SmackDown returns to us tonight (Mar. 27) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. They are building towards their two night WrestleMania starting in eight days.
WrestleMania is in just eight days. The biggest show of the year will take place over two nights, in an empty arena with no audience. And that sucks.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of things that suck way worse out there right now. That should be implied but wanted to say it anyway. But this is a wrestling blog and wrestling does provide a bit of escapism so we’re going to focus on that.
Having the biggest show of the year without the pageantry that is WrestleMania is a huge bummer. It’s barely even WrestleMania. (Can you imagine what the pirate themed stage of the Raymond James Stadium would have looked like?) Having it without a crowd is even a bigger bummer. There are some moments that just need that pop. Like Drew McIntyre winning the WWE championship is a moment that needs a pop. Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte needs that buzz of electricity when they finally lock up. Edge’s first WrestleMania match in nine years needs a crowd to cheer for his entrance and cheer for his first singles victory since he retained the World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio.
But there’s one match that may actually do better in this format: Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena
The Fiend is a great character, but they’ve never figured out how to mix that with an in-ring match in front of a live crowd. It’s been average at best and this story between Bray and John stemming back to 2014 would probably suffer a bit in a regular ol’ match.
The rumor is they’re going full movie with this one, which will actually be better. The Fiend is a horror movie villain and is best presented as a horror movie. Word is this is Wyatt’s pet project and Cena is on board helping sell those ideas to the higher ups. Meaning it sounds like Wyatt is going to have some real creative range here.
While they no longer have Matt Hardy on the roster to consult with how to put on a match like these, they do have Final Deletion production alum Jeremy Borash they can consult. And in general, WWE has a very strong video production crew.
This would also give them the option if they want to end it in a way where these two can meet in the future in front of a crowd. This format allows a finish that leaves a rematch open while Bray still leaves victorious. (I wonder if certain matches will be booked with a rematch in front an audience in mind, specifically Drew/Brock, given Drew’s ascension may be lessened with no crowd to react.)
WrestleMania at the PC is the only option, but it still sucks. But Bray Wyatt and John Cena may actually benefit from this different format. Tonight we’ll get a little tease of that when Bray Wyatt invites John Cena to the Firefly Fun House.
The title scene:
The Universal title match going to need a new opponent with word Roman Reigns is understandably dropping out due to health concerns. I’d like to see someone like Cesaro step up. We know he wouldn’t win, but if anyone is getting a good match out of Bill Goldberg in 2020, it’s Cesaro.
Bayley’s SmackDown Women’s championship six-pack challenge looks to be a fatal 5-way with rumors that Dana Brooke is in isolation. I don’t know who they could add to the match give they had to dust off Tamina to get to six initially.
Drew Gulak faces Shinsuke Nakamura tonight. If Gulak wins, Daniel Bryan gets Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania. Both matches should be entertaining.
In another qualifying match, the New Day and the Usos reignited their historic rivalry in a match to decide who faces Miz and Morrison (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho!) for the SmackDown tag team championships at WrestleMania. My money is on the Usos as the New Day haven’t been winning the big ones lately.
Alexa Bliss faces off against Asuka in a match that’s a prelude to their likely Women’s tag title match at WrestleMania where Bliss would team with Nikki Cross to take on the Kabuki Warriors.
Other things to keep an eye on:
- That’s a decent amount advertised already, so that may be all we get. They’ve leaned on past matches to fill some time as well.
- With rumors that more WrestleMania changes are coming, those could be addressed tonight.
- We’re still getting those video glitches that’s likely an Ali teaser, but that probably won’t be revealed until after WrestleMania.
WrestleMania is in 8 days! What will you be looking for when SmackDown returns tonight?