WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Analysis from March 27
The continued uncertainty regarding the coronavirus pandemic once again forced WWE into its Performance Center for the March 27 episode of SmackDown, headlined by the return of Bray Wyatt's Firefly Funhouse, just eight days before the start of a WrestleMania 36 extravaganza that will see him battle John Cena.
What did the engaging star have to say when he addressed the WWE Universe, and what implications might it have on The Showcase of the Immortals?
Find out the answer to that question, as well as everything else that went down when the blue brand returned to Fox Friday night, right here.
Bayley and Sasha Banks Kick Off SmackDown
WWE SmackDown women's champion Bayley and best friend Sasha Banks kicked off this week's broadcast, with the former noting how she will defend her title in a multi-woman elimination match at WrestleMania after Paige's announcement last week.
She put over her friendship with Banks, really hammering home how close they are and that they are better together. Banks looked on hesitantly, and when she was about to respond, Lacey Evans' music interrupted. After a brief back-and-forth, Naomi joined the festivities.
An exchange of insults occurred before Tamina made her first televised appearance since the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. "Actions speak louder than words," she said before delivering a headbutt to Naomi and a superkick to Evans.
Bayley and Banks picked at the pieces until bumping into Tamina. They hightailed it out of the ring rather than confront the imposing competitor.
The only thing this accomplished was putting Tamina over as a threat to leave WrestleMania as champion.
She was physically imposing, made quick work of Naomi and Evans and sent the champion and her bestie retreating up the ramp. That certainly will convince some that she's a threat, but she's been away for so long and has been so inconsistently booked over the course of her career that it will remain a tough sell to longtime fans.
Drew Gulak vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
A week after intercontinental champion Sami Zayn taunted Drew Gulak into a match against Shinsuke Nakamura with Daniel Bryan’s shot at the title at stake, the gritty Philadelphian battled The Artist in singles competition while Zayn, Bryan and Cesaro watched from ringside.
Nakamura fended off a tenacious onslaught by Gulak early and dropped him with a big knee off the middle rope, just moments after Cesaro provided a momentary distraction.
His success was short-lived, though.
Late in the match, he tried for the Kinshasa but an alert Bryan pulled Gulak out of the way. The former cruiserweight champion caught a stunned Nakamura with a bridging rollup for the win. Bryan celebrated his title opportunity, sending a few words Zayn’s way on his way out of the arena.
Gulak defeated Nakamura
This was hardly representative of what Gulak and Nakamura could do given enough time and less emphasis on story. With that said, the story was pertinent to a championship encounter on the WrestleMania card so it is at least forgivable.
Gulak as Bryan’s associate has done wonders for his credibility amongst fans and should leave him in a great place coming out of WrestleMania, even if the partnership does not last much longer than that.
Zayn, as usual, was excellent and played his heel role to perfection, complaining about Bryan and Gulak benefitting from the same thing Cesaro had done just moments earlier. He really is a special performer whose potential has not nearly been realized to this point.
Otis Confronts Dolph Ziggler, King Corbin Heinously Attacks Elias
Michael Cole threw to a video from last week of Dolph Ziggler making Otis lose it during Heavy Machinery's match with John Morrison and The Miz. From there, cameras caught up with Ziggler backstage.
Before the Showoff could say much, Otis hit the scene and sent him running. Tucker calmed him down, telling him to wait until WrestleMania for his revenge.
Out in the arena, Elias performed a new song in which the punchline compared King Corbin to a turd.
Corbin attacked, pummeled the songster and sent him falling off a platform and to the floor below. After the break, Cole confirmed that Elias had been transported to a hospital, potentially affecting his scheduled match with the king at WrestleMania.
These two angles just advanced the respective WrestleMania programs.
Otis vs. Ziggler is now official (or is it?), and Corbin's actions put heat on him ahead of his showdown with Elias. There could probably have been more done to build Otis and Ziggler, but given the circumstances, it was acceptable.
Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka
After weeks of calling out the Kabuki Warriors for a shot at the women's tag team titles, Alexa Bliss battled Asuka while Nikki Cross watched from the commentary position. A victory was almost certain to earn the championship opportunity the babyface tandem sought.
Bliss built momentum heading into the commercial, but The Empress of Tomorrow gained control during the break. She worked over the left arm of Little Miss Bliss but left an opening that allowed Bliss to fight back. The former Raw and SmackDown women's champion dropped Asuka shoulder-first on the ring apron.
