The series of WWE programming from the Performance Center in Orlando, FL continued with SmackDown this week. The latest episode of the blue brand had several WrestleMania implications, but WWE avoided addressing the reports of several wrestlers refusing to work ‘Mania.

WWE SmackDown Results and Highlights

  • The show opened with Sasha Banks and Bayley, who bad-mouthed Paige before being interrupted by the rest of the individuals involved in the Fatal 5-Way at WrestleMania. Tamina made her return and knocked out Naomi and Lacey Evans.
  • Drew Gulak w/ Daniel Bryan defeated Shinsuke Nakamura w/ Cesaro: Gulak, with some help from Bryan, took down the former Intercontinental Champion to earn an IC title match opportunity for his friend Daniel Bryan at WM.
  • Otis and Tucker tried to attack Dolph Ziggler after his actions last week. Officials got in the way, but Otis and Ziggler agreed to face off at WrestleMania, with Rose being in Ziggler’s corner.
  • Elias stood on top of the perch and performed his latest song. Corbin ambushed him and used his scepter to push Elias off the perch. Te Drifter took a huge fall and was laid out.
  • Alexa Bliss defeated Asuka: Nikki Cross joined commentary, as Bliss reigned supreme over one-half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions, seemingly confirming a matchup between the two teams at WrestleMania.
  • Bray Wyatt prepared a perfect smoothie for The Fiend to defeat John Cena at Wrestlemania. He challenged Cena to a Firefly FunHouse match for the event. Cena is expected to respond to the challenge next Friday.
  • The New Day defeated The Usos by DQ: In the number one contender’s matchup, a brawl broke out leading to a disqualification. A triple threat ladder match was announced for WrestleMania, for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, featuring Miz/Morrison, Usos and The New Day.

WWE SmackDown Takeaways

1. A Twist In The Tale?

Many believed Sonya Deville to be the real mastermind behind the current Otis-Ziggler-Rose situation, and WWE gave the first hint of that being true. Ziggler was seen discussing with Deville, who immediately left after spotting Rose. A mixed-tag match was initially suggested for WrestleMania, but it seems like WWE is holding back the eventual breakup of Rose and Deville.

Ziggler will finally get his first-ever singles matchup in the company at WM, after more than a decade of toiling in the company. Even though it is a mini-feud with not much at stake, WWE has done a good job of painting him as a detestable individual while Otis has become an ultra sympathetic babyface.

2. Truth or Cooked Up Stories?

Several reports were published last night regarding the absence of several high-profile names from the WrestleMania card. The reports mentioned that WWE will be addressing these issues on this week’s SmackDown, but nothing was mentioned. Reigns and Miz were two of the names reported to miss WrestleMania, but WWE continued to hype their matches as usual.

A segment between Reigns and Goldberg is scheduled for next week’s SmackDown, and more clarity will hopefully be given after that episode. Strowman is the rumored replacement, and it will be interesting to see how he is tied into the storyline.

3. A Fun and Fiery Match

A Last Man Standing Match, a Boneyard Match, and now a Firefly FunHouse Match are scheduled for WrestleMania this year, with each of these being the blowoffs to deeply personal rivalries. Wyatt announced the stipulation this week, and the stipulation will surely be an interesting sight.

Wyatt’s last stipulation match was against Matt Hardy in the Ultimate Deletion, which received rave reviews from the WWE Universe. Hopefully, this matchup goes down that path instead of the House of Horrors match, which took place between Wyatt and Orton a few years ago.