SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
— The dark match prior to the show saw Tye Dillinger beat Aiden O’Shea in about eight minutes. O’Shea was out first and was drawing plenty of heat with his entrance. Part of this, I’m sure, had to do with him being the first person the live crowd saw. Dillinger seemed over, but only a segment of the crowd seemed to understand his act. A few weeks ago, I attended SmackDown Live in Boston and nearly the entire arena chanted, “10! 10! 10!” when Dillinger got the win. Here, only about 75 percent of the audience seemed to do it. Regardless, the match got the crowd going.
— It felt like there was more stalling on this show than normal. From a live perspective, you always have to sit through commercials, but for some reason it felt like there was a lot of waiting around during the SmackDown broadcast. There were a few set changes, of course, with the Kevin Owens Highlight Reel at the start of the show and the women’s contract signing.
— JBL was booed on his entrance (he came out to music, along with Tom Philips and Byron Saxton) but nowhere near the booing we heard in Boston last month.
— The crowd seemed bored by the opening match between AJ Styles and Jinder Mahal. With Styles selling most of the match, it took out some of the excitement. It works to get Jinder Mahal over as a heel, but the match definitely felt like it went on a few minutes too long. Building the heat the way they did, the crowd was behind AJ on the hope spots and on his comeback, before Owens cut him off with the shot to the knee with the U.S. Title. The crowd was more into booing Mahal during his moments on the mic than they were during the match, however. At the start of the show when he spoke, it was hard to hear him over the booing. Later in the night, after the Orton-Corbin match, it was similar. But during his match with Styles, the crowd was mostly silent.
— This was one of the better-attended SmackDown Live shows in Manchester. In the past, the entire top section of the arena has been blacked out with a tarp. On Tuesday, the top sections of the arena on the far end, and behind the hard camera, were covered in tarps but the side opposite the hard camera was filled to the last row. The lower bowl was almost completely full (in the sections they sold). They had the section to the left of the hard camera (near the stage) covered with a tarp and the section to the right of the hard camera was only about half full.
— Most of the crowd stayed for 205 Live. About half of the upper section left, but there’s no telling how many of those people decided to try to move down to lower-bowl seats. As soon as SmackDown went off the air, with Orton, Mahal and the Singh Brothers still in the ring, Greg Hamilton announced that Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler would take place after 205 Live.
— Like with SmackDown, the crowd was bored with the angles between the two matches on 205 Live. Just added to the sitting around.
— Ziggler and Nakamura has a very similar match to the one they had in Boston last month as the SmackDown dark match main event, and it’s probably similar to the match they’ve for a while. The good news is, it’s a really solid match. Ziggler and Nakamura work well together and the crowd was incredibly pumped to finally see Nakamura, who they had not seen all night up to that point.