Previously on the Best and Worst of Smackdown: WWE went to Saudi Arabia for another blood money propaganda show, and … [checks notes] [checks notes again] … [checks notes] sorry, it says here that Bill Goldberg won the championship in two minutes, that can’t be right, I must’ve mixed up Smackdown in 2020 with WCW in 1998. Sorry everyone, I’ll try to get that fixed right away.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown for February 28, 2020.
Worst: Get To The Point
In case you missed it, this is how WWE is building not one, but two of its major storylines for WrestleMania:
On Smackdown, both the Roman Reigns vs. Bill Goldberg Universal Championship match and John Cena vs. The Fiend were “booked” by having a character show up and say, “we are having a match,” and the other character nodding. In Bray’s case, he doesn’t even say they’re having a match, he just points at the WrestleMania sign. Keep in mind that neither of these are part of an ongoing feud; Cena hasn’t run into Bray Wyatt since what, helping The Rock fight off the Wyatt Family at WrestleMania 32? If I’m not mistaken the only time Roman Reigns and Goldberg have ever interacted was at the end of a Kevin Owens Show back in 2017, when they got uncomfortably close because MASCULINITY and then teamed up to embarrass Braun Strowman. But hey, we’re just pointing. Who cares?
Goldberg as Universal Champion is … something else, man. I get that WrestleMania has stopped being “WrestleMania” and is more of a WCW Slamboree situation where legends and part-timers show up to jerk each other off like some Godless cross between an all-star game and a seniors powerwalk (note: SummerSlam is WrestleMania for the people who actually work here now, I guess), and I get that having a big name from 20 years ago on your card brings in the casuals from also 20 years agogod damn do I not need to see Goldberg as Universal Champion. Can’t Goldberg be on the card and appear without having to be the champion? Without having to be the champion after completely squashing a character in two fucking minutes who up until now was nigh-invulnerable? Goldberg’s lazy shoulder tackles and hip-toss Jackhammer are officially more powerful than 11 Seth Rollins Stomps, 17 minutes of Daniel Bryan with a leather strap, a fall off the stage into exploding electrical equipment, a sledgehammer, a sledgehammer to a chair on your face, a sledgehammer to a ladder on a chair on your face, and a sledgehammer to a toolbox on a ladder on a chair on your face. That shit didn’t even faze him. So what, was his big secret weakness “being gently run into by a sweaty grandpa?”
And don’t get me wrong, it’s not even the fact that Goldberg’s 53. Minoru Suzuki is 51. Dustin Rhodes is 50 and is arguably better than he’s ever been. It’s the fact that Goldberg wasn’t able to work a cohesive match longer than two minutes when he was 32, and now you’re insisting he’s still 32-year old Goldberg while he’s routinely concussing himself and completely unable to perform any of the basic tasks you’ve asked of him. It’s not like I’m expecting Goldberg to work a brilliant 20 minutes match with a bunch of tense, limb-based psychology and a dramatic near-falls. I’m asking him to be able to run into a person with his shoulder and then suplex them without his brain malfunctioning, his forehead suddenly spurting blood, and his entire body giving out like he’s in the final leg of an ultramarathon. It’s two moves. How can we make a guy champion when he’s only got two moves, and he can’t do one of them? Fucking Hulk Hogan could show up and get through a big boot and a leg drop without almost killing himself and his opponent and needing a bunch of “make up” matches to feel better.
On top of all of that, we’re just negating everything else we’re doing to get to these matches. Like, Sheamus announced he was entering some kind of Elimination Chamber last week, presumably for a shot at the top champion on Smackdown. But Roman Reigns just kinda showed up and said it was his turn, and everyone’s like, “okay.” Did anybody even need to win the Royal Rumble? Could Drew McIntyre have just interrupted a Paul Heyman promo to yell “AHHM THE NEXT BIG THING” and stare at Brock menacingly? If he pointed at the sign, would that constitute a verbal agreement? WWE is promoting no story, using no wrestling, between characters who’ve barely ever interacted. Because their names look good on a card print-out to folks who don’t watch WWE.
As for The Fiend, he listens to a fine speech from John Cena, looking more like a gamma-radiated Jim Varney every day, and teleports in to point at a sign. That’s the whole story. Hey John, try shoulder tackling him a few times and then hitting him with a shitty vertical suplex, it’s an easy win. You don’t even have to hook the leg, just lazily reach down and pull on his tights like you’re trying to get a bag out of the garbage.
Worst: CHALLENGER Has PINNED THE CHAMPION!
Naomi defeats Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley by disqualification in about 50 seconds when Sasha Banks runs in. This, of course, triggers the time honored Smackdown tradition of the ghost of Teddy Long dancing out like he’s dribbling two basketballs and announcing that tonight, it’s gonna be, a TAG TEAM MATCH. Holla, and I can’t stress this enough, holla.
Naomi already defeated Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley, so it makes sense that the tag match would end with Naomi defeating Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley. It’s like they sat down to put this show together and were like, “okay, we open the show with a guy just announcing he’s got a WrestleMania title match for no reason, and we END the show with a guy showing up and saying he wants a match at WrestleMania for no reason. But what do we do with the rest of the show?” “Challenger has pinned the champion?” “That WOULD maybe put them into consideration for a future title opportunity.” “Can we do it twice??” “WHO’S STOPPING US?” And then they do a big synchronized swimming routine in Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud’s money bin.
Shout-out to formerly vaguely racist caricature Lacey Evans for showing up to save Naomi here. I think this role puts her in contention for an Academy Award.
