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WWE LIVE EVENT REPORT – SMACKDOWN
MARCH 6, 2017
BLOOMINGTON, ILL. AT CELLULAR COLISEUM
REPORT BY BRIAN FROM PEORIA, ILL.
I decided to attend this show mostly out of curiosity, having never been to a live wrestling show before. I have to admit that it was pretty surreal seeing these faces in person for the first time after being so accustomed to seeing them “from a distance” on TV for so long.
Regarding the attendance, I estimate it was around three-fourths of the available capacity of 4,000-5,000. My seat was at floor level about halfway back, and nearest the back right corner turnbuckle if viewing from where the hard camera would be. Dasha Fuentes served as ring announcer.
(1) Heath Slater & Rhyno & Kalisto & Mojo Rawley defeated Breezango & The Ascension Pretty big pop for Slater & Rhyno to kick off the show. A “Heath’s got kids” chant broke out early on. Kalisto played the babyface in peril. Fans wanted Rhyno badly for the hot tag, chanting “We want Rhyno!” and “ECW!” and eventually got it. Chaos ensued and they did the typical spot with everyone taking turns hitting their big move. Rhyno eventually rolled back in and stalked an oblivious Tyler Breeze, who was had been the last one standing. Breeze turned around and ate the Gore for the pin. Breeze sold it like a champ, and the crowd popped big.
(2) Dolph Ziggler pinned Apollo Crews. Ziggler came out to pretty big cheers, oddly enough. Crews came out to a milder reaction. (Poor Apollo…) Crews pulled off some impressive moves, including the standing moonsault, and it was pretty back and forth, but at the end Ziggler hit Crews with a surprise superkick for the pin.
(2B) Apollo Crews pinned Curt Hawkins. As Ziggler was walking out, Curt Hawkins came out with a mic and taunted Crews, who was still lying on the mat. A match started, but about a minute later Crews hit Hawkins with the sit-out powerbomb for the quick victory. Crews signed an autograph or two on his way back up the ramp.
(3) Becky Lynch & Tamina beat Mickie James & Natalya. Disappointingly, this was the only women’s match of the night, especially because it was just a tag match with singles wrestlers. Becky came out to a strong reaction and was her usual delightful self, interacting with fans at ringside before and especially after the match. Natalya got a surprisingly big pop when her music hit. Mickie played the obnoxious, cowardly heel before the bell rang, seemingly doing her best Kevin Owens impression from Fastlane. Seriously, she stalled for what seemed like an eternity. Natalya hilariously yelled at the crowd behind her to “shut up!” at one point. Tamina, looking noticeably slimmer than I remember before, played the babyface in peril, and eventually got to Becky for the hot tag. Becky got her signature spots in, then chaos ensued; Tamina recovered to superkick Natalya, freeing up Becky to tap Mickie out quickly with the Dis-arm-her.
(4) Randy Orton pinned A.J. Styles. It’s a safe bet that this was the longest match of the night. Both guys got huge pops coming out. The crowd was hot for this one; there were dueling “A.J. Styles! RKO!” chants throughout the match. Styles heavily worked Orton’s leg, and he took a particularly sick-looking bump from the ropes out of the ring at one point. Orton did his “greatest hits” of moves, including attempting the draping second-rope DDT once or twice before successfully landing it., and the crowd ate it all up. The finish came when A.J. signaled for the Phenomenal Forearm; he slung himself onto the top rope, but before he could springboard off of it, Orton cut him off and pulled him down into the RKO for the pin. It wasn’t a mid-air RKO counter; it instead came across as simply a “top-rope RKO.”
(5) American Alpha defeated The Usos to retain the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Jordan & Gable got a pretty good, but not great, reaction coming out. As the match progressed, however, their reaction improved. The Usos pull off their heel persona really well; they come across as real bad dudes. (I look forward to seeing their feud unfold for real this time!) There was a spot where Gable was desperately trying to tag Jordan in. They were both unsuccessfully reaching for each other for quite a long time, and Jordan was flailing around in an unintentionally comical way; the crowd chuckled, and I felt kind of bad. It was only awkward for that one moment though, and they recovered nicely. Jordan eventually got the hot tag and showed a lot of fire, and they ended up hitting what looked like an Electric Chair/top rope Bulldog combination move for the pin. (Are they no longer using Grand Amplitude as their finisher?)
