It's an uncertain time in the world of pro wrestling (let alone, the world). With the inability to have live events with a crowd, WWE has transitioned into presenting SmackDown and RAW from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. This has led to some unique shows that will not soon be forgotten. It has also forced WWE into the position of moving WrestleMania from a 70,000+ seat stadium to the Performance Center, while also planning on taping several weeks of television in advance over the course of the next week (possibly even WrestleMania).
So with all of that said, what can we expect from the second week of WWE SmackDown airing from the Performance Center? Some segments have been announced in advance, but most of tonight's show remains a mystery. Plus, what kinds of changes might be made to improve the product?
Rob Gronkowski Will Be There
WWE previously announced that former New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski will be there for tonight's show. Obviously, this is something WWE would have preferred to do with a crowd present, but they're not going to cancel an appearance by a future pro football Hall of Famer if they can help it.
We expect Gronk to appear alongside his friend Mojo Rawley, whom previously announced that Gronk was indeed negotiating with WWE. Since that time, WWE has announced that Rob Gronkowski will now host WrestleMania 36 (which will now be presented over the course of two nights).
Can we expect anything else from Gronk? Probably not. This will probably be more information surrounding his hosting gig for WrestleMania in just over two weeks.
A Big Contract Signing
WWE Universal Champion Bill Goldberg (it's still strange typing that) will be in the house for a contract signing with Roman Reigns. The two stars will make their championship match at WrestleMania 36 official.
With WWE recently revealing that WrestleMania will occur across two nights, we have also learned that the Reigns vs. Goldberg match will headline night two on Sunday, April 5th.
Perhaps the bigger question tonight will be whether or not Reigns and Goldberg actually lay hands on one another. With major matches like this, often times WWE will go out of their way to make sure the stars don't touch until we get to WrestleMania. However, this year is quite different than any previous year, and in looking to bring some excitement to the show (which has sorely been lacking in recent weeks), perhaps we see these two get physical tonight.
One of my biggest interests when watching tonight's show will be whether or not WWE makes any changes to their broadcast style from the Performance Center.
As I spoke about on my podcast this week, WWE was simply blown out of the water by AEW Dynamite on Wednesday night when it comes to how to best shoot a show with no crowd. Both RAW and SmackDown broadcasts from the Performance Center have felt pretty dull while AEW felt vibrant.
There's several things that AEW did that WWE would be smart to emulate. First, they shot the show from a hard camera aimed directly at the ring and entrance way, rather than how WWE has shot their shows from the typical side angle. In AEW's case, this allowed the entrance way and video screen to provide a more dynamic backdrop to the in-ring action, while WWE presented shows with the backdrop of hundreds of empty chairs (honestly, who thought setting up a bunch of empty chairs was a good idea?).
AEW also had some talent at ringside to provide a small audience, and I also noticed that the sound on their show was mixed differently. It seemed that AEW had their announcers mic'ed up louder, while in WWE's case, they seemed to use their typical mix which resulted in a very dull sounding show. Every match that has aired from the Performance Center has had a very hollow, almost echo-filled sound go it, while with the AEW show that didn't seem to be a concern.
I know that during this time, WWE doesn't want to be seen as copying AEW, but there's just no denying that AEW succeeded in a way that WWE hasn't with the challenging circumstances they find themselves in. WWE has an incredibly talented production crew, so I'm hoping they make some much needed changes.
Something From The Fiend
Nothing has been announced, but it's hard to imagine something with Bray Wyatt not airing tonight to follow up on the tremendous in-ring promo between he and John Cena last week.
Wyatt obviously excels in the pre-taped segments which are not effected whatseover by the current locale changes with SmackDown. Therefore, perhaps something from the Firefly Funhouse could be expected tonight. After all, without Cena there in person, Wyatt appearing in front of an empty arena just won't have the same level excitement to it.
Lots of Video Packages
As of now, WWE hasn't announced any matches for the show. The company is reportedly not thrilled with the look of the matches that have occurred from the Performance Center so far (I already discussed how they could potentially fix that), so they've kept wrestling to a minimum.
Look no further than this past week's WWE NXT, which featured absolutely zero matches and instead focused on premade highlight reels and video packages. Expect a lot of this on SmackDown tonight.
WWE would be better served with the NXT style video packages rather than airing old PPV matches, as they have done on the RAW and SmackDown episodes that have aired from the Performance Center so far. Last week's SmackDown featured the entire Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber PPV match, while RAW featured (literally) the entire Royal Rumble match.0comments
Less PPV matches, more original vignettes. Please.
What are you expecting from tonight's show? Let us know in the comments section below, and give me a follow on Twitter @ryandroste for all things WWE.
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