WWE SmackDown: A Tribute to Coronavi-… We Mean, The Undertaker

WWE SmackDown opens with a video package about The Undertaker's career. He's totally retired now, you know. Yup. Definitely not coming back by WrestleMania next year. When has a wrestler ever lied about retirement?! After the video, the SmackDown Roster is all out in the Performance Center, chanting "Thank You Taker" and putting themselves at risk of catching coronavirus.

Undertaker and AJ Styles' Boneyard Match gets a rerun on SmackDown (Image: WWE)
Undertaker and AJ Styles' Boneyard Match gets a rerun on SmackDown (Image: WWE)

Michael Cole and Corey Graves tell us that SmackDown will celebrate the Undertaker tonight, and they head right into another video package about Undertaker's Survivor Series debut in 1990. So is this going to be a clip show? It wouldn't be the worst idea, given the fact that coronavirus is running rampant in WWE right now. Graves says we'll be watching the Boneyard Match after a commercial break.

First, we get another video package of WWE superstars kissing the Undertaker's ass. John Cena and Roman Reigns sing Taker's praises in this video. Then we head right into the Boneyard Match. No need to recap that… because we already did! Read about it here, and I'll see you in forty-five minutes or so.

Welcome back! So, besides the Boneyard Match, WWE played some more Last Ride clips of wrestlers talking about the Undertaker. I think I saw Edge in there. The Undertaker won the Boneyard Match, by the way. Michael Cole repeatedly sold it Taker's last match, but I'll just remind you that Cole sells every single false finish in a match as "oh my god we have a new champion!!! no wait, he kicked out." So draw your own conclusions.

Baron Corbin comes out to talk trash about the Undertaker. Corbin calls him an "old bag of bones" and a "shell of what he used to be. He also says that Undertaker spent thirty years kissing the ass of the McMahon family. Corbin says Undertaker was the founding member of the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club. Corbin says Taker was coddled and protected by the McMahons throughout his career. Corbin calls him a "selfish son of a bitch" and accuses him of holding down "superior athletes" like Corbin himself. Corbin is sick of listening to all the clips of legends praising the Undertaker, and he wasn't a fan of the roster chanting for him earlier. Corbin calls out "Mark Callaway" with one final thought: "you suck."  Corbin is attacked from behind by Jeff Hardy, who sends Corbin scrambling up the ramp, and Smackdown heads to commercials.

After the commercials, video clips of Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin praise The Undertaker. Hardy talks about the previous segment. Hardy says The Undertaker would be all four faces on his wrestling Mount Rushmore. Hardy challenges Corbin to a match later tonight. Graves and Cole tell us that match will happen in the main event.

Sasha Banks and Bayley head to the commentary table to elevate Cole and Graves again. Corey Graves makes a "Karen" joke about Banks and Bayley. Graves, you are the "Karen" at the announce table, IMO. Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Dana Brooke, and Lacey Evans head to the ring for a fatal four-way. Evans discards her clothing onto Bayley when she walks past her, causing Banks and Bayley to flip out.

It's every woman for herself, and Nikki doesn't take very long to turn on Alexa and try to pin her. She promptly apologizes after Alexa kicks out. Poor Dana Brooke. She tries hard, but she's not as talented as everyone else in the ring. She's athletic, but not graceful, and it results in awkwardness when she's taking or receiving moves. Nikki ends up getting the pin in this one after Lacey knocks out Dana with the Women's Right. Alexa congratulates her friend and partner after the match. Nikki talks trash to Bayley and says she's coming for her championship. Backstage, Miz and Morrison, Lucha House Party, The New Day, and Cesaro and Nakamura argue with each other ahead of an eight-man tag team match that will happen after some commercials.

After the commercials, Triple H and Shawn Michaels blow some smoke up the Undertaker's ass. Time for the tag match. The New Day and Lucha House Part are teaming up here against the other two teams. What is there to really say about this match? It's your typical WWE waste-of-time eight-man tag where nobody really looks better or worse than anyone else and nothing of consequence is decided during a match that goes far longer than necessary. Eight-man tag matches are WWE's way of stalling, similar to playing a bunch of clips of The Undertaker, and this one time, they can be forgiven for it, since the longer they stretch out their content, the less their wrestlers and staff need to put themselves at risk of coronavirus infection due to WWE's lackluster response to the pandemic. Eventually, The New Day end up brawling to the back with Cesaro and Nakamura, leaving Miz and Morrison to face off with Lucha House Party. Gran Metalik wins with a flying elbow drop on The Miz, and The New Day run back out to celebrate.

The New Day and Lucha House Part stand tall on WWE Smackdown
The New Day and Lucha House Part stand tall on WWE Smackdown

But Wait! There's More WWE SmackDown!