(6) Dean Ambrose beat Baron Corbin via DQ to retain the Intercontinental Title. Ambrose got a massive pop, possibly surpassing Styles’ or Orton’s earlier in the night. Corbin didn’t take long to garner massive heat from the crowd as the match progressed. He was vicious in the ring, he was consistently yapping at a few heckling fans, and IT WAS FUN TO BOO HIM! (Yes, heels can still be heels in today’s landscape!) Corbin became frustrated after a while and retrieved a steel chair from under the ring. As he raised his arms up, the referee grabbed at the chair, struggling briefly with Corbin until it dropped onto the mat. The finish came when Corbin nailed Ambrose with the aforementioned chair for the DQ. Very loud boos!
After the match, Corbin returned to the ring to inflict more punishment with the chair, but Ambrose ducked it and hit Dirty Deeds. This was probably the second longest match of night, and the most enjoyable for me. The crowd was very lively throughout the whole match, with lots of “Dean! Dean! Dean!” chants.
(7) Bray Wyatt pinned Luke Harper to retain the WWE Championship. Based on the crowd’s reactions, this felt like a match between a babyface and a slightly-less-over babyface. I was surprised by how much slimmer Harper looks in person. They had a solid, well-fought match, but nothing that particularly stood out to me. Bray hit Sister Abigail for the pin.
After the match, Wyatt was celebrating in the ring with his back facing the ramp when Randy Orton ran out. Bray turned around, they had brief face-off, and Orton ducked his attack to hit the RKO. Big crowd pop, Orton hoisted the belt, and set it back down at Bray’s feet to close the show.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Each of the match-ups listed above were presented in the exact order as the wrestlers’ entrances. Yes, this means that the champion(s) – regardless of heel/face alignment – came out first in each title match, which I found very surprising. (I suppose this could be a house show thing; I’m curious why that is?)
I was also half-expecting there to be a few brief promos cut during the show. Aside from Dasha introducing each match and Curt Hawkins’ brief interaction with Apollo Crews, there wasn’t any talking. On a related note, it was difficult to understand what was being said through the arena’s sound system. The speaking sounded very distant and muffled, at least from where I was sitting. Dasha’s announcing was mostly okay, but I couldn’t make out what Hawkins was saying at all. (Is this a typical problem for those in attendance at TV tapings too?)
I can’t remember when, but during one of the matches there was a very brief “CM Punk!” chant from a couple guys several rows behind me. (Ugh…) Other than that, I can’t remember any annoying “This is awesome” chants, nor were there any variants of the clap, clap, clap-clap-clap chant, aside from simply chanting wrestlers’ names, not even during Ambrose-Corbin or Orton-Styles. Instead, THEY JUST CHEERED. I was pleasantly surprised, and it was refreshing!
A little random thing, but a guy I befriended at the show that was sitting next to me commented near the end that there hadn’t been a single knife-edge chop the entire night. I hadn’t thought about it until then, but soon realized I didn’t hear a single “Woo!” at all. Considering we see (and hear) it on TV all the time, I found that tidbit interesting.
There were quite a few A.J. Styles shirts strewn throughout the crowd, more than any other merchandise that I noticed. Also, up on the display behind the merchandise table, there was only stuff representing the male talent (Cena, Styles, Ziggler, Ambrose, etc.). There very well may have been female merch at the table in front, but it was so crowded that I couldn’t see for sure. (I somehow doubt this.) It’s disappointing considering that Becky Lynch, for example, seems to be a favorite at house shows, certainly among the women on the roster.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS RECENT REPORT: 3/12 WWE in New York City, N.Y. at MSG: Bray defends against Cena, Orton battles Cena again, Lesnar vs. Owens, Shane returns to MSG
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