By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown
Taped last week in Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired April 3, 2020 on Fox
[Hour One] Are you ready for a good time? The AC/DC opening kicked off the show… Michael Cole welcomed viewers to WrestleMania weekend…
Chairs were set up in the ring for the Miz TV segment. Greg Hamilton started introductions, but he was cut off by the Usos entrance music. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso explained that they couldn’t wait for Miz and Morrison because they were jumped last time. They spoke of becoming Smackdown Tag Champions.
Big E delivered the New Day introduction, then he and Kofi Kingston made their entrance. The duo said “oh, no” several times as they walked to the ring. Kingston took issue with the Usos claiming they would win the tag titles. Big E said they’re used to 70,000 to 100,000 screaming fans at WrestleMania and the circumstances are a little different. He said they are going to win the tag titles.
The Usos said New Day had to get by them first. The teams bickered until The Miz could be heard clearing his voice. The Miz and John Morrison walked onto the stage. “Don’t mind us, it’s not like this is my show or anything,” Miz said. Miz complained of mistreatment and disrespect by being forced to defend the tag titles against two teams in a ladder match.
Miz and Morrison climbed onto ladder that were on the stage while Miz said it was an example of what they would do when they retain the tag titles. New Day and the Usos looked at one another, then rushed the stage and attacked the Smackdown Tag Champion. One of the Usos accidentally superkicked Kingston, then Big E roughed up both Usos. Miz and Morrison shoved Big E into a ladder, then picked up a ladder and ran into E and one of the Usos. Miz and Morrison climbed the ladders again to end the segment…
Michael Cole hyped John Cena’s appearance for later in the show, then hyped that Ric Flair’s final match from WrestleMania XXIV against Shawn Michaels would air during the show…
Naomi made her entrance for a Triple Threat against Lacey Evans and Naomi heading into a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The opening segment was solid hype for the tag title match at WrestleMania. There was no mention of Miz being pulled from the match. More than anything, I’m curious to see whether or how they address the lineup changes during this show.
1. Naomi vs. Lacey Evans vs. Tamina in a Triple Threat. Sasha Banks and Bayley sat in on commentary for the match. The entrances for Evans and Tamina were shown. Tamina removed her hat and placed it on Cole’s head. Tamina knocked both opponents off the apron heading into an early break. [C]
Tamina continued to dominate the match while Cole tried to stir the pot between Banks and Bayley. Naomi came back with a Disaster Kick on Tamina. Evans hit Tamina with a couple of elbows and a clothesline. Banks got got up and ran Evans into the ring steps, then ate a kick from Naomi.
In the ring, Tamina performed a Samoan Drop on Naomi for a near fall. Naomi avoided a charging Tamina in the corner. Bayley ran to the ring and clotheslined Naomi over the top rope, then Tamina superkicked Naomi and pinned her.
Tamina defeated Naomi and Lacey Evans in 7:25 in a Triple Threat.
After the match, Bayley entered the ring and told Tamina that it was good to have her back and that she’s honored to have her in the match. Bayley offered a handshake, which Tamina accepted. Bayley was about to leave when Tamina superkicked her. Banks tried to play on their Team BAD history, but Tamina gave her a Samoan Drop…
Cole hyped Cena’s appearance and the Flair vs. Michaels match… [C]
Powell’s POV: The match was fine in terms of setting the tone for the five-way elimination match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. The post angle made it clear that Tamina isn’t working with Bayley or Banks, but I’m surprised they didn’t do more to play up tension between Bayley and Banks going into the match.
Tucker was shown stretching backstage when the static and graphic appeared. The graphic could be read this time and it read, “The Truth Will Be Heard.” Mandy Rose approached Tucker and they talked…
Michael Cole set up the Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels match from WrestleMania 24. After stating earlier that it was Flair’s final match, Cole said it could have been Flair’s final match. They picked up the match with the ring entrances. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were on commentary. The Flair family was at ringside, including Charlotte and her late brother Reid.
