WWE SmackDown returns tonight (Feb. 14) from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. They are building towards Super ShowDown in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 27.
We learned last week that Goldberg will challenge Bray Wyatt for the Universal championship in Riyadh. It’s going to be a tough angle sell and a tough match to sell.
Let’s start with the feud itself.
Unlike the rest of the Fiend’s programs, there’s no story that’s easy to build off. Bray can try his best by claiming bad tribal tattoos as the reason to at least get a chuckle, but there’s no history here. And that’s the bread and butter of Wyatt feuds right now. Bray had a history with all of his opponents and the Fiend punishes Wyatt’s former foes for it.
That’s not going to be available to build a match with Goldberg. Sure, they can play unstoppable force vs. unstoppable force, though that would be asking us to forget that Goldberg has lost his last two major feuds in WWE. Which brings me to the other point.
Why does he even deserve a title shot? Apparently, Cain A. Knight crunched the numbers and it looks like it’s very easy to get one. So it could just be that. But just getting a title shot because Goldberg is a legend who was once very dominant isn’t a great hook.
They only have two weeks to explain this, and we don’t even know how often Bill is going to be there to help tell whatever story they decide on.
The other issue is the match probably isn’t going to be any good.
Goldberg works well with a certain type of match - a short match where he’s dominant and either wins or the opponent finds a way to best him. Goldberg’s matches with Brock are a good example of the right way to book those matches. His match with Undertaker at the last Super ShowDown is the example of how not to.
That’s right. This match will take place in the same country where 2019’s Dud of the Year took place. While the early concussion is something they can avoid, the sweltering desert heat is not.
But let’s not put the worry of a bad match all on Bill. The Fiend is a great character, but his matches have been average at best. Yes, he and Daniel Bryan had a couple pretty good ones. But Daniel Bryan is one of the greats and can have good matches with anyone. All the other matches Fiend or Bray (if you want to count his match with the Miz as well) had were overall disappointing.
Now you’re putting a limited worker against a character that they haven’t fully figured out how to successfully portray in the ring. I have no idea how this match is going to look, and honestly, that curiosity is the only draw for me right now. They’ll need to keep it short, let Bray look good against the legend, but at the same time, keep Goldberg strong enough to continue as a recurrent attraction. Those will be tough to balance.
Unless Goldberg wins. But that’s a whole different can of worms.
The Championship Scene:
Bayley is set to defend her SmackDown Women’s championship against Carmella tonight. That’s odd because Carm just won that right last week. You’d think they’d tell a little story. It’s entirely possible that this is the beginning of said story because it would be a waste not to dive into their history of being close friends a little bit.
The New Day will defend their SmackDown tag team championships against Miz & Morrison at Super ShowDown in a couple weeks. But after John Morrison started jawing with Roman Reigns on Twitter recently, the Big Dog will choose a partner to face the #1 contenders. He can choose one of his cousins. Or maybe a member of the New Day. We’ll find that out tonight.
Braun Strowman is the new Intercontinental champion. He was willing to give former champion Shinsuke Nakamura a rematch last week, but instead Sami Zayn’s crew was able to distract Braun allowing the King of Strong Style to get the drop on the big man. If this rematch happens in Riyadh, expect Sami Zayn to get taken out by Braun prior to explain away his absence given he’s not allowed to go.
Other things to keep an eye on:
- Otis finally gets his date with Mandy Rose! Expect silly antics and sexual innuendos.
- Daniel Bryan was once again a changed man after losing a second time to the Fiend. This time, he emerged with a new aggression, which Heath Slater got a firsthand view of last week. What’s next for this newest incarnation of Bryan?
- Sheamus still hates short fellas.
SmackDown airs tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox. What will you be looking for as they hit Vancouver?