LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 4/3: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of WrestleMania go-home show, John Cena answers The Fiend, MizTV, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


APRIL 3, 2020

Announcers: Michael Cole

-The show opened with Smackdown’s usual intro video. It cut to the Performance Center set, surrounded by ladders. “MizTV” was displayed on the tron. Michael Cole welcomed the audience to WrestleMania weekend. The Usos’ music played.

The Usos walked to the ring, saying they couldn’t wait for Miz & Morrison to get this started. They entered the ring. Big E’s voice cut them off, addressing the crowd by “people at home.” He and Kofi walked onto the stage. Kofi and Big E laughed at the idea of The Usos capturing the Smackdown tag team titles.

Big E said he knows everyone is used to 70,000-100,000 people being involved, but even in these unique circumstances, it’s still WrestleMania. He said New Day are about to etch themselves into history. The Usos said they were about to “run up” on New Day before Miz & Morrison got involved.

Miz & Morrison cut both teams off, appearing on the stage. They talked up being “turtleneck tough guys,” and ran down their list of accomplishments since becoming tag team champions, including competing in the Elimination Chamber, and a gauntlet match. Miz said The Usos and New Day pretend to be buddy-buddy, but competition will lead them to slowly destroy each other. He said that will allow he and Morrison to be able to retain the tag team championships.

Morrison said that would allow them to climb the ladder and retain the titles. “Be jealous,” the pair said. The Usos and New Day left the ring and rushed up the ramp to meet Miz and Morrison. A brawl ensued. “It’s every team for itself,” Cole exclaimed. Miz and Morrison wound up tossing Big E into a ladder, then running down the Usos and Kofi. They climbed the ladders atop the stage and posed with the tag team titles. Michael Cole teased the triple threat tag team ladder match.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Fine segment to open the show, but is this match even happening? I’ve been a bit out of the loop, but last I’d heard, they didn’t tape this. It’s hard to tell what is and isn’t actually happening at this point, given that WWE is still actively promoting Reigns vs. Goldberg despite Roman Reigns openly confirming the match isn’t happening. I was intrigued by this ladder match, and will be interested if it does indeed take place.)

-Michael Cole teased John Cena’s appearance to answer The Fiend later in the show. He also plugged a replay of Ric Flair’s farewell match against Shawn Michaels from WrestleMania 24.

-Naomi’s music played and she headed to the ring. Cole sent the show to commercial.

Out of the break, Michael Cole welcomed Sasha Banks and Bayley to the announcers desk in preparation for a triple threat match. Lacey Evans headed to the ring. Lacey put her hat on Michael Cole, and tossed her skirt cover at Bayley and Banks. Cole talked about the implications of Bayley’s title defense at WrestleMania being an elimination match. Tamina headed to the ring.


Lacey Evans and Naomi attacked Tamina to begin the match. Tamina quickly fought them off. She went for a double clothesline. Naomi and Evans both ducked. Evans took Tamina down and hit her with a basement dropkick. Naomi went for a sunset flip cover, but Tamina blocked it.

Tamina tossed but Evans and Naomi to the apron, then shoved them off the apron to the floor. Cole sent the show to commercial.

Tamina had a headlock on a grounded Naomi when the show returned from commercial. Naomi quickly battled out, then hit Tamina with a dropkick. Tamina recovered quickly and dropped Naomi with a clothesline. Cole teased dissent between Bayley and Banks. In the ring, Evans caught Tamina with a pair of back elbows and a clothesline. With Tamina down in the corner, Evans connected with her “at attention” bronco buster. She followed up with a middle rope elbow. Naomi pulled her from the ring.

Sasha left the desk to “go used the restroom”, but wound up tossing Lacey into the ring steps. Banks got caught with a kick from Naomi. Naomi returned to the ring and was dropped by Tamina for a two count. Bayley told Cole she was sick of him and left the table to attack Naomi. Tamina caught Bayley with a super kick and covered her for a three count.

