Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown: Bill Goldberg returned via satellite to challenge The Fiend, popping Smackdown’s biggest quarter-hour in months and, apparently, setting the trend of someone from 1998 showing up on video every week. See above. Sorry in advance.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown for February 14, 2020.
Worst: Super Slowdown
Friday Night Smackdown is so committed to promoting Super Showdown in Saudi Arabia that they might as well have Charly Caruso, Sam Roberts, and Pat McAfee host two hours of promos and video packages. The show has felt like a skipping record since it moved to Fox, but now it feels like the record player’s not getting power at all.
It’s interesting, because you’d think WWE as an all-encompassing “brand” would feel like this, but Raw’s felt like a totally cohesive, functional wrestling show as of late. Sure, it has its own set of problems and is still at least an hour too long, but it’s promoting Raw Superstars doing Raw things for the benefit of Raw. Smackdown’s just kind of existing to justify another Saudi bag. Of the six announced matches, four are from Smackdown. The only real match from Raw is Brock Lesnar’s title defense against Ricochet, which doesn’t get a lot of promo or build because Brock’s barely on the shows. There other Raw match is for the “Tuwaiq Trophy,” presumably the Kuwait Cup with a fresh coat of paint, with the promotion for that being a match graphic, Jerry Lawler saying “wow, that seems cool!” and everyone moving on. Is it because Smackdown’s on Fox? Is Fox Nation’s Tyrus going to present the Tuwaiq Trophy while ‘Somebody Call My Momma’ plays over the speakers?
Anyway, keep all that in mind as I talk about this week’s infomercial for Super Showdown episode of Smackdown.
Best: Bayley Flop
“Ever since Sasha came back, Bayley’s been just a completely different person and I have no idea who she is anymore.”
Hey, us too!
The closest thing this week’s Smackdown has to an A-story is the development and announcement of a Smackdown Women’s Championship defense in Saudi Arabia. That’s cool in a vacuum, as it’s the continuation of an awkward fix to a cultural problem that feels positive, but is a little buried under a hell of a lot of other problems. I’m glad at least a couple of the women get to go on these trips now, and that WWE’s talking point of “slowly changing the way people think” is truer and more sincere than we have any right to believe.
Smackdown opens with A Moment Of Bliss — actually several moments — with Carmella discussing her former friendship with Bayley, Bayley showing up as the least convincing character in WWE history to be gloating about how she’s better than everyone, and the making of a match. I really thought this was gonna set up a tag team match for later in the show, so shout-out to this being one of the seven episodes per year that doesn’t open like that.
The match gets a really healthy amount of time, running almost an entire quarter-hour, which is good to see. Bayley wins a competitive bout with her feet on the ropes and kicks Carmella’s ass about it afterward, prompting Naomi to show up. Naomi once again looks absolutely incredible as an on-screen presence, and this week she’s got a red tint instead of green so I guess she’s going to keep changing it up. If there’s anything we need to agree to keep pointing at during WrestleMania season and saying THIS IS THE THING WE WANT, it’s Naomi. She and Carmella team up to dispatch Bayley, whose character plays ESPECIALLY irrationally when Sasha Banks isn’t there to wrangle it, and that sets up a number one contender match for next week.
If this were a normal WWE pay-per-view, I’d say with almost 100% certainty that this was setting up a triple threat match. Maybe it still is? Regardless, if Saudi Arabian wrestling fans were moved to tears by Lacey Evans and Natalya, wait until they see Naomi’s glow-in-the-dark ass come power-sliding down the ramp.
In other Super Showdown news …
[deepest imaginable sigh]
Worst: The Guest Who Outstayed His Welcome And Will Never, Ever Leave
Goldberg bringing it via satellite last week and interacting with Bray Wyatt was a huge hit, I guess, so here’s “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan doing the same. I put “Hollywood” in quotes not because that’s his nickname, but because no matter how he’s dressed, he’s Regular Hulk Hogan unless he’s got the black under-beard and is blaze orange. I honestly don’t think Hulk has it in him to be Hollywood anymore. As much as I hated/hate it, Hollywood Hogan was as special an occurrence and character as anything from that era. I wish he’d skipped the faux analysis and threats and just laughed with Bray about how fun it is to no-sell everything and always be champion.
Part of me wants the Goldberg/Fiend match at Super Showdown to play like the Triple H vs. Sting match from WrestleMania 31 on steroids. Just send out a bunch of random WCW characters to get murdered for trying to have Goldberg’s back. I want like, Buff Bagwell scampering up the ramp with blood all over his chin while The Fiend uses a big mallet to knock out Billy Kidman.
Valentine’s Day Massacre
By the way, there were only three matches in two hours and one of them was a three-minute long handicap match. Just throwing that out there.
But here’s what most of us tuned in to see: the long awaited Valentine’s Day date between Otis (née Dozovic) and Mandy Rose. They’ve been building to the date for two weeks now, and rewarded long-time viewers by paying it off with … [checks notes] [squints] Dolph Ziggler existing.
