What a strange picture than the one of an empty arena. No fans on the seats, not a shout coming from the crowd. WWE had to relocate SmackDown from Detroit to Orlando’s WWE Performance Center. Unlike NXT this Wednesday, there was no audience at all. Was it a reason for the show not to go on? A good part of the SmackDown roster comes from NXT and this show, the fallout from Elimination Chamber, is all about coming back to the roots. Welcome to the most must-see SteelChair review in history; welcome to… the SmackDown Review.
Triple H welcomed viewers to the WWE Performance Center. He went on and talked about the state of the art facility, as we saw clips from training and other sessions in the background. He told us about how many of the top WWE Superstars have gone through the Performance Center, and tonight they return, not to train, but to do what they do better than anyone else in the world – entertain. Triple H added this will be different than anything we’ve seen before tonight. He said to sit back and relax, try to forget about the world around you if you can, and let WWE do what they do best – let them put a smile on our faces. The camera showed the empty chairs, along with the SmackDown ring and the blue lasers going around the venue. Michael Cole was joined by Triple H instead of Corey Graves tonight at the announce table.
Out came Sasha Banks and SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley. They looked ready to talk trash to the crowd but there is no crowd. They stopped in front of Cole and Triple H at the announce table and said they decided to kick off the show and it didn’t matter how big the crowd was because it’s still their house. Bayley asked Triple H where Paige was. Cole replied Paige is having travel issues. Banks and Bayley couldn’t believe it. Triple H joked about being sick of excuses. Banks and Bayley went on about Paige being jealous, just like every other woman in WWE. Out came Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. They talked about how they’ve been looking for WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, Asuka and Kairi Sane, and might have to go to RAW, but they’re also tired of Banks and Bayley. They were ready for a match if Banks and Bayley were. They both had words. Bayley called Cross a “little idiot” and called for a referee.
- Sasha Banks & Bayley defeated Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss
Triple H and Michael Cole joked about the empty arena all match long. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion Asuka appeared at ringside and took Bliss down on the floor. This led to Banks applying the Banks Statement on Cross for the submission win. After the match, Asuka taunted Bliss and Cross from the ramp. Banks’ music hit as she headed to the corner to pose for the crowd that wasn’t there.
- Roman Reigns Interview
Cole asked Reigns how weird that was making that entrance to the ring. Reigns talked about this being a business of reactions but it was weird and cool, and he was glad to be back in the Performance Center. Reigns talked about his past year and how he’s been blessed. Now, he’s back in familiar territory and it’s good to be back in the main event. Cole asked about WWE Universal Champion Bill Goldberg and their WrestleMania 36 match. Reigns went on about having great respect for Goldberg, calling him an icon. However, Goldberg is a part-time and Reigns doesn’t think we have time for that in WWE. Reigns went on about all he thinks of, 24/7 and 365, is WWE. He’s eaten from the WWE table his whole life and he’s groomed for this, and Goldberg isn’t ready for him. He’s busted his ass and mastered his craft. When it comes to the main event of WrestleMania 36, he will whoop Goldberg’s ass and take back his title, and then set this place right. Cole hyped the big “Spear vs. Spear” match at WrestleMania. The contract will be signed next week between the two men.
- Jeff Hardy is Back
Kayla Braxton was backstage with Cesaro. He introduced new WWE Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn and in he came with Shinsuke Nakamura. Kayla said they’re not scheduled for this segment. Sami disagreed. Kayla said they’ve been bumped from the segment. Sami and his crew left to continue their celebration. Kayla introduced her real guest and out came Jeff Hardy to make his return to TV. Jeff said he’s as healthy and hungry as he’s ever been. He’s done a lot of soul-searching over the past few months and found a lot of important things, and one of those things is that he has a lot more to do in WWE. King Corbin interrupted and joked about Hardy having trouble with alcohol and his DUI charges. Hardy said actually he has a big match tonight and he’s surprised Corbin hasn’t heard because it’s against Corbin. We heard Elias’ guitar playing real quick as he walked up. He and Corbin had some words.