Baron Corbin is interviewed backstage by one of the few interviewers who hasn't contracted COVID-19 yet. Corbin calls Jeff Hardy a junkie and says that tonight, Hardy will finally be able to rest in peace. Braun Strowman walks around backstage while clips of Bray Wyatt's face are intercut. Smackdown goes to commercials.

The Progressive Match Flo of the week is a recap of Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman on Smackdown last week. How convenient! Strowman heads to the ring. Braun wants to tell us about when he first met Bray Wyatt. He says, for the first time in his life, he felt fear. The kind of fear that makes a grown man tremble. Braun says he was chillin' at the swamp with Bray one night and a snake came out of the water toward Bray's lantern. Strowman says he wanted to stomp the poor animal to death, but Bray said the snake was his friend. Strowman says Wyatt got on the ground with the snake. It bit him in the face over and over again and Bray laughed. Strowman says he knew he was in the presence of evil.

That was the moment Braun knew Bray was the devil himself. Braun was enamored with Bray after that so he started doing the devil's work, and he loved every second of it. Weird clips of snakes cut in. Braun says parts of him still do love it. He's done what he can to lock it away and forget it, but it calls for him. Braun says he can't keep living like this. He wants to back to the swamp with Wyatt. He says they're's only two ways this can turn out: Braun will come out of it the most evil son of a bitch the Earth has ever seen, or with the satisfaction that he defeated the devil. Then he'll feed Bray to some alligators. More Wyatt clips, and the Braun smiles while Bray laughs. Braun laughs with him.

Braun Strowman gets creepy on WWE Smackdown
Braun Strowman gets creepy on WWE Smackdown

It was cheesy, but also probably the best promo Braun has ever cut. Time for more commercials. Then Dave Bautista and Mick Foley talk about The Undertaker. Then Jeff Hardy comes out for his main event match against Baron Corbin. Cole and Graves remind us that, next week, Sheamus will drink piss live on Smackdown in a Toast to Jeff Hardy. Corbin comes to the ring in his stupid king outfit. Hardy is focused. He's fighting for The Undertaker's honor, god damn it!

Well, he's not doing a good job. Corbin kicks the crap out of him for the early part of the match. Hardy gets in some offense outside the ring, throwing Corbin over the announce table, followed by some offense in the ring. Corbin dodges a Whisper in the Wind though and resumes his beating. Corbin does the Undertaker's one-knee pose in the ring as Smackdown takes one more commercial break.

Jeff Hardy pays tribute to The Undertaker by getting his ass kicked.
Jeff Hardy pays tribute to The Undertaker by getting his ass kicked.

After the break, the entire roster is at ringside, breathing possible coronavirus germs on each other and into the ring. Corbin is still in control as Hardy does what he does best: sells his ass off! Corbin brings Hardy outside for more ringside violence. But back in the ring, Hardy still can't be pinned. The clock is ticking down, so Hardy finally starts a comeback and gets his stuff in. Corbin hits a Deep Six but Hardy kicks out. Hardy hits a Swanton and Corbin stays down for three.

After the match, Corbin attacks Hardy. The New Day come in for the save and Big E hits the Big Ending on Corbin. Big E helps Hardy to his feet. Hardy invites Braun Strowman into the ring. Strowman hits his power slam on Corbin. Hardy invites Matt Riddle in to hit the Floating Bro. Then everyone celebrates, with Corbin humiliated. Hardy does Undertaker's one-knee pose in the ring at a picture of Undertaker doing the same on the Titantron as the show goes off the air.

This episode of Smackdown was all filler, ostensibly a "special" episode in tribute to the Undertaker, but watching it, it felt more like the kind of thing WWE does when there's some kind of tragedy. The Undertaker didn't die. He probably didn't even really retire. So the feeling of the show was off, but makes a lot more sense when you realize that it's really a response to the COVID outbreak in WWE right now and the uncertainty over whether the company will even be able to continue filming episodes of TV in the near future. The Undertaker theme was announced at the last minute, after the outbreak. So consider a tribute to coronavirus instead, but even that doesn't feel right because then all you can think about while watching it is the dozens of people not social distancing.

So yeah, it was a weird episode of Smackdown. I hope everyone in WWE stays safe, and I hope that if WWE is unable to operate safely, they do the right thing and shut down for a while. See you next week… probably.

About Jude Terror

A prophecy says that in the comic book industry's darkest days, a hero will come to lead the people through a plague of overpriced floppies, incentive variant covers, #1 issue reboots, and super-mega-crossover events.

Scourge of Rich Johnston, maker of puns, and seeker of the Snyder Cut, Jude Terror, sadly, is not the hero comics needs right now... but he's the one the industry deserves.

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