In a time where live events are few and far between amid the threat of the coronavirus and rightfully so the show still went on for WWE on Friday night.
Indeed, last night’s SmackDown was a historic occasion, emanating live from the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. NXT had aired from that same location just two nights prior, but that was a planned, special situation. SmackDown’s broadcast was an audible called in the face of growing health concerns.
It was a welcome distraction, if a bit surreal. The night started with Triple H himself welcoming us to his dojo:
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.@TripleH welcomes the @WWEUniverse to the @WWEPC for Friday Night #SmackDown LIVE on @FOXTV! pic.twitter.com/T08ltMsjoo
— WWE (@WWE) March 14, 2020
The Game joined Michael Cole on commentary…
With @TripleH on commentary at #SmackDown, it got us reminiscing about this @MichaelCole momentsorry pic.twitter.com/pMZ62THZHQ
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) March 14, 2020
… where they were quickly interrupted by WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks, both of whom were expecting Paige.
WHERE YOU AT, @RealPaigeWWE?! @itsBayleyWWE & @SashaBanksWWE are waiting for you. #SmackDown@TripleHpic.twitter.com/0PrW8gbAkp
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) March 14, 2020
Sincerely, watch that segment above. The Rock and Mankind famously put on an empty arena match, but this is unique. This is two of the biggest Superstars in the business speaking directly to Triple H, Cole, and the WWE Universe but without anyone in attendance.
That environment gave us an incredible Roman Reigns interview in which he pointed out the (very obvious) differences between himself and Goldberg:
@Goldberg went to @GeorgiaFootball so IDK if hes smart enough to operate a bulldozer. – From the former @GeorgiaTechFB defender @wweromanreignspic.twitter.com/wdy0sfmO9i
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) March 14, 2020
And it also made for an epic, goosebump-inducing moment when Triple H introduced the one, the only, the 16-time world champion, John Cena:
What an intro by @TripleHWhat an entrance by @JohnCena#SmackDownpic.twitter.com/qhf4fK4VdU
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) March 14, 2020
Cena cut quite his own promo, before Bray Wyatt made his presence known:
“You broke me @JohnCena, but The Fiend put me back together.” – @WWEBrayWyatt#Smackdown. pic.twitter.com/cPFHt1esf2
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) March 14, 2020
Again, something about the silence in the Performance Center made these moments cut through in a way they haven’t before. It wasn’t better. It wasn’t worse. It was just different.
That was true during the in-ring action:
Hes back with a Swanton !!! With a little help from @IAmEliasWWE. Welcome back to #SmackDown@JEFFHARDYBRANDpic.twitter.com/h0FV3QYKjr
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) March 14, 2020
.@WWEAsuka crashes #Smackdown to attack @AlexaBliss_WWE & @NikkiCrossWWE! pic.twitter.com/pjtZyVgEae
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) March 14, 2020
Back and forth action in this BATTLE between @WWECesaro and @WWEDanielBryan on #SmackDown! pic.twitter.com/puVWO6HkaW
— WWE (@WWE) March 14, 2020
Or when The Miz and John Morrison hit the ring to call out their critics:
And when Triple H tried his hand as a cameraman:
Hey Scorsese, looking for a new cinematographer by any chance? @TripleHpic.twitter.com/6F1D2lmQkk
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) March 14, 2020
It was a night when we had Rob Gronkowski’s addition to the WWE confirmed, too:
Good ol @MojoRawleyWWE has an update on the contract status of @RobGronkowski AND NEXT WEEK GRONK WILL BE IN THE HOUSE HIMSELF !!!! (Were HYYPPEEDDDD, sorry for the Caps) pic.twitter.com/6v97PVkFk5
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) March 14, 2020
But more than anything, it was a night of sports entertainment adjusting to the circumstances and putting smiles on our faces when we needed them the most. Congratulations to WWE and everyone involved on one heck of an interesting night. We can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
Last night, @JohnCena got to do something he longed to do for awhile, watch @WWE205Live LIVE from the audience! #205Livepic.twitter.com/9dtynXAIuv
— WWE (@WWE) March 14, 2020