SmackDown will not be stopped!
Circumstances being what they are, SmackDown moves to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando! How will this affect the Road to WrestleMania?
- Empty Arena Tag Match: Sasha Banks & Bayley VS Bliss-Cross; Banks & Bayley win.
- Elimination Chamber replay: SmackDown Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber match.
- Empty Arena Match: Daniel Bryan VS Cesaro w/ The Artist Collective; Bryan wins.
- Empty Arena Match: Jeff Hardy VS Baron Corbin; Hardy wins.
PLAY BY PLAY
Triple H welcomes us to the show.
“Welcome to Friday Night SmackDown on Fox.” HHH personally welcomes us to the WWE Performance Center. “This 30 thousand square foot, amazing state-of-the-art facility” is designed to bring us the WWE superstars of the future. “This is the athletic hub of the WWE.” On any given day, hundreds of athletes from all over the world are here training, putting everything into everything they do, all for the goal of performing for the fans. Bayley, Asuka, Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt and many more have walked through these doors, and tonight, they shall return. Not to train, but do what they have been trained to do better than anyone else on this planet: entertain. Now yes, tonight will be very different. But sit back, relax, and let the world melt away as the WWE does what it does best: put a smile on your face.
That said, this is a historic and truly unprecedented night for SmackDown and the WWE as it not only has its first broadcast from the PC, but with an empty arena! Not even this speed bump will slow us down on the Road to WrestleMania!
Michael Cole is joined by HHH on commentary.
SmackDown will have a rotation of guests tonight, and the first one is The Game. HHH says this is an opportunity to show that nothing stops the WWE.
Sasha Banks and Bayley head to the ring!
The Boss and the SmackDown Women’s Champion are here and still braggadocios even without WWE fans around to rub it in their faces. Bayley and Sasha go over to commentary to interrupt HHH just to ask the music be turned off. “The Role Model and the Legit Boss have arrived” to kick off SmackDown, their show, because they are the faces of Friday Nights! It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 thousand or zero fans in attendance, these two are leading by example by being right here in “the place that we built,” the WWE Performance Center. This is THEIR House! Good one. We remember that catchphrase, don’t we?
Speaking of Paige… Oh hi, HHH. Thanks for having them back, but where is Paige? She said she wanted to confront these two so where is she?! They’re on a schedule, right? Michael Cole explains Paige has had travel issues. Oh, really? HHH says he’s sick of excuses and the BFF’s agree. Paige is no better than the rest of the SmackDown Women’s Division these days. They’re all jealous. But instead of Paige, here comes Bliss-Cross! Alexa and Nikki are also best friends, and they ask, “Don’t you just love surprises?” No Paige but no problem, because while Bliss-Cross called out the Kabuki Warriors, the only response since was a bunch of weird tweets. Asuka and Kairi are clearly ducking Bliss-Cross by hiding out on Raw. That makes Bliss-Cross a bit salty.
But if Bayley & Banks are willing to stop talking trash about every woman in WWE History, they can shut up, get in the ring, and give Bliss-Cross a fight! Bayley grabs a mic again to say bring a ref, because these “little idiots” made a big mistake! Will this oddly historic match go a long way to determining contenders for the Kabuki Warriors?
Empty Arena Tag Match: Sasha Banks & Bayley VS Bliss-Cross!
The teams sort out and Nikki starts against Bayley. Nikki fires up and ties up with Bayley, and they go around. Nikki brings Bayley to the corner and stomps into her. Alexa tags in and wrenches Bayley to a standing STO. Alexa drops knees then tags Nikki and Nikki basement dropkicks. Tag back to Nikki, and Alexa helps Nikki run in for a corner splash! Alexa runs in to SLAP Bayley! Alexa climbs up but Sasha drags Bayley out. Nikki comes around to LEAP onto Sasha! Alexa wrecks Bayley with a dropkick and Bayley collides with announce desk! Bliss-Cross hug as SmackDown goes to break.
SmackDown returns and Bayley pushes Alexa into buckles to stomp a mudhole. The ref backs Bayley off but Bayley brings Alexa to the corner. Tag to Sasha and they stomp away into Alexa. Sasha drags Alexa up by her hair and whips, but Alexa blocks the hip toss to try a hip toss. Sasha blocks that, but Alexa rolls her for a cover! TWO, and Alexa strikes a pose and smiles. Sasha gets annoyed but Alexa counter punches and SLAPS her! Alexa runs, dodges, and tilt-o-whirl headscissors! Sasha ends up in the corner, but she drop toeholds Alexa into buckles! METEORA! Cover, TWO! Sasha mocks Nikki as she rallies for Alexa. Sasha grabs Alexa by her hair then brings her over for a bump.