- Daniel Bryan wants to learn
Cole looked at Daniel Bryan’s win over Drew Gulak from Elimination Chamber PPV. Triple H gave praise to Gulak. Daniel Bryan was in the back and walked up on Drew Gulak. Bryan said he’s been looking for him. Bryan gave Gulak praise for his performance at Elimination Chamber. Bryan says he’s willing to learn if Gulak is still willing to teach. Sami Zayn, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura walked up. Sami laughed and brought up how Bryan turned down his invite to join their group a while back. Cesaro prevented Bryan from stepping to Sami. They had more words and Bryan told them to meet him in the ring. Cesaro and Nakamura will be wrestling Gulak and Bryan tonight.
- Elimination Chamber Tag Team Match
PPV action into a weekly show, great thing to watch and, for some, watch again. Read our review of it here. After the video package, Miz and Morrison’s abs were in the middle of the ring. They issued challenges for anyone to speak now if they don’t believe these are the best two at what they do. They also joked about some of their bad movie projects actually being good. Miz says there will be no booing and no “you suck!” chants tonight. Miz knocked Orlando even with no crowd to get heat from. They went on bragging about being champions and pose together, raising the titles in the air and telling everyone to be jealous. Hey, hey, ho, ho!
- Rob Gronkowski to WWE?
After Triple H had fun with a camera, Mojo Rawley came to confirm nothing has been signed yet, but Gronkowski will be here next week. Mojo, who is a RAW Superstar, will also be here next week. Mojo was more than hyped.
- Daniel Bryan w/ Drew Gulak defeated Cesaro w/Shinsuke Nakamura
An unexpected change from what was announced before. Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn was on commentary. Nakamura beat down Bryan after the match. Cesaro and Nakamura then beat down Gulak. Bryan saved Gulak (Triple H did Cole’s make up after the match).
- Jeff Hardy defeated King Corbin
The roar of the crowd is really what makes Jeff Hardy’s entrance unique. Elias joined the announce table with his guitar and distracted Corbin. Hardy won with a Twist of Fury, not of Fate, in a short match and struggled to go backstage.
- John Cena Returns
I saw myself yelling “John Cena sucks” at nearly 3 AM in my living room to empty the silence in the PC (my family was not happy, at all). Cole brought up “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, and how Wyatt said Cena’s previous WrestleMania 30 win over Wyatt led to the birth of The Fiend. Cena wasn’t sure how to respond to someone who blames their failure on him. Cena said Wyatt got lazy after the WrestleMania loss and Wyatt is his own biggest enemy. Cena said he responds to someone who blames him for their failures with a AA.
Cole asked why Cena would antagonize Wyatt after saying what he did in Boston. Cena said he didn’t antagonize, he accepted a challenge from Wyatt. Cena went on about how WWE needs to invest in its future, and he does not feel like Wyatt is a part of that future. Cena said guys like Drew McIntyre, Matt Riddle, Tommaso Ciampa, Rhea Ripley, and The Velveteen Dream are the future. Cena said WWE should invest in those talents. Cena wants WWE to invest in people who deserve it every day.
Cena added he accepted Wyatt’s challenge so he can take Wyatt out of the equation. Cena added their WrestleMania 36 match won’t be a match to steal the show. It will be brutal, gruesome and uncomfortable to watch. Cena said he will do what should have been accomplished 6 years ago, he will end the hype of the most over-hyped and over-privileged Superstar in existence.
Wyatt entered the ring and said it’s good to see Cena. He’s doing great now, a big movie star in Hollywood, and still has big muscles, a great girlfriend. Wyatt said Cena had him all wrong. He’s not sick, Cena is. He knew Cena doesn’t really give a damn about the future because he just wants the spotlight and is addicted to it. Wyatt said 6 years ago Cena took something from him. He thought about it so much it drove him crazy. The voices in his head never stopped and then something magical happened. He stopped fighting the voices one day and then started listening to them. They took his crooked little world and turned it into a majestic Fun House. Cena broke him and The Fiend put him back together. At WrestleMania 36, it’s going to be a slaughter. “Let me in, John,” said Wyatt as the lights went off.
Triple H and the Blue roster did a fantastic job to make sure the show goes on. It was not the usual SmackDown but it was. On Monday, RAW will be live in the same conditions. We can expect this situation to continue over the next few weeks. Nevertheless, WWE showed tonight that a stupid virus will never stop the show, then, now and forever.
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE