WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 3/27 (Spoiler-Free): Fallout from Reigns withdrawal from WM title match, Continued Audience-Free Show, Gulak vs. Nakamura with IC Championship Implications, Goddess vs. Empress, Firefly Funhouse
PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
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WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
MARCH 27, 2020
ORLANDO, FL. AT THE WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRS ON FOX NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST
Top 10 Moments from Last Week
Arena and Items Advertised by WWE
Tonight’s WWE Smackdown will once again take place in the WWE Performance Center with essential personnel only as we continue to navigate the current global pandemic that is the coronavirus. The episode was pre-taped.
We continue towards WrestleMania, the event “too big for one night.” An executive order was issued in Orange County in Florida, in which Orlando is included, that all stay in except for essential businesses until April 9. WrestleMania will likely be recorded by the time Smackdown airs tonight. Two matches on tonight’s card have implications for that WrestleMania card. Here’s what’s on tap:
Bray opens the door to the Firefly Funhouse
The New Day and the Usos put WrestleMania fate on the line
Drew Gulak and Shinsuke Nakamura in a match with major WrestleMania implications
Alexa Bliss and Asuka look to settle the score
Roman Reigns Out of Universal Championship Match
Multiple wrestling media outlets have reported that Roman Reigns has withdrawn from the Universal Championship match against Goldberg at WrestleMania. Many reports claim he is not comfortable as a result of his history with leukemia. Given WrestleMania will likely have been filmed by the time the show drops tonight, it’s hard to say what they will do or have done.
Frank’s Analysis: This is ultimately the right call, but why did Roman take so long to make this decision? I’m surprised this decision wasn’t made by either side sooner. What do they do now? I honestly don’t care. This whole f’in event should have been called off.
Bray Wyatt and the Firefly Funhouse
Coming up at WrestleMania, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt will take on 16-time world champion John Cena for the second time at such event after they met six years ago in New Orleans. Bray has cited that match, in which Cena won, as the cause of his “downward spiral” that led him to becoming the Fiend. Two weeks ago, Cena and Bray met face to face. Bray said throughout the years he kept hearing voices and tried to ignore them, but rather started listening to them. It was “The Fiend” who put him back together.
Last week they replayed the match from WrestleMania 30 which saw Bray attempt to get Cena to tap into his dark side. Cena stayed “true to his character” and did not give in temptation by Bray. Tonight, we get an episode of the Firefly Funhouse as we continue the build towards this rematch.
Frank’s Analysis: Besides Randy Orton vs. Edge, this is the match that has me the most intrigued. While there are flaws in the storyline that Cena sent Bray into a “downward spiral” (he did win the WWE Championship in 2017), you can logically tell that story overall. Watching that WrestleMania match again made me realize how good Cena is as well as Bray. It’s unfortunate that Bray’s booking didn’t take full advantage of his creativity through the years.
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New Day vs. the Usos: Winner Faces Miz & Morrison for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania
Through the years we’ve had our tag team rivalries. They include the Freebirds and the Von Erichs, the Midnight Express and the Rock ‘n Roll Express, the Road Warriors and the Four Horsemen, the British Bulldogs and the Hart Foundation, Edge & Christian and the Hardys, and countless others. In 2017, we certainly added New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) and the Usos (Jimmy & Jey) to that list. They feuded throughout the year highlighted by their Hell in a Cell match at the aforementioned PPV which saw the Usos win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. They later called an “Use Truce” with New Day and have had a respectful relationship ever since. Last year, in a gauntlet match with Kofi Kingston’s WWE Championship opportunity on the line, the Usos forfeited their match with New Day as they wanted to see their friend go to WrestleMania.