WINNER: Tamina in 8:00

Bayley stepped in the ring and shook Tamina’s hand, telling her “good job.” Tamina took her hand, but then gave her a super kick. Sasha returned to the ring and offered her hand in a shot of “unity,” a throwback to Team B.A.D. Tamina gave her a Samoan Drop.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Much of the match happened during commercial break, and what we did see wasn’t very good. The three women did their best, but Tamina has never been particularly competent in the ring, Evans is still incredibly green, and Naomi can’t really carry a match with a ton of moving parts. Sasha and Bayley’s interference served to tease the title match at WrestleMania, but didn’t give me a ton of confidence that this will be a title match worth seeing. The Smackdown women’s division continues to flounder, be it in front of an audience or in an empty warehouse.)

-Cole teased John Cena’s appearance again, then said the Flair vs. Michaels match from WrestleMania 24 would air after the break.

-After the break, Tucker was shown stretching with resistance bands. Mandy Rose approached him. Cole said Tucker would be “looking for revenge” for his friend Otis later tonight.

-At ringside, Michael Cole introduced Ric Flair’s farewell match versus Shawn Michaels from WrestleMania 24, shown in its entirety.

-After the match, Michael Cole threw to a clip of King Corbin’s attack on Elias last week. He confirmed the match will still happen at WrestleMania.

-Backstage, Otis was shown pacing. Tucker approached. Otis asked Tucker to promise him he’d leave him some of Ziggler for WrestleMania. Tucker told Otis he saw Mandy earlier in the night. Otis asked what she wanted and what she was wearing. Tucker said she was on her way to Ziggler’s locker room and thought she was just being nice. Otis’ phone dinged. He got wide-eyed and took off. Tucker asked where he was going, but Otis said he’d be right back. Cole said Tucker’s match with Dolph Ziggler would be next.

-Tucker Knight headed to the ring after the break. Cole said he was going it alone, and tossed to clips of Ziggler antagonizing Otis two weeks ago on Smackdown. Dolph Ziggler headed to the ring.


Tucker and Dolph jockeyed for position to open the match. Ziggler tried to shoot the half, but Tucker fought him off. Tucker dropped Ziggler and delivered a trio of boots to the midsection. Ziggler returned to his feet and hit Tucker with a neckbreaker. Dolph applied a headlock. Tucker slowly battled to his feet.

Ziggler hit a dropkick and covered Tucker for a two count. He slapped on a chin lock. Tucker struggled to his feet but managed to break the hold. Ziggler went for a dropkick, Tucker blocked it an gave Ziggler a slingshot into the corner. Tucker ran at Dolph, but Ziggler sidestepped him, causing Tucker to slam headfirst into the ring post. Tucker stumbled into Ziggler’s waiting arms. Dolph hit a jumping, stalling DDT for a near fall. Cole sent the show to commercial.

Ziggler had Tucker grounded in another chin lock when the show returned from commercial. Tucker fought free with a pair of punches to the stomach. Tucker caught Ziggler with a shot to the face, then followed up with an overhead capture suplex. Ziggler rolled to the outside. Tucker followed him and slammed his head off the announcers desk. Tucker whipped Ziggler into the barricade as the referee counted both men. Tucker rolled inside to break the count, then returned to Ziggler on the outside.

Ziggler crawled up the ramp. Tucker caught up to him and tossed him into the ring steps, then back into the ring. Tucker hit Ziggler with a sidewalk slam and covered him, but Ziggler got his foot on the bottom rope to break the count. Dolph rolled to the outside again. Tucker tried to slam him onto the ring steps, but Ziggler raked his eyes and then gave him a Zig-Zag onto the steps. The referee called for the bell.

WINNER: Tucker Knight by disqualification in 10:00

Ziggler grabbed the other half of the ring steps and planned to crush Tucker between the two halves. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville ran out to implore Dolph to stop. Heavy Machinery’s music played and Otis ran to the ring. Ziggler ran off. The screen cut in and out with the familiar circle that has overlaid these segments for weeks. Text appeared on screen that said “the truth will be heard.”

