WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Analysis from February 21
Six days before WWE returns to Saudi Arabia for Super ShowDown, Goldberg appeared on SmackDown ready and prepared to send a message to universal champion The Fiend Bray Wyatt.
What would the 2018 Hall of Famer have to say to the masked maniac of WWE, and how would Wyatt respond?
Speaking of Hall of Famers, what were The Bella Twins up to when they joined "A Moment of Bliss" Friday night?
Naomi vs. Carmella to determine the No. 1 contender for Bayley's SmackDown Women's Championship and a huge eight-man tag Tteam match rounded out an action-packed broadcast.
Eight Man Tag Team Match
The Usos kicked off Friday’s show, promising a superkick party to which Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Robert Roode and John Morrison were invited. They introduced their partners, SmackDown tag team champions The New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Big E, to a big pop. The villains interrupted the proceedings and the match was underway.
The babyfaces rolled early but Miz sent Kingston into the guardrail at ringside and the heels gained control. They isolated Kingston and Morrison dropped him from the top rope to the floor with a wicked kick heading into the commercial break.
The former WWE champion launched Ziggler to the floor and downed Roode, creating separation that allowed him to make the tag to Big E. The powerhouse of The New Day exploded into the match, tossing the opposition and delivering a big splash to The Miz.
The action broke down late, with Morrison stunting Big E’s roll and Ziggler and Roode downing Jimmy Uso with a spinebuster/Zig-Zag combo. Jey Uso broke up the pin, flattened Roode with a superkick and picked up the win for the babyfaces.
The Usos and the New Day defeated Ziggler, Roode, Miz and Morrison
There is no such thing as a bad multi-man tag match in today’s WWE. The Superstars and producers have mastered the formula over the years and the result is almost always a fun match, if nothing else. This was an average match, hampered by a commercial break in the middle, but the last few minutes made up for it and helped fuel the grade.
Roode eating the pin again threatens to devalue his team with Ziggler but, if the babyface win was absolutely necessarily, Morrison and Miz could not very well lose the match with their tag team title match against New Day coming up in just six days.
WWE Creative booked itself into a corner from that perspective. Now, it must find a way to reignite Roode and Ziggler’s momentum or risk losing them as valuable contenders to the tag titles and credible henchmen for King Corbin.
Tucker Confronted Fire & Desire and Renee Young Interviewed Lacey Evans
A recap of the romance between Otis and Mandy Rose gave way to the heartbreaking footage from last week’s show, where the former caught his crush at dinner with Dolph Ziggler. That gave way to Tucker approaching Rose and Sonya Deville and defending his tag team partner, calling him the nicest man he knows and asking Rose why she texted that she was running behind last week if she was already at the restaurant.
Deville shrugged it off and said Dolph was more of Rose’s type anyway.
From there, Renee Young interviewed Lacey Evans.
The Sassy Southern Belle admitted to her past bullying ways but vowed to be better moving forward. She set her sights on Elimination Chamber and defeating five other women to earn another shot at Bayley’s women’s title.
The ongoing storyline involving Heavy Machinery and Fire & Desire has been excellent and this week’s development was no different. The main takeaway from the brief confrontation between Tucker, Rose and Deville was The Golden Goddess’ confusion surrounding the text Otis received last week.
She clearly did not send it, which leaves two obvious culprits: Ziggler or her best friend, Deville. Given how the former MMA competitor shrugged off Tucker’s passionate defense of his tag team partner, it certainly seems as though we are about to move ahead with the breakup of the Tough Enough alum.
The Evans interview was something that should have happened when she made her babyface turn back before the Royal Rumble. Fans needed to hear that she has changed her ways long before now. Had they, Evans may have been accepted more organically and passionately as a babyface.
As it is, this will go a long way in prepping her for a WrestleMania run, if that is the intention.
Symphony of Destruction Match
WWE held just the second Symphony of Destruction match in its long history this week as Elias and intercontinental champion Braun Strowman battled the team of Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro.
The babyfaces rolled early but a big keyboard to the back of Strowman by Sami Zayn allowed the heels to gain a momentary upper hand. Elias dodged a Kinshasa from Nakamura, who found himself powerslammed onto a piano. Across the arena, Elias dropped a top-rope elbow on Cesaro, driving him through a table.
Three seconds later and Strowman earned the win for his team, picking up yet another pinfall victory over The Artist.
Strowman and Elias defeated Nakamura and Cesaro
There was nothing to this match beyond gimmickry and weapon usage. With that said, that’s all this needed to be. It was inoffensive, fun and did not outlive its expiration date.
Some of the spots were original, the powerslam onto the piano was wicked and the elbow drop by Elias was appropriately high risk without being too dangerous.
After weeks of feuding, one can only hope this was the conclusion of the feud, though, because there really is nowhere else for it to go.