That’s the entire thing. Otis shows up for his date, Dolph Ziggler shows up like a minute before him, and then Otis gets sad seeing Ziggler and Mandy sitting at the table. There’s a melodramatic dropping of the roses he brought for her, which I assume is some Sam Mendes-style symbolism. I hope next week we find out that Mandy was actually for-real waiting for Otis (which is why she thought Ziggler was Otis when he showed up) and that Ziggler was just at her table against her wishes because he’s an assumptive macho dickhead. It’s not Mandy’s fault that the waiter brought the wine she ordered while Ziggler was sitting there. Otis should’ve been on time, instead of farting around with Tucky! I also hope that next week we get Otis imagining Mandy surrounded by rose petals on his ceiling.
Best, Mostly: The Main Event
The show ends with Roman Reigns and a mystery partner (Daniel Bryan) against The Miz and John Morrison. It’s another good 14 minutes of wrestling on a show that could’ve used about 30 more, but there are a couple of negative notes for me:
- It’s weird to see the recently dominant challengers to the Smackdown Tag Team Championship at Super Showdown lose a thrown-together match against two singles stars this close to the show. Is it so that when they win the titles, they’ve got a ready-made challenger? I assume Roman will be battling the Fiend (or Goldberg, LOL) at WrestleMania, but Bryan would need something to do. Are we getting another Team Hell No reunion? Bryan and Kane vs. Miz and Morrison for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship?
- I know the “buy a ticket to get into the building” bit has been around for decades, but I’ve never liked it as a concept. If Corbin is banned from the building for the night, why does buying a ticket suddenly un-ban him? If buying a ticket meant you could get in no matter what, nobody would ever be able to get kicked out of shows. Furthermore, if Corbin was banned and bought a ticket to get in due to some sort of logistical loophole for wrestling shows, he’s entering the arena as a fan. So if he jumps the rail and attacks Reigns, he’s not only in direct defiance of the supposed authority of WWE, he’s breaking the law. If you get sent home from work for fighting, can you show back up and fight your co-workers as long as you buy something?
- “wrestling isn’t real” is the answer to those questions, and “wrestling should at least be real enough to have a consistent in-universe foundation of reactions and consequences” would probably help the shows more than anyone’s ever realized
Furthermore, no Reigns vs. Corbin ever.
Also On This Episode
Friday Night HoeDown
The two guys who had a match so good it completely transformed the future trajectory of WWE developmental and NXT as a viable brand — the beloved former “heart and soul” of NXT and a tall, muscular man with the strength of 10 who could out-wrestle all but maybe like twelve people on the fucking planet — use a 20-year old joke to make fun of a guy until they’re threatened and run away in fear.
Smackdown is as Smackdown does. I’m just going to buy a rubber stamp that says WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE THEY DOING WITH SAMI ZAYN OR CESARO OR SHINSUKE NAKAMURA OR THE REVIVAL and stamp it on my laptop screen every week.
Sheamus Defeats Shorty G and Shorty C In A Handicap Match In Like Three Minutes For Some Reason
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Baron Von Raschke
Elias: Look…Sami….can we move this along? Otis paid me ten bucks to go sing Wonderful Tonight to Mandy during dinner.
Vince: I just saw this great video…the joke was MORE COWBELL! Let’s do that.
HHH: We don’t really have anyone…
Vince: That Swiss guy! What’s his name? You’re always going on about how talented he is!
HHH: That’s not what
Vince: Swiss guy is now MORE COWBELL GUY!
The Real Birdman
Ahhh yes Bill Goldberg hype man, Hulk Hogan. Just as I remember it.
Look at that evil, plastic, inhuman mask. And here’s the Fiend!
I would give anything for Renee to come out and say “Carmella was soooo close but just couldn’t get there, huh? Does she experience that frustation alot these days, Corey? Huh? Huh?”
That interruption would have been so much better if Braun had just wanted to join in with his string bass.
Hogan’s home is a merch stand?
Rage Against the Machine looking strong on this comeback tour!
WWE: Corbin, you’re banned from competing tonight.
Corbin: Ok, but you can bring my throne on stage during the Reigns match?
WWE: Sure, why?
Corbin: No reason…
I would love to see Otis and Mandy in a kind, gentle, respectful little Valentine’s Day skit instead of the callous, soul-crushing monstrosity that Vince is probably going to unleash upon us.
He’s not even going to put you over during Paper Football, brother.
That’s it for this week’s Valentine’s Day Best and Worst of Smackdown. Does everybody feel loved? No? Nobody?
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. And just you, in general. We hope you had a good holiday and are here reading about Smackdown because you didn’t have to watch it. Join us next week for more Super Showdown Shilling, as well as Dolph Ziggler, Otis, and Mandy Rose reinventing the Monday Night Raw cuck angle. Angles. See you then!