Smackdown – February 28, 2020

Smackdown
Date: February 28, 2020
Location: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

Things are changing in a hurry around here as Goldberg is Universal Champion. That alone would be a huge deal but now we have the return of John Cena, who seems ready to get in the ring at Wrestlemania in just over five weeks. It’s the busy season again and that means things are going to get interesting in a hurry. Let’s get to it.

Here’s Goldberg to get things going. It’s not about who’s last because it’s all about who’s next. He throws the mic down and here’s Roman Reigns (dang they’re not waiting around for this one), which Goldberg seems to like. They stare each other down until Reigns says “I’m next”, as the Wrestlemania sign looms over them.

Classic John Cena Moment: the debut match against Kurt Angle in 2002, which was a heck of a match aside from just the promo and slap. The Undertaker handshake felt important too.

Naomi vs. Bayley

Non-title. Hold on though as Bayley has a mic and says she shouldn’t have to be here in front of these little idiot fans. She already made history last night so she’s just here to introduce a future multi platinum recording artist. That would be Sasha Banks, so Bayley jumps the distracted Naomi from behind. Naomi kicks her in the face and hits a dropkick into the corner, only to get sent face first into the corner. The Rear View draws Banks in for the DQ at 2:38.

Lacey Evans and here we go.

Naomi/Lacey Evans vs. Bayley/Sasha Banks

Lacey and Naomi start with some horrible dropkicks to the floor, followed by stereo dives….or in Lacey’s case a jump over the top onto the apron and a fall onto Bayley. Back from a break with Sasha sending Naomi face first into the mat and bringing Bayley back in. Bayley works on an armbar as we hear about Lacey changing her ways and wanting to be a role model.

A knee to the face gives Bayley two and it’s back to Sasha, leaving Bayley to tell the fans to shut up. Naomi finally kicks her away and brings in Lacey to start cleaning house. Lacey kicks Banks off the apron and hits the slingshot elbow onto Bayley. Naomi’s springboard crossbody gets two as everything breaks down. With Lacey on the floor, it’s a Backstabber to Naomi but Lacey pulls Sasha out with her. That leaves Naomi to sunset flip Bayley for the pin at 9:27.

Rating: D+. This was as WWE of a tag match as you can get, complete with the botches near the beginning. It was exactly as you knew it would go and that doesn’t make for the most thrilling stuff. Naomi pinned Bayley, but the interesting thing was a lack of mention about the Elimination Chamber match. I know Lacey mentioned it, but with nine days to go before the show, you would think it might be brought up.

New Day is fired up and have a staredown with Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode.

Classic Cena Moment: the first World Title.

Kofi Kingston vs. Robert Roode

Roode takes him into the corner to start and chops away as Cole and Graves make stupid banter about Mandy Rose. Kofi scores with his dropkick and works on the arm before elbowing Roode out to the floor. The the referee not looking, Roode kicks the steps and feigns a blow to the head, so the referee ejects Big E.

Back from a break with Roode holding a chinlock and then pounding Kofi with forearms. There’s a suplex to Kofi and Roode goes to the middle rope to mock the New Day clap. That lets Kofi avoid a knee drop and come back in with a springboard shot to the head, followed by the Boom Drop. Roode is right back with a full nelson slam for two, followed by the spinebuster for the same. Kofi grabs the SOS so Ziggler puts the foot on the rope. The distraction lets Roode roll him up for the pin at 12:27.

Rating: C-. They’re pushing me with these finishes tonight. I’m not sure what WWE sees in having Roode and Ziggler around so often but they’re not exactly thrilling…well anythings really. It was just a match with the two of them cheating and hopefully not the start of a feud between these teams. I don’t know if I can take Ziggler in another long form story.

Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose are watching in the back with Sonya referring to Ziggler as Mandy’s man. Mandy doesn’t react.

Otis is distraught when Tucker comes up to him. Otis thinks something is up but Tucker says the reality is that sometimes Ziggler gets the girl. Tucker tells him to remember the fans and Otis says he’s right.

Classic Cena Moment: beating the Rock in the rematch.

It’s time for a contract signing for the Intercontinental Title match at Elimination Chamber. Shinsuke Nakamura, with Cesaro and Sami Zayn, come out first, followed by Braun Strowman (with a rather bad haircut). Sami tells Strowman to sit down but Strowman throws the chair up the aisle. That sends Sami into a rant about how Nakamura couldn’t enjoy his birthday last week because Strowman powerslammed him onto a grand piano.

