HomeTelevisionFriday Night Smackdown 3/13 Review: Thank You, WWE

Friday Night Smackdown 3/13 Review: Thank You, WWE

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WWE can be criticized for a lot — some justified, and some definitely not. Hell, I’ve been known to regularly criticize them for creative decisions, political affiliations, and those Saudi PPVs.

However, WWE also knows how to entertain — especially in a time of crisis.

I remember watching the Smackdown that aired two days after 9/11 where Lillian Garcia brought tears to many an eye with her rousing rendition of the National Anthem, and Vince McMahon delivering a rousing speech in-ring as the entire WWE roster looked on. The show was a night the good guys won, the American flag flew high, and at the end of the show World Wrestling Entertainment took our minds off a national tragedy.

19 years later, we sit here in the midst of an unprecedented moment in modern American history. The Coronavirus/COVID-19 has dramatically and drastically altered most American’s way of life. Information — whether frighteningly factual or utterly ridiculous — is coming at us in an unrelenting pace. Sporting events and movies, our bastions of escapism, have been shuttered. Stores are being emptied in fear of the worst. We sit in worry for our future, fingers crossed and prayers being said that this whole thing will pass us quickly.

And just like they did 19 years ago, WWE stepped up and delivered two hours of relief. Beautiful, whimsical, and high-energy relief. The company had to move their planned Friday Night Smackdown show in Detroit to an empty company-owned building — The WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.

After the initial weirdness of seeing the spectacle of Friday Night Smackdown 3/13 being scaled down to a tiny studio show with no crowd, the audience was treated to one of the most fun Friday Night Smackdown episodes in a long time.

Triple H has a lot do with this. He filled the Vince McMahon role here, and instead of delivering a rousing speech about the American way, he greeted the audience with a warm smile, arms wide open as if it to embrace us all and let us know over the next two hours, things were going to be okay.

He wasn’t wrong. For two hours we were able to forget about the sheer crushing feeling of this situation, the gargantuan amount of information out there, and the “who’s smarter than who” social media shit storm that’s been spiraling out of control for the best week.

The show was an absolute classic. Every wrestler came out, and delivered for the television audience. Daniel Bryan and Cesaro put on a wrestling clinic — brutalizing themselves in a match ripped from mid-aught’s Ring of Honor. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross tangled with Sasha Banks and Bayley to deliver a studio tag team match that would’ve made old school Jim Crockett Promotions fan smile. The same can be said from Baron Corbin and Jeff Hardy. Roman Reigns came out and did what he does best — talk from the heart. His empathy and sympathy could be felt in every word, and he also sold his program with Goldberg perfectly.

Then there was the final angle — John Cena and Bray Wyatt. Cena cut one of his finest promos of all-time. He took his ability to have a live crowd eating from the palm of his hand, and translated it to the television audience. This felt like a from the hip promo that tied nearly 10-15 years worth of wrestling into a handful of minutes. Then there was Bray Wyatt. From surprising the audience from the crowd (kudos to WWE cameramen), to his aww shucks, stare at his shoes cerebral promo — it’s easily the best work in a long time. Yes, this is way better than any of his Firefly Funhouse promos.

Triple H and Michael Cole on commentary brought us older fans to the days of Heenan and Monsoon. Sure, there was serious, insightful wrestling commentary and the usual WWE hype, but this felt more like Bobby and Gorilla cutting it up with Cole serving as the straight man for HHH’s antics.

Simply put, WWE Friday Night Smackdown 3/13 was everything we needed at this moment in history. This show was WWE at its finest — entertaining, fun, and pure escapist joy. Thank you, WWE, we all really needed that.

Friday Night Smackdown 3/13 will be available on Hulu, and is currently streaming on the FOX app and website.


Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.


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