In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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WWE SUPER SHOWDOWN
FEBRUARY 27, 2020
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA AT MOHAMMED ABDU ARENA
STREAMED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
(A) LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON vs. THE VIKING RAIDERS
WINNERS: Anderson & Gallows.
-A video package previewed the matches on the show. Then Rome introduced the show and they went to the announcers at ringside. They showed the Tuwaiq Trophy at ringside as Cole talked about what it stands for.
(1) R-TRUTH vs. BOBBY LASHLEY vs. ANDRADE vs. ERICK ROWAN vs. A.J. STYLES vs. REY MYSTERIO – Tuwaiq Trophy match
Truth came out first to a big reception as he sang his entrance song. Then Lashley came out with Lana, who then returned to the back. The announcers talked about Lashley as the favorite and acted surprised anytime Truth showed any resilience. Truth landed a Five Knuckle Shuffle and then tried an Attitude Adjustment, but Lashley blocked it. Lashley then hit a flatliner. When he went for a spear, Truth moved and Lashley went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Truth then rolled him up for a three count. The announcers were shocked and said Truth lucked into it (which isn’t really fair, since he moved out of the path of Lashley and executed a pin attempt intentionally and strategically). After the match, Lashley threw Truth into the ringpost and ringside steps, then gave him a spear back in the ring.
FALL ONE: Truth pinned Lashley in 6:00.
Andrade came out next, without Zelina Vega. Andrade completely dominated Truth. In the end, Andrade went for a spinning elbow, but butted heads with Truth, and Truth fell on top of Andrade for the three count. The announcers wondered if Truth even know he won. (In this instance, you could say Truth lucked into the win; maybe they were just early in their previous characterization of him lucking into a fall.)
FALL TWO: Truth pinned Andrade in 5:00
Erick came out next with his cage covered in the burlap tarp. Truth rallied back from the Andrade attack and dove onto Rowan at ringside. Rowan came right back and threw Truth into the ringside steps. The cage fell over. Rowan went into a rage and slammed Truth’s head into the ringside steps and then rammed the top of the steps into Truth. The ref DQ him. Rowan beat up Truth afterward.
FALL THREE: Truth beat Rowan via DQ in 2:00.
A.J. Styles came out next and received a big pop, which the announcers acknowledged. Fans chanted “A.J. Styles!” Styles relished the chance to playfully dominate Truth at the start. He mocked Truth’s dancing and then applied the Calf Crusher for the tapout win.
FALL FOUR: Styles via tapout in 3:00.
Rey Mysterio was scheduled out next, but when his music played, he didn’t come out. Styles gave off a knowing smile. They played his music a second time, but he didn’t come out. Then the big screen showed Anderson and Gallows stomping away at Rey. Some fans chanted “Un-der-taker!” Styles grabbed the mic and said it looked like Little Rey wouldn’t be getting up. He told the ref he was the winner by forfeit and asked the referee to raise his arm. The ref refused. The ref talked with Rome. Rome explained that Rey had a ten count to come out or else Styles would be declared the winner. (Hardly fair. Shouldn’t Styles be DQ’d given his cohorts were responsible for the attack?) They went back to the big screen and the camera showed Anderson and Gallows knocked out on the floor. Fans popped as Undertaker’s boots and robe were shown from the low camera angle. Styles threw a fit as Undertaker’s bell sounded and he made his entrance.
Cole said Styles said he is the best Superstar of any era and can beat any Superstar of any era. Saxton said he drew the attention of the Undertaker. Taker entered the ring as the announcers marveled at his entrance. Styles got in Taker’s face and poked his chest with his finger. He chokeslammed Styles and crossed his arms over Styles’ chest and the ref counted to three. He was announced as the winner of the Tuwaiq Trophy. Taker walked over and looked at the trophy.
WINNER: Undertaker pinned Styles in under 1:00 to win the Tuwaiq Trophy.
(Keller’s Analysis: Undertaker winning could agitate Styles and lead him into goading Undertaker in a match at WrestleMania, but Undertaker pinning him so easily here makes me wonder if they’re going another direction and the Styles promo last week on Raw was just to set up this moment, and they have something else in mind for both Styles and Taker at WM now. The crowd ate up the sequence leading to the finish, but it’s preposterous that Undertaker can just replace Rey and nobody suggests it might not be official. If they continue this as feud, I suspect Styles will claim he’s the rightful Tuwaiq Trophy winner, and maybe it will be put up for grabs at WrestleMania. It’s hard to see how Styles seems credible against Undertaker when he lost so easily here despite being really fresh.)
(2) THE NEW DAY (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. MIZ & JOHN MORRISON – Smackdown Tag Team Title match
Miz and Morrison came out to fireworks. After their ring entrance, New Day cut a promo. Big E said something about a “doubt dutch oven.” The heels got in some sustained offense. Kofi went for back splash off the ring apron, but Miz moved and Kofi crashed hard to the floor. Yikes. Back in the ring, Miz landed a Skull Crushing Finale on Big E in the ring for a near fall. In the end, Morrison hit Kofi with a chair and then Miz rolled him up for the three count.