Tag to Bayley and the two crisscross Alexa into buckles. Bayley covers, TWO! Bayley taunts Nikki but the ref keeps her back, and Bayley gets away with chokes. Sasha gets a cheap shot in! Cover, TWO! Bayley mocks Nikki and bumps Alexa on buckles. Sasha tags in while Bayley traps Alexa, and then Bayley whips Sasha in to SLAP Alexa! The “role models” brag too long and Alexa rolls Sasha up! TWO, and Sasha dropkicks Alexa down! Cover, TWO! Sasha grows frustrated but Nikki cheers Alexa on. Sasha drags Alexa up and snap suplexes her down. Cover, TWO! Sasha keeps on Alexa with a chinlock and digs her knee in. Alexa endures and Nikki rallies up. Alexa fights but Sasha shifts to a half surfboard.
Bayley and Sasha mock Nikki as she stomps on the steps. Alexa gets up and arm-drags Sasha away! Sasha knocks Alexa down then drags her to the corner. Tag to Bayley and Bayley mocks Nikki firing up before she punches Alexa down. Bayley clamps onto Alexa with a chinlock and grinds her down. Alexa endures as Bayley leans on her. Alexa fights up but Bayley pushes her in the corner. Tag to Sasha and Sasha stomps away. Alexa kicks back and elbows Bayley down! Sasha keeps Alexa from Nikki and puts her in an open corner. Meteora MISSES! Hot tag to Nikki! The wild child rallies on Sasha with forearms! Sasha is in a corner, Nikki runs in for a corner splash! Bulldog!
Bayley is up but Nikki knocks her off the apron. Nikki elbows Sasha away but her tornado DDT is denied! Meteora countered into a sunset flip! TWO, and Nikki rolls Sasha again, ONE! Cradle, TWO! Nikki tries a backslide, TWO, but Nikki whips Sasha to a corner. Sasha puts Nikki on the apron but Nikki shoulders and kicks her down! Nikki goes up, leaps, BIG Crossbody! Cover, but Bayley breaks it! Alexa ROCKS Bayley with a right! Everyone but Alexa is down, but wait! Asuka attacks! The Kabuki Warriors’ Empress of Tomorrow makes her presence known! Sasha gets Nikki with a BACKSTABBER, to the BANK STATEMENT! Nikki flails but taps, Bayley & Sasha win!
Winners: Sasha Banks & Bayley, by submission
Asuka taunts Bliss-Cross as HHH makes jokes about her coming from the crowd. The Goddess and her crazy best friend will surely want revenge, will they go to Raw to get it?
SmackDown returns with Michael Cole in the ring.
He welcomes the challenger to Goldberg’s WWE Universal Championship, Roman Reigns! The new champion was more than eager to find out #WhosNext, and the Big Dog gladly stepped up! Roman now sits with Michael in the ring and first of all, how odd is it to make an entrance with no fans to react? Roman knows that they’re in a business that is all about reactions, so this is definitely weird. But it’s still great to be back in the Performance Center.
Michael moves on to asking about Roman’s past year. Things will be capped off at WrestleMania for the WWE Universal Championship, against Goldberg. Roman notes that it has been a crazy year, and blessed. The highs, the lows, but ultimately, he is grateful to have his health. He is in familiar territory and it is good to be back in a main event. Michael brings up the critics, both online and in person. Many say Roman shoved himself into the main event at Mania without deserving it.
Roman says he’s dealt with that his whole career. “If I can main event Youngstown, Ohio,” a small town of maybe 5000, if he could do that every night of the year, why can’t he be allowed to main event the biggest shows? Why shouldn’t all his hard work pay off? Roman brings attention, works hard night in and night out. No one has the same level of commitment. He came back as fast as he could to do what he loves. Roman bows down to no one, takes what’s his and he earns what he gets.
Michael brings around how this is pitched as “Spear VS Spear.” Goldberg told WWE’s The Bump that he will “bulldoze” Roman with his Spear. Roman says Goldberg went to Georgia U, so he might not even be smart enough to operate a bulldozer. But in all seriousness, Roman does respect Goldberg. This business is about putting people in seats, getting viewers at home, and he’s capable of doing that. Goldberg has been great throughout his career. But he’s now a “part-timer,” and WWE ain’t got time for that.
Roman is full-time, dedicated to the craft, 24/7/365. Roman was born for this, groomed for this since he was a child. Goldberg doesn’t know what he’s in for. Roman has more than one more, and has mastered the nuances of pro-wrestling. The Big Dog vows to whoop Goldberg’s ass, take back his championship, and set things right. Will Goldberg find out this is still Roman’s Yard?
Backstage interview with Sami Zayn.
Kayla Braxton’s introduction is interrupted by Cesaro giving the introduction to the NEW WWE Intercontinental Champion, “The Untouchable” Sami Zayn! Sami, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura are excited given their big victory of Braun Strowman. But Kayla explains this wasn’t their scheduled interview time. It isn’t? No, sorry, the schedule changed. Normally that’d upset Sami, but the team has celebrating to do! The real guest is Jeff Hardy! Jeff is happy they’re all excited to have him back. Everyone is, and it feels so good for him to be back. Jeff has done soul searching and found out a lot of things. One of those is that he has a lot more to do in the WWE.
