Welcome to The Smackdown Reaction, where I offer my take on this week’s show at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth report here.
We start off with the usual Smackdown opener and no pyro (thanks Covid-19). Sasha Banks is out first followed by Bayley for promo time in the ring. They talk a bit about WrestleMania before Lacey Evens comes out to interrupt. Lacey said she’ll break Sasha’s jaw and take Bayley’s title before Naomi comes out. Naomi said she’s ready to become a three-time champ and here comes Tamina because, you know. Tamina drops the two faces so Sasha and Bayley can get a few cheap shots in before leaving the ring when Tamina looked ready to fight them. This was your standard promo before a PPV match. Tamina was made to look like the threat she isn’t and there was no mention made of why Dana Brooke was no longer involved in the match. Not that Dana had a chance either.
Our first live match of the night has Drew Gulak taking on Shinsuke Nakamura. If Gulak wins, Daniel Bryan gets an IC title match against Sami Zayn at WrestleMania. Zayn joined Michael Cole on commentary. We should have had a nice long match that would have showcased both superstars and help make Gulak look good. Instead, we got an acceptable four-minute match where Bryan returns the favor of pulling Gulak out of the way so Gulak could get a jackknife cover on Nakamura to win Bryan his IC title match. Zayn was complaining about the interference even though Cesaro did it earlier in the match. Cole needs to dial down on the yelling as it creates an echo in the empty Performance Center.
We get a quick recap of what happened last week between Otis and Dolph Ziggler. Dolph is backstage and we get the odd technical glitch that has been going on recently when Dolph is on screen. Heavy Machinery shows up and Dolph challenges Otis to a WrestleMania match and he accepts. Later in the show, Mandy Rose shows up and told Dolph that he and Otis better not be fighting for her like she was a prize. It would be nice if the technical glitches leads to a GTV style reveal that Dolph was only going after Mandy on a bet with Robert Roode. But we’ll likely end up with Ali randomly showing up on Smackdown with the new graphics package and Mandy getting a remixed version of Hoku’s “Another Dumb Blonde” for her entrance music.
Elias is up next to perform a song for us about Baron Corbin. The song was ok but the graphics displayed to go along were quite terrible. Corbin eventually shows up to attack Elias and toss him off the perch on to the airbag, um, concrete floor below. The magic of being a taped show made this look more impactful and I still don’t get why this is the best thing they could come up with for Elias.
Up next is Alexa Bliss taking on Asuka with Nikki Cross joining Cole on commentary. Cross sat and bounced, at times, on the commentary table throughout the match. We got a halfway decent match with Asuka taking some crazy bumps throughout the match. The match just ended when Alexa hit Asuka with a weak DDT leading to a rather flat ending. There were no Kairi Sane sightings during the match nor mentions as to her whereabouts. Cross was really entertaining on commentary to create some noise during the match.
We get our time killing match replay from WrestleMania 32 between Triple H and Roman Reigns. I find it odd that WWE is going full speed ahead promoting Goldberg versus Roman when most of us already know that Roman pulled out of the match. Anyway, we get a Reader Digest condensed version of the match highlighting the two big spots. Roman spearing Triple H through the barricade and Stephanie taking the spear she deserved during that angle. There was also no need for Triple H to be WWE Champion at the time either, but alas the match ended with Roman picking up the pinfall to celebrate to the boos and pyro at AT&T Stadium. After the replay was over, we went live to Triple H who went on to promote the Goldberg/Roman match like it was still happening and offered his insight on its potential outcome. Good luck with that Hunter.
We get a quick Firefly Fun House video where Bray kills Kenny again when Rambling Rabbit gets stuffed into a blender. Rambling Rabbit is closing in on Kenny’s death rate (South Park reference). Bray challenged Cena to a Firefly Fun House match at WrestleMania and let’s hope it doesn’t suck like the House of Horrors match from a few years ago with Orton. I won’t get my hopes up, though.
Our main event pits The Usos against The New Day for the right to face Miz and Morrison, who were on commentary, for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania. We get another expected great match from both teams. I think Big E and Kofi can carry the gimmick on without Xaiver Woods since he seems to be pretty injury-prone lately. The end of the match has Miz and Morrison attack both teams to draw the double DQ and Cole informs them that the title match will be a triple threat ladder match. That sounds a great match setup in theory but I won’t mention any spoilers about it.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows:
We had some really good live action tonight. The Usos/New Day match was great as expected. Gulak/Nakamura should have gotten more time though.
The guest commentators tonight added some extra noise to help cancel out some of the echo the empty Performance Center generates.
The finish to Alexa Bliss and Asuka was pretty flat. Granted, Asuka had been bumping hard but it should have taken more than a DDT to finish her off.
The empty arena shows are getting a little more fine-tuned every week. The echo that the commentary can generate gets a little distracting but they are trying to make due with the situation they were forced into. Hopefully things return to normal soon, but what will be the new normal?
That’s all I’ve got, until next time.