pulled Gulak out of the way. Gulak rolled up Nakamura and pinned him while Zayn complained on commentary.
Drew Gulak defeated Shinsuke Nakamura in 3:55 to earn Daniel Bryan an Intercontinental Title match at WrestleMania.
After the match, Zayn rushed to the ring and barked at referee Charles Robinson for missing Bryan’s interference. Bryan yelled to Zayn that the Intercontinental Title will be his at WrestleMania…
Cole hyped Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka, and a new Firefly Funhouse with Bray Wyatt addressing John Cena later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m enjoying the Bryan and Gulak storyline, and I continue to wonder if the idea is to have Gulak cost Bryan the title at WrestleMania to put them back in the position of being adversaries.
Cole noted that the show was being held at the WWE Performance Center while footage of the venue was shown. Cole recapped the opening match and then the graphic was shown for Sami Zayn vs. Daniel Bryan for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania…
Cole stood at ringside and spoke about the Otis and Dolph Ziggler feud. He said it started when Ziggler stole Otis’s date with Mandy Rose on Valentine’s Day. He set up footage of their segment last week.
Ziggler was shown talking on his phone backstage. The static and partial graphic appeared on the screen briefly. Heavy Machinery entered the picture and were yelling at Ziggler while being held back by Adam Pearce and several referees. Ziggler said he wanted to end it and challenged Otis to a match at WrestleMania and noted that he would have Rose in his corner…
Powell’s POV: No, Ziggler didn’t steal Otis’s date. Ziggler showed up at the restaurant where Rose was waiting for a tardy Otis, then Otis was too much of a dope to approach them. I get a kick out of this story, but they never made it seem like Ziggler stole the date. Rather, it came off like he was in the right place at the right time. It seemed like they were going to piece it together to show that Sonya Deville was responsible for giving causing Otis to believe that Rose would be late, but they haven’t done much with that lately.
Ring announcer Greg Hamilton introduced Elias, who was on the PC perch with his guitar. Elias said he wrote a song called “Kingdom of Hope” and invited people to clap along at home. He told viewers not to worry about their neighbors because they would be clapping too. Elias sang about King Corbin and their WrestleMania match. It included a line about stocking up on toilet paper and stamping Corbins face on every roll. He also sang that Corbin’s throne is a toilet and that he’s a turd.
Elias finished his song for once and thanked “the capacity crowd” at the Performance Center. Corbin attacked Elias on the perch and hit him with his scepter. Elias ended up hanging over the side of the perch. Corbin hit him with the scepter again and Elias fell from the perch. The camera didn’t show him land, they simply cut to a shot of Elias lying on the ground. Pearce and a couple referees came out and checked on Elias, who was down going into a commercial break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Will this lead to Elias vs. Corbin in an old fashioned scaffold match?!? If so, they better have a better finish than that basic editing trick they just used.
Cole set up a recap of Corbin attacking Elias and called it a horrific attack. Cole said Elias was being transported to a local medical facility and he hoped they could provide and update throughout the weekend on how his injury could affect their scheduled WrestleMania match…
2. Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss (w/Nikki Cross). Kairi Sane did not accompany Asuka to ringside. Cole figured out that Cross was going to be on commentary and said, “no, no, no.” Cross hugged him and he reminded her about social distancing. Cross sat on the desk during the match. Asuka ran Bliss into the ring steps and then taunted Cross going into a break. [C]
Bliss mounted a comeback and hit a seated Asuka with a dropkick. Bliss went for her moonsault sequence, but Asuka rolled to ringside. Bliss followed and ran Asuka back first into the apron. Bliss rolled Asuka back inside the ring and covered her for a pair of two counts. Moments later, Bliss caught Asuka with a DDT and pinned her. Cole said he had a lot of color commentators during his career, “but that was very unique”…
Alexa Bliss beat Asuka in 10:00.
Powell’s POV: WWE should just have Cross at ringside for every match given how much noise she made by clapping and pounding on the table in support of Bliss. Cross was a lot of fun and I got a kick out of Cole acting so annoyed by her.
The Usos delivered a backstage promo. They said it wouldn’t be the road to WrestleMania without the Usos and New Day battling… Cole hyped that the Reigns vs. Triple H match from WrestleMania 32 was coming up next… An ad for Monday’s Raw hyped appearances by Brock Lesnar, Edge, Undertaker, and Becky Lynch… [C]
Cole set up the Roman Reigns vs. Triple H match…
(The following match description is from my WrestleMania 32 live review): Leather clad empress Stephanie McMahon with wild hair stood on a Triple H throne and gave a speech about how your lives are meaningless and the fans owe everything to them. She said there can be only one and raved about Hunter in an over the top action movie manner. Hunter came out in his gear with the title belt and they headed to the ring together.
