3/27 WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT: Keller’s coverage of WrestleMania hype including Reigns out of WM title match, Gulak vs. Nakamura, Alexa vs. Asuka

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

KELLER’S WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN REPORT
MARCH 27, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT THE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK

Announcer: Michael Cole


[HOUR ONE]

-The WWE “Now, Then, Forever” brand stamp aired. Then the Smackdown opening aired.

-Then they went into the Performance Center live which got a makeover, likely a preview of the look of WrestleMania also since they taped WrestleMania matches the previous two days. They had tall video pillars surrounding ringside flashing light graphics to generate some energy and movement. Cole introduced the show and hyped The Usos vs. The New Day with the winner facing Miz & Morrison for the WWE Smackdown Tag Team titles at WrestleMania and Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka. He also said they’d play Roman Reigns vs. Triple H from WrestleMania 32. He still hyped Reigns challenging Goldberg at WrestleMania despite reports that Reigns is sitting it out due to coronavirus health concerns.

-Sasha Banks and Bayley came out to the ring. They used augmented reality graphics for Sasha. Cole plugged the Fatal Five-way match at WM. They entered the ring. Bayley talked about WM being two nights this year. Sasha said it’s supposed to be a magical time where anything can happen and dreams come true. Bayley said their WrestleMania is a nightmare this year because Paige is jealous of them and how dominant she’s been. She said she’s putting her in a match at WM against four challengers. “How is that fair?” she asked. Sasha said it’s not fair. Bayley thanked her. Sasha said she’s trying to pit them against each other. Bayley said that won’t work because they’re better together like peanut butter and jelly. “Am I right?” Bayley asked. Sasha hesitated. Then Lacey Evans’ music interrupted the moment.

Evans marched out and told Bayley her mouth is nearly as big as her hat. She said her best friend can barely get a word in. Bayley said, “I’ve got a word for you. Loser!” Sasha told Lacey to go talk to someone who will listen, like her bratty little kid. She asked Lacey if her daughter wonders why she keeps losing. Lacey said Sasha won’t be able to say her daughter’s name after she breaks her jaw with her Woman’s Right. Next out was Naomi.

Naomi said she’s with Lacey. She said she’s going to yank the blue wig off Sasha’s head and said she was looking at her “all stank.” Bayley said this isn’t going to be the type of night where everyone interrupts everyone with their music. At that very moment, out marched Tamina to her music. Tamina said actions speak louder than words. She then headbutted Naomi and superkicked Lacey. Sasha and Bayley charged at Naomi and stomped away at her in the corner of the ring. Then they tried to make nice with Tamina, but she just stared them down. They retreated to the back.

-Cole hyped the Drew Gulak vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match. [c]

-A recap aired of the backstory for the next match.

(1) DREW GULAK (w/Daniel Bryan) vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/Sami Zayn, Cesaro)

Sami joined Cole on commentary at ringside. Sami said he’s not remotely worried about what’s about to happen because he’s confident Nakamura will defeat Gulak. Sami said Nakamura has been on top of his game since he took him under his tutelage. When Gulak got in some offense, Cesaro pulled Nakamura to safety. Sami told the ref no rules were broken and told the referee to pipe down. Nakamura kicked Gulak’s leg out from under him on the ring apron and then threw him into the announce table. Sami told “Shin” that he’s truly a master. Cole said Sami is bitter that Drew turned him down. Nakamura set up a Kinshasa kick, but Bryan yanked Gulak out of the way. Gulak then jackknife covered Nakamura for the three count. Sami threw a fit as Bryan congratulated Gulak. Bryan yelled to Sami that at WrestleMania, the IC Title will be his.

WINNER: Gulak in 4:00 to earn Bryan an IC Title match against Sami Zayn at WrestleMania.

(Keller’s Analysis: I was hoping for something more substantial, but I understand the circumstances of pre-taping the matches for Smackdown and WrestleMania during a tight timeframe put a stress on everyone.)

-Cole hyped Bliss vs. Asuka and the Firefly Funhouse segment later. [c]

-They showed a drone shot of the Performance Center. Cole said they now know that the IC Title will be defended at WrestleMania by Sami against Bryan.

-They went to Cole at ringside. He threw to a recap of the Mandy Rose-Otis-Dolph Ziggler saga from last week where Ziggler showed Otis pictures of Ziggler and Mandy happy together followed by Otis going berserk.

-Backstage Ziggler was telling someone on his phone that Otis was pathetic and creeping all over Mandy. Otis ran in and was held back by two referees and Adam Pearce. Ziggler said he wants to end this with the world watching with Mandy in his corner at WrestleMania. Otis grunted yes. (Social Spacing Grade for that Segment: D-)

-Elias strummed his guitar from a stage at the Performance Center. He said he wrote a song called “Kingdom of Fools.” He said clap along, and their neighbors will be too.

