Smackdown – March 27, 2020

Smackdown
Date: March 27, 2020
Location: WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentator: Michael Cole

We’re back to the old days here with a taped show on the way to whatever is left to populate Wrestlemania. News has broken about a lot of people being replaced and it should be interesting to see if we actually hear about most of those names this week. It’s completely in another world at this point so you never can tell what we could get. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Here are Sasha Banks and Bayley to get things going. They talk about how big Wrestlemania is going to be but for the two of them, it is going to be a nightmare. That’s all Paige’s fault because the five on one idea isn’t fair. Not that it matters though as they’re best friends and nothing will split them up. Sasha doesn’t seem to agree but here’s Lacey Evans to interrupt. Sasha tells her to go talk to her bratty little kid because maybe she’ll listen. Lacey laughs them off and promises to beat them both up at Wrestlemania.

Cue Naomi to say she should be champion because Bayley cheated at Super ShowDown. As for Sasha, Naomi is snatching the blue wig off but Bayley doesn’t want all the interruptions….and here’s Tamina to interrupt. She says actions speak louder than words and takes out Lacey and Naomi, allowing Bayley and Sasha to stomp on Lacey in the corner. The two of them then run from Tamina to end one of the worst segments in a long time. None of these people can talk to save their lives and now they’re running from Tamina.

Drew Gulak vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

If Gulak wins, Daniel Bryan gets an Intercontinental Title shot against Sami Zayn, sitting in on commentary here, at Wrestlemania. Some knees in the corner have Gulak in trouble but he sends Nakamura outside, meaning we need a breather. Gulak follows so Nakamura can kick him in the chest, only to have Gulak spin the leg around on the way back inside. The knee is fine enough to come off the middle rope and hit Gulak in the face for two. Kinshasa is loaded up but Bryan pulls Gulak out of the way, allowing Gulak to grab a jackknife cover for the pin at 4:00.

Rating: C. It was nice while it lasted and Sami getting caught in the title match with a dose of his own medicine is a nice move. This didn’t have time to go anywhere but Gulak getting to pin Nakamura is a nice boost for him. I still have no confidence in him to survive without Bryan’s rub, but at least they’re doing something for the time being.

We look back at Dolph Ziggler tormenting Otis last week.

Ziggler is in the back when Otis charges in. Ziggler agrees to face him at Wrestlemania with Mandy Rose in Dolph’s corner.

Here’s Elias for a song about King Corbin, which happens to include a bunch of HILARIOUS visuals involving Corbin, toilet paper, and a special throne. Corbin shows up and knocks Elias off the balcony, down onto pure concrete. Medics come out to check on Elias, who should probably have a broken back at least.

Post break, Elias has been taken to a medical facility.

Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka

Nikki Cross is on commentary. Bliss ducks a clothesline to start and hits a dropkick, only to get knocked down so Asuka can dance. A right hand knocks Asuka off the ropes and Bliss no sells the Japanese ranting. Cross mocks Asuka’s dancing on the announcers’ table but Asuka sends Bliss into the steps.

Back from a break with Asuka striking away and Nikki slapping the announcers’ table so hard that she loses her headset. They fight to the apron with Bliss twisting Asuka’s arm down onto the apron and kicking her in the ribs back inside. It’s back tot he floor with Bliss driving her into the apron, only to get caught in the Asuka Lock. That’s broken up as well and the DDT finishes Asuka at 9:54.

Rating: C-. I’m trying to get my head around the idea of Bliss beating Asuka and it isn’t working. It makes sense in the story, but that’s Asuka losing out there. It’s not completely absurd but egads that’s kind of a hard one to swallow. Kind of like the idea of having the two teams fight for the Women’s Tag Team Titles at Wrestlemania, mainly because the titles still exist.

From Wrestlemania XXXII:

WWE World Title: Roman Reigns vs. HHH

HHH is defending and here’s Stephanie in what I think is a Mad Max look. It’s a closeup of her face in front of a barren wasteland as she talks about how this is their world and we’re all just living in it. Basically all hope is lost and we need to give up on this ridiculous belief that anyone can save us from the Authority.

Then an army of people in skull masks (NXT wrestlers with Enzo Amore at the front) carrying WWE Titles comes to the ring to set up HHH’s entrance where Stephanie gets to show off her legs. Again, just like the last two years, the big face gets to follow this rather cool (and over the top) HHH entrance. But hey, at least we get the annual HHH is Cool moment right?

As ridiculous (and as much as they’re begging the fans to boo them instead of Reigns) as this is, it’s NOTHING compared to the outright hatred that Reigns receives. The man is booed out of Texas and allegedly the audio had to be turned down in response. If that’s true…..I really wouldn’t be surprised.

Since these two can’t stand each other, they go to a headlock and armbar to start. The fans unload on Reigns when he shoulders HHH, only to get hiptossed to the floor. Back in and HHH works on the arm some more until Reigns shoves him into the corner for more incredible booing. A lockup goes nowhere as this is already starting to look like one of HHH’s disastrous main events.

Some hard forearms to the back of Reigns’ head put him down. The comeback is so soundly booed that it’s almost comical. A Stunner over the top rope sets up the apron dropkick for one on the champ. Stephanie offers a quick distraction so HHH can get in a low blow (FACE POP) and Reigns goes down again. HHH goes with some hard right hands to the face and the spinebuster gets two.

They head outside with HHH sending him face first into the announcers’ table (which he did a few weeks back to break Reigns’ nose). Another comeback is cut off and Reigns is thrown into the German announcers. Back in and Reigns uppercuts him out of the air and hammers away, only to have HHH bail from the Superman Punch. They trade whips into the steps until Reigns spears him through the barricade for almost no reaction. This is basically the same problem as HHH vs. Jericho in 2002: there’s no reason to believe the champ has a chance so there’s no reason to care until Reigns hits a spear in the ring.