Roman Reigns’ entrance music played and he walked onto the star on the stage, did his usual punch down, and the stage screen changed. Pyro shot off outside the building on on the stage star. Reigns headed to the ring and then stood on the ropes where he was booed.
Lilian Garcia delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match. Reigns was booed, which drew a smirk from him. Hunter was cheered loudly…
[Hour Two] Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon) vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Hunter took Reigns down with a side headlock to start, but Reigns knocked him down with a shoulder block. Hunter blocked a hip-toss and threw Reigns over the top rope to ringside. Hunter opened the ropes mockingly for Reigns. There was a “Roman Sucks” chant. [C]
The crowd remained behind Hunter and booed Reigns as they traded shots. The fans cheered when Hunter caught Reigns with a low blow. Hunter got the better of of Reigns following the low blow. Cole told the story that Hunter was targeting the nose of Reigns with his punches. Hunter tossed Reigns to ringside at 7:50.
Hunter threw Reigns over the German broadcast table. Reigns fought back from there, but Hunter ended up catching him with a neckbreaker off the German table. Reigns made it back onto the apron and was greeted with knees to the head at 10:40. With Roman dangling over the middle rope, Hunter performed a knee drop off the middle rope and covered Reigns for two.
Hunter went to the middle rope again and jumped into a punch from Reigns, who caught him with a kick. There were some boos and no audible cheers. Reigns performed a Samoan drop on Hunter and got a two count. Reigns set up for the Superman Punch, but Hunter rolled to ringside to avoid it.
Reigns also went to ringside, got a running start, leapt off the ring steps, and caught Hunter with a clothesline. A short time later, Hunter tossed Reigns over the German broadcast table again. However, Reigns recovered quickly and speared Hunter through the barricade. [C]
Stephanie stood over Hunter and told the referee to go ahead and start the ten count. The referee did just that. Reigns dragged Hunter back inside the ring. Reigns was holding his left hand or arm in pain. Stephanie jawed at him. Roman stood p and went for a Superman Punch, but Hunter grabbed him by the bad arm and applied the Kimura lock.
Reigns eventually rolled to a standing position, but Hunter held on. Hunter had a small cut on his head that opened early in the match. Reigns powered up Hunter and slammed him down for a two count and broke the hold at 20:00.
Rinse and repeat with Hunter applying the hold and Reigns powering out again. Hunter went for a Pedigree, but Reigns backdropped him over the top rope. Stephanie was there to tend to Hunter. Reigns set up for his dive, but Hunter caught him with a punch. As Hunter returned to the ring, Reigns speared him. Steph pulled out the referee briefly. He returned and counted, but Hunter kicked out.
Stephanie entered the ring while the broadcast team said that was close to a DQ. Hunter grabbed the referee. Reigns went for a spear and both Hunter and the ref moved, causing Reigns to spear Stephanie. Hunter hit the Pedigree on Reigns for a good near fall.
Reigns absorbed having his face driven into Hunter’s knee and came right back with a Superman Punch at 25:00. Reigns sat in the corner and pumped himself up while Hunter struggled to get back to his feet. Reigns went for a spear, but Hunter cut him down with a great running knee to the head. Hunter covered Reigns, who kicked out at two.
Stephanie was down at ringside, but she managed to hand Hunter a sledgehammer. Cole said Hunter would be disqualified and retain the title if he used the sledgehammer. With Hunter bickering with the referee momentarily, Reigns caught him with a Superman Punch. Reigns followed up with a second. Reigns dodged a sledgehammer jab from Hunter and then ran the ropes and speared him before pinning him to win the match….
Roman Reigns beat Triple H to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in 26:50.
Powell’s POV: This was an edited version of the match, as it went nearly 27 minutes, yet the match and the commercial breaks only filled 19 minutes of Smackdown. WWE delivered a seven-hour WrestleMania that year and this was the main event. I’m exhausted just thinking back to what felt like a show that would never end. I believe it was the first Mania to go that long and it sparked a lot of talk that WWE should consider making WrestleMania a two night event. They are doing it this year, but unfortunately it’s due to different circumstances.
Michael Cole interviewed Triple H, who stood backstage. Cole noted that Hunter had been in the ring with Goldberg and Reigns. Hunter spoke about their intensity. Hunter said Reigns has an intensity that builds, and Goldberg has an intensity that comes all at once. He said Goldberg’s intensity is unparalleled. Hunter said that if the match ends quick, then it’s likely a Goldberg win. But if the match does long then it goes to Reigns because he will build and build until Goldberg runs out of gas…
Powell’s POV: A good sports-like breakdown of the Goldberg and Reigns from Triple H.