But Baron Corbin has to come in and talk down to Jeff now. the Lone Wolf King says not everyone is happy Jeff’s back. SmackDown has changed, because it is run by a “benevolent king” that keeps peasants in their place. But what is Jeff’s big return even going to be? Walking in a straight line? Maybe reciting the alphabet backwards. No, wait, the greatest thing of all, touching his finger to his nose! No, Jeff has a big match tonight. Or did “His Majesty” not hear that it’s against him!? Jeff heads out and Elias strums in. Elias says he never forgets, and that goes for Corbin’s insults last week. Elias wants to sing his response, but Corbin storms off. This is why no one likes Corbin. But will everyone like it when Jeff gives the king his comeuppance?
To Michael Cole’s surprise, HHH is still on SmackDown.
Turns out he’s not as busy as he thought. Or at least, busy with the kind of business you’d think. “I’m the only man in the history of that world that can get demoted and get busier.” But the Game is still with Michael because the internet immediately demanded it. They discuss how impressive Drew Gulak looked against Daniel Bryan on Elimination Chamber Sunday, even in defeat. Speaking of…
Daniel Bryan finds Gulak backstage.
Gulak doesn’t want to talk but Bryan says he actually sees what Gulak was talking about. Bryan got in the ring with Gulak and Gulak countered so much of what he did. And even a week later, Bryan is still sore. So Bryan is willing to learn if Gulak is willing to teach. But Sami and friends come in laughing it up. Good ol’ Bryan, Sami remembers asking Bryan to join the “Artist Collective” and he said no. But now, look! Sami has the Intercontinental Championship after pinning Braun Strowman! Meanwhile, Bryan is a shell of his former self after being chewed up and spat out by The Fiend. And now he has to ask for tips from a nobody.
Bryan gets heated but Cesaro stands in his way. Easy, guys, easy. Bryan wants after Sami, but Cesaro that if he has issues with Sami, he has issues with Cesaro. Is that a challenge? Sure sounds like a challenge. Then challenge accepted. We all know where the ring is, so meet him there. As for Gulak, he’ll show Sami who’s the “nobody.” HHH already approves of the match, so who is going to learn a lesson later tonight?
Elimination Chamber replay: SmackDown Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber match!
That’s right! If you missed Elimination Chamber the Pay-Per-View, or even just missed this match, WWE and Fox are willing to give it to you right here and now!
Along with Roode-Dolph, the champions Miz & Morrison themselves, as well as Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik of Lucha House Party and Heavy Machinery are put in the pods. That means the first two teams to start this match are The New Day and The Usos! This incredibly storied rivalry starts off this incredible gauntlet!
Jimmy and Jey stare down with Kofi Kingston and Big E. Fans are already loving this as the four men circle. And the brawl is on! Jimmy CHOPS Kofi while Big E RAMS Jey to a corner! Jimmy headlocks but Kofi powers out, only for Jimmy to run him over. Things speed up for Kofi and Jimmy while Jey turns things around on Big E. Kofi ducks, dodges and hits a leaping back elbow on Jimmy! Cover, TWO! Kofi whips Jimmy but Jimmy reverss. Jimmy runs in and monkey flips but Kofi lands on his feet! Kofi dropkicks Jimmy down, but Jey ROCKS him with a right! Big E grabs Jey but Jey powers out of the headlock. Big E runs Jey over, and starts swiveling the hips. Things speed up, Jey runs into Big E’s belly2belly!
Big E runs but Jey gets clear as Jimmy crossbodies in! Cover, TWO! Jimmy turns around, Kofi springboards but slips a little. Kofi still collides with Jimmy and tackles him to a cover! TWO and Kofi walks into Jey’s mule kick. Jey uppercuts Kofi away and then helps Jimmy up. The Usos put Kofi on the top rope and CHOP! Miz and Morrison felt that one in their pod. The Usos climb up and they make sure Miz and Morrison are watching. But Big E drags Jimmy down to throw him out hard! Big E then gets Jey on his shoulders, Kofi adjusts, but Jimmy saves his brother! The two teams have a stand off and fans cheer. The first countdown is here, and joining this match… Lucha House Party!
Lince and Metalik double enziguri the New Day! Then double springboard over the Usos to double seated senton the New Day! LHP is back up to double mule kick the Usos. Lince get a boost from Metalik to dropkick Kofi out! LHP stomp Big E out then go after Jey with CHOPS! They double whip Jey then Metalik runs in, but is put on the outside. Metalik enziguris back, Lince handsprings for the GOLDEN REWIND! Metalik gets some help, for an elevated splash! Cover, Jimmy runs over but Metalik gets clear, Jimmy ends up dropping ax handles on his brother! LHP goes after Jimmy together but Jimmy uppercuts and CHOPS them away! Jimmy whips Metalik but Metalik runs the ropes to missile dropkick!