WINNERS: Miz & Morrison in 13:00 to capture the Smackdown Tag Team Titles.
-Backstage, Saxton interviewed Seth Rollins and Murphy. Seth said the Street Profits are talented athletes, but their moral compass is off. He said it’s a matter of destiny that he and his disciple Murphy will walk out as Raw Tag Team Champions and the threat of the Street Profits “will be eradicated along the way.”
(3) ANGEL GARZA vs. HUMBERTO CARRILLO
Garza came out first, without Vega. Cole said Carrillo told him he is embarrassed that Garza is his cousin. The nicely paced but not dazzling back and forth match, ending with Garza sitting down on a sunset flip attempt by Carrillo for the three count. Garza celebrated as Carrillo soaked up the loss in the ring, holding his head in his hands in dismay. Cole said he’ll have his chance at redemption on Monday Night Raw in a tag match.
WINNER: Garza in 9:00.
-Saxton interviewed Bayley who said tonight is about making history and beating Naomi. She said she will prove to the entire WWE Universe yet again that she is the most dominant women’s champion that Smackdown has ever seen.
-A commercial hyped John Cena’s appearance on Smackdown tomorrow night in Boston, Mass. Graves said Cena doesn’t bother getting out of bed unless he can make a big impact. The announcers agreed this would be a big announcement.
(4) SETH ROLLINS & MURPHY vs. THE STREET PROFITS – Raw Tag Team Title match
About five minutes in, Ford landed a top rope frog splash on Seth and made the cover, but Murphy yanked Ford off of Seth before the three count. Dawkins threw Murphy over the announce table. Back in the ring, Seth tossed Ford to the floor, then went after Dawkins. He tagged in Murphy. Ford leaped at Seth. Seth and Murphy set up a double Pedigree, but the Profits blocked it and landed double DDTs. Ford then flip dove at Seth and Murphy over the top rope, but they caught him at ringside and threw him hard into the ringside barricade. Dawkins took a running leap off the ring apron and tackled Seth and Murphy. Back in the ring, Seth gave Dawkins a Stomp on the ring apron as Murphy distracted the ref, and then Murphy made the cover for the win.
WINNERS: Rollins & Murphy in 11:00 to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles.
-A WrestleMania ad aired. Then the announcers recapped the Kickoff Show match.
(5) MANSOOR vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Robert Roode)
Ziggler knocked Mansoor off the top rope. His leg got caught and he dangled upside down. Ziggler hit a Zig Zag for a near fall. Cole said he couldn’t believe it. Ziggler telegraphed his superkick by stomping the mat (which is still a top five dumb thing in pro wrestling that wrestlers do). Mansoor ducked. Ziggler scored at two count with a small package seconds later. Mansoor landed an inverted sliced bread into a DDT for a near fall. Mansoor climbed to the top rope again, and this time landed a moonsault for the win. Cole said he did it again in Saudi Arabia. Mansoor addressed the crowd afterward. Graves said he’s excited to see Mansoor compete in the United States and elsewhere in the world “to see what he’s really made of.”
This is huge.
I don’t think there’s ever been a ban on Hajj travel like this. https://t.co/1F8l3pbKTl
— Asma Khalid (@asmamk) February 27, 2020
-Cole touted a landmark water show feature in Saudi Arabia.
-The announcer then hyped the Women’s Elimination Chamber match.
-A video feature aired on Ricochet who said, “You know, why not me?” He talked about this being his “one shot” to make history and headline WrestleMania. They showed a graphic of Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre, but it switched to Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre.
(6) BROCK LESNAR (w/Paul Heyman) vs. RICOCHET – WWE Title match
Ricochet made his ring entrance first. Graves said Ricochet has to look for a quick victory and a surprise pin because he can’t hang with Lesnar for long. After ring entrances, Heyman said the winner of this match goes on to face McIntyre at WrestleMania. He said this is a spoiler and then declared Lesnar the winner before the match. Ricochet went for a dropkick, but Lesnar blocked it. The director missed that sequence because they were showing the WWE Title belt graphic instead. Lesnar gave Ricochet a released German suplex. “Welcome to Suplex City,” said Cole. They played back the opening sequence that they missed live. Lesnar delivered another German suplex. Cole said Ricochet said Lesnar better take him seriously, and he clearly is. Lesnar delivered an F5 and scored a three count. “And just like that, much like at the Rumble, Lesnar dominant tonight,” Cole said. “That was a direct statement sent to McIntyre.”
WINNER: Lesnar in 1:00 to retain the WWE Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was realistically the most likely way this match was going to go, and it’s probably the right approach given how Ricochet hasn’t been portrayed as a rising top tier threat to Lesnar going into the match despite the video packages. Keep Lesnar strong so if Drew beats him at WM, it’ll be an even bigger deal for Drew.)
-A video package aired on the Roman Reigns-Baron Corbin match.
(7) BARON CORBIN vs. ROMAN REIGNS – Cage match
The cage lowered over the ring, so they were able to pre-construct it and suspend it above the ring due to the scaffolding around ringside. Corbin was carried to the ring on his throne. I’m surprised Saudi Arabia allows someone else to portray themselves as royalty in their country.