The camera cut to a hooded figure sitting behind a bunch of computer screens. The figured turned around, shrouded in darkness. The hooded figured said “the truth will be heard,” then pushed a button. It cut to footage, dated 2/14/20. It was Mandy Rose, talking with Sonya Deville. Mandy said Otis was really cute “in a different kind of way.”

Mandy walked away. Sonya picked up Mandy’s phone and began texting Otis. She then deleted messages from Otis. Additional footage showed Sonya plotting with Ziggler, saying they’ll both get what they want. Back in the PC, Sonya pleaded with Mandy, saying she’d never do anything to hurt her. Mandy walked off. Sonya gave chase.

Otis chased Ziggler up the ramp. Ziggler escaped. Otis tended to Tucker Knight, still recovering from the Zig-Zag on the steel steps.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Interesting development. Seemed like a bit of a clunky way to get to this reveal, but at least they’ve been having this computer interference spot for weeks and it didn’t just suddenly appear. Additionally, it was good to have the “secret” footage between Sonya, Mandy and Dolph be shot from an inconspicuous camera, and not right in their face as WWE is often apt to do.)

-Michael Cole teased John Cena’s appearance, then a match between Daniel Bryan and Shinsuke Nakamura.

-Mandy Rose was shown walking backstage after the break. Sonya Deville ran to catch up to her. Mandy ignored her. Sonya stopped, tearing up.

-Daniel Bryan headed to the ring with Drew Gulak. They started an ill-fated “yes” chant. Shinsuke Nakamura headed to the ring, flanked by Sami Zayn and Cesaro.

(3) DANIEL BRYAN (w/ Drew Gulak) vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/ Sami Zayn & Cesaro)

Sami Zayn hopped on commentary with Michael Cole. Shinsuke Nakamura and Daniel Bryan tried quick shoots at the leg. Bryan eventually took Nakamura down and worked over his leg. Nakamura wrestled his way to his feet. Bryan worked over Nakamura’s arm and manipulated his hand and fingers.

Bryan invited Nakamura to engage in a test of strength, but Shinsuke kicked Bryan in the leg and took control. He and Bryan continued to chain wrestle. Bryan gained the upper hand, drove a knee in Nakamura’s back and then the two battled back to their feet. Bryan took down Shinsuke with a dropkick. Nakamura slid to the outside. Bryan gave him a dropkick through the middle rope to the outside and followed up with running double knees on the outside.

Nakamura rolled back in the ring. Bryan climbed to the top rope and connected with a missile dropkick. Bryan hit a running kick out of the corner, then attempted a top rope hurricanrana, but Nakamura blocked him. Nakamura kicked at Bryan’s neck and head. Bryan retreated to the corner. Shinsuke drove his boot into Bryan’s neck.

Nakamura got Bryan hung up in the corner. He hit his signature sliding snap German suplex through the ropes. Cole sent the show to commercial.

Nakamura had Bryan in the corner when the show returned from break. Bryan quickly fought out with a running clothesline out of the corner. Bryan began delivering the “yes” kicks to the chest of Nakamura. Shinsuke ducked the final kick, wrestled Bryan to the mat and drove his knee into Bryan’s head. He followed up with “yes” kicks of his own. Bryan caught the final one and kicked Nakamura’s arm. He followed up with a stiff head kick for a near fall.

Bryan continued working over Nakamura’s injured arm. Nakamura fought free and went for his exploder suplex. Bryan rolled through it, charged at Nakamura, and got caught with a knee strike. Nakamura connected with the exploder suplex on his second attempt, then set up for the Kinshasa. Bryan blocked it and rolled Nakamura into a single leg crab. Nakamura reached the ropes after a brief struggle.

Both men returned to their feet and traded punches and kicks. Bryan tried to wrestle Nakamura into the Labell Lock. Nakamura blocked it and transitioned into an arm bar. Bryan held Nakamura off and transitioned into an arm bar of his own. Bryan transitioned into the Labell Lock. Cesaro hit the ring and attacked Bryan to end the match.