WrestleMania is too big for one night
After I destroy Corbin, he’s going to see the light
At WrestleMania the chances of Corbin winning are narrow
So bring your medieval costume and a bow and arrow.
I stocked up on toilet paper in these times of distress
And I stamped your face on every roll, I must confess (image included)
That may seem harsh, but it’s the least of what you deseve
You’re thrown into the toilet and you are a turd (image of Corbin sitting on a toilet)

Elias thanked everyone at the Performance Center for listening. Corbin then attacked him. He asked if he thinks its funny trying to embarrass him like that. He threw Elias over the edge of platform. Elias hung on from high above. Corbin kept trying to knock Elias down, but Elias hung on. Corbin then used his scepter to jab him in the head and knock him to the floor. They cut away where Elias was lying on his back on the floor. Two referees and Pearce called for doctors to help and they told Elias not to move his neck.

(Keller’s Analysis: When shows are pre-taped they can do edits like this, just as AEW did with Chris Jericho and Matt Hardy on Wednesday night.) [c]

-They replayed what happened to Elias. Then Cole at ringside said Elias was transported to a local medical facility and they’d update viewers when they can on how that affects his scheduled match at WrestleMania.

(2) ASUKA vs. ALEXA BLISS (w/Nikki Cross)

When Bliss and Cross came out, Bliss joined Cole at ringside. She moved in for a hug and Cole got into a mini panic. When she hugged him, he called for social distancing and asked if anyone approved her being there. Cross was very excited about the match and called it a dream come true to call her best friend’s match alongside Cole. She thanked Cole for having her. Cole reiterated he didn’t invite her. She sat on the desk and clapped her hands with her fingers intertwined. Cole asked what she was doing to make that noise. She showed Cole. Asuka took early control and danced to celebrate. Nikki clapped to try to rally Bliss. Bliss knocked Asuka off the top rope, then mocked her by celebrating like her in the ring. Asuka yelled at Bliss. Bliss kicked her off the ring apron. [c]

Back from the break, Asuka had Bliss grounded with an armbar as Nikki created tons of energy sitting on the announce table and cheering on “Lexi.” Bliss escaped and round kicked Asuka’s back. Nikki banged the announce desk and her headset fell off. She apologized and assured Cole “I’ve got it together.” That cracked up Cole. Nikki’s enthusiasm somehow ramped up the longer the match went. Bliss scored several near falls and eventually hit a DDT for the win. Cole said he’s sat next to many color commentators during his career and that was very unique.

WINNER: Bliss in 10:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: Fine action. I don’t think it’s at all helpful to Asuka, though, to lose clean like that in ten minutes under these circumstances, but in a way a lot of what’s happening is sort of off to the side in a separate universe given world circumstances.)

-The Usos cut a promo backstage about facing New Day later. They declared “The Use got the juice.”

-Cole then hyped a special look at the Triple H vs. Roman Reigns match from WrestleMania 32. [c]

-A commercial aired hyping the Royal Rumble would air Tuesday night on FS1.

-A commercial aired for WrestleMania with the pirate ship theme.

-Cole then threw to Reigns vs. Triple H from WrestleMania 32 four years ago.

-They aired the ring entrance with Stephanie McMahon introducing Triple H. Hunter was incredibly cut back then.

[HOUR TWO]

-The bell rang to start Triple H vs. Roman Reigns as they entered hour two. They cut to a break a few minutes in. [c]

-They cut to another break about ten minutes in. [c]

-The match ended 20 minutes into the second hour.

-Cole interviewed Triple H remotely and asked him about the Goldberg vs. Reigns match. Triple H said they’re both all about intensity. He said the difference between them is Reigns has intensity that builds over time, whereas Goldberg’s intensity starts at peak level but lasts for only a brief period of time. He said he’s been in the ring with both guys, and Reigns gets stronger as the match progresses, “like he feeds off of whatever you bring to him.” He said if Reigns can handle the initial onslaught, then it will all be about The Big Dog.

-Cole said it all happens next weekend – Goldberg vs. Reigns for the Universal Title. He told viewers to subscribe to WWE Network or check their PPV distributors to view it.

-The New Day cut a promo hyping their match. Big E said it’s going to pain them deeply to give them the beating, but “your daddies got to become eight-time WWE World Tag Team Champions because New Day Rocks.”

-Cole hyped that Firefly Funhouse was up next. [c]

-A replay aired of The Fiend pointing at the WrestleMania sign and then Cena tipping his hat to him and waving his hand in front of his face to signal the match was on.