The WrestleMania video aired coming out of one of the commercial breaks that took place during the match. We are one day away. Cole plugged the show’s sponsor and then sent viewers back to the conclusion of the Flair vs. Michaels match. Shawn is still sorry, and he still loves Ric.
[Hour Two] The post match scene with the crowd giving Flair a standing ovation was shown, along with various shots of Flair and his family in tears…
Cole spoke about the match and noted that it was the final match that Flair had in WWE. Cole transitioned to “breaking news.” No, not that. Rather, he set up footage of King Corbin pushing Elias off the perch at the WWE Performance Center. Cole said the match is still scheduled for this weekend and questioned what Elias’s injuries from the fall will be an issue.
Cole announced that Goldberg will defend the WWE Universal Title against Braun Strowman…
Backstage, Tucker told Otis that Mandy Rose asked about him. Tucker said he felt as though she was just being nice. Otis got a text, got excited, and headed off somewhere. Tucker wondered where he was going while noting that his match was up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: Really, we waited a week for that? A simple announcement that Strowman facing Goldberg without an angle, nor any mention of Roman Reigns or why he’s out of the match? They easily could have done this last week and clearly should have. They made a bigger fuss over Elias working despite his storyline injury than a huge change to one of the top WrestleMania matches.
2. Dolph Ziggler vs. Tucker. Tucker delivered a big kick to Ziggler’s face and tried to follow up by charging him in the corner, but Ziggler moved, causing Tucker to crash and burn. Ziggler executed a DDT on Tucker going into a break. [C]
Both wrestlers ended up at ringside. Tucker took the ring steps apart and then rolled Ziggler back inside the ring and followed. Tucker got a near fall. They went back to ringside where Ziggler thumbed the eye of Tucker. Ziggler performed a Zigzag on to the ring steps. The referee called for the bell and Cole said it was a disqualification.
Tucker beat Dolph Ziggler by DQ in 9:35.
After the match, Ziggler picked up the ring steps and was about to drop them on Tucker when Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville came out. Rose told Ziggler to stop. The static and “The Truth Will Be Heard” graphic appeared again.
They cut to a shot of a hooded man sitting in front of a bunch of computer equipment. The man turned around and his face still couldn’t be seen. In a distorted voice, the man questioned if you were paying attention, then said the truth would be heard. He turned around again and hit a button.
Footage aired of Mandy Rose leaving her camera in the locker room on Valentine’s Day, which led to Sonya Deville picking it up and saying, “Sorry, Otis.” Rose deleted the text that Otis sent. Additional footage was shown of Deville telling Ziggler that he would get what he wanted and she would get what she wanted.
Back in the PC, Deville told Rose that she would never do anything to hurt her. Rose stormed away with Deville in pursuit. Otis chased Ziggler and knocked him down on the entrance ramp, but Ziggler got up and ran backstage. Otis went back to checking on Tucker… [C]
Powell’s POV: Mark it down. The half-assed announcement of Braun Strowman challenging Goldberg at WrestleMania was actually worse than Ziggler’s entrance music. Anyway, the hacker needed a lot more equipment than Sami Callihan, who is hacking Impact using only his cellphone. Kidding aside, the angle played out as expected in terms of Deville and Ziggler being in cahoots.
Backstage, Deville chased after Rose, who blew her off and kept walking…
3. Daniel Bryan (w/Drew Gulak) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Cesaro). Sami Zayn sat in on commentary for the match and continued to talk about what he has to offer to Bryan if he would only join his faction. In the ring, Bryan performed a missile dropkick and then pointed at Zayn. Bryan went for a huracanrana from the ropes, but Nakamura hung on and then hit Bryan with a flying knee. Nakamura remained on the offensive heading into a break. [C]
Nakamura went for the Kinshasa finisher, but Bryan avoided it and rolled him into a half crab. Nakamura reached the ropes to break the hold. Nakamura rallied and applied an armbar, but Bryan countered out of it immediately and applied his own version. When Nakamura ended up on top, Bryan countered into a Yes Lock. Cesaro ran in for the DQ.