That won’t be the case tonight as these two teams go at it for the right to face Miz and John Morrison for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. Miz and Morrison won the titles at Super Showdown from New Day back in February. Here’s a little goofing off on Twitter between Usos and New Day:
They don’t know about Adina…..😂 https://t.co/6TD57GgRsj
— The Usos (@WWEUsos) March 19, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: Screwy finish leading to a triple threat anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Drew Gulak vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: If Gulak Wins, Daniel Bryan faces Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania
Disclaimer: Multiple unconfirmed reports are saying Daniel Bryan is self-quarantining away from his pregnant wife, Brie Bella, and their daughter Birdie. According to Brie he has an autoimmune disease and fought asthma when he was younger. He is doing this out of an understandable abundance of concern. Nothing is suggesting he will not participate in WrestleMania, but given this news it’s subject to change.
Last week, Daniel Bryan and his new ally Drew Gulak defeated Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. Two weeks ago, Bryan defeated Cesaro but then a post-match angle was run where Nakamura, Cesaro, and Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn attacked Bryan. Gulak came to his aid.
It was Bryan and Gulak who went at it one-on-one at Elimination Chamber which saw Bryan come out on top. Bryan acknowledged Gulak found holes in his game and asked for his help. Tonight, Gulak attempts to help Bryan in the biggest way possible by taking on Shinsuke Nakamura. If Gulak is successful, Bryan gets a shot at Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania. Gulak and Bryan have been talking back and forth on Twitter squeezing pineapples and nerf footballs to practice headlocks. You can look at their accounts if you so desire.
Frank’s Analysis: Remember when Shinsuke Nakamura won the Royal Rumble in 2018 and challenged A.J. Styles for the WWE Championship in what people regarded as a dream match at that year’s WrestleMania? The bright spot in all of this is Gulak is getting TV time and there are worse things than being associated with Daniel Bryan. Bryan vs. Sami Zayn is something I advocated for when I was on as a cohost with Wade Keller a few weeks ago. I stand by that. There’s a lot of talent in this entire situation.
Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka
Alexa Bliss has been calling out the Kabuki Warriors for quite some time now, looking for a chance for her and Nikki Cross to challenge for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. Two weeks ago, on Smackdown, Bliss and Cross (gotta call ‘em Bliss Cross Applesauce no?) fell to Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks when Asuka interfered and attacked Bliss from behind. Last week, Kayla Braxton interviewed Bliss and Cross. Bliss challenged Asuka to a match tonight. Here’s the challenge, which deserves being posted:
Frank’s Analysis: I love the energy from Nikki, and I love that Alexa faced the camera to make that challenge. It was to the point, had passion behind it, and it makes me want to see the match. This is the was promos should be done!
Other Match Results and News Items from Last Week
Rob Gronkowski and Mojo Rawley opened the show with Michael Cole talking about “Gronk” hosting WrestleMania. He and Mojo were annoying and then King Corbin came out to make matters worse. Elias followed, and then Gronk suggested Elias face Corbin at WrestleMania.
Paige appeared via Skype (I think it was Skype) and was interrupted by Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks. Paige told Bayley she would defend her title at WrestleMania against Tamina, Dana Brooke, Lacey Evans, Naomi, and Sasha Banks in a six-pack challenge. This has since been changed to a Fatal Five-Way Elimination match as Dana Brooke is out as a result of self-quarantining. Here’s Sasha in a WWE.com exclusive:
Smackdown Tag Team Champions Miz and Morrison ran an episode of the Dirt Sheet trying to figure out who should face them at WrestleMania for the titles. They then took on Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker) in a non-title match with Dolph Ziggler on guest commentary. Miz & Morrison won via DQ when Otis hit Morrison with a chair. This was Miz and Morrison heading into the match:
It’s a moot point now, but Universal Champion Goldberg and Roman Reigns signed the contract for their WrestleMania match.
My tone is a little negative in this preview and I apologize for that, but I can’t help but feel this way about WWE and how they’re handling this situation right now. I could forgive AEW for continuing to do first-run programming because they don’t have a library of matches they can relive on Dynamite. They’re handling things much better, at least I think, if you watch their show. WWE has a plethora of content they can relive and hold off on WrestleMania until this thing blows over. They choose to press on, and we watch. We’ll see how they handle Roman and who knows what other shoe will drop by tonight.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!