Strowman tells Sami to shut up he doesn’t care what’s in the contract. He’ll have to fight all three of them anyway so there’s the signature. Sami likes what he just heard and makes a quick amendment to make it a handicap match, with all three signing. Therefore, it’s officially three on one at Elimination Chamber. Strowman moves the table but the numbers game gets the better of him and the beatdown is on. A double suplex/kick to the face puts Strowman through the table.

We recap the Goldberg vs. Reigns showdown.

Curtis Axel vs. Daniel Bryan

Drew Gulak is on commentary as Bryan keeps getting his friends TV appearances (and there’s nothing wrong with that). Axel starts fast as Gulak talks about seeing holes in Bryan’s game that could be exploited. With Bryan down, Axel mocks the YES pose but Bryan is back with the YES Kicks. More kicks look to set up the big one but Axel revers into a small package for two. A clothesline to the back of the head drops Bryan but it’s the LeBell Lock to make Axel tap at 4:31.

Rating: C-. I can get behind something like this. WWE has so many wrestlers who can do something in the ring but are never used. I know they’re not likely to be stars and there’s nothing wrong with that, but throw them out there, just for the sake of some fresh faces. Gulak and Axel probably aren’t going to set the world on fire but they’re under contract so why not swap them in for some of the other regular jobbers for a change?

Classic Cena Moment: the sixteenth World Title.

Here are Miz and John Morrison to brag about being the new Tag Team Champions. You know the original, but the reality is that the sequel is going to be even better. Since they won, it’s time for a singing celebration, complete with the Miz and Morrison chant plus Miz’s theme song playing as a bonus. Hold on though as we have a referee and we have a title match….at Elimination Chamber against New Day, the Usos, Heavy Machinery, Lucha House Party and Robert Roode/Dolph Ziggler.

Usos vs. John Morrison/Miz

Non-title. Jimmy takes Morrison into the corner to start and we get the circle of lights breaking into the feed again. When did that become the go to way to promote someone debuting/returning? It feels like they’re everywhere these days. Miz takes over with a DDT for two so it’s off to Morrison for a kick to the ribs. The chinlock goes on with the Usos in trouble as we take a break.

Back with a double tag picking up the pace until Jey is caught with a neckbreaker/top rope double stomp combination. Everything breaks down and Jimmy dives onto Miz, only to have Jey’s Superfly Splash hit knees. Starship Pain is broken up so Jimmy hits a middle rope Canadian Destroyer, setting up the Superfly Splash to give Jey the pin at 9:50.

Rating: C+. Bad night for the champs here, though at least they can blame it on the jet lag or something. That and it really doesn’t matter given that the Elimination Chamber is coming up so soon. However, you really couldn’t do a DQ here or have the Usos beat another team? Or just not have the champs involved at all? Pretty good match though, after a series of less than inspiring ones so far.

Here’s John Cena for the big close. After taking in the crowd reaction, Cena says that he’s back so it must be Wrestlemania season. So what is he doing at Wrestlemania this year? He knows his role has changed so now it’s time to do something a little different. Cena always listens to the biggest superstar there is, which would be the fans. He knows he can probably say or do whatever he wants and have it happen at Wrestlemania, but he’s going to do the right thing.

This year’s Wrestlemania should go on without him. It’s not goodbye but it’s goodbye for now, because Cena cares about the future. Wrestlemania spots should be earned and not demanded so this year’s he’s betting on the future and sitting out. That makes tonight special because he doesn’t know when he’s going to be back. He has an announcement tonight and he wanted to make it in front of his friends and family.

The fans cheer for him and Cena drops the mic before heading to the front row to shake hands with some kids. Cena goes up the ramp and salutes….and there go the lights. They come back up and the Fiend is…..right behind him. Cena looks at the Fiend, who points at the sign. Cena looks at the sign, looks at the Fiend, and nods, as the lights go out and we get the laugh to end the show.

Overall Rating: C+. This show picked WAY up in the second half and that’s the best thing that could have happened. The first forty five minutes or so were a complete slog with almost nothing happening and then things got a lot better in a hurry. It’s like the exhaustion was turned off and they were trying to build towards some major shows, which made things that much better. You can’t ask for much more than two big Wrestlemania matches being made in one night so well done, as the top of the card is now mostly full. Just take care of the rest of it and we’ll be fine.

Results

Naomi b. Bayley via DQ when Sasha Banks interfered

Naomi/Lacey Evans b. Bayley/Sasha Banks – Sunset flip to Bayley

Robert Roode b. Kofi Kingston – Rollup

Daniel Bryan b. Curtis Axel – LeBell Lock

Usos b. Miz/John Morrison – Superfly Splash to Morrison

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