Back in again and Reigns is holding his arm but HE’LL CONTINUE! And without a thirty minute nap like at the Rumble! Oh he’s got his working boots on tonight. HHH puts on a Fujiwara armbar of all things because the main event of Wrestlemania with a match that’s supposed to be based on hatred is built around a bad arm. See, when Daniel Bryan did that, it was entertaining. When Reigns is doing it, the fans are cheering the evil villain.

Reigns powers out of something like the Rings of Saturn but can’t knock the confetti off of HHH’s head. It’s back to the armbar until Reigns FINALLY gets the break with a powerbomb. That goes nowhere so WE HIT ANOTHER ARMBAR BECAUSE THIS MATCH NEEDS TO BE ALL LONG AND EPIC AND STUFF! Another powerbomb breaks the hold again but the spear is countered into a Pedigree which is countered into a backdrop to the floor.

The fans start singing to placate their boredom until the spear gets….no count because Stephanie pulls the referee out. Now Stephanie gets in to yell at the referee, earning herself a spear and turning Reigns into the biggest star in the world (for about thirty seconds). If my memory serves me right, she hasn’t taken a bump in nearly a year since then, or really had anything bad happen to her that lasted more than a day or two.

The Pedigree gives us the first hot near fall of the match and it’s the Superman Punch to drop HHH. The second spear is broken up with a knee and Stephanie hands HHH the sledgehammer (She took a spear less than four minutes ago so OF COURSE she’s capable of doing that. This woman is scary.). Not that it matters as another Superman Punch and the spear give Reigns the title back at 27:04.

Rating: D. And a lot of that is just for having the guts to go out there and do a match this boring in this spot on this show. This match was twelve minutes of HHH working on the arm and then getting into the main event style that went exactly where we knew it was going. The lack of drama or really anything interesting (save for that Stephanie spear) killed this and there was no recovering given how long the thing ran.

This needed to be about fifteen minutes shorter and we would have had the same result: Reigns winning and getting booed out of the building because people just don’t want to see him in this spot. There was a total lack of hatred and violence here and it really dragged things down, which is far too often the case for any given HHH match. It’s one of the worst Wrestlemania main events ever and there’s really no way around that.

HHH talks about what it’s like to face Goldberg and Roman Reigns. They’re both intense and if Reigns can survive the initial onslaught, he’ll be able to win.

New Day is ready to put the Usos over their knees and give them a beating like their daddies so they can go to Wrestlemania.

Ziggler is in the back with Sonya Deville and says everything is coming together. Mandy comes in to ask if Ziggler has to do this to Otis. She supports Ziggler having the match but she isn’t the prize a prize for them to fight over. Ziggler says it’s ok and they leave.

It’s time for the Firefly Fun House but the lantern seems to get in Bray’s head. Bray says that it already failed against John Cena but He won’t. See, Bray has a way to win so let’s go to the blender. Take some self loathing, rage, disappointment, hot sauce (for flavor) and a carrot (so he can see John Cena)…..plus Ramblin Rabbit (for some completely unnecessary opinions) and throw them all in a blender and mix them together. Bray says He wants Cena to join Cena in the world of insanity in a Firefly Fun House match at Wrestlemania. No word on that means, but Bray wants to be let in.

Next week: Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns face to face.

New Day vs. Usos

Miz and Morrison are on commentary and defend their use of turtlenecks. Jimmy and Kofi start fast with Kofi flipping out of a suplex and sticking the landing on a monkey flip. The dropkick is countered though and a dropkick puts the Usos on the floor. Back in and Big E. throws Jey around before easily blocking an Irish whip. It’s back to Kofi, who gets caught in a hot shot but Big E. comes back in almost immediately. That means suplexes to the Usos and the apron splash sends us to a break.

Back with Big E. getting caught in a double spinebuster but powering over to Kofi without too much trouble. The Boom Drop into a hurricanrana out of the corner have Jey in trouble but Jimmy comes in and grabs a half crab. Miz and Morrison: “FIGHT FOREVER!” That’s broken up as well and it’s off to Big E., who gets dropped in a hurry (Miz and Morrison find this awesome).

Kofi saves Big E. from a dive and sends the Usos over the top for the big dive. Miz and Morrison get on the announcers’ table to do their own chant so Kofi goes after them, only to have Jimmy hit a dive. Big E. spears Jey off the apron to put everyone down on the floor so Miz and Morrison jump Big E. for the DQ (or no contest as WWE doesn’t seem to know the difference anymore) at 13:14.

Rating: B-. These teams could have a decent match in their sleep and they came close to it here. The ending couldn’t have been more obvious if they held up a big sign saying what it was but at least they had a nice match going into it. They don’t need it to be a ladder match, but I guess it can add a little something to the show.

Post match the beatdown is on but Cole makes the announcement: a triple threat ladder match at Wrestlemania. Miz and Morrison get beaten up to end the show.

There was no mention made of any matches being changed.

Overall Rating: D+. This was a bigger miss for me as it was a lifeless show. They added three matches to Wrestlemania as it’s turning into another bloated mess that is likely going to leave fans wanting things to end rather than actually being an interesting event. I’m not sure what can be done to make it better at this point, but not adding everything imaginable to it would help.

Results

Drew Gulak b. Shinsuke Nakamura – Jackknife cover

Alexa Bliss b. Asuka – DDT

New Day b. Usos via DQ when Miz and Morrison interfered

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