-Backstage, Dolph and Sonya Deville were chatting. Mandy Rose walked up and asked for a word with Ziggler. She asked why he was tormenting Otis. Ziggler said he stood her up. She said it was going too far to rub it in Otis’s face with those pictures. Ziggler agreed it was too far. Mandy said they can wrestle at WrestleMania, but she refuses to let them fight over her like she’s some sort of prize. Ziggler vowed to win his match and “leave Otis and all this crap behind us.” He put his arm around her shoulder and said he had a bottle of champaign waiting at the hotel.

-Firefly Funhouse: Bray stared at a photo of Cena on the wall with his eyes blacked out. He turned to the camera and waved to his Fireflies. He tried to stay positive, but then he yelled for the lantern head to stop tormenting him. He t0ld lantern head that he failed against Cena, whereas he won’t. Abby the Doll said he’s delusional. She asked if he has the secret formula to beat Cena. Bray said he does. He added into a blender a scoop of disappointment, a little bit of self-loathing, some hot sauce for flavor, and a heaping helping of rage and resentment. Ramblin’ Rabbit leaped up with a carrot and said to add that because it’ll help him see Cena. Bray threw the carrot away and grabbed the rabbit and said the last ingredient is “some irrelevant and unnecessary opinions.” The rabbit begged Bray not to do it. He turned on the blender as the rabbit yelled in agony. Bray laughed and then he began to drink the smoothie, which looked like carrot juice. He drank his “perfect concoction to beat John Cena at WrestleMania.” A light bulb went on in his head. Bray said Cena deserves more than an ordinary match. He said “he” wants them to step into his world of mayhem where the fun never ends. “He is officially challenging you to a Firefly Funhouse match at WrestleMania,” he said. He then guzzled the smoothie and said it tasted great. He said there is one nasty side effect, though. The Fiend images flashed on the screen. “Let me in!” the Fiend said.

(Keller’s Analysis: That was one of the better Firefly Funhouses.)

-Miz made his ring entrance next. Cole said Miz and Morrison would join him on commentary for the tag match main event with “major WrestleMania implications.”

-A Snicker’s commercial aired with Miz tormenting Charlotte with a machine that “woo’d” when he pushed a button. [c]

-Cole hyped that Reigns and Goldberg would go face-to-face next week on Smackdown, plus Cena would answer Wyatt’s challenge for a Firefly Funhouse match.

-They went to Miz and Morrison sitting next to each other at the announce desk. New Day’s entrance interrupted Miz. Miz said he’s not feeling the power today.

(3) THE NEW DAY (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. THE USOS – Winner Gets Tag Title Match at WrestleMania

Kofi threw pancakes to no one in particular, and then directed one at Morrison. Cole laughed. Miz and Morrison decried the wastefulness of perfectly good food being tossed around like that. Cole gave them a hard time for wearing turtle neck sweaters in Florida when it’s hot out. Miz said, “They are finding every which way to maneuver each other.” Cole made fun of Miz for such “insight.” Miz and Morrison stood and yelled at the Usos when they circled ringside. “Quit taking breaks!” Miz said. Morrison added, “You’re not going to beat us like that!” Miz said Big E is called Big E, not Smart E, for a reason. Morrison didn’t like Cole asking him how they’d react to losing. He said not to even put that thought out there. Kofi hot-tagged Big E, who tossed around the Usos. He dragged Uso onto the ring apron and pounded away at his chest. Big E splashed Uso on the edge of the ring apron, then sat at ringside and smiled as they cut to a break. [c]

Miz and Morrison started a “Fight forever!” chant. The Usos kicked Big E off the top rope, then went for a stereo dive. Kofi grabbed their legs, then ducked down and pulled down the top rope seconds later. He then hit a flying dive over the top rope onto Uso. Miz and Morrison stood and chanted for themselves. Kofi knocked Morrison down. The other Uso leaped onto a crowd at ringside. “There are bodies everywhere!” shouted Cole. Big E dove through the ropes and tackled an Uso. Miz and Morrison attacked Big E. The ref called for the bell. Cole said the ref had no choice but to call off the match.

WINNERS: DDQ.

-Miz and Morrison beat up New Day and the Usos in the ring. Cole stood up and said he had breaking news from WWE officials. He told Miz and Morrison they won’t have to face “either of those teams” but instead “both of those teams” in a triple threat ladder match. Morrison said, “You’re an idiot, Michael Cole.” New Day made a comeback. The Usos stood at ringside and soaked up the news.

(Keller’s Analysis: Good match given the circumstances, and the triple threat ladder match is a solid addition to the WrestleMania line-up. No shock they wouldn’t want to exclude either New Day or the Usos from WrestleMania this year.)


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