New Day members Big E and Kofi Kingston delivered a backstage promo about facing the Usos. Kingston said it’s always a battle for the ages when they face The Usos. Big E compared it to his father putting him over his knee and saying that “this will hurt me more than it hurts you.” Big E said your daddy is about to become eight-time tag champions…
Cole hyped the Firefly Funhouse for after the break… [C] A sponsored ad recapped the initial angle that set up John Cena vs. The Fiend for WrestleMania…
Dolph Ziggler was shown talking with Sonya Deville backstage about “everything they’ve been doing” and how it’s coming together. Mandy Rose showed up and asked to speak with Ziggler, then asked him why he’s doing this to Otis. She asked if he really needed to rub it in his face by showing him their photos. Ziggler said he messed up. She said she wouldn’t let them fight over her like she’s a prize. Ziggler said he’d put Otis behind them…
Powell’s POV: There we go. They’re back to telling the story that Deville played some part in this, and now we know that she’s been in cahoots with Ziggler.
Bray Wyatt hosted the Firefly Funhouse. He was shown looking at a photo of John Cena standing over him after beating him at WrestleMania. Wyatt’s lantern head was there and there was some noise. Wyatt told the head to shut up and said that it had its chance because it failed against Cena, “but he won’t.”
Th Abigail puppet said Wyatt was delusional then and delusional now. She asked if he had the recipe to beat Cena. Wyatt said he did, then they cut to him pouring what he called disappointment, self loathing, hot sauce, rage and resentment into a blender.
Ramblin’ Rabbit showed up with a carrot. Wyatt said he was missing irrelevant and unnecessary opinions. They cut to the rabbit puppet in the blender and crying for help before Wyatt turned the blender on and started laughing maniacally. They next shot showed Wyatt drinking his concoction and saying it was going straight to his head.
Wyatt said a big star like Cena deserves more than an ordinary match. Wyatt said “he” wants Cena to step into their world of madness and mayhem. Wyatt said “he” was challenging Cena to a Firefly Funhouse match at WrestleMania. Wyatt took another swig from his drink and said it tasted great, but there was one nasty side effect. Shots of The Fiend were shown…
The Miz and John Morrison made their entrance and joined Cole on commentary for the main event…
Powell’s POV: You had to assume that Wyatt vs. Cena would be one of those matches they filmed at a unique location. I hope they have something good in mind.
Cole said John Cena would respond to Wyatt’s challenge to a Firefly Funhouse match on next week’s Smackdown… Ring entrances for the main event took place…
3. Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso for a shot at the Smackdown Tag Titles at WrestleMania. Cole asked which team Miz and Morrison would rather face. Miz said they already faced them and everyone else in the Elimination Chamber. The Usos ended up at ringside early on. Miz mocked them by telling them to get back in the ring. The New Day duo was in offensive control going into a break. [C]
Cole told Miz and Morrison they would be underdogs regardless of who won the match. They did the New Day clap, then did the U-So chant. Morrison started a “fight forever” chant. In the ring, New Day set up for a double team move that the Usos avoided. Jeyimmy(?) superkicked Big E twice and got a two count. Miz started a “this is awesome” chant and then added “kind of” at the end.
The Usos put Big E on the ropes and wanted to go for a double team move, but he fought them off. One of the Usos caught Big E with a kick that knocked him off the ropes. Kingston returned and performed an over the top rope dive onto one of the Usos. Miz and Morrison sang their “hey-hey, ho-ho” song while standing on the broadcast table. Kingston knocked them down. A short time later, Miz and Morrison attacked both teams for the DQ.
Big E and Kofi Kingston fought The Usos to a no-contest in 13:55.
Miz and Morrison put the boots to both teams. Cole interrupted the attack and said he received word from “WWE officials” that they would have to face both teams in a Triple Threat ladder match at WrestleMania. The Usos hit a double superkick on Miz, then New Day performed a double team move on Morrison. Cole hyped the tag title match for WrestleMania to close the show…
Powell’s POV: Sadly, there are reports that Miz is out of WrestleMania, and it’s unclear what WWE ended up going with for the Smackdown Tag Title match when they taped WrestleMania on Wednesday and Thursday. WWE didn’t announce any WrestleMania match changes on this episode, which was taped earlier this week. It will be very interesting to see how they address these changes either on television next week, online, or even during the actual WrestleMania Kickoff Show broadcast. I will have more to say about it in my weekly audio review of this episode for Dot Net Members coming up shortly.
We have a lot of time on our hands these days. I recommended Bert Kreischer’s new standup comedy special on Netflix last week, and I’m going with Tom Segura’s new Netflix standup special this week (I haven’t had a chance to dive into the new season of Ozark yet). Well, unless you haven’t seen “Tiger King” which is a must watch documentary, as I’m convinced that Joe Exotic would have been the greatest Memphis wrestling manager ever. Stay safe and have a great weekend.