Smackdown Synopsis for 3/20/20 (Reigns/Goldberg Contract Signing)

One of the themes in Alice in Wonderland is that the abnormal becomes normal and vice versa. Tonight marks broadcast #3 from the Performance Center and we are becoming accustomed to the fanless setting. We all have a new home away from home. So what if it is quieter than our local library. Tonight Roman Reigns and Goldberg sign the contract for their WWE Universal Championship match at WrestleMania. Quite an adjustment, especially for the talent who depends on crowd reaction like a quarterback depends on his coach or offensive coordinator for guidance.

As deliberate a segue as you will ever see. In tonight’s edition of Smackdown, we will see the worst kept secret in sports entertainment become reality. Rob Gronkowski, former Patriots star tight end and real-life best friend of Mojo Rawley will announce that he has signed with the E and will even be hosting Wrestlemania. Thanks to the pink suit he wore last Friday, Mojo inspired me to pick up two packs of Hubba Bubble this week. At least a large bubble can help contribute to social distancing.

In terms of distancing, or lack thereof,  keep in mind there are only two Smackdowns set to go before Wrestlemania following tonight.

We now know the show will be held over two nights, Saturday, April 5th and of course Sunday the 6th. We can expect at least six hours of programming, most probably eight.

We can also take it as a given that NXT will be given time over the back to back shows as well. Enough time for all the three brands to be featured.While NXT did not show any matches per sé on Wednesday, no shortage of possibilities there. I anticipate a Keith Lee vs Damien Priest- Purell on a Pole match. All bask in his hygiene.

Returning to more serious issues, with so little time left and the situation changing from hour to hour, it is mind-boggling to think that just from Smackdown, as we went to air tonight, no matches at all were scheduled as yet for  Mania featuring the IC title, the Woman s championship nor that of the tag team division. Interesting to see what we can accomplish tonight.

Rob Gronkowski arrives

More though on the big announcement that Rob Gronkowski will be hosting the two-night extravaganza. This is not at all Gronk’s first rodeo in the federation.  In 2017, at WM33, Gronkowski who was sitting at ringside was taunted by Jinder Mahal at the tail end of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal when the last 2 competitors were Mojo Rawley and the modern-day Maharaja. The tight end then stormed the ring, administered a flying tackle -spear to Mahal which helped propel Rawley to victory.

Tonight, we will also see the contract signing ceremony between Goldberg and Roman Reigns. Given that we never see a smooth and uneventful contract signing, this one should be quite the exchange. Great way to discover if the pen is mightier than the spear.

Mojo Rawley is in the ring to get this dance in high gear.

He introduces Rob Gronkowski who dances and bolts into the ring looking like a real party animal. The retired tight end is very excited to host the two nights of Wrestlemania. He tells us he is a lifelong fan who has seen events from the nosebleed section of his hometown, Buffalo, been one of five people in attendance at FCW to see Mojo Rawley in action as well as taking in Wrestlemania as part of a crowd of 80, 000.

Enough of the sentimentality, it is time to hail King Corbin. His majesty appears and tells Gronkowski and Rawley that they should get down on their knees for him and not doing so would result in a miserable two nights for Gronk.

Nothing like a minstrel to save the day. We walk with Elias towards the ring as he tells us he has written a tune for Corbin. Not only are treated to the song but Rawley and Gronkowski schoolboy Corbin as well. The party king Gronk advocates for a Wrestlemania contest between Elias and Corbin. Book that match, it is going to happen.

Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro

Next up, one of the two live matches of the evening. Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak will be taking on Cesaro and Nakamura hereon are known as the Artists Collective. Sami Zayn accompanies them and joins in of course on color commentary.

The first few minutes of the match offer up some first-rate mat wrestling. Exchanges so well done, you would almost expect to hear Gordon Solie doing the announcing.

The pace was to quicken with Nakamura in the ring vs Bryan. Notwithstanding a blind tag to Cesaro, Nakamura was tossed from the ring and was hit with a Topei suicide dive by Bryan. The latter then took to the top rope, leaped but right into the waiting arms of Cesaro. The Swiss Superman followed with a modified tilt-a-whirl backbreaker as we headed off to hear a word from our sponsors.

When we head back to the ring, Cesaro is peppering Bryan with a series of European forearms. Nakamura is tagged in and shortly afterward tags Cesaro back in. Very fluid and textbook tag team wrestling here. Poor Daniel Bryan, he is being flung around like a sheet of Gain in a high power dryer. Drew Gulak is tagged in and hits a German suplex for a two count.

With Gulak in tough against Nakamura, Drew hits a vicious clothesline, tags in his partner who puts an end to the festivities with a top rope sunset flip, roll through and a count of three. Zayn irate on commentary ranting that this was an injustice versus the good guys.

Winners: Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak

Perspective changes everything. Afterward, we head to a training area. Drew and Daniel are celebrating, breathing deep and stretching deep. They are interrupted by Sami and his acolytes. Zayn refers to the victory as mediocre which leads to Daniel Bryan challenging the Great Liberator to a championship match at Wrestlemania.