As Reigns locked the cage door, Corbin attacked him. Corbin took control early. He tried to unlock the door to the cage, but Reigns intervened. Corbin hit Reigns and then told the ringside ref to open the door. As Corbin tried to escape, Reigns pulled the door into his face. He went for a Superman Punch, but Corbin countered with a chokeslam for a near fall. Corbin wrapped his fist with the chain that holds the cage door closed. Reigns gave him a Superman Punch. They fought on top of the cage for a while. In the end, Reigns then landed a Superman Punch with the chain wrapped around his fist and scored the three count.
WINNER: Reigns in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: A plodding, methodical, going-through-the-motions match that the crowd was just moderately into. It’s what you would have expected imagining these two battling in a cage in this setting.)
-Cole recapped Undertaker’s win earlier. He said Undertaker was spotted earlier in the week in Saudi Arabia and they wondered why he was there. They also plugged a new WWE Network special on R-Truth.
(8) BAYLEY vs. NAOMI – Smackdown Title match
Naomi made her “Feel the Glow” ring entrance with special lighting flooding the stadium. She wore a baggy oversized lime green t-shirt. Bayley wore a black scuba outfit head to toe and a blue t-shirt over it. No skin showing on either of them other than the neckline and head. Naomi landed a splits-splash for a two count early. Eerily silent crowd in the early minutes of this match. Bayley bailed out to ringside. Bayley took control at ringside and then scored a two count back in the ring. Naomi came back a few minutes later with a top rope crossbody block that was almost a crash and burn. She came up short and ended up driving her knee into Bayley leading to a two count. Graves said it wasn’t the intended impact of the move but it might have been more effective. Naomi applied a submission hold, but Bayley grabbed the bottom rope. Bayley took over and gave Naomi a back suplex. She climbed to the top rope for a flying elbow, but Naomi avoided it and knocked Bayley down, then went for a split-legged moonsault, but Bayley moved. Bayley then trapped Naomi’s legs in her oversized shirt and slammed her face into the mat for the win. Blame that on the Saudi Arabian dress policy for women! Graves called it “an old schoolyard trick” and “resourceful.”
WINNER: Bayley in 11:00 to retain the Smackdown Title.
-Saxton plugged Beth Phoenix on Raw on Monday updating the condition of her husband Edge.
-A video recap aired of the Goldberg-Fiend saga.
(9) THE FIEND vs. GOLDBERG – Universal Title match
Fans woke up and chanted “Goldberg!” during his entrance. Goldberg made his signature entrance from the locker room, yelling and sweating and grimacing and gasping for breath as he made the long trek toward the entrance stage. (Is he going to even make it to the ring?) He stood on the stage as the 1 million sized font “GOLDBERG” logo appeared above him on the big screen. Goldberg made it to the ring and paced as he waited for The Fiend. The “Firefly Funhouse” jingle played. Then it switched to the dramatic transformation to The Fiend entrance with the lights going completely black, then flashing red on the stage. Then red laser lights flooded the stage and Fiend walked out to the remixed Bray Wyatt entrance theme. Cole said, “There’s no doubt he’s one of the strangest, most malicious, troubled Superstars in WWE history.”
The bell rang after ring introductions. Fiend sat in the corner, then strode up to Goldberg and met him face-to-face mid-ring. Goldberg was chewing gum, it appeared. He sniffed a couple times and continued to stare. More “Goldberg” chants. Fiend took off his jacket and Goldberg quickly speared him for a sudden near fall. Fiend sat up and put the Mandible Claw on Goldberg, who appeared stunned the Spear didn’t finish Fiend. Goldberg stood up and shoved Fiend into the corner. Goldberg speared Fiend when he walked out of the corner. Then he hit a third spear. He waited for Fiend to stand, and the hit a fourth spear for a near fall. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” said Cole. Graves said that has to be disheartening to Goldberg, who has defeated everybody with that spear, yet Fiend survived four. Fiend applied a Mandible Claw. Goldberg headbutted his way out of it. Goldberg then hit a Jackhammer for a three count. Goldberg celebrated in front of a largely silent crowd. The lights went out. Then came back on seconds later and The Fiend was gone. Cole wondered if Goldberg would show up in Boston tomorrow at Smackdown with the Universal Title. Graves said he is the champion of the Blue Brand “and this isn’t a part time job.” (Um, has he been watching WWE the last several years?)
WINNER: Goldberg in 3:00 to capture the Universal Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Surprisingly flat crowd reaction for the finish. Either fans like The Fiend more than Goldberg, or they just wanted to see a longer match after the short Lesnar-Ricochet match. Let the speculation begin on what this means for WrestleMania. A Fiend rematch? Reigns vs. Goldberg? Other?)
FINAL THOUGHTS: A skippable show, as usual, from Saudi Arabia. Nothing must-see at all and the crowd petering out at the end hurt. Big news, though, will spark a lot of discussion. Was it worth it to give the 53 year old Goldberg a clean win over The Fiend? Will it backfire? Will it spark viewership for Raw and interest in WrestleMania?