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WWE LIVE EVENT REPORT – SMACKDOWN
MARCH 19, 2017
AMHERST, MASS. AT THE MULLINS CENTER
REPORT BY ZACK ROBERTS, PWTORCH CORRESPONDENT
No announced attendance. The 10,500 seat building looked roughly half full.
Greg Hamilton came out about 30 minutes before bell time to get the crowd hyped up and to throw to a Warrior Award video package. This was followed by Hamilton interviewing a young fan who was there with a family member, and they gave them a ringside seat upgrade sponsored by the WWE Network. Hamilton has a lot more charisma than his role allows him to show on WWE programming. I hope he gets an opportunity to do so someday.
There was a brief pre-recorded promo by Daniel Bryan five minutes before bell time, also to get the crowd hyped up and a “YES” chant going.
(1) Dean Ambrose beat The Miz and Baron Corbin to retain the Intercontinental Championship in a Triple Threat match. This was originally advertised as a single between Ambrose and Corbin, but presumably changed because they are headed for a single at WrestleMania. Miz came out first to a long and loud chorus of boo’s. He cut a promo on the crowd, which ended with Miz borrowing from newly announced Hall of Famer Rick Rude by telling all of the “fat, out of shape, Amherst sweathogs” to keep the noise down while he says his catchphrase. He repeated this a few times before actually following through with said catchphrase. Miz had gotten the crowd so loud that he could barely hear himself. Corbin came out to a mixed reaction, followed by Ambrose to a loud and positive reaction. A couple of unique spots which I had not seen before occurred in this match. One was Ambrose performing a catapult on Miz while Corbin had Miz’ torso straddled, which caused Miz to headbutt Corbin in the groin. The other was Ambrose simultaneously bulldogging Miz out of one corner as he clotheslined Corbin, who was coming out of the opposite corner. The crowd was very much into this match. Ambrose went over Miz with Dirty Deeds in just under 17 minutes. Earlier in the match Corbin kicked out of a Skull Crushing Finale. This marked the first uninterrupted finish that would be kicked out of during the show.
Pre-recorded promo from A.J. Styles about how he was going to (what else?) “beat up John Cena.”
(2) Kalisto & Heath Slater & Rhyno defeated The Vaudevillains & Curt Hawkins in 9:00. Slater and English started the match. English generated the most heat of the three heels. “E-C-Dub” chants for Rhyno, who got the hot tag which the crowd responded to very strongly. Babyface team went over after a Gore.
(3) Dolph Ziggler beat Apollo Crews in 13:00. Ziggler came out to about a 60/40 positive response despite being the heel for the match (and having “Hollywood Heel” on his tights). He generated a much better reaction, however, than Crews, who for the briefest of moments seemed to be annoyed by not receiving the response he hoped for, but seemed to quickly catch himself and play his assigned role. A fun sequence occurred in the match when a young female fan yelled at the ref in support of Ziggler. Dolph went on for about 30 seconds, appealing to have the fan replace the referee. These are the types of interactions you can look forward to if you are able to sit close to ringside. It’s definitely worth it to do so. Crews became the second person to borrow from a 2017 Hall of Famer by hitting an Angle Slam for a two count. Shortly thereafter, Crews kicked out of a Zig Zag. This would be the second finish to be kicked out of this evening. Ziggler then teased a Superkick, Shawn Michaels style. After missing once, Dolph was able to hit it on his second attempt for the win.
(4) Bray Wyatt beat Luke Harper to retain the WWE Championship. Anyone still holding out hope that the WWE Championship will main event WrestleMania should probably temper their expectations, as it did not even main event this show. Wyatt came out to a positive response as well as the Fireflies, while Harper came out to a relatively tepid reaction. While Bray will make a great babyface when they do decide to turn him, he was in full heel mode, cutting off Greg Hamilton’s introductions and demanding to be announced first while calling the fans morons. Speaking of which, once Hamilton was allowed to do his job, he announced Wyatt as being from New Orleans. I don’t recall having heard New Orleans attached to Wyatt’s character prior to this show. Wyatt dominated most of the match, at one point setting up the stairs on the entrance ramp and whipping Harper into them. Once Wyatt got back in the ring, he shouted a G.D. bomb at the crowd (“That’s why I’m the [G.D.] champ!”), which was a little unexpected at an otherwise family-friendly event. I wonder if he heard about that afterwards. Harper teased hitting his own Sister Abigail before succumbing to the original at 10 and 1/2 minutes. After the match, Harper did a brief bit of comedy, returning the steel steps that were used during the match to their original position, then took them apart again and placed them back on the entrance ramp.
(5) Mojo Rawley pinned Konnor (w/Viktor). This was the first match after intermission. Mojo got a very positive response from the crowd and a good pop when he went over with a clothesline out of the corner. I was not able to time this match as I got back from intermission later than anticipated.
(6) Alexa Bliss defeated Becky Lynch, Tamina, Natalya, Mickie James, and Carmella (w/James Ellsworth) to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Natalya received a babyface pop that rivaled Becky’s for the second-biggest positive reaction of the evening. At first I chalked it up to the hook of her entrance theme, but the crowd popped just as much when she hit the Sharpshooter on Tamina later in the match. Mickie James worked straight babyface in this match. I’m not sure if her match with Bliss on Smackdown was her official turn, or if they will flesh that story out more on TV this week. Tamina also worked babyface. I do not remember which side she was on when she was on TV last. Alexa and Carmella teamed up on Mickie for a few minutes before Bliss turned on Carmella. Alexa’s body language and facial expressions were on the money, and she talked trash to her opponents throughout the match. WWE would have to go out their way to screw her up at this point. Becky locked Carmella in the Disarm-Her before James Ellsworth broke it up. While Lynch was distracted by arguing with Ellsworth, Bliss rolled her up with a handful of trunks for the win at approximately 7 and 1/2 minutes. Even on the house shows, they can’t seem to get away from distraction finishes in women’s matches.
(7) John Cena beat A.J. Styles in an Amherst Street Fight. Styles came out to mostly the desired negative reaction, though he did acknowledge a young fan sitting directly in front of me who was wearing his shirt. Conversely, the crowd went nuts for Cena. He was far and away the person they came to see the most. There was a very faint sign of the dueling “Let’s Go Cena” / “Cena sucks” chants, but they were snuffed out quickly. This was a far cry from the house show I went to in 2011, when the dueling chants were loud and lasted pretty much the entire match. Styles powdered three times to get heat from the crowd before grabbing the mic and cutting a promo. He would then attack Cena with the mic and continue talking while he worked Cena over. Cena hit his shoulder block, side powerbomb, Five Knuckle Shuffle sequence early in the match before Styles reversed the AA into the Calf Crusher. They teased spots with a chair set up in the corner and a table before brawling to the outside. They made their way into a section of the arena opposite of where I was sitting so I couldn’t see them for a few minutes. Once they made their way back to the entryway, Styles suplexed Cena onto a guardrail that Cena had laid out earlier. Cena would go on to kick out of a Styles Clash, marking the third uninterrupted finish to be kicked out of this evening. Styles then put Cena through both the chair and table which had been set up earlier, but Cena kicked out. Cena played possum while Styles went to fetch another table, hitting the AA as Styles came back into the ring for the win at 18 minutes.
Notable names absent from the show: Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, American Alpha, The Usos.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS PRIOR REPORT: 3/18 WWE in Albany, N.Y.: Cena vs. Styles, Bray vs. Luke, Dean vs. The Miz, Women’s Title six-woman match, Ziggler vs. Crews
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