Zayn sets as a precondition that next week, Drew Gulak must challenge and emerge victorious versus Shinsuke Nakamura. Precondition fully accepted we can safely pencil in Bryan-Zayn for the Intercontinental title 3 weekends from now.

Paige comes to Smackdown via Skype

Next up is Paige on skype from Los Angeles. The Welsh one time GM and champion were promptly cut off by and Bayley and Sasha Banks. They welcome Paige to their show and Bayley adds that she is both a role model and a poet.

Paige responds by saying that even though her dream of competing can not be brought to fruition, she is being called upon by Fox to announce who Bayley will face at Wrestlemania.

Turns out that Bayley will face 5 competitors in a 6 pack elimination match. Those opponents being, Lacey Evans, Dana Brooke, Naomi, Tamina and lastly …… The Boss, Sasha Banks. Seems that Paige and Sasha got the last laugh here.

Flashback to WrestleMania 30 with John Cena and Bray Wyatt

We then travel back in time to 2014. The destination, WM 30 in New Orleans. We are to revisit the match between John Cena and Bray Wyatt. The man who would become the Fiend stating that that loss caused a long downward spiral in his life that was only reversed by the emergence of the Fiend.

He was hence able to turn his broken world into a majestic funhouse. The match was truly excellent. Great storytelling, the theme being Wyatt doing all he could to make Cena snap and head on a one-way road to the dark side.

Also, ironic to see the Exalted One at ringside. While the Fiend is a most intriguing character, its downside is that it takes away from Wyatt s exceptional use of facial expressions. Who does not the great wrestling adage, you make your money with your face.

The Dirt Sheet with The Miz and John Morrison

After a break, we return just in time for another edition of the Dirtsheet with the tag team champions the Miz and John Morrison. They engage in a cutesy routine asking those in the empty seats to choose who they should face at WM. We are shown pre-recorded shots of the champs dressed up as and imitating The New Day, The Usos and Heavy Machinery. Each team lobbying for their shot.

Heavy Machinery vs. The Miz and John Morrison

The real Heavy Machinery might actually earn their spot by beating the champions tonight, which turned out to be our second hook up of the night.

The tilt begins with Otis first vs the Miz soon after that by the Shaman of Sexy. Otis is hit with a barrage of strikes and kicks which he responds to in very vocal fashion. Smart sense of showmanship to compensate for there is no crowd.

Once Tucker is tagged in, Heavy Machinery begins to seize control thanks to some fine double teaming. The Miz is sandwiched and sells it nicely notwithstanding a pretty blatant botch.

Shortly afterward, another momentum shift sees the champions working over Tucker. A great line here by John Morrison… Tucky’s feeling yucky.

As if things could not get worse for the challengers, outcomes Dolph Ziggler to the commentary table. With Tucker still in a world of trouble, he is alas able to tag in Otis. After we see the caterpillar, Ziggler takes the mic and tells Otis… Here are a few pictures you might like to see. The photos shown on the ring entrance pseudo Titantron are that of Mandy Rose and Dolph gallivanting and having a grand time.

Otis harkens back to the days of Ken Shamrock and snaps like a fragile branch in a hurricane. He attacks both champions and drives them through a barricade. Tucker tries valiantly to calm his best friend down but is powerless. After applying a few chair shots, Heavy Machinery is disqualified. Luckily, Otis would calm down thanks to the efforts of Tucker.

Winners: The Miz and John Morrison

Excellent performance by Otis. He is much more than just goofy comic relief. The future should be very promising for this tandem who exceed expectations when given the shot.

Goldberg and Reigns Contract Signing

The very last segment, the Goldberg and Roman Reigns contract signing ceremony. Reigns out first looking focused, calm and confident. Goldberg follows looking no less on top of the world. Both men immediately toss their chairs out of the ring.

When Goldberg is asked who he thought would accept his post-SSD challenge. He said he hoped Reigns would do so but he did not think he had the guts, paraphrasing for the sake of good taste, to accept. The challenger responded, I’ve been chosen by the best and I have beaten them all. He added that Goldberg was nothing more than a little b**** bulldog sitting in his yard.

Goldberg Reigns Contract Signing
Photo / WWE

After we see a tweet from Reigns from January mocking Goldberg and his head butting of doors. Goldberg retorted with .. I’ve been bashing in steel doors for years with my head and come to WrestleMania, you (Reigns) will be my next victim. A mandatory staredown, lights go out, this show is in the books. The Goldberg and Reigns contract signing is the first of what is to come. Will will come after the Goldberg and Roman Reigns contract signing next week?

Before we forget, Alexa Bliss challenged Asuka to a match next Friday. This should lead to a championship match at Mania between the Kabuki Warriors and Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. No wonder why Wrestlemania will be a two-night tilt.

Nicely done, a very well thought out show that did what it needed to do which was beginning to really finalize the Wrestlemania card and of course provide smiles and distraction during these telling times. Credit is gladly given by yours truly.