Lince goes up to moonsault! Metalik MOONSAULTS! Lince goes up for another MOONSAULT! Cover, but Jey breaks it! Big E returns but LHP kicks and CHOPS him first. LHP double whip but Big E holds ropes. Metalik runs in but Big E hip tosses him out hard! Then he does the same to Lince! Big E and Kofi coordinate, and Big E boosts Kofi to take out both members of LHP! Kofi throws the luchadors in and Big E drags Lince over. Kofi scoops Metalik to slam next to Lince. Big E stands ready, Kofi runs and leap frogs, but Lince gets clear! Metalik gets elbows but Big E runs at Lince. Lince goes up and over and Big E gets only post! Lince springboards but Jey shoves him!
The Golden Lynx collides with steel cage and gets stuck in the chains! He sits up and climbs to get away from Big E, but Jey pursues! Lince kicks Jey away and sits on top of a pod. The Usos both go after Lince and he fights them away. Kofi hops up from the post but Lince just clubs away with fury! Metalik joins in and LHP mugs Kofi on the pod’s roof! Kofi drops! He catches himself on the edge, but LHP stomp his hands! Kofi drops to the floor, and Lince LEAPS onto the Usos! Metalik SUPER SENTONS onto The New Day in the ring!! While Elimination Chamber has no commercials, SmackDown chooses this moment to go to break.
SmackDown returns with the countdown. The next team to enter the match is… The Miz & John Morrison! The champions rush in to go after the New Day! Morrison throws Kofi out while Miz throws Big E into steel! Morrison mugs Kofi against the chains and grinds a knee in! Miz throws Jey Uso into steel, then Jimmy, too! Miz and Morrison drag Lince into the ring, and double ALABAMA SLAM! Morrison runs and Miz follows, Shining Wizard and basement boot! Standing shooting star! Cover, but Metalik breaks it! Miz and Morrison mug Metalik, then whip him into a Tree of Woe! Miz unleashes It Kicks then holds Metalik up for Morrison’s spinning enziguri! Jey runs into a double gut buster, and double basement DDT! Cover, but Jimmy breaks it!
Morrison kicks Jimmy to the ropes then drags him up. Miz and Morrison double whip Jimmy corner to corner, then Miz whips Morrison in. Jimmy puts Morrison outside and boots Miz. Jimmy ROCKS Morrison with a right then Miz with an uppercut. But Miz counters Jimmy to an A-List Combination, with Morrison’s springboard DOUBLE STOMPS added on! Cover, TWO!! The Usos survive but Morrison goes right after Lince. Miz boots Jimmy out then keeps Big E out. Morrison toys with Lince, then gut wrenches him for a spinning crucifix SLAM! Cover, Metalik breaks it! Miz kicks Metalik around, then Morrison ROCKS Metalik with a right! Morrison whips Metalik at Miz and Miz pops Metalik up, but Metalik lands on the corner!
Metalik mule kicks Miz then goes up the pod again. Morrison pursues but Metalik kicks and punches back. Metalik SUPER-RANAS Morrison down!! Cover, but Miz breaks it in time! Miz throws hands on Metalik as fans chant “This is Awesome!” Miz endures that because it sounds like “Miz is Awesome,” but Kofi leaps ax handles on him! Kofi rallies and hits a dropkick to a leaping ax handle! NEW~ DAY~ Boom Drop! Kofi is fired up and aims from the corner. Fans clap along as Kofi spins, but Miz ducks to lift. Morrison springboards, FLYING CHUCK HART ATTACK! Cover, but Big E breaks it! Morrison throws hands and kicks on Big E while Miz keeps Kofi down. SmackDown decides to take another break.
SmackDown returns again, and after HHH jokes about Michael being through is own Elimination Chamber match, we jump into after Heavy Machinery has joined the match. Otis has Big E in the drop zone, and fans fire up as he pumps up! Otis says this one’s for Roode-Dolph, and he hits Big E with the CATERPILLAR! Cover, but Kofi breaks it! The Usos, Miz and Morrison and Kofi go after Heavy Machinery, but… Wait, is Lince up on the ceiling!? They all see him as he SHOOTING STARS!!! Only Otis got clear! Philly loses their minds as Heavy Machinery regroups aside of the human wreckage. Metalik runs in, but gets the COMPACTOR!! Cover, Heavy Machinery ELIMINATES Lucha House Party!
