WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 20
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause lockdowns in major cities, WWE is attempting to keep its weekly programming going by holding shows without fans at the Performance Center.
The way the product is presented has changed completely. Matches feel different, and the announcers are trying to keep the atmosphere light.
This week's show featured Bill Goldberg and Roman Reigns signing their WrestleMania 36 contract, Rob Gronkowski's official WWE debut and a tag match between Heavy Machinery and SmackDown tag team champions The Miz and John Morrison.
WrestleMania is set to be a two-day event for the first time in history, but until then, WWE has a lot of work to do to fill up its weekly shows.
Let's take a look at what happened during Friday's episode of SmackDown from the PC.
For information about the pandemic and precautions to take, please see guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Arrival of Gronk
Michael Cole opened the show in the ring and talked about how WrestleMania 36 will take place across two days. He phrased it as if this year's event was too big for one night instead of acknowledging the real reason.
He introduced this year's host, Rob Gronkowski, before we saw a video package of some of his media highlights, including the time he took out Jinder Mahal to help Mojo Rawley win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Mojo Rawley was there to give Cole some lessons in getting hype before he brought out the man he made sure to remind us was his best friend. Gronk danced his way to the ring.
After Mojo and Gronk had a "broment" together, King Corbin came out to give WWE's newest acquisition the opportunity to shove him to the ground while Rawley kneeled down behind him. Elias came out and played a song before they sent The King packing.
The messaging in the opening moments was completely wrong. WWE refusing to acknowledge the coronavirus pandemic is not going to help. It just makes the company look ignorant.
Gronk was enthusiastic, and his energy helped make this segment somewhat entertaining, but as a whole, the opening 10 minutes was a bit rough.
The feud between Elias and King Corbin is something we should expect to continue for the next few weeks at the least.
Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak vs. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura
Daniel Bryan and Shinsuke Nakamura began the match with an exchange of holds and counters. Drew Gulak quickly tagged in and Cesaro did the same.
The former cruiserweight champion took control of The Swiss Cyborg but as soon as The Yes Man came back in, a stiff uppercut put Cesaro back in the driver’s seat.
After the break, Sami Zayn’s teammates were still in control. They dominated Bryan by cutting the ring in half and using quick tags to stay fresh.
Bryan and Gulak were able to make a comeback and The Yes Man used a basic sunset flip to pin Cesaro for the win.
The talent of the four men in this match cannot be understated. They are some of the best wrestlers in the company, if not the entire world.
Even without a crowd, this was a joy to watch. Their precision and technique were perfect. Seeing Gulak get this kind of exposure is awesome after it looked like he would become a jobber once he was drafted to SmackDown.
Not having a crowd has made most of WWE’s recent matches hard to watch. This one broke that streak and ended up being tons of fun.
Paige Makes an Announcement About Bayley at WrestleMania 36
Cole was preparing to do a Skype interview with Paige when Bayley and Sasha Banks interrupted. They said they were responsible for the Women’s Revolution.
Paige reminded them of the role she played in helping the division. Bayley challenged her to do something before mocking her for having to retire.
The former champion said she was there to announce Bayley’s opponent for WrestleMania and revealed the challengers would be Lacey Evans, Dana Brooke, Tamina, Naomi and Sasha Banks.
The Boss looked shocked by the reveal and she stood in silence with her best friend to end the segment.
There was speculation that Paige had been cleared to compete again recently, so a lot of people were probably surprised when this ended up being the announcement she had planned.
Bayley and Banks are better with a crowd to play off of and it showed here. They struggled a bit but played their part as best as they could under current circumstances.
A six-woman match for the title will be interesting because it likely means we are getting a new champion on April 5.
The Miz and John Morrison vs. Heavy Machinery
After WWE showed a replay of Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena from WrestleMania 30, The Miz and Morrison hosted another episode of The Dirt Sheet. Instead of having real guests, they showed some pre-taped footage of themselves pretending to be fans who support their rivals.
We returned from a break to see the match already taking place, which means they started wrestling without a crowd or camera filming them.
Otis used his significant size advantage to control The Friday Night Delight for a couple of minutes. He eventually tagged Tucker for an impressive handoff suplex.
After a few more minutes of back and forth action, Dolph Ziggler came out to distract Heavy Machinery and join the commentary team.
The Showoff put some pictures of Mandy Rose and himself on the big screen to taunt Otis. This led to The Dozer losing it and he destroyed The Miz and Morrison at ringside after failing to get his hands on Ziggler. He put the tag champs through the barricade in a fit of rage.
Tucker tried to talk him out of using a steel chair but Otis was too upset and got his team disqualified.
The Miz and Morrison are great together and this segment gave them another chance to show how funny they can be when they are given good material to work with.
The idea of both teams beginning their match during the commercial break was hilarious. We were supposed to believe they started wrestling before the camera was filming, which is ridiculous.
Other than that, this match worked as well as it could have. Both teams rely a lot on the audience giving them good and bad reactions. They had to adjust their style quite a bit.
The storytelling in this segment was great. Otis going off the rails was an unexpected development and it will be fun to watch what WWE does with this story next.
The Contract Signing
Reigns and Goldberg came out to sign their Universal Championship match contract for WrestleMania 36. They both looked like they were ready to fight right away.
Cole asked them a few questions. The Big Dog said every big name has chosen him as an opponent and he has beaten them all. He said Goldberg would be no different.
They threw a few insults at each other and signed the contract before they ended the show in an intense staredown.
Contract signings that do not end with a fight always feel weird. This segment would have been better with a live crowd but they did a decent job in a quiet setting.
Reigns came across better than Goldberg. The champion bragged about headbutting doors all across the world, which was a weird flex since he gave himself a concussion before his match against The Undertaker at Super ShowDown 2019.
The staring contest was an awkward way to end the show.