Daniel Bryan beat Shinsuke Nakamura by DQ in 12:00.
After the match, Gulak went after Cesaro, who ended up tossing him over the barricade. Cesaro dropped Bryan on the broadcast table, then ran Gulak into the ring steps. Zayn taunted Bryan and then threw him inside the ring where Cesaro gave him the Neutralizer, and Nakamura hit him with the Kinshasa. Cesaro and Nakamura held Bryan in the corner, then Zayn blasted him with a Helluva Kick…
Cole hyped John Cena for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Both guys worked hard and this was a good match given the circumstances. Zayn was good on commentary and did a nice job of making it seem like he was hanging on every move and desperately wanted Nakamura to take out Bryan. They did a good job of putting heat on the heels heading into the Intercontinental Title match at WrestleMania.
A sponsored ad recapped Bray Wyatt challenging John Cena to a Firefly Funhouse match…
John Cena made his entrance. He stopped on the stage, looked into the camera, and welcomed viewers to Smackdown on Fox. “It’s time,” Cena said before heading to the ring. Cena spoke of the decision to run WrestleMania in the empty WWE Performance Center. He said there have been some “meh” moments and some great moments. “Together, we have navigated this uncertainty,” Cena said.
Cena said it’s led us to the final minutes of the final broadcast of an unprecedented WrestleMania. Cena said all of us are asking what’s really going to happen. Cena said tomorrow night will be the first not of an epic broadcast that will be the most viewed and most talked about WrestleMania in WWE history. Cena asked how he knows this and said it’s because no one knows what’s going to happen.
Cena said he was challenged to a Firefly Funhouse match and he has no idea what that is. Cena said he suspected that Bray Wyatt didn’t even know what the match would entail. Cena said Wyatt thrives off of uncertainty and has dominated the WWE landscape with uncertainty, fear, and panic.
Cena said it was the eve of WrestleMania and everyone is staring into the uncertainty and wondering what will happen next. Cena said he won’t panic, he’s not afraid, and he will squash Wyatt and finish what he started six years ago. Cena said Wyatt isn’t even on the level below him. Cena called Wyatt a bootleg version of Mr. Rogers.
Cena said Goldberg exposed that The Fiend has weakness and now he will expose The Fiend as an embarrassment. Cena said he was ready to step aside, but The Fiend made this challenge. He said The Fiend has asked for the match on his turf and his terms and he’s still going to get his ass kicked. Cena accepted Wyatt’s challenge to a Firefly Funhouse match and then laughed.
Wyatt’s puppets started appearing over the ringside barricade. Ramblin’ Rabbitt said he’s here. The lighting changed. The Fiend appeared on the Performance Center perch and had a staredown with Cena. Suddenly, sweater wearing Wyatt appeared in the ring behind Cena and said, “Let me in.” The lighting change and Cena was alone in the ring to close the show…
Powell’s POV: Even as a part-time player, Cena is still the right babyface to deliver the message at the end of the WrestleMania go-home show. The segment was solid and I suspect that we should be ready for a lot of that type of editing during the Firefly Funhouse and Boneyard matches in particular.
The overall show was solid, but I can’t get over the way they snuck in the announcement of Braun Strowman challenging Goldberg without even mentioning Roman Reigns by name. There was no angle, so did they dance around this for a week so that the company executives and talent could avoid having to address it during mainstream media interviews to promote WrestleMania? It’s also ridiculous that there’s still no indication as to which matches will air on Saturday and which matches will air on Sunday.
I guess we’ll all find out together. Join me for live coverage of WrestleMania on both nights. Dot Net Members will hear my audio review of Smackdown coming up shortly, and they will hear WrestleMania audio reviews hosted by Jake Barnett and I on Saturday and Sunday night. Thanks for watching along with me and let me know what you thought of this episode by assigning it a letter grade in our weekly post show poll.
For your streaming pleasure during the lockdown, I recommend Kim’s Convenience. Netflix released season four of the fun Canadian series earlier this week.