Otis and Tucker tell Roode-Dolph it’s only a matter of time. Because he comes the countdown! Heavy Machinery surrounds the pods, and now Roode-Dolph wants to stay in! Miz and Morrison help out and they mug Heavy Machinery 4v2! Morrison and Roode have Tucker in a corner while Miz and Ziggler throw Otis into steel! Ziggler grinds Otis’s face into the chains! Fans rally up for Otis as Ziggler pie faces Otis around. Tucker takes more stomps as Roode whips Morrison and Morrison whips Roode. Tucker elbows Roode down, and Otis rises up against Ziggler and Miz! Morrison runs in but is thrown outside! Otis throws Miz hard on the outside! Ziggler climbs the chains but Otis grabs hold of him! Ziggler fights and scurries away and has to go to the top of a pod. But Tucker climbs up behind him!
Tucker taps Ziggler on the shoulder, before bumping him off glass! Otis is waiting, and Tucker tosses Ziggler to him! Otis has Ziggler, then turns and tosses him into ropes! “Oh yeah, Tucky!!” Tucker SUPER SWANTONS onto the New Day and Usos!!! Philly is thunderous for Heavy Machinery, but Roode goes after Otis! Roode-Dolph mug Otis at the ropes with punches and stomps. Fans boo as they grind their boots into Otis. Roode and Ziggler drag Otis up to throw at steel, but he powers up again! Otis clotheslines Roode into the ring then CLOBBERS Ziggler! Fans are all fired up for Otis as he brings Ziggler up. Roode saves Ziggler to kick Otis and reel him in. But no Glorious DDT, just a big back body drop!
Otis wants after Ziggler still, and Ziggler flounders in a corner. Otis runs in, but Ziggler gets clear, sending Otis into the pod! The Dozer SMASHES through the Plexiglas!!! He’s OUTSIDE the Chamber!! Philly is losing their minds, but who wouldn’t be?! Tucker sees what happened to his best friend and is in utter shock! “This is Awesome!” even as medics check on Otis. Tucker has to focus back on the match, and he’s locked in on Roode-Dolph. Roode and Ziggler tell Tucker to stay back, but he takes them both on! BIG hands for Roode and Dolph! Fans are on Tucker’s side but Ziggler kicks low. Ziggler runs in, but the Famouser is sent into buckles! Tucker ROCKS Roode, but Ziggler SUPERKICKS Tucker! Roode hits a GLORIOUS DDT!! Cover, Roode-Dolph ELIMINATE Heavy Machinery! All it took was a pod and a 2v1 situation.
Otis rises but it doesn’t matter now as he and Tucker are out. Fans tell Roode-Dolph what they think of them, but Ziggler just mocks Otis’s departure. Kofi hits TROUBLE IN PARADISE on Ziggler! Big Ending for Roode! The Usos are climbing opposite ends, and are on the pods… DOUBLE SUPER UCE! Cover, The Usos ELIMINATE Roode-Dolph! That’s what you call karma! And now, with the match down to The Miz & Morrison, the Usos and the New Day, SmackDown takes another break.
SmackDown returns as the three teams regroup. The long time rivals of The New Day and The Usos stare down, but then all four men look at Miz and Morrison. And a fight is on! Now Miz and Morrison are in a 4v2 situation as they get stomped on! The Usos and New Day take a breather, then stomp some more! The New Day have Miz and the Usos have Morrison, and throw them both out hard. But then Jimmy SUPERKICKS Big E while Kofi SUPERKICKS Jey!! No more alliance, Kofi hook kicks Jimmy into a cobra clutch and crossface forearms! Kofi drags Jimmy up but Jimmy slips out of the inverted suplex. Jimmy shoves, pop-up SAMOAN DROP! Cover, TWO! Jimmy runs into the Urenag-E! Big E runs into a Samoan Drop! Cover, TWO!
All the teams are down but Jey runs at Kofi. Kofi slips out to swing kick back, then he climbs up top. Kofi headbutts Jey but Jey uppercuts Kofi! Jey climbs up but Kofi fights with body shots. Kofi gourd busters Jey down! Kofi goes up on top of a pod…! For a SUPER SPLASH! But Jey moves! Miz and Morrison cover, they ELIMINATE the New Day!! Now it’s just the champions and the Usos! The Usos regroup in one corner and Miz-Morrison are in the other. Fans rally and duel as the four men stand. And then throw hands! Jey knees low but Morrison fires off, only to get an uppercut. The Usos throw the champs out but each one shoulders back in. Double springboards, into double SUPERKICKS! Cover, TWO!!
The Usos coordinate again, taking aim at a champion each. DOUBLE UCE, but Miz gets knees! Jey covers Morrison but Miz has Jimmy in a cradle, TWO!! Miz has Jimmy but Jimmy arm-drags out. Superkick is blocked but the Figure Four is denied. Miz ducks the double kicks, sends Jey into Jimmy, FINALE!! Cover, TWO!?! Into the FIGURE FOUR! Jimmy endures but Morrison dropkicks Jey out. Morrison goes up as Miz has the ropes, so that STARSHIP PAIN hits Jimmy! Jimmy is out, Morrison covers, but Jey rolls Morrison! Miz has to undo the Figure Four first! TWO, but Jey SUPERKICKS Miz! SUPERKICK for Morrison! Cover, TWO!?!
