SmackDown’s first-ever episode from the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida took place this week, due to the widespread COVID-19 all over the world. The build to WrestleMania continued with three major returns taking place this week.
Event: WWE SmackDown
Date: March 13, 2020
Location: WWE Performance Center, Orlando, FL
WWE SmackDown Results and Highlights
Triple H opened the show with a brief history of WWE’s very own state-of-the-art Performance Center, where all the wrestlers spend some time before making their return or their debuts. Triple H asked the fans to enjoy the show, and let WWE put a smile on their faces in these troubled times. The Game joined commentary, replacing Corey Graves at the table with Michael Cole.
Sasha Banks and Bayley def. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross: Sasha Banks made her entrance with Bayley and tried to shit-talk the audience, before laughing at the empty seats and continuing their entrance. Banks asked Triple H where Paige is, as Cole replied that she has travel issues.
Banks and Bayley continued trash-talking before they were interrupted by Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Bliss and Cross said that they were looking for the Tag Team Champions, but will have to do with Bayley and Banks for now.
A standard tag-match to kick things off on the show, and it ended with the heels capturing the victory. Bliss and Cross were about to win the match, but Bliss was distracted by one-half of Tag Team Champions, Asuka. Bliss took advantage, applied the Banks Statement on Cross, and won the match for her side.
Michael Cole Interviews Roman Reigns: Cole introduced The Big Dog, Roman Reigns who talked about making an entrance with no one to cheer or boo him, and went on to talk about the Universal Champion, Goldberg.
Reigns said that he had respect for the Icon, but part-timers have no place in the company. Reigns believed that he, who worked 24/7, 365 days a year, should be the champion, and he will layeth the SmackDown on Goldberg at WrestleMania.
Jeff Hardy Returns: Kayla Braxton is out for an interview and was interrupted by new Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn and his entourage. Braxton asked them to leave and introduced her real guest, Jeff Hardy.
Jeff talked about his return from injury, and how he wanted to make a mark in his latest run with the company. King Corbin interrupted him and said that not everyone is excited to have him back, and joked about his recent run-ins with the police.
Hardy revealed that he will be facing Corbin later in the night and stormed off. Corbin was interrupted by Elias and his guitar, and Elias performed a new song for the King, which seemed like a warning.
Triple H rejoined Cole at the table and joked about his ‘demotion’, which was reported last night. Triple H said that the fans were complaining about Cole’s commentary and hence he had to join the table once again.
Backstage: Daniel Bryan walked up to Drew Gulak and gave him praise for their match at Elimination Chamber last week. Bryan said that if Gulak was willing to teach him, he would be ready to accept his guidance.
The conversation was interrupted by Sami Zayn and co, who mocked Bryan for taking advice from a nobody, after refusing to join their side. Bryan and Gulak exchanged words with them and put down a challenge.
Miz and Morrison Promo: The SmackDown Tag Team Champions cut a promo inside the ring and continued to boast about their championships. Miz talked about their movies being great and mocked Orlando without anyone in the audience. Miz felt relieved that there won’t be any ‘You Suck’ or booing from the crowd. They continued to pose with the titles to end the segment.
Daniel Bryan def. Cesaro: Cole confirmed the news that Rob Gronkowski is joining WWE, as Gronk’s good friend Mojo Rawley joined the commentary and said that Gronk will be coming next week. The match began with Cesaro in control, who continued to dominate the former WWE Champion. Cesaro unloaded with forearms and uppercuts, but Bryan eventually rolled him up out of nowhere to win the match.
Nakamura and Zayn hit the ring and started the assault on Bryan. Gulak tried to save the day but the numbers game proved too much for the faces.
Jeff Hardy def. King Corbin: Making his return from injury, Jeff Hardy took down Corbin in a singles match. Hardy was attacked by Corbin before the bell rang, but a distraction from Elias mid-match turned the tide in Hardy’s favor. Hardy hit the Twist of Fury (Fate?), followed by the Swanton Bomb for the win.
John Cena/Bray Wyatt War of Words: Cena joined Michael Cole in the main-event segment, and addressed his match against Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania. Cena brought up how Wyatt feels that Cena is the reason for his failures, and how the loss for Wyatt at WrestleMania 30 changed his life. Cena said he was tired of people blaming him for their own failures, and added Wyatt to the long list of such individuals.
Cena went on to verbally destroy Wyatt by calling him overutilized and overhyped and said that WWE should be investing in better talents rather than giving 5th or 6th chances for people like Bray Wyatt. Cena said that he will destroy The Fiend once and for all at WrestleMania.
Wyatt interrupted as we see him laughing from the empty seats. He praised Cena for his Hollywood career and his blooming personal life and wondered how would it feel to be Cena for a day. Wyatt called Cena a spotlight hogger and blamed him for breaking him after their WrestleMania XXX match.
Wyatt said that Cena may have broken him, and The Fiend put him back together. Wyatt promised a slaughter at WrestleMania, as he got in Cena’s face. Wyatt let out a laugh as the graphic of The Fiend flashed as the screen turned black to end the show.
WWE SmackDown Takeaways
1. A Different Evening.
With no crowd to play off from, WWE seemed like a completely different show this week. The superstars had no one to talk to, the wrestlers had no one to cheer them or boo them, and Triple H played the role of an obnoxious man with his jokes and meta-references.
The promos by the superstars felt much more natural and organic due to not playing for a live crowd, which made the show feel genuine. Triple H’s antics throughout the show added to the weird fun over the course of two hours.
WWE’s decision to go forward despite several companies calling off their events was a bizarre decision, but it worked successfully and we were treated to a decent episode from the blue brand on the Road to WrestleMania.
2. Promo Masterclass
If John Cena has returned to the company for a feud, it is safe to assume that the promo levels will be on an all-time high. Paired alongside an equally good talker in Bray Wyatt, the duo produced a fiery promo battle to end the show.
Wyatt’s feuds have long-relied on continuity and the pains others have inflicted on him in the past, and it worked very well against Cena. Cena himself tore into Wyatt by calling him overrated and, him wanting to get rid of Wyatt to protect the future of WWE was a fantastic piece.
Wyatt and Cena have set the stage with the promise of a brutal encounter at WM, and WWE would be wise to give the younger superstar a win in this match.
3. Bayley’s Challenger?
With the Road to WrestleMania in full flow, almost all the champions have found their opponents for the Grandest Stage of Them All, apart from Bayley. After running through the entire Women’s Division on the blue brand, Bayley is left without a challenger. Sasha Banks doesn’t seem to be turning on Bayley soon, which makes it even harder to predict Bayley’s challenger.
There were rumors of Nia Jax returning to the ring along with her friend Paige this week, but it seems like we will have to wait until next week to find out whether the rumors are true.