With WrestleMania just around the corner, the blue brand continued to do their best in hyping up the biggest night of the wrestling year, despite knowing no fans will be in attendance at the Performance Center due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19. This week, there are new contenders for the Tag Team, Women’s and Intercontinental Championships whilst Roman Reigns and Bill Goldberg met face-to-face to sign the contract for their Universal Championship match. Also, Rob Gronkowski was there. Welcome to the most must-see SteelChair review in history; welcome to… the SmackDown Review.

Results:

– Daniel Bryan & Drew Gulak defeated Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura.

– Miz & Morrison defeated Heavy Machinery via disqualification.

Bradley’s Best Bits:

Ignoring the opening segment with Gronk for now (we will get to that), the first and best of two good matches last night is where things have been most interesting for SmackDown ahead of WrestleMania. The newly formed duo of kindred spirits Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak took on Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura, the latter being pals of Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn.

All men involved in this match have a wealth of experience and talent from wrestling all over the world. This was plain to see with the technical styles of Bryan and Gulak gelling well together whilst fighting off hard-hitting offence from Cesaro and Nakamura. Both teams controlled sections of the match, but it was when Sami Zayn’s friends had the upper hand that they were caught out with a sunset flip combo from The Yes Man to win the match.

Some of the matches without an audience have been hard to watch in recent weeks, yet the lack of studio crowd here only helped elevate this particular contest in enabling the viewers at home to focus on the technical brilliance of everyone involved.

This has also developed an interesting story between the two technical wizards of Byran and Gulak. The former Planet’s Champion has grown so confident in his new friend that his Intercontinental Championship match with Sami Zayn at WrestleMania is now dependant on the PowerPoint Master defeating former champion Nakamura next week on SmackDown.

Something many of us will be familiar with in recent times, Michael Cole was interviewing Paige via Skype to get her latest update on the Women’s division but was interrupted by Bayley and her best friend Sasha Banks.

Paige reminded the two that she played her own part in the women’s revolution before being mocked about her retirement by the mean spirited pair in the ring. This was when Paige vengefully revealed that The Role Model would have to defend her title in a six-pack challenge at WrestleMania.

I don’t know when Paige become the General Manager of the SmackDown Women’s locker room, but she soon got into declaring the opponents: Lacey Evans, Dana Brooke, Tamina (I don’t know either), Naomi and… Sasha Banks. The final name reveal has really thrown a spanner in the works for Bayley’s title reign and looks to slowly sow the seed of doubt as to where The Boss’ allegiance will lie when the SmackDown Women’s Championship comes between her friendship.

After a replay of the John Cena and Bray Wyatt match from WrestleMania 30, the second match of the night was to take place following some excellent promo work once again from Miz and Morrison. With no crowd in attendance at the Performance Center, The Dirt Sheet Duo superbly played the part of the WWE Universe by reacting as if they were fans of their tag team division rivals.

Eventually, we got into the match between Miz & Morrison and Heavy Machinery which did feature some impressive tag team action from both teams. Yet, this was largely a set up for Dolph Ziggler to provide a distraction for Otis when The Showoff decided to make the big man jealous of his developing relationship with former love interest Mandy Rose. Ziggler’s antics upset Otis to the point that when he couldn’t get hold of his rival, he took his frustration out on his opponents, hitting them with a steel chair causing a disqualification.

It is still to be revealed who sent that mystery text which caused Otis to miss his Valentine’s Day date with Mandy and there will be hell to pay when he does eventually find out who it was. What is clear, however, is that it has lit a rage inside of the thrusting love machine which needs to be contained and utilised to its full potential if Heavy Machinery are to get back on track in the SmackDown Tag Team Division.

For Fox Sake:

I did say we would get to it, and here we are. The opening of the show saw Mojo Rawley hyped AF alongside Michael Cole to welcome the host of WrestleMania Rob Gronkowski.

If you dared to watch the video at the top of this article, you will have seen ‘Gronk’ exude critical levels of energy in what can only be described as a Marmite entrance. The pair joked about together in frat boy fashion which would have been perfectly ‘bromulent’ had it not been the opening segment which did nothing to address the seriousness of the current pandemic and sent us straight in at 100mph (around 160kmh).

You either love it or hate it and it’s fair to say a number of people online certainly hated this, although, I am sure it will be the source of memes and video edits for some time. It’s almost so bad that it’s good. In fact, the more I replay his entrance in my head the more I forget about the troubles in the world. Thanks, Gronk!

That being said, for most of us, WWE is an escape from the real world and this suspension of disbelief continued when King Corbin and Elias were introduced into the fray to progress their developing feud of who has the most impractical gimmick in the ring.

The closing segment of the night had the biggest dog Roman Reigns come face-to-face with the biggest dad Bill Goldberg to sign their contract for the Universal Championship match.

A match which was made largely to sell tickets for WrestleMania in Tampa Bay is losing all of its meaning as the weeks go by to the point that creative pulled up a tweet from Roman back in January about Goldberg headbutting doors to focus some of their “heat” for this title match.

For the main championship on this brand, that is pretty weak storytelling. There was only the slight mention of Roman coming to claim a title which he never lost which is really what they should be leaning in for here as the one-time Universal Champion named all of the industry giants he has seen off previously to get back to where he is. Oh, and a 5-month feud with King Corbin along the way.

It becomes more aware that the intensity between these two is only simulated with every silent staredown that they have and come WrestleMania nobody will be surprised when this match features midway on the card lasting less than 5 minutes. In fairness to Reigns, he deserves much more than this and I hope once a very different WrestleMania is out of the way he can move forward on to better things as champion.

All pics and videos courtesy of WWE