All four men are down and fans are rallying again. Jey drags Morrison up and whips him at Miz. Miz slides under, sunset flips, but Morrison slingshots for a prawn hold and Miz slips out to put his feet on the ropes for his match box, it’s a very complicated double cover!! The Miz & Morrison win!!
Winners: The Miz & John Morrison, by pinfall (still SmackDown Tag Team Champions)
The Greatest Tag Team of the 21st Century survive this blockbuster of a match! Miz and Morrison are the last team standing and continue down the Road to WrestleMania! Will they ride off into the sunset all the way to Mania?
SmackDown returns to the present, and The Miz and Morrison are in the ring.
“Hola, bonjour, hello everybody watching at home.” The fans all thought putting 10 superstars against them in the Elimination Chamber in their first title defense would hold them back. Miz will explain to all of us that the first time these two were in a tag team, they won championships! And 13 years later, they did it again! “If there is anyone here tonight that does not think that we are the Greatest Tag Team of the 21st Century, speak up now.” Well, there’s no one to speak up so… Miz adds that if there is anyone here that doesn’t think Miz is the best wrestling technician that the business has ever seen, speak up. Again, no one is here.
If there’s anyone here that doesn’t think Morrison’s new film, Boone the Bounty Hunter, is the greatest cinematic achievement of this generation, speak up now. Well… Miz’s Marine 3, 4, 5 and 6 were critically acclaimed and there’s already Oscar buzz about his next one, The Main Event, coming soon to Netflix. Isn’t that a kids movie? Your point? Fair enough. But there will be no booing, no “You Suck,” except from Morrison. They can’t suck, they’re not from Orlando! Hey yo~! But Morrison and Miz don’t need the catchphrases or the sing-alongs. They’re not here to pander to fans. They’re here for themselves, and for the titles. In life, there are winners and losers, but these two are the Greatest Tag Team of the 21st Century. Look off into distance and… #BeJealous!
SmackDown returns as HHH relives Degeneration X antics with Michael Cole.
That is to say, HHH has a camera and is zooming in and out on Michael’s head. But Michael keeps things serious by giving us WWE Backstage’s announcement that Rob Gronkowski, aka Gronk, is headed to the WWE! Will the three-time Super Bowl winner follow in a long line of men going from grid iron to squared circle?
Mojo Rawley joins commentary to discuss this big news, being that he is a great friend of Gronk’s. Is Gronk a superstar? Mojo confirms the rumors as true! Now there is no official contract signed, but next week on SmackDown, it will be Friday Night Gronk! Gronk will speak to everything on his mind, and that means Mojo will be with him. Get hype, boys! HHH is hype, and both he and Mojo rough Michael up a bit.
Empty Arena Match: Daniel Bryan w/ Drew Gulak VS Cesaro w/ The Artist Collective!
The Philly Stretcher is in Bryan’s corner to help him be aware of his openings. Will Gulak be able to help Bryan reach 100% efficiency against the Swiss Cyborg?
Sami joins commentary to brag about his victory over Strowman, and the bell rings. Cesaro and Bryan tie up and go around. Cesaro headlocks but Bryan powers out, only for Cesaro to run him over. Bryan gets up but Cesaro is all over him. Bryan puts Cesaro in a corner for body shots and Yes Kicks! The ref counts, Cesaro blocks a kick to turn things around, and starts throwing European Uppercut after uppercut! The ref counts more but Cesaro stops at 4. Cesaro gets around the ref to BLAST Bryan into buckles! Sami likes what he sees while SmackDown goes to break.
SmackDown returns as Bryan kicks but Cesaro EuroUppers. Bryan ends up on the apron but he hits Cesaro back. Cesaro knees Bryan’s shoulder thrust then drags him up for a hotshot! Cesaro then climbs up and drags Bryan over, for a dead lift SUPERPLEX! Cover, TWO! Bryan crawls but Cesaro looms over him. Cesaro throws another EuroUpper, then whips corner to corner for another EuroUpper! Then the other way, but Bryan goes up and over. Bryan dodges and hits a leaping lariat! Bryan’s neck is still a concern but Gulak coaches him up. Cesaro sits up but Bryan gives him Yes Kicks from all sides! Gulak likes what he sees as Bryan vents and BUZZSAWS! Cover, TWO!
Cesaro gets to a corner but Bryan is after him with more Yes Kicks. Bryan goes corner to corner but Cesaro pops Bryan way up for a BIG EuroUpper! Cover, TWO!! But Cesaro puts Bryan in a Crossface! Cesaro cranks back on Bryan like Gulak did, but Bryan rolls Cesaro back to a cover! TWO, and Cesaro has Bryan in a ghost pin! TWO, and Bryan cradles to a cover! BRYAN WINS!
Winner: Daniel Bryan, by pinfall
But Shinsuke is right after him with stomps and clubbing hands! Gulak gets in and saves Bryan, and gives palm strikes and boots to Shinsuke! Cesaro turns Gulak around, but Gulak headbutts him! Gulak leaps onto Cesaro for a guillotine hold! Shinsuke stomps Gulak as they’re on the ground, and Sami gets in! The Artist Collective beat Gulak down and throw him out. Cesaro bumps Gulak off the announce desk! Then they throw Gulak into steel steps! But Bryan DIVES and sends Nakamura over the desk! Bryan and the referees shield Gulak as the Collective is told to leave. Sami mocks Bryan and the “nobody” as they go, but is Gulak here to stay by Bryan’s side?
SmackDown returns and Elias joins commentary.
The Drifter introduces himself and says he’s always wanted to be out here like this. He thanks Michael for this opportunity, but HHH asks why Elias isn’t thanking him. HHH is in charge, after all.
Empty Arena Match: Jeff Hardy VS Baron Corbin!
The Charismatic Enigma won’t let the Lone Wolf King talk down to him when he hasn’t been where Jeff has been. Will Hardy make sure Corbin gets a taste of the extreme as he makes his in-ring return?
But before Jeff even gets in the ring, Corbin stomps him down! Corbin goes after Jeff on the outside, throwing him into barriers! And then RAMS him into them! The ref reprimands Corbin but Corbin doesn’t care. Corbin bumps Jeff off apron then goes in the ring. Corbin dares Jeff to get in and Jeff does. The ref checks on Jeff, but Jeff says he wants this match. The bell rings and this match finally begins, with Corbin throwing Jeff at buckles! Corbin whips Jeff corner to corner hard and Jeff grits his teeth in pain. Corbin yells at Elias but Jeff gives Corbin a jawbreaker! Jeff counter punches Corbin and gets an edge with haymakers. Corbin shoves Jeff but Jeff dodges to clobber him!
Jeff hits an atomic drop, then leg trip to the leg splitting leg drop! And basement dropkick! Falling splash to a cover, TWO! Jeff calls for his move, kicks and spins but Corbin shove shim off the Twist. Jeff elbows and clubs Corbin away then throws boots. Corbin catches Jeff for a DEEP SIX! Cover, TWO!! Corbin is immediately furious but the ref says that’s the count. Corbin glares at Elias but Elias says he should focus on Jeff. “Why are you even out here?!” Jeff crawls but Elias gets up to get his guitar. Elias gives us the song and Jeff slips out of End of Days, TWIST OF FATE! Off comes the shirt and Jeff climbs up top! SWANTON BOMB!! Cover, Jeff wins!
Winner: Jeff Hardy, by pinfall
Elias applauds Jeff’s victorious return. Is this the first of many wins in Jeff’s newest chapter in the WWE?
SmackDown returns as HHH speaks to the viewing audience again.
“I hope you’ve enjoyed this historic edition of Friday Night SmackDown on Fox.” We are missing the most important part of the show, the fans, the WWE Universe. They may not be in attendance, but they are here in the superstars’ hearts. That is why they poured their hearts out performing as they would any other night. The WWE has earned the right to put the words at the top of the show: “Then, Now, Forever.”
John Cena returns to SmackDown once again!
Michael Cole is already in the ring as he welcomes the 16-time world champion to the show. Cena knows Michael has questions. The first is how Cena feels with an empty arena. Cena gives a shout out to everyone watching at home that he misses us, and hopes to see us all again soon. Now to WrestleMania. Cena VS The Fiend is set, but this is not the first time Cena and Bray Wyatt fought on the Grandest Stage of Them All. It was a few years ago that Cena faced and defeated the Face of Fear, and that is why Bray went on a “downward spiral.” Cena says that’s a lot to digest. How does he respond to being blamed for Bray’s failures? It’s nothing new.
Many people have said somewhere, whether to his face, behind his back or on the internet that Cena is the reason for another superstar’s failure. Add Bray to the long list of names with “potential.” “Potential can be good, but it can also be dangerous.” It can make you lazy or too into your own hype. So why is it that Bray Wyatt went into that downward spiral? He got lazy, he gave up, and he blamed Cena. Bray’s enemy isn’t Cena but Bray. Why does no one ever say something like that about Cena? Because Cena wins a lot. Well then you’re forgetting that Cena had his own “monumental setbacks” in the WWE. He lost to The Miz at WrestleMania. He lost to Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand.
Cena lost to CM Punk in Chicago and had to watch him walk out with the WWE Championship. He’s lost to The Rock, pulverized by Brock Lesnar, and had to buy a ticket to WrestleMania but then got squashed by The Undertaker. So why, after all those setbacks, does no one ever say John Cena got buried? It’s because Cena never blames another. He adapts, overcomes and gets back in the fight. There are too many superstars that talk about dreaming of being in the WWE their whole lives, but then the load gets to be too much and they look for someone like Cena to blame, except for themselves. Cena’s response is that he’s going to give Bray an Attitude Adjustment.
Michael turns things to SmackDown in Boston a couple weeks ago when Cena had a homecoming. Cena wanted to let Mania go on without him this year. It is because Cena knows the superstars work hard each and every day for even just one Mania Moment. It was because Cena knows fans are just as passionate about those moments as Cena is. Then why is Cena antagonizing The Fiend? Antagonizing? He accepted Bray’s challenge because it is about investing in the future. To Cena, Bray is no longer that future. Drew McIntyre, Tommaso Ciampa, Matt Riddle, Rhea Ripley, Velveteen Dream, those are the names that are the future.
Cena wants to know why we continue to give fifth and sixth chances to people who, when times get hard, they get upset and whine, “What about me?” when they should ask, “How can I help?” Cena invests in those who earn it each and every day! The reason Cena accepted Bray’s challenge is so that he could take Bray out of the equation. It won’t be a show-stealing Mania moment, it will be “physical, gruesome and uncomfortable to watch.” But this match accomplishes what should’ve happened six years ago: “Ending the existence of the most over-hyped, overvalued, over-privileged WWE superstar in existence.”
YOWIE WOWIE! Bray laughs it up from the stands! Riveting stuff, Cena, it really is. And Bray is glad to see Cena here in person. Even if he’s being really mean, “it’s good to see you again, John.” But look at him! Cena’s doing great! Big Hollywood star with big muscles and beautiful girlfriends on tap. Most can’t even imagine what it’s like to be Cena for one day. But Cena has Bray all wrong. Bray isn’t sick, Cena’s sick. And Bray knows why Cena is back, and why Cena can’t say no. Cena doesn’t think we believe him when he talks about the future, does he? We know Cena doesn’t care about anything but Cena! It doesn’t matter who Cena smashes or buries, so long as he has his spotlight! Cena craves it like a drug addict. He is a fiend for it. And he took something from Bray.
Obviously Bray thought a lot about that day six years ago. So much so, that he wanted to take his hands and dig them into his head and smash his brain into a million little pieces just so he could have a few seconds of peace from the voices. But the voices never stopped. And then something magical happened! One day, Bray stopped fighting those voices, and listened to them. The voices took the crooked little world Bray lived in, and made it the Fun House! Cena broke Bray, but The Fiend put him back together. And at WrestleMania, “it’s going to be a slaughter. You just don’t know it yet.” Let him in, Cena. Bray laughs into the night as the lights go out. Will it be lights out for the brightest superstar of this generation?
This will definitely go down as a SmackDown unlike any other. For one, everything tonight was Empty Arena Mode, so it felt really weird not hearing even just a general mumbling during matches or promos. Another thing was HHH being just incredible on commentary while also being able to be a great host at the beginning and before the last segment. HHH was apparently demoted because Vince is losing his composure during all this, but if that means HHH can do things like this, I certainly don’t mind. Another interesting move was airing 90% of the SmackDown Tag Team Chamber match. It was fun to relive, and Miz & Morrison gave a great promo that took advantage of there being no fans. A little surprised they didn’t give us Usos getting at them, but maybe that’s next time.
Crowd or no crowd, the matches we got were still good. Bayley & Banks VS Bliss-Cross helped progress the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship story for Asuka to interfere without throwing out the match. Not sure why Kairi couldn’t be there, though. Also Paige not showing up on SmackDown despite being advertised might have to do with recovery from the surgery she recently had, as well as not wanting to waste all the great returns meant for tonight on an empty arena. If the world can return to normal soon, Paige coming out to a great reaction will make up for the delay. It was smart to give us a quick finish to Bryan VS Cesaro, and I like that Gulak has basically turned Face to be on Bryan’s side. I hope we get those two in a tag match against Cesaro & Nakamura.
Roman’s in-ring interview was almost like a WWE Backstage shoot-adjacent interview. That line dissing Goldberg and the University of Georgia, being that Roman is Georgia Tech, was pretty good. Their contract signing next week basically parallels the Taker VS Styles signing for Raw already, I’m just thinking neither one needs physicality since there are two much older wrestlers who need to save their energy for Mania, in whatever form that event will be in. Cena tore it down with that promo, which feels like a shoot but could be reverse psychology. Bray had a pretty good response promo, and it worked well for him to be there in person rather than by a titantron Firefly Fun House. I do hope the one part of Cena’s promo that’s true is how it’ll be rough, because it really should be given the animosity coming off both men.
My Score: 8.3/10