A Moment of Bliss with The Bella Twins
The Bella Twins appeared on Fox for the first time this week, joining Alexa Bliss on the former Raw and SmackDown women’s champion’s A Moment of Bliss talk show. Both retired and pregnant, the creators of Total Divas and Total Bellas were met with a proper homecoming by the WWE Universe.
Bliss introduced Nikki and Brie as inductees in the 2020 Hall of Fame.
The twins put over Bliss as the host of the first female talk show in WWE history before revealing their pregnancies and Nikki’s engagement. Daniel Bryan joined them, along with daughter Birdie, as the show headed to break.
There will be those haters that denounce the idea that Brie and Nikki belong in the Hall of Fame but to argue against the fact that they are the faces of an entire generation of women’s wrestling in WWE, helped bring mainstream attention to the women of WWE via their reality shows, and helped bring about change through the women’s revolution by championing it on social media would be irresponsible.
They are every bit as deserving of the honor as recent inductees, if not more so. This probably should have been a bigger deal than it was, even if their inability to get physical at this point relegated them to the promo segment.
With that said, Bryan emerging with Birdie at the end of the segment was a nice touch.
Daniel Bryan vs. Heath Slater
After a backstage confrontation in which former cruiserweight champion Drew Gulak claimed to have seen some holes in Daniel Bryan’s game of late, he joined Michael Cole and Corey Graves on commentary as Bryan battled Heath Slater in a rematch from their match two weeks ago.
Much like that match, Bryan pounced on Slater early and often, finishing him off with a running knee.
Gulak stubbornly suggested Slater nearly had Bryan, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Bryan defeated Slater
Bryan will not be making the trip to Riyadh, Saudia Arabia for Super Showdown so it makes sense that WWE Creative would de-emphasize him heading into the show. Why they would book him in two one-sided, meaningless matches against Slater is a question only they can answer.
But, hey, if it leads to Bryan vs. Gulak in some old-school grappling, I’m all for it.
No. 1 Contender's Match: Naomi vs. Carmella
For the first time in the history of Saudi Arabia, a women’s championship will be up for grabs when Bayley defends in Riyadh. Her opponent would be determined Friday as Carmella and Naomi battled for the right to challenge the villainess in the record-breaking match.
A back-and-forth match came to a screeching halt when Bayley made her presence felt at ringside. Referee Jessica Carr, not willing to allow the champion to interfere and dictate the outcome of the match, sent Bayley packing just as Carmella delivered a big tope suicida to wipe out Naomi. The show headed to break with chaos reigning supreme.
Back from the commercial, Naomi fired off some offense but Carmella grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to the mat. A big jawbreaker sparked a comeback for Naomi, who delivered a corkscrew plancha that wiped Carmella out on the floor.
Back in the ring, Carmella scored a very close near-fall off a crossbody. Naomi staved off defeat and engaged her opponent in a series of pinfall attempts. The last, Carmella transitioned into the Code of Silence. Naomi fought to the ropes to necessitate the break.
Naomi delivered the Rearview, but could not keep her opponent down. Carmella recovered and answered with a big superkick for a two-count of her own.
Naomi answered with a blockbuster and delivered a split-legged moonsault for the win.
Naomi defeated Carmella
The effort was there but this one really suffered in the middle portion, where it became abundantly clear the competitors were not on the same page. The argument can be made that it lends a sense of realism to the match but it appeared disjointed and ugly.
With that said, the performers recovered and delivered a strong final stretch, where Naomi overcame a game Carmella to score the win, setting up a historic showdown with Bayley in Riyadh.
The question is whether or not that is intended to be the culmination of Naomi’s return and hunt for gold or if it is merely the latest chapter in a rivalry that will conclude on wrestling’s grandest stage.
Goldberg Returns, Encounters The Fiend
Goldberg returned to WWE in the main event segment of this week’s show, drawing an enormous reaction. As he began to talk, The Firefly Funhouse bumper interrupted. Goldberg cut the whole thing off, saying he was not back to talk but, rather, to take the universal title.
Bray Wyatt said Goldberg does not know him, and he will not be taking anything. Wyatt introduced the friends of the funhouse before saying there was one person left for him to meet.
The arena darkened and when the lights came back up, The Fiend stood menacingly behind Goldberg.
Unfazed, the Hall of Famer launched at his Super Showdown opponent, dropping him with a spear. The lights dimmed again and The Fiend had disappeared. Wyatt’s laugh filled the arena as Goldberg stood tall to close out the broadcast.
Sometimes, less is more.
Goldberg came across great, The Fiend’s mind games failed to rattle him and Da Man proved the universal champion is not impervious to pain. WWE Creative accomplished all of that in the span of five or so minutes, proving they are capable of providing a segment that does exactly what it set out to do without overproducing it to death or allowing it to run on for too long.
Hopefully it learns that lesson come Thursday in Saudi Arabia because a match that goes too long, with the talent involved, could prove disastrous.
And Goldberg has already had enough of those in that country.