WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 3/13: A Night of Returns: Cena to talk WrestleMania, Paige Confronts Bayley, The Charismatic Enigma Jeff Hardy

Jeff Hardy (artist Travis Beaven © PWTorch)

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MARCH 13, 2020

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

Top 10 Moments from Last Week

Arena and Items Advertised by WWE

Tonight’s WWE Smackdown was scheduled to appear in the Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit, MI. As a result of the current global pandemic situation involving the coronavirus, the event has been moved to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL. Only essential personnel will be allowed in the building.

I have to admit it’s somewhat difficult to preview a wrestling show when such a serious situation plagues our nation and world for that matter. Industries are being hit at unprecedented levels, sports leagues are suspending their seasons, Broadway is going dark, schools are closing, etc. etc. Our lives are being affected in ways we never could have imagined. WrestleMania remains on schedule, but things could change relatively soon.

Here are the Elimination Chamber results pertinent to Smackdown:

  • Daniel Bryan defeated Drew Gulak
  • The Miz & John Morrison defeated Heavy Machinery, The Usos, New Day, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode, and Lucha House Party in an Elimination Chamber match to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
  • Sami Zayn defeated Braun Strowman in a three-on-one handicap match involving Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro to win the Intercontinental Championship

Here’s what is advertised thus far for tonight, in what is shaping up to be a night of returns:

  • John Cena returns to Smackdown
  • Jeff Hardy returns
  • Paige vows to confront Bayley

John Cena Returns

Coming up at WrestleMania, former Universal Champion “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt will take on former 16-time world champion John Cena. It will be their second WrestleMania encounter after previously meeting in 2014 at WrestleMania 30. Bray was of course under his “Eater of Worlds” character at the time.

Last week on the Firefly Funhouse, Ramblin’ Rabbit reminded Bray that Cena finished him off at that event and sent him into a downward spiral. Bray went on to blame Cena for creating the Fiend and the existence of the Funhouse. He said while he forgives him, the Fiend would be waiting and he’s not so forgiving.

Tonight, Cena returns after appearing a few weeks ago to respond to his upcoming WrestleMania opponent.

Frank’s Analysis: I love acknowledging history as they did here even though Bray had other opponents following Cena which include Chris Jericho, the Undertaker, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, etc. I suppose it’s plausible that Cena sent him into a “downward spiral,” as Bray lost many of those feuds through the years under his old character. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle this given they’re in the performance center. I wonder if they do a sit-down interview.

Jeff Hardy Returns

Matt Hardy May have signed off from WWE for now, but the same cannot be said for “Brother Nero” which of course is his brother Jeff.

It seems like ages ago, but the Hardys did win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship from the Usos on the episode after WrestleMania last year. Lars Sullivan (remember him?) attacked them immediately thereafter. Three weeks later, the Hardys had to vacate the titles due to Jeff having a knee injury. The Sullivan attack was used as an explanation.

Jeff was arrested twice between July and October of last year, once for public intoxication and the other for driving while impaired according to Wikipedia. Tonight however, he makes his return to WWE but it’s not clear what he’s doing. As with Cena, it’ll be interesting to see what they do in the performance center.

Frank’s Analysis: I don’t mean to be a jerk, but they probably don’t want to commit to much with Jeff as a result of his history. Prior to teaming with Matt, he had been in prominent feuds with Samoa Joe and Randy Orton. I’ve always liked Jeff. I kinda looked at him as a more ariel version of Sting. It’s funny I think we all see a lot of Jeff in Darby Allin over in AEW (those who watch anyway). I’m no angel, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve all done a few things we wish we hadn’t. I just hope Jeff can keep his nose clean, because if there’s mileage left on his tires, he can very well be an asset to WWE. Fans genuinely like and connect with him.

Paige Vows to Confront Bayley

Bayley’s run as Smackdown Women’s Champion has certainly gotten length, as she has held the title since defeating Charlotte Flair back in October when Smackdown moved over to Fox. She has defeated Lacey Evans, Naomi, Carmella, and Nikki Cross over that time period. Last week, Bayley & Sasha Banks defeated Lacey Evans and Naomi. Following the match Sasha complained to Bayley that the Bella Twins were going into the Hall of Fame before them. Bayley said nobody can touch them and they should go out and celebrate their win.

There is someone that may be able to “touch them” and that’s Paige, who makes her return to confront Bayley tonight. Both women are former NXT Women’s Champions. We last saw Paige getting green mist sprayed in her eye by Asuka back in the fall, which ended Paige’s association with the Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Saine, the current WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions). Following her early in-ring retirement due to injury back in 2018, she was the Smackdown G.M. until December of that year when the McMahons “took back Raw and Smackdown.” (Remember the fresh start, we’re the authority, fresh ideas & matches, blah blah blah?).

Frank’s Analysis: Now, I’m not a dirt sheet reader. I have no idea if Paige is looking to get medically cleared and contemplating an in-ring return. I don’t watch Backstage (and I won’t) so I have no idea if she’s said anything to hint at this. With Edge and Daniel Bryan coming back when it seemed impossible for them to do so, is it not natural to think about Paige possibly doing the same? A Paige-Bayley feud would certainly be what the doctor ordered for a show bereft of top-end talent, but we’ll see. I don’t want to get my hopes up.

Other Match Results and News Items from Last Week

Hall of Fame-elects the NWO (Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Sean Waltman) were guests of Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross on A Moment of Bliss. Before they came out, Alexa called out the Kabuki Warriors looking for a Women’s Tag Team Championship match.

Sheamus squashed Apollo Crews. Here’s Apollo after the loss:

  • Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville defeated Carmella & Dana Brooke. Otis apologized to Mandy for being late to their date on Valentine’s Day, saying he got a text she’d be late. Mandy said it was too late.
  • Elias confronted King Corbin.
  • Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode won the right to enter the elimination chamber match last for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship this past Sunday, defeating Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker). Heavy Machinery nearly went the distance defeating New Day, the Usos, the champs Miz & Morrison, and Lucha House Party.

Final Thoughts

It’s crazy to imagine Smackdown shows getting moved, St. Patrick’s Day parades getting cancelled, schools closing, the NCAA Tournament cancelled, the NBA & NHL & MLB & MLS seasons being suspended, a travel ban on foreign nationals in and out of Europe, etc. We are in unchartered waters. The only things we can do are take care of ourselves and our families and enjoy the things we enjoy. As far as Smackdown goes tonight, we’ll see what happens.

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!

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