When The Miz and John Morrison were set to challenge The New Day for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship at Super Showdown, they pinned New Day members in non-title matches several weeks in a row. Now that Miz and Morrison are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, they get to build to their next pay-per-view match by losing a bunch of non-title matches. It’s just the way WWE works now.
To say something positive, this was obviously the best match on the show. We also find out the Elimination Chamber match Sheamus was mistaken about is now for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. They announced all the teams for it — Lucha House Party getting that Sarah Logan spot on pay-per-view where they need six people in a match but spend all year booking the division around two or three — but I hope it turns out Sheamus actually is in it, and being forced to team with Shorty G. I just want them to team up and start calling themselves “Low Bar.” I also hope that the mysterious authority figure who told Greg Hamilton to publicly spring a six-team Elimination Chamber pay-per-view title defense on the Tag Team Champions is the same one who restarted the Ironman Match on Dynamite.
Best: Gulak VS. Bryan Continues
You know, this Drew Gulak vs. Daniel Bryan feud started with Bryan wrestling Heath Slater, who was in the Nexus with Bryan, and now has Bryan wrestling Curtis Axel, who was in the New Nexus. I know the idea is that Gulak’s just scouting Daniel Bryan to learn his game before losing to him in a big competitive pay-per-view (Kickoff Show) match, but part of me hopes he’s just secretly putting the Nexus back together so he can lead it. Tell me you’d hate it if he showed up at Elimination Chamber as BAD NEWS DREW.
+1 to Curtis Axel for getting TV time, though. Daniel Bryan is a humanitarian for a lot of reasons, including having a bunch of TV matches with people who never get on TV anymore. I bet you couldn’t have known “Brandon hated everything on the show except whatever Daniel Bryan did” would be the point of the column before you opened it, I bet.
Also On This Episode
The idea of a 3-on-1 handicap match where Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Shinsuke Nakamura are gonna have a two-man advantage and still get squashed is a truly terrifying concept, but maybe they’re going somewhere interesting with it. Maybe they’re going to have Cesaro and Nakamura do all the work and finally put Strowman down for the count, only for manager-ass Sami Zayn to swoop in, steal the pin, and win his first WWE Championship a month before WrestleMania. And then Strowman wanders off to “wrestle” Tyson Fury again or whatever at WrestleMania, and we get Zayn vs. Cesaro vs. Nakamura for the Intercontinental Championship. Is … that a thing that could happen?
New Day can’t buy a bucket, to the point that Kofi Kingston’s losing TV matches to Robert Roode. Keep in mind that Roode is the third most important guy in the heel team that just spent a month and change losing matches almost every single week to Roman Reigns and The Usos. It’s also the dreaded distraction finish, which I guess was third on the list behind “challenger pins the champion x 2” and “we set up a marquee WrestleMania match in a way we could’ve just done in a press release x 2.” Fingers crossed they’ve got something better planned for Kofi at WrestleMania than “hosting” or getting thrown out of a pre-show battle royal by Beck Bennett and Tacko Fall.
Otis is ready to put himself out there again after having a misunderstanding with his Valentine’s Day date and I guess not talking to her about it or watching the portions that were aired on television to clear it up. And by “put himself out there again,” I mean he’s going to take Tucky’s advice and date the WWE Universe. I hope next week Otis makes his ring entrance only to see Dolph Ziggler already in the middle of a match.
Also, the shadowy way this is shot it makes his midriff look like a freshly baked donut.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The Real Birdman
The only time Lacey feels the glow is when her friends are carrying tiki torches
BRYAN: Vince, I want a Wrestlemania match with Drew.
VINCE: But Drew’s on with Brock.
BRYAN: Drew’s on with Brock? Gulak?
BRYAN: The guy I want to wrestle at Mania. Drew.
VINCE: I keep telling you, Drew’s already booked!!!
WWE should name this trio from Switzerland, Japan and Canada the Axis of Feeble.
There is no possible way that Tucker and Otis will fit in one of those chambers.
Its really weird when you remember that Wrestlemania is literally the only PPV that doesn’t need nostalgic part timers to get mainstream attention.
So 10 minutes of the show for Goldberg to ask who’s next and Roman to answer I’m next. Guys, really, this is why text messaging was invented
I just want a good match for the Universal title at Mania. GOLDBERG V. REGAL, BOOK IT WWE, YOU COWARDS
Dave M J
You know…I’m sure people will disagree with me on this, and that’s fine, but out of all the proof that WWE’s backstage creative staff is nothing but a bunch of incompetent trash clowns, the fact that they want Roman Reigns to be the coolest dude in the company, it seemingly being relatively easy to do, and them FAILING AT IT IN VIRTUALLY EVERY ASPECT might be at the tip-top.
Seth shoulda used a rusted broken jackhammer instead of toolbox at HIAC
Swerve: That wasn’t Bray… it was Otis.
Be careful, Bray. We remember what happened last time.
That’s it for this week’s Best and Worst of Smackdown, another installment in one of the most creatively baffling WWE efforts ever. Friday Night Smackdown is breaking new ground in WWE main roster programming becoming a bizarre parody of itself, and now we’ve added Cena and Goldberg and The Undertaker to cram anyone who might’ve been busting their ass all year for a Mania spot to the back of the line.
As always, thanks for getting through this with us and checking out the column. We appreciate you, as well as your comments in our comments section below, and your social media shares. Join us next week for, I don’t know, Hulk Hogan showing up and cupping his ear at the WrestleMania sign to let Daniel Bryan know he wants a WrestleMania match. See you then!