WINNER: Daniel Bryan in 12:00

Drew Gulak immediately joined the fray to even the odds. Gulak applied the Dragon Sleeper on Cesaro, but Cesaro dumped him into the barricade. Bryan jumped through the ropes, but Cesaro caught him and dumped him onto the announcers desk. Zayn and Cesaro then tossed Drew Gulak into the ring steps. Nakamura grabbed Bryan and brought him to his feet. Zayn tossed Bryan into the ring.

Cesaro hit Bryan with the Neutralizer. Nakamura followed up with the Kinshasa. Zayn instructed Shinsuke and Cesaro to lift Bryan up. They held him in the corner and Zayn hit the Helluva Kick. “This is justice,” Zayn proclaimed.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match, good go-home angle for what should be an excellent title match and possible highlight on the WrestleMania card. Not much else to say here. Zayn, Nakamura, and Cesaro have been a great trio and have been particularly effective since leaving the Braun Strowman feud behind. This stuff with Bryan seems a tad bit beneath him, but it’s been a fun mid-card feud nonetheless, and better than some of the alternatives Bryan could have been involved in.)

-Out of the break, Progressive’s “Match Flo” recapped last week’s Firefly Funhouse, where Bray Wyatt detailed his secret formula to defeat John Cena and issued his challenge for a Firefly Funhouse match.

Back in the PC, John Cena’s music hit and he headed to the ring. Greg Hamilton introduced him. Cena thanked Michael Cole for “setting the stage.”

Cena said one month ago, WWE announced it would continue its performances in front of no live audience. Cena said it left everyone asking “what’s really gonna happen?” Cena acknowledged there’s been some “meh” moments, and thanked everyone for allowing them to continue doing this.

Cena said it’s led them to the final moments before an unprecedented WrestleMania. Cena said this year’s event will be the most viewed and most talked about in history. He said he knows this because “no one knows what’s really going to happen.” Cena said he’s been challenged to a Firefly Funhouse match, and he can’t find anyone to tell him what it is.

“That’s exactly what The Fiend wants,” Cena said, “The Fiend loves uncertainty.” He said uncertainty can lead to fear, then panic, then collapse. Cena said The Fiend has dominated the WWE landscape by existing on uncertainty, fear, and panic. Cena continued his somber approach, “I’m here to tell you what happens next.”

Cena said he’s not afraid, that he won’t panic, and he will squash Bray Wyatt and finish what he started six years ago. “Bray Wyatt is not even on the level below me.” Cena said everyone realizes that a poor man’s version of a bootleg Mr. Rogers doesn’t stand a chance. Cena said Goldberg exposed that The Fiend has weakness, and he plans on capitalizing on it.

Cena said The Fiend asked for this match, and he’s getting it on his terms, and yet he’s still going to get his ass kicked. Cena accepted Wyatt’s “ridiculous” challenge. Ramblin’ Rabbit popped up behind the barrier. He said after The Fiend is done with him, Cena’s gonna play with them “forever.”

Suddenly, all of Bray’s puppets popped up across various sides of the ring. They chanted “forever” together. Ramblin’ Rabbit said, “uh oh, he’s here.” The lights cut out. The Fiend appeared on the raised platform across from the ring. Cena stared him down. Suddenly, Bray Wyatt appeared behind Cena. He shouted “let me in.” The lights cut. When they returned, Bray was gone. Cena composted himself. The show cut to black.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I wasn’t really a fan of Cena’s promo here. His promo seemed to carry a double meaning, referencing both Wyatt’s tactics and the sense of uncertainty surrounding the virus. That’s fine, but it just doesn’t natch the tone of the rest of the show, which seems to aim to ignore what’s going on in the world. While I can appreciate Cena’s approach, I just don’t like the continued insistence on running down Wyatt and The Fiend character. The only way this works is if Wyatt defeats him decidedly. I did, however, like how Cena flinched at the end when he was faced with The Fiend character “in the flesh.”)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Not much has changed. These shows aren’t very good, but they’re doing what they can, and what they have to to get by. It’s getting progressively harder by the week to justify five hours of this kind of programming on a weekly basis. I’ll be curious to see what, if anything changes post WrestleMania, and whether or not they scrap this format altogether in favor of more clip driven shows.


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