Asuka recovered momentarily and appeared to have the win in-hand with the Asuka Lock, but Bliss escaped and picked up the hard-fought victory over the tag champion, strengthening her and Cross' argument for a title shot.
Bliss defeated Asuka
This was actually a fun little match that reminded fans of what Bliss can do when she's in there with someone the caliber of Asuka. A better babyface worker, she fought from underneath well and scored the upset.
This sets up another championship match for WrestleMania, the second match to do so on tonight's show. At the least, you cannot argue that this broadcast has served a purpose and has been approached with a sense of urgency.
Mandy Rose Confronts Dolph Ziggler
Backstage, Mandy Rose approached Dolph Ziggler, taking exception to The Showoff rubbing their date photos in the face of Otis last week. Ziggler admitted fault and said it would not happen again.
From there, she refused to allow Ziggler and Otis to treat her like she was a prize to be won.
The happy couple left, seemingly content.
This was an absolutely necessary vignette.
We needed Rose to confront Ziggler about being bully-like in his taunting of Otis for the sake of her character.
Even for women in WWE as a whole, we needed her to stand up and refuse to be treated like some reward. The Women's Evolution in WWE has shown that the female Superstars shouldn't be treated as objects simply for the male Superstars to fight over. Rose telling Ziggler off in that regard was essential and instantly made her more likable.
Her feelings for Otis are still apparent in the sympathy she showed for the way Dolph treated him last week, and that should factor heavily in the upcoming singles match at WrestleMania.
Bray Wyatt joined us for the latest Firefly Funhouse.
As whispers poured from his trademark lantern, Wyatt told it to shut up, that it had it's chance against John Cena and failed. From there, he concocted a recipe with ingredients such as disappointment and self-loathing. He added some "irrelevant and unnecessary opinions" in the form of Ramblin' Rabbit, then blended it all together despite the puppet's screams.
Wyatt said a big star like Cena deserves more than an ordinary match and, on behalf of The Fiend, officially challenged Cena to a Firefly Funhouse match at WrestleMania.
He sipped from the smoothie and said there was one unfortunate side effect. From there, The Fiend bumper aired, bringing the Funhouse segment to an end.
There is a certain level of demented, delightful content you expect from Bray Wyatt's Firefly Funhouse, and this had it in spades.
From conversing with a lantern reflective of his previous persona to blending up the oft-obliterated Ramblin Rabbit, this was just all sorts of fun. The biggest takeaway was Wyatt challenging Cena to a Firefly Funhouse match, something that will likely be a highly cinematic event that does not at all resemble a traditional wrestling match.
And maybe that is for the best.
The Usos vs. The New Day
The top contenders to The Miz and John Morrison's SmackDown Tag Team Championships were determined in the night's main event as The New Day's Kofi Kingston and Big E battled The Usos while the current titleholders watched on from the commentary position.
The Usos controlled the early portion of the bout, working over Big E. A hot tag to Kingston saw the former WWE champion explode into the match. He downed the opposition with leaping clotheslines and survived a single-leg Boston Crab.
Big E tagged back in, and the former champions tried for a double-team move. Jey evaded the move and Jimmy sent Kingston shoulder-first into the steel post. Kofi recovered and delivered the Trust Fall, wiping his opponent out at ringside.
The fight spilled to the floor from there until The Miz and Morrison rose from the announce table and attacked both teams. They pummeled them, leaving them lying in the center of the ring.
Michael Cole interrupted and announced that the tag titles would be on the line in a Triple Threat Ladder match between all three teams.
The babyface teams recovered and left the champions lying in the center of the ring.
WWE Creative continues to strengthen the WrestleMania card by throwing as many unique gimmicks and matches at it as possible, breaking out the 3-way ladder match for this rivalry. While a Triple Threat match was to be expected, it is a questionable decision to book such a dangerous match with no fans or any real energy to build off of.
This particular match felt like two teams who have had legitimate Match of the Year candidates against each going through the motions and wrestling safe rather than worrying about throwing everything out there. It's hard to fault them, given the short turnaround to ‘Mania.
Miz and Morrison were excellent on commentary, as one would expect from such a wildly entertaining team, and one can only imagine what the latter has in store for his return to the ladder match next weekend.